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Old 07-13-2011, 04:02 PM   #1
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Two reasonable guys and one idiot on a VFR have dinner in Prudhoe.

Edit: I just posted more pics on pg 3 of this thread.




Pre-report tally:

Miles traveled: 8800mi in 25 days
Bikes dropped: 3 (each of us dropped it once!)
Other VStrom & BMW adventure bikes seen in 8800 miles: 239048239487234
Other VFRs seen in 8800 miles: 2


I discovered the Adventure Rider forum in early 2009. The first thread that got me sucked in was Amblin About in North America. After reading that and a few other threads, I had made up my mind - I too would ride to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. I registered www.alaska2011.com in late 2009 and planned the trip for 2011.

In late 2010 I had two more friends confirmed for the trip - Dave and his 2010 BMW F650GS (Twin) and Reid with his CBR F3 (but looking for a new bike for the trip - bought a VStrom 650 w/ ABS). I've got a 2004 Honda VFR800 w/ ABS. Both Reid & I hadn't taken a trip longer than about 1200 miles before... and Dave not much more that that. We all do semiregular do 2.5 day (after work Fri to Sun night) rides to the Sierra Nevada mountain roads, however... 600-800 mile weekend trips.

At the beginning of the ride, I had about 50k of riding experience (All on Honda VFRs, no dirt), Dave had about 25k (He did have a DR650 for awhile, but little dirt experience), and Reid 15k (no dirt experience).

While I knew my VFR was absolutely the wrong bike for the trip from day 1, it's what I've got. When I started trip planning, I'd be evaluating my finances to see if another bike would be in the cards. It wasn't.

While I officially have no dirt experience, if a dirt/gravel road helps me complete a curvy road loop in the mountains, I go for it. With a challenge comes an adventure. So.. I've probably done maybe 50 miles of dirt roads on the VFR. That should prepare me for the Top of the World & Dalton highways, right?


Prep


Reid, Dave, and I scheduled monthly planning meetings to drink beer, talk about how awesome of a trip this will be, and occasionally talk about actual planning. We decided that we should probably camp about half the time to save money.

The Alaska trip certainly did give me an excuse to spend money on gear.

I had been wearing the same Aerostich roadcrafter for 10 years and it was finally falling apart. After researching replacement suit options available, I ended up buying another roadcrafter. I'm happy with my decision.

I'm picky when it comes to gloves and finally found a set of new Dianese gloves that fit me fine.

I bought a pair of TCX MatrixII boots 2 years ago and they are still in good condition.

Picked up a new Shoei RF1100 to replace my 2-3 year old HJC FS-15.

Bike: I already had the factory luggage set for my bike, a starcom advance communicator,a zumo550, and a kenwood 2 way radio. I had to start thinking about a packing strategy, tools, tires, and camping gear. I generally work on my own bike but I let a local mechanic do a plug change and give it a once-over. Chain only had 10k miles on it and was in good condition. Tires... well, that's a challenge for what is essentially a sportbike. I run Michelin Pilot Road 2s (now 3s) on the street. After doing lots of googling, the only tire that comes in a wide rear (180/55/17) rated for ANY dirt is the new tire that Pirelli developed for the new Multistrada: The Scorpion Trail (95% street 5% dirt). I wanted them on before I rode the Top of the World Highway (between Dawson City, YT and Chicken, AK), so I called Yukon Honda in Whitehorse 5 weeks before the trip and asked them to order me a set. Two weeks before I was scheduled to arrive, I gave them a call again to make sure everything was A-OK. They had the rear but the front was backordered. Uh-oh. I call my local dealer, he can get one the next day.. so I bought it locally and FedEx'd it (FedEx international air - 3 day, spent more on that than the tire). The tire got stuck in customs. More on that later.


I purchased a REI Quarterdome T2+ tent, Jetboil Flash, & Big Agnes Grouse Mountain 15º down sleeping bag (I'm extremely happy with all of these products).


Up to a month prior to departure, I started doing test packing. First, my clothes snugly packed in Rick Steves Packing Cubes which are easy to stuff in my top case:





(1) Hat, (2) Champion G9 pants, (1) Warm pajama pants, (5) Base layer long underwear, (6) Pair socks, (2) T-Shirts, (1) Jeans, (1) Workout shorts,(1) Sweatshirt, (2) Boxers, (1) Long sleeve windbreaker top, (4) Base layer t-shirts, (2) Long sleeve tshirts, (1) Shorts.

