Dawson Creek to Jasper, Alberta

*If you are easily offended, stop reading now. You have been warned!

Just been riding through seemingly endless rain for the last couple of weeks. Every day rain but we forge on southwards beyond the Alcan and into the western part of Alberta.

What a sight! A hotdog van with a shelter out in the middle of nowhere between Grande Prairie and Grande Cache was a very welcome site during yet another rain storm. Lovely.

Happy that the steam hid the crime of this particular meal in the photo. Reconstituted potato, fish stuff and devon sausage bits. Utter merde!

LNG and pipelines are touchy subjects up here. However, you just have to admire the sheer exuberance (and rendering) of the ‘bird’.

Should have dropped in for some bargains. Silver-linings?

Here at Buff3ysbicycling blog we are great lovers of road signs. That is, unless they are like the huge stupid sign outside Grande Cache in Alberta that states it is 1km to town, when it is actually 5.6km of 7%-10% gradient rise! Just how does anyone put one of those things up?! Love Canadians and Canadia of course, but the kilometre signage here is just all over the place.

I particularly liked the Trudeau bird sign (above). We are sure that Mr Trudeau is a very nice man but really don’t care. The joyous expression of abuse is to be applauded.

Such sentiments are increasingly rare in Australia, which is a matter of some regret. An Australian considering such a sign would pause and fall into a fit of hand-wringing (or out-source their political bravado to ‘egg-boy’). Not sure how it happened but over the last twenty or thirty years the laid back approach that prompted us to just do things, regardless of how stupid and futile, and by which we seemed to define ourselves, is now just not what it was. It has been replaced by endless by-laws, fear of consequence and collection of parking, speeding fines and council notices to remove what-ever-the-hell weed. It is more than mere modernisation making things this way. When you have visiting Europeans bemoaning the fact that Australia has too many rules, you know there is a problem. It’s almost like in response to some subliminal message embedded in a New Price is Right TV telecast, the population of Australia fronted up to local post offices where an officer reached into the chest cavities and extracted the ‘screw-it’ genes and mojo glands from each unsuspecting fop with a staple remover. All then settled into an era of disconcerting and debilitating dread of what might happen; in place of the previous ‘screw-it’ ethos an insidious reticence.

Stan, a crusty old drunk propping up the bar at a lodge way back up the road in Yukon, on learning that I was from Australia, had no hesitation in making his assessment, “Australians are pussies!”. Really? “We should be brothers – Australians and Canadians – but when I went there and they were all pussies”. Confronting assessment, I’ll grant you. Taken aback, the only retort I could muster was, “All the hardcore Aussies are here in Canada right now”, which did the trick. But he is right. Australia used to be the land of ‘No Worries’ but has now somehow morphed into the land of, ‘I’m sufficiently concerned as to the possible adverse consequences of your proposal that I will now don my safety high-vis vest and consult the risk reduction manual prior to making an assessment as to whether any worry is justified’.

Buff3ysbicyclingblog will start the fight back right here! In celebration of and homage to the effort of the artist who created such a lovely ‘bird’ for Mr. Trudeau, we echo the sentiment and lustily proclaim for no readily apparent reason: Fuck you Trudeau!! Up yours you bastard!!

Just to be even-handed, we also send a hearty ‘Fuck you!’ to his political opponents (whoever the hell they are).

To the drivers of the massive RVs who don’t cross to the other side of the road when passing hard-core adventure cyclists: SCREW YOU!! (I actually meant that one)

To the people who don’t like Buff3ysbicyclingblog: BITE ME!!

To the people who made the road sign ‘Grande Cache 1km‘ and put it 5.6km from Grande Cache: YOU ARE DICKHEADS!!

Feel better for that. We now waft down into the national parks of Jasper and Banff and join the mobs of well-heeled designer trekkers who are heading out on North-face sponsored walks along with their hotel associates holding their carefully calibrated trail-mix combo bars. On-on!

