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Fatbiking the Alaska Beach

Written By Josh Spice

 

‘Camp at clam gulch rec area on the 8th of june. Ride beach through the 11th. Super duper casual. A rolling beach party.’ ~┬áJason Boucher’s invitation to ride the beach with the Salsa crew & friends to Homer

 

Three guys from Salsa Bikes, one of their contest winners, members of the Homer Bicycle Club, plus Jen and I from Fairbanks rode the Cook Inlet beach from Clam Gulch to Homer, Alaska in 3 days. The route is approximately 65 miles, which makes a very nice casual beach tour, especially since you have to wait out the high tides for a portion of the day. Great beginner route with lots of bail-outs along the way. Could be done in one long, fast day or even car-supported with all the beach access points. Highly recommended.

Casual, social, & a party, it was. Three days to ride the 65 miles on the Cook Inlet beach, even with having to wait out the high tides, is plenty of time. It provides a good balance of riding at low tide & relaxing and telling stories around a fire at high tide.

There were Pugsleys, a Moonlander, and aluminum & ti Mukluks of multiple eras. My Mukluk was the only non-fatbike, sporting 29+ wheels, which worked great and alomst as well as the fatbikes. They only time they were slightly inadequate was in the loose round rocks above the tide line, where I had to work a bit harder to keep pedaling, but everyone else did, too… just maybe not quite as much. Overall, they were probably better than fat wheels, since they handled the beach just as well and were so much lighter to turn.

The scenery was pretty spectacular the whole time. Beach rides are a different animal when it comes to riding a bike, especially for a few days. Many people would say that the scenery never changes, but we certainly weren’t thinking that with tall bluffs and waterfalls to our left and the oceanic Cook Inlet and two 10,000 foot volcanoes to our right. Mix that in with three days without clouds, t-shirt temps, and twenty hours of daylight (which also makes super long sunsets!) and you have the makings for a stellar time.

Kathy Sarns Irwin & Pat Irwin, the original beach fatbikers, joined us for the route and served as legends… full of stories and local experience.

Homer local, guide, and mythical Norse legend, Bjorn Olson, provided much of the entertainment and story-telling, including the resurrection, skinning, and donning of an otter skull onto his bike.

The Winner of Salsa’s Reveal Your Path video contest, Errin Vasquez, came up from California to claim the second half of his grand prize winnings – the beach ride!

And, of course, the heart and backbone of the group and ride, the Salsa crew of Jason Boucher, Justin Julian, & Bobby Dahlberg, up from Minnesota. It was Jason’s second time to Alaska, but the maiden voyage for Justin & Bobby.

Interesting trip beta:

Countless eagles, a dozen-plus seals, a dead octopus, a dead sea otter, dried up sea stars, people digging for razor clams, people putting out set-nets for fish,

All my cooked meals were done on a campfire.

Most people napped during high tide, but there were plenty of boyish beach games and pictures taken, too.

While talking to Kat’s husband on a large vessel five miles offshore in the Cook Inlet, we flashed a mirror to signal the vessel and he said it was easily visible. Pretty cool.

Great food options along the way, especially at the finish in Homer at Two Sisters Cafe, then fresh king crab on the Spit. Then there was the awesome dinner of salmon, halibut, & moose Kathy & Pat had for us all at their beautiful place on the shore.

Overall, this is a fantastic trip for any and all fatbikers interested in a mixture of backcountry biking with civilized conveniences. Just know how to predict the tides, cross waterways, and be safe in the beachcountry.

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2 Responses to Fatbiking the Alaska Beach

  1. Chris Stasinos July 6, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    Looks like a fun ride. Can’t wait to get a fat bike!
    Recently had the pleasure of fishing with Kathleen ,James & Lance
    GREAT PEOPLE!

  2. Jay cuzmanov July 19, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    How about Hope to Homer? I’ve dreamed about it since the 80s. Pretty easy detours around the Anchor, Kenai and Kasilof rivers. You can wade the rest of them. Maybe not Stariski. I can’t remember that one.