Vintage 1996 Ride Report - SoCal to Alaska (with pictures)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rickj, Dec 9, 2018.

  1. djroszina

    djroszina Long timer Supporter

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    When I was up in '96 and my K1100lt gave up the ghost, I stayed at a backpackers hostel in Fairbanks for 4 days waiting for my new to me '78 R100/7 to get set for my return trip home to Milwaukee. I experienced younger travelers from all over the world during my stay there. One person in particular was a mid 20s biker from Sweeden documenting his RTW trip on his Yamaha XT. He was traveling light, and traveling solo hoping to sell his story to a European motorcycle magazine...it strikes me funny how then he viewed it as a form of income. Now a days we, via computer forums, like this, document our travels, tell our stories, and post our pictures free for the taking.
    #41
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  2. rickj

    rickj Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    351
    Location:
    33.496960,-117.195289
    Thanks. I think I had sent some tires to the Yamaha shop in Whitehorse to be mounted during the trip. I had definitely stopped by the shop to get more than the chain tightened as reported in my journal. In addition to the problems with the fork bearings, there were a number of other minor issues that were mostly things that needed tightening. I think I was about the lose one of my mufflers! What I found interesting was that nobody in the Yamaha shop had ever seen an FJ1200! People kept referring to it as a crotch rocket and were asking how I could ride it so far with its aggressive forward leaning riding position. In fact, the riding position wasn't actually that aggressive. The old bike performed fairly well though, considering that it was no adventure bike.

    Yeah, the riding gear wasn't that great back then compared to today's. However, I had been motocamping since the 70s and had all the required camping things such as a small isobutane cooking stove, cookware, etc. In some ways, it may have been less complicated than today.

    I've long enjoyed motocamping, and Tom and I did camp mostly wen we were in the lower 48, but he wasn't really prepared for rain so we ended up in motels more than I wanted.

    Thanks for tagging along. Glad you're enjoying it.
    #42
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  3. lqgsrider

    lqgsrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
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    875
    Location:
    Lower CA Desert
    Good RR
    Thanks for posting
    #43
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  4. rickj

    rickj Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    33.496960,-117.195289
    JOURNAL NOTES, SATURDAY 7/13/1996

    Start: 28,478
    End: 28,887


    Up at the crack of dawn/ (Oops! No dawn here - light pretty much 24 hours...). Cloudy and threatening as usual. Left motel at 7:30 and headed for Dalton Highway via Elliott Highway. Elliott supposedly paved but most of it had recently been recovered with new gravel and oil. They leave the oil, dirt, dust, etc. to set in before grinding the top for the eventual finish. This combination is generally worse than regular off-road conditions as the rocks on top are like ball bearings on a hard pack surface.

    First encounter with a moose but it was frightening and ran into forest immediately. Shortly thereafter another moose in road. As I approached slowly it ran down the road a ways and looked back. As soon as I would get closer he would again run down the road and look back. After about three iterations of this I got fairly close and cracked the throttle to convince it to get out of the road. It immediately disappeared into the brush.

    Crossing over the Yukon River I was the outpost @ Mile 56. Series of trailers, restaurant, gas, etc. Gassed up and had lunch. $12.50 buffet which was outstanding. Got water and a few munchies in case I had to spend the night @ circle. Weather great. Blue skies with only a few thunderheads in the distance. Saw a moose and a calf. Also saw a ptarmigan which is a chicken / quail type flightless bird. The town of Chicken has lots of these birds in the area, but the founders also didn't know how to spell it so they called their town "Chicken" instead.

    Trees very small and disappeared as I headed north. Too cold in winter.

    Reached the circle and had a few pictures taken. Warm enough to take off jacket! It started clouding up as I left and I only got a few miles before hitting rain, then hail, then very heavy winds/ Hard to control bike on mud in heavy crosswinds. (Seemed like Mother Nature's final vengeance on me. I became more determined as conditions worsened.) Heavy rain for the next 50 miles . Almost went down as I worked my way from crown to side of road to let a gas truck by who had been tailing me for miles trying to pass. Rain stopped before I reached the Yukon outpost.

    Had a snack and headed back hoping for no rain. It rained a few times but not as heavy as previously. I knew I'd make it now. At Mile 100.2 past the Yukon I hit pavement! It might as well have been gold!!

    Moose and 2 calves on side of road.

    Pulled into a motel in Fairbanks for the night. Went and got a 6-pack of Corona, Dinty Moore beef stew, and roast beef hash. (Dinner / breakfast). Washed off all the mud from bike. License plate and lights not visible!


    July 13.JPG

    Unfortunately, I can't find the pictures that I have for the last few days of the trip! For now I'll just write out my journal notes for the next couple of days.

    I also left out a few personal comments that I had written in the journal about my ex-girlfriend, whom I had finally decided I would ask to marry me. (I was 43 years old at that time of this ride and had been single since my divorce at age 29.) I had been dating her about three years and, while she was a wonderful friend and partner, our relationship had been a complicated one. She had been pushing for marriage and I wasn't sure. The long ride had been a great opportunity to contemplate my decision though.

