Thursday, June 07, 2007

My new summer dream

Haines to Skagway

I'd like to do this as a minimalist "fast tour," about 350 miles in two days. Carry the smallest amount of gear possible (bear and bug spray included).

The climbing profile will likely be killer. The roads will be gravel-strewn and terrible. I expect two 16-20 hour days, with a "night" of restless bivying between them.

It's so remote that there are really only two real towns on the whole route in which to resupply, Haines Junction and Whitehorse. But I may decide to carry everything I need because I want to see if I have the stamina for multi-day endurance rides.

It could be deliciously brutal, and brutally beautiful. A dream ride.

I think if I continue to improve physically at the rate I have been this month, I could be ready to attempt it by early fall. Maybe last week of August/first week of September. Sometime before I head down to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon with my dad.

I would need to buy a bivy sack, but I have access to a good 15-degree bag and all of the other gear I think I'd need. I'd plan for temps 20 degrees to 60 degrees, rain to fog to snow.

The best part? Depending on the ferry schedule, I may be able to ride this entire section of Alaska/Yukon/British Columbia without even taking a vacation day from work.

Yes, I miss the fast-paced life.


  1. Um -- that sounds like a great trip Jill.

    I may be headed to the Grand Canyon for a hike in September.

  2. Might wanna have a day of fudge room...

    That looks killer... When?

  3. You think you can do two 16-20 hour days in a row and then be functional at work the next day? You're going to be exhausted, Jill.

    I think you'll be ready for it - you're really starting to make headway. But throw in a day or two of vacation. You've learned that you need to recover as hard as you train and race, right?

  4. Jill, I can see I'm too conservative. I think two 16-20 hour days on the type roads you're describing, temps, conditions etc. will be a killer. I'm not sure you'll make the distance in two days. You need to plan rest/recovery after that and not go directly back to work. Why kill the body you live in and that does these fun things for you? I was in Juneau last week and visited the Mendenhall glacier. Didn't see you though. It was a great place to visit.

  5. Awesome route and idea! This is the sort of thing you could drum up some interest for and have company if you wished. I've been in that area that time of year, it could go either way weather-wise, but you're already used to the worst on a daily basis.

    For sure, like others have said you won't be functional afterwards.

  6. That sounds pretty dope. What do you know about Prince of Wales Island. All I've found is this snippet from Lonely Planet (hardly the best source of cycling info. Makes me want to head up...

    Prince of Wales Island (POW) is the USA's third-largest island, after Kodiak and Hawaii's Big Island. POW's landscape is characterized by steep forested mountains, deep U-shaped valleys, lakes, saltwater straights and bays carved by glaciers long ago. The mountains rise to 3,000 feet, and the spruce-hemlock forest is broken up by muskeg and, unfortunately, more leveled forests than most visitors ever dreamed they would see.

    The 900-mile coastling meanders around numerous bays, coves, inlets and protective islands, making it a kayaker's delight. And for someone carrying a mountain bike through Alaska, a week on Prince of Wales Island is worth all the trouble of carting the bike around. The island has 1,500 miles of roads, but only about 150 are paved - the rest are dirt logging roads and their condition depends on the weather and the amount of traffic. It's not unusual to find a culvert missing or a section washed out completely and passable only by 4WD vehicles - in other words, a mountain biker's dream come true."

  7. Sick Jill!!
    I love it!
    stumble into work monday morning and dont stop eating till you leave!

  8. That's one route I've been dreaming of doing on the roadie. Two days is pretty killer for that. These are not just hills, they're MOUNTAINS out past Haines Junction. Hey, I'll take some pics next weekend of the road relay (HJ-Haines: and show you the steep nasty hills.

    But hey, if you like hills... :)

    And the roads are actually pretty good from Whitehorse to Haines, a bit of chipseal here and there, but from what I remember, overall pretty decent.

  9. That does sound really freekin sweet. To the nay-sayers that say you'll be non-functional afterward, how functional do you have to be for work? When I raced San Francisco to Portland (Monday -Thur) I slept for a few hours in Portland, rode from Portland to Issaquah Friday (when you're done racing you can do a sluggish 200 mile day) and then I went to work on Saturday. The whole race plan was based around my being back for work on Saturday. And yeah, I was pretty much a basket case at work but really work isn't that taxing. And don't you have one of those sit at your desk and type jobs? C'mon draw open eyes on your eyelids and you'll be fine!

    Seriously, wicked cool plan.

    -- Kent --

  10. I totally agree with Kent! Go do it.

  11. Well, I'd have at least three full days without vacation time because of my arbitary Labor Day holiday.

    Fudge room is nice, but a pre-purchased ferry ticket may be great motivation. :-)

    As long as I can get six-eight hours of sleep between stepping off the bike and going to work, I should be functional enough to work. I've put in some tight knit ride-to-work hours in the past - easier rides for sure - but I know that sleep heals a lot of that mental haze.

    Anyway, it's just a dream for now. I'm a long way from being ready, too. But if I really want to do some of the rides I'm interested in next year, I have to learn whether or not I have the ability to ride back-to-back killer days. A road ride would be a good place to start. The fudge room is there.

    DV8 ... I don't know much about Prince of Wales Island. I'll have to look into it. Mountain bikeable trails in Southeast Alaska are few and far between, so that definitely catches my interest.

    Jim ... glad you had a good trip. What did you think of Juneau?

    Stacie ... I do know and fear those mountains. I've driven up and over both passes. Both times the vehicle I was in huffed and puffed and barely made its way over. But that's part of the appeal to me. And also why 175 (mostly) paved miles would make for an ~18 hour day for me.

    Ken ... great story. "sluggish 200-mile day" ?! Like it's a recovery ride. You are so cool.

    All ... maybe I will do it. Time will tell.

  12. White Horse rocks, but apparently they have had trouble in recent years with syphilis, so bring protection. On the numerous occasions I stopped there while traveling from Anchorage to Haines, they had signs warning of a syphilis outbreak. Good times were had by all.

  13. dr. logan - what have you been smoking??

  14. True story.
    News report here:


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