andres' life

Living the Dream

Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks: An epic beginning

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!

Flying over something as truly inspiring as Denali reminds you of your place in the world.

A sign of things to come... or not.

The great Arctic Ocean and me!

I hope to one day dip my hands on the water once I pedal my way to Tierra del Fuego

Battle Kitty gets her feet wet in the Arctic Ocean

You have to start somewhere, right?

My view for the first 4 days...

Bike Touring has no rules, NONE!

Cooking and enjoying the view.

I saw hundreds of Caribou, but I liked this one.

The occasional pavement was almost as heavenly as the sky!

My beautiful bike.

How often do you get to camp under the very pipeline that makes your car go vroom?

This is what I wear to sleep. If you look at the background, keep in mind it's about 9:30 PM!

You know the hills are bad when they start naming them! 12% and unpaved=Andy pushing bike!

A random mailbox in the middle of nowhere filled with pure goodness!

It never stopped being beautiful!

Me "trying" to cycle up Antigun Pass, the highest highway pass in Alaska!

Upon reaching the top of Antigun Pass, I met these Dall Sheep!

A lovely scene to be headed down into. Goodbye tundra, hello forest!

Farthest north Spruce on the Dalton. Someone tried to cut it down last year...

The view never gets old. South of Antigun Pass headed to Coldfoot.

Ain't that the truth...

The dotted line is the Arctic Circle. I was WAY above it!

I was in Coldfoot for Summer Solstice 2011

Celebrating Summer Solstice true Alaskan style, by burning stuff!

How often can you get this photo?

This woman, Babs, was cycling from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay AND back! Inspiring.

Yup. I did it. Cycling makes you do funny things, like eat dangerously large servings of meat.

This is the face I sometimes make after a hard day of cycling.

A wonderful roadside shop in Joy, AK. Wonderful people, and free coffee!

The two best things you could ever give a cyclist at the end of a tough day.


14 comments on “Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks: An epic beginning

  1. Adrian
    June 29, 2011

    Great first leg on your journey, be safe and keep on cranking. love dad

    • Andres
      June 29, 2011

      Thanks dad! I blame you for leading me down this path. I love you.

  2. Mom
    June 29, 2011

    WOW, you are experiencing what most only dream of. Love you

  3. ayngelina
    June 29, 2011

    Wait that looks like a hamburger? Are you eating meat again? Because I’m on a meat break, which would be really funny if we had switched.

    • Andres
      June 29, 2011

      It is true. I find that on the road, it is EXTREMELY rude to refuse someone’s charity when they offer you meat. That and at that moment in time, it was exactly what I needed!

  4. sister
    June 29, 2011

    LOL you ate meat brother!!! jk!!! Love ya and the pics are amazing! Be careful brother 🙂

  5. Sarah Kay
    June 29, 2011

    Is Good?

    I really like your baby Doll! It looks a lot bigger than the one i told you about but, O my, aren’t they the mostest cute living things ever?

    Good work and tell Battle Kitty we are proud!

  6. Adrienne
    June 29, 2011

    Andy, you’re a hero! I’m excited to see what happens in the rest of your journey.

  7. Mike
    June 30, 2011

    Wow Andy that looks incredible. I’m glad my extra donation was for bear sightings and not caribou, I’d be broke! Not that big walls are on your mind, but you will be happy to hear your ledge is all fixed and ready for more abuse. The good people up at yates sewed a nice patch on, looks good. Buy yourself a double bacon cheese burger and a beer and I will pay you back. Looking forward to the next update, ride hard and safe.

    • Andres
      July 1, 2011

      Zodiac the first week of September?

  8. Cousin Lisa
    June 30, 2011

    I’m so proud to be related to you!!!! I love your photos and narrative so much.

  9. Clay Fiske
    July 5, 2011

    Wow, my friend. You are livin’ the life as usual. Beautiful pics and enjoyable text. I will try to keep up. When you make it back to ELP, we have a new family member for you to meet. His name is William Hudson Fiske but we are calling him Liam.
    Safe travels my friend,

    • Andres
      July 6, 2011

      Congratulations Clay!
      You are embarking on an adventures far more rewarding and amazing then ever any of us could ever dream up. Liam is a lucky child.

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