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Archive for June, 2011

Day 14

Finally! BEARS!! Well, one bear and he was quite far away. I was starting to think that I was some sort of supernatural bear repeller! I was whizzing (yes, whizzing!) down a hill when I saw the small brown or black bear below the embankment. I had just enough time to honk my horn at him as I sped past. He looked somewhat bemused. That or possibly indigestion. Either way he knew he’d been honked!, Oh yes, when I honk a bear, it knows it’s been honked! (They call him, The Bear Honker) Sadly, there was no time for a photo of a honked bear. Next time…

I’m now in Watson Lake bracing myself for the Cassiar Highway. There aren’t that many places to get food along it, so I’ve got to take enough with me to last a few days. I think several rounds of jam sandwiches and a fruit cake ought to do the trick. Possibly some Kendal Mint Cake in case of emergencies.

Generally, it’s all going pretty well. Too many hills, but hey, that’s Alaska/Yukon for you. Yesterday I did about 120km/75 miles with a good tailkwind and certainly felt it in my legs, but by this morning the aching has pretty much gone. That’s been the story of the trip so far; a bit achey by the end of the day, rest at night, then feel fine the following day. That’s all down to the special training I undertook before this trip. Cycling the ten miles through London to work and back is tough conditioning, especially with regular, beer training, and don’t let any of these fay, ultra athletes tell you otherwise!

I met a Spanish guy yesterday called Juan who had cycled from Ushuaia and so was near the end of his trip. It was interesting to compare our respective appearances. His beard was considerably bushier than mine, but well kept. He generally seemed to be in pretty good shape, apart from blisters on the backs of his hand. I don’t know how he got them, but it seemed a little rude to ask. His bike seemed to be pretty sound, but as you will read later there was a reason for that.

He’d started about 16 months ago and was on his third bike! Not that he’d broken them all. His first one was lost in a tsunami caused by the Chilean earthquake last year. He’d been camping on the beach and everything was lost. Poor bloke. The locals had given him a bike which apparently made it to San Diego where he bought a new one. He was very chipper and still¬†loving his adventure. In fact, all the cyclists I’ve met have been upbeat and happy. I’m not sure if that’s a defining characteristic of adventure cyclists or if they’re all a bit simple! I’ll let you comment on that!

There isn’t any wifi in Watson Lake. They say there is, but apparently the wifi¬†internet pipe has got a kink in it, or a varmint has nibbled it a bit, or some other half-arsed excuse. Either way, I’m in the local library on a steam driven PC and hence no photos this time. Next time there will be a photo of a moose crossing the street, a porcupine climbing a bank and maybe some amusing road signs. Contain yourselves, people.

Love

Pete

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Day 13

Let me tell you about the hierarchy of traffic on the Alaska Highway.

At the top come cyclists. You weren’t expecting that were you? And you’d be right, that would be nonsense.

No, at the top come the enormous ‘rigs’, double-length, articulated monsters that ferry everything up and down the highway. They keep the place supplied with just about everything, from building materials to, and I swear I saw this today, missiles! Just on the back of a rig. All army green and official looking. Could’ve been stolen, but it was a fairly leisurely getaway if it was. The drivers of these things are professionals. Been doing it for a while and know how to use the road. We like these guys, they always give a cyclist room when they can and don’t pull in again for what seems like half a mile. Often they’ll honk a cheery honk and all is right with the world.

Next down the pecking order are the RV’s. Only slightly less enormous, they ferry nothing of use up the highway. That’s because the have crammed everything they could ever think they possibly might need for their two to three week vacation into every small crevice they can find in these over-muscled, beefcake caravans. And just in case they may have forgotten something and need to go for a quick trip to Sainsburys they tow the fecking car along behind. And not some small, economical runabout. No, a massive great 4 wheel drive truck in which they could have quite comfortably done the whole trip. These Hulk-avans are then driven by people, who, frankly, should be old enough to know better. They obviously swanned onto some RV lot and the salesman/shark thought kerching another retired sucker I can con into parting with their hard-earned for a completely inappropriate and possibly murderous civilian tank. Needless to say most of these ‘people’ are not the cyclists friend. Barely a twitch of the wheel to give a fella some room and if they do then they will have forgotten the extra vehicle (Emergency Life Car?) being dragged along for the ride and cut in too soon. Gits! (Oh, and at campsites the only request you’ll hear from these selfish, self-absorbed, semi self-reliant, driving couch potatoes is ‘Can we dump here?’, ie. Can we empty our sh*t tank into your cesspit). Although I did get a nice bit of steak and a glass of wine from Brock and Marie-Cloud and they had a small, towed RV. But they were young and had rented the thing, so I’m inclined to let them off with a warning. Let’s just pray they don’t become the people I’ve warned you about.

Cars come way down the order, but they get subdivided into two categories. Truck/UTE’s and the rest. Generally they’re both rubbish and shoot by without a glance. But with the trucks you can get a bit more room from them whereas the smaller cars are often driven by the more nervous cousins of the RV drivers (if that’s possible) and I imagine them either gripping the steering wheel in a vice like grip, barely glancing left or right or the complete opposite and generally in charge of the vehicle but more interested in the wildlife whizzing past the window. Either way they don’t really notice a small bedraggled cyclist hauling himself up a 7% hill. There is one exception to the ‘no deviation’ rule. If they spot a chance to overtake a rig or RV they jump at it like a sloth on Valium. I think there must be some sort of written permission they need before they overtake here.

