I never intended to do a solo ride to Deadhorse, Alaska.
It all started with a dinner conversation with an old friend and mentor in Denver a few months ago. At 71 years old he was lamenting that he had always wanted to ride the Dalton Hwy but was now too old.
Nonsense (my mom might be reading this) I say. I will go with you and carry you on my back if need be. But we will get there.
A week before launch and I get the dreaded phone call.
No, you sick bastard. He didn't die. He couldn't go because his savings had gotten slammed with the stock market.
So, since the planning had done and I had days off all set, away I went.
Crossing the border at Sumas, Washington. I was the only customer.
Day 1 707 miles
The road runs up the Fraser River canyon and is scenic in an arid, get me out of here kind of way. I was on a mission to get North fast. A turn at Prince George and thankfully am starting to feel like I'm getting into the wilds of BC.
A camp at Burn Lake was a warning that I didn't notice right away.
1) Biting bugs
2) They build tent spaces out of pit run compacted gravel that a tent stake will not penetrate.
Day 2 573 miles
Up at 0330 and rolling soon after. A stop at Smithers BC for breakfast at the last motel/ cafe on the right. Get the Loggers Breakfast and loosen you belt. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast and a gallon of coffee. I would last me until camp that night.
On to the Cassier Hwy. The road starts out in beautiful condition and slowly deteriorates as you go North during the day.
One thing to consider. If it's wet, the bridge decks are wood.
It is a must that you detour the 40 miles into Stewart/ Hyder on the trip North. Hyder, Alaska is a muddy, dusty little ghost town with more for sale signs than people.
The ride in was cloudy and foggy so I didn't appreciate the scenery. But after the obligatory pic at Mile 0...
The sun came out and exposed Glaciers, hanging glaciers, and raging rivers right next to the road.
I could spend a week just in this valley.
Northbound again and a tent space at Waters Edge Camp at Dease Lake. A minimalist camp with no electricity to recharge your gadjets.No cell service and a one hole outhouse with a half door. But they have WiFi.:clap
Day 3 836 miles. The punishment day
It was a tough day. First my Outdoor Reasearch air mattress went flat on the right half side. Leaving me balancing on a 12" wide bed. It never really gets dark this time of year so up and rolling again at 0300 in the morning gloom. The road is more gravel than pavement and posted at 60-70 kph (HA!) 36-42 mph. The 990 cruises at 65-70 mph just fine. That's the nice thing about Canada. No cops. I saw one total in 6,000 mile of riding.
Worse than cops on the road are the Northern Speed Bumps. Moose, Cariboo, and Bison will be everywhere you don't want them. Like standing in the road on a curve or just ambling in front of you when you turn to look up at a lake. FYYFF.
Breakfast at the intersection of the Cassier and Alaska Hwy at Patty's Cafe. All homemade food. That is one thing about being up here. Most everything is scratch made because of supply chain is so long. You will eat well.
Even though I didn't need to go, but to say I had ridden to whole length of the AlCan, I side tripped into Watson Lake. A 30 mile detour. While ther I added my sign to the forest. That's me in the middle.
Refuel and roll.
Whitehorse YT is a real honest to God town with a headshop and disenfranchised Goth teens walking the streets.
This is also the only real bike shop you will see before Fairbanks so if you need anything, get it now.
The last 200 miles of the Can side of the AlCan are as close to a paved MX track as I have ever seen. I was moving at 85mph most of the time by now to make camp before 10pm. The road surface, while paved, was so frost heaved that I would get air off the tops and bottom the suspension in the G outs. Really fun. Seriously. Real fun.
You gotta stop at Buckshot Betty's for a burger in Beaver Creek, YT. It is the farrthest west town in Canada and only 50 miles or so to the border. I shared a table with the only cop I would see for the ride. Nice guy.
Back on the MX track AlCan and moving fast.
There are thunderstorms ahead and that makes me go a bit faster. WooHoo!
I enter Alaska after holding the Canadian speed laws in contempt for being posted at 100kph (60mph) over these vast areas only to see that here the posted speeds are 55mph!
The Hell with that.
Back at 85mph and tooling towards Tok and a bed and right into a downpour from that Tstorm.
You have to camp at Thompson Eagle Claw motorcycle Camp
It was raining a little and all the tough guy riders were in motels. I had the place to myself and was rewarded by the owner with a sticker that says " I wasn't a pussy. I camped at Thompsons Eagle Claw.
Thompsons has a wood fired sauna /shower. So I sit in there sipping Irish whiskey and writing in my journal until I am totally relaxed and ready for bed.
