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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Shadow ride

Training rides are increasing but the snow just is not here.  We had a storm about a week ago. The snow blew in with gusto tho just not enough to get any decent trails in. The exception of those 2 stormy days I basically continue to ride on dirt, frozen dirt. It has it's pros and cons.

Pros: I've probably never ridden so much on our dirt roads before in the winter. 14 mph is so fast! The windchill increases with speed. Don't have to worry about airing down/up or even pushing right now.  Can dictate exactly my route without much error in time.

Cons: I've probably never ridden so much on our dirt roads before in the winter. 14 mph is too fast! The windchill increases with speed.  Not airing down/up or even pushing right now.  Can dictate exactly my route without much error in time.   

During my ride today I looked over at a snow bank and saw my shadow.  It was kind of cool so I took a short video.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunrise Ride

A ride before the sunrise means a ride before the crack of noon.  While we don't have hardly any snow and only low temps riding the fatback has been a blast.  I simply love this bike and have put somewhere north of 700 miles since I picked it up. I was skeptical how much better it would be than my wildfire but it is not just a nice ride but a great one... even though the verdict is still out on ... well snow.  It's basically seen only frozen dirt and ice. I can't wait till an actual snow trail. The video below is almost identical to the last one I did, probably because it's a downhill with a good view.  Sarah's original music, as usual too.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


But no snow! It's been a while since it has been this snow free well into November.   It was great fun to see directly to the bottom of the river with the super clear ice!

Friday, November 23, 2012


These past weeks have been full. Full of early morning workouts. Full of family life. Full of work life.

(True Alaskan Fun)

I despise the word "busy" because.., well we're all busy...but full yeah... and productive, that's what I like.

Not a lot of great riding pics mostly just family shots on this go around.
This is what it's like pushing a bike through snow.  Gotta love the pink.
Yep, it was as fun as it looks. 
Serious Joe on the fatback. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sat Faturday

 Earlier this week I flew to Shishmaref and it just was a spectacular view over the Kigs from Nome.  I was careening with opportunities (in my mind) of adventures or past adventures looking down.  Sigh.

 Lately, I have opted to complete my training workouts before work to have more family time.  As the daylight diminishes this essentially means I have been riding solely in the dark since September.

It makes for, sometimes, sketchy riding but much less since the fat bike.  Now I just worry about the beady eyes that stare back into my headlamp.  Is it a fox? Moose? Muskox? Or a reflector.  So far all except bear (cross my fingers) have been seen but mostly reflectors or foxes.  It certainly keeps me awake!
Today I went for a longer ride and was on the road by 5 am.  That's 4 hours of darkness...... oh and wind.  Yep, the fall/winter north wind is back and it was hopping on the way out as a head wind and an awesome tailwind on the way back.  I took some pics though dark and some video of the return.  You can tell I was riding high with the tail wind.  This was followed by a little tundra riding.  The music, of course, is my wife's original.  

 The new GPS garmin 62 I have is just fantastic.  I uploaded the ride to Garmin connect and while I thought I went 52 miles I really went 48! Darn that GPS.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tundra ride

My first ride off road, whew! What a relief after riding a road bike for the past 5 months and 1200 miles of mostly a 20 mile section of road.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fatback'in Bend

It's very possible one might get sick of looking at this blog in the next few months due to a recurrence of pictures.... of my new fatback.  It's in the other room now and I keep sneaking a peak to daydream of adventures.

IMG 0688 from Philip Hofstetter on Vimeo.

I was able to pick it up in Bend Oregon when I visited Pete.  It was a long travel from Nome; 12 hour travel day from Nome routes the family to Seattle then an 1.5 hour drive to the in laws house at midnight. A 4 hour sleep then I drove solo to Bend Oregon to meet up with PB.

There I picked up my fatback and then rode an incredible single track. The fatback actually turns into a 29er with proper wheels... who knew! My first (real) single track with technical "stuff" and all. It was awesome!! What have I been missing all this time?!


Monday, September 3, 2012

Rainy Weeks

Here's a photo synopsis of the past 3 weeks that makes me wish I could write more.  My fat back is done! I will be heading to Seattle to visit family and driving to Oregon and meet up with Pete to pick it up later this month.  Cannot wait.

Then there was and still is the rain!! I don't know how many inches have fell but with my early morning runs and rides it has been wearing.  I would much much rather have subzero than sideways rain at 40 degrees... well maybe.

Interspersed in the rain have been a few photogenic moments with a nice Alaskan wedding and music. 

