Pedaling through fierce winds, from Point Hope to Utqiagvik


POINT LAY — We made it right here simply in time for Nalukataq — the spring whaling pageant. The village has been busy for days: first herding belugas, then searching, butchering and now sharing in an enormous feast.

Though the group does not get many fats-biking guests, we have been graciously welcomed and have eaten our fill. What a present to be right here for such an essential pageant. Dancing and drumming continues to be happening, however the blanket-toss blanket ripped.

Earlier than the summer time solstice, my companion Kim McNett, our two associates Daniel Countiss and Alayne Tetor and I flew from Anchorage to the Arctic village of Level Hope. Our aim was to fats-bike to the group of Utqiaġvik (previously generally known as Barrow), and past, if potential. Under are some journal entries in early July.

This Arctic journey from Level Hope to Utqiaġvik has been probably the most strenuous and rewarding of a life filled with fats-bike adventures. It started with a tremendous welcome in Level Hope by our good friend Ayagaaq-Joseph M. Gallahorn Sr., who offered us with wealthy Native meals for our journey and lots of good tales.

Kim McNett rushes through a narrow passage between the sea and the rock-strewn shoreline near Cape Beaufort. (Bjørn Olson)

Gusts to 60 mph

Once we lastly obtained underway, my coronary heart sank a bit as our tires floor to a crawl on the un-compacted seashore pebbles. Circumstances have been no higher on the tundra. “What if it by no means will get higher?” I secretly thought. It did get higher, nevertheless it by no means acquired straightforward.

Our subsequent huge problem was the storm that blew for days and almost shredded our shelters. We traversed the gorgeous and superb Lisburne Hills in what felt like a by no means-ceasing windstorm. Sixty-mph gusts would typically catch us off guard, and at numerous occasions, all of us have been totally thrown from and over our bikes. We have been, nevertheless, capable of journey a lot of the overland route and the wind typically boosted us up and over divides. A blessing and a curse. In contrast to some bike adventures we have had, the bikes are an precise asset.

Technical difficulties with an inexplicably draining battery in our InReach monitoring/texting system offered the subsequent gulp of uncertainty. We got here out of the hills east of Cape Lisburne, forty miles northeast of Level Hope alongside the Chukchi Beach, and the Air Pressure radar website of Wevok, some three miles west of Cape Lisburne. We knew our solely probability to recharge our lifeline was to detour to the station.

Once more, this determination carried with it a blessing. We have been welcomed into the Chilly Warfare-period station, fed and given a captivating tour by one of many 4 everlasting staff. From the crow’s nest we might see the water spouts and liquid…



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