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Old 09-29-2008, 07:43 AM   #16
Advdave
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Ben,

Great pics and report, keep it going. The Boss is probably at home reading ride reports on advrider.........
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Old 09-29-2008, 10:00 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by GSD4ME
I`m along for the ride on this one as well mate. I can tell already that it will be up to your usual standard.
Good on ya, sport! Glad to have you along again. Now fasten your safety belt as the ride may get bumpy....

Quote:
Originally Posted by JuneauDave
The Boss is probably at home reading ride reports on advrider.........
I sure hope not, I have work to do!

Once in Fort Liard I went into town to ask the RCMP about the road conditions ahead. It was about 38 kms to the BC border and I hoped it wasn't going to be 38 kms of the same thing. They said it was rough, but nothing like what I'd just come though, and that once over the border things would be much better. Funny when talking to the two RCMP officers there. One of them had been stationed in Fort Smith and we knew some of the same people - this guy was cool and just happy to chat. But his buddy just couldn't stop himself from walking to the back of my bike and checking out the plate. I don't know whether he wanted to check that I really did come from where I said I had, or maybe he wanted to check my tags weren't out of date - I dunno but I thought he was a prick for doing it. All I was doing was chatting to them in their parking lot, it wasn't as if they'd pulled me over for something.

Later that evening a group of maybe 4 or 5 younger kids in their early twenties came back to their tents, which had been set up in the campground when I got there. They were nice kids, all Uni students doing small mammal research out in the bush, and we had a good time shooting the shit around the wood stove. They even offered me beer and whiskey which I'd loved to have taken them up on, but felt a bit bad about not being able to pay them back, and I knew I was going to be relying on people's generosity a great deal before the trip was done. Plus, that bastard Larry would force me to drink beer at gunpoint in his shop a couple of nights a week and my belly was starting to show the effects, so I was hoping to cut down on my beer consumption. Ha - what a dumb idea that was! (Saw a T-shirt the other day: 'It's not a beer belly it's a fuel tank for a sex machine').

Next morning I gassed up and hit the road. Jeez, that cop wasn't joking when he said it'd be rough until the border. I couldn't get above 50 km/h and spent a lot of time well below that. It was so bumpy my water jug came off the back of the bike and I had to go back into Liard to get a new one. A couple of hours later when I finally made it to some smoother road I stopped for a rest and noticed that my new water jug (1 gall container) had a bit of a hole in it. Actually, if the truth be known it was a whole hole .

I took it fairly steady from then on because although the road was much better there'd still be the odd rough bit and they always jumped out in front of me at the last minute. I made it to the Alaska Hwy and turned left to go to Ft. Nelson for some gas, and spent a while pootling around town checking things out as it had been a few years since I was last there, and I'd been thinking for a while about going to work in the oil patch. It's a small place, but friendly, and I did notice a fair amount of eye candy which of course only helped me like the place more!

It was maybe mid afternoon and I didn't feel like pushing much farther up the road plus there was a freaking huge thunder cloud in the sky (duh - where else would it be?!) over the road in the direction I'd be riding so I went to the campground, which was a really dumb idea for several reasons. Firstly there was a perfectly good free camping spot across the highway which I could have got to on my bike and hidden in the trees, and secondly it was a shitty campground. The tent spots are a joke. But the guy next to me and his family were very nice. They were driving from Alaska to Oklahoma, where he was being transferred in the milltary. He'd seen active service in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former, he said, was a piece of piss because the Americans had better weapons and better training. But Iraq was not fun due to the roadside bombs which made any trip by road outside the city a risky business. He said he'd gone there as one of a contigent of 4500 troops. By the time he left 14 months later they had lost 53, only ten of whom had been killed by bullets. Mike and his wife Kim were travelling with their infant son Winston in an SE7 Discovery. Landrovers are cool, but Discoverys are not!

The rain never materialized, and it actually turned out to be a beautiful evening. I had also forgotten that I'd changed time zones when I crossed the BC border, so it was an hour earlier than I'd thought it was and I really should have pressed on that day. Well, 'should have' might be a bit strong - my only deadline was D2D. I walked in to town for a bite to eat and stopped at a museum that had loads of old equipment that had been used during the building of the original Alaska Hwy (many people don't realize that for the most part, the present day hwy is a completely new road).

I think that this

Goes with this:

That's a self portrait, by the way (in case you thought Brad Pitt happened to be in Ft. Nelson that day....)

