See the ride page HERE.

07/16/2024 — TNR-MTB Ride Report – Ester Dome Singletrack

Report by Eric

Eight of us enjoyed the ED Singletrack trails this week. Weather started nice, then we got a good rain, which made the brush soggy and some of the corners greasy. No big crashes, though.

We started at the Ann’s Greenhouse pullout and made a stop at Dave’s house to get him to come and play. (He’s on hiatus this season due to a hip replacement.)

Then we headed up St. Pat’s and went clockwise on the Outer Loop. We went up the Henderson Drop-In and up Henderson almost to Ester Dome Road. There we took a well worn in social trail back down to the bottom of the Henderson Drop-In. Most of us hadn’t done that one yet (the entrance is a bit hard to find), but we thought it was an interesting little singletrack, with twists and a couple of challenging little hills.

We followed the Outer Loop to the Inner Loop and followed that one clockwise, making sure to do a lap of Helter Skelter (which is interesting to do when it’s greasy). Fortunately, by then the rain had stopped. It could have been greasier

We finished the ride with the rest of the Outer Loop, with a little side trip to Tight and Twisty. (It needs some love. We got one tree but another one could use a chainsaw. Several of the corners need brushing and the whole thing could be raked.)

Saw two or three other biking groups out on the trails as well as a couple of runners. It was the place to be last night!

Photos by Eric, Ben, and Jonathan

A falling tree gives the Outer Loop a new feature.
On the new-to-us singletrack.
A short, steep, rooty descent on the new-to-us singletrack had several of us walking.
Jonathan looks awesome on a jump!

07/0/-9/2024 — TNR-MTB Ride Report – Circle-Fairbanks Trail Tramp

Report by Glenn

A Non-Loop Loop Ride

Weather was craptastical. Only 3 of us showed up. Two of us had ridden the whole trail before, so off we went. At the 4-mile mark we went to what we thought was the trail head. It wasn’t, so we started working back up the road. After scouting and finding multiple Eric-type terrain trails, we headed back up the hill. (Eric was off on vacation.)

We did find some interesting things like an abandoned building and Chevy, not on a levy. We still had fun, got some miles in, and did not get lost. A very successful ride! Once I got back home I looked at last year’s ride, and it turns out we did not go far enough to get to the trail. We were off by at least 800 meters.

07/02/2024 TNR-MTB Ride Report – UAF Hidden Trails Trot

Report by Eric

New Hidden Trails

The lack of smoke was a definite plus for the start of this ride. But we also got to check out some new trails!

We first headed over to check out the new ski sprint trails being put in on the hillside between the Butrovich Building and the Patty Center. The we worked our way back to the current ski trails with a diversion onto an old ski trail segment that was cut off when North Tanana Drive was extended over to West Ridge years ago. Several people had no idea that had once been part of the ski trail system.

We worked our way over to the other side of Ballaine Lake but first took a side trail off the main trail. Eric was going to make it a very short diversion, but Ben was leading and led us until the trail started petering out. He and Eric knew that’s what the trail did. Ben figured everyone would just turn around, but Eric was excited about a bushwhack through the trees back to the main trail. Yeah, it was stupid, but it was stupid fun! Well, at least Eric thought so.

On the other side of Ballaine Lake we took a narrow trail that connects the Skarland 6-Mile trail to an old road behind the archery range. (Far behind!) That trail is getting even too stupid for Eric, with lots of downed trees and a sinkhole to navigate, but we followed the old road until it turned into a nice singletrack trail that led us back to the Skarland 6-Mile Trail. Success! New trail for us!

Next, we headed over and checked out the new fire interpretive trail. (You can read about it in this issue of the IATN.

We took the section line trail back to Yankovich, starting too soon on that trail, which required some near-swamp navigation, but that’s what happens sometimes when Eric is leading.

We followed the Equinox Marathon Trail over to the Large Animal Research Station, where we got to see some wood bison and musk ox. Then it was a visit to the tight-and-twisty trails in the northwest corner of the UAF North Campus before heading back to the cars — with a bit of playing on Bicycle Bumps first, of course!

Great night out on bikes!

First bushwhack!
Garrett’s second attempt of the sinkhole. Even Ben failed.
Interpretive signs on the new Wildfire Walk Trail.
Second bushwhack!
Wood bison
Musk ox
Joe uses a hand assist
Glenn navigates a narrow spot

06/25/2024 TNR-MTB Ride Report – Birch Hill Bombing

Report by Eric

Low Smoke, High Fun

Heavy smoke earlier in the day endangered this ride, but things changed in the afternoon and by early evening the Air Quality Index was less than 150, so the ride was a go!

This is always a fun ride and some of the trails were new to Elaine and Matt. Matt even discovered the filter feature (a double hump jump) almost too late. A quick grab for the brakes resulted in a minor crash but saved him from a major crash. But as Matt commented: “But is it really a ride if you don’t end up with at least one scrape and covered in dirt?”

