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Published: June 29th 2016
My road trip is over now, but I had such a great time. And one of the best parts of it was meeting other “road trippers”, but of a different kind: touring cyclists! I now realize that most people doing Alaska to Tierra del Fuego (or Alaska to anywhere else) are leaving Prudhoe Bay early June, and depending on their speed and route, they seem to all end up around Tok or the Canadian border at this time of the year. So as I was driving back, I met a few of them, and of course, I got really excited and stopped almost each time to see where they were doing, if they needed anything or just to chat with “real touring cyclists”!
I was amazed by how light most of them are traveling, and also very surprised to see that they all seemed so self-sufficient, that I had a hard time finding something they needed. Chocolate was the thing that most couldn’t refuse, but they all seemed happy to stop and chat about their experience. I am sure after months of this, they will be tired of being asked the same questions, but after miles on the Dalton and
Alaska Highway, they didn’t mind… Each cyclist I talked to seemed to have a very different personality, attitude or way of traveling. The first guy had already done the Silk Road on the same old bike, without any technology or anything fancy, and he seemed so comfortable and happy, it was inspiring. The next guy was also very much used to this, had already done more or less the same route to his home in Colorado. He was traveling very light, I even wondered if he had a sleeping bag. One couple had met another solo cyclist and they were traveling together for some time. And the last guy probably could have gotten a speed ticket: he was going so fast, he looked like he was doing the Tour de France rather than Alaska to Texas (he had already done Ushuaia to Texas before…). I felt bad slowing him down, but he didn’t seem to mind and was super friendly and enthusiastic.
Now, my little road trip doesn’t compare with what these guys are doing, but here is what I did: after Anchorage, I slowly drove back East and found a really nice place to camp near a beautiful
river. I could have stayed there for days. But then I drove to Valdez, just because I had seen so many ski films about Valdez when I lived in Bas St-Laurent (my friends were all dreaming about heli-skiing at the time!). I didn’t find the town itself interesting, it looks more like a huge RV Park, but the mountains around the bay are fantastic, and the drive to get there is something to see. The Thompson Pass especially is amazing and there are lots of places to camp (for free) there! I stayed one night near Valdez just because the forecast was good for the next day, and when I woke up, the sky was blue so the drive was awesome. So nice in fact that once at the pass, I stopped there to make tea and admire the view I had of Worthington Glacier, grabbed my book and read for an hour.
From there, I drove back to the Yukon, to realize that I actually like the Yukon even better because there are far less people (but loved Alaska too!). I just camped wherever the weather was best, and where I could find a great spot for my
hammock, and enjoyed 2-3 days of warm, sunny days, biking along the beautiful St-Elias mountains and Kluane Lake, reading, writing and enjoying my last few days off. It was interesting to bike on the same road I had just drove on. I realized how different a place can feel when you travel with a bike vs a car: you notice so many more things, it is easier to stop and take pictures or just stop and look at the view. And of course, I noticed the wind…!!!
A short trip, nothing fancy, but a great, relaxing adventure!
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