When I wake up under the nice shelter of the roof [no, it was not smelly at all] I am instantly so happy that everything is dry even though it was a rainy night. I leave the Denali Highway in the morning and head south towards Valdez on Richardson Highway. There a nice house owned by Amanda and Tom from Fairbanks will wait for me and serve as the perfect base to take it easy for a few days and explore the surroundings. Attracted by this place and additionally motivated by rain I am basically on a two day 340km mission down to Valdez.
In contrast to this aspiration I feel quite weak on the bike the first half of the day [also yesterdays first half] . Apart from sore muscles in the morning that basically ride off after the first minutes on the bike I do not have any physical issues so far, no pain, no nothing. [Nope, also not the butt even though I am just riding a 5€ second hand padded short and naively opted for a different seat just a week before my trip. Judging from my inbox, a lot of people seem to be concerned about this]. I think the bike fitting gifted by my dear colleagues went a long way [Thank you so much, guys!]. I just feel a bit low on energy these days for the first time and wonder a bit about it... I am on a 5000kcal diet [up from 4000kcal I started with on the Dalton] on an average riding day, eat very regularly and try to maintain a good balance between carbs, fat, protein and fiber. I want to do some more research on this when I am in Valdez. [If you know a thing or two about nutrition please let me know! I'll note some stats down below.]
Luckily after the last climbs on Denali Highway in the morning it is more or less downhill today and a nice paved road. I pass Paxson lake which looks beautiful [and ride through some potentially very beautiful landscapes] and fight a bit of a battle with my push to Valdez. On the one side I could slow down much more, I still have plenty of time in Alaska. On the other side it's just rain again, thick clouds prevent nice mountain views and honestly there is not much I can do about it... At the end I won't be able to see everything anyway [FOMO!?] and it won't be just postcard views everyday. I think I was already quite lucky up until now.
On the first gas station I stop for a coffee and meet Mathias from Patagonia. He cycled from Brazil to Alaska and we have a great talk. The rest of the day passes by rather uneventful. There are two construction sites where I have to take pilot cars again (30km in total) which is still not a welcomed experience. One driver offers me pizza though that I happily accept. My stomach just seems like a black hole today. I stop in Glennallen and have a nice Burger [they have taccos, too, but I trust they would disappoint me after the tacco feasts in Puerto Morelos].
With the German saying of "was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen" in mind I head further south around 9PM and after 15 miles [and again in the dark] set up my tent in the forest next to the highway while it is bucketing down on me.
For the nutrition geeks:
Ride: 1784km with 16.450m of climbing, 60% gravel, 40% paved in 16 active riding days (110h of riding time), ~28KG setup weight including the bike and everything I wear + at maximum 8KG of food and 2.5KG of water
Eat when in the woods:
- Oatmeal that I pre mix with cinnemon chia and flax seed, trailmix, peanut butter, dry fruits like dates, banana chips etc in two breakfast sessions
- Pasta/rice/potatoe mash with sauce, lots of olive oil and topped with protein (beans, dried meat, canned fish)
- Tortilla wraps stuffed with everything I can get a hand on (bean paste, peanut butter, chips, cream cheese, pastrami...)
- Snacks like bars, trailmix, candy [a lot of it], nuts, fruit (if available)
I stop every 3 hours for 30-60 minutes to have one of these meals. I snack in between. I drink between 2 and 3 liters of water with a pinch of salt [not sweating much] and a bucket of coffee every couple of days. I top everything off with an all you need vitamin pill every other day as a precaution.
Eat when in town/restdays: Healthy (fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs etc) + soul food (burgers, pizza etc), probably around 3000kcal