Adventure ride of the Odd Couple or "I wish I had gone alone!"(to Tuk & Deadhorse)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Gone_Ridin, Feb 24, 2019.

  1. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

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    Oddometer:
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    So, last spring I sold my company and being that it was a fairly complex transaction it drug out a few months starting in January, closing April 30th. As part of the agreement I was required to stay on an additional couple of months in a training capacity. This shot my planned spring ride to Morocco all to hell.

    July was spent taking part in family events and working on my “Retirement” honey-dew list.

    By August I needed a ride in the worst way and somewhere away from the summer heat was a priority; Yukon, NWT and Alaska would fill the bill. What to ride? My Harley, I have ridden it on gravel back roads in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming but na, definitely not going to cut it on the Demptser. I’ve been building a KTM EXC 450 for a planned ride to Argentina but maybe something a little more comfortable, and faster in the prairies. My 990 SMT? It’s a blast on the pavement and it’s also OK on gravel but wheels are a little small and throttle’s a bit touchy for mud, especially shale mud. The wife’s been hinting that I should get rid of the 990 and act more my age so maybe it’s time to trade it on a touring bike. Local KTM dealer really wanted the SMT so excellent trade value and I’m the new owner of a 1090R. As a bonus, a couple days after picking up my 1090 I get a call from a friend who’s living/working a couple thousand Km’s East and is buying the 990. He needs someone to deliver it! I live 350km West of the “Local” KTM dealer and after riding the 1090 home I decided to take a day trip to the Shed in Warroad and check out what was new in the collection. My turnaround would mean that arriving back at the dealership to pick up the SMT would be right on the1500km initial service for the 1090.

    Dropped off the 1090, strapped my pack on the 990 and it was a mid afternoon departure for the 2200km delivery. It’s always a great ride on the 990 and this would be no different; rode the North Shore to Sault St Marie then up through Mattawa toward the Ottawa valley. Zig zagged numerous backroads ending up having to backtrack to the drop off in Bellville. It was two days of great riding and the bike’s rear tire was showing cords on arrival, front was getting close as well. Train to Toronto, flight to Thunder Bay and back on the 1090 home to get it ready for the ride.

    First change required would be saddle height; I’m short and the 1090 not so much. Sourced a hyperpro progressive rear spring for the rear from Calsport UK which amazingly arrived in 4 days, thanks for the great service guys. But couldn’t get anything for the front so just raised the forks in the triple trees to match the rear. Built a set of mounts for my saddle bags, installed a 12v acc plug and USB charge port, installed a Chameleon auto chain oiler finshed changes off by replacing the giant, stock resonator with one from Leo vice which half the size and weight, sounds a whole lot better too Good enough.

    While I was prepping the bike an old friend, who used to race sleds with me back in the day, called to say he and some others were going to be riding up my way. Mistake one. Me: Sorry man, I’m going to be headed West/Northwest about that time. Him: Oh really, where? Me: Tuk, Prudhoe Bay and wherever in between, would’ve been nice to see you but oh well. Him: Hey I’ll come along, I got time Me: Ah probably not, not with your bike. I don’t think a bagger is what you want to be riding on the Dempster. Him: Gravel and mud? Ya you’re probably right. Which bike are you taking? Me: Well I traded the SMT on a 1090R. Him: OK, well talk to you later.

    I had one more family commitment to take care of before I could head out on my solo ride; I was taking my youngest daughter to a Billy Joel concert in Boston, on her 21st Birthday. Would fly out Friday August 10th, attend the concert that night, spend Saturday sightseeing with her, fly home Sunday and head out on the bike Monday the 13th.

    Saturday August 4th my buddy calls; Him: Hey man, bought an Africa Twin and have got some crash bars and stuff being sent to your place to install when I get there. I’m coming with!! Will be at your place Friday. Me: Ah shit(not out loud).

    Now don’t get me wrong, he’s a good guy but…. I kinda like riding alone. There are very few people that I don’t mind riding with, mostly because I prefer RIDING to talking about riding. I don’t meet groups at a coffee shop to compare leathers, blings and 100k riding stories. If I’m going for a day ride, it’s generally going to be no less than 300k and will most likely be about 700k. A typical ride, in North America, will consist of anywhere from 800k to 1,200k/ day depending on the roads and 400k to 700k/ day in Europe.