And that this:

Goes with this:


The RD6 particularly interested me because an old boss of mine in BC had been bought up in Yellowknife in the 1930s. His dad had had a couple of old RD4 tractors which he used to haul freight across Great Slave Lake for the army, between Grimshaw in Alberta and Yellowknife. I think I went on about this in the Yellowknife Ice Trucking thread, but anyone who knows the area and the size of the land up there will have some appreciation for what this job would have entailed. Back then, tractors had no blades (and no cabs), and if they came across an obstacle such as a pressure ridge they had to get across or around it without any means of pushing snow infront of them. And there was no road at all, you just set a course and went for it (no GPS either, of course), and that simply amazes me. You may think Ice Road Trucking is difficult or dangerous, but it's like a snooze infront of the TV compared to what these pioneers did. Imagine a trip like that (several days long in each direction) on a Cat with no cab? Doug (my old boss) says that a few people did build makeshift cabs on their machines, but then couldn't get out in time when they went through the ice, and were lost. Doug's dad built a half cab out of plywood always leaving the side away from the wind open for a quick escape, and he'd duck down behind it just popping his head up every now and then to see what was ahead. Sorry to go on, but it's the sort of thing my dreams are made of. Well, that and Jessica Alba.









This:


is a Cooper Bessemer engine that would have been used to drive generators for Fort Nelson's power. I used to be pretty good with diesels, and I reckon it probably puts out around 4200hp. It's a 16 cyl lump with...oh, I don't know, something like a 15 1/2 in. bore and a 22 in. stroke? Yeah, looks about right.




Frikkin' genius, I tell you!!
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Old 09-29-2008, 10:19 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuneauDave
Ben,

Great pics and report, keep it going. The Boss is probably at home reading ride reports on advrider.........
Dave, I just noticed...you wrote 'The Boss' with each word capitalized. Are you talking about Bruce Springsteen??!!!
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Old 09-29-2008, 04:08 PM   #19
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thanks for taking the time......

Its a coincidence. I left on my journey the exact same day. May 31.

I am still amazed from my ride up there.........please continue.
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Old 09-30-2008, 08:25 AM   #20
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Another thing about the campground at Ft. Nelson (which, by the way is ideally set up for RVers and that's why it sucks so much for bikes)...is that late afternoon three big, loud bikes of a particular make rode in. All three with loud pipes, they were...well, noticeable. At first they parked in the spot next to mine and I exchanged pleasantries with at least of the riders (who was a nice enough guy) but within a couple of minutes they'd moved on to another spot somewhere behind me.

At supper time, all three bikes roared back to life and headed down the highway, presumably into town for some chow. I don't really know what do make about loud pipes. Do they really save lives? Yes, they probably have done that in the past, but in general I think that they're just ridden by really insecure people with an inferiority complex. I may be wrong. I don't have a problem with the pipes as such, but when these three rode back into the campground at about 11pm they undoubtedly woke every single person up, and at that point it just seemed really selfish. I used to have a Virago with slightly louder than stock pipes, and when I had to leave to work really early in the morning I'd push it a little way away from my neighbour's before I hit the starter the button, and was quite open with them about the fact that the noise concerned me ( I was milking cows at the time and leaving for work at 2:45am) and i didn't want to piss them off. Because I mentioned it, they knew I wasn't comletely selfish, and anyway other people told me that the pipes really weren't that loud. (They were on the bike when I bought it).

So, on with the story. Nice weather the next day, and also the prettiest part of the highway. I'm going to upset some people by saying this, but the Alaska Highway really isn't that spectacular. It's pretty, but it ain't world class. On my way back down south again after D2D I took the Cassiar, and that is what a highway should be like. Blows the Alcan right out of the water.

Muncho Lake is beautiful, though, there's no denying that.



I first drove the Alcan about 4 years ago in my cage. Everyone had told me to stop in at the Liard Hotsprings, and of course I did. I'd grabbed my towel and walked into the springs where I was confronted by a sign extolling the virtues of the new self-composting toilet they'd recently installed. All the sewage just goes into a deep hole in the ground and breaks down naturally. Neat idea, but I don't like the idea of sitting in a pool of water which is fed by a spring in the ground and comes up anywhere near a cess pool. So I didn't go in, and have been very anti-Liard Hotsprings ever since. Everyone I met on this trip was also telling me that I had to stop in there. Well pooh pooh to you, 'cos I just sailed right on past, and will continue to do so every time I travel that road. Ha. No soaking in sewage infested pools of warm water for me - not my idea of a good time.

A random pic from somewhere along the Alcan


I rode as far as Waton Lake that day, and all day long played tag at various gas stations with three older guys who'd ridden their bikes up from Iowa. One was on a trike Goldwing, one a regular Goldwing and one a Harley. Nice guys. There was also a couple who were more my age in a '63 437 cu. in. Cobra, which they were driving from Illinois to Eagle, Alaska. They were nice folks, too, and all of us would have small chats at various gas stations and food outlets along the way.

