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Long Road For a Short Cut

Mark Beaumont Mark Beaumont | 11:02 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009

The first couple of days back on the bike have been interesting. I have just finished cycling and pushing the bike over the 3886 foot (1184m) Hatchers Pass, a closed road from the Alaskan town of Willow to Palmer. The legs feel pretty tight as they have been climbing for three weeks and lost a lot of their pedal power!

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Summit Lake at Hatcher Pass (3886ft) after pushing the bike for the last three miles

Day one started very late after a lot of last minute sorting and so finished late into the evening. Not a problem as we have almost 24 hour sunlight in Alaska but less kind to recovering legs. The plan was to take it really easy for the first few days to avoid injury but... a local man called Jim suggested, in the sort of way to suggest I was a big wimp if I didn't, that the old road to Palmer was far more interesting and not to be missed.

So rather than taking the busy highway I soon found myself on a dirt track over Hatcher Pass which mainly accesses 'Lucky Shot Gold Mine'. The final part of the road was shut, as they had heavy snow last week (in June!) so I walked around the gate and carried on. What had been smooth gravel was now unridable so I had to push the bike for the final miles up the switchbacks, past deep snowdrifts (and an awesome lake) to the pass.

The far side was equally loose and even steeper so I sat on the brakes for a very cold descent until I finally found tarmac. Putting on all the clothes I had I screamed the final 21 miles to Palmer where I feel I have just eaten my own bodyweight for diner.

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The tarmac runs out as I follow Willow Creek through gold mine country - Hatcher Pass is on the horizon

If I was to try and cycle to Argentina at that pace it might take a couple of years at least and so my off-road, gold-country adventures might be limited, but it was an awesome day and my legs are whimpering in aggreement. If all goes well I will be in Canada in a week's time.

Thanks for all the great comments (and the few not so great ones, which you are equally justified to make!) Keep up the support as it is really appreciated.

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