Monday, October 22, 2012

White Rim 2012

We all met in Green River at the River Terrace motel; great rooms and continental breakfast. There was a lovely pergola out on the lawn where we sipped wine and got to know each other a little bit.  Since we had all been in cars for most of the day, Patti suggested we go for a hike in the state park on the other side of the river.  It must have been close to 90 degrees as we walked down the street in search of a wilderness trail.  On the way, Ken, Patti’s hubby, talked about how Patti likes to go for hikes that last for hours and miles and miles and hours.  We finally found the state park, but it was no more than a campground full of RVs.  So we trooped back to the motel.  Then it was off to Ray’s for burgers, fries, and beer.  Luckily we were seated in the outdoor area which was much quieter.  The night was warm and the weather looked promising for the week ahead.

September 29.  The next morning we assembled at Holiday with all our stuff.  The rental bikes were distributed, fitted, and loaded.  Unfortunately, our favorite guides, Ben and Brin were not available for this trip.  By 11am or so, we were in the van and on our way.  We stopped at the tee-pee gas station to pee and fuel the vans and soon we were at the top of Mineral Bottom.  Already the temps were climbing and we were applying sun block.  We all made it down the steep switchbacks without incident and the bike portion of the trip had officially begun. 

We stopped at the Upheaval Canyon trailhead for lunch; a place devoid of shade.  Melons from Green River were served every day at lunch; we couldn’t get enough.  We continued on to Fort Bottom trail.  A three mile (round trip) hike across some narrow sections with steep cliffs on both sides brought us to a very high point where the river looped and surrounded us on three sides.  There we found a structure made entirely of flat rocks stacked and balanced by the ancient Anasazi.  It consisted of two circular structures right next to each other connected by a small square door about a foot off the ground.  Was it a fort, a lookout, a home?  We were left to contemplate the mystery on the way back to our bikes.  We could also see a historic log cabin down by the river. Our guides insisted it had been used as a hideout by Butch Cassidy.

Our first challenge was Hardscrabble Hill, a series of ascents that are nothing to sneeze at but certainly not tougher than the Hillside STA trails or Spencer Loop, except for the heat and unrelenting sun.  Many of us walked; the heat sucking out our life’s energy with every step.  At last we reached Potato Bottom A, our assigned campground.  There we were welcomed by a large tree providing some much needed shade.  After pitching our tents, most of us made our way to the Green River for a much needed dip despite the muddy banks and murky water.  Dinner of grilled mahi-mahi, wild rice and salad with brownies for dessert restored our spirits.

September 30.  Breakfast the next morning was eggs, hash browns, and blueberry muffins made in a dutch oven.  By 9:30 am we were on the trail headed for Murphy’s Hogback. On the way we stopped at a slot canyon and hiked down into it.  The temperature in the canyon was mercifully cooler and it was hard to crawl out and resume biking in the heat.  The rest of the day’s ride was one hill after another.  We also stopped at Black Crack; so named because you cannot see the bottom of this crevasse.  Dinner was awesome lasagna (also made in a dutch oven) and garlic bread.  Due to the heat, most of us gave up on the tent flies in order to get more ventilation.  Erika gave up on tents entirely and slept under the stars atop a large flat rock.

At this camp site, and the next one (Gooseberry), there were little kangaroo rats that would come out at night.  They were very cute. We would sit in a circle after dinner and watch the sun set and the moon come up and then the kangaroo rats would start running around snatching crumbs.  Some of the girls would scream and act silly which provided entertainment for the rest of us.  One kangaroo rate was running from someone’s flashlight and ran up Bruce’s pant leg.  We all laughed at him trying to shake the rat out of his pants.

October 1.  Once again we started the morning’s ride at 9:30am.  We found the terrain was more rolling and not so grueling.  We stopped at White Crack for lunch and a long nap in the shade of a Juniper tree.  Those who weren’t napping, Patti and crew, hiked down the old uranium miner’s mule train trail.  Then it was back on the bikes for another hour’s ride to the Gooseberry campground.  Evidently, this was not enough riding for Patty who appeared to have missed the sign and continued on.  After about an hour we all got a little worried so Dave, the guide, took off after her on his bike.  Ten miles later he found her and herded her back to the fold.  It was Mexican Night for dinner and the guides made sopapillas for desert.

