After a two-hour flight from Achorage we finally arrive at Prudhoe Bay AirPort in Deadhorse on May 14th. The most northern point in Alaska where there is only one road that goes to the "civilized" world. We land around 9.25 am on a runway of gray gravel. The landscape looks white, cold and rough. The arrival hall is no more than a small busy area of 10 by 8 meters where everyone is waiting for his or her luggage. Once we have all our stuff and most people have left the small space we can unpack the bikes and put them together.
We have a lot of claim from, among other things, the staff who work here at the airport. One girl in particular is very interested in what we are doing. Her name is Crystal Berwick and she tells us that she has cycled through Spain last summer for 4 weeks and that in June this year, like us, she plans to cycle The Dalton Highway from Deadhorse to Fairbanks. She gives us a ziplock bag with candy and we exchange phone numbers, e-mail and Instagram information with each other. Who knows, we can keep in touch and meet again somewhere on the road.
After picking up the bikes we leave for our hotel "Prudhoe Bay hotel" right in front of the airport. We can finally pack our bags and put our stuff in logical places before we start cycling. In the local store we buy two buses of bearspray and some other last things. Bearspray is a can of pepperspray which sprays a substance over a distance of 10 meters which you would rather not get in your eyes but which works well against a possibly attacking bear. It says on the package that it is absolutely not allowed to be used on people, but whether we will stick to it, should we ever be caught in mid or south America is still very much in demand. Bearspray is not allowed on the plane so we buy it on the spot here in Deadhorse.
The hotel is all-inclusive so we can eat well. Also the good night's sleep is very welcome before our trip actually starts, the air travel and short nights chop in nicely.
In the local store we meet another Englishman who has cycled from Ushuaia to Deadhorse in 99 days. He now has the world record for his name. He obviously cycled without luggage but with supporting team and TV crew! We get the name of his website from him, but if we try to find this in the hotel we can not find it. Too bad!
In the evening the food in the hotel is delicious. Then we immediately dive into bed.
The next day we have to make sure that we are checked out at 11.00. At the filling station in ice and snow we refuel our petrol fuel in our MSR fuel bottle so that we will be able to cook on the road. Then we check out our room and have a quick lunch so that we will leave with a well-filled stomach.
Day 1 – The Arctic Tundra
We leave late so that we can take a lunch at Prudhoe Bay Hotel. The food the night before and the breakfast were already delicious so we are curious what the lunch will be like. When we start cycling it is already 12.30. So pretty late. But well it stays light here day and night so that should not spoil the fun.😉
Once we turn into the long, lonely road from Deadhorse, it is fairly flat but with many large boulders gravel which makes cycling difficult. The landscape is very vast and behind us we see the last industry of Deadhorse slowly merging in white.
It is very empty and abandoned, very occasionally a big American truck passes by, but otherwise it is only the wind that we hear about the snow-covered tundra. Occasionally we walk next to our bikes purely because we suffer from frozen toes.
By a wrong estimate and because of the midnight sun we stop with cycling around 23:30. In total we are already 11.5 hours on the road. We are exhausted and tired, poke our tent somewhere along the roadside and dive into our warm sleepingbags with a few cakes for dinner. In total we cycled 9: 15h today over a distance of 100km.
Day 2 – Into the mountains
After a good night's rest, we break up the tent next morning. The tundra is starting to get a little less white but is still cold. The cold and the many miles over the bumpy gravel road are slowly starting to break us up. Kim is starting to suffer from pain in her left knee, but fortunately not as bad that she can not cycle anymore.
What strikes us is that the truckers who regularly pass us around 20 to 45 minutes take great care of us. When they pass us we make sure we cycle as much on the roadshoulder as we can and they make sure that they keep a sufficient distance from us and clearly reduce their speed. Still very nice because it is pretty big trucks that pass us by. By the end of the day the tundra slowly made way for the first mountains.
Finally we find a nice camping spot near a river but again close to the Dalton Highway. Every time a truck driver passes us by it seems like it's coming through our tent with full force.
We have been on the road again for many hours, but our bike counter gives you 6,5u cycled over a distance of only 63km. Less than 10km p / hour on average so 😳
Day 3 – Snowed in
At night we wake up a few times because we hear snow fall on our tent. When we wake up in the morning, we are totally snowed in. Arjan first has to get rid of the snow with the lid of a pan at the entrance of our tent, before we are able to get out.
