Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I should have known better than to use an air fork. Fox’s Float suspension shock seemed so scientifically precise on the outside, and so tastefully detailed -that is before I ripped the logo stickers off. Purchasing the Float fork heavily discounted at second hand sympathy price was a consumer’s dream. Now I amÂ left high and dry in the wildernessÂ without any tide of conciliatory fluff to tread. Alas my revered product broke its seals and decompressed without the slightest provocation on my part. On the second day of biking from Deadhorse I heard a gush of air let loose and a long hissing squeal like complicated expulsion of flatulence or perhaps my tire leaking air. I suspected at any moment I would be forced to throw my bike to the ground in irritation and repair a flat. no no,Â nothingÂ that simplistic would dampen my enthusiastic greeting of the trail. The air seals broke on the fork. My handle bars were lowered significantly -some four inches or so-, and my posture would beÂ soon bear someÂ considerable pressure on my wrists.Â After a few days of riding on my ridiculous ‘low rider’Â I encountered a numbing sensation in the two outer fingers of each hand. A nerve was being pinched, abused, orÂ damaged, and while in the deep meditative state of riding itÂ has beenÂ difficultÂ to not think about losing these valuable assets. I’m a goddamn piano player after all, and six fingersÂ in allÂ will just not cut it for busting out a good waltz.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I’ll try to cut the drama here and focus on more positive things about the trail… like the wild berries. The raspberries and blueberries bushes -often planted by the transportation/ public relation section of the oil companies toÂ garnish propagandist information posts atÂ roadside rest areas for tourists- are bountiful, refreshing, and highly addictive. Also on the good side of the road, pain saving remedies from the bike mechanic Goat. His suggestions for replacing my expensive Thompson stem with modest looking -higher angled- stem Â has certainly helped. The good people at the UCSC bike coop -and ultimately Kyle from the T.P.- have helped in offering me replacement forks. I am full of gratitude.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I have enjoyed very much walking into tourist trap truck-stop rip off cafes after sleeping on cardboard beds strewn about mosquito infested marsh, and not caring that I smell like a goat -no offense to Goat. Fond memories spread their warm arms over me as I recall the Yukon River restaurant; sitting drinking coffee and spreading dozens of tiny ‘land o’lake’ butter packets and strawberry jam tabs on my rye toast and topping off with a good helping of honey from the communal decanter. AÂ teenage girl sitting at a table across from me gags and buries her nose deep into an ice creamÂ bowlÂ after viewing my condiment heavyÂ sandwich. Â Calorie loading has become an art form. One must evade certain honorable distractions like worrying about conflict between Lebanon and Israel, how not to be caught swiping the communal honey pot, and to be careful not to drink too much coffee -the steady road to dehydration- in order to keep the body loaded with adequate fuel. Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The day we departed Yukon river weÂ unknowingly drove headlong into a steadyÂ set of steep hills. IÂ remember dartingÂ ahead of the others like aÂ madman that day -I really have no language to explain my actionsÂ sometimes.Â about twelve miles into the greatÂ hilly climb session, I was halted from going further by aÂ big armedÂ womanÂ of short stature whose livelyÂ character and crude gestures couldÂ describe thoseÂ of a pirate. She bellowed that she aloneÂ madeÂ decisions and that sheÂ would not allow me or any other biker to pass through a construction zone. The zone, she asserted,Â was twelve miles longÂ -really it was five.Â asÂ IÂ gazed longingly at thoseÂ steep torturous hills before me and then with loathing at my captor I fell into a submissive sort of depression. That was until a trucker from behind booed the construction lady’s tyranny and toldÂ me to take off while she was in her unawares. Indeed, at that moment she was staring disdainfully at some crows that were gawking and playing around the dangerous pits of rubble -they had been blasting the sides of the road with dynamiteÂ to widen and make the precious highway a more comfortable rideÂ for those brazen teamsters- and she shouted as if toÂ perpetuate theÂ rumble ofÂ combustion “who feeds theseÂ birds;Â they should all be shot”.Â A trucker explained that he sometimes offers a crumb of bread to them. The announcement set off the feisty temper of theÂ construction workerly who shook her fist and declared him part of the problem. Â At that distractionÂ I was pushing off and starting down the hill bypassing the good lady’s authority. but she yelled at me and said, “Oh no you’re not! There’s heavy machinery down that way. we’re putting your bike in that back of the pilot car, andÂ that’ll be here in a few minutes”.Â Goat and Jacob arrived, and they tried their powers of persuasion to no avail. We were helped by some musculars loading our heavy loads into the flatbed pilot car. Our driver chatted with the other construction workers over the two-way radio. She told us we’d be the talk of the town… sure enough we hear some guy babble “twelve miles between here and Terra Del fuego ain’t’ gonna hurt’em” -I insist it was only five. Before she let us off on the other side of the hill she apologized for the inconvenience to eh… whoever.. certainly it seemed that all the workers were on break anyways. In this way we were cheated out of those precious five miles. Who knows how many more equipment failures, wildlife encounters, personal revelations would surface by now had we took the time to cycle that treacherous terrain. I for one will struggle to the bitter end next time, and not just for the sake of argument.