October 2.  We hit the trail around 9am after filling up on blueberry pancakes.  The ride was considerably more agreeable without steep up-hill challenges; however it seemed to be our hottest day yet.  Karen broke a shift cable. Dave the guide installed a new one and we were underway about an hour later.  We stopped at Musselman Arch where we found Ken had issues with heights.  He actually crawled out onto the arch.  A few more miles down the road we found the Colorado River lookout and a bit of shade and rest.  As we rolled down into the canyon to Shafer campground we got our first glimpse of the uphill switchbacks that was to be our route the next day.  Once we got settled the guides gave us the option to go up the nasty looking switchbacks, or take the longer route with fewer hills.  In true Diva fashion; i.e., lots of yelling, people all talking at once, and drawing a line in the sand (literally), we voted to take the longer route. 

October 3, Last Day.  It turned out that we had voted correctly and had a wonderful ride with gradual up hills and fun down hills through some spectacular scenery.  We rolled out Potash Road, past the solar evaporation ponds.  The bike trip ended at a state park with a boat ramp at the Colorado River.  We all jumped into the river in our bike clothes. 
account by Karen, Membership Diva

Thursday, September 20, 2012

cabin camping adventure

Anchorage had one hurricane-force wind event under its belt and another on its way. Was that gonna stop us? Hmm. The Divas are tough, but not reckless. We each considered our personal situations, our abilities, equipment and comfort level. Some made the very reasonable decision to pass on the outing. Others decided that we were not going to let the weather stop us. Besides, we’d rented the cabin!

Maggi, Jo-Ann, Michele, Linda, Gloria & Cecelia. Warm and dry.

So, last Friday morning six Dirt Divas: Jo-Ann, Gloria, Michele, Linda H, Cecelia and Maggi, met at Gloria’s house and started loading up gear in the rain for the annual cabin weekend at Eklutna Lake’s Serenity Cabin. Being the professional planner of the group, I had called Ranger Keith to check on conditions. Things were good, he said, “But after Saturday, all bets are off!” We put the rain gear within reach and took off.

The twelve-mile ride in was good. Though the skies were gloomy, there was no real wind or rain. And the temperatures were warm, relatively. Along the way, we met our delivery guy who was hauling our firewood and other bulky supplies. He was worried we didn’t have enough wine this year. We assured him that with the small group and only two nights instead of three, we had just enough. Same with the wood. The water? Well, we had more than enough of that!! If we had needed to, we could have just put a pot outside to catch more. Except the wind would have blown it away!

The nights were pretty windy, making sleep fitful for most of us. Okay, the days were windy too! On Saturday we took advantage of some slightly calmer weather to walk toward the glacier. Gloria took advantage of the quiet to do some reading. No bad choices.

Late Saturday afternoon, we saw two young men biking on the other side of the river. They didn’t seem to have much gear and one was in a tee-shirt. Michele kept an eye out for their return. She didn’t see them until much later when one of them took a fall. Certain they were in need, the five mothers of the group pulled on our rain gear and ran out to save them. I think we actually scared them. Poor guys! Think of it, five moms running out to make sure you had your raincoat on and a snack in your backpack! Turns out, they only wanted to use the outhouse.

After dinner, Michele herded us out into the pelting, wind-driven rain for a 10-minute walk to aid digestion. Kind of a tradition for our Eklutna weekend. But this time, instead of a long, wandering stroll, we turned around at exactly five minutes.

Sometime Saturday night we noticed rainwater pooling on the windowsills beneath the large windows that face the falls and the glacier. We tried our best to keep it contained, but by mid-morning Sunday, Serenity Falls had moved indoors, dripping from the highest windows, down the walls, across the benches and onto the floor. It’s gonna be a real mess to take care of.
Next time, pack caulk! A little wet inside the cabin.

