Sunday, September 26, 2010

CTC 300K Review

The Chugiak/Talkeetna/Chugiak 300K brevet was one for the record books for possibly the most continuous hours of fog on an Alaskan brevet course to date. Give a hand to all the riders who came out and rode last Saturday. These guys braved over 6 hours of riding in cold damp fog!

As we got closer to Talkeetna the sunshine finally punched it’s way through the fog. Sunny skies and incredible views of the Alaska range greeted us. In beautiful downtown Talkeetna, we basked in the sunshine while munching on Caribou Tacos from West Rib Pub and Grille located right behind Nagley’s General Store.

The day wrapped up with a beautiful clear sunset toward Cook Inlet, and moonrise over the Chugach mountains.

Congratulations to Kirk Louthan who gained his Super Randonneur status!

A special thanks to Alaska Bicycle Center, Inc. in Wasilla, AK for opening a half hour early to sell our volunteer some tubes and a patch kit. We’d also like to thank our

Controle locations: Tesoro at Pittman and Parks Hwy., Sheep Creek Lodge, West Rib Pub and Grille, Nagley’s General Store

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chugiak/Talkeetna/Chugiak 300K

It's going to be a beautiful weekend, and winter is right around the corner, so come out and ride the last brevet of the year.

The Chugiak/Talkeetna/Chugiak 300K brevet is perhaps our fastest course, with minimal turns and route-finding challenges, and a very low profile too. The turn-around in Talkeetna offers several yummy of refueling options also.

Saturday, September 18
Start/Finish: Chugiak High School, Chugiak, Alaska
Registration: 5:00AM
Distance: 300KM

Full details on the AK Rando website!

Come ride with us!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall Colors 200K Review

The Glennallen/Chitina/Glennallen 200K brevet took us through some incredibly scenic parts of Alaska. The morning started out cool and foggy. As the sun burned off the fog, the fall colors and rusty mountain tops came into view. Along the way were wide open vistas dotted with patches of red leaves (red is a rare fall color here in AK) and glassy calm lakes with mirror-like reflections of the Wrangell Mountains. Along the way was a roadside 'on your honor' stand selling Rhubarb custard pies, brownies, and banana bread! Last but not least -- Tibetan Yaks! Who knew? Yaks in Alaska! The Yaks can be found online at We met up at the finish for some tasty Thai food at Tok Thai in the parking lot of the Glennallen Tesoro. All riders had a successful day and all agreed that the scenery was absolutely stunning!

A special thanks to our Controle locations: Caribou Hotel, Copper Center Lodge, Kenny Lake Mercantile, Chitina Grocery, Tok Thai (Tasty), and the Glennallen Tesoro.

Don't forget! Next weekend is the LAST brevet of the season (sniffle). Yes, winter is coming and QUICK! So, for one last chance to work those legs until next season, please join us for the Chugiak/Talkeetna/Chugiak 300K. If the weather holds, this one should also be filled with fall colors and fun times! Maybe no Yaks though.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fall Colors 200K

Don't let all the miles you've put in your legs this summer go to waste. If you're not riding Arctic Cross this Saturday, come enjoy the back roads and fall colors on the adventurous 200K Glennallen/Chitna/Glennallen 200K brevet.

Saturday, September 11
Start/Finish: Caribou Hotel in Glennallen, Alaska
Registration: 6:00AM
Distance: 200KM

Full details on the AK Rando website!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PBP Sud - 2010's Last Populaire

Come join us for our third, and last populaire of the randonneuring season, this Saturday, August 28th, starting at the Midnight Sun Brewery Parking lot.

Populaires are shorter, more relaxed versions of brevets. They're a great opportunity to get on some roads you'd normally never ride, and also to meet some new riders. This one will begin at the brewery, head south to the end of Potter Marsh, then go directly north to Chugiak High School, then return to the Midnight Sun for lunch and suds/sodas.

Register: 7:00AM
Start/Finish: Midnight Sun Brewery (bring some $$ for après vélo victuals and libation)

Full details on the AK Rando website.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

RUSA Anniversary Populaire - PBP Nord

If you're not riding Soggy Bottom this weekend, 8/7/10, come join us for our RUSA anniversary ride, the Palmer Populaire (aka PBP Nord). The weather is expected to be nice. Accuweather is saying 67 degrees! Remember, you can't call it from the couch!

Populaires are shorter versions of brevets, and this one is just a tad shorter than 100K. Due to highway resurfacing, it looks like we'll be sticking to the back-roads. It'll make for a grand day out on beautiful roads, with some great new riding partners. Our last populaire had 70 riders.

