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  1. #1
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    possibly moving to Alaska, questions...

    Hey everyone, I may be moving to Alaska (my life long dream) in about 2 months, maybe less, and just have a few questions.

    I'd be moving to Fairbanks to potentially finish up school at UAF but I'll be flying out there this monday for a job interview so depending on how that goes then I will work like a normal person instead, which is OK with me.

    Anyways... Do you guys do much riding in the colder winters? Or is it just a summertime thing? I've always thought the fat bikes looked pretty fun so I may just have to invest in one some day With that being said, how does a standard full suspension bike do in the snow compared to the fat bikes? never ridden in the snow yet, although it seems like it would be fun.

    This may be a stupid question but I figure I'd ask just in case. So most people heat their vehicles in the winter to avoid starting problems and whatnot, are there any precautions I should be aware of for "special" maintenance or preparation to my current bike? Its a 2011 Trek Fuel EX8.

    That's all for now, I'm so excited to finally go!

    Thanks for any input you can provide!

  2. #2
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    Ummm... there is a huge winter biking culture up here.

    I've been in Anchorage for two winters as a full time bike commuter and did fine with a 2003 Giant NRS2 (full sus) with studded tires. There were only a handful of days where I walked more than rode due to too much fluffly stuff and even when it dropped into the -15 range, I had no proplems with the sus. However, it gets a lot colder in Fairbanks, and I suspect that the suspension will get really stiff.

    I was more than able to ride most of the trails around Anchorage with the FS all winter long and loved it! I just waited for the fat boys to pack stuff down and then I'd hit them up.

    I just purchased a FB this spring and can't wait for the winter to come back to get some good use out of it.

    The biggest piece of maintenance is to keep the bike clean and lubed. You might also want to have your bearings repacked with a good grease that can handle the wet and lower temps. The nice thing is, all the bike shops here can help get you ready to go for the winter. Just be forewarned that many of them will try to sell you a new bike in the process!

    The other big key to winter biking is to get a really good headlight. You'll need it. I use a Princton Tec Apex that I've hooked to my helmet and use rechargable batteries. This gives me a great spread of light, a flasher for when in traffic, and I can use it while hiking in the shoulder seasons.

    Enjoy the adventure. It's an amazing place with some amazing people - the thing is to enjoy the adventure.

  3. #3
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    Awesome thanks for all the info. What FB did you get? Man they look like a blast. I'm definitely going to rent one and save up and eventually buy one.

    Now I'm even more excited to head up there! I know Fairbanks is a lot colder than anchorage, I'm ok with that. Actually, I prefer it. Although I hear there is better terrain for snowboarding in anchorage compared to Fairbanks but that's ok. I can always drive there.

  4. #4
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    It's quite a drive, >350miles. Alaska is bigger than you realize. You think you'll prefer colder until its -40 for a week or two straight. Have fun!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by FirstAscent View Post
    Awesome thanks for all the info. What FB did you get? Man they look like a blast. I'm definitely going to rent one and save up and eventually buy one.

    Now I'm even more excited to head up there! I know Fairbanks is a lot colder than anchorage, I'm ok with that. Actually, I prefer it. Although I hear there is better terrain for snowboarding in anchorage compared to Fairbanks but that's ok. I can always drive there.
    I have a '12 Pugsley and in the past I've rented a Salsa Mukluk. I've not yet ridden the Pugs on snow so I can't say which of those two I prefer, though the Pugs is loads of fun.

    I've not yet been to Fairbanks, but I am pretty sure you're right about there being better snowboarding terrain down Anchorage way. That said, a 350 mile drive in the winter can take a LOT longer than in the summer, which in itself seems to take longer than in the Outside. Hatcher Pass has some nice boarding. Just sayin.

