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Day 63-65: 12-14 Sep 08. Glaciers & bears in Stewart, BC & Hyder, Alaska

September 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Alaska, British Columbia, Canada, North America, Trip reports

After I had asked the noisy neighbour to shut off their generator (which was outside their big RV!), we had a peaceful night, without any bears. Even the wind had stopped and in the morning we had a great view over the Meziadin Lake.

The way to Stewart is only about 65 km and with the sun in our face, it was a pleasant ride. The scenery is very impressive, with huge glaciers hanging on to steep walls. The road itself climbed steep for a while, but leveled out in front of the famous Bear Glacier.

Not only well-known for being one of the most accessible glaciers (the road passes right in front of the lake), but also as a backdrop in the movie Insomnia (with Al Pacino & Robin Williams). Though even in the short period since, it has retreated visibly and for the first time the glacier is no longer touching the lake directly.

The strong headwind was pretty cold and soon we continued our way: downhill! Through beautiful scenery, we freewheeled all the way back to sealevel, the first time since we started at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a few months before.. Read more

Day 47- 52: Aug 27 – Sep 1: Anarchy, Argentineans & gasguzzlers in Nugget City

September 2, 2008 by  
Filed under British Columbia, Canada, Go green, North America, Trip reports, Yukon

It was hard to leave Tracy & Sylvester as we had felt so much at home in their place, but we had to hit the road, winter was catching  up…

We managed to delay ourselves until about 16.00 in Whitehorse and then left in a terrible downpour, and as the first few km were steep uphill to get out of the valley, we were feeling down. But the sky stopped dumping water on us and soon we found ourselves going up and down over rolling hills besides more Wonderful Lakes. We had set ourselves a new goal: get to Scott’s Anarchy Farm! We had met Scott in the Potlatch (see previous post here) and he had invited us to visit him when we would pass.

Unfortunately he was not in the Greenhouse: a big plastic covered collection of wonderful smelling flowers and vegetables. We waited outside for some moments and cycled around in the area, but as we did not had the directions to their house, we returned to the greenhouse. The rain started again, and we decided to sleep inside the greenhouse, setting up our inner tent only. It was by far the best smelling campsite on our entire trip.

In the middle of the night we heard some noises and Scott came in. He did not seem to surprised to see us sleeping in the middle of hundreds of flowers and added one more log to the slow burning woodstove, so the temperature stayed above freezing.

The next morning he came back with coffee. A few weeks later he sent us a great poem, please check it out here on his 1000 Americans page. We stayed close to the warm fire all morning and only after noon, we packed our tent and continued riding through the rainy Yukon lake District. The wind was friendly and even with our late starts we did over 100 km, ending up late at a deserted state campground, close to Teslin lake.

August 28 – 30: through the lake District with Mate & tortas

We had promised ourselves to start earlier, and actually managed to get on our bikes before 8 ‘o clock! We arrived quickly at the small place of Teslin, where we spend several hours in the library. We were surprised at the many small libraries we met, there is so much great stuff to see and hear, most offer Internet access and the ladies running them are without exception all nice and friendly, so support your local Library and get your kids to read!

We spend some time in the Teslin Motel, working on our reports and chatting with Heather, who was on her way North, on a big BMW motorbike (see her picture here). We fixed her iPhone for her and chatted with this lovely woman, who was in great spirit.. Do not pass the Motel without seeing the hidden gem: a small museum with stuffed animals in the gift shop (some of Ivana’s images are on Flickr here). This sounds much worse than it is, they have done a wonderful job. Oh, and the Wifi is free at the Motel :)

Ivana managed to cross the scary and long bridge, which had a steel bottom, through which you could see water below. As with most rivers, we had to climb a steep hill to get out of the valley it had created, but during the climb a van stopped. Read more

Day 35-38, 15-18 August 2008: To Canada, rain & bordertowns

August 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Alaska, Canada, North America, Trip reports, Yukon

It was time to leave our friend named Alaska and meet another partner for the next few months, named Canada. We had so many good times and many bad times. It is funny how even a fictional line on a map can define a relationship. We felt like we had to say goodbye to family…

We had stayed another day in Tok, it was just too perfect to camp for free, behind a 24/7 gasstation and next to the supermarket. We had to take care of our belongings as there was a group of drunk locals nearby. We have noticed this often lately: small groups of native Americans, who walk or sit around with paperbags or just with a bottle of scotch. It is a sad sight and a result of many bad political decisions in a long row.

