The Adventures of LoneStar & The Iron Butterfly...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. TexasDragon

    TexasDragon n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    3
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    Tomball, TX
    Hey Lonestar, I saw y'all on the Dalton, about 100 miles south of Deadhorse. Someone else leading, then the Butterfly, with you Tailing. I gave y'all the power sign as I passed and you returned the same. I got into Deadhorse around 2am due to that nasty construction the last 40 miles. I talked to a guy the next day who confirmed it was y'all, he said he was camping at a lake about 175 south of Deadhorse and y'all came in around 10pm dead tired and stressed from the road. If I'd of known that was y'all, I'd of turned around and run you down. Really hoped to meet you. Love all the pictures and reports. I'm headed back to Texas now after 4 weeks on the road, 2 more to go. It's been the trip of my lifetime for sure!
    drbuzzard and Nmunro like this.
  2. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Hey dude we certainly remember seeing you! Kim just burst out laughing when I read this to her. We were commenting at the campsite about you passing and wondered how late you'd get to Deadhorse. That last 40 was crazy and on the way back out it was better than when we crossed the first time.

    Our buddy was Fanda aka Frank from Czech Republic - he wanted to do the Haul Road with us but was afraid to risk it two up - Katchka volunteered to stay in Fairbanks and work on their blog so he was able to ride with us.

    We're currently in Anchorage getting fork seals for TIB's 700 - where are you and what route are you taking back? We're looking at Valdez and then up to Top of the World - Chicken, Dawson etc
    MaxV10 likes this.
  3. TexasDragon

    TexasDragon n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
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    Tomball, TX
    Haha, that's awesome! I took the Top of the world up, so took AlCan back down. Made it down to Grand Prairie, Alberta tonight. Past 2 days, 100% rain and 42-47 degrees. I've got some awesome gear though so I'm still comfortable. Just ready for some sunshine!
    I covered all parts of Alaska that you can reach by road.
    My trip went about like this;
    Tok, Valdez, McCarthy/Kennicott Mine, Denali Hwy, Anchorage, Hope, Homer, Seward, Whittier, Anchorage again, Denali Nat'l Park, Fairbanks, Dalton, Arctic Ocean tour, back to Fairbanks, back to Tok, then The Entire AlCan.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    It was nice to wake up not dead and with all my appendages. No wolves attacked despite the call to the pack. No bears chewed our heads as we slept and the morning air was cold with blue skies and sunshine.

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    After a quick breakfast we rolled out with Fanda and Katchka for Deadman Lake. Hmmm, Destruction Bay to Deadman Lake... They had said they would enjoy traveling together since we had the same basic itinerary. We had a great time together camping and it sounded good to us. Besides, having two additional folks when camping with bears increases the likelihood of survival by at least 50% the way I figure it, even more when I tie their shoelaces together unbeknownst to them.


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    The terrain going north was far less dramatic than previous days so we stopped less for photos. At a gas stop we found showers behind the store and after a snack lunch we all cleaned up and showered. The cool weather has been great and we've been chasing blue each day. The rainy weather that has been plaguing the state seems to have broken and we've been a day behind the rain, riding through wet patches occasionally but generally in sunshine with blue skies.

    The fall colors and cool air have made riding a real pleasure, though the nights have been pretty dang cold. So cold in fact that The Iron Butterfly picked up a heavier sleeping bag and I've doubled up in the two 35º bags at night.

    But I digress.

    After washing up, we burned it for a campground somewhere between Deadman Lake. After the wolf incident, I think none of us were really ready for another night of the same, and though unspoken the mindset was to find a spot less edgy.

    As the day began it's end we saw a sign for a campground on the lake, but pulled in to find a large "No Tents" warning sign screwed over the main sign. I read the fine print that said the area was heavy with bears due to a concentration of soap berries so tent camping was not allowed.

    We motored on and found another site on a different lake, but it was uninhabited and we felt some unease and motored on for Tok.

    A mile or two before town we spotted another campground along the river and pulled in, this one having a few campers, water and some good sites. We rode the bikes into the bushes and got tents and a rain fly hung for the night.


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    It was interesting watching a few campers roll in, all paling in measure to a huge German expedition camper that parked across the road from us. After a while the driver walked over to share our fire and we got acquainted. He and his wife were from Germany, having just retired as CEO of a meat company. They were circumnavigating the globe and heading south from Alaska to Ushuaia. He was very nice and fun to talk with.

