I finally started moving south from Fairbanks five days ago. A momentous occasion following my two month residency there. The Dalton Highway had always been a trip apart from the main tour down to Tierra del Fuego, one of many little tours within a tour that I am looking forward to. So, moving onto the Richardson highway and out of Fairbanks towards Canada felt like the serious business of the tour was really beginning.
Since meeting fellow Hemistourer, Justin, on the Dalton Highway we figured that it would make sense to spin over the relatively characterless miles out of Fairbanks together. Luckily we get on and thus the arrangement it proving beneficial. We reached Tok just after midday today and that is where I am writing now. On the Alaska highway at the junction with the Tok Cutoff (leading south-west down towards Anchorage) we have only one more junction before reaching the Canadian border. Canada is but 90 miles away and has become my latest fixation. I am ready for a new country; new currency, accent and license plates. In two days we’ll be there.
Since Prudhoe Bay I have cycled 705 miles, 217 miles of these have been in the last five days. These days have tested us but in a completely different way to the Dalton Highway. We have been ploughing up straight largely featureless roads into an unforgiving headwind and under a punishing sun. The last three days have been in the 90’s and cloudless, combine this with a relentless headwind and you have a great recipe for dehydration. Getting water has become the centre of our purpose. Cycling is a luxury that we gain from satisfying our basic human needs. Thus a couple of days ago we battled only 30 miles into the wind and then spent 4 hours pumping silty water our of the Gertstle river. Our only salvation for such hardship is the magnificent views we’ve been getting of the Alaska Range and the knowledge that every mile is one mile closer to the ultimate goal.
Everyday seems to throw up different experiences from which we are learning all the time. Similarly every day throws up its own suitable catch phrases that aptly sum up that days learning: ‘Don’t judge a day by its mileage’ and ‘Sunfry’ are but two of the phrases that have gone through my head.
Now this intrepid duo must forge onwards towards Canada (in two days) and then Whitehorse (further five days). I really like Alaska but despite all the help and support I have received, find it hard to imagine myself settling here. Having never been to Canada I am expecting more of the same but have been informed it is a place I will likely want to stay.