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.

First Spring Ride

Wendy and Lori co-led the first ride on April 20th - an interesting tour of Lakes Hood and Spenard, the Spenard and Turnagain neighborhoods, and the Coastal Trail

Lori was enthusiastic in the pre-ride briefing!

The lineup at Earthquake Park

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Formal, 2011

My goodness it's a busy time of year! And hard to believe it's time for the annual Spring Formal. I spent part of today cleaning my commuter bike of the spring break-up crud, lubing the chain and making sure I still have a little floral decoration for the handlebars. Isn't that the best way to celebrate spring, by sprucing up the bike?

Besides preparing the bike, I gathered my faux pearls and made a few repairs so they won't break off during the ride tomorrow (Wednesday, the 4th). It's possible this is our tenth year for the Formal. Our group was originally founding in 2000 and we began the Formal the next spring (I think) as a way to kick off May in festive style, making use of some frilly, shiny or otherwise dressy outfits that had lingered in the backs of our closets or been found at Value Village.

I've seen satin and lace, baubles and boas, shiny tights and tiaras - all parading along the Coastal Trail on the first Wednesday in May. Of course, everyone is being safe by wearing a helmet and making sure nothing catches in the chain (wedding trains not recommended).

The ride starts at 6pm, then we head to Snow Goose for refreshments. Rumor has it there will be prizes. I'll keep my fingers crossed for no rain. Meanwhile, I wonder what I could wear over my rain jacket?