Super Tenere Farkles (accessories) for the Alaska Trip

During the heat of preparation for a big trip, you can lose track of what you have done and possibly how much you have spent.  I’m glad to have lost track of how much I spent.  This post contains a list of the accessories (farkles in cool internet terms) I added to the bike. Not all are permanently attached.  Many deserve complete reviews.  The internet has taught us that we are rarely original.  My combination of farkles might be unique, but I’m not the only one to have any one of the items.  Most of my research was done on motorcycle forums.  Most notably, http://www.yamahasupertenere.com/ and http://advrider.com/forums/  and the wonderful links, trip reports, reviews that are shared on these sites.  Note that I have never posted on the forums.  I’m a lurker.  The reviews on Revzilla and Anthony’s videos are pretty helpful too.

I had a great spreadsheet that listed everything I was bringing, why and where it was stored.  I lost that spreadsheet in the great “iCloud is full so remove the account from one of my iDevices and all of my content disappeared” human error incident of 2013.

I have included links to some items and where I bought them.  I try to buy locally (or at least in Canada) but sometimes can’t resist the huge savings that you can sometimes get shopping in the US of A.  One exception is the tires.  I bought those at Revzilla and got a good price.  Price in Canada from certain online retailers would have been very close, however, the tires were not available in Canada when I needed them.

I also found that talking to some of the staff at local stores and most notably the guys at Dual Sport Plus was really beneficial.  It’s really nice when you can get advice that results in spending ZERO dollars.

There are a few things that I would change:

  • The Wolfman dry duffel was great.  But I didn’t need it.  All of the contents were in dry bags so I could have gone with a durable cordura duffel for significantly less money.
  • I used a regular 1 gallon gas can for auxiliary fuel.  I did not need it.  I was going to go with a rotopak, but that was a lot of money for something I did not really need.  The problem was that the gas can moved around on my pristine AltRider luggage rack marring the surface permanently.  Not their fault.  If I had a do-over, I’d buy the rotopax and mount, it would not have moved around.
  • Small hard top case.  Dendog had a “KLR Style” hard case and it was really handy for just dropping things in.  I wish I had a small one of those for gloves, snacks and other frequently accessed items.
  • Single versus dual duffel.  We followed a guy through parts of Minnesota (I think) and he had a nice setup on his BWM K series.  Side bags, a small top case and small duffel bags on the top of each top case. I assumed he knew what he was doing since he had a lot of state /province stickers on the back of his side bags. I liked that setup as it would allow me access to the side bags without removing the large duffel bag that straddled the side bags.
  • Protect the top of the Side bags.  The duffel did move around on top of the side bags marring the surface of the side bags.  If I did it again, I’d have added some kind of thin nylon to the top of the side bags to take the abrasion.
  • Get a fenda-extenda (I did not make up that name).  Would help protect the front of the engine from crap thrown by the front wheel.

I didn’t mention it below, I bought my Super Tenere at Motor Sports World.  Great people. Dendog’s Versys came from Ottawa Goodtime Centre.  Also really great to deal with.

Remember, I’m not compensated by anyone for any of this content.  Links are provided as a courtesy.  I am happy to do business with all of these entities.

Oh, one last thing.  It’s not really a farkle, but we used a Polar Bear cooler the entire way. It was awesome.  It spent the entire trip strapped to something.  I just wish they made an 8 pack model.  We used the 6 pack (not for beer) and it was just a bit cramped some days.

I still don’t want to eat at Smitty’s.

