Friday, November 4, 2011

Winter clinic scheduled

The cold & snow have finally arrived in Anchorage and with more Divas taking up winter biking it's high time for a winter clinic!

Bring your questions and share what you've learned:
Monday, November 14, at 7:00 pm at Paramount Cycles - 1320 Huffman Park Drive.

We'll talk about:
- studded tires, SnowCat rims and snow bikes
- lighting systems
- clothing - how to keep warm while not overheating
- where to ride
- food and hydration tips
- group ride tips

We'll also discuss organizing winter group rides in town
so that eventually we can experience adventures like this:
Knik Glacier on fatties.

Or this:
Placer River overflow on studs.

Winter opens up so many possibilities. See you there!

Friday, October 28, 2011

october in utah

As fall was again upon us, 10 Divas and two lucky husbands headed to Utah for a five-day biking trip. Katherine has published her reflections on her blog. I'm looking forward to seeing how the landscape will inspire her art. I've published a few photos on my blog as well.

It's hard to put a trip like this into words and feel I'm doing justice to it. A trip to a land so expansive. A landscape unique with its terrain, the color of the sky and the rock. How I perceive and react to it will be different from everyone else in the group. Each reaction shaped by our own previous experiences. But what we take home from a trip to the desert and canyon country will remain with us.

Nothing like waking in the tent in canyon country.

Morning reveals: the chairs were pulled closer as the evening got cooler.

The full moon rising over a canyon wall. Turning off our headlamps to stargaze into the evening. Sitting around a fire, bundled from the evening chill. A stain of wine in the bottom of my mug when it was time for the morning coffee. Visiting cabin ruins and wondering how the pioneers and prospectors survived.

Camp chairs facing miles of canyon. Laughter. Story telling. Getting to know each other a little better. Silence when the plates are full of food. A cold beer or soda after a hot day on the trail. Hair washing from the water tank. Being laughed at for worrying about heat stroke at 75 degrees.

Hikers: we'll go to that point.
Ben, Anne, Julie, Karen.

Divas at the Hans Flat Ranger Station - yes, it's Diva Shirt Day!

Tomorrow: We'll descend into the canyon on
the Flint Trail. Did somebody say 'switchbacks?'
Gloria, Anne, Brin, Terry, Kevin.

Hope your brake pads are ready!
Katherine, Patti, Terry.

Descending rocky switchbacks then watching the van cover the same route. An impromptu hike after lunch while the guides tidy up. Finding a spot of shade for a snack. Watching the colors change on the canyon walls as the day turns to night.

Find the van on the Flint switchbacks!

Ah, just a mellow descent.
Julie & Bev.

He's catching up!
Gloria & Patti.

Then the final evening, our tent city sprawled among rocks and juniper under the clear sky. We gathered around the campfire, made our plans for morning. I lingered into the night watching the embers fade, noting that the moon provided almost enough light to write by; a few tents were lit by headlamps. I heard voices, some snoring and the faint hum of a jet overhead. We had over twenty miles ahead of us the next day. I knew that in the end, I would take my time.

'No worry; no hurry'
Patti, Bev, Julie.

Gloria and desert flowers.

Reviewing the map at the end of the trail.

We have so many more photos and you can view the album here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

happiness = singletrack + great shirts

Wendy is happy because she just led a great ride through Kincaid, including some fun singletrack, AND she's got her new Divas shirt in that pretty purple bag. Lori is modeling the new tech tee short sleeve with a stylish pair of arm warmers and a colorful hat to ward off the autumn chill.

Friday, September 2, 2011

logo on shirts!

The shirts are in!

Thanks to Linda for picking the shirts up yesterday and bringing them to Judge Chung's* installation celebration. Lori will bring them to next week's ride for distribution. If you can't pick up yours then, watch for information about distribution.

Here are the long-sleeve versions - both fronts above and the back of the tech tee below.

* We'll brief you on proper etiquette - we're not sure yet if she'll prefer to be called Your Honor, Judge Jo-Ann, or Judicious Diva.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

logo on purple!

Our Diva shirts are being printed this week! Here is a test print Lori and I reviewed yesterday. We also saw the design printed on the light purple cotton shirt; also very nice. We'll be wearing them soon!

Monday, August 29, 2011

powering up powerline

Divas are like the postal service - a little wind, clouds, and sprinkles didn't keep us from our appointed duty to ride up Powerline Trail last Wednesday.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

diggin' in the dirt

Most of the Monday night gang!

