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Old 07-15-2013, 09:55 AM   #61
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I'm uploading from Tapatalk app. So it must greatly butcher the resolution.

The pictures are all from an iPhone 5.
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:08 AM   #62
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Update, please :)
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:58 AM   #63
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I haven't had service or wifi. Just did Denali Highway and Top of the World. Leaving now for Dempster.

Should have a slew of updates in two days once I get into Whitehorse. With better connectivity.
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:28 PM   #64
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What are the specs on that patagonia bag?
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Old 07-17-2013, 02:06 PM   #65
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:00 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blatant View Post
What are the specs on that patagonia bag?
Patagonaia Blackhole duffle. Water resistant, but I havent had anything inside get wet. It carries all my sleeping gear. In waterproof stuff sacks.
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:08 PM   #67
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July 13 :: Debacles abound. And a monster van. :: Anchorage


I wanted to start early. I really did. But then I decided that I deserved breakfast at Fast Eddy's. Which was great, but anything but fast. 45 mins later, I was finally on the road.

The goal was to hustle to Anchorage and get to Alaska Leather, take my wheels of and have them mount my tires. I'd lined it all up three months in advance.

I stopped for gas and that was it on the route to Anchorage. But long bouts of construction, a bicycle race and general traffic slowed me up. I arrived in at Alaska Leather around, 330pm. Put the bike on the center stand, removed the wheel and headed in to get fixed up.

Only there was a slight dilemma. When I had originally chatted with Barb, I told her I intended to run a TKC80 front and a K60 rear. She's not a fan of the K60 and recommended a Tourance rear. So I agreed. However, when I got there, they had two TKC80s. And the rear would never make the trip home. So they called around and found the only K60 in my size at the Motorcycle Shop. As my bike was in pieces, they gave me a lifted 4x4 van and directions on where to get the tire. And since I was a traveler, the Motorcycle Shop stayed open past close to sell it to me. Barb was super apologetic and gave me a great deal on an Airhawk. I have no ill will for Alaska Leather. They were fantastic.

So then I get to a buddy's place, who is letting me use his condo while he works up in Prudhoe. Put the bike on the kickstand. Go grab the key to the condo. CRASH. Down goes bike. Even with the fat foot, the hot tarmac sunk and there goes the bike. So I pick it up. Move it to another area. Go to open the garage door. CRASH. Down goes bike. Move it a subsequent time. Falls on me as I'm rolling it. I was just exhausted.

Get it up and on the center stand. Put it away for tomorrow.

Then I did my laundry. It was a glorious thing. Tide has never smelled so good. It's not that my clothes smelled. It's just that they didn't smell like nice fresh awesome clothes. My wife's cousin is working in Anchorage for the summer and showed me around the town. Generally, Anchorage is pretty damn cool. I think I've now sampled every beef from Alaskan Brewing. Have to say Juneau puts out some mean beers.

Went back to the condo and properly passed out. Exhausted.

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Old 07-19-2013, 02:10 PM   #68
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July 14 :: Still Anchorage

I'd planned to go explore the Kenai peninsula. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to. Sea Kayaking the glaciers. Only I woke up late. And then realized that the fall had bent the pannier and my handlebars were all askew. By the time I was done fixing those, my friend, Mike, arrived from Aspen. Kenai dropped.

Things were not working out for him. He was supposed to arrive the night before. Flight canceled. Rebooked for the following day. Then they lost his tires. His tires didn't end up arriving until midnight. Oil change, new chain and then trying to mount the tires. We got the front. But the rear just wasn't working. All sorts of a debacle.

Finally at 245am we called it a night. Bound to find a solution after a few hours of sleep.


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Old 07-19-2013, 02:14 PM   #69
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July 15 :: Complete Awe :: Flight tour of McKinley and Denali Highway

We were up early, somehow managed to get the rear mounted. Success. Hit the road for Talkeetna. Arrive with moments to spare and jump on a plane for a flight tour of the mount range.

That was probably one of the top things I've ever done. Flying amongst the mountain makes you feel so small and completely in awe. We saw the last group of climbers coming down McKinley. Due to the weather, they are seeing successful climbs at 80%, generally it's in the 40% range. The glacial landing was absurdly cool. I'd recommend it to anyone. I can't wait to do it again.

