A winter break in Alaska’s interior usually means viewing the spectacular northern lights while snowmobiling or dog sledding across the frozen landscape. But bicycling? Indeed, winter cycling has joined the lineup of seasonal fun in the far north, and Fairbanks has become a center of the action. Fat-tire bikes navigate the snowy terrain with ease, and visitors to Fairbanks can enjoy this heart-pumping outdoor activity in a number of ways.
Some cycling enthusiasts rent fat tire bikes to explore the city and its trails on their own, whether for road or trail cycling. Beaver Sports (beaversports.com) in Fairbanks rents them by the day or the week.
Riders wanting a guided cycling experience contact Wandering Coyote Adventures (wca-alaska.com). This adventure guide company leads three-hour afternoon or evening fat bike tours outside Fairbanks on isolated trails, giving riders a true taste of far-north wilderness in the frozen landscape. Not for novices, riders need a high fitness level and the ability to ride in varied terrain for longer distances. The ride ends at the Wandering Coyote Adventures’ yurt for snacks, hot drinks and a well-earned hot-tub soak. Wandering Coyote supplies the fat tire bikes, helmets, handlebar mitts (aka pogies), headlamps and refreshments.
Truly adventuresome cyclists head out on their own on overnight or multiday winter cycling treks. Two locations just outside Fairbanks have shelters and cabins that cyclists can reserve. Of course, this means packing in everything you need during your stay, but the miles of groomed trails—many designated for non-motorized use—makes the extra effort worthwhile.
At White Mountains National Recreation Area, the Bureau of Land Management maintains 250 miles of trails in the winter, along with 12 public recreation cabins and two trail shelters. There, just an hour’s drive from Fairbanks, cyclists are surrounded by jagged mountains and broad valleys. Reserve a cabin at recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/252494.
The Chena River State Recreation Area, nearly 400 square-miles with maintained trails roughly an hour from Fairbanks, also offers 10 rustic wilderness cabins. Find more information at dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspcabins/index.htm.
The Fairbanks Cycle Club website has an informative resource page with everything you need to know about safety and gear for winter cycling (fairbankscycleclub.org/resources/winter-riding).
The absence of mosquitos and an opportunity to see the aurora borealis are two more reasons March to mid-April is a great time for a Fairbanks adventure. Plan your trip at explorefairbanks.com.