Just another Alaska ride

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by snowrider, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. snowrider

    snowrider Long timer

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    I'm just another guy going to Alaska. It seems like the Alaskan roads must be clogged with motorcycles and bears. I'll have to really watch out for all those BMWs when I'm bear splitting.
    It looks like I'm finally leaving for Alaska tomorrow morning on my DR650. This is a week later than I'd planned, so I have to get on the road soon or it's sepukku with a tire iron. I'm posting this now to mark my spot and I'll be back when I can get online and have some pictures to post.
    The plan is to ride to the arctic circle, maybe run the haul road if it looks fun and the weather's nice, (I've decided on no bragging rights, just fun for this trip), then down to Anchorage to visit a friend, camp, see glaciers and run Denali Highway. The first day I only plan on riding from Madison, Wisconsin to the border at Fort Frances, Ontario, and if nothing else stops me I should be kicking back in International Falls, Minnesota or Fort Frances tomorrow night watching cable and chain smoking.
    I love cheap motels right off the highway and don't have much experience camping, but I'm going to give it a shot on this trip. Previously camping to me meant sleeping on rest stop picnic tables, but I have a tent and all that and hope to camp in the arctic circle somewhere. But the first night on the road--it's got to be a bed, a shower and hopefully the sound of tires on the highway outside my window helping me sleep.
    Oh yeah, I don't know any of you guys, but I've been reading the stuff here quite a bit since I started reading Striking Viking's thread. So, hi, I'm Aaron. I know you guys like pictures of stuff with motorcycles in them, and uh... stuff, so I'll try to take some and post them here.

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    #1
  2. L.A.

    L.A. Regular Guy™

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    Good luck and safe journey. Keep us updated :thumb
    #2
  3. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Ride safe, see stuff, report back!
    #3
  4. shepoutside

    shepoutside Canadian - eh!

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    somewhere in Ontario, between many Great Lakes !
    :wave , Have a great :ricky !!! Be safe , we are wait'n for your report :lurk
    #4
  5. BUBB

    BUBB lynch not Zimmerman

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    I'm here because I'm not all there.
    Wish I was riding with ya...that is a dream trip for me.
    #5
  6. snowrider

    snowrider Long timer

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    I'm in winnipeg at an internet cafe now. Slow progress, and I'm enjoying it. My mpg dropped to 33mpg when I was doing 80 in MN and I ran out of gas. When it ran out, it died like I'd hit the kill switch. Luckily there was a gas station right there. I kept it between 60 and 70 and got 44 mpg again. The bike likes it better, and even though 80 is comfortable on it, somehow it's convinced me that I like going slower too. I don't know how that works, like the bike just comes with a different mindset. That's like, the speed limit. How convenient.
    Here's a wayside in minnesota on Tuesday where I tried out my camera's timer. Later, a minister came by and blessed my journey. <!--TEMPLATE: skin_topic, Template Part: Show_attachments_img-->
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    Here's a wayside in Superior just outside Duluth where I was putting on the carharts. Didn't bring the rainsuit with me, but my stuff is working ok.
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    I decided to stop in Eveleth, MN, so Wednesday I had 100 miles to the border. Big change from the 800 miles I've had to do in the past. 800 mile days just aren't as fun. I ate a great walleye breakfast and headed for the border, but got sidetracked on this great logging road. I passed tons of logging road entrances before temptation overcame me and I remembered making time isn't that important.
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    There was a turtle on the trail that I turned around and tried to photograph, thinking he'd make me feel fast. But he was too fast for me and made it into the weeds before I got the camera out. I'm slow. <!--TEMPLATE: skin_topic, Template Part: Show_attachments_img-->
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    Once I cleared customs there wasn't a very good town to stay in that I wanted to go to that night so I got a room in Fort Frances, then went and found this nice farm road outside of town. <!--TEMPLATE: skin_topic, Template Part: Show_attachments_img-->
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    Then I got a steak and went back to the room to enjoy my portable music system and my first cuban cigar since my first cigar over a decade ago.
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    Gas in Ontario today. Better weather and a better packing job.
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    I didn't stop for breakfast until lunchtime, but the fajita was good on an outdoor deck across from this seaplane charter business. This was my view. I love prop planes, especially seaplanes.
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    The girl on the left and her mom came up before my food came because the girl wanted to say hi and ask where I was going. They were from Ketchikan, AK, just visiting down south in Ontario. Before I left the girl came up to me to ask if I get lonely.
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    A wayside shortly before Manitoba. Notice how this statue in Minnesota looks just like me and is almost as big...

    Someday I will go there and be their king. <!--TEMPLATE: skin_topic, Template Part: Show_attachments_img-->
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    #6
  7. AK Bear

    AK Bear Long timer

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    If you liked that plane, you'll have to take a lap around Lake Hood/Spenard when you get to Anchorage. 1/3 of the worlds float planes are parked there. Bear
    #7
  8. BUBB

    BUBB lynch not Zimmerman

    Joined:
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    Location:
    I'm here because I'm not all there.
    Keep it coming -- great write up!

