Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 13 - Pelly Crossing to Carmacks

We had a little bit of a shorter day today riding into Carmacks.  We needed to resupply the trailer with water and empty the tanks so dry camping wasn't an option.  Like most RV sites it was very cramped and odd and pretty much just a parking lot in the back of a motel.

Jason and I rode together today.  Dawit was down and out and rode along with the truck as he was having, ahem, saddle issues.  Robert decided he didn't want to ride with us anymore and would eventually depart from the group in Whitehorse.

June 10 to 12 - McQuesten to Pelly Crossing

June 10 – We decided to take it easy today.  After loading up the trailer we all drove out together to start our ride from Dawit’s crash site.  From there we’d go about 60km or so just to test the waters and see how everyone was feeling.  Fate had different plans for us once again.  About 10min into our drive the serpentine belt on the truck decided to let go.  We were stranded with no cell phone service for about 100km!
It didn’t take long before the good people of the Yukon stopped and gave Robert a ride back into Whitehorse so that he could call for a tow truck.  
The rest of us made the best possible use of the time by playing card games and taking naps.  

About 10pm the tow truck rolled up and Robert not too long after with a relative from Dawson City.   Robert and the gang had the trailer towed about 500m down the road to a pull-out. 

I went with Jay the tow truck driver and Wonton to get her fixed in Dawson City

The next 36 hours were somewhat stressful for everyone.  I was in Dawson and the crew was about 150km away dry camping.  I had no way of getting in touch with them since they were out of service.  The auto parts store was closed on Sunday so I checked out the town and learned about the hardy folks of the Klondike gold rush.  All the while in my mind I was really hoping that NAPA had the proper serpentine belt I stock.  If not I would be stuck in Dawson for 2 or 3 more days waiting for the part to arrive.  The crew had no way of knowing what I was up to.  Did I mention I was also squatting in the back of the truck in the NAPA parking lot!

Monday morning the 12th rolled around and at 7am NAPA opened.  They had 2 belts in stock so I bought them both!  Jay the tow truck driver helped me out big time by changing the belt for me first thing in the morning in the parking lot even though they were really busy.  It was a relatively easy fix but I was glad I didn’t have to get covered in dirt that morning.  I fueled up with diesel and chocolate bars and made my way back to the crew where I was greeted with a hero’s welcome.  

It was early enough in the morning that we were still able to ride that day from McQuesten to Pelly Crossing.  We were all very happy to finally be making some forward progress. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 9 - Dawson City to Moose Creek

We spent most of our day off by updating our social media, cleaning the trailer of as much Dempster dust as possible, and converting the bikes from gravel wheels and tires to our road slicks.

Our first pavement ride should have been smooth sailing but fate had other plans for our travelling show.  The day started off as good as any cyclist could ever hope.  Even though we had a giant tail wind riding into Dawson City two days before we were thankfully shooed out of town by a generous tail wind once again.

The buttery smooth pavement of the Dawson City limits quickly came to an end and we spent most of the day riding what could be described as gravel with a light spritz of tar.  Crashing at any time on a bicycle is not very much fun but on this chip tar surface it is extra nasty.  Unfortunately that's exactly what happened.  About 120km into our 150km ride we came around a corner going fairly quickly, say 35kph, and were greeted by a bear about 100m away in the middle of the road.  The group slowed before all of us had time to react and 2 of us went down.  Dawit unfortunately took the hardest hit by landing on his face and getting the wind knocked out of him.  Robert's landing was thankfully softened by Dawit and was mostly OK. We immediately began to go through the routine of administering first aid.  I am actually really relieved that I just took the course again only a few months ago as it helped to keep the situation (me) calm.  We had a first aid kit with us and some very helpful motorists stopped to see if there was any way they could help.  We asked them to drive Dawit to our camp site which was 25km away which they happily obliged.
Jason, Robert, and I had a very somber ride back to camp that night.  We pretty much sprinted back and it was the longest 25km I have ever ridden.  A million thoughts about what to do next were going through our heads.  As we pulled into the camp site I almost didn't want to know what the latest diagnosis was as I was fearing the worst.

