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motobiko 01-08-2013 03:39 PM

The Big 60
Hi, my name is Luke. I like motorcycles(had to say that). I haven't been on here too much before this winter, but had another inmate recommend it to me when i was out on a little trip last summer, so when i got back home decided it would be wise to join. Its really good! A number of people asked if there was going to be something written about that trip, and since the temperatures are near freezing and the ice is on the ground here in Montana today, what better time than now to write a few pages about it. So here we go.

motobiko 01-08-2013 03:43 PM

To tell you a little about myself, i generally tend to ride as much as i can may-september, or as the weather allows here in Montana. Nearly every year in the last decade since high school i have bought a bike or two and have ridden them a fair amount. That being said my riding is better than my writing, so keep that in mind when you read this. :D Anyway, the only bikes acquired to date are american and japanese, no european bikes. Yet! Although in the last 5 years all i have bought are harleys and klrs. I always look for deals. Which brings me to the start of my journey. I found a good deal on a 03 FLHTI in march 2012, put a few thousand on that before this trip, liked it quite a bit, but just wasnt what i really needed. Then in may 2012 i found just what i wanted. A 09 KLR with 847 miles on! The bike was stock with the exception of a kawi brand tailbag. The bike had been laid down on gravel on the left side and had some scuff marks on the plastic. The handlebars were also bent, but the owner had a new pair for me to put on. I took my pickup to go get it, which was the right move, since it wouldnt start after i brought a new battery to replace the one in it that was deader than a doornail. Even tried pushing it down the hill, but no go. The owner said it had never started real well anyway, and i suspected that due to the low mileage the carburetor was more than likely completely gummed up. Even so i decided to buy it. For $3100, why not?<WBR><WBR>

That was on May 16th. I knew my time was limited for what i needed to accomplish. First off was to start ordering parts, get them on as quickly as i could, then test it out. I wanted to be prepared for everything on this trip. A lot of extra stuff was bought just in case. My cousin works at a kawi dealer, so i could get parts considerably cheaper from her, than say, online or msrp. She found some SW Motech crash bars and a 4'' taller windshield for me. Then i replaced the junky dunlop k750s with avon gripsters(my personal tire of choise for klrs). Took the rims in to Reiters Kawasaki in billings with the extra tires and they still charged me $40/tire to change and balance them! Enough of this, i'm ordering tire irons and a pump. $12 irons and a $30 pump and i have 1 tire change practically paid for . The chain was rusty, so i threw a new one on. Then did the doohickey of course with the tension spring so i didnt have to monkey with it later in the event the shorter replacement springs(35 or 38mm) bottomed out. Ripped the carb off, cleaned all the gunk out, drilled the slide hole out bigger, put a 42 pilot jet, 152.5 main jet in, shimmed the needle up one, and hooked it back up to the motor. Changed the oil too. With all that i felt more air was a must as well. Drilled the airbox out, added a k&n air filter and DG exhaust pipe and that was that. Decided to check the valves and they were all out of whack. Since the shims are $13 each from the kawi dealer, i did the valves on my 05 klr since it was right there as well. There were 6 valves that needed to be reshimmed between the 2 bikes, and only 1 was the size i needed to reuse. Couldnt find my old shims, so $65 later i had 2 properly shimmed klrs. Also added a thermo-bob to keep me temps in their happy range. Otherwise the needle seems to go all over the place. My 05 klr got one the previous year, and definitely helped keep the temperature consistent for the most part. I didnt have to place aluminum foil over half the radiator now to keep the needle in the proper heat range when i went riding in near freezing conditions.

<WBR><WBR> With that i had the engine part finished, i turned my attention to the body. Needed more room, so i installed the happy trail boxes from my 05 klr. Unfortunately the 09s have a slightly different body. The rear plastic pieces are longer and wider and had to be cut to allow the 3/4'' aluminum frame square tubing to fit. But i got it to fit after a lot of shimming and modifying. Purchased a klr tank bag for it for gps, water bottle, candy, maps, etc. Added a aluminum skid plate, magnetic drain plug, sw motech bars, but forgot to get a pair of highway pegs. Had some cheap ones on my 05 klr, but didnt like them. They vibrate way too much. Thankfully the passenger pegs from my 93 FLSTC fit quite nicely after i drilled the holes out to 3/4''. Thats pretty much it for the bike. Ran like a champ after i went through the carb. Drove around town a little bit and decided it was good to go.<WBR><WBR><WBR>

As for me, i knew i wanted to be prepared for just about anything, so i packed a few changes of clothes, leather chaps, long johns, carhartt bibs, ski gloves, face mask, rain pants, toe shoes for warm weather, and waterproof uninsulated hunting boots. I got a my first flip open helmet(Fulmer) that was in really good shape and came with my 03 FLTHI when i purchased it, so that was coming along. And a Joe Rocket waterproof LT jacket that came with my 05 klr. It actually fit really well. I'm 6'1'', 180lbs, so finding jackets that have sleeves with a decent length can be a bit of a challenge at times. Otherwise my wrist freeze when it gets cold out and i get rain and bees and wasps and all sorts of unwanted things down my sleeves. Its kind of sad when some people just give up riding all together when they sell their bikes. I dont think i could ever do that. Of the 12 bikes i bought in the last decade since high school, i have only sold 4 of them. And i didnt give away any apparel either, lol.<WBR><WBR> Other items i deemed appropiate for this trip included, but not limited to: 0 degree mummy sleeping bag, Rand Mcnally US atlas, my trusty TomTom and a 12v cigarette outlet under the seat, Milepost book, probably 10lbs of tools, an extra rear tube, can of chain lube, patch kit with the tire irons and compressor, itouch for wifi spots, k&n filter cleaner, quart of oil, an extra stock air filter for dirty roads, couple rags for dirt, grease, bugs, etc, 6x8' tarp for the occasional monsoon, plenty of tarp straps, a few other miscellaneous items i cant remember, and a brand new $80 fuji 16mp camera from walmart! Woohoo! Theres quality right there.<WBR><WBR> <WBR><WBR>

And of course i needed a big butt seat. Who can leave home without one? The klr stock seat simply isnt made for many hundred mile days. My 05 klr has a flat corbin seat, which is great for offroading when you need to move around on the bike constantly, but for going down the highway they are just terrible. In my experience the stock seat is much better for highway riding than the corbin(yeah i know they are just so popular). I looked at other corbins, sargent seats, a few custom ones, then ended up getting a Terry Adcox seat on ebay for $250. That was close to the end of june and i was starting to get a hankerin' to get on the road pretty bad, so i just paid the $150 core charge(he cuts the old seats up and adds custom foam) to get it here as soon as he was done with it as opposed to sending my seat in, having the foam redone, then wait for the seat to get mailed back. The wings were a firmer foam, and the middle was more of a softer foam. Terry did a good job, he called and asked just what i wanted after i ordered it. Also, i had to figure out where exactly i would normally sit on the seat. That way he could add foam where it would be in a location where it could be most effective. With all that gathered together i had nearly everything i was going to need. I proceedeed to spend the last week pondering anything and everything that i might possibly require for my trip.<WBR><WBR>

Stock vs Big B. Seat

motobiko 01-08-2013 03:44 PM

Further introspection drew concerns pertaining to limitations of time, money, and ambition and weighted heavily on my mind. For i knew i didnt want to be on the road for too many days, or spend endless thousands of $$ on gas/food/hotels/farkels/engine parts, or get burnt out from riding roads that never end. Idealistically, I love planing things down to the last detail, but realistically i know better than to try and conjure plans of grandeur and implement with 100% success. Previous experience has taught me that guidelines make for a far better adventure than any plan written in stone. You just never know what might come up. Too many possiblities exist for planning a trip like this. A person just can't go wrong being on the open road with a world of possibilities ahead.Where might i go you ask? Follow along and see.

One item remained to be packed before i was ready to go. Unfortunately i could not find that one item. No matter where i looked my trusty $20 5x7' tent i bought at Alco in Moab back in 2005 when i was out on my 1000ltd was nowhere to be found. It was nice and small and i could fit in it if i slept at an angle in it. I didnt realize my tent was missing until the day before i left, and they dont sell tents in my little town. Dont know if it blew out of the back of my pickup or if some neighbor kid stole it. Who knows? I would have started sweating, but fortunately there are plenty of walmarts all over the place. So i loaded my tailbag, tankbag, aluminum panniers, packed my backpack, and i was ready to rumble!