Register: 7:00AM Fred Meyer Palmer
Start: 8:00AM

Full details on the AK Rando website.

See you at the start!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Denali Park Road Conditions Report - Guest Blogger

From our "on-the-scene" rando correspondent and guest blogger, Mike Downer:

The Denali Dirt Road Randonnée melds the spirit of randonneuring with the appeal that draws so many of us to Alaska. It could be argued that no other randonneuring event in the world celebrates the spirit of self-reliance in such a real way. While Paris-Brest-Paris has its challenges; it does not have Grizzly Bears.

I had the opportunity to camp in the park over the recent weekend. Through conversations with several park workers and personal observation I was able to piece together a fair picture of what we will be facing on the 17th. The most obvious thing about the road is that it’s not very flat. “Thank you Captain Obvious” you may have just muttered. I don’t blame you, but seeing those long uphills winding around mountain bends and then reappearing far back on another slope really gave it perspective.
I’m sure that’s a challenge most will relish.

What you may not relish is the traffic. The first shuttle bus heads into the park around 8 am. There are a number of guided tours that leave earlier. The first buses coming out of the park leave Kantishna and Wonder Lake around 6 am. The first bus which passes will bring a semi-regular stream passing at 5-10 minute intervals, sometimes two at a time. The speed limit on the road is a tame 25 MPH and the drivers I observed seemed very respectful of cyclists. Nonetheless, due to the narrow nature of the road, casting a regular glance over the shoulder will be important. Don't let any of this discourage you. The majestic scenery will most certainly overcome any minor inconvenience the busses might be.

The road surface itself also appears to be in good shape. I rode the Denali Highway 200K brevet over Memorial Day weekend, and for sure the Denali Park road is better maintained and in better condition. It is nicely packed down on the regular bus lines and also seems very rideable near the edges. The gravelly soil should provide excellent drainage. I spent time checking it after a night and morning of rain. There were no running rivulets. If anything it will be a faster (and obviously less dusty) surface when wet. According to a friend who lives in the park that’s going to be important. They haven’t gone a day in nearly three weeks without some part of the road receiving precipitation.

At this point I would be no sort of biking enthusiast if I continued sitting inside while the sun beats down on my ride. The trail is calling.

Hope to see you in Denali!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Denali Dirt Road Randonnée 7/17/10

Wilderness randonneuring, deep into the heart of Denali National Park and Preserve, that's what the Denali Dirt Road Randonnée is all about. It's the epitome of self-reliance on the bike.

The Super Randonneur brevet series (200, 300, 400, & 600K) is over, but that doesn't mean we don't have more brevets and populairs in store for you. Check out the rest of the rides on the calendar HERE.

Last year the Denali Dirt Road Randonnée had to be cancelled due to forest fire smoke that was just too thick to ride through. We're back this year, and we've added a 200K brevet option that goes from Rainbow Village to Eielson Visitor Center and back. This will be a great option for those Fireweed riders who will want to stretch their legs again after their hard rides this last weekend.

This is the most remote ride on our calendar. The Denali Park road is popular with cyclists, and many riders fly into Kantishna and ride, one-way, out to the park entrance. The National Park Service has done much to encourage and improve cycling in the park in recent years. And they maintain the park road to near perfection. A mountain bike or a cyclocross bike will be the perfect tool for the job.

The Denali Dirt Road Randonnée will be a one day roundtrip, out-and-back ride. As with any brevet, all riders are considered to be on an individual ride. It will be a spectacular and unique way to experience the park. Just be sure to pack your water filter and bear spray.

The ride will be Saturday 7/17/10.
All the details for the ride may be found HERE.

See you in Denali!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Long Ride

Speaking to many people over the years about cycling, I have realized that what passes as a long ride can vary quite dramatically. For some, anything longer than say 35 miles requires equal parts insanity and determination. For others, the century is the apex of their distance riding ambition. Then there is the randonneur. This lot will ride 400, 600 and 1200k brevets! Just to make sure the point is made, that’s 248.5, 372.8 and 745.6 miles respectively. 200k (124.3 miles) is introduction and consequentially, the shortest distance for a brevet. I believe it’s safe to assume that for the majority of the general cycling population, a 200k is “long” and covering 400k or more on a bike in the allotted time absolutely requires some insanity as a pre-requisite.