    We'd run low for water and had seen a hand pump in the campground, but Kim and a stranger had not been able to get water from it. I went back up and finally got some water out but it was cloudy and dirty looking. I filled a couple bottles anyway but saw a man and wife walking past. They warned me the camp host had said not to drink the water as it was contaminated. Dammit! No warning sign posted and I'd just contaminated our drinking bottles. I got the MSR gravity filter out to save the day again, but was beginning to wonder if any of the water in the state wasn't contaminated. Sheesh.

    Kim had been battling an ongoing ear infection from wearing plugs all day for weeks now and oral antibiotics haven't kicked it, so Kascka suggested cloves in vodka, allowing the cloves to saturate the alcohol and using it as an antibiotic as they do in the Czech Republic.

    I rode to Tok to beat the grocery store closing and found some in the seasoning section, then returned and we filled a small bottle with alcohol and cloves. Though weak in solution she tried it in her ear and it seemed to help.

    After a good meal and campfire we all slept well.




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    The next morning we had no rain again and after breakfast we saw the German couple outside the panzer wagon. He invited us to come inside and check it out. His wife was very sweet and tolerated our peering around inside. She said they'd had many camper vans but this one she loved and felt safe in anywhere. I was envious. Fanda was envious. Kim was envious. Kascka was even envious.

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    The owner had told us the beast used about 22 liters per 100 km which is a little over 10 mpg. Not bad. Better yet he said the tank range was 3000 km... dude that's 2000 miles! As Fanda said, they could cross the Sahara in it.

    The Butterfly said as cool as it was it still looked like a garbage truck and she wouldn't want to be seen in it.

    We exchanged info and web addresses, his wife saying they would follow us and we could meet for a beer in Argentina since we were all doing the same route.

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    They watched and waved as we rode out for Fairbanks and further adventures north.

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    Lots of conversations with flag men and women on this trip
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    It seemed to be a long day on the road, though it was only a couple hundred miles or so and we were highly entertained by the North Pole community on the way. Stoopid selfies by the sign of course...

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    The sun was out as we entered Fairbanks, F&K peeling off to locate their couch surfing host while we looked for a cheap motel. We hadn't signed up for surfing and hadn't had time to locate someone.

    Looking for a coffee shop and wifi to search for accommodations we stumbled across Big Daddy's BBQ and chowed down on the best BBQ outside of Texas we've found. A small motel was located and we crashed for the night. The next day I needed to get Kim's bike serviced, brake shoes and some issues checked out.
  5. mariobac

    mariobac MarioBac

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    Sarandi Grande, Florida, Uruguay
    Excelent report and photos!!!!!!
    LoneStar likes this.
  6. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Kim's bike needed service and Trail's End BMW was accommodating in squeezing us in for oil and fluid changes as well as valve adjustments since both bikes had hit their service intervals and we had a long ways to go. Kim's chain was requiring adjustment more frequently than usual so I asked them to check it all out and replace if needed, as well as brake pads - especially as we were planning to do the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay.

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    Unfortunately we had to wait much longer than expected including a panic when the tech misidentified something and were there most of the day.

    The Iron B sat on a lowered 1200 Adventure Water (conundrum?) and fell in love immediately. As we waited another couple a bit worn from the road were perusing the 800's and the girl eventually test rode a lowered 800.

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    While we were snoozing in the back the couple came around and introduced themselves. Dave and Heather had ridden South America and were now on their Alaska loop. Heather's single cylinder F650GS had been giving them problems for months and they finally decided to just get another bike - the lowered 800 on the showroom floor.

    Turns out Heather's bike was not running and Dave's brake pads were gone, so they were walking around town and luckily staying close enough to the dealer to walk a couple miles. The dealer was out of stock on pads for a few days.

    We offered them a ride home, letting them double up on Kim's bike and following them to their friend's house. Kim decided to let them use her bike for a couple of days until their deal on the 800 went through. They were appreciative and we needed to have dinner or a beer with Fanda and Kaschka that evening so they could glean info about Mongolia as they were eventually going there. BBQ was the order once again.

