Day 3 & 4: 14/15th July: Mile 333 – 301 – Galbraith lake
Happy B-day Shaunie Shiny Shoes and PJW!
The first hour was flat but muddy, which made it hard going and slow. At least, there were not too many mosquitos while cycling, so we could leave the headnets off. Suddenly the hils were back in full force.
Dalton Highway Rule #8 for cyclists: if a hill has a name, it is mostly bad news as it will be very steep..
We were definitely nearing the Brooks Range now. The vague shapes we had seen in the distance were coming into focus and turned out to be nice mountains. The road meandered through but was already slowly going up as well. The road looked friendly, but the many remains of exploded tired reminded of what the Information booklet had told us:
Before you leave Fairbanks
• Inspect all tires and make sure they are properly inflated
• Check all vehicle fluids
• Replace worn hoses and belts
• Empty your RV’s holding tank and fill the water tank
• Purchase groceries and supplies
Bring for your vehicle
• At least two full-sized spare tires mounted on rims
• Tire jack and tools for flat tires
• Emergency flares
• Extra gasoline, motor oil, and wiper fluid
• CB radio
Bring for yourself
• Insect repellent and head net
• Sunglasses and sunscreen
• Rain jacket and pants
• Warm clothes, including hat and gloves
• First aid kit
• Drinking water
• Ready-to-eat food
• Camping gear, including sleeping bag
• Personal medications
• Toilet paper and hand sanitizer
• Garbage bags
Bring warm sweaters and coats, good raingear, hats, gloves, and long underwear. Wool and synthetic fabrics, such as fleece, are best. Avoid cotton clothing. At milepost 235, the highway climbs to Chandalar Shelf and leaves the forest behind. This 10% grade is one of several steep grades that Dalton travelers encounter.
We stopped at a nice place for lunch, outside one of the road-construction stations. Not only they had a nice picknick bench to sit on, they also filled our Ortlieb waterbags with drinking water, saving us a lot of work later on. There was a small plane parked next to us; in Alaska, planes like these are as common as cars as many places can only be reached from the air.
In general the people we meet along the way are very friendly and courteous. All drivers, of both tourist vehicles as well as the huge trucks, slow down when passing us, so they do not squirt too much gravel, mud and dust our way and wave friendly. We had gotten water from all people we asked as well as from some people we didn’t ask.
After lunch we though we had to go up a not so steep slope. It continued up and up and up though. The mosquitos loved our low speed and attacked us with full force. In the end we were both completely tired of it and decided to quit for the day. maybe it was one of the not so motivating blown over trafficsigns that we obeyed unconsciously…
One more hill was awaiting us and no sheltered place was in sight, we were on the top of a ridge. In the distance I spotted a green thing near the pipeline, which turned out to be a large metal container. It was closed but offered shelter to put our Big Agnes tent.
Soon after dinner also Kayla came riding in, again far ahead of the boys that arrived over an hour later and were also completely spent. Even though we were still on the tundra, there was some small firewood around and we managed to make a nice fire that kept a small percentage of the mosquitos away. It was nice to share stories and thoughts with the other cyclists; many people do not understand why or how we do it, so it is nice to skip that part of the conversation and talk about the good things of being on the road unmotorized..
The next morning we headed off together, but Kayla, and Nico were much faster with their lighter loads and fast bikes. The hills were getting really steep now and the only way I could till cycle up was by zig-zagging from left to right over the wide road. Fortunately there were almost no cars and trucks so I could slowly work my way up.
We met a lone motorbiketraveller called Wally from Germany. He was travelling alone and had done so all over the world. He would have loved to go all the way from Ushuaia, but did not want to leave his wife alone for that long a period. he graciously donated a bottle of apple juice and Ivana and him took pictures of eachother.
The rest of the day we just pedaled along on muddy roads. The good people that keep the road in condition, actually make it worse for us. They spray a lot of water, mixed with salt and I think some other chemicals, which turns the surface into a slippery, sticky mess, making us use our light gear, even when going down! Some of the downhills were dangerous anyway, because of muddy trails, unexpected potholes, washboards and other bumps and oncoming trucks, but that is all part of the fun in some crazy way..
As you can see in Kowalski!’s trip reports, we had some up and downs as well, we are now at the foot of the Atigun pass..Note that due to my mistakes, the altimeter was reset to zero each day the first days, so you will have to add the previous’ days height to it… But it will give you the relative ascent and descent perfectly.
We went 7km off the main road to sleep in a quiet place, called Galbraith Lake, where Ivana was feeling brave enough to clear the first few inches of mud from our bikes! I started editing these and the previous images in the tent, as I was getting depressed of all the mozzies waiting for me on top of the inner tent…
Meanwhile the videocamera charger (or the battery, or both) seems to be broken, so we cannot film much until Fairbanks. Also the I-GotU is slowly dying and is not very useful anymore. Amazingly Lenny has yet survived another long road of bumps and mud, so you can at least read all of this Our Santos Bikes are still in one piece, nothing broken yet and zero flat tires so far!
Looking forward to your comments, next report will be about the highest pass in Alaska!
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