As far as first cycle tours go, this was probably a more 'advanced class' than I should have started with. But at the age of 21, having never owned a bicycle before, the concept of 3000km meant little to me and it was therefore entirely probable that I would succeed.
And so, with the very little money I had left after graduating university, I loaded four panniers on to my brand-new touring bike with enough gear to keep me warm in the Rockies, and set off to a magical and mysterious part of Canada that I had never been to before: the Yukon. I would ride from my hometown of Calgary to Dawson City, just below the Arctic Circle.
Snowy mountain passes, days on end without access to civilisation or supplies, freezing nights camping, bears and bison constantly sharing the road, and the most tangible loneliness I have ever experienced became the only constants in the month that followed. My body broke down and repaired itself, and then my bike broke down and I was forced to finally learn how to repair it, too. I eventually got through a day without falling trying to get out of my clip pedals. There were at least dozens of occasions where had the opportunity existed, I would have quit. But this is the far north of Canada - there is nowhere else to go but continue on this road.
Despite swearing I would never see it again, six years later I am still riding that same bicycle, and exceeding distances that at the time seemed impenetrable. In that summer I progressed from naive beginner to advanced cycle touring enthusiast, and haven't looked back.
You can find the archive blog posts from this trip here.