    That night Kim's ear infection hit with a vengeance and we spent a few hours at a late night clinic and then an unsuccessful attempt to get the ear medicine - all pharmacies closed and the emergency room pharmacist telling us that there was none of that medicine available in town. Kim suffered through the night until the next day when a pharmacist substituted eye medicine - somewhat dangerous if there was a ruptured ear drum.

    The next day was spent washing clothes, editing pics and Kim resting as much as possible. That evening we got a text from Dave and Heather that they'd bought the 800 so we ran over and picked up Kim's bike in the dark.

    We were planning to do the Dalton the next day, and Fanda wanted to ride it but had concerns two up with Kaschka, as his TKC80 was a bit thin, the road was rough from reports we'd heard and the 1000 mile round trip might push the tire over it's limit with all the weight they carried.

    Kaschka decided to stay in Fairbanks to rest and work on the blog so that Fanda could go, so we dumped our excess gear and left it at their host's home. Their couch surfing host was Evan, a young guy who worked at a gold mine and rode an 800GS. It was late when we finally got to bed, but I was glad the bikes were prepped for the road.
  7. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    255
    It just keeps getting better!
    Sorry to hear of TIB's infection--painful indeed.
    Thanks for keeping us clued in.
    LoneStar likes this.
  8. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Up early for the long day on the Dalton, I checked Kim's chain in the rain in front of the hotel, a bit pissed to discover it slack. The dealer had "adjusted it" the day before when doing the service, saying it was fine and didn't need replacement, but it was quite loose only a day later. Hmmm. In the rush of leaving and loaning the bike to Dave and Heather I didn't check it at the stealership.

    The highway from Fairbanks to Prudhoe on the Dalton is 497 official miles so the round trip of 1000 with a weakening chain made me a bit nervous.

    We rolled into the driveway of the couch surfer home where F&K were staying, dropping some extra gear to lighten our loads for the Dalton. We'd left all our gear less tools, food, tent and basic cook kit and took no extra clothes, figuring we could do 4 days in the same outfits easily.

    It was beginning to rain as we left Fairbanks, catching gas on the edge of town. As we continued north the rain increased and a bit of trepidation as well. The forecast for Prudhoe Bay had said light rain mixed with sun for the next 3 days or so, but after hearing the horror stories of the road construction and mud ahead we had hoped to catch some sunshine, the rain we were in was not comforting.





    About the time we hit the Dalton dirt, the clouds had come so low we rode in zero visibility for a few miles in the mountains, finally clearing the fog before dropping down to Livengood. We took the side road for Liven good a mile or so but the mud was getting deep so we turned back for the Dalton. I stopped at the road department building and asked some folks who were working on soil core samples if they had any idea of the road status ahead. They didn't so we motored on.

    The road varied from dirt and mud to loose gravel and asphalt, all wet and muddy. The scenery changed from forest to sweeping landscapes as we dodged potholes, mudholes and piles of river rock dumped randomly on the surfaces. It required constant concentration and doing scenery checks had to be fast.

    A wrecked truck off the embankment to the left reminded us of the road, followed by a rolled car a few miles further.

    The appearing of the pipeline was fascinating to see after a lifetime of hearing about it and it was fun to ride along, somewhat astonished at the engineering feat it represented as it wound around and under the road and hills.

    500 miles one way through wilderness - ultracool!
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    As we neared Finger Rocks, the sun came out and blue sky lay ahead. It perked our spirits for sure. As the miles rolled by with absolutely no signs of civilization it sank in how far we were going and just how remote and uninhabited a land this place was. The feeling was inspiring and cautioning at the same time.

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    At a stop for a butt break, a pickup with mud covered snowmobile trailer pulled in and the man and woman came over to talk to us. They'd been bowhunting for caribou and warned us of really bad sections of road ahead, laughing a bit at our adventure ahead. The driver warned us Atigun Pass was seriously slick and muddy and that we may have real trouble getting over it as they had had a lot of difficulty in their pickup. He said there had been six days of solid rain previous and we were heading into a quagmire. It was good to hear and I could see Kim's face as we listened, her eyes glancing to me at times. The couple told us we could camp anywhere along the pipeline, especially at the pull out roads as long as we didn't set up blocking the road or directly under the pipeline.


