Northern Alaska/Dalton Highway to Lower 48 tour

Hey folks,
In 2015, I will be unicycling the Dalton Highway from Deadhorse to Fairbanks, Alaska and then continuing to the Lower 48. Most probably I’ll end up in Montana (or go further…maybe). The total distance is about 4300km.

I returned to unicycling 2 months ago after a 5 year gap. The last time I rode, some of the less recent members on these forums may remember, I rode 5700km across Australia (3 Oceans Unicycle Tour: Across Australia)

The Dalton Highway, the crux of the ride, has been unicycled before by Mike Welch in 2008. It was an epic trip ( Alaska 2008: The Dalton Highway Write-Up (Long) ). The Dalton is basically 800km of mostly gravel road from Deadhorse to Fairbanks with very few truckers stops to load up on food. The trucks can whip rocks onto you as they pass. There are bears and it can snow in the middle of summer. While taking nothing away from Mike (in my opinion this is the gnarliest off road tour ever), he did take a few lifts along the way. I don’t plan of taking rides. That’s what I say now, of course :slight_smile: . He rode a 24". I’m on a 36". He did the ride in spring. I’ll be doing it in in summer. Our planning and prep are different too. We have our differences in trip style but its good to know that someone else has been there on a unicycle.

In terms of the unicycle, I’ll be riding the same cycle I rode in 2009–an ungeared KH 36" with the KH handlebar. I’ll only be changing the tyre. The current Nightrider tyre has about 10,000km on it and it looks pretty good. The cranks are moments (150/125). I am considering the 160s/137. Not sure yet.

You can follow the ride at
I’ll post a few updates here too.
Sid Ǿ.

That sounds like so much fun!!!

That will truly be an epic ride, and I look forward to seeing you post your progress. Good luck!

Sounds like a crazy and great ride. Good Luck.

An update on how the preparation is progressing…I did a training ride from Haines, AK to Skagway, AK via Canada (i.e. Haines Junction, Whitehorse). I was pressed for time, so there was no rest day. Rode 585km in 8 days with the last day into Skagway being the longest (106km).

A small writeup:
25th May, Day 1: Ferry leaves 45mins late at 0745. Reached Haines at 1130. Took a while to repack my stuff once I got off the ship. Started riding at 1250. It was clear from the start that with all the gear on my back, I would be struggling with saddle soreness. It was easier to mount and ride than I thought. Made great speed the first 2 hours. Reached 33 Mile Roadhouse at 1730. Got some fries and a beer. Because I got that, they allowed me to camp for free on the disc golf course. I did that. 59km cycled today (most I’ve done since 2009).

26th May, Day 2: Up by 0600. Left at 0825. Got the 7 miles to the border done quickly. Was hoping for a break at the border but I was done in 30 secs. When I asked the lady why, she said that I had a visa, so no problem. She also said that the next 20km was hilly (ascending), which I knew, and that since it was spring, the bears were out in large numbers and were hungry.This part of the Yukon also has the highest density of grizzlies. I had to ride the next 20km uphill with 1070m of vertical ascent. It took 2.5 hours. UPD’d once. I made camp at 1600 at the 130km Marker (markers are now in km and not miles). It was a bit windy but ok. 69km cycled today.

27th May, Day 3: Rained during the night but stopped when it was time to wake up. Began riding at 0820. To combat the saddle soreness, I am now wearing both my cycling shorts. Lunch at 12 noon. I wanted to ride to the 210km Marker to make it an easy day tomorrow but stopped at 195, as there was an established campsite at Dezadeash Lake (with other people). 65km ridden today.

28th May, Day 4: Left at 0700. Coldish morning but then it heated up. Took a coffee break 14km from Haines Junction. Reached at 12 noon. The left ankle began to hurt early this morning. The tendon now creaks and is a bit swollen. 53km today.

29th May, Day 5: Left at 0730. Ankle still hurting. Assuming that maybe my saddle is too high, so I lower it. This means more saddle soreness and more stress on the knees. I stop at Otter Falls Roadhouse for a Coke after 32km. Had a hot chocolate break after 62km. Harder to find water today. So, before camp I filled up all my water containers. I stopped at a rest area after 91km at 1700, and camped 50m off the road.

30th May, Day 6: Left at 0800. Began to rain. Got wet. Made it to Whitehorse by 1300. Ankle is properly swollen. Don’t think its the saddle height. Other ankle making noises too. 68km today.

