(159) The Final Frontier, Alaska

Having spent the last week taking it fairly easy getting to Fairbanks had been great but I didn’t think I would be heading north quite so soon. Having had the time to arrive early and have a day to rest was enough to get me ready for the last tough push to the Arctic. I had been told it wasn’t an easy road, It was busy with heavy truck traffic, There wasn’t anything to see, It was mainly gravel which could turn to mud in an instant if it rained and to top it off I was warned not just of the bears, moose and wolfs but also the clouds of mosquitos that if I wasn’t prepared would drive anyone mad. With the sun shining I had to make the most of the conditions and so I had made the decision to leave early and get to the start of the Dalton Highway or Haul road. Feeling good and leaving on a beautiful summers day I left at lunch and covered the 73 miles to the start where I would camp for the evening. With the sky still clear and the temperature still warm my chances of a good day tomorrow were good but what I faced along the way could change all that and I just had to go with it. Although I knew it would be easier in good weather part of me wanted it to be hard to make me appreciate the challenge. There was only one way to find out and that was to go and see.

Saturday 9th July

I woke around 7am in my tent and felt pleased I was already at the start of the Dalton highway. Wanting to cover at least 55 miles before I stopped I packed away my things and realised my legs were tired and sore. Thinking I might have over done it yesterday by covering cover 73 miles in the afternoon and evening I was starting to wonder if I had made a big mistake doing it. Not having much water I ate the food I had that didn’t use water, loaded my bike and made my way out to the highway. Hearing a motorbike out at the junction I arrived to meet a nice Argentinian called Marcelo.

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Marcelo on his second attempt of the haul road after bad weather and falling he to was going to try and fulfil his wish 

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Wishing that I had an engine

He was fun to chat to and was also on his way to Prudhoe bay after a previous failed attempt due to the rain resulting in mud and falling twice. We wished each other luck and we set off on the now gravel road which immediately climbed making my legs protest.

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I took it steady but I was so tired and the sun was beating down on me making me sweat profusely. It wasn’t long before the first of many invasions of mosquitos started to attack and so I stopped to apply Deet. This seemed to help keep them at bay along with turning my legs blue as it started to melt my Devon sticker on my top tube. After every climb came a descent back to the bottom of another steep gravel hill.

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The next hill climbing out of sight ahead

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And another 

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Looking at my GPS I had six big climbs to get over all with hills within them. They were all steep, slow, hot and came complementary with swarms of mosquitos just to make sure I didn’t stop to rest. As it got closer to midday it started to rain which cooled me down but I was now worried the road would turn to mud. As the storm moved through I reached a creek I decided to stop and use the river water to cook.

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As soon as I stopped I grabbed my waterproofs and covered myself not from the rain but from the mosquitos that were already in attack mode. It seemed to help and so I sat and finished the last of my fresh Salmon that I mixed with Pasta. Trying to lighten my food bag which was so heavy I ate what might help and got going.

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The climbs continued until 4.30pm where I reached the last summit before I dropped down an 8 mile hill to the Yukon river.

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The first signs of the Yukon river way off in the valley below

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The views as I dropped were beautiful and the river was massive. I wound my way down to the bridge and continued to drop until I reached the other side.

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The huge Yukon river

Spotting the first place to get a cooked meal for 130 miles I thought I would treat myself to a cooked meal and a break. I sat for an hour relaxing while I ate and started to feel the life coming back into me. Being told there was a fresh water well in 4 miles I set off and reached the hotspot cafe. As I rode around to find the water I spotted a cyclist who was camped.

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He was from Japan and great to chat to. He told me that this morning he had tried to ride the road ahead but he’d had to turn around due to the mud. With the conditions being great now and feeling much better I decided I would try and cover another 20 miles.

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However great it would’ve been to stop I was now feeling good and wanted to make the most of the conditions. Once I had filled my bottles and water bag I was now 13kg’s heavier but from here the road seemed to be much better. It stayed flatish for quite a while before dropping and climbing a couple steep hills like a huge rollercoaster.

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How ever hard it was the scenery was beautiful

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Feeling good I pushed on climbing and squatting the mosquitos as I did and decided I would call it a day at 9.30pm. Now I was covering the miles I wanted I started to relax and look for a place to camp. Spotting a pull off next to the pipeline I quickly popped my waterproofs back on and set up camp.

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With my food bags hug up away from bears, it was time to try and wash without getting swarmed. Being next to the road I hoped no one would come along while I stripped and washed. Feeling much better all be it now tired it was time for bed and hope my legs felt good tomorrow. Having ridden 74 miles and climbed 2,400 metres I was now getting much closer to Prudo and tomorrow I would cross over the Arctic circle which I hadn’t done since Norway and would be a major landmark to the and the finish line.

Sunday 10th July

Waking up tired but rested I lay in bed, as I wasn’t in a rush to get up. Having pretty much all the daylight riding time I wanted I stretched off while watching the hungry mosquitos on the mesh looking back at me wanting some breakfast. I packed away the main things and put on my waterproofs to protect myself from the impending dome. I left my tent grabbed my panniers which were hanging up and popped the stove on. By this point the Japanese cyclist I had met yesterday rode towards me. We chatted for a while with me now back in my tent and eating my breakfast out of the way of my pursuers. Still with a few things to do he headed on while I packed away the last of my things and joined the road.

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It was a much cooler day then yesterday but it was much nicer to ride in. The scenery felt bleak and very much moor like which reminded me of home. I had been told it wasn’t that interesting until I reached the mountains but I thought it was beautiful and yet unforgiving.

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As I reached each peak I could look across the wide valley in front of me and watch as the storms that had been brewing were now dumping water off in the distance. As I moved closer to the storm I could see the rain following in behind me as it cleared in front.

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Watching as the storm clouds move in

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Looking back at the dust trails of the trucks as they followed the pipeline

Managing to miss the rain I finally covered the 30 miles to the Arctic circle and stopped to take a look. As I pulled off the road I saw a sign with a round board that showed what it would look like looking down on the world showing the Arctic circle. Having started in the arctic I could see where we had started and where I would finish.

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Looking down on the earth I could point to the start and the finish 

It was so cool seeing it and to see that I was almost there. Some guys turned up on motor bikes so I got chatting to them which was really great. Having ridden up from Portland it once again made me want a motorbike and good to see how they were doing it.  Not having had any lunch I made my way to a picnic area to cook. Once I had eaten it was then time to set off and try and get a bit closer to Coldfoot. Being ahead of schedule felt great but with a big pass to get over I knew anything could happen and I wanted to get to Deadhorse on time. The road from the Arctic circle was once again hilly and very steep.

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After getting over the first big one I dropped the other side to see it climb over the next high ridge. Feeling tired and with the wind picking up I decided to pull over part the way up the next hill and rest my eyes. I knew I would be ok in a few minutes I just needed a moment. Once I was set I continued to climb with the gradient getting ever steeper and wold pull over as the large truck flew up to try and keep up their speed. The higher they got the slower they became until they were down to a crawl before it eased as they reached a bend. Just as I was about to join a bit of tarmac a Moose came out from the forest and spotted me.

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Although it was a little way off it was still amazing to see the wildlife

It was so cool to see it with its long clumsy legs as it flipped across the road and back into the forest on the other side. By the time I reached the point where it had crossed I tried to look for it but there was no sign and so I continued to slowly grind my way to the top.

 

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A good name for a beer

Once at the summit the road levelled out with a view over to the next mountain range. With huge dark grey clouds with columns of rain filling the sky ahead of me as they moved through the mountains and the sun on my back the scenery was incredible.

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I always knew the mountains were hard work but when I get to see scenes like this it makes it all worth every peddle stroke. From here I dropped into the valley where it followed a river up stream making for a much easier ride.

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It was incredible watching the storm moving through ahead of me

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Then to see this partial rainbow

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I could then relax and take it all in and enjoy where I was. Spotting a sign for a Graylings lake parking and having done the miles I wanted I pulled over to a great spot that looked down towards the lake.

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Great to have the sun out with enough wind to keep the mosquitos off

Having 25 miles to go before Coldfoot meant I would have an easy mornings ride to town where I could have lunch in the settlement. Being the last place before Prudhoe Bay which was now 268 miles away I was going to make the most of it and have someone else cook for me.

 

Monday 11th July

It had been cold in the night which I figured being inside the Arctic circle was a sign of things to come but at least being only 25 miles from Coldfoot meant I could take the morning easy and have a nice cooked meal once I had got there. It was a grey cloudy day and with a cool wind blowing from the south making me need to put on my jacket. Although it was cool in the wind it at least kept the bugs at bay while I had my breakfast. I ate a few bits that I wanted to finish off but not wanting to eat to much as I knew I still had a long way to go, I soon packed up and got on my way.

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The road was good with only a few gravel spots and the uphill my GPS said that was big disappeared which was amazing up to the point where I found myself faced with two climbs that weren’t shown on it.

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It was hard to show just how steep this his was but the truck was struggling to grip as it climbed 

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Looking back at the pipeline following the road

Feeling tired I grabbed a snack and started to climb slowly until I reached the top. Once over the second hill I started to count down the miles until I could see Coldfoot runway in the valley floor and knew I was getting close.

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Looking north to Coldfoot

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This was a picture in the cafe taken on the Dalton highway in the winter

I soon reached the tiny settlement and called in at the restaurant to eat a well deserved meal. Ordering a full breakfast which was just what I needed, I sat down and got chatting to two guys, One who was heading back from Deadhorse on his motorbike and the other just about to start on a pack raft trip once he had been flown into to the wilderness. It was really great chatting to these guys and hear about their plans. As I sat there I looked at my route and although I originally wanted to get 10 miles north of Coldfoot I decided to make the most of the day and get as close to the pass at I could without getting to over tired.

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Taking a break

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You know the next bit will be remote when poeple hunt with Bows and the next service station is 240 miles away

Once I had eaten an amazing meal and feeling full I set off out of town with a strong tail wind that blew me up the valley. Being a very steady climb was amazing as I was not only covering the distance faster but also climbing slightly at the same time.

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With a great road surface and a tailwind it was just amazing riding

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I was so pleased it was a nice to really appreciate the scenery

As I approached the mountains I crossed a river with a rest stop just after a bridge. It looked perfect for an early day and would leave me with a good crack at the pass tomorrow. Having been told the weather forecast was great tomorrow and that the bugs were horrendous on the other side I decided to enjoy the spot and not arrive to early in Deadhorse. Having done so many long days it felt weird stopping early so to keep me from riding off again I pitched my tent and got dinner on the go.

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The more I thought about it the better the spot became and so I started to relax. I could use the bathroom if needed, I would wash in the river, light a fire to keep the bugs off and enjoy the rest. Once I had eaten I went to wash in the river and use the protection of the bridge so no one could see me. It was so revitalising standing in the sun and wash in the ice-cold water with nothing on and no one around. It was just what I needed to relax and feel fresh before lighting a fire and do my jobs.

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This was just the best camp spot 

It had been a cold start to the day and I was worried I would miss the views but the day just got better and better and with a clear day forecast tomorrow for my last pass I was excited. As the day came to an end I settled down for the night. Although the time was getting on I was now over the threshold to have 24 hour sunlight with my GPS showing the sunset after the sunrise.

Tuesday 12th July

Having a restless night and waking to various sounds outside one of which was a hair digging up plants.

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I got up to have breakfast and so before I left my tent I packed again and sat this time in a relatively bug free spot. I knew this wasn’t going to last as I headed north so I sat and just enjoyed it while it lasted. I set off around 9am and made my way up the valley which remains pretty flat but climbing pretty much the whole way.

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It was just great riding on such a nice day

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But with the large rocks and sharp stones there were cars that fell by the way side

After covering 30 miles and getting close to lunch I stopped at a good spot in the shade and cooked up some dinner. While I was sat a guy pulled up in a jeep and I got chatting to him. His name was Todd and had come over from BC in Canada and was heading up to Deadhorse.

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Todd was just the nicest guy and a great guy 

He was such a great guy to chat to and ended up talking for over 2 hours and giving me muffins in the process. Once we had finished chatting we said goodbye and both set off for the pass.

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Looking back after the first of two big climbs

The first of the steep hills came after another 10 miles where it levelled off and dropped into another valley.

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This looked fun to drive

As I rode towards a bend a guy in a work vehicle stopped and handed me a couple sandwiches. It was so kind of him and we ended up chatting for a while as well. He headed on and as I came around the corner I could see the 2 mile slope ahead of me.

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Looking west to the start to the pass and watching the trucks struggling up the steep gradient

Rising at a gradient of 10% meant it would be a tough one but as I got closer I spotted a traffic control. I headed to the guy at the front and asked If I could ride it but I was told I had to put my bike in a truck. I explained that I hadn’t taken a vehicle in the 40 countries I had been through and I was so close to the end. He called his boss Karen who came down the pass to see me and I explained everything to her. She said she would see what she could do and after a while headed up to speak to her boss. I sat in the car out of the way of the mosquitos which were now filling the air and chatted to the guy while I waited. Karen arrived half an hour later with the good news and the bad news.

The good news was I could ride the pass but the bad news was I could only do it at around 2am. seeing this as my only option other then to take the truck I thanked her so much for helping me. The bit I had forgot while telling her what I was doing was that I could ride the 2 miles in 15 minutes. She thought this being a little ambitious so said I could do it in 18. A time trail at 2am wasn’t what I had planned but being my last pass before the finish it seemed appropriate. With time to kill I set up my camp and chatted to the guy. It was great to hang out but feeling tired I headed to my tent to eat and rest before the big climb later.

IMGP3219 My camp until the early hours

Wednesday 13th July

I woke up at 1.11am and being given a 1.30am start I packed my tent and quickly loaded my bike. I was still half asleep but the cold air soon started to wake me and I was keen to get this over with. Wondering what on earth I was doing time trialling at 2am I have no idea but if it got me over the pass without getting in a truck I was up for it. Karen briefed me on some safety rules and once I was ready I set off.

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The awesome Karen getting very excited about me riding up the pass and she was such great company

It wasn’t long before I realised just how steep it was and how far I had to climb. Typically as I left the pilot car two trucks came up behind me but knowing what to do I wasn’t to worried and kept going. Having to stop for the second I dug deep and pushed as hard as I could to reach the top. Once over the brow I was greeted by the lovely lady who told me I had climbed the pass in 30 minutes and 17 seconds which I thought wasn’t to bad considering I was on my touring bike.

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After I chatted to her for about half an hour I set off down the other side to an incredible landscape. Being now almost 3am and the sun being low in the sky made the colours and shadows incredible.

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Watching for bears and wolves I continued to drop into the valley and try and cover around 30 miles before I stopped. Apart from taking pictures I was making good progress even with the short climbs that I had to get up and over.

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It was just mesmerising and I was actually pleased I had got to see this

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Looking back at the road as it traversed the mountain

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The road followed the pipeline down the valley with the odd truck driver on the road doing an early shift.

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Some night souls travelling the highway through the midnight sun

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It was magical riding at this time but I was shattered and I felt sticky as I hadn’t washed yet. Once I had got past Galbraith camp I started to look for a good place to put my tent. Seeing only water logged wetland I pushed on until I saw a service road to the pipeline and so I went in to pitch my tent underneath and out of sight. By the time I was ready for bed it was 4.30am and I was exhausted.

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Even though I felt horrible for not washing I was so tired I quickly fell to sleep and didn’t wake until 9am. By this point the sun was on the tent and slowly turning it into an oven.    I wheeled my bike over to my camp spot and moved my tent back in the shade while I had breakfast. I didn’t hang around long as where I had camped wasn’t allowed. I headed out to the highway and set off north and within 5 minutes of joining the road a service car came along slowly looking at the pipeline. Not knowing whether I had been reported I kept my head down and pushed on to a lake. Feeling hot and sticky I stopped to have a quick wash when I saw the Japanese cyclist I had met a few days ago coming along the road by the lake.

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This was just breathtaking looking back towards the pass

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I went over to say hi but he was tired after a long morning so I set off again leaving him to rest and started the next few steep and long climbs. By this point my whole body was tired and I still had a long way to go. I dropped down to a bridge with some clear water and decided to stop for a break. I made a coffee and ate snacks but with the mosquitos trying to get me it was hard. Once I’d put on some spray I leant against my bike and fell asleep. Although I was only asleep for a few minutes it picked me up and so packed away and got going. It wasn’t long after this that I spotted Todd coming back from Deadhorse and pulled over to say hi. We chatted for a while which was great when The Japanese guy arrived. He looked exhausted and he seemed to be happier on his own so I said goodbye to Todd and set off.

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Once over the next climb the road levelled a little which made the going a little easier. As the day went on the sun got hotter and I was starting to regret not filling up my waterbag at the last river.

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I was so thirsty and I could feel the energy being sucked out of me. I managed to collect some from a river that didn’t look great and heading on with my eyes open for something else.

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One of the trenching machines for the fibre optic cables looking more like a prehistoric animal

Nearing the end of the day I spotted some guys welding a digger bucket and asked if there was a construction camp close by. They pointed to a place 5 miles up the road and to say they had told me to go there so set off slowly getting closer.