Day 4 261 miles
Early up because it never gets dark. Note to all. Carry a sleep mask if you come up here.
The road between Tok and fairbanks has more homocidal Moose than anyplace along the route. You will have several max-braking events to avoid these FF's from trying to kill you.
Another Loggers Breakfast. This time in Delta Junction and then finish the day at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks at the dorm.
Before reaching Fairbanks though you will ride along the runway at Eilson AFB. Of course that's where the only moose that wasn't camera shy would be standing. Actually standing near the sign that says No stopping or standing. No photography for the next 2 miles.
The dorm room in Fairbanks was so small that the lens of my camera couldn't capture it. Lets just say it was sparse at 6' x 12'. Painted a featureless white with one window and no A/C. It honestly could have been confused for a prison cell except it was missing the Stainless Steel pot in the corner.The bathroom down the hall was decent except when I came out of the shower there was a girl washing her hands in the sink. A quick glance at the door just said Bathroom-no sex specified- so maybe this was a uni-sex bath???
I had to ask and the girl says, No, she just didn't want to go to the 1st floor where the girls bathroom was.
Oh. Well that's okay then?
Day 5 527 miles
Now the fun begins. The meat and potatos of the ride.
The Dalton Hwy
This kind of says it all
Away I go. Keep the gas tank full and watch for the potholes.http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c1...d/P1090316.jpg
And the flowers. Freaking things were everywhere. For miles in every direction.
The bugs were swarming around my head so I couldn't take off my helmet. I did get in a shameless plug for Lynwood Motoplex, my local KTM dealer.
Lunch in Coldfoot Camp
Vast areas that get a little overwhelming
A stop to brew a cup of coffee at Atigun Pass. but the wind was blowing so hard I was worried my bike would tip over. I will try again and fail later for different reasons.
Like a hailstorm.
Right after I took this picture, the truck you can see approaching nailed me in the chest with a wall of slush. Thank you Sir! May I have another.
Finally, exhausted and hungry I ride past the Coldfoot Inn. It's the first "hotel" you pass on the way into town. Even with 40 knot winds blowing and the building being a hundred feet off the road I can smell the dinner cooking. A quick U turn and I am home.
This was my favorite place on the whole ride. The rooms were $200 but considering I was on the Moon, the price was reasonable. The dinner that night was all you can eat Prime Rib, Deep fried Prawns, Clam strips, Salmon, Fresh baked Croissants, rice, veggies, salad, 2 kinds of pie, 2 kinds of Ice Cream.
Again, the shared bath was down the hall.
There isn't a tree for 300 miles, so the boys at Halliburton made their own National Forest
Next up. The ride South.
Day 6 533 miles
Up early again because it is light out and I smell bacon.
So I wander into the galley and see that it's 0400. Screw that and back to bed.
Up at 0600 and have another all you can eat meal of bacon, reindeer sausage, eggs, potatoes, toast, oj and coffee. Good stuff.
Time to re-fuel at Nana out by the airport and get a pic or two
There isn't a tree within 300 miles, so the boys at Haliburton made their own.
Going south I increase my speed since the day is sunny and the road is mostly good. Problems though at mile post 13o when my low fuel light comes on 50 miles too soon.
At MP 134 there is an intersection that has a wide spot so I can refuel. There is a mailbox there and since there isn't mail service I have a look inside. It is stuffed with cookies, candy, and sodas all for free. Just leave any reading material that you can spare.
Climbing the Brooks Range again is impressive. The scenery is just vast out here.
The speed I'm riding and the conditions have a song that I hate playing in my head.
Today I am Jonah Street and Cyril Dupre as I race across the Tundra.
The other road hazard up here are the monster modules that are being brought up. This one was 20' wide and had a pilot car telling everyone to get off the road NOW!
What's cool is they will stack a couple pusher trucks behind to shove the loads up the grade.
Going way too fast for conditions and before you know it I am back in Coldfoot for my daily burger.
Out again and this time get a couple "Oh Shit" moments.
One is while passing a semi on a long straight. The semi decided he didn't want to be passed and started moving left while I was beside him. The shoulders on the Dalton are deep, soft gravel and to get into it would be bad, I stayed on the gas with 6" of road left as I gave the driver the bird.
Then back at my dorm room for a much needed shower and some chow.
I called Alaska Pizza and the conversation went like this.
Me: I want to order a pizza to be delivered to the University of Alaska.
Dumb Ass: Where is that?
Me It's the big buildings on the hill north of town.
DA:What's the address?
Me: It's the University. There's only one!
DA: (yelling to the driver) You know where the University of Anchorage is?
