Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring Bike Ride

Looking at the upcoming forecast, I noticed a week of rain and snow is predicted, so I thought I ought to take advantage of another day of clear blue skies and sunshine.  It was warm enough I didn’t think crust skiing was an option, so I decided to get out my bike.  I detest biking on roads, and the bike paths in Homer are only about 6 flat miles long, round-trip.  I decided to drive up to the Wynn Nature Center on Skyline Drive, park there and bike to the end of Ohlson Mountain Road—maybe 6 miles but hilly with no traffic and awesome views.  I got a little wildlife viewing as part of the package.

Wearing my new "tube" neckwarmer/hat for warmth biking.  Kind of dorky looking but I stayed warm.

I’m not a fan of cold-weather biking so really haven’t done it before.  It must have been warm out, though, because my thin ski gloves over biking gloves kept my hands plenty warm.  I pulled out the “tube” I won at the Sea to Ski—one of those funky tubes of cloth you can wear like 27 different ways (neckwarmer, facewarmer, hat, hat and neck, hat and face, etc.) and pulled it up over my head like a hat, and it also covered my neck and had enough play that when my face got cold I could pull it up over my chin and cheeks.  Perfect!  A thermal shirt with my Women’s Nordic jacket was plenty warm as well.

View of Kenai Mountain Range and Grewingk Glacier from Skyline Drive before turning onto Ohlson Mountain Road

From Wynn it was a quick 15 minute ride to the turn onto Ohlson Mountain Road.  I didn’t realize how fast riding on the pavement was until I got onto the gravel/dirt road, even if it was dry and hard-packed.  Shortly after my turn, though, I came around a curve and saw a brown blob in the middle of the road.  Bear!  Nope.  It was a porcupine.  I took a video to share with you; we’ll see if it loads up right. (It's a little bit slow-moving--I'm not a totally experienced video-taker!)  I watched porky waddle down the road towards me and up the snowbank, impressed at how slow he was going.  Do porcupines hibernate?  I haven’t the foggiest.  He just seemed a bit groggy.

After the porcupine I went down a fun, fast hill, then up a loooong hill, stopping to take pictures a couple times.  Perfect excuse for a break!  Then I went down a sweet, long downhill past the Lookout Ski Trails, past the rope tow, past the Extreme Tubing hill that has been closed for a couple years and into the grader zone where the road was being worked on.  So I didn’t get all the way to the end of Ohlson Mountain Road or even up Ohlson Mountain, but it ended up being an hour and ten minutes total for the ride, which was just about right for my first time out this year.

View of the Alaska Range (that's either Mt. Redoubt or Mt. Illiamna) from Ohlson Mountain Road, with Lookout Ski Trails in foreground

Biking I noticed things I don’t normally notice as much when I’m driving:  the hills, the contours of the land, the mountains.  From up there the Alaska Range spreads out in a stately panorama on the way out, and the much closer Kenai Range commands the view on the way back.  I consider the area off Ohlson Mountain Road to be the ultimate Homer playground:  cross-country ski, downhill ski/snowboard, sled, snowshoe, snowmachine, and in the summer add in 4-wheeling and mountain biking down the Watermelon Trail.  The bike ride left me with the glow of sunshine, a good workout and amazing beauty.  I just love it up there!

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