Santa and his Heartless Elves do Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HomeMadeSin, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    The background: 6 riders, all wanting to make the trek to Alaska and get north of the Arctic Circle commited to meet in Jasper on 13 June for the kick-off.

    Dave (jecklll) on a Vee running TKCs
    Jerry also on a Vee running TKCs, and a real deal Santa on the side
    Keith, 3rd of the trio of Vee running TKCs
    Mike (tsrf990r) on a DRZ400 bored over and tweaked, running Shinko 705s and Kolpin side tanks
    Shannon (Mike's clearly better half) on a KLX250S (O)), running Shinko 705s and Acerbis rear tank
    Me (HomeMadeSin) on the constantly mocked Wee, running TKCs and the only non-Canadian

    The 1st three hail from Saskatoon, Mike and Shannon from Vancouver area and I'm from Denver area. Since we’re originating from different points, the plan was to meet up in Jasper. From there, take 16 across to pick-up the Cassiar and then cut over to Skagway, ferry to Haines. Then hit Anchorage, Fairbanks and on to the Arctic Circle. Deadhorse was a maybe. Then back thru Tok, hit the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City and the Campbell to Watson Lake and the AlCan. Inivut was also a maybe. Then onto Ft. Nelson, Ft. Saint John and split to individual destinations.
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  2. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 1: As Mike and Shannon were enjoying a leisurely trip on the west side of the Rockies, Dave, Jerry, Keith and I left Sask around 4pm on the 12th.

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    The weather was warm, the sun bright and expectations high. We all had Collett Communicators, so we could keep in touch and listen to iPod’s, XM or similar. Keith was concerned about a noticeable wobble in his front end. He and Jerry swapped bikes for a while and Jerry didn'’t notice any issues. Keith adjusted his steering dampener some, but didn'’t really get it dialed in. Bad omen….
    Riding in formation (Dave, Keith, Jerry then me), we were overtaking a semi about 1.5 hours into our trip. Dave leading made the pass. Keith was following, but still had some front end wobble. Jerry was preparing to pass and I was the caboose. From my perspective, all I could see is a rapid braking from the semi. Jerry was accelerating and had to clamp on the brakes hard. Smoke started rolling up from the semi-trailer wheels and Jerry was braking hard and heading to the shoulder – but so was the semi. His front end locked up, and he went down chasing the trailer wheels all the while. Both he and the bike ended up off the road near the ditch.
    Jerry’s down! Jerry’s down! Jerry’s down! I stopped and went over to check on Jerry, who was on his knees and absorbing what just happened. He looked in shock, but nothing broken or bleeding to the sight.
    Oh Shit…
    I peer thru the under belly of the trailer and see Keith lying prone in the middle of the road. Not a sight I wish on anyone, ever. My heart sank – how could this be happening? Once it appeared Jerry was not in immediate danger, I went to check on Keith. He was awake and alert, but not moving much. His bike was a good 50 feet in front of the semi, with various bits scattered about.

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    Fortunately, there were nurses in the stopped cars and 911 had been called right away. 2 ambulances came quickly and tended to both Keith and Jerry.

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    As far as we can tell, the weight on the back of the Vee, combined with the massive aftermarket windscreen and Keith’s lighter frame made for an unstable front end. When he hit the wind gust around the front of the semi, he went into a full tank slapper and lost control. He high-sided right in front of the semi….
    Had it not been for a VERY observant truck driver, this might have been a very sad story. Instead, he slowed as he noticed Keith coming around and veered right and slammed on the brakes when he lost it. He deserves major kudos for driving so well.
    Jerry was checked out and released at the scene. His new Arai helmet was damaged, losing the face-shield and duckbill in the spill. But once he took stock of his condition, he firmly stated “I’m going to Alaska!”
    After a few hours of clean-up post accident, we decided to head towards the hospital to check on Keith and stop for a bite to eat. We hit the local Subway and as we finished, Keith was escorted in by Amy, a co-worker. He was banged up, with a damaged finger and a compression fracture of his vertebrae. Turns out he had 3 compression fractures, we found out later…
    So on we go, down 1 rider. We rode to Drumheller, arriving around 12:30 am dodging deer, fog and bugs. All the while, Jerry with a now open helmet and glasses. Next stop is Calgary for a new helmet.
    #2
  3. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 2
    We hit Walt Healy motorsports on the perfect day, at the perfect time. They were having a Suzuki demo ride event, so while purchasing a new helmet for Jerry and some odds and ends, we snaked a free meal and drinks. Score!!! Would you follow this guy to Alaska???

