Riding Full Circle: faux husband and wife fight their way around the world

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ridingfullcircle, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    On May 13, Dave and I left Santiago, Chile around 9:00 p.m. on an American Airlines flight to Los Angeles, California. Our bikes had flown the day before as cargo on United Airlines. We would be reunited with them (we hoped) on May 16 when we could get them from customs after the weekend.

    When we can we use a great online system for accommodation called Motostays, which for annual fee, gives you access to free homestays with other riders. In Irvine, CA we found Eric Hall and Michelle Coale and stayed with them for 5 days while we got some work done on the bikes and reorganized for the next leg of our trip. Eric is the senior editor for XLADV. Michelle is an accountant just getting into riding. They were strangers who’ve now become good friends.

    We found our bikes at United cargo and unwrapped them like giant Christmas gifts. An Asian man found this all quite hilarious and kept asking us questions then letting out a crazy laugh when we answered. I guess riding a motorcycle to the end of the Southern continent isn’t so believable for some.

    We left Irvine and rode to Palm Springs, where we spent a night catching up with Dave’s cousin Rogene and her partner Peggy, which is always a treat.

    On May 19 we made our way to Bouse, AZ in 100 F (38 C). We were a little concerned how hot the deserts might be at that time of year for us to ride. Dave’s mom and his step-dad spend their winters in Bouse and had left over a month ago to escape the heat. Dave’s dad spends his winters in nearby Quartzite, AZ and had also vacated before the heat. We were definitely used to riding in very hot weather by now but that didn’t make it any easier.

    In Bouse, we’d had a few things shipped to a friend of Dave’s mom. Tom and his wife’s winter season had been extended into May as he was working on a building project. We found his house and got to work in his covered garage on our bikes. While Dave replaced his very worn out rear tire, I went through all my things and was able to downsize even more. We left a box of things we didn’t need for the next part of our trip that Dave’s mom would pick up the next time she was in Bouse. Tom invited us to stay in their fifth wheel overnight, which although very hot, was nicer than sleeping in those temperatures in a tent.

    The next day we rode to Prescott, AZ and up to Mormon Lake near Flagstaff, AZ where we attended a 3-day Overland Expo event, showcasing the finest new travel vehicles and accessories—even a $6,000 kitchen-in-a-box! Here we were reunited with our friends from Irvine, Eric and Michelle. We had a great time camping with them and getting to know them even better throughout the event.

    After the Expo Dave and I began to tackle one of our goals—to ride north into Canada via the Backcountry Discovery Routes through the rest of Arizona, Utah and Idaho. Here’s a sneak peak about what that looks like but we’ll save that for our next post

    More photos here.

    Attached Files:

    #21
  2. CJ

    CJ Wheelin' & Dealin'

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    399
    Location:
    Vancouver BC
    You made it back to the land of English speakers and express post!! What's the next leg look like? Keep rolling!!
    #22
  3. arizona rick

    arizona rick Chases squirrels

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Oddometer:
    418
    Location:
    arizona
    in for updates
    #23
  4. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    The Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route

    After the Overland Expo Dave and I headed into the northern sections of the Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR). If you complete the AZBDR, you’ll have ridden 750 miles (1200 km) south to north from the Mexico to Utah borders. The route takes you through the, “Mogollon Rim, Sunset Crater National Monument, Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation, as well as the historic mining towns of Tombstone and Globe, AZ.”

    Dave and I completed the northern part from sections 7 through 9. Check out the interpretive map on the site.

    The miles surrounding Sunset Crater were sporty. I dropped my bike four times in the volcanic ash-like sand that just seemed to get more attitude as we went along. I was tired and wanted to bail out. There was an opportunity when we traversed a section of pavement but I decided to continue on, wanting to ride as much of the AZBDR as possible. If the first half mile was as bad as what we’d come through I could always turn around and grab the highway out. I’m glad I opted to tuck into this section as it was not only gorgeous but the riding became easier. Also we may have missed the opportunity timed to meet Peter Weiss. He had turned off the highway on his 650 V-Strom Twin and was heading up the road we’d just come from, which also happened to be part of his driveway to the 40 acre home and property shared with his wife, Judy.

    Dave and he were chatting when I pulled up a few (only a few!) minutes later. After he’d learned we were hoping to travel around the world and part of our trip was going right through his backyard, Peter invited us to stay with them. It was pretty early in the day and we wanted to cover more miles so we declined regretfully but when we mentioned where we were headed next, Peter said he was going there the next day to scout the area. He wanted to take his wife there for their anniversary. Dave asked if Peter would like to ride with us and camp overnight. Peter took five seconds to accept. We rode together to his house so he could run it by his wife and get supplies. Judy was so sweet and welcoming with her plates of homemade zucchini bread and ice cold water, I almost told Peter we’d decided not to camp in favour of staying there to take in their hospitality.

    As Peter packed his bike for the overnight trip, Dave and I followed Judy around the property. I was impressed by the water-collection system they had rigged up that saved enough rain water every year to supply their huge greenhouse, the horses and other landscaping around the property.

    Within the hour the three of us took off to continue riding and spent the next 40 miles (64 km) enjoying the Northern Arizona scenery before finding a nice place to wild camp in the middle of nowhere. We enjoyed listening to Peter telling us about the area. I learned he and I had something in common. We’d both been whitewater river guides in the past, he on the Colorado River for something close to 30 years.

    We rode together the next day for several miles through some of my favourite scenery. With the sun breaking in through the pine forest it smelled like the warmth of Old Spice cologne. I wanted to bottle it so I could whip it out to snort when we got back to parts of the world where people burn their garbage on the streets and drivers consider vehicle maintenance to be a waste of money.

    In the afternoon, Peter turned off to head back home. I marvelled at his spontaneity to drop everything he’d planned for two days and join us. We love meeting people like this.



    DSCN3842_copy.jpg

    Dave and I continued and the riding got rougher with rocky-shelf drops and boulders to steer through. We were loving it. Normally I find doing steep downhill sections to be intimidating as gravity works against you. But here it was much easier to ride down than up. The rock drops were easy to roll over but meeting them head-on going uphill was a lot more work. For some reason my riding seemed to have improved leaps and bounds while we were away riding in the Southern Hemisphere even though we didn’t do much if any technical riding there. My fear of falling off and breaking another bone was dissipating. It was a great discovery.

    Peter had told us about a cool place on Navajo land where we could overlook the Grand Canyon tourist-free. We headed there the next day after a stop in Cameron for a huge Navajo taco and a $12 permit so we could ride through the reserve. At the end of the sage-fragrant road we found the edge of the rim overlooking the Little Colorado and the Colorado Rivers far below. The converging waters looked like someone had squeezed Crest toothpaste on half a snake; the pale turquoise colour was milky with silt but only a few metres upstream it was a deep, clear green. We were completely alone with no one around for miles. It seemed a great spot to camp but it was only 4:00 p.m. and the wind was intense. We spent some time hiking around taking photos then decided to ride on and find a more sheltered place to pop the tent for the night. In the wide open desert we found nothing for many miles and in the end settled for a drainage off the side of the dirt road. It was no Grand Canyon but by then the only view I was interested in was the inside of my eyelids.

    On the night of May 25 we were in Monument Valley. It was late, dark and impossible to find camping because of the reserve bordering the national monument. Earlier we’d stopped at a gorgeous wild camping spot in the red and purple-stained desert. We’d even found a friendly neighbour we were looking forward to having a beer with. In the 90 F (32 C) heat I’d peeled off my riding gear as fast as I was hoping to open a can of tepid beer we’d bought at a gas station a few miles down the road. I’d gotten quite comfortable in the shade of a tree ready to start sipping my adult beverage when Dave asked to look at the Inreach. Delorme had just come out with a new weather app for the device and we were looking at some dark clouds brewing in the distance. Although it was sunny at the moment the storm seemed to be spreading its tentacles in our direction. We’d climbed a rutted backroad to get in there with the bikes and had nine miles of dirt before pavement the next day. The roads would turn to gush if it rained. The app confirmed an approaching storm in our exact location and it wouldn’t clear up for a few days. I gave a great sigh and heaved myself back into the hot sun to put on my riding gear, gloves and helmet, stowing the beer back in my pannier.

