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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Christmas Day Ride...

I read this weather report today and just had to go out for a ride..."Mostly cloudy. Areas of blowing snow in the evening. Lows 15 to 20 below. North winds 20 to 30 mph. Wind chill to 50 below."  I bundled up, brought my Kestrel weather instrument along to see what actual wind, temp and windchills were and rode the fatbike for a few hours.  The strongest wind was 37 mph in one of the channelled areas and windchill of -33.  Not too terrible. There were really nice pics to be had and I had every intention of taking pictures but my camera completely froze up.  Makes this post a little boring unfortunately, since it was one of my more intense rides lately.  But I will post a Christmas Day pic instead.

The ride had all the good components to make it interesting; wind, low temps, wind, pushing through deep snow and some more wind. The bike computer held up ok and it was nice to log stats. My slowest speed (riding) going uphill against the raging north wind was 2.4 mph  and my fastest was 26 mph heading back to town... fastest on my fatbike ever. I am happy with my new rims, new drivetrain and my old gear.  I realized today that I don't have to replace much gear this year, most of it still works really well.  I'm actually kind of impressed, there are a series of gear pieces that will be going into my 4th ITI.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Nome has the best Subway shop in the world.  I eat here with Hahnah regularly, she chicken noodle soup and me a sandwich. It may sound funny but the produce is the freshest of any subway I've ever eaten and the view... well it's like we're on a boat in the Bering Sea.  The windows face the sea and it's about 20 yards away.  Just thought I'd share.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


This is where I've been the past week, Gambell, an island in the Bering Sea.  It also happens to be one of my regular & favorite places too. There aren't too many times when I haven't been weathered in. Stormy, stuck but also a gem to test a few pieces of new gear.  There aren't too many places I've experienced so rugged and harsh of a climate.  When the weather cleared it was still blowing well over 30 mph, I wish I took video of unloading loading the plane while the pieces of cargo blowing across the runway. To fly in here is not for the faint of heart or the novice, only the pros tackle this place regularly & safely.  Glad to be home though!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Busted Creek

Buster Creek trail was a bust.  I rode from town to where the trail begins and rapidly realized the single digit temps have done little to freeze up overflow, marsh and the river.
Overflow on the trail
 I also forgot that these creeks are fed by springs not easily frozen.   It was a delicate bushwack the first 3 miles without overboots to get to higher ground where I thought the trail would be hard packed. 

...more overflow on the trail
Open lead

Willow bushwacking

 Not exactly riding but eventually I was able to ride the ridgeline and peak over into the Flambeaux valley- my initial destination.  A little too early in the season and a little ambitious but still a solid 5 hour ride/drudge & 30 miles according to my bike computer by the time I got home.


Ahhh finally hardpack trail

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fat Again

After the ITI this year my fatbike was torn down and had a good rest in my garage... till now. Some new parts arrived for my wildfire that are pretty exciting. I had a new wheelset made by Speedway that is lighter and wider and replaced my drivetrain. It was nice to bond with my fatbike again and spend some quality time going through the bike. I am getting tired of using my old beater bike anyway and I would like to go on a grand venture in the Bering Preserve soon.

It'd be great to pass my bike on to a pro mechanic and say here fix it up (as I’ve done when the bike is stored in Anchorage) but since I live here in Nome there is no access to that kind of love. It’s always good to learn the bike though.. but each time I work on it I find that there are these specialized tools that I never seem to have. So I go on amazon and order one up, wait 2 weeks and then move forward until I have to remove something else that I can’t do without a “special” tool. This happened again while replacing the front chainrings. Apparently, chainrings just can’t be screwed in place with a standard allen screw it has to have a ridiculous (b/c I don’t have the tool) notched backing. One could almost use a screwdriver but would risk ruining it. I was frustrated enough to attempt to make my own tool…. This has never worked before but every now and then something I fabricate actually functions. Crude but effective.

So happy to have the fatbike working again ready to roll. Now I just gotta scratch the itch for the next madventure TBA.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


One last wood gathering expedition, at least with trucks.  The snow and sand were just enough not to get stuck.  We had a south wind storm last week that I thought would bring in fresh wood but instead it cleaned the beach.  

Last weekend Halloween party, I dressed up as my wife- pregnant and all. 

A busy month without a great deal to post on extra curricular outdoor activities.   Weekly rides and runs, locally, that are invigorating with the drop in temps and stiff wind but nothing spectacular.  

