The Pan American Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by stoltzfii, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    Hey everyone. It's been a while since I updated this thread. Yes, the motorcycle trip is still happening, but we have all been working since the end of June and the trip was put on hold. We are planning on getting underway in only a few weeks! Also I am changing the thread name to “The Pan American Trail” which will match the name of the website for our trip that James is launching soon as well as the trip Instagram page. Hopefully everyone will still be able to find this thread OK.

    As of today I do have an update on my broken down motorcycle: the cdi was bad. I shipped a spare cdi that I had to the shop in Wasilla, and it solved the no spark issue… BUT my bike is now cranking slowly, so slowly that it will not start. This was an issue that I noticed driving up to Alaska. The bike would crank enough to start, but just so. The shop is going to remove the starter and test it. If they find that the starter is bad then I will most likely order a new one and replace it myself. So it is nice to have solved the no spark issue but it is not quite ready to roll again.

    Here is a rough timeline of what the next few months look like:

    My fishing season ends August 7th. So on the 8th I'll drive back up to Wasilla and fix whatever starter issue there is if it hasn't been fixed yet by the shop.

    Jeremy will end his job on the 12th and meet up with me.

    James is still down on the west coast and is finishing up his photography job. He will be done by the 21st but hopes to be done early around the 14th. Whenever he is done he will fly to Anchorage and meet up with Jeremy and I.


    So there's still a few loose ends to tie up we we hope to be rolling by the 14th and no later than the 21st. We plan on quickly driving up to Deadhorse then working our way down to Mt Robson by mid September. If everything goes right we'll have about two weeks to make a summit attempt at Robson and then I'll cruise to Seattle to catch a flight back to Pennsylvania for my sister's wedding. I'll be home for about a week then I'll head back to Seattle to continue our trip. After that it is pretty open ended with the only real goal being to drive south and climb mountains. Nice and simple.


    While fishing I have had some free time to work a bit on Jame's bike. I had made his luggage rack first back in PA and used a too small diameter tubing so I made new stronger racks. I also made a windscreen since he was tired or eating all the wind and rain :)

    20170728_152325.jpg

    20170723_152209.jpg

    Here's what a good day of fishing looks like:
    20170720_160326.jpg

    Soon we'll be back on the rode I'll be able to put some real updates on here, until then...
  2. TreasureState

    TreasureState A murse posing as a freelance dirt rider

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    Gents,

    I know that it has been said elsewhere in this RR by others, but it is worth mentioning that you will never regret doing this. Yes, life is on hold right now as you conduct yourselves on this most epic adventure, but as someone who has a lot more of life's proverbial trail behind him, and less of it in front of him, I applaud you for doing it. And doing it on a DR650 no less! I would love to do this trip (although, not on a stock seat), but life's responsibilities have piled up.

    Enjoy some fresh seafood for us in the land-locked central plains states. If you pass through Montana at all along the continental divide, tools, beer, food and a bed are available.

    Please ride safely. Happy to watch this thread to the end.
  3. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks! I doubt we'll get into Montana, but if we do we'll be sure to stop in.
    Bloodmouse and TreasureState like this.
  4. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    The salmon fishing is over and it's time to keep rolling. I finished my job 3 days ago and immediately went up to Wasilla to work on my bike. It had been sitting at Team CC motorcycle shop. When I arrived at the shop I asked them if I could work on my bike in the lot behind their shop, but they said that would look bad for them. They told me that I had to push it down the street to work on it. Not the best service :(

    So I pushed it a quarter mile down the street to a car wash to start working on it. I gave it a quick go over and swapped Jame's fresh battery in and it fired right up! The shop had told me the starter was bad, but really the battery was dead and the fuel line was disconnected at the tank. It seems they only gave it a half-hearted effort and immediately diagnosed it as a bad starter. Not too good…

    Screenshot_20170811-145431.png

    So while I wasn't too stoked on the costumer service of the shop, I got my bike running and that's what matters!

    Now I am back in Anchorage at our friend Dillon’s place doing some maintenance and upgrades to the bikes. I installed new front springs on our bikes, handguards, and adjusted the preload on the rear shocks. I also waxed and oiled our leather bags. Big thanks to Eibach for the springs and Otter Wax for the wax!

    20170810_200418.jpg
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    Now I'm waiting for Jeremy to finish his job on the glacier, which should be in the next couple days. He doesn't have service up there but he was planning on being done soon. It'll be good to start riding again, it's been a while!
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  5. swamp

    swamp Shut up. Ride.

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    So the problem was a bad cdi and a dead battery?

    Looking forward to the show :thumb
  6. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yup. A lot simpler than I thought, but that's how it often is!
  7. gargar

    gargar Adventurer

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    Will be following along! Safe travels. Enjoy Mexico, it was my favourite country.
  8. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    I'm following as well. Plan some similar travels next year at the latest. Not the climbing part, but that's pretty cool too!

