On a recent trip to Alaska, I was fortunate enough to score a guided day trip with Alaska Bike Adventures out to Knik Glacier. Alaska Bike Adventures is owned and guided by Christina Grande and Dusty Eroh. I met Grande on one of my previous visits to Anchorage and I know Dusty from his role at Revelate Designs. I can’t think of a better couple of folks to run a backcountry guide service in the AK. They both have a ton of experience, local knowledge and a positive gregarious spirit that make them well suited to help their guests enjoy the rather spectacular Alaskan backcountry from the seat of a bicycle.
Our plan for the glacier trip originated from our amigo Travis. Even before I left for the trip, Travis had talked to Grande and set the wheels in motion. Travis was scheduled to join us for the day but his workload flared up and it ended up that he couldn’t take the time off from work.
So Grande came by and picked me up for the drive up to the Glacier. We put Ten Beers on the rack along with her Otso Voytek and in what seemed like no time at all, we were exiting the highway and rolling down a country road along the Knik River. We stopped at the end of the road where we found that we weren’t the only ones to plan a ride out to the glacier. The lot had a few other racks full of fat-bikes. I recognized Paul Rotkis from the Trio. Paul was there with a small group, as well as, Jill Homer and some friends. The sun was shining and the trailhead is surrounded by beautiful snow-covered mountains. The temps were right around 20F with a light wind that had me reaching for extra skin coverage at the beginning of the ride.
Grande had filled Travis and me in on the ride details when we stopped into the Bike Shop earlier in the week. The ride out the Glacier consisted of about ten miles of snowmachine packed trail that’s pretty flat because it follows the frozen Knik River out to the Glacial Lake and the face of the Glacier. There was a creek crossing within the first mile from the start that we walked on the way out and rode on the way back.
On the way out, in the first stretch after the creek crossing, there were fresh moose tracks in where the trail snaked its way through patches of willows. The last thing that I wanted to see was a cranky swamp donkey. Soon enough we were out in the open following the Kink River with a 270-degree panoramic view of the Chugach Mountains. The air was crisp and cold with squeaky snow rolling against my Johnny Fives and just about the time that all of my cells opened up to the jet fresh flow, a small single-wing airplane with skis for landing gear flew over us low and slow. I thought to myself… (in a Scottish accent) “Now you’re in Alaska Laddy”
We stopped and chatted with the other groups of riders as we hopscotched each other along the way. The trail was in great riding condition. The snow machines had laid down a solid track and there were fat bike tracks on about 90% of the route that we followed. Somewhere around mile seven, we headed straight into a glacier chilled headwind across an open area that had me hunkered down inside both of my hoods. It made me think about ITI racers and how they ride in conditions that would make the current situation seem rather cushy. A couple of miles later we were at the top of a moraine looking down at the face of the Knik Glacier! #visualsplendor
The frozen lake at the base of the glacier had a combination of crust, ice and patches of windswept snow that would bog you down if you got in too deep. We crossed the lake and encountered our first formations of massive chunks of ice that had calved off the Knick Glacier and into the glacial pool creating a modern art gallery and a photographers’ dreamscape!
Grande busted out a thermos with hot cider and some snacks once we hit the glacial fat-bike paradise for a quick picnic. I was like a kid in a candy store! We cruised around and explored a bit and I did my best to herd some of the most incredibly beautiful pixels that I’ve ever experienced onto my memory cards.
The sun was out and down on the glacial basin, the wind was less of a factor which made it feel warmer. The ice started to make pops and groans as I was trying to set up shots of the bike among the incredible scenery. Grande let me wander around and shoot pictures to my heart’s content.
We climbed back up the moraine on the way back and saw some folks on snow machines pulling a skier on a tow-rope. It looked like fun but judging by the tracks that I saw on the way back, the skier got towed out the entire 9 miles from the lot. (His arms had to be burning) On the way back, we had a bit of a tailwind, and we sailed back at a pretty good clip.
Near the end of the ride, I snapped this shot of Grande riding back across the creek and soon after we arrived back at the trailhead. I had a perfect day out on the bike and got to get a big helping of the exploration side of cycling that I absolutely adore! On top of all of that, my passion for photography got a huge booster-shot as well! The ride out to the glacier is very accessible. Anyone that can ride 20 miles could do this ride and I’d highly recommend Alaska Bike Adventures as a guide service. Having Grande along as a guide, allowed me to shut off my brain and simply have fun!
Alaska Bike Adventures offers half and full-day guided rides, as well as multi-day bikepacking trips. Alaska has an unbelievable plethora of trails. I got to experience some of them on this visit and I know ‘first hand’ how invaluable it was to have friendly knowledgable locals along to take over all of the navigation responsibilities and let me be a big (old) kid on a fat-bike. (¡muchisimas gracias to Travis, Greg & Grande for showing me the way!) Book your trip to Anchorage next March and get ready for the best winter fat-bike riding you’ve ever seen!
For more information about Alaska Bike Adventures visit – https://www.akbikeadventures.com/
Follow them on Instagram at – https://www.instagram.com/alaskabikeadventures/