    DSCN3883.jpg

    Now, five hours later, we were searching for place to camp up a dirt road on the Navajo Tribal Land reserve near Monument Valley, plenty tired from riding over 375 m (600 km) that day. Luckily a local native woman who seemed in her early 30s stopped to ask us if we were lost. I asked if there was a place to camp in the area and she offered us a piece of land where we could set up the tent next to an abandoned trailer. After telling us no one would bother us there she and her male companion left. We watched the lights from her car until they disappeared and then sat for a moment in the darkness letting our eyes adjust to the scene, commenting on how things just seem to fall into place when we need it most. Although it was dark, we could detect the famous silhouettes of the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley where many a Western had been filmed. I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning to see the valley floor from our raised perch up on the reserve.
    DSCN3898.jpg

    The end of this post takes us to May 26. We’re still a month behind on posting. There is much to write about our time back in North America travelling along the country’s Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR). I’ll be posting in sections so the Utah BDR is up next. We have some downtime for the next week at his dad’s house in Washington state while Dave works on modifications and repairs on our bikes to have them ready for our next leg up north. While he slaves away in the garage, my chores will be to get the posts up to date on our website and supply him with cold beer.

    More photos here.

    Attached Files:

    #24
  5. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Big Sky Country

    After our travels on the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route where we were cut short due to snow, Dave and I continued north into Wyoming and Montana with a stop in Logan, UT where my dad went to Utah State University in the late 60s. It was easy to see from the surrounding mountainous area why my mom refers to his time spent there as, “ski-versity.” I would have been distracted, too.

    On June 4 we were in Jackson Hole, WY riding alongside the impressive Teton range. This was an area where I’d hung out for about three weeks 20 years ago to do some climbing. It was great to be back there remembering a great climb up the Grand Teton with my friend Mark Litterick. From the Tetons we rode into Yellowstone, the US’s first National Park. I was blown away by this place. It’s a bubbling cauldron of geo-thermal action and through the steaming pools and gushing geysers you’ll see roaming bison, elk, sheep, grizzly and black bears living their peaceful lives in the rolling green pastures, oblivious to the hundreds of camera lenses focused on them for that perfect wildlife shot. Here we saw Yellowstone Falls, which has the largest volume of water in the US Rocky Mountains. We watched Old Faithful while eating ice cream and snickered to each other after the earth’s ‘ejaculation’ was over and we overheard one lady say to another: “Well, that was disappointing. I thought it would be larger and last longer.”

    Outside of Cooke City, MT we met Bill and Shirley from Billings, Montana, who were stopped on the side of the road checking out a waterfall. They were riding two-up on a KLR 650. We stood talking for quite a while and Bill then suggested Dave and I ride a backroad near where they were camped south of Red Lodge, MT, about an hour down the road. He told us to stop at their site first to grab some bear spray as he had ridden his KLR up that road before and seen a grizzly.

    An hour later we arrived at their camping site in an idyllic spot along the confluence of two raging creeks. They immediately offered us food and we stood talking with them while eating sandwiches and chocolate bars before heading up the 8 m (13 km) road that dead-ends at a trailhead for a 6 m (9.6 km) round-trip hike into a lake. The road was bumpy and gorgeous. We parked the bikes and hiked 3 m (4.8 km) to an overlook for the lake, which was still mostly frozen over. It was a beautiful day and the trail although still covered in a lot of snow, was pretty. We saw a smattering of marmots, deer and a coyote ran in front of my bike but thankfully no grizzlies. That night we ended up camping in the same area as Bill and Shirley and spent a lot of time talking with them. They are really nice people.

    We rode over the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway on June 7, which links Cody, WY with Beartooth highway and Yellowstone’s northwest gate. It’s a paved road that winds its way higher and higher within its 45 m (72.4 km) length. We spent the night of June 8th on the shores of Seeley Lake in Montana watching an incredible lightening show. I’ve never seen lightening strike upwards or in some cases it would stretch its glowing fingers out toward us but never seem to touch earth; more like giant electric rivers that would just drain out into the night sky.

    We spent the following two days in Glacier National Park, doing day hikes and pouting about not being to ride over the Going to the Sun highway, which was still closed for the season. The hikes were beautiful though and it was nice to get some exercise after all the sitting we tend to do on the bikes.

    We entered into Canada on June 10 trailing a raging storm into Alberta. Our plan was to head into Waterton, a place we’d both really wanted to see, but the weather was so bad we didn’t think we’d get any more hiking in so we pressed on into Pincher Creek, AB, where we found a restaurant to warm up in. We hung out for a few hours using their wifi and chatting with other people at their tables. After hearing we were planning on forging ahead in the storm to find camping, we were told of a nearby campground that was cheap and pleasant. When we got there it had cleared up but we still took full advantage of the hot showers and indoor sitting area with a hundred copies of old Beautiful British Columbia magazines to hold our attention through the evening. Once back in our tent for the night, the rains started again and hammered all night. We were under a huge tree and listened to the water dropping onto the tent, somehow cozy and happy in our soggy fabric home.

    The morning was clear so we walked into town for breakfast then took off on our ride for the day. I hadn’t seen my friend Christa McPherson, now living in Canmore, AB, for over seven years. We used to work together at a backcountry lodge and I messaged her a few days in advance to see if we could come for a visit.

    Dave and I wanted to ride into Canmore via Highway 40 over Highwood Pass in Kananaskis but it was closed for animal migration. We found an alternative route and headed to Canmore. For this day, we had wind, hail and rain interspersed with sun. Welcome to summer in Canada! Along the way we stopped on the side of the road and ate some lunch. A van passed us, honked then did a u-turn. A young couple got out offering us beer. They’d just returned to Canada from riding through Columbia, South America and were full of enthusiasm to hear about our travels. We stood on the side of the road and talked to them for well over an hour. They had left their bike in Columbia and were home hoping to earn enough money to get back out there. We had a great time talking with them and truly hope they find the means to continue their adventure.

    It was great to visit in Canmore with Christa and meet her family. The next morning, June 12, Dave and I headed to Calgary. I have an indestructible grandpa who still has his marbles at 102 years old. We brought him a milkshake, which is the tradition when visiting grandpa and we had a great catch up visit telling him stories of the last six months travelling through Mexico, Central and South America. We spent the night at Dave’s aunt and uncle’s in Calgary and enjoyed the visiting time we had with them as well.

    In the mid-70s, my grandpa and dad built a cabin at the base of Panorama ski resort, where my sister and I learned to ski. My parents sold the cabin years ago but this June they were celebrating their 47th anniversary at Panorama so from Calgary Dave and I headed to Invermere and up to Panorama. We spent a night there visiting with my folks and walked over to see our old cabin, still in great shape after all these years. From Panorama Dave and I headed to Revelstoke for a few days of visiting with friends and my family and then went to visit his mom and step-dad in Oliver, as well as an old friend of mine I’ve known for over 20 years.

    On June 21, we rode back into the US and while Dave rode a part of the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route I rode the highway to Cashmere, WA and hung out drinking a milkshake at the 59’er Diner. At one point I struck up a conversation with a man named Greg and his daughter Kirstin. She had just graduated from high school and one of her projects was to build a motorcycle from scratch. Her dad, Greg, helped her in the endeavour. By the time Dave showed up (three hours after I’d ordered my milkshake; he’d missed a turn and rode more of the route than he planned to), Greg had invited us to spend the night at his family’s home in Plain, WA. We got their address and showed up about 45 minutes behind them. They have a beautiful piece of land and a home that backs out onto the Wenatchee River. It was an incredible setting but we didn’t want to talk too much about how lucky they were to live in such a great place because they were within days of moving to Spokane. Before we left I told Kirstin she was a very impressive young lady building a motorcycle and wished her well in her pursuits studying mechanical engineering. Greg is an awesome dad for teaching his daughter some of those skills and his wife Alison was a great sport welcoming us last minute into her home in the middle of packing everything for a big move.

    From Plain, Dave and I took a back road over to Steven’s Pass, where Dave learned to ski as a kid. We took the day to ride to Arlington, WA, where Dave’s dad lives. He welcomed us after six months of travelling by telling me I looked like a bum. Tough love! And so with this inviting welcome, Dave and I spent the next two weeks in Rick’s home organizing for the next leg of our trip. Stay tuned for posts about our travels up north through BC to the Yukon and Alaska!

    Photos

    Map

    Attached Files:

    #25
  6. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    The US of A

    On May 13, Dave and I left Santiago, Chile around 9:00 p.m. on an American Airlines flight to Los Angeles, California. Our bikes had flown the day before as cargo on United Airlines. We would be reunited with them (we hoped) on May 16 when we could get them from customs after the weekend.

    When we can we use a great online system for accommodation called Motostays, which for an annual fee, gives you access to free homestays with other riders. In Irvine, CA we found Eric Hall and Michelle Coale and stayed with them for 5 days while we got some work done on the bikes and reorganized for the next leg of our trip. Eric is the senior editor for XLADV. Michelle is an accountant just getting into riding. They were strangers who’ve now become good friends.

    We found our bikes at United cargo and unwrapped them like giant Christmas gifts. An Asian man found this all quite hilarious and kept asking us questions then letting out a crazy laugh when we answered. I guess riding a motorcycle to the end of the Southern continent isn’t so believable for some.

