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Thread: Day Ride to the Arctic Circle ..lol ..

  1. #1
    Registered User mundobravo's Avatar
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    Day Ride to the Arctic Circle ..lol ..

    I've just returned from a solo trip to the Arctic Circle on my 1996 rt. I shoot video and my ride report will be in the format but here's some words about one day when I didn't get the camera out ... both hands on the bars !!
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    I was thinking I had a perfect ride plan for the Arctic Circle. I had a good friend who lives now in Fairbanks, the jumping off point for Dalton Hwy. rides, and I thought , well I'll just stay with him until I get a perfect day to ride up. I'll go slow and stay in control of the bike. How hard can this be? If I stay out of the mud I'll do fine.
    The weather in the days leading up to my arrival in Fairbanks were perfect. Clear sunny days across the north in the high 60's, perfect riding days. I'd been fussing with one of the 3 bolts that hold the side-stand together for 2 years. Keeping it tight on this trip had become part of the daily once over on the bike. As I gassed up in Hanes Junction, Yukon Territory, it seemed the bike was leaning very far over and on inspection I saw the bolt had snapped off and would now need a "easy out" to repair it. After much gnashing of teeth and fretting in the closed Royal Mounted Police parking lot, I decided to roll on to Fairbanks nursing the side-stand along by always using my "puck" and choosing parking spots carefully to avoid leaning the bike too much. I rolled into Fairbanks 2 days later on Saturday afternoon the 27th right in the middle of Memorial Day weekend. It was Tuesday before I could get "End of the Trail BMW" (oddly located in the Harley dealership) to remove and replace the broken part with a spare bolt I happened to have with me. I didn't get the bike back until 7 pm on Tuesday and over the last 3 days I had watched the weather turn slightly cloudier. A change was coming. I always try to observe the 3-day rule (guests and fish start to stink after 3 days) so Wednesday would be my day to GO NORTH.
    I had a reasonable ride plan. The Circle is about 110 miles out on the Dalton Hwy. with a gas/ food/ camp stop about 50 miles out at the Yukon River crossing. I planned to ride out to the Arctic Circle enjoying every minute and mile of this arctic ride and return as far as the Yukon River to camp that night near a semblance of "civilization" for bear protection. Strength in numbers? Hell, I just didn't want to get bear bit! The first 2 miles of the Dalton Hwy. were dry and in fact every truck sent huge choking clouds of dust up to the point you had to hold your breath as they passed and get ready for the brief moment of zero visibility. This is going to suck I thought. Little did I know that I'd soon be begging for the dust clouds. A few drops of rain began to fall on the windscreen. "Hey, not too bad, I can do this...." Then a few more drops, then a LOT more, and then, it could no longer be denied, IT WAS REALLY STARTING TO RAIN! I was about 20 miles in. The Dalton rolls and rolls steeply with grades of 6-7%. I slowed down. The calcium chloride that is used in the road building to top dress the Dalton for dust abatement was becoming the legendary thin coating of greasy snot. I slowed down more and now was being passed by huge haul trucks but I hadn't lost traction yet and the road seemed still rideable as I pulled into the Yukon Crossing for gas. I noticed a big bus out front but nothing prepared me for the shock of opening the gas stop door to see the room filled with German tourists on a bus tour to Prudhoe Bay!! I roll by the little BLM info shack as the rain picks up. The woman there informs me that it's 60 more miles to the Circle but only the first 40 are dirt and then some very bad pavement begin that runs up to the next gas stop at Coldfoot. ONLY 40 MORE MILES OF MUD!! This somehow cheers me a bit as I was ready for the whole 60 miles to be dirt. The first long grade leaving the Yukon Crossing had really started to turn to crap and the down grade was even worse. Now I'm questioning my ride. The greasy snot was getting deeper and even greaser and I started to feel the front wheel "float" but I was still getting traction on the rear. Onward slowly, no brake use at all, just letting the lower gears ( 2nd) hold the bike back on the steep downgrades. Dropping the bike out here would not be a option. In my mind I could see a big haul truck just running over it, unable to stop in the slimy mud or one of the big rigs jack knifing and closing the road down all because of this southerner up here on his road bike. It kept raining lightly and the road was getting worse and worse. Stopping was tricky as even with 2 feet on the ground a slight lean to one side or the other and your foot would start sliding across the road. I was in deep **** now for sure. I'm down to about 5-10 mph and the trucks and even the tour bus from the Yukon Crossing are passing, pushing me to the very, very edge of the shoulder-less roadway. I'm about 15 miles out to the "pavement" and I'm in way way over my head and riding ability. Until now my idea of a gravel road had been the Galisteo / Madrid cut off. The truckers who, up to this point, had not seemed to notice I was on the road with them now started to give me the "thrums up" and big ****-eating grins as they knew I was screwed! I roll on slowly. From the top of a long downgrade I can see three shallow rollers in the road with full on mud pits in the bottoms of each. I'm so far out of my league it's not funny but I pick a line and run that fully loaded RT into and out of the first one, then the second. The rear wheel is sliding now and for the first time I'm wondering if I can do this or not. I search the sides of the road for a place to ditch to bike. There are none. I'm cursing myself and the mud. A big 4 wheel drive pick-up pulls to pass and stops to talk " How you doing?" they yell. "Well, not too good" I said, " but I think I only have 6 more miles of dirt" I yell back with a muddy smile. "Oh no" they say, "the pavement starts again at the top of the next long hill."
    OH MY GOD! That's only about a mile away! I can see it! Only one more long mud blog and steep hill climb and I can rest. I've been coming from the Crossing 40 miles back for about 5 hours. I run the last bog and goose it up the hill. All I can say about this part of the tundra pavement is, while not really a road, it wasn't muddy, and I WAS ALIVE! and my bike was in one piece and not laying on it's side in a mud pit. I was in that in-between state of laughing and crying and exhilaration. I was physical and emotionally spent but spiritually I was glowing. There was no going back on that road, a least for that day, so my only option was north, north to the Arctic Circle.
    Driven-Arctic Circle

