|07-24-2012, 02:01 PM||#1|
Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Canada eh?
Alaska and Back, on a Hayabusa
I didn't sleep very well the eve before departure, so I just got up early and started my last minute preparation, which really wasn't much, I think I was pretty organized. The tires, unfortunately, arrived just the day before so we were up a bit late getting that sorted.
I am up and ready to go but at the last second I pull out my camera for a quick" I'm off!!!!" pic. I think I look a little over-excited,wild eyed and anxious. This is the longest trip I have taken and I am doing it solo.
All the way across Canada then heading north towards the " not a rally" in Dawson city Yukon.
I admit to having butterflies in my tummy.......
My first campsite in WaWa, ON. Campers would walk by and exclaim" Oh my, you got all of that off your motorcycle?!" The tarp just made it look that impressive. I was pretty pleased that I did such ( what I thought) a good job putting up the tarp. It only took me about half an hour....but it was so easy doing it on my front lawn at home! Ok, it may have taken me a little longer than a half hour,but the finished product is awesome. I was ticked at the price of fuel in Northern Ontario and how expensive my tent site was.
But.....I had seen my first bear that day! OMG!!! I turned around, rode back, eyes peeled, "there he is!", climbed off the bike, fumbling with my camera with my gloves on, running down the shoulder of the road ,huffing and puffing only for him to catch sight of a giant headed alien flailing away, and he vamoosed right into the woods.
All that effort for nothing...Damnit! Little did I know that he would be the first of many bear sightings.
The camp was pretty.
I got my fire started, unfolded my chair, sat back, and relaxed with my coffee. Oh, look how happy and smiley I am! I was excited to be at my first campsite even though I had ridden through the rain and cold most of the day.
Little did I know it was going to be the first of many rainy days....
A little about the bike prep: An oil change/filter, new tires, new brake pads, and a new fabbed bracket/plate thingy to hold my top box and fuel cell. It seems that there is very little room in the cockpit, but I am on the smaller side,5'4 and approximately 124 lbs.
Only when I sat straight up could I feel the fuel cell a little bit on my back.The top box and fuel cell had to go there to keep the weight as centered as possible. I have two, 41 litre side bags, and a 55 litre top box. The 20 litre drybag on the top is not full, but had a few extras, hoodie, gloves, microfibre, smaller, and lighter items.
Inside the hard bags are all my complete camping kit: Clothes, toiletries, utilities, (As in flashlights, fire starter etc.) My top box carries small cooler, compressible down jacket, maps, leatherman, dry food, water etc.
I needed nothing, I am my own self sustaining island.
Ignace, ON, because it takes forever to get OUT of Ontario! I was getting tired, and couldn't be bothered to search out a campsite so I pulled off at this rest stop. I hesitated putting up my tent here, it was a fairly busy place so I hung about reading and gazing at the small lake looking like I was, well, resting.
After the crowd thinned out, I set up my impromptu camp. I actually thought i was quite clever with this set-up. Gosh, you can hardly tell I am camping illegally, aren't I ? I don't know, maybe you are allowed to camp at rest stops in Ontario.....
As the night wore on I would put on my riding jacket, then my riding pants, my gloves, then add my boots and finally put the bugnet over my hat to no avail of course,I woke up the next morning bitten through.
And, hey, it seems I have company. This guy looked a little uncomfortable all wadded up in his sleeping bag. Betcha he didn't get eaten alive though. Can he breathe in there?
Suddenly my setup looks like the Taj Mahal.
The rest stop was pretty in the morning.
Ah, the Prairies, what a endless vista of...an endless vista. Mile after mile of.....this. No where to pull off for a break, no where to stop for a pee, no picnic tables, nothing. It's as if the place is set up to hurry you past, just open the throttle and let fly. I may have stopped and had a bite and a rest to admire that part of the country, if one had been provided.
I forgot to mention all the rain riding across the prairies. Cause' here comes some more now.
Excuse me, could you please tell me where there might be some very small bit of cover somewhere along here, where I may relieve myself without the whole world watching!?
