To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part VI

This will be the last part.  I think.  Maybe.

So as it turns out Jaime’s phone wasn’t waiting in PG for her.  She needed to wait for it, I needed to get moving so I could make it back to …. ick… work…. on July 5th.  They really frown on it if you don’t make it back from vacation on time.  Esp if you’ve been gone as long as I have.  I also needed to get back into the US by the 31st so that I could get some work done via remote.  I was running low on data on my international plan, overages are expensive.  So it was get back in the next two days and get the work done.   So I left PG without Jaime… It felt a bit odd too, to be riding off and not have her in my mirrors after riding together for close to a month.

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From PG I headed straight over to Jasper where I was promptly rewarded with wildlife sightings…

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There was also a black bear and a grizzly bear, but both were way too close to the road for my comfort and I didn’t want stop and hang out taking pictures.   It’s a whole other thing on a bike and your much more exposed to the elements and hazards like teeth and claws.  Or like a few days later in Yellowstone, with the Bison, exposed to herds of animals with pea brains that weigh a ton and have horns and hooves.  I’m just not going to hang out and wait to see what might happen.    Unlike, that fool in the above pictures on the right side….

I ended up camping in Banff that night.  I got lucky and found a spot in a park, it was crowded, the sign said the grounds were full but the one spot was empty and the ranger, I guess they are still rangers in Canada, said take it.  Since it was late and there hadn’t been anyone in it for over 24 hours.  I spent the next day wondering around Jasper and Banff.  I worked my way down to Canmore I let the GPS take me down some dirt roads that lead me to Spray Lakes where I camped the next night.  Wow! I it really was one of the best camping spots I had for the whole trip.

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I woke up the next morning to this lil thing trying to climb on my tent.  It freaked me out a bit.  I guess I was just too close to one of his escape tunnels.  At one point when I was prepping my breakfast he tried to take my oatmeal from me.  Bold little sucker.

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I continued down the dirt road for quite some ways until I saw this fella.

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Just beyond him was short stretch of pavement then it was back onto dirt again.  There was a great stream running along the dirt road until I started to climb up some hills. At that point I was starting to wonder about the wisdom of going out on dirt roads alone, when there was signs saying no vehicles with trailers beyond this point,  steep grades for the next 10 Km, and rough roads… hum.  No really the best judgement on my part.  I also hadn’t seen another vehicle for some time.  I just kept hoping I didn’t fall over.

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I got lucky and the road wasn’t too bad, I wasn’t able to stop and take pictures.  It did level off and smooth out once I got to the bottom.  The views were great too.

I made it down to Waterton I cruised through the town, made a quick stop for some stickers, hoped back on the bike and beelined it for the border.  This boarder crossing went really smooth, and quick there wasn’t anyone in front of me or behind me that I saw.   I think the two guys working were rather chatty, they both rode Harleys so they didn’t give me grief about being on a bike.

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I had a great deal of ground to cover since I was down to 4 days to get home.  I really wanted to make sure I hit a few places on the way.  First up was Glacier National Park and Going to the Sun Hwy.

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I don’t think I need to say much about these pictures….

I spent the night in Browning MT, now was interesting… I found a decent campground to stay at but with all the gunshots and fireworks going off I decided to sleep with the bear spray and the knife again that night and not because of the wildlife.

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The ride across MT to Red Lodge was mostly flat, with some interesting points here and there. I missed some of the better roads, in my hurry to get home.  I’ll have to go back to try it again.

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I hit Beartooth pass later in the day, okay it was actually early evening when I was riding up the pass, but it was quiet and there was almost no traffic.  Just like the day before I was actually able to stop in the middle of the road to take a couple of the pictures.

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I camped that night at Beartooth Lake, it was also a great campsite.  I had the entire loop to myself!

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Well okay this guy was around most of the evening, but he was quiet so I didn’t mind.IMG_20160630_210206743

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The lake was stunning in the morning light!

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From here it was onward toward Yellowstone!   I hadn’t been in the park since I moved to NM from Alaska in 1993, so I was really looking forward to seeing the changes.

I planned on riding as much of the loop as I could take, since I figured the traffic might be an issue.  I was able to ride straight up the the gate no waiting in line at all!  Nice!  A parks pass is really worth it.  Right away there were herds of Bison off to the sides of the road.

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This one was an example of one of the times I rode up the center of the road to avoid being caught by bison crossing the  road. I wasn’t going to sit there to wait and see if they came across where I was….  I was surprised at how light the traffic was really, there was only a few times where it got backed up.

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From Yellowstone it was down to the Grand Tetons, then on to Jackson Hole.  It was in Jackson hole where I finally found a replacement bladder for my camelbak that been leaking for the past 3 days.  For the most part I didn’t mind it too much as it was hot and it running down my back kept me a bit cooler,  but it was making it harder to drink enough water when you could only fill it half full each time.

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Now from here I had been thinking of heading east toward CO then down to NM, I wasn’t planning on heading to toward SLC, UT, but I stopped at a campground around Bondurant, WY I found a decent little spot, but I had some guy walk up to me as I was unpacking.  The more he talked the more creeped out I got and the more I felt the need to leave there in a hurry, like the hair on the back of my neck was standing up and I felt sick to my stomach..  I can’t say that I’ve had that kind of reaction to a person before, and it’s rather scary.  This was really a first for me.  Most of the time when someone makes me uncomfortable I just brush it off and stop talking to them and ignore it, but this time I chose to leave, and leave quickly.

It was kind of late, so I started to punch places into the GPS to see how far they were and just for grins I put SLC in.  Turns out it was “only” 210 miles, I figured I could make it there that night.  Besides, I still felt sick and knew there was no way I was going to be calm enough to sleep in strange place that night.  So the idea of heading to Mike’s house was comforting.  Once I made out of the mountains and I had a signal on my phone again, I called Mike to let him know I was on my way to his place and I’d be there in just under  3 hours.  True to form, he didn’t ask questions and just said they’d be waiting up for me.  I pulled into the drive about 12:30 Mike met me and put my bike into the garage for me.   Being there is kind of like being home, it should be I’m there at least one a year.  After a quick chat it was off to bed.

I spent the next night there too, it was good to see a few people I hadn’t gotten to see when we came through on the way to Alaska.  The next day I headed home a day early so I’d have one day at home to unpack the bike, wash the bike again, since it was still filthy, do laundry and just relax.  It’s great to sleep in your own bed after being gone for so many days.

All said and done…   I had 39 days of vacation I rode roughly 10,750 miles in ~30 days of riding, (Non riding days = 4 days in Anchorage, 2 days in Fairbanks, 2 days in Dawson, & 1 day in Salt Lake City) with 1,800 miles of that being dirt roads.  The longest day was 614 miles, the shortest was 169 miles. We camped 18 of the nights on the road, the rest were with hotels, friends, family or ADV inmates along the way.

To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part V

Wow, this is a lot of typing, but I guess it’s to be expected since the trip was 39 days long.  This next part is the first leg of the trip back home, continuing on from where I left off until Jaime and I part ways in Prince George.  We didn’t intend to ride the whole trip together, we rode a great deal more of it as a pair than I imagined we would.  I believe that she would have taken off right after the Dempster Hwy if she hadn’t lost her phone.  She had other places she wanted to go and I had some other roads I really wanted to check out that were more on a direct route toward home.  So this is where we really began to wing it with the route.  I’d spent some time over the winter coming up with a route heading up that would let us hit all some really pretty parts of Alaska and Canada on the way up, but since we had so much rain and we both just really wanted to get to Anchorage. We bypassed a great deal of it. So for the trip back we figured we would just ride the Cassier again, and hit some of the things we had bypassed

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First up was Skagway, once we got to Whitehorse I check the Alaska ferry schedule.  Which is an absolute mess to figure out if there is or isn’t a ferry leaving on the day you want or not.  From what I could tell it didn’t look like there was any for the day we would be there that were heading to Haines.  So we just planned on running down there staying the night and riding back up toward Whitehorse then heading toward Watson Lake.  We started out of Whitehorse down toward Skagway, it’s such great road with all kinds of things to see.

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Once in Skagway there are some really cute things to see in the town, it’s one of the main stops for the cruise ships, so they’ve built up the shops down by the docks.IMG_20160624_132337616_HDR

We cruise up and down the streets looking for a small campground we could stay at, we found one close to the narrow gauge train but didn’t really like the feel of the place.  As Jaime put it, the place had that back woods, deliverance feel to it.  So we looked up other campgrounds in the area, to find that only other one was about 10 miles from town.  In a different direction than we’d come into town, what the heck how bad could it be?    As it turned out, it was an awesome park on the other side of the mountains from where we were in Dyea, which was a former gold rush town like was Skagway, Dyea is located at the head of the Chilkoot trail. Not to mention there was about 7  miles super scenic dirt road on the way to the campgrounds.

