I’ll be long gone

Trying and trying to leave town, although I’ve put off making fenders and wiring my rear light for several days while I tend the lists I’ve scribbled onto the back of receipts and napkins.  Planning to be on the road for several months, a few extra days of preparation and planning will help to ensure a reliable bicycle and a smooth trip.  I’m planning to ride the Denali Park Road and the Denali Highway on my way out of the state.  The Park Road is a 90 mile dirt road into the heart of the park to the settlement of Kantishna.  Private motor vehicle traffic is extremely limited as most visitors are required to travel in Aramark-operated school buses, which reduce traffic volume to several dozen vehicles a day on the only road in the park.  The unpaved park road offers some of the best dirt road riding and scenery in the entire state, and free wilderness camping permits are issued to hikers and cyclists, who are required to hide their bikes from view of the road and make camp a short walk further.  It’s a highly regulated system, but it effectively preserves and simulates the kind of wilderness experience most visitors expect.

The Denali Highway, not to be confused with the Denali Park Road, is a 135 mile connector between the Parks Highway at Cantwell and the Richardson Highway in Paxson.  Most of the surrounding land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, including several official campgrounds, which makes this another favorite Alaskan ride.  Before the (George) Parks Highway was built in 1971, the Denali Highway was the main automobile route to Mt McKinley National Park (since renamed Denali).  The Denali Highway was built as recently as 1957.

I have a short shopping list including a 1L drink bottle for my fuel, some scrap metal to complete a custom taillight bracket, and bear spray.  I’ve made a 4″ wide rear fender out of an $8 piece of aluminum from Lowe’s, some coruplast signage promoting Joe Miller’s Senate bid in 2010, and salvaged stays from a Planet Bike fender and an old chrome balloon tire fender.  In short supply of the proper tools, I managed to piece the whole thing together with the leather punch on my Swiss Army knife and a Park multitool.  The front fender will make for some conversation, as it features Joe Miller’s campaign slogan in four-inch tall lettering. It’s nice to have lights and fenders again.  The bike is finished, finally.  It’s ugly, and purple and excessively practical, but it’s done.

By now, I’m gone.

Boz Scagg’s song “I’ll Be Long Gone” is a classic from his eponymous 1969 Atlantic release.  The album was recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL with the usual cast of Swampers, and features Duane Allman on guitar.  Check out the guitar solo on “Loan Me a Dime”, from the same album.

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10 thoughts on “I’ll be long gone

    • E3Pro. My other lights are on the High Sierra in Tacoma. Lael’s light broke at the plastic mount, so the aluminum housing of the E3 is the answer to that problem. Lights and fenders– can’t live without them.

  1. Great blog and great job pedaling all over the place! The touring lifestyle is the greatest lifestyle I’ve yet encountered! I’m sure AK is beautiful this time of year. Now that you’ve got the bike all rigged up, best of luck with your travels. By the way, who’s beautiful Brooks is that, it’s on a green bike not your purple beast?

    • The Brooks is on Lael’s LHT, which will remain in Anchorage as she travels to Europe. She will be in England for a yoga teacher training, and will then be traveling in France and Corsica. In England and in Corsica she will be riding borrowed bikes, which simplifies her travel plans immensely. Hopefully, the loaner bikes are at least rideable (thankfully, she has a relatively low standard of what constitutes a rideable bike).

      My first few days and nights outside remind me how much I enjoy the cycling life. Thanks for reading.

  2. Love the way that bike is looking Nick! Are those the big apples? There has been quite a few tire combinations on that thing lately. Glad to see your dotting the eyes before you leave, like you said, out makes for a smooth trip. Cant wait to meet up colorado

    • Good eye Sean. Those are 26 x 2.35 Schwalbe Big Apples, which I trade with Bike wRider (the Surly Man) for the Maxxis Holy Rollers. The Holy Rollers suit his needs better, and the Big Apples are better suited to most of the paved riding I will be doing this next month. At times, I miss the fat tires.

      The bike is riding great, and the whole packing system is very familiar as it is much like the High Sierra. The full-framebag is, gladly and sadly, full of electronics. I’m happy to have a real camera and a full keyboard, but including chargers and external hard drives, it’s a bit of an electronic brick. It’s hard to appreciate the weight when I’m riding trails and climbing hills. However, I’ve outgrown the iPod touch for now (which I still carry for convenience), and the netbook and camera have become necessary tools.

      Also, look up the listed weight of a Large Marge DH rim, as is built into my rear wheel. It will make your knees hurt.

      • Dayuuum! 1150g of just rim? That sounds pretty heavy my friend. My condolences to your knees. Anyways, I have been mildly planning things for my part of the DIA to CT. Looks like after I land at 11am, I got about 60ish miles until I hit the trail in tiny town. Its funny actually, I use to build log cabins in tiny town colorado back in 2002. Its been a while. I don’t really know why I am talking about all of this right now, Might have to do with the Vitamin R I have been consuming. Anyways, Godspeed! You black emperor! And happy trails. I’ll Talk to you soon

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