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Thread: 'I've never, ever seen roads this bad......' - Alaska-Yukon 16

  1. #16
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Nine. Beer..showers…and high octane shots (with dead man's toes at the bottom)

    The morning was spent on hygiene issues – the afternoon spent wandering the few dusty streets of Dawson City, knocking back a few mid day beers, riding to the ‘top of the dome’ for sightseeing, having dinner and finally going to the hotel saloon for a few “Sour Toe Cocktails”.





    This is a picture of a sagging and abandoned Dawson City structure - built on permafrost the structures eventually sink into the ground. And many, many Dawson City structures are in about this stage of disrepair.




    Back in 2014, Thomas had been marooned here for several days and he got to know the dancing girls, the Mayor, the local RCMP officers and more than a few local drunks…. None of drunks seemed to remember him. But the Mayor did!



    A digression – some many years ago someone probably decided that Dawson City really needed a gimmick. And probably the same person decided that using one of the toes that had fallen off the frozen foot of a miner – properly preserved in rock salt, and dropped into a shot of liquor would be a splendid idea. Strangely this caught on with the souls who wander into Dawson City. To qualify for the official membership card, the shot must be taken straight back and said toe must touch your lips. There is a $2500 surcharge if you proceed to then swallow the toe.

    This is actually a thing.

    I struggle with the complexities of a person who would do this. And apparently there aren’t that many toes in reserve to keep this business afloat.
    (The toe is nearly black and complete with the long crusty nail and broken bone sticking out the back)



    I have a strong stomach. So do Thomas and Craig. And we all now have wallet cards to prove it.



    Tomorrow we'd take the ferry across the rampaging Yukon River and head ever West and North. The river runs so fast here that they have to rebuild the ferry ramps twice a day with fresh gravel.



    And tomorrow two of us get into serious medical trouble. Self inflicted in my case.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 09-01-2016 at 03:11 PM.

  2. #17
    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
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    .....impressed yes! And.... taking the time to take the pictures that add depth to the narrative is well done. Good work indeed. - Bob
    Bob Weber
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    Larry's River, Nova Scotia, CANADA

  3. #18
    Registered User powwow's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time to record your adventure...I'm a subscriber!

  4. #19
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Thanks folks -

    Take a second and give me some stars?

  5. #20
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Great thread; thanks for posting, and keep it coming!
    Rinty

  6. #21
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Ten – Bryan goes hypothermic, Fran nearly dies yet.. we get to Fairbanks on time

    I awoke with a slight hangover that may or may not have been related to kissing dead toes soaking in Jack Daniels. I also awoke to the sound of steady driving cold rain pelting my tent. The other guys were already up and about, packing up their wet tents and stuffing their sleeping bags.
    We were now to take the Yukon ferry across this fast river… and go up and over the mountain range road named the Top of the World Highway which leads to Alaska and the Northernmost US Customs Station.

    I got thoroughly soaked and chilled as I packed up my gear, but at least had the presence of mind to put on my heated jacket liner… but oddly did not use my heated gloves, my fleece pants liners or my Gore-Tex rain jacket. Perhaps I thought we’d ride out of the weather and experience a glorious warm and sunny run over the Top of the World highway.

    Perhaps I was hung over and not thinking period.

    Big mistake.

    The weather got thicker and naturally colder as we gained altitude – it actually started to sleet. My favorite leather riding gloves absorbed the cold rain and sleet and my heated grips didn’t seem to make much difference. My heated jacket liner was literally my lifeline as visibility dropped to about 30 Feet and the temps dipped to 30 F – jacket heat cranked up full wasn’t making enough of a difference – but it kept me going.

    I’d also forgotten that this ridge running highway is nearly 180 miles long. Limited visibility, sleet blowing horizontally on the stiff cross winds, and presoaked before I even got on the bike.

    Dumb and dumber. Those guys got nuttin on me.