    Keep your spirits up, as you buoy ours!
  9. DTDowning

    DTDowning Simpli Fy

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    That is about the sketchiest way to jack up a bike that I've seen in awhile, and find it commendable! The mighty DR is a hell of a machine, best of luck.
    lucertola and swamp like this.
  10. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    Haha yes it was rather sketchy. But you have to work with what you got

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G890A using Tapatalk
  11. swamp

    swamp Shut up. Ride.

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    Put some of that leather conditioner on your gnarly ass Hobbit feet! :lol3
  12. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    Well I had written another update 2 days ago but since I was offline, it failed to save properly...
    Jeremy and I are now in Fairbanks waiting for James who is driving up from Anchorage and should arrive this evening. We are all stoked be get back together and continue the trip. Actually it's more like the real start since the only driving we have done with all three of us is for the few days after we met up in Canada until my bike broke down all the way back in May. So let the motorcycle trip officially start!
    I met up with Jeremy after he finished his job on the 12th. From there we drove up to Denali Park for 6 days. We picked a cool route that involved a river crossing, a long stretch of the Muldrow Glacier and a lot of bushwhacking.

    20170818_111849.jpg

    From there we still had a couple more days until James came up so we decided to drive 2 hours north to Fairbanks rather than drive south and have to backtrack. Here in Fairbanks we drove out to Chena Hot Springs, which was great, and spent some time relaxing as we were pretty tired and sore from our trek in the Denali Backcountry.

    We found a nice camping spot on the way out to the springs.
    20170822_100714.jpg

    Here's Jeremy at another spot on the way back the following night.
    20170822_165403.jpg

    Hopefully tomorrow we will be driving up to Deadhorse as a three man crew again. We just talked to a trucker that got back from Deadhorse yesterday and he said the roads are really bad but he thought we could maybe make it... so we'll see how it goes.
    Stay tuned as the updates will hopefully start to come more quickly!
    US7IGN, pir8liner, 10ecjed and 12 others like this.
  13. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

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    For a place to stay in Prudhoe Bay I'd recommend the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, expensive but they all are, and this is not the most expensive. Might not be too bad split 3 ways. Big plus there, unlimited food in the cafeteria and it's good! The half way point, Cold Foot, OK food there. More comfortable accommodations are 11 miles north of there. Wiseman. Lots of history and old buildings there. Check out the old Post Office, logs with the original chink between! Worth the side trip even if you don't stay there.
  14. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

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    PS: Watch for Musk Ox just south of Prudhoe Bay.
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  15. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    The Dalton Highway really was everything it is talked up to be and maybe a little more. 900 miles round trip of mud, snow, and lots of loose gravel. We broke 2 chains and laid one bike over...

    We left Fairbanks on Thursday afternoon and camped out at Finger Rock, 96 miles up the Dalton. It was a nice ride with some rough sections but nothing too bad. The next day we started out a little late and made it over Atigun Pass without any trouble. There was a little bit of snow on the top but it was mushy and not too slippery. Just over the pass the snow dissipated. We drove till we found a decent spot to camp about 135 miles from Prudhoe Bay. The road had gotten very muddy north of the pass and the bikes were coated in thick clay like mud, but everything was still running well.

    Taking a short break just north of the pass:
    20170825_172229.jpg

    Saturday morning we left for Prudhoe Bay and made it by around 2 in the afternoon. We were wet, cold, and miserable. My chain was just as bad off. I was close to maxing out the adjustment and the chain was still loose and had a noticeable kink, creating a tight spot. I was pretty worried about it but there wasn't much to do about it since I had forgotten a spare 525 masterlink. Yes I know, a rather crucial mistake on such a chain destroying drive...
    After taking pictures in front of the Prudhoe Bay sign we turned south and headed back.

    20170826_180030.jpg
    We drove 80 miles to Happy Valley and camped. The next morning it was snowing but we had to get moving since it was only getting worse and we new we had to cross Atigun Pass before we got snowed in and stuck for who knows how long.

    Everything was going well. My chain was loose and pretty beat but I was trying to drive as smoothly as possible and hoping it would last till Fairbanks. We pulled over to take a look at my chain and at that point I tightened my chain again and maxed out my adjustment. Jeremy took a look at his chain and saw that it was loose as well, but still being a lot tighter than mine he decided to adjust it later. Turned out to be the wrong call. Only 25 yards down the road, while shifting into second gear, Jeremy's chain broke. Luckily he was going slowly and the chain didn't lock up the rear tire until he was almost stopped. But we were completely screwed. We had a chain breaking kit but the masterlink we had was for James' chain which did not quite fit Jeremy's chain. So we started thumbing for a ride. A few hours later a hunter headed south picked Jeremy and his bike up. Another kind soul to the rescue :) James and I immediately started again, hoping to still cross the pass before there was too much snow. 30 miles later we made it to the pass. Heading up the north side it was slushy but the rode was drivable. But close to the top it turned to
    a couple inches of snow and ice. I tried to pull over slowly but I laid my bike over. I picked it up and after stopping for a few pictures, we started down the other side walking our bikes. The south side was covered in snow a good bit of the way down so we walked them for a while. After the rode got better we coasted slowly with our feet down until we got to the bottom of the mountain. We were extremely happy to be on the other side of the pass!

