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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Hunter-Douglas, Apr 28, 2014.
Subscribed. Great stuff so far, man.
Thanks! Glad you all are liking it. It's great incentive for me to keep the posts and the photos coming. I passed a lot of time at the desk reading RR on here and it feels nice to be be able to return the favor
It's also helping me make sure I keep a record, I'm not the best at writing things down.
I went to Yukon Honda yesterday and had a talk with Jon, who rides a pretty awesome KLR. He reckoned maybe if I sacrificed a lamb and kept a careful eye on things the sprocket and chain would make it to Fairbanks, where the Moto Shop in Anchorage has shipped a new sprocket to the post office for me. Well, he was right. I rode the 600 miles over yesterday afternoon and this morning without the drivetrain biting the dust on me.
The 100 mile stretch right at sunset leaving Yukon Territory seemed like I had found my way into a David Attenborough shoot. More photos of the Yukon and Alaska in the works, but I'll start out for now with the only black bear to try and and have a go at me.
You give good report, young man! Thanks for all the work.
Glad the sprocket and chain are holding out....How about your rear brake pads.
Thanks for the update
Those are on the buy list when the shops are open tomorrow. That and a new K70 for the rear. No more TKC-80's on the back. This one was toast in less than 3k miles.
I know how much work goes into writing these reports, I've done a couple myself and would think long and hard before committing to another. To me you have the right mix of words and pics, the pics are fantastic by the way, much better than my feeble attempts.
I have an older model F650GS (2004) over here in Japan and like it a lot, it's a good size for the roads we have here. Very interested to see how the later model holds up.
Thanks for the nice words. You're RR looks pretty epic, that Honda even more so.
I'm actually enjoying all the work going into documenting everything. It makes me really think about everything that's happened from a different perspective.
I rolled up the tent, packed the duffel and made my way towards Dease Lake and the Yukon border. Now that I was definitely in bear territory, I was glad none had tried to claw their way into my Happy Trails boxes for a meal. Bear proofing your food is great, but it's no guarantee they won't go to town on a motorcycle seat cover when they're trying to break in. Dease Lake had a gas station and a nice cafe to hang out in and charge up the devices. I bought a sandwich so they wouldn't think I was a bum just mooching coffee to plug in and get some wifi. Outside I saw a decked out Surly touring bike and knew I had to find the owner and hear some stories. Jake actually found me and introduced himself before telling me some crazy tales about the last month he had spent pedaling down from Anchorage. I can't imagine what it would be like being stuck behind a moose or encountering a brown bear on the road with no throttle to punch if you needed to. He was going to be on the road for another few months heading to Yosemite for work this summer season. I have a few friends on the wildlife team there and it was great finding out I have mutual friends with someone I met in Middle-of-Nowhere BC. Some of my buddies in CA want to get a group together at some future date and spend a couple months doing this same route on bikes. Hopefully I'll bust the Surly out of the garage and join them, probably crying and thinking about my Beemer the whole time.
I filled up and bounced through the increasingly remote section of highway as the road narrowed and the center line disappeared. The highway was built for motorbikes with tight corners, concrete whoops sections and random stretches of washboard gravel. The temps were near 60 but that didn't change the fact that every body of water I was riding past now was completely frozen over. I made sure to fill up my dromedary at the gas station as finding fresh water that I didn't have to carve out with a knife was becoming more difficult.
I stopped off in Jade City at the store after seeing a sign for free coffee. I don't care where I am or what time it is, I'm not going to just bypass a sign for free coffee. I flipped a U and pet the dogs while the nice ladies at the Jade store poured me a cup for the road. I knew I was nearing the boundary for Yukon territory but wasn't sure how close I was getting. I saw things getting a little more wild when I encountered my first "washout" a few miles from the border. Mountains were turning into vast forests that seemed to stretch on forever in any direction I looked. The Yukon was approaching. Finally, I saw the sign and got the idea to try and plow up the dirt to get a photo of it with the bike. I almost made it
A few more miles and I was at the junction for the Alaska Highway. I had thought about pressing on to Whitehorse, but it was still at least four hours away and it was getting late. I made for the town of Teslin, thinking it might be worth it to pay for a room and figure out the parts situation for my bike. I got back into crouch and pin mode as the first section of the AK highway was painfully straight and fast. I took a rest at the Continental Divide to look around a bit and check out the topography. Soon after I crossed the long bridge over the ice into Teslin. The one motel with rooms available said they wanted $105 for the night. That's a pretty hard price for me to justify in any situation (especially with clear weather) so I rode on.