I had already found that under my aerostich, I am most comfortable and temperature versatile with the long underwear, then the G9 pants over them if it will be under 60ºF. Up top, a base layer moisture wicking t-shirt (+long sleeve t-shirt if <65ºF, + a long sleeve windbreaker top if <55ºF). I have an old Widder heated vest, but decided not to bring it.

Also in my top case was a zip lock bag with toiletries and a zip lock bag with my electronics: 3 extra camera batteries, iphone/ipad charger, extra Lithium 8x AAAs for the SPOT, Kenwood radio charger. iPad2 loaded with: Milepost PDF, Service manual for all of our 3 bikes PDF, pre-paid international 3G data plan for Canada, camera connection kit to download pics from SD card and post online/email [iPad2 made an *excellent* trip companion].

In my left side case I was able to fit the jetboil, tent (although the poles were too long), sleeping bag, cup, bowl.

In my right side case I put:
Tools (multitool+screwdriver+everything needed to do an oil change, remove a wheel, plus a few extra).
Slime motorcycle kit (includes slime and compressor, compressor has the same battery attachment as my battery tender). Additional tire valves and sticky rope repair kit, and 4 CO2 cartridges. I was pretty paranoid about tire problems.
Food: Half a dozen mountainhouse meals, coffee (both ground [I bought the Jetboil coffee press attachment] and starbucks Via instant), powdered poweraid, oatmeal packets, power bars
Other: Hot hands (large and small), nitrile gloves, alcohol wipes (good for instant showers AND starting campfires!), extra earplugs, clear visor, electrical tape, DEET for mosquitos, epoxy, excedrin, advil

Netted down to the pillion seat were: Tent poles, camping chair, 2x Platypus 2L water bags, a pair of shoes.

In my suit pockets: credit card+d/l in the sleeve pocket, license/reg/emergency contact info for all 3 of us + a nice Fenix LED flashlight in my other pockets.

klinquist screwed with this post 07-22-2011 at 10:03 AM
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:03 PM   #2
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Itinerary

I had a basic itinerary (formed before I had even received the milepost, and it still ended up being pretty accurate) that would mean 300-400 miles/day most days and I had city names in those ranges that I knew had hotels. Alaska highway up, Cassier back, 21 days. Perfect. Figure I can take off a few extra days to account for ...well, anything.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:04 PM   #3
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Day 1 - June 17th - Milpitas, CA to Shasta City, CA - 352 miles



I was so excited my bike was fully packed nearly a week in advance. Reid couldn't get the day off and was going to try to leave work around 12 or 1, so I rode directly to Dave's house in the morning... and as soon as we got the go-ahead from Reid, we rode to Reid's office and started the trip. It was a cool day in the Bay Area but got much warmer as we entered the central valley. I remembered a hotel I had stayed in during a previous ride in Shasta City that was pleasant, inexpensive, and that had a room with 3 beds. I called them en route and found that it was indeed available, so that was our goal for the night. The ride through the central valley up to Redding sucks. Flat, brown scenery and a straight highway. After Redding, however, you climb in elevation and enter the hills. Lake Shasta was completely full and the way the evening light was lighting up the trees was gorgeous. We arrived in the early evening and quickly began to seek out beer. Turns out there was a liquor store within walking distance that had a great selection - we picked up a 6er of Spaten Optimator, a 6er of Stone Levitation Ale... and why not, a bottle of Makers.



The hotel had a picnic table on a deck that made for a good drinking spot:

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Old 07-13-2011, 04:04 PM   #4
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Day 2 - Shasta City, CA to Bellevue, WA - 540 miles



It was exciting finally riding into a state other than CA and NV. Even with 50k mi of riding experience (and I don't commute on the bike - it's nearly all day trips in the mountains or weekend rides around the state), I've only ridden in CA... with a few jaunts into NV. I suppose we're spoiled as I'm always finding new roads here to ride.




