We left Valdez by bicycle on Sunday night at 6 pm, headed north along the Richardson Highway toward Glenallen. The ride was to take us to Fairbanks, then south to Anchorage, stopping in Talkeetna, covering 750 miles in 90 hours or less. (More on these perhaps pointless -- but that's really the point, isn't it -- endeavors at the Randonneurs USA website.) S__ and I were two of 29 starters.
It was a magical ride through the canyon past Bridleveil Falls (Alaska's version); Horsetail Falls; Worthington Glacier; and countless unnamed rivulets and mini-glaciers. After 30 miles we topped Thompson Pass, descending quickly to the first "control" (check-point) at Tsaina and into the late-summers-eve half light. The next 40 miles were rolling hills and false-flats as we headed toward Tonsina Lodge, where the proprietors were staging a late-night buffet just for the riders. S__ and I traded places with a pace-line that we never quite joined, sometimes moving ahead, sometimes falling behind.
I remember seeing the highway marker for mile 63, which signaled 16 miles to Tonsina. I hit a few small pot-holes and realized I needed a brighter lamp, and I fumbled for a few seconds with the switch. I have an impressionistic picture of flying, twisting right-ward. And then at some point a motorcyclist asked me where I was, and I didn't know. S__ filled in the gaps: my wheel hit a rock and separated from the fork; the fork hit the ground; and I went over. S__, riding in my draft, rode over me and the bike before crashing himself. Somehow in the lost minutes he dressed me in warm clothes and we waited a half hour before others came by to assist.
So that was it for our grand bike tour of east-central Alaska to close out the summer. I now join Spencer in the ranks of "aren't I too old to be falling off of my bike"?