    Guess I better lay out how I will be riding; Me: If I start the day with you, I will end the day with you. If you don’t want to go in the morning when I’m ready, it’s up to you to catch up. You need a day off, well then, we either have a predetermined rendezvous location or you figure out how to catch up. Multiple days off in a single location; Not Happening! Him: Oh ya, I’m in. I like to put up miles and often end up doing 100’s of K’s more when my friends quit for the day. I’ll be right with you, no problem. Me: Hmmm, why’s it taking you 4 + days to travel the 1,600km’s here? (Not out loud)

    So buddy shows up Thursday, parts were here Wednesday, spend Thursday prepping his bike. Friday leave for Boston, return home Sunday evening, too late to get repacked so end up leaving a bit later Monday.
    #1
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  2. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
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    Day 1: Monday August 13th Dryden ON to Yorkton SK, 935km (My) Plan was to get through the boring stretches as quickly as possible while staying off the main highways. After getting into Manitoba we headed North around Winnipeg at Hadashville going through the Interlake area via The Narrows to Dauphin finally stopping in Yorkton for the night. Grabbed a room on the west end of town and walked over to a nearby pizza joint for dinner and a beer or 2. Weather had been great, roads OK and buddy had been keeping up with minimal complaints.
    Couple obligatory pictures at Welcome signs and buddy checking his phone at our first stop and no, he's not wearing a hi-teck camo bandanna, I've blurred his face to protect his identity IMG_20180813_102204 (2).jpg IMG_20180814_194313.jpg
    #2
  3. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

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    Day 2: Tuesday August 14th Yorkton SK to Cold Lake AB, 750km Brisk morning and Buddy’s wanting an all you can eat breakfast buffet. The fleabag we stayed in isn’t close to any restaurants meeting his standards and I convince him that we will likely find a local diner with better food in one of the many small farm towns further down the road.
    70k later we’re stopping at the Hart to Hart Tea room in Sheho SK. I have to admit, even though I only had rye toast and coffee, it was worth the stop. A retired couple has a 4 table café in the front of their house. All homemade jams, farm fresh eggs and the like. She even shoo’d a local farmer away from a table to make room and kept asking buddy if he wanted more toast eggs or bacon. If you’re near and hungry pull in, can’t miss it, there’s a giant partridge statue out front!
    By now I’m realizing that the stock Continental TKC 80 knobby rear is not going to make it to the dempster with enough tread to ride the gravel. Figure I’ll stop in Toon town and look for a replacement so I can carry it as a spare. I mention to buddy that the street tires Honda put on likely won’t be of much use, especially if it’s muddy when we get there. I suggest that he look for replacements sooner rather than later cause I don’t want to be stuck somewhere North waiting for mail order tires to arrive for him. He tells me that he read somewhere that there’s a Honda dealership in Whitehorse that “should” have a set. Well maybe give them a call, we’ll be getting there Thursday or Friday and I would hate to have to leave you in Whitehorse for the weekend if they need to order some. After an hour and a half checking bike shops it turns out the only tires in Saskatoon that fit my bike were the same ones I had on or very street oriented ones. Ok, I’ll check again in North Battleford. Arrive in Battleford and it’s another wasted 40 minutes and nothing. Make a half hour worth of calls to dealerships further up the road, thank you google, and finally the guy at the KTM service counter in Grande Prairie recommends TopGear Cycles. Called and the girl running the show says she has a few but they’re more street biased, asks what I would like. I give her a few options while she checks online with her supplier and there are 2 available that she thinks will work so she orders both in for me. Says they’ll be in by 3pm the next day and I can take the one I like when I see them. So it’s mid afternoon, I’m about 1,000km from Grande Prairie via the indirect North route through Meadow lake and High Prairie, buddy is hinting that we should be riding shorter days and it’s only day 2, sure no problem, I’ll see you then. Buddy is calling friends and family to tell them all about his big adventure and I’m trying to get him moving since I need to make another 3 or 400k if I’m going to be in Grande Prairie for 3 tomorrow.
    A quick gas stop in North Battleford and I pick the pace up a bit. By the time we stop in Meadow Lake for gas buddy isn’t talking, I think he’s Hangry so I point out that the c-store is selling 2 for one gut bombs. He makes a few more calls and I put my helmet back on and fire up the bike. He realizes I’m going and gears up. As a peace offering, I stop at the Alberta/Saskatchewan border for obligatory travel photos and he seems happier. I pick up the pace again and we finish the day in Cold lake.

