Moto Kuchi: A sojourn through the entrails of North America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ironbutt1272, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    As we launch off on the first line of this saga, there are two principles in action that guide the entire course of travel history as lived out by the author, whom you may have deduced by now, is me. These principles are:

    1. There is no such thing as a boring trip, only boring people travelling
    2. If you are going to be stupid, you’d better be tough
    Some years ago, as I slowly lurched toward fulfilling my role in gnawing at the ever - diminishing resources of the US Social Security system, I determined to do a motorcycle trip of somewhat less than epic proportions when circumstances allowed. You see, I have lived most of my working life outside my native land of the United States. Going through immigration and customs, processing work and residence visas, learning languages and becoming immersed in other cultures….all of this has dominated most of my adult life. I have been welcomed to live and work in many countries and cultures, including those that the official US policy is suspicious of. So no, I felt no need for a RTW trip….and I’ve already ridden motorcycle in Japan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus, and of course the United States.

    Therefore, I decided it would be a great trip to ride across the northern tier of Canada from the east to west coast…same continent but still a true adventure. However, as I drew upon my experience growing up on a mosquito farm in northern Minnesota, my instincts for survival kicked in. I realised that the mosquito population in eastern Canada would pretty - well suck dry my hepatitis, malaria and typhoid riddled blood supply. But while the belching would signify that at least the appetites of a few are satiated, the thought of being cudgelled by swarms of hockey stick wielding mosquitoes in the Yukon because I had no blood left to give was more than my constitution could bear. There is an endless supply of those little drones who would consider my blood as a culinary delight, and they don’t take it lightly when the food runs out. And so, straight to Western Canada and the awaiting challenges of the Dempster Highway, and then, if possible, on to Alaska.

    While pondering the prospect of fending off Canada’s finest, I mentioned to my nephew White Bear a desire to do this sort of trip. He is a better rider than me, can fix things, and is fun to be around.….so we agreed to go together. HimalayaJim, another friend, work colleague and kindred spirit, who recently finished up an international career similar to mine, was also keen. So, the threesome was set, and planning commenced via skype from Virginia, Minnesota and Afghanistan.

    Now, the reader should be forewarned that we are not previous winners of the Dakar. White Bear (age 44) owns a KTM 520 and an inherited Harley testosterone pump, has ridden a fair bit of off road in the Black Hills, Utah and Colorado and likely other places, but also the 300 mile stretches of Minnesota highways that have nary a curve. HimalayaJim (a few months older than me) has ridden in India, Nepal and the US but not sure where else.

    My riding resume includes a masochistic journey from Minnesota to Seattle to California and back on my trusty 1975 Honda XL350. I won’t give details, but memories included a 1.8 gallon gas tank during a period of gas shortages, a lariat wrapped around my headlight in case I had to be dragged gas-less across the Nevada desert or Bonneville Salt Flats, bicycle saddlebags draped over the gas tank, a seat narrow enough that it could have been used to cut bread, and a blaze orange Belstaff knock – off that welcomed rain to its inner – most sanctum like a long lost brother. Toughness overcame stupidity and I successfully completed the journey, arriving back home with $12 in my pocket…this was before the days when credit cards were introduced as the curriculum to educate those wallowing in principle #2 above on the joys of 18% interest for unpaid balances.

    I am also a member of the Iron Butt Association, having ridden 1,272 miles from Hermantown MN to Germantown MD in a 23-hour period on my trusty ’87 BMW K75S, in my opinion a bold – font member of the “Great Motorcycles” list. Again, this was not the result of thorough planning, I simply decided to do the ride after having already completed an undocumented day of more than 1,000 miles earlier in the trip. The plan and execution were simple: 70 mph = 53 mpg; 80 mph = 38 mpg. Ride far, not fast. Beware those rural areas where the only stop light in town is situated on the top of the local police car. Going faster may require a contribution to the local economy through the diligence of said officers lurking behind bushes with radar gun in hand (well, I assumed it was a radar gun……). No fine, all fine.

    The most recent trip, albeit short but tough, was September of 2018 when HimalayaJim and I met in Nepal and took the opportunity to go on a three - day ride through the eastern hills and up to the Tibetan border. “A piece of cake” you say. Well, sections of the road would say “No cake for me, thank you”. Riding two Royal Enfield Bullet 350s over sections of “roads” long since destroyed was enough of a challenge for us. Caution was the watchword for the day, as we traversed rocks, dust, landslides, all the while peering over the edge of the road to the post – monsoon Bhote Kosi (river) rushing below that would have sloshed us all the way through India to the Bay of Bengal. One 30 mile stretch of the trip took us 5 hours to navigate. That could have been a much faster journey for many, especially on the right kind of bike. But with 131 years of age between the two of us, we were keenly aware that we break, not bend or bounce, so speedy get offs were to be avoided if at all possible.
    Bikes on Bridge.jpeg
    And the trusty Enfield steed (fantastic, actually) is a unique beast because for all intents and purposes it has no suspension, and to ride fast would have resulted in our buttocks being driven up the spine to the point where we would look like hooded cobras read to strike. Also, the foot pegs stick out far enough to remind one of Boeing 747 wings….not to take flight, but to bludgeon every unsuspecting rock, hump or clump of dirt that got in its way. Enfields are the donkey of motorcycles, but quite frankly, much of the world relies on donkeys , who deserve high praise for keeping a large portion of the homo sapien population above ground. Thank you, Royal Enfield. Here’s Hee Haw to you.

    Enfield Bullet.jpeg
    And just to make it clear, I don’t do Starbucks, bar hopping, Sturgis or Daytona Bike Week. I ride to ride…no stereo, cruz control, electronic this or computerised that (other than basics). My journeys are the outcome of the common commiseration of brain, wrist and butt….coalescing to provide freedom of movement, thought, and spirit.
  2. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    So, to return to the current itinerary. I am starting from the state of Virginia and will sojourn to Minnesota and meet up with White Bear. Then, having survived the unending excitement of traversing 1,000 miles of arrow – straight road (think of it as the “tail of the tapeworm”), we will be meeting HimalayaJim at some yet – to – be – determined rendezvous somewhere around Glacier National Park in Canada before gracing the good neighbours further north with our presence.

    At some later time in this epic I may go into more detail on preparation and equipment, but at this junction shall only cover a few of the more insightful decisions based on Principles #1 and #2 included at the start of this report.

    Bear Spray: Having grown up in the north country where all the men are strong, all the women are good looking, and all the children above average, we were taught to shoot anything that moves, doesn’t move, or could move if ambulatory, carried, pulled or pushed. Alas, the Canadians frown on arrival with an arsenal however, so “bear spray” is about as tough as it gets.

    Bear Spray.jpg

    But not for this guy. I know that when Griz comes a’callin, the spray will be in the bottom of the bag and a chancy option at best even if close at hand, especially if mistakenly substituted by a can of WD 40. Therefore, I have been taking an online course entitled “Bear Anatomy” (kinda like bare anatomy but different). Why? I am operating under the assumption that every male mammal, with a good whack in the testicles, will experience diminished ardour for combat to devote full attention to those cajones that have become the epicentre of the altercation. So, I’m practicing my kicks and punches to the appropriate areas in the bear’s anatomy. This, of course, only works when the bear is a male, and thus the bear spray is not without its merits.

