Category Archives: biking

Peek of adventure — Nikiski graduate bikes across the country

Photos courtesy of Tyler Peek. Tyler Peek, of Nikiski, recently completed a bike ride through all 50 states, covering 6,850 miles in 111 days.

Photos courtesy of Tyler Peek. Tyler Peek, of Nikiski, recently completed a bike ride through all 50 states, covering 6,850 miles in 111 days.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Youth is squandered on the young, as the cliché goes. But is it frittering away your days if, after finishing school, you have an adventure unequivocal to anything you’ve yet experienced in life? Seeing vast and different parts of the country, far away from the part in which you grew up, and achieving something no one else you know has done? Tyler Peek, of Nikiski, doesn’t think so.

The 22-year-old recently returned from a bike tour of the U.S., in which he rode through all 50 states, following the shortest route — rather than more-popular, established paths — to cover 6,850 miles in 111 days, in just under four months, completely on his own.

“Going through every state would mean I’d be the first at something. Either I’d have the fastest time or the shortest distance for a self-supported cyclist, or I’d be the most amateur to do it, or I’d be the first person in 2014 to do it. These potentials are what sold me. I know it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but it felt like it,” Peek wrote in his blog.

Peek said he had long known he wanted to do something after graduating college on June 15, before the responsibilities of life snared him into a routine from which he couldn’t escape.

“I knew once I started a career I couldn’t just take off for months, or leave my wife or family, so this seemed like my only chance to do it,” he said.

Peek knew he wanted to challenge himself in some way, but hadn’t narrowed down exactly what. After his parents took him to Hawaii on June 17 for a postgraduation gift, he used the time to focus and begin his personal odyssey. He and his family went on a tour of a volcano in Maui and rode bicycles down the summit cone. It was an ah-ha moment for Peek.

He did some research and plotted his planned route, but coming from the age of technology, he bought a smartphone and relied on Google Maps, rather than atlases or printed road maps, to find his way.

“It told me where to go. I used driving maps, but with the bicycle option, and avoided freeways and high-traffic things like that,” he said.

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Little legs on a big roll — Beginner balance bike gets kid on early start

Photos courtesy of Bryan and Lacy Ledahl. 2-year-old Iver Ledahl motors is all smiles when he gets to ride his balance bike.

Photos courtesy of Bryan and Lacy Ledahl. 2-year-old Iver Ledahl motors is all smiles when he gets to ride his balance bike.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Teaching a child to ride a bicycle is a rite of passage for parents, usually happening around age 5. But a new type of bike is allowing kids to learn to ride younger than ever before, and practically on their own.

“Iver got his bike at 22 months and now, at just over 2 years old, he can keep up with us on our own bikes. It’s great exercise and a huge confidence booster for him,” said Bryan Ledahl, of Soldotna, of his son’s skills on his balance bike.

A balance bicycle, sometimes called a run bike, is a training bicycle that helps children as young as 18 months learn the fundamentals of balance and steering, but without pedals, a crankset, chain or training wheels.

The new style of bike, for young kids, teaches balance and steering skills without the complication of pedals.

The new style of bike, for young kids, teaches balance and steering skills without the complication of pedals.

“We first saw these bikes when visiting San Diego. All the kids riding them looked like they were having a blast,” Ledahl said. “After doing some research, it was quite obvious to us the benefits of a balance bike versus one with training wheels.”

The theory is that the no-pedal design allows young children to learn to ride on two wheels, avoiding tricycle tip-overs and training-wheel wobbles.

“Kids can start riding balance bikes pretty much as soon as they can walk. They progress at their own pace and really learn how to balance, do leaned turns, etc., as opposed to a bike with training wheels where they basically just learn how to pedal,” Ledahl said.

Ryan Beeson, with Beemun’s Bike and Ski Loft in Soldotna, said that the bikes are growing in popularity.

“People are coming in and buying them, but I don’t think it’s reached its peak yet. They’ve been out for about three years now, but only in the last year and a half have they really seemed to gain in popularity, and I think that wave is still rising,” he said.

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Path to a parks plan — Soldotna issues draft parks, trails master plan

File photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. A runner in the Kenai River Marathon heads down Bridge Access Road with the mountains flanking Cook Inlet behind her.

File photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. A runner in the Kenai River Marathon heads down Bridge Access Road with the mountains flanking Cook Inlet behind her.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

If you live in the Soldotna area and are recreation- or activity-minded, chances are you’ve thought at least one of the following:

It’d sure be nice to have longer stretches to walk along the Kenai River.

