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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    Moose strike?

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  2. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    We stayed one night at Eagle Plains just south of the Arctic Circle and enjoyed a proper shower and roof over our heads. Unfortunately, the cafe had closed when we arrived, so we had a dinner of potato chips and beer at the bar. We left for Dawson City the next morning.

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  3. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    We stayed a night in Dawson City before Jim had to head home to Ontario. I could not have asked for a better riding partner than Jim.

    I stuck around for "Dust to Dawson" and to change my tires with the assistance of Dick Van Nostrand (8,000 miles on MotoZ Tractionator GPS) for the next leg of my journey. I was a solo rider once again.

    Dawson City:
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    Celebrating our return from 250 miles beyond the Arctic Circle:
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    #63
  4. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    We made it to Tuk Aug 11th and were lucky, the road looked nothing like that. Timing.

    Enjoying reliving the trip through your report.

    .
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  5. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I won't post anything about D2D or Dawson City since so much has already been written on the topic. I will say that Dawson City was hands-down my favorite town during the 16,000 mile trip: dirt roads, cool saloons, Sour Toe Cocktail, good food, eccentric people, and authenticity. As I left Dawson on the Yukon River Ferry headed to Alaska, it occurred to me that Northern Canada might end up being the surprise highlight of my adventure (it was). The remoteness, beauty, wildlife, and Canadian hospitality form the perfect recipe for an adventure ride. I vowed to come back.

    The Top of the World Highway was a beautiful ride, and I joined a group of fellow riders heading to Alaska. The heated jacket and insulated gloves were once again put to good use in the higher altitude and occasional rain. When I started my trip in the Hurricane Alberto rain on the MABDR route, I assumed that I would encounter lots of dry weather later. In fact, I experienced some rain most days for the entire 7 week round trip journey. I decided to invest in Klim breathable waterproof gear before leaving, and it worked great.

    I had chicken and pie for lunch in Chicken, Alaska!

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    #65
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  6. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Moose and black bear were so common in Canada and Alaska that I stopped filming most animal sightings. The Moose are particularly plentiful and prone to running into the road. Note that Canada and Alaska maintain a wide, cleared buffer on both sides of the roads to aid motorists in spotting potential animal danger.

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  7. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Tok was a good spot for gas and supplies on my way to Fairbanks. I got a modern hotel room in Fairbanks, and washed clothes. I also paid a visit to Dan Armstrong to change my oil and try to clean my leaking fork seals (from all the grit on the Dempster). Dan runs Adventure Cycle Works out of his garage in Fairbanks and is a great mechanic for oil changes, bearings, brakes, tire changes, etc. Dan is an entertaining fellow with lots of colorful stories who was willing to help me at a fairly late hour (I left his garage at midnight).

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    #67
  8. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    The next morning, I left Fairbanks for the Alaska Arctic Circle crossing. The Dalton Highway/Haul Road is relatively straightforward and well maintained. In fact, the route leading to the Arctic Circle point has several long paved sections (with monster potholes). A lot of people ride to the Circle sign and return to Fairbanks in the same day (about 400 miles round-trip). This is doable, but would make for a long day. For those going beyond the Circle to Prudhoe Bay, the last gas stop is in Coldfoot, 250 miles north of Fairbanks. The truck and tourist traffic was noticeably heavier than the Dempster. The area still has a remote feel though.

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    #68
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  9. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    This fellow is riding his bicycle with his father from Prudhoe Bay/Arctic Ocean to the southern Arctic Ocean at Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. 18 months on a bicycle. Sort of makes motorcycling seem like cheating.

    #69
  10. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    The Alaska Pipeline is your constant companion on the Haul Road.

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  11. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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    Great report and pics......really like the short videos! Thanks for taking us along!!
    #71
  12. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    Second Arctic Circle crossing. I was feeling pretty confident and seasoned at this point. A few minutes later, I would face my biggest challenge of the trip...

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    #72
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  13. Mr B

    Mr B Been here awhile

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    Nice read, inspiring!!!
    Hope to follow suit soon!!!
    #73
  14. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    :lurk
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  15. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne I got my wings back. Supporter

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    Foreshadowing...


    what's next?
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  16. steved57

    steved57 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Great ride report and pics - looking forward to more
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  17. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I left the Arctic Circle point, heading north to Coldfoot for the only gas stop before Prudhoe Bay. The original plan was to stay the night in Wiseman, Alaska a few miles north of Coldfoot (a truck stop with basic services), and head north the following day to Prudhoe Bay/Arctic Ocean and back to Wiseman in one day. It was raining (again) as I left the Arctic Circle sign and headed north but I was feeling great, thinking I had this Arctic riding thing figured out. One mile later, I was running about 65 mph on one of the potholed paved sections of the Haul Road, when I hit a particularly large and deep pothole. The potholes are so numerous in some sections, that you can't really avoid them. The combination of pavement over permafrost and heavy truck traffic causes these monster potholes. The only safe way to deal with this is to go slow. Frankly, I think dirt and gravel is a better surface in the permafrost regions.

    After slamming into the deep pothole, I instantly knew I had probably dented my front rim. I instinctively started to slow down and glanced down to see my low-tire-pressure warning flash on my dash. Being alone, north of the Circle with a potentially ride-ending mechanical problem, I did a u-turn, hoping to make it back to the Arctic Circle parking lot where tourists tend to turn around before returning to Fairbanks. No luck. The tire collapsed within 20 seconds. A loaded KTM 1190R is unrideable with a flat front tire. I stopped on the side of the road and surveyed the situation. I had badly dented the rim and caused the sides to flare out. The rim appeared ruined to me. My mood went from confident joy to distress in an instant. I started scheming how I would get my bike hauled to Fairbanks and a new rim installed. (Probably a difficult multi-day, expensive process.) I felt sick. To make matters worse, the mosquitoes had found me and were attacking with vengeance. I calmly grabbed my helmet and key and started walking back to the Arctic Circle parking lot while contemplating how to get out of this self-induced mess. As I was trudging along, helmet in hand, a couple of trucks passed by without stopping (they have a job to do), but an Alaska Pipeline work truck did stop. I was really grateful for the offer of help. I had one question: "Do you have a sledge hammer that I could borrow for a few minutes?" The driver said he thought so... In a few more minutes, another Pipeline maintenance guy stopped to help! I began to feel more optimistic.

    I hesitate to attach these selfie videos, but they probably tell the story best. I made the videos on my iPhone a few hours after hitting the pothole.

    Part 1:


    Part 2 with some commentary about the hospitality of Northern Alaskans:


    Before:

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    After:

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    My héros! The Alaska Pipeline Maintenance guys. Note my mosquito net.

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    #77
  18. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    After repairing the rim, and refueling at Coldfoot, I stopped at Wiseman (population 14) for the night. At Coldfoot, I learned that the Haul Road would be closed for a couple of days for road maintenance. So, my plan to ride to Prudhoe Bay was in jeopardy. I once again starting scheming...

    #78
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  19. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I arrived at Atigun Pass sometime around midnight. Traffic on the Haul Road was nil. I did see some young guys on KLRs looking for a place to camp off the side of the road. The were employing the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants strategy for their trip. Seemed to having a grand time.

    Coming down Atigun Pass around midnight:


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    #79
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  20. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I started to encounter some of the road construction on the way back from Atigun Pass. This GoPro video was taken at 1AM. I thought the back-light from the night sun was cool.

    #80
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