Husky House

Posts Tagged ‘fat biking’

Winter Biking on Chena Lakes

Despite a colder than normal March, we have been enjoying riding our fat bikes, dreaming of riding in Denali Park and getting back on the road with our hybrid bikes.  The Denali Park Road has been cleared and on Friday, March 23, opened to vehicular traffic as far as the  Mountain Vista trailhead at mile 13.  Needless to say, I can’t wait to go, whether it is to run with the boys, ski, snowshoe or bike!

Last week we rode our bikes on the mulit-use trails at Chena Lakes in North Pole.  The trails were in great shape, flat and beautiful, and I hope to go back soon.


A trail through the woods at Chena Lakes

Sweet Pea taking a break on Chena Lakes

Bill riding on Chena Lakes


More photos of Chena Lakes

Sunday with Sweet Pea

Yesterday was one of those incredibly beautiful winter days when I just had to ride no matter how late I got started, sunset was about 6pm and I didn’t start until about 4pm.  I began riding at Pioneer Park and rode the bike bath into town, stopping to photograph Sweet Pea by two blocks of  beautiful Fairbanks ice waiting to be carved into art.  The Ice Alaska world ice art championships begin this week.  Closer to town, I stopped to photograph a bunch of crazy ducks that are overwintering on the Chena River in an area where warm water from the power plant prevents the river from freezing.  Many people have spoiled the ducks by feeding them, which has wildlife biologists in somewhat of a tizzy, because generation after generation of these ducks will overwinter here rather than do the normal thing which is to migrate.   You shouldn’t mess with mother nature.  I’m not getting into this argument, but couldn’t these ducks be the advanced beddown contingent?

Once in town, I crossed over the William Ransom Wood Centennial Bridge and descended onto the Chena River, where the Tired Iron Snowmachine races were wrapping up.  I had hoped the river would be good for riding, but the snowmachines had churned up the snow and it was too soft to ride without way too much effort to be fun.  So after about a mile I abandoned that idea, met with Bill who had come to join me, and we decided to ride on Fort Wainwright since we were on that side of town.  The riding on Ft Wainwright was on both a trail and the road, and was much more enjoyable than struggling through the soft snow on the river.

Sweet Pea leaning on two blocks of beautiful Fairbanks ice that are waiting to be carved into art

Crazy ducks; why would you overwinter in Fairbanks when you could just fly south?

The tired iron staging area on the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks

Bill on the Ft Wainwright bike path

Chena River on Ft Wainwright

Along the end of the runway on Ft Wainwright looking toward the ski area


More photos of winter in Fairbanks

Fat Bike Mania

Okay, so I am really getting into this fat biking.  What planted the seed for my fat bike was my seeing a couple people biking on the Tanana River last winter.  So ever since I got my fat bike last month it has been my obsession to bike on the Tanana.  I have snowmachined on the river many times, but always seem to be traveling too fast to enjoy the scenery, besides, riding on a snowmachine and peddling are two entirely different experiences, almost like being in two entirely different places while in the same place.  I have skied and skijored on the river as well, but cannot travel as far under my own power as I can on a bike.  I tried biking on the river several times previously, but the snow had not set up enough primarily because it had been too cold for snowmachiners and mushers to run the river and “make” the trail.  After a failed attempt to peddle the river last week, I was complaining about it to a couple mushers who were trying to drag a trail with the same frustration.  Several days ago (Sunday) I was talking to some mushers and they told me that after a week of friendly weather and a lot of snowmachine traffic on the river, the trail has finally set!  The following day Sweet Pea (my fat bike) and I went for a ride on the river, and it was intoxicating, almost like the first time I rode my bike into Denali Park!   I was a bit time constrained, so I didn’t take my camera so that I wouldn’t be tempted to consume time taking pictures, and wouldn’t you know it, I saw four dog teams and  two moose on the river.  Yesterday, I convinced Bill to ride the river with me and he experienced the exhilaration I was still feeling.  Fortunately there are dog teams on the river every day, and this time I had my camera, not that I haven’t captured this scene many times before, but each time is unique and engaging, like poetry in motion.  I am so blessed to live in Alaska and experience the allure of such deeply personal adventures right out my door.

A snowmachiner, two skiers and Bill share the Tanana River

Bill rides his fat bike down a cut bank from the Tanana River onto a slough

A musher coming down the slough, no matter how many times I see this it is a treasured experience.


There are more photos in the following albums:  Biking on the Tanana River or Winter in Fairbanks


Fat Biking

Last year when I was out skiing on the Tanana River, a couple people on fat tire bikes passed me, immediately planting the seed in my mind that this is something I had to do.  The thought of peddling on the frozen, snow packed river was intoxicating.  Peddling would be a quiet alternative to snowmachining and a faster one to skiing, yet while I couldn’t travel as far as I could on a snowmachine, I could go farther than on skis, a happy compromise.  I love to ski, and especially enjoy skijoring with our Siberian huskies, but not only do I hate to wax skis, I am terrible at  selecting the right wax for conditions and more likely than not wind up flailing around with little or no traction. Waxing skis is a science that I have not mastered; binders, this wax first, then a little of that wax.  Anyway, as soon as spring arrived, I was back out on the road with my hybrid bike and had all but forgotten about the fat bike since winter was a couple months away, and who wants to think about snow in the summer…certainly not me!

Late November I went to Goldstream Sports, and there she was, the most beautiful fat bike I’d ever laid eyes on, a lime green 9-zero-7.  She was a bit pricey, so once again, I pushed the idea to the back of my mind, although I was already in biking withdrawal.  Biking year around has intrigued me, but I have to admit that despite enjoying other winter activities that require me to dress properly, I have not hit on the right combination of footwear to keep my feet warm on my bike once the weather starts to cool off, so the bike gets parked for the winter.  Christmas was coming, but would I have the audacity to put the 9-zero-7 on my list, had I been a good enough girl to ask for such a gift?

Shortly thereafter, Bill, my husband, wandered into Goldstream Sports and saw the fat bikes.  He came home with the news about the new fat tire bikes that are great for riding in the snow, so now that he also had the seed planted all I had to do was nurture it.   In January we test drove the bikes and a week later took them home.  My bike had been named Sweet Pea by an employee who owned her but was selling her because she didn’t have the time to ride. Sweet Pea is a fitting name, as she is a sweet ride.

The weather was a bit chilly in January, anywhere from 20 to 40 below, and after a few days grumbling about not being able to ride because it was cold, we bundled up and went out for a ride.  I have run and skied in the deep cold and know how to appropriately dress for those activities, but winter biking was new for me and I quickly discovered that I had overdressed.  I now have the solution and am quite comfortable except for my feet in extreme cold, and I know I will come upon the ultimate combination of layers as I continue to experiment.   I also quickly learned that proper tire inflation for the terrain correlates directly to how much effort you expend and therefore how much fun you have.  I now have a new winter activity that competes with running, skiing and snowmachining, and unfortunately the boys.  But I make sure the boys get their run at least every other day.

Fat biking is an incredibly fun activity, and with the proper tire inflation, Sweet Pea almost floats over the trails.


Heading out for a ride in the Goldstream Valley

This great trail runs through the woods alongside Sheep Creek

Documentation time, yes, this is Bill on his fat bike.

It was such an incredible day to be out on the trails

Happy day! Almost 4:30p and it is still light!