Well that’s about it for that rant/blog. I’m just having a spot of chicken stew in The Continental Divide Lodge and RV park. Sounds grander than it is, but the cheap room is clean and this here chicken stew is fine! The restaurant isn’t actually open but the owner seemed to take pity on me and said I could eat as much as I like of his own chicken stew for $10. He may regret that offer! I’m on my third bowl already and could probably manage a fourth. It’s the tastiest and healthiest food I’ve had this whole trip. Apart from Ron and Barb’s delicious food.

Pip pip

Love

Pete

A bowl of chicken soup, yesterday…

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Day 12 -afternoon

Not much continued to happen… Pedals turned, sweat poured and the wind continued to be right in my face! Damn that headwind! Still, not going to turn all ‘Scottish’ in this blog. The scenery is still stunning and apart from being with Bridget there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

I stayed at Dawson’s Peak campground, which is a beautiful little place on the lake. Made slightly unbearable by the enormous amount of pesky mosquitos. Looks like you have a tiny window of opportunity to cycle this territory. Too early and it’s snow and ice, too late and it’s all mosquitos, then it’s back to snow and ice from September onwards.

Better get pedaling or I’m going to make no distance today.

Love

Pete

Ps Sorry for the dullness of this post. Something more amusing next time.

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Day 12 – morning

Ok so just a quick one whilst I have some Internet action.

I’m in Johnson’s Crossing. And you know, old Anal Johnson’s right about old man Johnson being right. And no hornswaggling, backstabbing, frickenfracker is going to stop me from cycling all the way to Watson Lake, no way, no how!

And here’s the beard cam…

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More later…

Love
Pete

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A hot day in in the saddle. Don’t know what the actual temperature was, but it was cloudless and hot and the wind was against me. Although that’s pretty much the first time this trip, so can’t really complain, but it certainly makes a difference to ones speed. I managed about 75 miles (120km in Canadian money – “This money’s no good, Bloodknock!”). Which was fairly exhausting, but I’m definitely getting fitter and the legs don’t really feel it so much now.

At the very pretty campsite I’m in (Squanga Lake), I met a young married couple from Montana (Marie-Cloud and Brock…), who invited me over for a bite to eat and a glass of wine. They were intelligent and charming. Both professional, they quit their jobs to travel around for a bit. What is the world coming to! More jobless bums roaming the Northern states. Is no one keeping the wheels of industry turning?

Hopefully it’ll be fairly easy riding to Watson Lake over the next thee or four days (stay tuned). The real test for me will be the Cassiar Highway. There are long sections with no food or lodging so it’s wild camping and carrying enough food for about three days at a time. I should be able to get enough liquid along the way by squeezing the juice from various plants, licking the underside of dew fresh leaves, and, of course, drinking my own urine. If all that fails then sticking my water bottle in any of the thousands of crystal clear glacier streams should do the trick. The quality of the road is also a bit suspect in a few areas, so could be both slow going and puncture-prone. Thankfully I have a spare tyre. Who said I didn’t plan this trip?

As ever keep the comments coming, they really help.

Love

Pete

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Well there’s no rush is there?

Not much to tell. Whitehorse is quite a nice town. Not pretty exactly, but small and friendly and the surrounding countryside is magnificent. It’s the biggest town in the area and as such has all the amenities you’d expect from the biggest town in the Yukon. Oh, you can look the rest up on that interweb!

The one thing the Internet won’t tell you about Whitehorse is that it seems to have a disproportionate amount of attractive women in it. They weren’t all tourists so something keeps them in Whitehorse. And it’s not the men. Whitehorse has a disproportionate amount of unattractive men in it. The only thing I can think of is this is the spiritual home of The Gold Digger. The attractive women are here waiting for another gold rush and then they can snag their man. They are obviously playing the long game, and I say good luck to them. They are having to put up with a lot. Ugly, poor men, bears, mooses, dark for half the year, light for the other half, the cold and don’t forget the mosquitos. They must go home each night after a hard day at the insurance broker or laundromat and say to themselves, “Soon, honey, soon,” and check the price of gold.

Bon chance, ladies!

Love
Pete

A photo of a varmint, yesterday…

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Day 9 – rest day 2

So I cheated, but this trip was always about the adventure and not just about the cycling. And there’s not much more adventure to be had than clinging onto the seat in front inside The Last Mini Bus from BEAVER CREEK!!! With driver Dave (ageing roadie for Jethro Tull), soft rock (I recognised Fleetwood Mac at one point), his co-driver Luna the Labrador (don’t mention squirrels when she’s at the wheel), and my fellow passengers, or ride-goers as we shall be referred to at the inquest.
After the first ‘air’ we all laughed nervously, after the second we buckled up, and by the time we lost count of the exciting opportunities to test our seat springs we all had our arms in the air whooping and hollering like a fair ground ride. I say ‘like a fair ground ride’. This being the Alaskan Highway and not a fairground ride meant that all this ‘Scream if you want to go faster’ stuff was happening along loose gravel roads, our steering largely a
matter of faith, and our visibility down to zero from the clouds of dust thrown up by the passing juggernauts and RV’s. Bears may have been flinging themselves at the fenders but we couldn’t see them and even if one had somehow managed to grab hold of the bus it couldn’t have held on even using all it’s claws and most of it’s teeth. And you lot think I took the soft option! I’m going for a beer!

I’m now in Whitehorse, which the observant of you will realize is quite a way from Beaver Creek. I’ve let you down, I’ve let the bike down, but most of all I’ve let myself down. Yeah, whatever! I do actually feel guilty. I promise to beat myself later with a whittled down moose antler. I’m in a lovely little campsite by the Yukon River, called Robert Service Campsite for those who wish to google. Tomorrow I’ll be having a look around Whitehorse and maybe trying to organize some sort of iphone communication. Ooh, the excitement!

Love

Pete

PS a photo of our co-driver…

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