West and North (Canada incl. Dempster) - 1972 Moto Guzzi

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by nick949eldo, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    A couple of things of note today, as I rolled up the 'scenic route' from Hinton Grande Prairie, then along far less scenic, and definitely less interesting lower section of the Alaska Highway, then along the slightly more scenic, but still rather dull few hundred kilometres north of Fort St. John. The first thing was the rather surprising lack of roadkill. I saw one large buck being turned into crow food at the side of the road, a porcupine or two, but little else. Except, that is, for one rather sad sight.

    A small bear cub had failed to quite make it across the highway. He was face down, legs splayed and a bit flattened, but not yet pulverized to a grease stain. His jet black fur and pretty feet were in startling contrast the red inside parts - he looked more like a child's stuffed toy than something that, until a few hours before, had been living and breathing.

    The second observation concerns the other bikes on the road, of which I have seen relatively few - just two or three small groups of riders, on everything from sport tourers to KLRs. I would have thought, with so few bikes passing in either direction, that one would be happy to extend a wave to fellow travelers, yet about fifty percent of the riders I passed didn't even flicker a finger and share a nod. I pondered on this. Perhaps if this is your big adventure (it certainly is a big adventure for me), maybe you want to maintain the illusion that what you've done (or are doing) is somehow unique and special. On the other hand, perhaps half the folks riding the Alaska Highway are prats. I'll let you know if I find out.

    The people who impress me are the solitary cyclists I see from time to time, their bicycles burdened with panniers front and rear, grinding up those long hills, all sinew and muscle from weeks on the road. No credit card relaxation at motels and restaurants for those folks. The distances between places with even the most limited services means that they must be camping most of the time. My hat, or at least my helmet, is off to them.

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    Of course the small town of Beaverlodge has a giant beaver DSCN5759.JPG
    I think I finally hit my stride today. Despite twelve hours in the saddle (minus a couple of brief coffee/food/gas stops) my backside didn't ache, my shoulder and neck didn't feel as though they were being skewered with hot knives, and my knees and hands decided not to lock up. No matter how I ride though, a few miles short of 500 seems to be about what I can squeeze into a day. I start out with ambitions to put in some big mileage days, but by late afternoon I'm looking at the map, trying to establish whether to stay put, or throw in another few miles on the off chance that there will be food and fuel at the next inhabited place.

    Tonight, for instance, I was ready to stop at Wonowon. I enquired about a room at a massive construction camp and would have happily bunked down in one of the industrial trailer units, but as I only had plastic and they could only take cash, it wasn't to be. Instead, I rode the extra 40 miles to Pink Mountain and the Buffalo Motor Inn. It's no five star palace - although the room price might make you think it should be - but it's warm, dry, has hot water and an all-you-can-eat buffet. What more could a fella ask for?

    Decor a la Gaston
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    (apologies if I keep switching between miles and kilometers - I lose track...)
    #21
  2. johnwesley

    johnwesley wanta be

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    Good trip report and a sweet bike. I’ve gotten comments that people wouldn’t trust my old steed. One stop had a couple of Harley riders commenting that it’s just an around town bike. No way anyone would take a trip on it even though I was already a thousand miles from home and would clean 3,000 before I returned.

    Most folks don’t get that old bikes can still Be good touring bikes. Looking forward to the next installment
    #22
  3. 'Bob'

    'Bob' Been here awhile

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    Not sure if 'Dawson' means Dawson Creek or Dawson City. Hopefully both ;) The Bunkhouse in Dawson City is a Euro style hostel with pressure wash, place to do maintenance, store gear and borrow or donate a gas can depending on where you're going to/coming from. We stayed there before/after our ride to Tuktoyaktuk and D2D event. Ollie the owner is from Switzerland which is close to Moto Guzzi country right? Lot of beta available there from fellow riders. The Goldrush campground has a laundry if you're camping but mostly RV territory. Dawson City is the gateway to The Dempster, or Top Of The World Highway, or both. Watching your thread as your RRs are always good. Cheers!
    #23
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  4. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Thanks folks. Short post tonight as I'm sitting in the campsite in Watson's Lake being bug-eaten and cadging internet through my phone. Great info re: Dawson City. Yes, that's where I'm heading - more comfortable now that I've just ordered two tyres to be sent to a friend in Edmonton. Mine should be rather threadbare by then. I'll probably backtrack down the Cassair for a change of scenery.

    More wildlife than I could count between Fort Nelson and Watson. Bears and Bison in droves. The Eldorado soldiers on. Yes - you can tour on old bikes. It's even fun, and stopping to make minor adjustments by ear on the fly is all part of the pleasure.

