V-Strom Riders International
11/01/14 0300 Hours


Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Login with username, password and session length
News: For login problems please contact admin - motorcycle@vssupportqueue.com
Advanced search  
  Pages: 1 2 3 » |   Go to Bottom of page
EMAIL THIS TOPIC | PRINT
Author Topic: Alaska Trip July 2003  (Read 67218 times)
0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.
Peter
Candyman
******
10/12/03 1453 Hours
Posts: 5688

DL1000K2 (sold)
Singapore
www Offline
« on: 10/13/03 0408 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Alaska Ride Report - Part 1

By Bill Clelland


Well it started a couple of years ago when I and a couple of other SCUM (South Carolina Unorganized Motorcyclists) rode to the BMW Rally in Redmond, OR. I knew after that trip that I wanted to go to Alaska with them, which would be the next big ride in two years. The two guys I had hoped to go with decided that they would rather go alone, so I was left out, but still determined to go I decided to go alone if I had to. I needed a dual sport bike and after looking at all options, I decided on the Suzuki VStrom which proved to be a great choice. Lightest bike and most power in its class and a price that was too good to be true. I sold my ‘96 Goldwing for $8200 and bought my VStrom for $8264 out the door. After going to Canada last year and camping around Lake Huron I was satisfied that the VStrom was very capable of going where I wanted to go, but I was unsure about all the gravel roads and stories I had read about the hardships of the trip to Prudhoe and Inuvik. I read many ride reports about losing bikes over hills, treacherous road conditions, slippery mud, and bears and oh my! What was I in for? Then I met Mark Choquette at the gathering at TWO last year and he said he was also supposed to go with some buddies from Iowa. Mark and I had both made the same preparations for the trip with new chains and sprockets, new set of Torrance’s, Al Jesse bags, taller windscreens, Mark had the stainless crash bars from Peter Kroll (PS: after seeing the crash bars from Peter, I would suggest to everyone that they are the best and well worth the money, especially if you really want to have both protection for the bike and someplace to rest your legs. It allows you to get a different seating position on long trips by propping your legs up onto the bars. If Peter also makes the skid plate like Mark’s it will be a great addition for anyone who may wants to do a little more that just ride the pavement.) I had the SW Motech bars. Mark made his homemade skid plate and I added a little scoop to the front of the stock skid plate to try to keep mud from clogging the oil cooler. Mark had a Corbin seat, Gold Valve suspension modification, and Al Jesse tail box and I used the stock seat and a bag mounted on the tool box I added from Lowe’s. We e-mailed each other and I found out that the guys Mark was to go with also canceled, so I suggested we go together, and Mark agreed. Our wives felt better about us going together also, so it was easier to say “I’ll see you in a month or two” when I left on June 9th for this great adventure.


Mark was to leave Iowa on the 13th and was going straight north through Yellowknife and back to the Alaskan Highway via the Liard Highway and I was going up through Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway up the Bighorn Highway and into Dawson Creek to get my picture at milepost 0. We were to meet at the intersection of the Liard Highway and the Alaskan Highway at 8:00 am on the 18th but Mark said if he wasn’t there by 9:00 am then to go on without him and we would meet in Dawson City at around noon on the 20th for the “Dust to Dawson Rally”. This is a fun loving group of Beemer people from Anchorage and around Alaska that ride the Top of the World Highway to Dawson each year. Mark had e-mailed Gerald (The Duckman) to let him know that a couple of VStrom’s may show up and he said that it didn’t matter what we rode, just c’mon up, so that was the plan.

First stop, Evansville Indiana 650 miles and my friends house for the night, then on across country to Glacial National Park and into Canada at Roosville and a Provincial Park campground in Banff on the 14th. Exchanged $700 US for $910 Canadian on Sunday the 15th and went to get breakfast at Phil’s after spotting a blue VStrom downtown. They were having a 10K Fathers Day race in town and I never did find out who the blue Strom belonged to, but it was nice to see another Strom. When I got to Grande Prairie I stopped to get gas and a coke and a guy on an older Goldwing was passing the station and looked over at me. He circled the station and pulled up and got off his bike and headed straight for the Strom as he started to motion that he was both deaf and dumb. He got out a piece of paper and began writing questions. His name was Larry Loberg and he really liked the Strom and wanted to know all about it and my travels to date. He wrote about himself and had a lot of pictures in his wallet of earlier days on other motorcycles. The clerk from the store took a smoke break and came outside; she knew Larry and was able to do sign language so she helped us “talk” about traveling and motorcycles. What a great time we had visiting.



