North to the future, north to Deadhorse!

Nothing like a change of plans to start an adventure.


8/14/16 North Pole, AK to Arctic Circle, AK - 211 Miles Ridden

I had been planning for weeks to leave out and take the end of the week to run north for Deadhorse.  That plan went out the window when a good friend asked for help getting some things moved.  She is an amazing person and since I had the option, I made the switch. I didn’t know how else to adjust for the days lost in bike prep and stayed up till after 4 in the morning wiring circuits on the bike for the heated grips, the future GPS, and for both 12 volt automotive sockets.  The work was worth it, but I was still short of connectors and parts so I had to call it and delay my Sunday morning departure until I could get some sleep and run into town for parts.

All the changes and delays meant that I was going to have to make the dreaded afternoon departure.  Riding motorcycles in the dark is always nerve wracking, especially in the summer when moose like to start moving only when the temperature drops, so leaving in the early evening was less than idea.  I would have delayed till morning if I thought I could still make it back in time to keep my responsibilities.

With the days warmer temperatures beginning to dissipate I set out at just around 5 pm and made a fuel and dinner stop at the world famous Hilltop Truck Stop, The bike got its favorite ethanol free 87 octane and I filled up on a giant cheese burger with Bacon, ham, and a fried egg washed down with sparkling peach Rockstar.

Pushing north, I had to stop when the scent of recent rain began to hang heavy in the air and road darkened to confirm the showers.  After slipping on my waterproofs I made the push north to the Yukon River, only stopping to shoot photos of the amazing sunset taking place.

After crossing the bridge I stopped for fuel at Yukon River Camp where I thought I had missed the chance due to locked doors. A few workers offered to sell me some fuel from their slip tank but when I went back for the bike the attendant had come out to find me and I was able to pay the $5.47 a gallon for fuel to top up the two gallons I had used since Hilltop.  I also bought a few really good cookies to bolster my food stocks. I departed at just short of 11 pm to head the sixty or so miles to the Arctic Circle. The roads had been, and continued to be pretty good.  A few areas of loose slimy mud and a few churned up sections of road were the worst of it today.



After setting camp for the first time by motorcycle headlight I dined on a dinner of a roast beef sandwich Cat had prepared as well as another cookie from Yukon Camp.

Climbing into the tent as I shed my riding gear was certainly a test of flexibility after so long in the saddle. Will need to remember to get the sleeping bag laid out before I climb in from now on. But acrobatics aside it was perfect timing as the moment I slid the zipper the light shower turned into a full on rain.

8/15/16 Arctic Circle, AK to Deadhorse, AK  -  330 Miles Ridden.

While I should have gotten up with the light and pushed on, I just couldn’t make myself do it. I had dreamed and those are few and far between. Sleep came in fits and starts but I stayed in my bag till nearly 11 am. Took about 30 minutes to break camp and change clothes. I at a breakfast of the last of the cookies from Yukon camp and a final sandwich from Cat.  The sun was a welcome sight and helped to dry the excess condensation from the tent. While I really valued the compact size and lack of poles to break, the tent is cramped and I need to vent it more to keep from needing long drying sessions every morning.

I rolled into Coldfoot having used 2.1 gallons of fuel since Yukon camp the night before.  The remote nature of the station meant I spent $4.60 a gallon for the gas. While there I had a lunch of a giant omelet with hot tea and a monster energy drink.  I went ahead and paid the five dollars for Wi-Fi so I could update people on the trip and unwind for a few minutes. On the way out I met two other riders heading north, John and his brother Jim.  They were riding a pair of BMW 1200 GSs and were up from San Francisco.

Leaving Coldfoot I was able to make great time, only stopping for some construction at AtigunPass.  The pass itself was shrouded in fog and marked the start of the days cooling.  The rest of the day went by in a blur as I raced against my fuel gauge to get to the pumps at Prudhoe Bay without running dry.  As the mile markers kept telling me I was getting closer, the road began to challenge my skills and fatigue.  I had heard that the last 30 miles into Deadhorse were the worst and they didn’t disappoint.  The ongoing construction to raise the road meant that I was riding though fist size smooth river rock that was just put down and barely, if at all, compacted.
The last ten miles in would be the worst of the whole run to and from Deadhorse as the road was at least six inches deep with large loose rock and a pace car controlling the pace.  I spent the time trying to manage traction while standing on the pegs and trying not get crushed between the large truck to my front and the semi behind me.  The pilot car meant that the speeds were low and the traffic gaps growing and shrinking at random.  The moto of when in doubt throttle out was reduced to short bursts of speed to get the bike up and out of the sallow followed by trying to not sink back in while I avoided running into the back of the truck to my front.  Add that my fuel gauge was furiously blinking at me that I was on fumes and the anxiety was surely there.