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    #3
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  4. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Day 3: Wednesday August 15th Cold Lake AB to Grande Prairie AB 735km Up early, wanted to be on the road by 7:30am so I would have time to find may way to the bike shop in Grande Prairie for 3pm. It was very smokey leaving cold lake pretty much all the way to Slave Lake. Buddy knew we would be riding at a good pace so he was cranky leaving. Things were going pretty good until we got to the intersection of Hwy 63 and 55. I had slowed to the speed limit following a truck because we needed to turn onto Hwy 55 when just before the turn, buddy decides to pour the coal to it and pass me and the truck. I honked and flashed my lights but he was gone. I made my turn and pulled to the side figuring he would notice that I wasn’t coming and turn around. 20 minutes later, and I’m about to leave, he finally returns. Don’t even want to hear an explanation now, just going make up the lost time and I’m off.
    As we roll into Slave Lake I decide to be nice and pull into a gas station attached to a couple restaurants. Figure we can top up and he can take care of his hangries but he has a new mission; he wants to find a 1 ½ gallon rotopak at the Honda dealer he spotted coming in. He’s realized that the Twin’s range isn’t that great, about 75km less than mine per tank and he won’t make Eagle plains from the gas stop at the junction. Being the patient rider I am, I wait 25 minutes for him to return, empty handed.
    Back on the road and making up time only to get stuck behind and RCMP cruiser in High Prairie. As we near the west side of town the officer is blocked in behind a car turning left so a quick lane change and I’m around on the right and on my way. Buddy doesn’t follow, probably because there are no traffic lines defining whether or not the space on the right is actually a traffic lane. Within a couple of blocks the cruiser is on my tail with their lights on so I pull over. The officer driving is a cute young lady and asks if I know why she’s pulled me over. No, I don’t. Well there was not a traffic lane on the right where you passed. Hmmm, well there were also not traffic lines on the pavement so how would I know that? Er, ah ya you’re correct sir, can I see you license, registration and insurance? Ok, here you go. Sir this insurance card is for a 2013 990 SMT and the registration is for a 2018 1090R. Shit, I brought the wrong insurance card, but I have an email from my insurance provider confirming coverage somewhere on my cell. Oh that’s OK sir, I believe you, have a nice trip. I think she was just checking me out, ya, let’s go with that.
    Anyways, now I’ll have to step it up a little more if I’m going to be at the shop for 3. Cut off on hwy 747 and make like a jet for Valleyview, poor buddy is really not going to like this pace. In Valleyview I figure I’d better gas up cause it’ll be touch n go to make Grande Prairie, especially being it’s open hwy between here and there. Suddenly buddy is not happy with the color of gas pumps and keeps pulling in and out of gas stations. I ask what’s up and he has decided he doesn’t trust pay at the pumps…. Call me when you get to Grande Prairie, I gotta go.
    So after a day of hauling ass and really burning up that poor continental I arrive at Top Gear only to find that the tires never made it and tracking shows they will now arrive at 9am tomorrow. FML! Well, maybe I’ll ride over to the KTM dealership and see what’s up there. Get sidetracked talking to a guy who’s getting a custom bagger built by the shop. He’s interested in what it’s like to go long distance on an ADV. About 45 minutes into the conversation buddy calls, he’s at the KTM dealership but they don’t have a Rotopak, Does top gear? Nope but wait there, I’ll be right over. It’s a Polaris/KTM dealership and it’s impressive but tire selection is certainly lacking. Hey there’s a Princess auto across the street, let’s go see what they have for gas cans. There’s a sale on 5L cans but buddy is set on a Rotopak. Don’t think I’ll need extra gas but at that price I almost can’t afford not to buy one! Well we might as well go find a room and take care of your hangries buddy.
    Get a fleabag at a trucker’s motel a couple blocks from Top Gear and unpack for the night, will be nice to take a walk and find a local diner or something. A little ways down and buddy has had enough walking, spots a Keg and want to eat there. I see a micro brewery with a restaurant just a bit further down and suggest we check it out but buddy’s not having any of it. “They probably don’t even have Coors light in a place like that” Well Fack, whatever, let’s go pay $40 for a $15 steak.
