We started at a friend's house off the Old Sterling Highway, where we were greeted with a "halll-ooooo!" from the house and a luscious plateful of fresh fruit (I think I need to go visit that friend more often!!), which went delightfully with a sunshiney, warm blue-sky day. My crazy friend sent us on our way with a song, which was a fun start to our ride. So down the Old Sterling Highway we went, starting near the intersection of the Sterling Highway with the Old Sterling Highway nearer Homer. It was paved, mostly flat, warm in the shade with only light traffic. The natural gas pipeline is being put in along the road, so there were some construction crews and we got stopped a couple times for that (I appreciated the breaks!), but mostly the 9 miles of the Old Sterling Highway flew by as we passed wildflowers, bogs and little bog lakes. We cross the wooden bridge over the Anchor River, then up a hill to the intersection of the Sterling and Old Sterling Highways in Anchor Point.
|A cute, old cabin along North Fork Road|
A short little .2 mile jog to the left onto the Sterling Highway got us to the beginning of North Fork Road. From there it was more smooth sailing: mostly flat, good pavement, wide shoulder and still the traffic was light. After about 4 miles the pavement narrowed and became curvy and slightly hillier. All told, we got 8.6 miles of pavement on North Fork Road before we hit the gravel. And once we hit the gravel, we began to have more hills. Up a hill, down a hill, around a curve, repeat. It wasn't bad since the hills weren't huge and the scenery was amazing.
|Mount Illiamna and Cook Inlet in the distance, with a bounty of pushki in the foreground|
|The 9.3 miles of gravel road on North Fork Road was in good condition, belying the mess spring breakup makes of this road.|
|Diamond Ridge and Kenai Mountains. I took this picture after our bike ride when we drove it to get mileages. I wasn't going to stop on the downhill just to take a picture!|
So this loop is 27.7 miles, which is a nice, comfortable ride. Of that, 18.6 miles were on pavement, and was easy riding. We definitely chose the right direction to go for the easier workout: if we'd gone up North Fork from the south towards Anchor Point we'd have faced that huge hill, and if we'd taken the Old Sterling Highway from Anchor Point towards Homer we'd have had a slight uphill rather than the slight downhill.
As I bike more I've been looking for longer rides around Homer, and I've just found my favorite. I'm looking forward to doing this one again. Hopefully similar conditions will prevail!