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Old 08-19-2013, 10:36 AM   #16
clintonl OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROAD DAMAGE View Post
Hi Clinton,

Fantastic start to your RR!

How close are you to "real time"? I'm trying to guess when the trip was from looking at the pictures.
Thanks Rob, glad you like them. My trip started June 4th and ended 68 days later so the ones I'm posting now are from early June. I was in Yukon for Dust to Dawson June 19th and the spent the following month riding through Alaska and then down the pacific coast and back across to the east coast.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:04 AM   #17
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ID> BC Canada > YT > AK

Crossing up into Canada is always a bit of a thrill for me for a number of reasons but chief amongst them is just my general love for Canadians!
Their fantastic self-effacing sense of humour is very similar to us New Zealanders.



After crossing the border into Central Kootenay I rode 3A which is a really, really lovely road that twists itself around the edge of Kootenay lake. After a short ferry ride across the water I continued north on Rt 31 until I hit one of the coolest places to camp in BC: the Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground. If sleeping in the short bus or a psychedelic VW camper is on your bucket list then this is the place to stop for the night. They love bikes so much they'll even give you a discount if you roll in on something older than 30 years.

I was shown around the campsite by this delightfully mellow, grey haired guy who looked like he'd probably utilized the letters L, S and D a few times in his life — He pointed over to the toilet block and said "… and that's the shitter over there… It's used by men and women because… you know… we're all the same anyway man"

The second he uttered that hilarious line I knew I wanted to support them by staying.



I continued on up 31 for probably the most satisfying days ride I've had on this trip so far—I rode for ages without seeing a single human being, cell phone signal or sealed road. Scared off two bears, dodged a deer and rode slowly behind a pair of moose who trotted along the road for 500 yards before veering into the woods— It appears Canada was starting to share some of her wildlife with me.



The next day I spent some time with (a different)) Heather and her dog Cody. Heather has spent the last 8 years helping her father work on his (slightly crazy) dream of building an entire american wild west town in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia. It completely looks and reads like a plot from a herzog film and i couldn't help but admire her for sticking to it like she has.



Started cutting across the Bulkley-Nechako district on the yellow head highway (Rt16) into Fraser lake,
home to Canada's most majestic, anatomically correct Moose statue.



I then hopped onto the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy (Rt 37) and headed east on the Glacier Hwy toward my first goal...

Alaska.

so.. um.. it's my first time, so please be gentle.



Most riders that've crossed into Hyder, AK at this point will admit that this is the "fake alaska" as it constitutes a very southern tip of a state that's twice the size of Texas— I still had a metric shit load more riding to do before I could honestly claim victory.

But now that i'd actually made it to the state I was definitely excited at the prospect of exploring the vastness of Alaska, Yukon and the Northern territories —However little did I know I was just 16 miles from one of the most amazing things I'd experience on this trip….

clintonl screwed with this post 08-20-2013 at 07:41 AM
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:17 AM   #18
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Excellent! Damn, you cover the ground, man. That's a lot of riding already!



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Old 08-20-2013, 08:26 PM   #19
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Great photos and commentary Clinton!
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:24 AM   #20
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Hyder AK

Hyder, Alaska is one of those one-road-in, one-road-out kinda towns where one of those roads just leads into the mountains and stops. The other road leads back to where you came from. Canada. This is probably why the US government doesn't even bother having a border patrol into the place. Is there anywhere else in the US like that I wonder?

There's not a whole lot to check out in Hyder (sorry Hyder!) so I headed off on that dead-end road into the mountains.

I mean what could possibly go wrong?



It's funny because if you look up the Salmon Glacier in wikipedia it has this really dry, unexciting description of the place — So after reaching the summit of a satisfying 16 mile dirt road ride into the mountains I'd write that web entry a little differently.

It would probably start with something like "One of the most shit-balls amazing things in Alaska! You'd be completely insane to not check this place out."



I can't remember the last time a landscape brought tears to my eyes. I spent 2 hours sitting in this spot. I've only just arrived and Alaska is already blowing my mind.




On the way back down I made the classic mistake of trying to ride through the massive dust storm a haul truck makes when it passes in the opposite direction.
Couldn't see a bloody thing until my front end discovered some lovely cambered shingle on the shoulder.

So I just picked it up, dusted myself off and cursed myself for not pulling over and waiting for it to pass. I knew better but still chose to do the dumb thing that's what annoyed me the most — Hi, my name is Clinton and I like to learn lessons the hard way.

