At the end of May, 1996, I started this adventure at the northernmost point in North America that one can ride on a paved roadway: 44 Mile Steese Highway, Alaska (about 45 miles Northeast of Fairbanks). I rode my bicycle solo and self-contained (carrying all my gear on the bicycle) to Fairbanks where my friend Nelson and I departed on May 31 down the Richardson Highway toward Delta Junction, 100 miles away. We arrived in Delta Junction on June 1. Delta Junction is the official staring point for the Alaska Highway (sometimes called the "AlCan") and we rendezvoused there with a bicycle tour which was heading down the Alaska Highway the following day.
On June 2, nine of us departed on our bicycles from Delta Junction as part of a group tour operated by CYCLEVENTS, a Jackson, Wyoming commercial tour operator, expecting to reach the end of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek on June 24. With us were two Cyclevents personnel who alternated between riding with us and driving their sag van.
I've driven the Alaska Highway several times and I've flown my helicopter the entire length of it. There are some pretty rough segments and services are few and far between. When I first contemplated riding my bicycle from Alaska, I was particularly concerned about riding by myself down the Alaska Highway. By starting out with a group, fully supported (food and sag van service for 22 days), I felt the ride would be more enjoyable. Like the others, I found out about this Cyclevents ride on the World Wide Web. We all had a great time.
At the southern terminus of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, I said goodbye to the others (who headed home), took a couple of days off, then continued solo and self-contained across to Grand Prairie, Alberta and south into the Canadian Rockies on the newly constructed Big Horn Highway to Grand Cache and Hinton, Alberta, where I headed west on the Yellowhead highway to Jasper National Park. After a couple of days off in Jasper, Alberta, I rode through the mountains on the beautiful Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise and Banff. From there I backtracked to the Kootenay Parkway and headed west into Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, down the Columbia River Valley and back across the Canadian Rockies to the Canada-US border at Del Bonita, Montana. From Cut Bank, Montana to Watersmeet, Michigan, I rode across US-2, the northern transcontinental road known as "the High Line." Then I rode down to Manitowoc, Wisconsin where I took the Lake Michigan Car Ferry across Lake Michigan to Ludington, Michigan. After 69 days of bicycling, I arrived home in Williamston, Michigan on August 15, 1996, having ridden 4,321 miles.
I took a few weeks off to see my family, rest up, catch up on chores around the house, update some of my equipment and wait for the hot weather in the deep south to dissipate a bit. On October, 6, 1996, my friend Ritt and I headed south toward Key West, Florida from Williamston, Michigan. Because the days were short, we elected initially to forego our tents and sleeping bags. We rode on secondary and older US highways that paralleled Interstate 75 south to Georgia (we were not permitted to ride on the expressways) parting company north of Atlanta. I continued solo from there to Key West, arriving at the southernmost point in the Continental United States on November 4, 1996, 6,011 miles and 98 days from my starting point on the Steese Highway in Alaska.
I rode a Cannondale T-700 aluminum touring bike. Along with my camping gear, tools and clothing, in panniers on my bicycle, I carried a Macintosh PowerBook 5300c laptop computer, a Global Village Platinum PC Card modem, an altimeter, a cellular phone, a microcassette recorder and a Casio QV-30 digital camera.
Here is my route:
I tried faithfully to upload reports and digital photos to the website from my campsite every night, but there were countless obstacles: no telephone access, no power, digital phone systems, "dirty" telephone lines, inconsistent power sources, expensive satellite phones, busy signals, no public access, exhaustion, hunger, etc.). Despite all the communication difficulties, I managed to upload over 1,000 photos and about 600 pages of commentary.
There are links to my sponsors' websites, a link to my report on the 1996 DALMAC bicycle tour put on by the Tri-County Bicycle Association, and I've been continually updating the website to furnish links to historical and geographical information, maps, poetry, prose, and other interesting websites.
© Ed Noonan 1996-2002