This past Monday evening, a group of Divas headed out to Kincaid to do some finish work on the new singletrack that's being built this summer. With nine new miles of trail going in, there's lots to do and we were happy to be joined by a few partners and other mountain bikers from around the community.

The trail takes shape!

Crew chief Brian (far left in the top pic) was kept busy showing us how to make banked turns and how to make sure the water sheets off the trail instead of running down it during rain showers.

Michele, Kass, Bonnie & Gloria in motion.

Lori at the banked corner with Ryan and Brian (Michele's man).

After walking part of the route and doing a couple hours of trail work, I think everyone's excited about adding these trails to our list of places we love to ride. And we will! Thanks, Divas, for the great turnout and the hard work.

Monday, August 15, 2011

muddy fun on the hillside

Patti crosses the Black Bear bridge in sunrays

Marcy leads the pack up the Ridge Loop to descend Black Bear

muddy legs and bikes were the norm after days of rain

Sunday, August 14, 2011

logo time

How exciting is this? We have our new logo design! Through the merging of ideas & creative input, plus a graphic designer to make it come to life, the design is in its final stage: getting the colors right. And this fall we'll have tech tee shirts and a long-sleeve cotton tee that people can order and wear before the snow flies (in town that is).

Here's the black & white design:Chainring: check. Pearls: check. Girl climbing a mountain: check.

It will be sublimated onto royal purple tech tees and onto a lilac long-sleeve cotton tee. We chose white and magenta as the design colors so it'll really stand out and look quite classy against the purple.

Thanks to everyone who helped out and kept it going when you probably would have rather been biking, especially: Katherine, Lori, Anne, Carey (graphic designer). We'll post some pics when we have the shirts!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moose Hill

Yesterday was a beautiful evening for a ride in Kincaid. With showers in the mountains on the east side of Anchorage, the Divas delighted in the warmth and sunshine on the west side. Bev volunteered to lead, with Rose* and Bonnie helping out (plus, other Divas stepped in to do a little route finding after we missed a turn).

Mama with two of this year's calves.

In case there was any question regarding how the trail got it's name, we surprised three moose who were minding their own business, resting near Moose Hill, part of the Jodhpur Trail. After a few kind words directed toward them, they allowed us to pass, no questions asked.

*Rose here. In my defense, I've only biked at Kincaid once this year! Besides, taking wrong turns is the best way to really learn the trails.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Another wonderful evening on a bike

The emails this morning after riding Powerline had the subject line "Another wonderful day on a bike." I agree that the ride last evening was great. But Powerline is my favorite Divas ride each summer so I may not be an objective reviewer. The weather and scenery were so beautiful that I didn't even make it to the lake. I won't sign up to lead this ride again because I stop too much to take photographs. Thanks to Wendy for leading the 2nd group; I like to think that I was leading the sightseers at the back of the pack.

This was the first Powerline ride where the majority - the vast majority - of Divas descended down to Prospect, Hillside, or other points to the north. Thanks to Bonnie for waiting to see if Jo-Ann and I were going to make it back to the parking lot. We'd like to institute a new rule that there have to be tea and cookies at the end for the leader and sweep (wait - how did the co-leader end up back with the sweep?).

Anyway, here are a few of my photos:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

love from hillside

Lori sent this great postcard with some of her photos from the ride that she led last week. Susan also led a group around the Hillside and Campbell Tract trails (Black Bear, Rover's, Ridge, Viewpoint, Moose Meadow, P38, Birch Meadow, and whatever else is required to connect all of those together).

The food afterward was so delicious that I thought it warranted a second photo, larger than the one in Lori's postcard. Notice how few of those homemade white chocolate-nutty cookies are left.

As a good leader, Lori was constantly looking for any tricky spots on the trail. Here's one she found on Birch Meadow, thus saving the rest of us from catching a pedal on that stump. Thanks, Lori! Great ride!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

skills? we've got 'em!

cone slalom: turn your head and the rest will follow

It's not how fast you go, it's how much control you have.

This thought should resonate with each of the more than 20 Divas who showed up ready to learn at Monday evening's Singletrack Skills clinic. Guest coach, Janice Tower, shared with us her expertise as riders navigated the cone slalom, practiced their wheel lofts, imitated a grasshopper and slowly descended a skinny thread of trail. My, how two hours can fly!

