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Old 10-27-2013, 12:49 AM   #46
isaac004 OP
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Day 12, July 8, 245 miles, Deadhorse AK to Cold Foot Camp AK

Day 12, July 8, 245 miles, Deadhorse AK to Cold Foot Camp AK

The day started out rather grim, as I had a nightmare in my sleep that I had shaved off my beard. Seeing that it was still there when I awoke, things were looking better! We stepped outside, and saw that things were not as good as they were on the ride up the Dalton. This morning was a cool one in the high 30’s (F), with a light layer of Arctic fog to make it chillier.

Some of the equipment as we left Deadhorse.


Heading south, you can see how dreary it was due to the fog. Little did we know the fog would get worse….


Bundled up. The coldest we saw here was 36.5 deg F.


Want a nice addition for keeping cold air out of the helmet? The Buff is excellent: http://www.rei.com/product/691367/buff-original-buff

Quick stop.


Not knowing how bad mosquitos could be further up the road, we figured we had gone far enough (probably 60-70 miles or so) to transfer all the fuel over from the spare cans to the gas tanks. Better to do this now when the mosquitos are more docile.


Despite the fog, the ground remained only slightly moist and was actually almost perfect…not wet and slippery, good grip, and low dust. But soon the fog became thicker and we entered a drawn out drizzle.


VIDEO: Here, I try to narrate the conditions but my voice was not recorded very well. You can try and decipher, but essentially I was commenting on how brisk it was.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/isaac_e...7634924353152/

Fog getting thicker. Somewhere here I’m pretty sure I saw an owl flying by.


Notice how low the visibility is here.


Somewhere around here we came up to a construction stop. We rode around the one big rig who had passed us earlier, so we would be at the front of the pilot car line. The driver was out wiping his lights clean of mud, and said to me “you must be from California because you jumped the line”. He couldn’t see my CA plates (covered in mud) and sounded rather stand offish, as if we were not supposed to jump the line. Every construction stop we hit in Alaska, the sign holder would motion for the motorcyclists to come to the front of the line. He did berate us about cleaning the mud off our lights (something we had overlooked, and he had a good point) and my Dad for having his headlight off (because he was running heated gloves and jacket, and the charging system could not run all of the heated gear with the head light). Gradually the conversation became more as we agreed to pull over after the pilot car stopped so he could pass us again and run his 60mph speed.


After we let the truck pass us, he stopped again and apologized for his earlier tone. He did mean well, he just takes the safety aspect of his job very high as they run loads up and down these roads all the time.

Here you can see a clear (but small) break in the fog.


Pipelines In The Mist.


Very quickly it gets thick again.


One of my favorite shots of the day;


We got stuck behind a calcium chloride truck and had to pass him riding through pure white powder.


You would think my palm trees would have brought sun, but instead they just brought not so tropical rains.


Now that the rain had been with us for awhile, yes the ground is pretty slick. We slowed our speed down to a more cautious 30-40 mph, both due to the fog and the lack of traction. We did see others that would still haul at 50-60mph (both bikes and trucks), and while we could, we figured we would play it safe as we were not trying to push back to Fairbanks in one day. In great weather, we probably could have pushed to Fairbanks in one long day but it was definitely not worth it in this slop.

Taking a break just a few moments before crossing the Atigun Pass again.




Nice and muddy boots. My Dad had Alpinestars Scouts, which are more of a street Goretex boot and did not have wet feet. I was using more of ADV type boot, Gaerne G-Midland, which are also Goretex. No wet feet here! Rocking boots, bought with the great advice of Brian at Atomic Moto. They know their stuff and make excellent recommendations, give them a shot.


Small streams off to the side. During this break, a full dresser Harley with luggage passed us. Impressive.


Heading up Atigun. The fog remained thick all the way up, making for slower going.


Once we headed down the other side, the fog cleared up and all that was left was forest fire smoke. The heavy mist also stopped and instead we just had some very isolated pockets of light rain that were not nearly as annoying. Overall it was essentially dry on the south side of the pass. It was also much warmer, getting to as high as 60 deg F.


