Top of the World
57-year-old bikes 3,100 miles from Alaska's Arctic Circle back home to Colorado
By Greg Herbers
"You gotta be out of your mind!" That's the response I usually get when I tell people about my latest adventure. "Really? Why would you want to ride your bike home from the Arctic Circle?"
Years ago I caught an episode on the OLN Channel (Outdoor Life Network) about a guy who rode his mountain bike from Fairbanks, Alaska, to the Arctic Circle. At the time, I wasn't even aware that there was an accessible road to the Arctic Circle, let alone one you could easily travel on. The seed was planted, and finally at the age of 57, I began planning my journey - with one little tweak. Instead of riding from the Arctic Circle to Fairbanks, I would ride back to my home in Golden, Colorado.
As with most adventures, success lies in the planning.
The route: Pretty straightforward - I would start at the Arctic Circle and ride south! The distance is roughly 3,100 miles, and I planned to do 50-60 miles a day. Finding detailed, and up-to-date road maps for some sections of the route was a challenge. Some great books are available that detail possible routes from Alaska to the lower 48, but the route options through Alaska and Canada are very limited. I knew that including the Cassiar Highway section was a must, as was staying off major highways.
Where to stay and eat: I solved these challenges by convincing my wife to act as sag support. She drove an RV and leap-frogged me daily. At night we stayed at the nearest RV Park or a quiet roadside.
Equipment: Plenty of bike parts, tires, and tubes. I took two bikes: My mountain bike for sections of the dirt road above Fairbanks and my road bike for the remainder of the trip.
Nutrition: I was concerned about burning so many calories for a couple of months and possibly losing too much weight. I planned to follow my usual healthy diet and add some additional healthy carbs in the form of Hammer Nutrition products. Having our RV made it easier to eat healthy.
My fueling and supplementation regimen included HEED and Hammer Gel, as well as Premium Insurance Caps, Mito Caps, and Race Caps Supreme. Take my word for it, you don't complete a ride like this without quality products from Hammer working for you!
It took 2 1/2 months to make it home, and I learned a few lessons along the way. The Arctic Circle doesn't always have snow in June. A drive (by vehicle alone) to the Arctic Circle should be on your "to do" list. Bears usually don't chase a bike, but dogs do. Horses will attack an RV. People in cars don't always try to run over you; when you least expect it, they may hop out of their car, cheer, and applaud. The Cassiar Highway in Western Canada is possibly the best bike ride in North America. People in Montana drive the fastest. The wind does always blow in Wyoming (a head wind of course). And, it's a long darn way!
When asked if I would do it all over again, my response is, "Absolutely!" It was such an incredible journey. HN
BY THE NUMBERS
Total miles: "I dont know exactly. It wasn't my intention to make this journey about the miles. It was more about the feeling of freedom one gets by riding on an unknown road day after day."
Days riding: About 75
Longest day: about 80 miles
Trips to bike shop for repairs: 3
HEED - (3) 80-serving jugs
Perpetuem - (3) 32-serving jugs
Hammer Gel - 100+ single serves
Recoverite - (2) 32-serving bottles
Hammer Bars - 4 boxes
Premium Insurance Caps, Mito Caps, Race Caps Supreme - daily