Key Largo, Pruhoe Bay and Westfest
Sunday July 8th.
So far I had been riding on street tires and the Batllewing 501/502 tires held up great. I was worried a little about tire life, but at this point I ended up riding Haul road on them as well. I had stopped at George's place to find out where his shop was in Fairbanks and after a brief talk with him and seeing his workplace, I decided not to spend another day in Fairbanks, but to just ride to Coldfoot and start the run to Prudhoe. Finally eh readers??
The nasty mud. It sticks like glue on everything. I bought a rainsuit that I was prepared to throw away if it became beyond cleaning later on.
The Bike and pipeline.
General overview of road, fireweed and pipeline.
Where I came from. That shine on the road is from the slick goo (bentonite)
that keeps the dust down....
Proof that I am not the only nut on the road . Bicycle riders from Germany.
The Yukon river bridge. It has wood planking with big gaps in it. Pay attention when riding across this one. I had no traffic and used the whole bridge to avoid the biggest holes in the decking.
Another Bridge shot, this one from the north side.
Mother nature's ADVrider greeting
The real explanation about Finger mountain...
Endless Tundra views 360 degrees around you.
Another Milestone reached.
After I crossed the Arctic circle rain was to accompany me into Coldfoot where lightning had started a brushfire. Smoke jumpers were deployed to put it out and this was the first time I saw these guys/gals in action.
I met up with a few riders in Coldfoot, which is nothing more than a gasstation and restaurant/hotel, and is intended as a stopover place for travellers for the final run into Prudhoe. These riders told me that the road near Prudhoe was a nightmare with knee deep gravel/rocks in some places about 50 miles worth...
This is where my decision to keep my knobbies as spares could pay off in case of a tire failure. It turned out I was not the only guy with spares.
Never thought to take their photo and neither did they, as this seemed out of place for some weird reason. Can't put a finger on this, it just happened this way.
To be continued.....
Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest
A 510 mile tale of bugs and rain to Fairbanks.
I left at 7 AM in 34 F weather and fog which resulted in running almost over Caribou who dared to show up now that the 'skeeters' were temporarily gone..
I'll start with the photo's of the last, or first, 50 miles outside Prudhoe.
The gravel is knee deep in places. As stated before, photos just don't show it well.
At this point, I am still on my street tires and they, IMHO, were better than TKC's at this point. I had been practicing in the Everglades, as we have similar roads here (hard-pack gravel with washboard and ruts) and found that street tires were more surefooted than knobs. I may be off here, but I was not climbing any single track, but riding semi-maintained 'road' . The sidewalls on street tires are tougher too and I had no rips...
More on the tire saga. As I pulled into the hotel the previous day, I was met by some oilfield workers who actually praised me for bringing spares. The week before two riders had ripped a TKC rear and had to spend 2 nights @ $ 200,= each night in the Caribou hotel while waiting for a new tire. Add 2 nights, a tire and it came to $ 750,= for one TKC. Ouch!.
Again, the Caribou hotel has NO laundry or food included in their pricing......
I ended up meeting those riders outside Anchorage later in the trip where I heard their whole story..
On the way back, I had to stop for construction and the mosquito's where so bad that I saw black clouds of them. Not even in the Everglades have I ever seen this!!
The road worker in the truck got out and she was wearing some deet stuff that kept them away. I however, was besieged and left the helmet visor shut.
She laughed and so did I at this ridiculous assault of these critters and she told me to ride on through without the pilot car . She radioed the crew ahead and I passed without a hitch. Phew! No bloodletting!
As I got closer toward Atigun Pass, the prophecy of it being a nasty road to traverse in bad weather came true. I saw the black clouds hanging over the area. The weather hit me as I was climbing up the road. The rain was like we have with Tropical storms with nasty 40-45 MPH cross winds.
Now I ride in the Keys in some nasty stuff albeit short lived, but this was quite an experience I just as soon not repeat. A pucker factor of 6.5 in my book. (pucker factor 10 made me quit my career as an oilfield diver)
At the moment that you go through something like this, you question your sanity and ask yourself why you're even here. Afterward it is great to look back and savor the memory.
Weather closing in on Atigun Pass.
After this little excursion I saw this moose feeding in a lake and saw my intrepid bicycle friends still peddling northward.
Moose are huge! I think more in the elephant range than horse size. Cool to see this one going about her business.
At the end of the day I checked into the same motel as before as I was very tired from keeping the bike in the upward position. I did succeed not to dump the bike.
I also rinsed off the muck from the bike. I had sprayed the bike with silicone spray prior to the trip and it aided greatly in muck removal. This I will do from now on in as it helped a lot.
More to come..............maybe..
Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest
July 11th (My Birthday too...)
With the bike somewhat cleaned up, I knew that I had pushed the tires a lot with all the rough stuff. At 11 AM I took off to Anchorage and Alaska Leather where I knew a tire change was possible. I also wanted to see a little of Denali and Anchorage. Well Denali was socked in with rain and the tour buses and the whole area around the park entrance made me gag.
I live in a tourist area and don't need more of the artificially applied make-it-look-authentic cr^p I see everywhere.
Also doing a 'tour' in a bus with 50 blue hairs wasn't in the cards either, as I have done those trips in the keys as a tour guide myself.
" On the left, ladies and gentlemen WE can see.....blah blah, and on the right a moose taking a huge dump........Ooops"
Nah, not for me as I enjoyed the ride too much to even stop for photo's and as it was pouring most of the day my camera stayed safely tucked away...
To make a long story short I ended up in Anchorage at www.Alaskaleather.com before closing time, where Barbara not only changed the tires, but exchanged the knobs for new Tourances, since I had done the whole ride on streets anyway. She told me I was weird for doing it "the other way around" on streets vs knobs. She also told me it was smart to bring spares.
I told her I was weird but not dangerous and we had a good chuckle The tire saga ran like a red line through this trip although it ended here for me.
Barbara runs a great shop and knows about good customer service. I was out the door for a little over $ 100,= all told. I got 11K miles out of the Battlewings and will buy them again. Barbara directed me to the Harley Davidson dealer in town, who offer free camping for motorcyclists. There is a shower and head as well.
This is something more dealers should offer where possible. Ultimate customer service.
On that note; everywhere I have been on this trip, whether in Canada or the USA, people have been very helpful and nice. Not once did I experience any negativity because of my mode of transportation. I personally think that traveling solo has a lot to do on how people approach you. The group thing brings with it a bit of a 'bad' biker image. Not always true but non riders perceive motorcyclists differently anyway.
A big smile when you pull you helmet of, or flip it open helps a lot too.
More to come.........
very cool man!!!
Great pics and ride report.
love it, oskar....guess you didn't get any fishing in on this trip!