Day 1: Rode 43 miles by 10:30 yesterday, but then we ran out of money and they kicked us off the bus... We started our ride 30 miles East of Port Angeles and peddled 58.7 miles to Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. Using a shirt as a pillow I slept on a pile of gravel, and after the ride it was some of the best sleep I've ever had.
Day 2: I woke up under the moss covered alder of the Olympic National Park. The first two miles were at a steep incline, but then just occasional hills and valleys. The wildflowers grow on the side of the rode and as I ride through daisies, blue bells, sorrel and poppies I feel as though I am riding through an impressionist painting.
Day 3: Started the morning riding through the fog under a hemlock canopy. We rode 22 miles through Forks and up the mountain to the turnoff from 101. From there it was a treacherous downhill slope for miles through the Hoh Rainforest. 44 miles today and 46 tomorrow, but we have to retrace our steps back to 101 to climb the mountain that we came down. For the first time I am doubting whether I can make the miles tomorrow.
Day 4: I woke up to the sound of the Hoh River flowing behind the tent. Nearby there were moss covered spruce, the moss hanging down in beards three or four feet long. I had dreaded this morning, worrying about climbing the ridge at mile 18. Over breakfast we discussed the hill, how we might have to push the bikes up. The ride was quiet as the miles ticked by, stopping a few times to take pictures of the Hoh river valley. At mile 16 I was reminded of why I wanted to go on this ride, to prove to myself that after three surgeries this year that I was better, that I wasn’t broken. With that in mind I locked my shoes in, peddled faster and committed myself to climbing the hill that I knew I physically couldn’t climb. There is a great reward in knowing that you won’t give up… And there is an even greater reward in completing the impossible. 44 miles today.
Day 5: The ride started with us being flagged down by Glenn he was touring the same route as us and we had discussed with him the night before our agenda for the day. The ferry had quit running, and if Geoff had not informed us of that we would have ridden an additional 20 miles to get around the bay. We changed our route and started our journey. Along the way we met Allan who informed us where we should camp, and briefly bumped into three young women from London who were on the same ride. That night, after 44 miles, we sat around a campfire talking with Alan, Woody, Lizzy, and Buffy while sipping B&B and drinking red wine. It would be Woody’s birthday tomorrow, and she was saying that the campfire was perfect for marshmallows. 54 miles today.
Day 6: We stopped a few miles down the rode and I picked up three things that I needed and one that I didn’t. The ride was relatively easy, and we had increased our pace to meet up with George in Hoquiam. Rolling into town we spotted the bike shop where he was getting repairs, and pulling in front of the store, Woody, who we had met the night before, stepped out in front of me. “I have something for you,” I said. And with her looking confused I reached into my bag for the marshmallows I purchased that morning. “Happy Birthday Woody,” and I handed her the marshmallows. 55 miles today. And the four of us toasted marshmallows that night with Allan and the girls.
Day 7: There are long stretches of road today. Crossing a bridge I look down at a sea otter playing in the brackish water. Swallows circle overhead catching mosquitoes and gnats in the air. On a quiet slow turn I spot a herd of fifty elk to our left, the bulls beginning to get their horns. For miles we circle the tidelands exposed by the receding water. I see a father and son walking through the silt. The son carrying a rake over his shoulder and his father a bucket of freshly caught clams. Hills turn to humps. Minutes turn to miles. And this ride will always be with me.
18:00 Dinner, 60 miles: 1 salad, 1 lasagna, desert and beer
100 miles out of Fairbanks, the highway begins to climb into the Alaska Range. With each pedal I draw closer to the summits of the highest mountain range in North America. In abundance is precisely what I am seeking; the grip of the wilderness, the allure of adventurous activity, the privilege to wander. But I entertain no illusions; the Alaska wild is not for dreamers . The 420 miles from Fairbanks to Whittier harbors more then it's share of bear, caribou, moose and I spotted my first grey wolf today. Wolves are social animals, traveling in packs of up to 30. Today we were alone. Strapped to my handlebar just beside my brake lever is a canister of bear mace. Aside from the bicycle's hum of kevlar tires on this smooth paved shoulder, a vast silence reigns over the land. The low Kantishna plain surrenders to me Alaska's Route 3- The George Parks Highway. Mile 63, Day 1, June 7, 2010. Nenana, AK.
For the third consecutive year, I've devoted my summers to life on the road by bicycle. The freedom and simple beauty of such travel is too good to pass up. I have crossed the United States and Europe discovering an intense young man with a streak of stubbornness and allure to live dreams and tell stories about them. Now at a healthy 31 years of age, a superabundance of energy sends me pedaling into Alaska's rugged edge of society to seek conversation with the wild. Through the blog, writings, photos and maps I hope to document my travels respectively in an effort to teach by example, the necessity of living out one's beliefs. Longing to account with clarity the inevitable reflection of the larger subject of Alaska, I've temporarily traded my comfortable life on the East Coast to explore footloose and free the inner country of our souls. God Bless America. Mile 134, Day 2, June 9, 2010, Denali, AK.