Sarah has moved her store to a new building and it has been great helping getting it ready the past few weeks.  

I topped off this week with a return from Savoonga followed immediately the next day by a 5 am to 7 pm moose hunt... of course in the rain. But well worth it! It was awesome to hang out with great company and subsist! 

Here's a little movie flying back from Savoonga into Nome and a small section of Tyler 4-wheeling across a river.  The rivers were swollen and hard to cross. The 4-wheeler is getting pushed down stream a bit.   I added (of course) one of my wife's originals into the segment to make it more dramatic.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How much can you pack.... a weekend that's warm and wind that feels like a refreshing breeze rather than a brutal headwind.

The Saturday started off with a 6am 4 hour ride.  It was suprisingly, hot.  I had to shed clothes right away.  I went down the coast past Safety with the road bike.  A nice ride and I made good time but the road bike was a little much to handle on a long ride full of dirt and pot holes.
Revelation: Road bikes are not meant for dirt roads

So happy to have a bridge to roll the only pavement, felt like doing laps on the bridge. 

Beach break

Post ride: it was only 11am, a great feeling.  The weather kept improving and with no obligations for the day we gathered the family and headed down the coast.  In actual time that was about 3 hrs to get ready, pack load up fishing poles, chain saw, tent, beach games and clothes if the weather turned.  No need to worry.  We drove on the beach about 40 miles out and had an incredible beach day.  A rare treat.  The kids were running around in the water like a lower 48 beach.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Running around

Photo taken by Aprille Pitt, runners. 
The past two weeks have been a running kind of time. Two Saturdays ago I ran the local 8 mile dexter challenge in rain and a fair amount of mud.  I was happy with my 55 min time though I was really pushing hard up the steady climb over to dexter.  163 was my average HR BPM with spikes above 170 which is pretty high for me, but I just couldn't catch the faster runner ahead of me.

Photo taken by Aprille Pitt (I think). Willis Fireball running, approaching Cape Nome.

The following week, last Saturday, I ran my (and Nome's) first official unoffical Cape Nome marathon set up by a local organizer. It was (again) wet, some rain and a fair amount of slippery mud.   I finished in 3:16 with an average HR of 156 bpm without much variation. I felt like the attempt was solid though some muddy sliding tweaked my knee that caused discomfort from mile 14 till mile 18 and then, voila, dissappeared.  Knee pain is funny like that.  There were 3 other brave souls on the full but the half was much more popular   Overall a fun event that hopefully will continue annually.

Not sure what's next....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sledge Isle attempt #2... and...(0 for 2)

Ever since my half-hearted failed attempt to ride my fat bike to sledge island earlier this spring I have had the itch.  I've been there in an ocean boat while halibut fishing a number of years ago but never under human power. Although I have lived in Nome for over 13 years and have done a ton of kayaking I haven't really set my sights on sledge island. It's one of those places on the radar one day that would be cool to check out.

The island is not without its' challenges.  Sledge sits ~25 miles out of Nome on the edge of Norton Sound 5 miles offshore bordering on the Bering Strait, a potentially highly volatile piece of water.  I've heard the current between sledge and mainland roils around 3 knots heading northwest. The past week we have been having steady 10-20 mph south westerly winds.  That means the surface wind has been pushing water against the normal current and can result in what I call washing-machine water.  I had originally intended to take off 2 work days for this due to the potential hazard, distance, unknown weather conditions and not having a rigid timeline makes things easier.  It's at least 50 miles round trip; longer if you take more coastline before crossing.  My time was trimmed down to 3/4 day off on Friday, due to work commitments, and a return by midnight same day.  The weather was relatively calm, overcast  and only about 10 knot wind from the west. I scrambled my gear together and departed the Nome harbor at 11am.

My boat is a long kayak with a rowing scull insert, custom made by Drew Harrison in Vancouver in 2004.  He's a scull maker so it's one of the only kayak style rowing sculls I've seen (idea taken from Jill Fredtson).  I've sculled a lot of ocean miles in this boat.  The tricky side of ocean rowing is the beating your hands take while traditional sculling.  Friday was a washing machine day even with only about 2-3 foot choppy swell and a 10 knot head wind.   I managed to make my way in good form about 13 miles up the coast in 4 hours.  The next couple of miles are more exposed to the strait and one can begin the crossing of about 8-10 miles depending where you start.  I took some video before entering the choppier water, it's not the greatest but can give a sense of the beautiful scenery and nice day.  I started to cross a little after that video and wish I had one of those go-pro cams because the waves were pumping (I added my wife's original song, Jaded, in the background).  I struggled for about another hour and knew from experience I need to either wait it out or continue in epic fashion.  I decided to wait and pulled ashore.  

