Day 14: Grande Prairie, AB: 607 km

July 12, 2013.

We were on a 4 lane highway today! It felt so good!

We were up pretty early (4:30) and had breakfast in the hotel (they open breakfast at 5:00). While there we met a nice guy from Ohio. He rides an FJR and was planning on doing the Klondike loop (Dawson City to Tok) and then the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse). He was going to do this in 16 days total from home. That seems rather ambitious but cool. We wished him well and went back to getting ready. Our goal was to leave by 6:00 and we only missed it by 15 minutes (Spot should prove me fairly accurate).

It was cold. How cold was it? It was 6 C when we left. But it was not raining. We made distance while it was mostly dry and there wasn’t traffic. It started raining at some point. We had to be in Grande Prairie by 3:00 for Dendog’s service appointment so we made few stops. By the time we got to Fort St John, we were both shivering and ready for our first break. We encountered 3 C and SNOW 70 km south of Bucking Horse. Yes SNOW. Because it was a balmy 3 C it did not stick. Not long before the snow fell we noticed frost on the trees about 100 m higher elevation than we were at. Every new hill we saw had us a bit worried.

A brief video of the snow falling.

Construction on the road today gave us more mud opportunities. Just like old times!

We encountered three metal grate bridges and we think we are done with them. Look far forward, accelerate through and hope for the best! The last one was long and really windy.

The rain was bit disappointing as it obscured our view of the beautiful gorge at Taylor, BC.

The nice thing about the cold& rain and snow:  No insects added to our splatter patterns.

Wildlife count: Zero.  We saw two dead moose by the side of the road.  Glad we didn’t see anything else in these conditions.

While Dendog was at his appointment (special thanks to the guys at Redline in Grande Prairie for fitting him in on short notice), I did a bit of walking around and shopping.

I had been looking for bicycle shorts to help with the comfort (or lack thereof) of my seat. The guy at Sports Experts set me up with these. He said they are what all the cool guys are wearing now. I can’t believe my fortune as they were on sale too!20130712-205726.jpg

I also got a new case for my NEW GoPro (see the tweets). When I took the GoPro off the bike I noticed that one of the supporting prongs had broken off of the case. A harshly worded letter will follow. That’s two broken GoPro cases on this trip. I will stop using the mount point.

For dinner we went for take out “Taco Time”. We haven’t been eating lunch very often other than the occasional granola bar or Snickers (TM).

Tomorrow we are off to Lloydminster, AB. I’m going to have Dairy Queen. I had to teach them how to make a Peanut Buster Parfait Blizzard last time.

When I get home I have three emails to write:

  1.  Rev’It to complain about the “waterproof” Summit H20 gloves being far less than waterproof.  I will have to let the OGTC know too.
  2. GoPro for the two cases that broke.
  3. Sears Canada for completely botching the fridge delivery at home.  Q: How many days does it take to install a fridge?  A: at least a week and at least 3 visits by various crews.

I have cell service back. Yay!

Special thanks to friends and neighbors that are helping back home.

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.

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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.

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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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Day 8: Whitehorse, YT: 0km

July 6, 2013

Yes, zero kilometers on the bike today. We walked around town to see the sights and get food and shop for supplies (mainly tent pegs). I was thrilled to find the MSR groundhog tent pegs. Haven’t found them in Ottawa. We have at least one more night of camping left and the gravel campsites have not been kind to our pegs.

We enjoyed the self-guided tour of the Klondike paddle wheel boat. We also went to the local museum.

In the small world category, two entries above mine in the guest book was a signature of a person from the town I live close to. In the lobby of our hotel I met a guy from Sarnia.

Did a bit of bike maintenance. Couldn’t tell if the oil level was dropping so I topped it to the full line for easier comparison. I’ve got spare oil now (taking up the space reserved for souvenirs) and I know I will make it home.

We are both looking forward to Dawson City tomorrow. We spent a few hours today re-planning the rest of the trip at a more reasonable pace with a bit more buffer. We have dropped a few of our stops in Alaska. Our goal for the trip will be met once we cross the Alaska border. After that it’s all gravy!

We were going to camp in Dawson City, but we have switched to a hotel.

If you know RV people, please remind them that they are large (the RVs that is), subject to wind influences, brake poorly and should NOT try and pull out in front of us.

That’s about it for today. Going to sleep early so we can get an early start.

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Day 7: Whitehorse, YT: 673 km

July 5, 2013

Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes.  Bad at night., ridiculous in the morning. It had rained a bit at night so we packed up quickly.

Way back near Fort Nelson we saw a sign that warned of Bison on the road near Muncho Lake.  We didn’t see any yesterday.  Today we saw about three dozen of them.  One large group and the rest in smaller gatherings.  We had to slow down to wait for them to get off the road.  We got pictures and video.

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We saw bears too! I really wanted to see the big animals on this trip.  We saw at least a dozen bears today.  At one point I was going to pull over to take a picture of one we had just passed.  I decided there wasn’t a safe spot to pull over, but right where I had slowed down, we saw another bear.

The b

And a video of the bear:

Welcome to the Yukon Territory.

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Today was amazing scenery and wildlife.  I mounted my P&S camera facing sideways.  I got a lot of pictures of my glove as I pressed the shutter 🙂 .