Me: No! It's the University of Alaska in Fairbanks!
Wait. Where are you located?
DA: Were on University Street.
Me: Okay. Go north on University Street until you see the University. There's a lot of buildings.
I'm in the Moore Building. It's the dorm on the left of the three.
The door requires a code key so I will wait in the lobby.
DA: (to driver) You know where the More code building is at the University of Anchorage?
Me: No! The Moore Building. It's a dorm!
Me: Ask the driver if he knows where the dorms are.
DA: He does. What would you like?
Me: A small, thin crust anchovy pizza.
DA: Our anchovies are chicken.
DA: The anchovies are chicken. If I push the anchovy button the cook puts chicken on the pizza.
Me. Oh. Pepperoni then.
DA: Okay. That will take 45 minutes.
The pizza showed up 15 minutes later.
Day 7 216 miles
Another rest day. Slept in so late that I had to have a burger for breakfast.
I picked up my stashed new rear tire that the Harley Dealer was so nice to hold for me.
The Mefo super Explorer wears much better than the TKC80's I'm used to. So I have to carry it for a while
The road to Tok again is full of homicidal Moose and I get to do some panic stops with that tire sliding into my back.
Before you get to Tok you see...
and you can only ask...WTF?
The owners have been here since 1985 and it is a collection of "stuff" acquired around the area. The name sounds like a kiddie park. It's not that at all. But if you are a gear head like me, you can spend hours looking at all the old snow mobiles, mil-surp stuff, engines, and this...
You don't see that every day.
Into Thompsons Eagle Claw and my wall tent again. It's hot out now so the Gobi's get put to work.
I even met the Japanese guy riding his Honda Ruckus across North America.
The Ruckus gets 200 mpg and tops out at 30 mph all loaded up with camping gear.
Day 8 296 miles The Top of the World
The turn off is a few miles east of Tok and away you go on gravel to Chicken, Alaska and the Top of the World Hwy. So named because they cut the road along the top of a ridge that has unobstructed views for miles.
This drops you into Chicken and a great breakfast.
Try the cinnamon rolls. Everything is fresh baked.
Up the hill again and head for Boundary, Alaska.
There's a sign saying they serve the best coffee in Boundary. Of course the place is closed.
New TourTech Arctic accessories
Just a few miles and into the coolest border crossing I have ever seen.
Miles from nowhere. The staff works 7 days on, 7 off. The views are tremendous.
Just so you understand where this is...
It's all downhill to Dawson City but first you need to ride the free ferry caross the Dawson River. This little boat hauls ass all day and it just crashes into the bank and drops the ramp. Every one scrambles off and the next group jumps on.
Then there's this boat on the main road. Don't know why...
nd if you ride a KTM you have to stop here.
Otherwise I camped at Moose Creek Campground. If I could recommend. Don't stay here. There are a lot of places farther along. I was just being lazy and I paid for it the next day when I did the Campbell HWY:yikes:yikes
Day 9 521 miles of shit
What a crappy day is what I write in the journal.
The first 100 miles is just to get to the Campbell Hwy. If I hadn't been lazy I'd have been there hours earlier.
So breakfast at the junction. Have the "quicky" breakfast sandwich and a coffee. The owner comes out and shows me on my map what to expect. Bad road, ruts, holes, dust, and if it rains, slimy mud.
It didn't rain but the Hwy crew were watering so I had all the slip without having to button up the rain gear.
The holes were mostly just potholes. There was one that was about 6' x 6' x 12" deep and sharp edged. The other thing was at intervals the surface would turn in sand whoops the entire width of the road. Again, no problem if you see it coming. I stood up on the pegs about 6 hours this day and rode the bike like I was on a MX track.
The other reason I stood is because there is little air behind my windshield and I was cooking in my gear.
There were some forest fires in the area and the smoke started to inhibit vivibility.
The watering undid the wash job I gave Jumbo while in Tok
Near the end there are a couple lakes with campgrounds. The bugs were bad and I wanted to sleep in a real bed tonight so I pressed on to Watson Lake.
I make bad decisions in the evening.
The map shows that the last 30-50 miles should be paved. I am exhausted but can handle a high speed run into town. The map was wrong and in fact this was the worst stretch of road so far. They were rebuilding and had ripped everything down to the base. The road had ruts, mud, dust, large rocks, and heavy equipment working that you needed to dodge.
I was cooked and badly dehydrated when I arrived in Watson Lake. At the gas station next to the sign forest an employee watched me climb off Jumbo and slowly strip my gear off and head for the door to get a Gatoraid. He watched me struggle up the stairs in my sweat soaked, sticky gear. He saw me rattle on the door knob.
