Friday, April 11, 2014

End of the Fat Season

Seasons come and go.
The bad winter we had is breaking up.
Our fat biking trips are ending.
After trying to ride to a Glacier and finding nothing but slushy lake,
we tried another place.

The access is slushy too.
The snow is gone.
Time is running.
Wind is blowing.
Swamps are the option this day. 
Dead trees are standing, stubborn in the weather.
With the hope of getting alive.

Another season will come.
The cycle has to continue, it will come back.
The bike is away already, waiting for the next winter.
Just like the trees, waiting for another chance to come.
Bye Portage Valley, 
thanks for making this dog smile :-3

Monday, April 7, 2014

North, Willow: Fat Biking

Sometimes when I see a map I have an idea about the area.
But when I get in an area I saw before, 
I realize that is like infinite.
Is big, huge and looks interminable.
What it looks like a river and some creeks,
is a territory where we as humans are ... nothing. 

We rode North, in Willow, AK. In their snowmachine trails.
Is an isolated land, full of solitude.
Peace and silence.
You can travel in a bicycle for hours and cover a little portion.
After wondering some trails we connected to a river, 
then this river connected to another big river.
The highway we were traveling was fast.
After some hours we found a lunch place, were they had good snacks
and cold beer.

After that we kept cruising. We were in the middle of our route.
Just at the middle section of the Susitna river.
You can keep pedaling for hours, going to nowhere.
After setting a deadline and turning back,
we found 3 souls, enjoying some time under the sun.
The route back to the car was different, 
but still fun.

The route: =)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Remembranzas de "Alguien" del CAIC

No recuerdo cuando fue mi primera excursión al CAIC.
Creo que ya pasaron más de 10 años. 
Después que algunos amigos del ITESO, me invitaron.
Fue fundado por el padre Luis Hernandez Prieto, SJ
A quien no conocí, pero muchas historias escuche.
Uno de sus sueños fue escalar el Denali. Aquí, en Alaska. 
Mi vista diaria en días claros, sin olvidar saludarlo.

El CAIC tiene una propia cultura, una enseñanza.

Su lema: Amigar, Arriesgar, Conquistar y Dar.
Palabras que marcan experiencias, que marcan vidas. Vidas pasadas y presentes.
Días en los que hacíamos actividades al aire libre con extraños, 
extraños que actuaban de manera natural,
practicando una mística, de valores.
Extraños que al final, eran amigos.

Aquí, en Alaska, donde una vez como el padre yo también soñé,
la mística no es normal, la recuerdo y la extraño.
Aquí los extraños si son extraños.
Arriesgan y conquistan, pero con una visión recreativa, 
deportiva o competitiva, pues esto es el día a día en su jardín trasero.
Mis amigos no eran así, pero no están aquí.
Nuestras misiones de fin de semana o vacaciones, eran experiencias llenas de risas,
humildad, diversión.
Arriesgamos y conquistamos.
Pero en la montaña, fuimos hermanos.

Dábamos todo por cumplir nuestra meta.
Pero a la vez dábamos la mano a quien lo necesitara.
La palabra Dar en el CAIC era una acción notable.
Para mi era una cultura, ya que aquí no es común.
Al final de las jornadas, de los largos días, era una comunidad muy rara,
un circulo social de estufas estacionarias, 
comida que circulando de mano en mano,
de cucharada a cucharada,
de mordida en mordida.

Así como recuerdo la mística del CAIC, 
recuerdo también muchas manos que me ayudaron.
Me alimentaron, me animaron a seguir adelante cuando el cansancio dominaba.
Si me daba frío alguien me abrigaba.
De generación en generación, 
alguien me enseñaba.

Mis propias experiencias al igual que las de muchos caicos,
son recordadas por las palabras que "alguien", 
que también fue al CAIC,
escribió y dejó como memorias.

Desconozco el autor, pero lo qué si conozco,
es que aquí, hace falta ese alguien.
Hace falta ese extraño que te tienda la mano, 
hace falta ese alguien que te brinde un bocado o te lo acepte sin parecer extraño.
Alguien, que el compartir sea algo natural,
ese extraño que al final, sea un amigo.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Ski Train 2014

Weeks ago ANSP asked AMRG  for some volunteers to support them in the Ski Train mission for 2014.

