July 30, 2007

Erie Canal runhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

Syracuse. Still on the road, though now with a different group of riders (lrlr.org). We stayed last night at the Red Mill Inn, right on the Erie Canal.

Up early this morning, at 6, and went running with Scott Miller, a guy from Vancouver who is one of the chase car drivers. Apparently, he started running since last year and even did the Vancouver half-marathon! I am impressed with his sub 2-hr time. We had a good run this morning, if a bit short. Just a hair under 5K, so I figure it was exactly three miles. It was a pretty route, though not picture worthy, really - lots of corn and people's houses. But the weather is beautiful: clear, cool (almost), and calm. Scott got an intro to my "walking and coughing" and I hope to run farther with him on successive runs. I felt the usual easing up toward the end of the run in the legs and body and believe that Scott was also just getting warmed up, too.

Off to Ottawa today.

July 23, 2007

I am Falling way behind in Minneapolis

I'm falling behind. I'm behind in my travel/work schedule and I'm way behind in my running schedule. In point of fact, I haven't even set up a marathon training schedule, yet. I am having some mental block about doing so until my marathon of motorcycle riding is over. Because of my fear of getting injured again, and the increased likelihood of that happening when doing a shortened training schedule, I am planning a two- or three-runs-per-week schedule, max. My Wednesday runs really have been working out well (when I'm actually in town), and my weekends should have enough time to put in the really long runs. My theory is that while I won't be building speed, I will be building endurance - and giving my body plenty of rest in between runs.

I'm doing my therapy right now in another crappy motel room in another crappy town. I just finished two miles of run. It's 78 degrees outside, not too bad, but with a humidity of 75%. This is right at the edge of my ability to endure while running and I just felt like I had no energy. So I ran a whopping two miles, though they were nice and continuous, with short rests only at traffic lights. Actually, if I hadn't put in 650 miles yesterday, I'd probably have had the energy to go longer and certainly hope to Wednesday morning.

OK, let me back up a bit and say that I got into Minneapolis last night about 7 p.m. after a shade over 2500 miles in four and a half days. Not easy to do, especially this time of year with the bugs, heat, and humidity prevalent in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

After scouting for a UPS store (I'm going to ship my camping gear home today), I got food, watched the new Harry Potter movie, started working on my write-up about this whole trip, and fell asleep about 3 a.m. I didn't wake up 'til 11 and then only because housekeeping was calling about whether I wanted service for my room. I never heard my watch go off, though I know it did at 9. I am using today as a rest day because for the next two days, I'll be teaching at Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis and I need to be in top form.

To wrap up the story of these last few days: I got out of Whitehorse finally at 1:30 on Wednesday and put in nearly 500 miles to get to Liard Hotsprings Provincial Park. They have a fantastic natural hotsprings there, I highly recommend going if you ever get the chance. Unfortunately, as a camping experience, it wasn't great: lots of mosquitos, loudly-snoring campers, and rain in the morning. Due to the snorers, I was up just as it began raining and went back to the hotsprings and had it all to myself from about 5:30 to 6 a.m. So I went skinny-dipping. :)

The next night was spent in Dawson Creek, then Friday night in Lloydminister, SK. This town is actually split down the middle by the BC/SK border, marked by huge orange pylons that can probably be seen from space. I did a lot of miles Saturday (now that the route was flat and boring), and reached Winnipeg. The border crossing into the US yesterday took almost an hour; all but two minutes of that spent waiting in the 90-degree heat in the sun.

Frankly, I am getting tired and cranky. Hopefully, these two days of teaching will reset my biker-switch and I'll be able to press on toward the Long Reach Long Riders ride. To be perfectly honest, that ride needs to be fantastic, or else my group riding days are permanently over, charity or no.

By the way, I just found out about the Google Transit feature, for planning mass transit trips in major cities. New York isn't in there yet, but this looks like it's in the building phase.

July 17, 2007

Whitehorse run #3

Well, I'm spending my third full day here in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, due to a busted belt. The belt SHOULD arrive today, but as it didn't arrive by 11 a.m., the timing won't work out to get on the road today; not safely at any rate. The belt should arrive this afternoon and I'll have my bike back tonight; I'm hoping to leave this one-horse town (no pun intended) by 5 a.m. tomorrow.

In the meantime, the weather has done a 180 from grey and rainy to breezy, sunny, glorious perfection. I can see the attraction to living in this area - for about twelve weeks of the year.

The problem I face now is in getting to Minneapolis on time for a teaching gig. I am rather upset about this gig and having accepted it at all, on the timing I did. I am going to have to have a talk with my boss when all this is over; a talk about when my calendar says "unavailable" for a particular block of time, there are to be no questions about that, period. What my boss has a habit of doing is asking very reasonable questions about what that "unavailable" means - where I'll be and what I'll be doing - and then finding a logical way of using any extra time. I should not have revealed that I was going to back in NY for a week decompressing between trips - he pounced and I got scheduled for a gig. I did bring up on the phone the possibility of a serious delay such as this one, but that didn't concern him nearly as much as ME conforming to the client's calendar. Well, no more of this shit. I will do these gigs, but as I discussed when I originally went to work doing this, the gigs MUST fit with my calendar, not mine with theirs. We broke that rule this time, and I'll be paying for it in 800-mile days starting tomorrow. Frankly, if I keep thinking about it, I'll become so pissed off, I'll have a severe asthma attack (it's happened before), so I'll just leave this topic now.

