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.
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.
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.
After so much rain the river was looking high
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
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.
Reaching the cold and wet settlement of Tok
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They were all such a lovely group of friends
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.
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.
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.
Heading north to Delta Junction with the snow capped mountains hidden behind the clouds
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.
My first view of the Pipeline that comes down from the oilfields where I would be heading
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.
Cowburt and I having a little fun
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.
Such a kind family who made me feel so at home
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.
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.
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.
Such a lovely place with another great couple
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.
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.
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.
Some pipe line facts
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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