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We found a trail to this beach through some trees, can you imagine having this as a place where you could go when ever you wanted to have a fire?  Wow!

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I wondered around in the tidal pools for awhile looking at all the shells and seaweed, it reminded me of when I was a kid about 8 or 9 yo and my dad and I would go fishing in Homer or Seward and he’d sit at camper while I played in the flats at low tide. IMG_20160624_121007798 IMG_20160624_121410210 IMG_20160624_121611936 P1000667

The pull outs above Skagway gave great views of the cruise ships and the town. IMG_20160624_123605607_HDR

Once we got into town we decided to swing by the store to pick up some lunch for later, while Jaime was in the store I spotted a few other bikes.  I went over to talk with them to find out where they were from and find out where they were heading.  I’m really happy I did that too.  Turns out they were just killing time waiting for their ferry ride to Haines and as luck would have it one of the guys had a spare ticket that he gave me.  He and I headed over to the Ferry office, he transferred the ticket to my name.  I bought Jaime a standby ticket since the Ferry was sold out.  We waited on the docks with them and a group of Germans.    My bike was #13 so Jaime’s made it an even 14.  As the deckhand said, in 19 years, she’d never left a bike behind on the docks.  So we were on our way to Haines. What luck!

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We hit Haines at about 8 pm, and we rode until we hit Whitehorse just before midnight. There wasn’t much picture taking at this point.  We were just trying to beat it so we could make some time up after spending most of two days around Skagway.  We needed to head to Prince George to pick up Jaime’s replacement phone.   The ADV inmate we had stayed with there was kind enough to allow the replacement phone to be shipped to him there, since there wasn’t anywhere else that we could find in Canada that would accept shipment or that Verizon would ship to.

There was still one more side trip that we really wanted to to do before we hit Prince George.   We really wanted to take the run down the road to Telegraph Creek, after hearing about it from another ADV inmate.  Not to mention I figured that Jaime really needed to see the Sign post Forrest in Watson Lake while we were in the area.  IMG_20160625_154544322_HDR IMG_20160625_154551891 IMG_20160625_161310800

Once we had finished wandering around the “Forrest” we stopped for yet another bacon cheeseburger.  I know that I haven’t mentioned it but bacon cheeseburgers were pretty much our go to meal on this trip if we weren’t cooking it ourselves.  There wasn’t much salad eating on this trip, and shockingly we both lost weight.   After we finished eating we booked it down the Cassier toward Dease Lake which is where the turn off to Telegraph Creek is.  We found a really cute lil campground overlooking the lake for the night right next to a restored classic truck that Jaime just about lost it over… I of course can’t remember what  it was, beside it being an old restored truck that looked really cool. IMG_20160626_091458227_HDR

The road to Telegraph Creek delivered!  It was amazing, easy to ride, yet it was a challenge too.  I don’t ever recall seeing road signs before this that said 20% grades.  Not to mention the switchbacks with loose gravel, but they weren’t that bad even with the fully loaded big bikes.  Now you’ll notice there aren’t pictures of this… that’s because I had to give it my full attention on the way up and down.  I’m hoping that Jaime still has the video of us riding up it.  Damn, it was fun!  The river was stunning, it was also the first time since I was like 7 I’d gotten to see salmon jumping out of the water.  Talk about cool.

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The church that we came across right after having lunch which was….

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you guessed it… yet another bacon cheeseburger.

 

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Now I did learn one thing on the way down this road… Karma is a fickle lil witch.  We’d stopped to take some of these pictures.  The road wasn’t exactly level, and it was slanted down away from us, so getting the bikes off the side stands was a lil tricky at times.  Jaime was having trouble one of the times and I was laughing at her.. Yeah, I know, my bad.  But, I went to get off the bike to help her out.  I didn’t quite get the side stand back down on mine, the bike rolled off and the bike and I both went over.  I was still laughing when I stopped rolling right under Jaime’s bike.  Ya know I still think it’s funny!  Even if I broke my clutch lever.

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Now after all this fun, we had to beat feet again to make up the whole day we spent here, when we thought it would be just a half day.  So we booked down the Cassier again until about Midnight when we hit the Meziadin Lake Park.  We pulled in and found a nice secluded spot for the night, it only took about 3 minutes for the camp host to come find us and ask us to pay.  I was starting to get the feeling that they thought we might not pay, if they didn’t come ask us to pay at these parks, since this wasn’t the first time.  It’s odd.

The next day we rode on over to Prince George and got there at a decent time…. OMG! We finally stopped riding before 7pm!!!!  Color me surprised.  Jaime had mentioned that maybe we could run over to Prince Rupert and then over to Prince George.  I didn’t think it was a great idea since we were crashing in on someone else.  We knew that he left for work at like 7am.  I thought it would just be too rude to show up after 8pm.  I was also starting to get a little bit concerned that I might not have time for a couple the side trips I wanted to make on the way home.  I mean after all I was down to 8 or 9  days to get from PG to Santa Fe.

 

 

 

To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part IV

This next leg of the trip was back to Tok for one night.  But first, on the way out of town we had to stop in North Pole and check out Santa’s House!

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This would be the morning when we would have the only real injury of the trip.  I’m happy (I think) to report it didn’t happen on a bike, but it was due to wool socks on wood stairs.  Bad combo.  I missed, or slipped on the second stair from the top at Lori’s cabin and went down all 15 stairs on my left hip.  Lets just say, I wasn’t happy about sitting on anything for about 5 days, after that.

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This time we stayed at John’s parents cabin, it was just down the road from the Eagle’s Claw which was booked by the time I got around to trying to make a reservation there.  It worked out, this way we got showers in the morning before heading off.  Not to mention Jaime got to play around with putting some new farkles on her bike… There may or may not have been some cider consumed prior to this.

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The sights on the way to Tok as usual were nothing great to see.

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Lol.  We might not have seen many bears but we did find evidence of them.

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In the morning after leaving Tok we made our way to Chicken, I know, It’s hard to believe some of the names of these places, but they are great towns with very interesting histories.

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From here it was on to the Top of the World Highway, which was a very nice fun dirt road leading to Dawson City.  The views were amazing, Jaime and I ran it at different paces, she stopped to take more pictures than I did.   I kind of rode along just gazing at the sights. We did make a stop at one of the river crossings so John could show Jaime and I how to pan for gold.  It’s a very laborious process that did yield some “colors” but it wasn’t worth holding onto.  From there we worked our way toward the border.  IMG_20160616_115833746 IMG_20160616_143054711

Once past the border you work your way down toward the Yukon River.

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This is the first of our 6 ferry crossings on this trip.IMG_20160616_160049528 IMG_20160616_161132638 IMG_20160616_162237077 IMG_20160616_161137075

The next two days we spent in Dawson City for the D2D gathering… as it’s not a rally!  What can I say there arn’t  too many pictures of the signings as what happens at D2D stays at D2D.   But here are few to give you a few things to ponder….

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Jaime took part in the Poker run with John, she put him on the back of her bike.  The whole thing was on dirt roads around Dawson.  I took Lori out for parts of it on the back of my bike, but she wasn’t up do doing more than a two sections, which was fine by me since it was the first time I’ve had a passenger on dirt roads.  I didn’t tell her until we got back to the campground.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning the dirt off the bike so I could at least start the Dempster hwy the next day with a clean bike.  I knew it wasn’t going to stay that way, but it made me feel better.

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After the final night dinner with more than 320 other like minded ADV riders we prepped and packed the bikes to start up the Dempster hwy!!!!!

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It’s 269 miles from Dawson to Eagles Plains, which is the first gas stop on this road.  It’s roughly 950 miles of dirt road to Inuvick  which is the end of the road.  (at least for one more year, than it’s going to be extended out to Tuk.  And then I’m going to have to go back and ride it again!)   To say we were excited and nervous was an understatement.  We had tried to find others to ride with, but no one seemed interested in going with us.  I wasn’t too concerned since it seemed like there was going to be a large number of other bikers on the road for the next few days.  So I figured if we really got our selves into trouble we’d be able to find help.  Besides, if the boys didn’t want to play with us, that was fine, we’d just let them go off on their own.

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I have to agree with most everything I read about this road, it’s beautiful and the weather was rapidly changing from one minute to the next.  Sunny around one corner, raining and hailing around the next…

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Yeah, the bike didn’t stay clean for very long, this was our first stop along the road to check out a campground at Tombstone where they have a ranger station.