Having completed my first populaire this last weekend, the 100k Bread & Water ride, I have given much thought to the long ride and the spirit of randonneuring. Populaire, by the way, is reserved for randonneur rides under 200k and serve as a super intro to randonneuring. I used to be steeped in the competitive world of cycling where I regularly covered 75 to 100 miles as my weekly “long” ride in a six-day-a-week ride schedule that added up to what a 400k brevet covers in one ride. Well, that was seven years ago. I have long since had a “ride schedule”. In the last calendar year, I have been on my bike only a handful of times with my longest ride being just shy of 13 miles. Inspired by a friend who decided to do a 200k brevet on the Denali Highway cold turkey, i.e. no prior experience of long rides and no regular training schedule on the bike, and successfully finish, I decided to test the legs and my will. Just to make the jump that much more committing, I decided to ride to the ride. I live only five miles from where the ride start was. As if to prove that I knew I was in way over my head, I left the lycra cycling kit at home and instead wore jeans, a hoodie and Converse.

It was interesting showing up to a ride looking like a commuter. I rode in a tight knit group of four. Though each of us is very active in other ways (running, hiking, etc.), we were untrained for a longish bike ride. We just wanted to ride!

We started together and we finished together. This was not a race. We just wanted to finish. It was in this light that I understood cycling as I had not since I was a kid. Instead of obsessing on how fast I could go, I wanted to see how far I could go. There is a lot of psychology involved in pushing your limits. Reflecting back, I realized that I suffered more in dealing with the distance psychologically than physically. Yes my legs hurt and at times they really really hurt, but as long as I could talk myself out of pulling off and calling for a ride I could make it to the next mile, then the next and so on. The last 20 miles were as pleasant as the first. By the time I arrived at the finish with my friends, I realized that the extra five miles home would not be all that bad.

I now have my eyes set on the 7/17/10 Denali Park Road 200k randonnée! Either I have already forgotten how painful it was to add 60 miles to my longest ride in a year or the joy of camaraderie and accomplishing something beyond my current limits makes it all worth it. Am I mad for wanting to double my current highpoint a month from now? Maybe, but the memories of a bike ride in Denali National Park will be worth it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Solstice Rando Adventure on June 19th

The Bread & Water Populaire was a smash hit! 70 riders showed up to ride the big, beautiful loop around Anchorage. It was great seeing so many new faces on the ride. And even the weather cooperated. Looking for more populaires, or perhaps a 200K? Check out the rest of the rides on the Rando Calendar.

Thanks to Buzz and Carlos for helping out on the course. You two really made things run smoothly.

Results will be posted soon. But in the meantime, populaire photos are HERE!


Next up is the Solstice 200/400/600K brevets starting from Gakona next Saturday, June 19th.

Ride details for the 200K, 400K, and/or the 600K are HERE.

The 600K is a huge, remote, beautiful ride! If you're not quite up for it, but are still looking for a solstice adventure and a reason to ride the Richardson Highway, consider the one-way 200K to Delta, or the one-way 400K to Tok. It's up to you to get yourself back to your car at the start, or perhaps you can cajole friends or family to drive up and meet you. Another option is to get a B&B in Delta for the 200K, and ride back to Gakona the next morning. For the 400K, consider taking an extra day and ride the remaining 200K back to your car in Gakona.

There are lots of options! The riding is such high quality, and the scenery is so breathtaking, I really hope more people make the effort to get up there sometime during the summer!

Photos from 2009 are HERE.

See you in Gakona!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bread & Water 100K Populaire, Sunday, June 13

Now that we have the big Anchorage/Seaward/Anchorage 400K behind us, we're taking a little break, before the Gakona 600K, to see the local sights with a beautiful populaire around Anchorage.

Join us Sunday morning at 7:00AM at the Great Harvest bakery for the start of the Bread & Water 100K populiare.

This ride is a giant loop around Anchorage. It has one big hill, a short dirt section through Far North Bicentennial Park, lots of bike trail riding, and it will be marked. This ride attracts all sorts of riders: racers, commuters, mtb'ers, tandems, 'bents, old, young, fixie-hipsters, etc... It's for anybody looking for a wonderful day on the bike, some new trails, and loads of new friends.

Details about the ride are HERE.
Photos from last year's ride are HERE.


Congratulations to all the finishers of last weekend's Anchorage/Seward 200K and Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 400K. Every single starting rider finished!

Results are HERE.
Sorry, no photos for this one right now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 200K/400K Brevets

The AEA's Denali Classic was an amazing experience. We made a bunch of new friends and are grateful to Carlos and the gang for letting the Alaska Randonneurs offer a brevet option for their ride. The Denali Highway is a magical 135-mile gravel road paralleling the Alaska Range between the communities of Cantwell on the west, and Paxson on the east. The road offers spectacular riding through the remote Alaska wilderness, especially when the weather is nearly perfect, as we found it over the Memorial Day weekend. If you've never ridden the Denali Highway, I urge you to make the time and go up for a grand adventure!

