by Scott T.
I traveled to Alaska this August to visit some (brand new) family. Specifically, we flew into Fairbanks. What a crazy place. First of all, 19 hours of daylight immediately messes with you. Then, as you start to get used to the 1992 cars everywhere, you look up to the hills and think… “I’ll bet the mountain bike trails here are INSANE!”
First thing I did when I found out I was going to Fairbanks was figure out how I would get at least one ride in. I found a small place there that rents Kona Mountain Bikes, so I felt pretty good about it. I looked at MTBR to see if there were indeed trails to be had… yup, they have trails there.
I picked up my bike (a green Kona Blast) on the second to last day of my trip, determined to find a sweet trail. The next morning, I woke up, geared up and headed out for what several websites said would be pretty sweet singletrack. I headed through downtown on truly bike friendly paths, roads and yes, sidewalks (I was allowed to be there). The trail was about 10 miles away. I ended up accidentally finding some singletrack by the University and enjoying that as I pedaled my way to Ester Dome.
I had 2 maps to go on. Neither were very helpful. One was the iPhone map I could zoom in on. The other was this piece of garbage from a local rider. (I mean no offense about your map, by the way, except that I had no idea where I was at all at any point of riding on the trails.)
I was lazy in my research because I live in Colorado. I didn’t know I was being lazy. As I entered the small (neat) town of Ester, there was not a single sign pointing poor little old me to the trail. I did what anyone from Colorado would do and picked the steepest road up to see if I could find the trail.
I FOUND IT!
I saw a sign that said “Trail Entrance”. I took that to mean that I would go into the woods and from there would ride singletrack for a 6ish mile loop and come back down the hill and out of the entrance. Nope. I rode up this section of trail and ran into a skinny fire road. It was beautiful, captivating and different. I was genuinely excited because I knew I had found this trail. About 2 hours later, I was still riding on Dog Mushing Trails and Fire Roads. I had seen cars rusting trailside, wild cranberries and heard (but never felt) heavy rain. And I was very lost. And, truthfully, I was scared that a moose may find me and stomp me.
I FOUND IT, AGAIN!!
Then I found that same section of nice singletrack. I FLEW DOWN IT, EXCITEDLY. Then, I turned around and rode back up it. Then, I downed it again. Then I left. All in, I think it was about 40 total miles; not a bad haul.
The point is that had this trail been in Colorado, it would’ve been really well marked. It would’ve been really well ridden and really easy to access. We, ladies and gentlemen of Colorado, have no idea how lucky we are. But, nonetheless, we are very lucky.
So, go ride a trail you haven’t ridden before. You’ll find it, ride it and get back home safely with little to no effort. All because someone years ago took the time to make it fantastic.