    After a couple of freezing lifetimes, we arrived at the Poker Creek Customs office. Since Craig is Canadian with permanent work permits to live and work in the States, this occasionally causes the American Custom’s officers to double check his paperwork. Inside.



     photo P1010072_zpsrmyy7qny.jpg



    The officer told us to turn off our bikes while we waited – thus cutting off my electric heat lifeline.

    My core temperature plummeted like a stone and even as I stiffly dismounted I could feel myself starting to uncontrollably and deeply shiver and shudder– I couldn’t unzip my riding gear or even form words. Fran and Thomas saw my distress and helped me into the heated Customs office. I recovered in about 15 minutes, and went out and put on and connected my heated gloves.

    I’m a complete idiot. I actually had all the right gear, I just didn’t wear it.



    We got a few pictures and rode down and down to Chicken, Alaska…a three shanty + outhouse old gold mining ‘settlement’ that serves very expensive coffee, cinnamon rolls and hot coffee.





    I wolfed down my coffee and pie… and started to feel almost human again – and it had turned sunny and mild outside!



    I walked out looking for the rest of the crew but alarmingly Fran was doubled over on a picnic table and groaning in extreme distress. Then he staggered over to the edge of the parking lot retching and heaving.

    This was really, really bad, and we had absolutely no idea what was happening with him.

    There are probably 18 people who actually live in Chicken… and of course, none is a Doctor.

    Fran was now assisted back to the picnic table where he gingerly lay back on the seat, clutching his side – white as a sheet.
    I brought him a cup of tea and three Alieve tablets.

    Not very helpful.

    The owner of the Chicken Café called her sole employee to roust the local postmaster who was also their local EMT. This EMT was probably 20 years old, and he tried to assist – but Fran wasn’t giving very coherent answers. Craig suggested that the problem was possibly kidney stones – he’d had such a bout years earlier…but we were just guessing. The EMT tried calling an ambulance to fetch Fran and take him to Fairbanks, but for a variety of reasons which still escape me, that didn’t happen.

    For two hours, we force fed Fran water and tea and waited for the pain pills to kick in. Eventually this terrible bout subsided and more or less faded away. Fran staggered over to his bike, got on with our assistance, thumbed the starter and mumbling something about ‘feeling better in the saddle’ headed on to Fairbanks… with us actually struggling to keep up.

    This scene would reoccur at irregular intervals throughout the rest of the trip.

    We eventually arrived in Fairbanks and the Garmin Genie led us right to the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus where I had reserved a graduate student Condo for us for three nights…. that stretched to four nights after an ambulance ride and ER visit…but I’ll get to that.

    We met my son, Drew, who had flown from NYC to Anchorage, rented a BMW 800GS from Nancy and Keith at Alaska Motorcycle Adventures, great folks and they've ridden all these roads http://www.rentalaska.com/ shod with knobby tires and aluminum panniers. He’d ridden up that day, visited Denali Park and generally had a great time riding in the sunshine and mild temps – even as the other members of the original team were cold, wet and miserable and two of us hanging around death’s door.


    Note - This bike may never be this clean again

    Note to future riders – accommodations for a small group like ours are available through the UAF website. These nicely furnished sunny multistory condos have two large bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and large bathroom. Free laundry facilities are available just a few feet away. For our purposes, this temporary base camp let us leave a lot of heavier gear behind for the marathon to Deadhorse.



    Mediocre Pizza and beer were procured and consumed…. we hit the hay early – tomorrow would be the run up the Dalton to Deadhorse on the Arctic Ocean. This road is never the same two days in a row – and this time was no exception.

    In fact this trip dealt us the worst road conditions I’ve ever encountered in over forty years of riding.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 12-12-2016 at 09:19 PM.

  7. #22

    Dempster

    Hi met you guys in the camping spot in Dawson. We headed up the Dempster the next day and made it to Eagle Plains and than the following day to Inuvik. What a difference a day makes, Road was absolutely great in fact we rode back from Inuvik to Dawson in one day.

