** newbie **
Thanks for the replies, including the thoughts on running knobbies, on the Hotel Nevada and the kudos on photos!!
If interested, there are more photos at the site, http://www.beyondthedogpark.com - follow the photo index link.
** newbie **
IÔÇÖve been on the road now for one of three months and so I present you with the first of three performance review reports.
When I set out on this trip I had set a few goals for myself. I intended to:
1) ride one huge loop around North America;
2) run 360 miles and
3) raise $3,600 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
IÔÇÖll now report on progress toward those goals and several other metrics that have proven relevant over the past four weeks.
RIDE ONE HUGE CIRCLE:
While the term ÔÇ£circleÔÇØ might suggest to some a neatly rounded shape, I consider it to be any route that does not return to itÔÇÖs origin by significantly repeating its ÔÇ£outwardÔÇØ path. Since I have not begun to return home, I canÔÇÖt wholly report on this item, but IÔÇÖm fairly confident that it wonÔÇÖt become an issue. I can report that my route so far has been winding and wonderful. Here is the output so far from my motorcycleÔÇÖs GPS:
RUN 360 MILES:
I had initially planned that running 360 miles would be a reachable goal based on an average of four miles per day. It develops that running every day is not realistic. The availability of time, showers and suitable locations are in short supply on certain days. That said, as of May 31, I have run 114 miles, sixteen shy of plan. While that may not represent a significant shortfall, I anticipate that showers might be more difficult to come by as I head further north - - so any shortfall is undesirable at this point.
To help me with this metric, I now introduce a new unit of measure, the Road Mile Equivalent, or ÔÇ£RME.ÔÇØ Defined (by me), an RME is the amount of running effort involved in running one mile, on the road, free of hills, at sea level, at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with a healthy tail wind. I think that the RME just might be the answer to all of my problems. For example, if I run one mile on a hilly trail at elevation, that mile could easily translate to 1.6 RMEs. And the best part is that, sine this is my concept, I can assess each run any way convenient to me. And better yet, I reserve the right to retroactively adjust.
At this point, I can say with overwhelming confidence that I am on target to complete 360 RMEs prior to the tripÔÇÖs completion. In fact, itÔÇÖs possible that IÔÇÖm already done.
Of possible interest to the quantitative among you, IÔÇÖll post this screen shot of the spreadsheet I use to log and later manipulate numbers.
Thank you!!!! . . .to those of you who have given gifts to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Their goals are important to me as they perform research for cures to cancer and provide assistance to those affected. In memory of my father, I decided to support this organization and IÔÇÖm pleased that many of you have decided to show your support as well.
NOTE: as my fatherÔÇÖs son, I actually do know the importance of good accounting ÔÇô I suspect heÔÇÖd chuckle along with faux-accounting concepts of the RME as discussed above.
As IÔÇÖve mentioned before, in my mind, the number of people that support the cause is every bit as important as the amount of money raised. That said, sixteen gifts have netted $3,165. Clearly, more clicks are welcome - if interested, the link to the donation page is HERE
Total Motorcycle Miles: 7,249
Average Miles per Gallon: 41.35
States Visited: 16
Provinces Visited: 1
Weddings Attended: 1
Beers Consumed: this number under construction.
** newbie **
Yikes!! I havenÔÇÖt posted here with actual events for two weeks. A lot has happened! IÔÇÖll pick up where I left off last time and describe visits from two friends. Then (likely) in a separate post(s) IÔÇÖll describe my solo-once-more adventures in southern British Columbia.
As expected, the tire change went well and the very helpful BMW shop found a few other needed (and costly) maintenance items. Including brakes. I like brakes. At certain times I like them even more than the throttle. A few hours later, I rolled out onto the pavement and bumped my way along on the new knobby tires.
Bumping along, I headed over to the Spokane airport to greet my friend Debra. She hopped in her spiffy powder blue Taurus rental car (a.k.a. the ÔÇ£blue bull,ÔÇØ also ÔÇ£diablo azulÔÇØ) and followed me back into Idaho. With the Couer dÔÇÖAlene half marathon only a day or two away, we worked hard to carbo load on nachos. This is a very delicate training approach and I suggest that newcomers start small.
The race was great fun, especially before and after all the running nonsense. It was a crisp day, perfect for a long run. Debra ran like the wind and I lumbered over the finish line about ten minutes behind her. After the run we hiked some of Couer dÔÇÖAlene city trails, hiked a bit on Mt Spokane and explored the city of Spokane.
