Esteemed fellow cyclists,
Sorry to miss all those enticing rides. Still in Anchorage recovering from my 1000-mile crossing of Alaska by bike from Pacific to Arctic Oceans in 6 days 18 hours for new record (pending certification by UMCA). A thousand miles (actually 988 miles, and 106,000 cumulative feet of climbing) of ineffably beautiful and dramatic landscapes, vicious mosquitoes, deer flies, and horseflies (really caribou and moose flies), riding (and freezing) through the mountains all night in cold wind and rain, crossing deep and scary canyons with fast semi's close on one side and a very low railing on the other, climbing long steep hills in hot sunshine while mobbed by thousands of biting flies, sighting a wolf eyeing me a hundred yards ahead, charging down a long steep hill at 40 mph only to see a grizzly ambling up hill on same road toward me (fortunately my hydraulic disk brakes served me well, and my support vehicle came into sight at the last possible moment). I was packing bear spray from then on. I''m now practicing my "Davy Crockett grin" so I can grin down the next bear I meet.
Experienced a number of interesting hallucinations due to sleep deprivation (so did some of my team members). One of my few dangerous hallucinations was a red brick wall that popped up right in front of me causing me to veer sharply left - not recommended when big ol' semi's might be about.
Last 415 miles mostly dirt, gravel, and mud. My almost new mountain bike and I were soaked in thick slimy mud from the very beginning of the 415-mile north slope haul road - built for and used mainly by huge and very fast trucks supplying Prudhoe Bay oil fields. But I still managed an occasional 40 mph on the descents - really focusses one's attention when that's 35 - 40 mph on dirt, mud or gravel. Sun never set for last 400 miles. Dipped my foot and wheel in both the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Best part? My fantastic team of Alaskan crew and officials. Second best part - seeing Alaska from a bike; third best part - finishing! Turns out crossing Alaska for record's a pretty big deal up here in the Alaskan cycling community. Dr. Stransky threw a nice dinner party in my honor and I got to meet some of the legends of Alaska and RAAM cycling. One of my crewmen once biked from Homer Alaska some 6600 miles to Key West Florida in 57 days! These guys and gals up here are super tough. And they got a real kick out of my E. Tenn modesty, especially on the north slope where the tallest tundra vegetation to hide behind is only 6 - 8 inches tall.
But the adventure continues - yesterday while cleaning my bikes in the driveway of my generous host while in Anchorage, Dr. George Stransky, a former Olympian (1964 Tokyo Olympics), I heard the sound of beating hoofs nearby only to look up and see a big ol' mama moose bearing down on me at full speed with an evil glint in her eye and rather aggressive growling-like sounds coming from her throat. I had no idea moose could growl. She was maybe 12-15 feet from me when I lit out for the open garage. I feared she would follow and trample me to death (they really do that here in Alaska), but when I ran, she did a 140 and I never saw her again - but I kept a sharp lookout!
I have no idea what possessed her to charge a guy doing nothing more than attending to his bikes - perhaps a calf in the woods behind me, but I can now add "moose attack" to my long list of interesting beasts with which I've had close encounters including bears, alligators, timber rattlers (close but didn't connect), other non-venomous snakes (many did connect big time), black widows, racoons (nearly lost my cooking kit deep in the heart of the Okeefenokee Swamp), snapping turtle (nearly lost my nose), E. Tenn thugs (nearly lost my life), and some 500 of the most fearsome critters of all - the Cumberland Plateau seed tick (for which I feared I would die for nearly three days, and then feared I would not die for many more). I'm beginning to feel like a regular Marlin Perkins, and as old too.
Looking forward to riding with you all again in a few days.