East and West on the Continental Divide.
On the Teslin Bridge
A few misses and I found what I thought would be a good site along a gravel track housing road filler for the local transit authority. I wanted to be careful, especially since I had seen a lot of unmarked, well used roads dead ending at some weird housing setups. I had been warned by some natives in town to choose carefully, so at least I felt safer on some company's property than having an angry encounter with a local. I rode into the trees to setup camp and got my first dose of real mosquitos. A few of them ended up in mac and cheese bowl and there was no getting them out. Luckily, I figured out how to speed load my tent and dive in without any of them following me. I fell asleep trying to ignore the weird sound I'd been hearing in the trees ever since I had started camping North of Vancouver. It sounds like a far away four stroke motor slowly firing up- Duh. Duh. Duh. Duh. Duh. Duh-Du-Dududududuuzzzzzzzzzzzzuh. Silence. I think it might involve wind and tree branches, but I haven't even come close to figuring it out.
Maybe a grouse drumming on a log????
Great RR. Great photos. Keep it coming.
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"Stolen from Creepy camp stories thread"
Now I know I'm not crazy. Or that all the BC forests are haunted.
Thanks! I'm doing my class here in Fairbanks until Wednesday, and then time for the Dalton highway. Pretty stoked about it. It'll be the furthest north, most miles on dirt and the only place I've had to pack extra fuel in my short moto experience. Should be a great shakedown trip as long as I can get the bike ship shape.
I want to get to the arctic ocean proper if I can. I need to start diving through other folk's RR and see if I can make it happen. Pondering parking the bike, loading the backpack and walking overland for a night if that's the way to do it.
I had about 200 miles to get to Whitehorse from my campsite, where I should have able to pick up some spare parts. My bike was holding up alright so I prepped everything for the 5 mile gravel ride back to the highway. As I was loading up some kind of official truck drove by to the gravel pit down the road. He turned around and came by again about ten minutes later, but this time he slammed on his brakes after pulling level with my camp. I was behind a wall of trees but from the right angle you could catch a quick glimpse of the setup if you knew where to look. He slowly backed up to get a better view and I ducked behind a tree. After a moment, he floored it out of there and I packed up in a hurry. I didn't know if he was just curious or not stoked on me being there, but I couldn't afford to guess wrong. I plowed back to the road and charged the gravel with some urgency. At one point I eased off the throttle and looked down and I was still over 110k/ph. I hoped they hadn't locked the gate on me and was relieved to find it open, so I booked it onto the highway and continued West. It might have been all for nothing. The guy might not have cared, or maybe he even thought it was great. But a similar experience in my youth involved a sheriff returning to give me a nice fine, and I can't afford to be blowing cash on worthless fines.
You can just barely see my camp center of the photo. I thought I was hidden, but apparently not good enough. Tire tracks maybe?
The ride into Whitehorse was pretty smooth and I celebrated by grabbing some coffee and finding a place to stay that wasn't on the ground. I was still naive enough to think things might not be crazy expensive in the Yukon until I saw the hotel prices. Nothing below $80, even on Kayak.com, so I found the two hostels in town and checked them out. The first one I rode by had a few cars out front with busted up windows, so I went one more block and tried out the second. The Lead Dog was in better shape, so I grabbed a bed and hung out with a bunch of nice German and French kids getting ready to head up to Dawson City for the summer season. I'm a little jealous of how easy it is for them to get extended work visas in the EU/Commonwealth, but I'm not jealous of some other things they have to deal with.
This guy was pretty stoked on the bike. He had some wild stories about riding greyhound across the states. One of his stories was about seeing the devil in a Nevada sand storm... :huh
I got my first lesson in parts planning when it became obvious that none of the three moto shops in town had a sprocket for the BMW. I picked up a chain and ordered the sprocket from the Beemer shop outside Vancouver, which was supposed to arrive a few days later. After hanging out in town for another day, I found out the shipping got bungled and it wouldn't arrive until Monday, the same day I had to be in Faribanks to start my class (or throw away $400 in tuition fees). Instead I called Anchorage and had them ship one to the post office in Fairbanks and decided to give it a go on the bike as is. Jon at the downtown Honda shop reckoned my bike might have a good shot at making the 600 miles before the sprocket gave up the ghost. It's hard to discount the opinion of a KLR rider when it comes to squeezing the life out of old parts
I left town after paying Greyhound $46 shipping for a sprocket I wouldn't even pick up until the end of the season.