About the same time, we realized that the wind was getting worse, not better. The calculations began: What time did we need to leave in the morning? Would things calm down by then? We got everything packed and cleaned so that we could leave as soon as possible. Around noon we made the call. We would take off and stick close together in case we needed all hands for downed trees and other challenges. As we stood on the front porch a wild gust blew in and we wavered momentarily. When the wind paused, we bolted for the bikes. By the time we got to the outhouse, (maybe fifty feet down a short hill) my gloves were soaked through. Oh well, just keep going.

The crew riding back to the trailhead.

Cecelia's first bike overnight trip (on her new ride!), Jo-Ann and Michele.

The way out was a bit more adventurous than the ride in: a boulder had rolled from a high cliff onto the wide trail; three downed trees were across the trail (only one required branch removal and lift-over); puddles were big enough to warrant a ferry; winds buffeted fully-loaded mountain bikes like they were $6K road bikes ridden by willowy racing chicks, trails threatened to join the lake and the rain was truly dumping. Yeah! It was good.


That wasn't there on the way out!
There may always be a puddle here, but not like this!

We finally arrived at the parking lot where we were wringing out gloves and scooping handfuls of silty mud from our panniers when Ranger Keith drove up. He was quite pleased to see us. After we gave him a to-do list for the cabin and trail, and got his email for photos, he declared us “Really tough.” I agreed, then quickly headed to the outhouse to change into dry clothes.

As always, the food for our outing was delicious and plentiful. The company was wonderful and the adventure was fun and successful. Thank you, Jo-Ann, for your planning and shopping. Thanks, Linda, for those brownies! And bless you, Cecelia, (on your first bike camping experience) for getting up first and making coffee and tea water! Another great Diva weekend at Serenity Falls cabin!

Maggi "Biking is fun!"

Post written and illustrated by Maggi.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

unexpected trailside chain clinic

unexpected trailside chain clinic!!  Michele's chain broke ..Linda had the chain tool & chain quick link and Bonnie knew how to do! .great group effort!! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July

We invited families and friends to join us for our 4th of July ride at Abbott Loop Community Park.  Over 30 Divas, partners, spouses, children, grandchildren, and friends came out to pedal some dirt and roots.

Afterwards we had a barbeque with the usual delicious smorgasboard that Divas provide, including some healthy options like fruit and the other essential food groups like chocolate.

A few of us stuck around for a mean game of croquet.  Beware of this woman -- she won with one hand tied behind her back (almost).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Biking and filming from Indian to Gird

A month or so ago, Paul Gallas, a maker of cycling films, contacted the Divas to see if we'd want to ride with him and be filmed.  Katherine Coons worked out a date that ended up being a beautiful day to bike along Turnagain Arm.

Add caption
Dora had a close encounter in a tunnel; luckily her wheel got the worst of it

Thanks to Katherine for setting up the ride with Paul.
Thanks to Bev for sharing her photos from the ride.
Watch for the video on a YouTube channel near you!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


A bevy of Divas and bobs were biking in Whitehorse this last week.  Here's a postcard from Lori:

Hi there, just a quick note from the great white north. We are having a great time here in Whitehorse. Our campground is great and I loved my hot shower after today's ride. $1 for 5 minutes, splendid! We are all grouped together but have plenty of space. The downside we did not expect was finding out you can't drive your car back to the campsite. It was not very fun schlepping everything back by hand after a fifteen hour drive but we managed and got moving right at the crack of 10 this morning.

Our first ride divided into two groups. Maggi, Susan, Gloria and I took off down the shwalka lake trail and back to the local ski trails. These ended up being fun, flowy singletrack that took us back to another lake and along a beautiful ridge. The lupine is up and it was so fun and relaxing to just meander our way around. We actually followed the map pretty well! The other group consisted of Wendy, Kevin, two of their friends and susan's son caleb and his friend. They started on "Heartbreak Hill" and I heard it just got better from there.

The trails here are in such abundant supply! We could ride for weeks and never do the same trail twice. Maggi says to tell you we are doing lots of "Diva cross-training" which means walking up hills! Susan says the Dirt Divas are ripping it up!

We have been exploring downtown Whitehorse and biking around there. There is lots to see!
More rides tomorrow, wish we had everybody here to join us, it's great!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

the antidote

I found the antidote to endless emails, long conference calls, short deadlines, and in general, too much sitting.  Even the cloudy cool summer day seemed to disappear.  If any of these sound like problems in your life, you probably need to ride with the Divas.

