Monday, August 13, 2007

Everything I need

I spent all of what turned out to be a beautiful morning finalizing my touring gear, setting it up on my bike, repacking, adding things to my list, buying more stuff ... in short, not riding. But I think it will all be worth it on Wednesday when I take off from Haines with what seems to be a pretty complete load. It feels heavy, but it's about as compact as I can go with the gear I own and the uncertainties I'm facing - two small saddle bags (one for camping gear; the other for rain gear and extra clothing) a frame bag (food) a seatpost bag (bike repair stuff, first aid kit, and batteries) and a handlebar bag (Everything else. No backpack! Yeah!)

On of the new innovations that I am especially excited about is fork-mounted water-bottle holders. This will allow me to carry ~72 ounces of water on the frame. That amount should be plenty, even with the forecasted warm temperatures. I found a detailed milepost guide to the Haines Junction and Klondike highways, and it seems that never more than 20 miles pass without at least one stream or river crossing. One of my water bottles has a built-in filter that I can pour all of my water through, and I am carrying back-up iodine pills just in case. (One thing that surprised me in packing for this trip is just how many different pills and drugs I require.)

The frame bag holds all of my food - six Clif Bars, 6 oz. turkey jerky, 10 packs fruit snacks and 22 oz. almonds and cranberries, for more than 5,000 gut-busting calories. Actually, gut-busting is the wrong word. This food has proven to be basically the only stuff I can digest in long-burn situations. Food that's too "real" (i.e. sandwiches and pasta) doesn't sit well in my stomach, and I haven't been able to trust myself to actually ingest food that's too "fake" (i.e. Perpetuem and Gu).

Of course eating Clif Bars for all of my meals and sleeping in a bivy sack do not exactly make for luxury touring, so I'm allowing myself one comfort: platform pedals. The thought of riding 12-16 hour days in my cycling shoes made my toes curl up and scream for mercy. Plus, only having one set of shoes means I'll need something to wear in stores, around camp, etc. Also, should anything happen, I may have to hitchhike for a long while.

The plan is to leave Juneau on Wednesday on the 7 a.m. ferry. I arrive in Haines at 11:30, where I'll probably grab a quick lunch in town and hopefully be on the road north by 12:30. The plan is to bike to somewhere south of Haines Junction (mile 148) that night, to Whitehorse (mile 245) the next day, probably stay in Whitehorse, and wake up long before the crack of dawn on Friday to ride to Skagway (mile 355) in order to hopefully complete the distance by 12:30 p.m. I have a grace period of about four hours before my ferry leaves town at 4:30. If I don't make it to Skagway by then, I'll have to eat the cost of the ticket and wait overnight for the next boat. I'm hoping the threat of that will be motivation enough to meet my goal ... riding about 360 miles in 48 hours. The fact that the ferry schedule forces me to do it over three days is, I think, an added comfort bonus.

While researching the route today, I found this site, which advertises was is essentially my trip ... minus the nine days to complete it, the bed and breakfast lodging, the sag wagon, the three square meals a day, and the $1,995 fee.

This site also includes some nice details about the tour. Reading through this today made me realize that I'm not just going on a training ride ... I'm going on a vacation. Yeah!