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From there it was a number of long hours until til we made it to Eagle Plains, we had to carry gas with us and we did have to use it.

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Just about 20 miles from Eagle Plains Jaime figured out that she had lost her phone, between there and the last time we’d stopped for pictures about 50 miles back.  She wanted to turn around right there to go back and look for it.  I wouldn’t let her, as I knew that the 1.4 gallons of gas we’d just dumped into her bike wasn’t enough to go the there and back.  So I got her to head the rest of the way to Eagle Plains, fill up with gas, then go back.

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I stayed behind to set up the campsite for both of us.  I also took advantage of the internet to track her on the spot which died before she got back to where we’d stopped for pictures.  I did some work while I waited for her to come back to the campgrounds.  Eagle Plains, isn’t a town, it’s just a gas station, hotel, campground, restaurant, and limited garage.  I wandered around talking to the other bikers there, waiting for her to get back, after a bit I gave up getting eaten by the mosquitoes and climbed into my tent to read while I waited.  I fell asleep after an hour or so to wake up to the sound of the triple pulling up to the tent followed by a crashing sound.  She was so tired and upset, that she didn’t get the side stand down all the way, so the bike rolled off and fell over as she walked to her tent.  Three guys that I had talked to earlier about all of it were still up and they ran over to pick up her bike for her.  Needless, to say, that she wasn’t quite herself the next few days without her phone.  I was glad that I had upgraded the international plan on mine as it got a lot of use over the next week. While she worked on getting a replacement phone sent to her, the big problem we ran into was where to have it sent.

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There was two more ferry crossings on the way up. IMG_20160619_153504311

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Now when we rolled into Inuvick I was NOT expecting to have temperatures in the 90s.  It really seems wrong to me to have it be that warm.  I wasn’t the only one who thought so, we asked around, they say it was becoming more common for that to happen over the past 5 years.  Scary.

We washed the bike after we found a place to camp for the night, we then went into the main part of town to find dinner, since it was just too hot and there was too many mosquitoes to want to cook.  There was also the signs about the three types of bears being found around the campgrounds,  that made me not want to have food out. Go figure.

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At dinner we ran into all the same groups that we’d talked about riding with, it was funny how now that we’d spent the day leap frogging all of them that they were all so much nicer and willing to talk with us more tonight then they had been in Dawson…..  It still comes as a surprise to me that it’s assumed that because your female that you can’t really ride very well or that you are going to need some one to take care of you or wait for you or whatever other reason it is that they just are so stand offish until they see you can ride.  Oh well, some things just aren’t worth worrying about.

In the am, we went in search of stickers, I mean we had to have stickers to prove we’d been there and done that, right?  During the search we ran into two guys from Calgary who had been having tire issues with one of their bikes.  They were looking for a place to fix the flat rear tire so they could make it back to Dawson.   After we consulted a couple more cute Mounties, who told us where to find the stickers, we headed off to find some food and then hit the road.  They went to find the tire repair garage, we figured we’d all be meeting along the road or down at Eagle Plains, since there was only one way back to Dawson.

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On the way back it was more Ferries, and leap frog with the other riders, at the first ferry we all met and it was a bit of a race when we all got off the ferry to see who could get to the next gas stop first…. I of course would never take part in such things…IMG_20160620_131001767 IMG_20160620_131010156 IMG_20160620_131753288

We all stopped for lunch at second ferry for a bit and talked about bike, tires, tire pressures, racing and the routes we were taking home.  None of us there were from Canada or Alaska and had a great deal of miles left to ride.  It was all riders from MI, IN, NM and a guy from England.  Gotta love the motorcycles and the cross sections it brings together.

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Now see those two behind Jaime?  They are twins, you aren’t seeing things, they were one of the highlights of this trip.  How often do you meet 74 year old identical twins who are riding this road for the 4th time???  They were so delightful, funny and one of them wanted me to audition to be his next girlfriend.  LOL! Too cute.

The sights on the way back were just as amazing as on the way up. It was almost like you hadn’t seen any of it before.

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The Arctic Circle is about 30 miles up the road from Eagle Plains.  Somehow on the way up we missed this, but on the way back we did see the signs.  The really big sign had been blown off in the storm a couple of months ago according to the road workers we talked to.

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Back Eagle Plains it was…. what a shock.  Time for a campfire to keep the mosquitoes down and watch the midnight sun of the solstices

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The next day it was breakfast and more riding back to Dawson, this was the section of road that Jaime had lost her phone on, she’d been doing everything she could to be any and everyone one to be on the lookout for her phone.  So when we hit that 50 miles stretch of road we went really slow looking for her phone.  Given that it was white and grey I wasn’t holding out much hope for finding it, but it doesn’t hurt to look.  I felt a sinking feeling when we got out there and I realized they had been grading that section of road.  I felt horrible for her, as I knew then that we were never going to find that phone. Maybe she knew then too, as she seemed to come to terms with it around that point.  Up until than, it had been she’d been more about keeping up the search, once there she actually said that I shouldn’t be looking that hard for it.  Once past that section the tension lifted a bit more and she started to enjoy herself some more.  How could you not looking at stuff like this? IMG_20160621_141728903_HDR IMG_20160621_150255904 IMG_20160621_162215714_HDR IMG_20160621_162440326 IMG_20160621_180323769IMG_20160621_180603037_HDR

Well we made it back to the end of the road!!!!  No injuries, flats, or falls.  No way you can tell those bikes were clean a couple days ago, eh?

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We headed back to Dawson, to get a room after we washed the bikes.

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I was up for camping again, but Jaime really wanted a room with shower and for that I really owe her big time.   I didn’t realize it until after 12 of us went to dinner, just how tired I was. I slept 10 hours that night, we had to get a late check out the next day so that we had enough time to get laundry done, along with getting the bikes washed again for the third time.  The quick washes on the way into town just didn’t cut it.

We could already see the damage the Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) was doing to the bikes.   The CaCl2 is used to stabilze dirt roads and control the dust.  It makes a side effect of making the roads super slippery when they are wet and it requires the roads to be wet  to in order for the road crews to work on them.  So when they are working on sections of the roads they are also watering those sections heavily, it really makes those parts interesting to ride.   It’s like riding on snot.  Or what I imagine riding on snot  to be like… we came through one section where they were redoing the CaCl2 and when they spread that stuff out it’s even slicker.  I was doing every thing I could to find the very edge of the road to stay as far away from it as I could.  My poor lil’ bike is never going to be the same after that road.

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The cleaning and reorganizing of everything in Dawson at the Triple J hotel.  Again Bless Jaime for insisting on getting a room that night!    We ended up leaving Dawson the next day at 5pm. Okay, it was day, it was evening, but you couldn’t tell, look at the pictures, it looks like day time.

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We stop to camp for the night around 11pm.  We had the best luck on this trip for finding cute camping spots.  I wasn’t too sure about Jaime’s tent set up, but hey it’s her tent and bike, not mine…

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To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part III

I really enjoyed spending a few days in Anchorage.  It gave me time to catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen for some time.  As always I stayed with Ray and Margie, my other set of parents,  I guess really they are my ex-inlaws but they are so awesome I had to keep them.  It was good and bad that they were around when I got into town, they should have left for Washington in the morning that day, but Ray’s back went out so they put off the trip for a few days.  It gave me time to spent with them before I had to take them to the airport then I pick Jaime up from the airport on the same day only later in the evening.  She and I’ll will have one day to pick up bike up from the dealership, get it cleaned up, repack everything, and than she has to spend part of the day with my mother doing the shopping that she wanted to do before we headed off to Fairbanks.  The second snow storm had just rolled through Deadhorse with  at least two more in the immediate forecast.  We agreed that riding up the Dalton highway with that type of weather was out of the question for this trip.  We were just going to have to plan another trip up to ride that road another time.

Once we’d finally gotten everything in order to head back out on the road, we started toward Fairbanks.  I’ll admit this was the slowest I’ve ever made the trip up the Parks highway in all the times I’ve travel that road.  It took us just over 13 hours to do the 360 miles that day from Anchorage to Fairbanks, we stopped at every touristy stop there was and took a number of pictures.  Talkeetna for lunch was a great diversion.

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The guy in the picture below, I almost paid him $10 to stop singing….   I’m not sure but I really think that was his plan on how to make money.  He kept singing the same song over and over, not to mention he wasn’t singing it well.

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Then of course there is the Igloo, it’s seen better days.  It used to be a gas stop back when I was making this drive in college.

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Along with the general pretty splendid sights along the way.

