Peeling back a corner of the universe to glimpse the utter chaos that lies behind.
Aug 11, 2008
The Yin and the Yang
This is one of my favorite photos from Alaska. We took this south of Anchorage, along Turnagain Arm on our house hunting trip in September 2003. It was a moody day and the low clouds and mountains made the place seem magical and far away. Too bad you can't super-size this one, because it's a beauty. That's the yin in this post.
The yang is crushed limestone trails. I got a question from shi-shi about how the riding is on a crushed limestone path. It just so happens that I have a photo of one to help with this explanation:
When you say "crushed limestone" it evokes images of horrible, loose, sharp rocks (the kind they use at construction sites) skittering beneath the tires of your bike. It's actually not quite so bad. The rock is finely crushed and quite compacted. It's more like riding on a smooth dirt road with some loose stuff here and there. If you were to go gunning around a corner on a road bike, you would probably lose it in the corner and be picking gravel out of your elbow for a few days, but on the plus side, with most of the rails-to-trails around here, there are very few turns that you actually have to make. If you click on the photo and get the jumbo sized version, you can get a feel for the texture of the surface.
The only really bad time I had riding one of these was in spring during the thaw. The trail had started to thaw out and was soft, and riding it was like pedaling through quicksand. I was grinding it out in my low gears, sweating like coalman and not getting anywhere (absolutely the stuff certain recurrent nightmares are made of, actually). On a fat tire bike, these can be a blast to ride on. In wet weather, they are sloppy but usually rideable. In thaws they pretty much suck.