The flow trail needs a bit of brushing and some leaf-raking, but the jump trail is in great shape. So good that you really need to watch those approaches. But if you do that sure is a fun trail!

Chinook and Blackhawk are still in good shape, and the climb at the end up Cliffhanger and Sunnyside is always a gut-buster.

The relatively low skeeter year continues, but we did need some bug dope. But it’s nice not having to inhale a bunch on the climbs.

Next week is the UAF Hidden Trails Trot!

06/18/2024 TNR-MTB Ride Report – Eva Creek Event

Report by Eric

A Ride of Introductions

The night was beautiful and the group was riding strong, so we kept going.

We had planned on turning around a little earlier on Ester Dome Road, but we decided to head farther up and introduce some of the riders to a couple of new trails.

First we did the Alder Tunnel, the short section of trail that the Equinox Marathon now uses to bypass the Ullrhaven summit. That was new to a few. They loved the tunnel feel and the gorgeous view midway.

Then we headed over to the Alder Chute Alternative, the switch back trail down the section line about a quarter-mile west of the Equinox’s infamous Alder Chute. (The top part of the Alder Chute is on private land and while the landowner allows the Equinox Marathon to use it, that section of trail is otherwise closed to the public.)

The Alder Chute Alternative is a wild ride down on a bike! Steep, bumpy, sharp switchbacks! Tons o’ fun! That was new to a few of the riders, too. They all said they liked it…after they unpuckered.

The ACA kicks you out on to the upper part of the Farmer Mine Trail, so we followed that to bottom of the Alder Chute and rejoined the Equinox Marathon route down the lower part of Farmer Mine Trail. We followed that (with a little side jog) down to Four Corners and then took the Eva Creek Trail back to Ester, where we started. First, though, we admired a piece of mining equipment along the Eva Creek Trail. Kurt, a miner, gave us his insights on it.

The Eva Creek Trail, by the way, has a little reroute by the driveway about halfway down. It’s a little rough but bikeable. The reroute is legal and has the advantage of routing trail users away from the house at the end of the “Not a Road” Road.

The ride went smoothly until Glenn’s back tire started mysteriously losing air. Fortunately, using teamwork we got him going again. Eric had a tube of Stan’s. Ben had a valve core remover. And Glenn had a small rechargeable air pump. The fix wasn’t permanent, so Glenn had to limp back to the cars, but at least he was riding.

At Ester Park, over drinks and snacks, Chris told us stories about his epic winter rides years ago. One time he biked the Dalton Highway. Another time he and a friend wanted to bike the Yukon Quest Trail, but his friend couldn’t cross into Canada (it’s rumored there was some misunderstanding with the Queen of England), so they headed down the Taylor Highway (unplowed in winter). His stories included explaining how they pulled their gear behind their bikes on sleds and when the snow became too deep, they put their bikes on the sleds, donned snowshoes, and pulled the sleds and bikes behind them. Epic!

Photos by Eric, Jon, and Ben

06/11/2024 TNR-MTB Ride Report – Skarland 12-Mile Skootch

Report by Eric

Dancing with a Storm

The dark clouds looked ominous. We were supposed to head in that direction. The forecast had called for scattered showers and thunderstorms, but most of that activity was supposed to be farther east. Ah well, nothing to do but forge ahead and hope.

We got luck for quite a while. The first thunder and lightning was far away. Garrett counted it out.

Fearless leader Eric got the group split up early on, but was able to find the lost souls. (Or was Eric lost?) Then once we got out to Ballaine Road he got Equinox Marathon on the brain and started to follow that route. He probably would have kept going, except that Ben knew things weren’t right and started asking questions. Oh yeah, we’re doing the Skarland 12-Mile! Fortunately, all we had to do was get on the other side of Ballaine.

There we found the commuter trail in the woods. Eric stopped at the power line trail and longingly looked down into the swamp, but Ben and Nikki had already ridden ahead to Herreid Road. Eric mentioned the swamp to the rest of the group, hoping for some eager faces, but he saw none and decided it was better to keep the group together anyway.

Somehow we picked up a black lab companion that wasn’t too bike savvy. It had no collar. Nikki took a pic and posted it in a Facebook lost pets page.

Above Pearl Creek Elementary School we could see the thunderstorm had showered the area just before we got there. That made the power line climb a nasty mud climb. Traction was an issue. Even walking. Fortunately, we all made it up to the rooty trail. Ah, yes, wet roots. Love it!

The thunderstorm was now booming and flashing lightning a lot closer, but it still wasn’t right above us. Then we came across piles of hail in the trail. Just missed that one, too! We did get some light showers now and again, but nothing bad.

We made it to the top of Ballaine with doofus dog still accompanying us. Fortunately, on the other side he must have recognized something, because quit following us and headed back.

We made it to the Large Animal Research Station (Musk Ox Farm) and noticed that the wood bison were gone. Off to be reintroduced into the wild!

