Over the Taylor and the Top Of The World Highway I cycle to Dawson City in Canada. Other than most roads, this one does not follow a valley but rather a mountain ridge. This means there are plenty of climbs but more importantly there are always great views of the wide valleys around.
Dawson City was the center of the Klondike gold rush in the Yukon. At the end of the 19th century, 30.000 people made the exhausting journey up here to find their luck. People are still digging for gold here, along the smaller streams I often meet such folks. The town itself looks as I that all had happened only just yesterday, complete with dusty street, wooden side walks, steam paddleboat and gambling hall.
It is 530km to the next town. Not a very interesting section. I mostly ride over rolling hills where I hardly every see out of the woods. Since Dawson it is really hot. I was counting on many things, but never that heat. In the afternoon we regularly get 28º and I am almost glad about the heat thunder storms that medals occur in the afternoon.
When I reach Whitehorse they are just starting in the opposite direction for the Yukon Quest, the longest paddle race, following 750km on the Yukon.
After Whitehorse I add a little extra loop. I ride down to Skagway on the coast in Alaska. At first I regret my decision. The head wind that I face almost drives me insane. But the scenery is so spectacular that I can almost forget that.
I ride over the White Pass. At first along beautiful lakes and then over a rocky, alpine high plateau dotted with countless little and bigger lakes between all the granite boulders. In the background are glacier covered mountains until the road drops down to the coast.
By ferry I get to Haines. From here, now finally with tail wind, I climb back up to the high plateau. I pass one of the biggest eagle reserve and soon I can actually see some of those animals right next to the road. Haines Highway, on which I am now riding is certainly the most scenic road that I have travelled in the Yukon. On the western side is Kluane park and within that park lies Mt. Logan, Canadas highest mountain and the largest non-polar ice field. Of course I only get to see a tiny glimpse from the highway. But even that is already spectacular. So for two days I ride along countless mountains and between them every now and then a glacier comes down into the valley.
For some days I follow Alaska Highway Richtung east to Watson Lake. The biggest attraction here (apart from the supermarket) is the signpost forest. In 1942 someone put the first sign up next to the tourist information and today there are over 77.000 from all over the world.
After Watson Lake I turn onto the Cassiar Highway. It is 725km long and there are only 2 roadhouses along the way, so one more time I have to carry lots of food.
The route is everything a touring cyclist could ask for: little traffic, beautiful, changing scenery with lots of lakes and snow covered mountains, almost daily I can see bears and when I am tired in the evening I never have to search longer then 5 minutes to find a nice spot next to a lake or river.
I make one last detour to Alaska. The road to Hyder ist spectacular because of the glaciers coming down almost all the way to the road.
After the Cassiar Highway there are now for the first time farms along the road. The first cow that I see, I actually take for a Grizzly bear at first, so much am I used to their sight by now. Something else is back too: the night. Better said the darkness. Since a couple of days it is now again dark at night for a couple of hours.
Some days ago I heard from other cyclists and now I find the bicycle with the sign ‚cyclists welcome‘ next to the road.
John has a little cabin here that he lets passing touring cyclists use. It is the perfect oasis with everything a cyclist would need: washing machine, shower, bed, even WiFi.It is almost to good to be true. I don’t have to think twice. I could really need a break.
In the area of Prince George there is a lot of mining going on and because of that there are lots of logging trucks on the road. At least there is always a good smell in the air with all the freshly cut wood.
After town it is very quiet on the road. At Mt. Robson I meet the Canadian Rockies for the first time. The first sight of the mountain when I come around the curve truly takes my breath away.
I the following days I ride across the national parks of Jasper and Banff on the Icefields Parkway. 300km of postcard-Canada. Mountains, glaciers and lakes in all their glory and behind every corner even more impressive.
Of course there are also plenty of tourists. But the park is fortunately big enough to make up with all the campers and RV’s.
Cycling in highways across the USA was always something that I was not very exited about. What, if there was a route, following gravel roads, forestal roads and hiking trails always in the mountains, following the Rockies all the way to the south? What if…
Just such a route actually exists, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR). From Canada all across the USA down to Mexico always along the continental divide. When I heard the first time about this route, I knew immediately: I have to ride that one, and it is one of the main reasons I am now here in North America.
Well, here I am, ahead of my lies the worlds longest Mountain Bike route, 4000km of mostly gravel roads all across the USA, halleluja!
After Banff the GDMBR starts, for the first days in Canada still.
But at first I have to adjust to a different rhythm. In the past two month I cycled huge distances. Days were long and the road good and so I almost got 6000km in that time.
When I leave Banff I change down gears in the very sense of the word. On the rough gravel roads that I travel now, where I almost daily climb 1-2 steep passes distances get much shorter.