07.01.12 Day 1
31 Miles, 36.45 trip miles
11 avg mph
Dead Horse – Franklin Bluffs
Our day started at 9 pm yesterday when we left for the airport. I slept some but with three planes and insanely loud announcements sleep was hard to come by.
The views of Denali were amazing. It’s huge mountain. Fairbanks had some elevation but other than that Alaska seems pretty flat. When you fly over it looks like one giant marsh but it’s actually tundra. There are rivers everywhere, and none are straight.
I swear the pilot was trying to leave his mark on every runway because he smashed us down with authority. If you were sleeping during landing you would awake to the idea the plane had just crashed. I’m not sure why but I thought the airports in Fairbanks and Dead Horse would be bigger. DH was tiny and so quite once everyone left. We had the whole place to ourselves to build our bikes.
The builds went smoothly except I’m still stressing over the size of my gear. I will be shipping some items home in Fairbanks. I also didn’t bring my air pump so we have no spare. I’ll have to get one.
After our bike builds it was off for lunch. Day 1 and we already had our first AYCE (all you can eat) buffet. The hardest part of DH is finding places. Every building is made from shipping container type structures. There’s trucks, construction vehicles and supplies everywhere. I had two plates of food: fries, chicken, two types of fish, and salad.
As we ate we figured out where our Arctic Ocean tour was and made our way. We experienced our first swarms of bugs. Only once were they mosquitoes, the rest of the time they were something else like a May Fly. While waiting for our tour I saw my first caribou. They appear to be molting. Mike saw a fox! Our tour took us through DH and explain “town” and how the drilling works. We stopped at the Arctic Ocean where I saw an Arctic Loon. It was huge! He had a head like a cinder block. Beautiful looking bird! Next I took off my shoes and socks and strolled into the Arctic Ocean. Yes, it was cold. On the way back I saw some Arctic Swans.
Now I’m sitting inside at Dead Horse Camp waiting for dinner. Prime rib of course. We’ll see if it’s as good as at Drakes Bad on the PCT.
The prime rib was not even close to that of Drakes Bad. We had a blast taking with the workers at dinner. There was even a guy from Australia named Denis. He fly over to Houston, bought a motorcycle and trailer and took four months to reach DH. He still has eight months more planned.
We made it out of DH Camp around 7:30 and started south. The going was easy with few trucks. The ones who do pass are super friendly slowing way down, give a super wide berth and wave. Yes I said wave. We were supposed to camp at mile 28.9 but we’re at 31 or so. At the first place we stopped Mike pointed out fox number two, my first.
I know everyone wants to know about the Mosquitos. They can be bad when you stop. While ride they just buzz around behind you. Our bug jackets are awesome!
Hills don’t exists yet but I was tired at the end. My ass hurts already. You don’t do any standing while touring. You need to make excuses to stand. Temps are warmish and great for riding. I can’t say I have fully realized what I’m doing or where I actually am but it’s amazing up here. I’m happy to be out riding but the excitement hasn’t hit me yet.