Last week, I bought a new bike. The one I bought last year was $83 from Wal-Mart and – appropriately – sucks. I also left it outside all winter which didn’t help my situation. Poor Wally Bike.
This one is nothing super special either. I bought it from Costco for $60 off it’s original price at a grand total of $300. And there is a good chance I’ve been ripped off. Oh well, it’s a step up from the Wally Bike. Eventually I’ll get it right and settle on the fact that I need a grown up bike. This one feels good though and it rides fairly well. Supposedly it’s a Men’s frame, but it has that slanty top bar that Women’s bikes have. It’s also an 18″ frame when in reality I usually ride a 15″ frame so like…if I ever have to jump off, I’ll end up hurting myself extra special.
My main prerogative is to get fit and lose weight without totally killing myself. Having said that, winter will be here in just a few weeks, and then I’ll have the lovely battle of snow and ice on the roads. I’m going to buy studded tires, and I’ve been watching youtube videos of people in northern climes who “icebike” as it’s called on a regular basis…Mostly Minnesotans and Canadians. I really hate the idea of crashing, especially on a cold, hard surface, so I figure I’ll either whimp out and never do it, or do it and be just fine.
Allen helped me take the bike home via car, which is ironic since the whole purpose was to actually ride the damn thing. Either way we got to see a pretty spectacular rainbow on the drive to downtown – it followed us the whole way. Perhaps it was the sign that the biking fairy godmother is watching out for me.
I had puttered around town on it a lot that week, and I even took it the 14 miles to work on a cold, frosty, yet bluebird clear morning, but never really had the chance to do a solid ride like I’ve been wanting to for the simple pleasure of doing it. Yesturday was sunny with a high of 53: the perfect day! And while the forecast called for bright sunny skies agian today, I knew that my graveyard shifts at work were soon going to wear me down to a useless, tired, lump. (a.k.a: right now).
How can you beat that sky!?
Before I began, I decided that the ride would have 1 of 2 outcomes: I could either ride to the glacier and back, or I could ride the Mendenhall Loop from Glacier Spur to Auke Bay, continuing all the way back to the Nugget Mall intersection where I could take the bike path back to downtown.
The ride from downtown to the valley is a “straight shot” in that there are really only 2 routes to pick, and both go – naturally – to the valley. Bikes aren’t allowed on Eagan Drive (the pretend highway), so I simply took the only option: the Glacier “Highway” route which meanders along the different neighborhood zones of Juneau.
I passed new snow on the peaks behind Lemon Creek. The first snow fell about two weeks ago, very high in the mountains, and is now slowly beginning to descend. I haven’t hiked in the area shown just yet, but I hope to make a stop to that come this winter. (Once the bears are asleep).
Once I got to the Nugget Mall I had two options, go left and head towards Auke Bay (all uphill), or go right and head to the glacier (flat land). I could make the loop circut with either choice, the first just being more work. I decided I was not cardiovascularly there yet, and opted for the flat course. I pedaled my way towards the beginning of Glacier Spur Road, and spied the left hand turn that would take me onto the back of the loop. Ahead of me the mendenhall towers were watching my decisions. Their brilliant, snow capped, saw toothed peaks shone in the Fall sunlight with breathtaking brilliance, and I just couldn’t pass them by. I did pass by the loop road though, and headed the last mile to the Glacier.
I arrived with sunlight on my face, and the surprise of new snow on top of Mt. McGinnis. When I had been by two weeks ago, there was just the slightest trace of white at the tippity top of the mountain. Winter is certainly coming my way with haste!
I walked around the glacier snapping pictures and admiring the beauty of the natural world. It certainly hasn’t escaped me yet that I live in a place where in just 12.5 miles, I can be standing in front of such an amazing site.
I was glad with my choice of destination. I sometimes forget just how lucky I am to live in a place like this where I see these sites as if they’re right outside my back door. I read just yesterday that almost all of the Canadian Ice Shelf has melted off this year. Over the summer in Juneau a huge chunk of ice calved from the glacier and water began gushing forth for days, flooding mendenhall valley and requiring several homes to be evacuated. Later reasearch discovered that a glacial lake out on the Juneau Ice Fields had drained into Mendenhall Lake, explaining the deluge of water that had gushed out. I’m no expert, nor do I want to get too high up on my judgement horse, but after living in a place like this, and working in trail conservation last summer, I have to say that sometimes I get worried about where our planet is headed. How much longer will we be able to bike to glaciers set amid snowcapped peaks and stare at the wonder of geologic time suspended in ice?
I was thinking all these thoughts when I decided that the wind coming off the mountains was a little too cool for what I came dressed in and so made my way back to the bike for the journey home. Allen called me just two miles into my return journey and I ended up joining him for an inpromptu late lunch of blueberry pancakes and coffee at Donna’s Restaurant. After parting ways – he to the bus and I to my bike – I pushed myself with all speed to see how fast I could make it the 9 miles home. To my delight, I passed one of those digital speed monitors JPD leaves out to passively aggressively let motorists know they’re speeding. And…it totally caught me! 12mph! I have no idea if that is good or bad or terrible, but I felt – and still do feel – triumphant that the machine even noticed me and that I got to see myself represented on its screen! How exciting!
I made it home as the long shadows of the mountains were starting to crawl across the flats. For my last effort, I huffed myself several blocks up a steep hill to the door to my apartment – at this point totally excited with myself. I had had a great, great day on my bike, not to mention the added bonus time with boyfriend, pancakes and the amazing sites! And, the fun wasn’t quite over. I jumped online and checked the mileage: 25 miles round trip! Ah-HA! And that isn’t counting the little offshoots of bikepaths I took into different neighborhoods along the way. TWENTY FIVE MILES!
My first Quarter Century Ride! Not bad!