    There were no pictures taken this day, except this one of an awesome sign hanging on the wall at Top Gear IMG_20180816_095301.jpg
    #4
  5. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
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    Day 4: Thursday August 16th 797km Made sure to get up extra early this morning, a devious plan was to be set in motion. Buddy awakes and is ready to go before realizing it’s only about 7am. Asks what the plan is, should he see if there are other bike shops around that may have a Rotopak? No, I don’t think so but hey, why don’t you head out and get ahead of me. That way you can take your time and check bike shops for Rotopaks as you go. I’ll catch up somewhere, maybe Whitehorse and you can get your tire done there so we’ll be set to go when I arrive. Sound like a plan? No no, don’t worry about me being alone, don’t want to hold you up, just look out for yourself. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out and all that. Will see you in a day or so. Get going now, ride safe! Now I have a couple hours to kill, by myself.
    Wouldn’t you know that today would be the day the Purolater driver decides to change his route up, doesn’t deliver the tires until almost 10. It’s after 11 when I leave Top Gear and I make a quick stop again at princess auto to get the extra tie downs I should have brought from home so I can carry what’s left of the TKC80 with me as a spare.
    Arrived in Dawson Creek about 1:15, obligatory photo under the “start of the Alaska Hwy” sign and meet a group of riders from the states that are also heading for the Dempster. They invite me to ride along but say that they want to stop for lunch. I suggest Fort St John so that we can tank up before the long, empty stretch to Fort Nelson. They like that idea and away we go. Half way to Fort St John I end up in the lead because the guy who had been leading would pass vehicles then throw out his anchor upon returning to his lane making it difficult to follow. Once on the North end of Fort St John I’m looking for a strip with gas and restaurants, the guys behind me peel of at the first franchise eatery the spot. Oh well, alone again! From there up it’s pretty uneventful, making miles and calculating range each time I pass a last gas sign. Should be able to make Fort Nelson,… I think.
    By Profit River my display is saying 80km to empty and the road signs are telling me I have 100km to go,…hmmm again.
    I roll into the PetroCan station after 405km since the last fill, according to the odometer, and tank up, according to my math there’s 3L still in the tank! It's inevitable that sooner or later your bike will be on it's side BUT:Note to self, always remember to put your side stand up when pushing bike across parking lots.
    Decided I would go into the C-Store and get some info on motels, food and beer. Oh I’ll just walk the bike away from the pumps, no need to put the side stand up. Well as the front tire goes over a pavement heave, the side stand digs in and pitches the bike to the right, away from me and there’s no catching it. Fack! Well it had end up on it’s side sooner or later, better here than on the road.
    It’s only a quarter past 6, still lots of daylight, any decent motels an hour or so up the road? I ask the store clerk. Yes, Toad river is a nice place with a decent restaurant, I can call and check if they have a cabin available. Awesome, thanks. They do, great. Do they sell beer there, no but you can buy some across the street and bring it with, fabulous. So after picking out a few microbrews at the beer store and going back out to the bike I’m swarmed by wasps. Helmet on and I’m out of here.
    A couple k’s out of town and shit, must have been one in my helmet and the bastard has stung me on the neck. I wonder if I’m allergic? By the time I arrive at toad river my neck looks like Quasimoto’s hump but I can still breath and swallowing isn’t too difficult so all must be good. I need a beer. After checking in, a group of riders pulled up to the pumps and a couple came over to ask where I was headed. Told them Tuk and Prudhoe bay. They were just returning from the Dempster and said they had only made it as far as Eagle plains. The road had been a terrible mess of mud and the McKenzie River ferry was closed because of river debris and high water. Sounded strange but figured I would see when I got there.
    Toad creek was an awesome stop; beautiful cabin, great food and reasonable prices. Walked around the lake a bit getting some nice pictures at sunset, with the smoke and called it a day. Ahhh, nice room, all to myself!