Item Manufacturer Category Purchased At Link
Skid Plate AltRider Bike Protection http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.altrider.com/altrider-skid-plate-for-the-yamaha-super-tenere-xt-1200z/pid/690/cid/1
Engine Guards Alt Rider Bike Protection http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.altrider.com/altrider-crash-bars-for-the-yamaha-super-tenere-xt1200z/pid/600/cid/1
Luggage Rack AltRider Storage http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.altrider.com/altrider-rear-luggage-rack-for-yamaha-super-tenere-xt1200z/pid/625/cid/1
Side Stand Foot AltRider Bike Protection http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.altrider.com/altrider-side-stand-foot-for-yamaha-super-tenere-xt1200z/pid/1307/cid/1
Master Cylinder Guard AltRider Bike Protection http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.altrider.com/altrider-rear-brake-master-cylinder-guard-for-yamaha-super-tenere-xt1200z/pid/378/cid/1
Universal Joint Guard AltRider Bike Protection http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.altrider.com/altrider-universal-joint-guard-for-yamaha-super-tenere-xt1200z/pid/368/cid/1
Tank Protectors (side) TechSpec Bike Protection TechSpec http://techspec-usa.com/magento/
Tank Protector (back) Yamaha Bike Protection http://www.motorsportsworld.com/
ROX Pivoting 2″ Risers ROX Comfort http://www.revzilla.com/adv-sport-touring-gear
Brake / Clutch Line Extenders RideOnAdv Comfort http://rideonadv.com/ http://rideonadv.com/shop/brakes/rideonadv-super-tenere-long-lines/
MadStad Windshield Bracket (with Cross Bar) MadStad Comfort http://www.madstad.com http://www.madstad.com/s.nl/it.A/id.887/.f
Madstad Stabilizer Bars Home made Comfort  
Touring Windshield Yamaha Comfort http://www.motorsportsworld.com/
Side Defelctors Yamaha Comfort http://www.motorsportsworld.com/
Heated Grips Yamaha Comfort http://www.motorsportsworld.com/
Front Auxiliary Lights – Rigid 90611 Rigid Safety http://www.dualsportplus.com/
Rear Aux Lights Skene P3 Brake / Tail Lights Skene Safety http://www.motorcycleinnovations.ca/ http://www.motorcycleinnovations.ca/Skene_P3_Lights_p/p3.htm
Throttle Lock Excel Comfort http://www.excelthrottlecontrol.com/index.htm http://www.excelthrottlecontrol.com/index.htm
Jesse Odyssey II 10″ Side Bags Jesse Storage http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.jesseluggage.com/
Tank Bag Yamaha Storage http://www.motorsportsworld.com/
Dry Duffel Bag (Large, Expedition) Wolfman Storage http://www.revzilla.com/adv-sport-touring-gear http://www.wolfmanluggage.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_id=104
FuzeBlock FZ4 FuzeBlocks Electrical http://www.fuzeblocks.com/ http://www.fuzeblocks.com/
Optimate USB Port Optimate Electrical http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.dualsportplus.com/product_p/o100.htm
Optimate Flashlight Optimate Electrical http://www.dualsportplus.com/ http://www.dualsportplus.com/product_p/o120.htm
GPS (Garmin Car $100 GPS with Sandwich bag cover) Garmin Navigation Coscto
GPS Lock Home made Security
GPS Mount RAM Navigation GPS City http://www.gpscity.ca/
GPS Hard Wire Kit Garmin Navigation GPS City http://www.gpscity.ca/
Spot Mount RAM Navigation GPS City http://www.gpscity.ca/
Stop N Go Tire Repair Service Ottawa Goodtime Centre http://www.ottawagoodtime.com/
Spot Messenger (Gen 2) Spot Safety GPS City http://www.gpscity.ca/
Alaska Sheepskin Seat Cover Alaska Leather Comfort http://www.alaskaleatheronline.com/servlet/StoreFront http://www.alaskaleatheronline.com/servlet/StoreFront
Bike Lock Kryptonite Security Ottawa Goodtime Centre http://www.ottawagoodtime.com/
Bike Cover (Half Cover) Nelson Rigg Security http://www.revzilla.com/adv-sport-touring-gear
Shorai Battery Shorai Reliability  http://www.motorsportsworld.com/
Helmet Lock Home made Security
Duffle Bag Lock Home made Security
Rok Straps Rok Storage http://www.dualsportplus.com/
Michelin Anakee 3 Tires Tires Tires http://www.revzilla.com/adv-sport-touring-gear
Various Retroreflective Stickers Many Safety

I Made Some Stoves (and I liked it)

Back when I went on the Wednesday night hang, Mr. Gossamer Gear was showing off his rolled aluminum alcohol stoves (BIOS) made by www.minibulldesign.com.  They were pretty cool and I was fascinated by the rolled can.  You can watch how they are made by looking at MBD’s YouTube channel.

I watched a bunch of videos and tried making some stoves.  I know look at aluminum cans in a completely different way.  Sadly, I am more interested in the can shape than the contents.

Here is what I made (no instructions provided, just look on YouTube:

1 “Ultimate Alcohol Stove”.  These are made from a Coke can (or Pepsi, if you are so inclined.