A few things covered reinforced what we've been teaching for years: when coasting, ride with the pedals in the level position - what Janice calls "moto." This position allows you to be active and ready for anything on the bike. Ready to slide off the back of the saddle for a descent, approach an obstacle to power over it or lean into a banked corner. Moto is a ready position and much easier for us to yell than "pedals level!"

How far back can you go? Janice holds me as I demo positions for
descending and climbing. Something everyone can practice at
trailheads or while regrouping along the trail.

Another concept we worked on was tight cornering. The tips were helpful to riders of all levels. We probably all know that if we look at something, we tend to move that direction. At previous clinics we've practiced riding tight circles and looking over our shoulder to help us make that circle tighter. While riding the slalom of cones on Monday, Janice kept a close eye on everyone and encouraged us to exaggerate these motions so that everyone was turning their head to look at the next obstacle and letting their arms and bodies follow. We worked on looking ahead to the next obstacle even as we emerged around the previous one.

Preparing for a slow, singletrack descent.

Oftentimes we only look a short distance ahead of us. By looking ahead, we were able to prepare for the next corner. This will come in especially handy this evening as we ride the STA trails and tackle some of the tightest switchbacks in town. Are you ready?

For those who weren't able to be at the skills clinic, I have a few extra handouts which describe some of what we did. Plus, there are about 22 Divas who will be happy to pass along what they learned!

I'd like to extend a big thanks to Janice for volunteering to coach us on skills! And thanks to Jean for once again documenting the event.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


At the ride leader clinic in late May, I noticed how many Divas are still reluctant to adopt clipless pedals on their mountain bikes. Why? The most common reason is: I'm afraid I won't be able to get out and will fall over. Some people have tried them only to return to flat pedals or clips & straps. Some have witnessed others fall or heard their tales. I'm not going to tell you that you won't fall. You will fall! But you're outdoors women and I know fear of falling has not prevented you from taking up skiing or other active sports. Well...

There are so many benefits to using clipless pedals instead of a flat pedal or toeclips. I'd like to share a few:

You will climb better. Really. Because you're clipped into the pedal, you're not just pushing down on your pedals; you're also pulling up. You can put power to the pedals for the entire rotation of the cranks so you'll have a smoother spin up the hills. This is in contrast to the pulsing action of the pedals when you're just using the downstroke to pedal. Think about it: more even power.

You'll have more control. When riding over rougher trails that have exposed rocks and roots, your feet will stay firmly in place on the pedals instead of sliding around or bouncing off. This will make it easier for you to ride over the rougher trails and descend faster. You will be one with the bike which gives you more control, and in turn, more confidence.

You'll ride farther. When you only pedal using the downstroke, only one muscle group is working. When you add the upstroke and spin more, you bring more muscles in to share the work. Sharing the work lets you ride longer before the muscles get tired.

Just a few thoughts on toe clips (the plastic cups that are attached to the pedals to keep your foot in place): If you snug down the straps, they're harder to get out of than the clipless pedals, but that's the only way to get the most efficiency out of the pedal. For mountain biking, you want ease of entry & exit. I've occasionally seen people ride with the toeclip hanging down below the pedal. This is a good way to catch the pedal on a trail obstacle, such as a root or rock. Don't do it!

Finally, I'd like to share my own experience with clipless pedals. There's a very steep hill on the Horseshoe Loop at Kincaid Park. When I first began mountain biking I didn't have clipless pedals. I would try, but could never make it up that hill. Finally, I rode with the pedals I'd just gotten a week or so earlier. Sure enough, I was able to power my way up that hill. I hadn't suddenly transformed into a stronger rider, I'd just adopted the tool that would make it easier to climb the hill. I've been a convert ever since.

I'm happy to offer advice on which pedals might work best for you. If people would like a pedal clinic, we can do that. I can even schedule an after-hours equipment talk at Paramount Cycles. It's your club; what would you like to do?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

bear aware 2: bike-mounted bear spray

After the terrible bear attacks on bikers and runners a few years ago, I started carrying bear spray in my bottle cage. The method that works for me is placing a spray bottle and holster in the cage and strapping the holster to the tube. A beer koozy might also work to hold a spray can, especially one in a holster, in the cage without a strap.

Wendy uses a water bottle to hold her bear spray. We'll try to get photos of that option, too.

Ride with confidence on the trails this summer! And be smart about where you ride.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

let's hit the dirt!

