Last weekend, Lael raced the Kenai 250, a two hundred fifty-seven mile self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai Peninsula, the only area with an extensive network for singletrack trails in Alaska.
The Kenai 250 is a 257-mile, self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai peninsula, the only area in Alaska with a large network of singletrack trails maintained by the forest service. The race organizer, Michael Braun, stitched together a route that connects the trails with highway miles. It’s 60% singletrack and 40% pavement. The race has been going on since at least 2013. This year, with 36 starters, it’s a record setting year for participation. This will be my first time racing it. I grew up in Alaska. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to ride and race in my home state. A couple weeks ago, Rue and I went out to tour the trails– several of which I’d never ridden. In a single day, from my bike seat, I saw a moose cooling off in a pond and both a lynx and a grizzly bear crossed my path. Alaska is still very wild. I’m really looking forward to riding through the night and experiencing this full route in one go. It would make a great multi-day tour as well.
My dream was to ride all of the major roads in Alaska and I did in 2017. I’m fourth-generation Alaskan. It’s where I got into endurance riding on my mom’s Specialized Ruby in between bartending shifts in 2014. Examining the map and fitting in the biggest rides I could on my two days off led me to the goal of riding them all, imagining what the 2D map could look like in real life and why the roads existed in the first place. Three years later, I had a wide open summer and I was ready for an open-ended adventure. Four thousand five hundred miles took me past Wiseman to the north slope at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean, through Chicken to Eagle on the Yukon River, to the three hot springs north of Fairbanks, into Denali National Park and across the Denali Highway to Paxson. I used The Milepost, the local guidebook that chronicles every mile of Alaskan road with conditions and services. If the road is listed in The Milepost, I had to ride it. About two-thirds were paved and a third, high-quality dirt.
Matt bought this classic Fisher MTB frame for $50 with the hopes of having a good ’round towner. Like all bikes, it’s going through various iterations over the years, with what you’re seeing now being the most current and arguably the best. I guess it depends how the parts bin and jewelry box are lookin’ ya know?
Traveling by bike is inspiring and stimulating. From the saddle, you have time to think and dream. It’s dynamic. Pushing the pedals pumps blood. You breathe more air. you are enveloped in nature. There is so much to experience and interpret. If you’re riding with friends, you share ideas and maybe you build dreams together– layers of big ideas, feelings, details, reality, time, reflection and how you can really pull it all off. A great idea is very different from execution. You don’t have to be the best or the most organized to do something good. And you don’t have to know every possible outcome from the start. Adventure is stepping into the unknown. It’s scary and exciting and always requires more work than you really want to put in, but you follow through anyway because you have guts and you care.
In the spring of 2017, while riding the Baja Divide, Cait Rodriguez and I hatched the idea for Anchorage GRIT.
In the summer of 2019, Bjørn Olson and Kim McNett completed a fat-bike and packraft route, entirely above the Arctic Circle of Alaska – Kotzebue to Point Hope. Enjoy the trailer for the upcoming film about this human-powered expedition.
The latest video from Bjørn Olson is not to be missed!
“Alaska’s Seward Peninsula lies just below the Arctic Circle. The protuberant peninsula is the millennia old home to the Inupiat Eskimo, situated in the northwest of Alaska – a land that stirs the adventurer’s spirit and kindles the insatiable. Visions of paleo-Arctic ancestors, sweeping tundra, rugged mountains, winding rivers, compacted beaches, intact ecosystems, and a land before contemporary time excite the Iglaak – the traveler, stranger, and visitor.
This three-minute film is a snapshot of a fat-bike and packraft tour through the Imuruk Basin, the villages of Mary’s Igloo, Brevig Mission, Teller, and Nome.”
Keeping your head in check on a trip like this is of the utmost importance, because… you want to have a good time!
Five friends traverse a large swath of southern Alaska by sea kayak, fat-bike, and packraft. Through interviews and footage, shot underway, the adventurers share their experiences and reflections about their journey.
Back in 2008, Revelate’s Eric Parsons took to the Alaskan Gulf Coast with his friend Dylan and their fatbikes for a memorable experience. You can read more and see some photos from the trip at Revelate!