I got back from a shitstorm of fun on Sunday night, after an amazing weekend in Anchorage. I went up for Global Fatbike Day, and since my move back to Alaska- Anchorage is my new Portland. Turns out there are lots of dirtbag bike folks that like to drink beer and have bum fires in parks. Sure, the weather is about 50 degrees colder- but a little whiskey warms the body and good conversation warms the heart.
I met too many people to remember- but all were nice.
Time in Anchorage when coming from a town with no road out is not without the errand running to stores, purchasing things that aren’t available in Cordova. Since I’m currently doing construction, I made a stop to buy some hand tools. I also made the rounds to the bike shops, to see what might be new and interesting. Here’s what I found in my rambling around Anchorage:
- Speedway Cycles is awesome because they have a kegerator, is home of Fatback and have a knowledgeable and friendly staff. I was looking for a trail pump, as pumping up a 4.8″ tire by hand makes a guy feel like he’s 14 again… I now own a Topeak Mountain Morph, again (my last one I had for 10+ years.)
- Chain Reaction had a set of Stan’s No Tubes Hugos (their as of yet unreleased 29+ rims) built up- at 52mm wide they are the widest 29+ on the market and they look amazing! Seth works there, he was super helpful and is related to our Fire Chief (who also rides a fatbike.)
- The Trek Store is also owned by Chain Reaction (who also owns 9:Zero:7 and fatbikes.com) A fellow named Timely was there and helped me a lot, we talked tubeless fatbikes, 29+, the 45Nrth shoes (which consequently don’t fit me. I wear a 45.5 in Giro, but a 48 was too narrow in this years Fasterkatt, 50 was too long and they don’t make a 49.) So I’m still looking for a winter boot.
- Benny’s Tacos has an $8 plate of rice beans, taco and burrito that seems to be the best deal in town.
- Cafe Amsterdam has a great beer selection (if you have a flair for Belgians) but I found the breakfast to be just ok, and their Popov bloody mary to be sub par. It should be noted that I should have ordered beer in a beer bar, since they have no actual liquor license and instead use the watered down, low test Popov stuff.
- Next door, La Bodega has the best selection of craft beer and spirits I’ve seen in Anchorage. And a growler bar. And the people that work there seem cool.
- The Bicycle Shop on Northern Lights carries Salsa, and had the new Blackborow (Salsa’s new 190mm spaced fatbike) It looked pretty great.
All around, studs were the word of the day. Every shop had bikes lined up switching out fatbike tires. It really is incredible to see the number of fatbikes in Anchorage. It definitely has the feel of seeing the fixed gear explosion happen in Seattle. Folks that you would assume would be riding a Magna mountain bike can be seen rolling slow and steady over the sidewalks- jean shorts, boots and a hi-vis jacket. Snow all over and the temperature in the high 20’s. I think it’s awesome.
Thankfully, Garrett and Mystie put me up at their new house- then Garrett promptly left town. Then Mystie left town. So I didn’t see them each for but a minute. But they are great people and new parents and amazing hosts. Their house sits on the trail, really close to where the Abominable Series Short Track Race put on by Chain Reaction Cycles was taking place on Saturday. I met some fellow beer drinkers and we watched the race- discussing how Alaskan Brewing is one the most overrated brewery in the state. Then a lady went down hard and separated or dislocated her shoulder. I had my Poler Napsack and brought it over so she could be a little warmer as the ambulance came- I helped reroute the race as the medics were there. My Poler napsack has come in handy at both this race and at Bilenky Junkyard Cross in Philly, when riders crashed hard and needed an ambulance. Having the thing around helped the riders as they threatened to go into shock. And then I get to wear it again after they get their ambulance ride. I’m not sure of the riders condition (I think her name is Janice,) I hope all is well and she’ll be back riding soon.
Post race and prizes, I joined ride to Westchester Park. Got there in time for the start of the Global Fatbike Day Ride, with around 150 beautiful people on 4″ tires. Anchorage has some amazing bike trails- and the weather was perfect- no studs needed. I am not familiar at all with these trails, so I was just riding along with the pack. I saw a man and woman on the side of the trail, looking confused.