Oh... My masterpiece! A work of art! A Bear Grylls moment! Can you spot the bike and tent?
I would like to thank the church for hosting me so admirably. You better believe I was up and gone by 6:30 am, as it was Sunday morning. Ummm......did I mention I was packing up camp in the rain....? And it rained harder and harder so now I am throwing my stuff anywhere it will go, to hell with trying to even out the load.
In my panic, I thought I had lost my wallet, so everything comes off the bike, bags open, cIothes flying, only to slap my hands on my jacket in frustration, and, wait! My wallet is in the deep chest pocket. Arghhhh.....
The rain won't let up, so I go and sit in McDonalds for 3 hours. I charge up my electronics,and spread my maps and items all over playland.
After battling the wind and the driving rain, for about 100 kilometres, I break down and get a cheap motel room. I spread out all my crap to dry and snuggle in my down sleeping bag with snacks and watch bad TV shows.
I sort through and purge anything I haven't touched in days. I mailed home a small box. Why did I send my tent footprint? I was feeling ruthless and efficient and desperate to lighten the load, plus, I may have watched too many episodes in a row of "Hoarders!!Buried Alive !"
After what seemed like a lifetime of flat land,I think I see,waaaayy off in the distance....is that the mountains???? But,boy, it sure took a long time to get there it seemed. Why don't they seem to be getting closer? C'mon,c'mon, this what I have been waiting for! It's taken my days to get here....little did I realize that they weren't the only mountains I would see....NEWBBB.....
I love my bike.!!!Hugs all around!! Riding in south BC. Thanks to the BC guys who recommended the route,it was great!
Arghhhh......won't the rain stop? I had ridden in the rain for a good portion of every day. Now and then I would get lucky, the sun would show, and I could pack away my rainsuit. And a note about that....I brought my Frogg Toggs,where in Northern Ontario, I tried to do up the jacket zip only to have the whole zipper tab come off in my hand. Oh, fer chrissakes....now I try to at least use the snaps,but they are the same poor quality as the zipper, I do up 3, 2 unsnap. In the end, I bungeed myself closed.
I stopped at a Walmart and bought a $44.95 Coleman rainsuit that worked like a charm.
Easy on and off, no sitting on the ground trying to pull it over my boots,no water running down into my cuffs,no soaking right through. Thanks Coleman!
Ok, I had just about enough of the rain at this point. I spent at least half an hour,again, trying to stake my tarp so I would have some dry area to unload the bike and set up my tent. But the ground had about a half inch or so of soft top then rock,but if I tried a different spot I was able to get one stake in then the others wouldn't grab.
If was frustrating, I would almost have sucess,then when I tightened the guy lines,one would pull out. It was just enough to keep me trying over and over just in slightly different spots.
Finally, I did give up and dragged everything over to a small bush and did my best to stake/tie the tarp. I was pretty miserable by now,tired and wet. I was very close to the highway and the roar of the trucks was constant.
I didn't sleep very well that night due to the trucks and the ever present rain rattling on the tarp.
While riding through Vanderhoof I spot a female rider at a gas station, so I swing right in and introduce myself. She is Alicia Sornosa from Madrid Spain, trying to become the first Spanish woman to ride around the world.
We strike up a conversation,her English is not to bad, and I ask if she would like to have a cup of coffee with me,but I have to pick up my groceries first. So after we pick up supplies,off we go to Timmys.
We get aquainted, with lots of smiling and laughing,it's so nice to meet another solo gal on the road,we are both happy to have met each other.
I ask since we are heading in the same direction, do you want to ride together and off we go. Destination...Smithers.
We make it to Houston about 45 mins or so outside of Smithers, its getting dark,well, late anyway, and I have been on the road for at least 9/10 hours by now,I need to stop. We suss out motels and settle on the cheapest one and split the cost.
What a dump but hot showers and time to recharge all the electronic gizmos. I particularly liked all the mattresses leaning up against the corridor walls. But Alicia and I laugh and talk about our experiences being female and riding alone and have a mini slumber party.