    Bikes: The Enfield, though a tempting companion, is not included in the final selection by HimalayaJim and me because we need to finish this trip within our current lifetime. The KTM, while an excellent bike, is not the right model steed for White Bear to lope across the tundra on the way to Tuk. Nope, we’re gonna go the popularity route.

    White Bear has opted for a 2008 KLR 650, previously owned by an airplane mechanic. Being a big guy, seat height is a non - issue for him. Meticulously cared for, the KLR came pretty well outfitted for such a journey, including tank bag and soft bags. It had not yet had that most sophisticated of modifications though, the “doohickey fix”. But White Bear, having been endowed with “fixy fingers”, is doing that now.

    Scott Bike Sample.jpeg

    HimalayaJim and I will both be riding the German – birthed BMW 650 GS, circa 2006 and 2009, which have been “Stabil” - fed during extended periods of storage while we worked overseas. These bikes became our ride of choice based on positive responses to three questions: 1) “Does it have a motor?”; 2) “Can I flatfoot both feet while sitting on the seat?”; and 3) “Do we already own it?” In my case, with 430 lbs of bike, 200 lbs of ballast (me) and 120 lbs of ballast support, sliding off to the side of the seat in order to get one toe on the ground to hold up 750 lbs is a non – starter. The GS 650 is a great bike for the average rider who wants to put feet to terra firma while seated squarely on the machine.

    Jim's bike side view.JPEG
    Though the quality is high, there are a couple of caveats to take note of. First, there is a BMW aura of “dealer serviced” that I don’t fully subscribe to. I’ve owned BMWs for 20 years, and only once have I taken it in to an authorised dealer….and it was a Lazarus – type experience. The bike goes into the service area sick, and comes out healed……..”Lazarus, come out”, and I am none the wiser in seeing first – hand what ailed Lazarus or what magical ministrations resulted in the healing. Even going to a BMW dealer – sponsored event, the one business card that ends up on my windshield is for a bike hauling service. I like to observe, learn, and find the stuff I can do myself. That of course, isn’t the dealer service department’s job, so I look elsewhere.

    When I’m on the road, the thought of hauling a sick bike for hundreds of miles to the nearest dealer is a no no. So, I buy the manuals and search the web and learn to do at least the basic maintenance and repair by myself. I also learn about the psychology of the BMW (and Rotax) engineers, who must break out in peals of laughter every time they think of servicing these bikes. On my GS, just an oil change requires draining at three separate locations; the tank hidden under the left side plastic fairing panel that must first be removed, the drain plug at the bottom of the engine that spews onto the skid plate, and the oil filter on the right side of the engine that can dribble down the cover.[1] The human body is an engineering marvel, and most bodily functions require only a single orifice to get the job done, and many are able to multi-task. Thus, I am thankful that our Creator did not subcontract the body - design job to the BMW / Rotax design engineers (at least those dealing with oil changes). And as the “do – it – yourselfer” has learned, all of the dissembling to keep the thumper thumpin’ takes time and increases dealer labour costs. The labour cost for the oil change at the dealer would likely be enough to pay off the national debt of Venezuela and still have enough left over for a seat on a rocket to the international space station. Nope, self - sufficiency is the watchword on the Dempster.

    Bike Photo GS Model.jpg

    And, there is no way that BMW Motorrad will allow “doohickey” into their lexicon. Yes, you might have to replace the “pfuftenplinkerstubagorbenstreiber” by foraging through plastic, bolts, hoses and wires, all the while wielding your trusty magnet like a water diviner to fish out dropped bolts and screws that succumb to the wiles of gravity. And who can forget savouring that “eureka!” moment when you arrive at the spot, only to find that some special tool not resident in your toolbox is required to get the job done. But be truthful, how can “doohickey” compete with that?

    Scheduling and Itinerary: The short answer is “none”. We will leave and we will return (well, the first is certain, the second is still up for debate). Objectives are prioritised as follows: 1) get to Tuk; 2) get to Tuk; 3) get to Tuk; and 4) see other stuff. I have set aside up to two months to do the trip. If the weather is bad on the Dempster we will wait it out. Remember, we are in the breaking, not bending, age bracket. And, we have no desire to morph into pack donkeys (or Enfields, for that matter) through a multi – kilometre quagmire, so we will take our time.

    We have prepared, not planned. Camping gear and cooking equipment, 60 bags of freeze-dried food, tools, spare parts, manuals and guidebooks. We are poised to parry and thrust with many, though not all, contingencies.

    May 30th, and tomorrow is the big day of departure. The past two years has been spent dreaming, and this past year up to today committed to getting equipment and supplies, enough to ride my 50 horsepower steed into the current plethora of storms lurking in the Midwest waiting to pounce while making my way to the rendezvous with White Bear in Minnesota. The stuff is bought, the bags lie open, in wait for those last bits and pieces to be weighed for load balance. Loaded, photo at the start, and off down US 50 I go.
    68vette likes this.
  3. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    The Ride

    May 31, 2019

    Departure day. The past years have been spent dreaming, and this past year up to today committed to getting equipment and supplies. Now is time for execution.

    The bike is loaded, and suddenly the reality of a 29” inseam trying to get one appendage over the 31” seat with miniscule room to operate is in play. Large bag in front, large bags on the sides behind, and large bags on the back seat. I will be penned in. But I manage to mount, have a few photos taken, give my goodbyes, and I’m off.

    Virginia launch.jpg

    Winchester VA to Lawrenceburg, IN

    467 miles on US 50 all the way.

    Beautiful ride through the mountains. US 50 through West Virginia and southern Ohio is a very pleasant ride. Even the ride on US 50 through Cincinnati was nice. Averaging 62 – 70 mpg.

    Arrived in Lawrenceburg, Indiana quite tired and checked into a hotel. Took the first load of bags up to my room. Then went for the second load. Was walking across the next-door Burger King drive - through order point when a guy in a van stopped and asked if I needed some food. I thanked him but said I could get food and eat inside.

    Two things come to mind: I must have looked a mess (and this is only day 1!), and he must have been a compassionate guy.

    June 1, 2019

    Lawrenceburg, IN to Maquoketa, IA

    540 miles: Lawrenceburg to North Vernon on 7 to Columbus, 46 to Terre Haute, 150 to Paris, 16 to Pana, 29 to Springfield, 125 to Beardstown, 67 to Davenport, 61 to Maquoketa.

    My original plan, concocted in the comfort of my home, was to ride across on US 50 to East St Louis and then turn north But I realised that route would take too long and decided to leave US 50 and angle northwest through the countryside. It was a lovely ride, mostly small curving roads embraced by lines of green trees. Recommendation; avoid the northern Interstates across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Take the southern routes on small roads….I have a new appreciation for the beauty of those states and the terrain is for lovely motorcycle rides.

    Coming through the Quad Cities was a bit of a let-down. At the end of State Road 67, which T junctions left to Rock Island and right to Moline, I turned left and picked the losing ticket, having to traverse Rock Island rather than turning right and hitting the bye-pass around Moline. But I found my way through and joined US 61, which was mostly four lanes. The bugs came out in force and must have spent the night having a funeral for their buddies, while I slept soundly in the motel. I assume that bug funeral dirges are a quiet affair.