I have several observations about northern Idaho and western Washington, as follows:
- Although the attitude is relaxed, certain rules are never to be broken. Example: if you ask for an extra large running shirt and find out later that a large would suit you better, there will be no swapping until the exact moment when such practices are allowed.
- In this hotbed of elaborate coffee drinks, a simple drip coffee is easy to order and pay for but oh so difficult to actually get.
- The entire area is beautiful.
The blue bull and moose headed back to the Spokane airport and I saw Debra off. Moments later I received a call from my pal Tanya telling me that her flight had arrived.
* * * It is appropriate at this point to mention that while IÔÇÖm blessed with friends who will fly to travel with me, the appearance of two girl pals may seem suspect. Thank you Anna for understanding that having friends visit is a ton of fun for me compared to going it alone ÔÇô worry not, as you are the only one to enjoy my heartfelt renditions of select Rod Stewart songs. * * *
Upgraded to a fine white Nissan Sentra, Tanya caravanned with me and the moose east, to Glacier National Park. The hiking in Glacier is wonderful and we were lucky to visit before the summertime crowds had assembled.
We went for a motorcycle ride through the park but as (bad) luck would have it, the five-star Going to the Sun Road was closed at points after particularly difficult winter conditions.
From Glacier we headed to Kelowna, British Columbia where I was registered for a 25k (15.5 mile) trail run. Little did I know that Kelowna is positioned in the Canadian continuation of the USÔÇÖs northern dessert lands. It was hilly and hot! And fun!
After an exhausting and dehydrating run, we and I did the only responsible thing in going out for a wine tasting tour ÔÇô quite refreshing!
Good times all around ÔÇô thank you my friends for visiting me!!
** newbie **
Leaving Kelowna, I had about three weeks before I needed to be in Anchorage where IÔÇÖll meet Anna and where weÔÇÖll both (God willing) run the MayorÔÇÖs Marathon. My plan was to head west to Vancouver Island, travel to the north of that island, catch a ferry to the northern coat of British Columbia and then ride north. Things have not worked out that way. Instead, theyÔÇÖve worked out as follows:
From the incredibly hot Kelowna, I headed northwest, then west, then southwest in a counter-clockwise direction to get to southwest British Columbia. The ride through Lillooet, Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish is jaw-dropping, especially on a clear day. Mountainous areas there range from very dry to quite lush. And at most time a view of a river, often right along the road.
Along this route I met up with five other bikers ÔÇô we chatted for a bit and found ourselves riding together for a while, then grabbing dinner together. While at dinner, the sky clouded over, then thundered, then dropped rain. One of the people ÔÇô Dean ÔÇô mentioned that the rivers along roads we had just ridden may rise as a result of snow runoff from the recently-warm weather, soon to be compounded by predictably significant rainfall. Since I was headed in the opposite direction, such concerns were certainly not mine. Or so I thought.
The following day moose and I rode the BC ferry to Vancouver Island. On the ride I met up with John and Judy and we talked about a dozen topics, including where it might be good to stay overnight on the island. JohnÔÇÖs solution to that topic was ÔÇ£another island.ÔÇØ He mentioned that he and Judy had built a home on a neighboring island quite a few years ago and more recently built a second, larger house. The offer to stay overnight in a house all to myself was not to be passed by.
I followed John, Judy and their son LJ from the ferry terminal for about twenty minutes to a shoreline area where they parked their car and launched a small motorboat. The four of us piled in and headed three miles to the very small island where they live. I would most definitely be lying if I were to say that I wasnÔÇÖt slightly uncomfortable leaving my bike behind and boarding such a small boat headed for the unknown. At the same time, my gut was very comfortable with these three people. And I typically follow my gut (convenient, since it sticks out in front of me).
I absolutely loved the visit with John, Judy and LJ. Their home so far from the mainstream is admirable and inspiring. IÔÇÖm not sure how I failed to get a photo of these new friends, but IÔÇÖll let a couple other shots do the talking.
In the morning, John took me back to Vancouver Island and I headed south to meet up with Lee, a fellow GS rider I had been in touch with via ADV Rider. LeeÔÇÖs schedule allowed him to spend quite a bit of the day with me, riding the southern part of the island and showing me some f the best roads and views. While riding with a new friend was the best part, a certain errand is worthy of description.
