I’ve had an easy week of riding between Fairbanks and Anchorage. The Parks Highway, AK 3, which I have been on mostly, ranged from a neutral to friendly route to bike, there was decent shoulder or even separated bike path most of the way. Getting into The Valley it got a little more treacherous. There was often bike/ped path along the road, and I was glad to not be in it, but cross streets were annoying or frightening sometimes. I got on The Glenn Highway (AK 1) for the last stretch into Anchorage. There were some exit crossings that made me nervous with the traffic, but then one had a sign pointing to a turn for the bike route so I guess I had been alright there up to then. From there it was all separated bike path into town. This is the biggest city I’ve visited in quite some time.
I’ve been exploring Anchorage now, trying to get the hang of getting around by bike in a new city can be daunting, and this is by far the most densly populated place I’ve been in a while. I had a lot of short (distance wise) days in the last week of traveling, which feels different, like I’m only pretending to go places, maybe. It is a different sort of traveling. It is hard to define.
I meet a number of travelers in RVs, some the size of passenger busses, sometimes pulling a car behind them. Lots of older people who are on bucket list trips, checking things off. I’m fortunate to be out here when I am in my life. To have realized I have the ability to travel and take time for myself now, rather than hoping to some day. Some folks don’t seem too interested in actually being outside and I wonder what this part of the world has to offer them. People who stop for a break and go from the cab of their vehicle to the back to eat lunch, and then back again. Some like to tell me about how, unlike me, they are travelling comfortably… Just a hint, if you start a conversation with me by suggesting that I am out here to suffer or that I am uncomfortable, going on about how you couldn’t do this, joking about where my motor is, etc, I will probably get bored with you really fast.
I saw a curious group of cyclists at a pull off. They weren’t carrying much, so they can’t be travelers, but we were pretty far from anywhere one might start a day ride. I scoped them out. There were chairs and a truck there, and when they were mostly gone I approached the person packing things up. For once I think I started the interrogation. I never get the first word! Greg told me about this “supported tour” and our conversation ended with him imploring me to call his brother, in Anchorage, told me he and his girlfriend would let me stay with them, surely. So I did and they have.
Talkeetna was a stop recommended to me by someone I met in Fairbanks. The 14 mile detour on the Talkeetna Spur Road has a bike path the whole way. The town sits at the confluence of the Susitna, Talkeetna, and Chulitna rivers, and is the home of the ranger station one must check in at before attempting a climb on Denali. I managed to befriend some raft guides with the next day off who facilitated my visit a bit.