    June 2, 2019

    Maquoketa IA to Greenbush, MN

    669 miles: Maquoketa to Twin Cities on 61; 694 around periphery, 10 to Detroit Lakes, 59 to TRF, 32 to Greenbush.

    Highway 61 winds through rural Wisconsin and it is a lovely ride. Small towns, rolling hills, forested slopes and nice farmsteads are a pleasure to ride through. Crossing the Mississippi at La Crosse Wisconsin showed just how much water is moving through the river due to all the rain and spring melt from further north. Coupled with the overabundance of rain across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, it’s going to be a rough time for farmers and agriculture communities if the crops don’t do well, and on June 2 it wasn’t looking good over large swathes of areas I rode through.

    I had to bite the bullet and circumvent the Twin Cities on the 694 bypass because of all the construction through the middle of the city. But then I connected with US 10 and was off on familiar roads. Nothing eventful on that section so familiar to me, and I arrived at White Bear’s around 7:30 pm.

    June 3 – June 7, 2019

    This time at White Bear’s focused on finalising bike prep. In addition to the work on the bike I’d done before departure, we did a fresh oil / filter change, checked and retained the front 16 tooth sprocket in order to have lower revs on highway stretches, and mounted the Mitas E07 and E07+ tires and heavy - duty tubes. All three of us used Mitas and heavy duty tubes, and entire new vocabularies emerged as we struggled to mount then on the rims. But they performed flawlessly.

    Back On The Road

    June 8, 2019

    Greenbush to Swift Current, SK 620 Miles

    Highway 32 to County Road 4 to US 59. Cross into Canada. 59 to 23, then across to SK 21 to 2. At Weyburn on to 39 to Moose Jaw. Trans Canada 1 to Swift Current

    Rendevous 1_MN.jpg

    This was the first day to ride with White Bear. His passport had expired but the Canadian border immigration officers didn’t notice or at least say anything, so we were off. The US border patrol may be less accommodating, but White Bear does have his birth certificate with him and after due process will be let back into the US.

    The open spaces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan allow the winds to attack relentlessly. Gas mileage drops to 46 mpg, and there is little joy in pounding over bad roads while fending off the wind, rain…battling mother nature makes for a grim day.

    We arrive in Swift Current in the evening and checked in to the Safari Inn. Nice people, nice place for our needs.

    June 9, 2019

    Swift Current to Cranbrook BC. 440 Miles

    Trans Canada 1 to Lethbridge, then 3 to Cranbrook.

    We were finally in the mountains, and at one point on 3 we reached the snow line. The taste for riding through the mountains was whetted, and the winds of the plains, though remembered, were replaced by anticipation of the ride going forward.

    Stayed at Flamingo Inn. Nice people. Nice place.

    June 10, 2019

    Cranbrook to Osoyoos. 290 Miles

    We continued on Highway 3, enjoying the beautiful scenery. The temps were quite high but if we kept moving it was OK.

    Arriving in Osoyoos, it was time for Rendezvous #2 with HimalayaJim, who rode from Seattle.

    Rendezvous 2_Osoyoos.jpg
    After meeting at the Visitors’ Centre, we ended up camping at Cabana Campground. The owners were outstanding, allowing us to pitch three tents on one site, stopped by to check on us and chat a bit, and were generally lovely people. They set the bar high for subsequent stays.

    We met a young woman camping near us who was riding her bicycle in the western part of Canada, and at some point wants to complete crossing the country on bike. We immediately hit it off when I learned she is of Romanian heritage, and we are both admirers of Cluj city in Romania. We exchanged contacts and updated each other on our travels.

    Osoyoos Campground.jpg
    June 11, 2019

    Osoyoos to Revelstoke. 231 miles.

    Rode on 97 to Sicamous, and the scenery was spectacular, giving us a foretaste of the things to come.

    Kalamaika Lake_BC.jpg
    Then turned on to Canada 1 toward Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. Stopped for gas in Revelstoke and asked about camping. A Mountie recommended the Canyon Hot Springs Resort in Albert Canyon between Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks.

    Very nice place, but expensive for what we needed. Tenting site was large and would easily have accommodated three tents, but they said we had to take two sites. Access to facilities and the hot spring was cost extra so we passed.

    Hot Springs Campground.jpg
    After setting up, we discovered trains running right next to the campground, blaring away as they roared by. The evening mosquitoes came to visit. I don’t know whether they paid to dine on us or use our camp site. But they disappeared later in the eve, so the humming stopped, and we got to have a clear sound of trains running by.

    June 12, 2019

    Hot Springs to Hinton: 322 miles on Highways 1, 93 (Ice Fields Parkway) and 16 to Hinton.

    Glacier National Park.jpg
    Glacier National Park was beautiful, and then on to the Icefields Parkway. At the Info Centre between Glacier and Lake Louise, we were told that Lake Louise access, located 3 km south of the intersection, is very busy and Banff is overly touristed, so we gave that a miss and turned north. I’ve done the Icefields Parkway including Lake Louise before, and the other two guys can go at a different time. Been there, done that strikes again.

    Box Lake_Ice Fields.jpg
    Between Box Lake and the Icefields Interpretation Centre, someone in a blue car with Saskatchewan plates decided to pass me in a “no passing” zone with a car oncoming, so I squeezed to the right of the lane, the oncoming car squeezed to the outside of their lane, and the foolish one sped through the middle. It was one of those times when its temping to follow them until they stop in order to give a robust lesson in road rules and etiquette, but the boys were following a ways behind so the temptation was quickly quelled, and I did not want to follow them back to the windy plains.

    Athabasca Glacier_Icefields Parkway.jpg
    Decided to forgo camping and get a motel for the evening. Got to Jasper, no bookings, few vacancies and no rates we were looking for, and the sidewalks filled with tourists. Not for us, so having lost an hour entering Mountain Standard Time, we climbed back on the bikes at 8:30 PM and headed off on Canada 16 toward Hinton, 76 kms (about 47 miles). Arrived at 9:45…the slowness caused by the almost continuous speed reductions for construction and other reasons I was unable to determine.

    The turnoff to Highway 40 is 2 km before entering Hinton, with a sign “Scenic Road to Alaska”. That is tomorrow. Stayed at the Crestview Motel, a very congenial owner.

    June 13, 2019

    Hinton to Grande Prairie, 234 miles. Highway 40.

    The road runs through beautiful scenery, but the winds were very strong. HimalayaJim’s bike’s front end is significantly affected by cross winds and we didn’t figure out why. Its setup is basically the same as mine, and I could ride one handed while he struggled even with two on anything above 45 mph in the strong wind.

    Grand Prairie is a busy oil town with lots of traffic and little aesthetic draw, so we move through as quickly as possible.

    Following a discussion on schedules, HimalayaJim decides to travel at a slower pace so we will separate, as doing the Dempster is the goal and he may not do it if the bike isn’t sorted.

