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Begins: Mar 19, 2013
Date: Tue, Aug 13th, 2013
End: Rochester, NY
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 880.0
Entry Visits: 4,204
Journal Visits: 73,268
Guestbook Views: 1,535
Guestbook Entrys: 28
Cycling Alaska to Lower 48 - Thoughts
So what did I think of this trip? That’s seemingly a tough question. I had more highs and lows on this trip than normal. I honestly think the first 2 weeks of the trip through Alaska mentally scarred me! The mosquitoes, the heat and being unable to even stop and take a break. Camping with thousands of mosquitoes. Wearing long sleeves, long pants, a headnet and even gloves while I tried to set up or take down camp. Getting in my tent and never unzipping the door for 12 hours. Using a pee bottle at night! Riding uphill at 4.5 mph while sometimes the mosquitoes would even follow me. I knew the mosquitoes would be bad but it’s hard to really imagine what it will be like sitting at home. The locals said this was the worst year they had ever experienced in their lifetime. It definitely beat me down. No matter how much I tried to enjoy the first 2 weeks it just wasn’t possible. Then I crossed into Canada and generally speaking the mosquitoes weren’t too bad. Sure, there continued to be days of bad bugs and for several weeks the nights and mornings were still bad, but compared to the first 2 weeks it was a pleasure. But I never really seemed to completely recover from the first 2 weeks.
The one other downer of this trip was sightseeing and the almost complete lack thereof. One of my main goals of this trip other than to have fun was to gain more experience on the bike. I definitely accomplished that but the type of trip I chose I probably wouldn’t choose again. My future plans for the bike have always been to use it as a tool for seeing other countries. I find hiking to be by far the best way to travel for months, but most countries don’t have a long distance trail spanning their country like the USA or New Zealand. Therefore using the bike to get around would be my ideal way to see a country. Taking buses or a car or hostel jumping it not my idea of an interesting way to travel. But this trip I chose was really the exact opposite of my future goals. I guess that is my fault! I chose this trip because it was remote. I thought it would be beautiful and peaceful, but I didn’t think about that there was really nothing to do along the way. It was just ride the bike every day. Instead of using the bike as a tool to see a country I basically just used to bike as more of a physical feat or to enjoy the scenery along the way, but the scenery was overrated. Or maybe I’m just jaded from seeing so many awesome mountains, but on the bike, even when the mountains were everywhere, it felt like I could reach out and touch them but I couldn’t. It always seemed like I was just far enough removed from the awesomeness that it didn’t seem that awesome. Unlike hiking where you are right in the awesomeness. Any trip I do in the future would be more of a sightseeing trip combined with the physical feat of riding a bike. Like cycling an entire country while connecting the dots on the bike between all the cool things to see.
And then there were the cars. Overall, the roads were low trafficked and I rarely felt like it was busy which was a main reason I chose this trip so that worked out well. It was nice to not have to worry about being run over and generally I could ride right in the road and enjoy it. But the noise never goes away. 53 days I heard cars. 24 hours a day. No matter how hard I tried to camp off the main road you can never really get away from the noise. I slept well most nights but still, hearing a truck struggling up a hill gets to be so annoying. I love hiking for that incredibly peaceful nights sleep in the middle of nowhere. There’s not much I can do about this on the bike. It’s a fact of cycling. I’m on roads. No real way around that. I either have to accept it or do something else.
On the plus side, I really loved being on the bike. Riding day in and day out, powering along the road using my own body is an amazing feeling. Spinning uphill at 5 mph, sweat pouring off my head, the taste of salt on my lips, is an amazing feeling. Bombing downhill at 40 mph or just spinning along for mile after mile was something I really enjoyed. Sometimes I would be taking a break and look at my bike across from me and get a smile on my face. Just looking at the bike and knowing where it could take me and how it could make me feel made me love it even more.
I also feel like I succeeded in camping. Bringing the bear canister was probably the best gear decision I made of the entire trip. I was the only person who did this and it gave me the extreme flexibility of never having to be anywhere. I could just camp anywhere I wanted. It also saved a lot of money on crappy campsites. I probably cut my daily costs by 30%-50% by not ever paying for camping. Sure having a picnic table or other amenities would have been nice some nights but most campgrounds are right next to the main road and have tons of people so you rarely get a good nights sleep. From the moment I entered my tent until I unzipped it 12+ hours later it was heaven. I loved my tent time and having my Kindle, my other awesome new piece of “gear”, was great. I really looked forward to reading in the tent.
By the time I finished the trip I was generally having a good time but I had not yet forgotten all of the struggles at the beginning! The Icefields Parkway was amazing but even then I wished I was walking in those mountains and not on the road. But I’m still glad I did this trip. It was a really safe and enjoyable way to gain a lot of experience on the bike and with all the gear. I feel like I could easily, at any moment, just grab my bike and grab my gear and ride anywhere I want. That’s a really cool feeling. Being self-sufficient and just riding off anywhere.
The Hayduke Trail is an extremely challenging, 800-mile backcountry route through some of the most rugged and breathtaking landscapes on earth. Located entirely on public land, the trail links six of the National Parks on the Colorado Plateau in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona with the lesser known, but equally splendid, lands in between them. Encompassed in the route are Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and numerous National Forests, BLM Districts, Primitive Areas, Wilderness Areas and Wilderness Study Areas. The Hayduke Trail is not intended to be the easiest or most direct route through this incredibly varied terrain, but is rather meant to showcase the stunning Redrock Wilderness of the American Southwest.
http://s1250.beta.photobucket.com/user/tanzmbr/library/ (click on "show albums and stories" on left hand side)
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