I left Prince Rupert the moment the sun came out and rode 95miles to Terrace. Suddenly, my whole mind-set changed as I rode through gorgeous scenery on a good road with a wide shoulder and few cars. This is what’s it’s all about I thought as I left the rain behind, at least for a day.
In Terrace I had a Warmshowers host who said that they would be on vacation but she told me to find the hidden key and stay as long as I’d like! Crazy, right! This was a life saver for me. I washed clothes, cooked food, slept late and escaped two days of lightening and thunder storms. But that’s just the start…at the same time, I found out from two Seattle friends that there had been three murders (an Aussie and US couple and a man from Dease Lake – a town I would ride through in 3 days) and two missing youth on the exact same highway that I was about to start riding up the next day!
Everyone told me that this has never before happened in British Columbia. All of a sudden the bear threat slide down a notch and serial killer rose to first place. No worries, I registered with the police then took off on a side route to Nass Camp that would link up to Highway 37 – the Cassiar Highway.
Another fantastic ride! The plan was to camp here and then ride Cranberry Junction to 37 the next day. The problem is that the weather begins to change and huge rain clouds move in. The campground looks completely destroyed from the previous two nights of windstorms and there is no one around. To further freak me out, I hear from locals that Cranberry Junction, which is just an old logging road, is impassible by car because of all the fallen trees and branches and if I ride, I’ll be the only one there. Oh hell no! In my head, this is where the killer has escaped to. Now, I’m super creeped out and just want to be back in that warm, safe, cozy Warmshowers house back in Terrace.
Just when I start to panic, a single woman drives up with her dog in a small car and a canoe and a huge storage rack on top of the car. She comes over and says she’s also creeped out. I tell her we have a warm house in Terrace if we can rig my bike on top of her car. Just then a fellow drives up and the three of us go to work to make this happen. Success! We finally make it back at 10:30 pm exhausted!
Now, word on the street is that the two missing teens are actually the killers! There are lots of rumors and speculation, but I say screw it and head out anyway. I have to get north and the clock is ticking.
As soon as I start riding again my fears almost completely evaporate. Over the next seven days I bike everyday anywhere from 5 to 7 hours a day ( which translates to 50-70 or so miles a day give or take) completely by myself with the occasional passing car. I try to camp around people but the days are mine!
Until about day four on the Cassiar, I had not run into a single bike tourer and then I started to see one or two people a day heading south. So far, six weeks into my trip, I still haven’t found a single person riding north. I guess the universe wants me to do this along. We’ll see!
Biker from France with his DIY bear horn
People and connections
At the end of the day, it’s the people you meet that really make the trip. We are wired for connection and that becomes clear when you are on your own. Someone everyday has helped me out, motivated me or inspired me with their kindness. In fact, that’s the only reason that I am here. Everyone has been concerned for my safety if not because of murders on the loose or threatening bears then just plain old incessant rain. It really does take a village.
The Alaska Highway
And so, the killers escaped to Manitoba, and I made it to Watson Lake and the Alaska Highway.
I’m now in Whitehorse gearing up for the second and more remote part of my trip, the 450 mile Dempster Highway. Heading up to Dawson City tomorrow where I will get my head around this ride before taking off either alone or accompanied by another biker on the 10th of August.
En Fin (Finally)
I have been so hungry at times that roadkill starts to look good. I’ve been so sweaty and stinky that I couldn’t sleep because of my own stench. I have had whole conversations with myself out loud in Spanish with just the bears as my witness, and I’ve cried for miles on end for what might have been but never was. And yet, I wouldn’t trade a single moment of this glorious ride for all the gold in Dawson City. I call this “cycle therapy.”