Whitehorse Daily Star

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WAY DOWN SOUTH – Ian Randman at the start of his epic journey at Key West, Florida on June 1.

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NORTH TO ALASKA – Ian Randman on his way north near Bob Quinn Lake on the Stewart- Cassiar Highway in B.C. on Aug. 31.

Biker riding from Florida to Alaska for charity

Ian Randman is undertaking a long journey in support of pediatric cancer research in his cousin’s memory.

By Morris Prokop on September 16, 2022

Ian Randman is undertaking a long journey in support of pediatric cancer research in his cousin’s memory.

Randman, from Long Island, New York, is biking from Key West, Florida, southernmost point of the continental U.S., to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the northernmost point in North America accessible by road, a distance of approximately 10,000 km.

The Star spoke with Randman in Whitehorse Sep.7.

Randman, 22, figured he’d biked 8,200 km to Whitehorse, so had about 1,800 km to go.

Randman explained what inspired him to undertake this epic journey.

“I’m doing it for charity in memory of my cousin (Joshua Randman) who passed away a few years ago from cancer … he passed away in early 2018 from a rare type of cancer. He was a big face in an organization called Tackle Kids Cancer and they’re based in New Jersey, so this trip gives me an opportunity to raise some money for them and spread some awareness about my cousin and pediatric cancer.

“On top of that, I just graduated college, so I figure now’s a good time to do the trip before I slave away the rest of my life to work.

“I like biking, I like camping, I like suffering, so here I am,” he joked.

Randman started his journey June 1. He’s taken three weeks off in Florida with his grandparents and another week in Denver with a friend.

He had been riding 66 days, and figured he had about 20 days left of riding to reach Prudhoe Bay.

“The conditions are going to get a lot more rough out of Fairbanks. The hope is to be done before Oct. 1, but if I had to guess, somewhere around Sep. 25, 27,” said Randman.

He’s averaging between 110-130 km a day.

“Weather gets cold up there, so I’ve been doing more distance each day than I had planned … it does suck a little bit of fun out of it, always having a time constraint but I enjoy that I do a lot of distance each day ... I like to get to the next food place so I can have something that’s not peanut butter,” related Randman.

“Soon I will have to be carrying two weeks worth of food. Tough road conditions, tough weather.”

Randman will be riding on the Dalton Highway north of Fairbanks, which is similar to the Dempster in northern Yukon.

“They treat it with calcium chloride, so when it’s wet, it’s like cement,” said Randman. “Like, the mud, it’s like wet cement. It’s awful for bikes, I hear. There’s a lot of elevation gain ... if I’m above 100 km a day, I’ll be happy.”

Randman said he’s supporting Tackle Kids Cancer because “For years I’ve been wanting to do something for my cousin. This is a good opportunity to actually talk to people and spread the word about it … pediatric cancer doesn’t get nearly as much funding or attention from the government as other types of cancer.”

Anyone wanting to support the cause can go to ianrandman.com/fundraiser

“You can read about my cousin,” said Randman. “Soon I’ll be sharing a petition to get the government to give more funding to pediatric cancer.

“Donations are very much appreciated. The goal right now is U.S. $5,000. I’m pretty close to $3000 right now. Donations are greatly appreciated by me and my family and obviously the organization, because it all goes to cancer research,” he added.

Joshua Randman was only 20 when he died in 2018. He was diagnosed in 2015.

When asked how he’s financing his long journey, Randman quipped “McDonald’s!

“I did some internships and I got some money from that. I live pretty cheap otherwise. My only expense right now is food. I try to keep it under $10 a day. In the U.S., it was cheaper than that. Here it’s a bit more.

“I’ve had to pay a bit for bike repairs. And in the months and years leading up to this trip, getting the proper gear. I suffered in the past with cheap gear. It’s a good experience to have, not a good experience to be living through, so I have, for the most part, good gear.”

Randman is riding a Giant bike.

“Don’t buy a Giant bike,” quipped Randman. “It should have been a fine bike, but it’s like they used every defective part to build the bike. The bottom bracket … completely failed on Day 2.

