Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tour d'Anchorage

Ride on, Anchorage! Today was designated "Bike to Work" day, and hundreds of folks took to the 120 miles of paved bike trails and headed off to their respective places of employment. My firm-fannied Yukon was among the dozen or so VA employees who braved a chilly, windy day for the sake of a day's respite from fuel costs and the gain of clear-headed returns from the office.

Yukon utilized Bike to Work day as his own kick-off to summer and his thrice-per-week ride to work via the bike. With diesel reaching $4.59 a gallon today (the VW Jetta TDI still is the best deal, however), and Old Betsy the Explorer needing a break now and then from the travails of travel, Yukon was even more eager to get out on the trails.

We frequently bike to local parks and mountain bike trails during the summer; the paved pathways are flat, wide, and perfect for kids and parents alike to roll along with relative ease. Plus, we can't lose them to a turn or pothole like we can on a trail. Our usual ride takes us from our home in East Anchorage along the path West towards Goose Lake Park (, where the Paddleboat Cafe' delivers homemade ice cream sandwiches with a dash of local flavor. At about a half-hour ride, it is a perfect halfway point for little Bear, who gets tired of his position in the bike trailer and wants us to "hurry up". We play in the sand and on the equipment, watch people swimming (yes, for a few brief weeks, swimming is refreshing rather than fatal), and then start back, taking a cut through Russian Jack Springs Park and the local 9-hole golf course.

Sometimes we have to detour because of the moose, but on many occasions only one of us will see him/her browsing among the birch, and usually after we have gone past the point of no return, so we just continue on. Most of our local moose are used to bikers and don't appear bothered. Until the Rut, of course.

Cycling in Anchorage is probably the best I have encountered thus far in my limited exposure to bicycle commuting/pleasure riding. And the best part is those same trails turn into 120 miles of prime Nordic skiing once the snow falls; lights and all. Some hardy souls cycle to work year-round, and many ski to work on the groomed surface. Nice. We may be rough around the edges, but Anchorage has cornered the market on getting places by your own power.

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