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On arrival I explained I needed water and noticed they were all having their dinner. As I filled my water bag I was asked if I wanted to eat and within a split second I was serving up roast turkey slices, mash potato, veg and gravy which put me in heaven. Then to be given a cold soft drink and an ice lolly for desert I was back to normal. I thanked them for an early christmas and set off armed with another cold can and an ice lolly to join the road. Being told of a viewing area I could camp in 10 miles was perfect so I pushed on until I reached it. The place was great and put me 70 miles from Deadhorse but the down side was the bugs were terrible. Really needing a wash by now I got everything ready and turned my tent on to its side with the door pinned back.

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The view from my camp was incredible with the clouds

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My mosquito infested camp for the night

This gave me all the time I needed to get clean which was great. Once I was done I loaded the tent got my bed ready  and worked out my day. Since 1.30am this morning I had ridden 105 miles and climbed 1,400metres. Now only being one days ride to Deadhorse felt great and would mean I had ridden from Fairbanks in 6 and half days which I was pretty pleased with.

Thursday 14th July

I woke at 4am being shaken in my tent by the strong wind that had picked up in the night along with my Thermarest and pillow deflating. I woke up tired but having 70 miles to go till Deadhorse I wasn’t to worried about how long it took me. Although the wind was still strong the Mosquitos were sat at the door for their breakfast so I grabbed my food bag and ate in my tent. By the time I was packed and ready it had just gone 10am and started to climb one of the many steep hills ahead.

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I took it easy mainly because I was tired and once over the hills I dropped to a huge stunning plane that spread out in front of me. By the time it lunch I had covered 30 miles and still having 40 miles to go so I pulled over to eat in a lay-by. While I ate I could look out across the tundra at trucks driving the dusty highway leaving trails of dust pouring out from the rear like comets moving in the night sky.

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Although this place was bleak it had a certain peaceful charm about it especially in the low light. Feeling sleepy I applied some bug spray then leant against my bike and fell asleep.

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Although it was like being on one massive plane it was unreal and stunning

Once I had regained some energy I packed away what I had out and set off down the road to meet the first of two road construction camps. I was met by a guy called Jeramia who told me I couldn’t ride the road while it was being worked on. I asked when they finished for the day and he told me it would be around 7 to 7.30pm.

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This is Percy Pringle which is a fresh water spring formed by the ground freezing and raising the ground level 

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Jeramia at his post was such a nice guy to chat to

With it now being just after 3.30pm I decided to wait and so sat and we started chatting. Jeramia would normally work on the machines and in the winter would build ice platforms that they would build oil ridges on. Then when the ice melted the rigs would then be floating on large section of ice where the equipment could be easily removed on to boats. It was interesting listening about his work along with his tails and of almost being caught by a grizzly while working at the traffic control just two weeks before. While we sat waiting for the road to be reopened he told me about a herd of muskox that were small arctic bison that graze on the tundra. Wanting to see them I jumped in the next pilot car where the lady drove me up while she took the next load of traffic.

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Muskox grazing on the fresh pasteur as they headed north

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Checking out the new road works as they were putting two layers of insulation under the road to try and prevent the permafrost from melting

Once I returned to my bike I then had to wait for about half an hour and by 7pm I was free to go. It felt good to finally be getting closer to Deadhorse but hearing that the next road construction team were working 24 hours my hopes of riding all of it were starting to fade. Undeterred I kept on going until I had covered the 18 miles to the end of the first road construction and to the start of the next.

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Sure enough there was a pilot car waiting to take me but there was no 2-4am riding gap. Spotting a pipeline service road I said I would ride that instead and being happy to let me go I started to head off. Within a few hundred metres I spotted huge area of ice that crossed the river which was left over from the winter freeze.

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Melting arctic ice to take to the south to use in drinks with the girls and their kids to celebrate.

It was beautiful to see and looked so clear. Wanting to collect some to use as ice cubes in drinks for when the girls arrived I set about melting the ice and filled a flask with water. Being surrounded by millions of mosquitos it was a little distracting once once I had got what I wanted I headed back to my bike and got going.

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Looking back at my bike under the huge sky

It wasn’t long before the road returned to the highway but crossed to the other side where it continued. Thinking this was perfect I crossed over onto a good dirt track until I reached the pipeline that came out of the ground.

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It followed along by the road for quite a way which was amazing as I could see the heavy equipment on the road but after a while it started to move away from the highway.

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Hoping it would slowly make its way back to the road I continued on for several miles but could see the road getting further and further away. As the pipe headed north west it finally turned north where I could see it disappear off in the distance to a huge plant miles away from the town.

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Looking on as the pipeline got further away from the highway.

At this point I realised I was going to have to make a choice of either riding back and getting a lift or cutting across the tundra and getting back on the road hoping I could ride the last bit. Deciding I had got this far and I wasn’t going to get a lift for the last bit I knew I would give it everything to get there and I would cross the tundra with my bike. I set off towards what looked like tiny white buildings and the first couple hundred metres was good until I hit the water that was just below my knees.

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Looking out across the swampy tundra to a distant line of what looked like trucks only to find they were massive plies of insulation meaning I was further away from the road then I thought

Lifting my front panniers off and up out of the tall grass and water I clipped them to the back of my bike and pulled and pushed getting further away from the pipeline. By the time I had covered a mile it had taken me about 45 minutes. I checked the distance to the road and saw it was still another 3 miles away and my heart sank. Realising I was going to be doing this for some time I got my head down and continued to wade through the marsh. Although I had a swarm of mosquitos around me I did at least have a head net on to keep me from going insane and I had sprayed my hand with Deet to keep them off.

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Getting a little worried about how far I still have to go with the risk of grizzlies 

As I neared the halfway mark and now being 2 miles from the pipeline and 2 miles from the road I remembered what Jerimia had told me about the Grizzly running at him just two weeks before. At this point I started to worry and knew if a grizzly did come along there would be nothing anyone could do to help. Now having a little more motivation to keep going I pushed on having to change my route to get around the small lakes which were sat within the tundra almost invisible until I reached them. The thing that did help was it never got any deeper then my knees due to the permafrost that was 3 feet below the surface. Aiming for what I could see now were huge stacks of styrofoam that was going under the road I kept going but my body was know aching all over. I had now been heaving my bike through tall grass tufts and knee deep water for almost 3 hours. I stopped to take a breather every half an hour or so and my hands were shaking from the strain. Know only being 3/4 of a mile away I dug deep and pulled and heaved on my bike to get those last few hundred metres to the road and by 1.30am I finally reached the dirt road which just felt amazing.

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Looking back at my tracks through the marsh

Know being off the tundra and at least a little safer for any grizzlies I started to ride toward town. Being 9 miles away and most of the heavy machines behind me I now found myself heading towards a service vehicle and a pilot car. My heart sank again but I approached steadily and as I went to pass I noticed the driver who had stopped me had nodded off while waiting for a vehicle to arrive. I calmly road past and pushed on getting ever closer to town.

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2am in the morning back on the road with the sun still above the horizon

As the miles ticked away the first of many building came up with the first saying Deadhorse camp and I knew then I had made it.

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An army of huge snowcats ready for action

It was now just after 2.30am and I was shattered. I rode the deserted highway when I spotted a few campers that were parked down by the rivers edge. I looked around and saw a good place to camp. I then pitched the tent and got my dinner on the go. While the water was boiling I loaded the tent before sitting down to eat. I couldn’t believe I had made it but what I had achieved hadn’t even began to sink in. I knew I still had around 15 miles to go to the finish but the hard work was now over with. I had put so much energy into the last 7 days that I was now exhausted. For now all I was good for was sleep and being 4am thats what I was going to do.

IMGP3426This was taken at 4am 2 hours after the sun started to rise and yes it was that bright

Friday 15th July

Apart from waking up in the night to pump up my pillow and Thermarest I slept so well. I think with the added barriers and the focus on getting to Deadhorse had zapped all my energy. I woke round 9am to a cool windy day which was great as it was keeping the mosquitos down.

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9am with a plane coming into land at Dead horse

However there were enough to keep me on my toes so I still had to prepare for them. I got up, lit my stove and sat on the bank looking out to a bleak and baron landscape of tundra, the ice-cold river and huge industrial buildings designed for the harshest environment. It was however beautiful  in a that it felt stark, remote and unforgiving. This was one of the many arteries of the world that extracted the black gold from the ground in order to feed us with the raw ingredient that is used to pretty much make everything we have.

Although I still had 15 miles to go I sat looking back over our trip and where it had got me. I felt numb from the sheer emotional roller coaster of each and every country, the people we had met, the places we had seen and what we had endured mentally and physically. I felt sad Sharon wasn’t here to lift me up and and the same vice verser. Still having time left in Alaska was great as I could start to look at a life off my bike and what life had in store for me next.

I sat and made coffee while planes turned in low to land in the high winds and started to wash the kit I had in my bags. It was as if I was already getting ready to head home. Today was going to be an easy day where I could relax and sort through my things before Nancy and her brother Ric arrived. Due to fly in at 1.30pm I slowly got my things ready before heading up to the road to make my way to the airport. Being only a mile away I figured 10 minutes would do but as soon as I reached the road the wind caught me. With gusts of up to 45mph I was then battling with my bike to even move forward. As I was making my way up to the turn off I saw Tatsu coming the other way having just made it here.

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After a tough ride Tatsu had made it and was ver pleased to have finished his journey

It was great to congratulate each other and chat for a while. We talked for a moment before I needed to go to make sure I arrived to meet Nancy. Just as I arrived at the airport their plane taxied in and within a few minutes we got to meet.

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A Shelter Box being transferred my Alaska Airlines

It was so great to meet them both and to be here for when she arrived. We were then met by Trish who came to pick us up and drive us back to the Deadhorse camp.

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On arrival we then got to meet Sean who had done most of the ground work to help us and we could finally thank him for all his help. He was such a great guy who showed us around and where we would pitch the tent.

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Settling in before the trip to the finish

By this point the wind was just howling and so to pitch it would be really difficult. We got it up in the shelter of a building and then moved it out to the field but being so large with out having the chance to stake it we knew it wasn’t going to happen with just the three of us. Deciding to wait for the wind to drop we took it down and made our way inside to get acquainted.

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Nancy had been a total star in not only doing the ground work to get me to Prudhoe Bay but also for getting a Shelter Box this far north. Pretty much chatting for the rest of the day until dinner we sat down to relax and enjoy a good cooked meal from the restaurant.

Tomorrow was going to be my last few miles to the finish line and with Nancy and Ric here for support I was looking forward to it.

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Saturday 16th July

I headed to bed but I was no where near ready to sleep. I was wide awake and restless and so I made my way to the empty room opposite to do some work. I lay on the floor writing but I was to warm to sit for long. I looked out of the window and saw that the sun was still high in the sky despite being 1am. It looked peaceful out there in the wilderness and I wanted to explore.

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I went back into our room grabbed my camera and headed out. It was cool and so quiet outside but fresh enough to feel awake. I wondered around the site and walked through the huge snow vehicles that were standing ready for the harsh winter to come.

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With the sun peaking out from under a line of cloud it was beautiful and enchanting. I headed back in, climbed into bed and feel into a deep sleep then woke just before 8am. I went into our room to see if Nancy and Rick were awake and sure enough they were.

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Nancy getting to know Cowburt

We went and had breakfast and enjoyed the morning relaxing before my ride out through the oil fields to the Arctic Ocean. It wasn’t long before Dave our driver arrived and asked if we wanted to go earlier. This was great as it would give us more time out at the ocean and time when we got back to relax. We got ourselves ready by 11.30am, I loaded Dolly for her last ride north, put Champagne in the bottle cage and soon we were ready to go.

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Dave drove around to pick up Nancy and Rick and escort me out to the bay. This was incredible as no one is normally allowed to be outside the van until the ocean but yet with Nancy’s amazing charm and Sean’s hard work and enthusiasm I was here ready to go. We set off and I rode back in through Deadhorse and turned towards the oilfields.

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What I was doing hadn’t quite sunk in yet and so I continued to ride until I was away from the main buildings. As I rode I started to settle into the ride and it started to dawn on me that I was almost there and alI I had been through to get here. The realisation that Sharon wasn’t here was so hard and the memories of what had happened came flooding back. Somehow this didn’t feel like an achievement with out her because it was never meant to be like this but yet here I was. I cried as I rode which made me feel numb even thinking about it. The whole thing was so overwhelming and so hard to comprehend.

I then started to think about calling my parents and Sharon’s parents when the memory of ringing them to tell them about Sharon being killed came back to me. It was all I could do to keep peddling but I had to keep going, I had to get through this. As the miles ticked away I saw my first glimpse of the ocean and the end of the road. I didn’t know what to do and stood there just staring at it as if it was a foreign object. Was this really the end? was this what it was all about? what do I do now? Rick called to me and said go on then. It was what I needed to make my way to the waters edge and dip my wheel in the water. I was here and the effort both mentally and physically was incomprehensible. I stood numb with tears in my eyes when I saw Nancy walking down with a banner with Shelter Box on it and I realised then it was all worth that extra effort, that extra push up the hill, the insect bites and the hot winds, even the hike across the marsh all to help people who had lost everything.

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I could get dirty and wash, I could go with out sleep and find a place to rest, I could call home and speak to loved ones and thats what kept me going. Nancy handed me her phone so I could call home and at first it wouldn’t work but then I got through. It was so great to say I had made it but equally as hard knowing I had failed to take care of my wife.

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With a lump in my throat both my parents and Sharon’s were full of love and support which was incredible. I could also confirm to Sharon’s mum that after searching the world she really does make the best coffee cake but don’t tell anyone because they are all mine. Wanting to lift my bike to celebrate would have been a good idea but after 4 hours of dragging my bike through a marsh up to my knees I needed a hand.

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Tom from BP and Dave our awesome guide and driver giving me a hand 

I was here and to have Nancy and Rick here with me along with the Shelter box was just incredible. With the Champagne open and Dolly my bike, Cowburt my travel companion, my Bolivian wife and child who still refused to wash and me were rewarded with a drop of the bubbly on us along with some to drink.

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Cowburt having his share for being a great companion

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Cowburt and I having finally making it to the finish

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I know I don’t know why I went in either but it was warmer then I thought it would be

With all this done it was time to take the plunge and get into the Arctic ocean and yes it was as cold as England on christmas morning. Once out I wrapped up in my down jacket where I got to meet Tom from BP.

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Nancy, Rick and David were just the most amazing people and I felt proud to have met them all and so grateful for all they had done to get me to the finish.

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He was really great and interested in what I had done and was so kind in congratulating me. We then loaded Dolly and all my bags into the truck and headed back through the oilfields to the camp via the end of the Dalton Highway.

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Nancy, Cowburt and me in Deadhorse

I couldn’t believe I had done it and a huge weight was now lifted and I could start to look to the future. I had no idea what it would hold but I knew I was looking forward to going home and rebuilding my life with my family and friends. Taking a shower once back at the camp felt incredible and it was like washing away more the just mud and sand. I joined Rick and Nancy for dinner which was just what I needed and enjoyed their company. I thanked Sean for all he had done and then he told me he had managed to arrange a ride for me back to Fairbanks.

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Sean was just the most awesome person in organising my way through the oilfields and my lift back to Fairbanks

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Taking a look around at the world that was momentarily on hold before the winter storms hit and turned it into one of the most inhospitable places on the planet

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Ground squirrel making the most of the food while he can

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Just a few of the hardy flowers that make it through the harsh winters to colour the landscape

This was incredible and I just didn’t know what to say. It had been so overwhelming what they had done to allow me to finish this and to complete this journey right to the end not just for me but for the thousands of people that have followed us and me, put their faith in me to finish and to give hope to so many lives. It was the last challenge and they had made it happen seamlessly. With dinner over we headed back to our room when Tom from BP arrived to give me a few souvenirs from their company. I was just in awe of the kindness of so many and he was one of so many that made this whole experience memorable. With our dinner ready we sat and ate another amazing meal before sitting down with Nancy to watch a movie. It was the perfect end to a tough but incredible day.

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Looking at this cloud formation I knew I had timed it right to get here as this would mean rain and a lot of it

Tomorrow I would be heading south back to Fairbanks where I would get to stay with Margaret and Leroy again and plan for my journey south to Anchorage. Having just over a week before Amanda, Avril, Lucy and their kids joined me I could have a warm-down ride along the parks highway and possibly get to see Denali national park. I was now heading home all be it a few weeks a way but I was heading home and I couldn’t wait.

Starting off at the beginning of the Haul road also known as The Dalton highway and riding up the north slopes had been in my mind for so long and yet here I was at the most northerly point that was accessible by road. I had started it wanting it to be hard and thats exactly what it had become. The first two days from Fairbanks had been so hilly and combined with the heat and the steep dirt road I knew I was in for what I had asked for. Once I had reached the Yukon river the road did even out slightly and although still tough going I could at least enjoy the views. Reaching my last pass should have been fairly straight forward but with the will of endurance and wanting it to be memorable, ending up in me doing a timed hill climb seemed to be quite fitting. With roadworks thrown in to test my will to ride all of it, the last part really was a test of body and mind having to wait 4 hours for the first section to be open when I could have easily given in and taken a pickup and the second involving me having to cross 4 miles of Marshy tundra in grizzly country. Once I was in Deadhorse however a new and much bigger challenge awaited me. Although the last part not to mention the last four years had been tough I now had 18 miles to the finish to try and comprehend what I was about to achieve on my own.