  6. #6
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    What you need depends on what you want to do. A FB will ultimately be the best option for the winter, but in the meantime, your current bike will get you around pretty well. Fairbanks gets a lot less snow than Anchorage or other areas in the southern portion of Alaska. You won't be dealing with soft, fresh snow nearly as much as you would further south. If you get yourself some 2.5" tires and run them at pretty low pressures, it will work fairly well in most cases. Get the widest that will fit your bike. Studded tires are really only necessary if you plan to ride around town on the roads. On trails, studs don't do any good unless you find yourself riding on frozen overflow on rivers or lakes. Regular tread on a mountain bike tire is sufficient. If you are thinking of commuting or riding much on/adjacent to roads, studs will definitely be a good option to go with.

  7. #7
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    bundle up and saddle up: fat bikes rule the roost during AK winters. There are many winter riders laying down tracks and doing big rides, check out white mtns 100 race in fairbanks. White Mountains 100

  8. #8
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    Full squishy bikes have their limitations in the cold due to premature seal failure -- I've lost 2 rear air shocks riding in +5 to +15 deg F. I live in Anchorage, commute year round, and for my winter riding I ride a studded hardtail for the beginning & end of the winter (little snow, 'slick' ice) & a Fatback for the remainder (cold ice is pretty 'grippy', especially with the fat-tires). I rarely take the full squishy out in the winter but with my rear air shock failures, I don't ride below 20-25 deg F (probably way too conservative) if I do take it out... but after getting a Fatback, I don't see why I would want to ride full squishy in the winter.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chugachjed View Post
    It's quite a drive, >350miles. Alaska is bigger than you realize. You think you'll prefer colder until its -40 for a week or two straight. Have fun!
    This is true. I'm coming up from Oregon. Alaska is about 10 Oregon's haha. I haven't experienced long winters in that low of temps, but in the meantime, I'm excited lol

    Quote Originally Posted by blockphi View Post
    I have a '12 Pugsley and in the past I've rented a Salsa Mukluk. I've not yet ridden the Pugs on snow so I can't say which of those two I prefer, though the Pugs is loads of fun.

    I've not yet been to Fairbanks, but I am pretty sure you're right about there being better snowboarding terrain down Anchorage way. That said, a 350 mile drive in the winter can take a LOT longer than in the summer, which in itself seems to take longer than in the Outside. Hatcher Pass has some nice boarding. Just sayin.
    That's what I would be looking at is the Pugsley but I have nothing to compare it to. I'll have a good vehicle (2010 Tundra) for the winter roads, which doesn't mean nothing can stop me, but I can imagine that that trip would still be much longer in the winter than summer!

    Quote Originally Posted by anchskier View Post
    What you need depends on what you want to do. A FB will ultimately be the best option for the winter, but in the meantime, your current bike will get you around pretty well. Fairbanks gets a lot less snow than Anchorage or other areas in the southern portion of Alaska. You won't be dealing with soft, fresh snow nearly as much as you would further south. If you get yourself some 2.5" tires and run them at pretty low pressures, it will work fairly well in most cases. Get the widest that will fit your bike. Studded tires are really only necessary if you plan to ride around town on the roads. On trails, studs don't do any good unless you find yourself riding on frozen overflow on rivers or lakes. Regular tread on a mountain bike tire is sufficient. If you are thinking of commuting or riding much on/adjacent to roads, studs will definitely be a good option to go with.
    I currently am tubeless with 2.35's frt/rr and every now and then I'll get a slight rub. So 2.5 are out of the question. But being tubeless I can really air it down which will help. As far as commuting goes I'm not sure how much I plan on doing yet. time will tell...

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbslim View Post
    bundle up and saddle up: fat bikes rule the roost during AK winters. There are many winter riders laying down tracks and doing big rides, check out white mtns 100 race in fairbanks. White Mountains 100
    Thanks for the link, I'll check that out! I'm really wanting to go buy a fat bike right now! I wish!!

    Quote Originally Posted by ickyickyptngzutboing View Post
    Full squishy bikes have their limitations in the cold due to premature seal failure -- I've lost 2 rear air shocks riding in +5 to +15 deg F. I live in Anchorage, commute year round, and for my winter riding I ride a studded hardtail for the beginning & end of the winter (little snow, 'slick' ice) & a Fatback for the remainder (cold ice is pretty 'grippy', especially with the fat-tires). I rarely take the full squishy out in the winter but with my rear air shock failures, I don't ride below 20-25 deg F (probably way too conservative) if I do take it out... but after getting a Fatback, I don't see why I would want to ride full squishy in the winter.
    Thanks for that info. That's what I assumed but didn't have any idea of a temp range when things would start failing more. I'll keep those numbers in mind.

