Friday, November 23, 2007

Winter riding - returning to a trail near you!

Well, Thanksgiving week got off to a snowy start, fueling my optimism that I'd be doing a pre-feast bike ride on trails in the Campbell Tract and Bicentennial Park. It's a tradition that on turkey day, Jon and I do a ride (or sometimes a ski) before the early evening meal.

Last year, we took our bikes with their studded tires to Portage lake to ride the frozen surface as other people skated and played hockey. A tourist from Hawai'i took my photo to show the people back home what we Alaskans do for fun. Fun was a ride to see the glacier and explore the perimeter of the lake, slowly to not produce too much wind chill. Narrow waterfalls were stilled in ice. Small bergs were locked in the foot-deep, smooth surface. We pedaled to a spot where the sun had reached a little piece of the lake but its light didn't warm the air above the estimated twenty-below-zero.

Portage doesn't freeze like that every year so we were happy we'd taken the opportunity to ride it that day. Snowpack on local trails is just about as unpredictable. It doesn't always stick around, as we've been reminded for the last few days. What the cold temps bringeth, the Chinook taketh away. But don't despair. Stop putting off getting your bike ready. It's only November and there are over four months of good riding ahead.

Check out Chapter 8 for tips on winter cycling and a list of trails that are open to multi-use, including bikes, during the winter months. Bundle up. I'll see you out there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Abbott Loop Community Park

A new, wider bridge is being installed over Little Campbell Creek on the Coyote Trail (Tour of Anchorage) at the Campbell Tract - Bicentennial Park boundary. The work is being staged at Abbott Loop Community Park (sometimes refered to as the "Ballfield Trailhead). To get equipment and the bridge pieces to the creek, work crews widened and graded the bumps off the trail as it leaves the parking lot and drops down the hill.

Then it rained.

And rained.

Now it's a bit of a slog on that part of the trail. So, steer clear and choose another trailhead. You can ride north on Abbott Loop Road to get to the Lore Road Trail and take that route into the park. You're on pavement for less than a 1/2-mile and get to avoid the mudfest. (See the book, "Mountain Bike Anchorage" for a description of the Lore Road Trail.)

From Lore Road Trail, you can access the new Lynx Trail which will take you to the Smokejumper Trailhead. Or, take Lore to Coyote Trail. Until the new bridge is done, there is a temporary, smaller bridge in place for crossing the creek, but you should try to avoid the area until everything is installed... and the ground freezes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

rain updates

The trails on the east side of Anchorage are getting pretty muddy with all the rain falling lately. Must be August.

Trails like Rover's Run (Mellen's Way) are mighty sloppy now, so steer clear or use your fenders and slow down to ride through the middle of the puddles - we don't need those trails to get any wider, do we? I guess the more heavily-modified, gravel-surface trails will be a better way to go for a while... um, until things freeze over, but I'm far from ready for that right now.

And, just to fully disclose, I was off the bike for a couple weeks due to a little hand surgery... no, not carpal tunnel... but finally got back on the bike this past Sunday to ride into work. The Moose Track Trail on the Campbell Tract was dry, but most of my route was paved, so most of my trail info relies on other folks... I saw their bikes!

I hear the trails at Kincaid Park are slippery - due to wet grass and the green mossy slime that grows on the hardpacked dirt tread of the trails. Lower that tire pressure & watch your cornering!

I'm going to ride part of the Powerline trail, but will have my eye toward the berry bushes too. That's the part of August I like.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

climbing to glen alps & beyond

Maybe it's because I haven't been doing as many long mountain bike rides, but it felt like I took on a bit too much on Wednesday. I was headed out to meet the WOMBATS at the Glen Alps trailhead to ride part of the Powerline Pass trail - just up to the lakes and back. Instead of driving to the trailhead, I decided I needed a good hillclimb, so I'd start at my house (near Tudor & Baxter) and cross Bicentennial Park to get to the state park.

The day was cool enough, and the short warmup on the road was nice. Pedaled up Rover's Run (aka Mellen's Way), then up to Spencer Loop and the Gasline. Once in the park, I took the Powerline. In places it was steep, sometimes muddy, sometimes with loose rocks. I knew I hadn't given myself enough time to make the 7pm ride start time, but luckily the gang was just leaving the parking lot for the trail when I was arriving, so I turned around and joined them for the rest of the climb up to the ponds.

Keeping up was mostly OK, though I don't know if my friends believed me when I said I felt spent, but it's true! I'd made the mistake of riding with some people the day before on a steep hillclimb after work on my road bike. Ouch! We didn't hang out long in the upper valley because the wind was sweeping down from the pass. Just a couple of photos taken and layers added before we turned around.

The ride home was mostly a descent, though I returned via the South Rim Trail which has tall grass on both sides of the singletrack making me wonder what was on the ground as well as around the corner. Bear country, riding alone and fairly silently, I stayed alert and stepped off the bike a few times where planks laid at varying angles from one-another made up the trail. Later, I took Llama, which is also getting overgrown. Ah, July.

When I ventured off Llama and back onto the Gasline a moose and calf grazing on the side of the trail made me stop and wait, talking to them until they decided to leave the trail. Good thing they left - I didn't want to backtrack up the hill I'd just descended.

All told, it was about a 27-mile round trip with a good elevation gain (I'll have to look that up). I'm glad I challenged myself a bit more than I have been lately. It's good to remind myself just what my legs can accomplish.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trails and more trails

I hope this is the beginning of a good resource for mountain bike trails in Anchorage, AK.

Since I published the book "Mountain Bike Anchorage" in 2005, the trails in the Anchorage area have changed. New trails have been added, others have been widened or paved. Others may have deteriorated. The guide book is a snapshot of what was on the ground at the beginning of 2005, but people want timely updates. They can find them on my website:, but most people don't think to go there.

So, until I go live with another website, let this be a place where you can ask questions about the local trails or even post updates on trail conditions you have noticed around the area.

I'll also post new routes, trail conditions or changes as I learn about them. It's all just a big experiment. Come along for the ride!