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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SirBones, Jun 13, 2019.
Keep em' coming, and be safe. You've got quite a little sweetie to get back home safe for.
I’m in! Glad you made it across the border, hope the back ribs feel better soon!
Day 23 June 2nd - 453 miles
Another morning, another routine of packing the bike. Weather yesterday was pretty good, so somehow I got the impression it would continue. As soon as I was ten minutes west of Prince George, I realized that would not be the case as the temperature plummeted. I was talking to Caitlyn on the phone (through the helmet) while I had service, following behind a pickup truck, when suddenly I saw a black bear run in front of the truck. The truck slammed on the brakes as did I. The bear didn't emerge right away, so I thought the truck hit the poor thing, but sure enough it popped out and continued crossing the street. Quick little heart attack in the morning to wake me up. That was also the first bear I've seen on the trip so far. Awesome! It would not be the last...
I got to Burns Lake and stopped for some food and beer. Thought I'd make my Canadian friend Andru happy, and eat some poutine. Food was good, beer was much needed, as was the break from the cold. This trip may be colder than I anticipated. I got out to continue right in time for the rain to start. I hoped it would be relatively quick, but that was not the case. Rain gear on and heading west.
This area of British Colombia was a lot of farm lands with epic mountains in the distance. Very pretty and hard to ignore the urge to pull over and get a photo. So naturally I obliged myself with a couple. Eventually I came to the start of 37N. Fueled up, took a little break, and started heading up. I came across a sign for bears, and sure enough I saw a few within a mile of the sign. Some hanging out on the side of the road, some crossing it. Half ran when they saw me, but the other half weren't phased by my presence. Guess my bike isn't big and scary enough. Perhaps I should take the baffle out.
By 8:30ish I was in Bell II and the rain was coming down hard. I was chilled to the bones and not sure how much civilization I would be coming across. I certainly hadn't seen much, and while I thought Bell II was a town, it actually was just a ski lodge with gas and a store. A cabin was far too expensive, but I didn't know what I would find north so I through in the towel. It did include an hour of internet, so I could check in with Caitlyn. There wasn't service anywhere up here.
The brit who worked in the store said a Grizzly had been sighted a few miles down the road, but I wasn't lucky enough to see it. The room had a stove though, so I could start a fire and dry all of my stuff. That really helped with the spirit. I got logged on to the internet and had a quick video chat with Caitlyn to let her know I hadn't died yet. It was getting easier to sleep on my side again, so I was able to get a good nights rest while shadows from the fire danced throughout the room. I didn't get as far down the road as I wanted today, so I had to do better tomorrow.
Burns Lake, BC
Oh, there will be bears...
Excellent so far, SirBones! I love that color on those bikes. I was on a waiting list at Triumph Seattle a few years ago for a green one but fell hard for the T120 last minute. That was the hardest color to get, for good reason.
Glad to read they treated you well.
You pack like you've done this before! And props on your chain maintenance! It looks brand new.
Day 24 June 3rd - 553 miles
I woke up warm and refreshed. Packed the bike, checked out of the lodge, and twisted the throttle with excitement. I was hoping I'd see that grizzly down the road, but it did not appear for me. I did however see my first moose a few minutes later. Black bears continued to make their appearance along the road, and amazing views were plentiful.
The road turned to gravel at one point, while going downhill behind a truck. No issues other than riding through dust clouds. Otherwise it was just an entire day of scenic riding. Rained here and there throughout the day. Probably never even hit the high 50s. Eventually I crossed into the Yukon and found myself on the ALCAN highway. Stopped for lunch at Wolf It Down and was entertained by the thick Yukon accent the waitress had. Afterwards I continued heading west towards Whitehorse.
There were a few sections of gravel, and then I started hitting road construction. The kind where you have to wait for a pilot vehicle to bring you through. My first time, it was pretty interesting. Hit a few of these and one was quite muddy, causing me to slide around a little. Eventually I made it to Whitehorse and decided to throw in the towel. I was too cold to keep pushing on, and it was almost ten o'clock although you wouldn't have guessed.
