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Canadian cyclist restarts Alaska-to-Argentina trip

Posted: Sunday, July 23, 2000

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

An Alaska AP Member Exchange

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- If things had gone according to plan, Chrystine Roy would have been pedaling her way to the Inside Passage by now.

Instead of lamenting her fate, the 29-year-old Canadian is praising Fairbanksans for the help she received following an accident that temporarily derailed her 15,500-mile Alaska-to-Argentina bike expedition.

''I can't complain,'' she said as she prepared to begin her adventure a second time on Friday in a drizzling rain. ''If I had to get hurt I'm glad it was here.''

On June 5, the first day of Roy's trip, an accident on the Dalton Highway landed her in the hospital. She hit a patch of sand going downhill, the bike stopped and she didn't. She flew over the handlebars and hit the ground hard.

Area residents took her in and helped her recover while her broken collarbone healed.

On Friday, she departed from Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. offices with police and Alyeska vehicle escorts.

Roy made a short speech to about 75 Alyeska employees who cheered her as she departed. Ernie Ford, an Alyeska security officer, handed her a card and donation from employees.

''Wow,'' Roy responded. ''I wasn't expecting that. This is very good.''

Roy has had plenty of time for soul searching and has learned a thing or two from her time in Alaska.

''This happened for a reason,'' Roy said. ''I needed to rest. I have to think positive. Otherwise these six weeks would have been hell.''

She has done a lot of thinking about the accident, wondering why this happened and if she should give up and go home. Deciding to stay, she said, ''That was a little learning experience.''

After being released from the hospital, Roy was given a complimentary room at Pikes Water Front Lodge, then Tim and Stacey Shelton of Eielson Air Force Base took her in for four weeks.

''They took very good care of me,'' Roy said. ''They cooked me nice meals, took me out to eat and showed me around.''

She met the Sheltons when they gave her a ride to the Arctic Circle to start her June bike ride. Roy said she couldn't believe that near strangers would take her in. At first, she could not even dress herself due to her injury.

For the last portion of her Fairbanks sojourn, Roy stayed with Russ Stuart and Myriam Figueiredo, friends of a friend from back home. During her recuperation, Roy has gone salmon fishing on the Gulkana, tried goldpanning and visited Chena Hot Springs.

Operating on a tight budget of $5 per day, Roy said the delay hasn't set her back too much because of her hosts' generosity. She had to purchase a new helmet and get her bicycle's wheel and axle repaired.

As for her medical condition, Roy said her doctor indicated she is about 70 to 80 percent healed. He warned her that if she falls again, there'll be another long recovery period for the same injury.

''I have to be very careful,'' said Roy, who is still wearing a shoulder brace.

She hopes to make it to British Columbia in about eight weeks and get back on schedule for her ultimate goal of cycling to Argentina in two years.

She'll take fond memories of Fairbanks along and would like to return one winter. ''I want to go dog mushing in the mountains,'' she said.

''Here I learned compassion and help and support,'' she said. ''Fairbanks is in my heart now.''



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