Living the Dream
This post finds me in Skagway, AK after a week of truly living the bike tourer’s life. These past few days have been a true testament to everything that bike touring is and should always be, so let me re-cap as best I can, the magic of the past week.
Upon solidifying our plans to ride as a group of 8 as far as Haines Junction before splitting, we all left Tok, AK headed for the great Canadian border.
I have never really toured with anyone before, instead only occasionally meeting someone passing me in the other direction. Needless to say, it was quite a change to go from 2 weeks of solo riding to riding with Kanetomo and Lang, to then being part of an eight person touring pelaton. I expected a little frustration with having to deal with so many other people on “my” tour, but I knew deep down inside that a chance to ride with this many people would maybe never happen again. Looking back, the past few days of big group touring have left me with many great memories that I would not trade for anything. Not to mention battling headwinds day after day is greatly aided by a 6-8 person draft line!
The past days have allowed me the social outlet I so desperately crave when I’m on a solo tour and this particular group has been fantastic to hang with. This was the perfect blend of young (21 yr. olds) and old men (29 yrs. old) hanging together all day cranking hard, laughing over crude jokes and living the dream in every moment.The riding over the past 7 days has been constant and challenging but always good. In total I have had 4 days in a row of battling headwinds but regardless, I would not change a single thing about it.
As a crew of 8 we cycled all the way to Haines Junction. These days were filled with late morning starts, different cultural and language exchanges, jokes and the never-ending search for the 8 cycling Scandanavian women who were somewhere ahead of us. Reaching Haines Junction was bittersweet since it was where Greg and I were to break from the group. Upon breaking camp in the morning, Greg and I said our goodbyes to the group as we were headed south on the Haines Road to Haines whereas the others were cycling to Whitehorse.
The decision to make a detour to Haines was a great example of why touring solo can be a great thing. Greg had decided he was going that way and invited me. Seeing as how I had no “concrete” plans, it only made sense. Cycling the Haines Road was probably the best 2 days of cycling ever. Although we were battling headwinds for both those days while weaving in and out of the coastal range and countless valleys, we were also rewarded with mind-numbinlgy beautiful landscapes. This highway blows the Big Sur bike tour out of the water for sheer beauty and cycling perfection. Not to mention, it ends with a drop from 3,500 ft. to sea level over the course of the last 42 miles! The riding over the past 2 days has meant BIG miles and tough riding, but the experience was totally worth it. I guess as much as I loved Canada for a few days, I wasn’t quite ready to leave good ol’ Alaska! Upon arriving in Haines, we grabbed some delicious Mexican food then hopped on a ferry to Skagway where I FINALLY get some rest!
I now sit here, in a town I hope to one day return to, enjoying some R&R and getting ready to purchase a train ticket north to Whitehorse where I intent to start cycling from in 2 days time. Every adventure should have some detours in it, and the Haines Road, a boat ferry and a train ride are just what I need.
More to come later. For now, I shall explore the beautiful sleepy town of Skagway, AK.
For those interested:
Tok-Lakeview C.G. 58 miles
Lakeview C.G.-Beaver Creek 55 miles
Beaver Creek-Lake Creek C.G. 40 miles (+12 miles of shuttles!)
Lake Creek C.G.-Destruction Bay 68 miles
Destruction Bay-Haines Junction 67 miles
Haines Juntion-Haines Rd. (mile 69) 72 miles
Haines Rd. (mile 69)-Skagway 83 miles
Tok to Skagway miles traveled 443 miles
And now, some pictures for your viewing pleasure…. enjoi.