Girdwood Bike Tour

Adam and I have started an annual tradition of forgoing big Christmas gifts for each other, and instead booking a long weekend at The Hotel Alyeska for relaxing staycation. Last year we brought skis (an outing that infamously resulted in this “Do’s and Don’ts for Adventure Couples” post), this year we brought fat bikes for a Girdwood Bike Tour.

The Watchman, from Advocate Cycles. The bike that launched a thousand rides.

Before checking in, we boomeranged down to Portage Valley to bike the frozen lake. Check it out on my “On the Trails” page for more information and pictures! Once we were in Gird, it was hot tub > sushi > bed, in that order and almost as fast as you read it.

Rolling into Winner Creek Gorge, in the Chugach National Forest
“Urban” Riding in Girdwood
The couple that plays together, stays together!

Girdwood has some seriously fun winter trails for Nordic skiing and fat biking (not to mention an entire downhill mountain). After a slow morning we set off in search of the elusive Chugach Powder Guides‘ trail to the CPG Powder Hut.

Related Reading: The Powder Hut is Sweet, But Don’t Tell Anyone (outside link)

The snow was deep, quick and we didn’t make it more than 30 minutes out on trail one before we dropped and turned back. Instead we off through the Chugach National Forest Winner Creek Trail, back to the Winner Creek Gorge and cat bridge. Bummer for us, the hand tram (see linked info) is closed in the winter – we couldn’t make it a long loop. We did the ~ 3 miles RT in an hour/hour and a half on firm, well-packed trails.

What’s the carrot on a stick after a long day’s riding?

Beer, obvi! From the delightful Girdwood Brewing Co.

One of the best parts about living in Alaska is that every town is “your town”, and despite the geographic mass – you actually know someone everywhere you go. It’s just luck of the draw, and the draw is stronger when there’s beer involved. We hadn’t been at brewery long when two friends popped in, and then two more, and another two more, and eventually there were 10 familiar, friendly faces gathered up around the fire pit outside. It was a good way to end the day.

The skies were grey when we woke up the next morning and I’m a totally fair-weather skier, so it was day 3 on bikes. Which, in all honesty, was just as much of a struggle as skiing would have been – I was tired! We didn’t feel like doing Winner Creek again or driving further south on the highway, so we biked up Crow Creek Road instead.

Adam and I have biked the Crow Creek Road before (The Best Saturday Ever, back when we were training for our French bike tour) – we only did 3 miles RT (of what could have been closer to 9-10) and it still totally kicked my ass this time.

Big mountains peeking out on us… Heading up, up, up!
I make this look good (and slow). Looking toward Girdwood Valley and Turnagain Arm from Crow Creek Road
From the Crow Pass Trailhead (winter parking lot)
There he goes! Beginning the descent from Crow Pass Trail (between winter and summer lots)
That’s my nervous smile. Too bad you can’t hear the sound of cold brakes through a picture! Shred it, I did not.

Post-ride it was off to Chair 5 for a classic Bloody Mary. Do you even come off the trail, if you don’t stop for a Bloody Mary after, man? I was so hungry I successfully devoured 1/2 of a deep dish Chair 5 House pizza, wrapping up a fantastic weekend and kicking off a detox.

Island Dreams, Kodiak-Style

I was driving into work (yes, driving – my poor bicycle must feel like a neglected pet) grooving to Bob Marley’s “Is This Love“, and fell into a daydream about the second of two summer trips Adam and I are planning… A week-long bicycle tour of Kodiak Island, AK.

Looking forward to TWO pairs of feet, in sandals, at the brewery

I had the opportunity to visit Kodiak for 24 hours last year, and it was cool. Even on a blustery February day the island radiated a sense of community and place that one doesn’t feel in Anchorage’s urban center. When Adam said he wanted to visit this year, and we discovered flights are cheap with Alaska Airlines miles – done, and done!

We’re in the early stages of planning still, but excited nonetheless to pack up our bicycles for a tour of Kodiak’s ~ 40 miles of roads. Besides the brewery we’re planning to camp, fish, hike, and bike some more. Can’t wait!

Looking Ahead at 2018 (I don’t see anything)

This might floor the people who know and love me (here’s looking at you, parents of mine): I am not making big plans for 2018.

That doesn’t mean I’m making no plans – a honeymoon paddle, marathon #4 are two things on my calendar – but I am leaving 2018 blissfully unscheduled. After a year (or two, or 20) of planning and doing, planning and doing, I am looking forward to a year of experiencing.

Experiencing what? Long runs, hikes, bike rides, floats with Adam and friends… New trails, lakes, communities and Alaska’s nooks and crannies. Yoga, HIIT classes, spin classes, and other workouts that I enjoy… In reflection, it feels like I am ‘marinating’ in 2018 – just soaking up the goodness around me, sitting in my own wine/herb mix for a while.

Here’s to 2017, an incredible year of adventure and joy, and 2018 – carte blanche.