    Arriving in the land of the Granola munchers!
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    Gotta take a picture here, I think that's a law or something
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    Lotsa smoke
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    My humble abode for the night
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    #5
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  6. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
    Canada
    Day 5: Friday August 17th Ahhh another brisk morning. Temperature is barely above freezing, may have to break out the Klims(already packed so I didn't).
    Oh ya, back in Saskatoon I had learned that handwarmers are not standard even though the dash would indicate that they are installed. I had been scrolling through the settings leaving Yorkton and saw the on/off selection for the heaters, it was kind of cool out so thought what the hell, lets see how warm they get. Nothing happened and a short time later I was getting an error message which the dealer in Toon town cleared for me and informed me they were not installed. There would be no toasty mitts this morning or any day the remainder of the trip.
    The sunrise scenery was beautiful leaving Toad river and that continued to be the case pretty much all the way to Whitehorse. A few close encounters with Bison/buffalo, Elk, moose deer and bears along the way. A few tight squeezes with tractor trailers going a little too hot into the twisty parts of the road along the Toad river to Muncho Lake but nothing life threatening. It’s so nice to go at your own pace and not be looking back wondering where someone is.
    I arrived in Whitehorse just before 4 pm and to my surprise they were just finishing up installing the new tires on buddy’s Hondo. No 1 ½ gallon rotopaks available though. Hey there’s a hiking supply store downtown, maybe they have some of those metal camp fuel containers. No such luck, back to Korean tire and look, the same 5l cans that were on sale at Princess auto of Grande Prairie and only $6 more! Last chance for a reserve tank for your AT before the Dempster, getting one? There you go. Nice and early, lets go check in somewhere and then find a good local restaurant with local micro brew maybe. Saw signs for a smoke house place with it’s own beer, I’m sure they have Coors light as well.
    Once checked in buddy finds a restaurant in the motel, that serves Coors Light, and he ain’t walking no where. Fack. After supper buddy is beat and goes to the room. I decide to walk around town for a bit, maybe find a map, a beer, some granola bars for my tank bag, whatever. After checking in I had called Eagle plains to check on room availability, yup, they had a room, ok hold it for me. By the way, how long a drive is it from Whitehorse to your doorstep? Approximately 900k, takes about 11 to 12 hours in a pick up, not sure on a bike. OK thanks, see you tomorrow evening. Hey buddy, the girl at Eagle Plains says it a 10 hour ride so let’s get an early start tomorrow ok?!(See what did there, instilling a little confidence). So in bed by 10, will be well rested for the morning’s ride. IMG_20180817_072504.jpg IMG_20180817_074117.jpg IMG_20180817_081726.jpg IMG_20180817_100515.jpg
    #6
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  7. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
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    A couple more that day IMG_20180816_172740.jpg IMG_20180816_181033.jpg IMG_20180816_201115.jpg
    #7
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  8. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
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    And a few more Between Toad River and Whitehorse
    Sunrise somewhere between Toad River and Munsch lake
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    Adding another province to the route list
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    Here's your sign
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    #8
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  9. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
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    241
    Location:
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    Day 6: Saturday August 18th Packed most of my gear up last night so that I could be ready to go fairly early. Hustling around making noise, showered and powdered my ass so I’d be purty on my grand arrival at Eagle Plains it’ snow past 7am and no movement from buddy. “Hey man, what’s up? Gonna get ready?” Oh, well I was thinking about your plans for today and I don’t want to try riding that far, especially on dirt, all in one day. “Really?! You just had this epiphany?” Well thought maybe I’d go as far as Dawson City today and check it out. Will head for Eagle plains tomorrow and see how it goes. I’m halfway out the door, agreeing with his plan (for him, not me). “Safe travels bud, will see you in Inuvik or somewhere up there, Outa here!”
    It was a beautiful but brisk morning leaving Whitehorse and for the first time I was carrying a full 1 ½ gallon can of gas, just in case. I stopped in Carmack for a coffee and to top up, just in case. I pulled over at a overlook are after crossing the Yukon river to take some pictures and met a couple from Germany. They were touring around in a F250 with a slide in camper and when they saw my Ontario license plate had lots of questions about the trip. After leaving Carmacks I would not stop again until the Dempster Junction where I would fill up before getting on the gravel.
    Shortly after starting up the Dempster I began hitting pockets of rain which would limit how often I would break out my DLSR for good pics, even though I was making frequent stops to take pictures with cell. The views were amazing as I rode into the mountains, so much so that I was pretty much not really keeping track of speed and time. I don’t think I can describe in detail enough to convey how beautiful a ride it was to Eagle plains. I won’t say the road was all that great and I have ridden worse, in, Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until about the last 100k that I really had to focus on riding rather than site seeing. Lots of muddy punch outs, ruts, greasy hardpan and soft spots. Pulled into the Eagle plains Hotel wearing a thick, protective coating of Yukon shale mud, but still on the fuel in the tank, hadn’t touched the gerri can. Filled the bike and talked with the pump attendant for a bit. Wanted to check about the ferry that the riders at Toad River had told me was shut down. He says it had only been down for maybe have a day to clear river debris. That’s a relief! Guess I’ll head over to the hotel to check in and get a bite to eat and maybe a beer or 6.
    The girl at the counter turns out to be a cute young thing from the Czech Republic and is the same one I had made the reservation with on the phone. When I gave her my name she gave me a strange look then asks “Was it not you that was riding up on the moto from Whitehorse this morning?” Yes I left Whitehorse at about a quarter to 8 this morning why? She points to the clock which is displaying 5:30pm, “I think maybe your are riding too fast for this road?” Oh, thank you it was a most enjoyable ride. She then asks where the other person is as I had originally asked for a double room and when I explain he may arrive tomorrow she gives me a single room closer to the lobby for better Wifi access. Excellent service. I knock off as much mud as possible on the patch of grass in front of the hotel and then carry my gear to the room to dry out.
    A quick rip through the in room carwash to unveil my handsome self and it off to the lounge for a bite and beer(s). The young lady from the front desk is pulling double duty taking care of the lounge as well and we talk about how she ended up in the middle of nowhere, tourists and the beauty of this country. Before I know it its after 10pm and the fresh air and beer are tiring me out. I thank her for the hospitality and head for my room, figure I’ll go through my day’s pictures and Whatsapp some to the family before turning in for the night. As I’m scrolling through the pictures on my sell it’s like many of what I’ve taken today are either disappearing or turning into icons that won’t open. I take the memory card out and put it in my tablet to try and transfer what remains thinking maybe the card is getting too full but when I check it there’s still 2 thirds empty space.
    Oh well, I don’t technology very good so put it back in the cell and go to sleep. What a great day again.