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    The weather was perfect and the ride to Banff and on towards Jasper was most excellent. Although, we had burned additional time in Calgary and therefore we chose to take drive-by photography along the way. Plenty of 120kph photos…We get to Jasper, meet up with Mike and Shannon at the Tekarra cabins.
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  4. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 3: Somehow we manage to make this a long haul day, from Jasper to Moricetown, BC (500 miles / 800km). We pass thru Houston and witness the largest fly rod in the World.

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    We camped at a First Nation campsite with all the mosquitoes enjoying the feast on new flesh.

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  5. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 4: Up at 5:30, and gone by 6:30. We hit the Cassiar Hwy, which had been previously closed due to a mudslide the week prior. When we get there, it’s one lane traffic and a pretty good stream crossing the road. We manage to see a grizzly, a black bear and some moose along the way.

    Bonus Lake

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    It rained most of the day. The DRZ and Dave’s overloaded Vee ran out of gas before we hit Belle II, but my girly Wee did just fine, damnit.

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    We manage to get to Nugget City around 7:30pm, wash up and have dinner. The food and company were excellent.

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  6. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 5: We slept in late, a bad trend we were about to set and left around 10am. Plenty of rain again. Took the shortcut thru Tagish to Carcross on our way to Skagway. Spotted a grizzly with two cubs wrestling along the road. The road from Carcross to Skagway rocks, if we can escape the endless RVs.

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    I noticed my chain is spent, but no shop in town and only ferry to Haines is at 7am ($60).

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    Tighten chain and take it easy. Time for a Big Ass pizza at the local brothel (former).
    Somewhere along the way, we spot a hardcore adventure rider...that seat might actually be more comfortable than the Wee. Note the brown tarp to the left in the weeds. The rider is sleeping under it (note his shoes out the end).

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  7. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 6: We get to the ferry around 6am, as instructed. We meet Scott from Vermont on a FJR1300, riding solo.

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    The ferry was cool with sights of whales and waterfalls. The road from Haines to Haines Junction rocks!!!

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    We get hammered with rain for the last hour near Tok. Everything was so wet, we took a 1 mile squid ride from the hotel to Fast Eddies restaurant (‘cept Dave).
    This may look staged, but it was real. A black bear cub strikes a pose under a road sign. I manage to get a pic off before the battery dies:

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    #7
  8. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 7: I start the day with a rear flat. So, Bryce at the local Stihl dealer does a patch and plug pretty quick. So, with $100 less money and some lost time, he head to Anchorage.
    This must've been how I got it (can't be timid in sand):

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    Post glacier, we attempt to do some overtaking of a string of cars. I guess one asshole took offense at me passing him and drives defensively to block my re-entry. Fortunately, my girly Wee has enough guts to make short work of him. He flips off Mike on the DRZ. Sadly, we see this behavior often in Alaska on this trip and we’re not crossing the double solids. WTF???
    We’re discussing what to do for the evening near Wasilla when a good advrider (Paulmer) stops by to help. He hooks us up with some good info and we head to the Trout House for accommodations. I head to Anchorage to pick up the 4 rear TKC’s I sent up to a friend. I get the tour de Los Anchorage.

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  9. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 8: I head back to Wasilla to meet up with the gang. We do the laundry and then head to the Abbey for some much needed maintenance. Mike is cool and accommodating and Toddy (a Kiwi) is chilling and helping too.