Denali Classic 200K RESULTS
Denali Classic 200K PHOTOS

The classic Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 400K brevet, along with the new Anchorage/Seward one-way 200K option, is this Saturday, June 5th. Either option is a beautiful ride in its own right, and is a great training opportunity for those looking for some big milage in preparation for the Fireweed.

Everything you need to know for the rides may be found at the links below:

Anchorage/Seward 200K or 400K DETAILS
2009 Anchorage/Seward 400K PHOTOS

Looking forward to seeing you at the start!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Denali Hwy Brevet Gear List + Solstice 600K Logistics

1) Bear spray
2) Water filter
3) Camelback

This is a very remote ride (no cellphone service), checkpoints (contrôles) are far apart, and the weather outlook is telling us it'll be in the mid to high 60s up there; think "Parched!"

No doubt this will toughen you up for the upcoming Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 400K!


It's less than a month until the Solstice 200K/400K/600K brevets up in Gakona/Delta Junction/Tok. If you're doing any of these rides, I suggest you make arrangements for accommodations in these towns as soon as possible; places are beginning to fill up rather quickly.

Last year, several riders had a good experience with Young's Motel in Tok. I have no relation to Young's, and there are other options up there, but this would be a good place to finish for the 400K, and to overnight for the 600K. They still have a few rooms open; its $94. They close their office @ 11pm but you can make arrangements for late arrivals. (Several riders got there after midnight and 1AM.)

Here’s their info:
Mile 1313 Alaska Highway. Seafood, pizza, steaks, sandwiches, salad bar & soup. 43 Motel rooms, satellite TV, phones, non-smoking available. Year-round 6 am to 11 pm. RV sites, water & electric, Wi-Fi available.
P.O. Box 482
Mile 1313 Alaska Highway
Tok, Alaska 99780
Ed and Diane Young Email:

For other options, check out the latest edition of the Milepost.

See ya up there!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Denali Highway 200K/300K May 29th

If you don't think randonneuring in the United States is taking off, then you I guess you didn't know that there has already been 68 brevets, so far just this month of May, ranging from 200K to 600K, all across this Nation.

Check out the photos from the Oregon 600K.

These are just a small example of the outrageously high-quality riding being organized from coast-to-coast in this country by the Randonneurs USA. There are a tonne of rides going on around the country and Canada. If you're traveling for business or pleasure, consider taking your bike!

The long days of summer are upon us. I hope you will get out and ride with your fellow randonneurs.


The Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K is a wonderful ride that passes through the communities of Eagle River, Peters Creek, Eklutna, Palmer, and Knik. This is about the closest thing we get to the village-to-village cycling experience.

10 riders started in the chill of a cloudless morning last Saturday, and rode some amazing roads, hills, trails, and even through a bit of road construction, to complete the 300K brevet. Congratulations to all of finishers.

Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K Results are HERE.
A few photos are HERE.


MAY 29th, Memorial Day Weekend - AEA Denali Classic + 200K/300K Brevets
The Alaska Randonneurs really believe in grassroots events. That's why this year we're teaming up with the AEA for their Memorial Day weekend Denali Classic. We really admire what Carlos has been doing over the years with Frigid Bits and Soggy Bottom, and want to show our support for his rides. Come up and join the fun and adventure. Ride one of the Denali Classic rides, or if you're looking for ACP or RUSA credit, ride the 200K or 300K brevets out-and-back on the Denali Highway. These brevets are likely the longest dirt-road randonnées in North America. Bring your 'cross bike, with extra plump tires, or your hard-tail MTB.

All rides will start at 9AM from the Brushkana campground, which is about 29 miles east of Cantwell. Make a whole weekend of it. Bring the family; there are loads of trials to explore for those not doing one of the rides.

We're planning a post-ride potluck feast, so please bring something to add to the food pile. Don't forget to bring your favorite fermented or distilled electrolyte replacement, if you're so inclined. And if that's not enough, we'll be cookin' up a giant tummy-bustin' homestyle breakfast on Sunday morning. Bring a few donation victuals for that one too. Don't forget to haul your body-weight in firewood up to the campground as well. It's still a little chilly in the evening up there, and we're gonna need lots of community flame.

Details HERE.