She has sponsors for her trip and her obligations to them must be met everyday with blog reports and so on,her mornings are spent working due to the time difference in Spain,I am not hanging around all morning but she has trouble connecting to the wi-fi and quickly packs up and we continue to Smithers and breakfast at McDonalds....and reliable free wi-fi.
Over breakfast we discuss where we hope to end up at the end of the day, and I show her on the map that she must ride 37 and 37A to Stewart. She doesn't have an itinerary,she can be a leaf in the autaum wind but I am on a timeline. With many hugs and smiles,we part ways. She is going on to Terrace and I north up 37.
yes,it's the 'here I am at the north to Alaska" sign. Hey!! Here I am at the ' north to Alaska" sign!!!
It was the right choice to take the detour onto 37A,it was fantastic Lightly travelled,road was in good condition,and the scenery and vistas absolutley breathtaking.
The glacier was so close! Incredible! I felt like I stopped a thousand times for pictures,I wasn't making any progress at all. But I didn't care at this point, it was time to stop and smell the roses. After what seemed forever,I rolled into Stewart,not really to much to see,
I stopped and chatted with a large group of ADV riders at the gas station and after I visited the information center,saw that they were all parked outside the hotel. This time I took my helmet off and went in to say hi. They were ending up at the rally,not-a-rally, eventually, doing the Dalton first. Theyy were all great guys and asked if I would like to join their group but I declined,I travel solo happily...( most of the time)
Sadly, I would find out later that the rider who was so friendly and welcoming to me crashed badly 200 k south of Deadhorse and had to be airlifted to Fairbanks.
After I say my goodbys,again, at camp,I run into his guy doing his morning walk. I roll to a stop and fish out my camera. He stops and lifts his nose in the air,turning his head towards me. I quickly stuff my camera back in my tankbag and hit the start button....and this is the one and only time during the entire trip the bike decides to play a nasty trick on me. Nothing happens...just that dreaded "wherrreee" noise a battery makes when it can't muster itself to roll over. I am literally between a rock and a river with no where to go if that bear feels ornery. Without taking my eyes off the bear, I thumb the switch again and she catches,you bitch!!! and I glide away. Gulp.....
([Problem with picture will edit in]0351-my favorite road of the entire trip 37,Cassair/Stewart Highway.)
I really wanted to get a pic of bike and bear and here was my chance. Although when I look at it now,it does seem that there is a bear in the backround and a small bear attached to my seat as someone pointed out. No wonder he ran away from me!
I had met Matt at the camp in Stewart,he was from New Zealand and was driving his 91 Camry around Canada. I had passed him earlier in the day with a big wave and when I stopped to take pics of sheep on the road he pulled up behind me. We decided to split the cost of a site at Boya Lake just ahead.
Boya lake nature shot. What a lovely campground with a nice nature trail through the woods.
Matt and I canoeing in the morning. It was raining a little bit and I originally declined to go, even though I was the one who suggested it, and then said, heck, lets go even in the rain. And, boy, am I glad I did. What a change from always just packing up in the morning and getting on the road. It was fun,relaxing with great company. matt was an experienced canoeist ,thank goodness, otherwise I would still be there paddling myself in a never ending circle.
The obligatory " I'm in the Yukon!!!!" picture. I was almost going to follow those tracks there and ride right up to the sign...ok,not really....
This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip. This is the why we come here....
Destruction Bay....this car was at the fuel station and I had to quickly get this car before they drove off. The north seems to attract a lot of....seekers....wanderers....free thinkers....always with a large scruffy dog.
On a really rough section of the alcan, I was tenderly guiding the bike through a agonizing washboard ride,when this car went just flying by me going at least 80 mph,and it was a go-go gadget car! The car was juddering and pogo-ing like a squirrel on crack,it was hysterical.
Yes, the " I made it to alaska' shot.....
Free campground.it was a bit of a harescramble to get into the campground proper,but it was good practice....for later...a smooth walking trail was enjoyed in the morning,coffee in hand,to the lake at the end.