Further introspection drew concerns pertaining to limitations of time, money, and ambition and weighted heavily on my mind. For i knew i didnt want to be on the road for too many days, or spend endless thousands of $$ on gas/food/hotels/farkels/engine parts, or get burnt out from riding roads that never end. Idealistically, I love planing things down to the last detail, but realistically i know better than to try and conjure plans of grandeur and implement with 100% success. Previous experience has taught me that guidelines make for a far better adventure than any plan written in stone. You just never know what might come up. Too many possiblities exist for planning a trip like this. A person just can't go wrong being on the open road with a world of possibilities ahead.Where might i go you ask? Follow along and see.
One item remained to be packed before i was ready to go. Unfortunately i could not find that one item. No matter where i looked my trusty $20 5x7' tent i bought at Alco in Moab back in 2005 when i was out on my 1000ltd was nowhere to be found. It was nice and small and i could fit in it if i slept at an angle in it. I didnt realize my tent was missing until the day before i left, and they dont sell tents in my little town. Dont know if it blew out of the back of my pickup or if some neighbor kid stole it. Who knows? I would have started sweating, but fortunately there are plenty of walmarts all over the place. So i loaded my tailbag, tankbag, aluminum panniers, packed my backpack, and i was ready to rumble!

Further introspection drew concerns pertaining to limitations of time, money, and ambition and weighted heavily on my mind. For i knew i didnt want to be on the road for too many days, or spend endless thousands of $$ on gas/food/hotels/farkels/engine parts, or get burnt out from riding roads that never end. Idealistically, I love planing things down to the last detail, but realistically i know better than to try and conjure plans of grandeur and implement with 100% success. Previous experience has taught me that guidelines make for a far better adventure than any plan written in stone. You just never know what might come up. Too many possiblities exist for planning a trip like this. A person just can't go wrong being on the open road with a world of possibilities ahead.Where might i go you ask? Follow along and see.
One item remained to be packed before i was ready to go. Unfortunately i could not find that one item. No matter where i looked my trusty $20 5x7' tent i bought at Alco in Moab back in 2005 when i was out on my 1000ltd was nowhere to be found. It was nice and small and i could fit in it if i slept at an angle in it. I didnt realize my tent was missing until the day before i left, and they dont sell tents in my little town. Dont know if it blew out of the back of my pickup or if some neighbor kid stole it. Who knows? I would have started sweating, but fortunately there are plenty of walmarts all over the place. So i loaded my tailbag, tankbag, aluminum panniers, packed my backpack, and i was ready to rumble!

motobiko 01-08-2013 03:50 PM

Day 1 7/7/12 11:30 am 906 miles on the odometer. Im finally ready to leave!

<WBR><WBR>I didnt take too many pics starting out, i was just so excited to get riding. And i've been through parts of this area before a number of times. Honestly, i wasnt planning on doing a blob/story/thread on this when i started out. Dont worry, there will be plenty of pics later on. <WBR><WBR>Started out going south to Wyoming. Took a two lane highway down to Ranchester. At approximately 90 degrees out, its tshirt weather for sure. Jumped on highway 14 going over the bighorns. Lots of switchbacks going up the mountain, but no problem for the klr. I stopped on the east side going down on a lookout to snap a few pics quick. There was a gal there sitting outside her conversion van taking in the view. She asked me where a particular campground was, but there are so many, i didnt know offhand. I guess she had been on the road a while, up to alaska on her way out from washington state. Wished her luck after taking a few pics and i was off to Cody. <WBR><WBR>Stopped in Cody at Sierra Post Trading Company for the first time. They have billboards for 35-70% off everything, so i went in to look for a tent. The cheapest one they had was like $160 or some ridiculous amount. Much more than i wanted to spend, so i headed to walmart and got a $22 junior scout 4x6 tent. It was only about 4x8x16'' folded up and 3' tall when set up. Just perfect for those 'secret' campgrounds. After that i swung by an old fashioned cowboy steakhouses for dinner. They had a rodeo at 8pm, but i didnt want to wait around for it, so i gassed up and hit the road by 6pm. Went through Yellowstone shortly thereafter. Started to rain a little bit, but i just threw on my jacket and was perfectly fine. Lots of traffic too, being a saturday night and all.


Lookout from Highway 14 in the Bighorn mountains.

Idaho on highway 20, just after West Yellowstone.

Sorry for lack of pics, I took a bunch last time i rode through. So, i continued through the park, went through West Yellowstone, stayed on highway 20 into Idaho, then jumped on 87 and went north by Henrys lake. Drove til 11pm or so and got to Ennis. I stopped by a gas station for some snacks before camping at the Ennis state park right south of town along the Madison river. There were quite a few people there, but i found a spot by the shore to throw my lil ol tent down.

462 miles today.

motobiko 01-08-2013 03:53 PM

Day 2 7/8/12 1368 miles on the odometer. My, how it feels good to be back on the road!
Got up around 8 or so the next day. Packed up quick and hit the road. I headed west on 287 through Virginia city and Sheridan. would have liked to stop and see walk around, but A- I was itchin to get riding and B- It was a sunday morning, so the town was effectively dead. I was going to stay on 41, but a ways after Twin Bridges the road turned into 55 and i went an extra 10 miles in to Whitehall. Oh well I had time. Then i rode on 2 over to BUTTe, MT, where the tremendous 12 awaited my palate at Perkins. After Perkins I gassed up and hit the interstate for the 2nd time. The klrs aren't really designed for the interstate, but I drove 75 anyway. The vibration gets pretty bad around 5500 rpm, which is close to what it runs on the freeway. Good thing I had a cramp buster. Sometimes I will just hold it with my thumb and give my hand a break. I stayed on the interstate til just west of Missoula then I got on 93 north and stopped by my cousins place outside of st ignatius. She owns an A-frame in the foothills of the mission mountains down a windy dirt road. There is a stream that flows year round behind her place. Very beautiful area. I stopped for about 5 hours, helped her clear some trees, and tried out my new gerber machete. And my hatchet. Handy items on such an excursion. Then for dinner she made spaghetti with beets in it. Little different than any other spaghetti i have had, but it tasted good. Said goodbye to her and hit the road again.<WBR>

Campground in the morning.

Left there after supper drove north on 93. Stopped by the Walmart in Polson to look for some oil, but they didn't have any I wanted. Usually I run valvoline 10w-40 due to its low price($3.97/qt) and general availability(60% of Wally World stores carry it). And it is a SL APO classification plus has the JASON MA additives for wet clutch applications. Since they didnt have any I drove north to Whitefish, which had a super Walmart and they had what I needed. After getting a few quarts of oil and some snackies. I left the store around 10:30 and it was still somewhat light out. Usually where I live in mt it gets dark by 930 this time of year, so definitely a noticable different. A small taste of things to come. <WBR>Anyway, I rode on a little longer until I found a campground at a state park near Stryker, Mt. There wasn't any pay station, so I just set up camp about midnight, hid my food in a tree, and hit the hay.

413 miles today.

motobiko 01-08-2013 07:53 PM

Day 3 7/9/12 1781 miles on the odometer. Its time to leave the country!

<WBR><WBR>Got up about 7 the next day packed up quick, had a snack and hit the road with demeanor of gleeful anticipation. Stopped for some gas while I could get it cheap ($3.48). And hit the border a little after 8am. I only had to wait for 1 car to get through customs. The border patrol lady was cool. She asked me about 8 questions, wished me luck , and I was on my was north. Good thing I didn't have my AR or one of my glocks. Might not have gone so smooth then.

