Alaska '08 -Bloodshot, Saddlesore, & BROKE!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PackRat, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. PackRat

    PackRat Huey Guns

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,471
    Location:
    Copper Canyon, Texas
    I had been thinking about a trip to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:State><st1:place>Alaska</st1:place></st1:State> for years and had read every trip report I could find. I had put it off for about 3-4 years for various reasons: money, job, and multiple fractures - the usual reasons. I decided this year had to be the one since my age (and urge) were becoming bigger issues. Another old Blister, Bill A., “the Weathered One”, decided to join me.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    For me, planning is as much fun as going. My sweet wife has said on a number of occasions during our 37 years of marital bliss, “Fun is relative!” Being an old Marine helicopter pilot :devildog , I did extensive map recons to include copying the Milepost Book maps, reducing them by 80% and laminating them to fit in my Aerostitch map pockets attached to my tank bag. They worked perfectly! I also bought the Alaska Gazateer and copied some of those maps. I got the latest government tourist information from <st1:State><st1:place>Alaska</st1:place></st1:State>, <st1:State><st1:place>Alberta</st1:place></st1:State>, <st1:State><st1:place>Yukon</st1:place></st1:State>, <st1:place>Northwest Territory</st1:place>, and <st1:State><st1:place>British Columbia</st1:place></st1:State>; made checklists from all the trip reports I could find; programmed the GPS; tuned the XM; mounted the V-1; and stowed Captain Morgan below decks…..:freaky
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    The 6 weeks of overtime that I had banked up at work, along with holidays, were enough for the trip. (I was secretly hoping they would deny the time off at work so I could resign and not have any time limit: Unfortunately, I’m still here!) I had a very ambitious plan of hitting <st1:City><st1:place>Yellowknife</st1:place></st1:City>, <st1:place>Inuvik</st1:place>, and Deadhorse :thumb and pre-positioned 2 sets of tires for each bike. It was either that or PAY BIGTIME for them up there. I estimated being able to safely get 4,000 miles out of the TKC-80s. Bill and I also wisely built in a “Domestic Harmony” weekend for the wives to fly to <st1:City><st1:place>Anchorage</st1:place></st1:City> in the middle of the trip. We set the departure date for late May with several changes for personal schedules and weather (tornadoes in <st1:City><st1:place>Denver</st1:place></st1:City> will cause pigs to fly!), focusing on the inland attractions so I could do the coastal sights with my wife.

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    <o:p>I packed and repacked the bike several times, making new straps, moving the CG lower, and culling out all but the bare necessities. (A guy named “Pack Rat” probably has a longer necessary list than normal ADV Riders! Now, those two words clash!). Don’t even bring up the subject of tools – even JVB doesn’t carry as much hardware as I do: At least I restricted it to one motorcycle Model this time, although I had to make an adapter for Bill’s ‘07 GSA rear wheel to balance it on the Parnes rig. I added some basic survival gear in case I was stranded in the boonies and changed my spare parts list a number of times. :deal

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    The bike was prepped and had new F/D bearings and seals at 25,000 miles. (See thread “<st1:Street><st1:address>Final Drive</st1:address></st1:Street> from Hell”: I will not dwell on that issue in this report).
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    We carried camping gear, and since I was a grunt before I was a pilot, I love an air mattress which is heavier (while smaller) than just a Thermarest. We also had to contend with weather from 103 degrees to less than 30 degrees, allowing me to use both the ‘Stitch Roadcrafter and Mesh set which I packed for such occasions.
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    Bill and I did a “shake down cruise” to Big Bend with Doug (See Doug’s excellent trip report “Big Bend with two Old Blisters”) to sort out Bill’s new camping gear and play with mileage estimates. With mine holding 7.9 Gal. and his at 8.7 Gal. I figured the .8 wasn’t worth my taking my 3.3 Gal. aux. tank. However, from now on, I will always take my aux. fuel tank, because I was often alone on long runs.

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    We met at <st1:time Minute="30" Hour="6">6:30 AM</st1:time> northwest of Dallas/Fort Worth on the big departure day to begin the highly anticipated trip. We stopped at <st1:City><st1:place>Wichita Falls</st1:place></st1:City> for breakfast and after I missed the turnoff, I cut thru a parking lot and jumped the curb (glad I got that out of my system early in the trip!) to return to the restaurant. Then we stopped at the new rest area (with WiFi) 40 miles east of <st1:City><st1:place>Amarillo</st1:place></st1:City> on Hwy 287. It was about 100 degrees and Bill’s bike refused to start – you guessed it – EWS - (Enjoy Walking Some, End With Silence, Every Wire Sucks, Engineered With Scrap,…or…Exercise Wilderness Survival!) failure. :cry
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    We both love these bikes, but the engineer(s) who put this left-over car ignition switch on a GS should have to push one from Berlin to Antwerp! :ken I told Bill that I would buy a new one when, and only when I had the procedure for disabling that feature. After 2 hours of talking to his dealer, his insurance agent, and several towing companies, Bill was forced to wait for the wrecker to take him and the bike back to DFW. It was Friday before a 3-day weekend which meant no service until Tuesday. And since he really didn’t want to do <st1:City><st1:place>Yellowknife</st1:place></st1:City> or <st1:place>Inuvik</st1:place>, I decided to do <st1:City><st1:place>Yellowknife</st1:place></st1:City> and meet him in <st1:City><st1:place>Whitehorse</st1:place></st1:City> later.