  10. #10
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    I live in Fairbanks, been here for over 25 years. Honestly, I put my bike away in the winter and ski, and play hockey. Biking year round is possible, but its hard core. A normal winter temp is -20, with weeks at colder than -40. We had a week around -50 last winter. There are people running FBs here. You certainly can ride year round, but remember it is dark for most of the winter. -20 in the dark dodging moose gets old fast.

    Goldsteam Sports is a wealth of info,call them.They are also the Trek dealer.

    There is a lot of good MT biking, the Ester single track is awesome (You Tube it). UAF has some good trails to.

    Good luck, welcome to Fairbanks.

  11. #11
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    Birch hill has some fun trails too

  12. #12
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    I've been feeling out a lot of information here in Anchorage over the last few weeks. This is different because it's warmer, has more sun, has more moisture, and less extreme climate variations (summer vs winter). They told me I want to make sure my radiator fluid is good down to -30 here in Anchorage, due to it getting in the -20s in winter and having the extra protection to -30. Sounds like you'll need even more in Fairbanks and I believe plugging in your car (with engine block heater) is absolutely required. A heated garage would probably be fine at night, but anywhere else you're going to have to plug in because it's going to lose heat quickly. They told me here in ANC it's not "absolutely required", although it's good to do. Otherwise, got to make sure you have 5wt synthetic oil and the coolant fluid thing above. The synthetic oil won't get all screwed up supposedly. People still plug in all over here though, and I wouldn't want to cold-soak a car. I plan to get an engine block heater, but the big thing is that I secured a heated garage. You are also going to have more "night" than here in ANC in the winter. Supposedly there's about 4hrs of "dusk" in the dead of the winter where the sun doesn't quite come above the horizon. Be prepared for less than that during the "day" in Fairbanks.

    I'm sure the locals can describe what you need a lot better than me, so this is just what I've found out in the last few weeks, please correct as necessary.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mapco View Post
    Birch hill has some fun trails too
    I suspect they don't want bikes in the winter.
    Latitude 61

  14. #14
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    Fairbanks is a great place for winter trail biking. Low snow and lots of users make for well packed trails. I do think you'd at least want to use wider rims. There are a number of wider rims that will fit most mtn. bikes.

    Yes it's colder up here but it's a dry cold, seriously I'd rather be up here at -30F than Anch. at -15F. Lots of trails around town and lots of trails out of town. This is all about trail riding, I don't do town-road riding summer or winter. I suppose town riding and or commuting at -20F could suck but trail riding at even -30F is no big deal once you learn what gear works for you.

    Check out my flickr album for lots of winter biking photos from around FBX, there is some other stuff but 90% plus is winter trail riding. Below is also a link to a web site with lots of photos and stories of mostly winter biking in the Interior. Welcome to Fairbanks. tony

    Flickr: awinterbiker's Photostream

    Alaska All Season Cycling

  15. #15
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    Thanks everyone. I've been here a few weeks now and finally getting settled in. Done the singletrack at Ester Dome a few times and having fun with that. Although, on the drive up here I got spoiled in North Shore, BC and am really wanted a DH bike now! Holy crap it was fun! and I was on my EX8 too, can't imagine what it would have been like on an actual DH bike.

    Absolutely loving everything up here so far and landed a good job so that definitely helps! I'm not going to ride the EX8 during the winter simply due to the fact that I don't want to have to worry about the suspension. I was pretty much set on getting a fat bike for the winter but after riding at North Shore I really am wanting to save for a DH bike...so we'll see what happens. Worst case scenario I'll definitely rent a fat bike and have some fun with that this winter.

    I snowboard too so I plan on getting out a lot with that during the winter. I got a splitboard last year and work is only 4 miles away so plan on skiing into work some of the winter. Have some new expedition gear I can finally test out in what it was designed for haha

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