    We left Irvine and rode to Palm Springs, where we spent a night catching up with Dave’s cousin Rogene and her partner Peggy, which is always a treat.

    On May 19 we made our way to Bouse, AZ in 100 F (38 C). We were a little concerned how hot the deserts might be at that time of year for us to ride. Dave’s mom and his step-dad spend their winters in Bouse and had left over a month ago to escape the heat. Dave’s dad spends his winters in nearby Quartzite, AZ and had also vacated before the heat. We were definitely used to riding in very hot weather by now but that didn’t make it any easier.

    In Bouse, we’d had a few things shipped to a friend of Dave’s mom. Tom and his wife’s winter season had been extended into May as he was working on a building project. We found his house and got to work in his covered garage on our bikes. While Dave replaced his very worn out rear tire, I went through all my things and was able to downsize even more. We left a box of things we didn’t need for the next part of our trip that Dave’s mom would pick up the next time she was in Bouse. Tom invited us to stay in their fifth wheel overnight, which although very hot, was nicer than sleeping in those temperatures in a tent.

    The next day we rode to Prescott, AZ and up to Mormon Lake near Flagstaff, AZ where we attended a 3-day Overland Expo event, showcasing the finest new travel vehicles and accessories—even a $6,000 kitchen-in-a-box! Here we were reunited with our friends from Irvine, Eric and Michelle. We had a great time camping with them and getting to know them even better throughout the event.

    After the Expo Dave and I began to tackle one of our goals—to ride north into Canada via the Backcountry Discovery Routes through the rest of Arizona, Utah and Idaho. Here’s a sneak peak about what that looks like but we’ll save that for our next post

    Photos here.
    #26
  7. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Hard or Soft? A quick and dirty review on hard cases versus soft bags

    _MG_3681.jpg

    My opinion on soft bags versus hard cases for motorcycle luggage options. Dave kept his hard cases on for this leg. Being a guy who greatly dislikes farkeling, we’ll see what he thinks when he straps some soft bags on in the fall.

    Hard case pros:
    – help keep bike off legs in the event of dropping bike. Which never happens.
    – provide better leverage angle for lifting bike off the ground. In the event of dropping bike. Which never happens.
    – are waterproof and theft-proof when locked
    – farkle-less; easy to get in and out of
    – great for showcasing bragging stickers of all places you and bike have been
    – make a good table or seat

    Hard case cons:
    – dented cases can mean permanent reduction in volume and a lid that doesn’t close properly, thus the waterproof pro goes out the window
    – heavy!
    – if they hit you in the back of the leg and/or achilles tendon it hurts at best or maims you for life at worst
    – can smoke obstacles with a ton of force and break things

    Soft bag pros:
    – lighter in weight
    – soft enough to graze most obstacles without too much force
    – looks way cooler (if you keep the straps tight and tied back, otherwise you look like a flap-happy dork on the road/track/trail/trapeze line)
    – with proper strap expertise, bags can shrink or expand in volume according to gear inside

    Soft bag cons:
    – too soft and may crush contents in cases of bike dropping
    – easy to hack into given more than 30 seconds
    – extra weight and cost in buying cables to lock around bags to prevent aforementioned hacking
    – farkeling nightmare; so many straps and buckles! I just want my flip flops but… they’re under… three rolls of fabric and five buckles!
    – need dry bags inside to waterproof. Mine came with pods
    – outer fabric can be trashed easily if bike goes down. Which as you’ll remember, never happens.
    #27
  8. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Almost halfway and what have we changed?

    Counting the three-month hiatus we took from our trip Dave and I have been on the road for 312 days as of Sept. 16, 2015 to July 27, 2016. This isn’t quite halfway into our two-year trip but with some down time this week waiting for parts before we head into the true north of the Dempster and Dalton highways, (tire-eating, gravel-pelting haul roads. Or so we’ve heard…) this is a great opportunity to talk about what we’ve changed in our gear and on our bikes thus far.

    It was a fortunate option for us to return to North America and ride through home (otherwise known as parents’ houses storing our crap) in the middle of travelling. How many times would we get the chance for a re-do on what we’d screwed up or what had screwed-up gear-wise for a trip lasting 731 days? (2016 is a leap year, did you know.)

    Our first plan was to ride south from Revelstoke, B.C. until the road ran out, fly across the swamp then ride until that road ran out. Then we’d put the bikes on a cargo flight to Cape Town, South Africa, and ride that continent until the elephants chased us away.

    But we’ll be the first to tell you a plan—especially one encompassing two years—will never follow its course no matter how well organized or intentioned. We didn’t plan to come back to North America until the fall of 2017, but there we were back in our old stomping grounds, one of which was Arlington, WA at Dave’s dad’s house where we stayed for 19 days. It was nice for Dave and his dad to have some quality time together hanging out in Rick’s garage and shop doing man stuff while I tried to catch up on an endless to-do list. Oh yes, there are still to-do lists even for those of us with no jobs and travelling.

    Below is a detailed account of what we’ve swapped out, changed, added and warrantied since returning to North America. We hope it’ll offer some insight to those looking to travel in a similar way. If you have any questions, send us an e-mail from our contact page or add your comments below.

    Here is the original photo of what we packed to take the first time.

    During the last 312 days, we’ve downsized three times; the first time was in Loreto, Baja in December, 2015, where we dropped about 30 lbs of gear (below) and left it with a friend travelling past Dave’s dad’s house.

    [​IMG]

    The second weight loss was in Lima, Peru in March, 2016, where we asked another friend who was flying back to Vancouver to take a few odds and ends. No photo for that one but it was: two motorcycle covers, a RAM mount and Dave’s electric toothbrush with charger.

    The third gear blitz was in Quartzite, Arizona in May, 2016, where we left a box of things pictured below with a friend of Dave’s mom’s for when she comes back to spend her winter. (Dave’s downsizing not pictured. This is all mine!)

    [​IMG]

    This shedding of pounds was great but as every dieter knows the pounds just come back. We may have gotten rid of these items but some were replaced with more favourable options; the result of learning along the way about what was working and what wasn’t.

    During our three weeks in Arlington, WA, I traded my heavy, hard case panniers for lighter weight soft bags. And lighter they were but so far I find them far more of a nuisance than the hard cases. There are advantages and disadvantages. If you’re so inclined, I’ve detailed the pros and cons here.

    Other changes,

    On Dave’s bike:

    • Akrapovic muffler. Why: there were practical reasons but mostly because “it looks and sounds cooler.” —Dave
    • Replaced cable-actuated clutch with hydraulic version. Why: former return spring created hand fatigue
    • New front tire and tube. Why: simplified tube scenario and “Heidenau tires suck off road.” —Dave
    • Oil change. Why: maintenance.
    • Air filter: Why: maintenance.
    • Removed wiring harness for jumper cables. Installed one that works with jump-start battery, which was smaller and lighter. Why: multi-function use. (Can use same battery to charge our electronics.)
    • New chain and sprockets. Why: maintenance
    • Auto chain oiler. Why: ease of maintenance
    • Replaced mount for skid plate. Why: damaged in impact.
    In Dave’s luggage:
    • Heavier Icebreaker long underwear, top and bottoms. Why: because it’s cold in the north!
    • Swapped pair of socks. Why: Heather says, “Too stinky!” Dave says, “Worn out.”
    • Added camera, lenses and Pelican case. Why: much heavier but the opportunity to photograph wildlife in the north (from far away!) would be missed without it.
    • Swapped Ortlieb duffle bag for Dakine waterproof backpack. Why: wanted bigger backpack capability; multi-function as keeper of tent, mat and sleeping bag.
    • Swapped Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex boats for Sidi Crossfire 2’s. Why: stiffer sole. Sore feet equals wimpy, pussy guy.
    On Heather’s bike:
    • New front and rear tire, new rear tube. Why: worn out.
    • Fork overhaul. Why: maintenance.
    • New spark plugs, air and oil filter. Why: maintenance.
    • Soft bags. Why: see pros and cons quick review here.
    • Repaired OEM support bracket for luggage rack. Why: broken.
    • Touratech crash bars back on. Why: had other crash bars that worked with highway pegs but too bulky and pegs are liability off-road. No more highway pegs. Knees very sad.
    In Heather’s luggage:
    • Lighter, thinner yoga mat. Why: old one too bulky.
    • New t-shirt and casual sundress. Why: because a girl gets tired of wearing the same clothes everyday.
    • That said… left behind two pairs of pants. Why: don’t need four.
    • Left behind 12-volt car charger for laptop. Why: one hard case was wired to plug it in but left hard cases behind.
    • Added rain jacket and pants. Why: Dianese riding pants not waterproof anymore (working on warranty). Left super ugly Gore-Tex liner for riding jacket behind in favour of rain jacket I could use off-bike.
    Communal
    • Bear spray. Why: you know why.
    • Added bear vault. Why: difficult to store food away from animals on bikes.
    • Added cable lock to tank bags. Why: anti-theft
    • Pinlocks for helmet visors. Why: eliminates fog on visors.
    • Cyclops high and low beam headlight. Why: far better lighting on highway and in the dark. Better longevity. (Dave replaced his headlight bulb twice so far.)
    • Swapped Primus multi-fuel stove and 1 litre fuel bottle for Primus teeny, tiny micro-stove.
    • Swapped MSR cook set plastic cups for Silipints.
    Warranties:

    Heather
    • Arc’teryx jacket. Why: main zipper fell off in laundry.
    • Shoei GT Air helmet visor: Why: drop down sun visor malfunction.
    Dave
    • Rear shock replaced by Touratech. Upgraded to Extreme because no electronics involved. Why: under warranty, broke in South America.
    • New Sena communicator. Why: possible water damage.
    • InReach device. Why: possible hardware malfunction.
    Communal
    • Hilleberg tent sliders. Why: zippers on two doors malfunctioning.
    • MSR cook set. Why: leaves gross, weird residue from finish on plates stored inside. Note: Replacement didn’t fix problem. New one leaves same gross residue we have to wash off before meals.

