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Winter bicycle expedition “Expedition Alaska 2023”

Winter bicycle expedition “Expedition Alaska 2023”

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“The road is as important as the destination” and it was the winter ride on the famous Dalton Highway that was my main goal for the next bicycle trip.

After 10 years, I returned to North America and drove through my 26th US state. I drove across Alaska from south to north in winter conditions.

The route of the expedition led from the city of Anchorage, along the Parks Highway through Fairbanks, and further along the Dalton Highway to the settlement of Deadhorse in the north of the state.

It was my first strictly winter cycling trip during which the temperature only once reached a few lines above zero. I covered over 1,600 kilometers during all days of riding. The 1,506-kilometre stretch from Anchorage to Deadhorse took me 16 days with a one-day break in Fairbanks for a short recovery.

I made the way back from Deadhorse to Anchorage by plane, thanks to the help of airport employees.

The trip was very time-limited, so I couldn’t afford to cycle back from Deadhorse to Anchorage. After the town of Ushuaia in southern Argentina, which I reached during a six-month expedition through the Andes in 2019, the Deadhorse settlement in Alaska is my next “end of the world” and the final goal of the expedition.

Full list of equipment that accompanies me on my journey through Alaska – Alaska Equipment
Full report from the trip day to day – Report

It was not a high-altitude expedition, there is only one road pass on the Dalton Highway – the famous Atigun Pass with a height of 1444 meters above sea level in the Brooks Mountains.

On several sections of the route, however, there were many short and steep descents and ascents. For 3-4 days of riding, there was a real rollercoaster and a lot of tiring interval driving at a snail’s pace.

The most strenuous part of the trip was between Fairbanks and Yukon River Camp. The shortest daily distance I covered was just 72 kilometers, the longest was 120 kilometers. (109, 118, 110, 103, 120, 91, 107, 72, 93, 74, 82, 118, 110, 103, 96km).

The average daily driving distance was 100.4 kilometers. The average daily driving time was about 10-11 hours, and the traffic time was two hours more.

In addition to Atigun Pass, I covered two lower passes: Broad Pass at 645m on the Parks Highway and Snowshoe Pass, 707m between Fairbanks and Yukon River Camp near Wickersham Trailhead.

Instead of several thousand daily climbs up, it was a relatively flat route. Bearing in mind the winter conditions, snowfall, low temperatures, several layers of clothing, a heavy bicycle set, or increased resistance to driving on a snow and ice surface, the difficulty level of driving increased with each successive uphill stretch.

The elevation gain on the entire route was just over 10,000 meters up, and apart from the mountainous sections, there were also several days of driving on completely flat terrain.

After finishing the ride in Deadhorse, I was neither tired nor cold, my bike was functional and my motivation was high.

A few things surprised me on the trip and I was well prepared for most of them. Apart from the weather, which can be unpredictable, and the road on which I could have problems driving due to heavy snowfall and icing, it was just as I imagined it before the trip.

Were it not for time constraints or local prohibitions, I would gladly continue to Cape Oliktok, take the winter ice road to Barrow, or back to Fairbanks.

I am glad that just as I have not yet reached my altitude limits on a bike, I have not yet reached the limit of endurance of minimum temperatures on the expedition, both in terms of riding and camping.

In even greater frost, I will be happy to take up another challenge, perhaps somewhere in Asia … The winter trip was part of the preparations for my planned bicycle expedition through Antarctica to the South Pole.

During the trip, I could practice various schemes for camping, preparing meals, and fitting clothes for minus temperatures of varying intensity.

I will definitely make a few changes to the equipment before the next winter trip. It seems to me that a larger, two-person tent will work better in terms of reducing condensation.

More space in the tent also means greater comfort in spending time in it. I practiced setting up the tent in a strong wind. Holding the bedroom and installing the frame at the same time was not easy.

All the time I had to be careful not to let the whole tent fly away and quickly loaded it with the heaviest panniers.

Despite the 30-degree frost, I didn’t put on the warmest variant of clothes I had. I tested different versions of the garment at significant temperature differences.

I had the most problems while driving with fogging glasses and getting wet and freezing scarves, chimneys, and masks around the face.

Changing clothes, toileting the body, or satisfying basic physiological needs seem problematic in severe frosts. I’ve slept in the same clothes I’ve been driving all day.

I changed and washed in the warmest moment of the day, often using rooms and toilets in restaurants or gas stations, especially in the initial part of the trip.

When staying in low temperatures, you should protect yourself against hypothermia but also prevent it. At night, I tried not to cool down from the tent and not to expose myself to even a momentary chill.