Milepost O in Dawson Creek

Everything was going well with time and distance until I called home while having dinner in Dawson Creek. Mark had called and left a message at my home that he was making better time than expected, so he would be able to meet me on the 16th at Ft Nelson. This was the 16th it was 8:00 pm local time and I was still 283 miles from Ft Nelson. I had spent the night before in Jasper and had already traveled 345 miles and luckily decided to eat dinner before going to a campground.  Without saying anything to my wife, I hung up the phone, finished dinner, asked some locals about gas stations on the way to Ft Nelson and headed up the Alaska Highway. At my first fuel stop north I filled the spare gas can in the bag on my top box. I had Ft Nelson as a waypoint in my GPS so I knew how many crow miles it was to get there and I kept wondering if I had written down the wrong day we were to meet. I know that my short term memory seems to be getting worse, but I was sure that Mark had said to meet on the 18th. I was to stay in a motel on the night of the 17th in Ft Nelson in case he got through his loop early and he could just bang on my hotel room door and have a place to stay that night, which was the plan. As I kept wondering how I had gotten the dates wrong I kept an eye out for critters on the road. Luckily it stays lighter, later in the day up here so it’s not dark yet although it is getting dimmer. I had seen black bears, goats, moose, deer, and sheep today already and didn’t care to see them now since I was really just trying to get to Ft Nelson as soon as possible. I stopped to rest and use the facilities at a rest stop and met a family from Juneau who was heading south and had stopped to have a picnic or late night snack depending on your time reference. I asked if he had rented his truck and he said no that it was his and they had taken the ferry and we got into a discussion about Juneau. Although there is only 40 miles of road in Juneau, he said that everyone had at least one car and some had two. That gave me something to think about for the next several miles as I continued to Ft Nelson. Finally I see a sign that says 24 hour gas station ahead and a reference to Ft Nelson in the same space, I am really close now maybe 10 miles as I look at my flashing gage and my mileage sitting at 235 on the odometer. I had been averaging over 75 mph and sometimes over 90 since my last fill up and hadn’t seen an open station since so this was it, will I make it to that oasis of petrol in the distance. As I topped over a hill and down around a curve I saw a deer to my right jump into the brush then up the next slope and sputter, stop, dead, out of gas. I get the spare can out of the bag as the mosquito’s swarm around their late night snack, me. The only thing I can think of is getting the gas into my tank and away from all these blood suckers as soon as I can. It is dark but light enough to see without any lights so I hurry and get back onto the bike and up the hill to a gas station no more that ¾ of a mile away, so close but yet so far. I also make a mental note that I got 236 miles from that tank while pushing the speed over 80 on average. I get to town and there is Marks Strom at the Travelodge. I get a room and park my bike in front of his so he will see it the next morning. That bed felt good.


Meeting Mark at the Travelodge in Ft Nelson

The next morning there is someone pounding on my door. It is Mark who had seen my bike and asked the desk clerk for my room number. As I am getting  dressed I ask Mark about my mix up of our meeting day and he said that I was right but he had done over 1100 miles his first day on the road so he got ahead of his schedule. I guess my 600 + mile days are no big deal to him, but it was good that I had done them. We got our picture together at the motel, loaded up the bikes and headed north. At a gas stop up the highway we ran into Sheldon who was riding a BMW RS that had been wrecked. Mark knew Sheldon because he had ran into him earlier and Mark had ridden part way down the road with him. Mark later told me that Sheldon had not done gravel before and that he was very uneasy about the roads. Mark told him he needed to get over it because if he was going to Alaska he would see a lot more of these roads ahead. Well it seems that after Mark and Sheldon parted ways, Sheldon continued up the Alaskan Highway when Mark headed for Ft Nelson and that was when Sheldon hit a patch of gravel at a speed he couldn’t handle and it threw him over the hill. He wasn’t hurt but the bikes fairing was busted, no windshield and the handlebars were bent. The shifter was bent and a few other things had been taped back together but here he was again trying to get to Anchorage and a family members home. We had lunch together and Mark and I kept talking with him to try to get his thoughts off the new bike he just turned to a pile of you know what. He was much better mentally after lunch and we left him there since he didn’t feel like continuing just then. He thanked us for our words of wisdom and encouragement and we left. We stopped to get pictures at the Yukon Territory sign and Sheldon pulled in too, he was on his way again.