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    #28
  9. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Don't Come Back

    The first piece of advice our friend and fellow adventure rider, Ismail Cem Esen gave to us when we met up with him for a day ride out of Vancouver, was, “Don’t come back.”

    Ismail, whom we met in Central America riding a Triumph 800 XC, is originally from Turkey but has been living and working in Burnaby, B.C. for a few years. He had just returned from a 10-month trip riding through the U.S., Mexico and Central America and was missing his life on the road big time. We hoped a good day of riding dirt would help satiate him for at least a little while.

    After leaving Arlington on July 10, Dave and I crossed into Canada to meet up with Ismail and attempt to ride a forest service road (FSR) that runs up the west side of Harrison Lake near Abbotsford, B.C. Sadly, the road was closed due to a bridge out about 60 km (37 m) up and we had to turn around. None of us apparently had seen any signs. Dave and I found a picturesque place to camp along the shores of the lake while Ismail, after an hour or two of hanging out, had to return back to the city for work in the morning. We enjoyed the time we had to catch up with him and watched him ride off sad that he couldn’t spend the night trading travel stories with us over a campfire and some adult beverages.

    Dave and I set up the tent, which we hadn’t used in almost a month, and noticed two zippers were broken. We couldn’t keep travelling without being able to close or open our tent so we had to come up with a plan. Of course we didn’t find this out before we left the Seattle, WA area, where the makers of our tent—Hilleberg—have a warranty repair shop. That would be too easy.

    As the road was closed for getting through to Pemberton on the FSR, we had to go back toward Vancouver anyway where we would ride the Sea to Sky highway to access the Chilcotins. We decided Dave would take the tent back to Seattle and get it fixed while I spent a night or two in Van with friends. This would be the first night we would spend apart in over 10 months. Party time! Except I’m not 20 anymore and neither are my friends so we ended up just having a fun evening ‘in’ and catching up.

    Dave met me in Vancouver on July 13 after his marathon overnight trip to Seattle. Hilleberg went out of their way to fix our tent quickly and get Dave back on the road. Their customer service was excellent and as fast as you’d hope any company to fix something on the fly with only a few hours notice. We spent one more night in Vancouver visiting with friends then with our fixed tent and an itch to get back on track with our plan we headed toward Pemberton, B.C.

    It had been almost two years since Dave and I were last in the Chilcotins. We’d taken five days to ride through the area in 2014 and had been very new riders then. I was pushed to the max on some of the challenging terrain and Dave actually submersed his bike and himself in a beaver pond that had flooded the road. It was his first-ever trip riding a motorcycle off-road and one of our first trips together. We were curious to get back into this area and see how much our skills had improved. We spent a night camping a few kilometres before one of the tough sections. The next morning, we rode through many huge mud puddles and thought we were going to have quite a time schlepping our big bikes through the beaver pond if the muddy trail was any indication. We rode all the sections we felt were tough two years ago with little problem. We still both dropped our bikes in one area but it was much easier than it had been as new riders. Next came the beaver pond, which we both sailed across without issue. Afterward, a series of creek crossings and heck, they were even fun! Like whitewater kayaking except when you flip upside down you stay down.

    The rest of the day went along with some steep hill climbs and descents then we were back out on Highway 20 and in Prince George, B.C. by evening.

    But wait, this is boring right? No falling off bikes. No swimming in beaver ponds. No one cried… as we get to be better riders our blog posts risk being more of a mundane read. We apologize for that. Although there is usually adventure in some form in our day-to-day lives as riders. For example, we got a hotel room in Prince George because it was wet and miserable outside. We don’t normally get hotels because of the cost so to save a few bucks on a restaurant meal we cooked mac and cheese in the bathroom using our camp stove. If you know me for my super huge pubic hair phobias, you’ll know this is my adventure to the extreme.

    On July 15 we woke up excited to head to Fort St. James, B.C. to see friends we’d met in Baja on Christmas Day, 2015. Kathy and John Marchal spent six months riding their bicycles from Vancouver, B.C. to Los Cabos, Baja and were full of nostalgia about their great trip when we met them at their home in Fort St. James where they live with their three awesome kids and one wild grammy who tells great adventure stories of her own. Especially when you accidentally fill her wine glass a few times and she accidentally drinks it to empty a few times. After a night of story telling around an increasingly loud table prone to outbursts of laughter in the Marchal’s kitchen, someone responsible must have shut down the party because we crawled off to bed.

    The morning didn’t come awfully early. Most of us were still in bed after 10:00 a.m. but later in the afternoon we rallied and the four of us walked over to the historic park that gives the Fort its namesake. We spent another more tame and adult-ish night with the Marchal’s and the next day after some carpentry tips from Dave to their son Luke, who was building something guys build, we headed off in search of Telkwa Pass—the more ‘exciting’ way to get from Smithers to Terrace. But this will have to wait for another post and I promise there will be a good bit of adventure to read in this one.

    More photos here.

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  10. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Telkwa Pass, the squirrel trail

    If you ride a dual-sport motorcycle, never trust a person who rides a quad to inform you on road conditions. For one, quads have four wheels and balance. Motorcycles have two wheels and are only slightly better than a unicycle.

    From Fort St. James, Dave and I wanted to take the 90-ish km (55 m) ‘shortcut’ from Smithers to Terrace over Telkwa Pass. Dave is forever scouting out ‘roads’ on Google Earth and in map books that should have their own category on a map legend labeled, “squirrel trail.” We left our camp that morning and followed a perfectly good logging road for about 25 km (16 m) before coming to a stop. Dave got off his bike and walked toward a sign that read, “trail,” then looked over at me and dared to let a mischievous grin spread across his face while giving me a thumbs up. This was where the true Telkwa Pass started. It was pretty good for several kilometres. When it started to get steep and rocky I persevered until about halfway down a slope on the trail where I came to a grinding halt unable to stand the teeth-cracking vibrations my bike was offering up while it bucked and heaved over toaster-size rocks. I was determined to ride the whole pass as we’d read online a blog entry from a guy who’d recently been over the pass saying there was only a short 5 km (3 m) section where the trail got rocky. What was this guy riding? A quad. I had to give up on this section and when Dave crashed my bike for the first time ever while surf-riding it down the shifting rocks on the slope I hated to think how I’d have faired.

    While walking the trail, I picked gorgeously ripe salmon berries and presented them to Dave when he walked past me to retrieve his bike. With the taste of the fresh mountain fruit still on my tongue, I hopped back on my bike and rode on, loving the scenery. Suddenly I had to dodge a couple piles of giant steaming shit. The flies buzzed off in several directions when my motorcycle found a dry line through the poo and just as I was thinking how fresh is this a stench like rotting fish and wet dog assaulted my nose. With a hand steady like Parkinson’s I bleeped my pathetic horn, which sounded like a hummingbird fart and fingered my intercom telling Dave to hurry and catch up because I could almost feel the bear breathing down my neck.

    And of course this was when the road got difficult again. There’re few things more sphincter-clenching than knowing a bear is nearby and you can only ride your bike about 5 km (3 m) per hour because the road surface is so technical. I filmed Dave coming down a steep section with my camera in one hand and had the bear spray cocked and loaded in the other. We never saw that stinking furry beast but concocted a verbal Far Side-esque cartoon at one point where a bunch of bears hang out at the bottom of these steep, rocky sections lazing around with their big bear arms folded behind their heads waiting for adventure motorcyclists to eat it on the descent. The caption would read: “Why work for it? Let them come to us.”

