Photo courtesy of Ben Napolitano
The Mountain Bike Festival at Alyeska features a Pond Crossing event, which takes place Saturday, Sept. 6 from noon to 2 p.m. at The Hotel Alyeska Pond Courtyard.
By Ben Napolitano
Special to the Turnagain Times
Mountain Biking at Alyeska Resort
Riding bikes is fun, uphill, downhill, on dirt, on pavement, on nice sunny days and on rainy days. Bikes are all-around awesome. Go ahead, try to be in a bad mood on your bike. You can’t if you’re doing it right. If you can, then there’s something seriously wrong with you. Yes, bikes are great in all forms from transportation to recreation or even a simple form of therapy from the stress of the day and to find oneself outdoors.
The downhill mountain bike park at Alyeska Resort has grown into a huge part of summer mountain operations, bringing in record numbers of riders in its fourth year of existence. To celebrate all things bikes, Alyeska Resort welcomes riders and spectators to take part in the second annual Mountain Bike Festival Sept. 5-7 with such events as downhill racing, cross-country racing, whips and tricks and the very popular Pond Crossing, an event that has bikers ride across a floating bridge stretched out across the hotel’s pond.
Entry to all events is free with a bike season pass or a day bike park lift ticket. The festival’s sponsors, New Belgium Brewing and Powerade, have donated great prizes to participants including new Fat Tire branded cruiser bikes. For a list of event times, please visit the calendar of events at www.alyeskaresort.com or visit the Daylodge Bike Hub.
The Alyeska Bike Park will continue its operations through Sept. 28 on a Friday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. schedule. Lifts running will include Bearcub Quad, Ted’s Express and Glacier Bowl Express.
Alyeska Climbathon Climbs for a Cause
The rules are simple, climbers have ten hours to hike up Alyeska’s North Face Trail, ride the tram down and repeat as many times as possible. Sounds easy right? Well, maybe the first couple of laps are. The 7th annual Alyeska Climbathon is taking place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13. This endurance competition is like no other mountain run, marathon or other endurance event in the state, mainly because there is never any real relief from the vertical climb and the trail’s steepness.
Participants are constantly climbing up the North Face Trail. This year they’ll be climbing to raise money for different GYN cancer programs throughout Alaska, and this year’s event will be capped at 300 participants. The 2013 event raised almost $50,000 for its beneficiaries, which included the Girdwood Health Clinic, Let Every Woman Know – Alaska and Globathon, all of whom are dedicated to the fight against ovarian and cervical cancers.
Each lap is counted as 2,000 vertical feet in elevation gained, and each lap has been given the name of a prominent Alaskan peak (until you get above 10 laps) ranging from Matanuska Peak to Mount Hunter to Moose’s Tooth and of course the coveted goal of Denali in a day. A small handful of climbers complete 11 and even 12 laps, which have been named Aconcagua and Chamlang respectively.
Up until this point, however, no climber has completed 13 laps for a total of 26,000 vertical feet. The first person to hit 13 laps not only is in fantastic shape and is an incredible athlete but he or she gets to name the lap. The tram will be running at winter speed for this event, which is about a three and a half minute trip. The tram will also be departing every 10 minutes instead of every 15; this altered operating schedule will allow participants for maximum on-trail time. For more information on Climbathon, to sign up or to sponsor a climber, please visit www.alyeskaclimbathon.com.
Great Music Lands at the Sitzmark in September
Kicking off September and helping Alyeska celebrate the second annual Mountain Bike Festival is a local favorite, The Whipsaws. These local boys know how to rock the crowd with their aggressive, tangy, crunchy sounds. These accolades accurately reflect on The Whipsaws, driven by attitude, belief and imagination-capturing lyrics.
Big Fat Buddha is an Alaska based rock/funk band that has its roots deep in the groove. Formed in 2010 when bassist Brad Fidel put an ad on Craigslist looking for musicians into The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and James Brown. Singer/songwriter Matt Brenna answered the ad and the two hit it off immediately. Percussionist Jeff Arms, who played with Fidel on a previous project, heard what Brenna and Fidel were up to, so he signed on and the three became the core of Big Fat Buddha. See them live at the Sitz on Sept. 13.
Join Wasteland Hop for a fall session at the Sitzmark. Mixing influences from The Roots to The Black Keys, the Fort Collins indie hip-hop band Wasteland Hop’s songs are a striking back-and-forth between soulful lead vocalist Steph Jay and MC Mickey Kenny, who shatter the divide between rap and poetry. The band blends Kenny’s insightful lyrics with high energy, funk-fueled beats, very much in the same vein as Colorado hip-hop artists Flobots.
All music at the Sitzmark is free for the remaining summer operations. Music starts at 9 p.m. and is open to ages 21 and over. For more details and music samples of upcoming performers, visit www.thesitzmark.com.
Food & Beverage Odds and Ends
September means welcoming fall and saying adios to the summer that was. As traffic at the resort slows, adjustments to the restaurant operations are made. With that in mind, Thursday, Sept. 11, will be the last night for steaks at the Pond Steakhouse until operations pick back up later in the year. Seven Glaciers, Sitzmark and Bore Tide Deli will all be open through the month of September.
A Sitzmark side note: summer trivia’s grand prize of a $600 gift card to Seven Glaciers will be handed out Sept. 26 after the final round. The grand prize gift card is valid at Seven Glaciers through April 2015, so if the winning team can’t make it up the tram this fall, it has all winter. You can buy a lot of fizz with $600!