Pardon Our Mess.

I took the corner at the same speed as I always do in preparation for the hill that follows it. The squeal of brake pads on carbon rims signaled my frantic attempts to slow so I could miss the "trail closed" sign and orange fencing.
That short segment of bike trail has been falling apart for a long time. The creek had eaten away at it. Bulges, cracks, and other deformities made negotiating it a challenge, especially if there was anyone else on the trail at the same time. It had been that way so long I had kinda gotten used to it. I thought they'd never fix it.
Now they are.
My detour led me down the main trail. This particular trail follows a creek along soft, marshy ground, because that's obviously the most stable surface they could find in the immediate area. Like most bike trails in the area, they didn't do much in the way of prep when they laid the path. Run a dozer through the woods, sprinkle a handful of gravel on the mud, and start laying down asphalt. In a few years, do it all over again.
The main trail is as bad as the short offshoot I usually take, if not worse. I'm hoping they pay attention to it in the next few years, because it's starting to get dangerous. Some of the cracks that were wide enough to swallow a road bike tire a couple years ago have grown to mountain bike dimensions. Next year fat bikes may be in jeopardy. The bumps, which may or may not be marked, are starting to be classified by the UCI as "hors cat├ęgorie".
As I wove my way down the trail, I was glad the traffic isn't as bad as it on the Coastal Trail- especially during "Give a Tourist a Bike Day" or "Erratically-Walking Photographer With a Giant Telephoto Lens Day", which seem like they occur pretty much every day during the summer. Then you have the masses of people who walk in large groups, four-wide down the trail, as if there are no other users that might want to pass in either direction. "Do you mind? I'm trying to have a loud conversation with my friends so I don't have to listen to your verbal warnings of your approach." The dog owners that walk on one side of the trail tethered by leash to a dog on the other side of the trail. People ask me why I ride on the road, where there's the constant threat of being mowed over by a distracted driver. I say it's safer dodging F-350s than on any blind corner along the Coastal Trail.
I'm glad they're making efforts to fix the trails. They're definitely an asset to this town, even if I try to avoid them whenever there's a viable alternative (sometimes there isn't) or at least try to ride them during off-peak hours. While the Coastal Trail sees all of the tourist traffic, the Chester, Campbell, and all of the other paved trail systems in the area are vital to keeping Anchorage livable. They may make uptight roadies like me tense, but for a large percentage of users they are a place to relax a bit. A way to get from Point A to Point B without using a car-centric route. A convenient place to get stomped by an irate moose...
So, any temporary inconvenience to users is more than compensated by the fact that they're doing the work. It shows they realize the value of the trails, even in tough budgetary times. I wish they'd do a better job prepping the surface so they'd last longer, but at this point I'll take what I can get.


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