See you on the Denali!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K Brevet on 5/22

This Saturday, May 22nd, come ride the Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K brevet. If you've ridden any one of our three 200K brevets so far this season, this ride is well within your reach, and can be very rewarding.

Details for the ride have been posted on the website, along with the cue sheet for the course. Note that summer is construction season here in Alaska, and randonneurs are not immune. There's a very short section of the Old Glenn Highway at the north edge of Eagle River, along side Fire Lake, that will be closed beginning this Friday, until July. I've added an easy and logical work-around to the cue sheet.

Chapeaux à Mark, one of our riders who e-mailed me with the road closure alert! Thanks, Mark. Riders will be grateful to you come Saturday morning.

This is a rambling course with a variety of encounters ranging from local urban neighborhoods, quiet backroads, deep valleys surrounded by soaring, snowcapped peaks, a Native village, industrial zones, beaches and ocean views, rivers and railroads. Along the way, you'll pass through Anchorage, Eagle River, Chugiak/Birchwood/Peters Creek, Eklutna, Palmer, and Knik. There will be plenty of places to stop to refuel along the way in any one of these communities; lots of stores, restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, etc. There are a few hilly sections, but nothing the last three 200K brevets haven't prepared you for.

Photos from last year's version of this ride are HERE.

The weather forecast is for SUN with highs between 55-65!! Come ride with us!

Looking forward to seeing you next Saturday.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Matanuska Milestone & More

30 riders, the most ever for an Alaska brevet, stormed the backroads of the Matanuska Valley last Sunday. Thanks to all the "regulars", as well as new riders, for coming out to test yourself against Palmer's headwinds, Wasilla's pitbulls, and Houston's hailstorms. Tell all your friends how much fun you had on this ride, then bring 'em with you to the next brevet!

Mat Valley 200K photos are HERE.
Mat Valley 200K results are HERE.

Now that you have one or more 200K rides under your belt so far this season, consider riding this weekend's Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K. It's a beautiful ride that explores everything between the sandy beaches along Cook Inlet to the snow-covered peaks of the Chugach mountains. All the info is HERE.

Join us over the Memorial Day weekend as the Alaska Randonneurs team up with the Alaska Endurance Association for their annual Denali Classic. We'll be offering a 200K and 300K dirt-road brevet, as well as hosting a family-friendly pot-luck dinner, and a hearty pre-ride breakfast. There will be lots of room at the Brushkana campground, so bring your family and encourage all your friends to come up and have a good time. (There's loads of good trail riding for those not participating in the AEA rides or the brevets.) This ride offers stunning views of the Alaska Range, the second highest pass on the Alaska road system, as well as a few fun, quirky roadside lodges.

Looking for more 200K or longer brevets before the Fireweed 400? Check out the rest of the randonneuring schedule for all of our other rides HERE.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Matanuska Valley 200K - Sunday 5/16/10

Come ride the Matanuska Valley 200K brevet this Sunday, May 16th.

Roll on some new roads, meet some new riders, and have a great time! Test yourself for a personal-best, or simply come out for the views and friends!

Ride details & cue sheet available HERE.

A few photos from last year's Mat Valley 200K are HERE.

Hope to see you out there!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Homer's Odyssey

The End-of-the-Road 200K brevet was just amazing. The morning snow shower up high on East End Road added to the challenge, but the ocean scenery and warmer late-afternoon temps down at the beach in Anchor Point made it all worth while.

The other critical component making this ride so unbelievably satisfying is the people who helped put it on. Joy and Ruth spent many hours hanging out at controls and driving the course. Thanks you two. The ride wouldn't have happened without your help.

Thanks also to Pat and Kathy who have encouraged the idea and development of this ride since the beginning. Pat has literally been my eyes down in Homer as he's helped me figure out how to squeeze 200K out of the roads around the "Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea."

So, now that you've heard about, and seen the photos of, this brevet for two years, I urge you make the effort to join us in Homer next year. This ride is really gathering momentum. The roads and scenery are just amazing.

Homer 200K photos are HERE.
Homer 200K results are HERE.

Two things coming up this week:
Rando-Info Night #2 at REI-Anchorage, Thursday the 13th at 6:00PM.
The Matanuska Valley 200K, starting in Palmer on Sunday the 16th. Registration will open at 6:00AM.

Looking for something fun for the Memorial Day weekend? Grab your 'cross bike for the longest dirt road brevet in the country. AK Randonneurs and AK Endurance Assoc. are teaming up to offer both a 200K and 300K brevet on the Denali Highway. The ride will traverse the Alaska Range to the north, for breathtaking views of Deborah and Hess. There will also be a huge pre and post-ride pot-luck breakfast/dinner. Should be a blast!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Homer Rides!

