Category Archives: Biking

Biking in Denali

Hi Readers. I apologize for not posting much since Sam has gotten here. As you can imagine, our days and weekends have been packed with settling in to work, meeting new people, and finding exciting places to run, ski, bike, mountain bike, hike, etc, etc. It’s a little overwhelming that, for example, the nearest convenient after-work ride, entails climbing up a 4-mile 2,000 foot road only to enjoy a spectacular view of the valley, city of Anchorage, a few nearby mountain ranges, and the inlet at the top. Everything here is big, beautiful and generally awesome.

So anyway, I haven’t been not blogging due to a lack of fun things to share, I’ve just been too busy enjoying them to get on my computer (e.g. I literally haven’t opened my computer in weeks). I will try to be better! Anyway, here is my recap of last weekend. And, I miss you all! Book your tickets to visit! Bring some Greenbush doughnuts for me in your suitcase!

In continuing with our theme of the overwhelming amount of fun things to do in Alaska, some friends invited us on their annual Denali biking weekend. Sam and I had to think for oh, about half a second before we eagerly agreed to tag along.

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Turns out that early May (I know, I’m late posting this) is the sweet spot for Denali biking: it’s after the roads are cleared and the temps have risen a bit, but before the tourist buses begin. Apparently, the buses make the dirt road not very fun to bike during the summer due to the frequency with which they drive by kicking up dust.

Anyway, we loaded Sam’s trusty baja to the brim and drove up to Denali on Friday night, making a pit stop for some delightfully unhealthy food at the Cadillac Cafe just outside of Wasilla, where we met the rest of the crew. We pulled into the Riley Creek campground around 11 pm, picked a campsite, and guess what? It was still light enough outside to set up our tents without turning on a single headlamp. How convenient! Meanwhile, someone struck up a campfire, and then we hung out until well after 2 in the morning, where it stayed relatively “dusky” the entire night. It was pretty great.

I woke up the next morning with a headache due to a few too many pulls off the ol’ Bulleit bottle, but we pulled on some bike clothes, packed lunches, and headed into the park nonetheless.

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[This is the part where I do a poor job describing just how beautiful the park is and how fun of a day we had.] I’m not certain, but I think this may have been my first time at a national park, and now I wholeheartedly agree with that famous quote by Wallace Stegner, “The national parks are the best idea we ever had.” Well done, Roosevelt.

Anyway, the views of the Alaska Range were so great, the pictures do it no justice. It was sunny, the roads were dry (e.g. good biking), there were great people to get to know along the way, and we even got to see some wildlife: 4 grizzlies, 2 lynx (!!) and a bunch of caribou. It was a really great day. About 32 miles by the end of it – 16 hard ones going up, and then donning every item of clothing and a rain jacket to block the wind before flying back down.

The next most noteworthy thing about the trip was the magnificent preparedness our biking-mates came camping with. When we returned back to the campsite, they broke out delicious tacos (we’re talking spicy pulled chicken, seasoned black beans, guacamole, cilantro, chips, etc. and even lactose-free sour cream… capital A-mazing!) This was pretty awesome in itself. But it didn’t stop there. Next came out the fixin’s for these cilantro-lime vodka cocktails and/or another cocktail option (none of which I touched due to last night’s Bulleit misadventures…still).

The next day we packed up camp and drove to the quaint town of Talketna for some biscuits and gravy…mmm….. before heading back to Anchorage to unpack and scrub the layer of dirt off of every item that came with us.

Anyway, thanks a million to the wonderful, friendly group of adventurers who brought us with you!

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Just. Get. On. The. Bike.

I have had a major case of the winter blahs. A few weeks back, Sam had to pretty much hoist me off the couch and onto my bike trainer in the basement and start pushing my feet in circles to get me going.

I’m exaggerating, but only a tiny bit. I had a pretty bad attitude about the state of my fitness after I read this article about how your fitness level drops dramatically within twelve days of inactivity. My thought process was pretty much, “Sooo… what you’re saying is I’m not still in shape from that half marathon I ran last November?” Bummer.

But I already knew I was far from in shape. Many things cause the winter blahs for me, including but not limited to: dirty snow banks; mucky puddles slowly draining into your basement; zero leaves on the trees or growing green things; relatively short days, lingering cold temps, etc. But for me, nothing causes them worse than months of inactivity. I’m pale, I’ve put on at least five pounds, my muscle should now be referred to as “former muscle,” and I’m getting bored.

SO. Back to the trainer. I really don’t like that thing – but this time, Sam had the sense to put the documentary Ride the Divide on Netflix while we watched – the story about a bunch of people who decide to race from Canada to Mexico along the continental divide.

IT IS SO MOTIVATING. Wow. There is an awesome woman competitor, Mary Metcalf-Collier, for whom I was rooting out loud, in my basement. I cheered, I cried, I laughed. It was just great. She had this awesome line about heading out with one of the other male competitors for the day, as he was worried he may slow her down. She goes,

“Well, let’s get started. And then we’ll see on the hills….”

Love it! Anyway, the point of this post is not to get you to watch Ride the Divide while you exercise in  your basement (though I do recommend that). The point is to remind myself and all of you that getting going is so hard, but that the pain is temporary. Making a routine is harder than keeping a routine. This is something we all know, but it’s easy to forget. I struggle with it every March.

After this, I still needed a few more pep talks and kicks in the pants, but I’m starting to gear up for a busy season. I know that in order to be able to do all the stuff I want in Alaska, I’m going to have to be in good shape.

But, until I feel like I can call myself in good shape, I will continue to just. get. on. the. [expletive]. bike.

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