Ultimate Alcohol Stove

Ultimate Alcohol Stove

Ultimate Alcohol Stove.  This one has 32 jets

Ultimate Alcohol Stove. This one has 32 jets

3 x “Bud Light” stoves.  These are made from the Bud Light aluminum bottles.

Bud Light Stove #2: Relief holes only at the top

Bud Light Stove #2: Relief holes only at the top

Bud Light Stove #2:  This one has elevated supports at the top.

Bud Light Stove #2: This one has elevated supports at the top.

Bud Light Stove #3:  Notice the uneven roll.

Bud Light Stove #3: Notice the uneven roll.

Bud Light Stove #3:  Two relief holes drilled in the inner wall down low, and two near the top.

Bud Light Stove #3: Two relief holes drilled in the inner wall down low, and two near the top.

2 x Inverted Neck Stoves.  Not sure what to actually call these.  I made one from a sunscreen can and the other from a Coors Light aluminum bottle.

Sunscreen Stove

Sunscreen Stove

Sunscreen Stove:  Notice the inner wall is too short.

Sunscreen Stove: Notice the inner wall is too short.

Coors Light Stove

Coors Light Stove

Coors Light Stove

Coors Light Stove

Coors Light Stove

Coors Light Stove

All stoves (except the “Ultimate” one) have jets drilled approximately 1 cm apart and 3/4 of an inch from the top of the stove. The “Ultimate” stove has 32 jets.  All jets are 1/16 of an inch in diameter.  I did not use any JB Weld on the inverted stoves, but probably should have.

After building them, I decided to do a comparison.  The test went as follows.  Use 1/2 ounce of 99.99% Methyl Hydrate to heat tap water as much as possible.  Record times to prime and until the fuel had run out.  Measure beginning and end temperature of the water. Ambient temperature was approximately 12 (C).  Same pot was used.  It was cooled with tap water and re-filled with 2 cups of water.  Any water on the outside was dried off with a towel. I ran the video camera to capture each test.  There was no wind.  I used a normal household thick bottomed pot and not a fancy titanium camping / hiking pot.  I expect temperature increases would have been more significant with a thin titanium hiking pot.  I have not weighed any of the stoves.

Results:

Stove Starting Temp (C) Final Temp (C) Time to Prime (sec) Time to out of Fuel (sec) Temp Change Seconds/ Degree
Ultimate Stove 16 67 40 376 51 6.6
Bud Light #2 Stove 13 48 41 160 35 3.4
Coors Light Stove 12 65 39 264 54 6.0
Sunscreen Stove 15 75 29 289 60 4.3
Bud Light #2 Stove 14 65 36 249 51 5.9

Video Evidence:

Observations / Conclusions:

The Sunscreen stove produced the highest increase in temperature, and did it relatively quickly.  This was a bit surprising given that I built it wrong (the inner wall does not touch the bottom).  Perhaps this is due to the smaller diameter resulting in more heat directly on the bottom. I am not sure what happened to Bud Light #2.  It fizzled out pretty quickly and produced the lowest temperature increase.  I probably should have re-run the test of this stove.  Maybe the video will show what happened.

The Coors Light stove performed better than I expected.  It is still burning off the internal layer of stuff.  This stove is not as rugged as the Bud Light nor Sunscreen stoves.

During the test I could hear the Coors Light stove “gasping” for air.  I likely need to file some groves in the rim to allow air in as the fuel vaporizes.

I am going to try and re-make the sunscreen stove as I think it is the best size and seems to hold promise.  I also want to make one of the Andrew Skurka style “Fancy Feast” stoves and try it.  I’ll compare it to one of the stoves from this test.

If you want a simple and relatively indestructible and inexpensive alcohol stove, just make one.  If you want one done “right”, buy one from MBD.  Or, if you really want an awesome stove, get a JetBoil.  I have the Sol and it will boil 2 cups of water in well under 2 minutes.  But, I can’t make one of those.  Might post some video of the stoves burning.

A Wednesday Night Hammock Hang

There is nothing in this post about motorcycles (except that I didn’t ride mine on this adventure).  The hammock guys had a plan: After work we drive up to a beautiful spot, hang the hammocks, tell some stories, enjoy the scenery, sleep and then head to work in the morning.

A brief note about product mentions:  There aren’t any sponsors of this site.  All of the gear mentioned has been purchased by us.  We don’t owe anyone any favorable mentions.

There were four of us on this mini camping trip.  Since the names will be changed to protect the innocent, here are the intros with a brief gear list.