Is there beer where you’re going? They asked.
“I sure hope so!” I replied. because my stash was getting quite low. I kept riding and stopped about a mile up to piss. They rolled up and I asked if they were the people that hollered back on the trail. It turns out they were renting fatbikes for their first time, had no idea that Global Fatbike Day was a thing, and were coming back from watching a football game. Will and Liz (I think that’s their names) are from the midwest. They were really concerned that there wasn’t going to be beer. I opened my frame bag and brought out a Fireside Chat and a King St. IPA for each of them. We stood and talked bikes, watching the ride go by- I explained what was going on and why they should get fatbikes. We finished our beers and I think they were satisfied that wherever we’d end up, between the 3 of us, we’d make sure there was beer.
We rode the trail, now dark and came by some other riders, confirming we were on the right track. Ahead a couple more miles we met another group on the side of the road, having a hot chocolate break. This was a casual, social ride- I hope I mentioned that. We shared hot chocolate, whiskey from my flask, another flask emerged and we made fast friends. Our posse was growing.
I saw the writing on the wall as riders approached from the direction we were heading. They had reached the end of the trail and were headed back to where the burn barrel, finish and raffle was going to take place. I made the call to make a beer run. I of course got lost and had to refer to a map to get back to the trail after I hit Brown Jug, but I hooked up with another rider and we made it in time to get a raffle ticket.
Greg Mattyas from Speedway brought the burn barrel, and a kegerator and some music and it was awesome. The dude really loves the Anchorage fatbike community and wants it to be fun. I really respect that. Kevin, one of the organizers of the ride started calling out raffle ticket numbers and a ton of swag was given out. At some point I realized they were giving out shot glasses. Thankfully, I had picked up a bottle of Makers Mark and proceeded to fill the raffle winners shot glasses with said whiskey. That made folks happy.
Liz and Will were having a grand ol’ time, their first fatbike event. They actually went home at some point and the dears brought me back some loving from their home state. That midwestern hospitality.
At some point, Will thanked me for being such an “ambassador.” It was touching. I really love bikes (of all shapes and sizes) and want people to feel welcome when riding in a group. Sometimes it’s hard to know where you fit in. It’s important to me that people have good experiences while on group rides- if you get dropped or are met by cold shoulders, you may never want to ride with those folks again. Sure- there will likely be assholes in a group ride- and frankly, I can be one. But I will try my best to be nice to new riders, and to be welcoming. Anyway- that word “ambassador….” just remember that one for a minute.
At some point after too-late:thirty the crowd began to thin. The fire was rolled up, the gear packed and we scattered like cockroaches in the light. I met a new friend and we drunkenly went bar hopping, sharing my lock and somehow ended up at Denny’s at 3:30 in the morning with this guy.
My memory of the evening was grey, the night, black. We stayed to the trail and on side streets. Anchorage streets in the winter scare the shit out of me. We rode home and I woke up Sunday morning feeling a little soup-headed.
Breakfast and greyhounds at Spenard Roadhouse did the trick- then some coffee. And then it was back to Cordova.
Wow. That was a hell of a trip. But it got better. “How?” You ask?
So remember that word: AMBASSADOR? Well, I got back and Monday night I get an email- that I are one!
That’s right. As I’ve said, I have a love for bikes and people riding them. You may also know that we have two Fatbacks in our household and really love the brand. Well apparently, somebody thought it was a good idea to have me spread the gospel of Fatback in my ramblings, on a carbon fiber Corvus Fatback, nonetheless! I’m not a brand rep, per se, just a guy that really likes the bikes and will be going to events- causing a general disturbance- handing out beers and having a good time. I’m looking forward to riding in WA and OR, and if you haven’t ridden a fatbike yet- I want you to check it out. If you see me riding- holler. Because you should know how much fun they are and I’ll only make fun of you a little.