We met a few other travelers who stayed the second night on the same camp; a young cyclist from Quebec, who was on his way home and a couple from Argentina (www.amunches.com) who were at the end of their 6 year journey. It was nice for Ivana to speak some Spanish and to drink some mate, but also interesting to see that they were clearly tired. Tired of travelling, tired of telling their story. The next morning they left early, but they had left Ivana some rainpants, though they were not really suitable for cycling as we would find out soon..

We left with dry weather, but quickly the hills and the rain started. Ivana’s pants ripped and one leg came off. We stayed at a very wet campground near a lake that probably was very pretty if you could see it. Only a few days later (fortunately) we read the report of fellow cyclists Tim & Cindie, who had seen a bear while camping here. We had been less ‘bearanoid’ as we had simply not seen any bears in Alaska outside Denali park, which in some ways is more like the Serengeti than the ‘real world’…

The next day we were completely soaked again and Ivana was ready to quit and fly home to sunny Argentina… Just in time we passed a visitor centre for the Tetlin National Wildlife refuge. Two ladies, who lived all their life in the native village of Northway and worked as volunteers, came to the rescue. They gave us tea, let us dry our clothes and even prepared a few delicious sandwiches with salmon. Just before we left, they even gave some chocolate. It is people like these that we will take with us in our heart when leaving Alaska.. Read more

FAQ

August 15, 2008 by  
Filed under

Where and When

Where are you going?

  • The plan is to cycle through America, from the North of Alaska to the South of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Note that America is not the same as the USA. We want to see America and the USA is one country on these two continents.

Straight down?

  • Well, straight down is impossible, you would hit water already in Alaska, but even in a straight line is not possible. The fastest route would be more or less straight to Panama, fly or sail to Colombia, then down the west coast of South America, over the PanAmericana.

So how far is that, 16.000km, about 10,000 miles?

  • It might be if you could go straight down. We think we will have cycled at least double that distance (about 35000km) as we want to visit every country on the mainland, so including all the small countries on Central America and all the larger countries in South America.

How much do you cycle every day?

  • Usually between 50 & 100km, depending on the wind, road surface, health, bike problems, interesting places and people.
  • We will not cycle every day, we will take longer rests in interesting places, so our average will likely be around 50km/day or even less.

How long will this trip take?

  • We think about 2.5 years, give or take a few months.

Why 2.5 years, why not 2 or 3 years?

  • We have to start in Alaskan summer, so July (June is considered Spring, August Fall, the rest is winter in Alaska). As the Southern hemisphere has reversed seasons and we want to arrive in summer as well, we need either 1.5, 2.5 or 3.5 years. 1.5 is too fast, 3.5 a bit slow…

Who & what

Who are you?

Argentina & The Netherlands? So where did you meet?

  • In Tibet. She was cycling from Malaysia to India, I was climbing Mt Everest. We got engaged two years later on the summit of Kilimanjaro, 3 weeks before the start of this cycle trip.

Tibet? Kilimanjaro? Eh, ok. So you like travelling. Where else have you cycled before?

  • Ivana has made one very long trip: first around New Zealand, then from Malaysia to India, passing Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, China, Tibet & Nepal on the way. Then she cycled for a month in Turkey and has also cycled in France.
  • Together we cycled in Italy for a month.
  • I (Harry) was raised in the Netherlands, so was practically born and raised on bicycles. Previously I have not made any very long cycle trips, but have done some shorter touring of 2-3 weeks per trip (Belgium – Normandy – Jersey -England; Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland – Scotland; Amsterdam – Zermatt on a tandem).

What bicycles do you use?

  • We ride on the perfect travel bike: Dutch made to order Santos Travel master, aluminium frame, 26″ wheels. Tubus racks and Ortlieb bags see for more details the gear pages.

Website:

How does this website work?

  • well you found the FAQ, so you seem to have some idea already. On the homepage you see 4 tabs with a photo and shortcuts to the last 4 posts.
  • You can check older trip reports in may ways: check archives, trip reports, search for words, browse by categories (the second/lower top menu) or use the tags system, which is a bit more detailed than the categories.
  • You can contact us through the contact form and we love feedback on our posts, so please leave some comments when you read the posts. You will be asked to verify that you are a human being (and not a spam robot) by typing some random code. Though this might be difficult and annoying, it saves us hours of time and helps to control spam.

