Pushing Miles: Denali National Park Peek-a-boo tour

I have decided to share my first tour ever. I won’t say it was a bad tour, but I will say I should have planned it out a little better (or maybe realized what touring was about).

Day 1:

I left my house around 9am. This was my first tour. I didn’t know what I was in store for. In fact, I didn’t realize this was going to be my first encounter with the touring bug which would soon take me across the country.

I felt out of shape and uncomfortable on my bike. This was my first bike ride of the season and it was slow. Averaging 11 miles per hour and pushing for 10 hours were testing on my mind and ass (little did I know touring wasn’t about speed nor distance, but mental peace… of which, I had none).

About to enter Nenana

About to enter Nenana

The day took me through the hills along the parks HWY outside of Fairbanks for 65 miles before I crossed the Tanana River and passed through the small town of Nenana.

The road stretched on for another 30 miles… straight and smooth. The miles seemed to crawl by slower than I could ever imagine. I past the Clear-Anderson turn-off, and continued my way to Healy.

Once in Healy I knew I only had about 15 miles before the campground I was going to stay at… I stopped here to eat a very late lunch. It was practically the first time I got off the bike since leaving Fairbanks. I was very hungry and fatigued.

I felt like I didn't have time to take real photos... Fail

I felt like I didn’t have time to take real photos… Fail

Those final miles to my campground were the slowest of the day and the most tiring… and the campground was closed. However, I noticed an RV in one of the sites and decided to camp there anyways. I pulled out my bivy and rolled it out with my sleeping bad near the picnic table.

I ate dry MRE’s for dinner that night.

Day 2:

My bike in the morning

My bike in the morning – I don’t know why I bothered to lock it to that willow tree

I woke up really early cold and wet from sweat in the bivy. I was sore from the day before and didn’t think I was going to make it back to Fairbanks that day… I actually didn’t even plan too.

I got out of my bivy sack and ate more dry MRE. It was hard to tolerate after eating dry food for the last two days. I filled up my water bottles at the campground hut before setting off in the direction I came from the day before.

Snapped this on the way back (missed it the day before)

Snapped this on the way back (missed it the day before)

It was surprising, but the bike was moving very fast! I didn’t really understand it (I later learned it was a false flat and actually a downhill). I flew past Clear-Anderson and seemed to make it to Nenana in no time at all. It was satisfying.

I went into the Nenana gas station to buy some food and ended up buying a hot dog (and being asked out by a local girl who saw me biking the day before). I ate it outside near my bike and contemplated continuing to Fairbanks. I decided to (mistake).

The last 65 miles of miles were disastrous. The sun was beating down on me as I sucked down my water in the first 40 miles. I had the last 15 miles of hills with out water… thank goodness it was mostly downhill.

So exhausted and dehydrated

So exhausted and dehydrated

I made it home very thirsty and very hungry, but had no complaints.

….

9 things I’ll never forget….

 1. Never expect to eat dry food for an entire tour!

 2. Don’t race; slow down and enjoy it!

 3. Touring isn’t an endurance event either; miles don’t matter!

 4. Take breaks all the time!

 5. Enjoy yourself!

 6. If you think you should take an extra day; do it!

 7. Touring isn’t supposed to be tiring!

 8. Touring is supposed to be energizing!

 9. Always make sure you have enough water…

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4 responses to “Pushing Miles: Denali National Park Peek-a-boo tour

  1. Thanks for sharing your adventure. What you learned are some of the things I need to relearn each time I tour. Slowing down is certainly one of the keys. Have fun and keep writing.

    • I must admit it is fun to get some big miles in a day, but it’s true lots can be missed. Some of my favorite days during my cross country tour were the ones where the headwind was slowing me to a crawl, and all I could do to take my mind off it was enjoy the beauty all around me. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Keep sharing, it does take a few days to get into the rhythm of a tour, for sure.

    • I can’t agree with you more. When I was on my 4,000 mile tour the first 3 days were not good; I’ve heard the first 50 miles of a tour are the hardest, but I think it took us around 150 miles to get in the swing of things… It turned out that a week into our trip it felt like a suitable lifestyle.

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