The hotel I stopped at was like an arctic base. I liked it, and they even let me put the motorcycle in their underground garage parking.
37 North has some views...
I'm not sure why this trash can in the middle of nowhere is decorated, but it is and I like it.
Made it to the Yukon.
This was around 11:30-12 at night.
Day 25 June 4th - 588 miles
There I was, standing over my motorcycle resting on it's side for the second time of the trip. However, this time it was my fault. It sat there resting on my pannier full of expensive electronics, angled downhill, the recently filled tank leaking out. All because I decided to try and grab a photo of Destruction Bay, and my footing slipped in the process. Ah well, it happens. Adventure right!!
Earlier in the day I left Whitehorse without issue. I got to Haines Junction, where I took a break for some scenic shots. I also switched to my regular gloves as it was a little warmer then the previous days. When I saw this little pull off next to the water on Kluane Lake, I was torn between ignoring it to make good time, or stopping for a photo. I haven't been busting out the tripod and Canon enough, so at the last minute I pulled in. I was turning the bike around to get the angle I wanted (everyone knows the exhaust side is best) when my foot slipped and slid down the slight slope of the gravel parking.
I couldn't believe what a simple mistake I had just made. It was the first drop from me in 7,000+ miles. I guess that's not too bad, or so I told myself. I laughed it off until I realized I wasn't going to be able to pick my bike up. Even with removing luggage, my rib and the slope was making it tricky. Luckily there was a gentleman in a RV farther down the pull off, so I walked over and asked for help. He obliged with the muscle, and threw in some conversation for a few minutes. Eventually, I packed everything back on, took some out of focus photos and started heading west again.
Pretty smooth sailing after that. Eventually as I was getting closer to the border I discovered frost heaves. They weren't too bad in western Yukon though, and I had a truck in front of me that made it easier. Keeping an eye on it's suspension let me know when I would be hitting them. A slight worry about getting through the Alaskan border was in the back of my head. Sidd, a friend of mine I met in New Orleans would be joining me for the Dalton Highway. He recently moved for work up to Alaska, and by the time I was reaching the border he had already arrived in Fairbanks.
Once again, I had no issue other than a five minute wait for someone to appear. I also found myself engaged in friendly conversation for a few minutes once again. But I was on the move after that, in Alaska and heading for Fairbanks. It didn't feel like anything could stop me now. Although the frost heaves in Alaska were no joke. Quite a few times I was caught off guard, my bike launching in the air for a second, which doesn't feel nice when sitting. The seat would hit me hard enough that the rib was in pretty bad pain again. Dammit...
I arrived in Fairbanks around 10pm. Spent time catching up with Sidd, and then we went for some food and beers. Tomorrow was a break day. Getting Karoo 3s put on my bike, and getting some last minute supplies. We left the hotel bar late but I didn't even realize it. Sidd mentioned we better get some sleep and when he told me the time I was in shock. The sun was still setting at midnight, and when it does set it's just kind of twilight for a few hours. I officially was in the twilight zone, in more ways than one.
Finally putting that tripod to use.
That's not the right way... That view though!
The 49th state is my 43rd state.
Sidd joins the adventure on his GS1200 Adventure.
Yeah, over a month is a long pause in the report. Left Fairbanks and rode right out of internet access? Bike and computer stolen? Hit a moose on the highway?
Whatever, the dude has racked up some serious miles already.
His last update was on July 3rd.
Yes, all is good. Sorry for any cause of worry. Was riding from Anchorage to Seattle, and I'm also still working so I've been busy. For anyone not clear on my posts, last one was actually last week. Not in real time with the trip. Dates in the writing are for that day, not when I posted. Certainly would not have been able to post in real time with the amount of mileage per day I've been doing.
Great trip, cool ride report. I used to have an '06 Scrambler... curious to what are you carrying to handle a flat on the side of the road..? Ride safe, good luck with the rest of the adventure!
