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!