The GD place was closed.
Across the street was another gas station and I knocked back a 1/2 gallon of GatorAid.
The search was on for a motel. I grabbed the last room at The RCAF Pilots Barracks. Now run by Mike the German. Another bathroom down the hall place with no A/C. It was still clean and nice and I was happy to be there
Stunning beauty! :clap
Love the rocket launchers on the sides of your bike :thumb
Sweet ! Keep it coming :clap :freaky :clap
Never seen those canisters before.
Tell us about those canisters you have mounted on both sides.
Where did you get them?
How did you mount them?
And more importantly - what do you have in them?:evil
Fantastic ride report. All of what we want and nothing we don't. :clap
Dat 10 334 miles.
I took Mike the Germans advice and back tracked to BJ's Truck stop and a great breakfast. BJ's is supposed to also change bike tires, but after meeting the owner, he told me the mech that did that was a "hammer mechanic" and damaged a lot of expensive bikes. No sweat says I. I can keep running to Fort Nelson where there is a real bike store (No, there isnt)
You cross the Simpson Range and get to goggle at the scenery. Quite beautiful up there.
Being a wanna be Geologist had me parked and ooohing for a while at plate techtonics in action.
If you can stand the bugs, a stay at Liard Hot Springs would be the ticket. $18 for a camp, $5 for a day pass to use the springs. I didn't see any bugs on the 10 minute walk to the water. But I met a Dutch guy named Eddie on a 1989 BMW 1000GS who had camped there and said it was as bad as he had seen. It did look tempting.
Beyond that the construction delays start to wear you down while you wait in the hot sun for the next Pilot Car
Beware the fuel situations up here. A sign will say Check your fuel. Next gas 110KM. No problem, then you get there and the place has been closed for a couple years. Carry 250-300 miles worth of fuel. You wont need it all but with the economy the way it is more places are closing all the time.
In to Fort Nelson and the language barrier strikes again.
I go to TireMart because they do bike tires. They even sell bike tires. So I show the mech my new Mefo and say can you install it?
No, we dont do that here. But go down the road to Northern Metalic and they will.
In Northern Metallic and they say. No, We dont do that here. Go to TireMart.
Like I said before. I don't make good decisions in the evening.
Can I just use your (baking hot) parking lot and I will do it myself?
What a stupid MF I am. I was hot and tired and I took on a hard job. Unlike the TKC80 that you can change in 10 minutes. These Mefos have a seriously hard sidewall that dosent give way easily. After an hour and a half of sweating and finishing off the last of my water, a mech getting off work came over and added the couple extra hands I needed to get the bead over the rim. Thank you Sir and God bless you.
Here's where the language barrier comes in. The mech helping me asks why TireMart isn't doing this for me. I said they don't do this. No says the mech. They wont take the wheel off the bike. If you had done that and handed him your wheel they would do it.
Now he tells me.
Camped at the West End Campground conveniently located at the West End of town. They have a full service bar at this campground! What a great idea. I camp next to Eddie the Dutch guy again and we go toast our success that day over icey cold Corona's
Day 11 565 miles
I had to give Eddie a mild lecture about riding ethics over the beers last. He is out for 8 months on his ride yet can't get out of bed before 1000 and can't get rolling before 1200.
I'm up at 0600 and quetly pack and get started. Eddie crawls out of his tent and tells me he can't believe anyone wou;ld get up this early. We say our goodbyes and will meet in Dawson Creek.
I back track again 20 miles and turn North up 77 to get into the NorthWest Territories and Fort Liard.
The road turns from nice blacktop at the border into bad gravel. Again 65-70mph is the best speed Jumbo likes to run
I think that 80 kph is a mis-print.
Fort Liard is a little turd of a town 10 miles off the main road. Swarms of biting bugs. A dried up little gas station and a new tourist center and gift shop. I really tried to spend money in the gift store but there wasn't anything I could carry home-very nice birch bark baskets.
So back to Fort Nelson and the West End Camp for lunch and there's Eddie talking on his Skype to his sweety back home. I eat lunch and come outside and he's still talking. Eddie promises he will leave in an hour and see me in Dawson. Nope.
I finish the day at Mile post 0
So I'm standing there thinking I should be high fiveing somebody or patting someone on the back and it's just me in the late evening heat feeling numb.
I know I've done something. I don't quite know what but it will come to me later I'm sure.
camp is back through town next to the Pioneer Park. Very pleasant and cool. The tent is pitched on grass and I'm next to two cute Swiss girls driving a filthy, muddy, but brand new rental car.