We're heading to Homer, the "End-of-the-Road", Alaska's "banana-belt."

When: May 1, 2010
Where: Two Sisters Bakery
Why: 200K ACP Brevet

Details HERE
Course map HERE
Last year's photos HERE

Last year there was a ton of people, gorgeous weather, and tons of fun. We're promising the same for 2010!

Come ride some new roads, make some new friends, see some new sights, and give yourself an unbelievable challenge.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Iceland Blows While Kenai Knows

Eliot poeticized that, "April is the cruellest month...", and that's why we only have one brevet in the month before May! T.S. quickly characterizes early spring's bleakness in the first few lines of his poem The Waste Land. And when he writes, "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." I wonder if he was ever a cyclist in The Great Land, riding through the sins-of-winter; the gravel deposited on our roads all winter-long that becomes menacing and dangerous as it emerges from the snow and ice, until the midnight armies of street-sweeper ants complete their twisty, windy journey through our cities by early June.

He never mentioned volcanos in that poem though, did he? Last year a volcano belched, and spewed ash all over the 200K course, causing us to move the start date into the redemption of May, when the leaves just begin to come out, and the air smells sweet with birch and cottonwood sap. This year, it was a volcano again! However, that was in Iceland, and boy, are they feeling it. That's too bad for them. Ash is no fun, and really hard to deal with. Here's to hoping they can get back on their bikes soon!

Here in Alaska, randonneuring season began last weekend, again with a few surprises. Interest in randonneuring is really growing, and four days before last Saturday's Kenai 200K brevet, the number of e-mails and phone calls asking for details about the ride really jumped. I figured we were looking to have between 30 and 35 riders to kick off the 2010 season. That would've been a record turnout.

Then, on Wednesday, the snows began. A spring snow dump isn't unusual up here in Southcentral Alaska, and with three days before the ride, I wasn't that concerned. However, the sudden little squall ended up being the second snowiest day in April on record. By the end of it, 9.5" of the wet, heavy stuff was covering our streets, roads, and yards, hiding the emerging doggie-bombs once again.

For a few moments I considered contacting the RUSA mother ship to alert them of the current weather problem and the possible need to postpone the ride for a week. That's when an unknown rider sent me a text message saying that he and a friend were setting off on their bikes in an hour, to ride the 158 miles, through the snowstorm and over Turnagain Pass, to the brevet start in downtown Kenai on Saturday morning.

Due to the snowstorm, the potential 30+ riders quickly evaporated to perhaps...2. However, knowing the mystery rider was at that very moment launching himself into the tempest, I decided that if he was intrepid enough to brave the storm, I could at least show up and put the brevet on for him.

Good thing he shamed me into not postponing the ride. Early Saturday, in the grey of the 33 degree morning, 18 cyclists (twice as many as last year) from all across Southcentral Alaska showed up to ride! There were commuters from Anchorage, locals from Kenai, a mountainbiker from Kasilof, bike shop owners from Palmer, my neighbor from Turnagain, a schoolmaster, college students, distance-junkies, attorneys, and an assortment of others from as far south as Homer and north to Wasilla (no, Sarah Palin didn't ride our 200K!). Riders were sporting carbon, aluminum, and steel in the form of go-fast road bikes, a recumbent, a few mountain bikes, and a slew of Surleys 'cross bikes (one a single speed).

I kept my pre-ride speech short as everyone stood straddling their bikes, shivering in the cold. And promptly at 7:30AM the 2010 Alaska randonneuring season began as the mini peloton of 18 balaclava-and-bootie-clad riders hummed quietly out of the parking lot and headed north, past Kassik's Brewery, to the first contrôle at North Star Elementary in Nikiski.

The Kenai/Nikiski backroads were open and quiet. And for the most part, the ride up to the Captain Cook Rec Area was uneventful. Riders could just spin, listen to the birds, and take in the scenery. One small group of riders got so caught up in the moment, they missed a turn and earned themselves a few bonus miles.

This flat-ish course is very near the ocean for the most part, and as the riders returned from Nikiski and approached the bridge over the world-famous Kenai River, the early afternoon breezes began to kick up. The same thing happened last year; I think this is the nature of a course on Cook Inlet. Kalifornsky Beach Road is about as flat and straight as they come, but it didn't seem like that in the wind.

