Riding4Research Day 13 Rancheria > Watson Lake, Yukon 77 miles

(Internet is tough here in northern BC, will try adding more photos and videos as service allows…)

My 25th birthday today was a good one.  It was a good day for riding but a bunch of hills turned my legs to mud and I set up shop early in Watson Lake.  The price of stuff is crazy expensive here in Canada.  I found myself in Watson Lake at 5 PM asking around about how far the next campground south and east was.  The lady told me 100 miles.  So I go a few miles down the road and see an old unkept campground sign but the petunias in the flower bed at the base of sign looked watered.  Meanly entropy might not have fully invaded the old campground.  So I stopped and a German man told me to just camp in back of his place, the campground is closed but no charge.  Crazy, I paid $6 for 2 stale cookies back up the street but the camping is free here.  I guess I looked desperate.

A place like Watson Lake makes one contemplate what towns grow a vibe but also stay affordable for the middle class (i.e., don’t get discovered). I was expecting a bit more out of this place given the fantastic volume of tourist gear (motorhomes) that move up and down the Alaska Highway. But instead Watson Lake looked like its best days were behind it.  The buildings that remain look mostly like big shoe boxes with roofs. Some even keep the shoe box design with the roofline.

But there is something unique about Watson Lake, the thousands of signs showing how far one is from the nearest town. It was sobering to see how far the Atlantic still is (FAR!).  A friend and work colleague of mine will get a kick out of the sign announcing one of his favorite towns.  The multitude of signs is a testament to the great array of folks that have traveled this highway.  A didn’t see a sign announcing a distance to the Big Rock.


There were a couple nice birthday presents I received today. One was a tailwind.  Although it died abruptly in the afternoon, there were a couple big downhills where there was almost zero wind speed across the bike (straight 30 mph tailwind and I was going 30 mph).  That feeling after being mired with 5 mph climbs is surreal.  A tailwind like that is also hypnotic because its not going to last.  So does one pedal like mad to make the most of it or stand up and do nothing, like trying to be a big sail on a bike.  I pretty much did the latter today.  I feel like my legs are starting to round into biking shape, finally, after turning a thousand miles for the trip today.  The next tailwind like that and I will be majorly torqueing it.  I can slow down and take it easy when I am 50.

Another, more significant birthday gift that I received today was a great breakfast with the wonderful Texas 4000 riders. They openly commemorated their day’s ride to my Mom, that was a special feeling.  If anybody reading this blog ever passes through Racncheria Yukon enroute to Alaska, stay here!  Linda Bouchard, the owner (front row of the photo) has Stage 3 lung cancer.  She is a true angel, and was so kind to the charity riders moving in both directions across the continent.


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