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We had to stop at the Sign Post forest in Watson Lake, YT.  We did  not search hard enough to find the BWOM sticker 🙁  The “forest” is huge!

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As we were riding we talked more about our pace.  We agreed to take a day off in Whitehorse before heading to Dawson City on Sunday.  I think we need the day off.  I’ve been riding 8 straight days and Dendog 7.  We still can’t believe we are doing this.

We will re-plan our route tomorrow.  We don’t publish the route so you will see the outcome on Spotwalla.

No Spotwalla updates tomorrow.  It’s tourist day.

Beautiful weather again today.  It’s good to be us!

I think there should be a motorcycle tour (fly and ride) company that operates out of Whitehorse and takes you down to Fort Nelson.

Later!

 

Day 6: Liard River Hotsprings, BC: 502 km

July 4, 2013

Some days start out well and some not so well.

We both woke up early. OK, I woke up and started packing, that might have helped Dendog wake up too. I slept really well. Amazing how the Thermarest (with extra air) protected me from the underlying gravel. We both have good equipment. The Robaxacet and Advil PM might have helped me sleep. Custom fitted ear plugs from Costco help too.

If the mosquitoes were bad the night before, they were ridiculous this morning. The Swiss couple broke camp, said goodbye and hit the road.

After we were packed up we checked our oil and Dendog noticed that mine was low. My bike is a dry sump with a sight glass. Odd combo. I started it up and the low oil light came on. We went across the street to the restaurant / wood shop / hotel / anything and they sold me a liter of car motor oil. Since this was all we had and we were 200km from anything else, we took it and added it to my bike. Oil light is now out and we proceed. A customer outside the store told us of a bike shop in Fort Nelson.

Nice peaceful ride to Fort Nelson where we found the “motorcycle” shop. It’s actually a Polaris dealer / rad / muffler shop. Great people. He got me some Amsoil 10w40 (a few spare liters) and changed the oil after I explained the silly dry sump configuration and showed him the owner’s manual to prove I wasn’t crazy. We were out in an hour. That’s great service and I am appreciative. Turns out, we may not have needed it at all, but better safe than sorry.

While there, I noticed a guy at the gas station next door with the same bike and the same suit as me. He was from Colorado and was on his way back south. He had all of the Touratech ($$$) gear including the seat. I was envious of the seat. My Airhawk / Alaska Sheepskin combo is working well. Dendog may need some more help. This guy wasn’t my new best friend as we wasn’t very talkative.

The guy that fixed the bike told us that the roads really changed about 50 km north of Fort Nelson. Oh WOW he was right. Really glad it was a fairly short day as the roads were beautiful. Twisty, elevation changes, scenery like I have never seen before. We even saw wildlife. Some goats on the road. We stopped and I took pictures. An RV was approaching quickly so I tried to wave him to slow down. He waved back and then hit the brakes hard.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep + RV

This is a challenging but beautiful ride. It would be awesome as the passenger in a convertible. Seriously. You should drive this road.

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Liard Springs was really nice. We visited the hot springs twice. I saw two moose from the boardwalk and Dendog saw three.

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Our second Mountain House meal was lasagna. For the record, we have enjoyed the MH food.

Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes. Bad at night.

Beautiful day. We are lucky dudes. Still can’t believe we are doing this.

 

Day 5: Buckinghorse River, BC: 426 km

July 3, 2013

Welcome to British Columbia!

Welcome to BC

Welcome to BC

Our first camping adventure! It’s a good thing I didn’t bring my hammock, there wasn’t anywhere to hang. Perhaps you could hang from the mosquitoes that were everywhere. A good supply of Deep Woods Off and clothing plus our awesome bug net hats made the adventure almost tolerable.

We took our time leaving the hotel, no rush since it was a short day.

It was a fairly easy ride. There was a beautiful gorge with a scary metal grated bridge. We hate those things. Enter slowly, accelerate through, guide the bike gently and keep the eyes far ahead! No front brakes!

We stopped in Fort St John for Tim’s and I picked up my 1 gallon gas can at CTC.

We got some GoPro action for the second half of the descent to the gorge. Can’t remember where it was, things are blurring together.

It was really nice to have a short day. Gave us time to hang out and set up camp. We had our first Mountain House meal (Teriyaki Chicken with Rice) and it was really good.

Sitting at our campsite. Dendog on the river bank

Had a nice fire. I had to ride across the highway to pick up the fire wood on my bike. I have a bunch of Rox straps so it was pretty easy.

The park has a boil water advisory. We brought our own in my MSR dromedary bag. I do have a filter, but we prefer good chlorinated hotel water!

The campground is small, with basic amenities. You can’t reserve. You just show up, park in one of the tiny spots and drop your cash in the bin. The campground is on a nice river (Buckinghorse) that flows pretty quickly. We didn’t bear proof too much and we did not get eaten. The downside to the campground is it is close to a work camp. During our stay, someone nearby was discharging a shotgun until very late into the morning.

We met a nice you couple from Switzerland and a guy from Alberta that liked Johnny Cash.

We packed up early and hit the road. Spot can tell you when. Even Dendog’s ubiquitous Telus coverage failed us there.

The weather was beautiful the entire day.

The official name is “Buckinghorse River Wayside Provincial Park”.

We still can’t believe we are actually doing thisOn the road

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