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.
21st July, a long and tough B-day party!
I went to sleep at the Arctic circle age 37 and woke up being 38, great place for a b-day. The road that Ivana had spotted had a name, which is always bad news. It was called the ‘Beaver Slide’ which could be pleasant in different contexts, but in our case it meant 3km of steep uphill cycling at a 10% grade. The asphalt had ended, so we were back on mud and gravel and the returning rain made it even more difficult.
The rain and hills did not stop all day but still we were in a good mood. Just when we thought we had enough hills, we entered the area which was called ‘The Rollercoaster’ and it deserved its name. We had been warned beforehand by some people as the big trucks cannot slow down on these hills and cannot avoid us well. In order to get up the next hill, they have to go full speed down, else they will not make it.
Well, on a fully loaded bike you cannot go down at full speed as you will break it, so we usually start braking at about 50km (30mi)/hrs speeds when on the mud and gravel as there are potholes everywhere. This means that we cannot make it back uphill, and many times we had to get off the bike and push it up.
Just when I was pushing my bike on part of the Rollercoaster, called the Sand Hill, I noticed something moving on the side of the road and I stopped pushing. A large dark brown shape swiftly crossed the muddy road, some 20 meters/70 feet in front of us. Read more
We are now several days on the road and have some time to write some proper reports. Frankly I am amazed I can type this, as I was sure that the constant bumping of our bikes and bags over the very rough roads would have destroyed Lenny (Our Lenovo X300 laptop), but surprisingly it still works as always, long live the solid state harddisks. If you can actually read this, then it means it has survived all 2 weeks of Dalton Highway, one of the most infamous pieces of dirt road in the world…
But let’s go back a few weeks, back to the lowlands and share our journey with you in words and images.
I am not sure if it is me (us) or is there just no way to properly prepare for a 2.5 year trip? We had been planning since a year ago and still many things had to be done in literally the last minute. At least you can get a lot more done if you use the 8 hours we normally waste on sleeping on working and preparing
As our house was already rented out, we moved back and forth between my mom’s house and Romke & Anouks place. R&A have two wonderful kids and they were happy to assist in sorting out all the gear we received from our wonderful sponsors, this is Kira, checking out the Ortlieb and Carrera gear that Jacobsons sent us.
and this is how part of their livingroom looked during their vacation:
Thanks again, Romke & Anouk & Kira & Jelte, we would not have made it without you.
We took the train up North to say goodbye to my Mother and Sister. By the way, in The Netherlands we have a great railway system, which will get you everywhere in no time. of course people like to complain about the train service, but i think it is perfect, there are even a lot of special spaces for bicycles in every carriage, very useful to do some last minute fine-tuning:
My Mum helped us with some last things and we even managed to make a mess in her place. She was very sad; even though I have been away for many months at a time in the past, this will be the longest period away so far.
My sister lives close and we also visited her to say goodbye. We had a nice dinner at a organic Indonesian restaurant in Assen, with great food and service and we could even park our bikes inside. As with my mom, she was in tears when we waved goodbye from the train, but again somehow I was not sad, maybe we will see each other soon again.
Ivana had already said goodbye to her family in March, when she came to Amsterdam. But thanks to the wonders of skype and broadband Internet, she had been talking/videoconferencing with her mum and sister (that almost have the same names as mine) every evening for hours, while packing and sorting stuff.
Going on all these adventures is selfish in a way as we are worrying our friends and family. But I think we can repay their concerns and affection with stories and images and knowledge that we are following our hearts.
ps: we also had a nice going away slash b-day party, but i will post the images in a separate post once we find the images again
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
Jacobsons is a daughter of AGU. Jacobsons imports great cycling brands like Nalini, GripGrab, Carrera and many more, see below for an overview. When they heard about our plans they worked hard to get us all the gear we needed. Former manager Mario moved mountains and set us up with the perfect gear.
- For cyclists there is only one brand of panniers: Ortlieb (www.ortlieb.com). These are proven time after time and are the strongest and most durable panniers around.
- Carrera supplies beautiful and still fucntional eyewear and helmets
- Of course our Santos bikes already came with the only real racks available: Tubus
- I love good gloves and GripGrab delivers.
- For the first cold months, we are being kept warm by Brynje underwear
A trip like ours needs a few basic things: first of all determination, but close second is good gear. It is no use trying to make do, for a good trip, you need good material.
Without the help of the following people and companies the trip would not have been possible. They have not only supplied us with the best gear available, but also have kept us focused on our first goal: to get started! Most if not all of the people are cyclists or sportsmen and -women and they have not just donated their products but also their time and enthusiasm, which is priceless .
- First of all our bicycles. No compromise here, we wanted the best as we will test them to the max. The only suitable solution is Santos Bikes. Our machines are the best and totally custombuilt. Please read more about Santos and its owner Robbert and their custom configuration tool here.
- A great new laptop, almost designed for our wishes was supplied by Lenovo laptops
- Outdoordacht has sponsored all types of gear, with the solarpanel being the ultimate green-travel tool
- There really is only one brand of panniers: Ortlieb. Their importer Jacobsons has worked hard to help us with all gear needed
- Gecko climbing is the importer of Carinthia, together they have supplied us with great sleeping bags and down jackets, to fight the harshweather of Alaska and Canada
- Mario Wolff is the importer of Vertical and has set us up with great and very usable clothing
- WorldNomads has sponsored a year of health insurance, get yours here as well, it really is cheaper and better, we also use it for our Everest expeditions!
- Elephant Drive has sponsored a year of free use of the Elephantdrive solutions, really a weight off our shoulders to know our back-ups are safe.
- AdventureFood has supplied us with great tasty meals to survive the first two weeks in the wild of Alaska
- De VakantieFietser has helped us with advice, gear and a sense of humour to get us started in the right direction
We are still looking for financial support as our trip is very costly, not just our daily cost of living, but also internet access, server hosting etc. any donations are welcome, or if you want us to give special attention to our products (of course only if they are useful for cyclists!) contact us using the form above.
If you are interested in related products and links, check out the Google advertisements that appear on every page as you will help us at the same time