Nine fatbikers met on Saturday January 21st for the Pie Ride, a harebrained scheme of ride leader Travis Naibert, who had biked from his house to Larae’s Breads, Pies, and Espresso (CHSR mile ~10) with his friend Michelle last year while they were training for the White Mountains 100. Travis desperately wanted to share the joy of biking to pie with the masses and so the ride was suggested to FCC and the date was set. The anticipation built all week and the forecast looked grim (cold temps, new snow, and much wind), but there was no stopping the Pie Ride.
The bikers met at Birch Hill Recreation Area parking lot at 10 AM, cruised out of the lot, down Wilderness Drive, and onto a snowmachine trail. We were soon paralleling the White Bear ski loop, up a steep hill, and then down down down to the flat frozen swamps on the north edge of Fort Wainwright.
The group rode hard-packed trails with a half-inch new snow to the Alaska Pipeline, thankful that the forecast winds had not yet materialized. The easy and fast riding conditions were briefly paused when Michelle broke her chain with her huge muscles (we assume it wasn’t lack of bike maintenance), but this mechanical setback didn’t last too long or make our hands too cold and we were soon pedaling again.
We were passed by a friendly dog team and then we crossed Nordale Rd and angled left on another well packed and flat snowmachine trail. Snow was still falling and at this point it had snowed about an inch-and-a-half with small flurries stinging our eyes, but we eagerly pedaled on with thoughts of pie and coffee motivating us. The next five miles were a blur (still snowing), with some black spruce, snow-bent birch, open meadows with good photo opportunities, and a quick pedal on neighborhood roads. And then we made it to Larae’s!
Travis had called ahead the previous day and ordered the pies he wanted (without consulting anybody else, of course). Turns out nobody complained about strawberry-rhubarb or blueberry-custard pie, though there were other choices available. A package of peanut butter cookies were also consumed. We kept the barista at Larae’s busy making mochas, lattes, tea, and other hot drinks (Thanks Larae’s!). After about an hour of warming up and energizing we got back on our bikes to ride back, except Sarah, who had shuttled a car out earlier and drove home.
The ride home was similar to the way out, with flurries continuing, the temperature dropping slightly (or were we just feeling wet and cold?) and, luckily for us, the dreaded wind still holding off. The group did follow Travis on a “scenic” detour that he swore would only add 1.5 miles. It turned out to be a little softer than the other trails, but mostly rideable. We rode around a few neat oxbow lakes near the Little Chena River before crossing Nordale Road again and returning to well-packed trails. The ride ended with some pretty big climbs and a few short descents on the way back up to Birch Hill Recreation Area, and it seemed that we both earned and burned the calories from all that pie.
All told, a successful ~29 mile out and back, good company, a bit of luck that the weather wasn’t really so bad, and great trails. Hopefully the pie ride or similar “destination” rides can become regular occurrences in the future! Watch our Facebook page or watch for our FCC emails. Any FCC member who wants to lead a fatbike ride, just send an email to Eric (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Photos courtesy of Travis Naibert and Corrine Leistikow.