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Discussion in 'Alaska' started by Alcan Rider, Dec 28, 2013.
Now that's funny
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Who has information on how much time it takes to get to Deadhorse from Fairbanks? General data is fine, just gauging how slow/fast the trek is.
Well it has been done in 6 hours 45 min (one way). Two long days, one up one back, is done by some, but most folks take two days up and two days back.
2 days up and two days back is kind of a relaxed pace. It allows for lodging options at Coldfoot/Wiesman coming and going and Deadhorse.
I did a 3 day run, reaching Galbraith Lake to camp the first night, back to Coldfoot the second. That was a longish day, but not too strenuous for an oldish phart like me. The north slope weather forecast dictated my plan as snow was expected above 2500 feet the second night. Atigun pass is 4700'.
Details in my r/r about Day 33 I think.
My son and I leave for Deadhorse Monday morning from Wasilla, if you see us give a wave
God Speed JeepAlaska!
Did the 14 year old make it back to the Valley alive?
I see a lot of ride reports from people who were riding the Dalton anywhere from May though July. I have a pretty unique opportunity where I can take an unexpected 3, maybe 4 weeks off from work starting immediately. I was planning to make the trek from Seattle to Deadhorse on my F800GS next June, but circumstances being what they are, I am now looking at potentially departing this weekend. By my estimations this would put me heading north out of Fairbanks around Aug 25th.
I'm not going to ask what I can expect weather-wise because I understand it can be all over the map hour by hour. Instead, I'd like to ask if anyone else has made a similar trip this late in the season. In other words, am I crazy to be considering it? I'd be looking at departing Seattle this weekend, arriving Deadhorse on or around Aug 27, then head back home. If weather supports, I would attempt Tuktoyaktuk as well. I would be camping every night with the exception of Deadhorse.
I am going into this with the understanding that there is a higher likelihood Atigun Pass will not permit my passing this time of year, and if that's the case then I'll just turn around and find somewhere else to ride where the weather is nicer. Or just head home from there, I'm very flexible.
No, you're not crazy. It has been done, but it has been blocked by weather as well. You're assessment seems spot on and you have a sensible attitude regarding that a run to Deadhorse might not happen and can adjust as needed. It would still be a great ride, the country is just as beautiful in Aug/Sept as it is in July. (If the weather doesn't completely dump on you the whole time. )
One caution is that you will have less daylight (still more than 12hours/day, but certainly not the 20+ rides in peak season have), so factor that as well. You should try to avoid running at night.
MapMaster has covered it pretty well. Atigun Pass has even been blocked by snow in July, and has been beautiful in September. There is just no way to predict what you might find. Labor Day weekend of '07 a friend and I had a great trip up and back, doing the inaugural Iron Butt Haul Road 1000. Two years later, on September 22nd, I made it to the top of Atigun Pass with little trouble, but found a blinding blizzard blowing on the north side and, in a rare display of common sense, turned around and rode back to Fairbanks. A couple of days later it probably would have been possible to make it all the way to Deadhorse, but I chose not to push my luck.
And as MapMaster also pointed out, it can be quite beautiful up here in late summer/early fall, especially in September as leaves turn and the hills become a kaleidoscope of color. That is, IF the clouds lift (and they have been pretty thick and wet for much of this so-called summer.
The good news is - mosquitoes will be pretty much long gone by the time you get up north. The bad news (and you knew there had to be some, didn't you?) is that the mozzies are replaced by gnats, no-seeums, and whitesox. But those latter three are pretty idle until it warms up in the daytime. You're generally safe until the temp gets above 50°.
You have the right attitude - if it's lousy weather where you want to ride, find some good weather somewhere else and head for it.
Really appreciate the info, guys. You've put my mind at ease a bit, so now I'll just concentrate on gathering my gear and trying to remember how to use Basecamp. I don't know what it is about that interface that I find so difficult to navigate.
I picked up a new set of Shinko 804/805s today. I know I'm going against conventional wisdom here which says to be intimately familiar with your bike before you make this trip (I've never run these tires). That said, I'm a fairly competent rider and I think I will adapt quickly to how they handle in the mud. I just wasn't happy with the TKC80s I had, but perhaps becuase they were not in the best of shape when I bought the bike. My hope is that I'll be able to make the full 6000-7000 miles on this set of Shinkos. I opted not to have a rear waiting for me in Fairbanks, and my frugality may bite me in the ass when I'm stuck there for 4 days waiting for one to come in. It's a chance I'll take and I'll have nobody to blame but myself.
Man, I thought I was gonna have many more months to prep for this trip, but if life has taught me anything it's the spontaneous adventures are often times the most memorable.
Heading out this weekend, so hopefully I'll be putting up a new ride report in about 3-4 weeks.
Good luck, and don't sweat Basecamp. There's not that many roads to choose from.
For those of you heading to the top. Please feel free to add to the list
The Dalton is a dirt, gravel, and tarmac road. Dirt, gravel, and tarmac is the same stuff here as everywhere in the world. There is nothing magical or maniacal about it except in people’s minds.