Will you write reports every day?

  • We will try but already know that it will not be possible as we will be too tired, to grumpy, too out of battery power, or too far away from any internet connection. So likely we will write in batches, whenever we have a few hours or day off and post them when needed.

So do I need to check every day to see if you updated something?

  • No, you can make it much easier to follow us: either add our RSS feed to your feed reader, so you get a notice when a new feed is available
  • If you have no idea what RSS is, just subscribe to our mailinglist and get a maximum of one email every day new updates are posted. You can do this on every page, see the box at the right side, near the top of the page or just click here.

Why does http://WorldOnABike.com change to http://harry.biketravellers.com ?

  • World On A Bike .com is just easier to remember and to tell people. It automatically forwards to the real website which is located at harry.biketravellers.com. On http://BikeTravellers.com everybody that cycles can open a free weblog (yourname.biketravellers.com), try it yourself, many others have already done so.

Where are Ivana’s reports?

What are those ‘Google Ads’ I see on many pages?

  • These are small advertisements, supplied by Google. We do not choose them, the content is based on the content of the page, so a page about Alaska will give you ads about Alaska tours or land. It might show things we do not support, like drilling for oil in Alaska.
  • Every time somebody clicks on them, we get a few cents, which helps to pay for our website costs. So if you are interested in the ads, please check tem out as you are helping us.
  • Do not just click a lot of ads just to help us, as Google might ban our account if some people repeatedly click our ads from the same computer/IP address. So only check the ones that are interesting to you.

How & costs & support

How can you afford such a trip?

  • We spend much less than you think, we saved some money the past years and might make some more on the way.

So, how much will you spend?

  • North America will be the most expensive: until we reach Mexico, we will spend about $15 per day (together). This means less than $3000 in the first 6 months.
  • Then from Mexico down it will probable be less than half of that.
  • In total should be less than $10,000 together for the entire trip.

That is less than my parents spent on a luxury 2-week safari trip last year! How come you can live so cheap?

  • We do not need much. We have our tent, so we do not need to pay for hotels. We camp out in the wild or at people’s lawn’s, so do not pay for expensive campsites. We will stay in cheap hostels in cities -in central America, you can get these for a few dollars-, but will also do a lot of Couchsurfing/Hospitality clubbing/ WarmShowering: staying with people for free, in return we will host them later.
  • We cook ourselves, so all we need is some pasta, some veggies and some candy bars to get us through the day. We drink water we get from people or take it from streams and purify it with our Steripen. We recharge our batteries using our SolarSupra solar panel. We never buy bottled water, that is a waste of money and plastic.
  • We do not have an expensive taste and have no space for souvenirs on our bikes, so all we take home are pictures and memories.
  • Our sponsors supplied us with most of our gear, so we had little costs up front.

It is still a lot of money, don’t you have any other costs as well?

  • We do not have kids, we do not have a car and have no debts, we never bought and will not buy anything we cannot afford. We have a house, but that is rented out so almost pays for itself.
  • So things we need to pay are: food & drinks. Sometimes camping fees (mostly we camp in the wild or on people’s lawns); Internet connections along the way, spare parts for our bikes; replacements for clothes we wore out; park fees; visa fees; entry fees for places we want to visit etc.
  • It is hard to plan exactly how much we will spend, but we want to see things along the way and will buy some dinners or breakfasts along the way when we are too tired or lazy to cook or think we deserved it after cycling another 1000km or a tough day. Basically we are on a tight budget, but will not let this stop us from enjoying the places we visit.

Is there any way we can support your trip?

