I got in late to Wiseman last night and set up camp in front of the post office. I woke up early to sounds of what I thought was someone walking very close to my tent. I was waiting for someone to say something, as I was sure it was footsteps I was hearing. Then I hear some noise under the tent! I guess it was a little rodent of some sort. When I stuck my head out, I didnít see a thing.
I went back to sleep until waking to sounds of 2 van loads of people getting a tour of the area right outside my tent. A short while after they left, I got up to pack up my things and was invited to breakfast by some travelers staying in a nearby cabin. They had passed me going South the day before. I met Jack Raekoff after breakfast and had some coffee at his place. He is a longtime resident of Wiseman (pop. 29) and hunts and traps for subsistence purposes. We chatted about a variety of topics including AK fisheries, since he had some experience salmon fishing in Bristol Bay.
The day looked like it was going to be nice and sunny so I headed South towards Coldfoot. Thirteen miles turned out to be a lot longer and sloppier than I expected as I encountered some roadwork where they were spraying the road with water and re-grading. My butt was really starting to hurt as I approached Coldfoot. I eagerly welcomed the break and picked up my extra food at the visitors center and then headed to the Coldfoot Restaurant for a meal. I sat next to a couple of pipeline workers who recognized me in passing on the road a day or two earlier. I inquired about shower and laundry facilities. I found out showers were 10 bucks! And wash and dry with detergent was $6. Not cheap. As I chowed down on my delicious hot mushroom and swiss burger the waitress asked me if I needed a towel for my shower. I still wasnít sure if I was going to spend $10 to wash off and told her so. Then she told me the good news. The pipeline guys ended up paying for my lunch and shower before they left. Cool!
I took a nice hot shower and did laundry and cleaned up my bike, which was caked with mud from riding through the wet road construction. I unpacked my stuff and re-sorted it and then headed over to the visitors center to show off some pictures and charge up my camera battery. After hanging out there a while, I started to realize this would be an easy day of cycling. My butt was on fire and I was enjoying my showered state too much to jump back into cycling so quickly. I chatted with Mary, a grad student working on a study out here for her second summer. We talked about our experiences out here in the amazing AK interior. Then as I was scribbling down some thoughts in my journal, a bunch of tourists came in to see a presentation they put on each evening. I wasnít planning on staying for it, but I ended up watching the whole thing. It was informative.
It was getting late and I felt I had rested enough so I got my things together. The weather started to take a turn and it was drizzling outside. I made a phone call to my dad to catch him up on the trip so far then said my goodbyes to Coldfoot.
Now I had about 35 miles of smooth pavement ahead of me they call chip seal. It was a pleasure to ride on but there were some steep inclines. I also started to become plagued with mechanical difficulties again. Spokes were popping on my rear wheel making me extremely nervous. So I ended my ride a little prematurely so I could take a look. There are two spokes I cannot replay because they are on the cassette side of the wheel. I have a cassette tool to take it off, but it is useless without a chain whip, which is another tool I donít have. I tried to replace some of the other spokes on the other side of the wheel, but the mosquitoes were so bad, I decided to hold off until tomorrow. I made macaroni and cheese and got a little extra protein from all the bugs dive-bombing my dinner. I was pretty tired when I went to bed as I didnít get much sleep the night before. (30 miles)
Picture: The Wiseman US Post Office closed down in 1956.