Friday, June 15, 2012

Bicycling the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Fam Och has never been known as a cycling family.  Truth be told, we didn't even teach Mister D how to ride without training wheels until he was ten. (It's an embarrassing fact to admit.) When we arrived in AK, Hubbyman and I swore that wouldn't happen again.

This spring, we outfitted ourselves with our own individual set of wheels.  Although REI is our favorite go-to for outdoor gear, their supply of bicycles are for the hard core serious-as-death cyclers with corresponding just-as-serious prices. At the same time, reading reviews of the more pocket-friendly priced bikes sold at big box stores like Walmart and Target left us with the impression bikes bought there would last us one trip down a paved trail before it started falling apart.  We found a happy medium at Sports Authority, which had a large amount of inventory without being too overwhelming, and its very own bike maintenance shop inside.  The Hubby, Mister D, and I each got a set of wheels there.  (I, at 4'9", opted for a junior 24" mountain bike as the full-sized 26" women's' were waaaay too big. Laugh all you want...junior bikes are muuuuch cheaper.)

Sophia should really be on a 20", but since she just learned to be comfortable on her 16", we opted to stick with the one she already has.  It has no gears to help on inclines and only brakes on a backward pedal.  Next year, she's getting a mountain bike for sure.

Little Olivia is the lazy one of the fam.  She is known to put on a show of frustration when her pedals don't spin by themselves for her. But, she also gets frustrated when she is at the rear of the pack.  The Weehoo I-go Trailer solved those problems.  She could go as fast as Daddy, and she can still pedal when she wants.
She is very comfortable being towed, with drink carriers on either side of her. The panniers behind her seat are great for stowing rain gear, bike locks,  repair kit, and extra snacks.

At first, we stuck close to home, learning to ride as a family.  We rode down as far as Ship Creek in front of the Boniface Gate (not far at all, I know), and across the street for some ice cream at the Shoppette.  When the Mister and I decided everyone (more specifically Sophie) was able to ride longer distances, we threw the bikes onto the carrier and drove to Elderberry Park in downtown Anchorage to try the Coastal Trail. Because it was a Saturday, we found some parking between the park and the apartment buildings behind it.  Hubby says next time, we really should start the trail at its head, at 2nd Avenue, where there is plenty of parking.

So off we went despite the threatening rain clouds.  
Sophie and Dylan where the Coastal Trail forks off towards Westchester Lagoon and the Chester Creek Trail.

The trail, paved and fairly level (there are a few minor inclines, but significant enough for Soph to hop off her bike and walk it up), hugged the coast.  The view was nice.  I'm sure it gets nicer past Westchester Lagoon (about 1 mile down from Elderberry Park), but that first section consisted of mud flats, which weren't so pretty.

We veered off and took the Chester Creek Trail and stopped at Valley of The Moon Park and it's big playground  to give the kids a breather and for us big kids to enjoy the red velvet cupcakes we bought from Eva's Cupcakery.

The raindrops started to fall in earnest by then, so we decided to head back before it got any worse (it didn't). The round trip was a little shy of 4.5 miles, not too bad for us beginners.  The next time we head back out, the kids are determined to resist the lure of the Westchester Lagoon playground (it looks so cool, even I want to jump in on the fun) and go at least as far as Earthquake Park, where I hear the scenery gets crazy beautiful along the coast.

This has been on our Alaska Bucket List, but won't be considered checked off until we actually bike the whole way to Kincaid Park.

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