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    Leaving him there to wait for the wrecker, I launched NW and got to <st1:place><st1:City>Lamar</st1:City>, <st1:State>CO</st1:State></st1:place> the day after the tornadoes hit <st1:City><st1:place>Boulder</st1:place></st1:City>. I figured that staying about 100 miles east of the <st1:place>Front Range</st1:place> would keep me out of the weather for awhile. That’s what I get for thinking! I rode in 3 days of rain with wind from the west (= sore neck!), stayed at <st1:City><st1:place>Billings</st1:place></st1:City>, and finally saw sunlight as it was setting at <st1:City><st1:place>Edmonton</st1:place></st1:City>, later spending the night at Whitecourt.:scratch

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    After slow-rolling the bike at zero airspeed, I left Whitecourt and decided to go all the way to <st1:place><st1:placeType>Fort</st1:placeType> <st1:placeName>Providence</st1:placeName></st1:place> that night. At this point, I was now trying to convert the metric fuel consumption by using the American Standard formula “1 Gallon per flush equals 3.8 liters per flush”.

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    As I went into Northwest Territory I stopped at the 60th Parallel Visitors Center (where you can get the Order of Arctic Adventurers, North of 60 Degreee Chapter Certificate) and the Twin Falls Gorge Park.

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    As I passed the <st1:Street><st1:address>MacKenzie Highway</st1:address></st1:Street> turnoff, I saw the sign saying that the <st1:Street><st1:address>Liard Highway</st1:address></st1:Street> was closed. A construction crew worker on the ferry advised me that although it would open soon, to be careful since it has been closed all winter. He said the only traffic are the work crews for the road and fires so “if you go down, you’ll be on your own until late when the crews come out, and the sun goes down really late!” Hmm, had to think on that a while…..:scratch :rolleyes

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    The Providence River

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    The Providence River Ferry

    I got an early start toward <st1:City><st1:place>Yellowknife</st1:place></st1:City> and slalomed through the buffalo (bison) patties in the road almost all the way to the <st1:place><st1:placeType>village</st1:placeType> of <st1:placeName>Rae-Edzo</st1:placeName></st1:place> where I stopped to refuel. This area has a huge bison preserve: I saw more than 7 herds on the road. In addition, there is LOTS of construction (deep gravel) the rest of the way to <st1:City><st1:place>Yellowknife</st1:place></st1:City>. I purchased a Yellowknife T-Shirt that says “<st1:Street><st1:address>Ragged Ass Road</st1:address></st1:Street>.” It was an indoctrination of what was to be on the <st1:City><st1:place>Dalton</st1:place></st1:City>.

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    <o:p>Yellowknife is a neat town where the ice road starts north in the winter.</o:p>
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    <o:p>The Rock & Pilot's Memorial</o:p>
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    <o:p>Yes that is ICE on the water!</o:p>
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    As I ran south on Hwy 3 back to <st1:place><st1:placeType>Fort</st1:placeType> <st1:placeName>Providence</st1:placeName></st1:place> and the <st1:place><st1:placeName>Providence</st1:placeName> <st1:placeType>River</st1:placeType></st1:place> ferry, I mused (careful thought = worry) on the construction worker’s comments about the <st1:Street><st1:address>Laird Highway</st1:address></st1:Street> over to <st1:place>Fort Nelson</st1:place>. I decided that this early in the trip, I should be conservative and go south to Peace River, stay at High Level, and then cut thru Hwy 49 at Rycroft to Dawson Creek where I would pick up the Alaska Highway. It would cost me another day at least, but I had the TKC-80s at Tok - knowing that the new gravel on the <st1:Street><st1:address>Liard Highway</st1:address></st1:Street> would not be fun :nono on Tourances with half the tread. (OK - I'm a WUS!) :hide
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    "Yes Dear - I'll be back soon, folks!":wink: 5 more weeks of riding, repairing, exploring, (while burning precious fossil fuel) to report! OR my week relaxing in Rycroft.....