Mark and Sheldon at the Yukon Territory sign on the Alaska Highway.

We took pictures and off again to Watson Lake and sign post city. We were heading up the Campbell to Ross River then on to Dawson City from here. We filled up our tanks and headed up the Campbell. When we got to the end of the pavement Mark stopped and asked if I wanted to kiss the pavement goodbye, because it would be a long time before we saw it again. He told me to lead and to remember that it was 239 miles to the first gas stop in Ross River so to keep it under 70 to conserve fuel. Now something that I had told Mark when we first decided to do this together was that it had been many years since I had ridden much dirt and gravel. Like, since I lived 7 miles back on a dirt county road back in 1971 and I had my 750 Honda. I had not ridden off pavement for 20 plus years except for some little parts of construction or some detour of some kind but no serious dirt or gravel for any kind of distance like we were about to do. So I knew that keeping it under 70 mph was not too hard for me to do. As I led off down the road, it was really a nice mixture of dirt and gravel. The surface was solid and I got my confidence very quickly and began to increase my speed. I looked down and I was doing about 55 mph. Then a car came toward us and I had to move over into the looser stuff and I got a little loose and slowed down again.


The Campbell Highway on the way to Ross River


I knew that this was what I had come to Alaska to do and this is why Mark wanted to come back so he could do all the storied roads that you read about, but Mark still lives on a gravel road and he practices this kind of riding every time he takes his bike out of the garage. I on the other hand, am still unsure about gravel and the loose stuff and all the things you read about. What have I gotten myself into? That’s why they call it an adventure and that’s why we have adventure touring bikes, right? Well after a few hundred miles of this stuff I was getting OK with it. The old memories of riding gravel and dirt were coming back. It was like the old days back in Maryland and the gravel road to my first house on the Garrett Road. Hey this isn’t all that bad, at least its not sand roads like we have in South Carolina. We got into Ross River very late and the gas station was closed so we looked for a place to bed down and there was a round house in what looked like an abandoned RV park in town. We put our tents in the round house as the dogs in town let everyone know we were there. It seemed they barked for hours but we were so tired we still feel right to sleep.


In the morning we got up around 5:30 and headed down to the gas station again to see what time it opened. The sign said 9:00 and we decided to try to make i t over to Faro and headed out past all the barking dogs. When we finally arrived in Faro the odometer read 289.8 miles on this tank and it took 20.63 liters. Mental note here that we probably averaged 45 to 50 mph on this tank. We had breakfast at a restaurant and met a few locals who we asked about the fact that we hadn’t seen any wildlife on the road last night. He was a guide and a trucker and said that there is so much wilderness that the grizzlies don’t like to be close to the road but he assured us they were there. We asked him about the road to Inuvik and he said he thought it was a better road than the Campbell and it was better maintained, so if we didn’t have any problems with the Campbell we would definitely be able to get to Inuvik, but just be careful. He asked about our trip so far and warned us that the last section before we would get to the pavement going to wards Dawson City would be very slippery. He told us a story about another biker who had lost it on this slippery section and said that they put so much calcium on the roads that it was like grease, especially when it gets wet, and it was looking like rain already.

We headed out of town in a slight drizzle and the roads seemed fine, my confidence was growing and we saw some great scenery. Everything was great till the drizzle turned to a real rain which made it harder to see and the mud was caking up on the bike and our pants. I looked in the mirror and saw Mark on the other side of the road trying to avoid the rooster tail of mud coming from my rear tire. He was taking a different line and I moved further to the right to see if I could get out of some of the standing water where the track was packed down from traffic. It was now as greasy as the trucker had said it would be, the tires seemed to lose their grip and just slide once in a while, then it got soft and my front started to plow and push me over the hill so I steered to the left to try to come back up and the bike felt like it was trying to drop onto it’s left side. I stabbed the ground with my left foot and pushed off as hard as I could to get the bike upright but this shoved me onto the right again and it start into the weeds once again as I stabbed again I felt my foot bending slightly under the Jesse bag and as I steered back to wards the center again the bike caught some solid surface and came up and out of the soft slippery goo that tried to capture us. As I got straightened out and gained control I looked in the mirror to see Mark so far to the left you could drive an 18 wheeler between us. I thought about stopping but decided to keep going because it was so slippery I didn’t relish the thought of trying to get started again. I saw pavement ahead and stopped as soon as my wheels were on solid tar and chip. Mark got off laughing and said he wanted to go back and get a picture of my tracks, he said that he couldn’t believe what he had witnessed and the tracks my bike left up and down that berm. I was also now laughing more from relief and as we both high fived, I had to admit it probably left a pinch mark on the vinyl seat. Mark said during the time I was fighting to stay upright and out of the ditch he was occupied as well with his own problems but nothing as severe as mine. He said that he felt the softness in the surface and had moved to the other side just before I started down to wards the ditch. I guess that is where experience and knowing the dirt comes in handy. I will learn this as we travel, like OJT. The rest of the ride to Dawson City was uneventful and we hit several sections of road construction with loose gravel and dirt but nothing like the Campbell Highway.



