Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bicycling Trip to Alaska: Complete!

Back in October 2009, inspired by something I did in 2005-06 called "The Walking Trip", I started a fictional "Bicycling Trip to Alaska". With the aid of a bike odometer (and mapping software when riding bikes other than mine), I would track how far I bicycled every week, and plot that distance on a map as if I were bicycling from my home in Durham, NC, all the way to Alaska.

In October 2011, I made it to Alaska, but I still had another 634 miles to go until the official end of the trip, at the end of Alaska Route 1 in the coastal town of Homer. But this morning, I officially completed the trip on my way to work. Hooray!

The idea behind the trip was motivation to exercise. If I had a clear goal in mind, and had to publish my progress on a weekly basis, that might motivate me to ride my bike on a day in which otherwise, perhaps, I wouldn't feel like it. With that, I can declare this trip a massive success:
- I finished the trip far sooner than I thought I would have. Originally I thought this would take me six years rather than two-plus years. Later on once I established my pace, I revised my goal to finish the trip before my 30th birthday. I met that goal, too, with room to spare. (My birthday is April 8.)
- I'm in the best shape of my life. (Well, almost...I think I've regressed a little since last summer, but not by too much, hopefully.)
- And now I have a hobby that's fun (most of the time) and good for me, too!

In fact, the Bicycling Trip to Alaska was so much of a success that on Thursday, I'm starting another fake bicycling trip: The Bicycling Trip in Australia. Sydney (ish) to Perth (ish), 2,473 miles. (More on Thursday.)

Now, a bunch of concluding stats!

The full trip distance, Durham to Homer, was 4,628.5 miles. (If I had chosen to "bike" to the Arctic Ocean at Deadhorse rather than the Pacific Ocean at Homer, then that would have added about 150 miles to the trip, and I would still have another month or so remaining. I chose a Pacific destination because it's a better segue to the Australia bike trip.)

I started the trip on October 8, 2009, and completed it on February 21, 2012, after 866 days (2 years, 4 months, 13 days). That's an average of 37.4 miles per week over the length of the trip, which I think is pretty good! That comes out to between 3 to 3½ hours of bicycling every week, or 25 to 30 minutes per day. (Most weeks, I ride for 20-30 minutes two or three times mid-week, plus a longer ride of two hours or more over the weekend, which I don't always have time for depending on the weather and my schedule.)

How long did I spend in each state, province, and country along the way, and what was my average pace in each state? (Notice how my pace progressively got faster throughout the trip on the whole, at least until I got to Alaska.)

North Carolina: 31 days (132.6 miles, 29.9 miles/week)
Virginia: 9 days (67.5 miles, 52.5 miles/week)
West Virginia: 33 days (154.9 miles, 32.9 miles/week)
Ohio: 49 days (181.8 miles, 26.0 miles/week)
Indiana: 48 days (240.0 miles, 35.0 miles/week)
Illinois: 22 days (107.8 miles, 34.3 miles/week)
Wisconsin: 48 days (288.8 miles, 42.1 miles/week)
Minnesota: 61 days (259.1 miles, 29.7 miles/week)
North Dakota: 29 days (156.6 miles, 37.8 miles/week)
Lower 48: 330 days [10m 26d] (1,589.0 miles, 33.7 miles/week)
Manitoba: 53 days (292.5 miles, 38.6 miles/week)
Saskatchewan: 78 days (427.7 miles, 38.4 miles/week)
Alberta: 81 days (492.2 miles, 42.5 miles/week)
British Columbia: 103 days (649.9 miles, 44.2 miles/week)
Yukon: 85 days (543.3 miles, 42.0 miles/week)
Canada: 400 days [13m 5d] (2,405.6 miles, 42.1 miles/week)
Alaska: 136 days [4m 13d] (633.8 miles, 32.6 miles/week)

Here's the map of the full route, with each marker corresponding to one week: (red markers indicate weeks in which I did not do any bicycling)

View Bicycling trip to Alaska in a larger map

Some stats on my weekly distances, with a "week" defined as midday Thursday to midday Thursday:

0 miles: 2 weeks
0.1 - 9.9 miles: 1 week
10.0 - 19.9 miles: 16 weeks
20.0 - 29.9 miles: 14 weeks
30.0 - 39.9 miles: 30 weeks
40.0 - 49.9 miles: 37 weeks
50.0 - 59.9 miles: 20 weeks
60.0 - 69.9 miles: 3 weeks
70+ miles: 1 week (70.8 miles, between 6/16/11 and 6/23/11)

