Editor’s note: In keeping with the social distance theme, Special Correspondent Caleigh Jensen and a friend rented fat bikes for a new adventure in the mountains. Here is her report. –Scott
My latest social-distancing-style outdoor adventure consisted of bikes with really big tires, a way-too-small Jeep and an unexpected snowstorm. Here’s the story of how two amateur bike riders tackled Powerline Pass on one of the windiest days of the year:
A good friend and I met up at the TREK Bicycle Store of Anchorage to rent two fat tire bikes for the day. The employees helped fit us into our bikes and helmets, and we took a test drive around the store. As we ran into display shelves and nearly fell off our seats, we realized just how bad at biking we really are. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ridden a bike, let alone a fat tire, since my annual Bike Rodeo days in elementary school. We knew the rest of the day would be interesting.
Our next challenge was fitting the two bikes — which were much bigger than I anticipated — into my tiny ‘97 Jeep Wrangler. After some very careful maneuvering and lots of words of encouragement from the helpful TREK employees, we managed to make the bikes fit by taking the front tires off. Although it’s possible to make it work, for anyone out there with older Jeeps or small cars of any kind, I suggest borrowing a truck for the day.
The next challenge came once we arrived at the Flattop parking lot, the starting grounds of Powerline Pass. Putting the front tires back on the bikes seemed so effortless when it was done by the TREK employees, but took a lot more trial and error from two college students who know the bare minimum about bike mechanics. Nevertheless, we were assembled and ready to go after about 15 minutes.
But of course, the challenges did not stop there — now we had to put our amateur skills to the test and actually ride the bikes. We took a few test drives around the parking lot and down to the actual trail, stopping for a few photo-ops along the way, of course. Once we arrived at the fork that begins Powerline Pass (you can’t miss it, the trail literally follows the powerline), we decided to take the 3.5-mile trail to the left. The 5.5-mile trail on the right side seemed a little ambitious. We’ll try to tackle that another day.
It was smooth sailing — or should I say biking — from there. We screamed and laughed as we cruised up and down the hills that lined the trail, enjoying the breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountains that surrounded us. We savored a few waves and “hellos” from other residents walking their dogs, skiing and even sledding along the trail, but kept 6 feet away from them and each other in true social distancing fashion.
It took about two hours to reach the end of the Powerline Pass. Feeling on top of the world and a new sense of confidence in our biking abilities, we turned around and headed back to the start of the trail. Perhaps we should have checked the weather first, though, because we were soon met with our final challenge of the day — a snowstorm.
The wind worked in our favor on the way down the trail, but picked up and blew against us on our way back up. We powered through for about half the length of the trail, but the snow and wind blowing in our faces was a lot to handle (perhaps I should have spent more of my time in quarantine working out!) and we decided to walk our bikes the rest of the way.
It was quite the workout and really tested our endurance, but we powered through and made it out of the storm and back to the parking lot. It made for some very sore legs in the days to follow, though.
We returned to the TREK store with 30 minutes to spare to return our bikes (make sure you do so to avoid paying a late fee), and enjoyed curbside pickup of Wild Scoops ice cream, located right next to TREK, to celebrate our victory.
Our fat tire biking adventure was rewarding and eventful, to say the least, and I can’t wait to try it out again. Take it from me — if two complete amateur bikers can tackle Powerline Pass, anyone can.
The TREK Bicycle Store of Anchorage is located at 530 E. Benson Blvd. Ste. 9C. Their hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fat tire bikes are available to rent for the day online for $45.
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