We pulled into the Coldfoot gas pumps to top off the tanks. While gassing up a mosquito bit me on the lip, but luckily I still had the beard to help hide it. I spoke to a guy on an older Tiger who was from San Francisco. He started that day in Fairbanks and was planning on getting to Deadhorse in one shot. I gave him some tips, weather updates, and warned him to be careful since he could be in for a very long day due to the slop and fog. We also ran into that trucker again, who was friendlier.

A nice crust of mud and calcium chloride.


My Dad’s XR650L.




We did some quick bike maintenance. My Dad had asked the clerk if there was a hose we could use to spray some mud off the bikes. She was about to tell him where to find the hose, but then another lady chimed in “you can’t do that!”. Turns out she worked for the BLM or State or something, and said since Coldfoot Camp was located on public property (owned by the state) that the rules stated no cleaning due to worries of polluting/contaminating public land. Seriously? The stuff we want to hose off is the stuff we picked up from public roads!!! Rules are rules though. I did use two Camelbaks worth of water to get some mud off the headers and fork seals, so I had the last laugh. I also went to town on my chain with WD40. Start the bike up on the center stand, put in first gear, let it spin and just spray the crap (literally) off the chain. Works like a charm. Just don’t touch that chain while it’s spinning. Normally I wipe the chain after each days spray of WD40 but this time I just let it sit and soak.

We also ran into Josh again, he had left earlier and made it to Deadhorse earlier.

Today was also another GREAT day to have those Moose foam hand guards, to keep the hands warmer and dryer.

We were pretty beat from the cold and sloppy ride, and retired early, hoping for better weather the next day…

GPS tracks for the day.
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Old 10-27-2013, 01:22 AM   #47
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Day 13, July 9, 276 miles, Cold Foot Camp AK to Fairbanks AK

Due to having gone to sleep so early and the lack of darkness, we woke up at 5am. It had rained all night, and was still raining. Great. Turns out the forecast called for rain most of the day. Initially we thought it would not be as bad since this last stretch of the Dalton would have more pavement, but there was still a lot of dirt too.

As we packed the bikes in the light rain, the mosquitos were still brave enough to be buzzing about, biting any unprotected skin.

Packed up, ready to roll in the rain.


At least the first stretch is pavement and easier to ride then the wet mud/slop.


Look at my excitement!


Some fireweed growing in the hillsides. The homesteaders would eat the leaves in the spring as it was one of the first things to grow after a long winter. It was known as fireweed salad. You could also take sugar and water, boil it into a syrup, and add the fireweed to make some makeshift “homesteader honey”.


When we were riding north, I saw this sign and marked its location on my GPS so I could snap a photo on the return trip south. Here it is, Oh Shit Corner. Riding it to the south is not bad, but riding it to the north you notice (usually too late) that it is a decreasing radius turn from a higher speed straightaway. I can see why a lot of trucks (and maybe bikes) might blow this corner.


Some dirt, but not too muddy (yet).


I noticed that the back of my helmet, jacket, seat, and duffel bag remained somewhat clean of mud. Looks like the F800GS has good fenders. Then I started to realize how filthy my Dad was getting on his XR650L. Here you go, shows you the power (or powerlessness) of fenders.


The rain held off a bit at the Yukon Camp, at the river. Fueling up as dirty as can be.


Here we go with a run of muddy pictures.












Looks like my Dad melted away!


This may have been some of the best food on the trip, a salmon burger and curry soup. I don’t usually post photos of food, but figured this was worthy, especially for being so far up north.


While eating, Stephen and George (the two Huntington Beach CA riders) caught up and stopped for a break.

Dad and I. Notice again the bear breaking into the reasturant.


Shortly after lunch, I recall seeing a female moose running into the woods as we approached.

We rode to the next construction stop and caught up again with Stephen and George.


We had a few minutes to burn, so we had some fun with the sign holder. She was a college student attending Colorado Boulder, but back home in Alaska for the summer working.


