I figured to do an end of the trip report just like I did for the Transamerica Trail. Most of the questions are similar such as where did you start and where are you going. However, no one asked us if our butts hurt haha.
Where did you start and where are you going?
The trip officially started for the both of us in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, United States. If you don’t know where this is, and I didn’t until this trip, it is basically as far North as you can get in the United States via road and it is from the Dalton Highway.
Dad’s trip officially started in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada and he tried bicycling up the Dempster Highway that goes to Inuvik (most Northern point in Canada via road….maybe North America?). Due to a variety of reasons, he had to cut this section short.
We both ended the trip in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Of course, we had to take several ferries as Victoria is on Vancouver Island- so we weren’t able to bike 100%, but I think you guys will forgive us for not biking on water haha.
How long is the trip?
We headed from Prudhoe Bay on July 15th and ended in Victoria around September 15th, we were with family the last few days so the actual end date isn’t 100% clear, but we left Victoria via ferry to Washington on the 15th. It was about 2 months in total. Dad had an extra month for the Yukon Territory bit.
In terms of mileage or KM, I biked about 1,800 miles and Dad biked 2,800 or it would be about 2,880 KM and 4,480 KM respectively.
Do you bicycle all the time? Did you train for it?
This is another question we received on the Transamerica Trail, but it is a bit more pertinent for this trip since it was more physically demanding as well as mentally.
Dad and I both agree that we like long distance cycling so- “do we bicycle all the time?” – would be a no. We prefer getting in a motorized vehicle to go to the store or do day to day activities haha.
In terms of training, there wasn’t specific training weekends or short week trips we did. One could say part of our training for this was the Transamerica trail as well as Dad’s other bicycle trip along the Great Divide.
I don’t think there is a way to train for this unless you go along a bunch of fire roads/logging roads with no contact with “civilization” in a place with a lot of mosquitos. The Dalton Highway will physically shape you, but I think heading into it after mentally training is best- preparing yourself for the difficulties.
The rest of the trip was a lot easier than the Dalton, but still required physical effort and mental fortitude especially going up steep grades and dealing with rainy weather.
This trip particularly, Dad needed mental fortitude to keep up with my complaining! I hate hills and rain XD
Did you see many bears?
A very common question! And I understand why. Northwest North America is home to an assortment of bears- grizzlies, black, and brown bears. Not to mention other HUGE creatures that, when provoked, won’t hesitate to kill you such as moose, cougars, and wolves.
Luckily, we did not see any bears while on the bicycle. We didn’t really see any animal while on the bicycle. In the Denali National Park, we did see quite a few animals, but most were from the bus- much safer!
What did you do for food?
Lots of dried foods- just add water types. So lots of instant rice, pasta, instant potatoes, etc. It wasn’t very delicious and it wasn’t even very satisfying in terms of caloric count, but it was sufficient. Please see my other blog post on the food we had for an actual break down.
I could never do that!
Yes, yes you can! Again, most of the battle is getting over mental barriers. I’ve seen so many older folk, men and women, cycling this route- alone or in couples. You can do it!
Along this note, I can’t believe I have done it and I have done 2 bike tours.
How many miles/KM do you do a day?
Dad’s new terminology is that we shoot for 50 miles or 80 KM a day. However, if the next ideal spot is further, we will push it to 60 some miles or 100 KM. Anything further is a bit far.
After this trip; however, we have discovered that it isn’t necessarily about the number, but the hours in the saddle or seat. So, 50 miles or 80 KM is about 5 hours a day actually pedaling. If we have a downhill and or tailwind, the same distance can actually be 3 hours, which then…depending on the rest of the topography, we might do another 2 hours or 20 miles, etc.
Where do you stay?
This particular trip we have done a fair amount of wild camping- meaning picking a nice place on the side of the road and setting up tent. We have also done more motels than thought on this trip due to weather and being exhausted from rough roads.
In total, it was a pretty good mix between camping and having an actual bed for the evening.
Have you seen many cyclists?
This question is mainly asked by other cyclists. At this point in the season, not many cyclists were up North as they started about a month ahead of us and were racing to warmer and drier weather. Also at this point, we might have run across the same cyclists, which did happen once or twice on this trip.
As I said, we were a bit behind the bicycle season and so we didn’t see that many.
What do you do to be able to do this?
Dad hates this question and I agree, it is a bit nosey. Dad’s answer is that he is retired. That is my answer too. 😛
Oh, you have some rough road ahead!
The annoying statement! I think people think they are being helpful informing us about the upcoming hills or the road conditions. But there will always be a hill, and on this particular trip, there will always be gravel roads.
For one gentleman, I was thinking later, definitely didn’t say it to his face, but:
“Oh! They are grating the road? Guess, I’ll have to stop here, can’t go any further.”
Again, I know they are trying to be nice, but I don’t know what they expect from us when they tell us there is a huge hill? I cry at the top of hills not before haha.
We didn’t get as many questions as we did on the Transamerica Trail. I think part of it was the fact that we didn’t really see many people in general (outside their RVs I mean). If you have a question, feel free to email or comment them and I’ll do my best to answer it!
It definitely was an abrupt end to the trip, but I think, now looking back on it, I had the same feeling when I finished the Transamerica Trail. I would have to do another long distance cycling trip to tell you for sure, but perhaps, just after 2 months plus, or maybe even one month plus, the end is abrupt. How can you properly close out something that was your life 24/7 for such a long time frame?
The Transamerica Trail showed me what it was like to go across the country as a settler back in the day in terms of a history lesson. This trip showed me what it was actually like for settlers in terms of endurance and solitude.
Both trips DID show me the most important thing: that I am capable of doing these things.
And that’s, pretty cool.
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