    These were pretty much the only picture of the ride up to Eagle plains after the crap out of my memory card, really sucks!

    Saw blue skies as I pulled onto the Dempster and thought I would luck out,... ya right!
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    A brief break in the clouds, road is still wet and more rain on the horizon
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    Just keeping up with the liquid sunshine
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    #9
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  10. Deuce

    Deuce Crazy Canuck

    Joined:
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    3,449
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, Bitchin' Columbia, Canada
    Great report.

    (Paragraphs. Use them :D)

    :1drink
    #10
  11. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
    Canada
    Day 7: Sunday August 19th I had woken up once at about 1am to check if there were any Northern lights and it was still somewhat daylight out. It’s now 7am and time to pack up and head for Inuvik and Tuk. Figured with the long daylight hours I could ride up to Inuvik, grab a room and drop most of my gear then hit Tuk, look around and ride back to Inuvik for the night. Bags are all packed so might as well go strap them on the bike and then maybe treat myself to a breakfast before heading out. Once out by the bike I notice a familiar Africa twin parked sideways behind my bike, WTF? As I’m tying things down buddy comes puffing up; Boy I’m glad to see you haven’t left yet. I told the front desk to let you know I was here so you wouldn’t leave without me. “Fack” Let’s go have breakfast and make a plan for the day “Fack”. So buddy, how the hell did you end up at Eagle Plains last night? Well I left Whitehorse at about 9:30 yesterday morning and when I got to Carmack I was talking to a guy at the gas station. Told him I was going to Dawson city and asked where would be a good place to get a room. He told me it was Yukon days or something and if I didn’t already have a reservation, I wouldn’t be getting a room. Called a shit ton of places and nothing. So when I got to the Dempster turn off I called a bunch more but still nothing so I called here and asked if you had a room or were there yet. They said you had a room but hadn’t checked in yet so I figured I would try and get here. Made it at about 11:30, banged on your door but you never answered so I had to get my own room. Man I’m tired, but they had Coors light! Let’s go have breakfast! “Fack!” Lost my appetite so toast and coffee for me while buddy has the 7 course, trucker’s special.
    Back to the bikes, gear loaded and we’re ready to head out. Just before leaving, a road crew guy warns us to watch out for the hills on either side of Eagle river and then several km’s past the airstrip. Been lots of rain, they’re greasy as snot and therer’s still a couple vehicles stuck that they haven’t been able to get out yet. Thanks. Ride from Eagle Plains was interesting and the road went from shitty to very shitty off and but overall was better than I had anticipated. About 25km after the Arctic circle sign, on a flatter section of the road the bike began feeling loose. This section appeared to have been recently graded but the loose feeling was getting worse. Looking down the tires didn’t look low but I figured I had better stop and check. Sure enough the rear was going flat. I had picked up a piece of shale razor in one of the grooves. Fack! I had passed a tent village, hunting camp a click or so back and figured it would be a better place to try changing the tire than in the loose, shale gravel, along the side of the road. While checking things out a roads department pick-up passed and asked if I needed help. Told him I had everything I needed to repair it, he said he would be back by in 40 minutes if I had any trouble. Nice to know they were patrolling, looked like possible grizzly country. Not too worried cause a wise old trapper once told me; “ you don’t have to be the fastest, just faster than the slowest” and I know I can run faster than buddy! Oh did I mention that it was also at that moment that I realized that in my shock to see buddy I had left the TKC80 I had been carrying since Grande Prairie in the mud room of the Eagle Plains Hotel? FACK! Rounded up a couple stumps (Don’t have a centre stand) tire off, hole patched, tube installed and on our way in about a half hour.