Thirty Divas turned out on a beautiful evening for our first taste of the dirt trails this season. Maggi, Lori, and Wendy offered to lead three different rides to cover everyone's wants and spring fitness level. Maggi planned to take a slower pace with some hills, and Wendy wanted to check out Speedway and some "experimental singletrack." I decided to follow Lori, who planned a route with hills and singletrack.

From Smokejumper trailhead we rode Moose Track and Salmon Run to the Tour trail. We soon turned off onto Rover's Run; we didn't see a bear the entire length but I kept ringing my bell and checking that my bear spray was tight in the bottle cage. Lori stopped at the end of Rover's by the creek to cover some hill climbing technique.

We found our way to the Ridge Loop and turned off it at Black Bear. Then left on Moose Meadow and another left on Viewpoint Trail, up the radio tower hill, and down the long hill to Coyote. At that intersection we found a guy biker with a flat but no tools or tubes. Divas came through and loaned him everything he needed to get back to his car. We chatted while he changed his tire.

We are off to a great season! I hope the weather continues to make it so easy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

are you bear aware?

Yvette explains removing the safety
and other fine points of bear spray use.*

Last night over a dozen Divas showed up at the Elim Cafe to learn how to be safe in bear country. All of Anchorage is bear country, Yvette Gillies (who works for USGS), reminded us, so avoiding certain trails - such as those along salmon streams - is just part of being safe. Traveling in groups and making noise helps. Watching our speed on twisty trails or those with blind corners can prevent us from surprising a bear. Bears don't like to be surprised.

because who doesn't like a sick jump?*

If we do surprise a bear, we learned what to do. Rule number one is to stop and hold your ground; don't run. When with a group, get close together to look bigger in the hopes that the bear will run away. I mentioned that during one encounter years ago, I got off my bike and held it between me and the bear until the bear (actually a mom with a couple cubs) turned around. Tom Griffin (one of the presenters) confirmed that this was a good tactic. Tom manages McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, so he knows a thing or two about bears.

The best part of the presentation was when we had the opportunity to practice using bear spray (filled with inert ingredients, of course). Yvette showed us how to easily remove the safety from the can and how to aim low enough to get the spray to the bear's face. It's one thing to have bear spray with us, entirely another to feel confident using it. After a little practice, I think we all felt we could react pretty quickly if the need arose.

Karen takes aim, fires.*

An interesting side note about using bear spray: Tom pointed out that taking a confident stance when using the spray on a charging bear may contribute to the bear stopping its charge. I don't know how confidently I'd be standing if I was about to pee in my bike shorts, but his observation makes sense, nonetheless.

If you weren't able to attend last night, watch the paper for announcements listing other clinics. There's definitely information we can all use about staying safe in Anchorage and points beyond.

If you can't make a clinic, you might want to view the video. The title of the video we viewed is: Staying Safe in Bear Country - A Behavioral-Based Approach to Reducing Risk. There are 2 versions - one is 48 minutes and the other is 20 minutes (we viewed the short version). According to Yvette, you can purchase them at REI, Alaska Geographic or the USGS Map Store for $ 20.00. It's also available for free at the public library.

You can get more information on bear (and moose) behavior from the state website. Be safe out there. Now let's start mountain biking!

*Photos by Jean Moran.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ride on May 11

We've had a slight change. The ride listed for this coming Wednesday, May 11 won't be a pre-ride of the Gold Nugget Triathlon course. The race is being held on the military base and we do not have access this year. So...

The ride will be on the Glenn Highway trail with two options: (1) ride out and back along the trail and onto Arctic Valley Road or (2) ride out and back on the trail to the Hiland Road exit in Eagle River. The ride starts at Bartlett HS at 6:30 p.m.

We recommend a road bike or a mountain bike with slick tires. If you don't have slicks, just ride with your knobby tires. Dress for wind and visibility. Our apologies to those who were hoping to ride the race course. See you Wednesday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring Formal - the evidence

Eighteen Divas and princesses packed their rain jackets and ignored the day's weather to ride the Coastal Trail in our annual rite of spring. We were rewarded with sun and the usual appreciative smiles along the trail.

We elected a Diva of the Day and Princess in Training for the first time.

Lori came dressed to win, and she did with those "boots with the fur"

(everyone was looking at her)

Rose was quite stylish and matched her bike ...

which won the "Sweetest Ride" award

We only lost one Diva at Point Woronzof.