40

The Card

Dear The Internets,

What would you do with a month or more? Today, a few days before my 40th birthday, my incredibly generous, thoughtful, and insightful wife handed me a card. Within this card was permission, nay, an invitation to take some time off next spring/summer and travel. On my own. On my bike. Pretty much anywhere I’d like to go.

Yes, she mentions Iceland specifically, largely because its one of the many locations I’d like to tour extensively some time in the future (and she knows this). But there are some logistical challenges to this location which while not impossible to overcome could amend the trip.

Below I’ve outlined a number of potential routes and tours. I’d love to tour all of these places of course, but I need to pick one. I’d like to make this both an exploration both physically and spiritually. I need to in fact. So in order to pick the right one and set myself up for success I’m polling The Internets (always a ripe source of opinion) to assist.

Iceland

Stark volcanic landscapes, relentless Arctic winds, icy seas, beautiful people and plentiful hot springs. This place has many of the key features of a location I’d call home. And I’ve never been. Just about any tour would have to start in Reykjavik and I’d be a fool if it didn’t loop the island and pass through Vatnajökull National Park.

Pros

  • Memorable experience
  • Incredible scenery
  • High Latitude
  • Perfectly Lonely
  • English is spoken
  • Good exchange rate

Cons

  • Logistically Challenging</li?
  • Cost may amend trip
  • May require airline packable bicycle (S&S couplers)
  • Limited number of routes

Canadian/Alaska Arctic Tour

Possibly even starting from my front porch this route spans Alberta, British Columbia and Alaska. The idea would be to ride north. No I mean ride NORTH! Into the cold and across the Canadian Rockies, what’s left of Canadian and Alaska glaciers and fjords. And near some of Alaska’s active volcanoes, glaciers and ice fields until I cross the Arctic Circle (and maybe then some). This tour would be inherently cheaper since there would likely be little to no petroleum based travel involved. In addition to stark Arctic beauty I’d also get to experience a number of other biomes scudding the Taiga.

Pros

  • Longer than Iceland
  • Cheaper than Iceland
  • Increased route potential
  • Very lonely stretches of road
  • Just about everyone speaks English
  • No plane ticket required

Cons

  • Fewer hot springs
  • Logging/Gas and Oil Trucks along route

Russian Yakutsk

Chart a route from Yakutsk to the Siberian Peninsula (probably Yelizovo)? Talk about adventure, I’d be asking for it, living on the edge and crossing through challenging Taiga while skirting the Arctic Circle the whole way. New people, potentially unfriendly people from a culture about as different from what I know as I can imagine. And vast tracks of uninhabited land.

Pros

  • Holy cow, adventure!
  • High latitude
  • New culture
  • My Russian would improve

Cons

  • Logistically Challenging
  • Cost may amend trip
  • May require airline packable bicycle (S&S couplers)
  • Limited number of routes
  • Few people speak English
  • Almost no support of fall back plan
  • Presumably long distances between resupply points

Birth of the Holocene

Tour to and circumnavigate Hudson Bay. This would include a significant number of Canadian Provinces I haven’t been to before including Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Nunavut. Taiga and areas near the Arctic Circle are included on this route. I’ll probably spend a few nights with caribou for company. And, one of the really best parts of this one, I’ll get to see the huge basin that started off the last epoch.

Pros

  • Longer than Iceland
  • Cheaper than Iceland
  • Increased route potential
  • Very lonely stretches of road
  • Just about everyone speaks English
  • No plane ticket required

Cons

  • Fewer hot springs
  • Logging/Gas and Oil Trucks along route

There are more routes and possibilities, but I’m not particularly interested in spending what amounts to a summer tour baking my brains in the desert or fighting vast swarms to insects in places tropical. Besides, high altitudes and latitudes is where its at for me.

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