Alaska Adventure Machine!

Alaska Adventure Machine!

Friday, October 2, 2015

First Mud

The ride out of Prudhoe Bay was chilly but nice. A NE wind gave me a quartering tailwind. The road was well-packed and traffic light. There are no towns, so all traffic consisted of semi trucks  or work pickups. Not as busy as I imagined. In fact as my journey progressed I'd normally have 2-3 vehicles per hour pass by me. Sometimes I'd go an hour with no vehicles. Bliss! Just as the miles started to tick by, I soon ran into a construction zone of 8 miles. A massive flood last Spring by the Sag River had washed out several miles of the road, nearly paralyzing Prudhoe Bay for lack of supplies.  The freshly repaired surface was my first taste of mud, though nothing of the devilish sort I'd run into later.

After my "first mud" initiation the touring was gentle. I slowly climbed up the arctic plain, which extended nearly 100 miles out to the coast. I had only "trained" for this ride by riding an exercise bicycle for 45 minutes per day while at the work field camp. For two months that exercise bike was my stress reliever and dream machine. Here I was actually cycling on wheels, finally! Not the ideal training for an undertaking of this magnitude, but I knew I could push my body hard after a lifetime of expeditions. The mind is the weakest link, and well I just was brain-dead after working so much, so it was a perfect situation!

There was plenty of water along the road on this marshy plain. I carried two 28oz water bottles and never had problems filling them. I used a UV SteriPen (4 AA batteries) to sterilize the water. Pretty quick too at 48 seconds per liter and no bad flavors or pump filters to clean like other methods.

This first day I mostly cycled without many thoughts, letting the Arctic enter my senses and shedding work and travel cares. My main entertainment was counting tire carcasses along the road and making sense of some weird signs. How does one exactly "Take care in a seismic zone"?
After 40 miles the coastal fog and cloud began to thin and I could see the white outline of the Brooks Range in the distance. That was exciting and a bit ominous too. I was really going there!
Pump Station 2 heralded my stop for the day. Unmanned, perhaps because of the screeching noise coming from it, it pushes the oil up to the Brooks Ranges' Atigun Pass. There are 15 pump stations along the 800 mile pipeline. I pedaled another couple miles to get away from the high pitched whine. As I stopped to unpack, a surveyor stopped to see if I needed anything. He was so helpful and insistent that I take something, that I asked for more water. This friendly fellow would drive past by me for the next two days and we always have a brief chat.
Finally I set up my tent and had a nice relaxing sun bath, quite content and excited to finally be "Doing It!

No comments:

Post a Comment