Stopped in the first town I came into British Columbia. There was a visitor centre there on the outskirts of town I swung into to check out when I came into town. They had some neat info about the area around there and the mountains, but what I found intriguing was the 'First Nation' history. I live by 2 reservations in montana, so I know plenty of Indians. But that must simply be an American term. Anyway, I spent probably the better part of an hour in there, then hit the bank up. The exchange rate was 99.99, so for $200 American I got $199.98 Canadian. I tried to give them 3 pennies to make up the difference, but evidently they didn't accept American coins. Weird, but not the end of the world. Plus they charged me a $5 fee because I wasn't a member. I really should have had like $800 exchanged, but oh well. Gas was about 1.30/liter or so. Which is approximately $5.20/ gal. Not very cheap. Might be a big deal if i was in my cummins, but I have averaged 48 mpg so far with the bike.
Drove north after that until I hit radium hot springs, where I turned my direction east into Kootenay National Park. The first few miles in are really neat. The road goes through a very narrow col which may or may not be natural. Seemed like the rock face went up at least 300 or 400 feet maybe more. Might have very well been drilled and shot for the road. It's hard to tell. I had to pay a fee to get in which was around $20 methinks. Nothing too outrageous, it's $20 to get into Rocky Mountain NP in Colorado. I usually drive over trail ridge every year. Got 64 mpg with my FLSTC driving over it back on 09.
Drove through the park. Stopped by the overpass on highway 1 to take some pics. The northern Rockies are reeeeasally nice. Not a 100 million people here either.
Headed north to lake Louise after that. Finally found some parking after driving around for a bit. I took a leisurely stroll through the downtown area then sat down for a double cheeseburger at one of the better sit-down restaurants. There were two bikes parked next to mine when I walked by, then they left when I was eating. I left a few minutes after that heading north again on 1.

Driving north towards Jasper I stopped here and there for some pics here and there. A little while later a same the same two gentlemen who had parked next to me earlier at lake Louise. Since this was day 3 of being the lonely rider I figured it wouldnt hurt to stop and bs with them for a bit. They were probably in there upper 40s from Ohio. One had a GS 1200, which I mistook for a 1150(I'm not a Beamer expert), and the other had a modified ninja 1200. He built a bracket for a taller windshield, made some different pegs, and had some engine mods if I remember right. They had around 5 weeks off from work and were going up to jasper then heading back east on the way back to Ohio. Took a few more pics then hit the road again. I stopped at a pull off about an hour from jasper on 93. Walked down to the Athabasca river, removed my boots, and took a little siesta for half an hour or so. Dangled my feet down in the water, but had to take them out due to freezing cold water temperatures. Continuing on north I drove right by Jasper. Too many trees for me. Montana is very open, you can see a gas station 5 miles away. After I got turned around, I drove into town got some petroleum. The gas station had bottled water under lock and key for some reason beyond me . Must be a hot commodity up there. I think I bought a pop or something there. There were a fair amount of people there for a Monday afternoon. I made a loop through town to check things out before I left. Went out of town on 16 towards Edmonton, but jumped off on 40 at the junction,

Highway 40 in Alberta was really quite nice. Looking at the map I assumed it would be some little podunk highway out in the middle of nowhere with mediocre scenery. It was rather desolate as far as people are concerned but the landscape was really nice. Halfway to Grand Prairie there was some type of mine or something similar. Didn't stop to ask so I can say for sure, but it looked like some type of underground operation. I work at a surface coal mine, so I find such things more intriguing than the average person. Towards the end of the highway the mountains flattened out and turned to rolling prairie the last 5-10 miles before Grand Prairie.

Arriving in Grand Prairie about 10:30ish, i found the first gas staion in town and pulled in for a fill up. Went inside and bought a sandwich and a bottle of water. One thing that really stood out in Canada was the prices of just about every food item in the convenient stores. Bottles of pop were $2 or more, candy bars, chips were $1.50-$2.50. I picked a liter bottle of water, which didnt have a price label on it, and almost took it back when it rang up at $3.73! Talk about highway robbery here. At just about every gas station in the US, you can find a liter bottle of water for under $1.50, sometimes $1. But i was thirsty so bought it anyway. The sun didnt set until around 10:45 MST and it was quite light out until after 11. After walking around for a few minutes to stretch my legs, i jumped back on the bike and headed west on 43. About halfway to Dawson Creek i pulled off the road and turned at a campground sign, but it was like 15km from the highway. Wasnt looking for more miles than necessary at this point, so i just rode into Dawson Creek and found a campground in town to camp at. Got the tent set up after midnight and slept for 6 hours.




The next set of pics is from Jasper National Park.
The Ohio Guys in the right corner.

735 miles today.

motobiko 01-09-2013 07:04 PM

Day 4 7/10/12 2516 miles on the odometer. How far can i make it today?

The sun comes up rather early in the north. I wanted to sleep some more, but just wasnt going to happen. The campsite was right next to the highway, making it hard to sleep with the traffic there anyway. Got up around 6:30 and packed up my stuff. The tent site next to me was occupied younger couple on a beamer i believe. Talked with them briefly before departing north on the Alaskan highway(97). Heard quite a few stories about this road, so i was anxious to see what all it entailed! Stopped at Wonowon, BC for fuel for a few minutes and hit the road again. Stopped again in Ft Nelson for fuel. Seemed like the prices were climbing higher in price the further north i went. Gas was around $1.30/ltr in Cranbrook and about $1.45/ltr in Ft Nelson. There wasnt too much going on there, only stopped 20 minutes.

Drove onwards down the Alcan for about half an hour until I reached the turnoff for highway 77 and rode north. The wind really started to pick up from the west. Side winds aren't what I like to see on the bike. The weather has been great otherwise. Just blue skies and sunshine. So 77 wound through the trees and hills with very minimal traffic. Mostly semi trucks going to logging sites or drill areas. There must have been oil or gas in this part of the region. Every so often I would see a logging trail going off into the trees. It was rather tempting to take a few minutes and go blast down one of them, but I had bigger plans in mind. The pavement stopped at the Northewest Territories border. Just gravel after that. Which made for some tricky riding. No more 65mph like I was doing on pavement. Had to slow down to 30 mph on some of the corners. Average speed though was closer to 45mph. From looking at the map for Ft Liard it looked like it was right on the highway. However, upon arriving at what I thought was the designated location of the town I discovered a mere 2 houses and what appeared to be ahighway maintenance shop of sorts. Hardly what I would call a town. And of course that's about where the sign for Ft Liard was. Driving a little further I found a turnoff heading west. I couldn't see what was around there because of the vast number of trees. My handy milepost had a page about the town. And it looked like more than what I was seeing. Turns out the town was about 2 miles off highway 7. Even had a big welcome sign.

Ft Liard is a neat little town. The Liard and Petiot rivers merge right west of town. I stopped at the Northern grocery store first. Briefly considered buying a jug of milk, but at $11/gallon I just couldn't justify it. A can of pop was in the budget though($1.80). Most of the food items there were at least double of what I'm used to paying for in MT. After my big pop purchase I moseyed on outside where a mountie had just drove up. She asked if I was a tourist, and I told her I was indeed. First trip ever to NT. We talked briefly about the town. Hadnt eaten much that day, so i asked her if there were any places to eat in town. There was a cafe listed in my milepost, but she informed me that it had was no longer open, however there was a guy that sold burgers out of a trailer up town a few blocks away. I then drove to the end of town to see what was there. There was a nice little campground by the river i would have stayed at, but 3pm is just too early to stop riding. Took a few pics, then proceeded to go track down the burger trailer. This guy just had a cook trailer set up in his yard. I ordered a burger and fries and chatted with him while he prepared the food. Talked about the town, which is known as 'the tropics of the north', due to its unusually warm weather. The temperature was at least 80 degrees that day. The record is 94, which i found rather surprising, considering the arctic circle is another 4 or 5 hundred miles north. He recommended that i swing by the hot springs by Watson Lake on my way down the Alcan, which sounded good to me. Said it was 5 or 6 hours away, which i could easily make by dark. After finishing my burger(it was big and tasty), i gassed up at the only place in town, only about $1.50/ltr.

