Day 0 – Anchorage
The first day on the road is always something special
Sometimes there will be mixed feelings, sometimes you will just be happy to get out. In many cases you will be back before you really realized you are gone and in others, you won’t even remember the day you left when you come back this. This is about the latter kind.
I never did a full write-up of my 9-month trip Alaska all the way down to Bolivia in any real comprehensive form. Only ride reports here and there but nothing that truly grasped the magnitude of the whole thing.
It was a big, life-changing experience at the end but the beginning, if I’m being honest, was anti-climactic. I had spent the 3 weeks prior to arriving in Anchorage in Neap doing the Trek to Mount Everest Basecamp and was already worn out when I arrived. The Bike was still crated and a few days prior to departing I received notice that it was cleared by customs and ready to be picked up at the cargo company. When I finally got there it turned out that all of the worries beforehand regarding permits and customs clearance were for naught. I just went to the counter, gave them the notice and 5min later took delivery of the crate with the bike in it.
A first challenge
Sadly I ran into a small speedbump right off the bat. One o the bolts of the centerstand was missing, probably happened before it even went into the box, which made reassembly somewhat difficult. Putting the front wheel on eventually was accomplished by simply putting here on here side and somehow getting the wheel back in. But, finally, she was whole again and I was able to take off towards Dead Horse.
A lot of things have been written about Alaska, how great it is to ride, how amazing the landscapes are so I was somewhat disappointed heading north along AK-3. The weather was playing a big part in it as it was plain misery. Temps around 3-5° Celsius and rain the entire day made for a bad ride. What made matters worse was I almost ran out of fuel passing by Denali national park. with about 100km left on the clock, I figured id make it to the next gas station. When I finally checked the GPS and realized I wasn’t gonna make it on what was in the tank the last gas station lay about 30km behind me and the display told me I had 20km left in the tank. There was no way I would make it on what was left in the tank to the station ahead of me so I turned back and made it to the station I had already passed with the display showing 0km range for the last 10km I rode. A first stroke of luck that day.
Fairbanks to Coldfoot
Eventually, I made it to Fairbanks where I just took the cheapest motel available to prepare myself for the camping in the coming days. The next day brought more rain, cold temps and my first miles on the famed Dalton Highway leading to Prudhoe Bay. It was more misery. The Highway was under construction in long stretches which meant an extremely slippery mix of mud, gravel and whatever chemical they use to treat the surface but I eventually made it to Yukon camp where the next mishap was already waiting for me.
Parked at the gas station that was basically a big field of mud that was entirely soaked by rain the sidestand sank in causing the bike to tip over and landing on a small concrete pillar. As it turned out later that day this bent the pannier in such a way there now was a 2cm gap between lid and body, hooray for hard cases. The way towards my camp for the night, Marion Creek Campground, took me past the Arctic Circle for the 3rd time in my life in total and for the first time on the North American continent.
The first night in bearcountry
After a long days ride, I made it to the campground north of Coldfoot. I was the only one there other than the Host and a feeling of anxiety crept up on me considering this was my first night camping in bear country.
A quick chat with the host sort of calmed me down as he told me they had no bears in the area thus far(it was still early in the year) and that I should just store my food in one of the bear lockers that were spread out all over the place. After cooking up a quick meal and banging my badly dented pannier back into shape I retired to an early, somewhat uneasy, night. The next morning didn’t bring good news. To the north dark clouds were looming and the forecast said temps would barely go above 3° Celsius. Another chat with the Host confirmed what I had feared, there was snow forecast for the next week all the way up to Prudhoe Bay. This forced a decision on me. Take a risk and head north with the risk of having to turn around because of snow or just skip Dead Horse and begin my 9 month journey south.
I settled for going south and thus the real Adventure began, the way to Bolivia.