Orcas Island to Alaska and Home to Madison

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bananaman, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    A buddy of mine was getting married on Orcas Island. First thing I said when he said he was getting married- COOL! I'll RIDE MY MOTORCYCLE!

    edit: as I was putting this ride report together, yesterday, Chuck called! Out of the blue like if he was sick with ESP or something. And just now I remembered the fire on Orcas and the beer and good conversation.

    When I pulled up at Chuck's botherer-in-law-to-be's house, just before dark, Chuck goes, "Is that Max? Max!" and he was already almost toasted. Which was good because it was a bachelor party. He introduced me to his extended list of friends- all of them totaly capable of being lunatics. One olympic swimmer. Several triathletes. All of them with master's degrees or PhDs or JDs or something I can't pronounce. I was their novelty, the guy who only had a bachelor's. They argued like old friends drinking beer- things like "He'll never make it to Alaska." "I bet he will." "He'll never even make it to Canada." "Of course he will. He made it here, didn't he?" "Yeah, but he totally wimped out in Mexico. He only made it a thousand miles in Mexico." "I'll bet you $100 he makes it to Alaska." "I'll bet you $100 he doesn't even make it to Canada." "Who's a witness?" Chuck goes "I heard it." So Dave and Todd made a bet. I sat there laughing. "I'm going to Alaska," I said. Some of them believed me. Some didn't. Well, Todd and Dave- here's your proof. Pay up! :end of edit.

    I planned on taking my brand-new-to-me '96 R1100GS. But before I left I wanted to add a few things. So I took the bike apart and then I couldn't get it back together again.

    [​IMG]

    All I wanted to add was an aeroflow windshield, piaa driving lights, and an auxiliary power supply for the GPS. I did something to the gas tank/fuel line/something and could NOT get it started again.

    [​IMG]

    I changed the plugs. I drained the battery down to nothing. I put in a new battery. I drained it down to nothing. I found the short and charged the battery and drained it down to nothing. I tried jumping it with my truck and almost blew everything up. Eventually I had it towed to the BMW dealer so that I could pay them $500 when I got back from Alaska. I'm too shy to say what I'd actually done that took them a week to diagnose.

    In the end I took my '96 R1100RS. When I left I felt like a combination posseur/loser.

    [​IMG]


    It was about 4 PM when I finally left, and I was running late by a day and a half. I had to get to Orcas Island by 6 on Thursday because Chuck was having a bachelor party.

    The first night I made it from Madison to the border of Minnesota and South Dakota. I didn't ride anything special- just I90. But I ran into thunderstorms in Minnesotta and had to ride through them because out on the prairie there's no shelter. No overpasses. No exits with convenience stores. There was nothing to do but ride. The best part was when it started to hail.

    Eventually I made it to Wall Drug, Wyoming, and Custer's Last Stand.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    There were homicidal mule deer and elk on the road. I didn't get no photos of them but they were there.
    [​IMG]


    Just inside Washington State coming up over a hill pulling away from everybody going about 90...

    "Where are you headed in such a hurry? Do you know how fast you were going?" "I'm going to a bachelor party on Orcas Island and I need to make the ferry." So he said to hurry up and take a picture and make sure to stay in the commuter lanes. He even put his hand on his gun, gunslinger-style. I told him to smile for all the inmates on ADVrider.

    [​IMG]


    Then I put my pretty black bike on the ferry.[​IMG]
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,699
    Sounds like an adventure alright... :thumb

    Keep it comin'

    :lurk

    p.s. does Wall Drug still have billboards right across the entire state of South Dakota along the interstate?
    #2
  3. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    There are Wall Drug signs everywhere. I had to go there to get a bumper sticker for my daughter. It went like this: Dad. IF you're going to be so stupid as to ride a motorcycle all the way to Washington, then you can get me a Wall Drug bumper sticker. So I did, and I had a grilled cheese sandwich, chocolate malt, and cup of coffee.
    #3
  4. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    My travel notebook has this entry: "6/26/07 5:33 PM 3.7 gal 57,295 Madison Shell Bound for Orcas Island"

    And I was on my RS. I had been debating with myself and a few buddies about which bike to take. The problem, as we saw it, was "getting to the fight ready to fight." From Madison to the Casier was FAR. If I took the GS- well, the GS was (is) a pig compared to the RS. In the end the GS wasn't an option because I couldn't get it started. I have no regrets for taking the RS. Actually I'm super glad I took the RS. It's absolutely amazing on the roads, and it handled the gravel and mud of the Casier and the Alcan and the Haul Road just fine.

