After the epic trip that was the Dalton Hwy it was time to rest, eat and do some maintenance on the bike. Its had a hard life lately spending little time on smooth roads. While cycling 400 meters from my hosts house the rear tyre exploded. Usually stuff like that happens in the middle of a mosquito infested rain storm. It was a Schwalbe Marathon Dureme that spent a quality amount of time on dirt roads which is something they are not quite up to I think, maybe better for sealed roads.
While in Fairbanks my gracious hosts the Edwards family took myself and Lucile to see the midnight sun at Eagle Mountain, it rained and was getting rain showers. Didn’t quite work out as planned, no midnight sun or midday sun, but loved the drive and the scenery.
When it came time to leave Fairbanks it didn’t happen until late in the afternoon. First lunch with another cyclist we met on our first day on the Dalton, then REI outdoor store so Lucile could return some stuff and food shopping. The result was leaving at 4pm. It was only a short haul down to the town of North Pole. I wanted to meet Santa and have him send a personalised letter to my niece. Seemed like a good thing to do from her favourite Uncle. Santas House at North Pole is normally the kind of place that I avoid but I kinda enjoyed it.
It was late so we headed off down the track until we found a place to stay or got tired. The problem with cycling long distances for me is I need to constantly eat. If I don’t I run out of energy and stop. I didn’t eat and by about 80km I was done, no energy to turn the pedals. Lesson learned, again. So we stopped at a small roadside campsite which are everywhere in Alaska.
Next morning we were on the road in the pouring rain. Within about 10km I felt weak, my energy didn’t return overnight like it normally does. I kept eating all day but could only get about 10km per banana, granola bar or apple. I struggled all day. The rain and cold were also sucking the energy out of me just keeping myself warm, it was pouring with cold rain. By late afternoon I finally caught Lucile at a roadside restaurant and had a warm soup, she was keen to move on but I couldn’t move. I had to wait for the warm soup to get warmth and energy into my body. It took a while but I got moving again. Eventually I made it to a motel, the second that I’ve stayed at in 5 months of travels. It was a hard day. I ate so much food overnight, even waking in the middle of the night to have a couple of bananas and energy bars.
By morning I was better and set off alone, Lucile had stayed somewhere else, I couldn’t find her during the evening. I thought I’d start cycling today and see how it went. I had 180km to go until the next supply point so went to the market and bought a couple of days food and set off. I cycled alone and although my legs were weak I still had energy so I kept going. The further I went the stronger I felt. I saw what I thought was a Wolf ahead of me, as I got closer it turned out to be a Rottweiler, not sure whats worse while cycling. Judging by the tail between the legs and the fact that I was a long way from town I thought it was lost. It tried to follow me but that would not be a good idea so I sent it on its way, hopefully it reunites with its owner. By the time I made it to a roadwork crew I asked if any other cyclists had been through, they said, ‘no’. I was surprised, I knew that there were at least 4 other cyclists ahead of me, at least I thought they were. Did they all start late and was I ahead of them. I pushed on eating every hour and felt very strong and thought I might even make it to Tok, which would have been 180km in a day, I didn’t want to go that far and found a roadside campground, they wanted $18 with no facilities, sorry not for me so I kept going. By this stage there were no good camps and I ended up camped near the road in a swamp. Can I mention that I hate Alaskan mosquitoes! But all was well and I was just happy to bounce back from the horror day before. A couple of months ago I received an email from some cyclists I hosted last year, they mentioned that there will be bad days and the best thing to do is just keep cycling. Thanks Daniel and Alice, it worked for me on that day.
It was a short 20km ride into Tok, which is nothing more than a resupply place for me. Shower, laundry and food. Goodbye Alaska, you have given me so many memories that will last a lifetime and to the many, many people I have met and have helped me out in any way, thank you so very much.
Fairbanks to bushcamp = 82km
Bushcamp to motel near Big Delta = 85km
Big Delta to swampcamp = 161km
swampcamp to Tok = 24km