Pretty bedraggled on the Denali highway.
Everyone tours differently. On my last adventure I was in the midst of soul-searching and exploring the earth and myself in new ways. With a tarp and some guts I pedaled my way to new depths of mental strength, humbly finding my limits and then making new limits. The depths keep going. I will never forget riding the Denver pass at 4am. The last four miles I thought would never end. But they did. Still those miles are stuck in time and somewhere I am still exhausted, delirious, and elated at the stars at the top.
I had forgotten what it is like. The emotion, the endless miles, the solitude, the input and output of calories and muscle. The people you meet. The remote beauty of your own soul dissolving into the beauty of the mountains and rivers and birds and plants as you pedal.
Today is a rest day. Re-fuel, re-pack, re-evaluate and shower. Talk to people whom I love.
The first 5 days of solo biking were everything I expected - challenging, beautiful and enlightening. They also caught me off guard. I've met people whom I never imagined existed. I've surely fallen in love with Alaska. Native people, subsistence hunters, trophy hunters, blueberry pickers, builders of the pipeline. Strong women who split wood and are warm and comforting. Tourists of all varieties.
It's pretty normal here to not have running water or electricity. It's awesome.
The wilderness, punctuated by the great Alaskan oil pipeline. A reminder that all that is beautiful and sacred is still subject to our consumptive lives. Since its inception over a quarter of a million barrels of oil have spilled or leaked out of the pipeline. I spoke with one man who was in Prudhoe Bay when they began building it in the 1970s. He told me that he watched them destroy a lot of pristine arctic land to do it and that he had shot bullet holes into it until he realized that nothing he could do would stop them. Oil to fuel the princess cruise ships and busses that carry the tourists to Denali National Park to see the mountain and the bears. Oil to package the food I eat every day. Oil.
The Denali highway is amazing. If you get the chance, go blueberry picking there. 110 miles of dirt road and some of the hardest distance riding I have done to date. Washboard, potholes, dust, big hills and big trucks. Also one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
Five solo days and I'm right on target with where I wanted to be. 460 miles or so from Talkeetna. We shall see what the next few weeks bring. My riding buddy bailed on me so I have had to re-think my plan, route, strategy and timeline. It's kind of nice to have the freedom to go as far as I want, stop when I want and enjoy the ride! I'm going to try not to get too crazy about putting down miles. I'm going to try not to be the most bad-ass and to just be human for a while. I'll try.
**I've been having technical difficulties blogging from my phone-the app I was using is terrible and I have lost entire posts and only been able to post half-blogs at other times.
Location:W Willow Way,Tok,United States