“In Denver I got a new wheel and tire, new grips, another bottom bracket. In Florida, I got new brakes. I might be getting another new wheel today, maybe new pedals. Riding in the rain also doesn’t do any favours for the bearings on the bike.”

Randman is good at maintaining his ride.

“As long as I have all the tools with me, I’ll do all the maintenance myself.”

Weather has played a big part during his epic excursion.

“In the south part of the U.S., I was dealing with 37-40º C and it was just miserable. Especially at night. I’ve never slept so uncomfortably.

“Here right now, it’s starting to get pretty chilly at nights.

“When I was in Wyoming and Montana, the headwinds were awful.

‘I managed to avoid rain for most of the trip. I had a tropical storm on Day 3. I had tornados in eastern Colorado but not much rain in-between but the last two weeks it’s been a lot. (Almost every morning it seems like it’s raining and sometimes rains throughout the whole day.) I just get wet and hopefully, it’s not raining when I stop. I’m dry by the time I get off the bike.

“Beyond that, the main surprise for this trip has been the people that I’ve met. I went into this trip thinking it was going to be mostly about the scenery and the bike ride but really, it’s all about the people. (It kind of makes me happy that I don’t have an e-bike, or I have some bike troubles and other issues, because that forces me to go and talk to people, stop more frequently.) Some of the best experiences of my life have been on this trip.”

Randman has also had some memorable encounters along the way.

“I had one lady in Tennessee … she threw a full can of soda at my head. Fortunately she missed, so that was pretty funny,” recalled Randman.

“In Denver I had a woman … she chased me away from a Sonic. ‘Leave this establishment and never come back’, like, running after me.

Another incident occurred in Florida.

“Down south … I slept at a church one night, outside. They called the police. It was not a safe town, so they thought I might be burglarizing it. That’s actually the reason I went to the church. I was originally at a park and I did not feel safe there and that’s the only time on this trip I’ve set up camp and then moved because I don’t feel safe.”

“I did sleep in a jail one night, but that was by choice. In the south, whenever I would see police at night, I would ask them ‘Where’s a good spot to sleep?’ ... I passed by a correctional facility and I asked … and they’re like, ‘Right here.’ I slept on the good side of the door.”

Randman has encountered bears as well.

“I have two cans of bear spray and a bear canister for my food, so I feel safe. I’ve had some bear encounters, but they’re all so busy eating, they don’t care.”

Randman has two power banks with him and his phone has a fast charger. He bought a new phone in Denver, so the battery is practically brand new.

He has no cookstove, but has three kilos of peanut butter with him, as well as granola bars and cookies.

As for how he was feeling, “Legs are a bit tired,” said Randman.

“Yesterday, I came from Teslin, so that’s like 190 km. That was one of my longer days. I’m a little bit sleep-deprived but I’m much happier now with the colder weather. Back in the U.S., I was stopping frequently during the day because of heat exhaustion.

“Overall, I feel fine as long as it’s not a headwind.”

Randman had some delays before his journey started, including getting COVID before the trip.

“Prudhoe Bay gets very cold very quickly, so when I get there, the average high will probably be around freezing. I’ve spent much of this trip slightly stressed about that; doing big days – the plan was to average 100 kms a day, but now if I do 100 km, I’m like ‘Oh, that’s it.’ So I’m certainly happy now that I’ve made up a lot of time and so my goal now is just to be done before October, which I’m on track to do.”

Update: Randman has now made it to Fairbanks. He will now be traveling north on the Eliot Highway 100 km, before the toughest part of his expedition on the unpaved Dalton Highway for 600-700 km.

“It’ll be rough, especially since it’s gravel. Gotta worry about trucks coming by, flicking up the gravel. It’s enough to break people’s windshields,” he said.

Randman is planning on flying back to New York from Fairbanks after his epic bike journey.

Comments (1)

Up 1 Down 0

Jon on Sep 17, 2022 at 4:34 pm

I’m just back home after driving from West Virginia to Deadhorse and back, more than 12,000. Taking a bicycle up the Dalton Highway is beyond insane. I wish him luck.

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