The need for micturition was done in a bottle without even leaving the sleeping bag. Undressing, changing and dressing in severe frost takes longer than usual, and the body cools down very quickly.

During my every trip, I went well prepared for the conditions along the route. Based on my own experience, I optimally selected the equipment and clothing and prepared the bike for this particular trip.

There were a few minor shortcomings during the trip, but they did not significantly affect the course of the trip.

I think I was pretty lucky with the weather. I expected more frost, stronger winds, stronger precipitation, and snowstorms or worse road conditions that make grip and cycling difficult. Before leaving, I assumed more difficult conditions than they were during the expedition to Alaska.

I had temperatures below -30°C only twice, several times the temperature dropped below -25°C, most often the temperature during the day and at night oscillated around a dozen or so degrees below zero.

Driving from south to north of the state, where it is warmest, during the journey I have adapted to the colder and colder conditions. The difference between the starting point of the trip in Anchorage and the finish line in Deadhorse was over 20 degrees Celsius difference.

Had it not been for the short day, I would have made a similar trip a few weeks earlier.

For a short day, I tried to get up and go before sunrise and over an hour after sunset. Mobile network coverage is only around the Yukon River Camp, Coldfoot, and near several pipeline oil pumping stations.

Cycling in the presence of multi-ton trucks is everyday life on the Dalton Road expedition. I did not expect so much interest on the part of the drivers and constant willingness to help on their part. As soon as I stopped for a short rest, drivers (including trucks) would stop and ask if I was ok.

Truck drivers and pipeline security guards warned each other via radio and gave each other my current position for my and their safety. Truckers were very understanding to me.

They avoided me wide and much so that the strong rush of air did not knock me over, it was very easy on the icy surface. Clouds of snow formed behind the trucks and I was afraid that the next driver might not notice me in it.

I tried to drive as close to the right side of the road as possible. Between the road and the soft snowdrift, I rode the best anyway, due to the increased grip.

There was often only ice in the middle of the road. The drivers most often offered me water, and food, and offered me a ride. I also got fruits and sweets a few times.

In the first part of the trip, from Anchorage to Fairbanks, I didn’t have to carry a large supply of food with me. On the route from Anchorage to Fairbanks there were a lot of shops, gas stations, and restaurants.

I did not stock up on provisions until Fairbanks, just before entering the desolate Dalton Highway. With Lyomma’s freeze-dried food in my panniers, I didn’t have to worry about running out of food.

Considering the route north to Fairbanks, there are only a few places above where you can buy something. In addition, many restaurants and hotels are closed during the winter season.

To prepare freeze-dried meals, I only needed hot water, and on a winter trip during bitter frosts, it was problematic. In the middle of nowhere, in the winter, I dissolved water from the snow.

To get one liter of water I had to dissolve about 5 liters of compacted snow. It’s a bit of a time-consuming process, so I limited the snow water cooking to dinner. When the water was boiling, at that time, for example, I was setting up a tent.

On a day off in Fairbanks with Erin of Warmshowers, I had the only opportunity to try moose meat. In Alaska, you can get elk from a hunter, you can’t buy elk meat in stores, like kangaroo meat in Australia.

Sautéed minced elk meat was the main accompaniment to homemade tacos🙂The moose tasted like tender beef and ranks second on my list of favorite meats, just behind kangaroo. Another time I tried sausage with reindeer.

During the trip, I was glad that the custom of “free refills” had not disappeared in Alaska. Buying one coffee, you could fill the cup as much as you wanted, and also in restaurants on Dalton Road.

At the Aurora staff hotel in Deadhorse, you get access to the hotel restaurant when you buy accommodation. The hotel offers three free meals and numerous snacks that you can take with you.

There is only one expensive shop in Deadhorse, so the possibility of meals and snacks at the “end of the world” allows you to slightly compensate for the expensive accommodation.

I had no luck with the northern lights. I was going on the trip with the last opportunity to see the aurora.

Unfortunately, this time it worked. On the two most likely nights there was no aurora, and it’s quite possible that I slept through the next two nights.

During the main drive from Anchorage to Deadhorse, I spent only four nights in warm rooms, and the other 12 nights only in a tent.

In Fairbanks, during a day off from driving, I stayed with a host from Warmshowers for two nights. In Fairbanks, I also had the only day off from driving going north. I used the rest to regenerate my body and visit the Alaskan Museum of the University.

In addition to the numerous exhibition of Alaskan fauna, I managed to see the magic Bus 142 from the movie “Into the Wild”.

For the safety of tourists who wanted to reach the original Stampede Trail stopover, the bus was moved in June 2020 and returned to Fairbanks. For two years, you can observe the renovation of the bus, which takes place in the garage of building number 28 of the university.