    Stay at Saskatchewan Island Provincial Park. Only basic facilities but nice.
    Suncoaster likes this.
  4. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    And Then There Were Two

    June 14, 2019

    Grande Prairie to Fort Nelson: 363 miles. Highway 97

    White Bear and I bid adieu to HimalayaJim, who is still at the campsite when we leave. The weather was variable. Sunny skies, followed by rain and mud, then more sun. It was stop and go changing from balaclava and gloves for rain, then off in the sun. But we didn’t get wet and ended the day sunny and dry.

    At Deer Creek we started at Mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway that runs to Fairbanks, Alaska. During the trip I would ride the entire length of the Highway, except for a few kilometres when the road ends in Fairbanks.

    Alaska Highway Start.jpg
    Camped at the Triple G Hideaway, full of RVs, and for the first time for us, quite a group of motorcycle riders who were heading up to the Dust to Dawson motorcycle gathering to be held in Dawson City June 20 – 21.

    June 15, 2019

    Ft Nelson to Watson Lake: 319 miles, all on Highway 97. There was quite a lot of road construction, so we got to practice riding on gravel, similar to the Dempster.

    One hour out of Ft Nelson I am riding in the lead and White Bear’s headlight disappears, then reappears and disappears again. I pull over at a wide out and White Bear comes rumbling up. His bike’s electricals have been shorting out, so we pull out the tools and he goes about diagnosing the problem. 30 minutes later we are on the road sans his lights working, but further on he hotwires the headlight so rides only without a taillight (brake lights work), but this isn’t a real problem when we have light 24 hours a day.

    Over the course of the 15th and 16th ride we saw perhaps 12 bears, a bison and her calf, mountain goats and a large big horned sheep. Also, a couple of porcupines that were unsuccessful crossing the road.

    Stayed in the Watson Lake campground 4 km out of town. Nice and quiet, basic facilities.

    Watson Lake Camping.jpg
    June 16, 2019

    Watson Lake to Whitehorse: 280 miles, all on Highway 97.

    Staying at the Elite Hotel the nights of June 16 and 17. The 16th is Father’s Day so we wanted to have good connectivity to link up with family.

    30 miles outside of Whitehorse we pull into a rest stop beside the Yukon River. My quick perusal of the site reveals two adults and two small children milling around some incredible bicycles. Curiosity gets the best of me, and it was worthwhile.

    German Family Bicyclists.jpg

    Papa and mama are taking their two small children ages 3 and 1 on a 2 ½ year - long bicycle trip, starting in Whitehorse and ending at the southern – most point of the Tierra del Fuego. They had left Whitehorse three days ago so were still in the pains of settling in on the ride. For anyone who has travelled with infants and small children in a car for some distance, the experience is unforgettable. This family, with the tykes including diaper draped son….well, it is more than I can fathom. They want to finish before the daughter has to start school in three years.

    Back on the bikes and on to Whitehorse. We checked into the Elite Hotel, as I had done an online booking and captured the last room available.

    The hotel has self – serve laundry facilities. After wearing the same base layer riding garments for 9 days (ahem, except for a frequent change of quick - dry underwear), they are starting to argue with me about the daily grind…no earned leave at all.

    In the evening we head out for a sashimi / sushi / sake dinner. Back when the world was young I lived in Japan, so introduce White Bear to the culinary delights. For being a fair distance from the ocean and freshly caught fish, it was a lovely meal. There were several young Japanese working there so I got in a bit of language practice.

    June 17, 2019

    Today, we sleep a little longer, do laundry, take a walk around town, check out the bikes and do a bit of adjusting.

    Whitehorse has become quite a destination. Later in the trip I was to learn that there are direct flights from Germany to Whitehorse, which explains the ease of access for international travel and the many Germans in the area in RV’s, cars, motorcycles, bicycles. It’s nice to be in a very international environment.

    We finish the day with repacking and getting ready for the ride to Dawson and the start of the Dempster.

    Whitehorse Totem.jpg

    At the end of the day HimalayaJim contacts us. He has decided to go slower and will look for some good fishing rather than try to catch up with us to do the Dempster. All is well, the night awaits, and tomorrow we are on the road again.
  5. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    June 18, 2019

    Whitehorse – Dawson City, 331 miles on Highway 2. Dawson City – Eagle Plains Lodge, 254 miles on Highway 2 and the Dempster.

    The destination is Dawson City and start of the Dempster. We make good time riding, and the 331 miles seems to go quickly. 25 miles from Dawson we pass the start of the Dempster but continue on to Dawson City and head for the Territorial Visitor’s Centre, the source of up to date information on the Dempster.

    The advice is helpful but varied. One summary by a pair of motorcyclists written on the 18th tells of some difficult, slippery sections. Highlighted in particular is the loose gravel from Inuvik to Tuk, with a comment being it is 5 – 6 inches deep with no bottom. An RVer says one section of the road between the start of the highway and Eagle Plains Lodge is very difficult, or at least was one day before.

    Walking outside at 5:00 in the afternoon, knowing that night comes without accompanying darkness, clouds in the sky including some dark in the distance, Wheat Bear says “Let’s go for it”. On the first part of the Dempster there are campsites at Tombstone Provincial Park, and some very basic ones at Engineer’s Creek. Now that the day is finally here, it is no time for me to “chicken out”, so harnessed to White Bear’s enthusiasm, I crawl back on the bike and we do the return 25 miles ride to the official start of the Dempster. In the distance some clouds show a dark, threatening face with intermittent blue sky, cumulus clouds floating by, and our eyes trying to figure out if rain is hitting the Dempster.

    The Boys Dempster Sign.jpg
    And so it begins. To the north where the road winds is a lovely, lightly clouded sky. In fact, the first few miles of the road are wet, whether because of rain or spreading calcium carbide, but not a problem. Suddenly the road is dry but hardpacked and we build up speed to average approximately 45 mph. Areas that we had been told were problematic had hardened and riding in the evening with little traffic, no dust and the beautiful terrain was an absolute delight. We manage to stretch the gas in our tanks and find no need for the extra carried in plastic containers.

    Some of the most memorable parts of the road are those that meander along the tops of ridges, enabling the rider to see for miles in every direction. It is a motorcyclist’s dream, because it is easy to pay attention to the road while at the same time enjoy the panorama.

    Ogilvie Ridge sign Dempster.jpg
    Riding in the evening hours is extremely pleasant, as darkness never fully comes so it is possible to have good views 24 hours a day, weather permitting.

    Ogilvie Ridge Panorama 1.jpg
    Approximately 10:20 PM, five hours after starting the ride we arrive at Eagle Plains Lodge. I asked about camping sites but was told only to go search for myself as they were in the process of closing. There were no campsites available, so we found a patch of grass overlooking the valley and pitched tents. This also happened to be the worst night for mosquitoes. We manage to avoid letting them into the tents though sleep in the dark-less night comes slowly.

    June 19, 2019

    Eagle Plains Lodge – Inuvik, 227 miles on the Dempster

    We are up early, ready to ride at 6:30 AM. But there are delays. The gas station that closed at 10:00 PM the previous night doesn’t open until 8:00 AM and our bikes need fuel. Thankfully, the restaurant opens for breakfast at 7:00 AM, so we mill around awhile and eat before fueling up and heading out, destination Inuvik.

