This weekend was a perfect spring weekend in Alaska. The sun was up longer than it was down, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the temperatures were in the 30s. It was the perfect weekend to get outside! On Saturday I planned on laying around and being lazy, but my friend wanted to walk her dogs and invited me and Ridley. We decided to try something new and went up the Gasline Trail in Far North Bicentennial Park. Once we got to the part where the gas lines meet up with the power lines that reach all the way from Anchorage across the mountains, we decided to keep going up. And it was a great idea because the views were amazing!
We could see all of Anchorage from up there, and we could also see Denali from hundreds of miles away. The trail wasn’t steep at all – it slowly rolled up and down as it traveled up towards Glen Alps. We stopped hiking once we reached a giant canyon because the dogs were looking tired, but some day I want to hike that whole trail up into the valley!
On Sunday I started the day out with a swim clinic for triathletes at my gym (more on that later) but decided I needed to spend some time outside too. So I decided to try yet another new thing and planned a trip to fat bike out to Knik Glacier on the frozen Knik River. Reports online said that it was a 9 mile trip one way through “hard packed, fast trails” along and over the river, and that after a bit of riding in the woods it was mostly a ride on the river and lake and the glacier was visible for a lot of it. There were tons of amazing pictures online to tempt me out there, so even though my longest bike ride was around 13 miles I decided to go for it before the snow melted too much to make the trip impossible.
But it turned out that whoever wrote those trip reports was a total bike champion or something because I had a completely different experience out there. I expected the ride out to the glacier to take an hour and a half max, but after an hour and a half I was still at mile 4.5 and decided to turn around early. A lot of the trail consisted of mushy snow with deep squiggly ruts that my tires kept wanting to pop out of (and when that happens it’s really hard not to fall over), and I had to walk my bike the first half mile until we got to harder packed snow. It turns out that some 4 wheelers messed up the trail last night, and I couldn’t believe my bad timing. It was so hard pedaling under those conditions, and even my super biker friend who came with me said that the trails were hard (although I’m sure she would have made it out to the glacier without me). She taught me so much about biking and I’m so grateful that I got to go out there with her!
Even though I spent the entire time trying not to crash on the trail (spoiler alert: I fell a bunch of times) or pass out in the warm sun while pedaling like a crazy person, I’m still glad I went. It was the hardest bike ride I’ve ever done, but the only way to get better is to try all the crazy hard things, right? The best part happened right before we turned around – we saw the Knik Glacier 4 miles away and almost fell off our bikes in shock over how big it was! It was such a hard decision to turn around once I’d seen it but I knew I didn’t have it in me to do twice the distance I’d already done. And unlike many of the other glaciers that are disappearing in Alaska, I know that glacier will still be there when I’m ready to make the full trip.
In the mean time, I have lots of practice biking to do! I can probably say after that ride that I can handle some tough winter conditions on my bike, although I might not want to try something like that again for a while now that I know what it’s like. I’m okay with the fact that I technically failed at what I set out to do because it helped me learn a lot about how to bike on snow and it also taught me what I’m mentally capable of!