    Back to the pictures and the travel notebook:

    "8:00 PM-8:20 PM 3.6 gal 57,447 Dodine MN. Suzy Q, coke, water, put on goretix cut it looks like rain!"
    "9:30 Rochester, MN 1.8 gal 57,507 miles. Holy FUCK the sky is ominous. And I just rode through a BAD IDEA. I've beenhere at a Quick Trip maybe 20 minutes. I'm shoving off. But the lightning is scary."
    "10:44 pm. Albert Lee 1.1 gal @$3.36 next stop: Sioux Falls, 175 miles from here."
    "1:30 Am 30 miles east of Sioux Falls. Tired. Luverne, MN.
    "6/27/07 7:25 AM Departing to West. 57,712 3.5 gal @ $11.52"
    there are a bunch of boring entries, notes about various cokes and snickers I bought to sustain myself, then- "5:08 PM Sheridan, WY 58,339 2.3 gal @ 7.56 1042 total (odometer) 1026 total (GPS) 1013 from here per GPS." And next to me on a brand-new 1200RT- this guy pulled up. So I said to him- Hey Mister, do you know anything about the Iron Butt Club?" "Sure," he said. "Those guys are nuts," he said. "I just rode 1000 miles in 24 hours," I said. So he signed my log, gave me his name and number and stuff. Then I rode up to the airport and got one of the guys who works there to sign my log. He looked at me like I was NUTS. But I haven't submitted that ride to the IBA because after riding all the way to Alaska, riding 1000 miles in 24 hours just seems kind of... amateurish.

    After hitting that milestone I was tired and I started to slow down.
    "7:10 PM Little Bighorn Nat'l Cemetary 58,417 8:03 leaving Little Bighorn. Custer was small. I liked the horse cemetary."
    more entries, then, "11:20 PM Livingston Montana 58,600 1304 on the trip 3.13 gal @ 7.66 almost (just missed) 2 mule deer- first a velvet buck walking slowly toward a doe, the, 20 mi later, a panicked doe, FUCK!"
    "2:00 AM Butte, Montanta. TIRED, But... 1000 Odometer Miles! IRON!" But I guess I was too tired to have recorded the mileage- but my memory says I'd ridden 1000 miles since I got up that morning.
    "6/28/07 8:55 AM Cantral. Overslept. Departing w/2.3 gal @ $7.33"
    later, "1:00 PM Cor d'Alene, Idaho in 4 hours 292 mi."
    and later... "5:28 PM 59,315." This was 2020 odometer miles in 48 hours. I was in the parking lot of the Sunset Elementary School , Bellevue, WA. Two women signed my log book. I'd just done 2020 odometer miles in 48 hours! (But after double-checking, it didn't add up to 2000 real miles, so no Extra-iron butt for me. It was hard, but not close enough for a cigar.)
    "7:20 PM Seattle 59,369 traffic Jam on I5 headed to Hwy 20 between Arlington and North Marysville."

    After riding 2000 miles through the American West it totally sucked to be in a traffic jam.

    There were times in the mountains when I was laughing inside my helmet. I felt like the entire US Interstate Highway System was my personal playground. And there was no way I would have felt that way if I'd been on my GS. I sat in traffic and thought- holy shit, I just rode 2000 miles and it was AWESOME!

    "8:20 PM FERRY TERMINAL Anacortes, WA."
    #4
  5. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    Basically the wedding on Orcas was a three-day drunk. I won't bore anybody with the "wedding pictures," except for this one of the moon and then only because it was so unlikely. What happened was, one of Chuck's old girlfriends came to the party with a guy and his yacht, and after the party we partied on the yacht, and then there was a moon and I was drunk and so was everybody else so they said, "take a picture of the moon," and I did.

    If you're ever in the area, spend some time at Doe Bay, Orcas Island.

    When it finally came time to leave, after the wedding, I was kind of melancholy. I was looking forward to the ride, but it was hard to leave old friends.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    But before I could go, I needed to make one more stop. I'd heard of Reuben from far, far away. I needed new tires. I didn't really want to go anywhere. I still had a hangover. So I stopped to visit Reuben.

    "5:47 PM Anacortes New Tires & oil. 59,569. Off to Alaska."

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I don't know exactly what Rubien did but it was like magic. Before, when I would start the motor, it would go "tick-tick-tick" for a few seconds. "The torques aren't right. This is real mechanic's work. Nobody wants to do it. You have to get the torques right," he said. Pretty soon I had a wrench and I was getting the torques wrong and he was yelling at me. "NO! What the fuck kind of pansy are you?! I said ONE CLICK! You went TWO!" and then he'd mutter stuff, pansy gay boy wants to be a rider gonna fuckin' get himself KILLED then, "GET OUT!" then "What the fuck are you going to help me or not?!" and when he was done with me and my bike I felt like we could go anywhere. Last thing he said: "Now listen to me boy. Those tires are sticky but right now they're new so you be careful for a while until they get sticky or you gonna get yourself killed." After, as I was leaving, some guy came in on a brand-new RT that he'd laid down or something. This RT guy was mad because Rubien was telling him it was going to be a couple of weeks before he could get to it. So the RT guy started to get mad and say things like Yeah but you took care of THAT guy right away! with one of those whine-y voices, and I heard Rubien said, "He's a rider," just to shut the RT guy up, and I almost start to ... you know how it is. I won't say. That sure was a nice compliment but not the kind I can handle in public.

