Monday, March 10, 2014

homer biking

I went to Homer for a few days last week with my friend Katey who was visiting Alaska for a book tour and a teaching gig for 49 Writers. She has been to Alaska several times, but never to Homer. I'd never been there in winter.

After a few hours of driving, we were heading south on the Sterling Highway with the mountains of the Alaska Range in view. I think we stopped at every viewpoint that overlooked Cook Inlet.

Pushki in March.

We arrived at the overlook above Homer where the mountains across Kachemak Bay seemed to float above fog that hung over the water.
Almost to Homer, looking across the bay.
Finally arriving at the home of our hosts who have a guest cabin tucked in the trees and perched above the shore. After dropping off our things in the cabin, we found our way to the beach.
Receding tide.
The view from the deck in the morning light.
Mt Augustine sunset.
We took these stairs down the bluff to get to the beach.
I made use of that rope, esp. when carrying my bike.
Not much beach at high tide.
Low tide is another story. Think I'll head that-a-way.
I brought my fat tire bike on the trip and on the first morning there carried it down the steep stairs to get to the beach where the receding tide let me ride far from shore.
While Katey is working on her novel, I'm exploring
the beach. It's all research.
I'm not the only one on the beach.

The outgoing tide reveals
ripples on the sand
sea plants anchored to rocks
a clam anchored to the stem
a small world awaiting water.

Tuesday night was windy and cold. We stoked the Jotul stove and stayed warm all night. When we woke we found a skiff of crunchy grapple snow covering the ground. Though the day began cold, I couldn't resist the vacuum created on the beach as the tide pulled away. I made plans to meet Katey for lunch and biked a short ways to the Bishop's Beach official access point in town just off Main Street...

Poor thing, left out in the cold!
Another day at the beach!
Where I met up with artist Kathy Sarns, her friend and their canine buddies. Kathy used to live in Anchorage and for a short time I worked with her husband Pat. We pedaled west on the beach (after I first adjusted the brake pads on her friend's bike so they wouldn't drag on her rotor). The dogs ran alongside us, wove in front of us and flung themselves away toward water or bluff. When we reversed directions to return to the beach access point, the headwind became a tailwind and we were soon parting ways.

History of Fat Bikes 101: Kathy is riding a prototype
Surly Pugsley from about 2004 or 2005. I'm riding one of the most
recent entries in the fat bike market: a Borealis Yampa.
This Pugs has spent lots of time playing in saltwater.
Beach, bikes, women, dogs. How cool is Homer?
After a bite to eat, Katey and I took a walk on another beach with a Homer author who shared local knowledge about the sea life and geology of the area and filled us in on her experiences as a writer and a teacher.
I was most fascinated by how the plants and creatures of the sea created jumbled communities as they floated in the water. Here's one I found in the rocks:

I see artists' inspiration in this tangle.
Katey near Land's End Resort on the Homer Spit, site of the annual
Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference. How is this as an enticement
for her to return to Homer?

Early Thursday we bid farewell to our hosts, our favorite barrista and the fishing town on the bay. Katey had more events in and near Anchorage while I needed to get back to work at the shop. It was a different kind of beach vacation and I hope to make it back soon.

If you go: We were in Homer a week after their annual Big Fat Bike Fest which I heard was loads of fun, so watch for it in 2015. If you're going beach riding on your own, be sure to get a tide table and ride during the lowest tides when you can ride on the firm, wet sand. Then, clean your bike. If you can rinse it in fresh water, that's best (tho not with a high-pressure hose). I didn't wash mine. When I returned to Anchorage, my bike had dried off and I spent some time with a soft brush sweeping off dried silt and sand. After cleaning the chain, I re-lubed it (I felt a bit bad about the little bit of orange on the chain from putting it away wet). Despite the need for extra maintenance on my bike, I would still recommend beach riding. It's a completely different scene from riding in the snow.


Melissa said...

Wow, what a gorgeous location to go biking along the beach! Thanks for the tips about biking in sandy, saltwater areas. Looks like a great trip!

Unknown said...

We are well into May and all you have to show are photos of cold winter. How about an update?

Unknown said...

Maybe in Alaska there is still ice and snow! I don't know:)