Last night I went to sleep in peace and quiet. I woke up to the flapping of the rainfly as it got really windy. When I got up, I had to keep my tent from becoming a giant kite and flying away. As I packed up my stuff, I could see the weather getting worse. Low clouds all around, cooler weather. Then came snow. I had a little visitor to my camp. A fat ground squirel that was pretty bold and came close. I tried to feed him a cashew but after a few nibbles, he seemed to have other things to check out. So I pushed on. After about 15 miles, I got to some road construction. They were repaving about 26 miles with some large gravel base before finishing it off. It was tough to get through, especially in the sideways snow and cold wind. The fat tires did well though. After mile 20, I started a slight incline. I was in the lowest gear and DISASTER STRUCK! Well not yet. I just snapped my chain. It took me a while to fix it in the cold, but I finally managed, starting back up a little colder and wetter and with tingly fingers. Not many pedal rotations after that, the bike stopped. I looked back at the chain with a very bad feeling. The derailleur hanger had snapped and my rear derailleur was in my spokes! Now I am screwed. First I tried taking off the derailleur which was hanging by a cable so I could shorten the chain and continue in one gear. Then I noticed the chain was already snapped, so I cinched uo the derailleur to the rear rack and shortened the chain. I hoped this would work but no luck. The chain kept slipping down on the rear cassette and got to loose to pedal. A trucker, "Lost Larry" (as he called himself) stopped to to advise me there was a workers camp about a mile and a half down the road. So I pushed my loaded bike towards the camp in the tough weather. I was disappointed and thinking about what to do. The elements were starting to penetrate me mentally and physically.
A couple workers stopped to check on me and told me the workers camp was just over the hill. A short time later, a couple in a van stopped to check out my situation. They didn't have room to put my stuff in and give me a ride to Fairbanks, but I appreciated them stopping. The driver suggested that I stop at the camp and he'd look at my bike. Just then, a white mini-van approached just behind us and I flagged them down. Todd and Erica were more than willing to give it a shot and try to fit me and my machine in their spanking new rental. Miraculously it fit and just before we left, Jennifer, one of the truck drivers who just got off work came out of the camp to give me some apple juice, fritos and fruit. We chatted a little and then took off in the van through some nasty unsummer-like weather. I started to think that breaking down might have been the best thing for me. We passed though lots of snow covered tundra and weren't able to appreciate the view until much later when we hit the Brooks Range.
Todd and Erica are a cool couple of of 24 year olds originally from Wisconson, but now live in Seattle. First thing they did when I got in the car was offer me some red wine, Yum. The red went straight to my face! As we passed through the Brooks Range on our way to Fairbanks, I kind of felt I was cheating, but on the other hand, I was just fortunate to get picked up. I do plan to backtrack after I get the bike fixed and at least start from the Brooks Range. On our descent from the Brooks Range, we enjoyed the spectacular views, which I vowed to see again by bike. We stopped and stretched our legs and lit up a joint to enhance our perspective. We stopped to camp out just North of Coldfoot on the Deitrich River. Todd went for a short hike but proptly returned after seeing bear tracks. I crashed out in my tent and slept soundly.