The ride back down to the Alcan was still really windy for most of the way. It must have just been the area though. There wasnt hardly more than a breeze when i jumped back on 97 and headed west. The Alcan highway had been fairly decent so far, a few short gravel patches here and there, nothing too serious. About 8pm i had to stop for construction. Thanksfully there were other bikers there to converse with. 4 guys from Tennessee were there on the Goldwings. Two of the bikes had over 118,000 miles on them. Doubt my klr will last that long, but you never know. They also had car tires on the back, which i had seen before on trikes, but never a bike. One of them said the car tires would last 30,000 miles. Dang! I only get 7-12 out of most of my tires. Wish i could get that many miles out of mine. 15 minutes later the pilot car showed up, so the slow, dusty 25mph work zone journey began. Normally i like to ride with my visor up, but couldnt do so here due to all the dust rolling off the road. Thankfully it was only about 10 miles long. The goldwing group was ahead of me, they stopped at a turnoff a few more miles down the road. I procedded to drive a little farther until i reached the small town of Toad River, where i stopped for gas. They only had 87 octane(i prefer 91) and it was $1.60/ltr, or with the current exchange rate $6.02/gallon. Good thing im getting upper 40s mpg. I got there just before they closed, 9pm. Had to buy snack food, their grill had shut down unforetunately. The Tennessee Goldwing boys pulled in when i was there. They rented cabins right next to the gas station and even offered to let me camp on the floor, but the call of the road was too strong. I said goodbye to them and hit the road hard.

Between Toad River and the Yukon border i saw 13 black bears in the trees, roaming the ditches, running across the road. Had to stop for a couple of them, they were running across right in front of me. I tried to get a decent pics, but they ran away when i stopped and the light was getting rather dim. In the 6 years i have lived in montana i have seen a whopping 0 bears, so this was a real treat. Got to Liard Hot Springs about 10:45, they seemed to be closed, so i kept riding. Supposedly the hot springs 'by' Watson lake were the ones to stop at. It didnt really bother me that these ones were closed. Pressing onwards, i rode into Yukon about midnight. Stopped for a few minutes to take pics in front of the sign. Memories of reading Yukon Ho entered my mind, i've always been a big Calvin and Hobbes fan. Best comic ever hands down. The temperatures were dropping off, more clothes were needed at this time. I continued riding until i got to Watson Lake. The signpost forest is a must see for anyone passing through this town. All sorts of signs, license plates, and whatever else people can find to nail on the many posts there to create an odd conglomeration of artifacts. I couldnt figure out if there were any free campgrounds in town. There were 2 listed in my book i believe, but they appeared to be pay ones, which i wasnt going to do. Diddnt want to wake the whole town up at 2am, so i just walked off into the trees at this abandoned rv park by the weight scale on the east edge of town. Finally laid down around 2:30 in the morning.

The campground at Dawson Creek.
Way up North.
Good Ol' Ft Liard (pronounced lee-ard)
The road about a mile before the actual town.
The Petiot River looking from the campground at the southwest corner of Ft Liard
The campground.
The Liard river
Liard river
The Fort Nelson River bridge on highway 77 just south of Northwest Territories
In black and white
Coming off the south end of the bridge
Somewhere in BC
Yukon Ho!
The after midnight sky.

838 miles today.

motobiko 01-10-2013 10:30 AM

Day 5 7/11/12 3354 miles on the odometer. I think i see Alaska on the horizon.

This day did not start good. I woke up around 6:30, and my left foot was so cold it was numb. The outside air temperature must have been about 40 F and my 0 degree sleeping bag wasnt even close to warm enough. I tried to warm up and go back to sleep, but it wasnt going to happen. 4 hours of sleep just doesnt cut it after a 19 hour day. Begrudgingly, i arose and got pretty much all my winter clothes on and packed up my tent. It took quite a while to warm back up, had to go for a walk through the trees. Hot springs sounded good, but i still had seen anything in town pertaining to them. The weigh station was open. They had warm coffee, which i desperately needed. I talked to the lady running the scale for a few minutes. I asked her where the hot springs were and she informed me that the closest ones were the Liard Hot Springs! Whoops! Should have stopped there after all. More than one person told me they were by Watson Lake, and they werent even close. Maybe next time though.

Stopped at one of the gas staion on the way out of town and bought gas and a couple snacks. This was the coldest part of the trip by far. Although the sun was out, it just didnt warm up for what seemed like forever. Finally i saw a cafe right off the highway a few hours later. Breakfast could be had! I ordered the biggest platter they had and along with 3 cups of coffee, felt like i could continue on. There was a young couple that were bicycling down the Alcan. They were just wearing the biker shorts and long sleeve shirts, and here i was in carhartt bibs, long johns, ski mask, all bundled up for the tundra. But i guess riding a bike 20mph up and down hills is a little different than sitting still on a motorcycle going 70mph. I actually passed a fari amount of bicyclists. A few had NY or bust stickers on their packs.

Next i stopped for fuel in Teslin. Saw a few other bikers there. Two gentlemen were there from Ohio on a GS800 and an 05 klr. The klr guy was lamenting how the GS would always take 10-20% less fuel when they stopped. He was only getting 40 or so mpg. It was mostly stock though. I told him to rejet it, throw a k&n filtet, and high flow exhaust on. Definitely helped my 05 out. It gets 45-54 mpg usually. Im sure the beamer was getting over 50. They were heading to Fairbanks for sure, maybe even Prudhoe Bay. They hadnt decided yet. There was a cafe inside, so i ate some lunch while i was there.

Next stop: Whitehorse. Huge city of 17,000 in Yukon. The actual town is off the highway down the hill, and there are plenty of trees in between making it possible to drive by and not even see downtown. They had a walmart though. And a large grocery store where i loaded up and food. Decided to change my oil while i was there too. The kawi shop had some suzuki 10w-40 for only $7.99/ ltr and a filter for $15. The exact same kawi oem filter is only like $8 at the dealers in the lower 48. They were too busy to change it, and wouldnt let me borrow a pan, but suggested the Harley shop as an alternative. The guy at Harley said they would change it, but it would be an hours labor charge, which was $108. So for only $147 i could have had my oil changed. I think they were just really busy and didnt want to do it, UNLESS of course they could make a killing on it. I have never paid anyone to change my oil and i dont think i ever will. I told him no thanks, and asked if he would take 2 quarts of used oil. He said sure, but wouldnt let me borrow a pan, so i cut up an old water jug and drained it in there and gave it back to one of the guys working there. Talked to him for a few minutes. When i told him i was from montana, he told me thats where all their store shirts ended up(fedex oopsy).

After that i parked the bike and walked through downtown. There was a little park along the Yukon river. I sat on the rocks for a while and turned my phone on for the first time in like 3 days. Made a few phone calls to see how things were back home(later found out verizon charges internation fees per minute). Tested the water out a little bit with my feet. Cold, but not too chilly. Stopped at Wendys for a burger and left town around 6pm. Stopped at Haines Junction next for gas and pics. Rode on until i got to some big flats where there was a large bridge and got off walked for half a mile or so and got a few pics taken. I stopped for fuel at Destruction Bay. They took american cash, and gave american change back. Thought that was a little odd for a little gas station out in the middle of Yukon. Some of the gas staions took american money at the same rate as canadian, so i would try and pay with a $100 bill and get as much canadian money back as i could. A few of them would charge 10% more, which i suspected was because they didnt want to deal with exchanging it. There was a couple probably in their 40s from southern British Columbia on an 1200RT there. I doubt they appreciated the bumps in the roads as much as i did.

Driving on from there, the road started getting more and more uneven. The frost heaves pushed the road in all sorts of directions. One spot looked like the highway had sunk 3 feet down into the ground for about 100 feet or so. Just a big dip in the road. No problem for the klr. Some other areas of the highway further up were more uneven back and forth with a few sharp bumps. If i had been in a car, 30 mph would have been tops. If i had been in a car. Thankfully, i was not in a car. 50 mph and i was flirting with staying on the ground on the klr. Gotta love them dual sports. I saw another black bears right off the road as well. I passed a couple on a set of harleys going the opposite direction that looked vaguely familiar. Before i left home my next door neighbor had told me he might be riding up to Alaska 6/30-7/15 with his brother and sisterinlaw from good ol' North Dakota. He ended up not going, but they did. I did see a couple of pics of their bikes before i left, and the ones i passed looked awfully similiar. When i got back home after all this, my neighbor told me thats about the time they came back, so im pretty sure thats who it was. What are the odds of that? Too bad i didnt see them at a gas station, once i saw ND plates i could have gone up and said, 'hi, mr K. hows the ride from Glen Ullin so far?' But fate wasnt that cooperative.

