FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Stanley Brodaric has pedaled his mountain bike nonstop for nearly 17 months in hopes of sitting in the ''toondra,'' sipping champagne after reaching the Arctic Ocean.
To be sure, it is an admirable goal for a man who will turn 70 in a few days.
Brodaric began his journey on Feb. 26, 2001 in Tierra Del Fuego determined to ride his bike from the southernmost point in South America to the northern most point in North America, which is Prudhoe Bay.
So determined was Brodaric to complete what he calls ''the longest road'' that he actually began his trip on an island just south of Tierra Del Fuego. The island had 50 miles of road on it and Brodaric biked all the road on the island and then flew back to the mainland to begin his journey.
''It's the southernmost road there is,'' said Brodaric, a Slovenian-born, semi-retired interior decorator from New York City. ''There is no more road.''
Brodaric has pedaled past armed ''Rambos'' in Colombia, endured the unbearable heat and hills of Bolivia and been robbed and almost choked to death by thieves in Peru. He has persisted through it all, pedaling sometimes more than 100 miles a day.
Brodaric has traveled approximately 15,000 miles and has pedaled every one. As he was struggling to make his way up a hill in the rain on the Top of the World Highway between Dawson City, Yukon Territory, and Tok the other day, a man in a pickup truck pulled over and asked him if he wanted a ride. Brodaric politely refused.
''I told him, 'I appreciate it but I have to finish this on my own. I cannot accept a ride,''' Brodaric said during a brief two-day stop in Fairbanks to prepare for the final leg of his trek -- the 440-mile Dalton Highway.
Brodaric may have no choice but to accept a ride if he wants to complete his goal of reaching the Arctic Ocean.
The Dalton Highway ends 8 miles from the ocean. The last stretch of ''road'' bisects the Prudhoe Bay oilfield and access is controlled by BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., the state's largest oil company. While the company has accommodated cyclists like Brodaric in the past, that is no longer the case since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
''Whether we will entertain that kind of request this year remains to be seen,'' said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell. ''My sense is that requests for this kind of access will not be approved.''
Brodaric had yet to talk to anybody at BP as of Friday. He was compiling a portfolio to present to the company in hopes of gaining permission to pedal through Prudhoe.
The portfolio contained a letter from the mayor of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, where he was named ''Tourist of the Week,'' as well as newspaper articles detailing his travels. Brodaric planned to meet with Fairbanks Mayor Steve Thompson Friday to get his blessing.
If he can't ride to the ocean, Brodaric can load his bike onto a bus and take it there if he wants, said Brian Moye, manager of the Arctic Caribou Inn, which handles all tours of the Prudhoe Bay oilfield. Moye said about 20 to 30 people a day board a bus to ride through the oilfield to the ocean.
The only motive Brodaric has for reaching the Arctic Ocean is personal satisfaction. He was hoping to reach his final destination on Tuesday, his 70th birthday, but a 500-mile detour up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik -- the northernmost, road-accessible point in Canada -- put him behind schedule.
''Of course I'll be disappointed if I can't go all the way,'' he said, ''but I have seen so many beautiful things on the road, even if I don't the whole thing is not lost.
''How many people that are 70 do crazy things like this,'' he asked, smiling through a wooly, white beard and mustache. ''I'm blessed if I can do it.''
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