Reaching Prudhoe Bay meant so much to me, It was the end of the north American Continent, the end of the Americas, the end of the riding the two longest landmasses in the world, crossing 5 continents and the end of a journey we had both set out to complete it together.  Although I’d had endless hours to think about this and the moments leading up to the finish I wouldn’t know until I rode the last few miles to the Arctic Ocean which I knew I couldn’t prepare my mind for such a thing. The sheer enormity was hard to even fathom and the emotional rollercoaster we had both been on and the one I was left with was too big to know where to start. Arriving at the end without Sharon was like having a massive lead weight on my heart knowing she wasn’t there to share the joy of finishing what was our dream. Instead I was left feeling numb and sad I had arrived alone. The memory of making those phone calls home to Sharon’s family and then to mine after she had been killed, a call which no parent or sister should never have to hear hit me hard leaving me in tears and made the call home home to say I had finished even harder. They were however all so kind and all I got was praise and love. I knew this was the end of one hard and emotional chapter in my life and the start of a new one. 

Although the end was so hard in so many ways it was a huge weight off of me knowing I had done it. So many people had been behind me willing me on, I had completed a journey that we had set out to do and although it was so hard knowing Sharon wasn’t there I know felt I could now start something new. 

It may sound like I wasn’t enjoying it and looking to the end and not for the Here and Now and in some ways I was but that was only because of what had happened to Sharon. Since her passing I have wanted to finish this for her but also for me. I knew I needed to finish this before I could start my own life and so for that reason I did focus on the end. 

Heading back to Bolivia was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do after Sharon was killed but in going back I have forced myself to face my demons and try to become stronger. I have met incredible people in all walks of life and all of them I have learnt from in one way or another. Heading home for christmas almost ended my journey as it had made me so home sick that the thought of riding the whole length of Mexico, America, Canada and Alaska so huge and scary but luckily I had the Mexicans to thank for picking me up and loving to ride my bike again. Being surrounded by such warm and welcoming people had given me the kick up the bum I needed and had set me up for the last part of my trip up through the America’s and Canada.

Having now finished I was faced with a new journey and one that involved going home and starting a new life, One I was used to but one that was alone and so different to the life I have been living for so long. After 4 years of living out of bags and always on the move, the thought of going back to work and setting the alarm clock without the freedom of the road was draughting. Luckily for me I love where I live, I love my family and also all my friends and however much I hate the alarm clock I know I will be ok. 

I have heard so many people ask me if I knew when I started what I know now would I do it again and my first reaction would be no because of losing Sharon but then most of us wouldn’t do anything if we knew then what we know now. Before Sharon and I started this trip I spent almost 4 years of our life watching and helping Sharon recover from sever back problems resulting in 7 months of that with her hardly being able to walk. Knowing how far she had come, the motivation and drive to get better and to see her recover through so much hard work and pain then to come out the other side so strong, so happy and so proud of what she had done meant it was the most powerful effect on making the right choice to do this trip and to make the most of every second we have. 

I’m also asked how I feel about what I have achieved and to be honest it hasn’t really sank in yet but the way I see it its just a long bike ride. The reason for this is that I see so many people going through life on their own journey. whether it’s dealing with Cancer, illness whether its mental or physical, losing a loved one and having to pick up the pieces, battling through drug or alcohol recovery. I also see people picking up tin cans to make ends meet and living off the tiny scraps that life puts before them and yet here I am with a British passport that allows me to travel the world, My health thanks to where I live, A good lifestyle and the support of the NHS (national health service) that Sharon wouldn’t have achieved what she did if it wasn’t the care and dedication of so many incredible doctors and nurses to get here better, Who work endlessly to try and  keep each and everyone one of us in the UK healthy no matter race, religion or wealth and something I have come to appreciate so much more especially after riding around the world.  

Having done this trip I have learnt so much about the world and the main thing is that it is a good place, in fact its an incredible place with the most breathtaking places and the most wonderful people. I can see that no one wants to be in a war, people want to be in a loving family, have loving friends and have the best for everyone around them. It has been so amazing hearing from people who have gone to the places that previously they wouldn’t have even considered and have as a result loved it. Or have tried new things they would never have done before.  I get excited about people heading to south America where Sharon and I have been to and know they will have adventures very different to ours but they are out there doing it. I love it when I see family and friends doing well whether it through sports or academia. I think about the exciting times that kids have ahead of them after doing their first dance lesson, their first camping trip, their first proper bike ride, their first poem or painting, their first newspaper article, their first horse ride and know they will all look back and know it was those first times and the times that they were supported by their parents, their teachers and of course their friends that will change their lives forever. 

Knowing I have had this opportunity to do this trip has made me appreciate more of what I have and what I have had and has made me think about how all of it can change in an instant.

Finding ShelterBox as a charity to support wasn’t hard because once we looked at the charity it was so obvious how incredible the charity was and how effective it is in helping so many that have no say in what happens next. With everything ripped from underneath so many people affect by causes beyond their control and to have ShelterBox arrive like angels to put them back on their feet and help them rebuild their lives is astounding.  Losing Sharon was the most horrific thing to happen in my life but having Shelterbox to put my life into perspective in what it it like to lose the person you love so much helped me pick myself up and finish my ride and in that time I have been constantly reminded of the sheer amount of time, effort and resources The Rotary International, companies, large corporations and you put into the charity.

With my journey north now over and being at the end of the road it was time to get my head around what I had done and make my way back to Fairbanks. From there I would ride my bike to Anchorage as a warm down ride and meet up with Nancy Dodge again and join her for her birthday. With my bike then left to put its wheels up I could relax with a few days off before I would then be joined by 3 very good friends that I have known for many years along with their children and head to the Kenai peninsula for a holiday. It was just what I needed before I headed home and I couldn’t wait. I was so ready for some time off and some R&R with friends and these three I knew I would have a amazing time and I couldn’t wait. 

Thanks for reading xxx

Country stats and overall totals

41- Alaska (USA)

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Alaska’s state flag

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Currency: Approx  £1=1.37 dollars

Number of days in country: 15 so far from Alcan border to Prudhoe Bay

Totals from Ushuaia Southern tip of Argentina/ South America

20,131 miles/ 32,391 km,  total alt gain 369,357 metres

Total distance cycled in Alaska: 830miles / 1,335km

Total altitude gain in Alaska: 11,811metres

Running Distance total: 36,279mls /58,373 km

Running Altitude total: 563,151 metres

Altitude gain per mile: 14.23metres/mile

Currently drinking beer in Alaska!!

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(158) The Start of the End, Alaska

The last few weeks in Canada had been amazing after seeing so much from Glaciers, Moose, Loads of black bears and even a grizzly. I had also become to love the country for its scenery and the warm and welcoming people that were everywhere which now reinforced what I had expected of the Canadians. Losing Cowburt was so sad especially to close to the end but now being reunited we could ride on together to the end.  I had put in some big days in Canada in order to have the time to get to Prudhoe Bay on time but with the hassle of the border I was tired. I was however now in Alaska and almost there and I could feel my body just wanting to keep going. Having a rest planned in Fairbanks with the courtesy of Nancy Dodge’s friends I was looking forward to the rest. It was hard to get my head around the fact I was almost there and that soon I would be going home. I knew that once I reached Fairbanks the road north was going to be tough so I needed to take it a little easier so I wasn’t exhausted before I started. 

Saturday 2nd July

Although I had slept well I was so tired when I woke that I had to drag myself out of bed. I made a coffee but that wasn’t enough so made another and ate the rest of the food I had left. Although I had nuts on me the thought of eating more put me off. I had over eaten nuts in the states so much so I was starting to grow a big bushy tail. Deciding the ones I had opened would be better off in the squirrels tummy I enjoyed watching them eat while I tried to build up enough motivation to climb on my bike and get to Tok.

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Being 64 miles away it should be an easy day after three days of 95 miles but I wasn’t in the head space or had the energy to keep going. I did however pack up and get going and the 2km ride up to the highway was a sign of how tired I was going to be for the rest of the day. Although the road was good it climbed and fell constantly and my gears weren’t helping.

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Slipping in the ones I needed I either had to try to just put up with it or change into one that didn’t slip which would either be to easy and a longer climb or harder which I didn’t have the energy for.

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After so much rain the river was looking high 

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Now with the storm past or at least this one the sun lit the road head

I had been told the road to Tok was uninteresting and tough which was partly true but the uninteresting bit was actually nice. The constant climbs made it slow going but the views of the mountains far off in the distance and the firs struggling to grow in these harsh conditions made it worth the ride.

I think this was a Falcon guar dinging its territory from me 

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I spotted Wayne and Nina’s little old caravan which had finally given up which was such a shame.

As the hours ticked past the miles never seemed to drop but I knew I was tired and every peddle stroke was one closer to the finish. Apart from stopping at a garage to grab a snack I pushed on and reached the town by 5pm and found a place to camp. I was so pleased to be here and knew the next few days should be easier. With time for a beer to celebrate being in my last country I headed across the road to relax.

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Reaching the cold and wet settlement of Tok

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Just had to take a picture of this 1936 John Deere

With 707 miles to go I was now on the final countdown but knew the last bit wasn’t going to be easy. With a rest planned in Fairbanks I just had to keep going for a little longer and I would have the chance to rest and regain my energy for the toughest bit yet up the northern slopes known as the Dalton Highway or the Haul road.

Sunday 3rd July

The rain fell on the tent as I tried to sleep which had luckily stopped by the time I was ready to get up. I sat in the RV park and made myself a coffee to start my day under a grey and gloomy sky trying to get enough energy to get going. Not feeling very motivated or awake to get ready I sat sipping my drink when the lovely couple next to me came to say goodbye before they set off. It was nice to see them and were so sweet which also kicked me up the bum to get going.

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With the mountains in full view I was excited about what lay ahead

I left the town on the very long and straight highway that pretty much stayed flat. It was an easy ride out of town and maybe I should have put my music on to keep me occupied but today I was tired and slow but I was at least covering the miles. As I headed further west the clouds were starting to build ahead of me and so wondered if I was going to get wet.

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Having to negotiate the road works slowed me a little but I kept going wanting to get past Dot Lake to leave me with an easy day tomorrow.

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Dot lake with the recent storm heading east away from me

As the time ticked on I decided to stop and grab a snack so pulled over off the highway. While I checked my phone I saw I had a message and ended up calling my friend Bridget. It was so lovely seeing a friendly face and made me feel so close to home. I showed her where I was and felt cool being able to show her my bike and the mountains around. I set off feeling better but I knew the two cookies I had eaten for dinner were no substitute for any kind of meal.

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Deciding to stop and eat properly I pushed on to Dot lake only to find everything was closed down. Not having much water on me I was starting to think what I should do and with the storm ahead becoming imminent I decided I would stop when it got heavy and catch rain water. It didn’t take long before the light rain got heavier and so I pulled out my ground sheet and used it as a tarp which I then strung out from my bike. As I sat underneath I was soon collecting water in my bottle which I then transferred to my water bag. Not being clear water I knew I could at least cook and wash with it so made me relax enough not to worry. Wanting to get another 20 miles I dug deep and decided to stop and eat where I was going to camp. After a couple more hours I reached a parking place with a large clearing behind that was perfect. With the sun now out I lay everything that was wet out to dry and went to an area away from my camp to cook just in case of bears.

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Not a bad campsite for the evening 

Having beans and tinned sausages was what was on the menu which I didn’t think would attract the bears but not really having anything else it would have to do. With my things all dry I set up camp, washed in the open then loaded my things in the tent ready for bed. By this time it was 8pm and I thought it would be a great time to work on my blog but as soon as I was in the tent I needed to lay down to take 5 minutes and thats all I remember.

Monday 4th July

Waking up after falling into a deep sleep to be bitten by mosquitos wasn’t great then to have to wipe the blood off my arms wasn’t so nice. Once I had got rid of them I closed the tent door and slept for another 3 hours. I couldn’t believe how tired I was and how unprepared I was. Getting up I packed my things then made a coffee with half the water i’d got left. Only having two chocolate bars left to eat I sat eating them knowing I only had 43 miles to ride.

 

I set off around 9am and took it easy and slowly ticking off the miles. The road was good, flat and the traffic was kind making my morning ride quite pleasurable. I soon reached the very wide Jackson river which opened out to show some stunning vistas of the mountains.

The huge Jackson river

Still feeling tired and not having eaten anything much I slowly rode on when I spotted a phone cover on the road. I stopped and looked then spotted another bit, then another. Looking at the way it was spread across the road I could see it must have fallen from a car and that there must be a phone around somewhere. After a couple minutes of looking I found a very large iPhone that was still in great condition. Once again I removed the sim put in my phone and rode on until I got a signal. After riding for another hour I spotted a cyclist coming the other way to see it was Gary my host riding out to meet me. He handed me a banana which was amazing and then met two German cyclists who were heading south.

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Meeting some fellow cyclists

We chatted a while before they set off leaving Gary and I to ride back to his house.  I soon received a call from my phone and arranged to meet the owner and so after a few miles we arrived at the turn off for Gary’s house.

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Great to have Gary as a cycle companion

A vehicle pulled up and Gary started to talk to the guys who he used to teach at school only to find it was one of the guys phone. Feeling great that this was phone number 5 returned we rode the last few miles to Gary’s house and I got to meet his lovely wife Cheryl. I was then made to feel very much at home, having a shower, getting my clothes washed, charging my things and eating the most amazing mint choc chip cookies. With a 4th of July BBQ planned I caught up on a couple things before I headed out to meet Gary and Cheryl’s friends. With so many coming along It was great to meet them and enjoy chatting with them all.

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They were all such a lovely group of friends

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The view of the mountains very close to where Gary and Cheryl live

I felt so lucky to be part of this celebration and being part of their independence I could boo at the bits of the declaration for leaving the UK which was funny as it was at the time of the UK leaving Europe. After a long week it was a great end to a long day and I was almost their. With 100 miles left to Fairbanks and a trip to the north pole tomorrow I was then going to have a day off to rest before my last big push north to the finish line.

Tuesday 5th July

After an amazing 4th of July party I had slept well and felt ready to take on the new day which was lucky as I had over 90 miles to cover to get to The North Pole. I joined Gary and Cheryl for breakfast where Cheryl kept feeding me making sure I had more then enough energy to get me to my next place. Gary was the same as me in the morning and trying to wake up which made me feel better knowing i’m not the only one who struggles with mornings.

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The wonderful Cheryl and Gary in front of their lovely home

Once we were ready to go I said goodbye to Cheryl and thanked her for her kindness. We loaded my bike in the truck and headed back out to the highway where we had turned off the day before. As the morning had gone on the clouds were building fast which made me pleased we had taken some pictures of the mountains last night. As we drove along the drive we reached a junction only to see a moose with it’s two calves crossing the road.

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It was so cool to see her

It was so cool to see her and I was so pleased we were so close. Once back at the highway Gary dropped me off and headed off into town where I was heading. With 7 miles to go I soon covered the distance and met Gary at the official end of the Alaskan highway.

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Heading north to Delta Junction with the snow capped mountains hidden behind the clouds

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Reaching the end of the Alaskan highway and the amazing company of Gary

It was now time to say my thanks and head on northwest towards Fairbanks. I set off on the long flat road which was exactly as he had described, 25 miles of flat road then 25 miles of hills then back to flat roads again. I was making good progress but the wind was slowing me enough just to slow me a little. Having a pack lunch kindly made by Cheryl I made sure I stopped and had a proper break which I hadn’t been doing over the last few days. With the wind picking up and dark black clouds getting ever closer behind it wasn’t particularly relaxing.

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My first view of the Pipeline that comes down from the oilfields where I would be headingIMGP2725

Getting back to it I stuck at it knowing that behind those clouds was an incredible mountain range. It was a shame I couldn’t see it but on the bright side I wasn’t getting wet. Although my pace was slowing I made it to North pole and stopped at the visitors centre.

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Cowburt and I having a little fun

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This was Santas house but he was away at the south pole visiting friends

It was so cool to be at the North pole all be it a town. Once past Santa’s house I turned off on to Badger road and by this point I was getting close. After another 10 minutes of looking I found the right house with Rory working outside. It was so great to feel welcome and then to be introduced to Rory’s lovely wife Kim and their son Timothy. I was then given time to shower, have my clothes washed and then sit down to enjoy their company while I ate an amazing steak dinner. They were so kind and once again I felt so lucky to be in the company of even more wonderful people.

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Such a kind family who made me feel so at home

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Along with their sweet dogs who didn’t want to miss out on the action

Now being only 15miles from Fairbanks I had a very easy day tomorrow to reach my next host where I was going to have a couple day off. I was almost there and this last stop was going to give me the strength and rest to ride the last hard bit to the end and I couldn’t wait.

Wednesday 6th July

Waking up to see it was 8.45am and knowing that Rory was coming back at 9am I got up and quickly packed my things only to realise I still hadn’t changed my watch to Alaskan time. Now with an extra hour to spare I could then relax, drink coffee, have breakfast and send some emails. It was great to have the extra time and with a short ride into town I knew it would be an easy day. Before I was ready to leave I got a message from Patrick and Ratna to say they were in Fairbanks and would I like to meet up. Not having seen them since Zacatecas in Mexico I got going and rode the 15 miles into town.

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Finally reaching Fairbanks

Arranging to meet in McDonalds I soon arrived and I was then shortly joined by Patrick and Ratna. It was so great to see them again and have the time to sit and chat about what we had all been up to over the last 4 and a half months.