I have been mulling over a good sized bike ride into the Bering Land Preserve now that the snow is here.  The preserve is a highly inaccessible (difficult) place to get to located in the northern part of the peninsula.  No mining, no motorized vehicles and location make this an ideal remote area to explore. My friend Tyler and I did a hike a few years ago into it and that only whet my appetite.  I've always wanted to get back in there again.  The geology is incredibly interesting (and untouched); aside from the hot springs, and lava fields it also holds the largest maar lake in the world.  More on this forming plan later...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Not Nome

I was out of town for a little bit attending some training and found Chicago to be a great city.  I've been here before but the 80 degree weather and downtown stay allowed me to explore the city.  I discovered right next to my hotel was a major running path that went for miles. It was trippy to be in a major downtown city and only a block away there was a great lake with beach and all. Usually, in Nome I am out alone on my rides or runs so it was kind of exciting to be among swarms of people out running, biking, roller blading and walking.  Surprisingly, there were some strict unwritten rules that made the blend of people exercising low stress. No run ins with bikes and such.  It made the experience nice to be among a lot of people but no one interfering with the workout (i.e. loose dogs, blocking path).  The Chicago Marathon was the day before I left and I really tried to gain an entry a few weeks prior, but apparently these events are quite popular and long closed out... something like 40,000 people.  The guy who won it, from Kenya, averaged a 4:55 mile.... all I can say is holy shiiiii$.

One day I was returning from my class and noticed swarms of police lining the streets and an exciting buzz around the people.  I asked what was happening and President Obama was planning on speaking directly across from my hotel at the Drake.  I stuck around even after getting herded inside to sneak a peak.  It was cool but wow, talk about security and secret service.  Got a glimpse of the car and that was about it. Not something one would see in Nome.

Back in Nome a week later, feeling the temps plummet back to inevitable winter. A little snow, a little cold rain and a little halloween preparation and pumpkin carving was in order this week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Glacial Lake

My coworker, Jamie, surprised us with a b-day gift for me and the family.   A helicopter ride! I have done a lot of things around here but never in a helicopter.  It was surreal.  I just couldn't believe how accessible, how easy it was to fly somewhere.  Glacial Lake is someplace I've always wanted to camp at but it's a challenging hike... we were there in  a few minutes! It was so warm and pretty.  If you live in Nome you NEED to take a Bering Air chopper ride it is an AWESOME experience.  Thank you Ben and Jamie!!!

Add caption

Bering Air Helicopter Ride!

Ben walking us out to the helicopter
Nome Harbor

Helicopters are awesome

Hahnah loving the ride
Hahnah napping, our pilot was that good!

September Blast

A fall feeling weekend with some nice weather.  Yesterday, was an awesome triathlon, September Blast Tri, put on by the Nome High School swim team as a fund raiser.  It was a really fun tri with a 6 mile run part of it a trail run on the tundra. The gusting 30 mph wind played a interesting part in the bike.  My new bike computer said I went 7 mph against the wind up a hill as my slowest to 41 mph my fastest with the wind on a downhill, which is probably the fastest ever on that bike.... and felt really sketchy on my mnt bike.  I completed it with a 14 min 1000 meter swim, 42 min 6 mile run and 25 min 6.7 mile bike.  Highly recommend this tri next year, more people should really join this event next year not only for the fun course but to support the swim team.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coastal flying

Not a very exciting clip, really,(and horrible editing job) but as I was flying back from Koyuk this week we flew next to one of my favorite sections of coastline in the world.  This always beautiful, yet potentially treacherous, 20 miles of cliffs in the Bering Sea is one of my frequently (obsessed) sought kayaking excursions.

Topkok cliffs, Bluff Flying from Philip Hofstetter on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mellow days

I finally broke down and got a bike computer.  It's a pretty standard issue item especially for training or racing but  I was on the fence about owning one. Now I am glad to have it.  The problem with it, of course, is that you get addicted to looking at exactly how you are performing every minute of every second.  MY problem with it stems back from when I was doing more long distance kayaking.  I would stare at the GPS screen and become obsessed with distance and MPH and if I wasn't making my cutoff I would be peeved and amp up my wattage. This usually had a counter productive effect. Obviously, on multi day distances the environment typically dictates your goals no matter how bad you want to make your own goal. So far I haven't become too obsessed and just enjoy a decent ride.  It's fun to see the actual distances and MPH of some of my favorite rides and trails around here. 

