The Advantages of Biking Through this Beautiful Alaskan City
05/12/2010 49 °F
One of the better decisions I’ve made this year was hauling my mountain bike up here to Sitka. I’ve been riding a lot in the evening-after dinner and before the sun sets. I usually go on an all out power ride, riding as fast as I can for as long as I can for a solid workout. Beyond the physical benefits, it’s a great way to see the scenic beauty of the city.
Mostly I’ve been riding along the city streets, making a huge loop through the waterfront, downtown, and up into the neighborhoods. I’ve also biked on some of the narrow trails that meander through the thick woods on the outskirts of town. This was a very technical ride, but I had fun jumping roots, avoiding boulders, and carefully navigating around the obstacles without crashing. I haven’t done many technical rides, so it was interesting to see how well I could handle the rough trails. I have a long way to go to consider myself “good“ at technical riding, but I relish the challenge. I’m not ashamed to admit I had to walk my bike around some of the gnarly sections on the Cross Trail.
Sitka has been certified by the League of American Cyclists. The city has made bike lanes on the main thoroughfare, offering bikers a great way to get around town. Since there are only 14 miles of paved road in town, there really isn’t a lot of traffic to deal with once you get on the side streets. I see a lot of people on their bikes around town. A lot of them commute by bike, many others just like biking to get around.
I’ve been very fortunate over the last couple of weeks to find very dramatic lighting on my rides. The intense sunlight of the setting sun has lit up the town several nights in a row. The surrounding mountains, islands, ocean, and the city and sky have been bathed in beautiful hues of brilliant gold, silver, and green. On evenings such as these, I’ve pulled out my camera along the way, and have taken some satisfying photos of the city, sea, and landscapes.
When I find some more time off, I plan on branching out a little further onto the old logging roads north and south of the city. My first ride will be out to Green Lake south of town. There is a seven mile gravel road that winds along Silver Bay. These roads lead to more adventure. I can easily park my bike, and start hiking or paddling around the many mountain lakes in the Tongass National Forest. At many lakes there are boats moored to small docks giving you the opportunity to paddle out instead of hiking or biking.
Tomorrow I have an appointment to get my bike a tune-up. I figure if I’m going to be riding this hard, I may as well get my bike in optimal condition for the ride.
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” ~ H.G. Wells