Many times I had a problem with finding a good place to stay in a tent. There were high and soft snowdrifts along Dalton Road, and the snow-cleared parking lots were often confined to the bays directly off the road.

There were larger parking lots for truckers along the entire Dalton Highway, every 20-30 kilometers, and only a few times I managed to end the day driving in such a parking lot.

There are approximately 100,000 black bears and 30,000 brown bears (including grizzlies and Kodiak bears) in Alaska. 98% of North America’s brown bears live in Alaska. The consolation is the fact that in the winter, the vast majority of bears babble.

Cyclists traveling quietly and at high speed are more likely to encounter bears and elicit a pursuit response from them. I had a few close encounters with bears in the Rocky Mountains, but none were dangerous.

More than bears, I wanted to meet moose, which are abundant in Alaska. So far, I’ve only had a brief encounter with an antlerless elk in Estonia. In addition to bears, Alaska has a population of several thousand Canadian wolves, and these are one of the largest wolves in the world.

Driving in the winter allowed me to avoid mosquitoes, in the summer months, mosquitoes are the biggest nuisance for both residents and tourists. One of the few unique laws in Alaska is that it is forbidden to wake a sleeping bear to take a selfie with it.

If you survive such a test, you can still get a heavy fine. In Fairbanks, there is a bill banning moose from taverns to keep owners from getting them drunk.

On the second day of the trip, I managed to spot a white-tailed eagle and a few moose up close. In the further part of the trip, I saw several dozen more elk. Many people warned me about moose not to approach them because they can be mean and attack people.

The closest I was to eye-to-eye with the moose was about 20 meters. I saw a lot of birds, great black ravens and white ptarmigans flying in groups. In the vicinity of Deadhorse, I managed to spot a muskox and a fox.

I didn’t get a chance to see a herd of caribou. On the last day of the trip, I went to the Anchorage Zoo. I saw there, among others, a polar and brown bear, caribou, lynx, coyotes, Tibetan yak, porcupine, seal, and many birds.

Conditions in Alaska in February are often harsher than at the same time in Antarctica, where there is a calendar summer.

Winter bicycle expedition

In addition to heavy frost, and piercing wind, there may be blizzards that will prevent me from riding and force me to wait in the tent for a day or two.

In Alaska, however, I had the luxury of cycling on the road. There are several places on Dalton’s road, including inhabited ones, where I can take shelter or ask for help in case of problems.

These include the Yukon River Camp, the villages of Coldfoot, and Wiseman, several oil pumping stations, the Toolik Lake research center, as well as the Chandalar and Sag River Station road builders’ bases, and the Happy Valley airport.

Since the road is passable all year round, I met many truck drivers on the route, On the route there are still a few abandoned buildings, campsites, and several tourist points with toilets, where you can also take shelter as a last resort.

In Antarctica, between the starting point and the ending point of the expedition, there is only white nothingness.

Staying for a long time in minus temperatures of several or several dozen degrees Celsius means maintaining constant thermal comfort and avoiding sweating and sudden hypothermia.

Expedition cycling on a relatively flat terrain means continuous and repetitive movements of the lower limbs, with negligible participation of the trunk and upper limbs.

Several layers of clothing, double socks, gloves, a hat, and a hood make it a bit difficult to move and make the ride less comfortable, and thus also the speed of riding.

Heavy frost causes contraction, stiffening of muscle fibers, and frozen muscles like effort, especially for many hours. It was especially important to keep the head, hands, and feet warm, which are the coldest.

In fact, the only moment of the day when I was freezing was in the morning and packing the tent and camping equipment into the panniers.

During the coldest of mornings, I took off my gloves for a moment and it was enough to slightly frostbite my fingers. For the next few days, I felt discomfort and slight pain, but then the symptoms disappeared.

I bought a plane ticket on a bargain basis during Cyber ​​Monday in November 2022. PLN 3080 from Berlin to Anchorage and back, with one 8kg hand luggage and one piece of luggage up to 23kg.

At the airport, I had to buy an additional piece of luggage, i.e. an oversized cardboard box with a bicycle weighing up to 32kg for 90€ in Berlin and 90$ on the return.

I estimate that the total cost of the three-week trip with flights reached about PLN 8,000. Half of the cost of a trip to Alaska is the flights.

Further costs are the purchase of the missing equipment, insurance, transport to and from the airport, provisions for the expedition, an overnight stay in Deadhorse, and an additional flight to Anchorage.

Just a few years ago, two free pieces of baggage were the standard for long-haul flights between continental continents, but now, unfortunately, it’s only one piece.