As one of his several security-related work programs, Lee is authorized to work on ATM machines. At one point during our ride, he received a call that an ATM on the lower level of a nightclub needed work and so we visited the club. Since the lower level was not open during the day, Lee asked to speak with the manager ÔÇô she reacted with great skepticism when she saw two bikers arrive to fix her cash machine. While a completely unique experience, fixing an ATM in the dark basement of a Canadian nightclub fits quite neatly into a long list of things that IÔÇÖd never have predicted I might have done recently.
Incidentally, Lee did point out that quite a bit of Vancouver Island and certain other islands are below the 39th parallel. Since that line defines most of the US/Canada border, I asked him if that land shouldnÔÇÖt really belong to the US. I did promise hat I wouldnÔÇÖt try to make a big deal of this with my fellow countrymen, so letÔÇÖs handle this one gently, ok?
I headed north a couple hours to find a hotel a little closer to where IÔÇÖd need to catch the ferry two mornings later. The ferry ride would begin at 7:30 AM and would deliver me to Prince Rupert late in the evening. From Prince Rupert IÔÇÖd head east just past the town of Terrace, then head north on the Stewart Cassiar Highway on my way to the Yukon and Alaska.
At breakfast the following morning I spoke with a couple park rangers who stayed at the same hotel. I had overheard them speak about flooding to the north and mudslide that closed route 16, right near Terrace. I am REALLY glad I spoke with these rangers. If not, I may well have taken the ferry (15 hours, $350) to a town from which there would be no practical way to leave.
I left Vancouver Island later that day and returned to the mainland. I headed to Squamish, where IÔÇÖd spent the night three nights earlier. While checking in at that nightÔÇÖs hotel, a person approached me and asked, ÔÇ£are you riding to Alaska?ÔÇØ ÔÇ£Why yes.ÔÇØ Chris introduced himself and told me about how he had tried to ride north two days in a row. Apparently, the same road that I had enjoyed earlier in the week had indeed flooded. It seems that DeanÔÇÖs words were in fact very applicable indeed.
It seems that heavy snows last winter, combined with a hot spell last weekend (my warm run in Kelowna was ÔÇô in fact ÔÇô unseasonably warm) AND recent rain has caused the rivers to run quite full and certain flood plains to earn their classification.
So how will I head north? Tough to say at this point, but IÔÇÖm pretty sure itÔÇÖll be interesting!
** newbie **
Hello from Dawson Creek, the beginning of the Alaska Highway. ItÔÇÖs Saturday June 9 and IÔÇÖm hunkered down at the Super 8, which ÔÇô for this town ÔÇô is pretty super.
Without a whole lot to say, I wanted to post that the flooding issues in northern BC still persist but I have (pretty easily) found a way around the most troubled areas. Tomorrow IÔÇÖll start on the Alaska Highway. I plan to take my time and cover about 350 miles a day. This is a slow-paced goal but with construction and weather conditions unknown, IÔÇÖll be happy to feel no self-imposed pressure to put in very long days.
Also, short riding days mean that I can put in a few running miles. This evening I went for my first run since the Kelowna 25k. By some (legitimate) standards I probably ran about five miles. But at ÔÇ£Mile ZeroÔÇØ of the Alaska Highway, the RME multiplier is very high indeed (since it needs to be) ÔÇô IÔÇÖll settle on an exact number after some ÔÇ£actual v. goalÔÇØ gap analysis.
My run was interesting for the following two reasons:
1) At one point I passed a sketchy RV park / bar combination business. There were quite a few police at the edge of the driveway and all access was taped off. I jogged in that direction to see how I might help (read: snoop about what was going on) and they shooshed me away very quickly with not so much as an ÔÇ£ehÔÇØ or a smile.
2) On my way back to the hotel, I picked up some Guinness beer (4-pack cans) and continued to jog purchase in hand. I saw two other GS riders and waved, then realized that without my bike or gear I appeared as a friendly jogging drunk. I was okay with that.
The bugs are getting larger and less shy as I head further north. When I stop roadside to stretch, eat, etc, flies and mosquitoes are upon me in a heartbeat. I understand that this condition will magnify as head still further north. No official complaint just yet; merely an observation.
Lastly, IÔÇÖll describe that riding in the rain is becoming routine. Other than once in Tennessee, I have yet to be dumped on in a major way. But over the last week or so, IÔÇÖve encountered at least some rain most days. I had brought rain gear with me, but it turns out that the stuff I brought leaked. So while on Vancouver Island, my new pal Lee took me to a shop where I was able to pick up a great jacket & pants. Also, he gave me his pair of gloves ÔÇô neoprene in material, much like a dive suit ÔÇô great idea! (for those interested, my frog toggs worked out horribly, the BC Viking brand work gear is working out quite well).