At Watson Lake I stopped for gas and to check my messages and ran into the Cobra couple again. They had got a hotel room there for the night and invited me to join them for a beer, but I'm too much of a lush and I can never have just one beer. I knew that if I stopped then that'd be where I ended up for the night, and I planned on going a few kms further and camping in the bush. So I did.

At the gas station in Watson Lake a 6 or 7 yr old native kid comes in with his mom. He looks at me and says, "You have a cool bike". "Thanks!" I said. "I think so too". Obviously a very smart kid, this chap. His mom said that they lived at the Bell two resort (where she worked) and that I should stop in there. At the time I didn't know what the Bell 2 resort was, but I did actually camp there a few weeks later on my way south again.

Two more loaded KLR pics.




I went about 50 kms past Watson Lake and took a track off into the bush which seemed to go on for ever. In the end I rode back to within about 5 km of the highway and camped there - there weren't any signs of bears and the track didn't look like it had been used in the past few days. I was far enough out of town that I didn't think drunken Friday night revellers would be bothering me.

I know that some people think you should go as far as changing out of the clothes you cooked supper in before camping in bear country, and they probably even stick corks up their arses at night so that their farts don't attract bears too, but I think that's going a little far. I've lived in bear country for 10 of the past 15 years, seen hundreds and come far closer to a few than I ever wanted to, and have never had a problem. I take precautions, and most importantly use my head. Cook away from where you'll be sleeping, store your food and cooking gear (as well as your spare gas - bears are attracted to gasoline) away too and you should be fine. I've also been trained in what to do when you encounter a bear (black and grizzly in various situations and at various distances). I slept with my bear spray and a loaded bear banger beside my sleeping bag, and that tactic served me well throughout the trip. (I was mauled twice and eaten three other times, but those are just minor details...)

Next, Watson Lk to Whitehorse.
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Old 09-30-2008, 08:38 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hektoglider
thanks for taking the time......

Its a coincidence. I left on my journey the exact same day. May 31.

I am still amazed from my ride up there.........please continue.
Thanks bud, I will.
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:43 AM   #22
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...and on to Whitehorse....

It’s great having a boss who works 8 floors away from your own office, so for the third day in a row here’s another entry submitted from work. You’d have thought, since technically that means I’m being paid to write this report, that the quality would be higher. Oh well. (You will notice, though, that I wrote this in MS Word and copied/pasted it here. My boss has a habit of walking in unannounced and I’m always on ADVriver when he does. Usually on the Miss Adventure Biker thread in JM, which is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time). Or it was for a while, anyway.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of many birds singing. In fact, two were having a conversation and I listened to them call and respond for a few minutes until one of them suddenly stopped replying, and I wondered what he’d said to piss her off. I also wondered whether when birds from different parts of the country – and different countries altogether – meet up while on migration they can hear each other’s accents and understand each other.

The sky was overcast and it looked a little doubtful as to whether I’d manage to stay dry that day. I always said, when planning this trip, that if I woke up one morning to pouring rain I’d just take a tent day rather then ride wet, but that never happened. For one thing I didn’t really fancy spending all day in a tent that didn’t even have a fly (cheap-ass KLR rider=cheap tent), and secondly riding in the rain is better than not riding at all. I had some breakfast, relieved to see that no bears had come and investigated my stash of food overnight, and loaded up.

On the move again, the weather steadily became worse. I pulled over to put another layer on, and as I did so the three guys from Iowa rode past and waved. Later still I stopped for gas where they were topping up their caffeine tanks and put on my electric vest. “I hope you weren’t in any trouble back there” one of them said, “You looked like you were alright but I wondered whether I should have stopped.” Like I said, nice guys. That electric vest might just be the single best purchase I made in preparation for this trip. I bought a size M so that I could put it on on top of a t-shirt, then layer up with fleece and whatever else over it to keep the heat in. Works like a charm, I tell ya. I chatted to the Iowans about their fairings and comfy seats, and how my bike had neither. “Yep”, they said, “Riding one of these is pretty much like sitting at home in your armchair.” Bastards.





Onwards we pressed, still passing each other every time one of us stopped for gas or a rest, but at least I was comfortable now that I was plugged in. By lunchtime the worst of the weather was over and it had gone back to just being overcast. I stopped to eat at Teslin, YT and had lunch with a couple of Harley riders from San Antonio. I’ve never really been into Harleys and know nothing about them, but one of these guys had a beautiful orange paint job on his bike – looked really good. I was very glad to hear that they’d had as much trouble crossing the river immediately before the lunch spot as I had .
All along the highway there are metal grated bridges and they all tend to make the bike wobble a bit, but they're short bridges and if you’re doing 60, 80 or 100 kmh you’re over them in just a second or two and can recover. But the bridge at Teslin is long, perhaps 500m, and the grates must be wider because the bike was all over the shop coming across there. I had taken it at 50 km/h, and although I’d wanted to speed up to get across the darn thing sooner, I thought that that was quite a risk to take. I asked the Harley dudes what speed they’d taken it at, and one of them said “15”. Wow – at least I now have proof that my balls are bigger than those of a Harley rider.

