PALMER — Dozens of attendees from the Valley and beyond gathered at Arkose Brewery to listen to three speakers share their personal stories of outdoor adventure during the newly revamped Trails and Ales speaker series by Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers Monday, Jan. 13.

A local business and local hikers and bicyclers banded together to provide a fun atmosphere and enjoy the “off-season” together under the same roof.

“It’s awesome,” speaker Mark Keller said. “Anything local businesses help out with getting the community together is a plus.”

Keller and his wife Jodie Brewer were the last speakers of the evening. Keller stood up and did most of the talking while Brewer sat down doting on their one-month-old daughter Ellie and chimed in with the occasional joke or side note.

Keller related the tale of their 2019 bicycling adventure on Mallorca, Spain. It’s one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and known for beach resorts, sheltered coves, limestone mountains.

Keller and Brewer went during the off-season (Jan. through March) which offered a whole different experience than the touristy season. Especially during the off-season, the island is known as one of the most popular bicycling destinations in the world, according to Keller.

“There’s more cyclists than cars on the road,” Keller said.

Keller and Brewer embarked on a Trek Travel group cycling tour across the island. He showed several slides and explained some of the perks of traveling with a group, namely the safety of being surrounded by others. He also noted going during the off-season provided cheaper prices for car and boarding rentals.

Keller said he and Brewer live in Eagle River but they’ve been interested in getting involved with the Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers group for some time now. He said the Valley is good as promoting these community, hometown feeling” events that aren’t as frequent as those seen in Anchorage.

He said they plan to get involved and start volunteering this summer, helping to groom trails and with other needed tasks. Despite not being Valley residents, Keller said they have an affinity for the outdoor adventures the Valley has to offer, particularly it’s most popular playground Hatcher Pass.

“We love Hatcher Pass. It’s one of our favorite spots,” Keller said.

Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers Executive Director Alida van Almelo said she was pleasantly surprised by the turn out for this time of year. She said a former board member started the series and they recently revamped it, giving it the current title.

She said it’s a great way to live vicariously through other adventurers’ experiences and enjoy the current time of year where bicyclers use fat tire bikers and look forward to busting out their mountain bicycles again.

“It’s to instill inspiration in the off-season,” van Almelo said.

Arkose Brewery owners Stephen and June Gerteisen showed van Almelo a certificate showing they’ve supported the group since 2013.

Arkose has been around for over 9 years and since its inception, supporting the community through events like these has been one of the top priorities, according to Stephen.

“Why do we support the community? Because the community has supported us since the beginning,” Stephen said.

Almelo thanked all the speakers for sharing their stories. She said they hope to host more speakers in the future and for that to happen they need more interested speakers.

For more information about Valley Bikers and Hikers, call 907-746-6010

For more information about Arkose Brewery, call 907-746-2337.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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