A down sleeping bag and a jacket, a tent, a bicycle trailer with a full-size rear wheel, and six panniers meant that I couldn’t pack in one piece of luggage, and the cardboard box with the bicycle was a bit larger than usual.

On the way back, during the transfer from Munich to Berlin, the airline did not manage to repack my cartons with equipment for the plane, and at the airport from Berlin, it turned out that they would be sent to the address indicated by the courier.

Very tired boxes reached me only 18 days after arrival by a courier company from Szczecin. Fortunately, nothing was lost and there was no damage to the bike or other equipment. The airline refunded me €100 for delayed luggage.

Expedition costs: PLN 3080 air ticket, € 90 and $ 90 fee for an additional piece of luggage, $ 21 ESTA application, $ 175 hotel accommodation in Deadhorse, $ 53 air ticket from Deadhorse to Anchorage, PLN 979 MSR tent, $ 16 admission to the ZOO, $18 admission to the museum, $8 bicycle lamp, about PLN 1500 food on the route.

For the expedition, once again I took the expedition set, proven in many of my long-distance journeys – Author Ronin gravel bike + Extrawheel Brave bicycle trailer with Extrawheel panniers and bicycle bags.

I was equipped with high-class winter tourist equipment. Aura by Yeti sleeping bag and down jacket, solid MSR tent, Exped mattress, or KOVEA gas cooker.

A trip through Alaska will be a great test of equipment and the development of patterns of behavior during difficult winter conditions. Some of the equipment that accompanied me in Alaska, I will also take on an expedition through Antarctica.

Many times during expeditions and training I rode in temperatures below zero, this time the difference was that I was well prepared for low temperatures.

A few words about the equipment during the expedition through Alaska: Author Ronin Gravel’s bike on a steel frame had no problems with overcoming the Dalton Highway in winter conditions.

When preparing the bike for this particular trip, I put on only tires with a more aggressive tread and an anti-puncture coat, and I greased most of the bearings with specialized winter grease.

The only bearings with original lubrication were those in the bottom bracket and platform pedals.
The only riding annoyances were just the brakes and rear derailleur shifter.

At temperatures below 20-25°C, the original brake fluid thickened strongly, preventing the braking and operation of the levers and brake calipers.

The solution could be to use DOT-4 brake fluid instead of the classic mineral bicycle brake fluid. Additional protection of the shifters, handles, and partly the cables and armors can be a winter cover for the steering wheel, the use of lubricants for the cables, and dry lubricants for the moving parts of the shifters and derailleurs.

I expected higher steel stresses and shrinkage when the bike was exposed to prolonged frost. Both the frame and the spokes, the breakage of which could complicate the progress of the expedition, are apparently not sensitive to temperatures below -30 ° C.

During the trip, I had an unexpected trip and the need to replace the inner tube at -15 ° C. Putting on tires with an anti-puncture coating and driving mainly on snow and ice, I was convinced that I would be able to drive without such surprises.

Putting a hard tire on a rim in the cold was no easy feat. I drove winter Alaska on 28×1.60′ tires. I knew that I would be driving mainly on public roads that are well-cleared of snow, so putting on wide tires, studded tires or a fat bike was not advisable.

I drove winter Alaska on 28×1.60′ tires. I knew that I would be driving mainly on public roads that are well-cleared of snow, so putting on wide tires, studded tires or a fat bike was not advisable.

I drove winter Alaska on 28×1.60′ tires. I knew that I would be driving mainly on public roads that are well-cleared of snow, so putting on wide tires, studded tires or a fat bike was not advisable.

On the trip, I was accompanied by the Extrawheel Brave bicycle trailer, on which I had the two largest bicycle bags with a capacity of 50 liters each. Biker panniers with a capacity of 25 liters each were installed on the bike.

Such a large, 200 liters luggage space was dictated by the need to pack down equipment that I had on the expedition, and I did not want to compress them too much. In the bags on the trailer, I had mainly camping equipment (tent, mattress, foam pad, sleeping bag, pillow, and boots).

In severe frosts, the material of panniers and bags, i.e. polyester and Cordura, stiffened strongly. The temperature inside the panniers was very similar to that outside, so in winter conditions, the pannier does not protect its contents from frost in any way.

As a trailer wheel, I had a spare rear bicycle wheel, but I did not need to replace it. Somewhere along the way, I lost the Extrawheel flag.

Perhaps during significant temperature changes, the material on the flagpole loosened and the flag flew away.

A sleeping bag, jacket, gloves, and boots AURA by YETI is the equipment without which I would not dare to go on such a frosty expedition. Even on the coldest night with a temperature of -36°C, the sleeping bag kept me warm and I was able to feel comfortable at night.