I decided to join the teams and had the opportunity to assist with this. 
The planning was going from time ago, by last Saturday I had designated a team and some responsibilities to do.
Waking up at 4:30 am to run to the supermarket to get something for lunch and run to the ARR depot to be there by 5:30 am. I dropped all my personal gear and the gear I had from the group. I had my splitboard* for moving there. With no boots. And no coffee. I went back home for the boots. Back at the Train by 6:30 am.  

According to the plan, after Talkeetna, we prepared to give a safety briefing in the cars of the train, receiving instructions from the people in charge. My team was assigned to the cars in the other end of the train. Which crossing all the way there was and adventure already, like crossing the "valley of the death" in Denali. But in a party definition...

... The polka band played in each car of the train.

The party cars had DJ and some tables a sound device locally. 
Parafernalia, costumes, drinks and food was all around, part of the thematic of the day.

After the safety briefing in each car, we went back to the safety car to get ready for deploy.

The Foraker, Hunter and Denali were giving us a stunning view and warming welcome to a northern latitude.
We got to Curry, Alaska. A magical and historical place where the train stops, lets the people get out, enjoy the area for some XC skiing, backcountry skiing or snowshoeing. 
My team got deployed to a South area. Where a hill with some tricky cliffs, serves as a base of a telecommunications antenna. People follow some old road, that is now like a snowcat track road to the top.
Brian, Sarah, Wesley & Me toured around on the way up to the hill. Experimenting, in my personal case, the difficulty of "patrolling" in a splitboard, without the knowledge of how to ski down in split mode. Taking note. 
On the top, we had lunch with an excellent view and a friendly weather. People was skiing up and down and around. By 3:00 pm we started sweeping the area and the road, checking for people to don't stay back and let them get back to the train on time and safely.

Back on the train we had to make sure nobody was missing. We went back to the cars we had assigned. Other team members were taking care of some medical assessments and responding to this cases.

Making necessity the appearance of a bird in the air. A helo medevac, from LifeMed , if I'm correct.
After the train was able to leave, everyone was back in the train. Ready to head back to Anchorage. 
It was good that nobody was missing. 
The train started rolling back in track, as the DJ's, polka band and people got back in party.

This was my first time in the ski train. 
A lot of events and experiences from this long but fun day.
Good job to all the patrollers and the people who had the most fun and safe day.

* Now that my gf is cetified ski instructor, I'll learn to ski. Is even need it when you split your board and need to go down. ;)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Life Cycles: the life story.

This last days that I was sick I invest some time watching some of my favorite movies. I don't have that many, between them I have Life Cycles DVD.

This movie is not a biking movie, is a movie about bikes. Is a deep, well written story that marks a lot my life, inspiring not only mountain biking, but the rest of my own life by itself. 
I didn't have my grandfathers with me, a lack of time with my father too. But in my solitary life of adventurist I met a lot of people and learn a lot from my uncles and people who was around me.
I had many fathers and grandparents, all of them full of humbleness and wisdom.
They taught me the basics, from the roots, from the dirt.
I dug my own way now... I'm still riding along the way.

This is the script of the movie, the story:
(Voice: Mitch Scott.)
Life is a river.
That's what grandad always used to say.
A beginning, an end, a million different ways in between.
He used to metaphor my whole life, how it'd end and float,
following the path of least resistance, barreling straight through the impossible.
Clear as air and black as night.
And no matter what direction or how it'd move or what it'd look like,
the point according to grandad, was that the river always moved forward.
What kept him running the rabbits until he was old and grey?
The mystery of what lay around the bend.
These days that mystery is hard to find.
The river is distant and sky clouded with concrete.
For many of us, life's great adventure, all its beauty, all its connection sails by unnoticed.
Funny thing is the river's never that far off.
This is the story of a way back in.
To the rush of moving forward.
Born from the earth's crust.
Grown from the seeds of innovation.
Forged in the fires of industry.
The Earth's most efficient machine
creates its most efficient animal...
The bicycle, our noblest invention.

Trails like the seasons come and go.
Built on a foundation of diversity, beauty, classic elegance.
Never quite repeating themselves.
A marvel made of beginnings and endings, with a million different ways in between.