    The reward for this tough riding was of course the scenery. We came out of the bush to find the shores of a lake, which made a good spot for lunch. In the distance we could hear an engine approaching and soon a couple emerged on a quad. They were from Smithers and sadly I didn’t catch their names as they helped us out down the road as well. They were also the folks who said the road was easy from here on when in fact it became the toughest section on the Pass. Over the years, the mountains above released tons and tons of scree into the lake below. At some point a bulldozer had come along and done what it could to make a throughway along the lake’s shoreline. Four-by-four drivers who don’t mind a little of nature’s pin stripping on the paint job and a few flat tires would be able to get through. Quads have no problem. Again we find ourselves to be the only people on two wheels taking our bikes through places they shouldn’t be.

    I started out after our lunch at the lake encouraged by the couple from Smithers’ words but soon found myself flinging rocks out my back tire trying to ascend yet another steep section on loose rock. My 19-inch front tire loves to burrow itself like an ostrich in situations like this making it almost impossible to keep on course. When Dave came up to help he just dug a deeper and deeper hole trying to force my bike out with speed. He rocked it back and I hurriedly shoved large rocks into the hole. When Dave throttled the bike to punch it through, the rocks came flying out at the speed of bullets and I dove toward the ditch for shelter. Along with the small front tire, the G650GS is underpowered for its weight, so trying to hammer it through stuff like this is like putting a bison on the racetrack. For the areas where we could get some speed, we were dodging overgrown branches reaching into the trails, bitch-slapping us as we revved by.

    It took us over two hours to get the bikes 10 km (6 m). It was a hot day and we were getting exhausted. Just when we’d decided I’d have to hike while Dave would leapfrog the bikes until we could get onto a better section in the road, we heard an engine again as the couple from Smithers pulled up. As we’d only made it so far since they’d last seen us, they asked if they could help. Dave had just done one bike ferry with mine and was hiking back for his not looking forward to the slog in the heat. He asked if he could hitchhike back to his bike on their quad and rode away smiling and waving. Alone now in the alder at the bottom of a huge scree avalanche slope, I made some noise for the bears with my farting hummingbird horn and snapped off a few photos. Dave was back within 15 minutes and we both gazed on happily at the road heading up the valley ahead. We could tell it would be much easier and the logging truck parked a few metres from us facing our direction was proof. If it had made it this far from the other direction we’d get out no problem.

    We rode out on the dirt road for about 30 km (19 m) before finding a pleasant home for the night by a river. The Smithers couple had kindly given Dave half a bottle of wine, which we drank heartily until it overtook us with sleepiness and we passed out in the tent not only while it was still light out but before the sun had even stopped shining into the forest.

    More photos here.

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    FailureDrill likes this.
  11. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    How to get Hyderized

    First thing’s first in Hyder, Alaska. Find the pub just off the road after riding through an un-manned border crossing from Stewart, B.C. Park your adventure vehicle of choice somewhere safe because it might be awhile. Then belly up and tell the weary female bartender, who’s heard this from a million over-excited tourists who think they’re the first to discover this local shenanigan way to waste an afternoon, “I wanna get hyderized please!”

    She’ll walk over and plunk down a couple shot glasses hard enough to make a thud on the walnut counter then tell you the rules:

    “No taking photos of people or filming. No asking what’s in the glass. No sipping, it has to go down all in one go. And no barfing it back up or you owe the bar a round. Lastly, no other questions.”

    We bravely tossed the clear liquid back and waited for the eruption. Amazingly, it went down smoother than some of the whiskey Dave buys. Whatever taste buds were still working detected something like mosquito repellent, evergreen trees and a hint of gasoline. The bartender flicked a lighter. I ducked. Our shot glasses bloomed into a soft purple flame, which fanned onto the counter top. She wasn’t concerned and let out a little secret; the shot had been 150 proof. While I wondered how many days it would be before I could ride again sober, a couple slid onto two stools beside us and ordered beer. They were from Texas riding two Yamaha Teneres. Likely because of the moonshine, Dave and I appeared more charming than usual and they invited us to stay in the cabin they’d rented, telling us we’d have to sleep on the floor. We were ready to face the true north heartily but that didn’t mean we were crazy enough to give up a free place to stay indoors.

    We planned to meet with Jeff and Lynne Stoltenberg later and walked over to our bikes, which had been sitting for over an hour. The roaring woodstove in my belly had tamed itself to a slow burning simmer. We tested ourselves by walking a straight line and touching fingers to noses (no one said it had to be our own nose) then Dave and I rode the 30-some km (17 m) up a dead-end, dusty road to the spectacular Salmon Glacier. The road into Stewart, B.C. on the 37A had already blown our minds and now the Salmon, one of the five largest glaciers in the world… it was a day to remember.

    More photos here.

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  12. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Hotsprings and hot meals

    Often we are asked how the bikes are fairing on the trip and we reply saying they’re doing well considering what we put them through. Of course when they actually break down we curse them as though they are crappiest crap on two-wheels.

    At time of writing my bike is actually in the shop for the second time in three days but that’s a story for later. We'll talk now about Dave’s bike suddenly needing some big repairs in Atlin, B.C.

    But first let’s focus on the positive; Liard Hotsprings... sigh! Dave and I rode 227 km (142 m) one-way to experience what everyone was talking about. Liard truly is one of the prettiest settings of any public, developed pool we’ve seen. If you go in after 10:00 p.m. there’s no one to collect your money. Otherwise, it's only a $5 entry. There’s also free camping, with free wild raspberries, across the street behind the hotel, which has a dark, sketchy, closed-for-good vibe, although curiously the front doors were open and we could use their bathrooms and even wander the hallways if desired.

    On our way riding into Liard from Stewart, B.C. off highway 37, we rode through the leftovers of an old forest fire. The burned bark had been stripped clean from the pale coloured trunks, exposing white pin-like structures topped with brown tips. Dave said it was like riding through a giant porcupine. We saw five black bears; two were cubs and another we spooked up a tree. When Dave stopped to take photos, the bear hid for several minutes in a culvert. Dave waited for the bear to come back out but couldn’t get him to climb the tree again. We also saw about a million bison; they were all over the road causing semi-drivers to jerk to a stop and cyclists to pick up their pace.

    After our night at Liard enjoying the springs, we headed back in the direction we’d come and beyond toward Atlin, B.C., a good 650 km (404 m) west. We made it about 400 km (249 m) before calling it quits and deciding to camp at Morely Lake—an idyllic rec site when there isn't a handful of drunk rednecks partying all night. We’d gotten wet on the ride from rain and were chilled to the bone. Dave started a fire with pinecones and twigs found in the very damp forest. I made dinner: sunflower seeds and rice. It was all we had. We should have stopped for groceries in Watson Lake but got distracted by the impressive signpost forest.

    In the middle of the night, we were treated to the stereo from one of the partyer’s trucks and some intelligent words from their mouths. All we wanted in the morning was a cup of hot tea and coffee. I set to warming up some water, which was when our stove ran out of fuel. We sulked over our tepid tea. After our meagre dinner the night before, interrupted sleep, a now a wet, breakfast-less start to the day, we wondered if people would still be envious of our trip.

    Atlin, B.C., although pretty darn cute and charming, (if you don’t need anything from the grumpy guy who runs the Shell station), is not a bustling metropolis but we had stars in our eyes when we saw the little corner store had food on its shelves; it meant we didn’t have to eat birdfeed again. I stocked the food bags with snacks and a hearty menu for dinner. Whatever space was leftover we stuffed with a few cold beers and rode 25 km (16 m) south of town to a camping rec site in the sun. Dave’s bike was making metallic clunking noises. While he worked at finding the problem, I unloaded everything, changed out of my riding gear, strung up a line between two trees to dry out some stuff, started a fire and walked about ten steps to the shores of Atlin Lake. I love how easily a new place can feel like home once we have a few of our things out and about.

    When I walked past Dave grunting around under his bike, I suddenly remembered we had no fuel to cook all our yummy food. This really pissed me off. Dave was sure there wouldn’t be a place to buy isobutene in town but after putting his bike together, he rode back in to try his luck.

    Forty-five minutes later, Dave was back and looking quite furious. His bike was making the same noise but worse and he hadn’t found camp fuel. What he did find was a couple camping a few miles up the road at another site, who were willing to loan us their stove. We packed up our stuff and drove a few minutes up the road to re-camp where we could hopefully cook some real food.

    I shook hands with Bob and Sandra, thanking them for their two-burner propane camping stove. They talked with us while I made dinner and Dave took apart his wheel bearings. He emerged with a handful of rubble—crushed, broken bearings, which he placed on the edge of the picnic table. Now, several kilometres down a dirt road south of tiny Atlin, Dave’s bike was totally un-rideable. Bob kindly offered to put Dave’s bike in the back of their truck and at least get him as far as the junction to Whitehorse, which from there would have only been 80 km (49 m) north. But it was clear the bike wouldn’t fit in the truck with the canopy.