It really did not take us long to experience all that the Pacific NorthWet had to offer. The rain started and we finally stopped in Vancouver, WA (just across the WA border from Portland) for some coffee. This is where I'm really glad I purchased the Aerostich rain glove covers, even if they do make you look like a vulcan (they only have three "fingers"). It was clear that I was getting much more wet than Reid was with his massive windscreen.

This ended up being our longest day (mileage wise) of the entire trip. We made it to Bellevue, where Reid's parents greeted us with chips, salsa, and margaritas, followed by a great dinner of fresh Alaska sock-eye salmon.

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Old 07-13-2011, 04:05 PM   #5
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Day 3 - Bellevue, WA to 100 Mile House, BC - 410 miles



While the original plan was to take the more easterly route into Canada, Reid assured us that the Sea-to-Sky highway could not be missed. We were quickly greeted with more rain shortly after riding through Vancouver (which was very slow going - construction through the city). This made for a less than scenic ride up the highway... until we got past Whistler, where the sky finally opened up a bit. Although it was still cold, it's amazing how fantastic scenery can raise the spirits and make you stop thinking about it being so chilly.


We made our way to the town of 100 Mile House, BC and got a room at the Ramada, celebrating our entry into Canada with the Makers we purchased in Canada. We got a room that had 2 beds + a broken fold-out couch. I was able to pull the mattress out of the couch and use it on the floor. We had dinner next door at a German-Mexican restaurant. Margaritas and Schnitzel. That's right.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:05 PM   #6
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Day 4 - 100 Mile House, BC to Dawson Creek, BC - 461 miles



Once again, it rained on and off throughout the day as we headed north and east. After a quick mountainhouse lunch at a rest stop and another break at McLeod lake, we were pretty tired but the excitement of making it to mile 0 of the Alaska highway gave us the energy to push on all the way into Dawson Creek.









Reid at the top of a slide. To quote the late comedian Mitch Hedberg, "As an adult, I'm not supposed to go down slides. So if I'm at the top of a slide, I have to pretend that I got there accidentally. "How the hell did I get up here? I guess I have to slide down. Whee!" That's what you say when you're having fun. You refer to yourself and some other people."





Since we entered Canada, I had seen several Boston Pizza restaurant chains. We walked to the one in Dawson Creek and found it to be quite delicious. We engaged in conversation with some locals who wondered why we would be heading up to AK. "There's nothing up there!" Well, you see... we're from the city. Nothing is exactly what we're looking for.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:06 PM   #7
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Day 5 - Dawson Creek, BC to Toad River, BC - 400 miles



Our first gas stop after BC was the first of many gas stations without a paved parking lot.



It was wet and when Dave moved his bike off of the side stand... he pushed a little too hard. As any good friend would do, as soon as I heard the "Oh f@!# (thump)", I grabbed my camera.



Another friend of ours thought we should take bets on who drops their bike (either first or the most) as well as who gets the most tickets. Or whether we would get an even or odd number of tickets.


Another one of our gas stops was truly one of the "we ain't in Kansas anymore" moments for me. The gas tanks were all above ground and the restaurant was made of trailers/shipping containers.



We stopped at an A&W for lunch in Fort Nelson where I pulled out the Milepost to find a place to stay for the night. We called the Toad River Lodge who happened to have a cabin with 3 beds for $100. Score.

Dave looks thrilled sitting at the A&W:



It was rainy and cold (down to 46º I think) over a pass headed toward Toad River.. but within about 5 miles of the lodge, the sky opened up a bit and we were able to take a little jaunt down to the river for some pics.

Reid is happy it's not raining anymore:



Then he used his gorillapod on some shrubbery:



...to grab a picture that looks like it could be in the Aerostich catalog:



I should mention that it was just a coincidence that Reid and I ended up with the same color suit. I had a 2-piece 'stich previously, and ordered a 1 piece in size 42. Turns out it was too small, so I replaced it with a 44. Turns out that was too tall, so I replaced it with a 44S. Reid ordered a 44 just after I had received mine, and got word from Aerostich that they were now out of stock and it would be a few weeks. I called Aerostich and gave them a proposition: I would give Reid the suit that I had just received, identical to the one he had ordered, and they would send me a 44S to replace it. Now, this may be a paperwork nightmare for the company on the back-end... and how would they verify that he had received the suit? Aerostich however, was awesome. They not only agreed, but they would not charge either of us shipping. Rad.