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    We manage to get all three rears put on thanks to Abbey Mike and notice a Kenda K270 5.10x18 for our Mike’s DRZ. Score!!! Or so we thought – but more on that later. I also need a chain and sprockets, but have to take a 42 rear (Vee) instead of my girly 47 stock. We wolf down some Mex at Senor Tacos and head to Talkeetna to hang with my bud Darren at a cabin.
    Here's the Evil part:

    The cabin is looked after occasionally by a local family that lives in a bus. Yes, a bus. They have no running water in their bus. They have a mother-in-law visiting, so the owner of the cabin let’s her stay there, as there is no place in the bus. Plus the mother has a broken foot. So, when I get there, Darren finds the MIL hasn’'t left. We manage to track them down and encourage the eviction. Their 5 y/o boy says: “ I feel sorry for Grandma, cuz we I don’t know where she’s gonna sleep”.
    Heartless bastards indeed.
    We gave Darren $40 for beer and he came thru with plenty and fireworks to boot.

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    Beer + Roman candles = shooting at various objects and people. The nearby outhouse looks like a prime target. Hmmm. Let’s see. How about we each grab two roman candles and aim for the outhouse, with someone in the outhouse filming…I'll post the vid when I get it up.
    #9
  10. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 9: Late sleep in. Had burger with fried King crab meat on top in Talkeetna. I didn't think we'd be eatin' this well.

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    Find another asshole cager who had inferiority complex and would not let the dirt bikes pass. Leave Fairbanks around 9pm to hit the haul road with rain. The temps were cooler and the dirt road was snotty.

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    Gas is not available at Yukon River (after hours), so we trek on. We get to the Arctic Circle around 3:30am on the Summer Solstice

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    #10
  11. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Geez, what a way to start the trip.. I hope Keith's feeling a bit better.. Thanks for the blow by blow and taking us along on your adventure.

    :lurk
    #11
  12. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 10: After the Circle, we muster on to Coldfoot. The Wee makes it with 269 miles since the last gas. The others split the remaining gas, with Jerry almost making it on his Vee.

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    They won’t give us rooms, so we head 5 miles north to camp. Pitch a tent at 6:30am and get about 4 hours sleep before breaking camp and heading back south.

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    This cat would not be denied attention...
    #12
  13. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 11: We head south to Fairbanks and shortly after hitting consistent pavement, Shannon complains of ratcheting on the KLX. The rear sprocket is absolutely toast.

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    5,000 km on a new bike with a whopping 18 hp and the rear sprocket is shite. So, we limp along to Fairbanks to see what we can scare up for replacement and lodging. Find a shithole (7 Gables Inn) and get a bonus the next morning: a bum fight. Beware anyone claiming "rustic" accommodations, you'll get this:

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    #13
  14. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 12: After several calls, our only hope is Alaska Fun Center but they’ll have to order one and overnight it. They act like they could give a shit too. We decide to rough it in Chena Hot Springs. The girly Wee takes on 540 lbs of man meat on the way to pick up some brew a la squid fashion…

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    The factory top case makes a fine cooler. Note: it is not water tight.

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    #14
  15. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 13: Head down to Fairbanks and wait for sprocket. Get run around at AFC and wind up chasing UPS for a bit, only to hear it was delivered. Sprocket change out in their parking lot in the rain. Boss lady ain't happy...

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    Time to blaze to Tok and onto Chicken; but first a quick stop at the North Pole. We do have Santa, after all. I forgot to mention, Jerry is an authentic pro Santa in the fall months...

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    In Chicken, we manage to get the bartender to re-open for a few rounds. We learn quite a bit about the people of Chicken. It seems the year-rounders have all been abducted by aliens, the attack duck lost a frozen leg, which was replaced in kind by a gay elementary teacher from Tok and one local is 19 and has been trapping fur since the age of 7, shortly before his parents “divorced” him at the ripe old age of 9. Too many episodes of South Park me thinks…
    #15
  16. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 14: Head out along the Top of the World highway to Dawson City. Jerry does another bit of handlebar surfing about a mile before Customs (soft dirt shoulder). We took the free ferry across the river and had lunch at Joe’s.