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Denali Park is a must do stop on the way to Fairbanks.  We spent some time in the visitor center.   It’s also where we ran into a kid who’d just ridden down from Deadhorse that day. We spent about an hour talking with him, about flat tires on the way up there, how he had to stand up and walk his bike through the snow and ice to get up there… the things you can get away with when you are 20 years old and 6 foot one.  Not to mention riding a bike that you can stand up over… Neither of us can do that, heck I can barely get my feet on the ground when I’m on the Tiger.  It just made me feel better about giving up on the idea of riding up there.  On the other hand, in another week the road would likely be perfect.  We just wouldn’t have the time to ride it then.

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I’m pretty sure that his almost bald tires is the main reason for the flat…

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I do regret not having enough time to make a stop here for some of my friends back home, I know they need a few things from here.

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By the time we rolled into Fairbanks that night it was really raining and the road to Lori’s cabin was bit on the sketchy side to say the least.   I know that I wasn’t very nice when I was on the phone with her asking her why  she didn’t warn us about this when she texted me directions.  I’m sure there was some smart comment about her picking the bikes up out of the mud if we dropped them when trying to get to her place.  Yes, we had to make that turn through the nasty part.  Not fun, but we didn’t fall in the mud so I considered a good night.

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We blew a couple of days in Fairbanks, getting new tires on the bikes, changing the oil and doing some sightseeing.  I recommend the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum.  There were so many great cars there, but I picked this one as I have always had a soft spot for snowmoblies, it was one for the first things that my dad ever tried to teach me to drive when I was like 5 years old.  Needless, to say he saw the error of his ways when I gave it way too much gas and he flew off the back.    Hum…  I guess I was born throttle happy… somethings never change.

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We also took a side trip over to Circle Alaska, to get a feel for the new tires on gravel roads. This is one of the highlights of the trip.  I’d never been out to Circle, we had been thinking of trying to make a run up to Coldfoot and back just so we could say we crossed the Arctic Circle twice on this trip, but were talked out of it by John, who’s a friend of Lori’s he does a lot of hunting,trapping and surveying around the area. He recommended we do head to Circle instead while we were playing poker the night before. I’m really glad this night of poker ended better than the last time I played poker with him and Lori.

Once we left the pavement I knew it was the right choice!

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There were a couple of roads that went off from the main road so we followed them to see just where they lead, not a single time were we disappointed…

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What I liked about this one of Jaime, was that we were talking about how do you take pictures of the scenery that do it justice.  I think that her look pretty much sums it up… you can’t.  You take a picture, then look at it, then you try another or 4 and none of them manage to capture the splendor of what you are looking at.  No matter how great the pictures are.

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Once we got back to Fairbanks I took her to what I refer to as the experimental farm, at UAF  aka Large Animal Research Station.  They have musk ox, caribou and reindeer there.  We got there in time to see the reindeer eating dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part II

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To me these warning signs looked more like Devo hats…

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Steep grades indeed.  This trip was the first time I ever recall seeing signs saying 20% grades.

There was just so much great scenery heading into Dease Lake, this was where we hit the first of the construction and gravel sections.  They were easy and actually in good shape.  I can’t say that for all of the construction that we would be going through, that’s like a funky sign for gravel roads, eh?  lol.  The steep grades sign here was a joke compared to some that we’d see later in the trip.  I didn’t get pictures of them, as it’s kind of hard to stop on 20% grades with switchbacks to take pictures.  I am pretty sure that Jaime’s got more GoPro footage of it, though.

The lady at the desk of the  Dease Lake,hotel where they let us wash our bikes.  They gave us a bucket, dish soap, rags and pointed us to a hose.  What really nice people, the bikes were liking rather ratty for new bikes.  I’m not so sure they liked the bath, the fuel gauges on both bikes just stopped working until the next day, go figure.  Strange.   There were a few miners working on the hotel during their weeks off from the mines, they were entertained watching us washing the bikes, one of them gave me a really nice and large piece of jade that was a perfect match to the paint job of my bike.  They had some great stories to tell us about people who’d been visiting the hotel too.

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See all clean, at least for a few more minutes.

It was here that we met up with ADV Inmate Tewster, Kelly had told us that he hosted him at his place and we’d likely run into him on the road.  Tewster told us about his run down the side road to Telegraph creek.  It sounded amazing both Jaime and I agreed that we’d rather come back and hit it on the way home.  She really wanted to get to Anchorage so she could get down to Sitka to see her family for her birthday.  I was hoping to get there by the 5th of June to see my in-laws (actually ex, but I got to keep them in the divorce, they are just too awesome to let go of.) before they headed down to Washington to see the grandchild.   At this point I already knew I wasn’t going to make it in time to see them before they left, but was still hopeful we might make up enough time for a quick visit before I took them to the airport and took over their home.

There was a great deal of this on the trip, between chain cleaning, lubing, and checking tire pressures every day.

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Once we got back onto the Cassiar hwy heading heading North again.  We had promised we’d stop at Boya Lake to  check out the turquoise colored water, how could we not after hearing about how it was the prettiest lake in the area. IMG_20160604_112308476_HDR

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Once we made it up to the junction of where the Cassiar meets the Alaska/Canada hwy there was another DUI check point.  With yet another really smoking hot Mountie asking us where we had come from and where we were going.  I shocked he didn’t think I’d been drinking given I couldn’t answer a single question coherently.  It didn’t help that I had Jaime making comments over the Sena while I was attempting to answer his questions.  In my defense, this one was so good looking that even Jaime had a hard time forming a coherent sentence when he asked her questions.  LOL.

It was at this point that we hit our first sections of road construction, these section weren’t too bad compared to the sections that we’d hit later on just after Destruction Bay.  I kept having people warn me about them, but I wasn’t passing the info onto Jaime.  I didn’t want her to worry about it.  One of us worrying about it was enough.

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Saying that Hwy 37 is paved the whole way isn’t really true, it’s not really pavement, but isn’t gravel either. It’s like the picture above, tar and gravel  that makes look it’s paved.

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We’d keep hitting nice sunny patches then nice wet cold patches, although the sunny patches really weren’t that warm, I wore my heated gear all day I just kept turning it on and off all day.  Jaime put her rain jacket on along with her heated gear.

Destruction Bay was stunning and really cold.  The visitor center there was full of tourist a number of them loud kids, that were giving me a headache.  The upside was that they had the scopes out so you could see the Dall sheep up on the mountains above.  I didn’t take any pictures due to the cold and the headache.

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I did talk with a women from England who was driving a camper around, she had crossed paths with us in two other locations.  She remembered seeing us and she stopped me to tell me that she loved the Triumphs.  During the course of this trip we crossed paths with a number of other tourists, over the weeks going in and out of Alaska and Canada, who would come up to one or both of us and tell us they had seen us in a location earlier in the trip and that they were glad to see that we were okay and still having a great time.  It added an extra element to the trip that made it even more special for me.

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That bridge in the background was the scariest one of the whole trip.  It’s metal grating was really in bad shape, it had signs up requiring all vehicles crossing it to slow down to 30mph, honestly that might have even been too high.  The bike moved all over the place and it was really unnerving.

Once past Kluane Lake and Destruction Bay, we hit the worse of the road construction.  I felt for Jaime as she still had the deathwing stock tires on her Tiger.  The FullBore tires handled it well and I didn’t have too many issues with the deep gravel but she had a number of moments, the really rude semi driver didn’t help out either.  She made a number of comments about how close he was to me when he past me, and that it looked like he was going to hit my bike. He wasn’t that close, but he was a lot closer then he needed to be.  I didn’t really enjoy the gravel hitting me that he kicked up, I ended up with a few bruises on my arms and legs from it.  Once we got to the Alaskan border it was all smooth sailing.  It was also the first time we’d get to see two moose, they were just like I’d told Jaime they would be.  In the marsh, sticking their head into the water eating the grass.  It was a mother with what looked like a yearling baby, it wasn’t that small.  We still weren’t see much for wildlife on this trip.

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From there it was a fun ride to Tok, Alaska.  This section of road on a bike is like a roller coaster ride from all the frost heaves.  It a car it’s horrible but we had blast and a few times we even caught air.  Once in Tok we stay at Thompson’s Eagle Claw Motorcycle campground.  The place was really awesome!  It was set up really for bikes, there were place for you to throw up your tent or you could chose to stay in a bunkhouse, or a teepee, an ambulance, or even a convert school bus.  We happened to be there with three others that night, so it was nice and quiet.  Jaime opted to turn in early, I stayed up to chat with the three coast guard guys who were heading to their next assignment.  They were telling me about their trip up the Dalton on CRF 250’s.  It sounded like a blast.  I was really looking forward to riding up the Haul road myself.   The road was permit travel only when I lived in Alaska so the farthest I went up the road was to the Yukon river when I was living in Fairbanks for college.