The cabin in Toad River was great - it was a brand new unit (still unpainted, even) and smelled like fresh pine. They have an attached restaurant, gas station, and wifi. What else could you ask for for $100?



This picture was taken about 100 feet from the cabin front door:



This was the first night where one of us realized there was at least some night in the sky 24/7. The cabin didn't have a curtain over the door windows but a towel sufficed.


I should mention that on most of the Alaska highway, you can go fast. Very fast. We saw an average of 1 officer every 1500 miles or so. The speed limit is 90 or 100km/h, but we had hours of sustained speeds above 130km/h. Dodging potholes helps keep you alert on the straight stretches [although I should probably mention that I am on the lookout for a new rear wheel, mine does have a bend or two in one side....].
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:07 PM   #8
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Day 6 - Toad River, BC to Whitehorse, YT - 479 miles



In Toad River, I discovered that I could tether my camera to my aerostich pocket zipper to take pictures while riding. It was a beautiful morning and we headed nearly due west into Whitehorse, crossing over the Yukon/BC border (which is the 60º latitude line) several times.



Muncho Lake. This was our first taste of the mosquitos we had been warned about. I flipped up my visor and quickly flipped it back down. I had to pee and did so... very carefully.





The signpost forest in Watson Lake:




Hey, this is where I live!




We passed through the town of Teslin where they had the longest metal grate bridge we had seen thus far.





The sign was clearly a warning for motorcyclists, but none of us had any issues crossing it.

We arrived in Whitehorse and found all the hotels sold out. No worries, I noticed a campground on the edge of town. Turns out to be quite nice - it's a walk-in campground but they allow motorcycles to ride in and park on their campsite. It's a bit spendy for a campground ($20/tent regardless of how many sites you use) but they had wifi and were walking distance (about 1.5mi) from downtown Whitehorse. We set up camp and walked into town for what was probably our most expensive meal of the trip - a place called the Klondike. I got a full rack of ribs and Dave got some Elk stew. We headed back around 11pm and it was still pretty bright outside.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:08 PM   #9
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Day 7 - camping in Whitehorse

Before I left, the front tire I had shipped to Yukon Honda appeared to be stuck in customs. I let my Dad take care of figuring out those details while we were riding since I'd have no time while in very small cell phone coverage areas to take care of it. As it turns out, Yukon Honda has a note in their FedEx profile that all incoming shipments should go through a specific customs broker out of FedEx's hands. Long story short, my front tire was still somewhere in southern British Columbia when I had arrived in Whitehorse.

Just in case my tire would arrive on Friday morning (today was Thursday), we decided to stay another night in Whitehorse. The camping was cheap and we had ridden a lot of long days up to this point. I rode to Yukon Honda and let them install my Pirelli Scorpion Trail *rear* tire. By the end of the day it was clear that the front would not arrive and I would have to do the Top of the World highway (100mi of dirt) and the Dalton Highway (~600-700mi r/t of dirt) on my front street tire, a Michelin Pilot Road 2.

We went to the grocery store that evening to pick up some steak & corn on the cob to cook back at the campground. We went to an "offsale liquor sales" place to pick up a 6 pack of Budweiser. $15! It wasn't until later in the trip that we discovered that it would have been much cheaper at the government liquor store, since that's where the "offsale" places have to purchase their liquor from - and they simply resell it to you at a higher price.

We also did our laundry at a laundromat for the first time and found a decent bar that had Delirium Tremens on tap. Yum!





I was actually much happier than I look in this picture:




At the campground we also ran into a guy that rode in on a 1983 Goldwing. He was from somewhere in Alberta I believe. Mentioned that he was pulling a trailer - the trailer itself weighed 250 lbs and he had 300lbs of crap in it. With 8" tires on the trailer, it made for some sketchy towing. He said that as he was crossing the metal bridge in Teslin, a police officer stopped traffic coming the other way as they saw his trailer bouncing all over the place. He said that 5 motorcyclists have died on that bridge this year. "You fall and the metal grates just tear you up! It ground one guy's leg down to a nub just above the knee!"

