Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My first century - 100 miles to Skagway

6:12 sunrise
22:00 sunset

Well, I made it to Skagway on my bike in one piece.  Granted, it took me 9 1/2 hours to get there, but it wasn't actually that bad with the possible exception of the last 13km before the pass (between Fraser, BC and the White Pass Summit).  That section was slightly uphill, super windy and on pink chip-seal.  And of course I was tired by then too so any little challenge seemed larger than usual.

I'm super bummed because I somehow deleted the ride from my Garmin before I was able to download it.  I wanted to see just how slowly I was moving in some sections and I wanted to see how fast I went on the descent into Skagway.  But no - it's gone, poof! into the ether.

For anyone considering the ride from Whitehorse to Skagway, here's how it breaks down:


The first 54km into Carcross are actually pretty boring.  There are some nice views but mostly I was annoyed by the rough road and the fact that I was moving pretty slowly.  It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes just to go this far.  I think, had I not known that the road would improve, I might have given up once I got to Carcross. 


When I arrived in Carcross I was met by Ben (lunch!) and my friend Carolyn who planned to ride with me for awhile.  After eating and resting for half an hour or so, I climbed back on my bike and Carolyn and I headed off down the Klondike Highway.

It was a beautiful day - and I mean jaw-droppingly beautiful.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was warm - at least 25C.  The road out of Carcross has some significant hills to climb but these were made more tolerable by the fact that everywhere I looked the views were just amazing.  I've driven the road many times but it's different when you see it from a bicycle.

Fireweed beside Tutshi Lake

After 50km or so, Carolyn decided that she would probably not accompany me into Skagway.  Having just returned from a year abroad, she had pulled her road bike out just for this excursion and her knees were bothering her.  I have no doubt that she could have made it all the way to Skagway if she had wanted to but she was happy to stop at Fraser (the border point for entering Canada) and catch a ride back.

When Carolyn left me, I had only 13km to go to the summit and another 23km down the pass into Skagway.  I was feeling pretty good!  And then..... the chip-seal made a return.  And the 13km are slightly uphill.  And it was windy.  So what did I do?  Of course I broke out the camera and took a variety of scenic photos including my bike.

This way to America!

I know that road doesn't look too bad but it was killing me.  But, I dropped into easy, easy gears and did my best to spin up to the summit.  At one point I looked down and saw I was going 9km/hour.  I can run faster than that. And I don't run very quickly.  So that gives you an idea of how this section was going.

About a kilometre or so from the summit, I looked up to see the Element and Ben driving towards me.  He had driven from Carcross to Skagway, did his own ride up and down the pass, and then came looking to meet me at the summit.  Apparently I was quite chipper when Ben rolled his window down.  I think it was because the road had *just* started to improve in quality again and I knew the descent was near.  Ben took this awesome shot as I crested the last of the hills.  Yay me!


Although it looks nice and sunny, the majority of the descent was already in shadows as it was almost 7pm Alaska time by now.  Ben layered me up with an extra shirt and jacket and doooooooooowwwwwn the hill I went!

Looking up to the White Pass summit from the Skagway side

I had to brake a lot on the way down.  I was cold and tired and I just didn't trust myself at 70+km/hour. It was kinda fun passing through US Customs and Immigration on a bike though. I wish I could have taken a photo with the border guard but photos aren't exactly encouraged in these kind of "official" places.

As the hill flattened out and I entered Skagway proper, I looked down at my GPS to check how far I had come. In order to cross the 100 mile/160km mark and be able to say that I completed my first century, I had to ride down to 1st and State Streets and then over to the marina.

Once again, Ben met me at the finish to help me get out of my riding clothes, get into a shower and of course, take my photo - complete with ridiculous helmet hair.  My full set of photos are on flickr.


I have to admit, I am surprised that the ride went as well as it did.  I'm not saying it was easy, but it wasn't brutally, brutally hard.  So I am stoked with that and with ticking another one of my Fit for 40 goals off my list! 

4 comments:

Maven said...

Woohooooo!
Those views are incredible. Are you sharing your goal list anywhere or is it one of those "private until complete" kind of things?

Maven said...

NEVER MIND! I worked my google fu and found the post where you shared them. Good on ya!

Jill Homer said...

Nice work! I always clocked the Skagway-Whitehorse segment of the Golden Circle at closer to 108 miles. I think that was ending at Sierra and Anthony's house, but still. Interesting that you only got 100.

And I agree that chipseal is heinous. And there's always a headwind going in that direction. As such, I'm impressed with your 9 kph average. Beautiful ride. I'm envious. Hope you're enjoying your summer.

Jenn R said...

Jill - my total distance was shorter than 108 miles because I started somewhat up the Alaska Highway. Nothing wrong with your gps :)