Once in Deadhorse proper I spent almost an hour trying to find the fuel station from three separate sets of conflicting directions where I put 4.743 gallons into my 4.5 gallon tank 0_0 ….all at the rate of $5.14 a gallon.  Thankfully the housing would be cheap as a friend working for the company was able to get me a great rate for the night at the Deadhorse camp.

I was able to get a plate of left-overs from the camp’s closed kitchen and settled in for a night in the camp.  The hot shower and cell connection were pleasant additions and I drifted off to sleep late after talking with Cat. 

8/16/15 Deadhorse, AK to North Pole, AK - 516.8 Miles Ridden, 1.5 miles pushing the bike...

Woke up to go have a hot breakfast in the dining room of Deadhorse Camp and get booked on the Arctic Ocean trip. It was a bus ride through the actual Prudhoe Bay oil field to the Arctic Ocean where I was able to dip my hands and a foot in the frigid waters to start from that northernmost point. John was also on my tour and we were able to talk and have a nice ride out.  Turns out that he had limped his GS into town due to a puncture that they couldn’t get sealed and the death of his air pump.

On my return to Deadhorse Camp I packed my gear, loaded the bike, and departed for home.
The roads were much nicer leaving than they had been the night before, but the temp had bottomed out and the winds were doing their best to push me to alternating extreme edges of the road.  The saving grace was the far better level of compaction on the road that meant a much less tense ride out.

The sun began to burn off the clouds as I began to enter the foothills and I found myself laughing in my helmet at the beauty of the views.  I was finally feeling the joy of being on the road and it seemed like more and more weight was coming off me as the miles rolled on.

I was again stopped for construction at Atigun Pass but with the sun out the temperature was coming up and made for a pleasant ride through the twists of the high mountain pass.  I stopped heading south to talk with a large group of riders from Mexico so I could check on them and warn them about the last 30 miles into town.

As I could see my window of time closing I chose to push the speed everywhere I could.  While the 70+ mph speeds were very comfortable on the Rally-Raid suspension, it also meant I was burning through fuel at a much higher rate.

All the smiles of the ride were still worth it, even if It meant pushing the bike for about a mile and a half after burning through all the spare fuel I was carrying. A driver came by and took my fuel cylinder for me and said he would return with it soon.  I kept pushing the bike and was delighted when a north bound truck stopped and gave me about a gallon of fuel to get me the last 15 miles into Coldfoot.  I was stopped coming in by a guy in a truck with my spare fuel cylinder that had been handed off.  I do love the care about folks here in the north.

After an all-you-can eat dinner at Coldfoot camp I was back on the road and headed for home.

I made the stop at the Yukon River camp for fuel again and then just put my head down and headed for home.  After 12 hours on the bike I was finally home and able to climb into bed after a hot shower.  Three days on the bike and over a thousand miles travelled was a great chance to shake down the bike and gear as well as to test myself with the longest set of days I had spent on the bike to date. 



Comments

  1. Awesome RR! Looking forward to more!

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    Replies
    1. Glad you are enjoying. Lots more is in the pipe, just getting it edited and out takes time when I am out experiencing Mexico instead.

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  2. Following! Looking forward to more.

    Your Spot tracking link wasn't working last I checked?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It only tracks and holds for seven days. I didn't use it through the US to save batteries and cost and have been fairly stationary here in Leon, Mexico for the last few weeks enjoying the community so there haven't been any logs.

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  3. I see you are in Mexico now. starting to get interesting now right!? Lol. Enjoy the ride man!

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    Replies
    1. Ya, Mexico has been amazing to say the least. Lots of time to think and amazing sites. Really great people too. The only real rough bit (Other than my terrible and lacking Spanish) is that the architecture, dusty air, and the smell of burning garbage tend to take me back to memories of Iraq. Been a really good experience to help me grow and overcome PTSD, but certainly a challenge.

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