Ride a Fat Bike on the Iditarod Trail in Alaska
Sure, fat bikes are great for tooling around the ski resort and biking on the beach, but their original purpose was more demanding: to provide enough tire traction for cyclists to race the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 1,000-mile route following the historic dog sled course through Alaska. A new offering from Within the Wild takes fat bike fans back to the sport's roots with an opportunity to ride a portion of the Iditarod Trail.
Starting in Anchorage, Within the Wild's ski plane takes you to the western edge of the Alaska Range to Winterlake Lodge, the outfitter's small but luxurious basecamp on mile 198 of the Iditarod Trail. Choose one of the lodge's fleet of Kona fat bikes (aluminum frame, 5-inch tires) and test it out on the 15 acres surrounding the property. "You'll want to start on the hard-packed snow trails that we use for our own sled dog team," says co-owner and fat bike enthusiast Carl Dixon. His staff thrice-weekly grooms a scenic 5k loop around Finger Lake, as well as a 10k trail, and also a 12-miler.
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Once you're comfortable with your bike (and how to equip for the 15-degree Fahrenheit temperature), head out onto the Iditarod Trail with one of Winterlake's seasoned guides for an out-and-back ride. The trail bisects the property, and an open meadow, before turning left into the woods. Don't let the flat terrain across the chain of frozen beaver ponds fool you — the path is full of rolling hills. After an exploratory day trip, progress to biking the 32 miles between Winterlake Lodge (checkpoint #4 on the Iditarod Trail) and the next checkpoint at Rainy Pass. Those 32 miles will take you all day — plan to overnight at Rainy Pass Lodge. Bike back the next day, or there's always the helicopter.
Starting at $2,350 per person for a two-night stay; all-inclusive (round-trip ski plane transportation from Anchorage to the lodge, gourmet meals, all guided activities (fat-tire biking, dog mushing, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobile tours) and related gear, a complimentary massage per person, yoga and cooking classes, wine and cheese tastings, hot tub, sauna and other lodge amenities).