Grandad was all about those connections.
He had his hands in Earth as much as he did in machines.
Maybe that's why he understood both sides...
Sure we till and cut, we reap and we sow...
And yeah, we do great damage.
But we're also capable of great good.
After all, no matter how smart we think we are, we're just another part of the mystery.
"Balance a bike right."
"Keep the pedals turning."
"Forget about everything except right now."
"And there's no place you can't ride."
That's what grandad used to say.

I once read that life is an act of suicide.
And it's true.
We're probably the only creatures on the planet who know this.
Maybe that's why we're so good at killing.
"It's going to die anyway, might as well have it for ourselves."
So we take, we take some more.
But in the process we kill other less tangible entities.
Things like flow, joy, interaction, purpose.
Another way though the world is lost.
Not by one particular person...
but by instinct, survival, the very chaos of life itself.

We spend hours thinking, designing, questioning.
Also you can spend a few seconds lost in one moment.
No time to think, just reaction.
All the worry and the want washed away by the rush.
When it comes to trance, when the builder puts down the shovel and picks up the bike,
when creation overrides destruction...
well, that's living.

I still remember my first bike.
Perfect little banana seater with big chopper handlebars in sparkling blue paint.
Bright memories came on that miracle of ingenuity.
Cruising down the sidewalk, feeling big, even though I was only seven.
In a second the world grew exponentially.
We found secret back alleys, jumps a whole four blocks away.
We'd crash, get giant scrapes down our arms, race to the corner store
as fast as we could, candy spilling out of our pockets like stolen gold.
With every ride, every new adventure the chrome would fade.
The rust would creep into the paint.
Other kids would show up with newer bikes.
My best friend Jimmy got a BMX with treaded tires, no fenders.
He could jump that thing like nobody's business.
Then we found a trail and the world changed again.
We'd find ourselves deep in the forest, riding off the routes,
dropping into gullies, caught in the rain.
New kids would show up with gears and bigger wheels
and while I remained true to my ride, much like the chrome in the paint
my affections began to fade.
My parents promised me a BMX when I got little bigger.
But for now a chopper would have to do.
One day far gone in the woods my perfect little banana seater broke in two.
The end of an age.
I cried for a long time.
Even though a new bike wasn't far off.
This thing had become a part of me.
It still is.
No matter how well we build things, no matter how hard we love them,
like everything else for whatever reason, there are forces that aim to take it all away.

It's only taken two hundred years for trial and error to get here.
Two hundred years of innovation and invention, of not giving up.
Complex by design, simple by nature.
The bike is nothing more than circles turning circles.
It's the human motor that makes it elegant.
But no matter how far the bike has come,
no matter how much it can already do, the pushing doesn't stop.
We still haven't found the edge.

One day the river meets the sea and then it's not a river anymore.
Its passed through the wheels of change.
In and out of experience.
Stories, adventure, grandads.
Inevitably the ride stops.
Lost but not entirely gone.
For now as far as we can tell, the cycle of life...
well, it never ends.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MARCH1N1: Surviving.

Week 1.
A friend's birthday party is followed by resting 2 days. 
By consequence.
20 minutes barefoot run to rock climbing session.
Release of coughing as a new move.

The Break down.
Pain + pain + weakness + shivering = work days.
Fever turns on.
Lack of appetite, nausea and drinking tea.
Sore throat is increasing to the point of ... doctor's visit.
4 days of isolation and sleep.

Week 2.

Long days to follow.
Work here. Work there. Training meetings.
Days are exhausting at the end.
The sleep follows after medicines and pain killers.
The sense of isolation continues.
Physically. Mentally. Heartlessly.

The first attempt of breaking the isolation, by enjoying the fresh snow.
With 2 friends in the backcountry.
Reminding me that:
"On some level, each person skis alone".
I follow my sense of snow responsibilities. My cough follow my steps.
The angle is low, as my moral.
The snow is deep, as my breathing.
My heart is about to collapse.

Week 3.
The peaceful of the solitude cheers me up.
Fresh air in my face. Speed and flow of in a novelty machine.
The reduction of tiredness, pain and coughing.
Sense of being embraced. Strength to the muscles.
Heart is a muscle. 
Rest is crucial.
50% of the week, 75% of recovering... 

... Influenz-ced to survive.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Grivel X-Monster Ice Tools

I got the Grivel X-Monster as my first leashless tools; after doing some ice climbing with my girlfriend's Quarks and borrowing my friend's Nomics for some more technical climbing. Yes, always borrowing some gear because my DMM fly are so old and destroy my fingers.

