The bicycle tour along the Pan-American Highway finally got underway when I left Deadhorse! Here's day one of cycling in Alaska.
Cycling from Deadhorse to Happy Valley
(Wed 22 July 2009)
Again, I got up pretty early, as I knew that my first day of cycling in Alaska was going to be quite a big one. After I packed my stuff up from where I had been stealth camping in Deadhorse, I went into the Carribou Inn for breakfast. It was a buffet, all you can eat affair, so I did…. YA! Note – I'm not saying you should, but it's unlikely anyone is going to ask you to pay. Just saying!
Then it was onto the cycling. For reasons of ‘security' it is not possible to cycle directly from the waters edge, so instead I started from the furthest northern point possible in Deadhorse, and then began my trip south.
Cycling the Dalton Highway in Alaska
The Dalton Highway is also known as the Haul Road, and runs from Deadhorse to just outside of Fairbanks. It acts as the main transport route for goods heading from Fairbanks to the oilfields, and parallels the pipeline which pumps the oil from north to south. Cycling along the Dalton Highway presents many challenges – The huge trucks, barren northern tundra with no shelter from the wind, extremely rough roads and irregular supplies of water to name a few.
Initially, there was a slight headwind coming out of Deadhorse, but after about 15 miles, that changed to a tailwind, and every cyclist loves those! The road was rough, unsealed gravel, but nothing I hadn't seen before. It was a long day, as I expected it would be, but with over 80 miles in the bag, and 10 hours of cycling, I finally reached Happy Valley, which is basically a works depot. Ed, the guy who owns a bit of land there, let me camp out for free, and there was good drinking water available. Even though at this time of year it is 24 hour sunlight, I didn't have too much difficulty in sleeping after an energetic day.