Dawson Creek – Grande Prairie 131km

Grande Prairie to Kakwa River 101km

Kakwa River to Grande Cache 95km

Grande Cache to Hinton 143km

Hinton to Jasper 75km

Klondike Loop and Campbell Hwy

After a little pit stop in the charming and kitsch Dawson City the road turns south-east down the Klondike Loop following the Yukon River. The loop runs south towards the city of Whitehorse and this was the direction in which I traveled in 2011. But this time after visiting a little cabin at the Moose Creek Lodge two days ride south of Dawson, I turn left onto a 51km forest track to the Campbell Highway (past Tetchin Lake) which turns out to be a 500km avenue of trees and a very low traffic road that runs along some pretty lakes. Highly recommended ride and the camping is great which at the end of a day’s ride helps you forget the nasty little gradient climbs that these logging roads throw at you. 12 days later I’m in Watson Lake and the bottom of the Yukon ride: 1,800km from the start at the top of the Dempster Highway.

The Moose Creek Lodge. The last time I stayed in this cabin I was nine years younger. A lovely little restaurant out along the Klondike Loop.

Would have been the perfect stop to camp if it were not for the mosquitoes.

At last a moose.

Another brilliant video.

93km Dawson City to Camping

65km Camping to Moose Creek Cabin

95km Moose Creek Cabin to Pelly Crossing

89km Pelly Crossing to Tatchun Lake camping

37km Tatchun Lake to Frenchman’s Lake Camping on backroad

82km Frenchman’s Lake Camping to Drury Creek Camping

82km Drury Creek Camping to Camping beyond Faro

85km Camping to Camping

78km Camping to lake-side camping

82km Lake-side camping to Frances Lake Camping

89km Frances Lake Camping to Simpson Lake camping

82km Simpson Lake camping to Watson Lake

Part Five Vancouver – In Defense of The Pant

Whistler – Vancouver (125km)

An easy roll down to Horseshoe Bay (more horses) and then a wind around the coast and I’m over the Lion Gate bridge and into Vancouver within the day.

Newspapers here are devoted cover-to-cover to an odd type of hockey game that is (believe it or not), played on ice!  Local coverage of other sports is extensive.  Association Football is also fine as long as it is played on ice with bent sticks.  Grid Iron is OK too as long as it is played on ice and a choreographed fight breaks out every second minute.  I, unlike the people who are now pushing to ban the ‘biff’ (after a few high profile concussions in recent times), do like the fighting.  It looks to be quite a skill to punch someone while hanging onto them for balance all the while standing on little sleds on ice.  It should be a sport in and of itself.

There is much consternation in Vancouver currently at the city being downgraded to 3rd in the world’s “most livable city” rankings, according to The Economist magazine which evidently does these rankings annually.  Equally there is consternation at it being named the “3rd worst dressed city in the world” (by GQ magazine).

Makes you wonder what The Economist and GQ people look for in a city on both counts; good access to a nice lie down, sensible tweed, man bags and ample places for males with no testicles to congregate??  To wit, I just read a local newspaper article bemoaning the preponderance of yoga pants in Vancouver, the article author blaming the hapless yoga pant for the city’s sartorial ranking decline.  Balls!  Viva le yoga pant, I say!  Pants to GQ I say!  Have the GQ people never been to Torino, for example, and witnessed every second git trotting about in shiny flared tracksuit pants, totally oblivious to how stupid they look?  Equally, have they never seen the hordes of plump little scrubbers in Brisbane gormlessly squeezing themselves into ill-fitting ‘boob tubes’ only for the McDonald’s sponsored excess to then bulge from every surrendering seam, providing a good impression of over-blown little balloon poodles? Let the Vancouvan yoga pant thrive!  Embrace the pant! – as I fully intend to.  Especially here in Vancouver which is blessed with so many lovely yoga-panted women who model the much maligned pant to marvelous effect.

Buff3ysbicyclingblog is currently running a competition for yoga pant wearers with first prize being the chance to meet Buff3y the hard-core adventure cyclist in person!* (*Competition subject to strict terms and conditions. Only Vancouvan yoga panted girls need apply).

Now, below is an obvious problem with the rankings that you may have picked up on already:

The “Worst Dressed” ranking cities were:

1. Orlando

2. Maui
3. Vancouver
4. Harajuku, Japan

The rankings for the “Best Looking Women in the world” were:

1. Melbourne

2. Rio de Janeiro

3. Amsterdam

4. Singapore

5. Reykjavik

6. Vancouver

Now leaving aside for a moment the obvious idiocy of having Harajuku in the least fashionable rankings – a place that thrives on being anything that would be anathema to GQ– (Latex hello kitty, ‘Sailor Girl’ or maid costumes and comic strip characters being de rigueur), there is still an obvious contradiction here.  If Vancouver has the 6th best looking women on the planet and they choose to wear yoga pants – surely this is a good thing!  Where’s the problem?  However, if the 500th ranked city (Brisbane I think) suddenly took up a penchant for yoga pants then admittedly we would have to take issue.  Rio ranks, obviously, but how the hell did Melbourne rank so high? (Computer error in its favour no doubt).

