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Thread: Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

  1. #16

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 7.

    After a really good night's sleep, I packed up camp to head for Fairbanks. This was a 400 mile day, and the 'Top of the World' Hwy was a great start.
    I did gas up prior to crossing the river the previous day.

    The following pics are from the road to Chicken..

    I didn't think however that the American side of the border would actually have the roughest part of this road, but after sliding around a bit I ended up in Chicken for their famous Cinnamon roll. The crossing itself was easy as I had passed all the RVs on the way up to the top of the road where the customs officers decided to unpack every RV that day.... They let me in after a few questions without any issues.
    When asked if I had anything to declare, my answer of 'overpriced gas' made the officer laugh and I got waved through.

    The infamous 12 gazillion calorie cinnamon bun . And yes, I ate the whole thing in one go with plenty of black coffee, which would later pose a small bathroom issue in Fairbanks..... (no details will be provided to keep it a clean report)


    More Fireweed.

    Motel room in Fairbanks at the Ranch Motel. Clean place not too pricey...

    All in all a very nice day with just a little rain but great temps to ride in.

    More to come.....

  2. #17

    Talking 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 Pipeline.

    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.

    Yours truly...

    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.....

  3. #18

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 9th

    Got up a 6 AM and hit the Haul road some more at 6:15. By this time I was a master of speed packing up camp. Frankly I hadn't unpacked much..
    Today's program was Prudhoe and the first part was a great ride. The road is sometimes paved with what I call 'teaser' pieces. 2 or 3 miles of smooth pavement to lull you into thinking it's gonna be this way for a while.....yeah right.
    They are welcome but the climate and geology is such that paving the entire road is next to impossible and would result in no more adventure riding there.
    Photos don't do the road any justice. Most of us who ride the rougher stuff know this, as you really have to be there to appreciate how nasty roads can be. And no I didn't take piccies of the paved stuff. The ride into Prudhoe was easier than I thought as the weather was fantastic. I had heard Atigun Pass can be a nightmare when the weather is bad. How prophetic that was to be....

    Camp photo from inside the tent. 3 mosquito's make a bug burger and I intended
    not to get drained by them....

    Toward Atigun Pass

    Private room

    Another 'exploded' room...

    The Prudhoe Bay hotel caters to the oilfield workers and for $125,= I got a private room with my own shower and TV. The best part was that I could do laundry and eat all I wanted in between the included meals. This IS the place to stay and reservations are recommended. I got lucky as I hadn't made a reservation...
    The Caribou Inn is very $$$ and food and laundry are extra....

    The rough road pics will come up a little later, stay tuned...

  4. #19

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 10th

    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..

  5. #20

    Talking 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 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.........

  6. #21

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 12 th,

    After a night in Anchorage at the HD dealer, it was time to head out toward Colorado.
    I left at 7:40 AM and my first stop was an auto parts store to replace the now dead Stebel Nautilus air horn. I guess that the fine dust (construction zones) in the air killed it off
    That replacement job took 15 minutes and I was on my way again.
    The Wrangell-St Elias mountain range is beautiful and the ride to Tok was very nice.
    As I stopped in Tok for gas I met Brian and Shawn, the guys who had the tire issues in Prudhoe...
    We chatted a bit and they told me that they will bring spare tires for their bikes if they ever did this ride again. Getting burned like they were, isn't cool and a hard lesson to learn.

    The border crossing was again very simple as the customs officer asked if I had weapons on me, checked my passport and after my "no" answer let me pass.
    I did about 538 miles that day and camped in Burwash Landing at Kluane Lake for free.

    Alcan construction.

    More to follow

  7. #22
    very cool man!!!

  8. #23
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Saint Pete Florida
    Great pics and ride report.

  9. #24

    Thumbs up

    Thanks guys!! I'll try to post some more later.....

  10. #25

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    Friday the 13th.....

    Actually it was a long day (600+ miles)and after breakfast in Burwash Landing I headed south.
    After a quickie lunch in Whitehorse ( Monster energy drink and a Chocolate bar) and gas, I rode to Teslin Junction. The bridge there was a b^tch. Fortunately I was forewarned and took it easy as the metal grate made the bike go diagonally across it's surface. Even pick-up trucks do funny stuff...

    The Watson Lake stop was spend at Sally's Cafe again, as I needed a personal fill-up with meat, potatos and veggies. The truckers there told me about some wild-life and I did see a Grizzly crossing the road about 40-50 yards in front of me.
    It was not interested in me at all end bee-lined for a patch of berry laden bushes.... 800 yards further, the construction crew was less than enthusiastic about my sighting and let me pass again without a pilot car...
    Note to self; cry Wolf and the construction folks may let you pass without the pilot car???

