1. ADVRIDER Print Magazine!
    We're doing two more print magazines year. July & November. 144 pages of high quality adventure riding stories, photography and interviews!

    Click here to purchase both for $35.
    Dismiss Notice

ALASKA 2010- 13,857 MILES in 7 WEEKS

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by poppawheelie, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

    Jul 16, 2003
    Central Pennsylvania
    Alaska Maybe
    07-09-10: After a four day delay, I'm off across the country in a rush to the International BMW rally in Oregon, then on to the remote dirt roads and trails of Alaska and the Yukon. At least I think I am. My riding partner dropped out, and I'm not to anxious to go "way back" without someone I can trust, so my decisions will be based on weather and road conditions.
    I was late to leave due to unfinished preparations and waiting for a $500 (with shipping) Corbin seat to arrive. It didn't fit quite right, so the wife, who generously gave me a $200 Corbin gift certificate she won at a Pennsylvania BMW rally, and I sweated and wrestled with it for an hour to jam it on. At this point, after 1800 miles in two sittings, I can say it's worth every penny, the same as the last Corbin saddle I bought. I rode a thousand miles in 22 hours, i.e.- the proverbial thousand mile day, and didn't stop till Mitchel, SD, home of the Corn Palace ( "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_Palace" ) and... no Monkey Butt!

    Mitchel, South Dakota, Corn Palace- made of corn

    I followed up with a 550 mile day. Lots of rain, by the way.
    I got "felt up" by a man in his 80's. I saw him slowly hobbling over out of the corner of my eye, and he starts feeling my upper leg. I wasn't worried because I was outside at a Sheetz's, and lots of people were around. He was also followed by a younger man (his son?) with a bemused look on his face. So the old guy says, "Ah your pants are dry now. I used to ride in this kind of weather, and it was wet, dry, wet, dry more times than I can remember! Ride safe and have a good time!" No sex intended. Hee, hee.
    New BMW G650GS is running good. Heated hand grips are great in the rain, and fuel injection works so well with altitude changes. I foresee a box being sent UPS back home. I packed waaay too much. OK now, but not good on the rough stuff in the far north.
    South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana
    07-13-10: After more wet, dry, wet, dry through South Dakota and into Wyoming, I awoke to a bright sunny day. Walking out of the Motel 9 - you must be familiar with Roadside Prophets - I saw snow covered peaks. Two hours later, I was up there. I rode Rt. 14, which I discovered the last time I rode out this way.

    Route 14

    I picked it off the map as a short cut to Bear Tooth and Chief Joseph Highways, but Rt. 14 is a scenic, rugged mountain road worth riding in its self. Clement Salvador of Rider magazine agrees.
    I then did Charles Kuralt's "Most beautiful road in America," Bear Tooth Pass. Not as much fun as the first time. Fifty mph wind gusts and road construction with plenty of dirt and motor homes made it so. As I stopped for one flagman near the top, he walked back to me and said, "Park it over there by my Jeep for some shelter." The pilot car woman then came over and said, "Come to the head of the line and tuck in right behind me." They sure treat motorcyclists different out here. Right now my motor is parked right at the front door, under the canopy, of a fancy Holiday Inn. The spaces are marked for motorcycles only.
    Instead of wet, dry, wet, dry, the riding has been up, down, cold, hot over and over. I’ll climb to a nine or ten thousand foot pass with snow on top, put on the outer layer and change gloves, then drop into a hot desert valley. Then up again. I'm not complaining... beautiful country, Woody Guthrie's America for you and me.
    I hooked up with a group of five BMW riders heading to the rally from South Dakota and Iowa. Yup, they know what RAGBRAI is and have done it. We stayed at a cabin at the north entrance of Yellowstone, which broke down to only $25 apiece. Otherwise I would have paid $100 for a room, too tired to set up the tent, and rain was threatening. It sure pays to be with a group.
    Today we rode through north Yellowstone, and I visited Mammoth Hot Springs, which was 90% dry! I couldn't believe it. I remember steps of emerald, blue and yellow pools, bubbling over each other. I don't know what caused it, didn't have time to look up a ranger.
    So I decided to stay with this group of competent, experienced riders and alter my course to go into Montana to do something called Lolo Pass, a route made famous by Louis & Clark as they picked their way over these mountains. We'll do it tomorrow.
    300 miles of Interstate with severe head winds was no fun. We're all beat up by it, but me especially, as my bike, the smallest, is hardly up to the task. I don't like big bikes, but out here in the wide open big country, my bike is struggling. Anyplace east of the Mississippi, my 650GS is fine, plenty of power, but not in the wild west.
    When we pulled off in Missoula, our ride leader pulled out his computer and did one of those name your price things - he wants a hot tub - and got us rooms in this upscale Inn for $55 a room. So I'm sharing a room with the only other single guy in the group at 55 / 2. No sex intended.
    Lolo Pass, Buddha and the Lonesome Cowboy
    07-15-10: Lolo Pass turned out to be not as I imagined, a snowy high mountain pass, but a river valley. It was no big discovery by Lewis & Clark either, but an old Indian trail, which their guide Sacajawea lead them through. She saved their butts many times over, all this with her baby on her back.
    I was a bit disappointed and later calculated this took me 400 miles out of my way. I repeated to myself, "Buddha, Buddha." Live in the present, don't wish you were somewhere else. Be Aware. Enjoy where you are, for I was in beautiful country. I did ride along the Salmon River and Hells Canyon.
    There was talk of returning to the Interstate, where the Big Dogs play, to get to the Rally, so I took off on my own to avoid that high speed running in the fierce wind, too much stress to keep up with the big bikes. I was having fun on a narrow canyon road, where my bike shines, twisting back and forth at a pretty good clip, when I noticed a bunch of headlights gaining on me. I thought my group was catching up. It turns out to be a bunch of gray beards like me, but they're carving up that canyon road on big Harleys. I just can't get away from the Big Dogs. I was surprised they could ride that fast on big hogs in tight corners. They were all old time riders. Just goes to tell, all Harley riders are not all-show-and-no-go.
    So anyway, I decided to ride on my own and be the lonesome cowboy again. I don't think the group rode nearly as far as I did yesterday. They're not here yet. Later I find out the one who was my room-mate had repeated break downs with his nearly new 800GS, and another blew a generator belt. Yikes! My 650GS has been flawless. Knockedy knock on wood.
    I put in a 600 mile day to make up for my detour and got to the rally at 1 AM. I was grateful my buddy from Texas had a bunk for me in his motorhome, so I didn't have to put up my tent. Even better luck, my friends that run Alaska Leather are giving me an extra space in one of their motel rooms. They run a motorcycle business in Anchorage, and I’ll stay with them while I'm up there. The motorcycle community can be very generous, especially to travelers.
    I really was lonesome riding through desert and deep canyons last night. I would ride over 1/2 hour and maybe one vehicle would pass. I broke a rule of mine, riding in the dark, so I rode real slow, being especially cautious with the double threat of dark and solitude, but I got here in time to attend a seminar today on riding Alaska. Now I can relax (in a free hotel room), do laundry, bike maintenance and catch up on things.
    Sign seen on the road yesterday: WORMS, BEER AND ICE CREAM.
    Random Thought
    While riding across the desert, the road arrow straight, disappearing into the east and west horizon, I hadn't seen another vehicle in an hour. Something approaches. How strange. A creature, a dark animal riding a bullet, fast, low to the ground, a bullet with two white piercing eyes, a man on a motorcycle flashes by. I wonder what I look like to him?
    When I stop to write these words down, I'm struck by the total silence. I've experienced this silence only once before in my life, on the White Rim Trail in Utah. The desert clears the mind, lets thoughts come out that otherwise never would.
    I Hate Cities!
    07-19-10: 6000 mile check-up/ service was done at a BMW dealer in Portland. Engine oil, filter and brake fluid was changed, valve clearance measured, and numerous items checked. Cost ----> $488. That's alright. I knew going into it BMW's are expensive. By comparison, a recent service done on my wife's Suzuki DR650 was under $200, but it's a much simpler machine. Don't know which I like better, really.
    Today was the most miserable day of the trip so far. Eighty miles south of Seattle I hit stop and go traffic on Interstate 5, which was jammed up for 3 hours, all the way north of Seattle. This is particularly un-nerving on a motorcycle. I hate cities! I hate cities! I hate cities! When I travel, a city is the last thing I want to see.
    Tomorrow I cross into Canada and won't see a city until Anchorage. I'll cross through one of least populated parts of the world, less than one person per square kilometer.
    Into Canada
    07-20-10: Made it into Canada as far as Cache Creek, riding along the mighty Fraser River for about 100 miles on Canadian Highway # 1.