Sorry no pictures of the girls.
I sleep the best I have had since I left because it finally gets dark at night. The down side is on the other side of my tent is an elderly couple and one of them is farting like a horse all night.:puke1
The front TKC 80 is about shot and has a bad hump in it while I ride. The bike store in town is really a quad store and can't balance my tire so off I hop southbound again. At Chetwynd they have an Aprillia dealer. They have an Aprillia dealer in Chetwynd??!!! So I pull the front tire and the mechanic does his best to re-balance it, re-fill my water bottle with cold spring water and generally act like a great guy. The balance helps some and it smooths out above 50 mph so away I go with one more detour.
Mt Robson park in the Canadian Rockies is worth the side trip and I hate to admit was the best scenery of the ride and is only a days ride from my house.
The Shadows of Robson Campground was full.
My day ended after a run into Jasper, Alberta for a refuel and a scary ride back west into the setting sun. I avoid riding at night and had no choice because I hit this area on a Friday night of a 3 day weekend. Every place was full and I was trapped into pressing on. Riding with one hand and blocking the setting sun with the other, I had numerous encounters with deers coming up on to the road way. Finally It was too dark as I approach Valmount BC and saw a sign for a B&B.
The home was a custom loghouse. The owner was the head of maintenance for Yellowhead Helicopters just across the highway fro the road into the B&B.
I was tired and dirty when I rolled into Brigetta's (pronounced BriGEEta) driveway. She offered me some left over home made pizza and some spring rolls and best of all a cold beer. The bed was perfect and I would have slept for hours more if the other guest wasn't snoring so loudly through the wall. Breakfast was a smoke salmon omlette and a bowl of fruit.
She even let me park Jumbo inside her garage.
I highly recommend this B&B 1 (250) 566-1740 http://www.bbcanada.com/11119.html
I try to find and read all the Alaska RR's. This is absolutely one of the best. Please keep it going.
Day Last 498 miles
Valmount BC to Woodinville, Wa.
After my B&B breakfast I started home with a relaxed pace until I started getting passed by Albertan drivers in motor homes and campers going 90 mph. Fights on
Jumbo is hopping bad when ever I get below 50 now but I can't let her get passed by a GD motor home. As the day warms up the Canadian drivers become even more aggressive and it's starting to scare me that after 6,000+ miles I'm going to get flattened by a Canuk.
At every gas stop now I have to drink a half gallon of GatorAid to stay feeling normal. The day is close to 100F and my Anti-Monkey Butt powder has failed badly.
Once across the border I take the Mt. Baker Hwy south to stay away from the traffic just a little longer . Finally at Sedro Wooley I jump on I-5 for the last bit. For the first time I have to give a girl driver the bird after she tries to kill me twice in a mile with unsignalled lane changes right into me.
When I make it home it's to an empty house and no marching band. There is one beer left in the fridge.
My worn out TKC 80 with 9000+ miles on it
Total distance 6,436 miles in 12 days
No flats, drops or crashes.
About 2000 miles on gravel.
The 2007 990 now has 30,412 miles on her and has had zero maintenance issues. Not any.
Thanks for sharing
Brings back memories....good and bad...Especially the $200 a night cheap motels.
What worked and what didn't
The big disappointment was my RotoPax fuel cans. They failed in every possible way. Heat expansion bubbled the cans and snapped the bolt that holds the extension to the base.
That problem was solved with a couple ROK straps which would flex with the expansion.
The seals on the RotoPax cans both failed the same day. Luckily it was when I was re-fueling for the last mandatory time on the Campbell Hwy. Apparently they reacted with the fuel and swelled up then started falling apart. I have only used pump gas with these cans so my guess is the high Ethonal content of Canadian fuel played a part. RotoPax will be getting a call from me tomorrow.
My TouraTech brake guard fatigue cracked in two at about day 4
What saved my day was something recommended by Cyborg. an Aussie product that I almost left behind because of its size and weight but was the only way to change my Mefo tire.
It lays in the bottom of the Gobi and has never been used until that evening in Fort Nelson. Thanks Cliff!
Some were asking about the Rocket Launchers on the bike. They are Agri-Supply Tool tubes
and cost $5.00 each. That and .75 worth of stainless steel adell clamps each and you are in business.
To store the tools a friend of mine at SKT industries made me some tool bags custom to fit the tubes. They were indespensible and a great conversation starter.
The rear Mefo tire I would recommend IF you have the ability and tools to fix it if need be.
Thank you all for the kind words about my post.
It is good to be back home.:clap
Great report! Right to the point!
Thanks for sharing!:clap
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