    The next living thing however was a Wolf, who too fled the scene. I guess the quiet BMW rumble put him off...
    And yes it was a Wolf, as I also had seen Coyotes and thet are very different. My folks had a German sheppard who was 1/4 wolf, complete with aria's during full moon

    The day ended in Dease Lake after a last minute fill up at a gas station about to close, I actually had to beg for the fuel because they were closing. Fortunately the manager was nicer than the attendant and let me fill up. The bike did take 7.5gallons.... I am happy about my tank modification allowing me to add at least 2 quarts of extra gas.
    I pitched the tent at the Dease Lake campground for a restfull night next to a river.

    Teslin Junction

    Ok one with the bike.....

    Camp at Dease Lake

    To be cont'd

  11. #26
    love it, oskar....guess you didn't get any fishing in on this trip!

  12. #27

    Talking Key Largo. Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 14th

    It was now really about making some time as I am riding the same route back on the BC 37 as I did on the way up.
    From Dease River to Quesnel BC was a 670 mile ride. I started early as the road crews weren't ready yet. The pilotcar thing got on my nerves, as it is in 90% of the time a waste.
    I'm sure it is a union thing as the roads in some cases aren't re-graded but de-graded into a mire of muck. I wish I had before and after pictures to show.

    The area however is really beautiful and nature is amazing. It being very early in the AM, the only sounds are of nature itself and your own.

    Early AM and nobody on the road. I did go slow enough to avoid wildlife or so I hoped..

    I ended up with an dry eye issue I get when I am very tired. and In Quesnel BC, I got a hotel where I met a Canadian who writes for motorcycle magazines. He took this pic.

    More on the way...

  13. #28

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 15th

    Well after a very good night's sleep, my dry eye issue was resolved too. At breakfast my new found buddy from Canada showed me some rural roads on a map but unfortunately I was getting pressed for time and skipped them, sorry Steve!! I still have them marked on my maps though.

    After another uneventfull border crossing into the US at Osoyoos/Oroville, I ended up in Wilbur Washington. Here I was contemplating a different route than I already had ridden, but the forrest fires changed that plan. I was originally going to ride the Continental Divide trail on the way south, but between the heat and the fires I will do that next year as I didn't fancy being stuck in a bad situation. " A man has got to know his limitations" and potentionally being in over my head was not the smart thing to do. Thusfar I had absolutly had no major issues with myself or the bike and wasn't about to change the good Karma.

    Another photo from Steve in Quesnel BC

    Inside joke for ADV riders

    A ski area in BC

    All in all a nice 526 mile ride and back in the USA!

    Still more to come...

  14. #29

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    Monday July 16

    Today's ride, 443 (s)miles, was an easy one as I had to shop for the bike. The machine needed an oilchange and filters because it turned 36 K on the odo... From Wilbur I rode to Missoula MT for the parts. I knew that the airfilter was going to be pretty dirty. I wish I had a photo of the pile of sand that came out of the old one... The bike's computer took 2 minutes to readjust the idle as more air was coming in...The bike's milage improved by 4 MPG as well!! Note to self: clean out the filter more often...

    36K problem free miles so far!

    Fortunately I had purchased the extended warranty from my dealer prior to the trip and it now has 5 more years of unlimited miles coverage from Pinnacle.

    The temps in MT were 105 F and I saw quite a few overheated Harley's stopped on the side of the road...
    The big boxer however didn't have any issues with the heat and after AK and BC neither did I.
    In Dillon I also pressure washed the bike as the sticky stuff from Haul road and other road grime was getting to be too much. You can't really check for leaks etc and the motor runs hotter too with all that goo attached everywhere. The Koa's are really nice as they offer clean camping and often breakfast for little money.
    A pic of a cleaner bike at the KOA in Dillon MT

    more coming.....

  15. #30

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 17

    Awoke to a little rain, but it was so dry in Dillon MT that it mostly evaporated on impact.
    As I was sitting at the breakfast table enjoying a pile of pancakes and black coffee, a gentleman sat down next to me and asked the usual questions about the trip, where I was from and all that. We talked for a bit and when he found out that I am single, he looked at me and said he wished he was too. Until I saw his kids I had no idea... Amazing that total strangers open up about their penned up feelings. I felt sorry for the guy, his wife was nice but those kids ...........the horror, the horror (insert Marlon Brando's voice from Apocalypse Now)
    It was his own fault for having the brats the way they were, but still....
    Anyway at 9 AM I hopped on the bike and fled the scene at the table...

    Today was the dreaded slab ride on I-15 and I-70. Riding like that requires a 'zombie' mode as you have to pay attention all the time with all the cagers around you. In Salt Lake City UT the temps were 107 F on the road. My little 'neck-cooling-thingie' ( it is a gel packed neck tie) worked well to keep my brain from completely frying ,although some of you may say it already has..
    Although I did bring my cooling vest I really didn't need it as my pressure suit was cool enough. Some random shots in MT.

    The UT part of the trip has no photos as it was slab riding
    I must say that I-70 between Salina and Green River UT are really beautiful though. I ended up in Green River after 620 miles.

    Tomorrow I was of to Grand Junction and Paonia for the TOR rally

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