    Fraser River

    **** Link to Video: ****

    Imagine a road built on one wall of the Grand Canyon about half way down, and you'll know what it is to ride this road. Wow, this is big country.
    The Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep. At Hells Gate, which I saw today on the Fraser, the canyon walls are 3,300 feet, lending credence to what I say about “like a road built... half way down." See: "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell"
    I was in remote, unpopulated areas for the first time today. I was on a major highway, but in the middle of very rugged country with 100+ miles between gas stations. I would hate to break down out there. I don't like traveling alone as much as I did in younger days.
    Road Bangers
    07-21-10: At a roadhouse, I ordered the breakfast special, Two Bangers, not knowing what a banger is, but knowing that the order contained two eggs, toast and home fries. Thought maybe banger meant the eggs where slammed into the pan. Turns out a banger is a fat sausage, contains more red meat than I ate in the last week. So I ate one and put the other in a bag as a Road Banger. Tasted pretty good, later, down the road. Hey RAGBRAI riders, remember Road Bagels?
    Road construction cost me today. Eight hours in the saddle and only 340 miles. What people who haven't ridden or driven this part of the world don't realize is how big it is. From the boarder, it's a two or three day drive just to get to mile zero of the Cassiar or Alcan Highways. I've got 2660 miles to go to Anchorage. I did get through Prince George today, and the landscape immediately got wilder. It will get more so.

    Yep, they're big.

    I've noticed here and in South America, one sees the strangest things in the middle of nowhere, like huge sculptures. Today I saw hanging planters along the dirt road that went some distance into a saw mill! I don't mean just any plants. These were big baskets 20 feet in the air hung from neatly arranged poles on both sides of the road. The flowers were multicolored and beautiful! In the middle of nowhere.... There must have been two dozen. Imagine the amount of time to water these things every day. This is dry country, and no, they weren't plastic.
    OK, this is the third time I've typed this. I hope the server doesn't drop it again. Canada serves sucky servers.

    A word about bicyclists and drivers
    No matter where I've traveled, no matter how remote, the bicyclists are always there. I saw several in the last two days, fully loaded, some with a trailer, in the high desert prairies. These people get my highest respect. They go everywhere we moto adventure travelers do, and see more. Every article I read about adventure travel mentions the bicyclists that were there. The bicyclists, always the bicyclists. My highest regard to them. I knew one rider, by the way, who rode his bicycle from Washington, DC to Alaska.
    A word about safe drivers. I've noticed how no one tailgates me here. Cars follow at a safe distance, and I don't think they even want to pass. When a passing zone comes up, they do, sometimes with a courteous wave. No passing zone, they just hang back patiently. In the USA, I always know when someone wants to pass, because they keep kissing my ass.
    07-22-10: A voice inside my helmet kept saying, "Holly Fook'n- oly!" The mountains now have their heads in the clouds. When they peek out, they're snow capped. These are the Cassiar's. The rivers are now the pale green or gray color of glacial silt.
    I saw my first bear today, a timid black bear who didn't like my stopping and ambled off. Later I saw a cub, but didn't stop, didn't want to disturb the sow I'm sure was in the bushes. Several more miles up the road, another adult ran away when I passed.
    I was on the Cassiar Highway. When I told a young motorcyclist that I was glad I drove the highway (in a car) when it was a fresh cut dirt road through absolute wilderness, he just looked at me in disbelief. I thought being paved might spoil it, but it's still pretty rugged with pavement breaks, dirt sections, and plenty of unspoiled wilderness. It's a credit to the Canadian Highway Dept. that they can keep it open. Frost heaves, wash-outs and avalanches take out sections of road every year. Sometimes you can see the abandoned road alongside, because it's easier to build a whole new road bed than try to repair a badly damaged one.
    Due to road construction, I spent 14 hours in the saddle to do just 600 miles. Darkness is not a problem, because it never gets dark now. It's light 24 hours a day.
    Again, I saw the bicyclists out there. One couple was 60 miles from the last building where I had stopped for gas, and I went another 100 miles before the next gas station/ store. Two recumbent riders were in the middle of a 96 mile stretch of nothing but trees and mountains.
    I saw two bald eagles too, so I guess you could say my Indian name is Three Bears or Two Eagles.
    You know you're tired when you forget to turn the throttle and wonder why you're slowing down.
    07-23-10: Rain, lots of heavy rain today. I have my outer protective layer on now, and the electric jacket and heated grips are put to use. Summer riding gear is packed away.
    Spent $40 on a lakeside cabin last night, thinking I would take pictures in the morning of the sunrise over the lake and tents put up on the shore.