Btw, here is a pic of mine for all of you Scrambler lovers. Wish I had never sold her...
Sorry, I was looking at the June 4th
Day 26 June 5th
Break day!!! Sidd and I went to see Dan at Adventure Cycleworks to get my tires done. Sidd got his done the day before at a BMW dealer. He went with K60 Scouts. I was putting Karoo 3s on. In the process, it was pointed out that my rear brake pad was shot from the journey through Canada. Luckily Dan had exactly what I needed for my rear brake. He was a interesting guy too. Got my tires done and we talked for awhile. He let me drop off a bag of non essentials the next morning, since we wouldn't be camping.
Afterwards we went on the hunt for the some warmer thermal underwear for me. Then we spent the "night" preparing for the next day. The goal was to swing by Dan's drop off my Wolfman roll bag, then hit the Dalton Highway and get to Coldfoot/Wiseman to spend the night.
Day 28 June 6th
Took us a little longer to get on the road then expected. Stopped at Dan's to drop off my camping gear/non essentials. We'd (hopefully) be back in a few days to grab it and get our bikes pressure washed. After that we were heading to the Dalton Highway. Before 2 became Elliott Highway, we already hit construction. Waiting for a pilot vehicle, hitting some dirt/gravel already, adventure breakfast.
It was something around 80 miles to get to the start of the Dalton. Somewhere I had forgotten that. Once we had passed enough trucks, we were making good time on Elliott Highway. It was almost a great road. Had some scenery, sweeping curves, and frost heaves. Eventually we came to a sign for the Dalton Highway, so we pulled over to take a break and grab some photos. Met a couple in a beast of an expedition vehicle that gave us a report on the road. After a few minutes of chatting, it was time to begin.
The pavement runs out immediately, which I thought was cool! The speed limit on the entire road is 50mph, and certainly was not an issue on this nice hard packed dirt. When we first got on the Dalton Highway, we had beautiful blue skies. In fact, it wasn't that cold either. High 60s if my memory serves me right. Naturally, this would change at many points. Not too far in, the sky opened up with lite rain on us. The rain wasn't bad, but it must have rained already because the road turned to mud. Mud which quickly covered the entire front of my motorcycle so that Sidd ahead of me couldn't see my headlight. It also covered my visor, and didn't clean well with my glove, leaving me to ride with visor open.
The mud and rain didn't last too long. We found a pavement section at a great time to pass a truck. Otherwise it was hard packed dirt with pot holes. Really easy stuff. We approached Yukon River Camp and crossed the wooden bridge. Pulled in to get some gas for myself, and saw two other GS1200s on there way down. Pumping gas was interesting. Go inside, give them your card, go back outside and wait in line to use the pump, use it, take a picture, go inside to show them and pay. Afterwards back on the Dalton.
The scenery was great, and the road was starting to have more sections of loose gravel. Feel the front end wander a little, stand up and it isn't an issue. Those GS1200s are so front end heavy that it seemed to fare a little better in the gravel. At least on the front tire. We hit a patch where a bulldozer was adding dirt to the road. I didn't move over right after going around said bulldozer, and I found myself in the fresh deep dirt. Had to stay with it for a second as there was a bit of a ridge to cross over and it was so soft. Saw a spot where another bike had down the same move and used it to get back over.
We hit more varied road conditions. Lots of washboard, gravel, broken pavement, etc. Hit a portion under construction, but it wasn't bad. It switched between dry gravel and some mud, but traction felt fine. Afterwards we started getting a lot more asphalt, granted it wasn't in the best condition will all the potholes. But hey, it wasn't deep sand, thick clay mud, or that deep big rock gravel that feels like riding into a ball pit, so we'll take it! It wasn't long after that we got to the Arctic Circle. First time for both of us. No one in my family has been above the circle, and my brother thought that was the coolest thing ever. I guess I hadn't thought about it that much (he's the geography nerd).