What we found was Dawit back to his usual happy self, already making jokes about his increasingly swollen face.  Lindsay and Marin took very good care of him while we were riding back and it was determined that it was superficial, a hospital visit wasn't required.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

June 7 - Tombstone to Dawson City

The end of the Dempster!
Today we concluded the epic gravel road portion of our ride.  Most of the day we were pointed downhill with a tailwind so the average speed was very high at 28.5km/h.  It was a bittersweet moment leaving the Dempster.  On one hand it felt amazing rolling on to smooth pavement.  On the other hand we were sad to be leaving the epic scenery and isolation of one of the best roads I've ever ridden.

We were all super stoked that Wonton and Redline survived the Dempster!

I asked Marin how I could help and she said she really just wanted me to stay dry and take pictures.  I reluctantly obliged.

We were all really excited to finally have cell phone reception after 6 days or so.  As we rode into Dawson our phones started blowing up and we competed to see who had the most notifications :-D

June 6 - Engineer Creek to Tombstone

Despite only riding 66km the day before we were still a little tired leaving Engineer Creek.  Today's ride to Tombstone would take us up high into the mountains and wind very close to the snow line.
Just as we were heading up into the higher elevation we were lucky enough to see some mountain goats jumping around on a rocky slope so we stopped for our hourly snack break.

Nearing the end of our 122km ride we were feeling pretty good.  We picked up the pace on the last climb and had an awesome downhill into Tombstone.

The surrounding mountains at our campsite in Tombstone meant that we actually had a few hours of semi-darkness which was kinda nice.

June 5 - Ogilvie to Engineer Creek

The resurrection of Dawit
We stayed an extra day at Ogilvie which gave us all the chance to heal up.  The Dempster was much more difficult than we had expected and it was a good idea at this point to make sure everyone was doing OK.  Today's ride was shorter at just over 66km so it would be a good test to see how Dawit was feeling.

Heading out from our campsite we had a nice long downhill which got everyone fired up.  The rest of the ride was smoother roads and a tailwind.  We had our fastest average speed so far at 24.5km/h.  Spirits were definitely high at this point and we were all feeling a little better about some day making it to Newfoundland.

We stopped and checked out Elephant Rock

The mosquitos had finally found us at the Engineer Creek campsite

Riding along the Ogilvie River at the bottom of the downhill

Rolling out

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A quick update from Dawson City Yukon

I'll be brief here and post a quick update as events have transpired.  I am the only one with cell service currently and have limited resources so bear with me.
On Friday during our first ride out of Dawson and also our first pavement ride we ran in to our first patch of particularly unfavorable luck. About 120km into our 150km ride Dawit had a pretty bad crash when we slowed down for a bear crossing the road (of all things). He landed pretty hard on his face and knocked the wind out of himself. Some very kind motorists stopped (no shortage of them around here) and drove Dawit to our campsite where Marin and Lindsay took care of him while the remaining 3 of us had a very sombre ride back to camp.  When we arrived we learned that Dawit was actually doing pretty good and was in good spirits as usual.

So we changed our plans for the next day. We would drive back up the road 30km to where the crash happened and start from there. We'd do an easy few hours and set up camp again just to make sure everyone was doing OK still.
On Saturday we all hopped in the truck for the short drive to where our ride would resume. Unfortunately this is where we got our second bout of bad luck. About 15km from camp the serpentine belt on the truck disintegrated and we were stuck on the highway. Robert hitched a ride to Dawson as we had no cell service. CAA sent a tow truck which took about 4 hours to arrive. Robert came back with a relative from Dawson and they towed the trailer about 500m up the road to a pullout where they are now camped. I went with the truck to Dawson and am waiting for the Napa to open tomorrow and hopefully they have the belt in stock. I should be able to meet back up with the gang tomorrow (Monday) and we can continue our ride to Whitehorse. We should arrive there around Thursday.

For now I am hanging out in the truck camper. I had a nice tour of Dawson City today with a great lunch and checked out the museum. I'm sure there will be lots of updates when we all get to Whitehorse.
Over'n out.