This morning, on the way out of Fort Nelson, I stopped by the “All Sports” store and purchased a tire repair kit. Yesterday, I forgot it was on my list. Today is the first time in about three weeks that I have ridden the road bike (thin tires); gravel, road construction and steep hills were better handled with the mountain bike. It was kind of like getting off a tractor and getting in a little sports car. The road bike is much lighter, faster and more responsive; also more squirrelly. It felt good to be back on it. The terrain is now somewhat flat with biker friendly hills. Late this afternoon, I met Steve, a cyclist from Montreal. He left his home about four months ago and is now biking north to Whitehorse. From there he will bike to Skagway and take the Marine Ferry to Vancouver to meet a friend then bike on through California, Mexico and eventually through several countries in South America. He seems to be about 25; said he has two years to roam before he has to go to work. Even before I met up with Steve, Betty had seen him pedaling north as she was parking; she knew I would talk with him and was eager to get the details. We have noticed before, on long hikes or rides, that there is a curious bond with those attempting something similar. There is an immediate connection because all face many of the same challenges. Betty and I still feel connected (and stay in touch with) many of the hikers we met 13 years ago on the Appalachian Trail. It is a sense of camaraderie, not unlike that of the military.
The part of the Alaska Highway we are now on is mostly straight; it was “realigned” in 1992 during a major project spurred by the Highway’s 50th Anniversary. Previously, as the Alcan, this stretch, alone, had 132 curves. In 1942, the military surveyors laid out the most expedient route possible, avoiding lakes, rivers, frost heaves, etc. The original road prompted one GI to say, “Winding in and winding out; leaves my mind in serious doubt; as to whether the man who built this route; was going to hell or coming out.”