    Next thing: CANADA!

    [​IMG]

    Crossing the border was a total pain. They took me inside, asked me tons of questions, counted my money, took my bike apart- and then complained that it was "complicated." I don't know what they were looking for but all I had was bike stuff. They totally gave me a hard time and I was almost ready to tell them to fuck themselves and Canada and that I'd just take the ferry to Alaska. Eventually they let me go but they still kept looking at me like I was a terrorist or something. And they kept asking me what I planned to do if I saw a bear. WTF?
    #5
  6. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    "59,666/2370 6:48 AM Vancouver. Looks like rain. I'm kind of freaked out now. Long distances ahead. Will I have enough gas? Can I get to Fairbanks in 3 days?"
    "10:51 AM Hope, BC 59,753/2557 8.9l @C$10.41"

    [​IMG]



    "2:24 PM 59,891/2595 lost my camel back in Hope."

    Darn it. No camel back. Not only that, but when I stopped when I realized I'd lost my camel back, I dropped the bike. ouch. I put a nice gouge in the side of the fairing, broke the plastic cover on the cylinder head- it was a day when I probably shouldn't have been riding at all. I was scared- the way I've been scared a few time right before a deep and cold dive. But there were still people around and it wasn't THAT wild so I really had nothing to worry about, except huge trucks, deep ravines, snow-capped mountains that made me wonder if it might snow? Ach- just stupid worries.

    So I stopped for cherries at a fruit stand. I was surprised that it was like a desert. I guess it's some kind of rain-shadow area.

    [​IMG]


    "7:16 pm 60,185/2889 Prince George. 519 miles today. Blah. Lost my camel-back. Dropped the bike 50 miles later. Rode slow. Didn't get anywhere."

    That night, in Prince George, I started to feel better. I went to a walmart and bought some goop. I had some in my tool kit but it was burried somewhere and I didn't feel like digging it out. Goop was like $1.50 or something. I put some tape on the broken cover and then filled it with goop. Good quick-fix. I also got a 2.5 gallon gas can.

    Then I cruised the main drag looking for a hotel. One had three sport-bikes- wait a sec, I thought. What the heck? I thought. Two sport-bikes and something out of Mad Max. Cool. So I checked in.

    In my hotel room I put teflon tape around the threads of the gas can, and I covered the vent hole- already lined with teflon tape- with duct tape. I didn't want any leaks at all, and everyone knows that the machining on plastic gastank nozzles isn't like the machining on a BMW motorcycle. But if you add teflon tape, then it's equal.

    The next morning I met Dave, Siggy, and Scott. It went like this: "What the heck is that?" "That's mine," Siggy said. "What is it?" "I built it out of spare parts," Siggy said. A little while later we wer having breakfast and talking routes. I said I was going up the Al-Can. Dave said he had a better way. He pulled out his map and then started to argue with Scott about how much better their way would be. They were going to Fairbanks and they were totally excited. They were arguing even though they were agreeing. "See these towns? Each one has gas," Scott said. "Are you sure?" I said. "Of course," Dave said. Siggy showed me his aux-bottles, spun aluminum bolted to the sides of his- whatever it was.

    "9:54 Am 60,196 Heading WEST."
    "11:38 AM Fraser Lake 60,300/3004 8.06l @ $10.31"
    "1:16 PM Houston, BC. 8.3l @ $10.65 60,399/3104"
    "Kitsegueda, BS 3:17 PM 9.33l @ $11.28 60519/3219 mi"
    "7:35 PM 11l plus 2.1 gal reserve strapped to the back 60,682/3386 Belle II, BC 3x bear so far! (i big one, 1 running across the road, 1 medium one eating at the side!)"
    "9:10 PM 60,842/3547 NO GAS. That last was EPIC MUD. RAIN. SNOW. VERY NUTS."

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    I did not know before we turned onto the Cassier that it even had a name. On my map it was 37 or 39 or something and I still think of it at "Hwy 37."

    When I got the extra gas can I though it was overkill, extra, kind-of-silly. But it wasn't.

    Somewhere before Belle II my gas light came on. Dave's and Siggy's and Scott's were on, too. There hadn't been any gas. It was more than 200 miles since we'd filled up. I knew I couldn't turn back and make it very far. We hadn't seen anybody else for at least an hour.

    And me? I had the Deliverance song in my head. I was in the middle of nowhere with three complete strangers and I was going to run out of gas. I had two liters of white-gas, for my stove, but I'd never actually tried to run my motor with that stuff. Theoreticaly it would work, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my stove-fuel was from a northern Wisconsin walmart, circa AD2000.