About 20 to 25 percent of it is now paved…some good some bad. You probably need to ride slower on the paved sections than on the gravel. The gravel is mostly smooth. There are pot holes in some of the paved sections that will literally kill you.
The construction areas are usually only 5 to 20 kms long. There is a mis-conseption that the whole road is under construction all the time. You may ride a hundred miles before you see one.
If it rains you’re gonna get muddy.
If is is dry you’re gonna get dusty.
People ride the Dalton to Deadhorse all the time on Harleys, Gold Wings, bicycles, and scooters. They are on street tires and some are almost worn out. You don’t need the latest super knobbly off road tire to get you there. If it makes you feel better though then go ahead and get some. Watch out for the two 80 year old ladies who rode up there a few years ago on scooters if they go again.
You will get better than average gas mileage if you are enjoying the ride. I ride the Dalton at an average speed of about 40 mph. Easy speed to see problems, enjoy the views, and stop quickly if need be.
In the summer there is daylight 24 hours a day.
The construction areas where the ADOT spreads millions of gallons of water and calcium chloride are very slippery. Less so if you pay attention and slow down. If you are trying to prove you are a man you will fall down…probably.
The truck drivers on the Dalton are professionals. Give them room and they will give you some too. If you are a dick they will treat you like one. Either way they’ll let the other drivers know over the CB radios.
You are miles away from people and help. You need to be able to fix a flat tire.
There is no AAA on the tundra.
A wrecker to come get you will cost you a minimum of $1500…cash.
If you crash and spatter the helicopter from Fairbanks will cost you about $20,000…cash.
There is no McDonald’s or nightclubs to entertain yourself in Deadhorse. You have ridden one of the three roads every adventure motorcyclist dreams of riding. Sit outside or take a walk and think about how far away from home you are and relish with the thought you’ve accomplished something grand. Enjoy just being there.
If you stay in Deadhorse, find at least one truck driver and thank him for bringing all the stuff you need to eat and live while you’re there.
The mozzies can fly away with small children and animals. If you stop to take a leak out on the tundra pray for your willy.
Be sure to get your certificate at the Arctic Circle. Make a donation with the Rangers there.
It’s expensive to get a room in Coldfoot.
Camping is free at Coldfoot. So are the mozzies.
A cabin in Wiseman is reasonably priced for where you are.
The food in Deadhorse is world class.
Yes there is no gas between Coldfoot and Deadhorse.
A gas point in Deadhorse is out the front door and to the right about 600 feet south from the Prudhoe Bay Hotel
There can be a foot of snow at the top of Atigun Pass in July.
The wind is your friend on the tundra…blows the mozzies to hell.
The “Oh Shit” corner is really fun. So is “Ice Cut Hill”. Both are more fun if it’s wet.
Read “The Haul Road Primer”, “Alaska Primer” and, “The Lure of The Dalton” by Alcan Rider on ADVRider. Then read them a few more times again.
You need to make sure you can stay warm and dry…all day.
Heated gear is your friend. If someone calls you a pussy for using heated gear tell them “Well I may be but I don’t have to prove I’m a man anymore and certainly not to you”.
Gas will cost you over $5 a gallon. Don’t complain. It’s easier to ride than push your bike back to Fairbanks.
Riding with a buddy is better than by yourself if you want to ride the Dalton really fast while texting or fiddling with all your electronic stuff. You will need them to take photos of your crash for the ride report.
With the low prices for crude oil these days there is less truck traffic.
Look ahead. When you see the color of the surface change slow down and pay attention. It may be fresh 6 inch deep gravel.
When you come to a bridge REALLY slow down and look. The transition from the road to the bridge surface may be over a 6 inch lip. You CAN ride with a bent rim but you’ll look like you’re in the circus.
The winds are usually from the sides. Easy to keep out of the dust if you don’t follow too closely.
There is no cell phone coverage on the Dalton except in Deadhorse.
Expect to pay $14 for a bowl of oatmeal in Coldfoot.
ErraticAKn on ADV RIder works in Deadhorse. He so kindly posted he can help with any problems while you are there.
Deadhorse is a “dry” town.
The Dalton is beautiful. Slow down and look at it.
The apple pie at the Yukon Camp is good.
The folks who run the Boreal Lodge can make you a great pizza.
The Prudhoe Bay Hotel has lightning fast internet. Sorry, porn is blocked.
The campsites at Marion Creek just north of Coldfoot have raised wooden platforms for your tent.
Camping is prohibited in Deadhorse. You’ll see why when a polar bear strolls through town.
You cannot ride to the Arctic Ocean on your bike. A background check and a paid tour will get you out on the oil fields in a bus so you can stand in freezing water. Book 24 hours in advance. $70
A lighter bike is probably better.
Stop at the top of Atigun Pass and watch the trucks going up and down. You will appreciate the laws of physics and start to understand inertia.