    Another pristine day for riding, some dust but a good road. The Arctic Circle is located 21 miles north of Eagle Plains, and we cross early in the day.

    Arctic Circle.jpg
    Ferry crossings at the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers go without a hitch and only short waits. We carry on and reach Inuvik around 3:30 PM. Stopping by the Visitors’ Centre is informative but proves a bit optimistic on accommodation options. We have a short chat with a fellow from Quebec travelling this circuitous route to the Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America on his outfitted KLR 650. Then to checking out motels, and the desk clerk at one seems ill – informed and ambivalent about room availability and fitness, another has only single rooms which results in higher costs. We head for the Jax Provincial Campground and find a nice spot for two nights so we can leave our luggage on the run up to Tuktoyaktuk.

    While walking from the showers back to our campsite I meet a fellow biker from Germany, who will loom larger in our adventure in the days to come. He shipped a Yamaha 660 Tenerife from Germany to Canada and will ride for two months per year and store the bike in the US.

    June 20, 2019

    Inuvik – Tuktoyaktuk – Inuvik, 188 miles roundtrip on the Dempster

    After hauling around 130 pounds of luggage on the bike for the past 20 days, it is remarkable how nimble and fun the now un-laden GS is as we mount up and head out for Tuk. Having read about the gravel on this section of road, I am a bit apprehensive on the amount of time it will take to ride the 94 miles each way. White Bear, well experienced in the craft of gravel cycling, says keep the speed up to at least 40 mph and the bike will stay on top of the gravel even if it wiggles around a lot. If the front end starts to squirm, crack the throttle to get it up and everything will be fine.

    We leave Inuvik at 8:30 and traffic is light. There is loose gravel on some sections of the road, but I am still waiting for the deep stuff that we were warned about. The entire trip up is without incident and I quickly get accustomed to riding at a good clip. The trip up takes us two hours.

    Tuk Sign.jpg
    Tuktoyaktuk…..we have finally arrived. Stop by the Visitors’ Centre and happen upon the staff member who gave us advice in Inuvik. We ride to the end of the spit where the “Arctic Ocean” sign is, take the requisite photos, and I stick my boot toe in the Arctic so I can bring completion to the theme “Toe in the ‘O”. The ambient temperature is about 6o C (43o F), and I don’t want to take off my boot to get my foot in directly.

    Scott Arctic Sign.jpg

    We go around the town to complete our “to do” list. Send postcards to a few people, buy some souvenirs at a local shop and at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police office, lunch at Grandma’s that consisted of taste testing beluga, scarfing down cheeseburgers and soft drinks. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming, and the RCMP stop was informative.

    The Inuvik – Tuk road was completed in Nov 2017 and maintained for one year by the construction contractor. Inevitably, toward the end of the year (Nov 2018) the contractor was cutting back on maintenance in order to improve the project’s balance sheet, so the road became quite difficult.

    Now, however, the NWT government is responsible and the road has had several improvements, including the gravelling so much talked about.

    Arctic Ocean.jpg

    3:00 PM and we start back to Inuvik. I find the ride to be more difficult this time, probably because the objective has been met and the adrenalin pump is slowing down. There are times when the handlebars jump around and the rear suspension pogos, but by this time my confidence allows for minimal panic attacks.

    The gravel on the road wasn’t a real issue for me, but there were two situations that were unnerving. The first is when meeting vehicles and they kick up a lot of dust. While riding in the loose gravel I would find a line from a previous tire track and ride it, but it is easy to lose that line when vision is obscured by dust. Either slow down or stop long enough for the dust to settle.

    The second situation is when concentrating on navigating the loose gravel, with only quick glances in the rear-view mirror. A few, not many though, of the locals don’t have lights on in their vehicles yet drive extremely fast, so suddenly a vehicle you hadn’t noticed is roaring by.

    In terms of difficulty, the county road White Bear lives on in Minnesota has much deeper and looser gravel than any part of the Dempster, and he can ride his Softail on it at speeds that would warrant a significant ticket and fine. Thus, I had a great mentor yet tempered by my wisdom and full acknowledgement of breakability.

    Back at the campground we celebrate a successful arrival at the Arctic Ocean. The German I met passed us on the way back to Inuvik from Tuk, riding his fully laden 660 Yamaha Tenerife.

    June 21, 2019

    Inuvik – Eagle Plains Lodge, 227 miles on the Dempster

    We pack up and leave Inuvik, planning to get to Dawson in one long day of riding. Gas up in Ft McPherson, cross the Mackenzie and Peel rivers again by ferry, and we are making good time.

    Off in the distance on the side of the road are three bikes, halted by some mechanical issue. Familiar faces. The German rider of the Yamaha had a flat tire. A KTM rider from British Columbia stopped to help him. After the tire was repaired, the KTM rider started off but his chain broke almost immediately. No extra link for the right size. The rider from Quebec stops and agrees to ride with the German the 40 miles (60 kms) to get help in Eagle Plains. They leave, we talk to the KTM rider briefly, then take off.

    Three miles further on two motorcycles on the side of the road. The German has another flat tire. This time White Bear and I stay to help while the Quebecker rides on to get assistance for the KTM rider. As we have the rear wheel off in a pitched battle trying to get the tube out, the KTM guy pulls up. He had taken a smaller size link and squeezed it on enough to get the chain back on and ride the bike slowly, so off he went while we resumed the tire repair. I was carrying a spare tube for the rear so put that on, pumped up the tire, and wallah, off we went. Once we caught up with the KTM rider, the German stayed with him while we rode on to Eagle Plains and set up camp.

    Eckhard good to go.jpg

    It was heartening to see that everyone who drove past while we were doing the tire repair stopped to check if we needed help. We had everything we needed, but the willingness to check was encouraging.

    The German and KTM riders arrive, and after setting up camp we spend the evening in the bar as guests of the German imbibing in good food and beer. It was a great evening of bonding, tale telling, and planning for the next day.

    June 22, 2019

    Eagle Plains Lodge – Dawson City, 254 miles on the Dempster and Highway 2

    The KTM guy heads out at 5:00 AM, wanting to be ahead of the pack in case the chain gives problems again, but he makes it to Dawson City and finds a link that fits from a guy in town, as there are no motorcycle dealers.

    The rest of us continue the ride south, this time with more traffic because we are riding mid-day, and the roads are dustier as there has been no rain. But it is a pleasant ride full of feel – good, and at 2:30 in the afternoon we reach the end of the road. What a relief and sense of accomplishment. Been there, done that.

    In to Dawson City where White Bear and I get spots at the Gold Rush campsite in town. Nice showers, laundry facilities, downtown is within walking distance. We book two nights.

    While setting up camp HimalayaJim texts us that he is in town, so we give him directions and he gets the tent site next to White Bear and me. Shortly after comes the thumping of the German’s bike, and he doubles up the tent site with HimalayaJim and we enjoy being all together again.

    Dawson Camping.jpg
    June 23, 2019

    Laundry, bike check, ride up the mountain to get a scenic overlook of Dawson City and the merging of the rivers, walk around town…..a nice day off.

