Saturday, December 8, 2007

Day 1 - The Truth

Before I get started today, I want to put out a few disclaimers and clear one question up.

1) Prior to this trip, neither John nor I had ever done a bicycle tour before. I was 24 years old. I loved the outdoors, camped a lot and was a very good bicycle mechanic. Regarding fitness, I was a lower half finishing expert class mtn bike racer. I knew just enough to get myself into trouble. This means I made a bunch of mistakes and made some bad decisions.

2) For those wondering where "Gnat" comes from, you will find time. It represents who I am today and will come out somewhere in this story. My close friends can probably figure it out because I'm not that clever.

With that, here goes.

August 25th

John and I finished assembling our bikes and saying good by to our new found friends at the bike shop. They warned us that we were pushing the season. I even got offered a job as a wrench for next summer if I wanted to come back for a few months. Sweet! After John and I left the bike shop, we did a little test run down the Seward Highway toward the Kenai Peninsula. Since we got a late start, we only got 28.5 miles in and ended up camping at Bird Creek Campground. Saw our first wild life today, Dahl Sheep. 3 words stand out, Cold. Overcast. Windy.

We were travelling southwest down the Seward Highway. I think the body of water we were riding next to is called the Turn Again Arm. Prior to the trip, I did just a little research on Turn Again Arm. Being a midwesterner, I had only seen the ocean twice. I was 7 or 8 and my mom was so afraid of it, that I wasn't even allowed to put my foot in it. I knew very little of tides and tidal bores. At certain times of the year, Turn Again Arm has one of the most visual tidal bores in the world. A tidal bore is the initial wave of water that comes in when the tide is coming in. In some cases it is just a gradual increase in water height. In others, it's a actual wave of water.

I did my best to watch to see if I could see it, but in all honesty I did not know what I was looking for and I was sweating and looking at my stem most of the day. Man bikes with all this touring stuff are hard to pedal. Damn.

Setting up camp at Bird Creek was a little bit like finding a needle in a haystack. We had packed, unpacked, re-assembled and then packed again. Our stuff was everywhere as we dug for tent stakes, food, warmer socks, etc. We finally got set up and, ate some food and did some exploring.

That night, John and I reaccessed our stuff and our plans before going to sleep. We decided that based on the feedback from the bike shop guys that we would skip Kenai and head directly to Denali. We quickly found out we brought too much crap and not enough warm clothes. We easily found 20-25 lbs of extra crap that we could send home tomorrow when we rode back through Anchorage.

Lesson #1 - If you ever want to do a self supported loaded tour and have never done one before, do a trial trip. Even if it is just a weekend. You will learn a lot. That's the truth!


Oolong said...

thanks to a G-Ted link, I am looking forward to reading about this trip ( not looking like I will get much bike riding in this winter )


Guitar Ted said...

How many times have I heard that before: "Man, we took too much stuff'! Heh,heh! And they say women are bad pack rats. :)

gNAT said...

So, so true....but I still managed to justify carrying my full size tri-pod.

Jason said...

I've never done the Touring thing, but I do know how I pack to do a 24 race. It could be July and I'd find a reason to pack some thermal base layers and winter gloves- 'cause you NEVER know!! ;)