DO NOT STOP for photos on the narrow wooden planked 6% grade Yukon River bridge. Reason…the trucks cannot stop going down on the slippery wooden surface if it’s wet... if you’re stopped on the bridge and can’t get going you will be killed. Plus if you cause a crash on the bridge that shuts the Haul Road down you will be in debt for the rest of your life.
When you stop out on the tundra to put more gas in your bike you only have about 45 seconds before you a covered with mozzies.
The pilot cars go really slow leading you through the construction zones. You have to keep up. In the soft stuff, look at one of the tracks the pilot car is making and aim for that. DO NOT look down right in front of your bike…you will fall down. Just basic off road stuff…you go where you look. It’s easy once you do it for the first time.
You will always be brought to the front of the line when there is a pilot car. They do that to keep an eye on you. Believe me…they do want you to get through safely.
Print this out or put it on your phone...https://alaskaleather.com/pages/emergency-phone-tree
Calcium Chloride is very corrosive. When you get back to Fairbanks the FIRST thing you should do is hit the car wash (3701 Cameron St). You’ll only need about $30 in quarters.
You may have good luck getting the calcium chloride off your bike if you spray some type of non stick stuff on your non hot parts before you take off. Some inmates have recommended RustCheck, ACF50, Pam, or S100 Engine Brightner. I may try some this trip. I like the ACF50. Used a lot in the aircraft industry for anti corrosion.
Pay attention to your mirrors. If you see a truck gaining on you, as soon as you can, find a place to pull off the road and stop so they can pass. Its much better that way to get them by you instead of passing as you ride along. Be sure to give the driver a wave.
You cannot walk around bare foot inside the Prudhoe Bay Hotel. Gracie the head housekeeper will set you straight.
You will become a master at putting on and taking off blue bootie covers during your stay in Deadhorse.
You do not need to bring shower soap with you. In the shower room at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel there is a bucket with hundreds of bars for you to use. Some are even unused.
Do not park in front of the Hotel. All the spots are reserved for the oil company foremen and their trucks. You'll see where to park. Look for the muddy areas.
You will eat at least 20 kilos of chocolate chip cookies during your stay. Even if it's for an hour.
When you get ready to head back south, stop by the cafeteria and grab a brown paper bag they have near the drinks. Put as much food in it as you want to eat later. It's included with your room.
Len and I paid $115 each for our room and meals.
Bring a small water bottle with a sprayer to fill at the streams alongside the road to clean out your radiator. Or do like I do, ride really slow in the mud.
If there are no trucks around feel free to use the whole road. You may find riding on the left side is smoother.
The slower you ride on the Dalton the less air pressure you need in your tires to keep the beads secure. With about 20 psi (tube type) and 25 psi (tubeless) the tires soak up most of the little stutter bumps making the ride really smooth. If you ride like a bat out of hell, them you need lots of pressure to keep the beads seated when you slam into pot holes and bridge transitions at mach 2.
When you see little red or orange flags stuck in the ground on the side of any roads in the north pay attention...they are marking small frost heaves to cavernous pot holes that the Titanic would disappear in.
When you get gas in Coldfoot make sure you pay attention so you don't pump your tank full of diesel. The hoses for benzene and diesel are pretty similar.
Invest in a helmet that you can put a pin lock insert on the face shield...you will like looking through a shield that is not fogged.Watch for the soft shoulder when you pull over for a truck or anything else. The graders leave it looking at and hard. It can be up to a foot deep loamy soft dirt that will crash you violently if taken at speed. If you don’t see tire tracks, suspect it.
From inmate AKDreadnaught:
If you see a grader working the road, watch for huge piles between the lanes. These can be up to a foot tall until they’re done.
If you see musk ox, be careful how close you get, they may run you down.
Caribou and moose are stupid. Count on them running across the road instead of going the other way. Quite often, there will be another one behind it. Travelling early or late in the day will increase the odds of critter viewing/destruction.
Stop for taking pictures of momma and baby anything at your own risk.
No matter WHAT have a great head net and light gloves. A mosquito jacker is best. The biting flies and skeeters will drive you to suicide.
At road construction delays, ask the flagger how long it will be. Might be a great time for a nap or a bite to eat. While you do have to keep up, there’s no reason to be on the pilot car’s bumper, it’s fine to stretch out. Safer as well.
There is a speed limit on the haul road. There is a SPEED LIMIT on the haul road! It is veeeery uncool to take an opposing driver’s windshield out by rallying hard past other drivers. There is no escape. Once reported for bad behavior, you can be hunted down quite easily.
You can camp at pipeline access roads (denoted by little brown signs that start with”APL”. Stay out of the drivelane or someone will move you. Evidence of construction equipment guarantees an early wakeup call.
Gravel pits are awesome camp spots.
Mile 213 on the Richardson has an amazing mining district road. Great place to ride/camp.
Mile 204, best water spring in Alaska.
At Isabel pass, the pipeline man-camp is below the monument as you lookpast the signs. Endless miles of camping there. Ride that road out as far as you care to. There’s a glacier at the end!