Looking at the extended weather forecast on NOAA I was discouraged. Rain, rain, rain with a chance of rain. I was really hoping for an Alaskan bluebird day to enjoy but I was not going to let a little water get me down. It’s Wednesday, Saturday I’m going to be in Girdwood riding the downhill bike trails at Alyeska so I have something to look forward to which will help me get through the week. I want to rent one of their DH bikes so I can get a feel for another bike other than my Scott. Doing some research I find the Kona Operator is great for beginer to intermedeate riders, the frame design, suspension and components are set up for riders who are just getting into the sport. Being on the more agressive end of the bike spectrum I decide that I will be demoing the Kona Entourage. The frame, suspension and fork were designed to take some abuse.
Saturday comes and to my delight brings with it mostly sunny skies! So pumped, not only do I get to ride all day but I’m not going to get caught in the monsoon that can sometimes overwhelm the Glacier Valley.
Walking into the Daylodge I run into my good friend Steve who runs the rental and repair shop. I tell him I want to be on the Entourage for the day and he sets me up with the bike, a pass and a free hot dog at the Sitzmark! Perfect half time food! Since my legs are still in ski mode and not bike mode I jump on Bearcub Quad expecting to take a few warm up laps then head to Chair 1. After a few runs off of Bearcub Quad I am blown away by the terrain and trails offered on this winter time beginner lift. Bobcat, Roll-Over, Big Spruce, these trails were legitamently challenging and great fun. Steep shots followed by berms and wooden features are fantastic, while Christmas in July and Chips ‘n Salsa provided a great mellow warm up but also jump lines made up of table-tops that get progressivley larger as you head down. I could have easily been content with Bearcub Quad all day but wanted to check out some longer runs from the top of Chair 1. Jumping on Chair 1 it’s a long ride to the top, at least there is a lot to look at. Getting off at the top is fun because the off ramp seems so much larger without snow on it. Feeling warmed up and wanting to get my legs pumping again I take a short ride uphill to Trapline Traverse to catch the berms on Fridays. Great trail hands down. The berms are tall enough that when you start really picking up speed you can just lay the bike over and power out into the next berm. Linking up with Gear Jammer, I find a most spectaular view of the Turnagain Arm, the classic Alyeska photo op when the tide is out leaving random pockets of water and swirling rivers surrounded by silt and mud. I take this opportunity to relax, take in the view andsnap a few shots before I start peddeling downhill again.
By this time I’m hungry and that free hotdog is calling my name. I take Rollover directly to the Sitz deck and post up. It’s too nice of a day to eat inside. I walk in order a dog from Richard behind the bar and decide an Alaskan Amber is in order. The view from the Sitz deck is great, I can watch other riders on trails, hitting the jump lines and scope different lines.
After lunch it’s back up Chair 1 for a few more laps, a couple on Fridays and a few on Silvertip. It has been a full day of riding and I am beat. Heading back to the Sitzmark for an apres beer I’m completely blown away by the day. The terrain offered, the lifts, the staff and having a relaxing place like the Sitzmark to eat lunch and have an apres beer were all superb. For a first time visitor to Alyeska for the downhill scene it was top notch!