Sunday, July 1, 2007 – day 25 (Beaver Creek – Tok)
Distance: 110.2 miles (177.4 km); overall distance so far: 1,416.9 miles (2,280.4 km)
Average: 13.7 mph (22.1 kph)
Weather: 14°C – 24°C, no wind, cloudy, some rain, getting stronger towards the end
Something that worked the day before would work again, I told myself… and off I went from Beaver Creek, with the plan to reach Tok that day – 110 miles, 180 km further on.
The weather was ok, i.e. no rain, but cloudy, and sadly enough no headwind anymore. But it might have been a bit too easy, so I simply did what I had and wanted to do: I continued pedaling and pedaling and pedaling.
No clue where exactly I was for the first 30km. Beaver Creek is the place with the Canadian border, so, people travelling eastwards into Canada would cross the border into Canada in Beaver Creek. Me, however, cycling westwards towards Alaska, I did not have a border yet for the next 30km. The U.S. border post only was in Port Alcan. I made it there, got my picture taken in front of the “Welcome to Alaska” sign (which was on the Canadian side) by probably the world’s worst photographer who more centered her and her husband’s RV than me and the sign, crossed the border without any trouble (I didn’t expect any trouble as I successfully entered the US on a still valid tourist visa waiver from Prince Rupert after some trouble back there), and I finally and for the rest of my time in North American was in Alaska! It felt nice to have reached that last and final section of my trip – but at the same time I had to realize what an amazing time I spent in Canada. An amazing country with great people and a lot of wonderful experiences – I will definitely not forget my time there, and it was kind of, well, sentimental might sound a bit too exaggerated, but something along that line, that I actually left Canada on Canada Day. Only thing left to be said, direct quote from the anthem: “O Canada… I’m going to miss you”.
First thing I found out that was better in Alaska, however, were the sections of the road that were unpaved but with gravel due to construction – the U.S. gravel sections seemed to be way more solid and easier to cycle on. Strangely enough, however, apart from that 1km of gravel when I was taken on the pilot truck 2 days ago, I did not see any actual road work going on. No clue if they hope that these sections will get paved automatically by some sort of miracle, or if they actually care about weekends in that area of the world (I would totally support that, not only because I’ll have to get used to non-24/7-supermarkets when I’m back in Germany).
Just a few miles (so, I’m back in miles-mode now) after the border, I saw one cyclist riding along the road into the same direction as I was. Actually, the very first cyclist whom I saw actually riding into my direction since I saw a road cyclist passing me on the third day on Icefields Parkway. I soon caught up to him – and cycled along a 76-year old American with whom I was chatting for quite a while. He was part of a group of 5 cyclists who started in Whitehorse and went to… hmm, I forgot, either Fairbanks or also Anchorage. But anyway, he was the oldest, the youngest around 60 years, and all of them were supported, i.e. they didn’t carry any luggage but had two people with two cars with them, with gear and food. So, not travelling self-contained in the way I am doing this, however, me being 25 years old and them being up to 76 years does put the whole thing into a slightly different angle. I enjoyed talking to them, and finally also got a chance to meet their two supporters, two young guys from Anchorage, one recommending me a good place for good pizza and beer (why only did I kind of ignore the beer advise but very well kept the pizza recommendation in mind?!), and he would also want to meet up when he is back in Anchorage. Will see if that’s going to happen.
Having Tok in mind, I needed to get going, soon passed the other cyclists of that group and continued on a road that was less flat than I expected it to be. The day before was only a little bit hilly and from what I heard the rest of the highway to Tok would be very similar. But it was quite a challenge due to continuous up and down – and rain starting towards the end of the day wasn’t really longed for either, but that’s how it is… and the weather God managed to get me completely wet again before I arrived in Tok – the most northern point of my entire trip.
That’s probably also why Tok was somewhat of a special point from the very beginning of my trip onwards. Whenever I read and informed myself about the route, I considered Tok as the “point of no return” in the sense of ‘Martin, if you’ll manage it to get there, then you’ll also manage the rest’. And there I was, after 5 days back on the bike since I restarted in Haines, and my body doing surprisingly well. New muscles came into play during those past days as I got out of the saddle way more often due to being able to do so because my knees would allow me to finally do so. That’s why some muscles in my legs which I haven’t felt until Prince Rupert on the first 1000 miles at all, suddenly were in pain. But sore muscles are good pain… and I had no intention to pause or rest another day. It all went way too well. Therefore I only used Tok after a 110 miles day of cycling to get a nice dinner, do my laundry, and being able to go online briefly.
Motto of the day: “O Canada… I’m going to miss you”
Calgary-Anchorage – 070701 day 25 – Beaver Creek – Tok