2019/12: Cycling from Catherdal Creek to Silverfox Roadhouse

  Stage 2019/12 [A074]

Cathedral Creek - Silverfox Roadhouse  (Alaska Highway)

65 mi / 105 km
400 Hm (garmin edge 1000)







Cycling Whitehorse, Yukon to Anchorage, Alaska via Dawson City.

Stage Cathedral Creek to Silverfox Roadhouse following the Alaska Highway.

One of the most epic cycling routes of the world.

Cycling to Delta Junction following the Alaska Highway northbound.
Yesterday the weather was great, today we are allowed to experience the opposite.         
Cycling the Alaska Highway northbound
The Alaska Highway between Tok and the northern end at Delta Junction runs straight ahead in sections. And when I say straight ahead I really mean straight ahead: the road runs straight ahead for over 20 km / 12 mi. You look forever at the same picture on the horizon that comes only slowly closer. So crossing a bridge is a nice change.    
Cycling the Alaska Highway northbound.
Yeah, we cycle some bends!    
Cycling Alaska Highway northbound
And another bridge, for a nice change.           
Cycling Alaska Highway northbound to Delta Junction.
On the horizon, the steel structure of the Black Veterans Memorial Bridge can be seen early on, but until we actualy get there still seems to be an eternity. The bridge was constructed in 1944 and in 1993 it was dedicated to the black veterans who were taking active part in the construction of the Alaska Highway.
I wonder why a bridge was dadicated to the black veterans and why did that happend in 1993. During that time, the US Army had three so-called African-American regiments send out to support the construction of the Alaska Highway (which was called ALCAN Alasca-Canada Highway at that time), the 93rd, 95th and 97th Engineer General Service Regiment. These soldiers were deployes to operate separately from the white soldiers. The racism of those days led the army to deploy the supposedly inferior black soldiers separated from the white comrades, keep them outside the settlements and keep them away from the population. And let some do more hard labor with less equipment. The black regiments quickly made a name for themselves on the highway through their hard work. Their performance was in no way inferior to that of the white soldiers, e.g: they built a wooden bridge over a raging river in hard winter conditions within 72 hours, which was considered impossible. The hard job they did was never recognized in public. In a television documentary about the construction of the Alaska Highway bradcasted in 1988, not a single African-American soldier appeared in the footage, all over the film white faces only, although one third of these soldiers were African-American. Learning that background, it appears to me quite right and most important to honor the work of the black veterans involved in the construction with the dedication of a bridge. Better late than never.    
Cycling the Alaska Highway
53 mi / 86 km north of Cathedral Creek we cross the Gerstle River on the Black Veterans Memorial Bridge. Directly behind the river beginns the ground of the former Gerstle River Test Site, a facility of the US Army, in which the use of biological and chemical warfare agents has been tested under arctic conditions. Chemical warfare agents, nerve toxins such as sarin and biological warfare agents such as the bacterium Francisella Tularensis, which triggers the sometimes fatal disease tularemia (rabbit fever) in humans, have been tested here for 50 years. In the early 1970s, the facility was closed and the site cleaned. Thorough and reliable. The cleaning was done so thorough and reliable that the State Department of Environmental Conservation 2018 had doubts about the thoroughness of the cleaning of the site and a new investigation was started to evaluate the contamination on the site. Obviously, worrying gaps have been identified in the documentation of the work performed. Anyway: for us it is not a suitable place to make a break. We cycle on, camping at this place is not an option.   
Cycling the Alaska Highway.
We spend the night in the Silverfox Roadhouse. When it is cold and rainy outside and you had a long day on the bike, there is nothing better than a warm fireplace. The owner of the roadhouse (as of 2019) is very friendly and helpful, as a cyclist you are welcome. It wasn't quite like that in Chicken.