  8. #23
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    keep it coming please

    completely enthralled by your RR.
    Enjoying the ride, but always on the alert for a rally.......

  9. #24
    DBLUPPR snookers's Avatar
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    Luvin the read !

    Your making me glad I never made it to the Yukon this year
    2000 R1100RT , 2005 K1200S w/hack
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    "Always look on the bright side of life" (Monte Python)

  10. #25
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    ...and I am glad I stopped this July before going further north in the Yukon with my RT. Gravel is one thing but the stuff you describe with rain and chemicals mixed in is not for the faint of heart!
    Ken Dittrick
    2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blau)


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

  11. #26
    Great ride. I'm in!
    Tom Barrie
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  12. #27
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    dudo here too.

  13. #28
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Eleven – An easy smooth ride…until we vanish into the clouds at the Brooks Range



    We rolled early, on our now lightened bikes, grabbed breakfast at McDonalds and headed North. We stopped at the Dalton sign (now raised to an absurd height in an attempt to avoid being further stickered) got the mandatory group picture.







    The long roller coaster grades on the South end of the Dalton were generally smooth and fast – the skies were blue, the clouds puffy and the temps were moderate. A HDTV worthy array of wildflowers bloomed along the road – their scent wafting into our helmets.



    The forecast was for some clouds and occasional light rain on the North Slope.

    Dead wrong.



    The Arctic Circle arrived quickly – a few more pictures were snapped – next stop Coldfoot, Alaska…a wide spot in the road with gas, diesel and food. We gassed up there, got some soft drinks and stretched our legs.

    Looking good. This was going to be my fastest run up the Dalton.

    Wrong again.

    We reached the base of the Brooks Range and encountered the two shell shocked riders I started the story with. Refugees fleeing Syria probably look better. Mud, shattered fenders, broken panniers held in place with wire and zip ties…one rider dismounted and just lay down on the gravel road. I had walked over, chatted quietly with them and issued the orders of the day.

    ‘Gear up…this is going to be bad’

    Drew complied – deferring to my experience…. and probably the obvious condition of the riders and bikes just a few yards from us.



    The road over the Brooks Range itself wasn’t awful – the usual mud, mist and gravel – but the clouds swirled around us and then the light rain started. And the clouds/fog got thicker. I kept hoping we’d ride out of this soup once we reached the North Slope…instead it stayed with us providing a weird twilight light, limited visibility, and raining just enough to force a continual wiping of my face shield.



    The Haul Road – for the next 180 miles – consisted of 3” deep calcium chloride saturated mud – not the wet slurry of the Dempster – this was about the consistency of pretty freshly poured concrete. But even the slightest twist of the throttle caused the rear tires to start to violently slew from side to side.

    And it never ended.

    Downhill, uphill…. it ranged from awful to horrible and back to just awful. Hours of tense concentration took its toll on all of us. Even stopping and standing clogged our boots with this sticky mud. I don’t recall a lot of truck traffic – in hindsight I think we were on pretty freshly graded roads that had been flooded with Calcium Chloride just hours before.

    I do recall seeing a man, pulling a bicycle style infant carrier, a dog’s face peering out as we passed going North. They appeared out of the mist and disappeared the same way.



    Bizarre. And on reflection, I'm sure he thought the same about us. At least the dog had the right idea.

    The 39 degree cold, the rain and damp started to soak in and penetrate everything. We were all tired, and eventually were spread out across several miles of the Haul Road each guy riding his own ride and pace.

    Drew and I eventually emerged together from the fog and clouds and back into the perpetual wan sunshine just 20 miles from Deadhorse…. and encountered a flag guy standing by his pickup. The next section of the Dalton North of us had been submerged under water all of last summer and there were a couple of construction companies raising probably 15 miles of the road by at least 18 – 20”. This elevation is accomplished by thousands and thousands of dump trucks loads of rock and mud being spread and graded on top of the existing roadbed. Very strangely, one of the companies was also placing hundreds of thousands of 2” thick insulating foam board under the fresh rock, presumably insulating the permafrost from the roadbed. ‘Like that’s going to last long.