I read an article about this boat the other day. It's a 370+ ft luxury yacht, Octopus, owned my Paul Allen (Microsoft dude) that made (making)  a trip through the Northwest Passage. As I was on a foray of firewood cutting this morning I happened to glance toward the ocean and saw the boat. (It certainly seemed bigger than the picture)

The article stated that the ship just parked in front of Nunavut but no one noticed any passengers or crew in town. Nome is a stopping point for most boats traversing through the NW passage so it's not a surprise that it would stop.  But it is a little of a surprise no one got off or came into town, that I know of.  Similar to Nunavut the ship was parked in front of town (about 3 - 5 miles out) and appeared to silently hang out. Maybe people ported and shuttled to town as I didn't watch it all day but I don't think so. I was sorely tempted to kayak out there but the ship was gone by the afternoon. It's all very mysterious.... hopefully not pretentious.
Otherwise my weekends have been home bound with the exception of a short Unalakleet trip. I was able to catch some nice silvers fishing till late at night. Thanks B$! That helped fill the freezer. I was a little dissappointed about not completing a labor day excursion but house duty and firewood duty called.  Plus the weather has been a steady downpouring rain.  I was able to redo Hahnah's room and in the process found a plumbing leak.  A little out of my comfort zone and hard to find a plumber I luckily had a friend that fixed it up. Thanks Cam! . 

wood chopping siesta

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to kayak

Earlier this spring my friend Roy and I promised to take some nice folks down the Niyukluk / Fish river from Council to White Mountain this summer.  This past weekend was a time when it could happen.  It was nice to get back to kayaking and a little nostalgic as I haven't had time to do any overnights lately.  

Roy's family camp, half way 

Roy is from White Mountain and provided an incredible history and cultural lesson the whole way down.  It
was a blast.

The mode of travel was a nice change of pace from my typical go go go attitude. The river was glorious and the weather cooperated.  When I have done this segment in the past I usually continue on to Golovin Bay then kayak out on the ocean back to the Lost Train outside Nome.  It's a 100 mile strenuous 2 day paddle so it was really nice not to have such lofty goals and enjoy a more casual pace on the river.  Though the pull of the ocean was pretty strong when we reached White Mountain. It was a little hard not to continue but really happy that I didn't.  The wind changed dramatically to a 30 + mph blow a few hours after our trip back up river.... which would have been a typical Phil madventure but will save it for the next one.  

Boat haul back upriver
Doesn't get nicer than this sunset 
calm and picture perfect

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Wedding, Another Triathlon

Wow, what a weekend this has been.

On Saturday Sarah was invited to sing and play music at our friends, Erika and Tyler, wedding. It was such an honor to accompany her on mandolin.  The wedding was at their place out on the tundra outside of Nome and I wish I had pictures to post.  It was an incredibly beautiful wedding.  I'm sure I'll find some pics to post later.  A few hours after that I rushed home and hopped on the late flight to Anchorage to race in the Alaska triathlon championships the next morning at Knik Lake.  The flight was delayed and eventually arrived by midnight.  My friend Mike picked me up and then I had to sort all my gear together for the race.  Mike was able to find a road bike for me a really cool looking old Lotus (thanks Dave!).  I switched out the seat, added some aero bars, put my bag together and finally crashed at 2 am.  6 am came way too early and a friend who was doing the race too, picked me up and off we went.
(top) coming in for the finish, maybe a little too much lycra
(above) awesome retro Lotus bike

It was super cool to see Knik Lake in the summer, I just couldn't believe we would be swimming in it.  Someone had cleaned a bunch of salmon right at the ramp into the water, it was a little nasty.  Overall, the race went fine. I was super impressed how well it was organized; how competitive (and fast!) but nice everyone was during and after the event.  I didn't exactly perform as well as I thought but technically it was my first olympic distance triathlon so have nothing to compare.

The swim 1.5 km: Having never worn a wetsuit to race before, I didn't know what to expect.  I was told if fit properly it can make your time faster but all I felt was constricted.  I just couldn't find a rhythm and was already drained when I stumbled out of the swim in 19.36 minutes. Maybe it was the cold but I was a little disoriented and took a couple of minutes at the transition. Lesson #1: don't swim in a wetsuit for the first time in a race.
Knik Lake parking lot
The Bike, 25 miles: My bike started off OK till my seat loosened, it barely hung on for the 25 miles- in a way it was kind of comical.  Lesson #2: don't touch the bike the day before the race and just maybe... get my own bike.  I finished that in 1 hr 7 minutes.

The run, 6.2 miles:  I'd rather call this the plod. I feel like I plod along, my feet are so flat and wide it sounds like someone is smacking their sneaker on the pavement or something.  Anyway, that took a little under 48 minutes. I came in 12th overall and 2nd in my age group.   It was a really great course and brought back some memories once I past the Point Mac area from the ITI.  Lesson#3:  I will most definitely return to race it again next year.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Heat wave

A little blueberry pickin' followed by a glorious beach day.  These consecutive 70 degree days feel like a heat wave. The kind of days where swimming in the ocean is a relief from the heat.  I was laying in the beach sand soaking in the heat today and thought (as I do rarely) a few months ago this same spot was -20 or -30 and at some point blowing viciously.  Such contrast. 

Sarah picking berries, a gallon in 2 hrs. 
It was great to have a sand bar go out and out

Couldn't believe I found a sand dollar so far north