Road trip: to Alaska's Arctic limits in a Mazda MX-5

It’s roughly quarter to six in the morning when I nearly run over a bear.

Or run into a bear, since the fuzzy hillock staring at me from 20 feet away probably weighs about the same as the MX-5 I’m driving. We gawp at each other for a while, the ursine and the human, as confused as each other. The bear wondering why a small, off-white roadster should have suddenly appeared in its remote territory north of the Arctic Circle, when the usual occasional traffic consists of easily avoided big-rigs, and me on the grey edge of hypoxia because I’ve forgotten to breathe. I have the roof down. To a hungry bear, I probably look like semi-tinned dinner.

Very slowly, I reach for reverse, begin to crawl backwards out of pouncing range and promptly nearly hit the camera car. Luckily, reinforcement seems to provoke a reaction, and the Grizzly whuffs mightily from somewhere in her sternum and ambles off into the trees. At the opposite end of the respiratory spectrum, I gulp air like a drowning man.

Photography: John Wycherley

This feature was originally published in the November 2015 issue of Top Gear magazine

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