At the lunch stop I also met a couple who’d ridden from Connecticut, and somewhere along the way had met up with an Englishman who’d shipped his Honda Vadajero (is that right?) to Halifax, N.S., and ridden across Canada.

Having had several teas to warm me up, I pushed on again and the weather only got better. I ended up rolling into Whitehorse mid-afternoon in glorious sunshine, and found my friend Kate’s house. Kate and I had met through a mutual friend in Victoria, B.C. when I lived there and she was visiting. We discovered we had a mutual love of all things Springsteen and, because I’d only just quit working at a rock station there and still had some connections, I scored two tix to see The Boss in Tacoma the following week. A couple of years later I’d met her in Whitehorse and we’d gone to the Atlin Music Festival with a bunch of her friends (more on Atlin later – it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world). Now Kate was living with a boyfriend, Shane, whom I’d not met, but they had invited me to stay for as long as I wanted – and that is very cool. Kate and I sat in the driveway enjoying the sun and drinking homemade liquor while Shane and his dad changed the brakes on their car, and that evening they took me to a BBQ at a friend’s house. One friend, Mitt, makes the homemade booze I just mentioned, and we all had a riot playing croquet in grass a foot long. Extra points were awarded for malice, aggression towards other players, and creativity – it was a hoot and a great re-introduction to Whitehorse.

The following morning I was woken by Kate’s voice calling down the stairs, “Hey Ben, look out your window – it’s snowing”. At first I was groggy enough to consider believing her, but then remember how it had been so sunny the previous afternoon and so warm in the evening. Plus it was June 8th, so….but then it occurred to me that it was a mighty strange thing to say if it wasn’t true. I mean, if she wanted to wind me up or play a joke she could have come up with something better than that and so, curiosity awakened (even if the rest of me hadn’t), I hauled my sorry arse out of bed and looked out of the window to see this:









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Old 10-01-2008, 09:00 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker
is a Cooper Bessemer engine that would have been used to drive generators for Fort Nelson's power. I used to be pretty good with diesels, and I reckon it probably puts out around 4200hp. It's a 16 cyl lump with...oh, I don't know, something like a 15 1/2 in. bore and a 22 in. stroke? Yeah, looks about right.




Frikkin' genius, I tell you!!
High torque at low RPM. I need something like this on my new bike.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:15 AM   #24
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High torque at low RPM. I need something like this on my new bike.
There ya go! But you might need to beef up the frame a tad before you mount this baby in there!
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Old 10-01-2008, 02:15 PM   #25
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Arbitrary Yukon shots:





The snow turned to rain by the end of the day, but the rain kept up for several days. I took it easy, catching up with Kate and Shane, and pootling around Whitehorse. I think I did my first oil change at this time, too.

It was a Saturday when I arrived there, and on the Tuesday afternoon I was in town parking the bike when some guy comes up to me and starts yakking. I wondered who the heck he was until he told me that he was also there on a KLR, and had ridden from Thunder Bay, On. Cool! He introduced himself as hecktoglider and asked me what my plans were. To tell the truth I didn't have anything specific in mind, but I knew I wanted to ride the Dempster, and I was a little concerned about doing so alone. Turns out Heckto had pretty much the same thoughts, so we decided that we'd think about riding together, and I was to go and visit him in his campground later that day.

Insert random pic of self and bike here...

At that time we decided we'd ride to Dawson City the next day, making our own ways there and meeting up again upon our arrival. Heckto needed to change his tires and wanted to do that the following day, then on the Thursday we'd hit the Dempster together.

The pics will become much better from here, I promise you. The Dempster is like nothing you've seen before and I took so many photos. I'll continue tomorrow, but here's a taster of what's to come:

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Old 10-01-2008, 02:30 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker
..... I got the bike out and put it in my living room for a few weeks until the off.

I love this. For some reason, I simply love it.

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Old 10-01-2008, 08:23 PM   #27
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Nice, Ben. Can't wait to see the rest.
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Old 10-02-2008, 06:30 AM   #28
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I love this. For some reason, I simply love it.

[TaSK]
No worries - whatever floats your boat!!
Thanks for following along.
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Old 10-02-2008, 06:31 AM   #29
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Nice, Ben. Can't wait to see the rest.
Thanks Marty - plenty of pics of you directing traffic coming up! I can only dream of writing a RR like yours...

Good to hear from you again!
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Old 10-02-2008, 08:22 AM   #30
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Thanks Marty - plenty of pics of you directing traffic coming up! I can only dream of writing a RR like yours...

Good to hear from you again!


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