Admittedly, the male population of Vancouver could work on it a bit. The Hockey shirt urban chik is a bit ho-hum.  The Vancouvan smack heads, of whom there are regrettably a good many, could also lift their dress game a tad for the good of the city’s chances for future rankings as the emaciated post sm/crack old-black dirty urine-smelling ‘hoody’ look is not doing it.  The seemingly interminable mumbling, giggling and shouting at themselves is also a bit disconcerting and doesn’t aid the overall look.

Now there have been mumblings on this very blog from some quarters (yes, that’s you Paul) regarding your humble correspondent’s cycling attire.  I’m here to say that I’ve joined the Pantists, but of course in a harder-core sort of way.  Yes, now that your correspondent is endowed with the finely chiseled buttocks of a hard-core bicycle adventurer, I’m wrapping those buttocks in a stretch fabric Salamon hiking/cycling contour (and conceivably yoga) Pant from a shop, in Vancouver! [refer photo].  You can’t beat ‘em so its best just to pant-up and join them.  It’s all about how you wear the pant, not the pant itself.  Just as when one wears one’s Savile Row suit, it is the attitude of wearing it that makes the difference, rather than the item itself. [This is something that is difficult to explain to my blog audience – some of whom are from Brisbane].  Suffice to say that GQ is a dumping ground for try-hards who have lost their wee-wees, so Pant Up and be proud Vancouver!  [Any anti-pantist sentiment will be strictly forbidden on this blog.  Those interested in taking the GQ line can go and subscribe to http://www.wehavenotodgers.com].  This entry is getting a bit weird and repetitive so I’ll just leave the pant treatise there.

Panted and Proud

There is nothing palacial about the St Clair Hotel in downtown Vancouver. It is a run-down heritage listed place relishing in its own dilapidation. A bit creaky but oozing character from every slowly decaying fiber and rusting pipe of its being. It’s handy to the up-market streets, ‘Gastown’ and Chinatown. Vancouver is the biggest city I’ve struck since the start of the ride so am going to enjoy it for a little while and take in the sights. Arriving here also marks the completion of the first ‘ocean to ocean’ (Arctic to Pacific). I’ll have to dip the wheel in the sea somewhere around here and get a photo for the blog. The wheel-dipping ceremony is a time-honoured ritual for touring cyclists to celebrate a coast to coast of self-propelled travel.

Cycling Theology (Cariboo Hwy – Sea to Sky Hwy)

24th Sept Day 60 (Price George –  Quesnell) (121km)

25th Sept Day 61 (Quesnell  – McLeese Lake) (75km)

26th September Day 62 (McLeese Lake – 150 Mile House) (60km):Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! ….Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world! Crack nature’s moulds, ….” [King Lear Act 3, Scene 2].

I too taunted the winds to do their worst .…and that they did.  I reluctantly emerged from the comfy sleeping bag early in the hope of beating the forecast strong winds or at least making some headway before the cheeks started cracking.  After the 45km ride to Williams Lake a smarter person might have pulled into any one of the ubiquitous cheap motels and called it a day, but ever the optimist, on I forged.  The strong southerly eventuated mid-afternoon and, I regret to report, it battered your hapless correspondent into submission. When the bike simply refused to budge into the wind about eight kilometres beyond ‘150 Mile House’, I felt the much heralded hard-core melt away to a mushy jell and I turned the bike away from the teeth of the wind and literally sailed across the road back to ‘150 Mile House”.  Happily, a lady at the garage ran a B&B just up a side road. I comforted myself with the thought that, “The better part of valour is discretion“. [Henry IV (Part1) (Act V, Scene IV)], and off I slunk to reassess.