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Reunited with Patrick and Ratna

We pretty much chatted for about 4 hours and I could have stayed for longer but having arranged to head up to Margret and Leroy’s house in the hills, It was time to say our goodbyes and head on. Needing to head to an REI outdoor shop to change my air mattress I soon found the place and changed my mattress to a thermarest which I had always been pleased with. Needing to exit before I spent my life savings I loaded my bike with my new purchase and set off out of town. After a climb out of the city and navigating a few small lanes I arrived at my next host Margret and Leroy who were every bit as nice as I had been told. I was welcomed with warmth and excitement and made to feel like I had lived here for years. I was cooked an amazing fresh Salmon dinner followed by a dip in the hot tub and to cool down I was then given ice-cream with hot chocolate sauce all in their beautiful lodge cabin that was surrounded by a beautiful woodland.

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Such a lovely place with another great couple

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I was in heaven 

All these people were friends of Nancy Dodge and non of them were making it easy to leave and finish my ride. Each person I had met all I wanted to do was stay and enjoy their amazing hospitality and to soak up these amazing people. Luckily this time I had a couple days off and I was in a beautiful place with beautiful surroundings and I just felt lucky to be here.

Thursday 7th July

Being further and further north, it never seemed to get dark outside and so I had to pull down the black out blind. Hearing Margret and Leroy up I got up and joined them for an amazing breakfast that Margret had prepared. Deciding it was time to look at flights home I searched the internet and after some very expensive flights I found one that was a good deal. With the pound dropping like a stone after the UK left the EU I did wonder if I could pay with Peanut M&M’s as these seemed to be holding their value better then the pound. It took a while to process my booking and hoping it had gone through using my card I headed down into Fairbanks with Leroy to have lunch with his friends.

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It was so great to hang out with these guys and chat

It was great to get out and head into town and really great to meet all his friends. Once we’d had lunch it was then off to the supermarket to restock my food bag for the road north. Having only two places to get anything to eat over the next 500 miles of mainly dirt road I needed to be prepared. Having brought most of the shop we then headed back to the house to try and make my bike as light as possible. Having the advantage of returning to Margaret and Leroy’s meant I could leave all the things I didn’t need behind and collect them on my way back. Once I was finished I had a shower and sat to eat an amazing Moose roast that they had both prepared.

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Margret and Leroy preparing an incredible Moose roast

It was so cool to try new things and although I’d had moose before I had never had it as a roast. Once we were finished Leroy took me out in the car while Margret rode her bike and we headed out to the oil line to learn about its construction.

It was so interesting to see it and I was so pleased to see it before I followed the line tomorrow on my bike.

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Some pipe line facts

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We headed back to the house when I was then asked if I wanted pie and ice cream. Unable to turn down anything with the name pie or ice-cream in the name. I sat down to enjoy the moment. It was so amazing to have this before I set off on my journey north and would certainly give me the energy I needed.  Still with some work to do before I set off I headed to bed to sort through my things and get ready for my long and final ride north tomorrow.

Friday 8th July

With the plan not to leave until tomorrow then hearing that the weather window was perfect I thought I would put in half a days ride to take the pressure off. Although I had slept well I wanted a lay in before the big push and so put my eye mask on as the sun got ever brighter. I got up around 9am and joined Margret and Leroy for breakfast which was great as I felt so relaxed around them. Still having some work to do on my blog I finished off a few bits then started to get my things ready. As it got closer to lunch time a few of Margret’s friends arrived for an afternoon catch up. Having time to eat before I left I joined them for some lunch and finished packing the last few bits on my bike. Having removed a load of my stuff had really helped lighten my bike but the amount of food had more then made up for it. Margret had kindly made me some Salmon and mayo mix and fried up some moose meat for the journey which was amazing.

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Margret and me in their stunning garden

I was ready to go by 1.30pm and said by thanks and set off down the road to the highway. It wasn’t long before the first long climb started but having just had lunch and only needing to do 32 miles I took it easy.

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As the road climbed and fell I kept it steady and I was soon knocking off the miles. As I got closer to where I had thought I would camp I thought I might as well make the most of feeling good and keep going.

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Perfect weather to be heading north

The sun was shining, there was little wind, hardly any bugs and I knew the more I did today the easier it would be over the next few days. Keeping it steady I continued on and started to climb when I saw my first porcupine.

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It was so cool and much bigger then I thought it would be. I watched it for a bit before it disappeared into the bush leaving me to get on with the ride. I checked a few distances while I rode and decided I would try and get to the start of the Dalton Highway. I knew it was much further then I had planned but with it being so nice I knew I would also feel better for getting there.

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With the sun still high in the sky and getting close to 6pm I stopped in a parking area that had a breeze and cooked some dinner. Even though I still had 35 miles to go it would mean my bike was a little lighter and I wouldn’t have to cook later and have the risk the bears.

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Once I had eaten my pasta with fresh salmon and moose burgers I set off and started to climb the next big hill. Although they were slow going once I was at the top I could relax and enjoy the descent the other side.

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As the day went on the light wind dropped and the mosquitos came out. They weren’t to bad but I would find myself riding then get bitten. These ones were faster then the ones I’d had before  and I had been warned about them. As the miles ticked away I was starting to get tired but after a bit of digging in I reached the start of the highway and found a good place to camp.

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Now at the end of the Elliot and the start of the Dalton Highway AKA the Haulroad

Although it was now 9.30pm and still having to pitch the tent and wash all with an increasing number of mosquitos I had at least got here and managed to get 73 miles closer to Prudhoe Bay leaving me with 414 miles to go.

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Being left with a crazy cloud formation hopefully meant good weather for the next few days

This last week had been just what I needed to prepare me for my final push north. Although I had started in Alaska tired, the flat roads and lovely people had prepared me for the tough road ahead. Although I hadn’t planned on leaving so early, with the weather being so good I had to get going to make the most of it. Now being at the start of the Dalton highway I knew this was it the last stretch. Rain, wind, sun, animals, trucks, mosquitos, bad gravel roads and endless hills I was almost there and would do anything to get there. In away I wanted this bit to be tough so it wasn’t such an anticlimax to finish a journey that had been so tough in so many ways but then I should know better to be careful for what I wish for.

Thanks for reading  xx

(157) Whitehorse to Alaska

The last week in Canada started off with losing my travel buddy Cowburt who had been with me from the start. We had sen so much together and he held a huge amount of sentimental value which made me feel alone without him. I knew he was a toy cow but after all that I had been through he had been there through it all. Having been invited to stay with JM and his family was amazing and being in the  Canadian mounted police he had managed to scrabble an emergency team of land and air teams who scoured the land tracking any tiny footprints that finally lead him to  9month old child’s house. knowing he was safe and on his way back after his mind adventure it was time to rejoin forces and head into Alaska for a day then on up through the Yukon to the Alaskan border. Although I was excited to be so close to the end of my penultimate country I was really going to miss the people and the scenery and knew I would have to come back and see it properly.

Monday 27th June

The day had come to leave White Horse and say goodbye to another amazing family. I got up and had breakfast when James came down to see how I was doing. As I was almost ready JM and Cowburt arrived to drive me down to Carcross to continue my journey.

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Cowburt happy to be back 

It was so great to see Cowburt again and just thought it was brilliant that he had been on his own little adventure and had been creating his own Facebook page. I thanked James for his and his families kindness and helping me rest but again it was hard thinking I had made a friend and yet had to say goodbye.

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Two amazing guys JM and James

We set off out of town when JM informed me if I reached Skagway early enough I may get the chance to go up in his friends helicopter and be taken to a glacier. Getting quite excited about the prospect I decided I was going to give it everything and try and get there as soon as possible. We soon arrived on the edge of the village where it was once again time to say goodbye to JM.

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Saying goodbye to a new friend 

He had been a real star not only bringing me down but having made the effort to find Cowburt and to bring him to me. With Cowburt safety secured to my bar bag once again I set off and started the climb.

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The road climbed around 100 metres to a beautiful lake and then continued to climb and fall as it follows the mountains.

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The scenery was incredible making me want to take a million pictures. Not wanting to stop to much I grabbed a banana every once in  a while to give me energy and continued to slowly climb.

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As I neared the top I could see a train coming and as it got closer I could see it was a steam train. It looked amazing with they high snow capped mountains behind and looked like a great way to travel and to see this beautiful area.

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The White pass railway heading through the stunning scenery

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I can’t find the words

After a long slog I finally reached the summit with loads of time to spare and dropped towards Skagway and the American border. Dropping from just over a 1000 metres to sea level was just amazing and the ride down was so great.

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Finally at the pass at over 1000 metres and its all down hill to the sea.

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Having had a strong head wind all morning was now helping as it was saving me from braking as it slowed me down. On reaching the border I was asked a few questions about my trip and was then asked to come in and answer more questions. Having cycled through the Sudan 3 years previously was now a security risk and I then had to wait to be processed and checked. I was there for 3 hours waiting and even the guys doing the processing thought it was silly. After what felt like a lifetime I was then told I could only enter the US one more time and so going to Skagway was now out of the question along with any helicopter ride. Even though my visa weaver was in date I decided the only option was to return to White Horse and head west. Turning around I looked up the hill and thought to myself oh no. I had put everything into getting here and I had very little in the tank left to climb another 1000 metres. Deciding to hitch was my best option but not at the immigration office. I started to climb and got off when a car passed but no one stopped. I continued to climb and saw a tow truck come up the hill so did the same. That to went past along with a few other vehicles and so I continued to push on when a few minutes later the tow truck returned and asked where I was going. Picking the first town of Carcross he was happy to take me and so I unloaded my bike and off we went. We chatted for a while and soon reached the Canadian border where I was interested to see what happens here. With a few questions we were allowed to continue and so we got chatting some more. Joe was an interesting guy having grown up in the former Yugoslavia and told me a story of saving a Canadian pilot in the war. It was fascinating listening to him and just incredible what he had gone through. He was a kind man with a colourful history that I was grateful to have met and he was so kind to drive me all the way to Whitehorse.

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Many people would just see a tow truck driver but this guy had a heart of gold and someone to be admired

We arrived at the house where I was welcomed in and made to feel at home. I sat chatting to the boys while they played there games when shortly after James arrived back having driven to the border to find me. I couldn’t believe he had gone all that way and made me more frustrated with my US sim card that didn’t work. Now back where I started I would have to try again but this time west to the border hoping I would be allowed in to finish the trip I had started.

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Feeling despondent it was time to get on the trampoline with Bear and have some fun

Tuesday 28th June

Having been turned back from the border yesterday I was left with my original plan and to head straight to Haines Junction then on to Beaver Creek hoping I would be allowed in their.

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Their gorgeous cat making sure I had everything

Being just under 100 miles away I got up early and had the chance to thank Samantha for having me before she headed off to work. I finished packing the rest of my things then joined James and the boys for breakfast.

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James, Lucas and Bear were just the best

Although I had been held up another day I had enjoyed being here and would leave feeling revitalised. Being ready around 9am James and the boys came to see me off and Bear road to the end of the road with me which was so cool.

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Riding with the next generation of adventurer

It was now time to get my head down and cover the miles to Haines junction. After covering around 5 or 6 miles I started to think that it would be a good idea to ask James if he and the boys wanted to meet up at Haines junction and camp as e had mentioned he wanted to try out his new tent. Before I left the built up area I found a phone box and made a call to make the suggestion. Sounding keen I left it with him and pushed on west with the wind in my face and slowing me down. The road was fairly flat and uninteresting making me wish I had been let through the border but with it being fairly flat I was covering the miles.

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The view did seem to get better as I got closer to the mountains

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The clouds made up for any boring bits

Spotting a rest area I stopped to grab a snack from my bag to give me a bit more energy when a guy came over who was from Wales. I went over to their camper to meet his wife and was lovely to hear about their trip. Heading the way I had come I gave them some pointers of where to see and still having a long way to go I said my goodbyes and set off. After riding for around an hour I saw a car pulled over in front of me and a guy stopped and told me their was a young grizzly ahead. As I got closer I pulled up quietly and watched it as it grazed of flower heads.

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I could have watched him for hours

It was beautiful and so chilled so not feeling threatened I watched it for quite a while before I decided to leave it be and head on.

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As I rode on I was now getting hungry again and spotted a sign for the services ahead. Seeing this as a great chance to grab a cooked meal and relax I pulled in ordered my food then asked if there was wifi. Being able to connect I managed to send a few messages, check my emails and have a good break at the same time. With James now due to arrive at Haines junction at 7.30pm meant I had to get going and try and arrive at the same time. As I got ever nearer the scenery got more and more spectacular with the mountains rising out of the ground like giant guardians looking out over the forests.

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It was just incredible to be here and see this in front of me.

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It was hard not to be encapsulated by them and felt lucky to be in such a beautiful place. As I got within 10 miles I saw an animal cross the road in front of me to see it was a Coyote tracking down its pray.

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It was the first time I had seen one in the wild and stood once again just watching it as it disappeared into the forest. Riding on I then came across a cyclist called Jan who was looking for a camp spot. He was a really nice guy and really great to chat to and it would have been great to have chatted longer.

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As the time moved on I was almost 8 miles from the junction when James arrived with Lucas in tow. It was really great to see them and so made a plan on where to meet while they drove on into town. I soon arrived at the camp ground which was in the forest and all the camp spots had a fire place. I went to find an axe when James arrived and we got the fire going.

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With the camp set up we then relaxed for the evening chatting and having a look around. It was so great to have them both here and it was also Lucas’s first ever camping trip. It was mad to think he was at the start of a lifetime of adventures and in a way I envied him for all the new experiences he would learn for himself.

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Its moments like these I felt proud to be part of and can only imagine what adventures lay ahead

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This was what it is all about and he had countless trips in front of him following his dreams and desires he just had to chose what he wanted and when to do them.

Wednesday 29th June

As the night went on it got colder but not enough to want to disturb the warm air in my sleeping bag to put my thermal on. I woke up and checked the time to see it was already 9am and James and Lucas were already up. I packed away my things and went to join them for breakfast.

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It was so great having them with me and made my normal quiet breakfast much more fun. With James wanting to head back to Haines junction to grab a snack I loaded my bike and we headed the few miles into town.

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The mountains behind the town were just amazing and I had to keep pinching myself at their beauty. I reached the town and ordered some food then sat with James and Lucas while we waited.

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Once we had eaten it was time to say goodbye and head off. It had been so great for them both to come down and it really made my day. Dropping out of town I reached the junction and turned north towards Burwash Landing. Being 75 miles away I dug in and started to climb which seemed to go on for miles. As I neared the top I saw a cyclist coming the other way. We stopped to chat and found that he worked up in Dead Horse. I couldn’t believe it he worked where I was heading and felt great I had a contact. I gave him some advice on the route for him and we said goodbye and I continued to climb.

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Once I had reached the top I then dropped slightly only to climb again. The road undulated from here still with incredible views of the mountains and also helped by a slight tailwind.

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I dropped to a stunning lake and with it being 3pm I decided to stop and have some dinner. It was just the best spot to stop and today had been one of the best days for the scenery.

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I sat and looked out over the lake with the mountains rising above it thinking how lucky I was to be here and see it.

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After an hour of relaxing it was time to get back to it and so I continued on around the lake then followed it up its western side.

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Having 30 miles to go I pushed on and with the tailwind and the road now levelling off I soon arrived at a garage in Destruction bay.

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Deciding to stop and grab a snack I managed to get on to the internet to check my messages. Getting messages from JM with a contact in Beaver creek was just amazing as this could help with my border crossing into Alaska.

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Wanting to get as close to Beaver creek as I could I checked my distance and saw it was 185km away. Deciding to ride past Burwash Landing where I had planned to stop I rode on and looked for water.

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Managing to find a road construction camp where a lovely lady filled up my water bag I could now relax and look for anywhere to camp. Now 12kg heavier with all my water full I got going and slowly covered another 20 miles getting me ever closer to Beaver creek. By the time I had stopped I had managed to cover 95 miles and found a good rest stop to camp.

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With the wind now picking up from the north I found a sheltered spot to cook, log my day and wash. By the time my tent was up and I had finished my jobs it was midnight and yet it was still as light outside as it was when I arrived. It had been an incredible day starting with friends, followed by endless stunning views and coving the miles I needed. I was however tired and just hoped I would make it to Beaver creek tomorrow.

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Thursday 30th June

Feeling tired I started to fall into a deep sleep when I felt something move underneath me. Not knowing what it was I sat up to see my sleeping mat delaminating in front of my eyes. Annoyed at the now new bulge and the fact it was only 3 months old I tried to sleep as much as I could before it was time to get up. Hearing people arrive in the carpark didn’t help as I would also wake to check my bags which were on the roof of the toilets to keep away from the bears. I then woke tired and with a long day ahead I dragged my tired body out of bed then put the kettle on in a now very grey, gloomy and cool day. Looking like it might rain I got my things ready and set off up the road.

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Knowing I had a lot of roadworks to get through I knew would slow me down so I wanted to cover as many miles as I could. As I rode west the light rain started to fall but at first wasn’t enough to worry about.