    Riding conditions unfortunately degraded even further as the construction companies decided that using 3-5” oval polished river rock should work just fine as roadbed.

    Smooth oval rocks laying on and into the mud.



    Great.

    Eventually the pilot pickup arrived to ‘guide’ us through the shifting maze of giant trucks, graders and bulldozers, mud and rock ahead of us. This Inuit pilot truck driver had never ridden a motorcycle in his life… and hadn’t a clue as to where to guide us.



    I took point (as if I knew how to ride over slippery smooth river rocks in slick mud). Every yard was a battle, I leaned into the handlebars with more or less equal pressure trying to maintain direction… and to avoid having the bars ripped out of my hands. I stood on the pegs, I sat on the seat – nothing made any difference. Speeds were maybe 15 MPH as we hammered and pounded our way North, trying desperately to find a compacted easier line in this shifting, slippery rock and mud….all the while avoiding the giant Volvo Dump trucks.

    Eventually I crashed – my front wheel veered suddenly into a windrow of 18” deep rounded gravel and mud, the rear came around and I highsided my bike, smashing my helmet into the rocks hard as I was thrown from the bike.

    The pilot truck driver and my son assisted me in both righting my bike and turning it again Northward. It turned out that I was just one of five bikes that crashed just that evening – Craig – riding ahead of us - was another of the victims.

    Thomas actually got his bike stuck in the deep mud and gravel right up to the axle, but somehow managed to get it freed without dropping it.

    Only Drew and Fran came through unscathed.

    Drew and I arrived at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel just 15-20 minutes after Thomas, Craig and Fran got there. As we registered, I was vaguely aware of the clerk showing us pictures on his phone of a 600 pound grizzly that had walked and trashed the hallways of this hotel two nights before.

    Which given that the washrooms are down that hallway, will give you pause if you need to get up during the night.

    I shed my muddy Aerostich on the floor of the restaurant area – so exhausted I could barely focus. This had been a 16+ hour ordeal. I ate something, and drank water and coffee.

    Drew reached into his duffel and produced his Canada Goose parka. I looked at him quizzically – he explained that he wanted a photo of him in the Arctic actually wearing this coat, so he could prove that he wasn’t one of the ‘poseurs’ wearing arctic gear just to grab an Uber in New York City.


    This picture was taken at Midnight.

    The bikes were a muddy mess – I grabbed my basic kit off the bike, found our room and was instantly dead to the world lying across my bed, dreaming of that Grizzly stalking the narrow hallways of the hotel lit by the eternally buzzing fluorescent tube lights overhead.

    God, I dreaded the next morning.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 09-01-2016 at 06:45 PM.

  14. #29
    Registered User jek_ict's Avatar
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    Great RR, please keep it up. You write very well and, like a good novelist, make me want to "turn the page" to see what happens next.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beemer01 View Post
    I do recall seeing a man, pulling a bicycle style infant carrier, a dog’s face peering out as we passed going North. They appeared out of the mist and disappeared the same way.



    Bizarre.
    On a side note, the guy walking to Texas may have done this before. A Greg Hindy trekked across the lower 48 for a year beginning in June 2013.
    Yale grad Greg Hindy walks 9,000 miles across the country in 1 year without speaking or using technology
    ~Jason

  15. #30
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beemer01 View Post

    The bikes were a muddy mess – I grabbed my basic kit off the bike, found our room and was instantly dead to the world lying across my bed, dreaming of that Grizzly stalking the narrow hallways of the hotel lit by the eternally buzzing fluorescent tube lights overhead.

    God, I dreaded the next morning.
    Great ride report - don't leave us hanging!
    Ken Dittrick
    2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blau)


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

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