Friday, September 4, 2009

A little lucky....A little UNlucky....

Hey all! This is James here, my first blog post. It is Friday afternoon now; I will have to give a recap of the last 2 days of what happened.

Following Steve's last blog post, he ended up getting his spokes repaired by a guy named Terry, who was very gracious in helping. We were lucky, in that, he was the husband of a woman who was serving our food at the Trapper Creek RV lodge; it was coincidental and we got lucky once again...for a little while at least...

We headed out of Trapper Creek lodge (we had slept under a pavilion in a tent, which was nice in that it protected us from the rain) and got on the road around high noon. It was 48 degrees with a slight drizzle. Within 5k, Steve had gotten a flat on the rear wheel (where essentially all the weight is located.) After 30 minutes, we headed out again, only to be sidelined with a 2nd flat in the rear wheel another 10 miles up Rt 3 towards Denali. Another 10 miles went by before Steve got his 3rd flat on the rear wheel. He was drafting off me closely and a piece of triangular aluminum which I mistakened for one of those flexible road reflectors (as to why I didn't "call out" the debris as to avoid it) caught his rear tire and it went flat instantly. At this point, we were only 1/2 mile from a coffee shop at Mile 144. We got a free coffee from the guy working in there that was friends with Terry. I bought a nice 4" folding Frost knife for 3 bucks.

Upon leaving the coffee shop, we got on our bikes and Steve noticed a flat FRONT tire. We were amazed and shocked. I knew we weren't going to be making our goal of getting to Cantwell (95 miles north of Trapper Creek) but figured there was nothing we could do about it, so it wasn't worth getting frustrated over (though I'm sure Steve was -- from his troubles.) I joked to him and gave him a hard time since by this point my bike hadn't had any troubles, and my tires were found in a dumpster! :)

We hit the road after repairing Steve's front tire around 8pm. The next 20 miles were quite nice; we were cruising between 15-20mph and caught some nice pictures along the highway. It started to get dark around 10pm and I heard a pop come from under my rear wheel. Inevitably, a spoke of mine had broke. I decided to try to limp it best I could (Steve was able to limp his 100 miles with 2 broken spokes, so I figured "what the hey") as long as I could. Only 5 miles later, 2 more spokes broke and it rendered my bike useless. We walked our bikes a mile in the dark (around mile 167, which fell 43 miles short of our goal to Cantwell at mile 210) and found a decent place to camp. I kept my laptop playing my collection of music all night as a mechanism to create noise and keep any surprise wildlife (bears) at bay.

After a decent night of sleep, we attempted to fix my rear wheel with the 3 broken spokes. Only 1 was able to be fixed. We didn't have another wrench that we needed to take apart the cassette and gears to access the area necessary. At this point, we were a bit disappointed and knew we had quite a ways to the nearest "anything" unless we hitchhiked. Well in the midst of packing up, a guy who pulled off the highway for a quick potty break (and who was towing a trailer) offered to give us a ride. And guess what? He was heading through Fairbanks (still 200 miles north) to North Slope on a hunting trip, therefore having the ability to drop us off. Another lucky day (though equally unlucky in other ways.) We got some nice pictures of the mountains and Stampede Trail (where Chris McCandless tragically died in the movie Into the Wild.)

After getting dropped off at Fred Meyer's (similar to Wally World, and close to much activity) we landed ourselves a room in a hotel within eyeshot. We showered (for those in question) and headed out for a walk to the nearest bike shop. Beaver Sports is the towns' largest bike shop, and we found a nice selection of cyclocross bikes (basically a road bike that is beefier and better equipped for rough terrain) since we plan to ditch ours. We have learned a lot these last few days; about bikes and equipment that is essential for our needs of getting through Yukon and eventually...Florida.

We are at Alaska Coffee Roasters right now and need to go to Great Land Sports (look at their selection of bikes), Sport's Authority (to return my sleeping bag and gloves--I bought a 0F degree bag 300 miles ago and although the temperature rating is borderline okay for our needs, I am a bit too tall to fit---and the gloves are not worth the 50 I paid, I plan to get a fleece or polypropylene liners with a cordura shell, for half of what I paid), and then to UPS to pick up my new -25F extra large sleeping bag (okay, probably a bit of overkill.) :)

More later...



  1. love the updates. If you ever feel down on your luck fellas remember that everyone else you know is punching in a time clock, doing an activity (work) that is being dictated by others. Live it up

  2. Amen to Kyle's post, I didn't get the hospital job and I'll be increasing my time at ragged mountain until the yoga biz starts up. School starts in a week! I'm eagerly checking the updates. Please keep them coming as much as possible. Enjoy Alaska! The people seem to be making things possible for you guys. Learning on the fly is a big leap, isn't it? Anything you need (gu's, rain gear, the stick) is all 40% off. (30xgu, 1 weather proof rain jacket, and the stick, plus tax and shipping is $84) Let me know what you need and an address.

  3. Kyle: Thanks for the humor. We definitely do not miss "punching in" for "work." Reality will set in soon and soon we will be back to what you guys call "the real world."

    Mike: Thank you for putting that package together and pricing it. We will let you know if we need any or all of it!

    John in Aurora: Good to see you are following our blog! Maybe we can meet in Florida, if you guys do your golf trip, do some shots of the "purple stuff"??! See if Craig H. wants to come too; or give him our website. Thanks for your backing!