I'm in Whitehorse, Yukon right now at an internet cafe, but I don't think I'll be able to plug in my card reader here so the pictures will have to wait. I have a lot of pictures now.
The trip didn't start for real until I reached Dawson Creek in BC, mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. Everything suddenly got good as soon as I turned onto it. A little ways down the road I met a 64 year old guy named Bill on a BMW 1200GS at a gas station, also headed for Alaska. I mentioned the age because this gives me hope for my old age. Maybe I should stop smoking after all. We decided we might as well ride to Fort Nelson together, then the next day rode to Watson Lake together.
From Fort Nelson to Watson Lake is right through the Rocky Mountains in BC, just below the Yukon. This was by far the best day of riding ever in my life. The scenery was amazing, and while I have some pictures of cool scenery they don't compare to what I saw here. I couldn't photograph it because there weren't very good places to stop, and this kind of road is too good for interruptions to stop and take pictures. I have some good pictures of stuff, but when you see them remember that they don't compare, and even if I photographed the best stuff it wouldn't do it justice. Moving through these huge old worn down looking mountains full of lakes and a different kind of scene every 30 seconds gives a perspective a camera can't capture.
The combination of curvy and hilly roads wrapping around a mountain, incredible scenes unfolding around every curve, and the loose gravel patches made it the best ride I've done so far to date. The loose gravel patches were spaced so that you might spend 10 seconds on pavement, then 5 seconds on loose gravel, but sometimes more--almost random, but frequent. Sometimes it changed to gravel at a curve, so as you come up on every curve you have to look ahead and decide whether to ride the curve in dirt bike mode or road racer mode. The pace was about 70 mph, just a little over the speed limit (ok sometimes more) and just quick enough to be fun but not enough to worry too much about going off the side of the mountain. I kept my lean angles pretty mellow since the tire I got in edmonton has very widely spaced knobs for the dirt. It seems ok on pavement, but I don't think I should expect too much. Sometimes the lane would split into half gravel and half asphalt and I could just pick my line and which style of riding I felt like doing.
This was where my choice of bike really paid off and made it all worth it. The dual sport is king on this road. Bill agreed this was also the best day of riding he's ever had as well, and he's been around a lot more than me on motorcycles. His big GS wasn't handling dirt very well with it's street tires on, but he didn't have too much problem with the gravel patches. Eventually we crossed one of many bridges into 12 kilometers of construction (not the first, but the longest), and it was like they were just trying to make a fun trail for a dirt bike. Bill didn't enjoy this much but I had a blast. It started out just dirt and I started late so I had room to catch up with the pilot car and the line of RVs, while passing a family of bison laying in the grass right next to the earthmovers, watching us go by. The pilot car got us to a certain point then we were on our own, and the "road" was very wide. I shot past the RVs and into the rocky section having a great time and saw another huge bison laying in the grass on my left watching me go by without much interest. Then back onto the road all too soon and waited for Bill to catch up. Regular treet tires must've been slick in that section.
In Watson Lake we met two other riders headed to Alaska together. One was Mike from California (this is his website: http://mikesworldtour.com/
) and the other was Silve from Quebec. Mike was on a 1150GS Adventure, and Silve was riding a Harley softail. Silve was a good lesson not to judge a book by it's cover, as he's been everywhere in North and Central America on that softail, wearing a half helmet and chaps and looking almost like a guy you'd see in a Hooters parking lot, except he's about as far from that as you can get.
We had a few beers that night, then leapfrogged past each other on the road all the next day. When me and Bill would stop, they would pull up then go by, and vice versa. Finally we all ended up at the same campsite in Whitehorse last night. This was the first time on the trip I've camped, but I'm going to try to camp a lot more now. After setting up tents the four of us went out for good steaks and beers, then back to camp to really rough it--sitting around the fire looking at pictures on Mike's laptop and swapping camera cards.
Bill split this morning for Skagway. I went and checked out Myles Canyon with Mike and Silve, then they headed up to Dawson City and I headed for the internet cafe.
I saw a motocross track when leaving the canyon area and headed in to check it out. Wow, I'm doing great! Oh, it's just the driveway. The DR650 is not a motocross bike. I rode up a big tabletop and I swear it dropped straight down on the other side. Good thing it was a table top with room to turn around, I would not have wanted to ride down that! I've rolled over jumps on a motocross track on my GS1100, just goofing around. You'd think I could at least roll over a track on a dual sport, but I guess not. I've gotten lamer or that table top belonged on a trials course. I bet the little kid on the 50cc didn't have a problem with it. It's ok, I don't need pride. I got off the track and decided the little paved go kart track next to it was more my speed.
My current plan is to head to Dawson City tonight, or at least move down the road a little, then do the top of the world highway to Fairbanks. It's supposed to ride near the tops of mountains and have 40 miles of dirt on the American side. From Fairbanks I will probably head straight to Anchorage and hang out with Beej for a bit. At some point during my stay I'm going back up to Fairbanks, the Arctic Circle, and ride Denali highway, then go back south to try to get a ferry to Washington.