50 & 51: Jade City, BC to Rancheria, YT – 62 and 67
50: I’m resigning myself to sleeping in and riding later into the day, because I just can’t get up with my alarm. I’m still sleeping poorly with the long daylight hours (sun sets after 10 and it gets light by 4, even during the night it is twilight, not full dark) and an air mattress that has sprung a slow leak I can’t locate and needs reinflating 2 or 3 times a night.
I didn’t get on the road until 9, but it didn’t really matter. The first 20 miles were all cruisy downhills out of the Cassiar Mountains (namesake of the highway and ghost town at one of the worlds highest-grade asbestos mines which closed in 1992). I stopped to eat lunch at Boya Lake Park, which was quite pretty but an unnecessarily hilly 5-mile detour.
Soon the road spat me out on the Yukon Plateau, densely forested and not nearly so pretty(or easy) as the morning’s miles. I put my earbuds in and kept trucking, just wanting to put miles away and get to Whitehorse soon.
I passed into a recent wildfire zone (2010) that went on and on for miles. It was quite fascinating, with the trunks still so densely packed and blackened (not at all like Colorado’s burn areas which are so sparse).
I met a southbound cyclist -older man from Cheyenne, WY with COPD who was riding with an oxygen tank on an electric-assist bike (his wife was following in the RV.) He’s finishing up the last miles on a bike tour project he started years ago. For those who poo poo electric bikes, this guy is probably getting after it harder than you!
About 10 miles later, I was getting frustrated with headwinds and came to a cute little lake with a picnic table and litter barrel and evidence of previous campers, so I set up camp for the night and settled in with the buzzing of bumblebees (they seem to be doing fine up north- must be the lack of agriculture and pesticides?). It looked like rain was rolling in, so I cooked dinner early (couscous with carrots and ginger tuna) and crawled into my tent just as the rain started.
51: I slept poorly again. It rained all night, it was cold and clammy, and as I tossed and turned I fretted about having to pack up and get going in the rain. Thankfully it stopped around 6 and I was able to get on the road fairly quickly. I was half-asleep and cold and clammy for the first 15 miles to the Yukon border, so I stopped at Nugget City (at the junction of the Cassiar an Alaska highways) for coffee and an expensive and disappointing second breakfast at the cafe. It left me hungrier than I’d started.
Instead of backtracking to Watson Lake for supplies, I pushed West. The German guy at Dease Lake had told me the folks at the Rancheria Motel were really nice – free camping and only $10 for whatever food you order for cyclists, and wifi. It was another 60 miles, but so be it. I’ve had longer days.
Coming to the top of a hill 10 miles later, I felt a disconcerting bouncing and found my rear tire to be quite soft. Not sure if it was just 10 days without a floor pump or a flat, I filled er up and decided to check again at lunch.
Lunch was at the Big Creek Forest service campground picnic shelter where I made tea (i was cold) and spread out my tent to dry (everything was still wet). Not that it did much good – it began to drizzle. My tire seemed to have a slow leak, but not wanting to deal with it(and thinking it was slow) I aired it up again.
The rain continued and I pushed on, wanting to quit every inch of the way but intent on reaching the motel where I resigned myself to paying for a room- no way was I pitching my tent in the woods as cold and soggy as I was. Two pressure checks and 20 miles later, I stopped at a pullout and finally heard a telltale hiss and spotted bubbles coming from my tire. Not good. Whatever got my tube also got a half-cm nick in my tire. I began to cry. I did not want to deal with changing a flat 10 miles fromy destination, hungry, sopping wet, and knowing just how much a pain in the ass it was to get these tires on my rims.
Thankfully the guy in the uhaul in the pullout had watched my desperation unfold and, admitting to not knowing how to change a tube, helped me Tetris my bike into the truck and drove me to the motel.
When I walked in, the ladies at the motel/cafe sat me down with a cup of tea and insisted I have a hot bath. The motel is the cheapest of sorts, but they wouldn’t let me pay for my room and only charged me $10 for the $25 worth of dinner I ordered. I went back to my room, did laundry, and patched my tire, then took another shower and am going to bed. Grateful today is over, hoping for better weather tomorrow otherwise I may try to find a ride to Whitehorse, where I’ll be staying with a friend of my mom’s. I am exhausted and in need of a rest day, frustrated with the weather and kind of ready to be done. It’s still 950 miles from here to Anchorage; I’ve broken the EFI principle three times now on this trip, I’m not afraid to do it again.