Every six months or so I find myself getting burnt out by everything. Work. Home. Family. Life. I think it’s that way for a lot of folks. Particularly around the holidays, what with the way that the shopping cycle grows ever closer and closer to Halloween. Have you noticed that Black Friday sales now start on the Monday before? Huh?
And what does this have to do with cycling for recreation or utility?
Nothing. I just wanted to remind everyone that the people who constantly try to sell us stuff think we are really freaking stupid. Just remember that during this Consumermas season.
So — on to something fun. Riding bike.
I have to say that I am a bit freaked out. I went out riding on Saturday, November 22, and came back with a bike covered in dust. In November. There shouldn’t be dust this time of year. It should be snow. I should be griping about the lack of traction in my tires or how my butt cheeks froze while the front side roasted. I should be collecting beardcicle photos.
Instead I’m having to wash the dust off my bike after each ride. I’m having to contend with huge frost heaves on the trail that have cracked the surface like the dry air has cracked my lips and nasal passages. At least there is that. The faint taste of blood dripping down from my sinuses on a regular basis at least reminds me that it really is winter, whether it looks like it or not. But that might be TMI. My bad.
The Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers have been working hard up in the, well yes, valley to improve residents’ access to non-motorized recreation. One of their recent projects, the Government Peak Rec Area single track trails are one example of the good work this group is doing in the area.
Right now the trails are not officially open. They need more volunteer hours in the spring to hand finish them out and turn them from good to flippin’ amazing trails. However, I encourage you to get out there and check them out. Even with the frost heaves and some loose corners, they ride well. Heck, they present some challenging riding that won’t be as challenging once they are dialed in this spring.
What’s so cool about these trails is that they start in the boreal and quickly climb into the sub alpine and then just edge into alpine terrain. It’s cool to be able to watch how the landscape and the flora change as you climb and then descend. The trails are curvy with some good climbs and descents, but climbs that are manageable for most riders. There aren’t any of those short, nearly impossibly steep climbs like on the Crevasse Moraine ski trails or sustained steep-ish (six to seven percent grade) climbs we find on some of the Mat-Su Greenbelt trails. And don’t get me wrong, I love the climbs, but there are times when I don’t want that type of riding. The GPRA trails climb, but they are low grade climbs — long but gentle. That corresponds with some nice downhill sections as well.
Overall, the riding is worth the trip to the valley, I argue. You could make a nice day of it and experience a number of different types of riding. My ultimate day of riding would probably look like this: I’d start out in the morning, as the sun is rising, bundled for warmth, and drive out to Gold Mint trail. I’d ride that up the valley as far as conditions allow. Right now that might still be in the four mile range or so. Then I’d bomb back down to the parking lot and head down to GPRA for two loops on the new trail there. One to hit the upper loop and one to hit the lower loop. I’d then head into the Palmer bike park and hit up all the trails there — the flow trail a couple of times and maybe the skills trail a couple of times; take a few passes through the pump track and then head over to Backcountry for a cup of coffee and bike talk with whomever is working at the time. Then I’d head over to Mat-Su Lakes and ride the trails from there to Crevasse Moraine and back before calling it a day.
That would certainly be a sun up to sun down day this time of year and one could easily top out 60 miles depending on which trails in the greenbelt system are connected together. Heck, you could reverse it, too, to start in the boreal biome and work your way up to alpine. Let’s call it the Biome Epic Tour.
If you’re interested in doing it I’d be happy to take you. Just message me. Hell, getting out there on the trails might reverse that feeling of burn out. At a minimum it’ll ensure you can’t get wrapped up in the spirit of the season.