    Dry Cabin just north of Dease Lake

    I woke up to the heavy rain and the tenters were gone! I was glad I got the cabin and didn't set up my tent.
    Soon after I started out, there she was! A lone bicyclist with four big panniers and a dry bag was grinding up a hill on a 91 mile stretch with only one gas station/ store!
    By the end of the day I made it to Teslin, B.C. I'm on the Alaskan Highway (Alcan) now. Saw a brown bear today. Different attitude than a black bear. He did not turn away, but looked at me as another member of the food chain, calculating whether I was worth a chase or not.
    Stopped for hot coffee where a lot of other bikers going both ways were doing the same, taking a break from the rain. Ended up staying right there, sharing an expensive room with another BMW rider from Illinois.
    You know you're tired when you turn your head and spit, forgetting your face shield is down.
    A Day of Turn Arounds
    07-24-10: I'm in a sleazy motel in Whitehorse, YT, but at least the server works. I started up the Canol Road but turned around after 30 miles.

    Along the Canol

    Every account I have read of riding the Canol mentioned lynx, moose, and fox, but I saw none. I was also sliding around on the muddy sections. Knobby tires are waiting for me in Anchorage for this kind of road. A closer look at the map showed just how much I'd go out of the way to stay on the Canol, so I turned around. I've wanted to do the Canol for over 10 years, so at least I can say I did a piece of it. Click for pics: "http://www.motorcycleexplorer.com/"
    Later I started down the road to Skagway. When I stopped to take a picture of a huge lake, a tour bus pulled up, and tourists poured out, rude unhappy looking people, the first unhappy people I have met on this trip. Not one smiled and not one spoke to me. As I rode on, more tour buses where on their way up from Skagway. Got me to thinking, "I bet Skagway's full of yucky tourists." A very cold wind blew up the White Pass, dark clouds rolled in and spit rain. Too many things told me I didn't belong here, so I turned back into the sunshine and made it to Whitehorse.
    I hear there's an excellent campground at Tok, Alaska. So that's tomorrow's target.
    Into Alaska and a Day Off
    07-26-10: Frost heaves were the entertainment of the day. I couldn't always see them, so I watched for the skid marks left by car tires when they come back down. The heaves made the bike shake it's head a little, but the biggest danger were the pot holes hidden by the heaves. I caught the edge of one. If I'd have caught the middle, I could have met Dee Saster. Anyway, I made 413 miles to the campground in Tok, Alaska.
    This is the first day since July 9th the bike hasn't been started. I took the day off, and a great day it was, spent in museums, shopping in a health food store with incense and peaceful music, and reading and listening to NPR in my tent. Beautiful weather here, but raining in Anchorage, my next destination. I will ride in the rain tomorrow, but one of the guys at Alaska Leather said, "We'll have a fire built in the stove for you when you get here."
    Bad news, Taylor Highway to Top of the World is washed out by the heavy rains. It was repaired once and washed out again. If it's not repaired in another week, I'll have to go 745 miles instead of 180 to reach Dawson. I'll have to do that if I want to do the Dempster Hwy into the Arctic Circle in YT. This is a big country. When you detour, you detour big.
    Later this week, after new tires, I plan on doing the Dalton Hwy (Haul Road) into the Arctic, to Prudhoe Bay, 1000 mile round trip from Fairbanks. Got my extra gas can already.
    A word of thanks to my wife
    I couldn't do this trip without her taking care of lawn mowing, broken water heater, car trouble, etc. back home. We own three properties, so her taking care of business is no small matter. Thanks, Sweetie.
    Hike! Hike! Hike!
    07-28-10: One major goal accomplished. Glaciers are one of my favorite things. I hiked along the Exit Glacier to the top to see the Harding Ice Field, which is 300 square miles and feeds 32 glaciers, the Exit being just one. See, click on:

    **** Link to Video: ****

    Sheep along Exit Glacier

    It is a very difficult hike for anyone, but for me it was extra hard having not hiked much lately. It's 4 miles with a 3000' elevation gain, a rock scramble all the way, except for sections of slippery wet snow.
    Maybe I should hang out more with my friend from Texas, Curtis. He would say, "You want to WHAT? Walk to the top? Go ahead. I can see it just fine from here."
    My friends in DC who hike every weekend could do it more easily, but for me it was a major accomplishment.
    I planned on doing this but did not want to bring my hiking equipment for just one hike, so I did it in motorcycle boots and for fear of rain carried my heavy motorcycle jacket all the way. Actually my $400 Oxstar dual-sport boots were quite comfortable, heavier than a street boot but lighter than a motocross boot, and completely weather proof. They're cool when it's hot and warm when it's cold.
    Anyway, this is getting away from the point that I saw incredible scenery, alpine wildflowers, mountain goats and a big black bear happily munching away on vegetation.
    The climb and descent were very strenuous, and I consider it a major accomplishment. It was a long day including the 280 mile round trip from Anchorage.
    In the morning, on my ride down, I stopped to see my old friend, The Portage Glacier. I was sad to see it's receded out of sight from the Visitors Center. In the 1980's, I hiked on it.
    In the evening, after the hike, I had dinner in Seward and rode along the beach, where I camped in the 80's. Sweet.
    A word about riders I meet
    I've met many German and Swiss and a few Australians, on BMW's, KTM's, and of course the Honda African Twin, never available in the US.
    The preferred bike of the Canadians is unquestionably the large Harley Davidson FL. HD must sell truck loads of them up here. Makes sense if you're not going off pavement. The torquey power is great for hauling passenger and camping trailer, as many do, and the weather protection is excellent.
    That's all for now. Next is new tires, bike and kit maintenance, and head north to Fairbanks.
    Denali Highway
    07-30-10: From my window, I count five glaciers along the Alaska Range. For the second night in a row, I'm in a dry room at a remote lodge. That means a room with only a bed, electricity maybe, and a heat source, no TV or phone. Bath is in a separate building. Electricity comes from the lodge generator and Internet by satellite, which doesn‘t work for me.
    I'm about 3/4 of the way across the Denali Highway (dirt), and this is another of my main goals.

