Beyond the Arctic Circle in Canada and Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Venturer, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    One year ago, I was deep into my planning process for my two-month journey from North Georgia up the MABDR, on to the Dempster, Tuktoyaktuk, Haul Road and Atigun Pass in Alaska, and back home. Like others, I was able to find a lot of information on the Alaska Arctic Circle journey but less information on the Dempster and TUK. Since my return, quite a few riders have posted about TUK. I decided to add a summary of my experiences in this thread to add to the accumulated knowledge.

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  2. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I departed North Georgia in late May as Hurricane Alberto was in full swing. My wife suggested I leave after the rain stopped. I explained that if I let rain delay my departure, I would never make it to to Canada/Alaska.

    Departure: May 30, 2018
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    #2
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  3. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I was very grateful to start with several friends on the Mid-Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route (MABDR) for the first week of the journey. Unfortunately, Hurricane Alberto dumped torrential rain for several days, making the MABDR more challenging than expected.

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    Attached Files:

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  4. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    Ok, let's see where this leads…
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  5. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    The rain was relentless. Relatively easy two-track and forest service roads were flooded.


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  6. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    West Virginia section of MABDR was hit hard by the hurricane. This was one of the valley roads.

    #6
  7. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Our group was literally trapped in the WV flooded valley with no safe way out. Paved and dirt roads were all deeply flooded with rushing water. We contemplated spending the night in a kind local farmer's barn... After three hours in the barn, the rain finally let up a little and we decided to make a run for it.

    #7
  8. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    My two cents on the MABDR: It's a great route with less pavement than we had anticipated. Under normal weather conditions, it is fun on any adventure or dual sport bike. (The route includes many creek crossings -- so be comfortable with rocky water crossings.) It took us about 5 days to travel from Damascus , VA to the NY state line, and camping and inexpensive lodging is abundant. We enjoyed the entire route and found it beautiful and surprisingly remote. Pennsylvania was particularly enjoyable. I highly recommend the Butler map of the MABDR; it was invaluable.


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  9. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I was sad to say goodbye to my fellow Georgia riding partners after completing the MABDR. They all headed back down the MABDR while I took a side detour into Manhattan for a day... Probably the most dangerous and wild part of the entire trip. At my retirement celebration 4 months earlier, I had promised my co-workers in NYC that I would swing through Manhattan on my way to the Arctic Circle. This comment was met with a lot laughter and skepticism, so I was determined to make good on the promise.

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  10. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Manhattan in early June is hot, crowded and intimidating on a loaded KTM 1190R.

    #10
  11. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I don't recommend this, kids...

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  12. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    After a quick lunch with my old work team, I headed out of NYC ASAP, making it to Pittsburg that night. I was anxious to get started on the Arctic Circle journey. (The primary goal all along.) I averaged well over 600 miles a day across America, determined to make up time and build a cushion to allow for harsher conditions up north. (After the Hurricane induced flooding in the East, I thought the worst weather might be behind me. Wrong.) I encountered rain for a portion of each day for several more days. Riding solo is not as much fun, but you can make good time if you are in the mood for a quick pace and long hours in the saddle.

    I stopped for dinner at "The World's Largest Truck Stop" in Iowa with the intention of staying nearby. The smell of nearby feedlots was so strong, that I headed further down the road.

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  13. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I spent a quick night near Minot, ND and crossed the Canadian border at the loneliest border crossing I have seen. Chatted with the border guard for about 15 minutes. (I think we both needed a little conversation.) Didn't see another vehicle in either direction. BTW, as others have said, the FIRST question the Canadian border guards ask is “Are you carrying a firearm”. They are trained to detect lies, and can make you pull over for a thorough inspection if they suspect you are carrying a firearm. If you are caught trying to sneak through Canada with your trusty Colt 45, you will be ejected at the border and refused entry anywhere along the border at a minimum. I explained to the hospitable border official that all I had was bear spray (it has to be labeled “bear spray”.)

    I spent the night with some good friends in Saskatoon, and had my first Tim Horton's breakfast... No comment. As I headed north near Edmonton, I encountered bitter cold and gusty winds with Tornado warnings! Probably the worst riding weather of my 40+ years of riding. My hands were almost frostbitten and teeth were chattering despite having my heated jacket and heated grips set to max. For the first time, I cut the day's ride short after attempting to wait out the storm in a gas station south of Whitecourt, Alberta. Miserable conditions.

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  14. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Leaving Whitecourt, the weather was cold but the rain had stopped. I found the local snow machine shop and promptly purchased insulated waterproof gloves. My best purchase of the entire trip. The next major landmark was the mandatory photo op at the start of the Alcan Highway in Dawson Creek, BC. Finally, it started to feel like I was approaching the "good stuff".

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  15. BC Biker

    BC Biker Adventurer

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    Can’t wait to read more....In!
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  16. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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  17. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    A riding buddy who hit a moose in Alaska a few year back warned me to slow down when traveling on the Alcan and beyond. Not only is the danger of an animal strike very real, but this is the wild and scenic experience we all want when riding to the Arctic Circle. So, enjoy! My daily miles dropped to 200-400 miles over the next several weeks and I tried to stay around 45-55 mph. The scenery and abundance of wildlife is incredible in Northern Canada and Alaska, and exceeded my expectations. I lost count of the Moose, Bear, Bison, Stone Sheep, etc. along the trip. For this report I will simply share a few images to illustrate.

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  18. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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  19. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Sign Post Forest is a little touristy but cool.

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  20. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Can you say Mosquitoes? Yes, they are constant, and irritating. Stay covered and you are fine. If you plan to walk around in the bush without your helmet, I recommend a head net.

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