Skagway train trip and bike down the glacier

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#1
Oshkosh, WI
35 Posts
Joined May 2013
Sorry to ask this but I cannot find the thread where someone posted about the glacier biking trip. Just curious if it really is all down hill or if there is some work involved. How cold was it the day you did the biking down the glacier? Also, do they provide helmets? And do you stop at various points along the way for photo ops? And, finally, we did this years ago down Haleakala on Maui and a van followed behind in case of bike troubles or biker troubles. Is this the case with the glacier biking trip? Want to make sure DH and I did not bite off more than we can handle. Thanks in advance for any help.
#2
Issaquah, WA
3,840 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
I know there is an excursion where you can bike down the highway from the summit, but not on a glacier. There's no glacier near the highway to bike on, and it doesn't sound particularly safe. Even the road trip looks scary to me. There are lots of cars and big trucks on that road.
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Sherry


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#4
Oshkosh, WI
35 Posts
Joined May 2013
Leaving Sat for Seattle and board NCL Pearl on Sunday. The tour we are taking is called "Whitepass Railway and Klondike Bicycle." Thought the train takes us up to the top and bike down from there but I may be wrong. Looked at the booking again and we go up to the White Pass not a glacier and actually go into Canada and bike 15 miles down to sea level. Hope the road does not scare the heck out of me!
#5
quad cities illinois
5,448 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
just be aware that the road is VERY busy with cars, vans, and busses. the side of the road is rocky and narrow in spots. personally I have seen bikers getting very lucky not getting hit. if you do take this tour be careful and I hope you have a good time.
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norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
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#6
England
104 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I am also doing this tour later this year (although we're taking a van up rather than the train, then biking down) and here's what I know about it.

The company that runs the tour (regardless of which cruise line you've booked through) is Sockeye Cycle Co., who are based in Skagway, and you can take a look at their website at http://www.cyclealaska.com/klondike-bicycle-tour. I understand there are guides on bikes who cycle with you, plus their van does follow you down the mountain in case of any issues apparently.

If you want to check out the route, I've traced what I think is the route on MapMyRun (http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/218968459). I've assumed they'll start at Fraser, which is where the border crossing is (although it's about six miles past the border on the Canada side) and also where the White Pass railway meets up with the road for the first time since leaving Skagway. If so, then the first few miles are flat, even possibly slightly uphill, before you start the decent. The first ten miles are at about 6% average gradient, with a maximum of 9%. After that, as you get closer to Skagway, it slows to 2-3% gradients for about five miles, then is flat once you hit Skagway itself. I've drawn the map right up to the cruise ship docks, but I think the tour will end before that.
#9
So Cal
578 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
We did both these excursions in one day back in 2010. Train ride up and back in the morning, then the 15 mile downhill bike ride in the afternoon. Made for a great day in Skagway. A van from the Sockeye Cycle Co meets you at the ships dock, then they drive you to their cycle shop in town to get fitted for a helmet. You then board a van with a trailer transporting the bikes behind you and you journey 15 miles up the highway. You get a short briefing on staying together and a few small hand signals to use, the off you go 15 miles downhill to Skagway. Well, it's almost downhill all the way. Near the end, we encountered a hill which required all but the best cyclists to get off and walk it up until it went downhill again. I should mention that you are going pretty fast 90% of the time and there are cars and buses passing you along the way. You need to stay to the far right of the road. We stopped a couple of times to view different scenery. By far, the best stop was at a waterfall where we filled our water bottles with fresh glacier water. The hardest part was at the end when you're biking into town. There was a very strong headwind and it made for difficult cycling. Overall, I'd recommend this tour and would definitely take it again. Here's a couple of short videos to give you a better idea of what this excursion is like.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPCUkwa5BSE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Nh_w8cVANY
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#10
Issaquah, WA
3,840 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Originally posted by Mertziekakes
Thank you for all the info. After reading their site, I am feeling more confident we can definitely handle this.
Of course their web site is going to make it sound like a wonderful ride in the park. Have you looked for other reviews?

This discussion on TripAdvisor is several years old, but the reply is from Murray (of Murray's Guide fame) who lives in the area and sees this tour running on a regular basis: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...ay_Alaska.html

There are quite a few reviews on TripAdvisor, mostly positive, but I noticed this one in particular, which gives it 4 stars but cautions that it is not for everyone. (I couldn't find a way to link the specific review so I'm posting it.)

“Enjoyable but not for everyone!”
Reviewed August 13, 2012
I enjoyed the bike ride down from White Pass, even though it rained halfway down the mountain and I was soaked by the time we returned to the store. Hey, you sign up for an adventure you may get an adventure! But I do think Sockeye Cycle could have been a bit more candid in describing the ride. It is a fairly steep descent requiring constant braking to avoid exceeding 15-20 mph, it's fairly cold at the top, there is a good chance of rain, the ride will be on a two lane winding road with occasional cars passing, and the guide occasionally signals to the riders to cross over the road to a stop at a scenic overlook. This is all fine if you are an experienced and confident rider (I am), but my wife is not and (wisely) elected to ride the van back down. At the summit the guide cautions that Skagway has no hospital and any serious accident would require a very expensive medivac airlift. I think Sockeye Cycle should state up front that the ride has some risk and should only be attempted by experienced and confident bike riders. (The guide mentioned during the van ride up to the summit that they don't like to scare people away, bad for business you know).


