Wednesday, 20 June 2012

We have left Alaska.

We have left Alaska entering Canada, namely the Yukon (I love saying that). We biked another dirt road almost 200miles long, which took us to Dawson City.
With typical North American modesty they call it 'The Top Of The World Highway'.
We are not sure quite sure why, but both myself and Sarah thought we may be disappointed with it.

          We were not.

But incase you thought that we are just here on a jolly, this is the toilet where we sheltered from a 'mountain shower'. Fortuantely for us the next shelter of any kind was another toilet  71kms further on. So we were lucky I suppose. Sarah actually fell asleep on this toilet. Please note that it is the male toilet.

Infact this stretch of riding was really hard. Billed as a road which 'goes high' then follows ridges and contours, it sort-of-does and sort-of-doesn't.
It does stay high, but often there were climbs of 4miles or so on Pyreneean-style gradients. On dirt, which varied in quality. What it did do was r-o-l-l along. And because it stayed high there was no surface water for us to filter, so we had to carty all we needed.
As a judge of just how hard this ride was, a few hours before reaching Dawson City we had the following conversation:
D: Soon we'll be in Dawson City, and hot food!
S: And a bath!
D: And a beer!
S. And s*x!
D: Tomorrow!
Fortuanately the last sign we saw before Dawson said -
'6% gradient the next 14kms'.
That revived my spirits no end.
So goodnight from Dawson City, the Yukon!


Yes, more photos of typical Alaskan landscapes for those so inclined (Such as my wife, Sarah).
Visiting Alaska has the habit of redefining what you understand by the word 'typical'.

To make it quite clear...

Just incase the first sign was not clear enough......

Laurel & Hardy.

Laurel & Hardy. Morecombe & Wise. The Two Ronnies. Abbot & Costello. Bob & Hope.
In the rich vein of comic duos I introduce.....
Wayne & Romie. (Short for Romaine).
May I suggest that if you see these two men approaching you that you flee. I know they look harmless, but looks can be deceiving....

If I tell you that one of their many stories involves hunting moose alog the edge of a river/lake from a canoe. With the added creativity invoked by 'some beers' they added a step ladder to the canoe to raise the position of the shooter over the undergrowth. And it worked.
Or that they were heavily involved in the massive division of state land in the 80-90's. Their quote?
"We were there to f**k it up before anyobody else"

The particular evening I met them went as follows:
We were stood around a typically large outdoor fire pit (Lit of course), drinking some beers. To the uneducated eye it may have appeared that Romie fell into the fire.
 However, I can testify that Romie saw a potentially dangerous fire spark form, and threw himself on it. (The civilian equivalent of falling on a grenade).
With no small amount of aplomb he kept his beer bottle vertical inspite of a complete eskimo roll into the fire itself. Wayne eventually pulled his friend from the fire (Showing no signs of rushing whatsoever), confident in Romie's fire resistant clothing (A good lesson for us all I thought to myself).
I smiled when Romie regained his feet, took a swig from his botle,  and said;
"I haven't done that in a while".
A Class Act, I salute you both.
(PS. Gents, we have mislaid your e-mail - please get in touch if you ever read this).

Most biking blogs...

Most biking blogs have pictures of someone actually biking. So here are some views of Sarah on the Denali Highway. This is a 13o+ mile dirt road that once was the only road leading to Denali Park.

The Denali Highway. Just another dirt road in Alaska.......

A Demi-God.

This 'man' is a demi-God.
he is Kevin Burton, the head brewer at The Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage. Any being who camn create their Beam Stout (Aged in Jim beam barrels) or the Imperial Blonde (Pale, almost mysterious colour, 9% - so one for Jim at The Bridge) surely cannot merely be human.
Which is why I was taken aback when he started a conversation with me in Humpy;s one night. So Kevin, if you ever read this, please forgive m if I seemd a lttle bemused. I was.

Infact, Kevin was not born a human, starting life as a lawyer. I asked him if the change of occupation was easy. He replied;
"Well, there are far fewer jokes about brewers. and I do have friends now'. Obvious when you think about it.
So come visit us at The Bridge sometime. And bring Victoria, Nigel would love to meet her. Infact, if you cannot make it, just send Victoria.

