Day 11

8/11/95 - Friday
Route : Donnelly Creek Campground to Rika's Roadhouse
Lodging: Day use state park next to Rika's Roadhouse
Mileage: 39 miles


It was a wonderful ride today. I just tucked in behind my riding partner and we FLEW down the road. "The Bullet Train." He was the engine, and I the caboose. We had other riders with us for a while, but eventually we were far ahead, averaging 22-24 mph through a 7 mile stretch of small rolling hills and flat highway. A paceline of two. What a wonderful sensation. Of course when it was my turn to be the engine, our speed dropped about 18 mph. Later my neck and shoulder muscles rebelled at this increased time on the drops. I was quite sore.

It was partly sunny and eventually warmish, but my cycling gear still includes long black tights and wool socks. The clouds were low enough that we couldn't really see the mountain peaks except for teasing glimpses.

The Delta Junction visitor's center is a friendly modern visitor center welcoming all who come to the end of the Alcan Highway. There are a myriad of books on Alaska, Native Americans, Robert Service poetry, environmental tomes, gifts, maps, and even self-serve coffee and tea for the weary traveler. At the edge of the building I encountered Kurio, a very friendly McKinley huskey, a breed unfamiliar to me, but as the owner explained, Kurio was 1/2 wolf and 1/2 Newfoundland.

The shower facility coexists with the laundromat in Delta Junction - the showers were in the basement of the laundromat; the shower rooms each with a large changing area and huge shower stall meant for two people, with double shower heads...the ultimate in showering luxury.

En route to the camping area adjacent to Rika's Roadhouse, we stopped at a roadside veggie stand about 2 miles out, buying European cucumbers and tomatoes, to contribute to dinner, and some fireweed honey for my pack. (Which I never did taste, it ended up with someone else for the trip home.) The prices were only modestly more expensive than my local farmer's market in Palo Alto, CA.

The Tanana River is only place along the pipeline route where the pipeline is on a suspension bridge. Interesting.

It's so warm this afternoon, comparatively speaking, that immediately after riding, I changed into shorts and a t-shirt. Delightful! I hiked bit along the river. Soapberries and rose hips line the dirt roadside, collecting a fine layer of dust kicked up by passing sport vehicles. The wind is quite breezy...downright frisky, blowing "one hell of a tail wind" according to one rider, and the air is dusty. The afternoon wind picked up so much dust that the sky resembled a hot smoggy San Jose day. As someone commented, "we'll fly right by the next campground." I think we've run into a dry spell for a while and the Alaska transportation engineer who stopped to talk with us intimated that it has been dry in Fairbanks this summer.

Some of us stopped at the Roadhouse restaurant to have their homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie ala mode. Later we returned to purchase a whole freshly baked apple pie for our dessert in camp.

Tonight's sunset was a startling flat pink cloudless burst of color reflecting off of the Tanana River with a full moon moving into the sky.

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Copyright (c) Judith J. Colwell, 1995. All rights reserved.