Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 17, 2015. Glennallen to Valdez, AK. 59 Miles.

We pumped up my tires again this morning, got on the bikes and rode out of Glennallen. There was  a moose there, but not exactly what we were looking for.

We lined up for a photo after discussing our "road names" similar to trail names that hikers give themselves. Someone named me "go Linda go". I named Phil "Vivaldi" but some of the others had already called him "schwarma". Jackie is "Rocky". Connie is "Sweet Pea", Clark is "Carlos". I called Dianne "What" and it took me all day to come up with aliases for our guides. Below right is Steve, whom I named "Swamp Man" (a play on words using letters from his first and last names) and Frithjof (not in photo) is "the Viking" due to his Norwegian heritage.

It was a beautiful ride this morning as we left the Alaska Range and could see the Wrangells off to our left and the Chugach Mountains on our right and looming ahead of us. The wind was as predicted--head on and blowing at a steady 18 MPH with gusts up to 28 or 30 MPH,

Right before the first rest stop I had a flat tire. The bikes we are riding do not have spare tubes, pumps, or any tools on them. Jackie passed me in the fierce gusting headwind and sent Frithjof back with a tire kit. By the time he arrived I had removed the wheel, taken the tire off and removed the small sharp stone that caused the flat.

Frithjof changed the tire and we rode to the rest stop. The guides suggested that we drive to the next stop and ride back here with the wind behind us. It was a hilly wet ride in the mountains and the fact that Frithjof did not take off his helmet while driving made us wonder if we should put ours on!

It was gusty and rainy when we got to the next scheduled stop; only Phil and Jackie got on the bikes. The rest of us were worried we would launch off the edge of a bluff so we stayed in the van until we reached a viewpoint for the Worthington Glacier. We got out of the van there and read the instructional placards and took a few photos.

We drove back north to meet the 2 riders and have lunch, and while we were eating the van was rocking from the wind. We all piled into the van to drive back south to the point from which they'd just rode. Then Phil took off into the wind and rain with Frithjof sweeping.

We were all worried about them out there in the fog. Steve drove past Thompson Pass to find a place to park the rig, so Dianne, Jackie and I hiked back up to the pass.

Soon enough Phil and Frithjof were there. I was freezing walking in the cold wind and rain--not sure how Frithjof  manages to do this in shorts and no jacket!

They loaded the bikes and got in the van--it was too dangerous to attempt the descent in the rain and fog and nearly invisible to the drivers.  Once we drove down low enough to get out of the fog we all got on the bikes to ride into Valdez.

It was raining lightly when we started into Keystone Canyon. It was a beautiful ride, with mountains on both sides of us.

I stopped to take photos of Bridal Veil falls and Horse Tail Falls within the canyon.

We came down into the flats after about 10 miles, then got on the bike path for about 10 more miles. Fortunately Frithjof was behinds us and could show me where the different colors come together in the river--the grayish stream is from a silty runoff and the bluish one is from a mineralized rocky runoff, the colors picked up in the melt from the glaciers.

And then we were there! We were all cold and wet but ever so glad that we rode the last leg of this bike journey. Dianne and I did our usual triumphant high five, and we were all laughing and clapping each other on the back while the guides started taking seats and pedals off the bikes.

We vanned into town, checked into our hotel to get clean and dry, and then walked to dinner. We discussed getting together again to ride and I really hope we make it happen.

Connie and Clark, above, live in Virginia. Dianne is from Florida and Phil from Ohio.

Jackie (on the right) is from Colorado, and our guides Steve and Frithjof both live here in
It was a long pleasant dinner and we saw lots of bunnies on our walk back to the hotel. They live all over town, descendants of domesticated rabbits that were turned loose generations ago. This is an interesting place!


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