    I have never felt so free.

    There was nothing to do, but ride. We rode easy- no more 85mph. We went steady at 50 mph. Easy. Gas lights on. Bear looking at us. Rain. Ghost towns with defunct gas stations.

    And then, Belle II. We got gas and coffee and chocolate cake and life was good again.

    But then it got really, really epic. Mud and snow, baby! When we pulled over because Siggy had to pee, all I could do was yell, "YEAH, BABY!" because of all the things I've ever done, I've never felt so completely insane. "Whatever you guys do, DO NOT TELL MY MOTHER I DID THIS," I said. I constantly felt like I was in an old TV show where they say "do not attempt this at home." Because after we got gas Siggy seemed to become possessed and he lead us 80mph in the mud and there were times when the mud and gravel were up to our rims.

    Dave goes, "Sport bikes aren't supposed to do this but my fat rear wheel just floats."

    (Note: I don't know why my camera labled these photos "7/05/07" because it was still July 4.)

    I didn't get any photos of the snow or the rain. I could hardly see through my fogged-up face shield. It was a muddy face-shield too. But Siggy was going and Scott and Dave were going, so I went. I was at the edge of my ability and I kept laughing at my bike- AN RS! What was an RS doing out there, with a bunch of sport bikes?



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Eventually it started to get dark, we were running out of gas, and we came to a town and I still don't know where it was. The gas station was closed for the night and there were no hotels. Somehow we found one that was closed- as in, OUT OF BUSINESS, but someone was there and they opened up a couple of rooms for us. Mine was full of kid's toys and it looked like whoever had lived there had left in a hurry.

    Here's the hotel:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There was frost on our bikes when we got up.

    But the night before we relaxed in a bar and had a few beers and a few really good burgers and life was good.

    There was something else. Back in the truck stop where we'd turned onto the Cassier we saw a First Nation guy with his arm all torn up and his face looking beat. Siggy asked him what happened. He said he'd wrecked his bike. Then, that night in the bar with no name, in he walked! Hundreds of mile later. And he got himself a case of beer. Scott was totally pissed because he'd been trying to buy some of the same kind- something Canadian that I don't remember, but the bartender said they were out. And every First Nation guy that came in bought a case! Scott started to get really mad, but what could he do- we were the only four non-First Nation people around. The guy with the torn-up arm goes, "You travel far." Then, "I still have two hundred miles, and it's 20 mph." He was going to Telegraph or somewhere I didn't want to go. And then he left. With his beer. Not even Scott could say anything.
    #7
  8. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    "Thursday- slept in a house last night. this morning- 7:21 AM- 13.45l @ $18.99"
    "12:30 PM Watson Creek, Yukon 61013/3717 12.48l @ $16.21"

    Between the town that I don't know and the end of the Cassier we had our first close call.

    We'd cleared the mud and we were on an uphill paved but rolling from frost heaves. We took a sharp right, almost like a switch-back, and frost heaves were in exactly the wrong place. Scott went wide to the outside. I pushed and tried to stay in but the bike went up one of the frost heaves and kind of un-weighted and I couldn't hold the turn. Dave was right on my wheel- we usually rode with some space but suddenly he was there- and he went wide. I missed going off the road by maybe 6 inches and that last six almost killed me. Dave said he missed by 4. Siggy- Siggy had held the inside and didn't even notice. We were only going maybe 30 but if we'd lost the road, we'd have been fucked.

    The day before, in the truck stop on the corner, someone said that they'd noticed a sign, "NOW LEAVING 911 SERVICE AREA." I told them about my EPIRB and showed them how to use it. Good idea, everyone said.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,699
    :clap Excellent :clap

    :lurk
    #9
  10. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    [​IMG]"7:00 PM Whtehorse 4002! 61298 8.65l @ $10.86" I was exhausted. Siggy wanted to buy a rain-suit. Dave and Scott kidded him about the rain being over. But it felt like it was going to get cold. Really cold. I wanted to keep going but Dave wanted a hotel with a hot tub. We stopped to make some phone calls and I fell asleep leaning on a garbage can. Nobody took a picture but if they had, I would have looked like a total bum, a drunk, some kind of mental case.

    I tried to chat-up the receptionist at the hotel but she really wouldn't have anything to do with me. On the other hand, she gave some good advice. We asked her about the road to Dawson, and from there to Chicken. She said it was good. She said she does it every summer. She said she camps on it. "What about bears?" I asked. "Oh, I just take my shotgun," she said. Well, we didn't have shotguns, we said. "Oh," she said, and right there I lost. No shotgun? She looked at us like we were total idiots, loses, trouble-makers who would just need to get rescued. We decided not to ride to Dawson. It was an almost fatal mistake to NOT ride to Dawson. For Dave, anyway.

