The Last Frontier
If you look closely at the vehicle number plates in Anchorage, they proudly proclaim Alaska as ‘the last frontier’, an appropriate moniker for America’s largest and most untamed state. While the office blocks of downtown provide an illusion of normality, the mountains on the horizon hint at the harsh and unforgiving frontier beyond. Anchorage in summer time is a peculiar place to be. There is sunlight for almost 24-hours a day – a far cry from the perpetual dark and cold of the infamous Alaskan winter. Local residents tell legendary tales of the deep winter months which make you wonder how anybody can live here! This is a young city, only a century old; built as an anchoring point (hence the name) for the Alaskan railroad, and providing a humble gateway to one of the last great frontiers. Like many adventurers before, the North American Epic riders will depart the comfort and security of Anchorage, for a journey into the wild.
Four months from now, these same riders will be entering one of the largest cities in the world. Mexico City is home to roughly 9 million people, over ten times the population of the entire state of Alaska! For nearly a thousand years, the Valley of Mexico has been a cradle of civilization, from the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, to the present day metropolis. There couldn’t be two more contrasting cities from which to start and end this epic journey. Between these two points, the riders will experience some of North America’s best scenery and national parks, crossing mountains, deserts, and much more on their journey south.
However, as the riders prepare for today’s first stage, Mexico will be the last thing on their minds. There are more urgent matters at hand and last minute preparations to be completed. The staff have been busy collecting supplies, loading the vans, and preparing the route. These few days before the tour are full of both anxiety and excitement as the scale of the coming months becomes a reality. Hazards, such as bears and wildfires, have been a hot topic of conversation around the hotel, and only serve to heighten the sense of adventure and trepidation. Hopefully the start of the tour and a few days of riding in the bag will calm the rider’s nerves and begin to build their confidence.
As we head towards our first rest day in Tok, it will be interesting to hear the individual stories from the riders as they begin experiencing this ‘last frontier’ from the unique perspective of a bicycle.