Around 9pm i stopped at a small lake on the west side of the highway. The water was just crystal clear. You could see as far as the light would penetrate the watar. A few muskrats were swimming around. A gentleman from whitehorse was there in a cargo van with a kayak on top and a dog running around. He had been driving around fishing various lakes. Must have had a long day because he didnt talk long, and went and laid down in his van for a nap shortly after i got there. Rode on to Alaska, arriving about 10pm Alaska time. I stopped for a few pics at the sign, then rode another mile to the Canadian border stop, which was over a mile into Yukon, and the American border crossing another mile after that. There wasnt much traffic there, maybe a car. The border agent asked me the standard questions, plus inquired if i had a gun. Most of the time they havent asked me that, but thats when i came out of Ontario, not Yukon. Pulled out of there and continued on for another hour before i had to stop and get a few pictures. The mountains to the south were just gorgeous, especially in such a crepuscular setting. I was getting real tired to, so i whipped out my machete and 'trimmed' some trees growing right off the side of the road. Never know when a moose might pop out. The highway department must not cut them very often, 5-10 foot tall trees were growing almost up to the shoulder, which wssnt very wide to begin with. Now i know why the speed limit was only 55mph.

I finally got to Tok around 11:30pm. And after 4 nights of camping and 3000 miles of riding i was ready for a bed. Pulled into one looked like might be one of the cheaper motels and got a room for $85. The clerk informed me that the local restaurants would be most likely closed, so i had to buy beer and chips in the convenience store instead. Yum.

The closed rv park in Watson lake where i camped in the trees. The Alcan is in background to the south.

Swan Lake pics-

So cold!

A statue at the park at whitehorse

The Mighty Yukon river.

A animal monument at Haines Junction.

The mountains southwest of Haines Junction.

Some flats north of Haines Junction.

The lake i stopped at.

A man caught between two countries.

Finally, the 49th state!

Mountains looking to the south, a few miles into Alaska.

Pit stop no.1 in Alaska.

Did someone cut a bunch of trees with a machete here?

674 miles today.

FAW3 01-10-2013 11:31 AM

Nice write up...esp. with the maps. Love your photos!

Cold feet? My best approach is thin synthetic socks under wool blend 2nd pair for riding. I wash out the synthetic ones about every other day and they quick dry. The wool ones I also sleep in.

motobiko 01-10-2013 03:01 PM


Originally Posted by FAW3 (Post 20447171)
Nice write up...esp. with the maps. Love your photos!

Cold feet? My best approach is thin synthetic socks under wool blend 2nd pair for riding. I wash out the synthetic ones about every other day and they quick dry. The wool ones I also sleep in.

Thanks. Glad you like it. I wish i was further along though. So much writting, so little time.

Yeah, i should have brought some wool socks along. They would have come in quite handy during this part of the trip. My feet never really got cold though while i was riding, just when i was trying to sleep at night when it was in the 40s. Thanks for the advice though. I'll have to try to the synthetic ones sometime.

Say, whereabouts in north Virginia are you from? I rode through Winchester day 41 of this trip.:augie

MacG 01-10-2013 03:32 PM

NICE report ! Excellent pics and write-up :beer

motobiko 01-10-2013 03:52 PM

Day 6 7/12/12 4028 miles on the odometer. Its only been one night, but i love Alaska.

Since this was the first motel i had stayed at so far on the trip, i decided to get some good sleep, getting up around 10. Had me toe shoes along, so i went for a run for a mile through a path in the trees to work out some soreness in my legs. Alaska must get boring in the winter. There were pop cans, beers bottles, snack wrappers, and all sorts of trash all through the trees. Its sad to see so much trash in a beautiful place like this. I had to be careful for glass fragments from the bottles while running. Didnt want one going through my thin soles. After that i packed up all my stuff and headed over to Fast Eddys for a halibut sandwich for lunch. For $12, it was well worth it. There were a few harleys and dual sports there, but the place was fairly busy so i didnt talk to any of them. There was a large visitor center in Tok that looked interesting so i stopped in there for a bit. They had information about the history and culture of the area. I meet a couple in their 30s from St Cloud, MN. They had just pulled into Tok that morning in their minivan. They asked me if i was worried about bears on the bike. I told them i had bear spray, so not really. The guy was surprised i got it through canada. He was under the impression that mace was illegal in canada(i found out later what i had was legal). I didnt get asked if i had bear spray when i went through, so i didnt worry about it. Evidently they had seen a grizzly sow with two cubs right off the road on the Alcan in Yukon that morning. I would have liked to have seen a grizzly, but maybe wouldnt have stopped. I have the whole state of Alaska to see one anyway. I wished them luck and rode off.

After riding maybe an hour i pulled off and drove under a bridge and took a few pics out on the banks. The river must have been much higher in the spring. It looked like it could have been 1/4 mile wide or more then, but was only about 15-20 yards wide now. Lots of rock and sand to ride on. The bike sank in 3 or 4 inches in a few spots, so i had to watch it. Next stop: Fairbanks! I arrived there mid afternoon and proceeded to drive around town to see what was there. I bought some food and an extra gas can for the next day. Made a few phone calls, checked the weather and determined Prudhoe Bay would be a great place to see the following day. My milepost said there area up there had been overrun with grizzly bears in recent years, so i chose against camping and booked a room at the Aurora Hotel for only $170. And i thought $85 was bad! The tour guide company required a 24-hr notice for bookings to see the arctic ocean, so i planned on getting to PB the following day, stay overnight, then hit the 9am tour and head out shortly thereafter. I inquired at every hotel i called up there and the tour company how long the drive was from fairbanks. Most people said 11-15 hours. One lady said up to 2 days depending on traffic and road conditions. I though that was a little extreme, but i wasnt in a 18 wheeler either. Fueled up and stopped in at subway to eat before i left town. There were a few people ahead of me in line, so i had to wait a few minutes to order. Good thing i did because two guys came in after me at just the right time. They had seen my bike outside and asked where i was from and where i was going. Turns out they worked at a gold mine north of town, and one of them was a geologist and had done an internship up in prudhoe bay. He was also a klr rider as well and asked if i was on,, which i hadnt heard of before. So if you are reading this Ryan, thanks for the heads up. He hadnt rode a bike up the Dalton highway, but had been through in a truck. Said it wasnt too bad. He also recommended the Top of The World highway going to Dawson City as an excellent ride, i think he was going to ride it before he went back to Texas for school that fall. He gave me his cell number and told me i could call if i needed help or a place to throw my tent down. So i talked to him until they left. The other guy ran Cat 793 end dumps at the gold mine. He said at first he was an equipment operator, but since i work at a coal mine, i had to know something a little more specific. They left after getting their sandwiches, but i had to sit down to eat. For some reason eating sandwiches on a motorcycle just doesnt work very well.

While i was eating i noticed another rider sitting down eating. He had rode his GS up to Prudhoe Bay 2 days before, driving to a campground north of Coldfoot the 1st day, driving to PB and doing the 3pm tour of the arctic and driving back to camp the 2nd day, and coming back to Fairbanks the 3rd day. He told me it wasnt that bad of a road, and i could do it in 10-12 hours easy as long as i didnt have to wait too long for the pilot cars in the construction zones. After finishing my sandwich, i departed from the fair city by the banks and rode the 80 miles north to the start of the Dalton. I was expecting pavement first, then gravel later, but alas that was not the case. It started out gravel, then went back and forth to pavement numerous times throughout the duration of its 414 miles. I caught up to some semis rather quickly, and had to back off because of the dust. Also i had to put up with the smell of burnt brakes behind the majority of them, they must either not know how to properly utilize their jake brakes or the 12% grades were just too much. The hills werent that high, nowhere near what a mountain pass is(i.e. Berthoud pass, Loveland pass, Rabbit Ears, Beartooth, etc), so i dont know what the deal was. I stopped by a stream to stretch and let some semis go by. Wild blueberries were growing on small bushes off the road, so i ate a few. This was also my first time on the tundra. Very squishy. Some steps i took went in 6 inches! Perfect for a WCW match or something. It was at this moment the mosquitoes attacked. Swarms of them everywhere, my goodness! Growing up in eastern North Dakota we usually had them bad for about a month or two in the summer, but nothing like this. They would be attracted to the heat coming off the bike everytime i stopped, so i ran up and down the road while i put my gear back on. Good thing this isnt downtown LA, or people would really think im weird.