It might also be a silly part of the year to travel south if the prevailing winds are from the south.  However, after days and days of Southerlies it is tempting to go with the idea that orbs or gods are somehow conspiring against me. An a-the-ist, a-Santa-ist, a-Goblinist, a-cargoist, a-Raist, a-Yahwehist, would obviously take the former but could it be that wind, orbs and gods are constantly against me? Best to hedge. Therefore, if a benevolent god of wind can show up right now I’ll devote myself to his magnanimousness; even wear a frock and spend my time giving hapless choirboys a jolly good rogering if that’s the call. Sacrificing virgins? (preferably daughters of huge camper-van drivers or Holland-America tour bus drivers?) not a problem. Just need the right one (Google, Google, Wiki, Wiki……)

  • Aeolus, the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology
  • Amun, Egyptian god of creation and the wind
  • Anemoi, the Greek wind gods Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus
  • Ehecatl, one of the creator gods in Mesoamerican creation myths documented for pre-Columbian central Mexican cultures, such as the Aztec
  • Enlil, the Mesopotamian/Sumerian god of air, wind, breadth, and loft
  • Feng Bo, the Chinese wind god, Feng Po is the name for the human form of Fei Lian.
  • Fūjin, the Japanese wind god and one of the eldest Shinto gods
  • Njord, in Norse mythology, is the god of the wind. There are also four dvärgar (Norse dwarves), named Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri, and probably the four stags of Yggdrasil, personify the four winds, and parallel the four Greek wind gods.
  • Pazuzu, the demon of the South-West wind and son of the god Hanbi in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology
  • Shu, Egyptian god of the wind and air
  • Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, was an Aztec god of wind.
  • Sídhe, or Aos Sí, were the pantheon of Pre-Christian Ireland. Sídhe is usually taken as ‘faery folk’ but it is also Old Irish for wind or gust. [1]
  • Stribog is the name of the Slavic god of winds, sky and air. He is said to be the ancestor (grandfather) of the winds of the eight directions.
  • Tāwhirimātea, Māori god of weather, including thunder and lightning, wind, clouds and storms
  • Vayu, the Hindu God of Wind, Hanuman‘s father
  • Venti, the Roman gods of the winds, were essentially renamed Anemoi, borrowed from the Greeks.

I think Stribog’s the chap. Control of wind directions is appropriate. He sounds like a serious kick-ass wind god and much harder-core than a more generalist Wahweh or a thunder technical specialist like Thor. Stribog could no doubt bring down some serious pre-medieval Slavic MMA submission holds on their Canaanite and Norse bot-bots. Stribog it is.

Oh Stribog, you are so big and powerful we are really impressed down here, I can tell you (Python). If it’s not too much to ask could you kindly give it a rest with the Southerlies even just occasionally, and blow some wind down from the north across Canada in the coming week. Amen

27th September Day 63 (75km) (150 Mile – 100 Mile)

28th September Day 64 (74km) (100 Mile – Clinton)

Stribog is the goods.  Out of ‘100 Mile House’ and a 5km rise up to 1,100 metres elevation and then a lovely rolling along a plateau then a swoop down to Clinton.  All the while with a gentle Nor-Wester caressing the right shoulder.

29th September Day 65 (72km) (Clinton – Lillooet)

30th September Day 66 (100km) (Lillooet – Pemberton)

Big ride over the top of the Lillioot Range.  70km up and up to the top of the pass then a plummet at 14% down towards Pemberton.

‘Stribog! Why hast thou forsaken me?’ Towards the top and it was wind against and rain which didn’t do much for the view at the top of the pass.

Lillooet to Pemberton

1st October Day 67 (32km) (Pemberton – Whistler)

Stribog has turned out to be a large stinking pile of bear doo-doo in terms of wind god effectiveness. Perhaps it was the lack of virgin sacrifice that was the problem? I’m in Whistler so there just aren’t any virgins of sacrificable age. (someone must have hacked in and written that – Jenny and her friends at The Keg Bar are quite obviously of impeccable character – and the steaks exceptional).

Whistler is a fun place and a classy (read ‘expensive’) village where happily cycling is taken very seriously, prior to the ski season anyway.  It is all of the ‘sick’ and ‘narly’ single track variety with some designer bikes, “specifically designed for the Whistler conditions” whatever that means.  Loads of bikers catching the ski lift and piling down the tracks back down to the village.  Have been holding up here in the lovely bars and restaurants is just the tonic from the road.  Loads of shops full of things you can only marginally imagine a use for but all very tempting nonetheless.  Will be a pity to leave really.