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The next day was a mad dash to Anchorage to see if we could get Jaime’s bike into the dealership there so they could put a new map on it.  It was running fine, but there there was features we couldn’t access, like changing it to dirt mode and shutting the ABS off or the Traction Control or changing the time on it.  Frustrating.  Needless to say we didn’t make it.  We stopped to many times for pictures the rain that day was also just horrible so it was hard to make good time.  Jaime had to remind me a couple of times that she didn’t know the roads like I did and that I needed to slow it down a bit… oops.

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Once we got into Anchorage we hit rush hour traffic,  it was the first time since we’d left NM that we really had to deal with traffic of any kind and the traffic on the Seward hwy is really special too.  Funny, how something never change.  At least I remembered the back way to the Margie & Ray’s so we didn’t have to sit in the rain for an extra hour or more, but there was no way that we were going to get her bike to the dealership.  I did call to see how late they were open.  I kind of like that Sena for things like that, it came in handy for calling Mike in SLC too while I was riding on the interstate.  Never thought I’d be able to do something like that.

Once in Anchorage, Jaime took off to Sitka for 3 days, I spent it with my family and friends, I did some driving around, cleaned up my bike, did some shopping for warmer clothes. and tried to plan out the run up the Dalton. However, the snow storms that were rolling through were making that part of the trip look less likely to happen.

 

 

 

To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part I

This was a 39 day trip for me, most of it was spent riding from one location to another, but I’m only going to summarize most of the days and lump them together.  I’ve talked about this trip a few times now and have come to the conclusion that there just isn’t anyway for me to really impart just how epic, wonderful, amazing, and grand everything that we saw was.  The pictures we took are great, but they really don’t do any of the scenery justice.

I was behind on prep before the trip started; I don’t know how that happened when I’d been planning this trip for over 6 months.  I had Jim come over and go through most of my gear to help me figure out if there was stuff I should be leaving behind.  He managed to help me narrow down the tools a great deal and thin out a number of other things.   This was a good thing since I was out of room for them.  I did discover he packs twice the amount of clothes that I did… see not all guys pack light.    😛

I was satisfied with how the bike was packed by the time I left.  The only thing not in the image below was the two one gallon gas cans that went into the TourTech brackets on the front of each of the panniers.

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I also go the tool box mount on the bike between the left pannier and the bike so it was somewhat hidden. You could only see it when you looked at the bike from the back, and it looked like a power outlet.  Nice way to hide things on the bike.  The picture above is what the bike looked like for the entire trip, fully loaded up.  When I weighed out the boxes with all the gear it came out to just under 98 lbs.  The list of what I packed is here:  Packing List.  I ended up sending home from Anchorage, my off bike shoes, tee shirt, extra under armor and cotton socks.  I picked 3 more pairs of smart wool socks, and shirts to replace them.  I actually used everything I packed with the exception of tools and spares, but those are things I would take with me again.  So the list I believe is pretty solid.

Before I get into how the trip started, I’ll just say now it didn’t get off to the best start.  I shattered a brand new Ipod nano as I was walking out of the garage first thing in the morning, followed by leaving, ear buds at home, along with dumping a full glass of water all over Jaime at lunch on the first day,  there was issues with logging into work, screwing up things at work, than fixing the things I’d screwed up, getting pulled over,  issues with bear spray, and bike issues.   I was thinking that was going to happen on Days 1 and 2 it kind of wondering just how the rest of the trip was going to go…. I was really thinking at the time it might be best to cancel the trip and give it up then, before it got any worse.

The first two days of the trip were spent in Utah. It’s usually hot, but not this time, I ended up using my heated hear coming into Salt Lake when we had to ride through two really have thunderstorms. It was still pretty for most of the ride.  Heather met me at my place, we rode to pick up Jaime and the others at her place.

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Loaded and ready to head out
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Heather made it and is readjusting things before we head to pick up Jaime and the others.

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Finally everyone shows up and is ready to head off to Goosenecks for our first night of camping… or at least that was the plan.

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However, we ended up here in Farmington.  Now I love Brian (the really tall guy), as he’s been a great friend/sponsor for years now, but could have gone without spending so much time him this day.  On the way there, we discovered that Karin’s taillight had stopped working, we taped it up just outside of Chama, rode to Farmington to Speedin Motorsports were I knew that Brian and crew would be able to fix it.   They did but it took a couple of hours to dismantle the bike sodder some new connections, add more wire, and make it so that it wouldn’t come apart again.  By the time all that was done, it made the whole setting up camp thing rather hard to do, since we would be getting there in the dark.  So we opted for a hotel close to where they wanted to have dinner that night.

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When we rolled into the parking lot for dinner at 8:30 that night, little did I know that was going to be pretty much the way this entire trip was going to go, really long days, with really late dinner stops, if we ate dinner at all.

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Then again, I don’t really mind drinking my dinner….

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We did manage to get off to a decent start in the am, by 8 we had the bikes ready to roll. I only mention this, as it would be the earliest we got moving for the entire trip.  I’m not a morning person, as luck would have neither is Jaime.

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See this would have been a great place to camp last night!  We left Heather at Goosenecks, she was starting her ride off to New Foundland,

Jaime and I headed off to Moki Dugway to ride our first section of dirt road. Once at the top, I had the brilliant idea to head to the lookout for some pictures, I remembered the road being more hard packed, but about 50 feet down the road, I hit some deepish sand.  I told her on the Sena, that this might not be the best idea I’d had for awhile.  It was about 20 feet later that I hit the REALLY deep powdery sand, the bike got really out of shape, I gave it bit more throttle and sat back some more, it straightened up, but then it just got worse and I went down in the sand the bike slid for a couple of feet.  No worries, Jaime go it all on the GoPro.  Well, she had it on video, but she’s having issues finding the video of it, maybe it got lost with the video of me in Dawson after having a bit too much to drink one night.  One can hope.

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The bike once we got it back up.  I was really happy to have those H&B upper crash bars on the bike, they got bent, but they saved the tank from any damage.  The bike wasn’t happy about it.   The check engine light was on once I we got the bike up and restarted.  It stayed on for 3 restarts of the bike and than went off.  I’m sure it had to do with the tip over sensor.  At least that is what I was hoping it was.  It didn’t come back on so I figured it was all good.
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The section of sand/powder that I fell down in… Yeah, for getting the first (hopefully the only) crash out of the way.  😛

After the excitement, we decided to just head straight to SLC so we could crash for the night at Mike and Lindsay’s.  However, our excitement for the day wasn’t over, thanks to Jaime’s great idea of seeing how closely our cruise controls matched.  What speed did she pick for the test?  85mph, Did my common sense kick in? No.  Course not.  Did this test end well?  No, course not.  Just how did it end?  With me getting pulled over by a Utah trooper of course,  there are no pictures of this…  I didn’t get a performance award, my version of why I didn’t get a ticket and Jaime’s are different, and we are just going to leave it at that.  However, the officer did thank both of us for wearing all of our safety gear, unlike a biker they had scraped off the pavement earlier in the day.  His wording not mine.

I was just happy to not get a ticket, as we pulled away, I was starting to question the wisdom of having the Sena being paired.  Since I had Jaime, giving me grief about not even being out of his sight and my already speeding… For the record, I wasn’t according to the GPS and by the speedo on the bike I was only 2 mph over.  The next two days of being always being under the speed limit kinda bugged crap outta me, but she got over whatever it was and was back to her usual speedy self by the third day.

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We had a great morning riding some fun twisty roads out of SLC with TMC and Lindsay, Mike, as usual had to show me some great gadget for cleaning and lubing chains.  He then gave it to us since we were going to be do a great deal more of that than he was for the next month.  He’s just an amazing, smart, talented, funny, and generous guy; I’ve met the best people because of motorcycles.  Only getting over to see him once or twice a year just isn’t enough.  He’s helped me a great deal over the past years with my racing.  I’m just going let him keep thinking that he’s still faster than me on the race track….

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BTW: That’s him directly behind me in this picture.

Back to the ride report…
Our next stop was Stanley ID.  We met up with another inmate there I want to say his name was Grizzly, but I’m not sure that was right.  He was riding a BMW but wearing a Triumph jacket I didn’t think that was allowed.    We stayed at Motel there so I could log into work that night.  Part of the deal I made so I could get all this time off was that I would take my work computer with me and I would log in to get some things done while I was gone since I’m the only one who know how to do them.  It’s nice job security. Even with the time in the hot springs I still managed to get about 5 hours of work done.

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There was no way we were going to get lost on this trip… Just sayin.