About an hour later i went over the Yukon river bridge. Its all downhill, covered with wood if i remember right. I pulled off into the parking lot on the west side and drove down to the boat ramp. There were probably 30, 40 vehicles or so in the parking lot. I would speculate that a lot of people bring their boats up and go fishing for multiple days on the river. Plenty of room for everyone, the river is almost a mile wide there. There was even a tugboat docked by the non-public ramp. I didnt stop at the restaurant. Wasnt too hungry. Across the road i discovered a visitor cabin, but it was closed this late, 9pm. To get there a person had to cross under the oil pipeline, it was 20 feet or so off the ground, just off the east side of the highway I walked down a path to the river for a quick view. A pipeline security officer was sitting in his pickup while it was running on a seperate parking lot to the north of the visitor center for a little while when i was there. I had to lay down just right to take a nap on one of the benches outside so he wouldnt see me. The mosquitoes were just horrendous, i pulled my hoodie over my head to keep them out. After resting a while, i ate a snicker bar and got back on the road. About 50 miles later i stopped on a downhill section of the highway and hiked up one of the hills around 11;30. Although the elevation there isnt that high, maybe 3000ft?, the tundra is just so squishy, its like walking on sand or snow. I didnt go much more than half a mile off the road, but it took probably 20 minutes of huffing and puffing. Part of that was because i wasnt in real great shape from taking time off for an injury to heal. I sat at the top for a while, the wind was coming out of the west making the upper 50s feel somewhat chilly. Semi truck would pass by every 5-10 minutes, jake braking down the hill. When i got back down i had to put all my warm clothes back on. The mosquitoes were back and hungry for blood, much to my chagrin. I had to run up and down the road 5,6 times while i put my sweatshirt, jacket, helmet, gloves, long john shirt, and chaps back on. And i still had mosquitoes smeared all over me. It seemed like if i stopped for 3 seconds, there would be 100 on my back. Yuck, im going to have to do some laundry later.

Ten or 15 miles further down the road i ran into the arctic circle sign and stopped for a few pictures. Not the best light after midnight, but im coming back through in 2 days, so ill get some better pics then. Around 1am i saw the sun dip below the Brooks mountains in the north. First time i've seen that. I saw a few people camping off the side of the road here and there, but usually they were just pullouts and i didnt want to creep them out by camping next to just them. Close to 2am i came to the South Fork of the Koyukuk where there was a pulloff with a few campsites next to an outhouse and bearproof containers. There was a 5th wheel camper, 2 suvs with people sleeping in them, and a suv with people camping outside it by the berm. The clouds had started to let a few raindrops fall, so i set up under a spruce tree in case it rained further and went to sleep.

Pics of a floodplain next to a river between Tok and Fairbanks.

A pulloff a short ways up the Dalton.

Yukon river bridge visitor center.


Yukon river.

Yukon river bridge.

A hill i hiked.

Views from the hilltop.

my bike is on the highway about the middle of the picture.

Bike. There!

All the essentials.

So Soft!

This isnt a real great picture, but its the best one i had of the 1am sunset.

Artic circle.

454 miles today.

motobiko 01-11-2013 01:07 PM

Day 7 7/13/12 4482 miles on the odometer. I wonder if i will be able to see the north pole today?

I rose on the beautiful friday morning close to 9:30. It hadnt rained that much during the night and the sun was out, so i was rather optimistic about the day. A few of the other people there were already gone. I got everything packed up and the people in the last of the suvs were taking off. They were talking to a fellow from Alabama who came out of his 5th wheel. I went over to say hi to him after the suv left. Didnt plan on sticking around for very long, i was pretty excited to get up to Prudhoe, and didnt want to get there too late, considering what i was paying for the hotel room that night($170). He insisted i come in for coffee, so an hour and a half later i was able to get out of there. Turns out he was 73 and had drove up to Prudhoe Bay with a friend of his who was about the same age. They left their wives behind and hit the road for 6 weeks. The camper was probably 25 feet long or so, and they had just about everything they need. Even had a cooler full of meat! I was almost jealous, until i learned that their Duramax was only getting 8mpg. My 48 mpg average was much more desirable. Maybe when im that age ill switch to 4 wheels, but probably not.

Before i left there i asked how long it would take to get up to PB from there(260 miles). He said i would have to spend the night again before i got there. I was rather sceptical of that prediction, and for good reason, my klr can go just a little bit faster on gravel roads than a dually pickup with a 5th wheel camper behind it. The tailgate on the pickup was just coated in mud, they didnt even want to open it. So i thanked them for the coffee and wished them luck on their trip. Coldfoot was only about 20 miles away. I had briefly considered staying there in one of the rooms available for rent, but at $200/night, just wasnt in the budget. Wiseman i think was a little cheaper, but i couldnt get ahold of anyone there. Gas was only $5.25 a gallon at Coldfoot. I think the meter was off on the pump, because i dont know how i could have gotten 59 mpg, from Fairbanks averaging 60mph(263mi/4.4gal). To fill up here you have to walk inside first and give your drivers license to the cashier. I wouldnt think there would be drive-offs out here in the middle of nowhere, but they must have had some issues. After fueling, i sat down for lunch, which was good, not too expensive, and left a little after noon.

The Dalton is paved really well around Coldfoot, then continuing on north for 30-40 miles. It was a nice contrast from the gravel i had been driving through. Bumped it up to 75mph and made some real good time until i came to the construction zones. The first one i had to wait 10 minutes for a pilot car and the 2nd one maybe 5 minutes. The sections they were working on were gravel, and were realy rough. It wouldnt have been so bad if they hadnt been watering the road down so much to control dust. The construction company was using offroad haul trucks too, making it super fun to follow them through the mud. Most of the traffic had been semis with a few pickups from the oil company, with an occasional tourist in a suv or pickup. No cars on this road. Coldfoot is about as far north as cars would go, unless they were extremely adventurous. Or extremely foolish, depending on how you look at it.

I stopped to take a few pics here and there. A semi hauling a boat was parked on a pulloff just before Antigun pass. Must be for one of the drill rigs, or a fishing boat, i wasnt sure. On the top of Antigun pass i came around a bend and saw two bikes pulled of the side of the road. Figured it would be fun to stop and see where they were going, and if they could give me any info about the road ahead. Turns out they were from New Zealand, and had their GS 1200s shipped over for only $1800 each way. Each bike was accompanied by 2 riders, married couples in their 60s. They were on day 20 of their trip from Vancouver, BC and were planning on heading back down to the lower 48 states to see a bunch of national parks, then head down to the tip of Argentina by November. Wow, that sounds like a blast. The GS would most definitely be the bike for that. 2-up on a klr, not so fun. One of them had the standard GS, the other had the Adventure model, which had lower gearing and a 37 ltr tank he said. Mine is only about 23 liters. A company does make a 10 gallon tank, but its not worth $550 to me anyway. Unless i did a Siberia ride or something. One of the gals placed a stuffed kiwi on my bike and took a picture for their album. They told me the road wasnt too bad. Just watch out for rocks and mud. I dont think they were in any big hurry, just taking their time seeing the Americas. Soooo jealous.

Pulled into Deadhorse about 6pm. No staying overnight somewhere else for me! It was just a really nice day out. Sunny and 70 degrees! Is this really the arctic? Got fuel first, there is only 1 little fuel station there, and you have to put spill mats down. I just grabbed a pump and filled up my bike. Only after i went inside did i discover that you had to pay first. No attendants here, just swipe and fuel. I couldnt figure it out, so i walked over to the office in the next building and after talking to one of the guys in the office, i discovered i had used fuel someone else had paid for. Oops! 5 gallons at $5.35/gal was only about $27, but whoever swiped their credit card probably would not be pleased to see that on their bill. The office guy just told me to come back the next day and they would pull up the transactions for the day and i could just pay cash for it. Sounded good to me.