    Alaska Range from the Denali Hwy

    I've seen spectacular wilderness, moose, caribou, porcupine, and swan. If you're ever in Alaska, drive this road even if it's in a rental car. It's only 135 miles between paved roads, and if you go east to west, you end up at Denali National Park.
    I noticed the trees getting sparse, looked over at the mountains and realized the road runs at the elevation of the tree line. Elevation = cold. Yep, need that heater in the room.
    Technical aside: When I started this road and hit the first patch of gravel, the bike got all squirrely, so I let a lot of air pressure, 7 ~ 8 pounds, out of my new dirt tires, and she was a sweet handling bike again.
    On the way to the Denali Highway, I stopped at an old time town where bush pilots take climbers from all over the world to the base camp on Denali Mountain, 20,320 feet. On that 80's trip, I flew around Denali, the only way I ever saw the top, above the clouds.
    Alas, the Talkeetna I knew is gone. The main street is paved (!), no longer dirt, and tourists are walking around having personal conversations with little black boxes they hold up to their faces. Time for this traveler to move on. It used to be like that town on the TV show, Northern Exposure.
    On to Fairbanks
    07-31-10: So here I sit having breakfast in the Maclaren River Lodge, and a couple on heavily laden bicycles ride in from camping out in the rain at the summit of the Denali Highway. Remember, this is a dirt road. They're from Spain and have been on the road over two months, coming from Vancouver. Vancouver!? Holly shla-moly! They're headed for Denali National Park.
    I'm off to Fairbanks in the rain, to prepare for the biggest event, riding the Dalton Hwy, aka Haul Road, to Prudhoe Bay. Actually, I'm already in Fairbanks, by the time I send this. The U of Alaska has a great deal. In the Summer, they rent rooms for $36. Internet service is excellent too.
    Back to the rain. Actually, it's a good thing this is a rainy summer, because when it's not, forest fires and their smoke close down roads for weeks at a time. I once knew the Alcan to be closed, before the Cassier was built, leaving no way to get to or from Alaska, except by the ocean. So I'm happy to use the lobster-claw rain gloves my wife gave me. Been using them a lot.
    Fun Facts about Alaska

    - There are no ticks.
    - There are no snakes, though that may not be a good thing.
    - Although they are pesty, the mosquitoes carry no diseases.
    - There are no fleas.
    08-05-10: Well, I did it, I ventured into the land above Fairbanks where humans are known as just another member of the food chain, which happens to speak a language. I did the 1000 mile round trip up the Dalton Highway, originally known as the Haul Road, for equipment hauled to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.

    Haul Road

    Brooks Range

    Road and Pipeline into Brooks Range

    Arctic Circle

    End of Road
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010160.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010160.jpg" border="0" alt="Prudhoe Bay"></a>

    Now I&#8217;m back in Fairbanks. I did it the easy way, in 250 mile bites. By reading previous ride reports, I was tipped off to the Boreal Lodge, at the half way mark, in the settlement of Wiseman, hidden 3 miles off the highway. I called three times and was lucky to get one of the four rooms. Boreal forest, click on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boreal_forest_of_Canada

    Scenes from Wiseman
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010142.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010142.jpg" border="0" alt="Typical Wiseman"></a>

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010144.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010144.jpg" border="0" alt="Wiseman P.O."></a>

    If you know your bike - I did a Dual Sport event in PA before leaving - have the right tires and pressure, and no rain, the only challenges are dust and big trucks. Towards the top, large loose gravel, golf ball size, was my biggest road surface challenge. No problem, relax your grip and let the bike dance a little. You're dancing with her, let her lead a bit and gently guide her, slow down a bit, don't jerk on the bars. She's 500 lbs with luggage and will throw you down if you try to wrestle her in the direction you want. Ah yeah, that's nice, we dance together.
    If you do this ride, you will be challenged by changing road surface, everything from good pavement to broken pavement to dirt, mud, loose gravel, and packed gravel. That's the beauty and fun of dirt riding, always reading the road and changing ride technique to match. The far north sections are continually tilled to several inches of loose dirt, then sprayed with calcium chloride to eliminate the dust. This is done to eliminate the pot holes, but makes a slick surface while still wet. Fortunately, for me this was only a few miles. I've read stories about clogged radiators and jammed brake calibers. I flushed mine when I could. Once the trucks beat this loose dirt and calcium chloride mix down, it's like macadam until the pot holes form again, ad naseum.
    A truck threw a rock which broke my windshield, but this is to be expected. This is why you must have a headlight cover.
    On the way up, uh-oh, a guy sitting by his bike. Looks like mechanical trouble. Wait, it's a bicyclist taking a break! He gives me a big smile and thumbs up as I pass by. Sheesh. I saw four more single bicyclists during my trip. Sheesh.
    At a gas stop, the first in 240 miles, I met five bikers from Brazil. They left home in December on their big Harley Davidsons, rode to Ushuaia, the bottom of the world, then up to Prudhoe Bay, and were now on their way home. I am surprised at how many Harleys I see on these rough roads. I guess if you don't give it a special name like Adventure Bike, you don't have to buy a bike specially built for the purpose, you just travel on what you like. Wow, are we victims of marketing?
    As I neared the top on the second day, I was hoping to see Muskox. My wildlife viewing has been great. Sure enough, not only did I see 'em, but close up, while they were standing up and playing around, at a place with a convenient pull off beside the road!

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010158.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010158.jpg" border="0" alt="Muskox"></a>

    STATS: I traveled 7176 miles to the Arctic Circle, 7490 miles to Prudhoe Bay/ Deadhorse Point, not by the most direct route of course.
    You know you're tired when the bushes along the side of the road start to move.
    Fires and Floods
    08-05-10: Six days ago, when I first came into Fairbanks, there was a large mushroom cloud, looked like a bomb went off, from a forest fire south of the city. Now it covers the southern sky. When I started up the Dalton Hwy north of Fairbanks five days ago, I noticed a small cloud of smoke on the far western horizon. Yesterday I returned under smoke for 200 miles. No visible fire, just smoke. The Cassiar Hwy, over in BC, is closed indefinitely by fire. The rain is to return here today.
    If the Alcan Hwy is closed by forest fire, I'm cooked. Only way home will be the Inland Passage Ferry.
    Plans up in the air. Taylor Hwy, which connects to Top of the World and Dawson City, Yukon, was flooded out again today.
    In British Columbia, fire smoke threatens to close the Alcan. Cassiar remains closed mostly. Convoys are escorted through quickly when winds shift. No guarantee. I talked to three bikers headed north, said they were lucky, waited only one half day to get through. Cars, campers, bikes were lined up on the Cassiar for miles. Nature rules up here.
    Top of the World to Ya!
    08-10-10: After three days wait in Chicken, Alaska. Click on

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010192.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010192.jpg" border="0" alt="Chicken"></a>

    Camp at Chicken
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010195.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010195.jpg" border="0" alt="Chicken Camp"></a>

    I made it over the badly damaged Taylor Highway by way of escorted convoy and into the Yukon Territory. A perfectly good free camp was available in Chicken, but I paid for one that had satellite Internet service. It wouldn't work with my eeePC. Later found out the "city" of Chicken offers free Internet... wouldn't work either. Found good reading material though. These places always have a cache of books and magazines.
    Chicken is another of those remote towns, population 8 or 15, depending on time of year, with electricity from a campground generator, potable water purified on site, etc. Interesting history, Chicken was founded by miners headed for the 40 Mile, a smaller gold strike preceding the Klondike. The miners survived on ptarmigan. When there were enough cabins to found a town, no one could spell ptarmigan, so they called the town Chicken. The present day Post Office is a real log cabin.
    So, a large crew worked several days on the road toward Canada and finally escorted one un-official convoy through. The road is still officially closed and they're worried about more rain. Several pieces of large equipment were working to re-route the river, after building a new road bed. People actually live in way-back communities like Chicken, and mining is still active, so the state is obligated to keep the road open for them... and tourists.
    I was the first behind the pilot car but still eating a lot of dust, because the pilot car was a 6 wheel truck. I was miserable, hot, dirty, didn't have time to eat before the convoy left, and couldn't stop to shed clothes, drink water, or anything.
    Then it happened! We hit the Yukon boarder, and boy was it worth it! Now I know why they call the Canadian side Top of the World Highway.