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Along the way we’d make sure that Jaime learned how to work her Sena, GPS, and her bike computers.

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But does that mean I can tell you where every picture was taken?  Not a chance!  Lol.

However this one was up at Flathead lake, which is where we FINALLY did some camping. Not a bad view for the night, eh?

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This was the site of the bear spray incident.

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Let’s just say I now know how to use it, and so does Jaime, she also now knows how it tastes too.

The next day we cleaned up the chains on the bikes, and used the grease ninja that Mike gave use, this was the first time that Jaime had taken her bike off the center stand by herself with it fully loaded… it didn’t quite go as planned.

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It might have been the first drop of the trip, but it wasn’t the last.

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Don’t let the pictures fool you this was our last day of sunshine, from here until the 3rd day in Anchorage it rained almost non-stop. We did have sections of no rain, with little bits of teasing bursts of sunshine, but it really did rain every day for 8 days.  Overall not a bad average, for a 40 day vacation, but I was feeling a bit water logged on the second day.   From here we made a mad dash up to Shuswap in Canada, we stayed at a really cute camp ground with cabins. The people who ran it were just awesome to us; they let us use their dryer so that we didn’t have to put on wet stuff the next day.

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This would be the day my Jet Boil die a horrible death at the hands or tires of a Semi truck…  No pictures it was just too horrible to see it all flattened out like that. The replacement jet boil would be brightly colored so that it wouldn’t get left on the muffler of the bike.  I just can’t figure out how it stayed there for >200 miles before it fell off.  I think it was a subconscious thing; I had wanted to buy a new stove, for this trip but couldn’t justify it since the one I had worked just fine.  This  new one has much better simmer control  it’s also  much cuter too.

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Just before the Jet Boil died….. I’m not sure how I missed it still sitting on the muffler when we stopped here for lunch.

However, finding the replacement in Prince George in the pissing rain was horrible, but I’ve gotten a head of myself.  Our next stop was in Prince George, we crashed in on a poor unsuspecting inmate who kindly offered his yard, but ended letting us stay in his house due to the rain.

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Kelly was super kind to let us take over his house with such short notice not to mention his dogs are just too adorable! We headed out the next day in search of a jet boil, who knew it would take 3 hours and that we would tour the entire city… Next time I head to Canada, I’m going to see about getting a better data plan for my phone.  So I don’t have to guess, the location of things or bad directions from people who work in the stores that don’t have what I’m looking for.

My view of Jaime for like 95% of the trip…

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Those sunglasses died a bit later, they were uncomfortable.

Those sunglasses died a bit later, they were uncomfortable.  This picture is a great example as to why Jaime has a picture of me taking scissors to my bangs in a rest area.

From Prince George it was a long day up Stewart.    We still made pretty good time and inspite of a the road being closed for an hour we still made it into Stewart before 11pm.

We figured if we took a picture of the map, we’d be able to remember where we were when the low blood sugar kicked in.

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Speaking of low blood sugar…. I believe it was outside of Prince George one of the times that we had been riding for like 10 hours, in the rain, I was cold, on the tired side, and I was coming up on the side of hangry.  (ya know… hungry to the point of starting to get irrationally angry  about silly things.)  I was pissy that Jaime kept talking about being hungry and how she wanted a steak.  We rode past a place that looked like a decent steak house.. and by that I mean.  A nice looking building that said it was a restaurant.

So I snapped that we are were going to stop there so I didn’t have to listen to her anymore.  We turned around, worked our way back to it on some back streets, I pulled into the parking lot that was basically empty. For what ever reason I pulled up next to the only car there and promptly grabbed my front brake… Now, you should know happens when you do that while turning a really tight turn, right?  You fall over!  That is exactly what I did. Right next to that parked car, I was lucky that I missed that damn car by about an inch…

Jaime pulled up and sat there looking at me, like I had two heads and then asked me how I could be standing there when there wasn’t enough room between the bike and the car.  I still don’t know how I missed the car.  Or why I was in that spot to begin with. Jaime wisely choose not to take any pictures of the bike on the ground and just helped me pick it up.  We went in to eat and while waiting for our food saw the guy who owned the car leave.  He didn’t seem to notice the bikes at all.  I was glad to see that.  Drop #2  Not that there was any counting going on…

Jaime didn’t get her steak as the only steak on the menu was steak and bacon poutine.  So that’s what I had for dinner.  It was really tasty!  If you haven’t heard of poutine, it’s kind of a comfort food made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy, that has a number of variations.  This was Jaime’s introduction to Poutine, she wasn’t brave enough to try it… boy did she miss out.  It was about 3/4 of the way into dinner that she made the comment about me being more like myself and that I needed to not let the it (whatever it was, take your pick –> hunger, tired, or being cold) go so long next time.  Jaime doesn’t think that I should tell anyone about this, that we should stick to the great scenery, sights, and interesting people along the way, I’m not so sure about that.  As this was one of things that I’m still laughing about when I think about the trip. As well as one of the things that I don’t need a picture to jog my memory about.  So why not share it?

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The tires I’d never heard of before I bought this bike were actually great and holding up really well.  I think I’ll be using them more in the future.

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FullBore Tires

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We stopped for more pictures along the way, the rain was on and off, most of the time I was actually happy to see the rain, as it kept the blood sucking mosquitoes off me.

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The guy the trike showed us his bear pictures once we got into Stewart, we didn’t see a single bear and hadn’t seen any wildlife until this road.  On the way down we saw two bald eagles.  Jaime was starting to get upset by the lack of wildlife.  I’ll just tell you now, it doesn’t get any better for Jaime, either.  Lol.

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You’ve gotta love a hotel that has motorcycle parking up on the sidewalk.

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They also had some great art, kind of like the painted ponies that we have around Santa Fe.  I loved these two bears!

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I had been looking forward to getting my fill of seafood on this trip, but we were too early for this local stop.

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Instead we checked out the docks and a local gift shop where I picked up some fudge so I could feed it to Jaime when her blood sugar got low and she got grumpy, or when I was getting grumpy.    I also picked up a new hat for when we were camping, that night at Flathead Lake reminded me that I needed one when I was cold while camping.

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The one way border crossing was interesting, I have to say this guy was a great deal nicer than the first one.   I’m sure the guy at the first border crossing was an okay guy, but he was easily spooked and not very friendly.  He acted like I had tried to stab him when I grabbed the window to keep from falling over with my bike.  They really need to make sure the areas in front of those windows are level and not slanted, I went to put the kickstand down, pull my helmet off, after handing him my passport, and the bike started to tip over I grabbed the window and my helmet.  He leaped back knocked his chair over and then got rather snotty.   He took my passport and told me to go wait under the carport around the corner for someone to come talk to me.  I figured I was hosed and that they were going to tear my bike apart, but a nice lady came out and handed me my passport after about 15 minutes.   This second guy was nice and funny, he wanted to know why we were in such a hurry to get through Canada?

It’s pretty, but at the time it was really wet…

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I don’t know what to call this, since it’s more about making the trip than about destinations (New Mexico –> Alaska) Part II

We didn’t let the foul weather stop us from making our test run this weekend. I’m actually glad that the weather was so crappy on Saturday it made it clear that I needed to rethink a few things.

I of course waited until the last minute to finish packing up the last of my gear onto the bike. I had the panniers packed, but I had planned on taking the bike down to Abq to work for the race club at the R&S Expo. I didn’t want to have to drive the truck unless it was pouring down rain or if it was snowing.   I met up with Nicole who had just picked up a new street bike and didn’t want to go for a ride on it for the first time alone. So we rode down Hwy 14 to Abq together after coffee in Madrid. We spent about 4 hours at the expo with Scott and a few others, there wasn’t as much traffic as the year before I think the weather scared everyone off. It was still fun to sit around and BS with a few people.

Charlie and Scott teasing me about not being able to flat foot the grown up bikes, like they can. Wankers!   LOL!

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After a fair amount a ribbing that I can only flat foot an 85cc dirt bike… L I left to head home to finish getting ready for the test run. I loaded up the Tiger. I could tell right away it’s going to need a fair amount of preload in the shock when I load it up for the trip. I can’t imagine why. The Right pannier was 34lbs the left was 26lbs the top box was 26lbs the jerry can was 3lbs and the wolfman bag was 5lbs. Each of the cases empty is 11lbs. So in all I had ~ 95lbs more than normal on the bike (58lbs of gear) I had been trying to keep it under 50 lbs. I should be able to get it down. Here’s the bike loaded up.

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The Tent and my sleeping bag are my heaviest and bulkiest items they are the two items on the top of the panniers in the dry bags. Which worked just fine in the rain and snow, yes, snow.

