Alaska Loop By Bicycle
Cycling in Alaska is different from touring in the lower 48. The big difference is the very long distances between supply locations. Even along the “major” highways, we found that places to buy provisions were sparse and far between. For example, in the Mileposts book (the Alaska road guide that you can pick up at any grocery store), we were expecting there to be “food” at Milepost 156.2. We scuttled around, but all we could find was the long abandoned Igloo Hotel. Because of our daily mileage, we did not have enough food in our panniers to make it to the next town. Fortunately, many Alaskans are friendly, and a man who referred to himself as “Ten Bears,” helped us out by sharing some of his camp food with us. We would later visit him in his home town of Anchorage nearly 2 weeks later. Highway 8 – which crosses from Cantwell to Paxon is almost entirely unpaved. By this point, we were a little more prepared – and thus we were packing larger amounts of food for this “crossing.” Paxon, however, does not have much of a store. If you’re relying on the Mileposts guidebook, you really need to assume that it is inaccurate – stores can easily have been closed for years before the MP guide was published, or they could just randomly be closed on the day you are passing through. Once we became accustomed to this rule, we carried plenty of food, and were fine.
We discovered that the route we took is not the most aesthetic. For subsequent trips, I’d prefer to explore the more “natural” area of the Kenai peninsula, which is in the Southern Coast of Alaska. The scenery inland is relatively mundane, with the exception of Denali, which is extraordinary). The scenery near Valdez, and the crossing of the Prince William Sound (which we did by ferry) is also fantastic.