So I took the X-Monsters for a long alpine climb and check how they perform. Bottom line: Awesome.

There are many opinions about them and everybody goes for the Nomics, but I had money for 1 nomic or 2 X-Monsters, so for the price I thought it was worth it to start, but so far I'm very impressed with this tools.

The thin shaft is completely different as other tools, having some advantages when they perform in alpine terrain, vertical ice and technical drytooling. The swing is well balanced and they are light. 

The flat shaft makes it easy to penetrate upside down and pull like little pickets when climbing up in a snow ramp approach.

The thinner pick and shaft combo makes the tool easy to use in cracks or between rocks and pull from there. The flexibility in the shaft lets you anchor and pull from the tool when you have a narrow crack in there. It is tricky to get used to a flexible shaft, but once you abuse them to make the way up, you will find out how useful is this feature.

Oh and you can fit both tools in one ice clipper too :)

The grip is wide to grab with big gloves, or for 2 or 3 different positions in the handle. Is very comfortable and friendly. Also, when matching hands in the shaft, the tool doesn't cut your circulation. Just make sure you follow the instructions to use the rubber snake and some grip tape will help.

As addition at the end of the shaft they have a tiny claw pick to connect the leashes and not loose your tools in an alpine route. Or you could connect them in the middle of the shaft too.

The picks I got both have hammer head. Tiny hammer, but strong hot forged steel Chromoly able to hit some pitons or rock. Or again using the hammer as a nut in a little crack.

Again, you get so much tool for this price. Comparing it to Nomics, I really like how they have other little advantages in the field, that for me are really useful. 

I got this tools from with free shipping to Alaska, thanks for that Prolitegear! <3

-------------------------------- Español ---------------------------------
Los Grivel X-Monster son mis primeros piolets sin dragoneras que compro; después de escalar en hielo con los Quarks de mi novia y pedir prestados los Nomics de mi amigo para algunas escalada más técnicas. Si, siempre pidiendo martillos prestados porque mis DMM Fly son muy viejos y me destrozan los dedos en el hielo.
Pues me llevé los X-Monsters a probar a una ruta alpina y así checar su rendimiento. En resumen: impresionantes.

Hay bastantes opiniones sobre ellos y todos siempre se inclinan por los Nomics, pero yo tenía dinero para 1 nomic o 2 X-Monsters, por el precio creí que valía la pena arriesgarme y empezar con estos, pero hasta ahora estoy muy impresionado con su uso.

El mango delgado es completamente diferente a otros martillos, dando ventajas cuando se usan en alpino, hielo vertical o mixto drytool. El balanceo está bien equilibrado al momento de martillar y son ligeros.

El mando plano penetra fácilmente cuando los insertas de cabeza y jalas de ellos como si fueran estacas para nieve al escalar rampas de nieve.

El combo del pico delgado con el mango, hace del martillo una herramienta de fácil acceso en grietas o entre rocas y así halar de ellos. La flexibilidad del mango te deja anclarlo y halar cuando lo insertas en una grieta, así esta no sea vertical. Cuesta trabajo acostumbrarse al mango flexible, pero una vez que abusas de ellos al escalar una ruta, vas a encontrar las ventajas de que sea flexible.

Oh y puedes colgar ambos en un solo ice clipper también :)

La empuñadura es amplia para agarrarse con guantes grandes, o para usar 2 o 3 posiciones de la mano diferentes. Es muy cómodo y amistoso. También, al juntar las manos en el mango no se corta la circulación en las manos. Solo hay que asegurarse de utilizar el rubber snake y cinta para empuñaduras ayuda.

Al final del mango tiene un piquito aserrado con un hoyo, para conectar las dragoneras y no perder los martillos a media escalada. También se pueden conectar a medio mango.

Los picos que tienen mis martillos tienen una cabeza de martillo en la parte de atrás. Pequeñito, pero fuerte acero forjado capaz de golpear pitones o roca. O de nuevo, usar el martillo como nuez en una grieta.

Para mencionar de nuevo, esto es demasiada buena herramienta por el precio. Comparado con los Nomics, realmente me gusta las pequeñas ventajas que para mi son muy valoradas allá afuera.

Compré mis martillos con con envío gratis hasta Alaska, Gracias por esto Prolitegear! <3