Next, i checked into the Aurora, a 400+ room hotel built out of Conex boxes on wheels, so they can move if needed. Surprisingly enough, the hotel was one of the nicest i have ever been in. They had a large cafeteria, a weight room, a library, snack room, and a laundromat. Most of the rooms there were small, i got one of the bigger ones. Nice and clean, i couldnt complain. The ground was muddy everywhere, so when people came in the hotel they had to put 'booties' on in the entryway. Just little slip-ons that went over your shoes to keep the mud off the carpets. My lips were super chapped, so i had to buy some carmex lip balm in the hotel lobby. My one and only cash pruchase there. Every night a person stayed there, they provided 3 meals in the cafeteria. I ate at least $30 worth of food, so that kinda offset the cost. And they had a snack room where you could go get sandwiches, chips, yogurt, granola bars, etc any time of the day.

I ate dinner and rode around town as much as i could to see what was there. Mostly oil companies, or contractor companies supporting the oil companies there. Usually about 3000 people were in the area at any given time. No one really lives there full time. People fly in, work 2weeks on/2weeks off or 3weeks on/3weeks off or 4weeks on/2weeks off, or for the super diehards- 6weeks on/1week off. 12 hours shifts generally. The cleaning ladies at the hotel would get like $11/hr, but make $65k/ year due to the overtime. When i was driving around i stopped and talked to a flagman holding a stopsign. he was from St Marys Alaska, downstream on the Yukon. He was getting $31/hr just to hold a sign. Working 84hr weeks, that only about $2500/week take home pay. Where can i sign up for this job? Work 3 weeks on, then fly anywhere in the world for 3 weeks off on a continuous basis, and take home $65k? Ride the whole world 2.5 weeks at a time. Maybe someday. Anyway, he had a mosquito net on, they werent too bad, but i would imagine standing outside for 12 hours would get a little old.

Went back to the motel about 9pm, it was getting cold out-50s. Mary Ann was working the night shift at the front desk, so i talked to her about the atmosphere on the north slope. Lot of people coming and going all the time. Most companies would pay for their workers to fly in from fairbanks or anchorage and pay all the room and board while they were there. Not a bad deal if you dont mind being gone from home for weeks at a time. She did scrapbooking, so when i told her i had drove my bike up from MT, she had me go sit on it and take a picture. I got some snacks after that and watched some tv before bed.

Coldfoot cafe.

Coldfoot parking lot.

The front counter inside.

The Arctic Tundra pics-

The Brooks Range. Very beautiful.

Arctic yacht.

Me on Antigun pass courtesy of Kiwi Photographer.

Its a muddy mess!

Prudhoe Bay luxury suites.

290 miles today.

motobiko 01-14-2013 03:53 PM

Day 8 7/14/12 4772 miles on the odometer. Looks like im not quite going to make it to the north pole.

I got up early to eat breakfast before they shut down at 7:30. Went back upstairs and took a nap back in my hotel room for a bit, then got ready for to go on the Arctic tour. The tour departed at 9am. The weather was not so cooperative on this day. 70 and sunny to 50 and rainy. Not what i wanted to see, but i came prepared. The tour company wasnt real clear where to meet, so i asked several people around town. The location they gave me wasnt exactly accurate. Whatever place i got to was closed. Since there was cell service at PB, i gave the office a call, but of course they were in Fairbanks and were not very familiar with the area. Finally i drove out of town to the south and found the correct building. Even though it was cold the mosquitoes were out in force. We had to have a pre-tour meeting inside once the 20ish people were all there. The tour guide was half native, evidently his dad came to Alaska from Thief River Falls, MN with the intent of marrying a native, and as he put it,'' he was a product of that dream.'' He was pretty funny, i think he did the tour once or twice a day for the duration of his time there. Since i am grew up in North Dakota about 200 miles away from Thief River Falls, we were able to talk lefse and lutefisk and other scandinavian traditions.

After a brief safety meeting/tour overview going over dos and donts, we got on a passenger bus and proceeded to go through town and past the security gates to the Arctic Ocean! So cold! The temperature was around 50, the wind was blowing, and it was raining lightly. The guide would talk as we drove along, explaining the history of the area and what was going on currently. The caribou were all over the place, they would walk across the road and lay down under the pipes and just chill during the day. Prudhoe Bay has the highest concentration of mosquitoes in the world for 3 weeks in the summer. The caribou will run for miles and miles to get awat from the nasty buggers. And lose a decent % of their body weight at times from loss of blood. There were 3 gals probably in their 20s from
Oregon on the bus, and when the guide inquired if anyone knew the difference between caribou and reindeer, on of them exclaimed quite enthusiastically, "Reindeer can fly!!" After everyone laughed the guide informed us that reindeer were bascially domesticated caribou, which i never looked up, so i would assume that is indeed the case. We drove to the ocean, got out and took a bunch of pics. I went in the water only up to my knees, it was too cold for anything more. The beaches had a bunch of driftwood on them. The rivers must carry trees out to sea, then they wash ashore later. The trees quit quite a ways from PB, so they sure didnt come from a local forest.

The tour was only 2-3 hours long. I was hoping to see a grizzly or musk ox, but alas there was only scat and a few prints in the mud. I talked to a few of the others on the tour. There was an older couple, the guy had worked there many years ago, he mentioned how much it had changed, a gal from Prince george, BC by herself, so i took a few pics for her, and a couple with older kids from possibly britian? Im not sure, they had accents though. AFter we got back from the tour, i went back, ate lunch, did some free laundry, took a nap, then checked out and filled up once again at the gas pump. This time i did it right, so for my .7 gallons, my credit card was duly appreciated. I stopped by the office again to see if they had figured out how much i had stole the day before, but they couldnt pull it up, so i just paid the approximate amount and called it good. The guy had worked down in a NAPA store in Gillette, WY, so he was familiar with the mining industry and the northeast WY/ southeast MT area in which i live. I talked to him for quite a while and begrudgingly took off in the rain for another destination. The rain continued for 50 miles or so, then cleared up briefly, then rained again for another 50 miles before finally clearing up. The temperature came up as well to the low 60s i would say. Thankfully the road construction wasnt going on so much on this fine saturday evening. I did have to wait for one pilot car for a stretch of the road they were working on. It was really bad, muddy, potholes, and steep. I had to slow down to 5 mph at times. kept it up the whole way, no slideouts.

I got to Coldfoot a little after 8pm, just at 5 hours from PB. Ran out of gas 1/2 mile from the turnoff, but a few pints from my gas can and i was back in business. The gas pump told me i only put in 4.5 gallons, and i only added .5 gallon from the can, so something was a little fishy. Normally mine hits reserve about 4.8, and runs out at maybe 5.5, so i should have had to put in at least 5 gallons. Buy whatever, ill take less more gas for less. I went in the cafe to eat and they had a buffet going on for $20. I needed to eat, but wasnt that hungry and didnt want to wait til 9pm for the grill to open back up for orders, so a burger and a braut later i was back on the bike. I went out the south entrance from Coldfoot instead of the north one this time. I noticed that there was an arctic visitor center there, so i swung in to see what they had. The center was rather interesting for being out in a remote location. They had a presentation goin on, so i listened to that for 20 minutes or so. The park ranger must have been interpretive, he gave an overview of the area and its wildlife before closing with a song about the arctic. I enjoyed that. Looked around and took a few pics before riding out.

The campground at the S. fork of th Koyukuk river i had camped at 2 nights before had 2 of my locks for my panniers i had forgotten. I stopped and looked for 10 minutes or so, but i only found one. I wasnt planning on hanging around for a while, so i didnt bother taking my earplugs out(i always use them). After looking for a while i noticed the pickup box camper parked there had just the screen door on, and i think the people inside had been talking to me, but i didnt hear them. There were two couples inside, one in their 50s, and his parents, who im sure were in their mid 70s. It was the weekend, so they drove up from Anchorage to do some fishing on the way back from PB. When i said i had made Coldfoot in only 5 hours from PB, i was met with a few raied eyebrows. Most people who dont ride i guess dont know how much better an enduro is on bad roads as opposed to a car or pickup. Especially with a big camper in the box. They had just made halibut for supper, and insisted that i eat some and take the rest. Very nice people, we talked for well over an hour. The middle-aged woman expressed a fair amount of concern when she learned i was touring the continent solo on my motorcyle. She gave specific instruction to stop frequently, get enough sleep, and make sure i eat enough. Even my own mother didnt give me a list that strict! Oh well, she was just worried as all mothers typically are.

