Looks like a late start today, but the weather seems nice and I am ready to go. I'll get my things together, stretch and hopefully make it to the Yukon River without much problem. I know I'm going to have some very good climbs ahead of me today. I hope the legs and buns are up for it!
I rode out a few miles and saw the Arctic Circle Gift Shop on the side of the highway so I decided to stop in for some snacks. There was a teenage girl working inside and she was very nice and inquired about my trip as I snacked on chips, snickers, and coke (gotta start the day right!). I headed off and began a day of some of the most intense climbing sessions ever! I stopped off at Finger Mountain to take some photos. There I chatted with some tourists from Florida. I'm noticing that a lot of travelers in Alaska are old. A lot look around retirement age. I'm glad I've started my traveling early in life. I continued South towards the Yukon River, climbing hills that felt more like mountains. One was even called "Roller Coaster", no joke!
Throughout the day, I was counting down the miles, knowing that at mile 45 I'd hit the HotSpot Cage where I'd get a big juicy burger. After lots of sweat and hard work (some might call abuse), I arrived at the HotSpot and dined on a mushroom and cheese burger that must have weighed close to a pound! I talked with a nice young couple who worked in Coldfoot and were taking a 3 day break to drive down to Fairbanks. The guy was telling me about his work experience in an Eskimo Village where alcoholism runs rampant and they are losing their culture. It was sad to hear. Its a dry village, meaning alcohol is prohibited, but it is smuggled in and sold at an insane price, like 200 bucks for a bottle of ****ty vodka.
After a nice rest, I got back on the bike and pedaled the 5 miles down to the Yukon River. I took some pictures, took advantage of the BLM visitors center's "luxury" outhouse (meaning no mosquitoes), called dad, called Jen to say I'd probably be in Fairbanks in another 2 days, and managed to snag some fresh H20 from some guys who'd just gotten back from a 3 week trip on the river. I headed across the bridge towards what I thought would be an easy 10 or so more miles before I set up camp. WRONG! First, there was more incline that I expected. I felt like I was crossing another mountain range! And second, these damn mosquitoes! Just when I think I've seen the worst, they top it in some other way. This time they were harrassing me on the uphills. In my face, on my shoulders, all over my handlebars and hands. I think I had to stop and re-apply deet 3 times just to keep them at bay. And there is nothing more discouraging then 20 zillion bugs buzzing around your face as you struggle up a never ending incline in the lowest gear.
Finally, I managed to reach the downhill portion but I was so drenched in sweat, I couldn't really enjoy the coast downhill, so I had to go slow. There was a beautiful sight just before the downhill so I got out the camera and took a couple pics. The downhill was a combination of windy turns that must keep truckers on edge. Thankfully, there wasn't anyone else on the road on my way down. I coasted through an area of thick forest on each side of me. I imagined I was REALLY in bear country now! Especially being so close to the Yukon, which is a big food source for them. I spotted the end of my ride, which was a windy incline. I'd promised myself no more inclines today, so I pulled off near a creek and pitched my tent on the soft sand.
For some reason, the mosquitoes weren't that bad at that very spot, maybe it's because its cooler now as its later in the day. But I'm not going to spend too much time thinking about these blood suckers. I'm sure they'll be with me tomorrow. Time for sleepy! (65 miles)
Thanks for reading
Picture: Yukon River Bridge