In the morning Klaus and I take a turn to the Old Edgerton Highway, which is a little 20km short cut and let us ride on a muddy gravel road for one last time in Alaska. I pedal the section rather slowly. It's morning time, no car for the entire 20km, a sunny day and a beautiful colored forest.
I like the fast progress you can make on paved roads and the reliable conditions, but the lonely gravel roads are certainly a whole different expirience.
Back on the Richardson Highway traffic sharply increases [still very, very low to German standards] and I try to finish the remaining 45km to Glennallen quickly. On a fast downhill section where I have to move aside to the shoulder because of traffic from both directions it happens. At full speed I catch a sharp wire in my rear tire and I get my first flat tire.
The paved highways in Alaska have fairly wide shoulders. After my first kilometers riding in them, I quickly abandoned the shoulders, for two reasons mainly. First, there is a lot of crap accumulating in the shoulder [stones, nails, autoparts, trash]. Second, when I ride in the shoulder nobody seems to see the need to switch lanes when passing me. Everybody [except for the truck drivers] would pass me with a rather short margin. Riding directly on the road 95% of drivers seem to get it and pass me with a very nice and considerable margin on the opposite lane. To return this favor I always switch back to the shoulder when I see traffic coming from both directions or in situation where the cars can't see the opposite direction well.
So that's where I got the flat tire. I can't blame Klaus. He managed all the rocky roads without issues. Human trash caused the flat. After all he is not bullet proof and I did intentionally opted against these [apperently] bullet proof Schwalbe tires that weigh more than both my tires together. However, my tires have an additional slash guard and I opted for self-sealing tubes [tubeless milk inside]. This combination got me 2355km without a flat so far. I am happy with that.
Because the tubes are supposed to self seal smaller punctures, I want to let them do their job first. I repump the tire, let the sealant accumulate at the puncture and wait a couple of minutes. Seems to work, but not perfectly. I estimate the tire pressure somewhere between 1.5 and 2 bar. Above the tire looses air again. However, it's rideable and so I limb my way to Glennallen. I will patch it up there in case it's not properly sealing.
After ordering the same burger that I had about 10 days earlier here it Glennallen [first things first] I repeat the same procedure. After letting the tire sit for about an hour it seems to seal surprisingly well. Flat tire fixed, without doing anything than repumping. Great! And after all, it's just a flat tire... I carry patch kit and spare tubes for a reason. It will happen.
With enough tire pressure I leave Glennallen. About 20km north I turn right. Finally a "new" road for me, one that I haven't been riding before. It's also finally eastbound on the Tok Cutoff. Canada is coming closer every minute now. I pitch my tent on a beautiful cliff that falls down to the Copper River and a beautiful view to the Wrangell range.