Mr. CF, Mr. C and Mr. GG

Mr. CF, Mr. C and Mr. GG

Mr. Cuben Fiber:  Mr CF owns everything Z-Packs produces.  It was inspirational.  The entire weight of his cuben fiber pack, tarp, jacket, ground sheet, various utility bags was actually -376 grams.  That’s right.  If you used his stuff, it reduced the weight of the contents!  OK, seriously, Mr. CF had some beautiful gear.  Given that no one makes a cuben fiber hammock, he was using a Hennessy hammock (bottom loader) suspended via home made whoopie slings and tree straps.  Most of his hardware was titanium from Dutchware.  Mr. CF had some great stories about bears.  He was the only one of us that braved a swim in the lake. It was my first time hanging with Mr. CF.

Mr. Gossamer Gear:  Mr GG has great taste in hammocks.  He sports an awesome Warbonnet Blackbird (whoopie slings and tree straps) and Warbonnet Superfly tarp. That’s a great setup.  He can’t be called Mr. Warbonnet as I also feature Warbonnet hammocks and tarp.  Could be confusing.  His pack is an awesome Gossamer Gear unit. Versatile and light.  Clearly not in the negatives like Mr. CF’s Arc Blast.  Last year, Mr. GG inspired me on our canoe trip to take my gear to the next level.  This year he upped the ante with his Tinny stoves. For the record, the stove is not on my must acquire list.  Sorry, Mr. GG.

Mr. Clark:  Mr. C (not to be confused with Howard Cunningham) is my hammock inspiration.  He is the one that introduced me to the beauty of sleeping in the air.  Mr C was hanging in his Clark Jungle Hammock with Clark Tarp.  Mr. C was showing off his new eGear Splash Flash light.  It was awesome.  Unfortunately Mr. C did not acquire one of these lights for me.  He does deserve a shot a redemption so I will let this oversight slide for now.

Me:  I’m a Warbonnet guy.  I have the Blackbird and Superfly just like Mr. GG, but I also have the most awesome hammock ever created:  The Warbonnet Ridge Runner.  This hammock is a bridge hammock and takes just seconds to “dial in”.  I have made plenty of whoopie slings but have reverted to the stock web suspension based on advice from Mr. C.  The Warbonnet Web suspension is ultra easy to adjust.  My hammock was setup and dialed in within a few minutes.  I really like the Blackbird but find it takes much longer to get “just right” to have the structural ridge line perfect and to eliminate calf pressure.  I was using my Hammock Gear Burrow 20 degree top quilt (over stuffed and 2″ wider than stock). Mr. GG has the same quilt.  I ordered mine after seeing his on the canoe trip last year.  My under quilt is a Warbonnet Yeti 3 Season.  I’ve added extra bungie so it works on my Ridge Runner.  I also brought my new Go-Lite Jam 50 pack.  It did not get nearly as much attention as the Z-Packs pack that Mr. CF brought, but I like it.  At about 1/4 the price of the Z-Pack and only twice the weight (still under 900 grams), I’ll stick with my Go-Lite.  I also have the Go-Lite Shangri-La 3 tent for when I have to sleep on the ground.

We had fun and the trees were beautiful.  Mr. GG mentioned how the sweet sound of Mr. C and I snoring helped him have a great night’s sleep.  I forgot to give Mr. GG some ear plugs.  Next time!

Special thanks to Mr. C for getting me into hammock camping and to the other guys for providing an endless shopping list for me.  Next virtual visit is to Dutchware.  Then I need some more Zing-It.

Here is some evidence.

Me taking down the gear at 7:16 a.m.

Me taking down the gear at 7:16 a.m.

Mr. Clark's place on the left.  Mine on the right.

Mr. Clark’s place on the left. Mine on the right.

5:58 p.m.

5:58 p.m.

5:58 p.m.

5:58 p.m.

5:58 p.m.

5:58 p.m.

Panorama at 7:20 a.m.

Panorama at 7:20 a.m.

Mr. Clark's setup on the left. Mine on the right.

Mr. Clark’s setup on the left. Mine on the right.

Ridge Runner and Superfly

Ridge Runner and Superfly

Ridge Runner and Superfly

Ridge Runner and Superfly

7:13 a.m.

7:13 a.m.

Ridge Runner with Superfly

Ridge Runner with Superfly

Ridge Runner uncovered.

Ridge Runner uncovered.

View from the campsite as the sun sets.