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    #1
  2. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,071
    Location:
    Rockies. Freakin' Rockies.
    Cool! Can't wait to hear more, I'm thinking of going for Alaska next summer, I'll need to start planning soon. :thumb
    #2
  3. 10guy

    10guy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    274
    :lurk
    #3
  4. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
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    9,883
    Location:
    Tennessee
    :lurk
    #4
  5. locorider

    locorider Loco, pero no estúpido!

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,755
    Location:
    Puerto Rico, U.S.A.
    Keep it comming!!!

    How long it took from DFW to Yellowknife?

    I'm in 2010!
    #5
  6. NeilW

    NeilW 2-up Adventure Touring

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    138
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    :earI love these kinds of stories, and yours is a fine example! Carry on.
    #6
  7. PackRat

    PackRat Huey Guns

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,471
    Location:
    Copper Canyon, Texas
    About 4 1/2 days since it was raining and I could not see anything to take a picture of, until I passed all that weather.:wink: May 22 - 27 for 3132 miles from DFW.:deal


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    #7
  8. idea man

    idea man Plate Spinner

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,513
    Location:
    101 and 246, CA
    Looking forward to more. Would also love to hear about things you took that you really didn't need or that you never used...and of course those things that you are just so happy you brought.
    Planning is at least half the fun.
    #8
  9. olebiker

    olebiker Old buzzard bait

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
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    4,289
    Location:
    Kingston ON Canada
    :lurk:lurk
    #9
  10. shredak

    shredak FREE rider

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    19
    Location:
    Alaska
    anchorage ak to portland or, wenatchee wa to anchorage.... no map......
    #10
  11. VictorBravoMikeIndia

    VictorBravoMikeIndia Low Altitude Flyer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Sarf Ingerland
    looking foward to the next installment !
    #11
  12. Yoni

    Yoni DARE!

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Tel-aviv Israel
    :lurk
    #12
  13. dougs650

    dougs650 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
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    1,007
    Location:
    North Texas
    Bob, Bill,

    It's great to start reading about your big adventure up north, and I look forward to the next opportunity to ride with you guys. Cheers !

    Doug...
    #13
  14. Tappet

    Tappet Feral

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
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    1,451
    Location:
    South Africa
    Locked-in. :lurk
    #14
  15. East Coast Rider

    East Coast Rider Just Me...

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
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    4,128
    Location:
    Stuck somewhere in motorcycle Purgatory
    HURRY UP with the next installment!!

    that reminds me...I need to finish my own RR from Alaska...
    #15
  16. bigdon

    bigdon Long timer

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    Dec 12, 2005
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    2,741
    I'm hooked!
    #16
  17. TedsGlobeStomper

    TedsGlobeStomper Been here awhile

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    Jun 5, 2007
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    188
    Location:
    Post Falls Idaho
    more please!!!:lurk
    #17
  18. PackRat

    PackRat Huey Guns

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,471
    Location:
    Copper Canyon, Texas
    Last night I tried to load too much and lost it all - will break it down smaller tonight.:deal


    Can't get good help anymore!!


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    #18
  19. Abenteuerfahrer

    Abenteuerfahrer Deaf on Wheels

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
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    2,362
    Location:
    Prescott, Arizona, USA
    :clap Great report...keep posting....you're an inspiration to my planned upcoming trip to Alaska in 2009.
    #19
  20. PackRat

    PackRat Huey Guns

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,471
    Location:
    Copper Canyon, Texas
    As I reduced the power for a stop light in Rycroft, the bike felt like it was going over rumble-strips (where there were NONE!) so I pulled over. The final drive bearing failed after 2700 miles on new bearings.

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    I used the MotoFizz bag as ballast as I did my "chiropractor adjustment" on the rear wheel - which actually groaned and growled when I turned it.

    Fellow BMW rider, Scot Hutchinson, stopped to help me get all my gear to the hotel 2 blocks away and offered me the use of his shop in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place><st1:City>Grande Prairie</st1:City>, <st1:State>AB</st1:State></st1:place> (35 miles south) to work on the bike when the parts arrived.
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    After pushing the bike to the hotel, I converted the room to a shop and "borrowed" the weight bench:
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    <o:p>The Big Black Beast of Burden (B to the 4th power) assumes the "front lean and rest position" for 6 days right outside my window. That is the afterburner nozzle hanging down!:</o:p>
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    <o:p>The bearing was "stressed out".</o:p>
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    I ordered the parts and rebuilt the final drive - Mikie’s Wheel Inn, 780-765-3366 is nice and Les & Trudy Dika were great! (For the morbid details of the F/D see the post “The Final Drive from Hell”)

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    <o:p>Back soon ....."Yes Dear, be right there..!"</o:p>
    #20