  • Yes! Many ways, first of all you can sign up for our newsletter or RSS feed. Forward them to others that might enjoy reading travel stories, stories about people and culture, cycling, environmental issues, America.
  • Leave comments on the posts. We love to read them, they keep us going. Small notes from friends and strangers are huge boosts for our confidence and can help us through rough and difficult times.
  • Just think of this website as a free interactive travel magazine subscription. If you enjoy reading our stories and seeing our photos, you can thank us by donating some money using the form on the right side of every post and page, using PayPal or credit card. Every small amount is welcome, just think what you would spend on a magazine or book.
  • Check out the Google ads if there is something interesting for you (do not click them all just to help, see notes above).
  • Link to our websites or specific reports or photos from your own website or blog. Add us to Stumble Upon, ReddIt, Digg etc. get the word out that it is possible to travel by bicycle!
  • Invite us to speak in your town. We can give presentations about our trips, about climbing the 7 summits, cycling Asia, Bike Travelling or a photo presentation of the culture and nature of the 7 continents . We can charge admission fees or just ask for donations. We love to tell about our trips and spread knowledge about cycling and the environment.
  • Buy something from our shops, see the links above. We get a small percentage of every item sold and you promote cycling!
  • Invite us for dinner or to stay at your place or recommend addresses to sleep (friends, family) or even just places to pitch our tent
  • Start cycling yourself!

Day 32-34: August 12-14 2008: Tok Cutoff to Tok: About sun, mountains, lost pants, life in a bus..

after we woke up in our church, we noticed that it was actually dry! Not only that, but the weather improved during the day. Oh, how life is so much easier with some sun. I know we will curse it later when in the heat of central America, but for now it was very welcome.

We passed quite a few roadhouses and motels, that were either closed for the season or closed altogether. Seems that the combination of higher gas prices (increasing the costs for the generators and heating) and lower number of tourists (also partly because of higher gas prices) already has put many businesses out of business. Still some smaller business like the Cappucino house at the Gakona Junction seemed to survive. Shame that most clients never leave their car and stop to talk with the friendly ladies that run the wildly decorated place. Louise warned us for the many wild bears that were on the coming stretch and showed us some photos of a bear on the side of the road that apparently was not afraid of humans at all, taken a few days before…

We had stopped for some internet at Gakona Roadhouse, a nice historic place in a beautiful setting. It was comfortable to stay there, but the late evening sun convinced us to go a bit further and so we managed to see the beautiful sunsets over the Wrangell-StElias national park, with its 2 dominant peaks (from this side) Mt Drum and Mt Stanford. Read more

Day 27-30, 7-10 Aug 2008: The Denali Highway! About rough roads, cold and more..

August 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Alaska, Friendly people, North America, Trip reports

We both had a very strong love-hate relationship with the Denali Highway. It is a bit over 200km/130mi long, but 80% of this is unpaved. Sometimes tougher than the Dalton, wilder than the Denali park road, and wetter than the Netherlands :). ladies & gentlemen, we offer you: The Denali Highway in pictures, with some words as well…

It started out ok, with some nice roads from Cantwell, but soon the gravel came back with full force. Ivana had a bad day, so I just stayed away from her; I bit on front or a bit in the back. That is usually the best thing to do, when one of us has an ‘angry day’, when all roads are terrible, the legs won’t work or rain seems to hit you every minute. I was actually enjoying this road a lot.

It was nice to be away from the main traffic again. almost no people live here, rental cars are not allowed to drive these roads and trucks have nowhere to go to here, so all cars you see are travellers or hunters. All of them wave back when we wave at them and many stop for a chat. The landscape is simply stunning: from high mountains (even though most were hidden in thick, rainy clouds) to taiga forests and age -old glaciers. We cycled through valleys, crossed big rivers, saw al kinds of wildlife and met friendly people. We got rained upon, almost froze our hands and feet, downhilled in the dark and found cyclists’ heaven, all in a few days. Almost too much to process. Pictures do not do justice, but I will share a few, together with some short stories from the road: Read more

Day 14- 21: July 24-Aug 1 2008: Fairbanks to Denali park via North Pole!

August 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Alaska, North America, Trip reports

July 24 – July 29: resting & recovering in Fairbanks

We spent almost a week in Fairbanks, relaxing and catching up on resting, washing, shopping & working. Besides the overwhelming abundance of We were pleasantly surprised food-wise on two occasions. First the day after we arrived at Ericka’s place, they celebrated Miles’ b-day and we were invited to share the pizza, coke and pie and meet some of their family.

The next day we went out to see a bit more of Fairbanks and we cycled around the town visiting some places along the way like the lovely Farmer’s market, selling extremely expensive but . There were no video camera batteries for my camcorder anywhere in the city, so not sure if and what I can film before the next big city, which is Vancouver, 4000km away…

At the end of the day we visited the Pioneer Park, a place for tourists and locals to hang out. It is a bit corny, but they preserved and moved some of the oldest houses of Fairbanks here. We noticed a lot of people eating and unconsciously followed them to the source. We ended up at a set of tables, covered with fresh fruit, salad, chocolate cake, chips and meat. Besides it were a few large containers filled with cans of soft drinks, it was biketravellers’ heaven.