31st May, Day 7: Left at 0730. Both ankles are painful. Cut the ankle part of my shoes off with my knife. I think now that the ankle portion of the shoe is rubbing against the ankle and that is inflaming the tendons. I make the turn onto the Kondike Highway. Made it to Carcross (originally Caribou Crossing) by 1500. 74km today.

1st June, Day 8: Left at 0715. I can make the 106 to Skagway in 1.5 days, as my ferry the next day is at 3pm. But one day is better… Started the day with 2 bad ankles. 20km later, the left knee chimed in. The terrain was undulating. After 32 km, while mounting, I broke a spoke and I don’t have spares. I changed the cranks by 90 degrees to put stress on a different part of the wheel. I then used an allen key to splint the spoke (like one would do to a broken bone) and stuck it with duct tape (all psychological). I hoped for the best as I continued riding but expected the worst i.e. the whole wheel tacoing. Some bus stopped me an hour later. There was a bear on the side of the road. I got my bear spray out and made a lot of noise and rode past it. No fuss. The wind picked up and the terrain was very undulating.Was getting hungry around Km 82. So, stopped for soup. Then a few km later, the downhill began. Raced it. After 94km, I was at the US border. Was there for 40mins. At the 100km mark, my rigging cord got stuck in my cranks and I UPD’d. 6km later, I was done. Pizza and IPA.

In terms of my setup, I rode my KH 36" 2009 with 152mm cranks. I had a rear rack. I am going to add a front rack and a longer bar ends for the saddle soreness. I reckon with all the gear attached to the cycle, I will break more spokes.

Good part of the world to ride in though. Scenic!

Taken during the climb after the Canadian border.

Very cool, I would like to do a cross country trip at some point. I have a friend working over at Denali and another in Fairbanks so I will tell them to keep an eye out for you on your first step of the journey.

What an awesome idea. If I’m ever in Alaska again for vacation I’ll send you a PM :slight_smile:

I should have posted before I left but things were hectic. The ride began on Aug 9 in Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

In my previous post, I mentioned a broken spoke. I had been too busy to fix it and when I did (after having to order spokes since I had the wrong length), getting the tube and tire back on was hard and I killed my tubes. Had to have tubes delivered overnight. Then took it to a bike shop and the dude who I was told was the best in town, killed another tube. So, me and a friend finally got it done, 2 hours before my flight to Deadhorse.

So, when I began riding down the Dalton, I hadn’t ridden in more than 2 months. The first 20 miles, there was a ton of roadwork due to the flooding earlier in the season. It was thick mud and I tried to go fast without dismounting. It’s hard with 50pounds of gear but I did it. The first day was 40 miles.

As I got into camp on the first day, it began to rain and didn’t stop for over 48 hours. The next day I rode in the rain (sometimes snow) for another 40 miles. I was drenched. Day 3, I left camp only at midday because it was snowing the entire morning. I saw my first bear. I was so wet and cold that I stopped after 21 miles.

Finally, the sun came out on Day 4 and I smashed out 52 miles. Saw another bear. It was 54 miles on Day 5, including getting up and down Atigun Pass in a whiteout, with two cans of beer in my pack that a hunter had given me.

Day 6 was an easy 36 miles to Coldfoot, paved road all the way. I spent a day in Coldfoot resting.

Day 8, I left Coldfoot and did 50 miles. It was raining all day but the road was still paved. Day 9, was another 50 miler. The road’s back to gravel and mud. Day 10 was rainy again. The road was so slushy, that I had a hard time keeping my feet on the pedals. I was adjusting my feet every few pedal strokes. Pretty hard work. Only 20 miles that day. It wasn’t worth riding more.

Day 11 was 45 miles. Very hilly. I am tiring now and the legs just don’t work as well. Day 12 was 47 miles and it was the day I completed the Dalton Highway and got on the Elliot. It was still hilly and my legs were like jello.

Got into Fairbanks on Day 13. 800km in 13 days with 27000feet of ascent and descent.

Now, I continue down south into Canada.

I would post a better report but I don’t have a computer. Pics can be seen on my FB page ‘Zero Point Sid’. Thanks for all the support so far.

Awesome ride. It makes me want to go ride.

Woohooo!!!So inspirational!!!
I cant wait to retire!:smiley:

Awesome :slight_smile:

I can’t believe you ride so casually with Grizzlies. That alone makes me never ever want to do a ride like that.