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Stage 497 – Tokoroa to Tanana River

The detour around the vast Wrangell-Saint Elias National Preserve is enormous, taking in eleven stages in order to avoid a bunch of glaciers at high altitude. But as there’s actually no alternative because there is no cycling route over the top, Mark Beaumont went the long way round and Around The World is following his route. However 497 does have the distinction of being the stage that finally heads east with more than just a hint of south east thrown in. There’s still a long way to go to regain the latitude of a few stages ago but at least 497 is finally heading in the right direction. As stages go, it’s a downhiller for four miles, lumpy for the next ten miles then lumpy and uphill for the remaining eight miles.

The rollout follows the Tok River north, albeit four miles west of the water, and arrives in the town of Tok at the bottom of a four mile descent. At the Post Office opposite the Memorial Park, Route 1 hangs a right at the T junction onto the Alaska Highway and heads east out of town as Route 2. The next ten miles are lumpy without ever throwing any big climbs in your way, but the nature of the undulations is such that you’ll probably never manage to settle into any kind of rhythm.

At the end of the long straight out of town, at the fourteen mile mark, the road snakes left then right to cross the Tanana River: immediately after the river, the highway turns right on a mile long bend and that sets up a meandering south easterly climb that stretches out over eight miles to the end of the stage. The bad news is that the highest elevation of the stage, at over eighteen hundred feet, is at the finish line. The climb, and indeed the whole of the run in after passing the junction with the Taylor Highway (Route 5) at sixteen miles, follows the ridge that sits at the foot of the hills that lie to the east of Route 1. They’re not high but they dictate that the route must head south east towards Midway Lake, a feature of stage 498.

Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres

Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres

Ascent: 538 feet / 164 metres

RGT Magic Road: rsURAbRbESpf

Total distance: 21.97 mi
Max elevation: 1846 ft
Min elevation: 1584 ft
Total climbing: 537 ft
Total descent: -363 ft

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