    The day I arrived home she called me and broke off the relationship. She had already shacked up with another guy!

    Seems my instincts and reluctance to commit to her had been right...
    #44
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  5. rickj

    rickj Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    33.496960,-117.195289
    JOURNAL NOTES, SUNDAY 7/14/1996

    Start: 28,887
    End: 29,023

    Highway 3 (Parks Highway) from Fairbanks to area 1 miles east of Denali Park entrance.

    Phone rang at 10:00 AM and woke me. Office telling me that check-out was 11:00. I was in a dead sleep. Very tired from day before. Raining as usual as I loaded the bike. Left about 11:30, got gas, checked tires and had lunch.

    Ride to Denali area pretty uneventful. Rain let up a bit as the day went on. Arrived to Denali area about 2:30 and went to visitor info center. Very busy so I left. Pulled into Salmon Bake and rented a cabin for the night.

    Booked myself on a jet boat tour starting @ 6:00. Very interesting ride upriver to prospector area, then narration by trapper, mushers, etc. Insight into how the locals live during winter months. One of the guides, LauraLee, lives in Cantwell (nearby town) in a cabin and has 9 huskies, sleds all around during winter months, etc.


    July 14.JPG
    #45
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  6. djroszina

    djroszina Long timer Supporter

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    We lived a bit of parallel personal lives back in ‘96. I was divorced in ‘89 and had dated on and off, and in ‘96 just before leaving for AK, got hot and heavy with a lady way out of my league...but she loved riding on the K1100lta...fast forward to me returning from AK on a clapped out 78 R100/7 after the K died outside of Denali. She took one look at the R100/7, shook her head, and I never heard from her again.

    Left on this.
    60C9530D-148D-4AB4-A27B-660FBC5277D6.jpeg
    Came back on this.
    5493FBC1-BE26-4325-9E07-D7448D10DD9D.jpeg
    #46
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  7. rickj

    rickj Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    33.496960,-117.195289
    JOURNAL NOTES, MONDAY 7/15/1996

    *** Last journal entry for this ride report ***

    Start: 29,023
    End: 29,276

    Denali to Anchorage on Highway 3 (George Parks Highway)

    Went on a 4-hour rafting tour early in the morning. Water 36 degrees! It rained the whole time we were rafting. First two hours fairly mellow, then mostly Class III rapids in the last 2 hours. Took pictures with disposable water camera.

    Rode down toward Anchorage after lunch and drying out. Intermittent rain decreasing as I approached Anchorage. Good views of McKinley, but cloud cover over the peak.

    Pulled into a campground on outskirts of Anchorage for the night and left message with Jolene that I was in town and would call them tomorrow. After setting up camp I was sitting at picnic table and Jolene and Justin came by! They live a couple of blocks from the campground and thought they’d find me. Small world… (Jolene’s 21st b’day!)
    [EDIT: Jolene is my niece and had been living in Anchorage with her then-husband, Justin.

    July 15.JPG

    I had planned on riding down to Homer after taking a day off to spend with my niece, but with news of constant rain and very bad road conditions on the Kenai peninsula I decided to just spend a couple days in Anchorage and then fly home a few days early.

    The next day I rented a Cessna 172 the next day for 1.5 hours and was able to fly around the area and check out glaciers. Years before I had been flying small planes recreationally, but my pilot's license and Class III medical card had expired. Even so, the pilot was kind enough to let me fly, and I remember that I really enjoyed myself. It was a beautiful way to end my trip.

    There is some more verbiage for the last two days that I spent in Anchorage, but nothing that would be of interest here. There's one paragraph on the final page of my journal that summarizes the trip.

    It’s been a great trip, an awesome experience, and a milestone in my life. I have enjoyed the challenges and rewards of the trip, and I’ve learned a few things about myself in the process. Since I was a teenager I have dreamt of riding to Alaska. Family and responsibilities have delayed my little adventure, but I knew that I would accomplish this goal at some point. Reaching the arctic circle became the goal that I set my sights on. The trip offered me much time to contemplate my life and my future. The beauty of the landscape fascinated me, while the vastness mesmerized me. The challenges and hardships gave me determination.


    Thanks for riding along with me on this vintage ride report of my first and most memorable trip to Alaska!
    #47
  8. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

    Joined:
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    Nice RR, I really enjoyed reading and seeing this flashback report...
    #48
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  9. Nanuq

    Nanuq Aventurer by Trade

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,189
    Location:
    Point Hope, Sitka & Biorka Island- all in Alaska
    This is a great historical report. Thank you!!!!
    #49
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  10. Folly1

    Folly1 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
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    Charleston, SC : Bath, Me
    Sorry Dave, but this is funny.

    Take care,

    Ben
    #50
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