We’ve temporarily suspended the beverage service for this flight due to turbulence

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Old 08-21-2013, 01:07 PM   #21
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Awesome

Awesome...That is all I can say so far jaja,, keep riding and taking good pics
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:34 AM   #22
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AK > YT > Dawson

Clinton's first law of the Yukon: there's always someone with a bigger tyre problem than you



After having to pick my bike up after stupidly dumping it on the way back from the Salmon Glacier I was kinda interested to see how much it weighed with all this crap on it. There was only one way to find out.



768 Lbs. That's over a third of a ton on two wheels. Bloody hell, if i'm to travel around the world one day I'm going to have to shed some serious weight. I love this bike but it's just so damn heavy.

As luck would have it Dust to Dawson was going on at the same time I happened to be in the neighbourhood. For a split naive second I thought I should perhaps toss my name into the hat for the "furthest ridden" . I had to chuckle to myself when I quickly realized that my 6000 miles from NJ doesn't even put you in the running for this event. There were several from Florida and the prize was eventually won by an Australian who rode up from Argentina. Beaten by an Australian! oh the shame! :)
Oh well at least we kiwis still demolish them where it counts. Rugby.

I used to go to a lot of vintage scooter rallies over the years and was pleased to see this event had the same flavours of goofing off — just with more grey hair and heavier hardware thats all. Really super cool bunch of people who would do anything for you. Chief amongst them was Dick who graciously lent me his garage floor so I could perform the first oil change of the trip and fit the TKC 80s I'd hauled all this way.



The next day I wandered into the Downtown Hotel which just happens to make the perfect pick me up: A "sourtoe cocktail".
It's pretty easy to make really —Just mix one part Yukon Jack with a real human toe and you're done!

"You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow—but your lips must touch the toe!"



It was just what I needed because tomorrow I was going to meet my potential nemesis…
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Old 08-22-2013, 07:40 AM   #23
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Eh! Eh! I met you in the Kootenays just as you were coming off the freshly applied Calcium Chloride. Looks like you had a good trip.

Did you get to the Poutine place (Nomad) in Revelstoke???
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:05 AM   #24
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Did you get to the Poutine place (Nomad) in Revelstoke???
Hey there, It was really nice meeting you on the road and thanks so much for the tip! Yes I did make it to Nomads in Revelstoke and you were right the Poutine was fantastic!

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Old 08-22-2013, 08:54 AM   #25
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poutine...

Poutine - THE 'national' dish of the province of Quebec...!

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Old 08-22-2013, 01:00 PM   #26
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Poutine - THE 'national' dish of the province of Quebec...!

Well....He had the sticker on his bag to prove that he may have known about Poutine from before.

Glad Clint enjoyed it, it is pretty good. But no it is not the national dish in Quebec or Canada, no matter how much Wendy's tried with their online voting on that last year.
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Old 08-22-2013, 01:15 PM   #27
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Great pics. More please! Definitely a trip I want to do sometime.

Quebecois and their poutine...
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:05 PM   #28
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The Dempster Highway

I'd been obsessing over the Dempster for the better part of a year. Like many people I'd poured over ride reports that seemed to range from total-cakewalk to complete-and-utter-nightmare-I-nearly-effing-died! The more research I did the more intimidated I became so I just decided to stop researching. Ha problem solved!

The afternoon before I was scheduled to ride it I was doing some last minute prep in Dick's garage and had to laugh to myself as he gave me the perfect pep talk. "Yeah that fuckin' road can sometimes just be hours and hours of sucking your arsehole up through your heart" he said slowly shaking his head.

hahaha. oooo kay then. I thought to myself.

So at 7:00am the next morning it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I pulled up alongside this sign at the beginning of the Dempster.

I stared at the sign for a few moments kinda chuckling at the slightly perverse quotes around the "Drive with Care" line.
Normally you do that when you're trying to indicate irony right?



It's then I thought about a great mechanism my friend Heather uses whenever she's faced with an unnerving situation on the road— She'd just say 'Fuckit" and let things unfold as they may. So with this in mind I hopped back on my idling bike, stomped it into first gear and said "ah fuck it" as I throttled into a dicey 800 mile journey on a road built from mud and rocks.



So far so good.

For awhile I was riding a rock hard packed strip of mud and sandstone that took on an almost cobblestone-like feel. The dempster ride reports I'd read hadn't mention this stuff at all. It was fantastic! Riding south of Eagle Plains I knew the pendulum was definitely swung hard into the total cakewalk realm of experiences for me but it was early days yet.

Much of the Dempster follows an old dog sled trail into the northwest territories and it doesn't take long to discover the schizophrenic nature of its surface.