The final lobe of the course, up Funny River Road, offers the only real hills on this 200K. By that time of the day, riders were really racking up the kilometers, and the friendly breezes began to turn into mocking headwinds. Funny River wasn't a joke. It was along this section that Buzz rounded a corner to find Kirk (both veterans of last summer's 600K) sprawled and napping in the gravel on a paved turnout. To Buzz it must've appeared that Capt'n Kirk had given up the fight and died right there on the spot. The Kirkinator began to stir as Buzz rode by, gingerly remounted his bike, and continued the push to the contrôle.

There must be at least 18, more interesting versions of the rest of this rando story. But, you'll have to get those directly from the riders who came and rode the fantastic Kenai 200K brevet.

It's early in the season for such a long ride. Congratulations to all the finishers! And to those who didn't make it, thanks for joining us on a great ride!

Kenai 200K photos are HERE.
Kenai 200K Results are HERE.

Thanks so much to my generous volunteer, Joy! You did a wonderful job, and we are all grateful! You were a critical component in making this ride a success for all our randonneurs.

Come join us on one of our other upcoming brevets or populaires, make some new riding friends, get on some roads you've never before ridden, and challenge yourself on some scenic and interesting courses.

The legendary Homer "End-of-the-Road" 200K brevet is coming up in less than 2 weeks. I'll have details posted soon. If you're aiming to go, you might want to start looking into booking a room soon. I'm beginning to hear all kinds of plans for après vélo.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

AK Randonneurs Season Opener - Kenai 200K Brevet 4/17

I'm really looking forward to this year's randonneuring season, and am excited to be heading to Kenai later this week for our season opener.

Rando-Info Night at the Anchorage REI on 4/6 was packed. Going in, there were only 6 people registered to attend. By the time the show started, we were near capacity with over 40 people; mostly new faces! I think this is an indication that Alaskans are beginning to discover what randonneuring is all about, all the goodness it offers, and that they want to ride the assorted brevets around the state. We're having another Rando-Info Night on May 13th! Please help spread the word, and tell all your friends!

Everything you need to know about the Kenai 200K, including a map of the course, can be found HERE.

I'll be heading down Friday afternoon, and will do a little preview of the course if I have enough time. If you're down there, and see my red Westfalia, wave or call, and let's go grab a pre-event beer.

If you're wondering where to stay, you might want to consider one of the following suggestions from friends over at AK Spokes:
Kenai: The Kings Inn, Louies, the 406, The Merit (might be closed) Aspen Extended stay
Soldotna: Micheals, King Salmon, Aspen (w/pool), Riverside, Hooligans, Kenai River lodge, Duck Inn

It's still early in the season, but loads of people are already out riding. The extended weather forecast, as of this writing, looks favorable, and shouldn't throw any surprises our way (like last year's volcanic eruption!). That said, it will certainly be brisk in the morning; embrocate liberally! Your knees will thank you later.

See you in Kenai!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rando Info Night 4/6 + Kenai 200K 4/17

It's the season of the Belgian toothpaste. There's still a lot of snow on the ground, but the roads are pretty much dry, and people are out there riding. Inquiries about the brevets and randonneuring in general have been increasing in frequency, so before the April 17 Kenai 200K, Bob Voris (PBP ancien '99) and I will be hosting a Rando Info Night at the Anchorage REI this coming Tuesday, April 6th at 6:00PM. We're also getting a lot of interest from rides Outside, looking to come up for some of our rides. I look forward to sharing the beauty of Alaska with them.

If you're new to randonneuring, Rando Info Night will help get you started riding brevets. We'll cover all the basics, such as: Rules, French Words, History, Riding Styles, Contrôles, Brevet Cards, Equipment, Nutrition, Training, and more. There will be plenty of time for questions too.

The Kenai 200K brevet is coming right up. It's a wonderful course, the flattest one on the calendar. It's early in the season for Alaska riders, but if you can ride 100K at this point, you most likely can roll for 200K.

If you've never made the effort to ride the Kenai roads, you're really missing out. The course is stunningly scenic and varied, and the roads are very low traffic; at least until the fish start running in July. Last year's brevet attracted riders from Homer, the Mat Valley, and Anchorage, as well as local Kenai riders.

All the ride information for the Kenai 200K brevet, including links to the course map, cue-sheet, start time/location, etc., may be found HERE.

Last spring, the Redoubt Reporter did two nice articles about our Peninsula rides. Check 'em out HERE and HERE.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kenai 200K Brevet, April 17th

Start wrenchin' on your steed, the first ride of the season is just around the corner; the Kenai 200K on April 17th.

Here's the link to the full 2010 AK Randonneurs' brevet calendar.