Ok, IÔÇÖve written more that youÔÇÖd probably care to read. Time for a Guinness!
Great report, Paul. Hugely entertaining. Looking forward to much more. Ride safe.
** newbie **
This might be my favorite shot from the trip so far. . .
** newbie **
This report based on the 940 mile stretch of the Alaska Highway between Dawson Creek and Whitehorse. But first, some thoughts on common perceptions of the Alaska Highway and my recollections from traveling it five years ago.
When I first set out in 2002 to drive to Alaska, I was warned about terrible road conditions, unpredictable weather, dangerous wildlife and hostile logging trucks. I was told that I had better fortify my vehicle with items to protect against rocks that have taken flight to escape truck tires and to carry additional fuel as gas stations are far apart and sometimes closed.
When Griffin and I set out in our semi-reliable four-wheel drive motorhome, we did indeed encounter an Alaska Highway that was unique vs. other roads. There were stretches under construction or damaged by winterÔÇÖs frost heaves. Some of these stretches involved dirt, mud, gravel, ruts and potholes. But I had no sense that the road was impassable. We found it to be a complete misnomer that the weather was unpredictable, since rain and fog were constants during our entire ride. Logging trucks were present, but the RVs were far more menacing, and we never encountered flying gravel. I was not cocky that I beat the road, I was thankful that it was easy on me. I did actually run out of gas at one point and I reacted by putting on my running shoes and grabbing my (empty ÔÇô duh!) gas can ÔÇô but that was due to my own stupidity and itÔÇÖs a story for another day.
Although I believe that currently there is considerable construction further up the road, so far I have encountered very good road conditions. There have been a few 10-mile sections of gravel but they have been entirely manageable and actually pretty fun. For those sections, I stop and disengage the ABS, then stand on the footpegs and look straight ahead while motoring forward in low gear. Just like I learned at Jim HydeÔÇÖs class. No problem!
On this trip, the predictability of the weather has been a bit less reliable. But when compared to the all-rain condition of my previous visit, that is a good thing. IÔÇÖve stopped deliberating in the morning as to if I should start off with my rain gear. The answer is ÔÇ£yes, it will rain at some point.ÔÇØ While IÔÇÖve had my share of rain over the last few days, IÔÇÖve also had the clouds lift to reveal entire landscapes flooded with sunlight. And since the weather limited my view back in 2002 (and since my work-only-on-certain-days windshield wipers didnÔÇÖt help matters), IÔÇÖm truly seeing much of this land for the first time.
In my mind, there is an odd balance in this area between rain and sunlight. Although IÔÇÖd prefer to remain dry, the rain surely must be responsible for the lush and life-full land. For that, I am grateful for the rain.
Speaking of the life in this land, I should report that while IÔÇÖve seen very little wildlife most days, I saw very many animals on the day I rode from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake. On that single day I saw no fewer than five moose, four buffalo, eight sheep and four thousand mosquitoes, each the size of a ham (okay, so the ham part was for fun). One moose encounter is worth further description. I had stopped along side of the road to take some photos (I havenÔÇÖt been getting off the bike as much now that IÔÇÖm all wired in with my heated clothing and audio system). And when I looked forward and prepared to start the bike, along came a moose. It was probably about 50 feet away but it was huge! My heart raced for a moment, then I noted that the moose wasnÔÇÖt particularly anxious, so I didnÔÇÖt feel that I should be either. I started the bike and edged forward. Looking straight at me, the moose took a few steps in my direction. I found this interesting, since I figured he (like most, since I am in need of clean clothes) would prefer to walk away. I pulled forward slightly, but ready to turn and speed off if needed. The moose took a few steps closer. Sort of neat in a way, but what would happen when we reached each other? At ten feet in height (seemingly), this guy was way bigger than me and my moose of a bike combined. In another moment, he crossed the road and headed into the woods.
IÔÇÖll end this post by describing how my bike (but not my wallet) had some very good luck in Whitehorse. You might recall that I put knobby tires on my bike in Spokane. And you might recall me saying that while knobbies are great for off-road and semi-off-road riding, they are good for far fewer miles than other ÔÇ£streetÔÇØ tires. Back in Spokane I calculated my expected mileage to Anchorage. I planned that a 3,000-4,000 mile tire would get me there easily with quite a few miles to spare. But when the roads in western British Columbia washed out and I needed to double back instead of take a ferry part way, my expected mileage increased significantly. I hadnÔÇÖt thought too much about it until I was in Watson Lake, about 300 miles east of Whitehorse. In Watson Lake, I looked at the tires and realized for myself that I could make it to Fairbanks if I went there directly. But I really wanted to take a northern detour up the Klondike highway up to Dawson City. Out of sheer luck, the first bike shop I called in Whitehorse (no BMW dealership in town) had the exact tire I wanted, and they were able to install it exactly when I wanted. Guess how much that cost. . .
