One of our FCC members, Alex Manley, decided a few weeks ago to ride up to the infamous Rosebud Summit on the Yukon Quest Trail. At first it had been a group ride, but when it didn’t work out for others, Alex decided to tackle it as an out-and-back on her own. It ended up turning into quite an adventure. Read her Strava post below, which was “typed up on my phone in the McDonald’s drive-thrue at midnight after finishing the ride.”

Note: The leg condoms Alex refers to are Wiggy’s Waders, popular with bikepackers and wilderness ultra-endurance athletes. You can see there HERE.

Yukon Quest’s Rosebud: Leg Condoms, Butt Scooting, and Pushing

Wow! Adventuring on this trail has been a dream of mine since I was a child! 

I had a little bit of everything. The biggest obstacle was the copious and treacherous overflow. I am usually able to ride right over it, but this was a different breed entirely. I borrowed Jonathan’s waders (leg condoms) and got to use them numerous times! The first time was to wade through calf-deep creek water while carrying my bike! 

Some of the overflow was super gnarly–basically a hill of very slippery ice as far as the eye could see. For each overflow section during the warmest part of the day, I would break through the top layer of ice about two inches down. This was great! It gave me traction. I used the leg condoms to prevent my cleats and boot soles from getting iced up. They have better traction than my boots anyway.
This worked great during the day, but the overflow had totally frozen through into glare ice by the time I returned back from the summit. I spent probably 30 minutes on the worst section inching my way across the slanted glare ice. I fell, hitting my knee, and sliding to the bottom of the overflow. I tried a couple different attempts at getting back to where I needed to be–what felt like 1 mile straight up Everest with no climbing gear. I tried sliding my bike and crawling on the ice. That didn’t work. Eventually, I backtracked on the perimeter of the overflow to a place where I could tentatively push my bike back onto the ice upright. 

I walker-ed my way across the ice, my whole body shaking with the effort and sheer fear. I had many moments of: “Can I get through this? How?” Every time one of my feet slipped out or my bike started to fall, my whole body trembled. My upper body was already exhausted from over two miles of pushing my bike. I thought to myself: “I really need to start doing push-ups.” 

When I nearly fell and slid to the bottom a second time, I had the novel idea to let out most of the air from my tires to improve traction. I noticed that my studs were made ineffective by ice caked on each nub. I, of course, had to do this standing in the middle of this overflow landmine, my whole body shaking as I reminded myself to BREATHE. 

The last section of that overflow was slanted, steep, slippery and wet. I was in full f***-it mode and laid down my bike on the non-drive side and gave it a big push across the ice then crawled and butt-scooted across the finish line. I’m sure I looked so graceful the entire time. 😂

That  heroic effort across the overflow stands out more than pushing my bike up a literal mountain. I knew pushing it would be hard, so I was mentally prepared. I had heard about the overflow, but didn’t realize how much or how bad it was. Mad respect to dog mushers who deal with this stuff! 😲 I have no idea how. 

I felt a lot of pressure to be cautious during this ride because I saw absolutely nobody for the entire 9.5 hours I was out there. It was pretty scary and I feel like it was my most remote ride, even though the WM100 is as far as 50 miles from the nearest road.

As for my body, my left knee hurt the whole time and my left arm and shoulder felt weak when pushing my bike. I definitely worried about whether I could make it to the top and back.

Thanks to Eric for sending me a GPX so I could actually find the trailhead! And thanks to Jonathan for the leg condoms, I couldn’t have made it across the creek or over the overflow without them!

(The overflow hill described is not pictured.)

Here are some pics from Alex’s adventure.