ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Impressive. That's a word you could use to describe anyone who biked their way across 1019 miles of Alaska's roadways. However, it feels like a word that's a little bit light as a descriptor when you consider that, in this case, the "anyone" is a "someone" named Alana Rose Parent, and when she made this trip she was just 14-years-old.
"You can't match the beauty," says Parent, who acknowledges that many people thought her crazy for taking on such a big challenge at such a young age.
I sat down with the now 15-year-old sophomore at Stellar Secondary High School to discuss her trip and she explained just how difficult it was. Before the trip even began she first had to write a proposal for a scholarship in order to raise funds for the adventure. She learned about the “Lael rides Alaska women’s scholarship” through her association with the program “Girls riding into tomorrow” or GRIT. Parent’s proposal didn’t win the full scholarship but she did impress enough to get help with a new bike and most of the gear she would need for the ride. “I did some fundraising on my own and that spring, May 27th, I was on a train and on the way to Cantwell to start this huge trip and I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.” Said Parent.
For the first three days on the road, Alana Rose was accompanied by women she met through the GRIT program. Once she got to Fairbanks her father met the adventurous teenager and he, along with the family dog, would act as a support car for her the rest of the way but despite the company, it was an isolating experience to be the only one on a bike. “I really don’t like being alone,” said Parent. That isolation only grew when, as can happen from time to time, father and daughter started to butt heads. Alana Rose said “me being a cranky teenage girl, I got mad at him and we didn’t talk for a few days and it was just me, there was no technology I couldn’t be on my phone I couldn’t be on social media it was just me, at that moment, by myself.”
Eventually, Parent finished the grueling ride and, at least for a little while, though she was done with the long-distance bikepacking game. That feeling would be short lived. After a period of decompression, Parent started planning her next trip. A Pacific Coast trek from Seattle to San Diego along highway 101. It’s only made her want to push those pedals and this challenging endeavor even further. Now an experienced rider at the ripe old age of 15 Alana Rose has plans to continue what she’s started, telling me of a potential Arizona trip, and how she hopes to potentially cross the pond to bikepack around Scotland.
As she furthers her affiliation with the sport Alana Rose has seen her appreciation for the opportunities she’s earned grow, she has also paired that with a rain or shine attitude that severs her well considering the challenges of distance biking. “Going between 9 and 13 miles on a bike you see so much more at such a slower pace, you see so much more than going 60 mph in a car, that’s something you just can’t beat and yeah the weather it pours rain for weeks and weeks on end, you don’t feel that in a car but the experience of being out there, experiencing all that weather you can’t get away from it, you can’t get away from it other than quitting, you have to sit through it and I think that’s the beauty.” Said Parent.
In just two long rides it seems that this extreme sport has captured the imagination of young Ms. Parent. A teenager who seems intent on truly paying attention as she takes in large chunks of the world, one revolution of the wheel at a time.
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