    From there on the roads didn’t seem as bad and after a stop at the welcome to NWT sign, where the wind was almost taking the bikes over, the roads were great. It was almost as if the Territories imports gravel instead of crushing shale! Caught the first ferry at the Peel river and once on the other side buddy was beginning to worry about range so stopped in Fort McPherson for gas and a $6 water. Soon we were at the next crossing; the mighty McKenzie where the ferry pilots current harnessing skill was pure art. The deck hand warned us that up the road, in the Rengleng River area, the mud and ruts were bad and there was a roll over. By the time we got there, the trucks had been pulled to the side and a grader was working the mud. The rest of the ride into Inuvik was pretty good.
    Pulled into the McKenzie, grabbed a room and unloaded the gear we wouldn’t need along to Tuk. It’s 4pm, we have at least 9 hours of daylight and it’s only 160k to Tuk and buddy starts hinting that its been a long day. I pretend not to hear as I put on my helmet and mention that I saw a Chicken Chef up the street and I bet they sell Coors light. A quick stop for a bite and a beer at the Chef’s and away we go. Not far out of Inuvik we hit a stretch of rain and slick roads for maybe 15k but after that the roads were great for the most part. At time I would catch myself doing 140k it was so nice. The topography has completely changed from what is south of Inuvik and it gets to almost be rhythm riding. There are many locals hunting, seen one loading a caribou, others I think are berry picking and there are numerous grizzly warning signs. The most amazing sight is an older gentleman on a road bike (skinny wheeled peddlebike) in full tour du France costume heading north, WTF? On the way back he had his 1 person pop up set up just off the road, not far from a Grizzly warning sign… wow! Iron balls for sure!! Stopped again for pictures at the sign as proof we had made it, then into town, it’s Sunday and other than kids riding around on quads there doesn’t appear to be much happening. Go into “the” convenience store for a coffee and the girl behind the counter says the only store with souvenirs is closed today. Oh well, guess we’ll turn around. On the way out we stop for another couple pictures and the PoPo comes cruising up, Asks if we’ve seen a blue Terrain as they’re looking for a suspected drunk driver that has borrowed someone elses vehicle,.. without their permission. Sorry, nothing has passed us. He turns back towards town and we head out. We go back past the welcome to Tuk sign and there’s the rig, looks like the driver couldn’t make up her mind as to left or right at the fork and chose both. No way to call the officer but she ain’t going anywhere. We’ll just let inspector Cluesoh find it on his own. It’s a great ride back, the road has dried out at an amazing rate compared to the way up, even where it had been muddy and slick its pretty much firmed right up. We make it back to the McKenzie just after 10pm and buddy suddenly decides he needs to go wash his bike and do some maintenance, Really? Second wind? I help with his chain and suggest that he forgo the bubble bath since rain is in tomorrows forecast and would be a good idea to get as far down the road as possible early. Nope he’s got his mind made up and that’s that. OK, good night.
    IMG_0891.JPG IMG_0895.JPG IMG_0915.JPG IMG_0936.JPG
    #11
  12. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,128
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Nice machine. I prefer it to the big Greyhound bus adventure models.
    #12
    nk14zp and Gone_Ridin like this.
  13. Folly1

