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AK Beat: Inaugural bike race 250 miles of mostly uphill bear country bushwhacking

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

‘30,000 feet of elevation gain’ on a bike (dodging Devil’s club and bears): It’s a big weekend for Alaska sports made even bigger with the debut of an inaugural 250-mile multiday bike race through bear-thick backcountry south of Anchorage. The Kenai 250 rides over the Resurrection Pass Trail, Russian Lakes Trail, Lost Lake Trail, Johnson Pass and other fabulous hikes, pedaling up and over, then generally south from the Turnagain Arm community of Hope deep into the Kenai Mountains. The race was organized by two Anchorage residents on some seriously overgrown single track, “often so choked with Devil’s club that large stinging leaves slap mountain bikers in the face, so overgrown with brush and grass that it’s impossible to see the trail unless crawling on hands and knees, muddy, clogged with slimy roots, rocky and lichen-coated above tree line, smeared with bear scat, littered in discarded salmon carcasses and punched with grizzly tracks,” notes Jill Homer on the always enjoyable adventure blog, Half Past Done.

Spitting mad: Next time you get upset, keep your spittle in check. Alaska State Troopers report that Melissa D. Anderson, 41, of Big Lake, was arrested on the Fourth of July on a charge of harrassment following a report of a disturbance on Lucille Creek Drive. Troopers report that "investigation revealed" that Anderson "spit on an acquaintance causing offensive contact by bodily fluids." She was taken to Mat-Su pretrial and held on $500 bail, troopers reported.

Dozen drunk-driving holiday arrests: Anchorage police officers arrested a dozen drunk drivers over the July 4 holiday, an effort law enforcement pursues many holidays. Increased patrols began July 3, with only one DUI issued. But come Independence Day, Anchorage police issued eight DUIs, with three more handed out early the next morning. This weekend, five additional officers will be on the lookout for more drunk drivers. Holiday beers often are accompanied by colorful blasts, and the Anchorage Police Department received 161 fireworks related calls. Officers responded to 44 of them, but no citations were issued. Wonder Park Elementary’s playground caught fire around midnight July 4, however, and firefighters found numerous fireworks wrappings on the playground.  

Taylor highway closed, fatal accident: According to an Alaska Department of Transportation advisory, the Taylor Highway has been shut down from its junction with the Alaska Highway to milepost 15 due to a fatal traffic accident. Troopers are investigating the fatal crash that occurred around milepost 10. The closure is expected to last 10 hours at least. Troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen said that a motorcycle is the only vehicle known at this time to be involved.

Tourists finally plucked off McKinley: Six Alaska tourists, who got more of an adventure than they bargained for, are back in civilization. Talkeetna Air Taxi pilot Paul Roderick picked them up 5 a.m. Friday at the 7,200-foot level of Ruth Glacier on the flanks of Mount McKinley, ending a chilly three-night camp out in the confines of a single-engine DeHavilland Beaver aircraft. "Deteriorating weather during a routine flight-seeing trip on Tuesday evening, July 2, forced" the plane down on the glacier in Denali National Park and Preserve, according to the National Park Service. "Into the night, snowfall and cloud cover continued to build, so the seven of them (including the pilot) slept in the Beaver, which was supplied with basic emergency gear including sleeping bags, food, a stove, and a satellite phone." Attempts to reach the visitors and their pilot with a helicopter on July 3 and 4 failed. So the National Park Service sent rangers on foot to the rescue. They arrived Thursday afternoon with extra warm clothes, food and tents to make everyone more comfortable before Roderick flew to the rescue in the Ruth Amphitheatre.

Rock star to war hero: There's an Alaska connection in a recent New York Times profile of a man who, like Pete Best, the Beatles' drummer before Ringo Starr, came oh-so-close to making it huge in rock and roll. Jason Everman, who believes he was born in Ouzinkie, Alaska, near Kodiak, played with both Nirvana and Soundgarden, two of the most iconic bands of the 1990s' grunge era, but it didn't pan out with either. After leaving music, Everman enlisted in the Army, eventually becoming a member of the elite Special Forces. In Afghanistan and Iraq, Everman was decorated numerous times for his combat service, and although he didn't gain fame for his music, he earned a hushed reputation of greatness among his comrades. Read it.

Shooting leaves man critically injured: A shooting outside of downtown Anchorage bar Bernie's Bungalow Lounge left a man critically injured early Friday, and police are looking for leads. Police described the shooting as "intentional," and said the victim was related to someone who worked at the bar. He was leaving the bar's rear gate when a vehicle pulled up, a man got out and shot the victim four times before returning to the vehicle and driving away. A security guard administered first aid until medics arrived. Police were gathering information Friday morning, and ask anyone with details about the shooting to call (907) 786-8900.

Help Alaskan win ESPN award: Alaskan-born Shirley Reilly is in the running for "Best Female Athlete with a Disability" for ESPN’s award show The ESPYS. Born in Barrow, Reilly underwent extensive surgery as a child but remained athletic throughout her life. Last summer she won the gold medal in the London Paralympics marathon. You can vote for the ESPYS now through July 17.

Egegik boat fire kills one, injures 2 brothers: A boat fire in the southwest Alaska village of Egegik at the Alaska General Seafoods cannery dock killed 56-year-old Harberg Paul Thursday, Alaska State Troopers reported. Early in the morning at 3:30 a.m., fishermen staying on boats moored to the dock noticed flames extending from Pauline II, a 32-foot gillnetting boat, and called authorities. They were able to pull Joe Paul, 50, and Paul Paul, 55, from the burning boat. Troopers say the surviving Pauls -- all three were brothers from Kipnuk -- were taken to the local clinic for treatment of burns but had to be flown out of the village. The boat is considered a total loss. Foul play is not suspected.