And, finally, a trip log based on cities and state/provincial borders:

10/8/09: Began trip
10/11/09: Durham, NC
10/20/09: Greensboro, NC
10/26/09: Winston-Salem, NC
11/2/09: Mount Airy, NC
11/8/09: Virginia state line
11/15/09: Wytheville, VA
11/17/09: West Virginia state line
11/20/09: Princeton, WV
12/1/09: Beckley, WV
12/12/09: Charleston, WV
12/20/09: Ohio state line
1/14/10: Chillicothe, OH
1/24/10: Xenia, OH
1/28/10: Dayton, OH
2/7/10: Indiana state line
2/18/10: Indianapolis, IN
3/6/10: Lafayette, IN
3/27/10: Gary, IN
3/27/10: Illinois state line
3/27/10: Chicago, IL
4/12/10: Rockford, IL
4/18/10: Wisconsin state line
4/24/10: Madison, WI
5/8/10: Wisconsin Dells, WI
5/22/10: Eau Claire, WI
6/5/10: Minnesota state line
6/8/10: St. Paul, MN
6/13/10: Minneapolis, MN
7/3/10: St. Cloud, MN
7/24/10: Fergus Falls, MN
8/5/10: North Dakota state line
8/6/10: Fargo, ND
8/21/10: Grand Forks, ND
9/3/10: U.S./Canada border (Manitoba)
9/16/10: Winnipeg, MB
9/26/10: Portage la Prairie, MB
10/15/10: Minnedosa, MB
10/26/10: Saskatchewan provincial line
11/6/10: Yorkton, SK
12/8/10: Saskatoon, SK
12/19/10: North Battleford, SK
1/12/11: Alberta provincial line / Lloydminster
1/14/11: Overall halfway point
2/6/11: Edmonton, AB
3/2/11: Whitecourt, AB
3/25/11: Grande Prairie, AB
4/3/11: British Columbia provincial border
4/10/11: Dawson Creek, BC
4/17/11: Fort St. John, BC
5/26/11: Fort Nelson, BC
6/19/11: Muncho Lake, BC
7/2/11: British Columbia/Yukon border (1-6)
7/6/11: British Columbia/Yukon border (7)
7/9/11: Watson Lake, YT
7/24/11: British Columbia/Yukon border (8)
8/2/11: British Columbia/Yukon border (9)
8/7/11: Teslin, YT
8/21/11: Whitehorse, YT
9/3/11: Haines Junction, YT
9/19/11: Destruction Bay, YT
9/24/11: Burwash Landing, YT
10/8/11: Beaver Creek, YT
10/8/11: Alaska/Yukon border
10/16/11: Northway Junction, AK
10/26/11: Tetlin Junction, AK
11/2/11: Tok, AK
11/14/11: Slana, AK
11/30/11: Gulkana, AK
12/2/11: Glennallen, AK
12/17/11: Glacier View, AK
1/3/12: Palmer, AK
1/10/12: Anchorage, AK
2/4/12: Soldotna, AK
2/18/12: Homer, AK
2/21/12: End of trip


Walter said...

Why stop at the state line? Go all the way up to Deadhorse. And why isn't there an overview map of the whole route?

Chris Allen said...

Hmm. My thinking was that if once I got to the Alaska state line, if I felt like continuing, I would. I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself, I guess.

But since you asked, here's the full route, at least to the state line.

Guse said...

I don't know you. Found your blog completely at random by googling Kroger Toasted Oats which apparently held your interest a few years ago.

Anyway, love the idea of tracking your bike mileage as a fictional road trip. However, to be more accurate you should keep track not just of your lateral progress, but your vertical climbing as well. Its one thing to bike 4000 miles around your town. Quite another to cross the Appalachian and Rocky mountains. This would of course make your tracking task more challenging but it sounds like you enjoy that sort of thing.

Chris Allen said...

I have thought about incorporating elevation change into this trip somehow (you're the second person to mention that), since I can't really say I "biked to Alaska" without a few intense climbs here and there. But given that Durham and the surrounding areas are relatively flat, it's not all that practical for me to do a bunch of steep climbs. (That, and I'm not yet in good enough shape to handle them, I don't think.) Maybe once I complete this trip, I'll do it again with an increased level of difficulty.