At no point during the trip did I need to put on the warmest variant of clothing? The technical Torre down jacket worked best in temperatures below -20°C, otherwise it was too warm and I overheated.

On the flat sections, I often rode with the zip open but the hood on. On longer climbs, I often had to take off my jacket and rode only in technical underwear and a cycling jacket. I covered a large part of the route in down mittens.

On the expedition, I had as many as four different models of gloves. Two thin pairs and two thicker pairs. In every variant, without down mittens on, my hands were freezing. For the safety of my feet, I was also equipped with down boots, which I could use both while driving and sleeping.

I put them on only a few times and more out of curiosity and preventively than out of necessity. During the freezing cold, I put a down jacket on the bottom of the sleeping bag, so there was no need to use boots at night.

The only footwear I took with me were cheap Mil-tec snow boots. They had a removable, non-slip insert, equipped with Thinsulate thermal insulation.

Shoes bought in a promotion for just over PLN 200 also did well. During severe frosts, I wanted to remove the insole and put on down boots to protect my foot from the cold, but I didn’t have to.

Even at -30°C I had only a pair of thin socks on my feet and another pair of thick knee socks. In combination with the Thinsulate insole, I had the thermal comfort of my feet.

During the trip, I was accompanied by the latest model of the Motorola Thinkphone smartphone .

During the expedition, the smartphone served as the main camera. During the entire three-week trip, I took over 800 photos and a dozen or so videos documenting the course of the expedition. I used the red Thinkphone button as a shortcut to the camera.

After one press of the button, I had the camera ready to take a picture. In cold conditions and wearing gloves, this was very helpful. Sometimes I looked at Google Maps navigation and offline maps stored there to determine the distance to the next intermediate daily destination.

In the evenings, lying in a tent and a warm sleeping bag, I wrote daily reports from each day of the expedition. I also sometimes looked into the application indicating the current height above sea level.

I thought that extremely low temperatures would be deadly for the smartphone battery, but it didn’t happen. To maximize the working time of the smartphone, I drove most of the route in airplane mode.

Most of the Dalton Highway has no cellular coverage anyway. On the route, I only used Wi-Fi, and when there was an opportunity, I tried to charge my smartphone. With TurboPower charging, it was enough to connect the smartphone to the socket for several minutes.

It’s as much as a coffee break or a meal on the route. I didn’t even have to use the energy stored in the power bank. After a few frosty nights, my power bank discharged anyway.

Several times the temperature at night fell below minus 30 ° C. While driving, I kept the phone in the warmth of a down jacket, and during frosty nights in the inner pocket of my sleeping bag. This helped protect the device from the cold.

Thanks to the aramid backs, the smartphone endures bitter cold much better, than phone models with a steel or aluminum housing. Aramid fibers do not absorb heat energy as much as metals.

In low temperatures, the Thinkphone housing will not be so cold, and in hot weather, the smartphone will not heat up so much.

It happened to me that the phone fell out of my hand and fell into deep snow or hit an icy surface. Thanks to the solid housing and armor standards, I was confident about its operation.

This is the first, but certainly not the last, of my bicycle trip with the Thinkphone by Motorola.

The Suunto 9 Peak Pro sports watch took over the role of the cycling computer. Due to the winter, and frosty conditions of the expedition, instead of a bicycle computer, the watch measured the distance, speed, altitude, driving time, and many other variables throughout the entire expedition, every day from start to finish throughout the day.

To save battery, I turned off the options for steps, heart rate, and saturation and rode in battery mode “Endurance”. It seems to me that the watch added a few kilometers for every 100 traveled.

I turned on and off the gravelove cycling mode already in the tent, of course, there were some steps during the breaks without pausing during the day, so the additional meters and kilometers are due to walking with the watch in bicycle mode.

During the whole day on the above-mentioned settings, the watch battery used about 20-25% during 11-12 hours of activity, so I tried to charge the watch every 4 days.

Still, I think it’s a very good result. The temperatures on the expedition fell below 30°C, but the watch was warm on the wrist and under the down jacket. He wasn’t that exposed to extreme cold.

The fast charging function also did not disappoint me, it was enough that in a restaurant I plugged in my watch for half an hour and the battery was almost full.

In the “Endurance” battery mode, I noticed the biggest distortion in the calorie measurement. Every day, the watch indicated only about 1000 kcal burned, which is of course greatly underestimated.

I know that during all-day cycling with load, I burn about 6000-8000kcal a day depending on the route, conditions, wind, etc.

The equipment that didn’t work on the trip and which I was less satisfied with was the MSR Elixir 1 tent. Spending a thousand for a tent from a brand that claims to be one of the best, I expected a bit more durability.