    From Whitehorse to Fairbanks first we had cccccold. Siggy was glad for the rain suit. Construction along Lake Tulane (sp?) was brutal. Deep gravel. Guys on Harleys were hating it. I was hating it. All we could do was up-shift, shift our weight back, and hope.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    We got to Fairbanks around 7 or 8 PM- I can't say for sure because I don't remember. And then we parted- Siggy, Dave, and Scott to the south, while I headed north to see how far I could go.

    Back in Tok we'd run into some guys on big 1150 Adventures and they told us about the Haul road. One guy said he made it to Deadhorse in 10 hours from Fairbanks, but then flew a tire and had to wait a few days. That was all the Canadians needed to hear- no Deadhorse for their sport bikes. I wasn't set on Deadhorse, but I did want to take a good look at the road.

    I ended up having to sleep on a loading dock while a thunderstorm washed the road away.

    The next morning- as I heard the story first from Scott, then from Dave himself, a few weeks later- one tank south of Fairbanks, right after re-fueling, in a town- Dave was creamed by a kid in a truck. The kid didn't see him. Dave tried couldn't stop so he added power and turned away- tried to outrun the truck. And the kid never even slowed down, instead plowed right into him. Broke his femur, broke his right tib/fib, almost took his foot off, and broke his hand. Threw him into a sign, where he broke his other leg. Siggy and Scott right there. In a town- after the Cassier and thousands of miles, IN A TOWN. RVs stopped. An ambulance was there in minutes but they had no pain meds. Dave said he thought he'd die when they straightened his legs. Med-flight took off from Anchorage but had to turn back because of engine trouble. Dave in an ambulance back toward Fairbanks. Stopped at a town with a landing strip and put Dave on a turbo-prop. Dave with an embolism in his lung. Dave at the hospital in Fairbanks for a month. Dave at a hospital in Canada for two months. FUCK. Dave said he wished I was there with my beacon, but then he didn't need it because they were actually IN A TOWN!

    Meanwhile, I was riding North. And it was raining worse than I've ever, ever seen it rain. Worse than Panama in the rainy season. People in the truck stop north of Fairbanks were saying, "there goes the road!"

    [​IMG]

    The lack of night was messing with my internal clock. I knew I should rest, but all I wanted to do was RIDE. So after I woke up on the loading dock, I went, and a little while later, I met a lunatic. Gassing up his KTM on the side of the road. Looking like hell. Totally psyched.

    "7/6/07 11:48 PM Fairbanks, AK 61,940/4644 2.64 gal @ $8.09 gonna eat, and shove-off at midnight, 7/7/07, for the Arctic Circle!"
    "11:28 PM I didn't make it very far. It's a torrential down-pour- South American Style. Lightning and HOLY SHIT! And I'min a truck stop. If it's raining like this on the gravel road, then it's going to be gone."

    And a little while later I met "AWOL." Very cool. We saluted you.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then it got really hard. This is rain on the Dalton.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This next part I'm not real proud of. I started to fall asleep. But I couldn't stop on account of BEARs. I was tired and not thinking straight but I didn't want to stop. The road was shit and I couldn't ride faster than about 20mph anyway. I started to nod off. I was actually nodding off as I crossed the Yukon. I crawled up to the propane tank in front of the restaurant and I slept on the grass. When I woke up, I saw anothe lunatic- name unknown- on a Buell. He said he took a spill north of Wiseman and broke his shift lever, had to have it welded in Prudhoe Bay. I was surprised how similar his Buell was to my RS.

    [​IMG]

    "1:16 PM Yukon River Camp. Got here at 6:30 local time. Place opens at 9 local. So I slept on the ground. 2 moose. 1 bobcat/lynx. Bad roads. FUN. But I kept falling asleep while riding. 62083/4787 2.6 gal @ $9.69?"
    "2:57 PM a lunatic on a bike."
    "3:32 PM N66 33.350' W150 48.661' ARCTIC CIRCLE! 62146/4850.7!"

    This guy asked me if there were any more big hills ahead... and he said he wanted to ride to Ushuaia? I said, "No, this is the last one." A couple of days later, at Yukon River, one of them- the swiss one- was lurking around the cafe. I asked him where his buddies were. "I don't know," he said. He'd last seen them not long after I took his picture here. Teamwork?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    I was surprised how stark it was. Here's that storm that made me wait.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    "Sat 7/7/07 9:00 PM cental time Wiseman, AK www.boreallodge.com. proprietor: Scott Schoppenhorst, of BORTH!
    907-678-4566."