The Cassiar Highway, Canada

The Cassiar Highway is a lovely piece of road The entry below notes the lead up run down the AlCan from Whitehorse which was uneventful and not such a lovely piece of road.

Day 35 (110km) (Whitehorse – Gov Campsite)
Day 36 (75km) (Campsite – Teslin Motel)
Day 37 (124 km) (Teslin – Continental Divide Lodge/Camping)
Day 38 (115km) (Continental Divide – turn off short of Watson Lake)

With my arrival at the turnoff to the Cassiar Highway on the border of The Yukon and British Columbia, I now declare myself a seriously hard-core northern adventuring global solo cyclist.  Conqueror of all Alaska and master of all of The Yukon; from the tundra of the Arctic north to the shrubberies of the Canadian forests; undisputed heavy duty cycling demi-god of all of the little fury things and the large hairy things that inhabit the north of the American continent.  I now further my quest for glory southwards into British Columbia, …after having had a little rest for my sore legs.

Day 40 (120km) (AlCan Turn off near Watson Lake – Jade City)

Day 41 (115km) (Jade City – Dease Lake)

Day 43 (98km) (Dease Lake – Tatogga Lake)

The Alaska-Canada (‘AlCan’) Highway as I understand it used to be imbued with romantic notions of serious northern adventure travel.  Now it is a sealed modern and tamed national trunk road that conjures little but the desire to be done with it.  That is why it was with some relish that I took a right turn off the AlCan just prior to Watson Lake and headed down the Cassiar Highway.  Even more fortuitous was the timing in that the road has been cut by excessive rain (near Bob Quinn and Bell2) and resultant flooding which also washed a couple of bridges and verges away.  I therefore had the road virtually to myself for much of the way apart from some local vehicles and a couple of trucks heading down to repair the road. The fainter hearted, faced with lengthy delays or being turned back might have been tempted to go back around and back onto the AlCan but not your hard-core intrepid correspondent.  I battle southwards ever southwards come what may (“come hell or high water” literally).  This highway is popular with cyclists so after having seen only three cyclists on the entire road from the top of Alaska, in the last two days I have seen seven.  Am happy to report the belated sighting of bears.  After much talk of bears (maybe too much talk) and bear avoidance and defense tactics, I actually saw a mother and two cubs.  Came across a caribou and kid who were too stupid to run off the road so I chased them down the road for a good three kilometres.  Then last night as an added bonus outside the lovely Tatoggo Lake ‘resort’ I also got to see the northern lights in a huge swathe across a clear sky.  The good folk of the local hunting community here are full of rumours of highway closure and when it might open again but I will head south tomorrow and see what happens (such is the happy-go-lucky adventurer that I am).

Day 43: Tatogga Lake: Hanging out with the moose hoping that the highway opens.

Stuffed Moose

Day 44: (144km) (Tatogga Lake – Bell2):  Today’s ride deserves special mention in that it had to be the best day’s ride of the trip to date. Clear weather, beautiful scenery (refer video log), no wind and a lovely surface on a winding road devoid of traffic which loped down through picturesque valleys bound by snow peaks either side. Couldn’t ask for much more really so took full toll for 140km.  At 60km down had to negotiate the first road closure barricade but talked my way through.  Three more bear sightings.  Two adult black bears and a cub on the road and on my approach they too approached!  I tried to “make myself large” as instructed and wave the arms around and made growling sounds but two of them just stood up and looked curious.  Not sure what the next move was going to be (probably ‘run away!’), but happily a helicopter happened past overhead and this confused the bears enough for them to take to the bush rather than deal with the large wavy growly thing.  Trundled down the road at a rate of knots and had to parry away another two ‘pilot’ car drivers who were insisting that your correspondent put the bike in the back of the car and ride to Bell 2.  ‘Not on your nelly’ for this hard-core adventurer is not going to dot the line just because of some road works.  From the conversations it became apparent that they didn’t actually have the authority to insist that I load the bike, so load I did not.  It turns out that the road is just about back in repair and there were only minor works to negotiate.  The Canadians have a thing about ‘piloting’ vehicles through road works which is just silly.  They also are way too conciliatory in trying to get hard-core solo adventuring cyclists to bend to their will.  Regardless, I had none of it and find myself at the Bell 2 ‘resort’; camping  but able to get laundry done and have a good feed.