After only a few nights, the rubber bands connecting the individual tubes of the frame began to stretch and the tent stopped folding practically by itself. I had to connect the frame by hand, which took much more time.

I tried to stretch them a little at the ends of the frame and sometimes it helped. Elixir 1 is a 3-season tent and I don’t know if it should be used on such frosty nights. Perhaps low temperatures negatively affect rubber bands.

During one of the nights, the frame on one of the connections broke. Practically every night I had a problem with significant condensation, settling and freezing on the walls of the tent, sleeping bag, and other things inside.

Maybe a one-man tent is too small for winter expeditions and severe frosts. Other than keeping dry inside, cooking outside, vents open, and even partially unzipping the tent entrance and sleeping in a chimney over my mouth and nose, I couldn’t deal with much of the surface freezing inside.

The four-season EXPED SynMat 9 LW mat with a high insulation factor at the level of R-Value 5.2 withstood the hardships of the expedition, insulated well, and was not damaged.

During the whole day in the pouch, the material of the mat also stiffened, and yet the mat could be inflated normally.

To inflate the mat, I needed 15-16 puffs and used the pump integrated with the mat several times. The manufacturer allows the use of the mat down to -20°C.

On the coldest night, it was -36°C and I didn’t feel the cold from underneath. Probably thanks to the down sleeping bag, as well as the additional layers I had under me (sleeping bag, mat, foam pad, tent floor).

During the trip, I used a KOVEA gas cooker for cartridges with a screwed thread. In Fairbanks, I even managed to buy a winter gas version with a special mixture of propane-butane for frosty conditions.

I used the stove to boil water, melt snow into water, and once as a source of heat on a very cold night.

During one of the colder days, the stove refused to obey me once. At a temperature below -25°C it froze and I couldn’t boil the water. The spark gap was working properly, so perhaps the remnant of gas in the supply line was frozen.

Constant exposure to severe frost caused a lot of inconveniences, which do not happen at positive temperatures.

1Due to the not entirely tight thermos, the water in it froze several times, I also had a problem with unscrewing the frozen cup and the cork. In the following days, I put a glove on the thermos and wrapped it in clothes.

This was enough to keep the water from freezing and keeping it warmer for longer. For Antarctica, I will need larger thermoses (1L) with a long time of keeping warm.

Almost all food, blood, toothpaste, antiperspirant, and tube glue froze to the bone after a few days of travel and in higher frosts. Only eLUBE winter chain oil resisted low temperatures.

The clip for the rear lamp broke quickly, and consequently, I lost the lamp and had to buy a new one to be able to drive before sunrise and after sunset.

I missed a handlebar bag in which I keep basic items. The camera and power bank in the bag would quickly discharge from the cold, so I gave up taking it to Alaska.

I have to finally test the idea of ​​connecting a dynamo with a heating mat. A heating mat powered by a dynamo, placed in an isothermal bag, should be a good alternative to protect batteries and accumulators against low temperatures.

At low temperatures, many materials harden, stiffen, or freeze completely. Parts of clothes, zippers, ropes, plastic, rubber, and even metal parts in the cold start to work differently than in plus temperatures.

When choosing equipment for a typical winter expedition, you need to take into account low temperatures and the complications associated with it.

At 66° north latitude, I crossed the Arctic Circle. Both Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay, and Oliktok Point lie in the Arctic Circle at 70 degrees north latitude.

In 2014, during a summer bicycle trip, I crossed the Arctic Circle and 71°N. From Poland, I got to the North Cape of Nordkapp in Norway.

For example, on February 28, 2023, the sun will rise at 8:25 AM and set at 5:47 PM in Deadhorse. The sun was at its highest point at 1:05 p.m., and the day lasted 9 hours and 21 minutes.

To this, I can add the possibility of driving during dawn and dusk. With the possibility of about 10 hours of riding, reaching 100 kilometers a day on a bike was quite realistic.

In February in Deadhorse, the day lengthens by about 3-5 minutes each day.

The average daily temperature in February for Anchorage is -5.9°C. At the end of February, there may be days with a positive temperature.

The record temperatures for Anchorage in February are +9 and -33 ° C. The average daily temperature in March for Anchorage is -3.4°C.

The hottest day in March was +12°C. Nighttime temperatures in Anchorage often reach as low as -19°C in February and March, with a record low of -31°C.

The highest recorded temperature in Deadhorse is 29°C on July 13, 2016. The lowest temperature recorded is -52°C on January 27, 1989.

The average daily temperature for Deadhorse in February and March is -29.4 and -27.2°C, respectively. The northern lights (Aurora borealis) are often seen in winter.

