Wow. Last week of riding, from Tok, Alaska to Haines Junction, Canada (Canada!) has been unbelievable. Riding with awesome people, minor disasters of flat tires (one of mine) and a broken spoke (not one of mine), crazy swarming hungry mosquitoes, fun dinner/desserts/games. More below…
From right to left: Stevia, me, David, Carolyn. Stevia, David, and Carolyn are the Oregon cyclists that I had been hearing about as I neared Tok. Upon leaving Tok, we all wound up running errands in the same places and rolling out at the same time, so started riding towards Haines Junction together. They’re incredible- David and Carolyn live/work/run a farm in southern Oregon, and Stevia lives and works in Portland and knows David and Carolyn from some time back. They pretty much adopted me into their group for this portion of their ride, and unfortunately we had to go our separate ways in Haines Junction, as they’re headed south to visit some friends and return home and I’m heading on further into the Yukon. David grew up in Anchorage and knew a lot about the areas we cycled through from past rides (and gave me many tips about bears, super useful info).
Once in Canada, there were several portions of the road under construction, which means gravel. The sun was shining down hard each day, and the high temps mixed with the gravel meant dust clouds billowing up and enveloping us whenever an RV or truck roared by too quickly. Scenes like above, with us emerging from clouds of dust, were common.
The day of riding from Destruction Bay to Haines Junction was particularly pretty scenery. This whole portion of the Alaska-Canadian (Alcan) Highway winds it way through two mountain ranges, so there are always hills rising alongside the road. After Destruction Bay, the road sticks to the side of Kluane Lake, which cools the air a bit. There’s a great little visitor’s center at Sheep Mountain, with binoculars and telescopes to catch glimpses of the sheep resting in the mountains. Great views, but bring plenty of supplies for this portion of the route- no grocery stores out here, so can stock up on basics at gas stations, but it’ll cost you. A small jar of peanut butter was $9.25, and the stuff has been my main fuel source for the last week.
A couple days later, true disaster struck when a spoke in David’s rear wheel broke. He had a temporary spoke with him which he tried to fix the wheel with (very few, almost no services between Tok and Haines Junction, and definitely no bike shops until Whitehorse), but unfortunately the temporary spoke didn’t hold. He ended up having to hitch-hike to Whitehorse to get spare spokes and fix the wheel while Stevia, Carolyn, and I kept riding, and a bit of luck with the hitch-hiking let him return to us after only a day and a half of riding, so we all got to roll into Haines Junction together. We pushed hard and put in a lot of miles the last few days leading up to Haines Junction, because thoughts of the bakery had been replaced with thoughts of something better…
I got 1 scoop of mint chocolate chip and 1 of New York cherry cheesecake. Mmmm. Thanks David for treating! Locals all say this week is abnormally hot, every day consistently around 80deg F. Though apparently last week poured rain every day, so despite having to bike in the heat every afternoon, our timing was good.
Now, our paths have split after a celebratory breakfast at the Haines Junction bakery (best feature is unfortunately that the last couple hundred miles are barren of supplies rather than quality of treats, but still a decent spot). So I’m solo once again, heading on to Whitehorse for a few rest days and to figure out the next portion of my route. Stevia, David, Carolyn- I’ll miss you guys so much! Been great to ride with you for the past week, hopefully the rest of your trip goes well and we meet again someday!