Last weekend I was riding in the slushy southern snow and this weekend on some sketchy southern ice. Winter conditions can be challenging, both to ride, and to figure out where to ride and where to avoid. Finding “the powder” might mean trying to get out early while its still frozen, sticking to the north faces, or maybe just getting out on the road. This past week there has been a time for all of the above topped off with a ride on Squirrel Gap after a skin coat of freezing rain on frozen ground, just enough to have traction on the dirt but glare ice on the rocks and roots. That was enough to get me focused, and in the moment. I don’t think I thought about much else other than riding on that one, although I was thinking about racing, and getting fired up. I can’t help but think about racing when I ride. To be honest, it’s one of my favorite meditations. When I have a big race on the horizon my rides take on another dimension. Not that these rides wouldn’t be satisfying as is, but with a goal, there comes this obsessive sense of purpose that I fully enjoy. Having the Transylvania Epic on my calendar is an extra special motivation. It may be four months off, but now my winter days are filled with thoughts of summer and speed. I’ve been invited to share bits along the way as I gear up for the race, which I’m thrilled to do. I promise not to stick to the topic.Mountain Biking for me, and my family, is a way of life. I’m a mountain biker first and I could live without racing, I did for a while, but its undeniable that I’ve had the most fun when racing is in the picture. When I’m racing, I’m riding more. I’m quitting work early a few times a week, or blowing it off all together and sneaking out after dropping the kids off at preschool. I’m making the rides happen instead of letting them slip by.I probably did my first real mountain bike ride in Turkey Pen at the age of seven or eight. I rode an orange five-speed tornado that was built strong enough to withstand wheelie drops off the four-foot brick retaining walls onto our driveway. There was a tough climb about two miles in on South Mills River Trail that my dad called “Sam Go For It.” It takes about two pedal strokes to get over now. Being able to grow up in these mountains has been really special. We used to hike all the time growing up, every weekend. Looking Glass Rock, John’s Rock, Shining Rock, Slate Rock, Flat Laurel Creek, The North Face of Looking Glass, these were some of the more popular hikes. Even after years of exploring our sense of possibility underwent a tremendous expansion when we started riding bikes in Pisgah in the early 90s. Somehow we had never heard of trails like Caney Bottom or Laurel Mountain, sitting right here under our noses all along. I’m only now getting a grip on DuPont. Appalachia, like no other place, can hide its treasures.I got into racing as a junior. I had a craving for competition. A generous community gave fuel to the fire, Mike Nix from Liberty Bikes was one of the first to offer my sister Willow and I support. More help followed with team Devo and then Cane Creek. Without the racing there would not have been anywhere near as much riding happening for us.I still get really excited about racing my bike. That may be partly due to the fact that I never really went big time or may be just the fact that bikes are the finest human invention and racing bikes is about as intimate as you can get with a bike. So bring it on! Don’t expect any cutting edge training tips (I’ve just put on a heart rate monitor for the first time) but I will share some stories and some thoughts as I make my way towards the race. Join me for a ride; lets see where it goes.
Topics : The Washington Post on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter, said US officials had told Sanders about the Russian effort and had also informed Republican President Donald Trump and US lawmakers.It was not clear what form the Russian assistance took, the paper said.A congressional source confirmed intelligence officials have told lawmakers Russia appears to be engaging in disinformation and propaganda campaigns to boost the 2020 campaigns of both Sanders and Trump.The source, however, cautioned that the findings are very tentative. Sanders said he was briefed about a month ago. His campaign noted the briefing was classified.”We were told that Russia, maybe other countries, are going to get involved in this campaign,” Sanders told reporters. “Look, here is the message: To Russia, stay out of American elections.””What they are doing, by the way, the ugly thing that they are doing – and I’ve seen some of their tweets and stuff – is they try to divide us up,” he said. “They are trying to cause chaos. They’re trying to cause hatred in America.”Moscow denies The Kremlin on Friday denied Russia was interfering in the US presidential campaign to boost Trump’s re-election chances, following reports that American intelligence officials warned Congress about the election threat last week.”These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the [US] election,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”US intelligence officials told members of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in a classified briefing that Russia was again interfering in American politics ahead of November’s election, as it did in 2016, a person familiar with the discussion told Reuters on Thursday.Since that briefing, Trump has ousted the acting intelligence chief, replacing him with a political loyalist in an abrupt move as Democrats and former US officials raised the alarm over national security concerns.A senior administration official said the nation was better positioned than in 2016 to defend against foreign attempts to influence elections.”President Trump has made clear that any efforts or attempts by Russia, or any other nation, to influence or interfere with our elections, or undermine US democracy will not be tolerated,” the official said.Some of Sanders’ rivals for the Democratic nomination said they had neither received similar briefings nor word that Russia was working to boost their campaigns.Former Vice President Joe Biden told CNN on Friday: “I know Russia doesn’t want me to win. It’s really clear that Putin doesn’t want me to be the nominee, and Donald Trump doesn’t want me to be the nominee.”US Senator Elizabeth Warren, while campaigning in Las Vegas, said there should be “as much transparency as possible” to block Russia from having “too much influence” in US elections.”This is about disinformation and the way to fight disinformation is to call it out, show what it is and give everyone full information as quickly as possible,” Warren told reporters.Russian Accounts Facebook declined to comment on whether it has seen any evidence of Russian assistance to Sanders’ campaign. In October, the company took down Russian-backed accounts that pretended to be from political battleground states.Some of those accounts used Instagram to praise Sanders. Another used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and faulted Biden on race issues.Jessica Brandt of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization that monitors foreign interference in US politics, said Russian state media and official social media accounts have been working to help Sanders by amplifying conspiracy theories that his Democratic rivals, the Democratic National Committee and the “corporate media” have been “rigging the system” against him.”We can say with certainty that this is what the Russian government is pushing,” she told Reuters. “We’ve seen for some time Russian official channels promoting division within the Democratic Party.”Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which works with Facebook to analyze state-backed information operations, said “Russian influence operations are equal opportunity hyperpartisan, with the overarching goal to drive Americans further away from each other.”US officials have long warned that Russia and other countries would seek to interfere in the Nov. 3 presidential election, following Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign that ended with Trump’s surprise victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.US intelligence agencies concluded that the Kremlin used disinformation operations, cyber attacks and other methods in its 2016 operation in an effort to boost Trump, an allegation that Russia denies. Trump, sensitive to doubts over the legitimacy of his win, has also questioned that finding and repeatedly criticized American intelligence agencies.Russia’s alleged interference sparked a two-year-long US investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.Mueller found no conclusive evidence of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. He also pointed at 10 instances in which Trump may have attempted to obstruct his investigation, as Democrats alleged, but left any finding of obstruction to Congress. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders warned Russia on Friday to stay out of 2020 White House elections after US officials had told him Moscow was trying to aid his campaign.”The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign, right now, in 2020. And what I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections,” Sanders told reporters in Bakersfield, California.Sanders, 78, a democratic socialist US senator from Vermont, is considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and is favored to win the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.
Denali musher Jeff King at the 2016 Iditarod ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday, March 5. (Photo by Patrick Yack/Alaska Public Media)People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA plans to protest the start of the race in Anchorage tomorrow morning. Former Iditarod champion Jeff King sat down with me recently to talk about the race, his career and his feelings about the animal rights activists who are against racing sled dogs.Listen nowKing says he’s sure most of them are good people who want to do the right thing and he says a few decades ago, protests helped make the race better.