Photos we took and hands we shook, then back on the road heading north. We got to Coldfoot shortly after that and stopped to get gas. We'd be staying at Wiseman for the night in a cabin. We hung out for a little bit as we had made good time getting there. Got a beer then headed to Wiseman to check in. We had to come back to Coldfoot, because you can't order off the menu until after 9pm (unless you're a truck driver). I thought that was kind of strange, but hey this road is for the truckers. You could do the buffet for $21 dollars, but hard pass. We came back after checking in for food and more beers.
Back at the cabin it was time to rest. We had heard that a few motorcyclist turned around at Antigun because the weather was bad, but we intended to push for Deadhorse for better or worst. I was 7k+ miles in at this point and willing to risk ruining my bike if I had to. However if it went like today, it'd be piece a cake. We were told it would get harder, but so far it was over hyped. Blame it on the good weather I guess.
The start of the Dalton Highway
Found some mud and saw some returning riders.
Crossing the Yukon River
Continuing down the Dalton Highway
The Arctic Circle
Nice!! I brought spoons, an air compressor, and spare tubes. So far my only flat was when I got back to New Orleans. Got another 3k+ miles till I'm back in New Orleans (Seattle currently) so hopefully my luck continues! ::knocks on wood::
Oooooh jinxed yourself there!
Great set up, pics and writing. Really enjoying tagging along. Looking fwd to more!
Enjoy seeing the Street Scrambler getting some serious action. I love mine.
Sorry for the slow roll out currently. Working from the road and traveling back to New Orleans is keeping me busy, and I haven't had enough time to sit down and continue hammering this out. The good news for those enjoying the trip, getting to Deadhorse is only the halfway mark! I should be home in slightly over a week, so I'll be cracking down to get the return trip out as soon as possible.
Day 28 June 7th
In the morning, after the bikes were packed, Sidd took advantage of the free pancakes on offer while chatting with the family that owns the cabins. A german family that enjoyed living off the grid. Of course not just off the grid, but pretty remote as well. A few hundred miles from the nearest grocery store. Sidd likes the idea of that. I'm not against it, but I also enjoying living in a fun city.
A good chunk of the road after Wiseman was paved, so the day was starting off easy. Then it turned to gravel and a lot of washboard roads. Felt like being rattled to death. But hey, wasn't mud (or my real enemy, deep sand) and it wasn't too cold yet. It was high 50s or low 60s when we started for the day. It didn't take long till we hit Atigun Pass.
For us, there wasn't much difficulty with Atigun pass, especially not the view. It was getting a bit colder, but still wasn't too bad. No difficulty with the road and weather was fine. It would be a different story on the way back down. It got bumpier, colder, and there was more gravel/rocky bits as we continued north. Eventually I needed to use the extra gas we were carrying. We took breaks occasionally to take in the view, rests the butt cheeks, and warm up. Sidd even busted out binoculars when we saw some Dall Sheep on the mountains. Certainly looked like they were about to go over those ledges.
The land became flat as we were surrounded by Tundra. Getting closer and getting colder. We continued on in the barren land of the North Slope, Deadhorse in our sights. I was feeling pretty good at this point, albeit not the warmest. About thirty minutes away from our destination, we finally hit it. The exact mud rumored to be the king of mud sections. At this point, we had hit quite a few mud sections, but not like this. The minute we rode into it the bike started sliding around. I really had no idea how to tackle it other than to do my best not to crash and slide into the Tundra. I probably needed to stay standing, but fishtailing a few times I felt like I needed my legs to dab if necessary. It was nerve racking while riding through it, and I wouldn't be looking forward to going through it again tomorrow, but after 15 minutes or so it was over.
Shortly after that, an outpost appeared in the distance. We were arriving to Prudhoe Bay, the now official name and no one really uses. Deadhorse sounds cooler so I don't blame them. We found the Aurora Hotel, reluctantly coughed up the money rooms (separate with twin beds is all they had), and unpacked the bikes. I still had to do a few things for the challenge from the Iron Butt Association. Needed to find the one police officer in Deadhorse, get gas for my official stop time, and finally take a picture outside of the Prudhoe Bay General store. Once all of that was done, it was time to celebrate.