    Nick
    #24
  5. Little Bike

    Little Bike Air/Clutz Sue Supporter

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    I just crossed the border on the 95 today and I noticed the lack of waving too...:dunno
    #25
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  6. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 Knowledge is horsepower

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    Must be the best month for travelling way the F up north eh?

    I remember the whiskey jacks when we went fishing up there. :thumb
    #26
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  7. Snapper33

    Snapper33 Globetrotter Supporter

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    Beautiful Goose, Ride well brother!
    #27
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  8. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Of the many bears I saw today, including a very pungent dead one, one was a complete standout. The vehicle ahead of me slowed and a colossal black bear sauntered across the road. He was in no hurry at all. He was absolutely sure that he was the meanest s-o-b in the forest.

    I slowed to take a good look at him and catch a frame or two with one of my gopros. He walked parallel to the highway so I could see that he was long, gleaming black, with an almost serpentine neck and head. Paint him white and he would have passed for a polar bear. Magnificent!
    #28
  9. Dracula

    Dracula afficionado Supporter

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    My best recollection of waving while riding to Alaska was reaching a traveler on a 600 cc Honda Shadow, loaded to the gills, with Kentucky plate, and a big inscription "Alaska or Bust!". After we both almost ran out of gas and shared the last room in Toad River, then camping our way to Dawson and beyond, I will never forget him and the Jack Daniel's moments we shared :freaky.
    I love this ride report, I never really took the time to immortalize mine, but when all is said and done, every single detail of the impressions lived becomes a piece of art.
    #29
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  10. Caesars_ghost

    Caesars_ghost Air Cooled.

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    In. Always great to follow along, Nick. Thanks for taking the time to chronicle your rides.
    #30
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  11. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    In Pelly Crossing tonight fighting blackflies.

    When I left Edmonton a few days ago the Eldorado was running well, but as the miles piled on an annoying problem started to appear. At normal road speed the bike was a champ, but if I slowed it would splutter and backfire again.

    The old adage is that most carb problems are ignition problems seems true. After pointlessly twiddling the air and mixture screws to no effect I finally checked under the distributer cap. The points had almost closed up. How it was running at all was a mystery, yet it had been happily romping along for hour after hour.

    Regapped by eye. Steady idle speed and reasonable power. A few miles later I stopped again and closed the points to something closer to factory recommendations. Strangely that did the trick. Good idle - full power.

    Got to love a bike that will trudge on for hours with its most basic settings completely out of whack.

    Changed tyres in the campground tonight. Elegant how-to pictures to follow tomorrow if I can find some power for the laptop.
    #31
  12. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    At Carmacks I met up with Sam from Rhode Island (Honda CRF 250) and we met again at the campsite at Pelly Crossing. Today we rode most of the way together to Dawson City. His Honda rolls along nicely at just over 80kph - a speed at which the Eldorado is barely breathing. Sam maintained a steady speed, uphill or down, although his left foot was a lot busier than mine. On one stretch between photo stops, I noticed that he would make a couple of gear changes on the longer hills, whereas once in 5th I stayed there until we stopped again.

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    The sun was spectacularly red last night. The sky is hazy with smoke from numerous small forest fires, one of which we passed, although thankfully it was on the slope of a distant mountain.

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    I'd been told I would like Dawson City, but people often assume that because I work in the 'heritage' field, I'm interested in all historic sites and monuments, whereas I usually avoid them if I can. I was prepared for Dawson City to be a sort of Disneyfied Gold Rush World. To my astonished delight it is nothing of the sort.

    Sure, there are shops and facilities gear to cleansing the wallets of the RV and bus crowd (and those of bike riders too), but the whole place has a real, living air to it. I spied a few folks in gold rush period costume but it was all very wholesome and unpretentious - unlike the twat I just saw standing on the pegs of his ADV bike on the main river road to impress that pretty blond girl.

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    #32
  13. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Oh yes, changing that tyre.......... (sorry, out of sequence)

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    #33
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  14. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

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    Is the Kokanee to lube the tire so it comes off the rim easier?! :photog
    #34
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  15. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Sad
    Sadly not enough to make any difference.
    #35
  16. glasshousebc

    glasshousebc Adventurer

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    I literally laughed out loud at that, cheers matey.

    Loving the story, the photos and your journey.
    #36
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  17. CCitis

    CCitis Been here awhile

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    This is true ADV spirit. Taking an old bike out on great distances, no real destination in mind. Fantastic Report.... I will be following along.
    #37
  18. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Back in Dawson city again. 20190708_161917.jpg
    #38
  19. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

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    How far up did you go? :)
    #39
  20. SilverFerret

    SilverFerret Motor Psycho Supporter

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    Nick it was nice meeting you tonight. I hope my 1999 DR650 does as well as your Moto Guzzi
    #40