My run today was another one up Two Mile Hill, which is a lot closer to two miles than I reckoned earlier - I found out that what I ran Sunday is only the FIRST PART of the hill; that it crests slightly, then continues up. It was still not two miles - maybe 1.75 - and I think I put in 4.5 to 5 miles today. It was a well-paced run, with a half dozen walking-and-coughing moments on the way up the hill, but smooth and continuous in the downhill and flat parts. The air up here is nice and clean and that really helps, I think.

Yes, Joe, I've got a camera and have been taking pictures, but have no way of uploading them on borrowed computers. Maybe next trip I'll take a USB cable and see what I can do, but it usually requires Windows recognizing the camera as a drive - something I don't count on Windows to do with an install CD. I will eventually post my pictures - perhaps as revisions to these last few posts - and will highlight that fact I've made changes, so you can go back in the posts and see the pictures. I don't know if the camera will give me quality pics, actually - I chose this one for this trip based on convenience - size, AA batteries, SD card (swappable with my GPS), etc. But as I am an expert in Photoshop, I think I can manage to use whatever comes out of the camera. Many shots I've been taking multiple exposures, using various parts of the composition to meter from, so that in Photoshop I can make the correct adjustments. This is an area of image processing that gets close to creating HDRIs - High Dynamic Range Images - in which pixel information is stored like it looks in reality. (i.e. If a sky pixel is 10 million times as bright as a ground pixel, then the HDRI stores it as such, even though a computer screen can't display that. But you then get an image which you can adjust exposure levels on to the nth degree and see all the actual relative lights and darks. Thus, you can choose different areas of the image to be different exposure settings and end up with a single image where the sky looks blue and your friend in the foreground isn't a silhouette.)

Having all this time has not been without benefit. I washed the grey shit out of my stuff, as I noted before, and today took my bags and Aerostitch outside and spent a can of waterproofing/UV coating on them, to increase their water resistance, like they used to be when new.

I also saw a whole group of restored Model A Fords. The owners are a whole club and they ship their cars to various places and drive around. Got pictures of a couple of them that were left (by the time I got back to them with my camera). Nicely restored, all of them, though the CB antennas on the bumpers were a strange addition. (CBs are a good idea, though, when travelling in packs.)

Well, I may take a long walk and see if I can get some of the chowder I missed on my first pass through this town - it's about a mile away if I'm looking at the maps correctly. And I will keep praying the dealer gets the drive belt in today and that I can get back on the road tomorrow.

July 15, 2007

Whitehorse Run #2

Just got back from a three-mile (or so) hill run. I am in Whitehorse, YT, again; on my way back to the States. I left my hotel and went up toward where the main road intersects with the Alaska Highway, which I'll be heading back to Monday. This turned out to be a massive hill, called Two Mile Hill, though it is perhaps a mile long at most. Counting the distance from my motel to the start of that hill, I think the run was about three miles. The elevation here is high enough I had a hard time getting enough oxygen, especially going up the hill, so there was a bit of walking - but not too much and I'm happy with the run.

Actually, I ran this evening because I was already in running gear, having spent the better part of the afternoon washing everything I own except the motorcycle. As it turns out, the Dalton Highway (road to Arctic Circle) is covered in calcium choloride as an effort to keep dust down. It is itself a fine grey dust, once it gets on you and dries. It would not have been so bad had I not goine through a couple of showers on the way up to the Circle - the calcium makes the road slick as hell and huge amounts of mud splashed up on my and my bike and gear. By the time I got to the Circle, the bike was pretty much grey from one end to the other. Well, despite using a power washer at a car wash once I got back to Fairbanks, the grey stuff really ingratiated itself into my gear. So I spent today washing and washing. I even emptied my bags and put the bags and straps into the front-loading washers. This all worked like a charm and I'll start out fresh tomorrow with clean gear. I have a few straps that I left on the bike which I may just toss out and get new ones - the grey dust is that bad. And once you touch the grey dust, it doesn't wash off your skin easily.

In Fairbanks, Lee and I stayed at this bed & breakfast. It is the strangest place I've ever stayed. It is decorated very much like my sister's mother-in-law's house. Not a very comfortable experience for me at all. We probably should have found a campground and tented it, but both of us were disinclined after the mosquito-ridden experience of the night before.

Anyway, I'm having quite an adventure coming back, even though I had been hoping for an easy trip home (well...to Minneapolis, at any rate). I did not rest well either at the Circle or in Fairbanks, as my gallbladder chose to act up again during this time. That has since calmed down and I'm feeling much better.

Though I had only one minor problem with the bike going up, coming back became a different story. After leaving Fairbanks, my buddy Lee and I were alone - the rest of the group having gone to Anchorage in our absence - and we were making good time toward Beaver Creek, just across the national border, in Yukon Territory. We had left the satellite phone in Tok, Alaska, at the campground where the other half of our group would be staying the next night, for them to have, because we weren't sure we'd be hooking up with that half again. Well, I should have kept the phone.