View from the campsite as the sun sets.

 

 

Epilogue: Part 1

I rode a 2013 FJR 1300 and I liked it!  But no purchase yet.  I love the Super Tenere.  The seating position, the awesome ABS and Traction Control, the fact that I have it completely farkled.  But, the FJR was really nice too!  The guys at www.motorsportsworld.com let me ride the FJR.

I have washed the Super Tenere 4 times now.  I’ve swapped the tires back to the pre-trip tires.  Changed the oil, but not the rear diff fluid yet.  I really have to take the bike apart to finish cleaning it.

Since returning from the awesome Alaskan adventure, both Dendog and I have had a bunch of questions.  Here are some of them and some plausible answers.

Q:  Would you do it again?
A:  NO WAY!!!  Not the way we did it.  Too many miles in too short a period of time.  It was hard to stop and just take it in when we had so much distance to cover.

Q:  What would you have changed?
A:   It would have been great to have the time to stay in Dawson City for a few days waiting for some nice weather to do the Top of the World / Taylor higways.  We didn’t have that luxury so we rode on one of the 4 rainy days that we had (5 for me). Bit of a drag to have the high point also be a low point.
The seat on the Super Tenere.  It just hated my thighs. I will have to go for a Russel Day Long custom seat this winter.
I would have liked to camp more.  A more relaxed schedule would have helped with this.

Q: What is the ideal size of a riding group
A:  Whatever works for you.  Dendog and I get along well.  With only two of us it made hotels & camping easy.  One room or one site.  Any larger a group and we may need more rooms or sites.  Also, with only two people you are dealing with fewer individual circadian rhythms.  Easier to get going and rest stops are faster.  I think there is also merit in doing a long trip solo.  That would be pretty cool, but not as cool as traveling with an awesome friend or friends or brother.

Q:  Wish you could have taken a different bike?
A:  Nope.  The Super Tenere was awesome (ignoring the seat this time).  I do wish I had spooned on some Heidenau K60 tires in Whitehorse and then swapped back after we did the dirt roads.

Q:  What happened with all of the failed equipment?
A:  I’ve had pretty good luck.  Klim came through with replacement knee and elbow armor (only one pad failed).  GoPro sent we a new case for my HD Hero (since I had already purchase one for the Hero 3) and Rev’It! were very quick to offer warranty on the gloves.

Q:  What is the next trip?
A:  No plans yet.  We know it will be much shorter.  We know we would like to include a few other guys like Otis & Rob.

Q: What is my single favorite memory? (my aunt asked me this and it really made me think).
A:  There isn’t a single one as there are too many.  But here are some highlights.
Making it to Alaska.  That was the goal, we did it!
Riding through the herd of Bison.  Totally cool.
Seeing bears.  Lot’s and lot’s of bears.
The intercom banter with Dendog.
The LAST grated metal bridge!!!!  -celebration time
Kluane Lake.
Muncho Lake.
Dawson City and the confluence of the Yukon & Klondike rivers.
Meeting other people and sharing briefly in their journeys.
Liard River Hotsprings (even with the mosquitos)
Arriving home!

Coming soon, equipment reviews. I promise. More videos too. When I get time to edit them.

Day 20: Home: 855 km

July 18, 2013

Dendog’s mileage was less at about 750 km.

We got up early so Dendog could make the ferry over to Tobermory, ON.  Dendog obsessed over watched the radar again and we made a break around 7:10 a.m.  Spotwalla knows the departure time more accurately.  It was cloudy and had been raining when we left.  We were trying to split the weather systems again and it worked. We had a few drops fall on us and the roads were wet.

We rode in a single shot from SSM to Espanola.  We saw our last bear of the trip running along a side road near Serpent River, ON.  That was Dendog’s first bear sighting in Ontario. Everyone in Espanola loves Tim Horton’s, and the entire town was there to greet us.  They may not have known that was why they were there, but it seems they were all there.  So we skipped the Tim’s and got gas at the neighboring station. Then we had to say goodbye.

IMG_0955

My ride was pretty uneventful.  I did try to educate people on how to use passing lanes.  I’m not sure they heard me, but I tried.  The rules are simple:  Accelerate before you pull out. Pass the vehicle as quickly and safely as possible so others can pass it too.  If you are being passed, don’t speed up, it’s not a race.

I found myself hitting the intercom button a few times. Sharing all of the little moments with my brother was one of the coolest things about this trip.