    Top of the World Hwy
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010210.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010210.jpg" border="0" alt="Top of the World Hwy"></a>

    Along Top of the World
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010214.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska 2010/ALASKA2010214.jpg" border="0" alt="Top of the World"></a>

    The world up here amazes, always changing. No snow capped craggy peaks here. In fact, no snow or glaciers at all. You're definitely up there in elevation. It's cold tundra with harsh conditions, difficult for vegetation, but the mountains are rounded, like Pennsylvania but on a grand scale, no sharp peaks. The road runs the ridge for 100 miles, and you can see for hundreds of miles in any direction. I had to bring out that tired old word, awesome... awesome. I had to stop and stare several times.
    So now I'm in Dawson City, Yukon, scene of the world's biggest gold strike. Plenty to see here, preserved from those booming days I read about just before this trip.
    Next, I consider the Dempster Highway, into the Arctic Circle again.
    You know you're tired when you go to bed at 7:30 PM, then take a three hour nap the next day.
  2. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

    Jul 16, 2003
    Central Pennsylvania
    Dawson City
    08-11-10: Dawson City is a tourist trap, but they try to preserve the 1898 ~ 1900 flavor with dirt streets, board sidewalks, what must be a strict building code, and lots of true historical info. Only the more adventurous tourists show up here. Many Germans.

    Dawson City 4th of July 1899
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010225.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010225.jpg" border="0" alt="Dawson City 4th of July 1898"></a>

    When permafrost melts
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010229.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010229.jpg" border="0" alt="When permafrost melts"></a>

    Everything is expensive in all of Yukon and most of Alaska. $21 for a salad, sometimes $30 to $40 for a tent space, over $100 for a room. Businesses here have got to soak the tourists while they can, only three months to do it. I've been eating a lot of oatmeal, but my camp stove is about out of fuel. Can't buy any here.
    On the plus side in Alaska, there is no sales tax, and if you live there, no income tax and no property tax except for certain municipalities. For workers, pay rates are HIGH.
    I've about had it with bad dirt roads, gravel, construction, dust, mud, and pilot cars, but I've talked myself into going up the Dempster at least as far as the Arctic Circle. Looks like a window of opportunity in the weather, though that can change suddenly. Weather forecasting is not the same up here. No radar for one thing.
    I've traveled about 9000 miles to this point, may never be here again, and I have the right bike with the right tires. That's how I talked myself into it.
    Put the Dempster in the Dumpster
    08-12-10: Back into the mountains with craggy peaks, but they were never glaciated! Not enough moisture fell back in the ice ages, UNLIKE TODAY! This area has a name, Beringia. It's kind of a lost continent that let vegetation and animals live here while surrounded by glaciers.

    Dempster Hwy Mtns
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010241.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010241.jpg" border="0" alt="Dempster Hwy Mtns"></a>

    **** Link to Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntcTqAWoeR0 ****

    About the Dempster Hwy, a native woman down in the Yukon from the Northwest Territories told me when it rains "motorcycles don't go forward." This was confirmed by E-mail from my riding buddies in Texas and Alabama. They told me the Dempster is not like the Dalton Hwy. It turns to soup when it rains and you will "slide into muddy ditch." You must stop, stand, sit, find a hole in the ground and crawl into it, anything but ride.
    Despite my weather checks, I had the worst riding day of this trip today, constantly on edge between actual rain and threatening dark clouds. I had waited in Dawson City for a clear weather report before heading out. Report = no good.

    The enemy, rain
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010257.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010257.jpg" border="0" alt="Rain"></a>

    One section of the road was made from large rocks, like a Pennsylvania coal mining road that only bulldozers and Euclid trucks use.
    My summary of the Dempster Hwy to Eagle Plains, the half way point:
    Road Surface- there's a difference between a road that is challenging and one that just hammers at your vehicle like it wants to break it. This road surface is so bad I've been on one like it only once before, a rocky 4WD trail in Utah.
    Weather- No rain forecast, but how can that be! Reflecting on the rough road surface, a local told me that too much rain is also the reason the surface is bad even when it's dry. It rains so much the road crews can't do any thing with it.
    Scenery- Nothing I couldn't see in Colorado.
    My Advice- If you want to ride the far north, do the Dalton Hwy and put the Dempster in the Dumpster, flush it down the crapper, forget about it. This is a desolate, unpopulated area. I rode as the lonesome wet cowboy seeing no one for long periods of time, and when I did they were fixing flat tires.
    Stay tuned for day 2.
    3 Day Rule
    08-13-10: A Gwitchin coming south told me of heavy rain north about 70 miles. The weather at Eagle Plains was the same as yesterday (wet) with a cross wind added to blow me sideways on the muddy road. I slid and slithered to the Arctic Circle, took the obligatory picture and turned south going "as fast as I can," 10 ~ 15 mph.

    Arctic Circle on the Dempster
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010251.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010251.jpg" border="0" alt="Arc Circle again"></a>

    I never planned on going all the way to Inuvik anyway, but I was going to pay my respect to the Lost Patrol at their grave site in Fort McPherson. I'll just have to do that from afar.
    Every car driver I talked to had at least one flat from sharp stones. El Ripio! The road is covered in whatever gravel or stone can be mined close by, and it is not tumbled to remove sharp edges as domestic driveway gravel is. Ever pick up a piece of driveway limestone at home and look at it? No edges. It's been tumbled.
    I credit the fact that I had no flats to going slow, not hitting that gravel hard, and Continental TDK 80&#8216;s. Even where the road was perfectly dry (rarely) my top speed was 45mph. Willie of Chile says, "If you want to get there fast, go slow."
    My decision to turn around was based on the 3 Day Rule, told to me by the BMW rider from Illinois I shared a room with in Teslin. If he's not having fun three days in a row, he turns and goes home. After 3 days of dark skies and rain, I'd had enough.
    As I gazed out over a hundred mile horizon under a black sky, I thought, "What a God forsaken, ugly, hostile, desolate part of the world." I suppose a better road and sunshine could make it a different world. Further evidence of how ugly it is, I SAW NO BICYCLES OUT THERE! That's a first. I saw very few (4?) motorcycles as well.
    However, Friday the 13th was not an unlucky day for me. 1) I didn't fall despite adverse conditions. 2) Some kind of fair or celebration in Dawson City had all the Gwitchin's driving their pick ups from Inuvik, packing down the mud so I could ride on it.
    I'm just glad to be back at mile 0 of the Dempster, at the Klondike River Lodge. My dry cabin is actually a reclaimed freezer box, and I'm happy to be in it.

