Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The IditaTour: Part one.

Late last winter I found myself in Alaska with a bike and a plan. Again.

I went there with an ambitious objective: To ride the Iditarod Trail from Knik to Nome without outside support.

Why?

Well--why the hell not?!

Actually, there are many reasons why--you can read more about them here.

Early in the trip I started a video diary, basically turning the camera on myself and letting fly with whatever came to mind. It was a spur of the moment creative effort that morphed into a means for keeping myself together through the difficulties that came my way, day after day. Looking back now, it was a stroke of brilliance: Combining the immediacy of spoken word with the timelessness of stills tells a much, much more complete story than I (or anyone) could recreate from 9 months and three thousand miles away. This 'retelling' is much more honest. Really.

Below is the first installment in a 3-part series. Part one covers the first 8 days from Knik to ~McGrath.

Please keep in mind that my energies throughout the tour were focused on efficient forward progress--the camera had to remain an afterthought, which limited my creativity considerably. I started with a very, very limited amount of food, fuel, and camera batteries, and each time I stopped for a pic or vid I was 'burning daylight'. I didn't have enough battery power to review shots much less get any 'do overs', so the clips were off the cuff and then I'd be back on the bike seconds later, working to generate some heat and unthaw frozen-from-handling-the-camera fingers. Run and shoot, shoot and run.

I carried a glorified P&S camera. No tripod, no remote, nothing but a peashooter and a fistful of batteries. Given where I was and what I was doing, this camera's specs (HD vid, big zoom, flip screen, and AA batts) made it the easy (only?) choice--I didn't see another option that combined those 'big four' all together. All in all, it worked out pretty well.

Lastly, there were several times when it was simply not possible to shoot due to circumstance. Most often this means it was too cold, or windy, or snowy to bring the camera out, but there were several occasions when I was suffering too badly to be able to manage it. Thus, while the clips shown are somewhat revealing, some of the most precious moments were never recorded. And that's as it should be: Memories can grow more powerful through the years without evidence to support or deny!



Part two HERE.

Cheers,

MC

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gah.

...could we please, please have a little peril now?

They say that men are defined by the hardships they've faced and the lessons learned therein.

My self esteem is dropping by the day as this winter just keeps getting more ridiculous. No snow, no rain, tacky dirt, empty trails, perfect temps, and golden afternoon-into-evening light.

See?
Gif Created on Make A Gif

If this keeps up I'm gonna hafta head north for a little peril...

Sheesh.

MC

P.S. ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bumping, grinding, and slapping.

Plus! Grunting, groaning, shoving and flinging.



Nudge nudge--say no MORE!

Wink wink!

MC

Ahhhh... solstice.

Jabroni and I managed to meet atop the Mesa for a fat-tire ride. Our timing coincided with a nano-break in the nuclear storm that has enveloped the mountain since Friday. Feet of snow have piled up in the last few days, with feet more expected.


Normally, that wouldn't be a great setup for a snow ride. But I noticed (courtesy of snotels in close proximity to where I like to ride) that it had been consistently warm throughout the storm event, and the snow had a very, very high moisture content. Translation? Warm, wet snow packs really, really well. So we lucked out with a ~firm trail to ride, stunning (in their own way) views to savor, and the whole place to ourselves.


Unwilling to break up the flow of the ride, I shot from the hip with my P&S. Good enough, for now.


The weatherwench says this storm is due to break sometime on Thursday. I'm doing my best to get caught up on work between now and then, so that I can head up there to photogeek good and proper.


Ahem--I mean so that I can go for a ski with Fang. And maybe take some pics along the way...

To those that can't wait for spring, take heart--the days are getting longer. To those, like me, that are enjoying the heck outta what presents itself daily--carry on.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Leanin'.

A wonderful week of weather and a wee bit less work on the docket meant that I got to get out for a few rides with friends--both two and four leggeds.

Couldn't help but to notice a theme throughout these pics--I seem to be catching folks leanin' more often than not.




















The riding was amazing this week: mild temps and hero dirt collided in a bizarre blizzard of holycrapthisisgreat!

I'll likely get caned for writing this, but our unbefackinglievable fall weather has me wishing for...

...um...

...something a little closer to winter. You know, cold temps if not outright snow. I'll likely regret saying that soon, (3... 2... 1...) but it just doesn't even feel like December when riding apparel means long sleeves. I was shocked today when a friend mentioned something about Christmas in the present tense--as though it were here or something. And then I glanced at the calendar and, well, you know how that goes.

Have a great weekend.

MC

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Redder!

Just days after the last run at the red route, a gap in the wheelbuild queue presented itself. Not one single build in the queue could be advanced until UPS showed up with missing parts at ~4pm, which (duh!) is quitting time. So in essence I had the day to spend.

With the last run at 'red' glowing fresh, front and center in the memory banks, the choice seemed simple to me.

Landon, Skippy, and (of course) Milly agreed, so off we went.

Although we rode an almost verbatim route, the vibe of this day was different. Last time was about being, grooving, and seeing. This time? Charging. Mostly it was Skippy and Landon getting after it, but I found myself inspired by their lines and execution and occasionally dropped in or arced across as well.



The highlight of the day was, literally, the light. Soft, warm, glowing, at times even ethereal. If I say I've had better light to ride in and shoot with in the last year, well, I haven't.

Thanks for the day, gents. May another, similar but somehow different (better?!) happen again soon.

Cheers,

MC

P.S. A word about the music I choose for these slideshows, More and more often I find myself mildly offended at the in-your-face style of people, music, television, movies, ads, etc... Sometimes the music will completely put me off of an otherwise worthwhile effort. So my aim is not to choose a milquetoast substitute, but to actually find something subtle, with a little soul underlying it. Methinks 'generation now' could use a heaping helping of subtle, or at least an introduction to the basic concept.

And while this journal is *my* creative outlet, I'd appreciate honest (constructive!) criticism on the direction and overall quality of the content. Wanna see (or hear) more (or less) of something? Tell me. Thanks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The red route.

Not far from where I sit there exists a route, difficult to describe, that has captivated my imagination for the better part of two decades.

It is not accurate to call it a trail. Although access is via derelict mining track, beyond that track there is seldom an actual path to follow. The route perambulates an ocean of naked rock within the looping bend of a meanderful river, overarched by yet more rock and distant islands of frosted mountains. It is never straight, never marked, never the same from trip to trip. Despite that, bicycles seem to be the ideal means for conveying our bodies up, down, and across it.

The above paragraph hints at why it continues to captivate; It doesn't seem possible to grasp the whole when I repeatedly fail to grasp the individual parts.

A few days ago we spent all available daylight out flitting across this rock. The ride isn't 'big' in an enduro geek sense, but if you're able to not stare at your front wheel it is difficult to call it anything other than huge. Lift your gaze for long and it becomes difficult to keep moving; The panorama insists that you squeeze brakes, place foot on rock, and fixate with a soft focus. You know--gawk.

There's a lotta red out there, but the hue is somehow dwarfed by the scale.

Words can't begin to explain it. Images aren't much better. Only actually being out there is good enough.

I love it when that happens.



Perhaps the images I borrowed that day will inspire you to explore your own nearby yet somehow unknown 'red route'; The one that calls out, captivates, and defies categorization.

Perhaps.

MC

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Red planet.

The weather wench was wrong! Snow missed us and we ain't complainin'...





























Gotta love this time of year--every minute of every ride is savored...

More on this theme to come in a ~weekend post.

Cheers,

MC