I reminisced as I passed the turn off for Sportman’s Lodges east of Sudbury, ON where I went canoe camping with some friends last October. I stopped for gas in North Bay. Stopped a picnic spot between North Bay and Deep River for some food.  The group self-portrait wasn’t the same.

Where's my brother?

Where’s my brother?

More gas in Deep River and then a straight run home.  I was lucky in that I was always just behind the rain.  Some of the roads were damp.  The temperature was never too high.  It got to 31 C for a brief time near Pembroke, ON but then cooled down to more comfortable temperatures.  The rain must have cooled things down for me.

I pulled over a few km from home and affixed the GoPro to my helmet to catch the return home event.

I ate a glorious meal of Noodles Don Don.  As you can expect, it was way better than Smitty’s.

So this is what we did:  13, 248 km.  (total for Dave).  We had only one day when we didn’t ride (Whitehorse).  Dave’s total trip time was 21 days (20 for Dendog), which means an average of 631 km/ day, or 662 km/day only including the travel days.

Overview of the trip.

Overview of the trip.

Now it’s time for cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.  Then maintenance and some small repairs.

In future posts we will review some of the equipment, we’ll add some video, maybe augment a few of the posts with more pictures.

Note that Spotwalla will no longer be reporting my position.

Love your people.  We missed ours.  Great to be home.  I feel a bit like Bobby Ewing.

Day 13: Fort Nelson, BC: 259 km

July 11, 2013

A short day!  We love the short days.  On a clear day, the ride through Muncho Lake to Fort Nelson is absolutely beautiful.  On our way north, it was our first taste of twisty roads and elevation changes.  On our way south, it was a bit of a cold, rainy, foggy soup.

 

We started the day with a nice sleep in and Dendog got a real breakfast with coffee.  He seemed to enjoy it.  After watching him gyrate into his rain gear we hit the road.  Approximately 4 hours to cover the distance and we did not take rest nor gas break.  We were escorted by a pilot car for a bunch of kms due to construction. Our lane was relatively gravel free.  We were glad!

We crossed three shorted metal grated bridges (in the rain) and they were uneventful.  The final long one is tomorrow.

Our wildlife tally included 3 more sheep (I have to correct the earlier post, we did see female sheep, not goats) including a male, moose (cow and calf), a fox and a baby bear.  The moose crossed the road in front of us.  The others were better behaved.

Our hotel room has an outside door and we parked the bikes right in front of our room. That should help our early departure.

The wind was pretty strong here while we were out at supper, and the cover was blowing off my bike.  Our neighbor secured it for me.  He has a motorcycle too.

I met another Super Tenere rider today in Fort Nelson.  His name is Hans and he is on his way with some friends to Anchorage and Fairbanks.  We had a nice chat about road conditions and a brief chat about the bikes.  I have met two Super Tenere owners, both at the Fas Gas in Fort Nelson.

Dendog and I took turns on point today.  That was nice.

Last night I left my keys in the ignition in the ON position for about 1.5 hours.  Oops.  I was afraid my battery would be dead.  The Shorai fired the bike right up.  That saved us using the booster cables Dendog engineered.

You may note that our marker in Spotwalla is now basically pointing in the correct direction.  Our route will be the same from here to Saskatoon as it was on the way up.  Filtering in Spotwalla may make it easier to figure out our last day’s travels.

Hoping for a bit less rain tomorrow so we can make it to Dendog’s 3:00 appointment in Grande Prairie, AB.  Tomorrow begins our new trend of losing an hour with time zone changes.

We only shot video and pictures with the GoPros today.

Bring on the prairies!

Day 12: Muncho Lake, BC: 732 km

July 10, 2013

I must admit to a little trepidation about today’s ride.  On the way north, we had encountered a long patch of loose gravel on this stretch.  We also encountered a REALLY long open grate bridge.  Today was a breeze.  A long breeze, but a breeze.  The road was improved and it wasn’t raining!  Temperatures were pretty good.  To top it off, my wife booked us into an awesome lodge (Northern Rockies Lodge).  While I miss Liard Hot Springs, this place is beautiful!

When I went out to uncover and unlock the bikes today I found 1 litre of Honda 20w50 oil tucked beside my back tire.  I assume one of our fellow motorcyclists either noticed my empty sight glass or didn’t have room.  Whomever you are, thanks!