I dallied,reading all the interpretive signage along the way.
Top of the world highway,a mis-nomer, if ever there was one. Isn't it nice, the snow, the sun,the gravel....the gravel.....and more gravel....
Isn't it nice, the view, the sun,the gravel.....
No problem, I am sure I can dodge that little weather cell right there..
Shit. apparently not.
The weather didn't really improve and neither did the road. The good sections I was able to go about 35 mph, the bad sections,25 mph before the bike would get bent out of shape. And, no, I didn't reduce the tire pressure at all. I dunno why not...I was just grimly hanging on,desperately just hoping to make it to the end.
The grader on the road, the rock section at the construction zone in Chicken,the hail storm and the rain made for an exhausting and mentally draining experience on my fully loaded sportbike with street tires.
It was here that I just pulled over ,got off, and sat right down on the road. I hadn't eaten,I was dehydrated and mentally beaten from the road. There seemed to be very few signs that told me how far I had to go before I reached Dawson City,little did I know at this point, I was only 10 minutes away....The TOW was very difficult for me,mile after mile of gravel, and the border guys eyes just about popped out of his head when I showed up. " we don't get sportbikes up here" he declared. Gee, imagine that! It was impossible to get into any sort of riding groove,the gravel conditions changed so much and when I joyfully saw a paved part,it would be short and end abruptly,causing me to quickly change down and slow her down.
But I did it,without crashing,dumping the bike,falling off a mountainside or collapsing in tears. LOL...
Finally, Dawson city
See! My bike fits right in!
I am always amazed how they pack 'em in. people pay for this?
I spent 4 days in Dawson,being a complete tourist. I bought a package of tickets at the info center,and visited, the SS Keno, the robert Service cabin, London cabin, the Palace Grand Theatre,the commissoners house, a guided tour of the city,a self-guided walking tour AND a self-guided tour of Dawson City's cemetarys. I spent the better part of the day up at the cemetary,it was so fascinating.
The weather was sunny and very hot and it was nice to walk through the shaded grounds. So many children and infants passed away. Sad.
The lamb on the top of the tombstone is heartbreaking.
The NWMP graveyard.
So many young men perished in those early days,adventurers all,whether they be seeking gold or trying to keep order in a frontier town. What is the story behind this tombstone? What events led up to this officer and his partner to perish in the cold,cold water.....Tragic.....
A beautiful wooden grave marker.One of the graves had a rubbermaid clear container recessed into the ground with a notebook and pen inside where you could write a short thought or two,inspiring....
One of these things is not like the other!
This HUGE rig parked at the Gold rush and created a furor. Who are they? What is THAT? What the hell.....!!
Diamond tooth Gerties. For 10 bucks,hey, why not?
Dawson city campground just outside of town. I liked it there, cheap,shady,clean bathrooms and good long showers.but the road...arghhh....
The must have " Dome Road" picture.
Save the whales! Free the chickens! Proudly vegan!!!
The evening of the rally. Hi!!!!!
I will leave it to the inmates to caption this picture!!!!!...LOL
I get a sugar headache and diabetes just looking at this. yummy tho...
Attending the D2D rally gave me the opportunity to meet so many great people from all walks of life,it was a wonderful experience,alcan rider and me,thanks again Jack,
One of Yukons excellent campgrounds. I was the only one there,free firewood and 10 bucks,WIN! I really needed a shower,and for $ 10,well, you ain't getting one, so I grabbed my towel and walked the path down to the lake,stripped down and bathed in the cold lake water. Then, while I " air-dried" I washed my delicates with stones and pebbles. It was a very " Quest for Fire" moment. I almost regretted having to put my clothes back on,I felt very free and one with nature and all that crap. I probably didn't really have to get dressed, I mean, I was the only camper. But it's embarrassing if you have to run from a bear or something and you are running down the road,arms flailing,legs pumping and yer totally nekked! Then thats a "Youtube" moment.
These were the cleanest,nicest pit toilets ever! I left a People magazine in there for the next person. Your'e welcome.
