They say that getting there is half the fun. I’m not sure I would go that far, but it was enjoyable. I met Andy Sorenson at the Gold Rush Randonee in 2009. He lives in Anchorage and was off to do PBP while we would be in Alaska. So, he offered us the use of his house as a home base! How cool was that! So, Larry and his wife, Christine, flew into Anchorage on Wednesday, while Roland and I flew in on Thursday (separately). Thursday was a busy day as we wanted to get our bikes assembled. Larry and I had a great time getting to know each other as we assembled bikes in the driveway. He was riding his Bacchetta Giro 26 ATT while I was riding a Carbent HPV Raven.
Some of you may have looked at the picture of my bike as I posted it about a week before the ride. Well, it got a little portlier over the week as the forecast became a bit more ominous. I added full rain gear, including pants, jacket, booties (thanks Andy!) and rain gloves. By the time we were ready to leave, the bike was bulging with supplies!
On Friday morning, Larry and I took a nice spin around Anchorage, got lost, found ourselves again, visited Speedway Cycles and headed back home in the drizzle. The weather was not looking cooperative… Later, all of us went to the meet-and-greet at Speedway, and then had dinner at the Organic Oasis. Delicious!
Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to hop on the train to Whittier. From Whittier, we would take the ferry to Valdez. The train ride was fun and a great opportunity to meet other riders. Kevin, the RBA, whipped out a giant map of Alaska and we explored the route together. The views of the bay were amazing, and we got our first glimpse of glaciers. I’m pretty sure everyone had a great time…I did!
In Whittier, Roland and I headed for the Orca Cafe for lunch. The salmon sandwich was delicious. It seems that every menu item in Alaska involves salmon, and I quickly discovered that Copper River salmon was quite good! We then stood in line in the drizzle while waiting for the ferry to dock. Again, more good times meeting riders and swapping stories.
During the ferry ride, the weather was once again ominous…glad I brought the rain gear! Roland and I discovered an unfinished 1000 piece puzzle and proceeded to finish it between naps. The goal here was to relax and rest. I knew from past experience that the more rested I was, the more successful I would be on the ride.
Once in Valdez, we headed for the Mountain Sky hotel, got settled and went out to dinner! 10 randonneurs took over the Totem Inn and enjoyed an evening of good food and company!
Sunday morning, Larry and I took a 10 mile spin up the beginning of the course to check it out and make sure that the bikes worked perfectly! The clouds had broken and it was turning into a beautiful day! Perhaps the weather gods would be friendly? One last nap before we start…