One moment you'd be riding a nice packed gravel surface thinking "ok this is no problem…" and then the road, almost sensing your rising confidence, would let you round a corner and present you with a huge mound of soft dirt left by the graders the day before. Things nearly came unravelled in precisely that fashion barely 200 miles into the journey but I managed to keep it together. It wouldn't be the last time my heart would nearly stop either .

In my book of rad things I think having to share the road with aircraft would be on page one.



The Yukon is so remote that the Dempster spontaneously morphs into airstrips every now and again. Each time I rode along one I was kinda hoping I'd see a plane on final approach — Hey I'm a sucker for punishment what can I say?

The Yukon: weakening bladders the world over.





I blame the smug look on the fact that I was finally starting to conquer a ride that's weighed on my mind for over a year.
The pagans would also high five me given the fantastic weather window I'd scored.

Arctic Spruce.



Above the arctic circle the geography starts to look more like a moonscape — There's nothing much to support life here and I was very aware I was riding along the back of a sleeping mud beast. You didn't have to look too closely at the calcium chloride impregnated shale surface to realize that when it gets wet it'll transform into a slick black grease nightmare and then you're in trouble— and the problem is it rains a lot up here.



Climbing into the Northern Territories





Rolled into Fort McPherson at the 346 mile point at 7:50pm.

I was feeling pretty tired and had a brief scout about for a campsite but quickly realized that I just didn't have the energy to deal with the tent that night. In the end I decided to reward myself for a successful first day on the Dempster by staying at the one and only place in town: The Peel River Inn. I was super lucky to get a room actually as it officially locks up at 8pm and all the employees bugger off home— After that only guests with keys can enter.

After wrestling with a faulty lock I finally got into my dorm-like room and dumped all my gear onto the floor. "A real bed to sleep in. Thank god. It's worth any price at this point" I thought to myself. Well it just so happened that "any price" when you're above the arctic circle staying in a place basically built for government and oil employees works out to be 200 bucks a night. Ouch. Oh well I'm definitely not getting out my tent out now.

The summer solstice sun blasting through the window of my room at 1:00am. Even after riding for 12 hours and feeling crazy tired the weird 24 hour sunshine was messing with my body clock. I just couldn't fall asleep and I felt like I was living that movie Insomnia.



So really the only option was to wander about a semi-deserted Fort McPherson at 1:00 in the morning like a zombie…



About an hour later with the sun showing no signs of quitting at 2:00am I returned to my room and finally fell asleep. I felt pretty pleased with my first day on the Dempster. No crashes, No equipment breakages.. all in all an exhilarating day.

Tomorrow I wouldn't be so lucky.


Waiting for the Peel River Ferry to open at 9:00am



During the winter months the Peel River is frozen and an ice road joins the two land masses. Come breakup season a ferry is used to shuttle traffic across the water. The whole thing has a temporary feel to it as each morning they use earthmoving equipment to build a dirt "ramp" for traffic to drive onto the ferry. During the course of the day this "ramp" gets increasingly messed up as vehicles move across it— my advice to anyone riding it is stay in the wheel tracks made by the trucks or face picking your bike up out of the soft dirt.

I'd been lucky as the weather had been perfect for my two days on the Dempster. I'd skirted heavy rainfalls the day prior and the road had been virtually dry all the way. So by the time I was on my return journey I'd developed a certain amount of confidence with the road and it was starting to rear it's ugly head with my average speed.

A few bum puckering close calls on this road had instilled this mantra I was reciting in my helmet "slow the fuck down, don't fuck this up" . I knew I'd lucked out with the road conditions. I knew this road would lull you into a false sense of security and then toss something heart-stoppingly scary out just to remind you that it could seriously mess up your day. I knew 2 guys crashed the day before doing this road. I knew all of this and yet my average speed was still creeping up.

That was about to change.

I was cruising along a nice hard packed section at 65 mph about to exit the the arctic circle when I discovered another little gift the Dempster can toss at you— Pot-holes. Not the ordinary dimpled holes with soft edges but sudden deep sharp edged, invisible, scary-as-shit ones. A guy I later spoke to about it said the road is basically built from sandstone on permafrost. Sometimes the permafrost can melt a bit and the sandstone drops away to form these mini grand canyons. Yay!

As you can probably guess I can now tell you that when your loaded GSA hits one of these guys at 65mph it feels and sounds like a small explosion just went off under your seat. It's funny how ones mind starts processing things in the 3 seconds that follow an event like that.

The second my bike hit the road crater it started making this god awfully loud scraping sound— as I throttled off I remember thinking "can't be a tyre blowout because the bike is still handling ok", I looked down and thought "Doesn't look like the rear suspension bit it" It's at that moment the sound suddenly stopped and I looked back to see a black piece of plastic lying on the road behind me.