So from Whitehorse, IÔÇÖve headed north to Dawson City, a town that I really love. But more on that in my next post ÔÇô now itÔÇÖs time to find a bite to eat.
But wait! Just two more items:
1) When I told her I was in the YukonÔÇÖs big town (Whitehorse) my mom asked, ÔÇ£how big is a big town in he Yukon?ÔÇØ A web search gives 2003 data of about 22,000 people, 70% of the provinceÔÇÖs population.
2) I have recently established a new policy that I will definitely wash my bike after each ride. I have also officially noted that this three-month ride is half over.
Yes, support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, they're my client. *ducking*
** newbie **
Thanks for the vote for Dana-Farber! You don't happen to be a kintera person do you (they do the web services for D-F as well as many other not for profits)?
Originally Posted by wezul
** newbie **
Leaving Whitehorse (on my new bumpy tire), I turned north off the Alaska Highway in the direction of Dawson City, a place that I visited five years ago and would like to return to from time to time.
I was recently asked why I like Dawson. And I was recently asked to tell the ran-out-of-gas story from 2002. These items go well together. After fueling up my beloved ÔÇ£The ChiefÔÇØ (my old camper) in Whitehorse, I refueled once along the way, but then passed by another gas station, faithfully anticipating that The ChiefÔÇÖs fuel capacity (never truly tested before, and there was no reliable gas gauge to assist with such things) would deliver Griffin and I to the next town, Dawson. With maps and road signs to help judge distances, I figured that I was roughly twenty miles south of town when The Chief began to sputter. Although there were few placed to pull off the road, luck delivered a The Chief-sized road-side gravel patch where I parked my home, walked Griff, gave him some food, put on my running shoes, grabbed my (empty ÔÇô grrrrr) gas can and set out for a little evening jog.
Not fifty feet from The Chief, a car approached from the south. I held up the (empty ÔÇô booooo) gas can and made some sort of gesture that identified me as a helpless tourist. The driver stopped and offered me a ride to town, and since she was on her way to drop her daughter off and was then to return, she offered me a ride back to the camper. Not only did she have the consideration to take me to the most reasonably-priced station in town, but she gave me a tour of the place, which she was quite qualified to do as she worked at the townÔÇÖs information center.
IÔÇÖve not forgotten the hospitality that greeted me to Dawson City. And that same spirit seems to persist among most everyone in town, year-round residents, summer-time workers and tourists alike. Add the facts that the town is at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, that it is seated among rolling green mountains and that it presents a top-notch restoration of its gold-mining past ÔÇô and I am sold. This is a great place (at least in the summer).
When in town the last time, I stayed in an in-town campground, which made sense since I was in an RV. But I recall visiting a pub named Bombay PeggyÔÇÖs. It was in a restored (and relocated) house that also serves as an inn. The building has had a number of uses in the past but it seems to be celebrated most for the time that it served as a brothel. In 2002, I decided that if I were to return to Dawson, I would stay at Bombay PeggyÔÇÖs. And so I have. This is my third and last night here. IÔÇÖve enjoyed the inn and the pub, but I have not even inquired about other services which have most likely been discontinued.
IÔÇÖve enjoyed my stay in Dawson. Again, the town is hospitable and charming. Highlights have been going on several runs including one to the top of DawsonÔÇÖs Midnight Dome, where people flock to celebrate the 24-hour sunshine on the summer solstice, just a few days away!
Earlier today I took a ride about 75 miles up the Dempster Highway, where the word ÔÇ£highwayÔÇØ translates best to ÔÇ£gravel road.ÔÇØ The ride north on the Dempster shows the transition from forested land to tundra. TUNDRA! . . .where the latitude is sufficient that the tree line drops below the ground level. To continue on the Dempster would deliver one to the artic circle and then eventually to Inuvik. I did not go so far as either of these. IÔÇÖve got a couple reasons for that, but IÔÇÖm very happy that I went as far as I did. To the top perhaps on another day.