    Folly1 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    679
    Location:
    Charleston, SC : Bath, Me
    Good job. Thanks. There must be other treads detailing similar experiences. If you know of any, please post a link.
    Thanks again for posting this.

    Ben.
    #13
    Gone_Ridin likes this.
  14. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    576
    Nice RR.
    IMO it's very hard to find travel partners of same skill, eat the same, and same endurance. Add in similar bikes.
    #14
    nk14zp and Gone_Ridin like this.
  15. squiffynimrod

    squiffynimrod maximum shrinkage Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,178
    Location:
    Flatskatchewan
    Great RR. It's like don't ride with brad all over again.

    Good intel too as I'm heading to Tuk in June.

    Thanks
    #15
    Gone_Ridin and mrbreeze like this.
  16. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    CANADA-1/4 mile N of International Falls, MN
    Good read on a crappy February day in NWO.
    Sounds like so far was a great trip for you.
    (Not so sure bout buddy). :baldy
    Looking forward to the rest of the story.
    BB
    #16
    Gone_Ridin likes this.
  17. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,119
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    It was good you were honest about your travel style/intentions before the trip. You left together and arrived at Tuk together, I'd say you guys have done pretty good considering (relatively minor) differences in travel style. Hopefully you're still friends after the trip.

    Thanks for sharing your trip!

    .
    #17
    nk14zp likes this.
  18. dovetailredux

    dovetailredux bakery hound

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Ottawa
    You're kind of type A aren't you? Lol

    Fun read, thanks for posting up.
    #18
    td63 likes this.
  19. StinkyCheese

    StinkyCheese Red or Green? Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    949
    Location:
    Las Cruces, NM
    Enjoyed the RR!
    #19
    Gone_Ridin likes this.
  20. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
    Canada
    A Few more from the ride up to Inuvik and Tuk.
    By now I knew that the cell was definitelynot saving pics to the memory card. Once back at the motel I changed settings to save to internal memory and hoped for the best.
    IMG_0924.JPG

    Village on the McKenzie river
    IMG_0926.JPG

    The "Pingo" landscape between Inuvik and Tuk IMG_0933.JPG IMG_0928.JPG
    I also began using the DLSR I had brought along but had been too lazy to use; you know how much longer it takes to open the tank bag, turn it on and all....
    #20
    wilfred, Ozarks Rider, jb63 and 10 others like this.