Huh. Bizarre. Like I had mentioned in the previous post, we had no problems. The signs tell you to slow down to 50km/h for the bridge, but I feel like I could easily do double that without a worry.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:09 PM   #10
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Day 8 - Whitehorse, YT to Dawson City, YT - 345 miles



Friday morning we woke up, packed up camp, and headed toward Dawson City, YT. By pure timing coincidence, I had noticed before I left that we'd end up in Dawson City during the Dust 2 Dawson adventure motorcycle gathering [See its history here]. When we arrived on Friday, there were 100+ bikes - almost all BMW GSs, VStroms, KLRs. They had lots of contests... a "slow race" (see who can ride the slowest while staying in a specific lane), slaloms, etc. Very fun to watch.

Dawson is a very interesting town. Very "old west" - and although there were lots of tourist groups that come through town, it wasn't built to be an old west town. It just was. Only one street through town was paved, all the rest were dirt.

We went into a saloon (swinging doors and all) and started talking to the bartender. She was ranting about the tourist "lower 15ers." Apparently Holland America busses cruise ship passengers into town... the lower 15ers she was referring to would be people from the southern states. She said that it was pretty common for them to slap their hand on the bar and yell SERVICE PLEASE as if they weren't seen. She pulled out a squirt gun reserved for just those occasion. Reid, being funny, slapped his hand in front of Dave yelling SERVICE PLEASE. She immediately grabbed the squirt gun and soaked Reid. Good times.

Later that evening we tried the Sour Toe cocktail. You go up to the bar, get a shot of Yukon Jack, then walk to the back of the bar and give the guy in the captain's hat anther $5 and he puts a human toe in your drink. No shit. It's old and brown. It has a nail on it. Drink your shot and as long as your lips touch the toe, you get a certificate. The toe was kind of stuck at the bottom of the glass when I did mine... and shaking the glass resulted in the toe going straight into my mouth. Spit it back into the glass, got my certificate.

Saw a guy riding a Penny Farthing.

Went to a midnight burlesque show at the casino, supposedly the oldest operating casino in Canada. The singer was quite good and the dancers were quite attractive. I rate them #4, #2, #3, #1 in attractiveness, left to right.

Despite the huge rally going on, we ended up with a hotel room and crashed for the evening. What a crazy town.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:10 PM   #11
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Day 9 - Dawson City, YT to Fairbanks, AK - 422 miles



Leaving Dawson, you immediately cross a ferry over the Yukon River - there is no bridge. Speaking with the locals the day before, they told us that there is simply no way to cross during freeze-up and thaw - a ~2 month period every spring and fall. During the winter, an ice road is formed. In the summer, the free government ferry.

After crossing the ferry, the road immediately turns to dirt and becomes the Top of the World highway. Although dusty, it was dry and the road was in good condition - no problems at all and we crossed over into Alaska at the most northerly US border crossing. Holy crap, we had successfully ridden our motorcycles to Alaska.











We stopped for gas & food in the town of Chicken, Alaska and then proceeded all the way to Fairbanks.




Once in Fairbanks, we checked into the Univ of Alaska dorms - they offer a very inexpensive ($36 single $49 double) rate for traveling motorcyclists in what are very nice dorms. The bathrooms are shared, but they have individual shower rooms and everything. This really is the "base camp" for everyone heading up to Prudhoe Bay, 500 miles away. You can hang out by your bike and chat with other riders all night. Either Dave or Reid coined the term "sidecasing" (as an alternative to "tailgating").

Did I mention it was 88º in Fairbanks? The highest temp we had seen on the whole trip.

Both Dave & Reid had new tires reserved at Adventure Cycleworks - a motorcycle shop run out of a guy's garage. He's a great mechanic and he's open whenever it's light outside - so that's 24/7 in the summer. Ride to his house, ring the door bell, and he'll come out and work on your bike. First come, first served. There was nobody else there when we arrived around 7PM, so we left Reid's bike to get new tires & an oil change while Reid & Dave rode nuts-to-butts to dinner (a place that Dan & AdvCycle recommended, Brewsters I think? Good food). We came back from dinner and Dave's bike got new tires as we shot the shit with three other riders that had come up from Sacramento.

Dan @ AdvCycle also rents out gas cans, something that we would all need the next day on the ride to Prudhoe. It's roughly 500 miles from Fairbanks with a single gas station (Coldfoot) in between (ok, well there is a small station halfway between Fairbanks and Coldfoot, but if you can make it from Coldfoot to Prudhoe, then you can make it from Fairbanks to Coldfoot).