For lunch today we had picked up some croissants and we used some our emergency tuna-in-a-bag supplies to make sandwiches just south of Watson Lake, YT.

IMG_0909

Our wildlife count today was really good.  We drove through a herd of bison.  Literally through the herd as they were on both sides of the road and crossing the road in front of us.  I got it on the GoPro, I think.  Hoping the lens wasn’t too dirty.

IMG_0916

 

This is the video of riding through the herd.  There is a nasty bug splat right in the middle of the lens, but that’s the video we got!

We only saw three bears.  That will do.  I did not stop to take pictures but think I got them on the GoPro.

At Teslin, after the hideously long scary bridge, I looped back through the scenic vista area to get some video on the GoPro.

The GoPro could be totally awesome for motorcyclists if they  made some basic changes.  I’ll write about that later.

The resort is right on the Alaska Highway.  The highway is pretty quiet. usually.  After dinner, we stood on the highway talking with some guys from Alberta for about 20 minutes,  One truck went by!  They have sightseeing flights from here.  One day I will have to come back.  My wife didn’t seem enthusiastic when I called via the MagicJack app on my iPhone.

The Lodge

The Lodge

Looking down the highway.

Looking down the highway.

View from our balcony

View from our balcony

 

Bikes are good.  Dendog is booked into Grand Prairie Friday for a new tire and an oil change.  We swapped the fuse for his fan.  It seems to have popped after his rad got mud-caked on the Taylor highway. Mine still seems to be drinking oil.  We will see if that stops once we hit the prairies.

Dendog took point for a bunch of the ride today.  That was nice for two reasons: 1) I got some video of him riding and 2) I don’t always enjoy riding point.

We are happy, healthy, the view is beautiful and we have  short ride to Fort Nelson tomorrow.  We might even have real breakfast!

 

Day 11: Whitehorse, YT: 631 km

July 09, 2013

Well, well, well.  If yesterday was the most challenging day so far, today would be a close second.  We stayed at a nice B&B in Tok, AK.  We had a nice relaxing evening, filmed some video recollections of Mr. Dendog and fell asleep pretty early.  It seemed today was not going to start out perfectly when I awoke @ 5:00 a.m. (local time), to the sound of rain hitting the roof.  I changed the alarm from 6:00 to 7:00 to let Dendog sleep in a bit and hopefully the rain would be over.

No such luck.  We were on the wet roads by 7:45 with rain and a temperature of 11 C.  The Alaska highway in Alaska is not in great shape.  Frequent substrate changes, heaves, holes, washboard and all twisty.  In the rain, it wasn’t much fun.  We did go through a wild fire area but were fortunate that the fire was far from the road.  When Canada, the temp had dropped to 6 C as the rain continued. By the time we got to Whitehorse, it was mostly sunny and 16C.  It felt beautiful.

We went through a very long section of gravel guided by a pilot vehicle.  It was decent, but wet gravel isn’t too much fun.  We hit another section that was pretty loose gravel and my bike just drifted to the wrong lane (no cars were there).  I just stopped, pointed up the slope and got back on track.

Dendog’s ratchet strapped Givi pannier held up well.  The pannier and his ankle are victims of a small “off” he had in the mud the day before on the Taylor Highway (no pictures will ever be shown).  His ankle is OK (he insists). Upon reflection, I think I didn’t fall due to a combo of the Michelin Anakee 3 tires and the really good Yamaha traction control system.

We stopped to get gas at the start of Kluane Lake.  The nice guy at the gas station turned on the furnace for Dendog while I went into the garage, stripped down and put a new layer of 260 wt Merino wool LJs on.  There was another customer at the gas station at the time.  He is in the hotel room next to us.

We have discovered our “waterproof” Rev’It Summit H20 gloves are in fact, not waterproof.

Kluane:  Oh my! (cue George Tekai).  Somehow the skies cleared enough for us to see the lake and a significant part of the mountains.  Amazing.  Just amazing.  We didn’t stop for photo ops as we were cold and tired. Hopefully we have good GoPro video.  Driving around Kluane is a must do.

I met a couple of BMW riders in the hotel.  They are heading up the Dalton to Deadhorse.  They are getting knobbies installed in Faribanks.  They didn’t know the name of the Dalton.  I suggested they watch BWOM:  Pirates of the Arctic Circle on Youtube tonight.

We are in the hotel, doing laundry and drying things out on the heater in the room. Not going to be a late night!