Thanks to Gloria for leading a fun DRY ride and to Bev, waving way in the back, for sweeping my out-of-shape shape around the Campbell Tract trails

Thursday, June 7, 2012

what rain?

Katherine's report from the ride:
I am passing this photo along to you from last night's ride.  Six of us ventured up the Hillside trails and made it to the top.  (Where was everyone else?)  It turned out to be a nice evening for biking and also nice seeing Jo-Ann back to biking form. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

too busy (or injured) to blog

An observant Diva who's out of town and yearning for biking in Alaska was visiting the blog and noticed that we're a little behind.  Way behind!  The usual contributors to the blog - now known as the Shoulder Sisters - haven't been riding, so we don't have photos to post unless an able-armed Diva sends them to us.

So here are some highlights of Diva events in the last two months.  Thanks to Lori for the nudge and the photos of Trails Day.  Divas -- send some photos for us to post!


This annual event had all the usual pomp-and-circumstance-and-pagentry.
Lori, last year's Queen, complete with wings

Kristin, this year's queen, also with wings.

Katherine was crowned Princess, by last year's court, Kari and Lori
Michelle received the Sweetest Ride award for her bike decorations.


For the 2nd year, Yvette Gilles from USGS taught us how to be safe with bears and how to use bear spray.
Linda won the best-dressed category for bear spray application.  In the background, Kristin demonstrates the active stance.


Several Divas helped on the new singletrack trails at Kincaid Park.
Lori, Gloria, and Bonnie

Lori, Gloria, and Katherine at the junk car

Maggi and Lori

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

it is spring, after all

Another winter is about to end, though with several feet of snow on the ground it may not feel that way. Maybe that's why I keep forgetting to update this site! But April is here and tomorrow (!) is our first Diva gathering of the season. That's right. It's the annual meeting and Meet & Greet.

Join us on Wednesday, April 4, at 7:15 p.m. at Paramount Cycles. The shop is at 1320 Huffman Park Drive, in South Anchorage. If you've been wondering what the Divas are all about, this is a fun way to found out.

We'll talk about the upcoming riding season, have a ride-leader sign-up sheet and have a little something for all members to take home. We will also have membership forms for those who haven't yet renewed or for new members.

Bring your bike helmet so we can check the fit. We'll also have a helmet-decorating station where you can add some flair to your lid. There are sure to be tea and cookies, and I've heard rumors of prizes.

And just in case you're wondering, our new ride schedule is complete, just look under the main heading of this site for the "Fabulous Pages." Then start marking your calendar. See you Wednesday!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snow Divas

Snow Divas at the Ski for Women: Jo-Ann, Bev, Stacey, Karen, Maggi, Anne, Patti, and Linda

Patti and Stacey - sisters from different mothers?

Bev and Stacey - the first time they don't match?

Thanks to Stacey for the photos from the Ski for Women and the VaMoose!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


 20 BELOW in Willow didn't deter Susan, Stacey, Bonnie, Bev, Gloria, and Lori from riding the VaMoose tour at the Willow Winter Carnival.  Here is Bonnie's report:

"It was pretty cold!  Gloria, Bev and I drove out together and we saw minus 20 I think.  I don't think it got any warmer than minus 10 out there while riding!   When we finished around 4:00 they said it was minus 17!  We had fun though, but didn't ride as far as planned just because of the cold.  We were out riding for over 3 hours though.  Stacey, Lori, and Susan on the other hand rode the whole 20 mile course I think.  They're experienced winter bikers:) "
Lori looking warm and ready to take either fork

Stacey and Susan still smiling

The sun was high enough to cast real shadows!

Susan and Lori cooling off
They don't even look cold!

Monday, January 23, 2012

always time to ride

Some people have retreated to warmer climes and beaches ... but those of us left behind know that it's always time to ride. The warmer temperatures these last two days just make it even more enjoyable!

If your swimsuit is still buried in a drawer, I hope you're out enjoying all of this great snow on your bike, your skiis, or your feet!