Â Â I unfortunately deleted this entry when a militant librarian startled me something fierce with herÂ demands that I get off the computer withinÂ 30 seconds that IÂ accidentally deleted the last entry.Â So I didÂ my best to recapture it.
Â By Jacob
Â Â Our stay in Chicken was ever too short.Â The novelty of the “ChickenÂ Poop”Â outhouse and belligerent “eskimos” had not even begun to wear out when weÂ departed.Â Unfortunately, the humble town of Chicken does not sell groceries and oddly enough, will not even sell you an egg, unless you buy it cooked.Â We could not afford the luxury of dining out and had to rush on to our next resupply across the border.
Â Â Â Â Equipped with a ration of smoked salmon from aÂ kind RVer, and some dumpstered food kindly “wasted’ by an adventure cycling tour, we ‘hit the road’ with a little extra protein in our lives.Â
Â Â Â Â Â We were greeted by a steep and lengthy uphill and two Holland America tour busses who promptly “left us in the dust”, with a smile and a cheerful wave.Â Â We constantly debate whether or not theseÂ “dustings” areÂ resultling from a wicked sense of humor, or just plain ignorance.Â Judging by their cheerful attitude as they zoomed past us at 40 miles an hour, I was inclined to assume the latter.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Karma seemed to find its way into their lives as we later learned they had gotten a flat tire, and likely had to endure the eccentricities of the Chicken locals longer then they would likely prefer. :)Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â With no intention of riding through the dust storm I pulled over and attempted to wipe off the earth that seemed to so quickly cake up on my clothes and lungs.Â I took the liberty to engage in one of my lengthy stretching sessions that left me horizontally inclined far longer than is athletically useful.Â In this time, my fellow riders took to placing a good amount of distance between me.
Â Â Â Â Â We had left a bit later than we should have in order to make it to the border at a comfortable pace and this was becoming increasingly apparent as I did a bit of mindless calculations with my bike computer.Â Feeling a bit far behind, I did my best to keep up a solid pace, but couldn’t help to take a few pictures of the river valleys that sent tens of thousands of men packing across the snowcovered Yukon to find that yellow stone.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The sense of urgency was ever present throughout my day as the computer seemed to lash me with an electronic whip.Â “Hurry up, or you’ll never make it to the border in time,” it snapped.Â I hesitated to explore further some of the interesting sights along the way that grabbed my attention, like the old miner in the river or the ancient dredge.Â My conversation was stopped short by the electronic leash that found its way in my consciousness, ever constraining my opportunities for the day.
Â Â Â Â Â This Cateye Enduro 8 bike computer became an electronic extension of my brain.Â Corresponding with the few mile markers that had not been blown to oblivion by the armed country folk goin’ out for a drive, I could sense that I needed to pick up my pace.Â I did my best to get those wheels spinning faster and faster.Â Only the wind and hills seemed to constantly work against me, stripping me of valuable seconds/minutes of time.
Â Â Â Â Â After a couple hours of grueling self-imposed time trials I still saw no signs of my fellow riders.Â I was getting mighty close to the “B-un–ry” (Boundary) as indicated by the bullet ridden sign.Â If I kept up my pace I should actually be able to make it there before they closed in 30 minutes, I thought.
Â Â Â Â Â Â I relished the downhill that swept me towards the few buildings that represented the boundary.Â I was picturing Goat and Sean waiting there with their feet up, ready with a few notes of sarcasm about what a slacker I was.Â And after my solo detour to Northway, Alaska, I had little to respond with.Â Especially since my humor was emptied into a huge appetite that has not seen food in 4 or so hours.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â As I coasted into the Boundary with aboutÂ 15 minutes to go, I realized that this was actually a little town and not the customs office I desired to cross before 8 pm.Â Â Which was further articulated by a girl standing barefoot in the streets pointing towards a hill, claiming it was 4 miles away.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I ate my last Snickers for the quick 240 calories I would need to get me to the end of this ever ticking, tocking, timeless clock.Â Heaving and panting…practically wheezing, I climbed up the first stretch, imagining it to wind down into a valley where I would catch a nice downhill breeze into the customs office.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Only the first stretch happened to expose another painful uphill stretch, which there upon exposed another, and another.Â My calculations became more grim and grim as the best I could muster up these mighty hills was about 6 miles per hour, which I could not hold as long as I wished.Â Bouncing from 3-6 mph with every ounce of effort being transferred to those precious pedals on my bicycle.Â I realized I was losing this uphill battle.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A few cars whizzed past me, leaving me in the increasingly familiar dust akin to these rural highways.Â These cars made it look so easy, practically flying up the hill.Â I pathetically hobbled my exhausted self within view of the customs building which stood on top of a might ridgeline.Â Enhanced by imagination, this great wall of Canada was a formidable foe.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I saw one of the speeding motorists let through the green gateway into Canada and gave me a breath of hope.Â I began standing and struggling to the top, picturing my friends there trying to convince the customs office to wait just a bit longer to let me through.Â I even envisioned them with binoculars watching me suffer my way up this 4 mile hill.Â Â My computer calculations never included this 4 mile finale, in all it’s never-ending splendor.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Two more cars whizzed past me as coughed up their trails, cursing the seeming simplicity of their motors.Â In the far distance I could see the customs officer closing the gate, blocking access to the car that so kindly offered me the token gift of dust.Â I slouched, sat back on my seat, defeated.Â Ready to endure the ridicule of my peers for my slacker ways, I continued my ascent in hopes that maybe they would make an exception for the sad cyclist.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â As I approached the gates blocking access to the car, I saw the driver returning to his ride with a reflected expression of defeat.