SSWC 2014 was a marathon in drinking beer, hanging out with awesome folks, shredding local trails, and staying up waaaay past my bedtime. Everyday. Mind you, on the rides home it was still light out and we crossed paths with moose more than once. That’s the bad ass part about Anchorage, there is so much daylight that time is irrelevant. The locals know this, and take complete advantage. Families are hanging out in parks at midnight, pretty weird to someone from the outside. In many cases these folks are also ripping local trails, playing bike polo, or (as I heard from every one of these crazy bastards) riding “the best snow trails ever.” Everybody in Alaska is basically crazy in their own way, I mean you have to be to live somewhere with 22 hours of daylight, but that’s the magic of their state. They all know how to make the most of their awesome landscape and they party harder than you while riding their ass off.
Food and Drink
The local food and beer scene is pretty amazing, and we definitely got our fill of that. There was a bar scavenger hunt as part of the event so we ran the gamut of local bars (as if we needed an excuse). Humpy’s had a sweet patio and more local taps than you can imagine and being right near the ocean, some pretty awesome fish.
The pioneer bar is a happy hour hangout and apparently the bar tenders always come up with some sort of grub to snack on, on the house, while you sip on your medicine.
The carousel was the host bar and if you got there early in the week, you saw its true dive bar spirit. $2.50 Pabst bombers, a jukebox playing wacky shit, and some very eclectic bartenders. Awesome!
The buckaroo was a converted biker bar that had some good local taps and some interesting locals that kept trying to steal our beer.
The beer scene in Anchorage is catching up to the rest of the country pretty damn quick. My favorite packaged beer was the Sockeye Red from Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
They also have a local brewpub conglomerate operated by the award winning Broken Tooth Brewing. We never made it to Moose’s Tooth pizza, but apparently that’s the hip place to be on a summer night in Anchorage. Bear Tooth pub had some of the best fish and chips I’ve had the pleasure of stuffing in my face, and half the restaurant is a theatre…so you can get drunk and watch movies.
We also found this little underground breakfast place called Denny’s…I think it was French or something
Another new discovery was Reindeer Sausage, It’s everywhere in Anchorage and its super good
Unfortunately we didn’t get to ride as much dirt as we wanted to, but what we did ride was absolutely amazing. Kincaid Park has an expansive trail network, but the trails on the southeast section were my favorite. There was a surprising amount of elevation for a park on the coast, but the trail designers did a great job of making the climbs fun on a single speed. The climbing was definitely worth it and it seemed like we were going down much more than up. The downhills were flowy with big berms and fun little jumps. This is a definite stop if you ever find yourself in Anchorage, plus there is a lady selling hotdogs in the parking lot that will go well with your post ride beers.
Despite our lack of riding dirt, we managed to put on a shitload of miles throughout the week. We didn’t have a rental car so we were at the mercy of our bikes to get around and haul all the shit we needed each day. Luckily, Anchorage has an excellent paved trail system. I would compare it to the Greenway we have here in Minneapolis, but more of a county road than a super highway like the Greenway. The main trail follows Chester Creek and is an East – West artery that can get you most places with minimal on-road riding. The scenery is awesome, bears and moose are in the woods right off the trail, and there is a bunch of small single track trails to explore right off the main paved trail. Be careful of the swamps and bum camps when exploring. All in all I couldn’t have asked for a better situation when riding home at 3 A.M. Just don’t follow me, I don’t know where I’m going…Thank god for Jim’s superior navigation skills.
We met so many awesome local people that I could write a whole separate blog on that, but I will focus on a few different crews that we spent a good deal of time with. Everyone always gives us the moniker “Minnesota Nice” but I think we have a thing or two to learn from Alaskans. We were offered three personal cars while we were there for fuck’s sake.
Eric Parsons and the Revelate Designs folks were awesome. They put on a screen printing party for all of the SSWC participants, inviting riders to their brand new workshop to screen print anything and everything they wanted with the SSWC 2014 logo (my favorite was a pair of whitey tighties). Eric and Dusty helped guide us around the city, and drove us around when we were too worn out to ride back to town after the race. Thanks Guys! They were also actively involved in all of the SSWC events and partied with all of us until the wee hours on Saturday.
Jeff, JP, and Amy were some other locals that bailed us out a time or two. We met Amy at the thrift store. 3 men with super long beards, and a hairy young guy looking through women’s dresses and pajamas raised a few eyebrows, but she knew exactly what was going on. She helped critique our costumes and later offered to guide us around the Kincaid trails along with her friends JP and Jeff. These guys ferried us out there and took us on a sweet tour of the trails the day before the race. They also partied until the wee hours with us (Really, who didn’t?) Coincidentally, they were acquaintances of Naked Mike who you may recognize from our facebook page earlier last week.
Besides hanging out with us all week, the crew from Off the Chain bike co-op helped us out in our darkest hour (literally too, there is about one hour of darkness right now). There was a several hour window from the announcement of the race start time (at 3:30 A.M.) until the roll out (7 A.M.) and we had a 4-5 mile ride back home in the rain staring us in the face. These guys welcomed 3 dirt bags into their house, fed us smoked salmon (that they caught and smoked themselves), and dried our clothes for us. They have a solid crew of hard riding locals and can drink staggering amounts of beer. Most of them have a whole stable of Surly bikes which is super bad ass. Thanks Carp, Kate, AlcoHolly, and all of the rest of you guys for showing us a good time in Anchorage! We hope to come back and ride with you guys someday.
A special thanks goes out to Greg from Speedway and his whole crew, all of the bar owners that were subjected to SSWC shenanigans (they didn’t know what they were getting in to), and everyone else we met that makes Anchorage such a sweet cycling community. Thanks to Deejay and the organizers, and especially the Anchorage locals who helped get the trails in shape for all of us to come shred.
And here is a few random pictures of locals (some were riders, others just people we met or things we saw)
Thanks Alaska, until next time!