It’s too bad the Unity Trail doesn’t continue through Soldotna, so we don’t have to walk, run or ride a bike right alongside the Sterling Highway.

I wish there were an indoor place to walk, or some turf on which to practice soccer before the snow melts.

It’d be great if teens had more maintained, supervised places to hang out and recreate.

Can’t someone do something to make the Sterling-Kenai Spur highways “Y” intersection less of a pain for pedestrians and bicyclists?

Or the big one — it would be so great to get back and forth from Kenai Peninsula College and downtown Soldotna without having to go all the way around Kalifornsky Beach Road to the Sterling Highway to the David Douthit Memorial Bridge over the Kenai River.

Well, Soldotna, that wishful thinking is on a path to being granted, with the Soldotna Parks and Trails planning process nearing completion. After reviewing past planning efforts, meeting with stakeholder and user groups, conferring with partner agencies and organizations, and soliciting input through a public survey, Casey Planning and Design has released a semifinal, 75 percent-complete draft Soldotna Parks and Trails Master Plan.

An open house will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center, where the public can view the draft plan and its recommendations, ask questions and provide feedback. The draft plan, map and associated documents also will be available on the city of Soldotna’s website. The plan is open for review and public comment through May 10. Planners will contact season-specific recreational user groups over the summer — which might not have been thoroughly represented in the survey conducted this winter — for more input, then submit the plan to the city council for approval next fall.

“We want to keep it at a level of ‘What about?’ As opposed to, ‘Why didn’t they?’ At this point it’s still dynamic,” said Andrew Carmichael, city of Soldotna Parks and Recreation director.

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Trial and air — Skate, bike culture taking off in area

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Gaden Ames does a backflip high over the Soldotna Skate Park during the third annual Soldotna Bike, Skate and Scooter Challenge on Sept. 29.

Redoubt Reporter

The math hardly seems worth it: Weeks, months to even years of hours-on-end practice where even the slightest hair’s breadth of a mistake can have painful, bruise-forming, skin abrading, bone-jarring repercussions. The expense of fixing, replacing and upgrading gear that is constantly taking a beating. Putting up with stereotypes presuming delinquency and suspect moral character, simply because of a chosen activity.

All in pursuit of a payoff that lasts a measly fraction to a couple of seconds — the time it takes to execute a spin, grind, tail whip or any of the other tricks a rider of a bike, skateboard or scooter can dream up.

But what a ride those few seconds entail, whether it’s the first tentative

KC Hordemann lays his bike sideways off a ramp during one of his runs.

attempts to dislodge wheels from ground, or launching 20 feet in the air to bend the bounds of gravity with a soaring superman or back flip. And landing, upright, ready to build up more speed and take off again.

The rush of speed, the whoosh of being airborne, the tight control over grip, limbs and wheels, the sense of accomplishment of executing a maneuver that’s taken tens, hundreds or thousands of wipeouts to achieve. Sometimes, that’s

Gaden Ames does a foot jam tail whip during one of his runs.

all there is — effort and achievement playing out as a solo soundtrack. But more and more often at the Soldotna Skate Park these days, there are other riders around to witness both the battle to learn a trick and the accomplishment of nailing it.

And on Sept. 29, a communitywide, all-ages crowd wrapped around the installation of rails, platforms and ramps at the skate park for the third annual Soldotna Bike, Skate and Scooter Challenge, with not only cheers of encouragement for the riders, but food, T-shirts, trophies and the clear understanding that what these kids do is as challenging as it is worth supporting.

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A Trail Called Life: Summer malfunction — Rolling with bumps, brakes on the trail

By Dante Petri, for the Redoubt Reporter

I hate the summer-to-winter transition from the quick-and-easy lubing up of a chain and airing up of tires on a bike before heading out for a ride, compared to the much more laborious task of waxing, prior to skiing.

It’s true, pre-ride prep is far quicker than pre-ski. That being said, I was reminded

Photos courtesy of Dante Petri. Mountain bike components breaking on the trail might be a part of the sport, but a broken frame means it’s time to head to the bike shop. This 2004 Marin East Peak met its match outside of Fruita, Colo., in spring 2009.

this summer by how much maintenance goes into bikes compared to skis when looked at in the big picture. Specifically, into mountain bikes.

This past winter was the first year I ever had what I might call a “ski mechanical.” Ultimately, this amounted to a busted boot and, a few days later, a busted binding, on a set of hardworking skate skis that were halfway into their fourth season and should have been retired a season and a half prior. They were well-traveled and worn down, and I made the wise and rewarding choice of replacing them with a new set of skis. I couldn’t have been happier with them. End of story.