Tomorrow is another long ride down to Muncho Lake.  We are staying at a Lodge.  Before we go we have to wash the mud off the bikes, get some air in the tires and book some service in an upcoming city.

So why so short in Alaska?  Our goal was to get to Alaska.  On our way we discovered our pace was too high to have much extra fun.  So we are taking more time to get back.

Keep it real.

Day 10: Tok, AK: 316km

July 8, 2013

On top of the world, looking down on...

On top of the world, looking down on..

Dendog's puddle of Mud

Dendog’s puddle of Mud

A video of part of the Top of the World Highway.

Reading the title of this post you could assume it was a short, relaxed ride to achieve our goal:  Alaska!

If you check Spotwalla, you might see some really slow progress.  Let’s sum up the ride in as few words as possible:

Scary.  Rainy. Muddy. Intimidating.  Beautiful.

The “direct” route from Dawson to Tok is via the Top of the World and Taylor Highways.  The border crossing at Porter Creek is the highest (elevation) and furthest north in North America.  The Top of the World highway was allowed us to see some beautiful scenery and travel at a reasonable pace over mostly well groomed gravel and pavement.  The Taylor highway (on the US side) was just a mess of yuck.  In the construction area there was about 500 meters of gooey clay. It was unmarked and because we were in the clouds we didn’t see the surface change.  I hit it first, stood up and tried to power through it.  I announced to Dendog I was going down but somehow I kept it up (not a double entendre).  I stopped and we ended up pushing my bike up the rest of the clay field.  I rode his with my feet on the ground the whole way. It was yucky.  The yucky did not stop there.  At least one other time I announced to Dendog I was going down.  And again, I failed to fulfill the prophecy.

We stopped in Chicken to try and clean the clay out of Dendog’s rad and other parts of the bikes.  Got some gas and tried to dissuade other bikers heading north from continuing.

Back in Dawson we had met a nice couple on BWMs (everybody is on a BWM or a Harley it seems) and they told us the ride was fairly easy.  Difference was it had rained and was raining for us.

When we finally got to Tok, we stopped at a car wash to clean us and the bikes.  Found our B&B and sat on the deck.  It was my night to ride out to get dinner.

If I ever say I want to ride some crappy dirt / gravel / mud road again, please make me relive this ride.

We would never do this again, but we are pretty happy we did it!

Off to Whitehorse tomorrow as we begin the adventure home.

 

 

My feet

My feet

Chicken, AK

Chicken, AK

Dendog's bike on the Taylor

Dendog’s bike on the Taylor

Me in Alaska!

Me in Alaska!

The REALLY crappy part of the Taylor

The REALLY crappy part of the Taylor

On the George Black ferry crossing the Yukon.

On the George Black ferry crossing the Yukon.

 

Day 9: Dawson City, YT: 551 km

July 7, 2013

It seems that every hill we crest since we passed Fort Nelson reveals another vista that just makes you go “wow”. Today was also beautiful. The weather was great, the roads were usually good and there weren’t any metal grated bridges!

We did encounter a significant number of really slow RVs. 90% of them hauling “toads”. We got pretty good at passing them as our stops were out of sequence. Our intercoms are really helpful for passing.

We had a few gravel sections. I got onto the high loose section and had a few moments of the wobbles. For the next section, I did the right thing and stood up. Dendog was fine through it all.

Dawson City is pretty cool. There are at least two bus loads of people from cruise ships. We had dinner at Klondike Kate’s. It was really good and reasonably priced.

It’s neat to see the two rivers running together yet discernable. Dawson City is at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers.

We met some more people from Sarnia today and a nice lady from Oakville. We met her at the “rest stop” at Gravel Lake.

I forgot to turn on SPOT until we were about 25 km into the ride today.

We met a 72 year old from Germany. He had a SPOT around his neck. He is paddling 1000 miles on the Yukon river (downstream). I’m envious. Perhaps next summer 🙂

If you are considering a trip like this and want cell coverage, pick Telus / Bell. Rogers has not had any meanigful coverage since Grande Prairie. Seems every city has Telus coverage. This is not a paid endorsement.

Looks like my bike burned some more oil today. I have spare oil and an extended warranty!

Lot’s of dudes in Dawson have beards. Dendog and I fit right in.

Tomorrow we enter Alaska via the Top of the World Highway and we stay in Tok, AK overnight. It’s a short ride at around 300 km but can take 7 hours or more. Up early and on the road! That’s the plan.

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