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    Beanie-Weenie break
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    Finger Rocks protruding above the plain
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    Riding on with the warnings in our minds, the sign for "The Arctic Circle" was exciting to see and a milestone marker for us two Texans, pulling in to get the obligatory shots for our memories. As Fanda pulled his bike over to the sign for his turn, he popped the side stand down and leaned the bike over, but the bike kept going and we both grabbed it. I looked down to find a loose rock to put under the stand but saw that the side stand itself had broken about an inch below the pivot.

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    We got the bike on the center stand to survey the situation but it was beyond repair. Fanda decided to wire it up and go on, using the center stand only for the rest of the trip up.

    We finished our pics and talked to a couple of BLM guys there who were giving away Arctic Circle Certificates about any camping spots along the way north. They suggested two or just doing dispersed camping along the road.

    As we slowly approached Coldfoot, supposedly named as the spot where people got "cold feet" about going further north, the blue skies had turned grey again. As we neared a river crossing, there happened to be an old red and yellow VW bus parked off the side with 4 folks standing around it. Fanda chopped the throttle and pulled off, recognizing one of the couples as the Russians who'd stayed at the same couch surfer's home with them. They had decided to go to Prudhoe Bay by car and ended up riding with the VW couple.

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    Turns out the bus had developed a problem which was soon diagnosed as a bad CV joint. The owners of "Big Emma" had brought a spare and the decision was made to replace it on the roadside rather than continue on to Coldfoot. I had a long conversation with the Russian couple whose plans mirrored all of ours in heading to Ushaia.

    At another butt break on the road side a blue pickup pulled in, two guys from Serbia and Croatia conversing with us about our bikes and trip.

    Our goal for the day, Coldfoot, was in reach as the weather deteriorated into rain again. Kim's bike had a known range of 235-240 miles based on experience, and I had planned to siphon some gas from my tank in case she didn't quite make it. Turns out Fanda had an extra 3 liter fuel bottle so we'd decided to use his if needed and had raced north as quickly as the roads allowed, which turned out to be closer to 40 mph in average.

    As I looked at the GPS and told Kim we were about 4 miles from Coldfoot, she simultaneously shouted she'd just run out of gas. My GPS showed it 3.8 miles away. Fanda pulled up and we dumped the 3 liter bottle in, then continued on. Her bike had made it about 245 miles or so.

    We gassed up at the combo gas stop and restaurant to a crowd of Australian tourists who were about to board their bus. They were anxious to take pics and talk to us, one lady getting a shot of herself sitting on my bike. She was thrilled to send it to her son.

    In the store I bought a couple of stickers, some peanut M&M's and a Coke to share, as well as each of us downing a big cup of coffee while we watched the rain shower through the windows.

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    We'd not seen a place to camp and since it didn't get dark until 10:30 at night we made the caffeine fueled decision to go on for Galbraith Lake on the other side of Atigun Pass.

    The cash register girl had suggested a couple of roadside pullouts about 10 miles up the road from CF but we passed them in the rain with no desire to stop.

    Random stretches of blacktop in the middle of nowhere
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    Nearing Atigun, the rain stopped but the temps had dropped to 48 or so. The pass road began the climb into the mountains, the road wet and spongy, the front end wandering as the smooth dirt sunk and inch or two. It had appeared to have been freshly graded and was deceptively smooth, hiding it's depth and softness well.

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    Tension was thick as we motored up, feeling the bikes wandering as the throttle pushed the front wheel on. I kept asking the Butterfly how she was doing to hear a tense "Okay".



    Hitting the top to spectacular views of sun spots amidst the cloud shadows was breathtaking but as we began the descent I could see deeper mud and deep ruts from semi truck tires. It got very bad just as a turn came up, tire tracks cutting deep trenches in mud where a semi had slid sideways. Simultaneously I could see Kim, Fanda and the pickup truck the Serbian guys were in all coming behind me. Incredulously I saw the truck pass Fanda and come up right behind Kim just as we hit the deep mud. I began doing the butt clench tango as the bike wobbled in the deep ruts and heard Kim shouting in my ears as she suddenly went completely sideways as the jerks in the pickup truck tried to pass her in the deep mud. Incredibly she didn't go down and as I stopped she wore the paint off the truck with a withering streak of language.