    20170827_175047.jpg


    We had about 60 miles to Coldfoot where we planned on spending the night. 30 miles out my chain was ragging really really bad and we pulled over to take a link out. We now had a spare master link since Jeremy's chain had a clip masterlink which fit my chain. So we shortened my chain and put on the clip link. The bike ran way smoother, and even though the sprocket was almost shot I was confident it would get me to Fairbanks. BUT 10 miles from Coldfoot the clip link fell off and the chain broke. We had been careful to install the clip correctly but it might have been a little bent or maybe the wasted sprocket ripped it apart. Hard to know, but I was just glad it hadn't locked up my rear wheel or ripped a hole in my engine block. So James towed me to Coldfoot where we crushed burgers and coffee and found a dry corner of a weight room to crash in. Yes, we were far too cheap to buy one of their incredible over priced hotel rooms. I did overhear a worker this morning telling someone else that the weight room mysteriously smelled like a dead animal... I do know that my feet didn't smell very good, but I t
    hought that was a little extreme :)

    James left around noon for Fairbanks and I am here in Coldfoot at the only restaurant/gas station drinking bottomless coffee and asking every trucker and pickup driver for a lift for myself and my bike the remaining 250 miles to Fairbanks. Yes, this seems to be a reoccurring theme: Broken down.

    Bad luck? Maybe. I'll prepared? Probably. But I do know the ride up to Deadhorse was pretty cool.
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  16. Romero

    Romero At Cinépolis or OXXO Supporter

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    You guys are bad ass! Great RR
  17. TreasureState

    TreasureState A murse posing as a freelance dirt rider

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    A great story of perseverance, with a ton of re-tell value, "Yeah, I remember this one time we were pushing our bikes over Atigun pass in the snow . . . "

    Nice recovery. Be thankful, Mother Nature let you have the mulligan on that one. Anyone can make a mistake, but not everyone learns from them.

    Hooked into this RR to the end!
    JeepDawg and ScotsFire like this.
  18. Fat Toney

    Fat Toney Long timer

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    Great report...
  19. swamp

    swamp Shut up. Ride.

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    Great story!
  20. stoltzfii

    stoltzfii Been here awhile Supporter

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    Wrote this a few days ago but I didn't have wifi at the time so I'm uploading it now...


    Even though nothing much has happened, I believe another update is warranted. I had the privilege of spending 5 days in Coldfoot which is 100 miles above the Arctic Circle... ie. Cold and Gloomy.

    So let's backtrack a bit. Sunday evening James and I limped into Coldfoot. Actually we were able to go pretty fast, about 35 mph, with me in tow. We walked into the restaurant almost completely frozen, warmed up, ate food, and slept in the public weight room. No one works out at 3 AM. Thankfully. James left the next day and I confidently spent the entire day asking people for a ride for my bike and I back to Fairbanks. No luck. It wasn't that I was shut down, there simply wasn't an empty pickups headed south or a trucker that was legally able to take me. Tuesday morning I decided that I needed to be out by the main road in order to catch all the traffic. So I pushed my bike out to the road and "Fairbanks" sign in hand I thumbed all day. As in I sat by the road for 10 hours. No luck.


    20170829_110243.jpg

    At that point I messaged James and told him that they needed to either drive up or send the part up. The other option was for me to hitch hike down to Fairbanks get the chain and hitchhike back up to fix my bike. But that was a really crappy option and could have taken days. So Wednesday morning Jeremy drove the chain, sprocket, and tools to a bus service that drives up to Coldfoot. But he was a little late and missed it so he took it the the airport which sends three tourist flights per day to Coldfoot and they were willing to take the parts for free. BUT the flights were grounded all day due to bad weather.

    So this morning (Thursday) they sent the parts up by bus in order to ensure they come today, which should be between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. The plan is to quickly put the chain and sprocket on and drive the 200 dirt miles south before dark. The last 50 or so miles into Fairbanks are paved and should be fine in the dark.

    It's not the best place to be stuck since there is nothing to do and the food is extremely expensive so I've made it work by ordering food 3 times in 5 days and eating a few week old apples and heads of bruccoli in between. Its a new kind of diet I also found an abandoned trailer that I have been sleeping in since the weight room just wasn't a long term solution.

    Here I am putting my new chain and sprocket on.

    20170831_160534.jpg

    I was able to get the chain and sprocket installed and made it all the way down to Fairbanks
    Lesson learned. Have a good chain
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