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After a few messages Brisanna finally caught me up after driving up from Navada city on her way to Alaska. It was so great to see her even if it was briefly but it made my day seeing a friendly face

I stopped to chat to some guys on a motor bikes to see it was the same two I had met a few days before heading to Skagway. As we chatted I watched as the clouds built up behind me with the rain now starting to catch me up. I set off away from the storm where I soon came across the road works with the first lot being pretty bad. Being muddy and sticky slowed me to a crawl but I stuck at it as I moved between the heavy machines. I reached a traffic light section which I rode on through only to be faced with the lady in the pilot car. Being told off for not waiting I was told to wait until she returned. Seeing the heavy rollers coming towards me and knowing I needed to get out of their way I rode on when another pickup arrived to take me to the end of the construction. Seeing how heavy my bike was she agreed I could ride behind her and soon I was back on the highway and away from the construction.

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A few miles later I spotted a cafe that couldn’t have come at a better time. Buying a large pie and a coffee was perfect as the rain started to fall much heavier outside. I got chatting to another cyclist called Eric who was traveling the other way and could give him some tips on the route ahead. It was great to chat but wanting to get going and get to Beaver creek I wished him well and pushed on. The rain continued to fall and I continued to get wetter and wetter hoping at some point it would ease. The road works to the west had now been chip sealed but it was still slow going and not to pleasant as the cars that flew past churning up stones that would hit me like stray bullets. By the time it got to 4pm I was tired and looking forward to reaching the town. I saw two more cyclists heading towards me so stopped to chat and hear they were heading to San Diego and were from England and Scotland.

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Great to meet a couple fellow Brits

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Along with a south Korean guy a few miles later

It was great chatting to them for a while and check what was ahead so pushed on up and down the many short hills.  Just as the sun had started to dry everything and I was feeling much more comfortable the clouds moved in for the last few miles in to town. By the time I reached Beaver Creek I was soaked through again and so went in to a restaurant to eat.

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I was so pleased to get here but I knew my day wasn’t over yet. Having a contact in the town who was a corporal in the police force I went to the station to make some enquiries. Corporal Kim soon arrived from his house and offered me his house to stay. I couldn’t believe his kindness and so was soon at Kim’s home meeting his wife and being made to feel very much at home. It was great spending time relaxing and just hoped my day tomorrow would go well. I had been nervous about being allowed into the US before but this time there was a risk of not getting in and bringing my whole trip to an abrupt end. Not really knowing why I had such a problem I just hoped it was something simple that would soon become clear and allow me to finish my trip. It was now in the hands of the gods and I just had to wait and see.

Friday 1st July

The day had come to enter my last country/state of Alaska but knowing I had been turned back at Skagway after being in The Sudan I wasn’t even sure if I could get in. It was however Canada day and with Kim and the other policemen on parade I wasn’t going to leave without watching and showing my support. Hearing them getting up I packed my things had a shower then went to join them for breakfast. With the parade not starting until 11.30am I had time to relax, check my messages and sort out my things ready to leave. Joining Fran and her neighbour we walked over to the centre and got ready for the precession. With only 80 residence in Beaver Creek the parade was pretty small, in fact it was probably the smallest parade I had ever seen but I admired each and everyone of them for showing their solidarity not only to their country but to their town.

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Yep that was all of it 

Once the parade had passed which took around 3 minutes we headed over to the information centre for the BBQ. It was really great to be part of it and I couldn’t have wished to be anywhere else. As if to mark the end of my penultimate country I felt like it was all for me and so it was time to hopefully say goodbye to Canada and hello to Alaska.

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This was very good cake 

With Fran wanting to ride with me to the border we set off and rode the 20 miles to the start of Alaska.

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Reaching the Alaskan border at the same time as Ignacio who was a very nice motorbike rider from Chile

It was soon time to say goodbye to Kim and Fran thank them for being so amazing and head off and hope for 5the best. Reaching the immigration office I handed over my passport and was then asked if I had been to The Sudan. Answering yes I was then told I couldn’t come into the US and that they now had a big problem. My heart sank and I started to think about how I was going to get home. I stood for a while in a state of shock while the lady went off, with a million and one things firing through my mind when the lady returned and asked me to come into the office where I was interviewed and asked how I had got into the US to start with. Explaining I’d had applied for an ESTA which I didn’t need because I hadn’t flown in but had been approved anyway, then had been interviewed at the Mexican border and approved there as well they tried to see what had happened. After some digging it transpired that a new regulation had come in a few days after I had entered the US not allowing anyone to enter if they had been to The Sudan after 2011. After a few phone calls and a lot of explaining the lady made a call to her boss who it turns out she already knew about me. Willing to come in on her day off they then spent the next 3.5 hours paroling me into the US by filling out an emergency tourist visa which would allow me into Alaska for the next 3 months. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was but part of me felt like I was being let off a crime I didn’t commit. What ever the situation I knew they were doing their job and were being very good about it. I certainly appreciated the time the ladies were putting in and however long it took I was willing to wait. Once everything was done I was given a stamp and allowed to go and finish this trip. With all of this and being on the road for so long living out of my panniers if I wasn’t ready to go home before I was now. I knew I would love Alaska and would soon settle in. With the dread of finishing something incredible I was also going to enjoy being at home and enjoy a normal life and finally some stability.

Once past the border I was now on good roads but climbed and fell making my going a bit slower. Looking at my GPS I had around 780 miles to go and my gears were slipping badly. I knew everything I had was slowly wearing out but I was so close and I knew I could make it if I just stuck at it. Wanting to cover a few more miles before I stopped I rode for another 28 miles before spotting a campsite at Dead mans lake. Being 2km off the highway I made my way down to find a pretty spot by the lake where I could pitch my tent.

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It was my first night in Alaska and although it had been a close shave getting in I was pleased to be here and ready for my last section.

I was now in Alaska and it felt so great to finally be here in my last country. After such an amazing ride through Canada and with the problems at the US border I was already missing it but knew I had to keep going if I was going to finish this. I have always wanted to go to Canada because of all the Canadians I have met before in my life had always been warm, welcoming and kind hearted. This had been backed up during the time I had been here and the scenery had far surpassed my expectations. Knowing I had touched a minuscule part of this country I knew I have to return and explore much more . Now being in Alaska I could now explore my last country and ride to the finish. This wasn’t going to be easy with a 500 miles of hilly road with most of it being gravel that makes its way into the Brooks range and through the Atigun pass into the Arctic interior. If that wasn’t hard enough the road is  known as the haul road where trucks take cargo up to the oil fields and with the road being so windy I knew I would have to be on the look out so I could get out of their way. I was excited to be doing this as it would be tough but first I had to get to Fairbanks. After a few very long days I was tired and I needed to rest before I took it on. Luckily the road to the city was mainly flat and I had a place to stay once I reached there. I was almost there and with the girls getting excited about coming out in 3 weeks for a holiday I also couldn’t wait to reach Anchorage to see them and have some time off and fun before heading home.

Thanks for reading xxx

 

 Canada flag 

Currency: Approx  £1= 2 Canadian dollars

Number of days in country:

Totals from Ushuaia Southern tip of Argentina/ South America

19,301 miles/ 31,055 km,  total alt gain 357,536 metres

Total distance cycled in Canada: 1,991miles / 3,203km

Running Distance total: 35,449mls /57,037 km

Total altitude gain in Canada: 28,356metres

Running Altitude total: 551,340metres

Altitude gain per mile: 14.24metres/mile

 

 

(156) Watson lake-White Horse, Canada

The last week coming up from Kitwanga had been amazing. Managing to see the Salmon glacier, lots of bears and meeting more great people was the best but snapping my frame, getting eaten by bugs and feeling shattered I couldn’t wait for a rest. Having had Phil with me had really made the last few days fun and still having his company up to White horse was great. Hoping my bike would stay together and not have so many bugs it was time to head west once again to White Horse. Having a contact there where I could stay was a great incentive to keep going so I could take a break. Having had an amazing time at the lake finished off by a great evening with JM and his wife Natalie had prepared me for the road ahead. 

Monday 20th June

Although it had been a late night it had been great fun and I had managed to sleep well. I woke to the tent heating up to see it was still only 4.40am. Opening up the vents I managed to cool the tent down enough to sleep some more. I got up around 8.30am and went in to see if Phillip was up and also to join Jim for breakfast. Still in the process of getting his kids up I went back out and packed away the rest of my things to give him time. I returned to the house where Jim made us all breakfast so we could sit and relax before we set off. Once we were finished I grabbed my bike and bags to load in the truck when the sheer weight of my food bag hit me. Why I was carrying so much food was beyond me but going into the supermarket after a long day on the bike was going to make me work for every ounce. As we loaded the bikes I then noticed Cowburt had gone walkabout and I was immediately gutted. I couldn’t believe it and felt totally lost without him. Having seen him the morning before I knew it must have been yesterday that he went missing. As we drove back to the garage where we had turned off I scoured the road as we drove but there was no sign. With JM being a Canadian police Officer he said he would put out an APB for a missing cow and scrabble the helicopters.

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Knowing that Cowburt was out there with all those bears and Moose I was getting worried. Assuring me that the police force would do all it could to find him and return him safely all I could do was wait for news.

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JM, Amelia and a very shy but lovely Sam

On reaching the garage we loaded the bikes and let Jim have a go on Dolly before we set off. They had been so kind letting us stay and to invite us in to their home in the first place. With the wind now picking up we knew we were in for a long tough day so we thanked them all and set off west to White horse. We went through a few road works where they were laying gravel on the road which made our lives harder but once we were clear we could get our heads down and try and cover the miles.

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Riding through the dust I just hoped it didn’t last to long

Not having left the garage until 11.40am we knew we were in for a long day and with the wind it wasn’t going to be easy. Wanting to just keep going I left Phillip behind and just stuck at it only stopping to grab a cookie or a banana.

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Although the bad roads continued the road was at least wet to keep the dust down

Although the wind was tough going I was making progress but what was the more annoying was my gears were starting to slip a lot more. Having to sit in the wrong gear for extended periods was tiring but I knew I just had to keep going. As I headed further west the scenery and the mountains became even more beautiful knowing we had that to come.

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Riding towards the beautiful snow capped mountains

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As I turned a corner I looked across at a lake then had to look again as it appeared to have something in the middle. I stopped and went back to see it was a large female moose grazing in the middle.

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I was so pleased to see her and could’t wait to see a male

I was so happy to see it and just watch it put its head under the water and pull up the grasses it likes. Still having several miles to go I plugged away with the wind getting stronger and my peddles turning slower.

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Often met guys on motorbikes passing with many happily waving back

As my GPS counted down the miles the low battery sign went on which I could totally relate to. I finally reached Rancheria and went into the restaurant. Seeing sausage, bacon, ham and eggs on the menu even though I was carrying half a supermarket it was to good to pass up. I sat down and I was then convinced not to ride on but to stay for free at the campground and have a hot shower. Even though it would leave a longer day tomorrow it had been a late start and I was shattered. While I sat eating my amazing meal I got chatting to a lovely couple that were on their way back south. They were so nice to chat to and made my visit there so much nicer. As I was about to pay for my meal a very tired Phil arrived who looked very relieved I had chosen to camp here and not to ride on. Also having brought a ton of food he ordered chips and joined me out in the campground.  As I started to sort through my things I realised that everything I owned was falling apart. My brake pads had worn out, my chain needed changing, My gear hub was slipping, My bike frame had now been welded three times, my cycle shorts were falling apart although not quite see through yet ( I think) , I had lost my co-rider and friend Cowburt, My Bolivian doll was still refusing to wash and when I went to take my hat off I saw that it too was falling apart. Now with a long day tomorrow I decided to go to bed before my pants fell apart and catch up on some well needed sleep.

Tuesday 21st June

Knowing we had a long days ride ahead of us we agreed to get up at 7.30ish and try and get going by 9am. Hearing Phillip call me to see if I was awake all be it only just I got up and packed away my things. Still in a haze after having loads of really weird dreams I sat at the bench and made myself a coffee to pull me out of my semi coma. Phillip soon joined me along with the very familiar birds that would steal anything that was on offer.

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This little chap was so cheeky

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Beautiful morning sky which normally means rain

Once packed we headed out and checked our emails and knowing Phillip would be a while I got going to try and cover as many miles as I could before lunch. Once we’d had lunch we then had to climb to continental divide where the water that fell on one side of the range would go to the Pacific and the rain on the other would go to the Atlantic.

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Crossing the mountains of the continental divide 

As if by magic the rain started to fall but I wasn’t going to hang around to find out. Although it was raining it wasn’t enough to get me to wet but it didn’t make for a nice ride. Seeing a rest stop ahead I pulled over just as the rain started to get heavy and so found a building that would keep me sheltered. Once I had cooked I saw Phillip arrive looking pretty fed up with the rain and so he also stooped for lunch just as an RV pulled up to offer a bit more shelter. Having already eaten I set off again and slowly ticked off the miles and would only stop for the odd snack. As the day went on the sun came out and it started to get warmer.

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The sky was incredible

It was beautiful scenery but today I saw little in the way of wildlife. I pushed on for a few more hours then looked for a place to take a break and as I went to stop at a rest area to take a couple minutes I was suddenly swarmed by thousands of mosquitos so I had no choice other then to just keep going.

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I was so tired and I could have fallen asleep while riding. With the road rising and falling there was little in the way of rest bite and so I just had to keep going. As I stopped on a hill I saw Phil behind me and catching up fast, As he reached me he asked if I had a problem with my bike but I was just exhausted and would be pleased when it was time to stop. We then rode together for the last 8 miles and dropped to the river and crossed an amazing steel bridge with big holes in to let the snow through.

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We reached Teslin and stopped at a small shop to pick up a few supplies to make a good dinner and went to camp when a lovely couple called Nina and Wayne asked if we wanted a beer and told us they would cook for us.

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The wonderful Wayne and Nina

It was so kind of them to offer and it was just what we needed after a hard day. We set up our camp when our food arrived and we could sit and relax. The next two days would be shorter which was great as we could at lest enjoy or ride more but with the clouds building we just hoped it didn’t rain.

Wednesday 22nd June

Waking up to see it was time to join Nina, Wayne and the others for coffee was a great incentive to get up.

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I packed away the main things in my tent like the sleeping bag, air mattress and clothes then wondered over bleary eyed to a very welcoming group. Unable to converse in German, Nina and her husband chatted away to me until Phillip appeared from his tent just the same as I did which sort of resembled a newly born calf learning to walk.

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We enjoyed a relaxed morning sat in the sun knowing we didn’t have so far to ride and enjoying he company. With the group getting ready to leave we thanked them for being so wonderful and headed back to our camp to sort through our things. Having a few issues with my rear hub I managed to change the oil and re-sew my union flag back onto my handlebar bag. With my bike then loaded with even more food after having been fed by Nina and being given snacks I set off leaving Phil to finish off sending emails and arranging to meet a bit later. Once I had made my way out of the park I rejoined the highway and set off to the west.

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The police in Teslin were a little thin on the ground

It had felt like ages since I’d had a day off and my legs were now starting to remind me of the fact. With a very heavy bike I started to climb and then noticed that my bike was feeling a bit wobbly. Looking down to see I had a puncture I pulled over and got my tool kit out only to find I had left my spanner back at the camp where I’d welded my frame. I couldn’t believe it and so wondered what I should do. I pumped the tyre back up and rode on for a few hundred metres then remembered seeing guys fixing punctures in Africa without even taking the wheel off.

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Here goes

I lay my bike down and started set to work and I was surprised at how easy it was. I couldn’t believe I had worked on bikes since I was a kid and yet I had never done this before. Pleased at the result I took a mental note to buy a spanner in White Horse I set off and continued to climb. As I rode I watched the clouds move in front of me and rain falling in the mountains beside me on the other side of the lake.

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It was a beautiful ride and I wasn’t to worried about getting wet. As it got closer to 2pm I reached the bridge of Johnson’s Crossing when Phillip caught me up so we decided to stop and have lunch.

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Some old cars on the old highway north

It was a great place to sit out of the bugs and even better to try and reduce the weight of my food bag. We set off once again and this time heading south west to Jakes corner.

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Even on a cloudy day the lakes were colourful

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The road cut through between two mountains with sheer rock faces on one side. It was just the most amazing feeling riding through these mountains with the thin firs lining the highway. As Phillip was a head he pulled over and he headed off onto a track towards the rock face so I followed to see what he was looking at.

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We were quite pleased they were heading the other way

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Having spotted two bears one being brown and the other Black we went to take a look and watch them in the distance. We saw them play and were both surprised at how fast they could move.

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Enjoying the ride

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Now only being a few miles from the junction we soon arrived and went into the rest and to have some chips.While I was there I got chatting to the lady behind the counter to find she was from an Inuvik first nations group and was born on Banks island way up in the arctic circle.

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It was so cool to meet someone that was from somewhere that was so far north and so remote. Deciding while we ate to take a slight detour to Carcross we set off again into an even more beautiful valley to ride to a camp site at Tagish. Seeing Phillip stop to take a picture I got my head down and managed to get way ahead of him and find a hiding spot to jump out on him. With the side of the highway cleared so cars could see animals crossing it proved to be a tough challenge but after persevering I spotted the right bush, hid my bike and waited. Having just seen two bears only an hour before was perfect and so I watched as he got ever closer. All I can say is I wish I had filmed his reaction but it took a little while before he could ride again. Once he had composed himself we set off and after another half an hour we reached a bridge to be faced with the most stunning views out across a huge river with snow capped mountains in the back ground.