Today was a bit shaky for riding. It was my first time on knobbies. I'd added the Airhawk. And removed the rubber inserts from my pegs. My geometry was all changed and the knobbies felt skittish. Over time, I'm sure I'll adjust.

I can not, for the life of me figure the damn Airhawk out. People rave about them. It pushes me into the tank, or if I adjust the amount of air, it puts the "bubble" right up my ass. So I either dry hump the tank until my crotch goes numb, or I feel like I've been fisted. Pick or choose. I'll play around with it for another day or so, if I can't sort it, I'll just go back to the stock seat and sheepskin. My seat is truly the biggest disappointment. I really messed up thinking I could do this on my stock seat.

We had a killer lunch at a pizza joint. Had one of the best strombolis, I've ever had. I was greatly surprised by how cool Talkeetna was. Certainly a must visit again. It was also fun watching all the tourists admiring the BMW and the Kawi. Lots of folks wanting to chat about our journey.

Then we hit Denali. Finally, my first full on foray into gravel, dirt, etc. What a blast those tires are. The bike feels so stable through it all. It just takes me building my confidence and trusting the machine and the equipment. Did have one sketchy moment, fresh grave was laid and the bike just buried into it. Came to a complete stop. Somehow remained upright. From there on, I kept the speed down. We probably averaged 45mph through the course of 100miles. It certainly wears you out. The Top of the World and Dempster are going to be interesting. But even if it takes me hours at slow speed, I'm going to do them.

We pulled into the Tangle Lake campground around 930pm. Great campsite, again very reminiscent of my visit to iceland. The campsite is near a lake and on a glacial/arctic tundra with low plants and shrubbery. And a shit ton of mosquitos.

I'll sleep well tonight.

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Old 07-19-2013, 02:15 PM   #70
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July 16 :: Hauling Ass on the Top of the World :: Top of the World/Dawson City

We were up early, but out a bit late. We treated all of the roads as toll to get to Top of the World. Stopped and had lunch at a little drive in/diner at the North terminus for the Alcan. From there we shot straight south 100 miles in to Tok. No stops. Just get there.

Refill with fuel and then stop in the information center to get the latest on weather and travel time for Top of the World. There we were met with a helpful but not reassuring answer.

It will take you six hours to drive the Top of the World. And the border closes, as does the road at 8pm. But don't hurry. Because a guy on a motorcycle died last week. Seriously, I know people mean well, but I'm so sick of hearing about deaths and dismemberment. I understand that there are risks in everything that we choose to do. And we operate on a cost to benefit. Are the risks worth it?

Anyways, so we are panicked and head out. Expecting the absolute worst. Turns out the road is cake when compared to the Denali. We had no issues. It was even briefly raining in parts. In fact there were only maybe two brief areas where I though, "well this could go really wrong."

The problem is, you get to the border and you still have another 1.5-2hrs of riding on mixed surfaces to hit the ferry for Dawson City. But man was it pretty. Reminded me of the rolling hills of Northern Ireland or Scotland. And the sun was starting to dip low, so you began getting the "God rays," shining all over the circuitous road.

Then you hop on a free ferry. That barges across the river. Sideways. Odd. But I guess it is the second biggest river in North America, so you are fighting a current. Riding into this old town is pretty cool. You can see that it still has some original charm, just hiding under the facade of tourist focus. We ended up at an RV site/campground on the east of town. Nice enough.

For dinner we rode in for some fried MSG at the local Chinese restaurant. Then it was into explore the town. The Downtown Hotel and Saloon. Yes, the one with the Sour Toe cocktail. Had some sort of folk extravaganza going on. It was a festival of trustifarians, Yukon hipster and general dregs upon society. I may be being a bit harsh. Damn hippies.

I gave up on the Airhawk, mid ride. Thinking that going back to the stock seat would be better. That certainly wasn't the case. This seat is really making things a burden. I'm already rethinking my return. Rather then going south from Yellowstone to SLC and the Grand Canyon. I may just turn east. I don't know if I can handle a bunch of 500+ days in that saddle. I'll make a judgement call closer to the actual date.

I already feel like I've accomplished a lot. 4k miles solo. Mostly camping. Mostly making my own food. Fixing and maintaining the bike as I've gone along. I'm dirty. Quasi bearded. My hands are callused. I can't feel my right thumb. And most of my cuticles are bleeding. My nails are cracked. I can set up and tear down a camp in no time.