    In the morning, Dave and I rode two-up on my bike into Atlin, where I called BCAA to use my membership for a tow to Whitehorse, Yukon. After hearing, “Your call is very important to us,” for over 20 minutes someone finally came on only to inform me my membership A) did not cover motorcycles and B) only covered 25 km (16 m), then it was $3 CAN per km.

    Dave called three truck rental agencies in Whitehorse. The first two quoted him over $400 to do the return trip from Whitehorse to Atlin and back. The third quoted $169 plus 400 km free and they even had tie-down straps. Done and done. Now all we needed was to get Dave to Whitehorse to pick up the truck.

    We were using the phone in Atlin’s visitor’s centre. There were a few people inside, including a couple we’d met in Liard hotsprings. I asked if anyone happened to be going to Whitehorse and the couple answered yes. Dave hopped into their RV for a free trip to Whitehorse while I got out my laptop and found a place to work utilizing my sudden free time, which ended up being a hardware store with a cute seating area in the corner selling tea.

    Dave returned to camp about six hours later with a pimpin’ 2016 Dodge Ram 1500 Eco-diesel whose axels operated on adjustable air suspension. He parked and lowered the truck, stepping out with a big smile and said, “I love this truck.” Sometimes we really miss vehicles. They're warm when you want warmth and air-conditioned when you don't. They have four wheels, which some might see as the potential for four flats but we see as the potential for balance. They have tunes...

    There was a single ramp in the back of the truck but the angle for getting the bike in, even with it lowered, was too great so we backed the truck up to a ditch and loaded it easily.

    In the morning it was off to Whitehorse. My parents have a good friend, Joan Turner, with whom they had worked with in the 60s in Lake O’Hara, B.C. Joan lived in Whitehorse but was away that week. I was wondering where we’d stay for the time it would take Dave to order parts from the lower 48 and get his bike fixed but after checking messages in Atlin the evening before, I found a message from Lee Vincent—a woman I’d met once through paddling friends in B.C. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask her if we could stay with her having only met her once but I didn’t have to worry about it. She’d noticed from a Facebook post Dave and I were in the area. Although she knew nothing about our predicament she offered us a place to stay in Whitehorse as long as we needed. Dave had also met a woman, Cheryl Rivest, a goldsmith in Whitehorse, whose business partner, David Ashley, happened to be an ex-motorcycle mechanic.

    We got settled in Whitehorse and went straight to the storefront of David and Cheryl to see what advice David could give about ordering parts to fix Dave’s bike. David gave some helpful info and allowed Dave to use his garage to fix his bike.

    It’s important to remember the series of events that bring you to where you are. Forgetting to buy fuel for our stove was annoying. But if we hadn’t forgotten, we wouldn’t have met Bob and Sandra staying at the lake where we met Cheryl whose business partner was David, the former mechanic. We’ve noticed on our travels that almost always, the exact person or tool for the job appears when we need it most, even in places where we seemingly don’t know anyone. Thanks to Lee, Tim, Hunter and Fergus for letting us share their home for as long as we did and to David for his help with the bike and the delicious meal from his wife Linda. You know, if we keep getting this kind of treatment, we’ll just keep coming back…

    More photos here.

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    #32
  13. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    A day of summer in a Yukon week

    I love the north and particularly the Yukon; the abundance of free food growing in the forest is intriguing, like low-bush cranberries, huge, fat blueberries and the mushrooms! I want to pick them but have no idea which of them will be a welcome change to our regular pasta meals and which will make us into dancing, hallucinating nudists in the forest. Or worse, dead nudists.

    In total, the Yukon has a population of 37,178. Whitehorse’s population is 27,690, which means less than 10,000 people live outside this charming city. The second most populated area is Dawson City with 2,308 people. The Whitehorse visitor centre gives out free 3-day parking passes so you can park anywhere downtown and go exploring. Free parking is a great concept that more cities and towns should provide for visitors. After all, this is usually where the most services are. If tourists and travellers can easily access shops, galleries and other visitor services, it stands to reason that the area’s economy would benefit.

    We spent four days in Whitehorse while Dave sourced parts for his bike and got other parts machined to fix his wheel bearings. Because of the great contacts we'd met, he had access to a garage with tools and got everything back together and ready to go on his bike.

    On July 29, we planned to ride to Skagway, Alaska but woke up to rain. We were staying with friends. It’s hard to leave a warm house with tea and showers and a roof over our heads and trade it for wet riding and camping gear but we rallied and went for it anyway. Along the way the rain let up and the sun poked out a little. We stopped in Carcross, where a friend of Dave’s, Derek Crowe, has been instrumental instigating the creation of Single Track to Success—a program involving first nations youth who help build mountain bike trails in the area. Carcross is also known for being the smallest desert in the world and also perhaps the northern-most. Although it certainly looks desert-like, with its 640 acres of sand dunes, the Carcross desert is in fact not a desert at all but a deposit of silt left behind when large glacial lakes dried up after the last glacial period, 10,000-ish years ago. It is a very interesting stop along the way from Whitehorse to Skagway.

    We found a map at the Carcross visitor centre that showed a back road up Montana Mountain. Of course once Dave had seen this, we had to go exploring. The road was beautiful and allowed us to glimpse some of the trail work Derek had done with his helpers for the mountain bike community. We eventually came to where the map indicated a washout we could not ride over. After a few photos, we turned around and headed down to the highway to make our way over the next 100 km (60 m) to our destination.

    The road to Skagway is incredible. Through the pass, there are hundreds of teal and turquoise coloured alpine pools positioned like giant baths scooped into big bowls of granite rock. If it hadn’t been 11°C (52°F), I’d have stopped for a swim but as it was the wind left a pretty chilly slap on any exposed skin. We were finding ‘summer’ in the north to be quite wintery.

    Once we’d reached Skagway, we parked the bikes and walked around town checking out the giant cruise ships that come up from the south then went to scout out a Thai place we’d heard about. Apparently people in Whitehorse will order take-out then seriously drive the 177 km (110 miles) one-way to pick it up and drive back. I can’t fathom this is true but after eating there we wondered if maybe it was.

    We had been told about a free municipal campground about 20 km (12 m) out of town in some flats by the inlet. We found this perfect spot and set up camp. It was very peaceful. We could hear eagles in the nearby forest but were only able to actually see one.

    On the morning of July 30, we decided to take a day off and rode into Skagway to find a hiking trail up to Dewey Lake. It was 11 km (6.8 m) round trip with 2952 ft (900 m) of elevation gain. Although we did the hike in four hours round-trip, our legs were killing us for about five days afterward. We could barely get on and off our bikes and glared at staircases with disdain. Sitting all day on a bike does not get one in shape.

    We spent another night out at our beautiful campsite in the flats. Part of the evening’s entertainment was hanging out with two Swiss couples travelling in converted Land Cruisers they’d shipped from Europe to Halifax, Nova Scotia and then driven to Alaska. It was a very fun evening full of light-hearted rivalry between the two couples, one older and one younger, about what made their rig better than the other. Although their vehicles looked very similar from the outside, they were quite different on the inside as Dave and I found when we were given tours through both the next morning, (after they had hand delivered fresh coffee to our tent!). We exchanged addresses and very much hope to see them all again in Europe.

    On July 31, Dave and I returned to Whitehorse but this time had the pleasure of staying a few days with a good friend of my parents. Joan Turner met my mom and dad when they all worked together at Lake O’Hara near Lake Louise, Alberta, back in the late 60s. Joan and her husband Don were excellent hosts. We arrived just in time for happy hour and a dinner party. The food was incredible and healthy. Even Dave welcomed the kale salad from a neighbour’s garden after several days of pasta and crackers. While we sat at a set table on the Turners’ back deck, I realized it finally felt like a real summer day. The sun was almost hot, we had cold white wine in our hands and I was wearing the one sundress I travel with for the first time in weeks.

    It’s the little things in life...

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    #33
    Seba1 likes this.
  14. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Keno. It's Not Just A Game.

    I wonder if Keno the game was named after Keno, Yukon? I hope not; I’d hate for its namesake to remind more people of scratching a pencil over numbers on a slip of paper while chain-smoking in sketchy bars rather than that of the real Keno, Yukon, which is a very cool place Dave and I rode to during our Yukon travels.

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    Keno, population 15, sits perched at the end of the Silver Trail highway 13 km, (8 mi) from Elsa, and is the former location of some serious silver-lead mining in 1919. When the mines closed in 1989, they left infrastructure behind in the hills and Keno now relies on these caved in shacks and cavernous holes as character attraction for tourism.

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    The dirt road to Keno ends at stop sign a few feet from the front door of a frontier-style hotel. There you can turn either left or right to check out the one-road town. We explored and found some great homemade pizza and carrot cake before riding a few kilometres up a rougher road leading to the town’s renowned signpost.