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Even these guys loved the view

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It was just the most amazing scenery and we were both so pleased we had taken the detour. After quite a while on the bridge we set off to the other side and found a cool RV park where we could pitch our tents.

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It was just a great place to grab a cold beer sit and relax before tea. Still with a ton of food I managed to get the weight down a little more before retiring for the night ready for a slightly shorter day tomorrow and then finally a rest day. YES a rest day.

Thursday 23rd June

Waking up to the sound of the birds singing and the silence of being in the middle of nowhere I got up and joined Phillip for breakfast. Only having 100km to ride we had an easy day so sat and enjoyed breakfast while we watched a huge RV drive into the campground and pull down the power lines to the pub.

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Along with countless other old items they had these two old tractors still in great order

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Before we left we had to check out the lake one more time

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Spotted this little chap on the way to town

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We packed up and left them to sort out the mess and joined the quiet road to Carcross. We soon covered the distance into the town and once we made our way to the centre we found a beautiful small centre where the White Pass railway terminates with the train just coming in from Skagway.

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With its cultural buildings, totem poles, aqua blue water complete with a beach, snow capped peaks and old railway it made for a very picturesque small town.

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The view across the lake was stunning 

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The White pass train getting ready to leave

We both wondered the town and grabbed some food before it was time to get going and head towards Whitehorse. Being 44 miles away we set off passing the Carcross desert which is mainly the movement of sand dunes and continued to climb.

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The road away from the town was beautiful with blue and emerald lakes that were just stunning to look at.

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From there the highway was forest lined and the road became a little less interesting and the cars became more aggressive. Why we would get abuse when there was no one else on the road was beyond me but I felt sorry for the drivers who couldn’t appreciate their surroundings like we were.

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With Phillip struggling and wanting to take it easy I pushed on to reach town and once at the main junction I headed northwest for the last 10 miles to White Horse. From here the wind had turned into a hard head wind which made it slow and very tiring. Although the last few days had been amazing I was tired from the long days and the wind wasn’t helping. Reaching the turn off for the town I turned right and dropped into the centre and arrived along a cycle trail into the edge of town and the Klondike paddle steamer.

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It was great to see such an historic and iconic landmark but being quite late I tried to look to see where I needed to head to. I searched the streets for the right street name but found nothing. I then went into my maps app and found I was in the wrong part of town and would need to climb the long hill back up to the highway. I couldn’t believe it and I was so tired. I set off back down the way I had come and saw Phillip coming the other way. It was great to see him as I had no info on him and so it was great to see him before I headed off.  I set off up the hill and after 45 minutes I arrived at James home and met his family. I was shown to my room and where I could rest while he cooked me some dinner. It was so kind of him to have me and I knew I would get some good rest while I was here.

Friday 24th June

Arranging to get up round 7.30am for coffee only to find I had slept in till 9am I knew I was tired. I got up and James came down to make me a Coffee. we chatted a while and with James needing to head out it left me to get some work done before he came home. After a few hours James arrived back and took me into town to get some things including new gloves and a spanner along with a few snacks for my trip back to Carcross on Sunday. With it being quite late we headed back to the house to have lunch and then I was taken out to see the area.

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I was taken to Miles canyon where the early pioneers would come down the river in the gold rush and get caught in the rapids.

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The railway tracks made from fir trees and wheel to suit made the transfer of materials much safer

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A Paddle steamer navigating Miles Canyon before the dam was built making this stretch much safer then it was before.

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With the stretch being so dangerous a railway track was built using trees as railway lines to bypass the bad bit. I was then taken to see a couple more view points before we returned to the town to pick up some cold drinks.

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Still having work to do we returned to the house and relaxed while I caught up on my jobs. It had been a good day but I was tired and in a great place to rest.

Saturday 25th June

Being in a comfy bed after a long couple of weeks and a great sleep was amazing but even better then that was I had received a message from JM in Wateson lake that Cowburt had been found safe and well and had been on his own little road trip. He had decided to go walkabout near the sign post forest and had hooked up with a 9 month old girl to play with.

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Cowburt having an amazing time with a very lovely family

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In the driving seat

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After a long day it was time for bed and plan for another day of adventures

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Checking out where to go next and feeling on top of the world

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She showed Cowburt around the town along with her parents and had an amazing time. Today he was hanging out with JM in his police car to check out the town for any baddies.

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Come on JM lets nail these bad boys

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Who are Victor, Charlie, Mike and Romeo? are they the baddies? if so lets get’em

Knowing he had been in good hands and was heading to White Horse with the police I could relax and look forward to his arrival and being reunited with my friend and wingman.

Having so much work to catch up on I made coffee and spent the day working. It was great to have the time to catch up and to rest as I knew the next stretch was going to be as long and probably more sparsely populated then what I’d been through before. Being in the house pretty much all day James kindly took me into town to have a wonder and pick up an ice-cream. It was nice to get out and with the plan to go for a run I was there for an hour before I was picked up again to head back. Having managed to catch up on a lot of stuff but still having more to do I relaxed in front of the tv to catch up a little more. I knew I wasn’t going to be on top of it all but I was the closest I had been for a long time and that felt good.

Sunday 26th June

With a run planned with James at 9am I got up and put my kit on. Not feeling that energetic I did a little stretching and went to find James who was all ready to go. Deciding to leave my coffee until I returned we headed out and hit the trails.

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It was beautiful running through the woods along the various footpaths that spread out in front of the house. Managing to cover 11km of undulating trails I hobbled back in to the house slowly loosing the ability to walk.

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I had a cold shower to try and help and slowly I regained a bit of movement. I love running but my body doesn’t and knew if I wanted to get better I would have to stick at it and keep practising.

Pleased I had got out I relaxed for the day and caught up with news from home. It was great to see the news and speak to family and friends which alway gave me a boost. Having the rest of the day free I changed my chain, added new oil to the hub again and checked through my things. Apart from my legs feeling a little tight and making the most of the hot tub I was looking forward to heading off and hitting the road. With Cowburt not due to arrive until tomorrow due to other arrangements I could relax and enjoy my last night in a comfy bed and a good nights sleep.

Having lost Cowburt earlier in the week was devastating and had played on my mind as I rode west to Whitehorse. He had been through so much, seen so much and put a smile on so many kids faces and I was sad not to be finishing with him. Then to hear he had been on a bit of a jolly and getting up to all sorts of things I was pleased he’d had fun and even more pleased he was on his way back. It had been a week of great scenery, pretty towns and more great people. I had however got very tired from the long days and hundreds of miles and the rest hadn’t come soon enough. James and Samantha had kindly opened their family home to me and had allowed me to rest and relax whilst being great company. They had allowed me to clear my mind and prepare for the next big section west. My first part would take me south into a small part of Alaska and over two big passes and adding an additional 200km but I was told it was beautiful and so wanted to check it out. With Phillip heading north we had said our goodbyes and I was now back on my own for the next big stretch. With JM due to arrive in the morning to drive Cowburt and me back to Carcross it was time for an early night and some good sleep.

Thanks for reading xx

(155) Kitwanga to Watson Lake, Canada

Having two weeks in Canada has not only given me time to adjust to a new country but I also got used to covering bigger distances with not much in between which will certainly help for the next stretch. With huge distances between not just towns but garages I had to be prepared for what lay ahead and extended time in the saddle. I had once again been fortunate to have met more amazing people but heading north I was on my own and I was excited about the challenge. Being told that if I hadn’t seen bears already I would certainly see them on the road ahead and had to keep my eyes open so lets see what there is to come.

Saturday 11th June

With the plan to leave Terrace at 8.30am I was awake and up by 7.30am to have breakfast and make myself a coffee. Marg arrived on the second and so we set off once again for Kitwanger to drop me back to where I had left off.  It was not only very kind of her to pick me up and take me back but she was also really great company and very nice to chat to.

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The lovely Marg showing off the Terrace sign

We made our way back up the beautiful valley stopping at a couple view points to take pictures before we arrived at the garage at around 9.30am. It was perfect timing and it left me with a good chance of covering the miles I needed. I thanked Marg for being an amazing person for doing this and couldn’t believe I had only known her for a day.

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I set off to the north and crossed the river then started to climb when the road levelled off and started to drop with a long straight road ahead. As I started to descend slightly I saw a black bear cross the road in the distance which was just amazing to see.

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I couldn’t believe in as many days I had seen 2 bears and hoped I would see one a little closer without feeling threatened. I reached the point where I had seen it but it had disappeared into the bush. I pushed on to Gitanyow (Kitwancool) where I had been told about some world famous totem poles and so turned off to have a look. As I got closer to the village I saw Philip the German cyclist that I had met yesterday when Marg had come to pick me up. We chatted for a while with the possibility of meeting up along the road and then headed on into the small town to check out the poles.

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On arriving in the centre I could see lines of them rising high above the ground and were spectacular. Although many are replicas as the originals are in the royal BC museum in Victoria these works of art were extremely impressive.

These poles were huge and so impressive to see.

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Having had a look around and taking a short break I headed out of the village on a back road and rejoined the highway. It wasn’t long after that I caught up with Phillip and so we rode together and chatted. While we were riding we passed a black bear right on the side of the road.

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It was so close to us and once we were at a safe distance the bear looked at us then disappeared into the forest. Pleased we had seen one so close up we rode on chatting when we saw another crossing the road ahead. We approached with caution but by the time we had reached it the bear had moved away from the highway and was heading into to woodland.

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With 45 miles still to cover I could hear my frame making strange noises when I looked to see what it was. On closer inspection I noticed my frame had snapped yet again but in another place. We stopped for lunch but with my snapped frame still bugging me I told Phillip I would ride on slowly so not to make it worse. After a while Phillip caught me when we saw yet another Black bear with a cub.

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Mother and cub were just beautiful

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Wanting to get within 20 miles of Meziadin Junction we decided to get water in a river when we were swarmed by mosquitos. They were so bad we had to be quick and even the few seconds I had my hands exposed to collect water I was being eaten alive.

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Keeping covered up while the bugs attacked

Once I had got the water we needed we went to set off when a car stopped to see if we were ok and told us about a rest area 2km up the road. It was perfect so we set off and arrived in a slightly breezy pull off. With it being slightly windier by the road we cooked there to keep as many mosquitos off us but we still had to walk around the road while we ate to keep the bugs off. Once we had eaten we could then pitch the tents and hang our food up out of the way of the bears. With my bike frame now broken and still 65miles to Stewart we hoped we could ride the 20miles to the junction and catch a lift down the the town and just hope I could get my bike fixed.

Sunday 12th June

Waking up to hear the rain starting to hit the tent and then to see about 20 mosquitos looking in at me with hungry faces saying here comes breakfast wasn’t the most encouraging thing to get me up.

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If only you could see the number of mosquitos that surrounded us

Then to remember my bike was broken was the cherry on the cake almost making me want to turn over and go back to sleep. Knowing there was nowhere for another 20 miles to get supplies and I didn’t really want to stay in a mosquito infested area I got up and joined Philip for breakfast. Noticing a mouse had also found my coffee adorable I knew I couldn’t leave anything out that would attract the wrong animals.

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Many of the bridges had timber tops

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Phillip enjoying the ride

We set off and after 20 miles and some beautiful views we arrived at Meziadin junction. We went in for a coffee and some chips before heading out to see if we could catch a ride down to Steward to see if we could fix my bike. After several no’s from people and tourists who were going that way Phillip managed to stop a guy called Wade who worked close to the junction. I went over and he offered his welding kit and loads of tools. It was perfect so we set off for the yard and soon I was able to prove to the others how bad my welding was.

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Here goes all or nothing

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How hard can it be

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Not totally convinced it would hold I added a splint for extra support

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I did stick at it and after some persistence I managed to sort of fix it. Adding an extra splint seemed to be a good idea and just hoped for the best. Hoping this would keep me on the road I then joined Wade and Philip for a few beers then we headed down to the lake to go fishing.

 

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Were here now can I get off

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Wade getting the fire lit while we go fishing

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Not a bad fishing spot if I say so myself

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My catch for the day

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Phillips catch for the day

It was so much fun and Wade was just the greatest of company. We hung out by the lake for a while trying to fish before making our way back up to the cabins to eat. Wade then brought us loads of food to eat and so I went in to cook while Phillip continued fish. After the day starting off so rubbish with loads of bugs up to the junction then to meet Wade was just awesome. With a side trip planned to ride to Stewart tomorrow to see the Glacier it had been a great place to stop and just have some fun.

Monday 13th June

As the light started to pour in through the cabin window I woke and lay enjoying just being in a bed. I got up and headed into the kitchen to join Philip for breakfast and sort out my things to go. It took a while to get organised and pack our things but having only 40 miles to Stewart we weren’t in to much of a rush. Having some time while I waited for Philip I managed to cut my hair and look a little bit more presentable.

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Wade came over to see how we were getting on and soon it was time to leave. Although it had been a pain snapping my frame again it had actually been so much more fun because of it. Wade had been an absolute star and so much fun to be with. Looking down the valley and seeing what we had in front of us and with it being a nice day I knew we were in for a great ride. Once we had thanked Wade for being great fun we headed up on to the highway and  started to head west up the valley.

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It was so impressive how the mountains rose high above us with the road cutting its way through the middle following the glacial fed river as it went. We had only been going for half an hour when we spotted a bear cross the road right in front of us.

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They were fascinating to watch but we were very careful not to provoke them

We stopped to let it cross only for it to be followed by an even bigger black bear. It was so cool to see them but being so close and being down wind from them they couldn’t quite work out what we were making it a little bit more dodgy. We waited for a while and as they looked at us one rose up in the air to try and smell us. Once they had moved off the road we moved past making noise so they could see us and then move away. As we climbed the hill away from them they both crossed back over the road and back into the bush. I was so pleased I had seen them so close up and also pleased we hadn’t had any problems. We continued up the valley slowly climbing with the scenery getting better all the time.

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Once we had reached the pass we then started to drop towards Bear Glacier which wound its way out of the mountains and into a green lake. It was stunning and we just stood in awe trying to grasp it sheer size.

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Bear Glacier

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Having around 20 miles left to Stewart we followed the river down the narrow forested valley into the strengthening head wind. It remained beautiful all the way down in to town and we were both pleased we had taken the detour.

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We arrived in Stewart around 3pm and while Philip went to the park to eat I found a restaurant to treat myself to some pork chops. The town was stunning with Glacier fingers hanging off the side of the mountain ready to drop at any point.

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The town was beautiful 

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With some interesting vehicles

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Entering a small part of Alaska 

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Once we’d had a look around we then proceeded to Hyder which is a tiny village in the USA and part of Alaska. The village was a lot smaller then Stewart but still had a charm of its own. We found the campsite and while I was putting up my tent a Black Bear wondered through the campground. I couldn’t believe how many there were and were just wondering around.

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The fjord that the ships would come in on to bring supplies 

Wanting to get something to eat we finished setting up camp then headed to an old restaurant bus to have our dinner. We joined a few others that were eating there and found that two of the guys were driving up to Salmon Glacier in the morning.

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The fish and chip bus was so cool

Having wanted to go there but with it being a pain to get to it worked out perfect and would be a great start for tomorrow. With the restaurant owner wanting to head home we headed back to the campsite and got chatting to a family on an array of butchered bikes.

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It was so funny what they had done to them but all looked a little dodgy. As the bugs got worse it was time to head inside and get a little work done before bed and just hopped I wasn’t woken by any fury friends.

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The meeting sun hitting the tops of the mountains

Tuesday 14th June

Being woken to the sound of the birds is amazing but to be woken up by a woodpecker who has decided that out of the millions of trees in Canada to build his home next to the one next to my tent was the best. It didn’t take long to convince him it wasn’t the right tree so I could continue to sleep before it was time to go and meet the guys. I then fell into a deep sleep only to wake 10 minutes before we were due to meet. I called Phillip who was already up and leap out of bed packing away my things in record speed.

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We were soon joined by Rens and Jaap and were taken in Ren’s 4×4 up the climb to the Salmon Glacier. As the Glacier came into sight we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was not just big, it was massive and looked just awesome.

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One of the very cool helicopters being used to build transmission lines to a mine

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The sheer size and beauty was indescribable and to think this was mother nature at its best was just breathtaking. We made our way up to the view point and just sat and stared at it. The thing I think hit me the most was that I had seen so many glaciers before with evidence of them receding and this one was no exception.

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Having these guys with us made the trip so much more enjoyable

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Thinking that one day all this could be gone was sad. We sat drinking coffee from Jen’s jeep and watched it and absorbed it. With time moving on and having been offered a lift back to the junction it was time to head back down the valley and go and meet the family.

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Once we were reunited with our bikes we thanked Rens and Jaap for their company and headed into the village to meet Mark his wife and their 14 children.

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They were all so good at singing

They were all very nice people and had made us a desert then showed us around their huge house that they had built between them all. We were then sung to by the family before it was time to set off back to the junction. With half the family coming along for the ride it took a while to get through customs and were then taken back up to Wade’s place where we were hoping we could rest before we set off tomorrow.

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Our camp for the night

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It wasn’t just Wade, Phillipa and me that wanted some moose stew

We soon arrived after a 40 minute drive and thanked them for their help and being so kind. I headed off to find Wade who was very glad to have us stay and as a treat he had prepared Moose stew. It was so great to see him, have a few beers and he even let us fire one of his hunting rifles.