To complete the ran-out-of-gas story, I should mention that my (empty ÔÇô argghhh!) gas can held only two gallons. The Chief did well to get ten miles to the gallon. There was no assurance that I would make it to town even with the spare gas! Turns out that we were closer to fifteen miles out of town, but still pulled in on little more than fumes.
On this trip I know my vehicleÔÇÖs range and I donÔÇÖt pass gas stations without knowing I can make it to the next. My GPS helps!
Nope, a vendor of computer solutions.
Originally Posted by griffin738
Great pics, btw, keep runnin'!
** newbie **
When last I wrote, I was in Dawson City. That was over two weeks ago! IÔÇÖve been (happily) short on time and internet access recently. Now oh man, IÔÇÖve got a bit of typing to do!
Leaving Dawson City is every bit as fun as getting there. The west-bound trip starts with a short ferry ride across the Yukon River; the ferry delivers its passengers to the beginning of the Top of the World Highway. ÔÇ£Top of the WorldÔÇØ is a fitting phrase, as the road often follows mountain ridgelines. The upshot to this of course is the opportunity of great views everywhere. And although other roads are constructed similarly (Skyline Drive, for example), the Top of the World Highway is often through tundra or above tree line, so little can block the excellent views, save clouds or darkness. Fortunately the clouds were at bay that day and the sun was working around the clock that month.
A couple hours of riding delivered me to the Alaska border, where I showed my passport, set my watch back one hour and prepared for the road to turn from tidy to challenging. On the Canada side, the road is mostly chip-sealed with a few gravel sections. On the US side, gravel, dirt and potholes prevail. What fun! At least on a monster dirt bike.
I passed through Chicken Alaska, a town that seems to pride itself on having just about the lowest possible year-round population (single digits). I wonder how voting works out in that town. . .
After another couple hours of heading southwest, I met up again with the Alaska Highway and headed northwest to Fairbanks, where a large regional Harley Davidson rally was wrapping up. At my hotel, I met a bunch of nice H-D riders, including brothers John and Tom who I would see again off and on for the next several days.
The next day I started off from Fairbanks at about 10AM and headed north for the Dalton Highway. I had initially planned to ride the entire road to its end at Deadhorse, just shy of the Artic SeaÔÇÖs Prudhoe Bay. But as with the Dempster Highway two days prior, once I was actually at the right spot, I wasnÔÇÖt inspired to ride to the edge of the earth. IÔÇÖm not sure why. Maybe I want to look forward to that for another day. Maybe I donÔÇÖt want to ever see it, just in case it really is made of cheese. Maybe IÔÇÖm too wound up and donÔÇÖt want to take the time. Lots of maybes. I respect the ride and those who make it; it just isnÔÇÖt for me (now).
But I did spend a few hours on the Dalton, just to take a look. I had planned to ride as far as the artic circle but while stopped at a construction site (with a wait time of at least half hour ÔÇô both ways), I noticed some menacing clouds gathering. My understanding of the Dalton (and the Dempster and other ÔÇÿhighwaysÔÇÖ) is that they become amazingly sloppy when wet. I turned back south.
At the bottom of the Dalton Highway, I stopped to top up the air in my tires and chat with a couple other motorcyclists. And after a moment, two people on bicycles came down of the Dalton. The bicyclists were at the beginning of a two year trip that will take them from the top of North America to South AmericaÔÇÖs Tierra Del Fuego. TWO YEARS! . . .and to start their trip, they rode from Fairbanks up to Deadhorse, just so they could officially cover the western hemisphere nose to tail. In speaking with these people, I was absolutely humbled. I most definitely didnÔÇÖt share my ÔÇ£whatÔÇÖs the point?ÔÇØ perspective on riding to the top of the Dalton highway (thatÔÇÖs something that IÔÇÖm sharing only with you and only in private, so shhhhh).
I looked to the sky again and quickly jumped on my bike. Still about an hour and a half out of Fairbanks I got dumped on harder than ever before while on a motorcycle. The Super 8 looked pretty darn super when I saw it.
I cleaned myself up a bit, then ran into John and Tom. They too had been caught in the rain. In fact they encountered hail. And since John was enjoying the no-helmet-law aspect of Alaska, he could quite vividly recount the size and frequency of the hail that hit him in the head. Ouch!
Over dinner, the three of us decided to head south together the following morning. They wanted to make it to Anchorage the next day and I was happy to be on my way south.
We left as planned and decided to stop briefly at Denali National Park. We rode in for the fifteen miles accessible to public vehicles, then returned to the highway. I wasnÔÇÖt in much of a hurry so I decided to poke around the area a bit more while my new friends headed south.
