The Dalton Highway Finished!
The Dalton Highway; mosquito highway of the world!
Here is my second story, although I will not revere to the number of stories I will tell!
Let’s start that the Dalton Highway, so far, has been the most challenging bicycle trip I ever made.
This road, lots of potholes, gravel, mud, dust, steep, no very steep hills, no shade no shelter anywhere. This is a way to describe it!
But it’s worth the trouble. The views are incredible and the silence is wonderful.
I did see some birds, but couldn’t figure out what type of birds they were.
The IPhone is somewhere in the luggage. It contains a full birds e-book but it is too much hassle to get it out.
Also the binoculars will stay in the bags.
Eyes on the road!
I will have to keep my eyes on the road.
This is something I have to be aware of.
One misjudgment and I will have a broken bicycle.
I am in the middle of “nothing” this is no fun and hard to make the repair.
When I stop I do like a good stand for my bicycle, so the options are limited.
The metal marker poles are often a little bit too far from the road so I won’t be able to use them.
One day I did use them for the night.
It rained all night and when I left, or tried to leave.
Mud was clotted between the fender, brakes and the tire.
I could hardly move the bicycle. When I was on the road itself I wasn’t able to use the pedals. The Shimano click system was covered in mud so I couldn’t cycle at all!
After 5 minutes trying and sticking the mud off the shoes I was finally left!
The bears I didn’t see at all (so far) maybe because my bear bell did warn them in advance?
Also I didn’t find any traces of playing with my bear container either.
I also frequently, had the privilege to meet the makers and maintaining couple Sharon Paul Nault and J.V. Teague of the Milepost.
The milepost is the road book (and internetsite!) of the Alaskan and West Canadian roads.
We met on the Artic Ocean tour where they took several pictures of me when I dipped in that cold ocean.
Later we met on the road several times. She helped me with water, parts of the milepost I could need and we had a good time chatting!
The trip I did to reach Yukon River Camp was the hardest day of all. It was 93 km of steep rolling hills and in total 4500 feet of climbing that day.
I was exhausted.
The next day I did plan a resting day, because the food (at the Yukon River Camp) was good and not too expensive!
In general camping during this time was a matter of preparation.
I did have sent ½ of my food to Coltfoot so I didn’t have to carry all the food at once.
Having enough water in time was also planning!
Streams were generally safe to drink at once.
But when only little ponds were available I had to filter first.
The traffic are mainly trucks of all sizes, about 40 trucks a day. We will have to make sure the trucks are having room enough to pass.
Sometimes you have to be prepared to leave the road for oversized truckloads.
Most of these are lead by pilot pickups, to tell the traffic to make way.
Sometimes the trucks are soo heavily loaded; one or more push trucks followed them. These are there to help the leading truck to overcome the steep hills here.
Next to this there are the equal amount of pick up trucks.
Also there are about 30 motorcyclists a day passing you from all over the world.
Several normal cars come by and a half a dozen Recreational Vehicles (RV’s)
When you pass the Artic Circle, there are more cars, just the visit this Artic Circle.
One thing I couldn’t be prepared for;
I bought repellent with DEET.
I had bought myself a mosquito head net
Nevertheless, they did found me, in thousands; they did bite me where they could.
I have never felt so terrible before.
I couldn’t cook, pee or do anything, every time they tried to sting! Succeeded in too many times too!
They succeeded! Hundreds of bites and it itches like crazy!
If one of you would give this road a try:
· Repellent with as high of DEET concentration as possible!
· Buffalo Shirt this will prevent to cool down too much, next to that, with the hood, it will prevent bites!
· Sealskin socks, they really kept my feet dry while pushing the bicycle up the hill, again.
· Use the widest tires that will fit. Preferably Swalbe: Marathon XR (if available) Marathon Mondial, Marathon Dureme (for tandem). These will have the durability you need for this adventure!
· Use dried food and muesli bars as much as you can carry.
· Take half of your food supply and sent it with other travelers to Coltfoot. This is the half waypoint of the Dalton.
· Most cyclists do use 8 – 11 days of cycling to complete the trip from Prudhoe Bay and Fairbanks.
· Take a water filter with you.
· A camel bag will certainly help prevent you from dehydration!
· Take a water-resistant camera with you.
· Put everything in good waterproof (and dustproof!) bags!
· Use a bear container and know how to haul a bag into a tree, or in between trees.
· Buy a bear spray bottle. Just in case!
· Have some cards made, for exchanging them with other travelers!
· For best preparation (not for bicycles specially though) Use the Milepost Internet page or the book. The book is too heavy to take with you.
· Don’t underestimate this road. Distances will be lower than you usually measure with!