Dawson City is a town that really plays on its heritage with all the saloons, dance halls, and gambling, dirt streets and board sidewalks, even period costumes and tours around all the old buildings. Shops and souvenir stands, restaurants and a few gas stations to choose from. There is an information center dedicated to the Dempster Highway and people from Inuvik who work there and give advice about the town and the road. There is a ferry that takes you across the river to get to the Top of the World highway which we will take after we get back from Inuvik. Most of the young girls who work at all the restaurants, gambling hall and theaters in Dawson are college girls who work here for the summer. Most of them are not from this area and have a great time with all the parties and socializing with travelers through this area. Diamond Tooth Gerties and Klondike Kates are a must do while in Dawson City. Klondike Kates is a great place to eat and we ended up eating both breakfast and dinner all three days we were in town.


We stayed at the Downtown Hotel since this is where the Dust To Dawson Rally event was to be hosted. The owner, Dick had ridden over to Tok to ride back with the guys coming from Anchorage, so we got a room and hung out around town. The rally people weren’t due back till the next day so we decided to spend two days in Dawson and see the sites. The rest was very welcome and the people were great. Dick has sworn that as long as he owns the hotel there will be no cell phone service in this area so forget about that and buy a prepaid phone card at the hotel. I paid $20.00 CN and got 3 hrs 15 minutes time back to my home in Columbia, SC. Mark had bought phone cards in Iowa before he left and didn’t get as much time even though he paid $20.00 US for his card. The next day the Dust To Dawson bunch showed up late in the day and the party was on. We introduced ourselves and The Duckman and his whole bunch took us in like we were old friends. They were a fun loving bunch who loved to party and if you ever get a chance to go to Alaska, then you must include the Dust To Dawson Rally in your plans, you won’t regret it. While at the Downtown Hotel bar there is a little ritual that some folks do, called “kissing the toe”. This is done by ordering a drink called the Sourtoe Cocktail. As the tail goes, back during the gold rush a miner lost his toe to frostbite so he cut it off and saved it in a bottle of whiskey. So the cocktail was born with a real human toe put into a glass and the whiskey is poured over it, the object being that when you drink the whiskey you must kiss the toe with your lips. Several toes have been donated to this purpose over the years and the guy who conducts this ritual lays all the toes out on a table so that everyone can see him prepare the drinks.


The Dust To Dawson Crowd at Klondike Kates

Everyone said you can't get to Eagle Plains without filling up at the corner where you turn up from the main road, or without extra fuel on board. We checked with Dick, the owner of the Downtown Hotel in Dawson and he said the corner station didn't open till 8:00, but you couldn't depend on that time either. (As with most businesses in that area, they may say "open at 8:00" but they may show up at 8:30 or maybe 9:00 or 10 ish. So we filled up in downtown Dawson and left at 6:00 am for Eagle Plains with an extra 2 gallons on back for each of us. As we turned the corner for the Dempster we stopped and let air out of the tires, on good advice from Tony Authier from Tok, AK who left Birmingham, AL and told his buddies he'd be back later...it's been a year and a half later and he's still in AK, but that's another story.