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    We camped here overlooking the valley below observing various shacks leftover from the old mining days.

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    A shout out to my sister who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. According to this sign she's 3100 km (1926 mi) away!

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    A word about food storage while riding bikes; we are forever diligent about living in bear country and not having the option to store our food in a vehicle overnight, we have a bear vault where we store most of the food. Whatever’s leftover we try to stash elsewhere like hung in a tree or even putting the bag in an outhouse. Sure it’s kind of gross. We try to double bag before setting stuff on the floor. In this case of camping at the signpost near Keno, there was only a port-a-potty. We were high in the tree-less hills and didn’t have many options so our bag of food that didn’t fit in the bear vault went on the floor. If you’re reading this and you’re not a world-traveller, you’ll likely think this is the most disgusting thing ever. The port-a-potty didn’t close well from the outside so I grabbed a nail found on the ground and used it to slide the latch into the ‘lock’ position. We sometimes have to get creative to keep those bears away!

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    The lighting is so perfect even the port-a-potty is photogenic!

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    From Keno, Dave and I began our trip up the Dempster Highway on Aug 3. This would be the first of two very important milestones for our trip while we were up north; to ride to Inuvik, NWT, Canada’s northern-most settlement accessed by road, and Deadhorse, Alaska, the world’s northern-most road-accessed settlement. The story of our travels along the Dempster Highway will come our next post!

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    #34
    Ginger Beard likes this.
  15. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,124
    Location:
    okieland
    jolly good show on this RR and web page, thanks for the gusto
    #35
  16. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Thank you!
    #36
  17. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Finding Inuvik and the Land of the Midnight Sun via the Dempster Highway

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    There is a saying in the north. Or at least there was when Dave said it:

    “If you can wait up until 2:00 a.m., you'll see a gorgeous sunset. Wait another 45 minutes and you'll see a gorgeous sunrise.”

    It was hard to get into any kind of sleeping pattern in Inuvik, NWT. The sun didn’t set but also, it stayed up, high and bright in the sky all night. I would have stayed up 24 hours to let the land of the midnight sun prove its namesake to me but who are we kidding—I’m over 40. A girl gets tired.

    After leaving Keno, Dave and I rode on to the junction that connects with the Dempster Highway, which starts about 40 km (25 mi) east of Dawson City. A very nice thing happened here. We were trying to fill up our gas tanks, seeing as the sign had said, “Next service 360 km (224 mi).” The gas station was un-manned. It is just a card lock with public access provided you have a credit card. My credit card wasn’t working. While I farkled with it, Dave chatted with a guy driving a Toyota Tundra with a homemade camper on the back. I called over to Dave that my card wasn’t working and the guy came up with his card, inserted it and, as it seemed to work, filled his own tank. When he was done, he handed the hose over to Dave and said our gas was on him.

    A great thing about being on a traveller’s route is we get to see the same people again and again. We came across this nice free-gas man several times along the Dempster Highway. He was there filming a documentary on grizzlies. We’d see him parked on the side of the road with his tell-tale camper, pull up and say, “Do you see any bears?” He never would have with us around anyway as we’d all stand on the side of the road chatting away.

    One area we were excited to see along the Dempster was Tombstone Territorial Park. My parents had visited the area a few years ago and my mom had done a beautiful painting of the Tombstone valley in fall. You can see it here. (P.S. it’s for sale!).

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    Although it wasn’t quite fall enough yet for the really vibrant colours, it was getting there. We found a place to camp a few kilometres past the Tombstone visitor centre and watched the night set in and change the landscape around us.

    In the morning we packed up under angry-looking clouds hoping the day would clear as we headed north. These unpaved highways accessing the earth’s far northern regions are terrible to navigate when wet. We were lucky (for now). The weather stayed tolerable, although as we crossed over the chilly Arctic Circle it was definitely not ideal temperatures for motorcycling. We sent our families a message using our InReach device saying we’d crossed the Arctic Circle and that it felt like it.

    [​IMG]The weather's not looking good!

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    From the Circle, the Dempster climbs high, overlooking the Ogilvie mountain range. At this altitude it’s easy to see why some people have hugged the staff at Eagle Plains, despite its dreary-looking digs. It’s the only point of civilization for a few hundred miles in either direction and this part of the road gets blasted in bad weather. Some of you may be familiar with the TV series, Ice Road Truckers. Although it is sensationalized as TV is, there’s no mistaking how challenging this road can be in the winter as well as summer, when storms can happen anytime.

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    Many times I wanted to stop and hike up a peak along the way. You could be at the summits of some in an hour or less. My eyes were hardly ever on the road. I kept scanning for bears, moose… anything. Finally we saw some mountain sheep as little white dots on a scree slope and pulled over to watch them.

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    When we started out this day, Dave said he'd be glad if we got to Eagle Plains, which was about 300 km (186 mi) from that morning’s camp. But we got almost 200 km (125 mi) and a ferry ride past that number, not to mention through a long, muddy section. While I was shrugging my shoulders trying to get the knots out, thinking when am I going to get in shape I had to remind myself I used to be exhausted at the end of a 400 km (249 mi) day on pavement let alone off-road. And there was a time I couldn’t do more than 100 km (60 mi) of dirt in a day without calling it quits. After a year on the road, my body was adapting, even if it didn’t feel like it some days.

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    The Dempster Highway will take you 736 km (457 mi) to the end of the road and subsequently, Inuvik, NWT. It passes through the Mackenzie Delta—Canada’s largest wetland), over two rivers—the Mackenzie and Peel via seasonal ferries and crosses the Continental Divide three times.

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    Although the isolated community of Inuvik, pop. approximately 3,500, isn’t the most beautiful destination in the world, what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in its claim as the world’s most northern settlement to which you can drive. A 4 litre carton of milk will cost you over $10, however, and it’s not easy to find much at the Saturday Farmer’s Market but the Visitor Centre does a great job of pulling out Inuvik’s attractive points and advertising them to travellers. We stayed at a campground near the downtown area named, “Happy Valley,” but Dave and I renamed it to “Grumpy Valley” after the owners, who should really just get out of the business of tourism.

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    [​IMG] Inuvik turned this former hockey arena that was going to be torn down into the world's largest greenhouse!

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    The great thing about Inuvik is every traveller there has a story; even if you drove an RV up for the comforts it provides, the road is not easy and many driver’s will tell you of close calls in slick mud or having to change more than one flat tire along the way. Some people have even walked to Inuvik from all parts south. Others pedal bicycles or float in on a canoe.

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    On Aug. 7, after two days in Inuvik, we rode a very long day south to Engineer campground, 520 km (323 mi), spotting our first grizzly along the way. A repeat phenomenon of kindness happened while leaving town and gassing up. Another generous soul handed over his hose after filling up his truck and told us to fill up our tanks on him. Were we just coincidentally lucky twice or is this a lovely traditional welcome for travellers up in these northern regions? Either way, we were indeed grateful to have ridden almost half the entire length of the Dempster with free gas. Especially when fuel is $1.71/litre.

    Generosity along the Dempster seemed to follow us. About 50 km (31 mi) south of Engineer Campground, we ran into my parents’ friends from Whitehorse, Joan and Don Turner. We half expected to see them the night before in camp as they mentioned maybe being in the area but weren’t surprised when we didn’t find them. The weather had been very wet and we thought they likely opted out. We passed them waving and everyone pulled over. After chatting about our plans for the next few days, we mentioned wanting to camp in the Tombstone area but that we were running out of food so could maybe only squeeze in a day. The Turners were travelling with a friend and said they’d all put together some food for us and leave it in a bear bin in the campground. We said thank you and goodbye hoping to see them later when we thought we’d be passing through Whitehorse again, and found a trail called Goldensides overlooking the Tombstone valley. We hiked for a few hours and when we returned to set up camp, we found a huge bag of food in one of the bins and a note telling us to enjoy. Inside we found homemade granola and crackers, three different cheeses, salami and a few other delicious items. Now we could stay for several days!

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    Sadly, after a fairly nice evening it poured the following day. We thought we’d wait around and see if it cleared in the afternoon. To kill some time, we hiked through the forest a half kilometre to the very cozy visitor centre. There we found a fire, some hot Labrador tea and a great little library. While I studied a book on edible mushrooms, Dave started reading a book about the adventures of a dog mushing party. If you want to know the outcome of the weather, one hint: Dave finished all but the last 50 pages of the 300-page book.

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    We also used the free time to calculate our riding distance to date, so from Quartzite, Arizona, down Baja to Mexico, Central and South America then back to Santiago, Chile and starting our ride north from California into Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, up into Alberta, B.C., back to Washington, then into Northern B.C. and up to Inuvik. The total was 42,939 km (26,681 mi)! This really put things into perspective.