    Dawson Overlook.jpg
    HimalayaJim heads off to the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers for some fishing and brings back Arctic Greyling for dinner, supplemented by pasta.

    At the German’s prompting, White Bear and I decide to join him for a trip to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s saloon and casino to watch a show reminiscent of what would be found during the gold rush. It wasn’t quite what we expected but enjoyable nonetheless. We later found out that the “real” show most akin to the original is held at 8:30 and we went to the 11:30 PM show.

    This is our last evening together as a group, and tomorrow we head off in separate directions. Bittersweet, but time moves on and so must we.
  6. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    And Then There Were Two (but not the same two)

    June 24, 2019

    Dawson City to Tok, Alaska on Highway 9 (“Top of the World Highway”)

    White Bear achieved his goals of reaching the Arctic Ocean and spending summer solstice on the Arctic Circle, and being self - employed, decided to head home to Minnesota. HimalayaJim and I planned to go on to Alaska at a slower pace, so one headed east while two boarded the ferry, crossed the Yukon and headed up the road to ride the Top of the World Highway.

    Riding west, the road winds along tops of ridges, giving a beautiful view and reminiscent of parts of the Dempster. There are significant gravel sections but nothing that is really challenging. We arrive at the border crossing into the US and the officer is extremely friendly.

    Top of the World Borderpost.jpg
    As we take off toward Chicken, we are met by a downpour of rain that pelts us relentlessly. Gravel becomes mud, though it is still hard so slickness is the only issue to watch out for. We go through Chicken without stopping, so miss buying the requisite “Top of the World” stickers….but we still did it. Continuing the ride, we eventually get out of the rain and enjoy drying out in a partly cloudy, warm later afternoon, and are all dry again by the time we arrive in Tok.

    We get the last cabin at Fast Freddy’s motel….at an exorbitant price….and enjoy a quiet, dry evening after a day of adventure.

    June 25, 2019

    Tok – Birch Lake State Recreational Area, 145 miles on Highway 2 (Richardson Highway)

    It is a short day of riding. We leave Tok at about 12:00 and ride on to Delta Junction, where we fuel up and enquire about camping sites. Both people we ask tell us Birch Lake State Recreational Area is preferable to Harding Lake a bit further up the road, and we are rewarded with a lovely campsite at Birch Lake. Facilities are limited, but the site and ambiance are outstanding.

    Jim Lakeside.jpg
    June 26, 2019

    Birch Lake to Cantwell, 210 miles on Highway 2 and 3 (Richardson and Parks Highways)

    We are loathe to leave the site, but plan to keep going. I have contacted a friend in Anchorage who is happy to have us stop by and rest up, and we want to arrive on Friday in Anchorage for the weekend. So two nights in the area around Denali means we need to move on.

    Break camp and load up the bikes yet again, and head north toward Fairbanks. We don’t even contemplate stopping in Fairbanks, but cut across the south side of the city and get on the Parks Highway (and thus I miss the end of the Alaska Highway). The air gets hazier as we head toward areas where large scale fires are burning. We ride straight through Healy, which is the centre of out – of – park accommodation, and go on to the Denali Park Visitors’ Centre. The information desk staff tell us to check about campsites with the private company that manages this, so we climb back on and ride to the Riley Creek Campsite and Management Centre. The staff are friendly but inform us that though they have tenting sites, priority is given to people who come on public transport and have no other means of getting around. We have motorcycles, so are directed to check out private campgrounds outside the Park. Several phone calls produce no positive results, but one campground owner recommends riding up the Denali Highway and camping off the road.

    Back on the bikes, ride to Cantwell, turn left on to the Denali Highway, and 6 miles up the road, Bingo! Parked on a turnoff is the van of a fly-fishing guide company, and they tell us we can camp anywhere. So after checking a couple of other possibilities, we have a nice spot for camping next to a stream. Just what we needed. We will be staying two nights, so having water nearby is a requirement

    Setting up camp, its is a lovely evening with the mountains surrounding us, stream murmuring through the trees, and mosquitoes in manageable quantities. Idyllic.

    Denali Highway Camp.jpg
    June 27, 2019

    A full, relaxing day at the campsite. An afternoon nap, lazing around except for a 50-mile excursion to obtain appropriate beverage for such an occasion. We are relaxed and tired enough that crawling in the tent at 5:30 in the afternoon is a luxury.

    June 28, 2019

    Cantwell – Anchorage, 211 miles on Highways 3 and 1

    We bid farewell to the campsite around 11:00 and head south for Anchorage. The haze from forest fires makes it difficult to see Mt Denali and the surrounding range, but at the north face viewing turnoff the air is clear and the mountain rests in all its grandeur.

    Denali Mt.jpg
    Traffic picks up, and the outskirts of urban sprawl present themselves in the form of Wasilla, followed by a lovely though smoke – obscured view of the mountains surrounding Anchorage.

    4:45 we arrive at my friend’s house, though we have met up only once in the past 39 years since first meeting. Hot, tired, it is a relief to have a welcome sanctuary.

    June 29 – 30, 2019

    Rest, read, write, sleep, eat, rest, sleep. Great hosts, great food. No sightseeing at our request.

    July 1, 2019

    Anchorage – Possy’s Store’ 215 miles on Highway 3 and 1A.

    Great hospitality, nice campsite. Met Sven, a German riding his bicycle from Prudhoe Bay to the Terra del Fuego. He has already ridden long trips from Europe to Australia, Africa and is now on this ride for two years. Better him than me.

    July 2, 2019

    Possy’s Store to Tok. 120 miles on Tok Bypass

    Stayed in Three Bears Motel. Stopped early so I could arrange to change my oil and filter.

    Changed oil at Tok Auto Repair, owned by Page brothers. Very helpful, they let me use an oil drain pan and one of their repair bays to change oil. I had the oil, filter and tools, just needed the drop off point for oil.

    July 3, 2019

    Tok, AK to Cottonwood Campground, YK (area of Destruction Bay) 240 miles on Highway 1

    HimalayaJim tried fishing from the shore, but the area was soon inundated by kids playing in the water, so the rod was put away after catching one.

    Jim Cottonwood Park Fishing.jpg

    July 4, 2019

    Cottonwood to Carcross: 180 miles on Highways 1 and 2. Stayed at Gordon Provincial Campground, lovely spot.

    The section of highway between Cottonwood and Haynes Junction was spectacular, but also a bit disheartening. Cottonwood is situated on a glacier fed lake, but in the past years the glacier has receded to the point where the lake is shrinking at a significant rate. This is demonstrated by the dry lakebed surrounding what previously was an island in the lake, but is now surrounded by dry land.

    Dry Lakebed.jpg
    July 5, 2019

    Carcross to Tagish; 65 miles from Carcross to Skagway on Highway 2 and AK 98 (border crossing). Skagway to Tagish is 86 miles on Highways 2 and 8.

    Took a day trip to Skagway. 4 cruise ships docked, 7,500 passengers milling around the town. Filipino restaurant caters to Filipino cruise staff. The restaurant we went to had great fish and chips, light on batter and nice fish.

    Skagway Downtown.jpg

    The geology of the ride into Skagway was unusual, though partially obscured by smoke. Lots of rock, few trees.

