This is our final day in Deadhorse AK; tomorrow we pedal south down the Dalton Highway for 20 days heading toward Fairbanks.
Tom and I have a fairly good idea about how fast we can travel on paved roads; unpaved roads, like the Dalton Highway, may not be as predictable. Soooo, it may take a few more days to reach Fairbanks; who knows!
There are several obligatory photo opportunities here and we took advantage of them just to show everyone that we are really here and not sitting in some Arizona Resort.
One location is THE store that advertises the end of the Dalton Highway even though the Dalton Highway actually ends about 2 miles earlier. The Post Office is located in THE store and Lisa, the post mistress took our picture and posted it on the bicycle board along with one of my website cards. It is now official; we have become ice road bicyclists.
There are several other spots where photographs must be taken; one is the official ending of the Dalton Highway (or, in our case the beginning), the sign saying Coldfoot 240 miles, and the official Dalton Highway sign. Who says we are not tourists who ride bicycles.
If you will notice, the Coldfoot 240 miles sign also says Next Services 240 miles. Yes, regardless of how rugged or cold or unpleasant the trip becomes we have 240 miles to go before the next town. We will be eating prepackages foods, filtering our own water, and tromping off into the bushes when mother nature calls.
Along the way to Coldfoot AK we will be spending the night at such places named: Happy Valley, Pump Station 3, Toolik, somewhere along the highway, and Gold Creek Turnout. A few Hail Marys and an occasional Our Father would definitely be appreciated.
We took a ‘tour’ to Prudhoe Bay today which required passing through a security checkpoint. The tour has to be booked several days in advance so a minimal security check can be done. Before boarding the tour coach IDs are again checked.
If you haven’t gathered it by now, this area is flat; drop a marble on the ground and it would look like a major hill. Well, to improve the scenic opportunities around the area Halliburton has established, with tongue in cheek humor, the Prudhoe Bay National Forrest.
The Alaska oil fields are the biggest thing going around here and employ 4,000 – 6,000 people. Most of these people work 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off; companies provide housing and meals for their employees plus fly them to either Anchorage or Fairbanks as part of their salary. Most of the workers are men, with only a small percentage being women.
There are well heads running down 7,000 – 8,000 feet sitting next to every little house in the above picture, and there are more wells and drilling further off in the distance. Individual pipes run to common collection points all over the landscape. It is truly impossible to describe the area; you have to be here and see it.
We finally made it to Prudhoe Bay. There is a lot of dark sand that has blown over from the Sag River and plenty of gravel from the oil operations. Almost all of the ice has melted, however, there was some still backed up in a protected cove or two. Just about the time we arrived some spitting rain developed but that did not deter a few of us from exiting the tour coach and walking the 100+ yards down to the bay for a photo.
There was plenty of ‘I dare you’ statements issued to everyone about stripping down and doing a polar bear dunk in the water. Finally, a fellow from New Zealand stripped and did it. When I say stripped down I do mean stripped ‘alllll theeee wayyy down’! He jumped in , went underwater, and came back up. To quote Rudyard Kippling, ‘. . . you are a better man than me Gunga Din.’
Andrew Cheyne was a fellow bicyclist that we met this morning at THE store. He had just flown in and was heading down to South America. Andrew has been on the road for quite a while and has bicycled in Russia, Mongolia, Asia, some of the middle east, and South Africa. He was quite likable, and very knowledgeable, and willing to share his ideas on solo bicycling around the world. He was somewhat of a natural born cut-up so it did not surprise me at all that he was the one to jump in to the bay sans clothing.
I am happy with my decision to switch bicycles and had forgotten how much I enjoyed riding the Bacchetta Giro 20. This immediate area is filled with substantial amounts of loose gravel, which can be difficult with a recumbent, however the bike is doing just fine. I did put a 1.75″ Schwalbe Marathon Plus on the Front and a Tour Plus on the back which adds to the traction. A trike really has some advantages when going slow up hills, and we will be experiencing some hills, however, I feel the Bacchetta will do just fine. Anyway, the die is cast and tomorrow I will see.