    So I rode into Wiseman, right? (Imagine I'm telling this story in a bar.) So I rode up to this cabin-place to ask someone about camping because I really wanted to camp up above the arctic circle. Out comes this guy. Tattoos, muscle shirt. I asked him about bear. "We had to shoot one that was old and there were two young ones fighting over a dead caribou but otherwise we haven't had any trouble," he goes. We kept talking and then I go, "Where are you from?" because I recognized his accent. Because he talks like me. "Wisconsin," he goes. So I looked at him a little closer. "Where in Wisconsin?" "West of Green Bay." "Not Poy Sippi?" "Borth." "BORTH?" and it turns out we went to school together! He goes, "Did you know John Rosenthal? You know he died." And I go, "Sure. His brother Gerald kept the front end of John's car in front of my barn for like two years." Which just goes to show you. And when I guessed Poy Sippi, I was close, because Scott went to middle school there. And we both went to high school in Berlin but then he moved. I remembered his name and he remembered mine but it wasn't like we were friends. But Borth- out in the country in Wisconsin, it goes Borth, Eureka, Berlin. I lived by Eureka. He lived by Borth. We didn't live more than 5 miles apart. And then, there we were, 5000 miles and 29 years later!

    [​IMG]

    We're both pilots, we both have labs, and we both ride. Scott has a harley that he keeps by the plane he's building.

    [​IMG]

    Eventualy I set up camp just south of there. Everyone walked around with their bear spray like if we were packing six-shooters. Scott- and everyone who lives there- actually does carry a gun all the time!

    [​IMG]


    Also at this campground were a bunch of University of Alaska students who were studying permafrost. They invited me to go swimming (skinny dipping!) in the stream. Sorry- no pictures. The biggest problem was that this one girl wanted to sneak into my tent, but it never gets dark! No sneaking! We lamented this, and then we fell asleep in our own tents. Some people never went to sleep at all.

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    "Sun 7/8/07 62,242/4942 11:31 AM Departing from camp in Wiseman/Coldfoot AK. Bound for home.
    "62,332/5036 2:00 PM Finger Mountain. Added rain-suit, jacket. It's probably going to rain. Good riding. Moose! 42 miles to Yukon."

    In Wiseman it had been close to 80 degrees. Between Fairbanks and
    Wiseman the temps had varied from 40 to 80.

    [​IMG]

    "3:20 PM 62,377/5081 Yukon. Got a little tired there... but not as bad as last time! 3.4 gal @ $12.65"

    This is where I met two other lunatics. In the restaurant we shared a cup of coffee. They asked if I wanted to ride with them. I told them I was going slow. They were really energetic- still feeling the adrenaline from having made it to Deadhorse. They looked at my bike. I looked at theirs. We took a group picture with the Gophers I'd seen way back in Canada. (Sorry but I lost the original, accidentally copied over it. Oops.)

    [​IMG]

    After a little while I took off, still heading south. A little while later, these guys passed me. I had to take a little break. I can't remember who took my photo.

    [​IMG]

    Then I caught them again.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This bike had to spend a night in the woods. The rim was toast. The tire was junk. They took it to a turn-off, hid the valuables in the woods, and rode two-up the rest of the way out. Eventually they were able to get a truck and get back up there to fix the bike- with a tube. And then- lunatics proper- they rode the rest of the way to Texas with a tube and a bent rim! I'm glad I'm not them! And the moral to this part of Orcas to Alaska: if you're on a street bike, RIDE SLOW. Anyway- you get to see more than if you're bombing 85mph.

    As for trying to fix this flat- first plugs, then off-with-the-tire, then getting the tire back on the rim... almost impossible, and it involved explosions and grease. Then, once the bead was set- the hole leaked. We all said FUCK!

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    The bike: '96 R1100RS, completely stock, with ABS, heated grips, PIAAs, and a GIVI 52l top case. Bungeed to the back seat was a waterproof duffle with my camping gear, and a 2.5 gallon gas can.

    Clothing:
    BMW Rallye suit
    HJC flip-lid helmet
    hardware-store leather gloves
    alpinestars goretex boots
    marmot rain pants
    marmot rain jacket (I wore these under the rallye suit)
    pearl izumi running shorts
    2pr REI running shorts (instead of underwear)
    REI polyester tights
    REI fleece tights
    Polo RLX fleece jacket
    REI turtle neck
    Mountain Hardware vest
    extra gloves: Outdoor Research goretex
    extra socks: acrylic hiking socks by wigwam
    thin polyester face mask
    and when it was cold, I wore all of it. There was a stretch in the Yukon when I was freezing, it was windy, and I rode for a while with a guy on a Harley. We stopped for gas and he goes, "It's cold, buddy."

    Liesure clothes: jeans and a pair of running shoes.