If I did the same thing every time I had a significant mechanical on one of my mountain bikes, well, I’d probably have to get at least a couple new bikes a season.

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From a Trail Called Life: Battle of the bonk

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By Dante Petri, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Dante Petri. Resurrection Pass is in full bloom this time of year, and the trail is ripe for riding.

This is my favorite part of the ride.
It’s raining, barely 50 degrees out, 8 p.m., and I’ve been on this bike for the last 9 hours and 30 minutes. Yup. Been here a few times, all right.

My co-adventurer today, Brian, and I started this morning in Hope, and rode up and over Resurrection Pass to Cooper Landing. The trip south to Cooper saw the skies break apart, the sun come out and the mercury rise to 65. On the south-facing benches above Swan Lake, wildflowers bloomed vibrantly and the trail was in the best shape I believe I have ever seen it. Lots of people were out, doing different legs of Resurrection and Devil’s Pass trails or various out-and-backs. It felt social, in the most remote sense.

Sometime on the way back to Hope, though, high stratus clouds moved in, and with surprising speed, a thick and angry bank of clouds rolled over Russian Mountain by the time we left the northerly shores of Juneau Lake. As we began to climb the benches above Swan Lake, the first spitting raindrops started to fall and as they came down with more intensity, so did the temperature.

To compound the gloom, the long distances and a mechanical glitch had caught up with Brian, who soldiered upward nonetheless. Knowing conditions were going to get worse, but not knowing exactly what that meant, I nervously told Brian I had to keep moving as we entered the alpine, or I risked getting hypothermic. Leaving a buddy behind in the backcountry is never good, but the cold was catching up with me every time I stopped. Brian understood, as he devoured a sandwich. I think. Either way, he found a second gear and a remedy for a derailing rear derailleur, as every time I looked over my shoulder and back into the enveloping fog, he was never far behind.

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State of having no regrets — Cyclist finishes 50 centuries in 50 states in 50 days with mountainous ride to Soldotna

By Jenny Neyman

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Cindi Rauch gets a hug from Jerilue Hopley at the Soldotna Visitor Information Center on July 10, upon completion of her goal to ride 50 centuries (100 miles) in 50 states in 50 days.

Redoubt Reporter

Cindi Rauch’s bike ride July 10 would be enough to count as a major achievement for most folks. The diminutive, blond, 60-year-old rode 110 miles from Girdwood to Soldotna over 3,642 feet of elevation gain — parts of it into a stiff headwind — all the while dressed a little thinly to mitigate the chilly weather.

That exertion, alone, could warrant a giant congratulatory feast with an extra helping of pride, yet that was a mere crumb in the larger goal Rauch had dished up for herself.

Rauch has spent about three months — 50 days, to be fittingly precise — riding a similar distance in every state. It was her 50 centuries in 50 states in 50 days tour, meaning: ride 100 miles in a different state every day for 50 straight days.

Alaska was the last state of her tour, so as she coasted into the parking lot of the Soldotna Visitor Information Center around 3:30 p.m. July 10, she not only was finishing her ride for the day, she was completing a massive goal that had been over a year in the dreaming, scheming, planning and accomplishing.

“I feel great. I’m glad that it’s done. It was just beautiful. This was a great way to end it,” she said.

Rauch, of Vancouver, Wash., started the riding portion of her journey in Hawaii at a minute past midnight May 21. But in many ways, the actual pedaling has been the easy part. The planning and logistical end of the endeavor has been much more difficult and time-consuming.

The idea to do the trip came about more than a year ago. Rauch has been an avid cyclist for about 10 years now, since a knee surgery forced the former physical education teacher to give up her beloved racquetball and find an activity that was kinder to her joints. She and her husband, Bill, got into bike touring when they rode through the San Juan Islands for their 30th anniversary.

In 2005, Rauch biked across the U.S. alone.

“I guess I’m just good at doing hard things,” she said.

Particularly — dreaming up difficult goals, having the wherewithal to begin them and the tenacity to see them through.

“I thought, after I rode across the country, I might park the bike in the garage, but I didn’t,” she said.

She heard of Dean Karnazes, who ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states.

“I saw that and thought, ‘I wonder if I could ride a century (100 miles) in 50 states in 50 days?’ So I started playing around with a map to see if I could route it and not have so far to drive at the end of the day. ‘How would I do Hawaii, how would I do Alaska?’ And it just started coming together,” she said. “I didn’t want to be 80 years old and regret that I didn’t do the things that I wanted to do.”

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