We rode up to the Valle Caldra to see what the bikes would feel like and how they would handle loaded.
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Must remember to add preload! I don’t like bikes that feel like a copper. In all, the bike handled great, I was comfortable on it, the hard part was getting the comms to work. We found a camp spot we liked in the woods that we could all set up in we started to set up camp. Of course, we got rained on, but at least the tents were up by the time the rain started.

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I think I need to look at a tarp to make a rain shelter to cook under. Heather had one that we used that night. The best part was para cord that was reflective so I didn’t walk into it and straggle myself on it.

I’m going to need to do some practicing with the camp stove so I don’t burn dinner…. That’s all I have to say about that.
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We had some great neighbors for the evening.

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Now I had checked the weather forecast, so knew that it was likely to snow on us, but I was really hoping we’d be lucky and it wouldn’t….

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We weren’t lucky. Jaime wasn’t impressed. I heard a lot of swearing in the morning… I woke up about 1 or 2 a lil chilled, dug around for my hat and bag liner. Went back to sleep, I have to say I was really pleased with all of my gear. As long as I stayed on the sleeping pad I was plenty warm, the couple of times I woke up, chilled, never cold, I realized I had rolled off the pad. Once back on it I was plenty warm. Heather, wasn’t happy with her sleeping bag, and Jaime wasn’t happy with her tent. I thought my tent was a bit small but I’m actually okay with that… I still don’t get how they thing two people would fit in that tent.

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We were going to make breakfast, but decided to just leave and go get a hot breakfast down the hill someplace…

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Jaime, in one of the many… OMG I can’t feel my fingers moments!

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Unpacking the poor over loaded bike… I think CJ is right I need to rethink all the stuff I’m taking with me.  There is just too much stuff on the bike.  I’m not going to need it all.IMG_20160430_191147510 (1)

The poor Tiger covered in snow. This is a first, I’ve never had my bike covered with snow. I’m liking my pink Rok straps more and more too.  They really stand out!

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I don’t know what to call this, since it’s more about making the trip than about destinations (New Mexico –> Alaska)

Really it’s more like Santa Fe, NM to Anchorage, AK to Fairbanks, AK to Deadhorse, AK, to D2D, to Inuvik, back home to Santa Fe: I really want to cross the Arctic Circle twice in two weeks, just because I can. (if you count up and back its four times, hum.) Its really only 40 days of riding, only 40… did really just say “only” ha.

I started this to keep track of everything that I was doing to get ready for this trip, because I’m just a tad excited to be able to be able to go on this journey. The funny thing is that I never really appreciated the splendor of Alaska when I was growing up there. It wasn’t until I had been in New Mexico for some time that I realized just how different it had been for me living up there. Yeah, there was all kinds of things I guess I missed out on, like TV shows, or large malls or Disney land road trips. But, how many people have gotten to catch a 150 pound halibut as an 11 year old? I do wish I had found motorcycles when I was much younger. I’ve covered a lot of ground on them though in the past 11 years.

Background: I guess I’ll start with some background as to how this trip came to be, since that is the section heading. I’ve never done any trips like this. I started riding in Sept of 2005 Labor Day weekend to be exact, I took an MSF class. I had never ridden a motorcycle I was intrigued by them and thought they looked like fun and something that I would like. It was the start of an obsession; I bought a brand new bike that afternoon and never looked back. At one point in 2006 it looking like I might be part of a RIF so I got to thinking about riding around the US for a few months, while looking for a new place to live. I didn’t get laid off so the longest trip I’ve ever done was some long weekends where I covered 3,000 miles or so in a few days. This is going to be the first time I’ve camped off the bike for more than 1 night, too. Lots of things to learn, so far it’s been great fun reading up on things. I also know from a past life with horses that you can’t become good at things just from reading up on them. It doesn’t hurt to have some book knowledge but that doesn’t really cut it when you are out in the middle of nowhere trying to figure things out.

This trip like a few of my other really Epic adventures I place the “blame” on others for coming up with the bad ideas. I’m not going to be held responsible for going along with or even running with the bad idea. Otherwise, how would I end up having so many great stories? Okay. Back to how this trip came to be, I’m going to “blame” the whole thing on Jaime. Below is a of us with a couple of our racing buddies starting from back to front Lance, Myself, Scott, and Jaime at our SMRI 2015 Awards Banquet. I met Jaime two years ago when she decided she wanted to start racing. I spent a lot of time working with her last summer working on getting her to go faster and drop time at the track. So we’ve gotten to be pretty good friends. She, Lance and I went to Miller last year to race with the club there. Road trips with racing buddies are always a great time! It was a shame that Scott had to drop out of the trip at the last minute. You’ll notice I get side tracked easily. I usually do make my way back to the original train of thought, I promise. Jaime has done long trips a number of times and she has camped out and she also has been riding much longer than I have. So it’ll be nice to have her along on this trip. At least that’s what she tells me, right before she tells me that I have to help her go faster on the race track. Lol. Or that I have to show her how to put new farkles on her new Tiger. We each have things that we’re good at. Between us, we can figure out things. I say that now…

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Once Jaime learned that I was originally from Alaska, she told me that she had always wanted to do a road trip on a bike up there. It was the topic of many talks we had at the track and the reason I think that we got to know each other.

She toured around the Pacific North West a few years ago on her 2012 Tiger, with the original intent to go to Alaska but and had to come back to New Mexico I’m still not clear as to what happened. I know that she has diabetes, with that she has a number related the health issues that go along with it, like RA, she also had to have disc in her neck fused last year, she’s has neuropathy issues, she has an insulin pump that she rides with, there have been a few times that I’ve had to ask her to check her blood sugar while we are at the track, as she wasn’t acting like herself. She has been through all kinds of treatments; I don’t think I would even dream of doing some of the things she does just so she can keep riding, like injections into her eyes… ick! Never. Not to mention she on some really strict anti-inflammatory diet. I predict that I’ll be dropping some major weight on this trip… Yippee! (I’ve already been working on that) Not to mention she’s older than I am. Yet she still is riding with those health issues, and the challenges that come with a spouse and two kids. I’d say that she’s an amazing woman. One that I’m happy to call my friend, as another friend of mine has said many times… I’ve gotten to do so many really awesome things, meet so many people, and have great adventures, why? …. “Because Motorcycles”

In 2014 I flew home (to Anchorage) to do a fly and ride with my BFF (Lori) from high school. We spent 4 days riding the Denali Hwy and camping. After I came back from that trip and talked about the fun we had. Jaime was more determined that she had to do the trip up there and it had to happen in the next few years, as her health wasn’t getting better and she is worried that she might not be able to do the trip if she waits much longer. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty much up for anything to do with two wheels. So she asked me if I might consider doing part of the trip with her.

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After my short ride around Alaska I was game for doing a ride up there. Now not long after I got back from my trip I had a pretty nasty crash on the track where I cracked some ribs, a broke a couple bones in my right ankle, and just about ripped my right thumb off my hand, along with some great bruises the cherry on top was a nice concussion. I had to have surgery on the hand to reattach the ligaments to make my thumb work again, and then just about when the hand was healed I got the pleasure of spending a week in the hospital with a ruptured disk in my neck. Talk about agony! It took a week just to get the pain under enough control so I could lay flat for the MRI. I had to have surgery on my neck to fuse two vertebras in order to fix the ruptured disc in my neck. Thanks to nerve damage from that, I still can’t really feel three fingers on my left hand.

After that crash and a 9 month recovery from all of that I was left wondering how much time I’ve got left to really do all the fun things I really want to do in life. It got me thinking about doing all the really epic trips I have thought about doing. Like a trip riding to Alaska. So now I’ve committed myself to this trip. There was no half way about it. I knew that there was no way I could do it with the street bike I had that time. Since, it wasn’t comfortable after the disk fusion (and at times it was downright painful) for me to ride more than a hundred miles, so I went out and bought a bike just for this trip. Not really, just for this trip, but it was a great excuse to buy the bike I had been lusting after for a couple of years now. Not to mention perfect timing, since Triumph came out with an improved version that took care of a number things I was going to have to modify if I had bought it a year earlier.

New Tigger

New Tigger

Even though the trip was months away, I figured winter was a great time to start working things out. I’m planner of sorts; I don’t like to work out the minor details, just the big picture.

However, I figure for this trip it’s a long time to be on the road, it’s a great number of miles to cover, especially alone or with two women who are okay at working on their bikes. Originally I thought I would be doing most of the trip on my own. Jaime and I had started out planning this together, but she and I both had different things we want the trip to be about. It looked like we will meet up in a couple spots rides some miles together and then go our separate ways.

