Friday, May 22, 2015

Final Loadout

In less than fifteen hours we'll be pedaling on down the road to Haines. The day before any big trip like this is spent packing, re-packing, talking about gear, looking over routes, discussing what a 70 mile day will be like compared to a 100 mile day, and drinking beer--err, I mean hydrating and getting precious, much needed extra calories into the metabolic reserves.  

 All this gear must be loaded into one of four panniers, 
a handle bar bag, a saddle bag, or a trunk bag.

I drove part of the Alaska Highway in 2006 when I PCS'ed 
The stretch from Delta Junction to Tok will be all new. 
And none of it have I seen from a bicycle. 

If I average 12-14 miles per hour and ride for seven hours, I'll burn 4700 calories.
If I average 10-12 miles per hour and ride for seven hours, I'll burn 3500 calories.

Essentially riding 10-12 miles per hour for 1 hour burns 50 calories. 

This is according to a calorie calculator. 

I've learned through ski racing you can ever really replenish what you're burning. It's a lot of crazy science, I think. Especially when referring to the 40,000 calories I burn nordic skiing 100 miles. That's a deficit your body just won't replace. All you can do is bring enough fuel to feed the beast (note: Pringles not pictured, those will be purchased in the future from various gas stations and trading posts).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bicycling to the Residency

On Saturday I'm riding my bike to Oregon. I have grad school classes to get to and don't have enough air miles to fly so the bike is the next best option.

Here's the complete route

Why am I going to Oregon? Well, in June 2013 I began graduate studies of writing at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. At the start of each semester I spend ten days in the pacific northwest attending the residential portion of the low-residency program. The remainder of the semester unfolds from home, following a study plan I create with an advisor. My advisor and I communicate via email, phone and regular mail (no, it's not an "online thing"). This June I'll be back on campus for my fifth and final residency, and on June 27th I will graduate with an MFA (Master of Fine Arts).

I've been wanting to do a bicycle trip of this magnitude for quite some time. Up until now my multi-day trips have maxed out at five days (approximately 170 miles). This trip will be roughly 14 days in the saddle and should add up to a little over 1000 miles. I'll also spend four days riding the ferry 1000 miles from Haines, AK to Bellingham, WA. We'll camp along the way, though I imagine sleeping a few nights in motels and on beds will be something we occasionally decide to partake in. Once in Washington I plan to couch surf and visit some friends in various towns along my route. I should be in Portland about a week before classes start.
My bike, a 2015 Trek 520 with front and rear panniers, 
a trunk bag, hippie saddle bag, and front handlebar bag.
I traded in a rickety aluminum, cross bike for this stallion.

Unfortunately, Gretchen won't be able to ride the entire way, though she plans to pedal the first three days, about as far as Tok, AK. My partner for most of the ride (Fairbanks to Bellingham) will be Sean Birch. Sean is the husband of Amelia Payne Birch, a good college friend from West Virginia University. Sean and Amelia are probably the only friends I know that love biking as much as I do. Before the advent of this trip, I invited them to come up and do a couple tours here in Alaska (Fireweed 400 and Kluane Chilkat Bike Relay), but when the dates conflicted with the time I needed to be in Oregon, I said, "what the heck, why not ride to Oregon." Thus the trip was born and I was super excited when Sean committed to riding with me.

It's been two years since Sean was here for a visit and this particular trip will be significant because Sean will be our LAST Alaskan house guest. This August Gretchen and I are moving to Minnesota because I'm going to begin more graduate studies in the twin cities. It's even MORE significant because Sean's wife, Amelia, was our FIRST houseguest in June 2006. She flew up and spent about a week with us in Anchorage. We didn't even have a house back then, nor did we know all the fun places to hike, but it was great exploring new places together, and it'll be great seeing the the Alaska Highway for the first time by bike with Sean.  

Here's the route from Fairbanks to Haines cutting across Yukon Territory, Canada.

And here's the route from Bellingham to Centralia. 

Amelia and I Toasting to Summer Solstice, June 2006, 
after summiting Flat Top Mountain, Chugach State Park, 
Anchorage, Alaska. She was our FIRST houseguest in Alaska.

Sean and Amelia, Gretchen and I (and Jack and Jody)
on the Kennicott Glacier in McCarthy, Alaska, summer 2013.

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