    I was so pissed at the idiots myself I shook my fist at them as they passed. Kim was shaking heavily, having just avoided going down int he mud and then being run over by the truck. We'd had not a single vehicle near us on the entire ride until the worst part of the road and of course an idiot driver literally passing her in the middle of a bike dump.

    As she got her nerves back we got the bike turned downhill and she continued the slithering down for another mile or so to the base.

    After settling down a bit we passed the truck again and later at a butt break miles up the road the driver pulled in to apologize to both of us. Thankfully Kim had calmed down a bit so I was relieved we wouldn't have to burn the bodies and push their truck off the cliff when she finished with them.

    To say the road and views that day were epic was an understatement. The skies, terrain, loneliness, expanses and weather are truly amazing and one tires of trying to describe it or photograph it. It must be experienced.

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    The fall color was stunning
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    As the light faded we began to wonder we'd missed the turn for the campground, and when we saw a pump station off the road side I swung in to ask about fuel or camping. The guard in the shack freaked out when he saw my helmet cam and demanded to know if it was on or not. I assured him it wasn't and he calmed a bit, explaining the camp area was a few miles ahead.



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    As we rolled on we saw the sign for Galbraith and the road past a small airstrip, eventually dead-ending into the brushy camp area. A bear box was both a good sign and a bad sign, but at least we had a spot for our food after dinner.

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    Fanda used his new camp hatchet to get some small wood going while I scavenged a couple of burnt logs from another fire ring and Kim got boiling water going on the propane stove. Our meal was a share of instant Thai curry rice and a can of baked beans from Fanda, the cold eventually driving us into our tents where I lay awake wondering if we were on a bear path to the bear proof trash cans.


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  9. Smidty

    Smidty Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    South Africa
    Fantastic report and pics!
    LoneStar likes this.
  10. FailureDrill

    FailureDrill Adventurer Supporter

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    Nov 15, 2009
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    Seattle area, PNW
    Agreed, very cool report. Excellent writing and photos!
    LoneStar likes this.
  11. JoToPe

    JoToPe JoToPe

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    Oct 21, 2014
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    306
    Location:
    Burleson, Texas
    Epic story as I read from the comforts of my abode in Burleson, Texas. I would rather be a riding mate on your journey and become an entry in your RR, given even only a post script sentence. Waiting for more words to paint the mind pictures of your travels. Safe riding and Godspeed to you both, LoneStar and The Iron Butterfly!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    LoneStar likes this.
  12. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Thanks for the encouraging words everyone! Its a challenge trying to keep it going with the lack of time, connectivity and so on

    I've added a couple of videos to some of the past posts. I hope to add more and we've been very happy with the Sena 10C headsets. The quality we're getting from them is very surprising but of course loses some definition and color when converted to YouTube.
    Folly1 and uintamts like this.
  13. Mudclod

    Mudclod Mojo Moto

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    Killeen, TX.
    Fanda's tearing up those beans and franks, ha!
  14. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Lol yes he does... budget travel and simple to carry but bad side effects
  15. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

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    Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
    It's your duty as an American, and a Texan, to teach Fanda to recite: :deal

    "Beans, beans, the musical fruit......."

    &

    "Beans, beans, good for the heart ......."

    It's your duty ........................ just think of it as a colorful cultural exchange! :D

    Aren't you two glad that you decided to push on to AK!
    Looks like you're having an awesome time.
    LoneStar likes this.
  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Rob I promise I will but right now I'm teaching him to burp the national anthem
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  17. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    I awoke to the sound of rain on the tent and decided to just stay curled in my sleeping bag despite the need to get up and going for Prudhoe Bay. Kim was asleep and I heard no sound from Fanda's tent so I dozed a bit longer. We’d been up far too late the night before, the long daylight fooling us only to realize it was 1 am and not 11 pm as we guessed.

    The rain stopped and I peered out at wet bikes, mud and gear and had to make myself head out into the damp cold. I heard the zipper on Fanda's tent and Kim beginning to stir as I fiddled with the bikes, again having to adjust Kim's chain which was slack.

    We ate some cold food - maybe beans or something - and got the wet tents stuffed in the duffle. Eventually we were loaded and the sun appeared as we dodged potholes on the road from the camp out to the Haul Road.

    Fanda had asked if we'd heard anything that night, as he'd heard sniffing near his tent and wondered if it was a bear. We hadn't but were unable to spot any tracks due to the gravel.