Dalton Highway is a road marked by Alaska Route 11 in the state of Alaska. Built-in 1974 as a supply route for the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline.

It was named after James Dalton, an Alaskan-born engineer who oversaw the creation of, among other things, the creation of an early warning system against Soviet missiles during the Cold War.

As an expert in arctic engineering, James W. Dalton served as a consultant in the early discovery of oil in North Alaska. He directed and supervised the construction of Highway 11.

The road begins at the junction of Elliott Highway, 84 miles north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay.

It runs parallel to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The Alaskan oil pipeline is capable of transporting more than 2 million barrels of oil per day, although it usually operates well below its maximum capacity.

It is one of the most isolated roads in the world, the northernmost road in North America, and one of the most northerly roads in the world.

The Dalton Highway is a two-lane road with a length of 414 miles or roughly 666 kilometers. Part of the road is asphalt and part is gravel, gravel, and rocks.

Covered with snow and ice in winter. In some places, it is quite primitive and dangerous, and in many sections, it is narrow, winding, and steep.

Mostly built on icy permafrost. At its highest, the road rises to 1,444 meters as it crosses the Brooks Mountain Range at Atigun Pass.

There are a lot of short ascents and descents on the route, the steepest of which has an inclination of up to 16%. The most recognizable descents/climbs are Beaver Slide and Ice Cut.

In summer and winter, the road itself and the Deadhorse settlement are the destinations of many trips and expeditions – camper, motorbike, and bicycle.

Deadhorse, Alaska, was also the beginning of many trips for bicycle travelers who marked the end of the route in Ushuaia in South America.

Known as the world’s most isolated road, the Dalton Highway makes a lonely bike journey even more secluded.

This road was the subject of the first episode of the BBC’s “World’s Most Dangerous Roads” series. Between the settlement of Deadhorse and the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, the Pan-American Highway begins.

There are only four places on the route where you can count on fuel, meal, lodging, and any assistance: Yukon River Camp at mile 56, Coldfoot at mile 175, Wiseman at mile 188, and Deadhorse at the end of the highway at mile 414.

Public services are not available at the Department of Transportation maintenance stations or at the Alyeska Pipeline Service pumping stations, except in emergency, life-threatening situations.

The nearest Ambulance and Medical Services are in Coldfoot and Deadhorse. There is often no cell phone coverage on Alaska’s roads, and some satellite phones do not work within range of the Brooks Mountain Range.

It is the longest stretch of unmanned roads in North America with no gas stations, restaurants, hotels, or basic services.

Bad weather conditions, poor visibility due to snow and fog, avalanches, and strong winds can happen on the road.

Traffic lanes often suddenly narrow from two to one and vice versa. All this contributes to road accidents and fatalities.

Traffic police officers are used to accidents on the route and conduct regular helicopter patrols to detect accidents and breakdowns of trucks.

The road is narrow in places and it is difficult to pass and overtake trucks on snowy sections, which makes it very difficult for drivers to access emergency services in the event of an accident.

The speed limit for the entire section of the road is 50 mph (80 km/h), but most drivers drive much slower, especially in winter, around Atigun Pass and on uneven sections with huge craters.

Dalton Road is mainly for trucks, not for cars. It is recommended that pickup, SUV, or 4×4 vehicles, i.e. cars with high ground clearance, travel the road.

As the main supply route for the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, it is constantly traversed by large tractor units and articulated trucks, often oversized transporting supplies including food and fuel.

The road is locally called North Slope Haul Road and is considered a supply road for heavy or bulk material haulage by trucks in the mining industry.

With the highway closed, the economic loss is estimated at $1 million a day. The Dalton Highway is open year-round, with approximately 3,700 trucks passing through it each month, even during the Arctic winter.

From Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay) you can theoretically drive to the northernmost driving point in North America (Northernmost Drivable Point in North America) driving continuously from the south.

This point is Olictok. It is about 20 km from Deadhorse to the Arctic Sea and about 50 km to Oliktok Point.

Above Deadhorse, however, there are closed oil fields, also private ones, and travel to Oliktok requires a permit and an organized paid group ride.

In winter, there is an icy stretch of road from Prudhoe Bay to the town of Barrow.

Atigun Pass– is a mountain pass in the Brooks Range in Alaska and the only pass crossing this range. Atigun Pass connects the oil fields of the North Slope with central and southern Alaska.

This is Alaska’s highest road pass, kept passable all year round. It is located at road mile marker 244, north of the Coldfoot settlement.

Its height is 1444 meters above sea level, it is unpaved, and the slope of the road reaches 11-12%. There is a Continental Divide on the pass. The rivers north of the pass flow into the Arctic Ocean, and the rivers south into the Bering Sea.