Tony and I at Three J’s cabins the night before leaving for Inuvik

By the way, Tony has a friend in AL who is buying a Strom and heading to AK to visit. (Tell Tony thanks for the advice and tell him we made it to everything we planned)

As a side note there were three guys on KLR's that were in Dawson the day before who were curious about our Strom's and when we said we were going to Inuvik the next day they said that "those bikes can't make that trip", so the glove was tossed, which really made Mark a little upset. I knew he was upset because, every time we would stop along the way to rest or take pictures he would mutter "those bikes can't make it to Inuvik, ha". As we were letting the air out, we felt a few drops of rain and we both knew what that meant from our experience on the Campbell just a few days before, so off we went with those KLR guys words ringing in our ears. Mark said to me, "just keep it under 70 MPH and we should get close to Eagle Plains". Mark always let me lead on the dirt and gravel, I think he did that to let me set the pace since I was not too good on gravel and he is what I would call a dirt and gravel expert. Heck, he even hit 100+ mph on the gravel and I don't mean the packed stuff like tar and chip either. Scared me!! Interesting enough I can now ride at 75 and 80 on the loose stuff but it took at least the first 500 to 800 miles before I got used to it moving you around or feeling like riding on marbles on a marble road. Well we made it to Eagle Plains on the fuel in our tanks without having to use our spare. (256 miles from Dawson City) this was like averaging over 50 MPG for the first section of the Dempster.



Each time we would stop, the drizzle caught up with us all the way to the ferry crossing at Fort McPherson. After that, we had clear weather on into Inuvik. The KLR guys had just unpacked their bikes and gear when we pulled into the hotel, and they looked at us with surprise written all over their faces. They had left the day before and spent the night at Eagle Plains like most riders do, so it was with surprise that they asked when we had left and we told them at 6:00 am that morning. We had made the entire 457 miles plus 25 miles to Dawson in 13 hours and 15 minutes. As we checked in, Mark gave me a high five and said "those bikes can't make it, HA !




Ferry Crossings are free going to Inuvik

The ride back to Dawson was another perfect day for weather, with the sun shining bright. As we were approaching Eagle Plains we saw a fire at the river crossing where the Mad Trapper was shot and when we stopped at the gas station the attendant said that they were bringing in a plane loaded with water to bomb the fire.


We decided not to wait and continued back to Dawson. Arriving back in Dawson we went to The 3 J’s hotel to get a room and they sent us over to the Downtown Hotel where we saw Dick the owner as we were unloading the bikes. He was very surprised to see us and asked if we had made it to Inuvik. We said yes and he asked if we had any problems as he kept looking all around our bikes as if to see some damage or something missing. He couldn’t believe that we had made it up and back in two days without anything happening to us or the bikes. He was also amazed when we told him we had made Eagle Plains with only our main tanks gas from downtown Dawson. He said that he was always glad to hear of successful rides up there since most of the time he hears nothing but horror stories about the journey. He kept looking at us with amazement and admiring our bikes and asking a lot of questions about them. Maybe we converted another BMW guy.

One of the reasons to ride to Inuvik is because this is the furthest point north on the North American Continent that you can ride to, and buy a beer. You can ride to Deadhorse, but you can’t buy a beer. So we were on a quest, and as we were heading up the Dempster, we would ask the locals what the furthest north bar was, and the consensus was Frosty’s Pub.



So we headed to Frosty’s after dinner and introduced ourselves to the lady who managed the bar. As we were drinking our beer, and of course after we had  purchased our Frosty’s commemorative hats, she said that there was another bar across the street. She wasn’t sure, but it may be further north than Frosty’s. So rather than get on the bikes and hook up the GPS we decided the best course of action was to cover all bases and go get a beer at the Mad Trapper across the street. As I left Frosty’s we saw a native heading into the bar and I thought of all people, he would know what direction was north. As he looked up at the sun still shining well after midnight and because it was June 20th it was just making a small circle in the sky, he thought for a minute and pointed in the direction of the Mad Trapper and said he really didn’t know for sure.


This was the day before the summer solstice and every native from around this area was in town for the big celebration. The summer solstice is a big event up here and all the people come to town and party. The RCMP was hauling men and women to jail constantly for public intoxication. The manager at Frosty’s said that the Mad Trapper bar was more like a native bar than hers and that we should at least experience it, even if it wasn’t further north than hers. We entered, and wow what a place. People everywhere, not even a place to sit so we went up to the bar and ordered our beer. As we stood there drinking the RCMP came in and talked with a guy that we later found out was the manager, Dave Rogers. We introduced ourselves to Dave and told him why we were there and he looked at my SCUM T-shirt that I was wearing and said he liked the logo. He also said that anyone who rides all the way from South Carolina to buy a beer at his place deserved a Mad Trapper T-shirt so he took us back to his office and gave Mark and me both a shirt. He asked if I would send him a SCUM shirt in exchange and I asked if he would hang it over the bar. He said no, because he didn’t want to start that kind of thing but said he wanted it to actually wear. I agreed and he then asked me to sign a dollar bill and he would put it in a frame on the wall with the others from different places. Mark and I signed our US dollars and thanked Dave and left. Look for a dollar with SCUM and my signature on it when you get to Inuvik.