I was between the American and Canadian border stations in a 20-mile stretch of no-man's land when my drive belt broke! Lee continued on, to find a phone and call for help, and I found myself very, very alone in a beautiful part of the Yukon, twiddling my thumbs near - get this - Snag Creek. Yeah, I'd hit a Snag, all right.

I was beginning to wonder if I'd have to camp right on the spot when Lee came back. My roadside assistance would be sending a flatbed tow truck from Whitehorse the next morning, and that would take about seven hours to get to Beaver Creek (I was about eight miles short of that town). So I hitched a ride into Beaver Creek and got a pretty bad motel room for the night.

The next morning, Saturday, Lee left early, to make 600 miles toward home, and I spent most of the day waiting for the truck to show up, which it did at 4:30. The driver, Justin, collected me, then we headed back past customs to get my bike. The trip to Whitehorse should have taken about eight hours max, but my strange luck continued to fire: we hit blasting and re-construction of the Alaska Highway at Lake Kluane and had a 90-minute wait for the pilot car while the giant GIANT bulldozers moved freshly blasted mountain off the "roadway".

But wait! It gets better! We got going again, only to find at the next bit of construction (two miles further along), that the tow truck's differential was burning itself out. My rescue truck now needed rescue. It was about 11:30 when the driver managed to find and borrow a satellite phone from the road crew and call his boss to come with a second tow truck - a three-hour drive up from Whitehorse, minimum.

In the meantime, I gathered the absolute essentials (toiletries, air compressor, and medicines) and hitched a ride with the first people to come by who could take me. This turned out to be a fanstastically lucky hookup. Nice guy by the name of Bruce Hill and his wife Rachel were in a little camper van and had room for me. Over the next three hours, we chatted a lot - turns out he's a Harley rider, too, and is scouting terrain for coming up here on his bike next year or year after. He and I both think we want to come back to this area via the Marine Highway, so we can see some great glaciers and such on the way up.

I got dropped off in Whitehorse at 3:30 a.m. this morning, and crashed 'til 11. I called the tow company and was able to gather up the rest of my belongings, sans bike, and proceeded with the deep cleaning. Tomorrow, I'll coordinate getting the bike to the Harley dealership and be there when they open. They should have a belt (I have a very common model) and get me on the road by 11:00 at the latest. I have to make time, as I have a job in Minneapolis soon. I am keeping my fingers crossed about that belt being available. The OTHER half of the grop has a belt, but I have no idea if they made it into Whitehorse tonight (as planned) or not, or if they'll go to the dealership in the morning. At this point, I'm on my own - and I rather like it this way.

More exciting stuff later, I'm sure; my internet time has almost run out.

July 13, 2007

Arctic Circle run

A few days ago, I ran in Whitehorse, Yukon, where Robert Service wrote a couple of his most facorite poems (others written in Dawson City later), including "The Shooting of Dangerous Dan McGrew". Took some pics of the old surviving paddlewheel steamer they've preserved there. A short run, but much better than the one up at Lake...can't remember the name right now; it's along the Alaska Highway just short of Tok in Canada. There's a lodge there that's very nice, anyway.

To the point: I ran this morning AT THE ARCTIC CIRCLE! It is not nearly as cold or barren as one would suppose. I know it's high summer, but still...it's warmer at the circle right now than in many places in lower Canada. I woke up to 70 degrees for my run, which turned out to be a hell of a hill workout. The elevation must be pretty high there. Anyway, it's an interesting enough place - the Dalton Highway parallels the Alaskan pipeline and that is fascinating to look at - quite an oddity. And the whole tundra area is bizarre, especially now, since there was a 7 million acre wildfire recently and the hills are COVERED in fire-flower - a BRIGHT pink flower. So the whole area is a patchwork of green tundra grasses & trees and this pink wildflower. Great stuff. Haven't dealt with the famous Alaskan mosquitos except at the arctic circle - they are minimal everywhere else, so far.

Gotta go; only paid for fifteen minutes of time.

July 4, 2007

Jamestown run, Glacier run

Very quickly, since I'm on a borrowed computer, posting via WiFi at a KOA near Glacier National Park...j

Two mornings ago, did an almost- three mile run with fellow rider Ron, who is a marathon runner. It was a difficult run for me, with a LOT of coughing, but Ron was patient. He did some strides later, at his regular 5K pace. Coincidentally, he, too, is recovering from Achilles problems. We did this run in Jamestown, ND, a little burg of not much worth other than as a stop on the great highway of life.

Tonight, we are camped at a KOA near Glacier National Park, which we'll see tomorrow morning before continuing on up into Canada. Ron and I are planning a three miler to the intersection of the KOA access road and the main route 89, which is about a mile and a quarter from here and about 300 vertical feet down. The climb back should be quite a workout!

Don't know when I'll be able to post again, so here's to all the runners out there who run on the road and to Mom and Dad: I've got no cell phone signal, so have a happy July 4th! Also, I can't remember your new email addresses, or else you would have gotten an email, too.