Bob Voris just reported, via Facebook today, that the entire Birchwood Lookp is dry!

Stay tuned for more updates...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Denali Highway 300K Traverse of the Alaska Range

The month of May typically brings very stable weather across Southcentral Alaska. If you're at all familiar with the writings of author David Roberts, and his seminal mountaineering book Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative, you'll stand an excellent chance of seeing Deborah on our newly approved, May 29th, Denali Highway 300K brevet (a 200K is in the works as well). The map above explains the ride pretty well. As you can see, it'll be almost entirely on a freshly graded dirt highway, traversing a significant portion of the Alaska Range. This ride also tops out on the second highest mountain pass on the entire, albeit small, Alaska road system. The stuff of pure adventure, this ride is. The ride will be at the end of May. We'll be less than a month away from Solstice, so we'll have plenty of light. It's on dirt (I already said that) so ride 28mm or larger. And it's remote. That means two things: very, very low traffic, and minimal services. Let your imagination loose on this one, because it can't possibly compare to what the real thing will be like.

I have to express my thanks to Carlos Lozano. He started the spring rides up on the Denali Highway years ago as the "Denali Classic", part of his Alaska Endurance Association series of rides. Over a few beers at the Spenard Roadhouse last fall, Carlos finally relented to letting us rando-types hop aboard his adventure train. Carlos has a lot of style, and imparts it well on all the rides he puts on. With the two of us now teaming up for the magic-weekend-in-May, this should be double the fun, double the adventure, double the experience. If you need logistical assistance with this ride (flights, hotels, how to get to the start, where to stay, etc.), let either of us know. We'll be glad to help.

Two housekeeping items for local riders:
You really need to know what's going on w/ the rewrite of Title 9 here in Anchorage, and the wording proposed by our friends at the Anchorage Police Department. Please read the latest by the truck-drivin' cyclist Thomas Pease in the Anchorage Press.

Second, the Arctic Bicycle Club will host their annual bike shop on April 10th. Save the date!
AT&T Sports Pavillion
12:00-1:00 setup
1:00-4:00 sales
No fees or commissions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Airlines Boost Flights to Alaska This Summer for Randonneurs

Okay, so I'm stretching it a little. The truth is though, that if you've ever entertained the idea to travel to Alaska to ride a brevet or two with us, there's never been a better time. This afternoon the Anchorage Daily News broke a story saying that commercial airlines are adding up to 930 MORE seats EACH DAY to Alaska this summer. The article also mentions that there also might be some great deals to be had. Check out the article HERE.

The earliest flights begin May 14th, just in time for our 200Km brevet through the fertile Matanuska Valley. Also consider coming up for our legendary solstice 600Km loop from Gakona to Delta Junction to Tok and back to Gakona. Or...what about the Denali Dirt Road Randonnee on July 17th - a 200km and a 300km option on the only road within Denali National Park.

While you're rolling the crazy notion of flying to Alaska for a brevet, wander over to our Flickr site to be enticed by photos of some of our rides last season. your travel agent! Click HERE to see our brevet schedule.

Come ride with us!

Thanks to Royston Rascals' via Flickr (Creative Commons) for the phun photo!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gardez Vôtre Sang-Froid

The 2010 Alaska Randonneurs' brevet calendar is set in stone. The number and variety of rides just keeps growing. Now it's just a few more months on the fat bike or spinning at the club or in the garage. Meanwhile, I'm putting the finishing touches on cue sheets, and submitting some new routes to the Mother Ship.

So, a few of very important start-of-year house keeping tips:

1) Renew your RUSA membership. Don't delay. Do it today!! Brevets are already rollin' in a few parts of the country. Don't wait until the last moment to support the organization that allows these rides to happen.

2) PBP is only a little more than a year away. Familiarize yourself with the new qualification requirements. Yes, if you intend on riding PBP in 2011, it's a really good idea to get a full Super Randonneur series in for 2010.

3) Head to the shop and begin to get your bike ready. You've been skiing all winter so far, not start getting your steed in shape for next season too.

4) Spread the word about the Alaska Randonneurs. Tell all your friends, and drag 'em along to one of the brevets. I've added a slew of new, shorter rides to attract new riders. 2009 was a pretty big year, even with puffing volcanos and forest fires. 2010 will be huge for us with 18 rides on the calendar!

5) Consider volunteering on one of the rides. It's a great way to better understand the mechanics of the brevets, and also to get to know your fellow riders better.

6) Stay tuned for our upcoming annual "Rando Info" night. It should be sometime in March.

Peace Out!