I feel like a man. Not a guy who just makes ads for a living. I wonder what my next bucket list item should be.

Tomorrow, God willing, it's the Arctic circle. When I see that blasé sign in the middle of nowhere. I'll feel accomplished.


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Old 07-19-2013, 02:16 PM   #71
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July 17 :: Bring all your balls. The worst day I've experienced :: The Dempster

No gas was available until 8am. So we were already starting a couple hours later than I wanted to be on the road. The gas station had no updates on weather or road conditions. But the weather looked ok. So, I guess we will make a run out of it.

But first let's stop at the "trail head" and fill up the 25'ish miles we'd burned getting out of Dawson City. Nope. Closed.

Ok, let's get our photo by the start of the Dempster. Sure, I'll put my kickstand down here. Sure, my bike said, "I'll just fall over on you."

Should have given me the insight that I would come to expect of the day.

The first 40 miles were a joke. I was honestly not believing the hype. Everywhere I'd read, it said expect the worst. The Denali was more trying then this.

Then it started sprinkling. Big deal. Used to that. Then it started pouring. Ok. This sucks. But feasible. Just keep it around 25-35mph. We'll still make Eagle Junction in short order.

Then it started to suck.

By the time we'd got to Seven Mile Hill (Hell, from henceforth) the ground was saturated. The calcium chloride or whatever version of sin they spray on the roads to retain dust, just turns to slushy mud.

That's the first time I lost the back end. Somehow kept it upright and realized this road wasn't a joke. Feathering the clutch and moving at the rate of about 12mph, I was able to keep a somewhat forward, albeit zig zagging, progress. We'd stop every 15mins. Only to find we'd gone MAYBE three miles.

This went on for MILES. At one point, I was thinking, what can I do to the bike that justifies me calling BMW Roadside Assistance. Mike was thinking the same. In fact, he said exactly that. No more than two miles later. His oil light turns on. But we've got full oil. Consult owners manual, diagnosis, probably oil pump. He decides to call it quits.

We chat, I'm going to continue on. Meet him at Eagle Plains. He hitches a ride with a native and hauls ass to Eagle Plains to call roadside assistance.

As I inch past his bike, just a quarter of a mile up the road is an abandoned 1200GS with TKC80s front and rear. Another quarter of the mile up the road and abandoned VStrom on Tourances. Another half mile up the road, a freshly rolled over 10 passenger van.

Daunting.

I continue on. Slowly. Now solo.

Finally, the road surface changes and the sun comes up. I'm now able to do between 20-40mph depending on the surface.

Make Eagle Plains. Mike is still on the phone with Good Sam Roadside. At this point it's taken roughly 11-12hrs to go 229 miles. Suddenly the sun is in full force. Mike suggests I hit the Arctic Circle.

I take off. Five miles in it starts pouring again. Carefully, I pick my way to that stupid sign that declares, Arctic Circle. As I approach the 2km sign, the rain stops and the sun emerges. I may have actually been in tears. I fucking did it.

I get a few pictures. And then bam. The shit hits again. I've got limited visibility from the pouring rain and my fogged over glasses. I get back to Eagle Plains. Collapse on the couch with a whiskey and a beer. Elated. Now the adrenaline is pumping.

That's when I meet Bob (abandoned 1200GS) and John (VStrom). John lost the back end. Dumped the bike and was hit by a rabbi driven, Town Car. At this point he's just sore. But in good spirits. Given that just a week or so prior someone did the same and did not make it off the road alive. Bob gave up and hitched a ride back. The van belonged to a tour group. All ok. But now stuck at Eagle Plains Hotel.

With the forecast supposed to be the same and similar for the next few days, John and Mike did some brainstorming. They were able to get Good Sam and Insurance to cover the same tow. Given the conditions, John called them back and said there might be a third or fourth bike. Assuming, correctly, that I would say screw it and return with them.

At 11pm a crew cab pick up with a flat bed trailer was supposed to be departing from Whitehorse to Eagle Plains. With a spot saved for me.

I talked it over with folks and asked if this was taking the easy way out. Even the truck drivers agreed, don't risk it.

