Prenty Aunts
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September 9th, 2014

What happened…

AndreAndrew writes: I woke up feeling so great today! I was getting back out on my bike after what seemed like forever (3 weeks!?), I was getting back on the road with my loving wife and best-friend Amanda, and we had the added bonus of getting to ride with Junyoung (Jojo) for the next week.

After a hearty breakfast, and some hurried re-packing, we were all ready to get cracking at about 9:30am. Not bad, not bad! I gave Aunty Janet a squeeze and thanked her for all she had done for us over the last two weeks and then we were out the door!

We set off down the Alaska Highway heading east, and after a short-while we saw a man standing on the side of the road. I was a little confused when as I rode by he patted me on the back and said something to the effect of, “Good luck Andrew!”. It turns out that this was Bern, the brother of a friend of Jojo. We spent a minute saying hi and bye, and then zoomed off into the blazing sunshine. The temperature never got too high, but it was nice to cycle all day long in the sun.

It was interesting to see how Junyoung had matured as a cycle-tourer. When we first met, and rode together, in April, we biked from Vancouver to Calgary. At the time, it seemed like I was the teacher, and Junyoung an apprentice rider. He was unsure about many things, and ill-equipped for the weather conditions. After Calgary, he continued east across the country to Montreal and New York. Then with $500 in his pocket, he caught a ferry up to Anchorage, and that’s how he ended up in Whitehorse to ride with us. His plan is to ride to Dawson Creek, BC, and then find work in Kamloops or Vancouver. So, as I said, it’s interesting to see how things have changed, and how they have stayed the same.

At first glance, he is ridiculously under-equipped for riding in the challenging weather conditions presented here in the Great White North, during what is fall turning to winter, and not the summer that many would expect at this time of year. His typical riding attire consists of blue-jeans and a knit sweater. He has a jacket that he can put over top, but I don’t think it is waterproof. His combat boots are only laced up halfway. He cycles now without a helmet, and says that he absolutely can not ride unless he has music to listen to, and sing along to. Yet here he is, defying all odds, riding along with a smile on his face, and meeting every challenge earnestly. He has really learned to stretch out his budget, and to make the most of roadside benefactors and philanthropists. I asked Amanda if she could see herself cycling around the world in this manner. Her response was ‘No’. What would yours be?

Yet I digress. We had planned to cycle about 100km from Whitehorse to Squanga Lake. We stopped for lunch around 1pm, and got to watch a helicopter loading supplies for a mining camp out in the bush somewhere. Junyoung spent lunchtime lying down, soaking in the sun. Then about an hour later, he announced that he wanted to stop for lunch. Amanda and I told him we would keep riding, and see him at the campground. A short while later he caught up with us, saying that he had a quick snack instead of a full-lunch. So there was a VERY hungry, quite exhausted Korean when we finally reached the campground at 7pm. He just lay on the floor in the camp shelter for awhile, talking into his iPod (recording his thoughts for his blog) and then he built a nice campfire for us all the enjoy.

We all ate dinner together, and spent some time watching the full moon come up over the lake, and then fell asleep under a clear, starry sky, hoping to see the Aurora Borealis. Instead, I was woken up around 2am by Amanda who was a little frantic at the billowing smoke inside the camp shelter. Junyoung had left some wood on top of the camp stove and it had caught fire. I quickly grabbed some gloves and removed the smouldering logs. Crisis averted. No Northern Lights.

Amanda writes: I was really glad to be back on the bike and as a bonus, Jojo was riding with us. I was quickly reminded how slowly I ride. I’m much slower than the guys and always feel poorly about slowing them down. We set out to ride over 100 KM today right from the start. After about 70K Andrew declared that he didn’t think we should keep going and he was quite tired. I really didn’t know how to respond. I know we didn’t want to be pushing too hard and that we were not in a rush, but somehow I had just finished a week of 100K days and I just felt like we were quitting. I know in reality that is not the case and it would have been perfectly fine to stop, but somehow I realized how much different it is to ride with others.

It made me think about marathon running. When you train and run a marathon it’s your body and your mind playing games with each other, and when your mind wins; you rock it! I’ve been told that marathon running as with many sports is 90% mental and 10% physical. So when I was riding from Dawson to Whitehorse I only had to battle myself and I won; 100K days were never an issue. I set out to do them and did them. So when you throw in other opinions it makes it extra challenging. At first when Andrew said he thought we should consider a shorter day I was disappointed. Then after he planted the seed and it entered my mind, my body followed suit. We made it to our goal, but it was extra hard because of the idea that we would go less.

In the end it was a glorious ride with good company and the warm hut over our heads was wonderful. At the same time it was a good reminder for me how different it would be to ride with other people. Not just Andrew, but Jojo too. We didn’t spend a lot of time riding close to each other today, but I certainly hope we do in the coming days.

Today’s Photographs

Prenty Aunts
Off the Grid