    Freezer Box cabin
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010259.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010259.jpg" border="0" alt="Freezer Box Cabin"></a>

    Time to head home, about 3800 miles away. I've got some time on the road left.
    Nature rules up here, and Mother Nature is an indifferent bitch.
    The rain would come at any time. I felt like an insect on the earth that Big Sky would piss on any time he felt like it.
    From Whitehorse, Time to Head Home
    08-14-10: Now that the Dempster is done, the big goals are accomplished, and the big cigar is smoked, the cigar that Brion from Iowa gave to me at Yellowstone, it's time to head south. One more word on the Dempster. My friend Curtis started up that road 3 times over 4 years before he actually completed it.
    It's 3500 miles from Whitehorse to home. I still have the Alcan Hwy and the Ice Fields Parkway in Alberta to look forward to.

    Along the Alcan
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010274.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010274.jpg" border="0" alt="Alcan Hwy scenery"></a>

    It's no longer light 24 hours a day, and I swear the evening chill feels like winter coming on. I can back that up with a picture I took yesterday of leaves changed to Fall colors.
    Although I allowed for it, I didn't think I'd be gone two months. Road closings, construction delays, and waiting for changes in the weather has made it so.
    Trivia: Whitehorse got it's name from a set of rapids in the Yukon River that represent the flowing manes of white horses.
    Slept in Dirt
    08-15-10: I made it from Whitehorse to "Junction 37", where the Cassiar splits off from the Alcan. The Cassiar is still closed most of the time due to fires, so traffic was lined up and parked overnight, waiting for a possible convoy the next day. Consequently, no camp spaces or rooms were available within 50 miles. I wasn't going down the Cassiar, but I needed to stop for the night, so I parked it along side the convoy, put on my outer layer of armor, pulled the mosquito net over my head, sat down in the dirt with my shoulders and head resting against the front wheel, and settled in for the night. A nice lady who recognized me from the Dempster Hwy waddled over from her motor home and offered me a lawn chair, a cup of tea, or something to eat. I declined, since I was comfy in my dirt nest and had already eaten from my supplies. Romantic, eh? I actually slept pretty well, and continued 300 miles into Fort Nelson the next day. Saw buffalo and black bear on the way.
    Fort Nelson is a dirty, expensive city. There's nothing for 280 ~ 300 miles, and then Fort Nelson offers numerous motels and restaurants, but the Internet and telephones don't work. The streets are paved but filthy with mud and dirt dropped from cars and trucks. It's yucky just to walk out to dinner. I don't mind sleeping in the dirt, but I don't want to walk in it!
    BTW, BC sucks when it comes to signage or rest areas. The Yukon Territory makes an obvious effort to let travelers know how many kilometers they are from the next town or gas station. Their rest areas may have only pit toilets and trash cans, but they are frequent. I saw ONE rest area in all of the Alcan Hwy in BC.
    I am now at mile 0 of the Alcan, Dawson Creek, BC. Tubby's Tent and Trailer Court is still here under a slightly changed name and new management. Tubby is long gone. Tubby's was the springing off point in the 60's and 70's for early adventurers. I was one, but in a small 4WD, not on a motorcycle. The Alcan was like the Dempster, all gravel and dirt, at that time. Dawson Creek is now a city. I'm sleeping in a motel, not the dirt.

    Welcome to Dawson Creek
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010290.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010290.jpg" border="0" alt="Dawson Creek"></a>

    Poor Bicyclist
    08-15-10: On the Klondike Highway north of Whitehorse, I stopped at the Five Finger Rapids overlook- historical significance there, if you care to look it up on the Internet- and met an unusual bicyclist. All the German tourists I've met are well prepared for whatever their venture, properly dressed and equipped. I miss-took this scruffy looking guy for a Yukoner with burly beard, dirty T shirt and baseball cap, no bicycle clothes. He was scaring the tourists. On his belt he wore an 8" Bowie knife- typical Yukoner- and bear spray the size of a fire extinguisher. His bicycle was a clunker with no front derailleur, a beach bike frame, and bald tires. He had replaced nine spokes on his overloaded rear wheel and as a result had a series of flats. He asked in heavy German accent if I had a pump and may he use it, because his had a crack in it. Even his bicycle pump was broken! He had rubber cement, but his patches were dried out. So I gave him a handful of patches and lent him the bicycle pump I carry. All the while he lamented the decline in German craftsmanship.
    I rode on to the town of Carmack. Historical significance there too, since Carmack was the first to file a claim on the Klondike strike. I found the last bicycle pump at the hardware store, bought it and started riding the 20 miles back; but was thinking, what if he hitched a ride in a camper or went into the woods to set up camp for the night. I didn't even know which direction he was headed, but I was lucky and found him riding towards Carmack. I did a U-ie, pulled up beside him, handed him the new pump, and said, "Adios, amigos."
    So I did something nice for someone.
    Jasper National Park Disappointment
    08-19-10: What I don't like about Jasper National Park:
    Smoke- Smoke from distant forest fires ruins the views.
    Trucks- 18 wheelers are allowed on the main road, which is just about the only road. Imagine trucks on the Skyline Drive. When you look at a map, you see there's no other way for them to get into southern BC, but it detracts from the experience.
    Everything costs!- There's a daily fee for being in the park, Banff Park included. Banks charge extra to exchange money. A walk in camp site, the only thing I could find, cost $15 to 20. For this, you get pit toilets and no showers. Know what it's like to lug motorcycle bags, instead of a back pack, into your campsite? Rooms are out of the question and unavailable anyway. Even WIFI in the Jasper Library costs, but the nice Librarian did let me use a Library computer for no extra charge, when mine wouldn't connect.
    Park workers know nothing.- Not locations or prices of campgrounds or how far it is to a town or campsite. They just give you that big Alberta smile, eh?
    Things should be better once I enter the Ice Fields Parkway and Banff National Park, since trucks are not allowed there. It's all one big park area, however, and smoke could still ruin much of it.