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    From the north side of Atigun Pass, we saw no more trees and the tundra lay across huge expanses and rolling terrain. Our timing for the fall colors was great, as the carpet was a blend of yellows, oranges, deep maroons and reds. Truly beautiful and so different than what we'd ever seen. You certainly know that you are in a remote area of the world and the feel is wonderful.


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    Having heard from so many folks about the road quality and construction, it was both with apprehension and excitement that we raced north, the roads still wet and gravel covered. It was a mix of freshly graded dirt, with some deep wheel swallowing patches, followed by hard dirt and potholes, random stretches of blacktop and hard packed gravel. There were many areas of unmarked road repair and construction patches one would suddenly come upon over a rise, where 60 mph stretches came screeching down to 15 for slick mud sections.

    The 158 miles we had to travel to Deadhorse came slowly, the concentration required making each mile seem like ten. We passed through a couple of construction zones, the wheels wobbling and wavering in mud and gravel. The smooth looking, freshly graded sections were often the worst because they spread fresh soft dirt approximately 2-3 inches deep and wet it down then ran the grader over it. The smooth looking surface is just a thin sheet of dried dirt with mud beneath which catches you by surprise.

    As we finally reached the last 36 miles, where we'd been warned the serious construction began, we tightened up and readied ourselves. At one stop, the native American worker talked with me about what was ahead, the bear and musk ox that had wandered by earlier and life in Alaska in general.

    Shortly after, the pilot car arrived and we began the slow trek ahead, replete with earth movers, gravel loaded semi side-dumps and a plethora of equipment. The mud varied, but the worst was the 4" deep soft dirt that had been graded smooth and water dumped on the top... that is until the pilot car led us straight into a stretch of wet river gravel about 12" deep. Fanda was in front of me and his front wheel dug in enough to stop his bike, me coming up to him so quickly I could barely get stopped, hearing Kim yelling in the headset she was going to hit me. I felt a bump and didn't go down but saw Kim off the bike and rolling in the mud to my right. I struggled to get my bike to stay upright in the gravel and get off to help, turning around to see a truck driver who'd been behind her racing to her side, as well as a dump truck driver bailing out to help lift the bike. I could see where her front tire had kissed the bottom of my pannier and amazingly her bike had no body damage.

    Luckily she was unhurt but shaken as we got the bike righted with the help of the two drivers. We all were pissed at the driver who led us into the gravel instead of the smoother compacted section adjacent. Fanda said he could see her eating chips and listening to her headset instead of paying attention to the road. The problem with the pilot cars is that you are forced to stay close behind them, typically with a semi or two right on your tail and have absolutely no idea what lies ahead until it appears under the rear bumper of the car. This was no exception.





    We continued on, covered in mud and sliding here and there until a few smooth areas appeared. Eventually we reached another stop and the flagman told us were had timed the ride perfectly as... "Two more weeks and this will be a different world up here". They'd had snow a couple of days before amidst 7 days of rain where the temps had hit 30 or so. It was little comfort for the next 20 miles of teeth gritting moments of slip-sliding away.

    Finally Deadhorse was on the horizon, and I wondered if Kim's bike would make the 242 miles or run out of gas, but the 700 purred into the industrial buildings with no problem. We eventually found the Prudhoe Bay Hotel while searching for gas and a truck driver pointed me down to the fuel tanks a block away. We were starving and celebrated our arrival with a cold can of beans in the parking lot, eventually heading inside and donning the required booties to keep our muddy feet off the carpet.

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    I decided that VanCamp's needs to have athletes on their labels like Wheaties and Fanda should be the first cover...

    Coffee was complimentary in the hotel and we downed a bunch of it while resting in the cafeteria area. The manager warned us of a grizzly seen in the parking lot where the bikes were... hard to comprehend with nothing but massive oil field trucks and industrial buildings all around. Indeed she a had a good photo of it - fat and fluffy - on her cell phone.

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    After resting a bit and psyching up for the return, we filled up with gas at the funky fuel tanks and found the Prudhoe Bay General Store/NAPA Auto Parts building for some road snacks and a picture. The cashier told me to watch out for the road as the construction was some of the worst they'd had and the locals were a bit miffed at it. She said there had been word that a rider "had gone down on it today" and I told her it was one of us. She said it was worse than normal and to be safe.

