Â Â Â Â Leaving townÂ was exceedingly hectic. Due to my lack of chronological sense and some miscommunications, most of the equipment l ordered for the trip (including my frame) arrived the day of departure. Thanks to the skill and care on the part of our local UPS driver everything did arrive, even though packages were shipped to 4 different addresses and no one was there to sign at any of them. FEDEX on the other hand, made things as difficult as possible, and their customer service was unhelpful to boot.Â Â I ended up begging a ride to Watsonville (from our good friend Alissa) early on the 11th (d-day) to pick up my frame – leaving about 4 hours to paint, assemble, disassemble, and pack my bike (as well as the rest of my gear which was arriving throught the day). Somehow (with the help of my Jenny friend) everything was in boxes by 2:00 when Moranis arrived to drive me to the airport. My flights were uneventful and the layovers long. In Fairbanks l got to contend with carpet shampooing rather than vacuums (lucky me).Â Throughout the 5 flights and airportsÂ no one ever questioned my lack of foot wear! (though the woman at the Deadhorse airport told me that l was the first person ever to fly in without shoes). l missed out on the stuffed animals in Fairbanks, but was rewarded with beautiful views of the ice sheets arround Barrow and glaciers in the southeast.Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â AfterÂ arrival in Deadhorse l built my bike and waited all day for the evening flight to come in, erroneously thinking Jacob and Sean were on it. When they weren’t, l toured the industrial waste of a modern day boom town – all corregated steel and abandoned machinery.Â I happened upon a “fun run” in which no one seemed to be running but a sizeable portion (all young male) of the population was participating. Then l settled down under the midnight sun next to the town generator for the night. The next morning Jacob and Sean arrived, and having comandeered the majority of space in the airport, built our bikes, and wandered arround like a herd of turtles, we found the right road out of town (with only one road it was harder than one might think).Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â We had a quick toast to our quixotic quest and started riding, even though it was 8 or so in the evening (who could tell in the light drizzle and 24 hour sun). That night, as most to follow, we camped on an access road to the pipeline, the industrial worm which was to be our constant companion for the next 500 miles, camping on roads being necessary to avoid sinking into the marshy muck of summer-time tundra.Â Â Â Â
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Â Â Â Â It’sÂ a bizzare and Martian landscape, flat and bepuddled as far as the eye can see, then rising up quickly into impressive mountain ranges which test out strength and endurance. We have been averaging about 50 miles a day, though we are not really sure, because our bike computers are set in kilometers, and the pipeline mile posts seem designed to dupe the bears, counting in Alice inÂ Wonderland fashion. Our rests are long and our mealtimes slow as we are all feeling the personalized aches and pains of adjusting to our new life purpose. Despite, or more likely because of, Sean’s grueling pace, his Achilles tendon aches, and his hands go numb.Â Jacob’s wrists and knees are the thorn in his side, the leftovers of various injuries and surgeries. My knees alternated sore spots daily, but all in all, we are feeling great and quickly adjusting to the pace and lifestyle.Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Riding daily through such beautiful, unusual, and untouched country is an indescribable treat, and my body and mind quickly enter a zone, where bike riding is comfortable, automatic, and the mind is free to wander and look arround. In general the road is quite pleasant, and the truckers and theirÂ oversize loads break the revery much less frequently than one might imagine (this roadÂ having beenÂ created exclusively for them).Â They are in general quite courteous, pulling over and slowing down, so as to keep from showering us with rocks.Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â We are now happily and comfortably on holiday in Fairbanks, hoping to resume our journey on Saturday.