    Did see Elk and flowers
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010294.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010294.jpg" border="0" alt="Elk"></a>

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010312.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010312.jpg" border="0" alt="Flowers"></a>

    Actually, I'm being a bit grouchy. I'm in need of a rear tire, and I'm low on Canadian cash. Even the banks in Jasper charge an extra fee to exchange money. I'm spending time locating a motorcycle dealer and measuring distances vs my tread depth, instead of site seeing. Yes, motorcycle friends, I did plan on tire replacement, and know where the BMW dealers are. It's just worry-some.
    Can't wait to get back in the states where I can use my credit card without a surcharge, use an ATM without an extra charge, don't have to deal with funny money, and every gas stop on the Interstate has fresh fruit, sunflower seeds, and energy drinks. There's a lot we in the lower 48 take for granted, like low prices on everything and availability of goods.
    I guess the romance is gone from the first time I drove the Ice Fields Parkway. Everything seemed so astounding. I don't remember all these fees for every little thing. I thought campgrounds were free, or maybe I just forget.
    Ah, The Ice Fields Parkway
    08-20-10: The Ice Fields Pkwy and Banff National Park do not disappoint. The mountains and glaciers are close enough that smoke doesn't hide them. Several "Holly Fook'n Olies" were said today. Memorable sights of the Ice Fields Parkway were my old friends the Athabasca and Crowfoot Glaciers, and Lake Louise.

    **** Link to Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIfuwWrHDig ****

    Lake Louise and Hotel
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010314.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010314.jpg" border="0" alt="Lake Louise 1"></a>

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010316.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010316.jpg" border="0" alt="Lake Louise 2"></a>

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010318.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010318.jpg" border="0" alt="Lake Louise Hotel"></a>
    I lucked out on lodging too, got a bunk in a wilderness hostel for little more than cost of a tent site. No running water, showers, or electricity, but I don't have to mess with my tent, night or morning, and there is a kitchen and reading room. Relaxing.

    Wilderness Hostel
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010307.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010307.jpg" border="0" alt="Wilderness Hostel"></a>

    A word of appreciation for our National Park system. Though under funded and over used, our park system beats Canada's hands down. The park service staff is better trained and printed information handed out as well as road side plaques are superior. And... the cost is much less.
    And another thing available at US gas stations, peanut butter crackers! I can survive for days on peanut butter crackers and coffee. I went to three grocery stores and a gas station in Jasper, and they don't have peanut butter crackers!
    I should be back in the land of peanut butter crackers and plentiful cheap goods tomorrow.
    Desperate for Clean or Definition of Cold
    I took my boots off and washed my feet in a glacial stream, that is- water at 0 degrees Celsius. Now that's cold. It feels so good when the pain stops.
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010324.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010324.jpg" border="0" alt="USA"></a>

    Hot! Hot! Hot!
    08-22-10: Greetings from Sturgis, SD. Missed the rally. Darn... not really but I heard it was big this year. Bob Dillon was here. I've been to the rally, and I've stopped here several times on my way west.

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010048.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010048.jpg" border="0" alt="Sturgis"></a>

    So why am I here now? There's a BMW dealer here with tires for me. Sturgis is a very small, quiet town, sans rally, and it's familiar surroundings, better than a city.
    However, it's 110 degrees here and across the high prairies of Montana and Wyoming. I rode 900 miles by continuing day and night, breaking my rule to not ride at night, because I and the bike would be cooler. Running on the Interstate also means less chance of a wildlife encounter. I still had to ride all day today in this blast furnace to make it here. I rode virtually 33 hours with short naps at rest areas. Hot, hot, hot and tired.
    I was hoping for rain to cool the tire down even more, and it happened, though it still went back up to 110. Song in my helmet:
    "The rain came down.
    The tire cooled down.
    And that's when I heard that highway sound.
    Ah Mabeliene
    Why can't you be true?
    Ah Mabeliene..." __

    Had a chance to do a Suzuki SV650 rider a favor. Saw him pushing his bike, out of gas. I had to do that once, on a very hot day, bike fully loaded. I was still carrying my spare gas can from the Hall Road, so I saved him some sweat. I filled the can again too, just in case.
    Observed again over the past three days, contrary to the image, I've met more Harley riders on long distance rides than BMW or any other brand of ride. For example, Alberta to Baja to Florida to Labrador and back. Wow, who knew?
    For me, I still have half a country and 6 1/2 states to cross, but I have peanut butter crackers!
    Sign seen along the road today, big letters only, which is all you could read anyway:

    You know you're tired when you forget to breathe.
    Your brain gets short of oxygen and you start to yawn, telling you, "Remember to breathe, you idiot!" Yep, took me years to figure that out.
    Black Hills and Minnesota
    08-23-10: Temps are back to normal, low 70's. I set aside a half day to ride the mountains west of Sturgis, including Black Hills National Forest, Hill City- where the cafe still serves pretty good home cook'n since 1992 by my experience.

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010337.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010337.jpg" border="0" alt="Hill City"></a>

    And the Crazy Horse Memorial. Be sure and see this site:
    Wildlife seen today in the Black Hills were turkey, mountain sheep, and buffalo.
    What goes around, comes around. The wind is now at my back, the same wind that gave me such a fit when I was headed west. I had to keep backing off the throttle to keep it below 80, way too fast for me.
    I'm in Minnesota now, turning south into Iowa to avoid Chicago and $34 in tolls. That's ridiculous for a motorcycle. Iowa's more fun anyway and adds only 80 miles to the trip.
    Still over 1000 miles from home. Could stop in Indianapolis and watch the Moto GP(!!!), but I'd rather be home with the wife. She hasn't missed one GP on the TV since I've been gone, so we'll watch it together.
    Truck Tire Explody
    08-25-10: Iowa, Illinois and Indiana went by without incident, except a truck tire exploding in front of me. Fortunately, no big chunks came my way. Pushing hard now, doing 550 ~ 600 miles during daylight hours. Have major service scheduled at BMW dealer in Ohio.
    You know you're tired when you forget to downshift when coming to a stop, and find yourself sitting there in 5th gear with a line of cars behind you.
    08-28-10: Home.

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010345.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010345.jpg" border="0" alt="PA"></a>

    You know you're tired when you can't think of a witty way to sign off. Someone suggested I ship my bike and fly myself, saving about 3000 miles one way, but I'm like the little kid in the Honda commercial. My response, "I just wanna ride."

    Self Portrait
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010327.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010327.jpg" border="0" alt="Tired"></a>



    I did it all, everything I set out to do, the Cassiar, a piece of the Canol, Exit Glacier and the Harding Ice Field, Denali Hwy, Haul Road and Prudhoe Bay, Arctic Circle twice, Top of the World, Dawson City, Dempster Hwy, Alaskan Hwy (Alcan), Ice Fields Parkway, and the Black Hills of South Dakota.

    Total Miles- 13,857 in 7 weeks and 1 day. A lot of miles, considering I had several 3 day layovers waiting for a change in weather or a road to open, and 4 days at the BMW rally.