I remember breathing a sigh of relief knowing that I'd just dodged a bullet and got away with simply entering the club of GS owners whose TKC80 has caught, chewed up and spat out the hugger mudguard.




This happened just as I was exiting the arctic circle so I placed it on the sign as a hopefully adequate sacrifice to the gods of the northern territories. It was also a real reminder to pay attention to my mantra for the rest of the journey out.



I managed to ride the rest of the way at a respectable pace and made it out with the balance of bike bits I arrived with.

I've never developed such an close psychological and physical relationship with a road like the Dempster Highway.

Amazing, Amazing experience —I'll never forget it. However I know I was very lucky with it.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:36 PM   #29
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HOLY SHIT I'M IN!

Awesome pictures + great narration = EPIC JOURNEY!
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:59 AM   #30
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Top of the World Highway > Tok > Denali

Now that i'd tackled the Dempster I was feeling better about the thought of crossing back over into Alaska via the Top of the World Highway.

The subtle tell tail signs you've just crossed back into Alaska...



Again I was fortunate to only catch a total of 20 mins rain on this stretch. Not a lot but just enough to illustrate how things can get pretty sloppy out here when it wants to. Clearly I was continuing to luck out with the road conditions.



Range roving under a saturated sky.



Met Russ, a marine biologist who also happened to be riding that same mountain ridge. We took the opportunity to take the stock vanity shots of each other and then he invited me to visit Seward for a behind the scenes tour of the sealife research center.

I ended up going and as direct result of riding that mountain ridge I was able to spend an hour of my life watching puffins fly underwater — couldn't have predicted that even with a million monkeys typing for eternity. I'm convinced serendipity is the tetrahydrocannabinol of travel.


Life cannot be considered complete until you've visited the only settlement in the world with the name "Chicken" I say!



Apparently the original miners wanted to name their town "Ptarmigan" after the local bird but couldn’t spell it and so they went with "chicken" instead.

After Chicken I followed the narrow winding Taylor Hwy towards Tok. Little did I know that seven days later a man riding his BMW would be killed on this road which would set forth a series of events that would connect with me hundreds of miles later. These events would go on to form one of my most important and treasured life memories.

I rolled into Tok, AK and decided to pull my trusty MSR tent out of its dirty yellow drybag and set up at Young's campground. Turned out to be a really nice place to stay with excellent (free) showers. The best thing of all is you can wander next door to fast Eddy's restaurant which serves great roadside food for the area. By this stage I was craving something green and they definitely came through with their all you can eat salad bar.

The next day as I was heading out I crossed paths with a really nice couple on a pair of TransAlps. It's uncommon to see just one of these lovely bikes on the road these days so to see two like this was a rare treat.



Unfortunately we couldn't chat long because they had places to get to and I wanted to take advantage of the fantastic sunny day to ride across the Denali Highway.



Dear Alaskan Pipeline Company,
Sorry 'bout that.
Hug Clinton.

Closing in on the Denali



It's like the opposite of a Barcelona beach holiday!



Lovely ride down the Richardson Hwy around the edges of Summit lake.

As I rolled into Paxon, AK and stopped to ponder the next 134 miles of dirt I noticed the wonderfully sunny day had clouded over and it was starting to spit with rain. At this point all I could remember about the Denali from the descriptions I'd read was the line "Treacherous when wet". I laughed to myself nervously said thought "Perfect!"

A few moments later a couple who'd just completed the road from the opposite direction pulled in next to me. They had this really hardcore battle scarred Jeep kitted out with massive off road tyres, jerry cans, shovels and a laptop mounted between the seats in police cruiser fashion. I wandered over and as I saw the guy fiddling with some high end sat nav app on the laptop and thought to myself "ok these guys will be able to give me an accurate, unbiased description of the road conditions ahead"

I asked the woman sitting next to him "How was the road?" to which she responded "Oh it's pretty bad"

Excellent, just what I was hoping to hear.



My declaration of independence is written with a TKC80 rear tyre—Make sure you know what yours is written with.

So long story short I spent several glorious hours riding the Denali and soaking in its absolutely stunning surroundings. The Dempster's beauty lies in its brutal remoteness, The Denali has both remoteness and wall to wall mountains. Big Mountains.

That night I camped just off the intersection of the George Parks and Denali Hwys. Rode into Cantwell for a drink at really nice bar equipped with an eclectic mix of sofas, wifi, and good food. Perfect!

While I was in the bar a guy who was about to ride the Denali the next day came over and asked if I'd just ridden it and "How was the road?"

I responded "Oh, It wasn't that bad at all!"
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