We got back to the dorms fairly late and turned in for the night. Whether we would make the run the next morning would depend on weather reports, since riding the dirt road in the rain is very slippery and dangerous.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:10 PM   #12
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Day 10 - Fairbanks, AK to Prudhoe Bay, AK - 501 miles



Everything they say about the Dalton is true (If you've seen 'Ice Road Truckers', this is the highway featured in seasons 3,4,5).

We woke up and got a fairly late start, going to a local coffee place for... well, coffee and reindeer breakfast wraps (yum). Looking at the forecast, it looked "ok enough" although it was currently raining lightly in Fairbanks. We left Fairbanks at almost exactly 11:00AM.

We headed up the Elliott highway until it turned into the Dalton:



I wondered how long it would be until it turned to dirt. Answer: About 500 feet.

Most of the highway is a nice mix of dirt and small gravel, giving good traction.. however, they put a top layer of calcium chloride on parts of it for dust control and as a hard packing agent. We named this stuff "hellspawn." On dirt tires I'm sure it was bad, on street tires it was... more bad. When I would ride on areas not tracked by previous vehicles, the bike would be all over the place. When I'd get in a previous vehicle's tracks, my bike would follow it fairly easily... however, it would follow it wherever it went. It was very difficult to get out of the track, even though it was only a few millimeters deep. Sometimes the track would take me to the left side of the road... and if I saw a vehicle approaching, I'd have to give the bars so little pressure it was as if I was writing my motorcycle a letter: "Dear Honda VFR. I'd like to be in the right lane. If you could comply, I'd really appreciate it. Get back to me ASAP. Love, Kris."

It was wet nearly the whole way up to Coldfoot. Trying to pass a tractor-trailer was quite the challenge - no big adventure windscreen meant that my visor would get covered in brown mud within seconds of me wiping it. When another vehicle is coming at you, it's best to pull over,completely stop, and cover your head to avoid being hit by rocks.

Eventually I discovered that wiping the entire visor was doing nothing but making my gloves filthy... and wiping a single line was sufficient:







Just before Coldfoot we reached the Arctic Circle!






We pulled into Coldfoot at 4:50PM to gas up (and fill our gas cans - we did need them!) and get some food. They had a buffet that opened up at 5PM that was quite satisfying. After downing a Monster energy drink, I bought a calling card to call the two hotels in Prudhoe Bay to inquire about availability. The Arctic Caribou Inn said they were sold out, but the Prudhoe Bay Motel said they had plenty of rooms and we could just show up no problem.


Weather was on our side and it remained dry for the remaining 250 miles into Prudhoe Bay. I had to go very slow around Atigun pass - gravel was deeper than in most areas - but otherwise had no problems with the VFR on street tires. It was up to 70 degrees north of Atigun. The scenery is absolutely fantastic for 80% of the road. Even north of Atigun, there are green grassy fields with streams meandering back and forth. The Dalton crosses over 500 minor streams (and 50 major ones). As you drop onto the north slope, however.. the last 90-ish miles... it just becomes flat and lifeless. We did see a huge herd of caribou just before we got to Prudhoe, however. They were walking on the road and with a honk of the horn they all ran in various directions. The temperatures dropped as well...44 degrees upon our arrival. It was now 11PM and the sun had been shining directly into our eyes. We were absolutely beat. By far the most challenging 12 hours ever spent on a motorcycle... but we made it.





We checked into the hotel ($345 for the 3 of us, ouch!) and went to the free all-you-can-eat cafe. They had put away most of the dinner items, but they still had midnight snacks out - which included pizza, fries, an ice cream machine, etc. What a day.




Quoting a truck driver we met in the cafeteria:
"Are you guys the ones who came in on the motorcycles? Let me shake your hand, because you're the craziest sons of bitches I've ever met."
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:11 PM   #13
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Day 11 - Prudhoe Bay, AK to Fairbanks, AK - 499 miles



Prudhoe is a bizarre town. Populated by oil field workers, it's a dry town, and all the buildings are built of shipping containers that can be carried on a tractor trailer. Our hotel must have been 30 of them put together.. and contrary to what you'd think, it was quite nice inside.

