Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hellbiking Lives!

Over at Cpt Swallowtail's Confessions is a link to a recent bike & boat trip. Bike & boat trips are also making their way onto the Alpacka forum.

Recently looking under the house for old tax records, I came across an October 1989 Mountain Bike Magazine with my "Live to Ride, Ride to Die Mountain Bikes from Hell!" story. It's a little embarrassing to read my hyperbole now, but like the Wilderness Classics before it, this was a rich full-bodied trip. It was a trip that really opened our eyes to the possibilities of mountain bikes in wilderness, centered on the packraft. As far as I know, it was likely the first bike & boat trip in Alaska (by bike & boat I mean we carried the boat on the bike and vice-versa).

On our trip we carried only one raft, a Sherpa Packraft. Our bikes had no suspension, as there were not even front forks with suspension!

Anyway, some of you might enjoy the read. I did. But then I guess at my age, reminiscing is becoming an increasingly popular pastime.

(To read any page just click on it.)


  1. That's a lot of Tenacious oil.

    I dug my May 97 Nat Geo out of the closet at my parents house the other week. That article, and even more the photos, made a huge impact on me back in high school.


  2. Awesome story! Is that the same Jon Underwood who's building trails across Alaska today?

  3. Yes, that's the same Jon Underwood. His Anchorage Hillside trails are sweet.

  4. 'Wild jocks establishing the boundaries of the possible..." That just made my day, again! I think Rollins poached some of your bravado.

  5. Back in 1989 I was in my early 30"s and in great shape for a trip like this. I quit my job and tried to find one of you in Alaska to take me with you on a trip like MT St... Diane mtbmama

  6. That's me and my wife, Carlotta, on the cover. Holy crap that was a long time ago.

    1. Sorry I didn't scan that cover in its full color glory -- You guys looked great on that photo.

  7. Roman,
    In 1990 or so you gave a talk on Hell Biking in Pala Alto,CA (Pacific Mountaineer, RIP). I took notes (dry your cheese, etc).
    In 1992 my adventure buddy and I rode thru Denali to Kantishna Hills and headed north into the backcountry on our no suspension stumpjumper, garyfisher bikes (with permits of course, given by confused rangers). We tussock-lugged them for miles to Toklat? tributaries, where we got our truck intertubes out (we were low budget) and created a raft with bike frames strapped to them. 20 miles downriver to the Stampede trail! Then 80 miles of alder-bashing and disappearing road tricks.
    It was a 10day epic, but a lifetime's adventure!
    We always had dedicated it in honor of (but not comparison to) yours.
    Thanks for the inspiration! I'll try to post the published story.

    -Dave and Steve Bay area and Truckee

    We were going to bike/raft down along the old Copper river railroad, but when we saw it we knew we'd die. Denali was our backup plan :)


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