From van supported road trips to remote single track, Alaska has touring options that can't be beat.
If you aren't ready to hit the road on your own or want to join up with a larger touring group for your adventure, there are plenty of experienced cycling tour providers and outfitters in Alaska.
Going with a tour operator will still leave you with lots and lots of options. You might first want to decide what sort of tour you want to do. Do you want to do a self-contained mountain biking and camping trip or would you rather have van support to lighten your load and boost your comfort both in the saddle and in camp? Are you looking for a road trip or mostly single track adventure? Alaska tour operators offer trips as rugged or as pampered as you want.
Another consideration of course is where to go on your cycle tour. A number of trails at various locations, particularly in southcentral and the Kenai Peninsula, are shared by hikers and bikers in summer months and cross-country skiers in winter. But Alaskans, being an adventuresome lot, are known for taking their mountain bikes just about anywhere and in all kinds of weather.
Pre-packaged tours come in a wide range of challenge and difficulty. Eight days of unsupported single track adventure may sound exciting as you sit on the sofa with the brochure, but if you've never done anything like that before you might ask yourself what you've gotten yourself into as you haul your bike and trailer up and over a fallen tree... for the tenth time in one day.
Read the trip descriptions carefully and be sure that you understand the level of difficulty involved in the tours you are considering. Ask the tour operator questions about the trip.
Consider the cost of shipping your own mountain bike and associated gear all the way from home with renting from a firm offering a bike tour. Choose a tour guide with extensive experience in Alaska who knows the particulars of weather and roads in the area to be traveled, especially for lengthy trips.
Ask exactly what the tour guide will provide in the way of equipment, meals and lodging, and what the customer provides for pre-packed tours. One tour operator may provide everything, including roadside snacks of fresh fruit, granola, candy bars and drinks. Another tour may require customers to pack their own snacks, plus a meal to share with the group. Ask about the training and experience of companies guides including emergency medical training. Ask what communications systems and backup staff are available on their tours, in the event of a mechanical or logistical breakdown.
Bicycle Tours - Independent Touring
Pre-packed tours aren't for everybody and if you're a more experienced rider you may want to put together your own touring adventure. But even if you're rolling your own cycle trip, you may still want to work with an Alaskan outfitter and rent a bike in here rather then transport your own.
An independent tour in Alaska will put more demands and responsibilities on you. Once you leave the larger cities like Anchorage or Fairbanks, services can be few and far between so you really need to plan ahead. A copy of the Milepost is a must. This directory lists everything along the roads of Alaska as well as the Alaska highway in Canada. The Milepost is a good place to start research for your cycle tour.
One route you might want to consider is the Denali Highway - not to be confused with the road that goes into Denali National Park. The Denali Highway is an unpaved road and is a great route for a classic cycling trip. You could bike along the road and stop along the way for side hikes and adventures. Alaska DOT is making plans to eventually pave this road so you should do this trip now before it gets clogged with motor homes.
Cycling in Alaska is a bit different from other areas you may have visited. Encounters with moose and bears can be expected and should be anticipated. You should add a can of bear pepper spray to your gear list. If you are doing an off-road bike trip you might even want to attach your spray on your handle bars are some other place where you can get at it quickly.
There is a well stocked REI store in Anchorage that has a wide range of camping gear including cycling equipment.