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Although we had only known him for a couple days he was someone I would miss for his energy and his kindness.

Wednesday 15th June

Hearing the rain on the cabin roof was just great has I knew we had made the right decision to stay at the camp. The rain pretty much fell all night getting heavier making me wonder if we were in for a wet day. I woke around 8.30am with the rain now stopped and got up to sort out my things ready to get going. I joined Wade for breakfast and while I ate he very kindly made me a cup of coffee. He had been such a star letting us stay and he was just the best guy to hang out with. By the time we were both ready it was gone 9.30am and so we set off with very heavy bikes for the junction. We had only been riding for about 10 minutes when we saw our first black bear of the day and luckily this one was also keen not to hang around.

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He was so cool

We reached the junction and headed on to the north passing a sign saying a climb for the next 20km. Although it did climb it was pretty much steady with a few sections that levelled off or even dropped a little. Being foggy it was hard to see anything other then the fir trees but we were pleased it hadn’t been yesterday when we headed to the glacier.

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The fog ahead wasn’t a great sight

As we passed the first summit we dropped towards two cyclist heading south and stopped to chat. They were on a circular route having come up from Seattle on the ferry and were now making their was south back home.

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It was nice to chat and to get some info on the road but also to hear the weather for them had been good up to just an hour before. We set off again and sure enough the sky cleared leaving the trees clear of fog and now starting to expose the snowcapped mountains behind.

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It was stunning riding through the corridor of firs with the snow capped peaks as a back drop and added to that we also had a slight tail wind making our going much easier. Now making good progress we decided to stop at 12pm for lunch in an open area that would be free of bears. We made our lunch and sat for about an hour before packing up and heading on.

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The road dropped to a bridge and then we started to climb following a wide river up stream. Not being to steep we kept at it hoping we would soon reach Bell II in good time.

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At one point Phillip was behind when I saw him stop in the road and look at the side of the road. I went on a little then waited for him and once he reached me he told me I had just passed a huge Grizzly just a few metres from the hard shoulder .

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The scenery was just breathtaking 

Pleased I hadn’t come in contact with him we rode on until we reached the tiny settlement of bell II and went in to grab some snacks.

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A sign just to remind us that bears are not to be taken lightly 

It was at this point I realised I hadn’t got my wallet and couldn’t find it anywhere. A rush of panic came over me and I knew there could only be one place it could be and that was back where we had started our day. Managing to send an email to Wade he soon got back to me and said he would go and look. knowing I would probably have to hitch hike back I knew I was in for a long and rubbish evening. After a while I got a message from Wade to say my wallet had been found and would be delivered in 25 minutes by a truck that was heading up to a mine. It was amazing news and I couldn’t believe he had sorted it out so I didn’t have to go back. Although I was pleased I would get my wallet back part of me wouldn’t have minded going back to hang out with Wade again but I was so grateful he had done this so quickly.

Sure enough a huge truck arrived and the driver leant out the window and handed me my wallet. Know being back on track I headed back to our camp and joined Phillip to cook dinner. It had been a really good day and not to hard. The scenery had been great and I was now reunited with my wallet. I was a happy man.

Thursday 16th June

Having had to stop early yesterday due to my wallet being lost meant the 140km we would have done then we would have to do today. Agreeing to get up and try and leave by 9.15am was great but I was tired when I woke at 8.30am. I packed away my things and although we both made breakfast we were pretty much on time. I made my way to the garage to just send some messages when the lady at the desk asked if we wanted more internet time for free. This was amazing but it meant we ended not leaving until 10.45am. We dropped down to the bridge and then started the first of many climbs out of the valley.

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The bridge had holes in the base to let the snow through so not to overload it

Also having a head wind didn’t help but deciding to cover the 25 miles to Bob Quinn we hoped we could find a place to top up our water and have some lunch. With the wind picking up it was slow progress getting there and once we had arrived all we could see was a tiny airport and a compound with no one around. Realising we now wouldn’t be stopping there we rode on another 10 miles and stopped on the side of the road that was out of the way of traffic but with enough breeze to keep the bugs off.

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We were stopped for about 45 minutes to an hour and by this time it was gone 3pm. Still having about 53 miles to cover we pushed on but with the constant climbs it was really slow going. The scenery made up for it as we followed a snow capped mountain range that ran parallel with the highway. Although the descents were a welcome break the climbs were sure to follow taking us ever higher and keeping our speed down.

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Enjoying the ride

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Just one of the many climbs through the stunning landscape

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This made me laugh, despite early settlers forging route through this harsh environment to put in phone lines in the 1900’s we still today couldn’t get a mobile signal

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Being such a tough day I was now really low on water when a car driver stopped to chat. The timing was perfect but the water wasn’t. I let the car go and continued on passing a waterfall with clear water coming off the glacier so emptied what I had and then refilled my bottles. It was perfect and set me up for the rest of the day. By this point it was now getting late and looking at or average speed we wouldn’t arrive until after 9pm.

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We passed many nice spots to camp but with 100 km from Totagga tomorrow we wanted to get there so we didn’t get another long day tomorrow. Phillip stopped at a camper to fill his bottles so I pushed on climbing one hill after the next hoping at some point it would level off.

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Totogga lake

When it finally did the wind picked up and then returned to climbs all be it smaller ones. After what felt like a life time I arrived at the camp spot and went to check in. It was now 9.30pm and I was shattered. Still having dinner to cook and to pitch my tent and wash it was going to be a while before it was time for bed.

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We were both shattered but we needed to eat

Having a Chilli mix with pasta and a potato was perfect and so it was soon time for bed and to try and get a good nights sleep. Although it had been a tough day we had covered 88miles and climbed 1500metres which we were pleased with.

Friday 17th June

Waking up I was up and packed by the time Phillip appeared. Not wanting to rush he told me to ride on and with a long day ahead I set off out of the camp.

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Climbing away from the small settlement I looked to my left to see a black bear pop its head out of the grass as if to say “dam it that was a rubbish hiding spot” It made me laugh as it was so sweet and looked very cuddly.

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With two big climbs to get over I was soon at the top of the first and dropping down to the Stikine river when I saw my first Caribou. Spotting me before I could take a picture it disappeared into the forest and so I continued my descent to the bridge where I stopped for a quick lunch break.

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There were so many beautiful places

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Sat in the sun and having a big climb ahead of me I didn’t stop long when I saw Phillip ride up from the river. Not having stopped for food we agreed to meet a bit later and I set off up the pass. After 15 miles I finally reached the top of Gnat pass at 1241 metres and started the long descent the other side.

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It took a while to reach Dease lake but once I reached the centre I went into the garage restaurant and ordered some food. It was great to have made it but I still wasn’t sure where the campsite was. Once I had finished eating a very tired Phillip arrived and we went to find a place to stay. Hearing that the campsite was another 10 miles further on we agreed to do it and so I set off while Phil had his dinner. It seemed to take a while to reach the camp but once I was checked in I got chatting to the two girls next to my site who had an amazing mosquito net over their bench.

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This was so cool and they were the bet company

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Once I was set up and had packed my things Phillip arrived and we joined the girls along with Craig who had come down from Alaska. Mercia, Angie and Craig were such great company and we  had a brilliant evening drinking wine until 1.30am when I checked the time.

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Our camp sunset

Knowing we had 140km to ride the next day it was time to get some sleep hoping we would manage the distance to our next camp spot.

Saturday 18th June

Going to bed at 1.30am wasn’t the best way to prepare for a long day on the road but having such great company it was so much fun. Having drank a few to many glasses of wine also didn’t help meaning I woke earlier and not feeling to great.

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Very early morning camp

I joined Marcia and Angie in their bug tent and we were soon joined by a bleary eyed Phillip and Craig. It was so great hanging out with them especially as Angie made everyone a coffee. Although I wasn’t feeling to great we were packed and ready to go by 9.30am. We said our goodbyes and set off up to the road and started to head north. Noticing there was a wind from the south was great as it would make our day a little easier.

The road around the lake climbed and fell making it slow and annoying knowing we were following a lake. As we got closer to the end the road climbed above the lake, then dropped and followed the river down the valley. From here it undulated slightly and with a tailwind we started to make better progress.

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Needing to cover 90 miles to get to Boya lake we rode until we had 45 miles left then pulled over to have lunch. Knowing we had a climb coming up it was good to stop and refuel to give us energy for the climb. The scenery was just incredible and we were kept entertained constantly as we headed towards the mountains.

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Once we had eaten we set off and soon started to climb. It wasn’t steep but we continued to get steadily higher. As we neared Jade City I saw a cyclist coming the opposite way. Her name was Maud from France and was heading to South America skipping bits to fit in as much as possible.

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Reaching the top and seeing beautiful lakes was just great

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Phillip and Maud

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She was really great to chat to and knowing what she was heading for I was excited for what she was going to see. We set off and soon arrived in Jade city to check out the jade shop and grab a snack. As we were about to leave when a tour bus arrived and we were then asked a million and one questions. They were all very nice and great to chat to but needing to get to the lake which was still 25 miles away we had to push on. We set off and from here the road steadily dropped making our progress really fast.

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If Phil hadn’t spotted these two I would never have seen them

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Feeling tired but great to be almost there

There was still some hills in the way and having already done several long days we were both getting really tired. By the time it reached 7.30pm we reached the turn off for the lake and dropped down to the water. When we arrived it was stunning with emerald green water that was to inviting not to jump in.

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It was just what I needed and the water was warmer then I had thought it would be. Once I was out I pitched my tent had dinner then packed away my things so we could go and see a beaver dam. Being a 20 minute walk through the beach forest we took our bear spray and headed off.

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This bird was going crazy at us for being in her territory 

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Thats a big bear (i don’t mean me)

As we dropped through the woods we spotted a tree where wood peckers had been making their home and some bear claw marks a bit higher up. We realised it must have been a big bear so walked on until we reached the damming area.

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This was mad to see how they were cutting them down

At first we saw loads of trees that had been chopped down realising it must have been the beavers. These trees were huge and as we walked to the dam we could hear a huge tree crashing through the forest. It was so funny to think that such a small animal could chop down such a big tree with its teeth.

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Beaver heading to the dam

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The lake behind this dam was huge

We reached the dam and couldn’t believe the size of it. It held back water raising the height by over four feet. We stood and watched them come and go and with the sun slowly setting the colours of the forest became magical.

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We stood for a while watching and with the light slowly fading we started to head back when we saw the moon rise over the lake.

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As the moon came up a beaver swam through the water below

It couldn’t get any better the this and we were both just speechless at the beauty. We made our way back to camp taking hundreds of photos and then settled down for the night.

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What a day

With the full moon up and the sky still light from the late summer sun I went to bed with the sound of the wolves howling way off in the forest. It had been a long but an incredible day from start to finish and I felt so lucky I was here to see and hear it all.

Sunday 19th June

Waking up to the sun heating my tent was enough to get me out of bed and into the lake. The water was still cold from the night but the surface was flat as a pancake. It took me a while to get used to it but the feeling of the cold refreshing my body was amazing.

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Why would you not want to jump in here

Once out I got up and started to make breakfast when Phillip appeared from his tent. I hung around while he got ready then headed up to the junction to wait for him. He got chatting to a couple who were inviting us to stay in Watson lake which was where we were heading that day. Their names were JM and Natalie and had two kids who were more then happy to host us. Feeling relieved we had a place to stay we set off up the track and passed yet another bear heading into the forest. Once out onto the road it was clear we had a strong tail wind and that was what Phillip loved.

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The totally smooth highway with a tailwind was perfect

He was off at top speed and I clung onto his back wheel trying to keep up. Although we were averaging 18 mph we didn’t seem to be covering the miles. I knew were were and had to be but today it was my turn to be tired. The road surface was amazing but we past miles and miles of dead forest due to a fungus and insect invasion. It was incredible to see the destruction and how far it had spread.

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Phillip riding towards me through the dead firs

As it got closer to lunch time we spotted a beautiful blue lake to have lunch by. With the water being so clear I was soon in for a swim and enjoying the cool water in the heat of the day. It was so refreshing but my legs were still tired.

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This just felt great

Once we’d had lunch we set off again continuing north passing even more Beavers swimming in the lakes next to the highway.

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From here the road got tougher with short steep climbs followed by short steep descents that seemed to zap my energy. What didn’t help was that we had been plagued by huge horse flies all day that were so big they caused shadows on the ground and if we stopped they would swarm and take chunks out of us.

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Phillip just about to take on the steep hill behind me

Not being able to stop because of them I reached the junction followed by Phillip who had stopped having seen more bears and we sat cooling down in the shade with a cold drink. I was exhausted and we still had another 17miles to go. We set of east for Watson lake and started to drop towards the Laird river and the start of the first hill. Still with a strong tailwind we stopped to chat to another cyclist before continuing to climb the next two big hills. We kept at it and soon arrived in town and on to the signpost forest where there is a forest of over 100,000 signs covering almost 2 acres having been started by a homesick GI in 1942.

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The famous signpost forest

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There were over 100,000 signs from all over the world

It was so cool to see so many signs from all over the world. We looked around for awhile but with the time getting on we headed to the supermarket and on to JM’s house to set up camp. Once we were set up JM and Natalie arrived home and cooked us dinner using moose sauages while we chatted.

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JM, Natalie and Phillip making the evening fun

They were such great company and so kind to have invited us to come and stay. Canada was proving to be so much more then incredible scenery it was also incredible people.

The last week was a complete surprise with Phillip for company, seeing countless bears, Stunning Glaciers, snapping my frame again and having the best time because of it. It hasn’t been easy with long days and lots of miles and I still had a long way to go before a rest day. It had been so much fun but the bugs were starting to get more intense and much bigger. From here in Watson lake my journey would head west again for over 300 miles to White horse where I could finally have a few days off before the next stretch to the Alaskan border and then onto Fairbanks. I was now getting close and I could feel the end getting closer.

Thanks for reading xx 

 

(154) Prince George to Terrace, Canada

In my first week being in Canada I had met the most amazing people all with massive hearts and the biggest smiles and I travelled long, winding and beautiful roads. The rain had come and gone and with it I had seen spectacular clouds. I was still yet to see my first bear or moose but I was assured it wouldn’t be long before I did. Making it to Prince George was great but having a snapped frame wasn’t. With the help of John and Tracy they could track someone who could hopefully fix it and allow me to ride the last few thousand miles to the finish. From here my journey would head west to Kitwanga where I would turn north once again for yet another long stretch. It is always hard to know from a map what I was going to see on the road ahead and there was only one way to find out and that was to get on and do it. 

Friday 3rd June

Having a day off and a broken bike I already knew how my day was going to be. I joined John and Tracey for breakfast and then had the morning to try and catch up on my jobs while John headed out to catch up on his. Having the morning to plan my route ahead and work on my blog I got my head down and set to work. John returned home just after 1.30pm and after a few phone calls we headed out to a farm to see if Dave could weld Dolly back together. Having already been brazed he was a little nervous about weakening the brass but he took his time and did a great job.

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Dave working his magic

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These two were great fun to be around

Once Dolly was fixed I thanked Dave for coming to the rescue and we headed back into town to pick up a few things. Having a Chilli cook off in the town tomorrow we headed back to the house and they set to work on their master piece. Not wanting to many cooks I was left to get my things ready for leaving tomorrow. Once the Chilli was on the go we sat down and had our dinner and enjoyed the company.

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They were such a fun family to be with and I was so pleased to be here. Having been offered a place to stay 40 miles west of Prince George meant that I didn’t have to leave until 1pm and so I could help with the Rotary cook off. It had been a day of uncertainties but had ended well. Not only was my bike fixed but I could also help John and Tracy with their Chilli and I was looking forward to it.

Saturday 4th June

The day had come for the Chilli cook off and the team was armed with a very tasty Chilli in two massive pots. We loaded the car and headed to the venue and started to set up. With people already set up and serving we had a little catching up to do but we knew we should win because it was that good. Once it was all heated up and ready to go we were like a well oiled machine serving all the people that came. Everyone seemed to love it and many commented it was the best Chilli. It was so much fun and I had a great time helping them out, feeling honoured to have been asked.

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With the pot getting low and many bellies being full it was time to head back and load up my bike. I said goodbye to John and Rob, then Tracy drove me back to drop me off. I’d had such a great time here in Prince George but once again it was time to head on.  With my things packed I was pretty much ready to head off when Torre arrived home. I was so pleased to see her and to wish her luck for her future and also thank her for looking after me when I arrived. I set off out of town and headed west on the Yellowhead highway.

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Once I had climbed out of town the road stayed pretty good only climbing slightly but the views were beautiful. With a tree lined highway that opened up to deep black lakes and birds singing it made for a nice ride.

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I reached the turn off for Cluculz lake and made my way down a side road following the directions I had been given. I finally found the address and arrived a beautiful quaint cabin and went in to take a look. I messaged Karen to say I had arrived and opened the door to a beautifully modelled cabin. Their were moose everywhere and it felt so homely. Karen arrived shortly after and showed me how everything worked and I was then left to make myself at home to relax.

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Karens beautiful cabin

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It was just so relaxing

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This picture was on the wall and made me laugh

It was the most relaxing place and I loved it. Deciding not to do any work I relaxed for the rest of the evening watching a movie with the food and beer Karen had brought me. I couldn’t believe I was here and just how lucky I was to be invited to stay.