Read more

Day 4-6: 16/17/18 July: Galbraith lake – Wiseman

July 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Alaska, Friendly people, North America, Trip reports

P1080140-Harry-road-truck-dustAs the other cyclists were sound asleep and they would be faster, Ivana & I left before them. We were greeted by a very strong headwind, which promised not much good for the next 30 miles up to the pass. Fortunately it was still dry most of the time and further relief was brought by some friendly people on the road.

When I stopped to wait for Ivana, I met a few women, who worked at the Toolik Lake research center. They were intrigued by our trip and even more by the Solar Supra solarpanel I had on the back (which charges even when in cloudy conditions). They took some photos, to share with their class and treated us on some homemade cookies, yummm…_MG_9948-Hugo-family-cars

Just down the road I noticed two huge 4×4 vehicles coming our way. What struck me were not the many different stickers, but the Argentina- Alaska notice and I stopped them. It appeared to be the family of Hugo, which I will introduce in a separate post. we are starting to meet so many nice persons, that I am going to start a different category: 1000 Americans. Not sure if we will get to write about 1000 different people during this trip, but we will definitely meet them. For now let me just say that they gave what we needed most: a cup of coffee for Ivana and a Twix, Oreo cookies and some other treats for both of us!

_MG_9953-Kowalski-Aigun-passNo more excuses now, we had to get up to the infamous Atigun Pass in order to cross the Brooks Range and the roads started to climb into the clouds. The rain came back as well and the final hours up to the pass were quite gruesome, chilling us to the bone.

_MG_9955-Harry-Atigun-pass-self

The last section was so steep that Ivana and I both had to walk for a bit. I arrived first on the pass, but as it is not a touristy road, there was no sign, no shelter & no place to hide from the storm. But luckily, a truck was parked and I could shelter behind, waiting for Ivana to appear from the mist.  Ok, into the wind and downhill! Read more

Day 2: Dalton Highway, mile 387 – 333, 13th July 2008

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Alaska, North America, Trip reports

People who know me, know that I am generally quite laid back. I hate a few things though: intolerance, dishonesty, general stupidity. And mosquitos. Especially mosquitos.

The wind was gone and the air was filled with a low but constant buzzing noise. Millions of mosquitos were hovering above the tundra. In Alaska the mosquitos are not just annoying, they are annoying in very large quantities and sizes. We were warned about them and fortunately Peter from Outdoordacht had supplied us with some Sea to Summit head nets. It might sound excessive, but unless you have experienced this, you have no idea how crazy these bugs can drive you.

We had our breakfast inside our tent and then packed quickly and headed off. We noticed that as long as you were cycling, it was still reasonably doable, but when stopping, even for a moment, the mozzies would attack. we almost wished for the wind to return, not sure yet, which of the two makes the cycling the hardest. Read more

Day 1: 12 July 2008: Prudhoe Bay to Mile 383

July 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Alaska, North America, Trip reports

You lose all sense of time when it doesn’t get darker at night. The sun doesn’t set at 70 degrees North, but just circles around you like a vulture above a fresh kill. As we do not have watches, only our cycle computers and Lenny could tell us what time it was. The other cyclists were buys packing as they were on the 08.00 tour, but as our tour only started 6 hours later, we enjoyed the extra hours to relax for the first time in weeks.

When we finally headed over to the Caribou Inn, they had already finished and were preparing for their trip. As a biketraveller, you have to take care with your money, as you never know where you might need it. That is why we were hesitant to attack the $18 lunch buffet that the cyclists had raved about. Once we took our group picture outside and said goodbye to the others, we had made up our mind to feast; but we were too late as lunch was over.

Only then we found the hidden secret of the Caribou Inn: the packed lunch. For $10 you could take a quite large paper bag and fill it with whatever you like. I am sure they had no idea how many salmonburgers, hamburgers, ham/cheese & salami sandwiches, chocolate cake, yogurt, fruit juice and potato salad a pair of cyclists could fit in just one bag :) Read more

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