I have done the Bike & Brew tour in Juneau, which is a leisurely ride near Mendenhall Glacier, and there were people on that tour who should not have been on a bicycle - didn't know how to change gears and couldn't make it up the couple of small hills. I'm middle aged and fat and I could ride better than half the people on that tour! If this tour in Skagway also allows just anyone, regardless of their cycling experience, then they really need to be more up front about the true nature of this ride.
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#11
So Cal
578 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by sherryf
Of course their web site is going to make it sound like a wonderful ride in the park. Have you looked for other reviews?

This discussion on TripAdvisor is several years old, but the reply is from Murray (of Murray's Guide fame) who lives in the area and sees this tour running on a regular basis: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...ay_Alaska.html

There are quite a few reviews on TripAdvisor, mostly positive, but I noticed this one in particular, which gives it 4 stars but cautions that it is not for everyone. (I couldn't find a way to link the specific review so I'm posting it.)

“Enjoyable but not for everyone!”
Reviewed August 13, 2012
I enjoyed the bike ride down from White Pass, even though it rained halfway down the mountain and I was soaked by the time we returned to the store. Hey, you sign up for an adventure you may get an adventure! But I do think Sockeye Cycle could have been a bit more candid in describing the ride. It is a fairly steep descent requiring constant braking to avoid exceeding 15-20 mph, it's fairly cold at the top, there is a good chance of rain, the ride will be on a two lane winding road with occasional cars passing, and the guide occasionally signals to the riders to cross over the road to a stop at a scenic overlook. This is all fine if you are an experienced and confident rider (I am), but my wife is not and (wisely) elected to ride the van back down. At the summit the guide cautions that Skagway has no hospital and any serious accident would require a very expensive medivac airlift. I think Sockeye Cycle should state up front that the ride has some risk and should only be attempted by experienced and confident bike riders. (The guide mentioned during the van ride up to the summit that they don't like to scare people away, bad for business you know).


I have done the Bike & Brew tour in Juneau, which is a leisurely ride near Mendenhall Glacier, and there were people on that tour who should not have been on a bicycle - didn't know how to change gears and couldn't make it up the couple of small hills. I'm middle aged and fat and I could ride better than half the people on that tour! If this tour in Skagway also allows just anyone, regardless of their cycling experience, then they really need to be more up front about the true nature of this ride.
I guess it goes without saying that folks who have never ridden a bike before or it has been years since, should not sign up for this excursion. My family of four are recreational bikers (read: once or twice a week during the summers) and had no problem with it. But I definitely see sherryf's point and it should be taken into consideration. It was harder than the company portrays it to be and the guides who do it everyday assume that people know what they're in for. I believe we got up to 30 - 35 mph and the guides are the ones who set the pace! Still, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Mertziekakes - would you please update us as to your experience once you get back from your cruise?

Here are a few of photo's of the excursion:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg CIMG2563.jpg (25.0 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg CIMG2568.jpg (19.7 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg CIMG2567.jpg (19.2 KB, 5 views)
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#12
Issaquah, WA
3,840 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Originally posted by edmusic
I guess it goes without saying that folks who have never ridden a bike before or it has been years since, should not sign up for this excursion. My family of four are recreational bikers (read: once or twice a week during the summers) and had no problem with it. But I definitely see sherryf's point and it should be taken into consideration. It was harder than the company portrays it to be and the guides who do it everyday assume that people know what they're in for. I believe we got up to 30 - 35 mph and the guides are the ones who set the pace! Still, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
That was the point of my post. I'm not saying that nobody should do it. Many have done it and enjoyed it. I just think that people should be fully aware of what this tour entails before choosing to do it, and I think that the tour operator's web site "sugar coats" it. They should be more open about the risks and the skills needed.
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Sherry


Carnival Spirit - Alaska - July 11, 2001
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Golden Princess - Alaska - August 6, 2011 - With the family this time!
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Westerdam - Alaska - July 23, 2016 - First time on Holland America!
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#13
So Cal
578 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by sherryf
That was the point of my post. I'm not saying that nobody should do it. Many have done it and enjoyed it. I just think that people should be fully aware of what this tour entails before choosing to do it, and I think that the tour operator's web site "sugar coats" it. They should be more open about the risks and the skills needed.
Totally agree!!!
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#14
quad cities illinois
5,448 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
I have seen these bikers while on a van tour and I cant believe they actually let young people take this tour. it is dangerous and a hazard to the bikers and as well as the many vehichels in many spots on the road. of course the web site glorifies the tour. please read the reviews on trip advisor and really decide if it is as safe as the site makes it out to be.
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DUSTY



norwegian pearl-glacier bay alaska 09/15/13- sister and friend--CANT WAIT
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 05/11-coworker
carnival spirit-tracy arm alaska 06/10-family cruise
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norwegian pearl-alaska glacier bay 05/09-solo
carnival victory-new england/canada 9/07-solo
carnival spirit-glacier bay 5/05-with a friend
carnival spirit-glacier bay 09/03