David Freeze: With bike troubles behind, it’s on to Alaska

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 13, 2019

I woke up in the Caribou campground and immediately checked the front tire on my bike. It had been going slack at the end of the day for three days, and I wanted to know it was fixed before I headed back out in the wilderness and away from the only town with bike shops for the last 10 days.

I needed it to be in good shape at least until I get to Anchorage. I had in my mind that the bike shops wouldn’t be open because of July 4th. When I talked with a Canadian, I realized that I was not in America anymore.

So the ride to Whitehorse was slow and hilly Thursday (July 4), but part of it was because Amos stopped to help me. Well meaning, he wanted me to try a bunch of other places, and I did try Canadian Tire. I needed carbon dioxide cartridges to deal with any tire problems, too.

To make it a long story, I ended up at Cadence Cycle and asked Abel if he could help. Abel, a Frenchman, had been in Canada only 10 months but was very personable and talented. In no time, he had checked out the rim and the rest of the tire, deciding to just swap the tube.

I got the CO2 cartridges, and I think he only charged me for parts. It was a great experience.

While downtown, I went sightseeing since I didn’t know when I might be back to this historic city. Lots of old buildings including the depot have been restored. There is a hopping downtown of about 25,000 residents, way more than are in the rest of Yukon. The S.S. Klondike, an ore hauler built in 1937, was the highlight of the historic area.

I went to McDonald’s twice that morning and the bike shop, and because of it, Bank America put a hold on my card. The bank emailed and asked if I approved the charges, so everything was quickly cleared up.

I left town at nearly noon with only 25 miles and went into some repeating major hills. I could see a 40-mile day coming up, which would never do.

Before I left town, I went into a restroom to change into warm-weather clothes. I heard two guys outside, one of them saying the bike was his and it was ready to go. After I came out, I asked them which way to go. The mouthy one said, “I don’t know; I don’t have a bike.”

Finally, I broke out of the hills and was making much better time. A car was coming toward me and the driver was someone who had helped me with directions that morning, Deb Jutta of Whitehorse. Deb told me that there was a store nearer than I had thought and I should be able to make it before dark.

Later in the evening, I was still going and she found me again. Great job!

I kept riding through a rain shower and spotted another grizzly, this time with only a car or truck every five minutes. He just watched and let me go. The rain picked up but I especially wanted to make the campground instead of sleeping with that grizzly. I did make it at 96 miles and then had to throw together my tent in the rain.

My legs had wings after the poor start and repair plus sightseeing.

My cellphone still won’t work, and I can’t get much out of Siri on my iPad. She told me, “I don’t know where you are.” Good thing it wasn’t, “I don’t know who you are.” I have been told that a few times.

The roads on the Alaska Highway have a bunch of different surfaces, and I bet that will continue. Some of them are much faster than others. It was interesting to see those going to the Klondike turn off.

Some good photos are coming up, I think. Keep riding along.

David Freeze is a Salisbury Post contributor who is biking from Nevada to Alaska. He can be reached at runner.david.freeze@gmail.com while on his journey.