    Skagway Road_Jim.jpg
    The border crossing was straightforward, 2 minutes and we were on our way. No spots open at Gordon where we camped before, so rode on to Tagish. Stayed at Tagish Campground, nice spot but limited facilities.

    July 6, 2019

    Tagish to Big Creek Campground 85 miles on Highway 1.

    Stopped early so HimalayaJim could use his fishing license one more time. Alas, the river was too swift so fish weren’t biting, but the mosquitoes were!

    July 7, 2019

    Big Creek Campground to Kinaskan Lake Campground 442 miles on Highway 1 and then Highway 37, also known as the Cassiar Highway

    The first section of the Cassiar Highway meanders through heavy forests. Beautiful, yet a wary eye searching the edges of the road for wildlife came up empty. Later on the path of the road opened up and we were accompanied by the beautiful pink Fireweed.


    HimalayaJim was almost hit by a moose calf but managed to ride through it and only his panier was grazed.

    Heavy rain prior to setup but dried out very quickly. We sat it out under a couple of friendly trees, but it was the wettest we were to get.

    July 8, 2019

    Kinaskan Campground to New Hazelton. 254 miles on 37 and Highway 16. Stayed in 28 Inn.

    The road was nice though after so much riding nothing stuck out in our minds. We also started to realise that our final destinations would eventuate taking different directions. So, the ride became somewhat bittersweet as we rode south.

    July 9, 2019

    New Hazelton to Prince George; stayed at Prince Motel 272 miles on Highway 16

    Today the road conditions changed and confirmed to HimalayaJim and me that our travel together is coming to an end. The traffic on Highway 16 is heavy and lots of trucks. We can find traffic in many places, and the reminder of pristine, expansive vistas is too strong and the magic of the past weeks starts to be elbowed out by increasing crowdedness.

    Last night with HimalayaJim, tomorrow he will go south on 97 and I will go east on 16, both of us heading for home.
    jeepmedic and 68vette like this.
  7. jeepmedic

    jeepmedic Adventurer

    May 30, 2017
    Cashton WI
    Great pics and ride report. Glad you guys made it up safely!
  8. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    And Then There Was One

    July 10,2019

    Prince George BC to Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. 437 miles on 16 and 11 from Mt Wilson Restaurant stop.

    It’s raining in Prince George as I get on the bike, now faced with more than 3,000 miles of riding solo. The rain increases in intensity as I head for Jasper, planning to ride down the Icefields Parkway again. The ankles of Mt Robson are visible below the clouds, but the rest of Canada’s highest mountain is obscured in the rain that has thankfully reduced to a drizzle.

    Arriving in Jasper, the inevitable chat at the gas station produced a recommendation that I take the Highway 11 turnoff toward Rocky Mountain House, halfway down the Parkway. I didn’t have a map but as it was raining south of the turnoff, I took the left going east which ended up going northeast. But, the weather was beautiful, lovely scenery evidenced by the photo below, and little traffic on the road. Worth the gnawing sense of “I’m going out of the way”.

    Highway 11 Lake.jpg

    About 30 miles south of Jasper cars were parked along the side of the road. As I slowed down to see what everyone was looking at, up on the side of the hill was a grizzly meandering through the bushes, so I finally see the main large animal I had been missing in my sightings.

    Arriving in Rocky Mountain House, the road signs for Highway 22, which I was to take south, never materialised. As the darkening clouds raced overhead, I rode around looking for the sign until the rain absolutely bucketed down. There is nothing quite like sitting on a motorcycle at a stoplight as the heavens open up, so I scurried over to the nearby Tamarack Inn and booked a room. 20 minutes later the sky was clear and sun shining but I stayed and spent the night drying out.

    July 11, 2019

    Rocky Mountain House AB to Swift Current SK: 466 miles on 22 to Calgary, then Highway 1 to Swift Current.

    The next morning I was told where the elusive junction of Highway 22 was, and headed south. The Canadian Rockies loomed off to the west but the route I was riding went through lovely farmland.

    After getting on Highway 1 (the Trans Canada), saw a type of truck I hadn’t seen before in North America though they have them for long hauls in Australia. Two full length 40 ft. trailers pulled by one truck.

    Alberta Double Trailer.jpg
    One hour from Swift Current occasional clicking noise when I pull into a rest stop. Checked tension on the chain and all seemed ok, so carried on.

    Stayed at the Safari Inn again.

    July 12, 2019

    Swift Current to Bottineau, ND 392 miles on 1 then on 39 through Weyburn. East on ND 5.

    The mechanical gremlins finally strike. One hour out of Swift Current there is a loud “bang” and I pull to the side of the road. The chain is hanging loose and the tensioner at the end of the swing arm is broken. As the tensioner comes loose occasionally, I assume that is the culprit, so I break out the tools and do a “side of the road” repair. Though the traffic on the highway is light no one stops (unlike on the Dempster), but a guy from a nearby farm drives up and asks if I need tools from his place, but all is taken care of.

    With a tight chain I ride to Moose Jaw about an hour away, check the chain again and with all seemingly in order, turn off the Trans Canada on highway 39 toward Weyburn, quite anxious now to get back across the border into the US.

    After crossing the border, I turn and head east on Highway 5, the road closest to the US / Canada border. Riding through the farm speckled countryside is pleasant and relaxing, especially given my questions around the mechanical issues this morning.

    I arrive in Bottineau around 6:00 PM and decide to check the front sprocket as the bike still doesn’t seem quite right. On removing the sprocket cover, to my horror I discover that the nut and washer that holds the sprocket on the spline are both gone, and the horror is compounded when I realise that I may well have been riding this way since the breakdown in the morning. There has been nothing holding the sprocket on the shaft other than the tightness of the chain, and I’m sure some angels pushing the sprocket on its rightful place.

    That ended my riding for the day, though I was only 200 miles from White Bear’s house. I would have to make repairs before moving on. I texted White Bear to let him know I wouldn’t be arriving later that evening. I check into the Turtle Mountain Inn, a nice facility and owner.

    July 13, 2019

    Bottineau ND to Greenbush MN 200 miles on ND 5, MN 175, US 59, County Rd 4. (Not counted in my mileage calculations of distance ridden)

    Well, so much for doing my own maintenance. CS Lewis points out that “Pride is the blight that wilts the flower of virtue”. I recall my fairly lackadaisical attitude when putting the nut back on the shaft prior to leaving White Bear’s when the trip started. Although not necessarily related to virtue, pride definitely played a role in this eventuality. The lock washer wasn’t fully locking the nut, and after 9,000 miles it must have finally spun off.

    Attempts to find the right nut in the stores came up empty (there are no motorcycle dealerships in Bottineau), and the NAPA store can only get one by Tuesday. I call White Bear to let him know I won’t be getting to his place any time soon, and he offers to come and get me with his pickup and trailer, a distance of 200 miles. We agree on that course of action, and he arrives around 3:00 PM, and with a quick turnaround time we are back at his home by 7:30. The great news is that he has found a nut and washer that will work, so we can work on the bike on Sunday.