I did end up making it to Anchorage that evening, in part because I couldnÔÇÖt find appealing overnight options to the north. And when I recalled learning that the Anchorage Harley Davidson dealership allows for motorcyclists to camp on their property, I decided to head on down.
AnchorageÔÇÖs House of Harley shares a parking lot with the Alaska Rider bike tour & rental company. Although the Harley shop was closed for night when I arrived, a few folks were still at the Alaska Rider shop. I knew for sure that I was in good hands when I pulled up and the first thing they did was offer me a ÔÇ£nice local beer.ÔÇØ Yes. Yes!
IÔÇÖm not sure how much to talk up the Harley shop. My first impulse is to tell you all how friendly the people there are. And how they donÔÇÖt care about what you ride, only that you ride. And that you can camp for free. And that as a camper you have 24 hour access to a secure bathroom and a hot shower. But if I were to tell you all those things, then maybe weÔÇÖd overcrowd the place and a good thing would become over utilized. So IÔÇÖll just say that if you are visiting Anchorage by motorcycle, you should definitely stop by the Harley shop and have a cup of coffee and some good conversation. (oops, did I just tell you that they have free coffee?). And when you are there, be sure to talk to their finance manager Bob, whoÔÇÖs quite possibly reading this as he is a dual sport/BMW motorcycle forum type of guy. (In other words, thanks again Bob!).
I spent the next full day based out of the Harley shopÔÇÖs camping area, as did a few other motorcyclists. It seems that several of us had been traveling for a while and welcomed a warm sunny day when we could tinker with our bikes, making repairs and adjustments. I visited Alaska Leather, where I picked up a sheep skin seat cover for the bike. The covers reportedly provide a huge upgrade to the comfort of any seat ÔÇô I agree that itÔÇÖs an improvement.
I slept in a bit the next morning and opened my tent flap to discover that I had been abandoned. All six other campers had hit the road. I had one more day to kill in town, so I got back to the business of running. I ran for maybe 10 miles (RME quantity pending) and when I returned to the Harley shop, I was greeted by John and Tom. ÔÇ£We found your bike, so then we started looking for you.ÔÇØ Small world!
Later that afternoon I headed over to a B&B where Anna had made a reservation for us to stay. I had a lot of work to do to clean my bike, my clothes and myself before her flight arrived late that night.
** newbie **
Thanks for the feedback and the claps!!!
Originally Posted by Statdawg
I'll definitely take any good route advice you might have - see you at the MOA rally, you bet!
** newbie **
I followed the instructions from my GPS to AnchorageÔÇÖs Sand Lake Studio B&B. But I arrived at a single family home. I approached apprehensively and was greeted at the door by a man who introduced himself as Mike. Turns out that I was in the right place; Mike and his wife rent out a very nice loft apartment built over their garage. A very homey feel, complete with two great dogs. Mike was very kind to let me make a complete mess of his lawn and driveway as I tore apart my bike, gear and clothing for a little shake-down and cleaning. Mike and I were both glad that his wife wasnÔÇÖt around to see the ugliness.
My cleaning and organization project took me up until late evening when it was time to head to the airport to meet AnnaÔÇÖs flight. Taking the bike would not have made sense as there would not be room to carry her and her luggage. So I went for run number two that day (RME factor increases for multiple runs in a single day). Anna arrived, noted my ever-stupid hair and we grabbed a cab back to MikeÔÇÖs house.
The next day we headed to the BMW to drop the bike off for tires and an oil change. From the (campgroudless) BMW shop we took a cab to *gasp!* the motorhome rental place. In a heartbeat I was transformed from a motorcyclist into a motorcyclistÔÇÖs worst nightmare, an RV driver. I had wanted a smaller camper, but the only RV available was 30 feet long. IT would be our home for the next week. IT would be monstrous to drive. IT would be an annoyance, threat and real danger to others. IT would eat fuel and produce waste water. IT would be hideous. IT would be fun!
(I forget the exact logistics, but we got a sweet shot of the RV and bike together).