Â A younger French Canadian and his girlfriend were too late to secure access to their homeland this evening and forced to spend another night in the states.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Any luck?” I rhetorically inquired.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Ohh…no.Â Â Not tonight. They said I should camp down at Boundary.Â Eh…. sorry about the, uh. dust back there.” He responded, slowly and curiously, questioning his command of English at every word.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Don’t worry about, become rather fond of the taste, really.” I joked.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â His girlfiend, who was a bit shy and even more uncertain of her ability to communicate in English offeredÂ in jest,Â “well..maybe you could sneak on through with your bicycle.”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Her boyfriend added with a smile, “they have guns, and dogs.”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Ya’ll didn’t happen to see anyÂ cyclists up there at the customs office did you?”Â I questioned, still unaware of the possibility that I had somehow passed them en route.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Oh yeah.Â I saw two of them, about 8 miles back,” he directed his comment towards his girlfriend for some verification.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Aha…they are the slackers.” I thought to myself.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â My defeat quickly transformed into a victory and my mood was raised.Â After chatting with the couple a bit longer about our travels, I retired to the vista point a half-mile back, welcoming you to Alaska where I would camp.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â There was another poor soul who has had the worst luck on his solo vacation.Â Charged with many troubles and too much time travelling by himself, he was more than eager to share his recent experiences.Â 3 flat tires in the past two weeks on top of a transmission job left this poor guy ready to end his vacation early and get back to work down in Oceanside, CA.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â After about an hour and a half, the “slackers” arrived after gingerly taking their time exploring all the things I wished I had time for.Â It was a very friendly atmosphere at the vista that night, united by our procrastination we felt a sense of comraderie for all having missed the ‘ship into canada’.Â Food was passed around, (which generally vanished by the time it crossed our paths), as we cheerfully shared our travelling experiences.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â We could see for miles and miles up there that night.Â I spent a couple hours picking blueberries as I watched the sun set and a rather large storm developing just east of us.Â After devouring the 4 liter pot of rice/beans complete with the smoked salmon given to us by the RVer, we set up our tent and went to sleep.Â The couple from Quebec chose to sleep in their car, as did the guy from Oceanside who somehow managed to stay the night in the cab of his truck, unable to snuggle with the piles of junk he kept in the back.Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â After a decadent morning of sunshine (helped dry off our gear) and wild blueberry laden oats we were about ready to go on our way.Â We were briefly delayed by a swiss couple travelling to Denali on bikes, wearing heavy mountaineering shoes, for their “walking trip” in Denali.Â The interaction was shortened by an inability to communicate effectively, but it was positive to see other cyclists out here on the Top of the World, highway.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “A long bike ride, eh?” greeted the customs officer.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Whooh….you really gotta work to get into Canada, that was quite a hill.” I responded.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â An older man nearby working on a truck cheerfully exclaimed, “Ahh…don’t worry. It’s all downhill after this.”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Absolutely doubting his claims, I still relished the thought and appreciated his good natured comment.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “IÂ imagine you probably don’t have any cigarettes, eh? or else youÂ wouldn’t have made it up that hill.Â But I have to ask if you are carrying any cigarettes?” She asked, seemingly trying to add a little character to the textbook nature of our interaction.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Satisfied with our negative response, she continued onto the next item on her agenda.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Soo…uhh..Â Are you carrying any firearms?Â Rifle, bullets, bear spray?” She asked, seeming to recognize the absurd nature of the checklist, clearly not designed for the international bicycle traffic.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Afraid to get our 50 dollar bear spray canisters taken, we declined.Â And she pressed further.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Let me repeat, are you carrying any bear spray? There are sure a lot bears up in these parts, eh?” Stunned by our lack of preparation for such a lengthy wilderness escapade.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Satisfied with our carefree,Â ignorantÂ responses, she moved onto the nextÂ agenda item.Â She asked us about our jobs and how much money we had.Â Frustrated by the lack of supporting evidence she harbored the issue a bit further.Â We claimed we could show her online (which was currently out of order as the satellite was being repaired a dozen yards away), but riding our bikes back to Tok, was surely out of the question.Â Seeing the limited opportunities she moved past that.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Well…okay.Â I just need your passports and driver’s license so we can scan them.Â Ohh, yeah..Â and if you need me to fill up your water bottles, there will be no opportunities until you get to Dawson City.” She concluded.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â We handed her our water bottles and waited for our passports to get stamped.Â We waited, a bit curious about how they would scan them without any internet/phone connection.Â She promptly returned with our passports and Dromedary Bags filled with water and officially welcomed us to Canada.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Hope you enjoy your stay.Â A beautiful ride, eh?” She commented as we reflected on the prominence of “eh?” following their sentences.Â I likened it to the Southern California speech, where like preceeds much of what is said.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And off we were, Dawson City bound, via the Top of the World highway……..