I left with some halibut and rode until i hit the arctic circle, where i took a few more pics by the sign before heading up the road to the campground. There was only two other vehicles there. I didnt have to fight for a spot thankfully. I picked a spot by a picnic table, set up my tent, climbed a tree to tie up my food, and went to sleep well after midnight.

Dont get lost, its a jungle out there.

Prudhoe Bay oil pipelines.


Caribou grazing plains

Pretty flowers.

Mange-ridden caribou

nice bulls

Smokey was here.

cold. very cold.

Crusty the crustacean.

North Pole.

musk ox track.

luxury suite.

The beautiful Dalton highway.

So happy.

So muddy.

Whose speeding?


307 miles today.

motobiko 01-15-2013 02:26 PM

Day 9 7/15/12 5079 miles today. Goodbye Arctic.

Woke up with the sun shining and the air warming up, much better than the previous day's start. The tent actually started getting hot at 9am! Not bad for being in at the arctic circle. For its location out in the middle of nowhere, the Arctic Circle campground is really a good campground to use. The closest vehicle to me in the campground was a jeep from Washington state pulling a custom trailer about the size of a pickup box. It had 35 inch tires on it and a fold out tent that set up about 4-5 feet off the ground on the top of the storage compartments. The driver and his brother were heading up to Prudhoe Bay to see the Arctic and then back to Oregon. I liked their setup, that small storage trailer with a popup tent on top for two people would come in handy if i ever started touring in a suv or pickup.

I talked to them as they packed up their tent and other items they had out before they departed. I think they were going to try and make it up the rest of the way the same day. When they left i went back to my campsite and started packing up my tent and sleeping bag while i snacked on some munchies. The other vehicle there drove down to the trash bin, which wasnt too far away from me. I noticed it was the same woman that was on the arctic tour the previous day, and i ran into her at the gas station in Coldfoot, so i went over to say hi. She was from prince George, BC, so i wanted to know if she had been on the Cassiar highway because i was looking to hit that up on the way back. Unfortunately she hadnt, but recommended stopping in Hyder for some hyderizing. She was just out touring Alaska by herself, sleeping in her SUV (rav4 maybe?), with a mountain bike on the back. The Dalton was so muddy all vehicles had a generous coating of mud on the back, including her mountain bike. I dont know if it would have even been ridable with mud everywhere on it. I think she was planning on powerwashing it when she got to a town with a car wash. I talked to her about life for some time. Evidently she had worked in the Canadian forest service for 6 years before funding went down the toilet. Then she got into the Immigration service, which consisted of a lot of deskwork, but also included some midnight doorbusting to apprehend illegal immigrants. Sounds like fun to me. Originally i had wanted to bring a revolver on the trip, bear spray didnt seem like the safest thing to have with grizzlies around, but had heard conflicting accounts of Canada's firearms policies. So i asked her what the real deal was. She told me you can bring a handgun into canada, but its a real hassle, it would be better to mail it to Alaska and then mail it back before i left. That would be fine if i knew someone up there with an FFL, but since i didnt, paying $30 or more each time to transfer it wasnt worth it. However, shotguns with 18.5inch barrels and folding stocks were perfectly legal, you just have to fill out a form and pay $25 to get it through Canada. Which could fit quite nicely in a small case under the tailbag. Might have to do that next time. Anyway, she had one of those as well, plus a Beretta 9mm. We talked guns and travelling for a while before she had to leave. I ran down to the Arctic circle sign so we trade pics in front of the sign.

Nobody was there when we got down to the sign, but after a while a Subaru with some Germans in it showed up. They took some pics and drove up to the campground. The gal from BC headed out, i think she wanted to get to Chino hot springs before too late for some ice glass martinis. I went back to the camprground and finished packing. When i drove down to the acrtic circle sign, there was a couple, who also happened to be interpretive rangers and they were giving official copies of "I've been to the Arctic Cirlce on xx day" with a picture of the map on them as well. Also there was a gentleman from Ohio on an 08 klr. He had an aftermarket windshield that was far larger than mine. He told me the company that made it, but i dont remember it. I want to get one for 2013 trips on my klr. Also, there were some other dual sport riders there, but i didnt talk very long and left for Fairbanks.

Before going too far i came across a flipped bushwacker on the east side on the road in the ditch. the guy had gotten a little too far over when he was cutting brush in the ditch. he was okay, so i kept going. The Arctic Circle Cafe served large burgers that i felt would be better placed in my stomach. After filling up on food, i walked around the place. They had some cool stuff in the giftshop, but i didnt really have a lot of extra room. I drove on to the Yukon river bridge for a quick stop at the visitor center for a few minutes. A few people were browsing in there. Nothing too interesting going on so i left for Fairbanks. The rest of the Dalton flew by pretty quickly. I passed 5 motorcycles on the way to PB, and 11 on the way back down. All dual sports with the exception of a Road Star 1700? in Coldfoot. I hope he wasnt going further north, i know i would have dumped my Electraglide had i been on it.

I said goodbye to the Dalton, with its long stretches of no traffic, fireweed patches in abundance along the highway, all the trucks rumbling down the road, and just incredibly beautiful scenery. This was definitely the most scenic part of the trip. I will never forget this. If you want to go on a beautiful ride, this is it.

On my way to Fairbanks i had to stop for a semi that was hauling something massive down the highway, but that was only like 5 minutes. In Fairbanks i wanted to go see a Musk Ox because i didnt see any in the arctic. The guide at the visitor center at the yukon river bridge informed me the college in Fairbanks had a little farm in town you could visit. Upon stopping by, i found out they were closed on sunday at 5pm. But i did get some shots at 80 yards of them walking around.

My bike had approximately 1/4 inch of mud all over the front including the radiator. I was really surprised it didnt overheat. The car wash only took $1 coins, so i got like 20 of them for kicks since they are hard to find in normal circulation. I had to wash it twice ($6!) to get all the mud off, but it sure looked better afterwards. Another fellow rider was there on a GS1200 from New Zealand. He had his bike shipped over to LA and took off from there to Florida and a long list of other places over a 10 week period. He was staying at the college and recommended it to me as a cheap place to saty. I wanted to keep going so i decline. Before leaving he gave me his card, i guess he and his wife run a farm on the north island of New Zealand. Might have to look him up if i ever make it out there. I drove around town for fun afterwards to see the area. The same guy came up behind me while i was riding by the college, so i pulled in and bs-ed for a bit. Eventually his beer dropped a few degrees so he had to take his leave. I swung by walmart on the way out of town to get supplies and subways. I also called Ryan(the guy who told me about because i couldnt remember what the website was called. I
left town shortly thereafter.

It had sprinkled lightly the last hour before i got to Fairbanks, and it continued to rain off and on the rest of the day. I rode down to Denali NP next. I was planning on camping, but the first campground was full and the visitor center and campground office were both closed. There wasnt even a map of all the available campgrounds either. Im getting really tired of these. State parks i have stayed at before have a sign with all the campgrounds and which sites are taken and which are available. The ones like Denalis that dont just make me want to go camp in the woods for free, which i do later! I guess i should try and get there before 11pm next time. I rode down to the other site 10 miles into the park or so and found a open site. Had to push my bike in because it was after midnight and its really loud. Set up my tent in the rain and threw my tarp over it to keep some of the moisture out. Placed my food in a provided bearproof container and off to sleep i went.

So pretty.

ok, these were from yesterday. i was in a hurry.

mud mud mud mud

On Top of the world.

the arctic circle camprgound.

What can i eat to survive in this harsh climate?


Arctic hotspot cafe.

Musk Ox ranch in fairbanks.

Mr Musk Ox.

All clean now.

The fair city by the banks.


356 miles today.

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