By then we had gotten more showers, but still not horrible. We crossed Yankovich and made the rooty climb. Gotta love those wet roots! At the top, we bombed down and took the really rooty trail over to the T-Field. (Eric decided not to take the group down into the swamp and across Smith Lake. What a nice guy!)By then we were in a steady rain. So…more wet roots! Yay!

From the T-Field we headed straight back to the cars. Everyone was soaked. Chips and drinks were had, but conversation was short. Tony noticed the skies over his house looked sunny. Shoulda done the Rosie Creek ride this week!

Pics by Jonathan, Matt, Ben and Eric

Getting off Ballaine Road
Jonathon and the rest on Herreid Road
Nikki and the dog
Finally, done with the mud!
Hail on the trail!
Hail on the trail – closeup!
The group at the Musk Ox Farm (minus Dean’s head)

06/04/2024 TNR-MTB Ride Report – Skyline Ridge Skedaddle

Report by Eric

With 13 riders we were bound for some bad luck, fortunately it was all minor. And the good luck outweighed the bad by far!

After some drenching downpours in late afternoon, the rain stopped a little before our ride start. The trails were damp and the roots slick, but we the rain also cooled the air a bit, which was nice since this ride starts with a lot of climbing.

Some were new to the route, so we got to introduce them to some fun stuff, like the climb up Death Gully hill (aka Skarland Downhill Ski Slope) early on. And some chose the to take root-filled Deep Secret to Ski Boot Hill while others chose the Skyline Ridge Connector.

We took Skyline Ridge Trail to the top, bombed down Secret Trail, back up Skyline, then down After Hours, up Overtime, down Heart of Darkness, then back to Pearl Creek Elementary School via the Moose Trail to La Rue Lane trail and Skarland Trails.
(All these trails can be found on Trail Forks.)

The skeeters weren’t too bad unless you stopped. But if you kept moving, they were fine. The wet roots, however (and there are many especially on Secret, After Hours, and HOD), proved challenging. We had a lot of tree-huggers on the ride last night! Fortunately, we got back to the start with only a little blood.

Several people biked to the start and then biked home! That’s impressive!

Trail Forks

Photos by Matt and Ben

05/28/2024 TNR-MTB Ride Report – Roșie Creek Ramble

Report by Eric

Tony started leading this ride since ride leader Eric was late (helping a friend with an emergency). But Tony knows these trails well, so the group was in good hands.

Eric caught up when the group was at an intersection. Take the high and dry road or go through the swamp? Eric encouraged the group toward the swamp, but they would have none of it. The high road it is!

We did what is becoming the standard for this ride: Flodin Road – Viereck’s Loop – back to Flodin – Harrington’s Long Shot – Alden’s Pine Road – Lookout – Otter Slide – and Alden’s Pine Road back to the beginning. (They are all on Trail Forks: Only this time, Tony showed us a little trail that runs just below Long Shot all the way to the Beaver Slide and Lake Trail. Rideable, if a bit brushy in places. Eric was excited because it had some swamp! We learned it is called Live Trap.

In the past we had made this trip wetter and longer by dropping down onto the Rosie Creek Winter Trail, a good swampy slog fest! Eric asked several times for takers, but no one wanted to go swamping. Nikki did some swamping, but that’s because she started from home in the Rosie Creek subdivision and peeled off when we got to the lowest intersection to head back home. She sent a pic of her bike in swamp, which made Eric sad that he wasn’t there.

The big long climb up Alden’s is a tough one. Some were huffing and puffing and talking about needing to get into shape (naming no names here). We are happy to help kick some butts into shape on these rides!

All in all, a great ride. Cool temps, few bugs, and no rain.

Photos by Nikki and Eric

Evan on the new-to-us trail
Nikki finishing up the new-to-us trail, which apparently is called Live Trap
Getting ready to head down Lookout
Slogging up Alden’s Pine Road – ufda!
The last climb to the parking lot
Nikki’s bike in delicious swamp!

05/21/2024 TNR-MTB Ride Report – Bonanza Bluffquest

Had a great first Tuesday Night MTB Ride last night! We had 10 total riders. Some regulars from past years and some new faces, too!

Bonanza forestry road is in good shape. We headed down, down, down to the Tanana River. Fortunately, as we approached the river, we ran into some big puddles. Some even looked a bit like swamps, so Eric was happy. We got to ride some old-style corduroy road, too!

We took a look at the river and lingered only until the skeeters found us. Took them a while. It’s still just the big, slow ones. So they didn’t bother use when we were moving, even on the long climb back to the parking area.

But first we took a quick side trip to the bluff and its amazing views.

We discussed possibilities for making this route a bit more interesting. It will take a trail clearing/making party or two. We’ll see if we can get them organized.

If you like to mountain bike, check out our schedule HERE.

Next week: Rosie Creek Ramble