I tensioned the chain one more time, lubed the crap out of it and rode West into the afternoon clouds. Rain was inbound in the distance and some of the clouds looked exciting, especially after the few days of 65+ sun in Whitehorse. Things went from sunny to rainy to cold the further I rode towards the Alaska border.
It was gray and cold when I rode past Kluane Lake. I wandered around a bit and took some shots of the ice before gassing up just at the station around the bend. It was pretty expensive there. No matter where you're from it's still painful to watch someone pay $35 for a 12 case of Budweiser. But people seemed to do it a lot, and I almost caught myself doing the same thing on a few occasions above the lower 48. I rode on towards Beaverton and the border as the sun started to set.
A few miles after Kluane lake, everything seemed to change at once. I entered some twilight zone of riding where everything magically decided to become perfect. The clouds disappeared, the temperatures warmed and the sun was setting for hours. The lighting was brilliant and it stayed bright enough to see the landscape in awesome detail. Then, all it once, it seemed like all the animals came out and I had wandered right into the middle of Discovery's Wild Kingdom. I was loving it. The road wasn't bad either.
I went from seeing no moose to 14 in the next 100 miles. I had seen signs all the way through British Columbia warning me about them but had yet to ever see one.
This guy inspired my first slam-the-brakes-Uturn-photoOP. There would be many of those on this stretch.
A little ways on, I spotted another roadside bear. My general plan when I see these guys is to pull onto the opposite shoulder and try and get photos with my Fuji before they take off. This guy was different because he didn't run away. Instead, he wandered up on the road, lowered his head and had a stare down with me as his neck fur bristled. I rolled away a few more yards and looped back for another go as he returned to eating. This time he started loping towards me with a growl and I retreated a few yards down the road again. It was tricky deciding when to commit to pulling the camera out of the tank bag to go for the shot, knowing there might be a difficult choice of putting it back or gunning the bike if he came at me quick. I have bear mace, but antagonizing one and then having to spray it because of me trying to get close isn't something I'm keen on. Also, I was a little weirded out seeing such aggression from a black bear that didn't live around humans. It's normal to see bluff charges from bears in Yosemite after they get in the habit of face off encounters over the camp cooler. A truly wild black bear charging me 100 miles from the nearest gas station was something else completely. During the last photo attempt, he came at me for real with solid intent so I rolled out with my camera hanging around my neck to a safe distance.
Five minutes later I noticed a fuzzy rock by the side of the road start moving as I went by. Brake, U-Turn, Photo shoot.
This guy happily let me get within about ten feet and we sure had a good time hanging out.
A few more miles down I saw yet another bear, this time on the right side shoulder. I slowed down and moved into the oncoming lane as I got closer (there's no traffic out there, ever). As my speed slacked off and I rolled closer, he took notice of me and brought his face up from the ground to look me over.
Hmmmm, that face looks different.
Hmmmm, those ears are sure different.
Hmmm, that body shape is definitely different.
I was almost level with him as he bolted and I watched my first brown bear bound away into the brush. I was fired up at that point. I had been trying to see one for years in person, driving around Montanta and Wyoming with no luck, and now I had seen one from about 25 yards. I turned off at Pickhandle Lake and checked out the view while some beavers improved on their public works projects. Camp was a few miles down near the end of a dirt track at an unknown lake.
Alright....I'm totally unobservant. What happened to your windshield?
Cool pics Looking forward to more!!!
Nothing really happened to it, other than me leaving it on the backseat of my tacoma back home
USPS lost my second sprocket in the mail somewhere between here and anchorage. So now I have one in Whitehorse and one MIA. This just keeps getting better :huh
Off to the arctic circle and hopefully deadhorse. Nobody at the shops here have heard of anyone going up yet. This whole trip I've heard people tell me I'm early, but everywhere I've gone I've seen guys on bikes already riding around. I hope this one of those times, like on rainier when I heard about bad conditions on the route but found 20 people ahead of me.
Part of my problem is I like to see things for myself and make my own mistakes, because sometimes it's not like they said and everything works out great. And if it is...
well I can always hit reverse.
Hey Hunter, we will be following you, Safe travels. By the way I was a firefighter/ski instructor/guide at the Star. Started there the first year they were open running the rental shop.
Summer is still a long ways off north of the arctic circle.
Snow and sub freezing temps as I tried to cross the Brooks range, so Deadhorse was a no go.
But still 100% worth it.