* * I should definitely note that IÔÇÖm not a complete stranger to RV living. As I think I mentioned, I owned a 21ÔÇÖ motorhome and traveled in it with Griffin the dog for eight months about five years ago. But this motorhome, with its 30 feet in length and itÔÇÖs ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm a rentalÔÇØ graphics was a very different animal. Far more annoying. Perfect! * *
Anna and I were registered for the Mayors Marathon foot race, to take place in two days. So rather than leave town, we hunkered down in Anchorage to get settled in to our new home and prepare for the run. From prior travels, I think of Wal-Mart as the de-facto metropolitan place to park an RV on nights when water and electricity arenÔÇÖt needed. And from prior experience, the Wal-Mart at the intersection of Seward Highway and Dimond Boulevard is the most happening party in town. Apparently my recollection is very accurate because overnight parking has been banned at all Anchorage Wal-Marts due to certain abuses of the retail chainÔÇÖs generosity. So we headed up the road to Fred Myer (Alaska retail chain, similar to Wal-Mart) where we were greeted with much hospitality.
The Mayors Marathon was great fun. With fewer than 1,400 full marathon runners, the race is very small compared to, say, DCÔÇÖs Marine Corps Marathon that has tens of thousands of participants. The small crowd size was pretty important as the first couple miles were on a ten-foot-wide path, where passing others was difficult. After a few miles, the course turned off onto a series of full-width gravel fire-roads (not unlike the Dempster or the Dalton!) and the pack thinned out nicely. The scenery was great ÔÇô it was a bit overcast so some views were obscured, but there were plenty of mountains and wooded areas in full view. At about mile seven(ish), a moose ran onto the course and sort of jogged upstream v. the rest of the runners. Very odd, but very cool!
About half way in, I began to get fatigued. It wasnÔÇÖt that I couldnÔÇÖt keep running (IÔÇÖve run marathons from start to finish with far less preparation (not quickly of course, I never run quickly)), but that I didnÔÇÖt want to keep running. I didnÔÇÖt want to beat myself up so much that IÔÇÖd hurt for days. I did, however, want to enjoy the city and the event that ÔÇôostensibly- IÔÇÖd traveled so far to experience. I was glad that Anna was of like mind. We ended up walking quite a bit of the second half. And while that might decrease the RME factor, the true 26.2 miles will likely count for some value greater than 26. After all, it was breezy out and we were at about 300 feet in elevation. . .
I found a photo of us online ÔÇô itÔÇÖs tough to see us but that makes it sort of fun. IÔÇÖm pretty much in the center and Anna is to my right, photo viewerÔÇÖs left.
I should mention that the marathon has significance for me beyond being a great run. It represents the focal point of things done in memory of my father. While I donÔÇÖt for a moment justify three months of self-serving fun as a duty performed for my family, I gratefully leverage the trip as an opportunity to reflect on my father and to raise some money for a good cause, in his honor.
Okay, this trip report is supposed to be fun ÔÇô so back to lighter topics!
Leaving Anchorage, our first stop was Talkeetna, a small town about fifteen miles off the Parks highway. Talkeetna is interesting in several ways. Although it is not so close to the entrance to Denali National Park, it is actually one of the closest towns to Mt. McKinley. As such, the National Park Service has an office in the town and all expeditions to ÔÇ£the high oneÔÇØ are to register there ÔÇô so it is sort of the seat of Denali expeditions. Also, the town has a fascination with the moose. And ÔÇôstrangely- with moose poop. Certain town events involve a moose poop throw competition. Just goes to show that thereÔÇÖs an activity for everyone AND that thereÔÇÖs a use for everything.
From our RV park, Anna and I took a walk into town. On our way we came across a dirt mound that appeared to be used as a bicycle jump. As pedestrians, we gave it our best.
We also stopped at a local bar for some beer music and wet dogs.
From Talkeetna, we headed up to Denali National Park and into sections only accessible via bus. Our tour was in the evening, predictably the best time to see wildlife. Turns out that we did see an impressive bull moose. And also a wolf. And also some weird little rodent that we couldnÔÇÖt identify (so we called it an octopus because it had approximately eight limbs). We also saw a lot of great scenery, thanks to clear skies and the angle of the evening sun.
After Denali we turned south again, this time south of Anchorage where we did some great sightseeing, first of glaciers, then of wildlife. I canÔÇÖt believe how many amazing animals we were fortunate enough to see very close up. IÔÇÖll post the best animal shots separately; here is a one of a glacier in the saddle of two mountains.
I should say at least one more thing about RV living. In my own RV, I never really used the toilet as there are certain things I just canÔÇÖt bring myself to do in my own car. But in the rental I figure that I wouldnÔÇÖt be creating an environment any worse than had already been created by other renters. So bombs away! Anyway, the downstream part of the process involves a sewage dump. Pretty gross. Remember how my old rainsuit proved ineffective? Well it found its use! And then it got thrown away.