Bears, bikes and bug bites. Days 5 & 6

The days are blurring a bit now. I took a day off from cycling when we hit Talkeetna AK. My wonderful wife and I took a flight around Denali, the highest mountain in North America. It was magnificent beyond compare. The flight was spectacular, with the pilot taking the small plane within a few hundred feet of sheer cliff walls, and through towering spires, the wind bouncing and pushing us around. Scary and thrilling to say the least. We did a ski landing at base camp, and jumped out to gawk and grin like awkward kids. There truly are not words to describe the awe and wonder of this mountain. I’ll go to my grave with those images burned in my brain.

The next day was very cold on the bicycle. Cycling up the George Parks hiway brought more beautiful views of Denali, and a slow climb up Broad pass. The weather closed in after about seven hours in the saddle, and cold rain sapped my strength. This was to be my longest day at 110 miles, but my wife was there to gather me up 15 miles from the finish and keep me from possible hypothermia. We spent that evening in Cantwell, AK, a mere crossroads of the Denali and Parks hiways, watching rain pour from grey skies.

I started yesterday with every layer of cycling clothes I brought. Base layer shirt, jersey, winter jacket, rain cape. Trash bags over my wool socks, shoe covers over cycling shoes. It was 36 deg F at 7:00 AM when I began the day. Eight hours of spinning the pedals brought me through the heart of the Alaska Range. The skies cleared, the sun warmed me, and the road was remarkably clear of traffic. I passed through Denali National Park and out north the Alaska’s interior. I sit this morning in Nenana, AK, just 50 miles from Fairbanks, where I’ll ride another Tour de Cure before winging home to Colorado.

If you happen to be reading this because of an inherent interest in how someone does this while managing Type 1 diabetes, I’ll pass these tidbits along. They are more observation than wisdom. One, there is nothing more precious than a companion that loves and cares for you. The fact that she knows and understands my disease very well is more than I can ask for. Two, if you manage and practice your disease under load, under extreme conditions, it can become second nature. You know how to eat, you know when to bolus and when to skip (you skip a LOT), and to some degree you can forget about it. Or perhaps it’s better described as putting it aside to deal with more important issues, like the beauty of the ride.

Off to Fairbanks today. Time to treat this tired old body to some yoga and tea.

Wow! Beautiful post! I so envy your flight around Denali. All your days sound memorable. Congratulations on your cycling accomplishments.

I agree! Great story!

Sometimes I take for granted living in Alaska, and actually making my living travelling all over the waters within and surrounding it. I must admit I find a real sense of satisfaction hearing someone who hasn't seen it before describe it like you do.

I feel like I’m in a National Geographic documentary. It is awesome.