Another Rookie Went to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 72 Yamaha RD350, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    At one point I stopped to take this picture. As I was retrieving my phone I looked over just in time to see Rick falling over on the AT. We hadn't seen another vehicle in quite some time. The road was sloped significantly which caused or contributed to the AT going to sleep. Just as we began to contemplate getting it righted, a fellow ADVRider inmate from North Carolina appeared southbound. I'm sorry I don't recall who it was (he has already posted his RR which included going to Tuk), but he stopped and helped us pick up the sleeping baby.

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  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Traffic in this section was non-existent.

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  3. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 13 – Pickhandle Lake

    After crossing the border we ate lunch at Buckshot Betty's and stopped at Pickhandle Lake for another beautiful scene.

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  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 13 – Kluane Lake

    The most memorable wildlife incident occurred two hours after this picture was taken on the northwest side of Kluane Lake headed southbound. After not seeing any wildlife in 378 miles, two miles outside Haines Junction a sow grizzly bear and her cub stepped onto the left side of the road while I was looking right. HD linked brakes brought me to a stop 70 feet from momma grizzly. She and cub scurried off the road. Rick said that he swore he saw the cub look at his momma with a question, "What the hell was that?".
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  5. siyeh

    siyeh unproductive Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,600
    Location:
    Evansville, WI
    A most excellent report sir. I read every TR to Alaska. It brings back memories from my two rides up there.
    Thank you.
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  6. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 14 – Haines Junction to Watson Lake
    Friday, June 28 – 366 miles – 70F Sunny – 2,163 miles to home


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  7. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 14 – Haines Junction

    After the heart stopping encounter with momma grizzly & cub, we rolled into Haines Junction where the Fairbanks Car Club “Adventure Before Dementia” Rally to Dawson City for Canada Day had stopped for the night.

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    On the way to Alaska the oil cooler on my Road King became partially clogged with mud from the construction zones. The heat of the engine baked the mud in place and even the high pressure car wash spray in Fairbanks was ineffective in removing it. Arriving in Haines Junction with several more construction zones ahead, I had a minor epiphany. I purchased a $12 roll of duck tape and made an impromptu fender extender to protect the oil cleaner from further mud. It did such a good job that I've left it on the bike. [The oil cooler in the background has since been repainted.]

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  8. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 14 – Whitehorse YT

    How many museums has there been in this RR - not enough! The Klondike Paddle Wheel Steamer on the Yukon River is yet another museum stop worth your time. Plan for 60 minutes.

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  9. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
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  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 14 – Canadian Rockies

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  11. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 14 – Watson Lake

    We stayed at the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake. You could not ask for a more gracious host than Mike.

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  12. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Next up: A story about there being few signs on the AlCan and the inevitable result.
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  13. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    874
    Location:
    Juneau Alaska
    I am enjoying your report. After all my trips from Alaska I still enjoy seeing the ride thru fresh eyes. Looking forward to the rest.
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  14. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Thanks. One would think that after reading a half dozen or more RR’s on any given route that we’d grow bored. But every picture is under different conditions, from a different angle, and captures a specific moment that inspired someone.

    I’m letting most of these pictures speak for themselves. There will be more dialogue toward the end.
  15. radianrider

    radianrider Adventurer wanna'be

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,218
    Location:
    Avon, IN If we never go, we will never know
    I'm enjoying this report as I drink my coffee prior to work this morning.

    Thank you for writing this and posting the pictures. I know I saw most of them when we met for dinner (can eating at Steak n' Shake be called "dinner"?), but this gives me the chance to absorb them at my leisure.
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  16. Bob Brooks

    Bob Brooks Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    14
    Excellent report...
  17. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    I've already explained that we're doing this trip without a GPS or Smartphone mounted on the bars in front of us. The GPS I'm carrying in my panniers is good for ascertaining latitude, longitude, and elevation - important things you need to know in an emergency - but its built-in maps date back to 1998 and they are based in ROM (Read Only Memory) which limits them severely in resolution and user friendliness. But like I said earlier, that's ok because we're on the AlCan most of the way and its the only road of any significance.

    What I didn't anticipate is that the AlCan doesn't have a lot of signs. It doesn't have a lot of restrooms either and, given the choice, I'd take a few more restrooms because I generally have a good sense of direction and navigate quite easily. For others, including Rick, the lack of signage can be a problem. I'm not casting judgement because he's the guy who hand built/tuned the 500+ hp supercharged Mustang sitting in his garage. We all have different talents and need to lean on others at times.

    From the time you leave Dawson Creek and arrive in Whitehorse 898 miles later you'll see almost no signs indicating your direction of travel. There are sufficient signs to let you know you are on BC97 but they aren't like in the US where such a sign would be accompanied by "North", "South", "East", or "West". (I did notice directional signs at the junction in Whitehorse and closer to the US border.) You can't plan on using the sun as your guide because some days are so overcast the sun is completely obscured.