    Camping gear:
    Sierra Designs tent
    REI sleeping bag
    camprest sleeping pad
    MSR stove, cooking pot, fuel bottles
    Fiskars hatchet
    50 feet parachute cord
    20 foot climbing rope
    2 carabiners
    3 liters water

    tank-bag;
    camera
    batteries
    i-pod and charger
    cell phone and charger
    garmin GPS
    flashlight
    small 1st aid kit
    eyewash
    faceshield cleaner

    Riding jacket pockets:
    emergency beacon
    flashlight
    sunglasses
    ear plugs
    gum

    tool kit:
    assorted wrenches
    drivers
    pliers
    cutters
    hammer
    spare bulbs
    spare fuses
    spare shift lever and brake lever
    hose clamps
    duct tape
    electrical tape, three colors
    glue
    goo
    lube
    lock-tight
    zip-ties
    electrical wire
    baling wire, two guages
    clymers BMW manual
    tire irons
    two cans Fix-A-Flat
    4 CO2 cartridges
    bike pump
    tire repair kit

    misc personal:
    both passports
    drivers license
    international drivers license
    insurance cards
    credit cards
    cash
    emergency contact info (also written ON MY HELMET)
    travel notebook
    extra pens
    a novel that I never read
    US map
    Canada map

    and a few other things that I must have lived without.
    #15
  16. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    After the flat-tire-guys I got something to eat at the same truckstop where I'd slept just two nights before, then to Fairbanks for a hotel and a big bowl of mulligan stew. And some halibut that wasn't cooked the way I'd hoped.

    "5:56 PM Brad broke his wheel 62,422/5127 about 95 miles north of Fairbaks on the Haul Road."
    "8:08 still not fixed but I'm leaving."
    8:29 PM Fairbanks AK 62506/5211 Fairbanks, AK been here about 30 minutes? OUT OF THE SHIT." and from the guys: "I, Tim Thompson, saw Max at Yukon River then he helped Brad fix a flat, then we met up with Max again just North of Fairbanks. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

    Next up: new tires for me. Those sticky ones were great but they got chewed up on the Haul Road, and before that, on the Cassier. The sharp rocks really got to them. But it was a Monday and there was a power outage or something.

    I was really proud of myself- that I'd used up a set of tires in one week! I thought to myself, "It's Monday, so I must need new tires." But I couldn't find anyone who would sell me new ones at a price I was willing to pay (this would come back to bite me later). I got two cans of fix-a-flat (I'd used the last ones on Brad's bike but they hadn't worked at all).

    "7/8/07 Fairbanks 1:15 PM Don't need no tire. Got 2 cans of Fix a flat. Off to HOME! 62,538/5242."
    "6:16 Tok, AK 62,759/5463. 3x trucks- a unimog, mans, mercedes. had a good lunch. Off to Whitehorse. 4.26 gal @ $14.08 204 mi/4.26 gal: good."
    "8:15 PM near US/Canada border. 62850/5554 2 gal @ $6.30."

    "Tues 7/10/07 (I think it was actually 7/9/07) last night was hard. Set up camp @ white river, but couldn't sleep. Rode about 100 miles to Burwash. It got cold and WINDY. Set up camp and slept until alarm went off, 5:00 AM. Kept sleeping until 5:40 AM. So- I left White river at 1:00 AM central time, left Burwash at 8:25 central, now I'm in Haines Junction, 10:25 AM.

    That night the riding was hard. I didn't ride in the dark- it never really got dark. I had a terrible headwind. And it was cold- in the low 30s. It rained a little and it looked like it was raining in the mountains. There was nasty construction- around the lake especially. I slept once, in a rest area on a bench. It was a very good nap. I was not making very good time though.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    Tanking a quick break from the ride report, wondering- what ever happened to the gophers? Three guys from Minnesota on KLRs wearing aerostich, one guy with bunny ears? They must have made it, and easy, because they were totally tricked out, complete with new nobbies in Fairbanks. We had played leapfrog along the Al-Can and I met them again in Yukon River as I was headed home and they were headed to Deadhorse. It was really frustrating when they would catch up, because everyone knows that sport bikes go way faster than KLRs- but over those distances it was like tortoise-and-hare.
    #17
  18. Groomez

    Groomez Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    528
    Location:
    Greenville, SC
    Buddy I'm loving this report!! Keep it coming!! :thumb
    #18
  19. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    1) Riding with buddies is easier.
    2) Riding to Alaska is hard.
    3) Riding home alone is harder.

    In Haines Junction I looked at my map and it didn't make any sense because Whitehorse was still really far, and from there to Dawson Creek was even farther, and from Dawson Creek to Wisconsin? The maps lied. The perspective was wrong. On the map, the Yukon Territories, BC, and the other provinces were about the same size as North Dakota. But actually you can fit Wisconsin, the UP, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illionois in the BC. Easy. And there's gas.

    From Fairbanks on, my life was gas and tires, gas and tires. I was very worried about my tires. Then I'd go into denial and figure that they'd make it home. Then I'd pass a ghost town with an empty gas station, with pumps covered in plastic and if I looked at them they were the old-style pumps and the prices were pennies/liter. Gas. I had 5 good gallons in the tank and another 2.5 on top, so at 40mpg into the wind I should be able to go 300 miles, but from Haines Junction to Whitehorse was still something like 300 miles. And what about beyond? Gas and tires.