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The sunset was the perfect end to a great day

Sunday 5th June

With a day off planned I lay in my comfy bed knowing I didn’t have to get up. I hadn’t had a lay in for a very long time and it was so amazing knowing I could if I wanted to lay there all day. Eventually the sun was up and I couldn’t stay in bed any longer. Once I had made breakfast I set to work to try and catch up on my blog. Being behind I worked pretty much the whole day, Taking breaks to have lunch but also watching a movie to relax. Having had the chance to sit on the deck in the sun was amazing and being invited over to Karens I made my way over once I was done to see where her and Antony lived. I rode for about 5 minutes and arrived at a beautiful house right on the lake. It was so beautiful with the huge lake that spread out in front of them with firs that lined the waters edge and I could see why they had moved there. We had a few drinks and chatted about life and Karen said why don’t I stay for another night.

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The beautiful view from Karen’s house

With it being so nice there I agreed but asked if I could do any jobs while I was there. Looking rather excited after telling her I was a carpenter we arranged to meet in the morning and we would make a plan.

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Another amazing sunset

By the time I went to leave it was already dark and so I headed back to head to bed. I was so relaxed and so pleased I had decided to stop.

Monday 6th June

This was bliss just waking up not needing to go anywhere. I resisted getting up but once again with the sun well and truly up I got up and made coffee. Getting more work done Karen arrived just after midday and said she was taking me for dinner. We headed out to the highway and took another track down to a The Cabin Restaurant which had only been open about 6 months. The owners were so lovely and they had got an amazing place also right on the waterfront.

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One of the lovely owners of this beautiful restaurant

Once we’d had dinner we headed to Karen’s house to see what she wanted doing. With the plan to put up coving around the ceiling I set to work with Karen’s help and soon had it finished. Karen had a great eye for detail and the room looked loads better for it.

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Karen was just the most amazing and kind person with the biggest heart

Once I was done I headed back and took it easy. Having an afternoon nap was amazing and something I never do. Offering to cook me dinner I got up and started to do a few little jobs on my bike one of which was to tighten the saddle when I noticed the saddle bolt had snapped. Knowing Karen had loads of tools I headed back over and managed to get it fixed. Once I was done I headed in to join Karen for dinner. I had really enjoyed being here at the lake and Karen was such a lovely lady I was pleased I had got to meet.

With the plan to cover some big milage tomorrow it was soon time to head back and get my things sorted. With my bike now back in action I could get my head down and head west to Burns lake.

Tuesday 7th June

Well its official I am rubbish at getting up in the mornings even if the sun has been up since around 4am. With my eye mask on and being in a very comfy bed I just wanted it to last that little bit longer before I got up but having over 100 miles to cover I knew my bliss had to end. Putting the kettle on was a good start and although I thought I was pretty organised it still seemed to take me ages to get my things packed and loaded on my bike. Once I had breakfast I checked I had everything and looked at the amazing place I had been staying in. It was the most relaxing spot, I had got loads done and met the amazing lady Karen in the process. With my saddle now fixed I pushed my bike up the short track and out onto the road. Once back at the highway I turned left and continued West past the trucks hauling the huge wind turbine.

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You can get a rough Idea just how massive these are going to be.

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The road climbed slightly and continued to undulate until I had covered the 20 miles to Vanderhoof. I stopped in the town to grab some snacks then rode out of town to try and cover the miles. After covering around 40 I saw a cyclist ahead who had stopped at the bottom of a hill. I came up behind him to his surprise and so I stopped and sat while we chatted for a bit. Looking shattered and knowing I still had a long day ahead I apologised I couldn’t ride with him and said my goodbyes. I set off up the hill and was soon out of sight. The scenery remained beautiful with a fir lined highway opening up at times to reveal the odd deep black lake that reflected like a mirror.

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Passing many signs warning of Bears, Dear and moose I kept looking but never saw anything. I would sometimes daydream as I rode and would then think later that I probably passed loads on the road doing a circus act to try and get my attention and me riding past being totally oblivious.

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Amazing clouds along the highway

Apart from the odd short climb the road didn’t get much above 780 metres or get lower than 650 metres. The slight headwind would come and go or even change to a tailwind helping me for a few miles before it would switch again.

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Just a tiny portion of the piled tree that were ready to be machined

Apart from a half an hour lunch break next to a lake I kept going getting ever closer to Burns Lake. I passed a few nice places to camp but with another big day tomorrow I really wanted to cover the 100 miles today. With 15 miles to go I was exhausted and I had to stop a couple times to eat a snack or just get a minutes rest.

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A bald eagle looking for its next meal

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The highway was often lined with dense firs 

If it was for a snack I would continue riding but at a slow pace so I was at least moving forward. By 7.45pm I finally reached the town and spotted a pub that served food. I went in and ordered then sat outside and chatted to a lovely group of ladies who were celebrating their mums birthday. They so nice to chat to and sit while I ate my dinner. With it now almost 9pm I headed down to the lake where I was told was a free campsite and looked for a good spot. On arrival it looked perfect apart from the toilets were closed so once my tent was up I put on my swimming shorts and jumped into the dark water.

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This was such a great spot to camp

It did take my breath away but it was much warmer then I thought it would be. By the time I was set up and I had done all my jobs it was 10.30pm and I was very tired. I just hope I slept well for my big day tomorrow.

Wednesday  8th June

I woke in my tent with the rain hitting the flysheet so I decided to lay in for little longer until it stopped. I got up just after 9am which was far later then I had hoped and sat by the lake to make a coffee while I packed away when a guy came over to chat. He was great to chat to and made a nice change to what would have been a quiet morning. By the time I was ready to go it was almost 10.30am at which point I realised I had 90 miles to cover and not 80 as I first thought. Feeling the pressure to get going I got my head down and just concentrated on getting to Smithers as soon as I could.

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Making my way up to Six mile summit at 840 metres

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The worlds largest fly rod in Houston

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One of the early fire engines

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Huge train packed with wood shavings of the paper mill

Having a Rotary meeting at 6pm I couldn’t hang around and so I didn’t really have time to stop for any kind of break. As it got closer to 12pm I was now getting so hungry I knew I had to stop before my body stopped. I found a store and picked up a few snacks just as the rain started to fall. Feeling lucky I was out of it while I ate I soon found I wasn’t going to be so lucky for the rest of the day.

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I set off in the rain that just got heavier and made my life pretty rubbish. It wasn’t bad going with only a few biggish climbs but all I could think about was the average speed I had to keep up so I would make it in on time. As each hour went past I didn’t seem to make any headway and when I did I was then faced with a hill which would knock my average back to where it was.

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Heading towards my next pass in the rain, Hungry hill 844metres named because they used to have to feed the horses half way up

The two hours left me needing to do 14mph which after a hard 62 miles I was starting to fade. I stuck at it and as I got close to town I made a quick phone call to say I would make it and arrived at the meeting 6 minutes late. As soon as I walked in I was handed a beer by Steve one of the Rotarians and sat and enjoyed a great evening with them all, all be it soaked through to the skin.

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My contact in Smithers who was called Dan was away but had arranged for me to stay on his parents on their farm not far out of town so not long before the meeting ended Orvy, Dan’s father arrived to take me back. Once the meeting was over we loaded my bike into the truck and he took me out to his farm where I would meet his wife Cornelia. It was really great to meet them both and so we sat chatting for a while before it was time for bed. It was so great I had made it but what a day I’d had and being in a bed after such a tough day was just amazing.

Thursday 9th June

Waking up at 9am was great especially after a very long couple days. I joined Orvy and Cornelia in the kitchen for breakfast before their son Tim took me out to look around the farm.

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Being a milking farm of 70 friesian cows it was great to see them and to sort of help out but really I think I just got in the way and in the process got covered in cow muck. Now being very presentable in the only pair of trouser I had We then headed to the golf course to have lunch over looking the green and the mountains behind.

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Now with the sun out we could see just how stunning this place was

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A great spot with great people Orvy and Cornelia

It was such a beautiful area and I could see how no one could get bored of the views. I was then kindly taken around the area to see the sights and visit the twin falls which are two waterfalls that comes straight off the glacier.

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It was just incredible

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Cornelia and Orvy

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It was just amazing watching the amount of water that came off the shear drop. We then drove the back roads around the area before heading back to the house to have dinner. Cornelia kindly cooked dinner while I caught up on a few jobs and then joined them all around the table. I was once again in an amazing family that I was so pleased to be part of even for just a short period of time. Once we’d had dinner I continued to check out my route north before I jumped in the car with Cornelia to head to the supermarket to pick up a few supplies. Once I had picked up a few snacks for another day on the road we headed back so I could continue to work.

I always seemed to have so much to do but always felt good to try and keep on top of as much of it as I could. Being almost 1am by the time I was done left me with little sleep but it was a case of having to and being in the perfect place to do them. 

Friday 10th June

Wanting to get up by 7.30am I asked for Cornelia to give me a shout but I was already awake and pretty much packed by the time she called me. I joined them for breakfast which was amazing and just what I needed to get going. Tim had been wanting to take me out shooting so once we had finished breakfast he took me to a safe place to shoot. Once we arrived he pulled out his R15 assault rifle so I had a go.

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This was so cool

It was surprisingly easy to fire but after a few shoots my ears were already  ringing. We handed back to load my bike in the truck so that Orvy could take me back to where I had ridden to.

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It was great being taken back into town in the truck with a ShelterBox on board

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Feeling lucky to have met such a great family

We headed into town and I was dropped off and ready to go. It was great to have had the chance to be here and to have had such a great time with Dan’s family. Once I was ready I thanked Orvy and set off south for Kitwanga. I was about an hour out of town when I got a call from Marg in Terrace to say she could come and pick me up and take me to Terrace for a Rotary meeting. I looked at my distance and although it would be tight I thought I could reach Kitwanga by 4.30pm.

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Being a better day it made for a great ride west

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One of the Salmon runs that the locals would come to the fish or net

Needing to get my head down I tried to keep up my speed without stopping. The ride west was stunning with huge snow capped mountains rising above the tree lined highway and all the time slightly dropping with little in the way of big climbs.

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I kept on pushing on and arrived at Hazleton where I was told to take a look at a bridge that crossed the gorge.

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With it only being a mile in from the highway I rode in and take a look to see it was in a beautiful area. I made my way back to the highway and continued on to try and meet Marg.

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With the road following the river down stream I was making good progress and making up on time. As the day went on I started to drop down a long hill at between 20-25 mph when I saw something move to my right to see it was a black bear running through the grass and barge its way into the woods. It was so cool to see it and I was pleased I had seen it without a confrontation.

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Now getting closer to Kitwanga I kept the pressure on and arrived at the garage at 4.25pm which was 5 minutes before I had estimated then spotted Marg  waiting for me. I went to say hello and thank her for coming to pick me up and so we loaded the car and grabbed an ice cream. As I went in I passed a bike with a trailer and wondered if it was from the tyre tracks I had seen crossing the pass from Pavilion to Clinton. I stopped to introduce myself and asked if it was and sure enough it was. I chatted with Phillip for a while before we had to leave for Terrace. The drive down to Terrace was stunning with the 7 sisters along the way and many other snow capped mountains that lined the road that ran beside the river.

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Heading down to Terrace with the beautiful mountains rising above the highway

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A ferry crossing on a very treacherous stretch of river.

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Arriving in terrace

We reached Terrace where I was very generously booked into a hotel and had time for a shower before Marg picked me up to take me to a rotary BBQ and the instillation of their new club president. They were all so much fun and so great to be around. Once they had gone through their agenda I was then introduced to the members and so got up to speak.

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Heading into the club house as the rain started to fall

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Changing of club president

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Terraces new club and very lovely president, the amazing Marg and me

They were all so kind and I was so pleased I had come down knowing they had done so much in the past for Shelter Box. With the plan to head back to Kitwanga in the morning Marg was going to pick me up at 8.30am where I was then going to be driven back to where I was picked up from. It was so kind of her to do this and I knew it had taken a lot out of her day.

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Looking out across the mountains from Terrace 

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This sign was very appropriate for the rotary 

We headed back to the hotel where I was dropped off and left to rest for the night. It had been a very long day but it had been great to cover the miles and so much fun meeting such lovely people.

Heading west through even more beautiful scenery has been so great and having even more rotarians to meet up with has allowed me to meet more amazing families and see how the many communities are held together. I had also been making great progress in getting the miles covered which was great as the next section would take me north through some very remote and sparsely populated areas so now being comfortable riding big distances and remain in the saddle for extended periods of time would be easier. With a rough plan of distances to destinations I was keen to get going and see what lay ahead but with the promise of more bears I knew I had to keep my wits about me.

Thanks for reading xx 

(153) Climbs, Clouds and kind people welcome me to Canada

The last week In the Oregon and the USA was so much fun and I had met even more amazing people making my memories of the states great. The Rotary clubs in the north west had pulled out all the stops which was over and above anything anyone would ever wish for and I was pleased I could be there to raise even more money for ShelterBox. Now I was in Canada my 40th country and the penultimate before Alaska it was now the countdown to the finish. Although I still had a long way to go I was nearing the end and I had mixed feeling about it. I knew however that Canada has a lot to offer and I was looking forward to seeing it for my own eyes. Although I was only going to be traveling up the west side I knew I was in for some stunning scenery and couldn’t wait to see for myself.

Thursday 26th May

With a breakfast Rotary meeting to go to, I joined Chris in the kitchen around 6.15am and once we were ready we made our way up to the golf club. It wasn’t long before everyone arrived and made me feel very welcome. I was starting to get more accustomed to talking but I was far from being confident. Like every rotary meeting I had been to I found this was no different in the way that everyone was so kind and there to make the world a better place. We listened to a few people speak one of which was a guy who was in a wheel chair and was in to talk about working with youth groups in Vancouver and helping the kids develop their confidence and skills through sport, activities and working in the community. It was so great to see him not only dealing with his own disability after a kayaking accident but helping others see through their own battles.

After the meeting we headed back to the house so I could sort through some things before heading into town. Although I managed to get a bit done I ended up falling asleep on my bed for a short time not realising just how tired I was. Needing to get out and see the city I asked Chris if he could drop me to the bus stop and so while we were heading out we stopped for lunch in a mall.

It was a good plan as it gave us time to catch up but also set me up for the day ahead. I caught the bus into town passing over the lions gate bridge and arrived in the centre to look around. It was hard to know where to start so I made my way to the huge BC stadium and if I saw something of interest on the way I would call in. Seeing the sights in the city was great and felt good to be here in amongst the hustle and bustle.

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This was one way to see the city being one of the biggest peddle bike I have ever seen

Being recommended to see Granville Island I reached the right street and headed west down to the water. I reached the bridge and looked out across the water to the island and back to the city. It was so cool to think I was here in Vancouver and although I still had a long way to go I was really getting there.

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Looking back at the city of Vancouver

On my way back I looked down on a the first stages of building a skyscraper. It was going to be the new Vancouver house and so seeing this was watching history in the making.

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I stood chatting to a local guy for quite a while as he had watched it from the start and so was interesting to hear his story of how it was slowly being built. From here I headed down to the waters edge and caught a small water taxi across to the island so I could check it out.

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It was great walking around seeing the small shops and places to eat but with the time getting on it was time to head back.

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Looking back to the city from the island

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I loved this concrete plant on the island making what wold have been an eyesore to a work of art

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There was something that told me it was a good idea to come to the island

By the time I got back it was already quite late and with Veronica having had to go out it then left Chris and I to get dinner. Suggesting different places to eat we picked one and headed down into west Vancouver to find a nice Thai restaurant. It was so great having Chris as company and very interesting talking with him. With really great food and great company I was wishing I could stay and explore the city more but with a time line to keep I had to get going and start my journey north and through Canada.

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My other companion also liked my room

Friday 27th May

It was time to set off and explore Canada and today I would be heading to Whistler which is a ski resort in the mountains 77 miles away. I got up after an amazing sleep I packed my things ready to go. I was joined by Chris and Veronica to have breakfast before Veronica had to leave. Being pretty much ready to go it was soon my turn to head off away from from another lovely home. It had been so great being there and having had their cat sleep in my room even putting its paw around my arm as it slept.

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The very lovely Veronica and Chris 

I was soon saying goodbye to another new friend and riding across the hillside to the west before the road turned a corner and started to head up the valley. The road undulated a bit making it slow going and once around the corner the world seemed to change.

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The road followed the harbour around the corner

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It was amazing to see the difference in such a short distance

It was beautiful with huge mountains dropping into the sea and islands rising up out to the west. I felt guilty I hadn’t got to see the island but if I had I wouldn’t have had long there and knew I would have just left feeling frustrated I hadn’t really seen it properly.

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The road continued to undulate up the valley with the scenery getting ever more dramatic. As I rode north I watched bands of dark clouds with rain falling from them  come across the island and move up the valley in front of me. I reached a small place just before Squamish and stopped to grab a snack to keep me going.

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Watching the rain as it moved up the valley

Feeling the rain starting to fall I popped my jacket on and started to climb but it wasn’t long before the rain had stopped and I was to hot. As I climbed I started to pass signs indicating bears on the road and not to stop and feed them. It was cool to see it and I would love to see one as long as it was a little way away.

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It was so cool seeing this sign and would have been great to see a bear but from a distance