The hotel is for workers, and therefore the (free) meals are served on the workers schedule. We missed breakfast - it was 6:30-8AM. We did, however, use the free laundry facilities to do a load while snacking on what was left in the cafe. They also had free food to go - we grabbed a sandwich and a bag of chips and checked out around 11AM. We made our way to the gas station, which was a bizarre sight - you saw long hoses coming out of a small shed going into a 55 gallon barrel. To pump gas, you walk into the shed (just big enough for 1 or 2 people), swipe your card, and turn on the pump - they were normal looking pumps, simply located indoors.

It was still cold...in the 40s - but knowing that the temps would rise kept our spirits up as we once again headed south. It once again remained dry all the way to Coldfoot, where we grabbed the 5PM dinner buffet once again.

I was talking to a guy at the buffet that owned a trucking company that ran trucks to Prudhoe and back. His trucks were carrying I-beams to help reconstruct a bridge that we had crossed earlier in the day. He said that each one weighs 155,000 lbs and that to get up Atigun, another truck had to get behind the trailer and push. He said they could only get up to about 1.5MPH. They are so long, the rear of the trailer has articulating wheels that are controlled by the driver via remote control. He said that the remote stopped working so on the last run up the pass, another driver had to walk next to the rear wheels and push buttons to turn them.

He also told us that they use CB channel 19 to communicate - handy since our Kenwood handheld radios (TH-F6A, we all have our amateur radio licenses) are dual band and can listen to CB frequencies. We heard one oversize load pilot car driver radio: "Any southbound trucks coming up arctic hill - please pull over and hold your position. I've got a heavy load that is making a run up the hill." The trucks can't make it up some of the hills unless they speed down the previous hill.

Dave was wanting to camp in Coldfoot, but Reid and I convinced him (with another energy drink) to push on back to Fairbanks that evening. It remained dry all the way to the Yukon river bridge, a long wooden bridge that has an 8% grade - a bizarre sight. After the bridge, it started pouring. Luckily there was only ~60 miles of dirt left before we found pavement again as the road turned to the Elliott highway. A celebratory twist of the wrist over a wooden bridge put my bike into a crazy fishtail... somehow I saved it. I hear Reid on the radio simply say, "hooollyyyy shhhiiiiiitt." The rain continued and we saw a few lightning strikes before it finally let up just as we entered Fairbanks and returned to the dorm around 11PM.





1000 miles in 36 hours, 80% dirt.




A grizzly:



An example of the wide load trucks you see:



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Old 07-13-2011, 04:11 PM   #14
r3mac
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O, this should be good.

I'm in.
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:12 PM   #15
klinquist OP
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Day 12 - Hanging out in Fairbanks

After we tackled the Dalton, we were ready to go absolutely nowhere.

It wasn't until day 12 when I figured out how to properly secure things under the net on my pillion seat. Reid and Dave were making a list of things I had already lost.

1 water bag - recovered but cap broken (watson lake)
1 hat - recovered (luckily, I love the hat) (don't remember where)
1 flask - unrecovered (don't remember where)
1 shoe - unrecovered (dalton highway)
2 microfiber towels
My drivers license, debit card, & credit card. Yep. This I lost back along the Alaska highway. I left the sleeve zipper of my aerostich wide open and found everything missing at a gas stop in Delta Junction, AK. Luckily, I had two other credit cards and my passport with me so it wasn't a big deal. Replacements were waiting for me by the time I returend home.

In Fairbanks I wanted to get a new pair of shoes and some other supplies. It looks like the public transit busses come to a stop nearby, so we went downstairs and asked the dorm receptionist college student where to catch it.
"I don't know, I've never taken a bus."

"Never taken THE bus or never taken A bus?"

"Never taken a bus."

haha, wow. We find it only 2 blocks away and ride it to walmart where I got a decent pair of sneakers and a backpack to put them in that could be properly secured under the net. We hit up Chilis for some El Presidente margaritas and then back to the dorms for a nap. Woke up and rode back to Adventure Cycleworks to both return the gas cans and pressure wash all the mud off of the bikes (the big mud chunks fell off. the small ones just seemed to become permanently attached to the bike). We ordered some delivery pizza for dinner and crashed.
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