Day 45 (93km) (Bell2 – Meziadin Campsite)
Day 46 (123km) (Meziadin – Camping near Gytanyow)
Day 47 (70km) (Camp Gytanyow – Hazelton)
Day 48 (69km) (Hazelton – Smithers)

The bottom half of the Cassiar Hwy has been a lovely roll through the low hills still with minimal traffic from the road closure.  A pity that the side road (37A) to Stewart is completely cut due to a bridge about 10km from Stewart being washed away entirely.  Spent the last camp night with Amaya and Eric from France who have been cycling for 5 years and are heading for Vancouver and then China to continue their marathon ride around the World to every country.  With the departure from the Cassiar Hwy the road is busier heading towards Prince George.  In Smithers there will be a day’s break to rest and reassess.  Can report a number of bear sightings and almost ran over one. At one point you couldn’t swing a dead bear without hitting a bear so the bear novelty is quickly wearing off.

Day 49 (Smithers)

Day 50 (66km) (Smithers – Houston)

Day 51 (78km) (Houston – Burns Lake)

Day 52 (128km) (Burns Lake – Vanderhoof)

Day 53 (94km) (Vanderhoof – Prince George)

‘Top Of The World’ Alaska/Yukon Canada

Day 13 (Fairbanks): Two days to rest and check out Fairbanks.  Visited the local fair which exhibited a plethora of confused pasty faced, saggy-panted youths and shit-house hippy folk music. A band called ‘Celtic Confusion’ reminded me of a Billy Connolly joke, “I’m not a S’elt ya S’unt”.

Day 14 (Fairbanks): Fairbanks has great food (at ‘The Pump House’ – fantastic fish) but is in essence a bit of an extended rectangle of strip mall outlets.  It does have a great camping/bicycle shop so spent most of the day buying lighter gear at ‘Beaver Sports’.

Day 15 (32 miles) (Fairbanks – North Pole – Fairbanks – down the road):  Headed out of Fairbanks only to get a flat tire less than 17 miles out (in a place quaintly named ‘The North Pole’ – a toy manufacturing marketing ploy).  A very kind man from one of the shops (Santa) was driving back to Fairbanks and offered a lift so I decided to go back and stock up on the right equipment (at Beaver Sports again) and cycle out again (I hate riding the same road twice!).  Therefore after more purchasing I tried again at 4pm and once I had made some reasonable headway, saw a B&B sign and stayed the night there.  Mario the young German dog sled runner and the retired ex-army pot-bellied Alaskan guy with tiny dogs did all they could to convince (unsuccessfully) that they were interested in women.

Day 16 (62 miles) (Camp – to Delta Junction):  Another day of punctures along the flat benign sealed highway.  A staple and a shard of metal went straight through the rear tire.  Was prepared this time but it makes for a shitty day having to change out the rear tire twice.  Found a camp  ground just short of Delta Junction with hot showers and Wi-Fi so coughed up the $22.

Day 17 (73 miles) (Delta Junction – road side 73 miles away):  A lovely road that was mostly flat and the legs pumped away mercilessly at the miles despite the intermittent rain.  Couldn’t make it to the campsite at 85 miles so it was ‘Guerrilla’ camping and trying to burn sodden wood to dry out some clothes, unsuccessfully.  ‘Guerrilla’ camping is a bit of a misnomer in that most in Alaska are camping pretty well anywhere they feel like it.  Have done an assessment of the love-handles and can report a discernible reduction in the amount of grippable material.  Am yet to form into a mile-devouring peddling machine nor quite regained the Adonis-like svelte profile of my youth, but getting there.  Am also getting used to the staple diet of cereal and chocolate bars, boiled noodles and the odd monster-burger.

Day 18 (38 miles) (Road side – Tok): Tok (pronounced Toke as in, “Don’t Bogart that joint my friend, pass it over to me”… for a toke).  This is the place to fuel up your personal RV bus.  Many of these vehicles are visible from space, some even towing large 4WD run-abouts – just in case some of the towns you visit won’t accommodate the turning circle of your touring leviathan.  Most have names printed on them like ‘Raptor’ and ‘striker’ where they should perhaps be called ‘Old fat guy’ or ‘Zimmer’.  In Tok you spend the night in any one of a dozen motels (mine has a steel frame that shakes the whole building every time someone moves) and then get the hell out.  Your correspondent is heading for ‘The Top of the World’ Highway tomorrow.

