0016: Letter#2 : Words of Wisdom.


Extract from a message to a Warmshowers host in Fairbanks, Alaska.

You 2014-05-16 07:20

On or around 6th of June 2014, I will be finishing riding the Dalton highway/Haul road and am looking for a Warmshower host in Fairbanks, AK to "recharge my batteries" for a couple of nights. If that is OK?
I'll be starting from Prudhoe bay on 26th May and most tell me the trip is typically 10-12 days.
I wondered if you have space for a couple of nights for a very tired (and probably cold) cyclist?
I'm sorry I cant give an exact date.
With kind regards,
Matthew Hopkins.

Duncan Edwards 2014-05-16 20:04
Hello Matthew,

You are welcome to stay with us. There may be quite a few people here depending on when other cyclists show up. We'll find space, you'll probably have to sleep on the floor, we may have 8 or more people if everyone makes it here at once.

The Dalton is very unpredictable this time of the year. Spring came early this year, but we could still get snow. This time last year we got a foot of snow is Fairbanks, and more up north.

Be prepared for snow, and worse, the mud. If you have fenders, be sure they have good clearance, and better yet, have tools to remove them. The calcium chloride DOT sprays on the road will stick to everything. It can get between the tire and fender and stop the tire. With that said, sometimes you can hit it perfect and it's an easy ride.
The cafe at the Yukon River was not open as of last week, so Coldfoot may be your only civilization. There is no cell phone coverage between Deadhorse and Fairbanks. Coldfoot is only a truck stop, cafe, and pay phone.

You can buy bear spray at the Deadhorse hardware store.



You 2014-05-16 23:31
Hello Duncan.
Thanks very much. I appreciate the invitation.
It sounds like the makings of a fiesta if there are so many cyclists there.
Floor space would be perfect, but I will take whatever is available.

Thanks for the advice on the Dalton highway. Every extra bit of information is useful.
Hopefully the journey will be smooth sailing (and relatively warm!)
I look forward to meeting you.
With kind regards.
Matthew Hopkins

Duncan Edwards 2014-05-17 00:07

Just remember that you are above the Arctic Circle, and you are pushing the weather to ride so early. The longest uninhabited stretch between Ushuaia and Deadhorse is the stretch between Coldfoot and Fairbanks, the second longest unhabited stretch is Deadhorse to Coldfoot. About a third is paved or at least seal coated. There is emergency support at the pipeline pump stations, and a few road maintenance fcilities, but they don't normally cater to the public. The truckers all have satellite phones, and are very cycle friendly. They will help out if needed.

It's an awesome ride. The first 200 miles are above treeline. No real trees until south of Atigun Pass. Lot's of rolling tundra. You should see grizzly bears, black bears, musk oxen, caribou, and moose. Be prepared for wind and hills. The Dalton Highway was made to service the oil fields, the hills are steep and long.

Take a mosquito head net, this is important! They can be brutal even in early spring. You can't out ride them, especially up hill and with a tail wind.

About 30 to 40 people a year make the trip. You will be one of the first, but you will probably see other cyclists, I know of a few that are starting first of June.


You 2014-05-17 00:20

Thank you again Duncan.
I appreciate the additional words of wisdom.
Duly noted.
If I am lucky, I will meet another cyclist en route and maybe we can travel together for support and security.
It's good to know there is some emergency assistance, albeit in a very limited fashion. But I understand the need to be prepared and self supported. Fingers crossed for good weather and not too many mosquitos!

Duncan Edwards 2014-05-17 00:56

I know of 3 groups that will be starting early June, they will be staying with us. Timothy Lezard, June 6. Joe Hindman, 31 May. Brad McCartney, Early June. They are all on Warmshowers.org.

I certainly don't mean to sound negative about the ride. It's an awesome trip, beautiful scenery. It's just a bit unforgiving to the unprepared. I'll ride it mid July when the weather is better!

There are some good blogs on Crazyguyonabike.com. Ed Devlin rode up to
the Arctic circle last year from Virginia. Fairbanks to the Circle and hitched back in 3 days! He has a good account of how the mud can be.

Cheers, Duncan