Flying into Deadhorse, I thought of all the ways I could get myself out of what I was about to do. I was scared. Terrified.
Prudhoe Bay, population 35 with a windchill of 7. A beautiful place to learn how to ride a bicycle. I want to see so much of this world, so why not start at the very top? Well, I can give you 72 reasons why not, to be exact. How about this little fact: the "road" isn't designed for bikes, or even better, permafrost tundra isn't designed for roads. There's a bed of styrofoam insulation laid under a raised gravel mound keeping the route from cracking, freezing, thawing and crumbling. Trucker after trucker hauling in more styrofoam rolls. A constant construction zone. The road doesn't end at a quaint picturesque town on the Arctic Sea, it ends at an oil extraction site built to move hundreds of thousands of gallons of this crude sulphur rich money maker across the great state of Alaska. Oh, but there is something still very romantic about this starting point. It's a place very few have ever seen.
Craig ferried me across the construction zone, passing a herd of muskox and caribou to my drop off spot. On my own, no way out, taking each gravel hill one inch at a time. I began this trip in 27 degree sideswiping snow. A few hours later and 3 grizzly bears got close enough to say hello! Day one and I made my mileage, camped on the side of the road. 24 hours of light. Pure exhaustion and the sorest thighs of my life. I just laid in my tent like a mummy looking straight up for an hour, unable to move, and too scared to cook as it might attract some unwelcome guests.
I woke up...11pm, 4am, 8am... who knows, it's all the same. Day two, and it's as sunny as can be. No more need for my winter layers, and I'm feeling more confident and stronger with each mile. According to my own calculations, I hit 45 mph on the downhill, too bad I can't confirm this since my new bike computer isn't functioning. So much love and support from the truck drivers, security workers and tourist. They handed me water, fruit and encouraging words, it really made my day. I'm starting to feel all right out here, starting to believe in myself while leaving most of my fears at bay.