The landscape is completely different because of the snow that has fallen in the night. We get a look at the road if it will be possible that we can cycle it or not. We decide to try rather than stay and sit in our tent for another day. The large trucks ensure that the road is clear, but it still is very muddy.
It's up and down all day and it also snows a big part of the day. Through the fog you only see about 22 yards ahead. It is a pity that we can not see the beautiful views. Plus we have no idea what to expect in terms of what the road looks like up ahead. Maybe better too.
A friendly trucker stops and we get very tasty grapes, two ziplock bags full! They taste extra good as fresh fruit is lacking in our own meals. If you have to take breakfast, lunch and dinner for two weeks you have to make concessions. Fresh fruit is sadly one of them.
During cycling Kim still suffers from her left knee, but with all the climbing it is feeling better. After a long day of only cycling 27 miles (43km) through the white mountains our conclusion at the end of the day is; We are going to take less stuff with us!
Because everything is white of snow we can not find a suitable place to set up our tent so we decide to put it on the snow. We make warm water by melting snow in a pan to be able to freshen up. The last shower has been a few days ago...
Day 4 – The first trees
Despite the fact that the floor of the tent was below freezing because of the snow where we were on it was not cold at all. Our comfortable mats are officially approved for this. In the morning the sun finally shines! Arjan has a lot of energy. Kim totally does not.
After having cleaned up our belongings, the air has also been completely closed in to fog in a very short time. That is so typically Alaska, the one moment the sun shines and in the other moment it is suddenly completely different again. After the first few kilometers Kim already has a flat tire, that is so 🤯. So we put in a new inner tube. We will repare the old inner tube at a later point.
Fortunately, the air clears up quickly and we hope it stays that way. Kim's energy level has also come up nicely. Maybe it has something to do with each other? 😜
We pass an American, Cargo who is walking to Deadhorse from Ushuaia. Our entire bike ride, in the opposite direction, walking!! Even after he has had a heart attack in California, he (now with the support of a friend in a camper) walks the last miles to Deadhorse. Even for imaging; the man walks on crutches and his left foot is held high by a self-made pick-up of elastic, attached to his belt. And then we sometimes ask ourselves if we are crazy doing this ... Meet the man who was walking 15,000 miles is his facebook.
Later in the day we meet an American couple who are making films about backpackers. Their car drives past us, stops, the young guest jumps out of the car and asks us if he can film us with his drone. That is of course possible. They promise when we arrive in Coldfoot that they will treat us on a beer. He gives us his ticket, Arjan gives us our 2WF strap. Later in the day, at about 8 pm, we cross the highest mountain pass in Alaska. The Atigun Pass which is 4,739 feet (1455m) high. We decide to go over today because the weather is still good and you never know what the next day will be like in Alaska.
After a long climb and long descent we finally see the first trees. Up until now we were always so far north that we were above the tree line. We will find a place to sleep late. There are a lot of rabbits around our camp, still white in color of winter. Trees, that means that we also have to hang our food in the trees because of bears. Cooking and eating should also take place further away from the tent as the air can attract our brown friends. It is very late and we dive into the tent for a good night's sleep. The counter gives 8.08 hours cycled over 85.6km.
Dag 5 – Hello Coldfoot
Het is really super warm when we wake up. Kim pulls out her vest for the first time, which she normally had on in her sleeping bag. Our hats can also go off while sleeping! Great! That is a good sign. Hopefully this slightly warmer weather will continue. Next to the tent we hear rabbits nibbling and hopping around the tent. We both wash our bike shorts in the stream and take a big breakfast. Beef stroganof with noodles and chicken teriaki.
We start cycling and it goes nice and fast. The road is dry and we cycle a lot down Hill. It would be nice if we can get to Coldfoot today, but that's still around 100km of cycling so we do not know if we can really make it yet. After cycling about 15,5 miles (25km) we encounter a road block, we are stopped. The lady with the stop sign in hand tells us that something will be blown up in a few minutes and that we have to wait for that first. The pilot car is on the other side of the road block, which will come our way again soon after the explosion. We can then put the bikes in the back of the box and we get a lift to the other side of the road block about 4 miles (7km) away. Here we can unload the bikes and continue cycling.