Future career move???


We then made it back to the start of the Dalton Highway.


From here we were back to 40-50 miles of nice twisty tarmac, a good way to cap off the day. As we rolled into Fox (north side of Fairbanks) a cop pulled out and followed us for while, until we turned off on a side road to get to the cabin my Dad lived in. Odd…not sure if he was planning to pull us over or not.

We then ran by the cabin that my Dad lived in as a kid, to get a shot of the bikes with the cabin. This cabin was built by our family and my Dad lived here until he was 5 (when he moved back to the lower 48). It used to be rather basic with no basement at all, just built up on stilts. Since then it has been remodeled extensively to make it more like a real house.


We topped the tanks off and went to the first coin wash we could find. While getting ready to spray, Stephen and George showed up too! They had the same thing in mind, and apparently there are only a handful of coin washes in town.

Before:


After. This was just a water spray only, no soap. It looks clean since it’s wet, but once dry, it still looks quite dirty. I would have a big scrubbing to do when I got back to Los Angeles.


After shot of my Dad’s bike.


I will also note we hosed off our pants and jackets of mud a good deal too, on low setting.

I then proceeded to empty my can of WD40 on my chain as well as any pivots on the bike, to drive out the water and muck.

The bike cleaning crew. Stephen and George are in the middle.


We then made it back to the bed and breakfast, tired and ready to rest.

GPS tracks for the day:
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:23 AM   #48
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very good RR, photos are gorgeous!
I was even a little jealous of the opportunity to travel with his father
this is really cool!
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Old 10-27-2013, 07:45 AM   #49
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Awesome Pics

Man your Dad is always smiling in the pics.
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Old 10-27-2013, 08:27 AM   #50
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Very nice Isaac.
The mud and muck is unbelievable.

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Old 10-27-2013, 02:39 PM   #51
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Thanks for another father/son report!
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Old 10-28-2013, 03:08 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zmey78 View Post
very good RR, photos are gorgeous!
I was even a little jealous of the opportunity to travel with his father
this is really cool!
Thanks, I always strive to capture some good photos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvbh40a View Post
Man your Dad is always smiling in the pics.
It's a great ride, who wouldn't be smiling?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by browneye View Post
Very nice Isaac.
The mud and muck is unbelievable.
Like you would not believe. Not terribly hard to ride in, it just gets everywhere, is hard to clean, and stains your plastics and even some of your metal parts.
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Old 10-28-2013, 03:11 PM   #53
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Bonus photo of the Dalton highway, some other inmates here (riddler990, rrugger, nowwhat others?) posted these photos of their weather conditions on the Dalton highway just one month later in August...



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Old 10-28-2013, 06:35 PM   #54
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Isaac great RR so far. I'm glad you got to do this trip with your dad. I rode solo to Alaska from Michigan last year and also rode the dalton. Thanks for taking the time to take us along. Fred.
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:00 PM   #55
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Thumb Outstanding!

Color me envious!
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:28 PM   #56
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Wow, That photo of snow on Atigun sure brought back a lot of memories. I used to work there and saw it snow 4" on the fourth day of July. I spent the whole winter operating a motor grader keeping the road open for all the trucks running up and back, knew all of the truckers then, that was during the construction era.
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:38 AM   #57
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Simply wonderful! Thank you for sharing this trip with us! I will be attempting this route solo on a TW200 in Summer 2016 and can hardly wait. I appreciate all of the great insight and photography.

I'm happy to see an ME approve the use of WD-40 as an effective chain lubricant. I couldn't agree more!

Best Regards,
Patrick
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:05 PM   #58
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Simply wonderful! Thank you for sharing this trip with us! I will be attempting this route solo on a TW200 in Summer 2016 and can hardly wait. I appreciate all of the great insight and photography.

I'm happy to see an ME approve the use of WD-40 as an effective chain lubricant. I couldn't agree more!

