Husband and wife operate bicycling adventures

ANCHORAGE -- No mode of transportation gets visitors closer to Alaska's natural beauty and wildlife than the humble bicycle.

Trains cannot be stopped anytime some interesting vista or wild creature is spotted.

Buses can sometimes be brought to a halt -- but not necessarily as close to the object of interest as desired. And airplanes and cruise ships have obvious limitations when it comes to standing and staring.

biker with moose Bicycles, on the other hand, can be easily parked, stop on a dime and are unlikely to cause traffic jams on even the narrowest of wilderness roads. In short, bikes are pretty much the perfect vehicles for the job.

Husband and wife team Walt and Barbara Rowlands figured that out when they arrived in Alaska from "the outside" almost a quarter of a century ago. Now, as operators of Alaskan Bicycle Adventures, they are marketing their hobby to others.

This year, the company will offer five different escorted biking itineraries in the 49th state and the Yukon Territory, ranging from seven to 12 days. The programs involve anywhere from an average of 15 miles to 65 miles in the saddle each day and include nonbike components as well, such as rafting, hiking, a day cruise and gold panning.

Although a fair degree of physical strength is required to participate, it is not necessary for any group member to cycle all of the distance specified. A van accompanies each group and will pick up any member who wishes to sit out the next mile or three.

Alaskan Bicycle Adventures groups rarely include more than a dozen participants; in the event that one goes over that, two vans are dispatched with the tour rather than one. Overnight accommodations are in the best available hotels or lodges en route, and all meals, including daytime snacks, are included.

The operator's shortest tour, an eight-day loop from Anchorage through Denali, Fairbanks, Delta, the copper country around Glennallen, Valdez, Whittier and the Chugach Mountains, costs $2,445 per person.

Its longest, the Alcan Highway Expedition -- from Juneau to Anchorage through the Yukon- is priced at $3,195 per person. Alaskan Bicycle Adventures, Telephone: (800) 770-7242 or (907) 243-2392, Web: www.alaskabike.com

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