By the lady who is on the other side of the road block we are asked if we know that there is a mother grizzly bear with her cub and another grizzly bear somewhere alone. We check where she has seen them exactly so that we know where we need to be extra cautious. Eventually we do not see any them. In the meantime, it has started to rain pretty hard. We have our drinking water and have to purify water again. Because of the rain we do not really feel like it, but Arjan comes up with the good idea to do this under a bridge so that at least we are dry. Here we take a break. We eat 2 meal bars. At this point we cycled only 24 miles (38km) in total and traveled a few miles with the pilot car. So it is still al long ride to Coldfoot. After this break we put the speed in, the road surface is good, even asphalt so that cycles nicely.
We see a beast on the road at one point. We slow down a bit to better see if it is a bear. It is too long and slender to be a bear so we continue. Unfortunately, there are just two trucks driving past that honk their horns to get the beast off the road. It was a moose! Kim still sees a glimpse of a nice big moose that still runs in the woods on the other side of the road. What a gigantic beautiful, big animals! Wow!
Cycling is going so well that we finally arrive at Coldfoot at 17.45. Outside at the restaurant we meet a Chilean who has been traveling from his home country with his motorcycle for about 5 months and is still heading for Deadhorse. He wants to spend the night there and has two months left to travel to New York and California before he has to go back home.
Inside the warm and dry restaurant we meet Jeremy and Kristen. We also met them yesterday just before we crossed the pass. They were the ones who filmed us with the drone. As promised, we immediately get a beer and also see the films they made of us the day before. Very cool! They are working on a project that they are currently financing themselves with their own savings to film the actic wildlife. They want to put the migration of the caribou on film and follow it for a while. Jeremy also shows us some beautiful images of a fox he has made while trying to catch a prey in a hole in the ground. Beautiful images to see.
In the restaurant we both refresh ourselves in the toilet. We can finally wash ourself completely. We immediately feel more human. After a super good meal and some beers we set up our tent. It is allowed to camp for free on the field in front of the restaurant. Outside we talk to Some people who stay here and are curious about what exactly we are doing. Good night...
The cycling went a bit faster today; 5.45 h. cycled at a distance of 90.91km.
Day 6 – A day off
This day we decide to take a rest and repare the inner tube so that we can use it again if one of us get a flat tire again.
We decide that we want to send postcards to the home front and our warmshowers host in Iceland. We still do not have internet access here, but a nice postcard will certainly be appreciated too we hope. Kim is already awake at 8.30 and can not sleep anymore. Arjan still sleeps until well after 10.30. This is quite special because normally Arjan is always the one who is awake very early. It is very warm in the tent. For today we know that the weather is very well predicted. Unfortunately for the rest of the week when we are back on the bike we will get a lot of rain showers. Still no good prospect. It seems that the trip to Fairbanks will not be given to us just like that. Like actually nothing here in Alaska. The weather conditions can be very unpredictable and can make it all a lot more difficult we have already noticed. Once we get out of bed we go to the restaurant to have a good breakfast.
You can re-fill the coffee and tea as often as you want. After breakfast we decide to go and see the area. We take a walk along the Historic Coldfoot Cemetary, the Coldfoot Airstrip of Coyote Air and we walk a part of a winter trail. We also make a round trip towards the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center which we know is still closed until the end of May. When we arrive there are people present, guides who are trained for the season. One of the employees, John asks if we want to look inside. "Yes of course! Please if possible!” We go in and see a lot of interesting information about the whole area we are in. About the game and birds and its migration, about how the working of the midnight sun works, about the plants and minerals that are in the ground and you name it. Everything you want to know about this area can be found here. We are therefore very grateful that we are allowed to go inside even though the AIVC is officially not yet open.
In the afternoon we prepare the bikes for the next few kilometers, chains are lubricated, gears and brakes are adjusted and Arjan finally gets the GPS tracker at work, connected to the hub dynamo of the bike instead of on batteries. The evening we spend to write the postcards and get somthing to eat. We drink another beer with Jeremy and Kristen after which we decide to crawl into the tent.