    In the parking lot I again checked the 700's chain and it was very loose. I tightened it again but was seriously concerned about the next 500 miles it had to go. For it to suddenly decide to end it's life on this remote road was not something we needed.

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    The road back...
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    That said, we geared up and rode south without incident other than some near death moments until we hit a major patch of mud and in my sudden moment of dog paddling heard Kim shouting she was down. I got stopped and she had gotten sideways in the slop and laid the bike down. Again she wasn't hurt but frustrated at dropping the bike.



    The miles continued until we hit the 36 mile marker and felt some relief as the roads improved... to a degree, again the sudden moments of tension when you'd hit an unmarked patch of mud. It honestly seemed that the road crews were trying to dump bikers for fun the way they screwed the road up at random moments.


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    At this point you may be thinking it was just trouble and strife on the ride, but the epic scenes of beauty outweighed all the trouble with the roads. One clearly remembers the hairy moments more than the other stretches, but you can NEVER relax during the 500 miles up or the 500 back. There will always be a dangerous pothole in a beautiful stretch of asphalt, a sudden 12" deep soft patch of dirt on a hard pack road, a pile of random egg sized gravel in the least expected place, or a semi coming around a curve in your lane... all guaranteed to happen the moment you look away to enjoy the view.


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    The landscape changed as did the light, becoming crisp and sunny as we got closer and closer to Galbraith Lake. The colors of the tundra were really rich and beautiful and we commented on it constantly. We three had spaced out from each other as we each stopped for photos here and there. As I crested a ridge and the Sena's reconnected, Kim said there were two Caribou on the roadside. As I pulled up they were angling across in front of us and crossed the road, disappearing behind the pipeline and trotting away.

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    Eventually the Brooks Range appeared and then Galbraith Lake, the campground, and time to set up tents. The day before we had expected to make it back to Coldfoot this day but the fatigue and time lost in the road construction wore us down and we didn't have the extra 100 miles left in us.





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    It was clear and chilly as we set up camp, Fanda hacking a few pieces of wet shrubbery for the fire while I scrounged some foam rubber sheets from a discarded archery target to use as fire starter for the wet wood.



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    We shared canned beans and canned ham for supper by the fire, discussing the next day's 360+ miles to Fairbanks then crawled off into the tents.


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    As I lay in the tent thinking about the day... and bears... or wolves... I heard a dull metallic thumping sound coming from Fanda's tent. I realized something was up and called his name. He shouted "bear" and I grabbed my can of bear spray and knife, trying to make some noise banging them together but only getting a dull "clunk clunk clunk." I yelled Fanda's name again and then yanked the tent zipper down with my headlamp on just as he emerged from his tent, a can of bear spray we'd lent him in one hand and his hatchet in the other. He looked around wildly and said he'd been awakened by loud sniffing on the tent followed by something pushing against the fabric and shaking the tent - right near his head.

    He could see no bear nearby but was definitely upset. His disc brake bear alarm had not worked and he'd been slapping it hard trying to get it to set off. I told him to grab his steel cook pot and put some rocks in it to bang and shake if it returned. An old military sniper I'd met who lived with bears in Alaska had told me the only thing that had scared grizzlies at his cabin were rocks in a coffee can.

    It felt a bit thin and stupid to suggest rattling rocks but I asked him to give me a an interior lid from his sidecase to use as a noisemaker in our tent. He did both and then got back in his tent. I zipped up ours, completely awake and listening to every sound and heartbeat for another hour or two, determined to stay awake all night. I fought the sleep as long as possible until I finally passed out.

    What a freakin' day it was...




    ... and why it's worth it... some images from the day that capture the glory of God's creation...





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  18. lalispeed

    lalispeed Right handle addict...

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    151
    Location:
    dfw
    What an awesome shot!!!!!!

    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
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  19. TownPump

    TownPump Long timer

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,093
    Location:
    Huntsburg, OH
    Good God, that is humbling beauty. I can't pick just one image, truly jaw dropping beauty. You could sell some of these.

    Best ride report going by an Alaskan sized margin.
    LoneStar likes this.
  20. lalispeed

    lalispeed Right handle addict...

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    151
    Location:
    dfw
    Awesome history !!!!

    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
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