On the landing I noticed the boat was much heavier in feel than earlier, I also noticed my mph were more sluggish the last few miles. I thought it was fatigue or the beginnings of tenosynovitis in my wrist that I was feeling.  But I quickly inspected the various holds and found about 5 gallons or 40 lbs of water sloshing around under the scull insert.  I pumped the water out and saw some silicone seals frayed around the seams of the cockpit.  Not a big deal as long as more waves don't crash over or if I had a silicone tube sealant to reseal- which I didn't.

At this point my motivation was diminishing and my general feelings nudged me to turn back.  So that's what I did.  I absolutely cruised back, with a tail wind though some surfing waves turned broadside result in quite technical rowing.  My wrist was swollen by the time I arrived back at the harbor and another 40 lbs were sloshing around.  I felt completely wiped out after 9 hrs out on the ocean, I am assured turning back was a good idea... except the weather the next two days were unbelievable... warm, sunny, completely calm.... that's the way it goes.

I am regrouping and am determined to get this beast another day!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Juneau fun on the run

Hahnah thought water was Hawaii compared to Nome
This past week the fam and I have been in Juneau for Sarah's high school reunion.  This is my first time in Juneau in the summer. Usually we are here during folk fest, typically April.  Having followed both Jill and Geoff's blogs over the years one can't help but wonder if we can glean some of the same enjoyment they have from the area. In the times I have been here in April I did a couple of lame attempts up the mountains but there was usually too much snow to get far in what gear I had.  I also didn't know the routes and was quite hesitant to barge into unknown drop-offs.

Well this week I got a nice sense of the potential fun this place has directly behind the city.  Even though I have a little bit of a "peak bagger" mentality I went on 4 different mountain runs and didn't reach the summit... once... of anything. My disclaimer, of course, is that in each run I only had an allotted 1 - 1.5 hr time period. I sure had a good time though. The trails are tremendously fun and without question (I'm sure) hours can slip by unnoticed.  The lower parts of the mountain are these easy to follow running trails up up up the mountains till the more fun above tree line running that reminds me a bit of Nome.  It's definitely addicting and may be a place to move to once I get Nome out of my system.

Muddy mud

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday hike

Hahnah impressed me with a 2 mile hike over the tundra today.  We fished a bit, explored and enjoyed the summer day. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Phil's Phantastic (Late) Phathers Day Post

Sarah said, the day is yours to do what you'd like. My first inkling was to go for an epic cram 20 hr adventure but inadequate prep time and no family time defeated the purpose of fathers day. After running a number of scenarios in my mind, I opted for an outing with both a fitness challenge and family time.  The simplest logistical way to accomplish this is by running. I set out for a 20 mile run while Sarah and the family met up with the car at certain points for family breaks.  One of those breaks consisted of a casual hike with the family up "Extra Dry Creek".

 The second break was a run with Hahnah while she rode her new bike.

The last was a stop at friends Tyler and Erika for some play time.  The actual running time was 2hrs 30 min for the 20 miles but the total outing time was over 5 hrs of fun.  A grand day, thank you family!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Daylight advantages

Outskirts of Shishmaref

After a belated return from Shishmaref on Saturday I felt in need of a long run to stretch my legs.  My plan was to run the dexter bypass, osbourn to Nome loop.  It's about 13 miles.  At the top of the anvil / newton "pass" I ran (almost literally) into 4 muskox.

No big deal. I diverted on the tundra around them at a safe distance though at some point I decided the tundra running was a lot more fun that the gravel road. Before I could turn back I just climbed straight up Newton and then ran the ridge lines.

I didn't worry about distance and just kept the heart rate up and went running that felt more like exploring.

Muskox shedding quiviat
 It was such a blast.  My loop was not the one planned and it may have been more like 10 miles in 2 hrs but it was so much fun.  I can see the attraction to mountain / trail running.

When I returned from my run it was a transition to a night out (2 hrs really) on the town for some dancing with Sarah. Arlo Hannigan was putting on a cd release party and even had a fire dancer.  

Today was a more mellow bike-riding-kind-of-day. This was followed by a hike on the tundra with the kids on some new found trails (from yesterday's run) yelling "yo bear" a lot. I've been thinking about some nice excursions for the summer, two to be precise... more on that later