    Driven Down - Yaviza - Darien Gap

  2. #2
    RK Ryder
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    I'm waiting for more. Can't wait for the video. Thanks for sharing.
    Paul F. Ruffell
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Niagara Riders & Knights of the Roundel #333

  3. #3
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Holy crap! You the man... That road would have been a challenge with a GS and serious off road tires. Can't imagine it on my RT. So now what? Camping at the circle fighting the bears for dibs on the blueberry patch? Gotta hear more.
    Ken Dittrick
    2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blau)


    Excuses are the rocks upon which our dreams are crushed - Tim Fargo

  4. #4
    criminaldesign
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    kudos for tackling the ride on an RT.

  5. #5
    Registered User mundobravo's Avatar
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    Ice Road

    any one watching Ice Road Truckers this season ? it's all about the Dalton .. in the winter of course
    Driven-Arctic Circle

    Driven Down - Yaviza - Darien Gap

  6. #6
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    I have to admit that you managed to sample every bad aspect of the Dalton on your trip. We made essentially the same ride a few weeks back and had blue skies, warm sun and only 1.5 miles of recently watered road. The road conditions can change hour to hour up there; guess that's what makes it an adventure and your experience certainly was an adventure. Thanks for the post...is there more to come?
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  7. #7
    Registered User mundobravo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBeemer View Post
    I have to admit that you managed to sample every bad aspect of the Dalton on your trip. We made essentially the same ride a few weeks back and had blue skies, warm sun and only 1.5 miles of recently watered road. The road conditions can change hour to hour up there; guess that's what makes it an adventure and your experience certainly was an adventure. Thanks for the post...is there more to come?
    Hi AK, I'll try to write up a bit about the following day soon. I shoot video and am working on a video report of this whole ride, Should take a few weeks. Thanks for reading so many words with no photos ..lol ..
    Driven-Arctic Circle

    Driven Down - Yaviza - Darien Gap

  8. #8
    TALLPAULS
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    Great start... Give us more!

  9. #9
    blah blah blah squiffynimrod's Avatar
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    No pithy comments available at this time.
    Please check back later.

  10. #10
    Registered User mundobravo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBeemer View Post
    I have to admit that you managed to sample every bad aspect of the Dalton on your trip.
    On the way back I even got to ride 2 miles of hardball sized sharp rocks while sandwiched in between a haul truck in front and a bus 20-ft behind me at about 20 mph ! Brother , I've been to the Arctic Circle for sure ... rotglmfao ..
    Driven-Arctic Circle

    Driven Down - Yaviza - Darien Gap

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