Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Golden Circle

Skagway and Haines, Alaska are only about 17 miles apart. By air. Or water.

Driving is another story. The scenic route known as the "Golden Circle" starts and ends in Alaska and in between is 360 miles of mostly road that takes you through 1 Canadian province (British Columbia), 1 Canadian territory (Yukon), 3 nifty towns (Carcross, Whitehorse and Haines Junction), thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss and a dozens of lakes, rivers and springs and dozens more mountain peaks.

Emily and I did it on bikes.

Here's the recap:

Day 1: Wednesday, Aug 5 - 65.9 total miles, 12.0 avg speed, 5:29 riding time (not including breaks)
Day 2: Thursday, Aug 6 - 43.4 miles, 15.7 avg, 2:45 riding time
Day 3: Friday, Aug 7 - 101.3 total miles, 12.8 avg, 7:54 riding time
Day 4: Saturday, Aug 8 - 65.5 miles (does not include the approx 8 miles we rode in the back of a truck through construction), 11.4 avg, 5:42 ride time
Day 5: Sunday, Aug 9 - 79.6 miles, 15.9 avg, 5:00 ride time.

The good:
- Sweet riding partner. We're close to the same ability. I'm probably faster, though Emma was always stronger at the end of the day than I was. Besides being a great riding partner, Emily was great company too. Not one moment did I think, "Man, I gotta get away for a while." I don't know of many people I can spend 5 straight days with and not tire of.
- White Pass. 3200 feet of climbing. Took us 2.5 hours to do 14 miles. But we finished and it turned out that all this dreading that I was doing for months was for nothing.
- Scenery. White Pass to Fraser is awesome. Haines Junction to Haines is spectacular.
- Emma's homemade powerbars. Secret ingredients that put em over: agave nectar and coffee.
- Met Koko. He's been biking around the world for the last three years. On his way to Argentina. I think Emily and I were both envious. Also, not 20 minutes earlier, Emma was just saying she would like to see some other cyclist since she we hadn't seen any yet. Wish granted.
- Weather. Day 5 was cold and rainy, but we had great riding weather. 4 out of 5 days of perfect weather is not bad. Plus, with the fires in the Yukon, the area needed the rain much more than we needed it to not rain.
- Mile 33 Restaurant. The food was okay. The service was very slow. But for two drenched riders on the verge of hypothermia, the first public place in nearly 90 miles was a welcome godsend. Best restaurant: Frosty Freeze in Haines Junction. Runner-up: Sticky Buns, near Carcross.
- Safety. I worried about cars. And falling off bikes and mountains. My biggest concern was not the ride, it was that one of us would get hurt. I am thankful for safety. A little soreness and tiredness, but no injuries. And we had no mechanic issues with the bikes. Pump, tubes, patch kit, spare tire went unused.

The could have been better:
- My trailer broke. It was still usable, but just sketchy. And it didn't belong to me.
- Baby powder. Should have packed it. I started chafing a little. Not going into details.
- Calories. Lesson learned is that no matter how much we ate, it was never enough. We were always famished at the end of the day. You should have seen us devour rice and beans after Day 1. If you are going to ride this far, you constantly have to eat.

Break on the way up to White Pass
Carcross Camp
Trucks only
Emma on break
217/365 - 7 Aug [Koko]
Break on Alaska Highway
Quill Creek
We made it
Haines, Alaska


Emily said...

totally awesome trip heang! lets do it again next year, the continental divide sounds perfect, all I need is a mountain bike...

Flower in a Field said...

Looks like you guys had so much fun! What was your favorite place on your adventure?

Kate said...

Wow...By the way, can you tell I'm catching up on old blog posts? (shameful excuse for a friend that I am...)