I unfolded my chair,sat back,sipped my cafe,and enjoyed the moment in the morning.
Maybe this grizz is wanting a " Shnizzle" snack!
I hooked up with an inmate at this park on 37. We shared a campsite, a can of stew,a warm fire and swapped some tall tales. Funnily enough,he had pm'ed over the winter,suggesting we hook up and ride north together on my way to the gathering. I had politely declined,and here we were chuckling about it over a glass of wine....or 2....
How do you like my tent spot? Right on the lake. Any closer and I would have to set up tent in a boat.
-Icefields Parkway. Yes, it was spectacular but oddly left me kind of cold...no pun intended. Too touristy and after riding 37 and 37A, it felt too predictable? Planned? Contrived? I am searching for a word that escapes me.
Terrible rain in Lake Louise that just got worse the further I rode. I pulled off when it became unsafe to ride, plus I was trying to get as far away from the super expensive tourist area. I was able to find a camp just off the Bow Valley Parkway,where I struggled to put up my tarp before I started on the tent. After a considerable amount of time,I decided that the tree next to where I was trying to erect the tarp was more suitable,so down it came and I put it up in it's new spot.
Now I was able to move around a little bit to set up my tent,but I still had to crawl around to try to stay under the tarp as much as possible even though I was wet already. After a bit,the tent was set up,my wet gear laying all over the laundry room,I had showered,( the showers sucked btw,not hot and for $2.00 too short) and with a McDonalds next door, I sprinted over and bought a big hot chocolate.
I lit my cozy candle lantern,snuggled into my sleeping bag,and watched a movie,sipping my cocoa,with the rain tapdancing outside. An awesome camping experience.
That warm fuzzy feeling didn't last through to the morning,when I woke up it was 4 celcius and drizzling. Don't you just hate camping in the rain!
thats a pretty good looking setup for a night time/pouring rain,rush job. I knew moving it one tree over would make all the difference in the world.LOL
It was a road very similar to this that almost brought me down earlier in the trip. Sand and marbles.....this pic makes me shudder. I was following a sign for a campground and as I crested the hill on pavement, it abruptly ended and I was at speed on THIS!!! Holy mother of God, my bike went into seizures. I was able to slow her down and gently roll to a stop and tried to turn the bike around. No friggin way. The sand base was so soft,I was just plowing the bike into a berm front and rear. I couldn't budge the bike and I was forced to wait for help to come along and help me push.
The praries personified. I like this picture. I almost liked the praries for a minute when I saw this photo. I made excellent time on my return trip through the flatlands, I just held the throttle open at 100 mph for like 9 hours. The engine is still pretty lazy at that speed, not even working up a sweat. If you want to make short work of your destination,there's the bike for it.
I crossed into North Dakota pretty late and before I knew it,its very dark with nary a camp or even motel in sight. I am scoping for stealth spots when I see an abandoned cafe/truck stop. Perfect. I setup the tent and try to be invisible from the road.
Some uneventful riding,then getting horribly lost in duluth due to construction,visiting Aerostich,and poking my way across 2 highway,which took forever,small towns and construction....arghhh....
I cross over at Sault St Marie at around 12:45 am, I wasn't feeling tired at that point, but once I crossed over, it was extremely dark, hard to ride, and I physically hit the wall. In the distance I saw the lights of a closed gas station, and this is where I spent the night, wedged between the fence and the picnic table.
I was shaky on the bike,my vision blurred,my mind and muscles not working together to produce a very coherent forward motion. I stopped and had some cereal,hoping some food would help, it did,a bit. I saw Tims ahead and swung in for a big cup of java. After recharging through copius amounts of caffiene, I was able to continue. At Espanola, I saw the sign for the Manatoulin ferry and a split second decsion, I turned off and headed that way. Now, it looked pretty close on my map.....but you all know that it was actually quite far. After an hour of riding with no signs telling me how far to go,I asked at a hardware store where I was told I still had a half hour to ride and the ferry wasn't running again for another 4 hours. I was crushed. All that way for nothing. I stood up heavily and trudged towards the bike.
