I encountered a group of eleven young cyclists and several leaders on a semi-self-supported tour of the Denali Highway, which is almost entirely dirt road. They carried their own tools and clothing for the day; at night they camped and cooked and told ghost stories. The group from Cordova has done rafting trips and hiking trips and at least one other cycling trip, which sounds like an active troop. The three riders in the back were the oldest, and carried tools in the event of a mechanical that one of the younger riders couldn’t handle. Apparently, there is an official Boy Scout merit badge for bicycling and bicycle maintenance which they were unable to show me as it was sewn to their uniforms at home. While I was whittling balsa wood cars and wind-up “rockets”, I could have been riding a bike? I never made it past cub scout status.
Their plan was to ride three twenty-five mile days, and then one big fifty-miler on the final day which will take them the complete length of the 135-mile Denali Highway. I met them as they had just descended from Maclaren Pass at 4086 ft, which put smiles to their faces. I laid my bike down on the gravel shoulder and one rider remarked, “I’m surprised a bike like that doesn’t have a kickstand?”. For what it weighs, I am too. As I pedaled away, they wished me luck for the big climb ahead. Thanks guys. Merit badge: earned.
If only I had something like that to show for all my pedaling.