    Restless, I went for a walk in the rain and was struck by a thought; when a person looks around in a place as beautiful as this and everywhere is surrounded by healthy trees, plants, berries, mushrooms, animals and crystal clear water it's hard to believe there are so many places, people and things in the world working to destroy our Universe.

    It continued to pour all over the scenery for two days without letting up for a second. Our tent and sleeping bags were perpetually damp and we could never seem to get our hands dry. We were lucky to be camped near the Visitor Centre with its woodstove, but the campground also had a large cook shelter with a woodstove, so it could have been far worse. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of this amazing park. It’ll have to wait for another time. We had actually run out of fuel for our stove anyway.

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    Two days after we arrived at the Tombstone campground, we slid onto the soaking wet seats of our bikes to leave. Our tires kicked up mud and gravel from the parking lot onto our luggage and riding pants and we encountered the first kilometres of “seagull-shit” on the road. The Dempster is maintained with calcium chloride, which they put on the road to harden it. When it’s wet, it turns into a slick film that gets everywhere and gives motorcycle riders more bang for the buck than they likely want or need. It was a very slippery 80 km (50 mi) ride to the highway junction and then a much more pleasant 40 km (26 mi) of pavement into Dawson City. At some point we spotted a moose standing in a river. We scrambled to get the photo but weren’t quick enough.

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    While walking around Dawson the next day we heard news that the Dempster was closed. It had washed out in four places. We placed the timing to be just mere hours after we’d connected onto the pavement. It would have been a miserable few days waiting to get out with no food or stove fuel and a soaking wet tent had we not left when we did. Instead we found a place to have a beer and congratulate ourselves for riding to Canada’s northern-most, road accessed settlement. Another milestone achieved on our round-the-world trip.

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    The yellow bag is how I carry extra fuel for my small tank, which only holds about 3 gallons. It's strong and folds up when not needed.

    In our next post we’ll talk about what propelled us to let a severed human toe touch our lips in a sketchy downtown bar in Dawson City.

    More at ridingfullcirlce.com

    We love comments! The comment field is below but you need to click into the first ‘comment’ field, then TAB (don’t click) to the other fields. If you have a prob, us our contact form.

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    #37
  18. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    That's my first bike in the last scene; a 250 cc Kawasaki Super Sherpa, yah! I'm just going to go ahead and take all the credit for creative licensing, too.

    Attached Files:

    #38
  19. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    Aug. 10, 2016

    There was a huge lineup outside the bar, which we really didn’t expect, and even more surprising was the type of crowd; it seemed senior citizens liked kissing severed toes as much as anybody would.

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    Waiting in line for the Sour Toe experience.
    Dave and I arrived in Dawson City, Yk just hours before the Dempster Highway was washed out in several places and closed. On the streets of Dawson we had sun, groceries, beer and well, we had to try the whiskey shot with the severed toe didn't we? But that tomfoolery didn't start until 9:00 p.m. so we took the ferry across the Yukon River, found a free place to camp, then walked back to the ferry and crossed over into town again to see what the Sour Toe experience was all about.

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    Parting with $5.50 Can ($4.20 USD) for a shot that smelled like nail polish remover, we stood in a line with other tourists until eventually we came face to face with The Captain.

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    Toe history; it is said that in the 20s, a rum runner named Louie Liken had his toe amputated because of frostbite and for memory sake, preserved it in a jar of alcohol until 1973 when Captain Dick Stevenson, a Yukon local, found the jar and brought it to Dawson's Sourdough Saloon. For fun he started plunking it into the drinks of those unfortunate or brave enough. It has been documented, either through true fact or creative license, the original toe has been replaced seven times because of people 'accidentally' swallowing it. Somehow there was always another toe at the ready. One toe was donated after an inoperable corn was discovered. Another after a lawn-mowing-in-sandals accident. And yet another from diabetes.

    In 2013, a man who had been a local and had just collected his rent deposit, clambered up to the bar and, after purposely swallowing the toe, slammed $500 down on the bar—the fine amount at the time for swallowing the toe—and left. This was apparently the first time the toe was swallowed deliberately. The fine has since increased to $2500, which was written on a sign staring Dave and I in the face when it was our turn to take our shots with the toe.

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    I listened to The Captain's rules for taking the shot and begged my throat not to let anything but liquid pass through. I was less worried about paying the $2500 fine than discovering the next morning what a 'passed' severed toe looks like. Hopefully the toenail was trimmed.


    Sour Toe shots in Dawson City from Heather on Vimeo.

    After more than enough excitement for the night, Dave and I cradled our sloshing stomachs back to our tent and fell asleep to nightmares of toe jam dancing in our heads.

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    On Aug. 11, 2016, we crossed into Alaska over the Top of the World highway, which was beautiful and passed through the, "most northerly border port in the U.S.A.," then found Chicken, a small, adorable town, population 23 in summer and 7 in winter.

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    Here we met a 10 year old and his mother travelling from Vashon Island, WA. I absolutely love seeing kids’ eyes light up over our bikes and the best is hearing them talk about their dream to one day do what we're doing. This confident young man already had a few years of riding a dirt bike. I gave him a Riding Full Circle business card and asked him to contact us, even if it's 20 years down the line, when he begins to live his dream.

    If not for Dave, I would have left Chicken with the sweet memory of a young boy who wants to travel the world on his motorcycle and some fun photos of the poultry statue.

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    But trust my boyfriend to scout out the hidden underground of surface innocence. While I was perusing the gift shop like any normal tourist, Dave was off collecting information about a bar in the area he'd heard was enthusiastic about blowing up women's underwear.

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    I found him in this bar; the kind of place that’s always dark no matter what time of day it is with neon lights out front advertising different brands of beer. Inside, stools were lined up around the counter and there were a few small tables off in the corner where I imagined illicit conversations happen in the wee morning hours. In the middle of the bar, a pool table stood sturdy, front and centre.

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    As any hopeful man would do, Dave inquired about what was involved with having his girlfriend ‘donate’ a pair of underwear to the bars’ ceiling. And as any abiding girlfriend with poor judgment would do, I decided I could part with one of three pairs I'd brought along for our two-year trip; a totally impractical G-string that was already showing signs of wear and tear—(wait, that doesn't sound right...)

    Anyway, we settled into the bar with a beer each and watched while the bar tender found some gunpowder for the canon. He was all out of canon ammunition. Ahhh, Alaska. In the meantime, Dave busied himself with a contest to see who could lift the canon my underwear was about to go in, with one hand from floor-level. A half dozen guys lined up for the challenge but none of them, including Dave, could lift the 30 lb canon with one hand. At some point I began my own wager for who would drop the canon on their toe, thereby providing another back-up donation for the Sour Toe bar in Dawson City.

    While the bartender started to pack the canon, Dave and I spoke with a handful of bikers from Fairbanks, Ak who’d come in on low-grumbling bikes that rattled the glasses in the bar. I was most interested to speak with a biker-trucker who had a long, grey ponytail and had been hauling up and down the Dalton highway for 30 years. He had all kinds of stories to tell and we listened to them intently over another beer.

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    An hour after we'd arrived, the bartender, who I feel should be eligible for danger pay, had procured enough gun powder to pack into the canon and was now out in the parking lot stuffing my underwear into one end of the canon with a stick. We all gathered 'round, cameras in hand, to film the green fabric being blown to smithereens in a parking lot somewhere off a dirt road in Alaska. The first spark of the lighter produced a limp backfire that plopped the wick out of place and fizzled out in the gravel. The bartender tried again but the second and third try resulted the same way. As you can imagine by this time there were all kinds of indecent comments about my underwear being too 'damp' to ignite.

    The fourth try was unenthusiastic—fair enough. It was becoming clear gunpowder didn't have enough oomph to light up the canon. We all gave up and I was wondering what to do with my underwear now it had been manhandled and pounded into a canon, when a guy from the crowd thought of sticking the wick into a wine bottle cork so it wouldn't back out. This was a great idea and it finally worked.


    Blowin' up Heather's Underwear! from Heather on Vimeo.

    Once the underwear had finally exploded the party fizzle out. Dave and I walked back to our tent we’d set up behind the bar in the dirt. As we left we heard a biker from the decreasing crowd grumble, “Well I didn’t ride this far to spend the night sober.” We chuckled crawling into our chilly tent hoping for a good nights’ sleep.



    We love comments! The comment field is below but you need to click into the first ‘comment’ field, then TAB (don’t click) to the other fields. If you have a prob, us our contact form.

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    #39
    TwilightZone likes this.
  20. ridingfullcircle

    ridingfullcircle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    114
    We're excited to be working with Cyclops Adventure Sports using their LED headlight bulbs. For an in-depth review written by Dave, click here.
    #40