So I went to bed, under the midnight sun. Convinced that at 8am the following day, I'd be loading my bike on a trailer and heading out on a 12hr road trip with at least two other guys.



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Old 07-19-2013, 02:19 PM   #72
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:: double post ::
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:22 PM   #73
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July 18 :: I'm going to do this. :: Dempster + Carmacks, YT


The truck was supposed to be there at 8am. So I was up, broke camp, had breakfast and was ready by 730a. Confident that I'd be loading my bike on the trailer and going with the guys to Whitehorse. Bob was also debating it.

Apparently the road reports were no better.

Then something weird happened. The damn tow guy never showed. By now it's 2pm. I've made good friends and shared some great stories with all the stranded bikers. Heard more horror stories about two other offs yesterday, one that resulted in a guy ending up in the hospital. And some other couple who had rolled their car and were airlifted.

The problem was. The sun was bright in the sky. It was warm. Now I'm having second thoughts. But each car that pulls in for lunch and gas gets a full on litany of questions/interrogation from me and Bob. Bob pulls the trigger. Decides to hitch a ride back to his bike. If the roads are too bad, he planned to camp out and wait for the truck and trailer.

Then two Aussies get back. They had done the drive from Inuvik to Dawson City, the day before. My day of hell. Then they made the trip back today. They tell us that there is now only about 50km of questionable conditions. Which beats yesterday's questionable conditions by a fuckton.

It's now 3pm local. I say screw it. I'm doing it. I'm going to ride the damn thing back. Get my words of encouragement. Plus some triple A batteries from John and advices/permission to stop at his bike and use his 1.5gal of fuel to top off.

And we're off.

Initially it's fine. Similar to the start of the lightly wet stuff the day before. Then I get to where the bikes and van is abandonned. Yup. Still sucks. But much easier to traverse. Seven Mile Hell still blows. But then, south of Engineer Creek Campground, it suddenly get's awesome. I mean better than the Alcan pavement awesome.

I'm feeling way more confident, hopefully not to my detriment and eventual demise, but I decide to pick up the speed. Before you know it, I'm going 50. Then 55. Then 60. Even touching 70 in some areas. Anytime I get to ambitious the road corrects me. All in all. With three 10 minute stops, I did the ride in 5h05m.

The worst part was the realization of how hosed Mike and John are. Remember the tow was supposed to be there at 8am? At 7pm, I cross paths with the tow truck and trailer. He still had 169 more miles to go. 30+ which are complete mush. He'll get there at midnight. Pick them up. Then have to drive over an hour to pick their bikes up IN the mush and then dead head to White Horse. They aren't going to get to White Horse until 11am. Best case.

Decide I'll head south east and on to Stewart to get gas. I hear it's only 80km away and then get a place to crash.

Turns out I heard the 80 from John. But John is from the US. So 80 means miles. Damn it. Pull over to unload my Rotopax. Curiously, I have one bar of fuel remaining, but my fuel light hasn't came on, it usually comes on at three bars.

On to Stewart. Fill up the bike. Fill up the Rotopax. Fuel gauge now reads a quarter of a tank. Fantastic. So now I've got a faulty fuel gauge. Perfect for a bike that has 6k miles on it. Decide, screw it I'm going to press on. And boy am I happy that the Tourance fell through and I ended up with the K60. None of this would have been possible. I'm also, now completely loving this combination on highway pavement riding. Pretty sure this is my combo from here on out.

So now I'm at Carmacks. In some Yukon campsite. Mooching a spot behind an RV as the site is filled.

In one of the books, there is a sort section about the Dempster. It says, "Bring all your balls."

Pretty sure they nailed it. Damn it feels good.



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Old 07-19-2013, 03:00 PM   #74
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Damn it feels good.
To be a gangster?
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Old 07-19-2013, 07:41 PM   #75
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This went on for MILES. At one point, I was thinking, what can I do to the bike that justifies me calling BMW Roadside Assistance. Mike was thinking the same. In fact, he said exactly that. No more than two miles later. His oil light turns on. But we've got full oil. Consult owners manual, diagnosis, probably oil pump. He decides to call it quits.

was Mike's bike just showing an oil pressure light, running rough, making noise, overheating, or had it quit running entirely?

was the radiator full of mud?

where is Mike now?
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