    Rick appeared disturbed as I was packing my bike outside the Air Force Lodge. He had misplaced the key to his motorcycle and was agitated at not finding it after a furious search. We had exchanged backup keys in my driveway on departure day in anticipation of this possibility so it wasn't a catastrophe. I handed him his backup key and said he could meet me at Kathy's Kitchen after searching a few more minutes.

    Rick rode up to Kathy's as I was finishing breakfast. He had found his key in a pocket of his Aerostich that it shouldn't have been in. No biggie. We all do that. He ordered his food and I began to overheat since I was dressed for cool temperatures on our climb to the 4,250 ft maximum elevation of the AlCan. We had worked out previously that when one of us was ready to go and the other was lagging behind that the lead guy would ride five mph below the speed limit allowing the other to catch up over time. This worked well enough and I departed south bound.

    I pulled over at the YT/BC border and waited 15 minutes giving Rick time to close the gap. I was surprised that I didn't see him approaching but the math said he could be another 5-10 minutes behind me so I re-mounted and rode south at 10 mph below the speed limit and stopped to take a lot of pictures. When the math said he should have caught up by now, I turned around. Maybe he had dropped his bike on the incline of Kathy's parking lot. As I made my way northward I questioned what I would do if he wasn't there. That would mean only one thing: he had turned left instead of right when exiting Kathy's putting him on a course for Teslin 161 miles away with no signs telling him he was going the wrong way.

    I rode straight to Kathy's and, sure enough, no Rick. Now what to do. The least I have to do is top off the tank because I'm down over a gallon. My tank has 300 miles of range and I can make it the 130 miles to Liard Hot Springs - but if they don't have gas for whatever reason, it would be tight getting to the next available gas and expensive when I got there. I considered the options as I stood at the pump: chase Rick north, sit in Watson Lake, or head south to our first destination of the day - Liard Hot Springs. Every morning before mounting up I reviewed with Rick our key stop points of the day. LHS was our first gas point. Since we had gassed and overnighted at LHS on the way up I felt confident that Rick would get there once he realized his error. I turned south, again limiting myself to 10 mph below the speed limit, and stopped frequently to photograph everything of interest - including the herd of bison that came walking down the road.

    I arrived at LHS, topped off the tank, parked my motorcycle prominently close to the road so that Rick would see it and went inside. I sat down for a long lunch.

    I should mention the only law enforcement presence I observed on the AlCan was adjacent to LHS. (This makes the murder of the NC girl and her Aussie boyfriend in the vicinity a few weeks later unusual in that respect.)

    Some time later, having just finished my lunch, I was gazing out the window when I saw an RCMP patrol car fly by southbound. Oddly enough, not far behind was Rick doing a similar speed! Just as he passed my motorcycle his brakelight glowed red and I knew he had seen my Road King. I went out to greet him in the parking lot where we exchanged our personal accounts of the event. He had ridden north 70 miles before he saw a sign that caused him to question his course and eventually turn around. No harm, no foul. Our final destination for the day was Fort Nelson, 190 miles south, where we arrived around 6pm.
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  18. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Before I proceed with more photos, I want to comment on what it means to "... ride with someone..." to Alaska. This is just my opinion, and obviously, others may disagree.

    Don't be afraid get out of sight with your fellow rider(s). You've got 1,000 miles of pavement, not a lot of competition for space, and very few intersections or vehicles entering traffic. Aside from frost heaves and animals on the road it's probably the safest 1,000 miles you'll ever ride. Anywhere from 20 yards to 90 miles is an acceptable separation distance. Unless you are riding in the shoulder seasons or at odd hours, there's enough traffic to keep you from being stranded for more than 10-15 minutes but not so much as to impact your riding experience. It's true there's virtually no cell coverage so you're not likely going to be able to contact your partner immediately so communicate clearly the rendezvous point and time window.

    While on the AlCan, aside from Rick's unintentional foray, we were typically 100-200 yards apart and not infrequently a half to two miles. In particular, it really helps to be spread out when passing RVs (especially in the curvy bits).

    If you and your partner choose to separate permanently due to unexpected differences - let it go. Don't be like the guy we met on a KLR who was still bitching about his friend changing plans six days prior.

    Be loose. Be flexible. Enjoy the ride.

    Back to the show.
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  19. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 15 – Watson Lake to Fort Nelson
    Saturday, June 29 – 318 miles – 73F Sunny – 1,844 miles from home

    Incredible scenery makes this my favorite riding section of the AlCan. The riding is curvy mountain roads. The pavement is mostly chip seal which offers excellent grip at the expense of heavy tire wear. There were short sections of loose gravel identified by warning signs.

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  20. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    835
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 15 – Canadian Rockies

    I took this picture at the BC sign while waiting for Rick to catch up.
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