Day 19 (60 miles) (Tok to ’49 mile’ Campsite 17 miles from Chicken): I thought I was hard-core but regrettably I have to admit, I am not.  At 20 miles after the turn off from the Alaska Highway, along the Taylor Highway on the way to Chicken, I met a cyclist from Russia (Vladeslav Ketov), an old guy (“cyclist, poet, man”), who had pretty well cycled all over the world through 93 countries since 1993, cycling around each continent (with the exception of Australia and the Antarctic). [Later he is Christened ‘Vlad The Impedaler’] Today was a great cycling day.  Good road surface and no traffic with rolling hills (some large but climbable), good weather and lovely country-side so really couldn’t ask for more. The campsite is picture-perfect by the river with a small patch for the tent. I have some Spam in a packet (what an innovation and why did it take this long?!).  SPAM with noodles is a highly recommended serving suggestion.

Day 20 (17 miles) (‘49 mile’ Campsite to Chicken):  Tough little stretch of rolling hills and arrived at Chicken. Had the 1/3 pound buffalo burger and spent the rest of the day in the Chicken Creek Bar drinking Amber ales and talking to the owner, or more precisely the owner talking to me as when Susan holds court in her place, her word is law.  You got to be tough to survive up her and the locals have this self reliant certitude about them.  The tour buses cruise through for souvenirs – anything with ‘Chicken written on it.  Later in the day the old gold miners and the camper tourists fill up the bar and a couple of guitar players emerge to put down the Dixie Chicks tunes.  The owner’s daughter is back from university where she has an ice hockey scholarship. “Your legs must be hard” says she (the saucy little darling).  Your correspondent: “Indeed, hard and getting harder” (Susan the owner/mother would no doubt sever my manhood).  Later in the evening the manners are slipping in the bar as the camper-van girls get a few on board and the panty gun (a paint ball gun adapted for purpose), is fired off a few times.  The remnant threads are hung on the trophy ceiling and walls.  Your correspondent was of course tucked up in bed thinking pure thoughts and pondering how to cure all known diseases by that point. (If you are 18 or above go to www.buff3yinthebuff.com and pay your $14.95 for one month’s membership for alternate versions). It’s all happening in Chicken.  Camped in a “walled tent” out the back of the shop that had a stove.

Chicken Cafe

Day 21 (38 miles) (Chicken to Boundary):  Hung over so cycling not the best idea in the world. The road winds up and up through a magnificent valley and follows the river gradually up and onto the ‘Top of the World’. At Boundary (3.5 miles from the border), Jim the miner has bought the café/car but not sure what to do with it yet.  The boys are down by the river sucking, blasting and sifting river banks for gold that is now fetching A$1,800 an ounce so all are very excited.  The feds have evidently dragged off a few miners for blasting and gouging the hell out of the river illegally.  Jim has kindly offered to put me up in a cabin that serves as a ‘museum’.  It has an old piano and some old tins in it.  Heading across the border into Canada/Yukon Territory tomorrow morning.

Day 22 (108km) (Boundary – Dawson City):  A most beautiful road (‘The Top of the World Highway’). Magic scenery either side of the road.  Across the border into Canada and rolling across the ridges of the mountains.  Showers occasionally, magnificent rainbows.  A rollicking final ride of 14km downhill into Dawson, with a couple of moose on the road half way down the hill, then onto the ferry across the Yukon River in the city.  Covered in mud but happy to have made it to Dawson but will pay for the distance tomorrow.Alaska has been great and the Alaskan people have gone above and beyond to be helpful and friendly.

Day 23, 24, 25 Dawson City:  Recuperation.  Ensconced at the Downtown Hotel and all the gear is washed etc.  The casino in town is cheesy/touristy but the town is a pretty and very sleepy museum piece; a grid of coloured wooden buildings (of which the Downtown Hotel is one – see photo).  It also has a glut of colourful local characters (read ‘drunk old dead-shits’).  A good Thai massage that was murder on the legs and some soothing cream (Deep Heat’) and am almost recovered for the ride to Whitehorse.  Dawson is a great pit stop for a few days to refuel.