Well, with life being what it is, àa messy clusterf*ck, which never goes as you think it is. Jaime ended up with a few family problems now get in the way of her plans. Her mother who’s been suffering from Alzheimer’s had a stroke around the end of March. So she moved her home to let spend her last days with family. Her last days ended up being just over a month. Taking care of a dying family member who is at home is a lot of stress. I ended up having to take her bike, and ride it so that she could get enough miles on it to get the first service done. (It’s rough having to ride someone else’s brand new bike.) She’s been so preoccupied with family that she’s not had any time to prepare for the trip. Luckily she didn’t need to go out and buy all kinds of new stuff like I did.

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Jaime’s Tiger

Jaime’s Tiger, on its break in run up to Antonito, CO. Yes, that’s snow in the background; it was rather chilly in the passes over 9,000 feet. In spite of the cold and the less than clean roads it was a great ride. I of course think my bike is prettier than hers. But don’t let her know I said that.

With everything going on Jaime has pretty much now decided that she is just tag along with me. I’m okay with that; bedsides, it’s making my mom feel better. J That way I’m not all by my poor lil’ self, I mean after all, I’m just a helpless little girl… Sigh. Oh Mom. I was actually looking forward to some alone time to do some thinking about my life. pft. On the other hand, maybe, I should do too much of that… LOL. Things really are just fine the way they are. I couldn’t ask for things to be better, unless of course someone wants to leave me a few million. I’ll take it, then I could do some more racing at different tracks. Or say I find some really hot rich boyfriend along the way, who wants to go with me to the tracks… pft…

I’m going to see about getting Jaime to join ADV so she can post pictures up as we go along, she’s a photographer, I’m definitely not one, I do like to snap pictures with my phone, but I don’t even own a camera anymore. I’m not count my old 35mm film Minolta camera that I bought after college, which is collecting dusk in a closet. Now I’ve met the two main players, there is Lori. She is supposed to join Jaime and I in Fairbanks. Lori is going to ride from Fairbanks to Deadhorse and back with us and then over to D2D with us. She’s one of my best friends from high school in Alaska. She is also likely the reason I became interested in motorcycles. She started to ride when we were in high school; she stopped and started riding a few times over the years. She started back again the last time when I dragged her kicking and screaming out to ride dirt bikes…. You can see that she hated every second of it.
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So much so that went out a bought a small bike that similar to that TTR in the truck bed. (XT250). She rode that when we camped along the Denali highway in June 2014. Our hunt for firewood, cuz after living in NM for 20 years I’m no longer able to take the cold and I was freezing. We still had two more nights of camping left, so finding more wood for a fire at night was critical, as you can see we found a stash to haul back to the campsite. She played firewood Tetris for about an hour before I got to snap this picture… We had wood stuffed in everything that we could. :p I’ll have ya know that wood stayed in place for the 30 mile ride back to the campsite.

Sucess!!!!

Sucess!!!!

Preparation:

Route Planning: So I used Furkot to plan out a route. Than imported it to Google Maps to get this:https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?…0&authuser=0&mid=1ehoHH1eiTFBC2P25Qthc7l3IQkM

Total Distance for this route is 11,170 miles with 230 hours of riding. Daily Ave: 287 miles riding 6 hours a day.

The only thing I can say for certain is that it’s a sure bet that we won’t stick to the daily mileage maybe not even the route, but it at least was a place to start. I’m kind of figuring on the earlier days being much longer and higher mileage days, especially while we are in the US. Then we’ll likely slow it down and do more of a stop and smell the roses kind of ride. She and I both have reasons though to be in Anchorage before June 3rd. You can see that this schedule doesn’t let us do that. I have another map that does, roughly the same but we cut out Prince Rupert and ride bit more each day. With the Delorme, it’ll be easy enough for those who want to track us along the way. Jaime has my SPOT3 so her family is going to be tracking her too.

Bikes: à We both picked up brand new 2016 Triumph Tiger XCAs. I got mine just before Thanksgiving. Jaime picked hers up toward the end of January, after she sold her 2012 Tiger. We’ve done a number of similar things, to our bikes. The only mods I’ve done to my bike for the trip are:

· H&B upper crash bars
· DSBP Raid Toolbox
· Laminar Lip windscreen
· 20 mm Fender riser
· Stash Box Lockable License Plate Storage Box By Twisted Throttle
· Headlight protector
· Wiring for electric Vest
· Fuze Block
o Hard wired in TomTom Rider 5
o Hard wired in Delorme Explorer
· 3.5 litre Jerry Flex fuel bladder (attached to side of top box-side toward me so it’s between the top box and the tail bag)
· Wolfman tail bag
· We both have Sena 20S comm systems
· Both bikes have the rear wheels converted over to Tubless by Woody’s Wheels Works.

Gear: à I basically had to start from scratch for this trip, dang it’s expensive to live like a hobo. I had some camping gear, but camping out of a truck is really different from camping off the bike. Also the gear that I had used when camping off my bike in the past wasn’t ideal for long trips. Or for cold, windy or wet weather, so there was some upgrading to be done there too. I have an Excel spreadsheet with everything listed out, (See This) if anyone is really curious. I’m still not sure if I’ve over or under packed at this point. I’ve been working on how to pack the bike for what seems like months…because it has been months. I like to plan, but I’m also really quick to deviate from my plans. Kind of like figuring out how to pack all the camping gear. I started with that in February, but haven’t finished with the final packing list yet. I’m more a big picture kind of planner… not a small detail planner.

It starts out like this…
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Then gets sorted out to be more like this….

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From top left to bottom right: Mess kit, sleeping bag, maps, towels, Jet boil pot, jet boil, pillow, sleeping pad, jet boil fuel (2), chair, Misc Bag(slime air pump, powerlet to usb, pen light, bug dope, tent repair kit, and para cord) bike lock, and hatchet. (Note: I’ve ditched all but two of those maps now. Decided I didn’t need all of them.) Total weight including the pannier = 34.6 pounds. It’s a bit heavier than I wanted. I’m still figuring out how to shuffle some of it around. The rest of it is almost as heavy, so I’m looking at more than 50lbs of gear from what I’ve weighed out so far. I haven’t weighed the work laptop or tools yet. The tools are the heaviest part, of course.

 

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That’s just one of three, saddle bags…

Of course, it’s not going to stay that neat. The next question is do I really need the stuff that is in there? Does it all work like it should? Do I need different things from what is there? I haven’t even tested some of that stuff yet…. Yikes!!! This means I need to do some test camping.

Ready to go on the bike?

Ready to go on the bike?

So off to do some testing, but with it still being winter, I opt for some indoor test first before I move to the outdoor testing. I set the tent up in the living room with the sleeping pad and sleeping bag. It can’t be too bad; I fell asleep in the middle of the day playing around with it all. It might have helped that I was sick with, but I did sleep great for a few hours, until the cat woke me up wanting into the tent. The fear of her putting holes in it made me get up in a hurry. Next I wanted to do a test out doors to see how it all worked. Kind of a dry run, pack up the bike with everything I intend to take on the trip to see if I use it on a daily basis or not. Then reevaluate if I should take it with me. I had hoped that I could do that in Moab with my ADV Brewsday family, but I ended up having to work on Thursday and Friday. So it looks like I’m going to have to settle for an overnight trip some place closer to home.

This brings my story up to date; I’m planning on head into the Jemez, this weekend which is going to be much colder than going to Moab. Since I’ve committed myself to working for the race club for a few hours on Sat in addition to going into work for a few hours. I’m not going to leave until the afternoon. Jaime and Heather (whom you haven’t been introduced to yet) are going to meet at my place we are going to ride up to the Jemez and find a place to camp for the night. Should prove to be an interesting night, I plan to bring some hard cider along just to liven things up.

 

Breaking in a new bike… again

Another new bike… What kind of a crazy person trusts me with their brand new Tiger that only has 10 miles on it???

Jaime's Tiger

Jaime S. That’s who… She’s got some issues with her family, so she asked me to put the miles on it that it needs to get it’s first service done.  So I rode it around town for a couple of weeks, than I took it out for a short but brisk run to CO for the day.

2016-04-13 13_43_59-ZiaThunder

I love that Delorme.  I’ve only got to put another 40 miles on it before sat.  There are some things that she also needs put on the bike.  I’m going to do those for her with some help at the beginning of May.  Since she is going to be riding with me for a good bit of the trip to Alaska.  I want to make sure that she is good to go.

It was a really fun lil ride up to Antonito CO and over to Chama for lunch.  It was pretty cold over the passes, but the roads were in great shape.

The crew for the ride

CO has some interesting signs these days.

CO has some interesting signs these days.