We ate too much in the cafeteria and then we hung out in our rooms. I brought Jameson that I had purchased in Key West all the way to Alaska to toast with. Sidd went to sleep while I transferred video from all my devices onto my hard drive. Had to make room for tomorrow, as we hoped to ride back to Fairbanks in one shot. It as past midnight and very bright still, when rest finally came for me. In the morning we took the shuttle to the Arctic Ocean. I started off the challenge camping in Key West on the Atlantic Ocean, and now here I was standing in the Arctic Ocean. It certainly felt really good. 7,404.4 miles since leaving Key West, 8,415.4 since beginning the trip.
Now I just needed to turn around, and start making my way back to the Big Easy.
Leaving Wiseman in the morning
Riding on the other side
Tundra for days (notice the Muskox?)
The Prudhoe Bay General Store
The Arctic Ocean
A rough route of what I've done to get here
Day 29 June 9th - 495 miles
Despite the lack of darkness, I got a good 7+ hours of sleep. I woke up and started packing, as we had a 8:30am shuttle to the Arctic Ocean. No need for breakfast because we had stuffed our face holes last night. We rode over to Deadhorse Camp to get the shuttle. Did the whole Arctic Ocean experience, it was cool, it was expensive, there wasn't any polar bears. It was a must for me though, having come all this way.
When it was done, we were getting back on the "road" after 11:00 am. A bit of a late start considering we were hoping to go all the way to Fairbanks. I dialed up Caitlyn to chat while we readied the bikes and go on our way. I stayed on the phone until a few minutes outside of Deadhorse when I no longer had service. One thing I had worried about was the mud from the day before. It had been on the back of my mind since we had hit it yesterday. We slid through it alright enough, but I wasn't looking forward to hitting it again. I hoped it had improved since the day before. I just when I thought it had been too long and wasn't going to be an issue, we found it again.
Same slippery snot, same sliding around trying not to end up off the road and in the Tundra. Once again I didn't enjoy this portion very much. Stay focus, react as necessary, and it'll be ok. We made it through without an incident and continued on our way. Once we were back to gravel and washboard dirt, we picked up the speed and made good time. We weren't too far North of Atigun Pass when we noticed a large storm brewing in our path. Wasn't much to do other than pull over to put our waterproofs on and prepare for the inevitable.
It wasn't too bad, other than being cold, wet, poor visibility, etc. My winter/waterproof gloves were being a pain, so I didn't wear them. Couldn't see out of my visor a good chunk of the time, so rode with it up. Road didn't feel to bad though. There were a few slick spots, the washboard sections continued to rattle bike and rider apart. At one point my license plate broke off, so I strapped it to the back of my luggage. The mount for one of my hand guards came undone and disapeared, and my camera's tripod rattled apart. Once we made it up and over Atigun Pass for the final time the rain cleared up. It's not too long until you find yourself back on a stretch of payment and back to Coldfoot.
We took a decent break there and saw a few riders while hanging out. One on a KLR650, two on F800 GS BMWs. We had passed a rider earlier too. I think we had been the only riders going up the day we did, so it was nice to see some riders out again. Eventually we got back on the road heading south. I took over leading for a little bit, which in hindsight was a bad idea. Sidd had been doing an excellent job keeping a good pace. I was thinking about the time, and how tired I was, and thoroughly enjoying the easier section while pretending I was a rally racer. At times I was doing about 80mph, but staying steady between 60-70mph.
While it lasted, it was certainly fun. Hit some gravel and stand up. Let the bike move below you and increase the throttle. Gravel turns into a mud section, slow down a little and point the front where I need it to go. Back to solid dirt, open the throttle again. Made really good time but also was going too fast that I saw a few potholes too late to avoid at my speed. Whoops...
