October 2, 2013
Here are the Nuts and Bolts for "The Golden Circle of Bears and Beers" by Willie Weir and "Then and Now: The Sierra Cascades Route" by Gregg Bleakney, which appear in the 2013 October/November issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine.
The ferry from Juneau to Haines or Skagway to Juneau does not run every day. Check the ferry schedule.
You will be flying into Alaska, but you will also be pedaling into British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. Forgetting your passport will shorten your trip drastically. Remember your passport!
You’ll need it, but remember, you’ll have to get it in Alaska because you can’t carry it on your flight.
Despite the rugged nature of your surroundings, it is possible to do this trip on your average touring bike. The roads are in great condition.
It might be summer, but remember that it can snow any month of the year. Be ready for winter conditions. Be pleased when they don’t occur.
If you aren’t interested in a self-supported tour, there are a couple of tour groups that feature the Golden Circle.
This area of the world can have extreme weather any day of the year. It is best to give yourself more days than you think you’ll need. We stayed with our hosts (Lou and Carole Edwards) for a couple of extra days, waiting for the right weather to begin our trip.
The author, Gregg Bleakney, decided to start his ride from north to south, starting the first day of autumn to surf the season south and avoid the summer heat east of the Cascades, Sierras, and Southern California. The tradeoff was less daylight and less time at camp at the end of each day to enjoy before sunset.
To break-up the difficulty and time demands of attempting the Sierra Cascades in one fell swoop, Bil Paul suggests tackling the route in stages. His favorite section is from the Washington/Oregon border Crater Lake, Oregon.
With its massive climbs and never-ending descents, the 2,600-mile Sierra Cascades route will demand as much from your tires as it will from your body. The author used Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Touring Tires over mixed terrain and without a flat for several thousand miles.
Adventure Cycling’s Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route maps are the best of their kind. Don’t leave home without them.
The author’s cycling partner for this article, naturalist Greg McCormack, suggests bringing two books to better understand the natural history of the Sierra Cascade Route:
Sierra Nevada Natural History (Tracy I. Storer, Robert L. Usinger, David Lukas) and Fire Mountains of the West: The Cascade And Mono Lake Volcanoes (Stephen L. Harris).
McCormack also recommends an all-weather outdoor journal by Rite in the Rain because, “there’s just something special about being in the outdoors and journaling by hand.”
MIKE DEME is the editor of Adventure Cyclist magazine.