Husky House

Teklanika Bike Ride (May 2010)

Okay, I’m continuing with my attempt to recreate some of the lost posts.  There is no particular order to this, just whatever I feel like tackling.

Our favorite lodge in the Denali Park area (McKinley Village Lodge) opened for the season on May 24, so we headed down that way for a couple days.  The first day we hiked the Triple Lakes Trail from end to end and the next day we rode our bikes from Teklanika out (east) to the Wilderness Access Center, about 30 miles.  To do this requires a bit of planning, which isn’t our specialty.  Then again, maybe the problem is in the execution.

First, a few words on  Park operations.  The Park Road is not maintained during the winter, and once snow falls it is closed at the Park Headquarters (mile 3) until after the Spring Road Opening, at which time private vehicles may access the Park as far as the Teklanika Campground at mile 29.  Once the summer season starts and tour buses start running, the Park Road is closed to private vehicles at Savage River, mile 15.  At the end of the season, mid-September, the Park Road opens to Wonder Lake (weather permitting) for four days to winners of the Denali Park Road Lottery.  Once the lottery drive-in ends, the road is once again open to Teklanika until conditions dictate its closure.  The Park Road is paved as far as Savage River, after that it is dirt/gravel.

Memorial Day was May 31, so the full shuttle bus schedule into the Park was not yet in effect and tourist traffic was still light.  We made reservations for us and our bicycles on a camper bus that dropped us off at Teklanika (mile 29), although we could have gone as far as the Eielson Visitors Center, about 66 miles.  The buses to Wonder Lake don’t run until the first week of June.  It was tempting to go beyond Tek, but discretion being the better part of valor, we settled on the 30 mile ride.  The bus dropped us off and we unloaded our bikes and gear, then waved goodbye as the bus pulled away on its way to the Eielson Visitors Center.  The round trip to Eielson is about 5 to 6 hours, depending on wildlife sitings, and, although we had no time schedule, we had hoped to beat the bus back to the Wilderness Access Center.  It was an absolutely perfect day, and I was so excited about the ride, as it was something I had wanted to do for a long time.  We had packed plenty of snacks and beverages and stuffed them everywhere we could before biking off down the road.  We took our time, enjoying the majesty of the park and the Utopian day.  It was Nirvana: paradise, heaven, bliss, ecstasy, joy, peace, serenity, tranquility.  Several years ago I became frustrated with flat tires and switched to kevlar lined tires, and I have blissfully biked without a single flat ever since.  Not so, Bill.  After peddling the long climb before a nice 2 mile downhill coast to Savage River, Bill got a flat tire.  No problem, right,  3 spare tubes to choose from.  Not so fast, all 3 were bad.  It took us about an hour to get a fix and move on, during which time we waved at a few buses, including our camper bus, as they passed by.  East of Savage River the road was paved and the riding smooth.  Despite the flat, it was a great ride, and we earned our pizza, beer and ice cream.

I consider biking in Denali Park a privilege, and I still have a goal to bike the entire 92 mile length of the Park Road, I just need to either work the logistics to avoid camping or get in shape to bike it all in one day.

Nirvana. Mt McKinley, all 20,320 feet. My Inspiration.

Bill fixing his flat tire

There are more photos in my gallery.

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