Andy Nordqvist of Exeter asks;
"Dave, what hair products do you travel with? When I go bikepacking in Wales I find my hair aerosols are both bulky to pack and tend to bang against each other - what do you adfvise?"
Good question Andy.
Aerosols are a no-no. I rely on a good haircut, whish is something I ddin't always do - as evidenced by the photo at Heavitree Road! I also use a bike headset grease made by Lush - it comes in a tin, stays solid (So no leaks) and can be used to fit bike headsets, clean drains, wash hair, clothing and shoes, even as fuel in my stove. I hope that helps, just leave those aerosol hairsprays at home, Andy.

Friday, 15 June 2012

We are coming home.

Our first day of biking took us into the Denali National Park and Preserve (To give it its full name). A 90plus dirt road takes you through a landscape that is difficult to describe. It is not an exaggeration to say that it's even difficult to appreciate. A lttle like a cross between Haldon forest and Woodbury common. No photos, least of all what you see here, do it justice.
We looked at each other and had the same thought - what days biking will match this? We may as well go home whilst we are ahead.

Ok, so here are a couple of photos. Trust me, you need to go yourself.

And we are not coming home, as a few days after this ride we biked the Denali Highway, a 135mile dirt road......

Tea Pot of the Month

In the first of our monthly awards where we honour the humble Tea Pot, the winner for the month of May goes to this fine example owned by Mercy Dennis of Anchorage.
Mercy and Eliot run the Ten-Ten b&b in Anchorage where we stayed on arrival. (We would certainly stay there again).When we expressed an interest in more tea, she acquired the below tea pot.

Although the handle may look slightly out of proportion, when handling the pot it proved to be 'just right'.
Mercy can claim the prize of a weekend in Hawaii by pouring us tea from the pot in Dawson City on 21st June, at the city camp site. Well done Mercy!

Friday, 8 June 2012

The common factor.....?

                       What does this establishment --

                       and this public house have in common?

First, some of the differences:
Humpy's is in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Dolphin is in Plymouth, Devon.
Humpy's serves over fifty beers on tap.
The Dolphin serves one, Bass (Ok, they have added some but they do not really count. This is my blog after all).
Humpy's beers are served from taps.
The Dolphin's Bass comes straight from the barrel. (They hide them to confuse the casual observer).

What is the common factor?
A bloody good time.
Visit one if you get the chance, both is even better. Perhaps that is why the Great God of Beer put them so far apart - to visit one straight after the other would be too much fun for any human.

Last time we were in Anchorage....

Last time we were in Anchorage we had to extend our stay from two to three days to allow for my recovery from mild poisoning contracted from, I believe, a dirty beer glass. You really cannot be too careful. This time we allowed for this possibilty by incorporating some recovery time, thus planning to stay a whole week. We made the most of it.

Your questions answered here:
We do receive some questions from our readers, so here is the first in a series.

Martin from the BikeShed, Exeter asks: Am I the coolest person in the BikeShed?
Good question, Martin. But as we all know if you have to ask, you are not. The answer is Greg. Any man who has only 55% of the typical skeletal frame of an adult male and can still walk has to be the Coolest. Greg is Chief Coolio. Sorry, Martin.

Vancouver and The Whitley's.

What can I say about our stay with old friends The Whitley's? Well, Sarah said as we left (With a big smile on her face) "You and Charlie drove me to complete distraction. You are too alike."
I am not quite sure what she means by that, so if any of you out there can offer either matrimonial insight - or legal advice - please do get in touch.

If you are in east Vancouver and want to watch an Italian football match, we can reccommend 'Cafe La Fontana'. Apart from when we placed our order I only heard rather excited Italian spoken. I'm guessing that gratuitous bottom pinching would come as standard. And here we were learning Spanish. Wrong again.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A years bicycle tour.

A years tour by bicycle starts here. An unglamourous opening title.
How about -
Nearly there, nearly at the start of our tour, nearly actually on the road. Nearly. It has been a long journey just to get to the beginning. In one sense we start tomorrow morning - Monday 4th June 2012 at 8.15hrs - by boarding the train from Anchorage north to Denali National Park with the loaded bicycles. After that we head south. For a year. 'Simples' as a meerkat may say.

In another sense this trip started months, no, years ago. In our minds for at least 16 years, in mine for many before that. Probably way back when I looked like this, and wallpaper and pullovers vied for your attention.
Welcome to our journey.
Dave & Sarah