    I've been kicking around the idea of getting a DR - you may be a commerical for one and not know it.

    Of course, I've never loaded a DR, but is there some sort of way to hang some of your gear over the back wheel like with saddlebags to get some of the weight lower? I have found on my GS even getting 8 -10 pounds from the top to the sides helps the handling.

    Ride more dude!
    #8
  9. snowrider

    snowrider Long timer

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    I'm at a gas station in russell manitoba right now, they've got a computer with free internet. Took two hours to get out of winnipeg because I didn't know about the perimeter highway. I should've trusted the GPS' map I guess, I thought I was just having trouble discerning 101 from 1.

    I was going to run mermite cans, but didn't have time to finish making racks to mount them, so I just made my luggage rack to hold everything. It would definitely be better with panniers, though it handles ok now. Also, it'd be nice to have my whole seat back again. I have to stand up on the pegs to stretch and give my butt a break pretty often right now because I'm forced into one sitting position

    I want to get on the road now, but will put up some more pics whenever I get to Edmonton.
    #9
  10. snowrider

    snowrider Long timer

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    Oh yeah, about the DR... this site helped me make the decision to get one.

    I'd been wanting a KLR because I knew people toured on them so I knew the bike would hold up if I wanted to do more than ride local dirt. Then I started investigating the DR when I heard of people touring on them too, and found that it's pretty much just a better KLR if you don't mind changing seat and tank. Also, I'd rather rebuild an air cooled engine when the time comes, even if it comes a little sooner on the air cooled engine. The clincher for me, was when I read the adventure bike list on this site and under CONS for the DR it said "neither a work of art nor a status symbol". Perfect.
    #10
  11. Bimble

    Bimble In giro in moto

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    :thumb

    :lurk
    #11
  12. snowrider

    snowrider Long timer

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    I'm in Edmonton, Alberta right now at an internet cafe. I'm about halfway there, almost exactly halfway between Anchorage and Madison right now. I'll get new tires tomorrow, then go check out a big motorcycle exhibit at a museum a little ways south of here.
    Here's a couple shots from Winnipeg, not too exciting.
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    Late supper downtown.
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    bicycle bridge
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    I've skirted the storms the whole way across Canada so far. A little ways southwest of me there have been floods worse than they've had in 50 years, requiring evacuation. Also, lots of thunderstorms, hail, and some funnel clouds spotted. It's been sunny and nice almost the entire way here, with just a few very short spots of rain.
    Entering Saskatchewan I started seeing a lot of clouds and storms in the distance. This picture is shortly after crossing into Saskatchewan, still pretty nice weather here:
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    Somewhere in Saskatchewan on the Yellowhead Highway.
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    I hit a little bit of rain and saw some beautiful cloud formations. The cloud was coming down from the sky almost like a... funnel. It wasn't a funnel, but it reminded me of one, and I'd just come through some pretty hard rain, so I got a hotel in the next town, North Battleford. This is a pic of clouds when I pulled in, but shortly after this a storm came in and I sat out on the covered deck of my hotel room watching lightning along with my hotel neighbors.
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    Our Lady of the Highway shrine in Vegreville, Alberta.
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    Please give, chrome hubcaps aren't free you know.
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    Edmonton, Alberta
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    Somewhere I think I wasn't supposed to be, last night in Edmonton. <!--TEMPLATE: skin_topic, Template Part: Show_attachments_img-->
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    #12
  13. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul Super Moderator

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    Cool. I love reading this stuff.

    :thumb
    #13
  14. Disco Strangler

    Disco Strangler Fallen Superhero

    Joined:
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    Denver, Colorado and soon Portland, OR
    Great to see you out and about Manz! Hope the blessing takes. Have a great trip.
    #14
  15. Snuffy

    Snuffy Long timer

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    Heard on the Weather Channel about that rough weather up north. Glad you missed it. :lurk
    #15
  16. greenmtndave

    greenmtndave Been here awhile

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    Snowrider,

    You still out there? We want more.

    Dave
    #16
  17. Thisguy

    Thisguy Hold Fast

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    Great pics. I hope to make it one day.
    #17
  18. snowrider

    snowrider Long timer

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    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.
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    #18
  19. snowrider

    snowrider Long timer

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    There have been tornados and floods across Canada during this trip. I've been very lucky to only have to spend a couple days riding in rain, and it wasn't very heavy rain. Edmonton had declared a state of emergency when I was there, houses were flooded out in some neighborhoods (one had cops blocking it off, when I tried to pass) and docks were submerged. All it really meant to me was that the river looked neat because the banks were tree tops. With luck like mine so far, I might even get to see the peak of Mt McKinnley.
    #19
  20. Snuffy

    Snuffy Long timer

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    Glad to here yer moving along. Great update. Hope you see the top of Denali. Tried four times and never saw it,:cry but everywhere you look there is amazing scenery.:lurk
    #20