    July 14, 2019

    Greenbush, MN

    We get the washer and nut installed with Loctite. White Bear is a whizz fabricator and makes an aluminum end plate for the swing arm to replace the one that was broken. Better than the original in fact.

    Sprocket nut.jpg

    A final check on the bike, and its ready for the road again tomorrow morning.

    July 15, 2019

    Greenbush to Moorhead MN on 32, 75. 140 miles.

    A slight detour to Moorhead MN to visit a cousin whom I have seen only once in the past 15 years. A wonderful time to reminisce, as we grew up in close proximity to one another. A shared history makes the intervening years seem like they never happened. This was time well spent.

    July 16, 2019

    Moorhead to Platteville WI: 485 miles on I94, 694, 61. Stayed in Super 8 motel.

    Moorhead to the Twin Cities is the longest ride on an Interstate highway and remember why I decided to stay off them to the extent possible. The weather is beautiful though a bit hot, the green countryside is lovely….but there is something about a four-lane road with fast traffic that prevents enjoying the ambiance fully.

    I stop by a BMW dealer but no original parts available for the fix we made on the sprocket, so I keep moving around the Twin Cities and get back on Highway 61, which is what I rode on coming from Virginia to Minnesota. 20 miles south of Red Wing and the skies open up again, enough to get me wet, but stop early enough that I have dried out by the time I reach Platteville.

    July 17, 2019

    Platteville WI to Olney IL 400 miles; Platteville to Felton IL on IL 84, US 30 to Morrison, IL 78 to Little America, IL 97 to US 150 which took me to Normal / Bloomington, IL 51 to Pana, IL 16 to Shelbyville, IL 33 to Newton, IL 130 to Olney.

    My route was adjusted throughout the day to avoid rain coming from the west, and adjustments of 10 – 15 miles on a route can make the difference between riding in rain and avoiding it. Also, I was not using a GPS so had to stop, take out the atlas and look for a suitable alternative to what I had planned. I did not want to get stuck riding in the same direction the rain was coming, as you can’t easily get out of it.

    Riding into a rainstorm means you get through it quite quickly (hopefully, as you are moving in opposite directions), but when a rain storm catches up with you…it can mean hours of rain.

    At the end of the day, I hadn’t been rained on and navigating toward clear skies had paid dividends.

    Checked into the Travelers Inn. Hard to beat $50 including tax.

    July 18, 2019

    Olney Il to Berkeley Springs WV on 50, 522. 690 miles

    Up early in the morning for a lovely cool ride straight east on US 50. Since I came through at the start of the trip, there was more construction and two detours added quite a lot of riding time to the day. The terrain got more beautiful the further east I got, and I remembered why I enjoyed this road so much when starting the trip. In particular, the section in West Virginia between Charleston and Romney is a fun, curvy ride. But it was dark by the time I got to Romney, and the deer population of West Virginia calls for caution when riding.

    I arrive at my daughter’s home at 11:00 PM and she has waited up to welcome me.

    Moorhead to the Twin Cities is the longest ride on an Interstate highway and remember why I decided to stay off them to the extent possible. The weather is beautiful though a bit hot, the green countryside is lovely….but there is something about a four-lane road with fast traffic that prevents enjoying the ambiance fully.

    I stop by a BMW dealer but no original parts available for the fix we made on the sprocket, so I keep moving around the Twin Cities and get back on Highway 61, which is what I rode on coming from Virginia to Minnesota. 20 miles south of Red Wing and the skies open up again, enough to get me wet, but stop early enough that I have dried out by the time I reach Platteville.

    July 17, 2019

    Platteville WI to Olney IL 400 miles; Platteville to Felton IL on IL 84, US 30 to Morrison, IL 78 to Little America, IL 97 to US 150 which took me to Normal / Bloomington, IL 51 to Pana, IL 16 to Shelbyville, IL 33 to Newton, IL 130 to Olney.

    My route was adjusted throughout the day to avoid rain coming from the west, and adjustments of 10 – 15 miles on a route can make the difference between riding in rain and avoiding it. Also, I was not using a GPS so had to stop, take out the atlas and look for a suitable alternative to what I had planned. I did not want to get stuck riding in the same direction the rain was coming, as you can’t easily get out of it.

    Riding into a rainstorm means you get through it quite quickly (hopefully, as you are moving in opposite directions), but when a rain storm catches up with you…it can mean hours of rain.

    At the end of the day, I hadn’t been rained on and navigating toward clear skies had paid dividends.

    Checked into the Travelers Inn. Hard to beat $50 including tax.

    July 18, 2019

    Olney Il to Berkeley Springs WV on 50, 522. 690 miles

    Up early in the morning for a lovely cool ride straight east on US 50. Since I came through at the start of the trip, there was more construction and two detours added quite a lot of riding time to the day. The terrain got more beautiful the further east I got, and I remembered why I enjoyed this road so much when starting the trip. In particular, the section in West Virginia between Charleston and Romney is a fun, curvy ride. But it was dark by the time I got to Romney, and the deer population of West Virginia calls for caution when riding.

    I arrive at my daughter’s home at 11:00 PM and she has waited up to welcome me.

    July 19 – 20, 2019

    Berkeley Springs resting at my daughter’s home. It was a good opportunity to catch up on family news, clean up and check out the bike and change oil and filter. But I keep in mind that “it ain’t done ‘til it’s done”, and there is 40 more miles to ride before I reach the end of the journey.

    July 21, 2019

    Berkeley Springs to Winchester 522, 7. 40 miles

    So, on the morning of July 21 I bid farewell to my daughter and her family, climb on the bike, and ride the final 40 miles with a feeling of exhilaration.

    Leaving for the final 40 miles.jpg

    Home. The trees lining the driveway to our cottage are lush green and welcoming. It is a good feeling to arrive home just as the odometer ticks over the 12,120-mile mark of the trip.

    Driveway home_Crop.jpg

    It is also a relief. The Dempster and Alaska trip has been a main focus for two years, and having successfully completed it without mishap feels great.

    The bike performed superbly. The issue with the sprocket was completely due to operator error, not the fault of the bike. All the equipment and gear, almost all of it put to good use, performed very well and no regrets on the choices made.

    Finally home.jpg
    White Bear and HimalayaJim were both excellent travel companions, though during the trip they ended up having different objectives. White Bear’s priority was the Dempster, then the decision to get home to family and back to work. HimalayaJim was looking for a more leisurely ride once his bike handling issues were sorted out. Thankfully, I had allocated enough time so rode the Dempster with White Bear, then spent the next two weeks on a more leisurely ride around Alaska and Western Canada with HimalayaJim.

    Conclusion: Looking back, the trip definitely lived up to my expectations. Would I do it again? Yes, but there are more places yet to be explored that require less time, so they may be next on the list. I have the bike and gear now, so can be ready to go on 24 - hour notice. Until next time……
    68vette likes this.
  9. Ironbutt1272

    Ironbutt1272 n00b

    Sep 22, 2014
    For those of you who have managed to read this far, the word "Kuchi" (or Kochi) I used in the title refers to a group of nomads in Afghanistan, a country where I have worked in humanitarian leadership and programming for more than seven years.

    In closing, travel well, as you can not do the same journey twice.