Gerties Casino Dawson City

Day 26 (85km) (Dawson City – Roadside Camp): While the ‘deep tissue massage’ from Laura the Argentinean masseuse was nothing short of complete and utter torture, it appears to have done some good for the legs.  Note for aging cyclists: don’t get dehydrated and do stretch once you get off the bike each day. If you don’t do this you will get lectured by Laura the Argentinean sadist as she grinds her fingers into the non-gaps between muscle and bone until you are a yelping blob of pulped flesh with only faint remnants of your self respect left intact.  I won some money on the roulette table at Gertie’s Casino two nights in a row (Gamblers always fibbing about how much they win, suffice to say my winnings were right up there in the high tens).  I feel for the community organisation running the place, as the gambling proceeds reportedly are fed back into community projects… on further reflection I couldn’t really give a rat’s.  The showgirls will miss me terribly I’m sure (refer photo – that arm nonchalantly draped over my shoulder is not some token gesture for the tourist photos – its love!).  I reluctantly checked out of the lovely Downtown Hotel and the legs spun with ease along 85km of mostly flat road.  My camping technique is improving.  Am now assiduously taking Bear Grills’ advice and urinating around the camp-site to discourage bears from investigating (Bear says it has something to do with testosterone in the wee).  I can now pitch the tent, perform my perimeter peeing and have some pretty ordinary noodles on the boil in next to no time.  So much so that finishing a ride early on camping nights leaves bugger-all to do.

Day 27 (72 km) (Camp to Moose Creek): Regrettably one of the legacies of spending three nights at ‘Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Casino‘ is that as the pedals turn the one song stuck in my head is, “Hanky-panky, nothing like a good spanky”).  Occasionally ‘Hey Misbehavin’’ emerges, offering only fleeting respite but inevitably the endless cycles of, “Treat me like I’m a bad girl, even when I’m bein’ good to you” return.  The ‘Moose Creek Lodge‘ at the end of the day is a lovely little compound of café and a few cabins. The daily special of buttered chicken and pasta/vegetables, a hot shower and a rocking chair on the porch sees your correspondent very comfortable indeed.  The coming ‘fall’ is at least reducing the number of mosquitoes but the sunset is marching inexorably forward (at a rate of 8 or 9 minutes a day – 9:51pm today) so my thoughts are turning to getting myself southwards fairly smartly ahead of the coming cold.  I rock and ponder. One thing, however, is certain; when all is said and done, there really is nothing like a good spanky.

Day 28 (94km) (Moose Creek – Pelly Crossing):  The road is not particularly interesting – a corridor of pines close to but out of sight of the river.  Pelly Crossing is a first-nation settlement with a shop and a campsite and I stock-up and pitch camp.  I am literally and figuratively miles away from previous work thoughts of ‘cashbook and the journal’.  I’ve been on the bike for almost a month and very much enjoying no longer being governed by ‘ends of months’ and dividing my time on the planet into ‘quarters’.  Those quarters have a habit of filling up and passing very quickly and before you know it, years are gone.

Day 29 (108km) (Pelly Crossing – Carmacks): Am followed to Yukon River along a flat road but when going against the flow there is always an imperceptible gradient on the road (or the water would probably be flowing the other way – all that physics training not gone to waste after all).  The wind today blew face-wards constantly sapping energy and slowing progress.  I cross the Yukon River (for perhaps the last time I think) just before the town of Carmacks and check into the Carmacks Hotel and a restaurant with the blandest chunk of fish ever plated.

Day 30 (90km) (Carmaks – Camping): Had intended to stay at the Braeburn Lodge 75km down the road but got a weird feeling as I had lunch (admittedly a great soup and a reasonable and very large burger) that Steve the owner was a bit of a prick.  It turned out that the rooms were “not available” for some reason so the easy 75km ride was extended to a lake side unofficial camp 90km down.  Managed to light a good fire despite the wet wood and then proceeded to melt my shorts and almost melt the shoes when drying them next to it. [Note to new campers: Do not melt your clothes]. Steve is confirmed as a bone fide Prick.

Day 31 (100km) (Camping – Whitehorse):  A quick spin down the straight road and I have completed the Deadhorse to Whitehorse run.  Resting up here for a few days.