Day117

Delta Junction[MAP]

Santa, Stef and I, North Pole (Day 117)

Santa, Stef and I, North Pole (Day 117)

Today was the worst. My face, hands and feet stung with cold until about 2pm. I guess the fact that they sting is actually better than not being able to feel them at all. All my drinking water froze up very early on, even though I’d filled it with tepid water from the hostel. My new so-called “windproof” Gore-Tex socks were useless at keeping my feet warm. And the gloves are useless as well. I eventually put my old holey woollen gloves under my new so-called “windproof” gloves and then put my padded cycling gloves over that. So here I am wearing three pairs of gloves; kinda restricts me from picking my nose properly. I’ll know never again to buy Alaskan winter gear from a salesgirl that spends every winter down in Southern California.

I stopped at the town of North Pole and posted a bunch of postcards at Santa’s house. The rest of the day was not quite as exciting. Long, straight, flat road, pretty golden trees but pretty boring and miserably cold. I was following the list that I’d copied from the “Milepost” but so far, every water stop, grocery store and campground that I had marked down has been shut. Shut since summer ended which was the other weekend. No one told me this would happen. I had too much time to think today and I spent the time deciding I would give up riding and start hitchhiking south if I run out of water or food.

While I was fixing a flat tyre I was a bit heavy handed and I snapped the valve stem. I’ve got no more spare tubes so if I lose another one I’m screwed. Anyway, it mightn’t be such a bad thing to run out of spares. It gives me another valid reason to abandon this madness.

It was a hundred miles from Fairbanks to the first place to camp at Delta Junction. The Australian-born lady at the RV park let me camp for free. It’s bloody cold.

Day118

Tok[MAP]

Today was the worst. Colder than buggery again. All my water this morning was frozen solid, even the bottles I’d kept in the tent. At one point when I’d stopped to eat, I was checking my spokes and discovered that one rear spoke was extremely loose. I tightened it and made sure the wheel was true again. Ten minutes later I stopped to check it, only to find it had loosened again. I retightened it, and this time, wrapped some electrical tape around the nipple, hoping it would maybe hold it a little. I don’t know, I didn’t have any other ideas. I rode for another ten minutes and checked the spoke again. It was still tight, but to my surprise another spoke had significantly loosened. I tightened it, added the electrical tape again and set off. Ten minutes later, both of the spokes with electrical tape were fine, but to my horror, yet another spoke had come really loose.

I kept going like this until nearly every spoke nipple on the rear wheel had black electrical tape on it. I decided to stop checking, ignorance is bliss, right? I tried humming loudly as I rode so I couldn’t hear the rim rubbing on the brake pads. I had too much time to think again today and I spent the time deciding I would give up riding and start hitchhiking south if my back wheel falls apart.

It was another day of long, straight, flat roads, pretty golden trees and miserable cold. Later in the afternoon I got to see some mountains off in the distance, which I think are from the Wrangell Saint Elias National Park. I almost ran out of water because my planned water stop at Dot Lake, mile 60, was no longer in business. Did I mention it’s bloody cold?

Icicles at lunchtime, Alaskan Highway (Day 118)

Icicles at lunchtime, Alaskan Highway (Day 118)

Day119

Beaver Creek[MAP]

Leaving Alaska, Alaskan Highway (Day 119)

Leaving Alaska, Alaskan Highway (Day 119)

Today was the worst. Colder than buggery again. I broke my first spoke today but luckily not on the drive side. After replacing it, I found that I didn’t really need to tighten any more spokes for the rest of the day. Some more hills today, but nothing so bad, at least I could warm up on the uphills. Whizzing down a hill is no longer a joyful experience, it just means more of the stinging cold.

Late in the afternoon I bought a Gatorade on the Alaskan side of the Canadian border. It gave me such a head-spin that I thought I would pass out at one point. At immigration I got questioned for about ten minutes. They were concerned that the bank statement I showed them for proof of funds was from June. I tried to explain that I was sleeping in a tent every night, eating tinned beans and instant rice, I don’t spend that much money.

Didn’t get a very good impression of Canadians after the rudeness of several staff members at the hotel I was camping outside of. Someone once told me that border towns all over the world, doesn’t matter where you are, are always full of nasty, miserable people. Maybe they were right.

When I had my tent set up, Mike, a retired guy from Detroit came over to talk. He was heading up to Anchorage with his wife who was giving a lecture there. Real nice bloke and he was a bit worried about how cold it was going to be during the night. Moments later he came back with two of their heaviest blankets and insisted I use them for the night. What a champ. It’s gonna be lovely not waking up cold.

Day120

Burwash Landing[MAP]

Along the Alaskan Highway (Day 120)

Along the Alaskan Highway (Day 120)

Along the Alaskan Highway (Day 120)

Along the Alaskan Highway (Day 120)

Today was the worst. Colder than buggery again. I broke another spoke. Like yesterday, I broke the spoke as I was riding past a crash barrier at the side of a road curve. I didn’t realise this until later. Whenever I stop to eat, there’s never, never a place to lean my bike. But if I need to repair a broken spoke? There’ll be a crash barrier right there. And there’s barely any of these crash barriers out here, they’re about as common as an open food store, of which I saw none today. Hopefully I don’t see any more crash barriers in the next few days as I don’t have any more spokes, except an emergency Kevlar spoke I had the foresight of buying. I had too much time to think today and I spent the time deciding I would give up riding and start hitchhiking south if I break another spoke.

Though it’s cold, and the sun isn’t out much, I’m still getting quite sunburnt on the only exposed part of my body, my face. It almost rained on me, just sprinkled a little but there were a lot of threatening clouds out which contrasted with the beautiful golden Autumn colours.

I’m exhausting myself. I’m sore. I’m sick of peanut butter, I’m sick of Snickers and chocolate. I haven’t had fresh fruit since Fairbanks and I’m missing it badly. I found a free camping spot at the back of the Burwash Landing restaurant where there’s a tour group of Germans also camped. I indulged in the $4 shower, the only pleasure I’ve had in the last few days and spoiled myself with a huge steak dinner.

Storm clouds and blue skies, Alaskan Highway (Day 120)

Storm clouds and blue skies, Alaskan Highway (Day 120)

Autumn colours, Alaskan Highway, Yukon (Day 120)

Autumn colours, Alaskan Highway, Yukon (Day 120)

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One Comment

  • Hi Leon, I’m the one who opened the thread again. Planning Alaska-Argentina “soon”. See you live in the Philipipnes. Mee too, partly, have a beach lot outside Legazpi.
    Your spike problem worries me. I’d never had that problem, but I’m riding a mountain bike. You recommend bringing spare spikes? I’m riding a normal 26″, and normally out there I have a set of fast tires so I can change depending on terrain – I often go off road. Now I’m changing bike, to a MB 29″
    Thanks

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