Living the Dream
Wow! I almost don’t know what to write at this point. It feels like the 10 days I spent cycling from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks were like some sort of wonderfully wicked dream where I spent my days cycling through dreamy landscapes, battling mosquitos and meeting random fellow travelers.
In all honesty though, cycling the Dalton was everything I had hoped for and more. It was probably the most demanding cycling I have ever done for such an extended period of time but also by far the most rewarding.
In exchange for the cramped muscles, sunburns, thousands of mosquito bites and what felt like endless 10-12% grade hills (most of which I pushed my bike up) I endured, I was rewarded handsomely.
I was able to see the far north landscape of this great country in a way that few will ever see it. I was able to immerse myself in daily if not hourly changes in ecosystems. I was able to have an entire herd of Caribou come by my tent. I was able to meet others on similar journeys of their own and share in the indescribable joy of seeing this world on a bicycle.
This leg of the tour was described to me by a passing cyclist also on the Dalton as the “PhD” of touring. While it was a far cry from all out misery, it definetely tested me in ways I have not been tested on a bike ever before. The riding itself was not bad on a day to day basis, if you were only doing that as a day ride. However the added effect of riding 55+ miles a day over dirt roads and constantly having to push your bike up massive hills really adds up. Add in non-stop daylight to wreck your sleep pattern and biking int he rain and you get a better idea of what it’s like. On top of that, add in the mental fatigue of having to find camp every night, pumping water from roadside puddles at times, cooking meals on a backpacking stove and having to worry about bears since I lost my bear spray on day 2!
Regardless, if anyone ever asked me if I recommend this trip, I would immediately say YES! I would ever go as far as lending them all my touring gear so that they could do it. I swear!
Although I have not seen a moose or bear yet, I have seen a lot of amazing wildlife thus far. The list included; countless (300+) Caribou, a Musk Ox mother and calf, Arctic Fox, Red Fox, Arctic Ground Squirrel, numerous shore birds, tons of other unidentified birds (can you tell I’m not a birder?) and a Dall sheep mom and lamb.
For most people, this tour is an epic tour in itself, nothing else needed. For me, it is merely the beginning of a summer-long journey into new and exciting landscapes. I hope to continue this wonderful journey in the best way possible and continue meeting wonderful people along the way.
It has been an amazing journey thus far and at the end of 10 grueling days of cycling I was rewarded by a very warm and welcoming family that housed and fed me for a couple of days. One again proving that there is no end to the good in this world.
As always, there were lessons learned:
1. Bike touring in indescribably rewarding. It truly is.
2. You should NEVER have to carry more than 5 days worth of food with you on a bike tour. Big mistake!
3. If you treat your body right, it will do wonderful things for you.
4. A snickers bar is the absolute perfect “pick me up” on a grueling day.
5. Sometimes (only three times thus far) blasting some hip hop on your Ipod is the only way to keep sane while pushing your bike up mountains or cycling in the rain all day.
For those interested:
Day 1: Prudhoe Bay-? 37 miles
Day 2: ?-Happy Valley Camp 57 miles
Day 3: Happy Valley Camp-Pump Station 4 57 miles
Day 4: P.S. 4-Middle Fork of Koyakuk River 68 miles
Day 5: M.F. of Koyakuk-Coldfoot 32 miles (rest day)
Day 6: Coldfoot-Arctic Circle 63 miles
Day 7: Arctic Circle-Hot Spot Cafe/Yukon River 57 miles
Day 8: Hot Spot Cafe/Yukon River-Livengood 69 miles
Day 9: Livengood-Lower Chatanika River 63 miles
Day 10: L. Chatanika River-Fairbanks 28 miles
Day 11: REST!!!!!!!
Total Distance from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks- 531 miles!!!!!!
As per the usual, I will go ahead and shut my pie-hole and let my pictures speak for me. Adios!