Every summer, when I trek North to Alaska for work in the mineral exploration industry, I try to make a plan for some adventure afterwards. Now that sounds logical given the location, but after a work schedule of 12+ hours per day and very few days off in these bush camps, well one normally is pretty fried at it's conclusion. The lure of home is definitely great. I've found most of my coworkers succumb to the thought of a cool beer (in the field we have "dry camps") and just plain chill-laxing at home. But I've always had the need for some adrenaline fix before heading southwards to my home. As I gazed out the Alaska Airlines plane's window, I seriously wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into this time!
As the flight approached the arctic coastline, a layer of heavy cloud and sea fog appeared. The weather for the Deadhorse Airport was in the 20's and winds up to 35 mph. We touched down under a 200 foot cloud ceiling and taxied past grim petroleum industry buildings. Amid the gruff Carhartt-clad workers I really stood out, wearing sleek form-fitting spandex cycling tights and cycling shoes. I hadn't even brought jeans or tennis shoes for travel, as these would be too heavy and useless on a cycling trip.
After a couple days of carbo-loading at the worker's cafeteria, the wind had lessened to 15 mph temperatures still a chilly 28F. This was as good as it was going to get, so I headed off through the mud. A Latvian couple, themselves doing a massive car road trip, stopped to take my picture. This was the real deal now!