Follow the bikers of Going South on their adventures though the Americas.
We have almost crossed Venezuela, through very remote and impressive areas. There was almost no internet, we just camped wherever and cooked with our gasoline stove, filtering water from the more reliable sources we could. It is great to see live that there are still some huge isolated and well-preserved areas on Earth. We are soon crossing another one, the tepuis of La Gran Sabana, and then the Amazon in Brazil.
San Fernando de Apure 2009-08-22
After exactly four weeks pedaling we have left the Andes behind us for a while and even crossed a big part of Los Llanos, the big wet lowlands with the many rivers that is covering about a third of the country. (Venezuela is more then twice as big as Sweden).
Within the first 8km, Alex got his second flat tyre in as many days. He did a speedy job on it. I helped by feeding him raisins and peanuts. A big piece of glass had gone straight through the kevlar. Alex fished it out and we were on our way again through remote and dense boreal forest with enormous mountains on either side. Sadly alot of the tops of the mountains were covered in cloud and rain so we were not able to appreciate the optimum views. Not too far up the road we came to Pump Station 12, the last pump station of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to Valdez.
We arrived into a Valdez late in the evening after the 5 hour ferry cruise from Whittier across the Prince William Sound. The whole town immersed in thick cloud and drizzle and was not particularly inviting at all. We could see vague outlines of oil tankers moored up alongside the oil refinery in the distance but it was to far away to see properly. We camped alongside a tour group Trek America - it was good to chat to new people and hear from the English guys in the group that informed us that England had won the Ashes and beaten the Aussies - I realised how out of touch I had been not knowing this really important moment in sporting history!
Saying goodbye to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, as we turned east towards the Yukon Territory and the Canadian Border the other day, left me with contradictory and conflicting emotions. On one side I was glad to see the back of such a hideous eyesore and scar on the landscape and constant reminder of man's reliance on dirty fossil fuels. On the other side, the pipeline had been a companion to us, in remote and isolated lands, with nothing but mountains and tundra for hundreds of miles, this incredible feat of engineering guided us South day after day for the first few weeks during times when we felt insecure and alone.
Setting off from Ron and Barbs place on Friday morning, we got as far as the end of the drive before Fins chain snapped again; another false start. Twenty minutes and a new chain link later we were back on the road heading South East along the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet. The ferry to Valdez departing from Whittier was departing at 2h45, giving us approximately 4hrs to cover the 50 miles between Anchorage and Whittier. The road was flat and the wind was in our favour. The views were absolutely stunning, cycling along the highway, 100 feet from the sea, steep snow capped mountains jutting out of the water on the other side of the inlet. About 20 miles in, my rear tire went flat; 20 minutes later, having removed a rather large metal shard from my tire, we were back on the road, in a bit of a hurry this time, as we also had to allow time to get a ride through a 2 mile tunnel in which bikes were not allowed, due to the single lane was already shared alternately by car traffic and the train. We still found time however to enjoy the stunning views along the way.
We awoke in Anchorage early on Thursday morning to find a perfectly clear sky and crisp cold air. This being the first clear day in a long time, Ron, our host suggested going for a little flight in his Float plane, a 32 year old Cessna 206, so off we went to the airport, or rather the lake to prepare the plane. After the usual pre flight checks, part of which involved balancing precariously off the end of the floating pontoon, we boarded the plane and taxied to the end of the lake.
When I turned up at Ron and Barb's house two months ago on June the 10th, with the kind invitation of a few nights board and lodging in Anchorage, Anna and I were Ron and Barb's first www.warmshowers.org experience, having only recently joined the cycle touring accommodation website. 'Two or three nights at the most!', we promised.....Little did we know what was to happen during the trip and that I would end up needing a place to stay for the best of the summer. 'Absolutely Fin, you are welcome to stay for as long as you need' was their short reply when I called explaining the situation half way down the first leg of the cycle ride.
Firstly I need to thank Alex for most of these photos, my point and shoot doesn't quite compare with the SLR - cheers mate - they really capture what a mad but amazing week this has been.
One of the projects being filmed for Going South is the use of geothermal power at the Chena Hot Springs about 60 miles east of Fairbanks in Alaska. Geothermal power is the use of heat from the earth's crust to create energy with zero emissions or pollutants. Deepeei had filmed there earlier in the summer and had kindly arranged with the owner Bernie Karl for Alex and I to have a complimentary stay at the resort upon arrival into Fairbanks. It was amazing and couldn't have been better timed.
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