Dan is cycling from Alaska to Argentina (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Hearing the sound of something rustling a few metres below, curiosity got the better of Dan Camp.
Stepping off his bike for a closer look, he peered down the ditch.
Instantly his curiosity turned to panic.
‘It was a grizzly bear,’ Dan tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I went to grab my bear spray and when I looked again, it was already pounding up the ditch and just a couple of metres away from me.
‘I was absolutely frozen. If it wanted to kill me, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.’
Luckily, the bear decided Dan wouldn’t be a good meal and ran off – but the grizzly is just one of the many terrifying animals the 23-year-old has seen so far on his quest to cycle 18,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina.
It took Dan 22 days to cycle through Alaska (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
It’s an adventure dreamt up after Dan cycled around 2,000 miles from Manchester to Istanbul last year, to raise money for the Pink Ribbon Foundation, a breast cancer charity.
Despite not having any real experience cycling – he couldn’t wait to get another trip organised.
‘I really don’t do that much planning. I have a vague idea of what I’m doing and just kind of wing it as I’ll go along.’
So, in June last year, equipped with his bike, camping gear and a few days worth of food – he took three flights (including a 16 hour layover) to reach his starting point, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
Since then, Dan’s cycled across Canada, past Washington, Oregon and Nevada, and now is pedalling through California. His aim is to finish at Ushuaia, thought to be the southernmost tip in South America.
It’s a very different life to the one he left behind, where he sold drum kits on eBay and watched YouTube videos of adventurers.
His adventure, which he’s documenting on TikTok, looks like something out of a film, as he passes pink hazy sunsets on mountain peaks, snowy paths with mountain goats, and picture-perfect lakes.
He’s also experienced polar opposite climates, from the desert heat to the Arctic snow – and is taking a leaf out of David Attenborough’s book by snapping pictures of all the wildlife he’s seen so far.
The sunset in Oregon, America (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Mount Rainier, Washington (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
A cute marmot saying hello (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Although he’s been on the road now for seven months, Dan says he’s in no rush for it to end and has been renting out his place in England to cover costs.
‘I’m just taking my time and seeing how it goes, I’m hoping it’ll be somewhere around two to three years,’ he explains.
Back home his family have been incredibly supportive of his travels. ‘They encouraged me to go,’ adds Dan, saying he keeps in regular touch with them and has even met up with his dad for a short road trip across the canyons in Utah.
Wild camping in Alaska (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Financially, he’s budgeted $10 (or £8) for each day, thanks to wild camping and store-bought food, and kept his routine simple.
With only 10 hours of daylight at the moment due to winter, Dan explains that he likes to get going pretty quickly, so is up at around 6am, and does his first essential task – making coffee.
‘Then, I’ll start packing up my camp and loading up the bike with everything, which takes around an hour and a half.’
Despite planning to travel for years, Dan has packed pretty light. He carries a multi-fuel stove, his tent, sleeping bag and mat.
‘I have just two sets of clothes, three pairs of underwear – which all have a load of holes in them now – and two pairs of socks,’ he explains.
Dan packs pretty light (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Dinner is served (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Each day he aims to clock up around 50 miles. Once it’s near dark, Dan sets up his tent, make dinner and then get his head down at around 10pm.
But what does he do when he needs the loo? ‘I have to just dig a little hole in the ground and go there, and I always just carry a little toilet paper with me.
‘I have to pack it away into a bag and then put that in the bin next time, which can be days later and a bit gross,’ he admits.
Cycling for five days and then resting for two, Dan says he’s created a pretty smooth rhythm, using his downtime to locate shops so he can buy his next few days’ supplies.
It’s trickier to find water in a Californian desert (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Getting water, however, is a different story. Although he has a filter to make sure it’s drinkable, finding the source isn’t always plain sailing.
‘I was in Canada, and there were rivers on the map, but I didn’t realise the road was about 50 feet above all the rivers so I just couldn’t get there,’ Dan remembers. ‘It was a really hot day in the middle of the summer and I was just cycling uphill all day. Eventually I found a water source, so was okay.’
Biking in the middle of nowhere with no water in sight might be stressful for some, but Dan says the key is to stay calm.
‘There’s times where I’ll be thirsty and I won’t be able to get water. Mentally I’ve already accepted that,’ he explains.
Plus, he adds, camping in beautiful places for free is totally ‘worth’ being dehydrated.
The sky at night at Mount Rainier, Washington (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
So far his adventure has seen him sleep out by mountains, lakes and even in abandoned ranches. But the best place he’s stayed so far ‘has to be the Salmon Glacier’, he confesses.
‘It is the biggest glacier in the world you can get to by road, it’s in the middle of nowhere in Canada.
‘The day I was getting there, I’d also met a couple who were doing the same, so we planned to meet at the top where they would make me dinner.
‘It was just one of the hardest days of cycling I’ve ever had – I had to climb about 4,500 feet straight up a mountain basically on this really rough, horrible gravel road.
‘Then two thirds of the way up, the couple came past me,’ he recalls.
The Salmon Glacier (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
They took Dan’s heaviest bag off and said they’d have a cold beer and shower waiting for him.
‘I raced the rest of the way up,’ he laughs. ‘When I got there it was by far the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. When you look at it, you don’t believe that it’s real – you can’t even comprehend how big it is.
‘Then just to make it even better, we’re up there camping and then see a black bear running around the mountain just underneath us,’ he adds.
But not everywhere has been so Insta-perfect, admits Dan. He’s often had to sleep in a ditch on the side of the road.
‘It’s never fun but you’ve just got to find somewhere to put the tent and go to sleep,’ he explains.
Then there was the night after arriving in Washington, when Dan camped at what he thought was public property.
‘At around three in the morning, I got woken up by a flashlight on my tent,’ he remembers. ‘I very quickly realised that I was on private land, which is one of my biggest fears in the US because a lot of people have guns and don’t take kindly to trespassing. ‘You see signs everywhere that say “there’s nothing here worth dying for”.’
Luckily the man guided him to a public path and even gave him food and water. ‘I think he thought I was homeless,’ Dan laughs.
Travelling solo, he always listens to something with his headphones so he’s not alone with his thoughts for too long.
‘When I’m out cycling them out in nature, it’s pretty rare that I feel lonely,’ Dan explains.
Dan has made many friends, including meeting Bob and Molly in Washington, America (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Plus, it’s pretty easy to make friends when you’re in remote places, he adds. In British Columbia, Canada, a simple question to a stranger at a campsite changed the course of his journey for weeks.
‘I asked if a guy if he minded me camping next to him and the next thing I know, I’m invited for the dinner. The next morning, he made me steak and eggs!
‘He lived in the town that I was on my way to, so he then invited me to stay at his place and I spent four days with his family.
‘We went out on his boat and caught fresh crab and prawns and had a really fresh seafood dinner – it was brilliant.’
Dan in California (Picture: Dan Cycles The World)
Although Dan is seven months into his trip, he’s still got many more months ahead of him.
Yet despite several close calls with grizzly bears, nearly being trampled to death by a moose and sleeping in ditches, Dan insists he’s never had a moment where he thought about turning back.
‘Since I’ve been doing this, the more my self esteem and confidence grows,’ he says. ‘I just honestly love this trip so much.
‘It’s such an amazing way to experience countries, connect with nature and to meet new people.’
Dan’s route goes from Alaska to Argentina and he’s already met more than one grizzly bear along his way.