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    The fish 'n chips were excellent, BTW:

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    We head to Carmacks and decide to take the Campbell scenic route, camping at Little Salmon Lake.

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    #16
  17. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 15: Stop by to gas off at Ross River, but no reasonable place to eat, so it’s breakfast bars and soda. Mostly clear weather and dry dirt roads, with the very occasional paved section thrown in here and there for no apparent reason. Jerry tests another soft shoulder and winds up in the middle of the road, facing the wrong way.
    I don’t know about Jerry's preference for T or A, but he sure has an affinity for soft shoulders….:evil
    We get barraged with steady rain and construction zones on the way to Ft. Nelson and catch the office at the Toad River Lodge just in time to get a couple of rooms. BTW, “Moose on the Loose” just west of Toad River Lodge is NOT biker friendly as they refused us accommodations.
    Also, Dave and his bike are heavy duty:

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  18. HomeMadeSin

    HomeMadeSin Been here awhile

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    Day 16: As we cross Summit Lake at a balmy 4C and raining, a pack of Caribou dart out in front of Jerry. They quickly change direction and run alongside him and then complete their initial plan to cross the road just in front of him. He just managed to avoid them.
    A brief respite of sun in Ft. Nelson is followed by more rain on the way to Ft. St. John. We take in some horrid food and split up here, with Dave and Jerry heading east to Saskatoon and the rest south to points south. For us, the ride along Peace River is very nice, but my camera isn't responsive and so I had no pictures to share.
    I split with Mike and Shannon in Merritt and eventually work my way south home. I arrive Wednesday night around 10pm with 8,890 mile door to door over about 19 days. A most excellent ride.

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    More here: https://zeddwerksllc.smugmug.com/Alaska-2009/n-H64z9/

    Z
    #18
  19. UnwaryEnd

    UnwaryEnd n00b

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    As I sit down to post my own take on this Alaskan adventure I am abruptly reminded of a memento I forgot I brought home....a very sore and bruised rear-end. It has been suggested that I am more than a little crazy for riding a KLX250S 10,000 km thru Northern BC, the Yukon, and Alaska. Certainly the fact that my jaw still aches from clenching my teeth as I willed my bike to the top of each hill and the multitude of new swear words I created during the eternity it took me to over take vehicles would support this opinion. I still believe the craziest thing I did was to travel 2 weeks with 4 guys as the only female.
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    This is not my first bike trip surrounded by the opposite sex and I do have some rules I try to follow to make everyone happier: (1) Don't complain. If you are right, no one likes a know it all. If you are wrong, no one likes a whiner. (2) Don't ask for extra pee breaks. The mantra "I will not go in my pants, I will not go in my pants" works well. (3) Don’t be the last one ready. Men just don’t understand why it is important to do your hair right before you put on your helmet.
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    For me this was a trip full of wet socks, terrible road conditions, killer mosquitoes, cold feet, motel rooms that smelled like sewage (and this is before anyone used the bathroom), wet socks, an unexpected sprocket replacement, a broken kickstand, wet socks, someone who snores so loudly I could here them in the next motel room, lets not forget the wet socks, and four of the greatest, funniest, smartest guys that made this the best two weeks I have spent on a bike. Of course the majestic landscapes, awesome wildlife, great food (can anyone say French toast), interesting locals and a true sense of living in the moment didn’t hurt either. <o:p></o:p>
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    Before I go I would like say thanks to Gerry for never complaining, always being in a good mood, and for the times we laughed so hard we cried, to Dave for literally being a happy camper and for "Suck my kiss.", to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Troy</st1:place></st1:City> for his patience, always accommodating everyone else, and his fearlessness in passing gas in front of a lady, and to Mike for being the only one cool enough to get his wife to join him on the trip and for taking such good care of her she would do it again in a heartbeat.
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    Here’s to warm sunny days, long twisty roads, and lots of pee breaks.
    #19