· Know that it might be the toughest ride you’ll ever do!
If you have plans, do let me know?
Yukon River Camp
In the meantime I am staying in Fairbanks now, together with my friends Rick and Tom.
I had to leave one morning due to the mosquitoes. They had planned a resting day after a night of rain.
They would follow the next day towards Yukon River Camp.
Rick had heart problems along the tough ride and had to (soo sad!) break his cycle trip.
I was very surprised to see them already the next morning at my breakfast in Yukon River Camp.
A car driver did take them off the road and was going to Fairbanks with them.
They only had breakfast at Yukon River Camp.
We agreed to be in Fairbank in about two days. Two days of 50 miles Tom thought.
The last day Dalton Highway
Well I now know differently!
The rest of the Dalton was a treat! The road was again with gravel (asphalt now and then) and more than 6600 feet of climbing.
A very heavy loaded bicycle and much longer days than I thought.
At the road sign “the Dalton Highway” I met an Argentinean couple that were on the road already for two years with a BMW motorcycle.
They were on their way to Prudhoe Bay. The BMW didn’t give them any problem at all!
Also they mentioned they had beaten the Netherlands in the world Soccer tournament!
Well that is sad but the Netherlands did a good job so far!
In Livengood, a couple of houses without any services I camped.
This was on a road construction. In a truck I dropped my bear container and food bag.
It wasn’t locked!
I slept well, short, but with hardly any mosquitoes at al to start with!
The Alliott Highway
The last day of cycling (to Fairbanks that is) was very tough again. Many steep hills. I could cycle up now, due to the pavement. But I just need more time to climb.
One moment I thought I wouldn’t make it al the way to Fairbanks.
I was settling with reaching Fox, which is 10 miles from Fairbanks.
It was again a very long day with drizzle rain to start with, some dry periods and later it started to rain a lot.
I met a guy on the road from Calgary, he was heading north. I forgot his name. He had a Rohloff hub too with beltdrive.
This was his third Dutch bicycle! He already had a Koga Miyata, an Ids works and a Sint Christophorus bicycle. The last type I did not even know!
He already cycled the way South from Prudhoe Bay in 2009 and was thinking to do it in the opposite direction.
When he left he warned me about the “killer hills” I was going to have!
He was right.
I could cycle it all, not fast but in parts of sometimes not more than 30 meters.
That day I did see a wolf crossing the road just 30 meters in front of me. It happened so fast I couldn’t make a picture of it!
Also I did see a beaver (alive!) running along the road.
A black bear
Next was the black bear I did see!
I was climbing one of the hills and a guy in a pick up did pass me and on top of the hill turned and came to me.
He told me that a black bear just crossed the road and if I was good with that.
I said I was prepared and showed him my bear spray, just in case.
It was a hill so I climbed slowly now on the left side of the road.
Keeping my eyes on the right side of the road, with low bushes.
At a certain moment the bear and I did see each other and he did run into the bush.
I took the distance and my eyes on the bear, no problem!
12 miles outside Fox after a long descent, I did want to make a stop, this for a good starting position before climbing again.
With this I mean; heart rate down, catching my breath again and in the right gear.
I lost control over the bicycle and fell. Didn’t hurt, only my ego.
Help right away
After getting up and raising the bicycle a pickup truck pulled over and asked if everything was all right.
Well I said no. I am cold wet and lost control over the bicycle.
You want a lift he asked, well yes I would be very pleased!
Before I knew, the bicycle was in the truck and we were driving to Fox.
On the way I asked him where he had to go to.
He was going to Fairbanks. Could you bring me there at a restaurant with WIFI.
So I could make contact with my friends.
He was pleased to help me.
While we drove to Fairbanks we talked about the difference between the USA / Alaska and Europe.
He asked me about the Netherlands and their religion and government.
Also we talked about taxes here and in the Netherlands. A nice and interesting conversation!
He dropped me off at the MacDonald’s and went away. I did thank him frequently.
Until that moment I didn’t know where Rick and Tom were in Fairbanks
I had a diner and some drinks in the MacDonald’s and died up.
In the meantime I charged the battery of my phone and laptop.
Also I did made contact with Tom.
The mailbox was looked at and drained.
For my wife Rieneke I did sent a long mail telling everything was ok!
After being dry and decided where to go to I was off.
I didn’t have the right directions but with the help of (navigation on) my GPS I did find the hotel.
It was a very nice hotel with flowers in the lobby and in front of the hotel. An exception in hotels!
Tomorrow we start to cycle and WIFI won’t be available before Whitehorse (Yukon Canada).
So don’t count on any news before that!