Best Regards,
Patrick
Good luck, it's a great trip. If you have the time and are not in a rush, the 200 will be more then adequate for the trip. The WD40 is all about keeping grit off the chain, which is ultimately what extends chain life. The other method I like (but have not done yet) is a chain oiler with simple ATF. Just a quick squirt 1-2 times per day. Very messy, but the people I've talked who use then often get 20k-30k or even more per chain with no issues.

Quote:
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Wow, That photo of snow on Atigun sure brought back a lot of memories. I used to work there and saw it snow 4" on the fourth day of July. I spent the whole winter operating a motor grader keeping the road open for all the trucks running up and back, knew all of the truckers then, that was during the construction era.
Must have been a whole other world back then. The snow would have been interesting to ride through. Part of me is glad we missed the snow, part of me thinks it would be kind of fun. I actually found the rain we rode through to be kind of fun in a certain twisted way!
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:30 PM   #59
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Alright, it's been a long time since the last update. I've been consumed with some massive projects at work, which essentially had me working 12+ hour days for most of November. Sadly, I had to miss the LA to Vegas ride this year, but the job is needed to fund these adventures!

Here we go again...
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:33 PM   #60
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Day 14, July 10, 0 miles, Rest Day in Fairbanks

Today was a rest/float day in our schedule. We figured if all went well, we would take one day to rest in Fairbanks as well as to explore the homestead/house that my Dad was born in. We started the day off with some Thai food in Fairbanks. Surprisingly there is a small community of Thai people in this city, and they have opened a few restaurants. Some of the Thai people actually prefer living here…my sisters Thai friend has a family member who owns a home in Thailand as well as Fairbanks and very much enjoys Alaska.

Next up was another stop at the BMW dealer in Fairbanks, as the haul road chewed my rear brake apart. We heard a story of some bicyclists on the Dalton who saw a grizzly in the distance and were forced to stop since they had no way to get around. Eventually a trucker let them hitch a ride on the back to get around the bear safely.

Just as we were leaving, we saw Josh again, to our amazement. Hard to believe we kept crossing paths with this guy! He had dropped off his GS for some service from the haul road wear and tear (he needed new valve stems and brake pads).

Next up was a stop at a local hardware store for a bolt on my Dad’s windscreen mounting clamp, as his had vibrated off. I also picked up some spare AAA lithium batteries for the SPOT and a resupply of the worlds best chain lube (WD40).

Our host from the bed and breakfast showed us around Fairbanks a bit. The old Fairbanks hospital that my Dad and/or his sibling was born at (correction needed) is now a large bank. We also learned a bit about the Native Corporations, which is Alaska’s alternative to the Reservations you see often in the lower 48 (ok, that comparison might be off a bit but it’s a quick one).

Back at the B&B, I installed the new brake pads.


Check out that wear. I did not use the rear brake much and before this trip, the pads had some pretty good life in them. My guess is all the abrasive crap from the road mud just ground away at the pads.


Here are the owners of the B&B, Jeff and Arna. Jeff is the son of the second owners of our family homestead (photos to come below). Jeff did grow up in the homestead, and still owns the homestead which he rents out. Regarding this B&B, they are great hosts but don’t ask about staying there, this was their last year in the business.


After they cooked us up a nice homemade dinner of ribs, next up was a trip out to the old homestead, just to the north of Fairbanks. Here is my Dad standing on the back porch. Somewhere in our family achieves is a photo with him in the same spot, ladder in the same spot, but from the early 1950’s.


Another shot from the front yard.


Now for a BIG change, check out these photos taken in the early 1950’s.

Here is my grandfather digging, I believe for the foundation of the house. Notice the head net.


The base of the house. I think this is my uncle sitting on top.


Partially framed cabin.


Just in time for the winter. Not sure who the kid is, this could be my Dad.


Notice how this went from a simple wood cabin with poor insulation and an open bottom, to a fully finished house with insulation, dry wall, a full basement and garage. There was never a good well for this site, as is true for most of Fairbanks. Like most houses in the area, water is trucked in a few times per month to a large tank in the basement, which provides the house with running water for drinking, cooking, shower, etc.
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