The pass is the most dangerous section of the Dalton Highway for trucks, many trucks on the pass exits have gone off the road. Avalanches often descend from the slopes along the pass road. Due to strong air currents, small planes do not fly over Atigun.

Anaktuvuk Pass is preferred as a safer flying route. The Atigun Pass is located in the Arctic Circle and the weather has a huge impact on its passability.

Temperatures down to tens of degrees below zero, regular snowstorms, hurricane-force winds, occasional avalanches, and the generally harsh conditions of the region make the pass inhospitable.

Behind the pass on the north side, you enter the raw tundra. There are no more trees, there is less snow due to the constant wind. Only low bushes and grass stick out of a thin layer of frozen snow.

According to the US Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land Management), there are 8 main rules on the Dalton Highway:

  • large trucks have the right of way
  • always drive with your lights on so others can see you
  • keep your front and rear lights clear so they can be seen
  • keep to the right side of the road
  • do not stop over bridges or hills
  • check your rear-view mirror regularly
  • if you see wildlife, pull over to a safe place before stopping
  • slow down when passing other vehicles (especially cyclists and motorcyclists) to reduce the risk of mud splashing or stones flying out from under the tires.

Alaska – is a state of the United States in the northwestern part of North America, which is an exclave of the USA.

It is bordered to the east by Canada and to the west, across the Bering Strait, by Russia. As one of two states (Hawaii), it does not border any other US state.

The south of the state is mountainous and covered by the Alaska Range.) It is the highest part of the Cordillera chain with the highest peak of the continent – Denali (Mount McKinley) 6194 m above sea level.

On the route of the expedition, I will pass the Denali National Park. The peak belongs to the Crown of the Earth.

Alaska has the largest area among the states of the United States and the lowest population density.

Anchorage and Fairbanks are Alaska’s two largest cities, but the state capital is Juneau, which has only thirty thousand inhabitants. Together, these three cities are home to about half of the state’s population.

There are only three settlements along the Dalton HWY road with a total of 65 permanent residents.

Alaska is the state with the lowest temperatures in the US. The climate of the regions through which the Dalton Highway passes varies from subarctic to polar.

In the southern part, the climate is temperate cool, and in the far north, the climate is subpolar. Range of changes in air temperature during the year: from −51 °C in winter to 32 °C in summer.

Winter lasts for 9 months and is very frosty, during which strong winds blow, reaching a speed of 100 km/h, and snowstorms characteristic of the tundra zone occur.

At mile 56, the Dalton Highway crosses the Yukon River. It is the largest river in northwestern North America. More than half of its course is in Alaska, while the upper part flows mostly through the Canadian territory of Yukon, which owes its name to the river.

The river is 3,185 km long and flows into the Bering Sea in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The Yukon freezes over for about 8 months. Yukon means “great river” in the Gwich’in language spoken by the Gwich’in Indian tribe.

In July 1741, the Russians captured Alaska. 126 years later Tsar Alexander II sold it to the Americans. The treaty was signed after lengthy negotiations on the night of March 29/30, 1867.

The Americans bought Alaska for $7.2 million, paying 2 cents an acre. The United States Senate ratified the Alaska Purchase on April 9, 1867.

The House of Representatives did it only on July 14, 1868. Alaska became the 49th state only after World War II, on January 3, 1958 (a year and a half later, Hawaii became the 50th US state).

The purchase of Alaska by the United States was initially considered one of the worst deals in US history.

It was only at the end of the 20th century that raw materials, mainly gold, and oil, which were hidden by the earth, were appreciated.

Prudhoe Bay- a settlement in the North Slope District, Alaska, United States, located near the coast of the Arctic Sea. Most of the time, there are several thousand workers employed in the nearby oil fields.

Prudhoe Bay is home to the northern terminus of the Alaskan Pipeline, which runs south to the port of Valdez. The settlement of Deadhorse is located nearby.

For a good part of the Dalton Highway, I was driving along the Alaskan Alyeska Pipeline. The road crosses the pipeline several times, and the pipeline itself sometimes disappears buried in the ground.

It’s ironic that so many millions of barrels of crude oil run south through the pipeline, and dozens of fuel tankers have to carry fuel from the south to Deadhorse.

Apparently, building a refinery in such an unfavorable location is not possible. The price of a gallon of gasoline in Anchorage was about $3.

Deadhorse – An unincorporated community next to the settlement of Prudhoe Bay. Most of the city’s facilities are dedicated to workers employed in the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Deadhorse has a small tourist base.

Close to Deadhorse is the northern terminus of the Dalton Highway, which runs south from around Fairbanks, and Deadhorse Airport.

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