    Total $ on Gas- $764.11

    Total $ on Lodging- $1804.90

    Accidents- One. The cover came off my razor. When I reached inside my bath kit, it took the top of my finger off.

    Worn Out- 2 sets of tires, chain and sprockets, 1 pair gloves.

    Best Deal of the Trip- $36 dorm room at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, with free unlimited laundry use, kitchen, and WIFI that really works.

    Best Dollar spent- in Dawson City clothes dryer to dry tent and sleeping bag after rain.

    Best Road and Scenery- Denali Highway. Remote but not arduous or long. Also leads right into Denali National Park.

    Best Accessory on Bike- Corbin seat, $500 with shipping, but remember I had a $200 gift certificate. If you had to buy your own office chair, what would you pay for a comfortable seat? I spent 10, 12, 14 hours a day in this seat, sometimes 24 hours with overtime. Think about it.

    Worst Experience- Dempster Hwy.

    Surprises- 1) Harley riders ride far, ride hard, and not always on pavement. 2) It's hot in August above the Arctic Circle. The permafrost remains because the ground doesn't absorb any heat. The sun is never directly overhead and there is no vegetation to absorb, hold and transfer the heat to the ground. However, the air becomes very hot and there's no shade. Temps above 80 are common. It's much colder in southern Alaska, down around Anchorage.

    Best Riding Roads- Right here in Pennsylvania! Frankly, I was disappointed in the Cascades, after all I've read about the wonderful riding there. PA is an old state with thousands of miles of two lane blacktop. There are no snow capped mountains for scenery, but the roads themselves are the best anywhere.

    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010267.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/Alaska%202010/ALASKA2010267.jpg" border="0" alt="Whoa"></a>
  3. adventurecycle

    adventurecycle Been here awhile

    Mar 18, 2010
    Charlotte, NC
    Enjoyed the RR! Cant wait for my trip next year! Glad you had a safe trip!
  4. adventurecycle

    adventurecycle Been here awhile

    Mar 18, 2010
    Charlotte, NC
    Quote: Accidents- One. The cover came off my razor. When I reached inside my bath kit, it took the top of my finger off.

    Looking at the last picture, What was the razor for???:rofl

    I would be interested in the fuel and camping $$ once the cc statements come..
  5. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

    Jul 16, 2003
    Central Pennsylvania
    OK, will post.
  6. BusyWeb

    BusyWeb Adventurer

    Apr 6, 2009
  7. YukonTracker

    YukonTracker Ride your Way

    Jul 30, 2008
    Great RR. Thanks. Each to its own on the Dempster though. The "Jeckyll & Hyde" character of the Demspter is imo the best reason it deserves to be called a true adventurers road. I think that most prefer the beauty and ruggedness of the Dempster over the Dalton when it comes to it. But again.. each to its own.
  8. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

    Jul 16, 2003
    Central Pennsylvania
    Alaska 2010 Post Note

    Mobius Trippers
    <a href="http://s711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/?action=view&current=ALASKA2010255.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i711.photobucket.com/albums/ww115/poppawheelie_2009/ALASKA2010255.jpg" border="0" alt="Mobius"></a>
    I met one couple- from Manhattan by the way- on the Dempster Hwy who were undaunted by the conditions, because they were on the perfect bike for really rough off road, the Suzuki DRZ 400. I know, because I've had two of these bikes. For their most excellent presented story see:

    Of course, they did not ride these bikes across the country on Interstates, I think. They trucked them at leasty part of the way.
    Someone suggested I ship my bike and fly out, saving about 3000 miles one way, but I'm like the little kid in the Honda commercial. My response, "I just wanna ride." BTW, 3 years ago I did ride a DRZ 400 across the country on Interstate Hwy, doing a 1000 mile day on the first day... with the stock seat. I won't do that again.
  9. malibu_dan

    malibu_dan Adventuring Mystic

    Apr 26, 2008
    Actually, Poppa, your partially right, but mostly wrong. David and Francine did not ride the DRZs across the country on Interstates--they did it mostly on dirt. One bike started the trip in NYC, the other in TN. They trekked their way across the country 2 weeks at a time. Store the bikes, fly home, fly back to where they left off next time and trek 2 weeks more. Rinse and repeat. The only trucking was a brief leg in Alaska when they had a sprocket fail and had to haul bikes to Anchorage to repair.

    BTW, love your pics--especially Lake Louise! :clap
  10. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

    Aug 30, 2006
    NYfC, yff
    Pics of the two of us together are rare as hen's teeth. :brow
    Hey! :wave Glad to see you made it back. RIGHT-O! Your description of the misery you experienced on the Dempster was interesting to read. Comparing notes, its like we weren't even on the same road -- fascinating :dunno. You'll get to see what our experience was once I get to that installment of our RR in a few days, but in short, we had a bit of everything, rain, wind, sun, mud, etc.

    Through the all of it, the DRZ's, lightly loaded and with full on knobbies (Mefo stonemasters), performed perfectly -- I'd say in the worst of the conditions (which were nowhere near as bad as some other stuff we've tackled on Mobius trips) we were forced to back off the throttle maybe only 10% of how hard we were riding in the best conditions. The whole run up and down the Dempster was 99% in 5th (top) gear, mostly slowing down to take in views. We were having a blast, even in the sideways rain that puked on us just past the MacKenzie ferry. :puke2:ricky

    I know you like the TKC-90's as many do (and you did a lot more pavement than we), but the difference between those and a "real" knobby in gravel and mud, as well as the additional weight from 250cc more displacement is apparently way more significant than one might guess.
  11. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

    Jul 16, 2003
    Central Pennsylvania
    Yar, TKC 80's are not near to a full-on knobby, but they did get me all the way to Sturgis, S.D., over 7000 miles, before a tire change.
    Looking forward to your Dempster description. That was the only time on my trip that I was wishing I was on a lightweight, more dirt oriented machine, with real knobbies. Even a DR200 would have been nice.
  12. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

    Jul 16, 2003
    Central Pennsylvania
    Total spent on gas: $764.11

    Total spent on lodging: $1804.90 motels, hotels, and campgrounds.

  13. adventurecycle

    adventurecycle Been here awhile

    Mar 18, 2010
    Charlotte, NC

    Do you know the ratio of camping vs: Hoteling? ie: did you do more camping and just a couple of hotels? or more the other way?
    What about food? did you happen to track that?

  14. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

    Jul 16, 2003
    Central Pennsylvania
    28 of 50 days were spent in motel or campus housing (Fairbanks).
    Don't track food. As much as I shop in regular grocery stores when on the road, and as much as the wife and I go out to eat at home, it's just the same, costs no more to be on the road.