But for me,those luxurys are better spent in the gas tank so I can stay out longer. And suffer camping in the rain....LOL.Which actually can be kinda cozy with the right attitude.I have been told that I am " different" since I got back. I am " tougher" And I do feel different. I changed out on the road.
I didn't wash the bike once the entire trip, but I did change the duct tape handguards, as the originals finally shredded on the Icefields Parkway.
I found out what I am made of and was suprised at what I could accomplish. A over 50 year old,mother of 5 children rode her Hayabusa,the most inappropriate bike ever, to Alaska and back by herself without major incident. How cool is that? Hey! Way to go!!!!
This is my first ride report but I did the best I could it may be a bit rough in spots. But, hopefully,someone like me,or who I was before I left,will read this and be inspired to go out and find out what they are made of....Cheers all and ride safe!!!
Edit: Proofreading will continue overtime. This is her son getting this up and the pictures organized. I think she made some mistakes with some pictures, so there might be some missing or in weird places. Should be sorted out over time. Anyways have fun reading!
theshnizzle screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 12:19 PM
|07-24-2012, 02:35 PM||#3|
Joined: Nov 2009
Wow, nice report. Looks like you had some fun with the Hayabusa in Alaska. We are just heading that way 2up on a (too)fully loaded bike and I am wondering how will we manage the gravel parts.
I've enjoyed your pictures very much. Gave us something to hope for (as we are still in the prairies now :)
|07-24-2012, 02:42 PM||#4|
Joined: May 2011
Location: Augusta, GA
Excellent ride report... The improvised hand guards are awesome!
"Because FYYFF, that's why!"
Oh, and- No matter how good life is, It never ends well.
|07-24-2012, 06:42 PM||#8|
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: North of T.Ho., Ontario
Great ride report and pictures. Amazing accomplishment doing the trip, and on THAT bike, outstanding. I remember reading your posts when you were planning the trip many months ago. Congratulations on getting it done.
'97 Honda ST1100
|07-24-2012, 06:45 PM||#9|
Joined: Jul 2012
I just joined advrider and yours is the first post I have read since joining (although I have lurked for quite some time). You are an amazing person and I admire you for successfully taking on this challenge. Wonderful pictures! My daughter rides an '05 Hayabusa (I think she has the same taillights you do!) I plan to use her picture as my avatar.
|07-24-2012, 07:10 PM||#10|
Joined: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Fantastic report and congratulations. What a great adventure. The 'Busa is one of my most favourite bikes - ever. Living in Manitoba, I feel your pain about the prairies. It is hours of nothing to get to something, but I've grown to love our flat, grainy vistas. I look forward to reading your future reports.
|07-24-2012, 07:16 PM||#11|
Joined: Jan 2005
Location: Calgary or Nakusp
Awesome report. I'm impressed at the choice of bike to take to Alaska. I know men (supposedly tough and burly) who gave up riding there after a day on the gravel. And they were on bikes thought to be more appropriate to the task.
Next time you come out west we could host you.
|07-24-2012, 08:04 PM||#12|
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Rochester, MN
I appreciate your honesty and balls for trying something like that. Congratulations on the trip. Glad you didn't have any major issures. You're tougher than I am with all that camping in the rain.
|07-24-2012, 09:10 PM||#13|
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: In 5th gear... looking for 6th
No apologies needed for the ride report, it was AWSOME, because you did it! You are one fantastic lady. Great job getting to Alaska and back on one of my favorite bikes of all time. Can't count the times you made me laugh, and your pictures were very good too. Congratulations, you deserve it and earned it. Now, go out and have some more adventures and write about 'em. Be safe.
1991 Honda GoldWing...gone 1997 Honda Valkyrie, 1998 Kawasaki KLR 650
|07-24-2012, 10:17 PM||#15|
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Red stickered, in the wild, wild, west
What an incredible achievement! Good on you sister, nicely played. Much respect. And thanks for taking us along for a great trip.
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