When we stopped at Yukon River Camp for gas and a quick break, we noticed how bent my rims are. If you looked close enough, you could see the tube in my front tire... I wasn't feeling so good about my time now. Doh! Once I move again I was paranoid of my tire popping of the rim at any moment. Luckily my paranoia was wrong, and all was fine. We made it to the start of the Dalton Highway around midnight. Awesome, but we still had 80 miles or so till Fairbanks. We kept up a good pace and eventually reached Fairbanks. Being too tired to eat, we didn't bother and got a hotel room at the same place we had stayed before. By 2am we were out, sleeping away during the twilight that they call night here.
Found the mud again...
Sidd pointing in the direction we are heading.
Stopping in Atigun Pass
The aftermath, and it's almost midnight.
The Dalton Highway has been scrambled!!
Day 30 June 10th - 504 miles
We awoke shortly before checkout, and well, we checked out. Had to had back over to Dan's to get my Wolfman roll bag and get our bikes rinsed off. It was Sunday, and we both had to work the next day. I could technically work from anywhere, but money was running low and I had a plan later in the week that I needed some dough for. Sidd gracefully offered to put me up for a few days in Soldotna, in the Kenai Peninsula. He has a much more important job to be at, though he has some flexibility because of his position. Either way, he ideally needed to be home as early as possible to get some needed rest before work. By the time we would pass Anchorage, we'd have essentially cut the state in half within two days, because we're hardcore or something? Or more realistically, just unable to with work lives getting in the way. Having passed through Denai National Park, it would have been nice to spend a few days there.
Naturally, early in the day we hit some bad rain storms. We pulled over for a few minutes, discussed comfort levels with riding in heavy rain, put our rain gear on and then kept riding. Of course, Murphy's law struck and not long down the road it cleared up. I have a hunch that had we been riding with our rain gear on in the first place, it wouldn't have rained at all. Seems to be how it works sometimes. Silly universe...
I got a quick glance at Anchorage as we passed through it. There's only one road to Soldotna, but boy is it epic. Shortly after passing through Anchorage, you end up on this beautiful road. Snow covered mountains on your left, water on your right, and past the water more snow covered mountains. Remove all cars and speed limits and it would be a great time. A few times we came across construction, and would have to wait for the pilot vehicle to take us through some dirt and mud. First the sunset around midnight, and then the Alpenglow afterwards painted the mountain tops a pinkish orange. It was absolutely stunning.
It was however getting cold. We got to Sidd' place a little past 1:00am, and it was after 2:00am when I finally went to sleep. Four hours till I had to get my brain operating at full speed for my job.
Break: June 11th to July 2nd
I spent Monday and Tuesday working from Sidd's house, and then late Tuesday night I hit the road. Wednesday the 12th was my 35th birthday, but more importantly that Friday was Caitlyn's birthday. I had already made up my mind to spend all day Wednesday flying home to surprise her, I didn't want to not be there for her. I had a work trip in Indiana the next week anyway. So I'd fly home for a few days, then fly to Indiana for about five days, then back to New Orleans for a few days, then fly back to Alaska. I have a friend in the Air Force who is stationed in Anchorage, and although she was out of town at the time, she let me leave my Triumph in her garage.
So I road through the night, again on that beautiful road, and got to her place around 2:00am. Got inside, left my bike in the garage, and got a Lyft to the airport. First flight was 5:00am: Worked from airports and plane wifi all day. It took three flights, and I think about 12 hours of flight time, but by 10pm I was arriving in the Big Easy. Called her up when I was outside the apartment and she was about to go to bed because she had four shifts straight. It was nice a surprise, and as always it was nice to be around her again. Work trip was meh, but it's Fort Wayne Indiana so that's to be expected.
By the end of June I flew back to Anchorage. I had about a week to prep, see some of Anchorage with my friend Jen, and then start my return trip on the 3rd of July. Finally saw a grizzly and a polar bear at the Zoo. After watching two grizzlies fight, I thought perhaps it's best I didn't get to see one in the wild.
Almost at Denali National Park
The mountains on our way to Soldotna
My poor front rim
Back in New Orleans for Caitlyn's birthday dinner
Back with the animals as well
Saying goodbye again