It was an early flight into Anchorage, so by 10:30am we had already managed to walk through the woods and across town. We did stop for coffee (in a city that has more espresso stands per capita than anywhere else in the US), but by now we were seated at a questionable but genuine bar beers-in-hand. In the brief moments between being bombarded (or befriended) by the obviously very regular morning crowd, my host Garret informed me there would be a bicycle available for me to use.
I came to Alaska to visit my good friend Garret Spargo as well as spend some time with Ryan, the man behind GMG himself. Bringing a bike was something I had wanted to do, but it ended up being too expensive to consider. Garret is involved with Off The Chain, a bicycle collective in Anchorage. They granted me access to the shop and I was able to put in some work, and build a bike for myself to use while in town.
We sorted through and cleaned up some bikes to see what we had to work with. The largest frame in the shop that day happened to be an older Nishiki “Cascade” mountain bike frame. The head tube was massive, it had a rad mono-stay, a handful of other funky details and a slack fork angle that would make it handle great with some swept-back bars.
With Garrets help and a six-pack of Kenai River “PBR” (much tastier than the blue ribbon winner), we threw together a fat-tire cruiser inspired Retro MTB. It wasn’t the fastest, or the lightest thing on the road, but pointed downhill or along rolling trails it really was a blast to ride. Perhaps most importantly, it would be reliable and able to handle most of what we were planning.
Having a bike really added to my Alaska trip. Being easily mobile in a place you are visiting makes a big impact on the whole experience. Off The Chain is such an amazing place for Anchorage to have. It provides people a place to connect and be a part of the bicycle community. Volunteering helps make cycling more accessible to others and grow the bicycle movement, while at the same time allowing volunteers the chance to learn valuable skills. Please check out and help support Off The Chain if you live in Alaska, or when you visit.
Since Ryan’s move to Alaska, GOMEANSGO has grown to cover even more of this corner of the earth we love to ride. There are some exciting things happening in Alaska on bikes and in the community. With the rest of the GMG team holding down things in Seattle, we needed to enlist some man power up north to help make things happen. Garret Spargo is joining the GMG family. He was born and raised in Alaska, is excited about biking there and can do things with computers, words and images that just make me want to drink another one of Ryan’s home-made gin and tonics. Not to mention Garret is a longtime close friend of mine and all around swell gentleman. Expect great things coming from the Alaskan GMG front with Ryan and Garret teamed up.