    The bike was running perfectly.

    "Tues 7/10/08 2:08 PM 63176 changed the oil with Harley Davidson 20W50."
    "2:26 PM 63182 9.6l @ $11.57"
    "4:30 PM Yukon Motel 63299 10.2l @ $12.58"
    "7:31 PM Hwy 37/Casier Hwy 63457 14.9l @ $19.34"
    "10:26 PM 43 mi east of Watson Lake. 3.1L $3.76. 666 miles for the day. Not bad and not good. But it was cold all morning, and I changed the oil. Tomorow: RIDE."

    Back in Watson Creek I'd tried to use a phone to call home. Eventually I got a drunk First Nation guy to let me use the phone in the grocery store. Problems at home- a sick horse, a worried kid, people who didn't realize that if I'm on a motorcycle in the Yukon, I can't just answer my cell phone, and I can't just pop home in a few minutes. Drama. All I could say was, "Listen. I'm in the Yukon Territories. That's in Canada, kind of like by Russia. I'm busy." But there were kazillions of messages and people expecting things from me. Ugh.

    Ahead- rumors were there was little or no gas at night. I asked a cop and he said there was no gas. I tried to buy another gas can but I couldn't find a 2 gallon size. I wasted time looking around, and finally shoved off. I was feeling pretty good and the extra daylight had me energized. And it wasn't cold anymore. It was actually pretty nice out.

    On my way East from Watson Lake I decided to get gas at every station. That's why I stopped just 43 miles later.

    Then I decided to stop at the next place to camp because I started seeing buffalo on the road.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    What are you supposed to do if there are buffalo on the road? Slow down, sure. But are they aggresive? Some of them were bulls. Would they act like bull holsteins? (Every once in a while, here in Wisconsin, a farmer is killed by one of his bulls! A highland-beef bull just killed a guy last summer, not far from my house!) Would they act like moose? Because I'd been warned not to mess with the moose. "If they put their ruff up, they're PISSED," Scott said. The Ancorage students told me a story of a man killed by a cow moose just a few weeks earlier. What would the buffalo do? I slowed down but I didn't linger to find out.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And then there were even more buffalo. Some were playful. But I didn't stick around very long. It was late and these types of road hazzards weren't the kinds I knew what to do about.

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,887
    Location:
    Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
    "8:45 AM. Stopped last night at midnight. 63,611 at a hot springs near Liard River."

    The hot springs were nice. Smelled of sulfer but at least it was a bath. At midnight I found a camp ground and the store was still almost-open. And there was a nice-looking girl asking if anyone was going to the hot-springs one-last-time? I was up for it! After that morning and freezing cold I wanted to dip my toes in hot-hot-hot springs. Sorry, no photos.

    For supper at midnight I was going to buy an eggsalad sandwhich but the ones in the camp store were expired and the guy told me to just take them. Living on the edge- even eating expired eggsalad! With the sulfor smell coming off the hotsprings I really didn't notice anything.

    In Haines Junction the previous morning I'd seen two F650s from Ohio, and then I saw them again, and then again.

    [​IMG]

    Just out of camp, just me on the road, I was riding along and bopping to whatever was on my ipod, and there was a bear on the side of the road. Cool, but I didn't slow down. A little while later, holy shit. There was a bear on the road and he was acting like I needed to pay a toll.

    I stopped and got ready to turn the bike around. I unbuckled the bear-spray and kept it handy. I tried to take photos but I guess my hand was shaking a little- from trying to do too much. The photo doesn't do the bear justice. It was bigger than me on the bike. I mean it was big- at least 5 feet tall while standing on all four legs.

    The night before, when I asked about bear, they said they had to shoot one a few weeks ago because it was getting aggressive. Too used to people and getting dangerous.

    [​IMG]

    A little while later and I was laughing because it was like being in Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Except that I felt like I was Jim. First, "Let's see how Max handles the bear on the road." Then, "Let's see how Max avoids colliding with caribou." Then, "Let's see if Max can provoke a territorial response from the mountain sheep."

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I liked the sheep. I've never seen them before. Back in Wisconsin I'd seen whitetail deer. In South Dakota I saw mule deer. In Wyoming I saw antelope. In Montana I saw elk (and one huge dead one in the median with a county truck backed up to it and three orange-clad workers looking at it and scratching their heads.) I saw eagles and hawks everywhere. On Orcas Island I saw seals and more deer. In the BC I saw elk and bear. In the Yukon and in Alaska I saw beer and moose. And then, back in the BC, Buffalo, Caribou, and SHEEP! MOUNTAIN SHEEP!
    #20