We caught the ferry the next morning and rode across the “Top of the World Highway which is partly paved and more gravel and dirt. The customs agent at the border was from North Carolina originally and we talked about how he got to Alaska. He was with the coast guard and was assigned there and just stayed. He lived in Fairbanks when he wasn’t at the most remote and northern border crossing in the US. The first place you come to after crossing the border is a place called Boundary which is a gas stop, café, and a few cabins to rent if you’re stuck.


Then you come down the steep grade into Chicken

According to local lore the residents during the gold rush days wanted to name the place after all the ptarmigans that were in the area but no one could spell it so they settled for Chicken. On over to Tok where we met a father and son riding older BMW’s and ironically they were from Iowa not too far from Mark. After lunch we headed for Fairbanks and camped at the Chena Lake Campground just south of Fairbanks. Mark and I both did a little maintenance on the bikes since it was so light we didn’t feel like going to bed yet. As we sat there, talking about our trip so far, Mark said he was wondering about Sheldon and if he ever made it to Anchorage. We were up and out early the next day and headed through Fairbanks toward the Dalton Highway and Deadhorse. We stopped at a truck stop along the way and had a great breakfast and talked with a few of the locals who were curious about our adventure. They had told us that the road had been closed the day before because of the fires. We had started seeing smoke when we first headed into Tok the day before but didn’t realize how far and how many fires were burning all around that area. The fires had jumped the road and they closed it for safety reasons. A trucker came through and said he thought it was open again so we decided to head on up that way and see if we could get through. As we were having breakfast a couple of guys on GS 1150 stopped out by the gas pumps and were talking with each other, then they headed up the road toward Deadhorse. We left shortly after seeing them and we passed them as they were at a rest stop. Once we finally hit the gravel we stopped to let the air out of our tires again and they passed us. The lower section was on fire and you could see some small burning trees next to the road and of course, the smoke was thick and hard to breathe. We came to a few guys in pickup trucks which I resumed to be forest guys watching the fires and came to an intersection where they were directing people to go on the right fork only, which was the direction we needed to go. We kept going till we came to the first gas opportunity at Yukon Crossing.


The road parallels the pipeline for a lot of this section and we pulled in as the other guys on the GS’s were pulling out. My front end seemed to be pushing in the loose gravel on the turns so I let a little more air out and that made all the difference in the handling. See, I am starting to learn this stuff. We finally came to the Arctic Circle and stopped to take pictures although we had already crossed the arctic circle on the way to Inuvik we still got pictures here in Alaska as well.


We were able to finally meet the two beemer boys since they were still there when we pulled in, they were from Anchorage and worked in power distribution, one for the state of Alaska and the other for a private company. They were on their way to Prudhoe Bay for the fun of it, since neither had ridden their bikes there before. They took our pictures and we talked about, what else, motorcycles. We left first this time and got to Coldfoot which is the last gas opportunity before you get to Deadhorse. We had lunch also and talked with a guy who was riding a KLR from Europe. The beemer guys showed up and sat with us for a while and we left first again. We stopped to take pictures at Finger Rock which is a landmark that the bush pilots use because it points in the direction of Fairbanks.


Finger Rock Pointing toward Fairbanks

We saw a wolf in a field running away and didn’t get a good picture because he was so far away. The beemer guys passed us while we were at finger rock and we didn’t see them again for some time. Mark was leading this day and I didn’t see him much at all. I would top a hill only to see a dust cloud in the distance. When I didn’t see the dust cloud he was stopped till he saw my headlight then he would go again. The weather was pretty nice all day with the sun shining, but as we got further north the trees gave way to tundra and the rivers and pipeline seemed to constantly be in sight. When we finally got to Antigun Pass the signs said steep slope and avalanche danger, no stopping. The trucks coming down the hill left lots of dust and it was just spitting a little snow on top just to remind you that you were in a remote, cold, and sometimes treacherous place.


The trucks for the most part would at least slow down as they went by but some didn’t which would spray you with gravel. You learned to get as far to the side as you could and slow down just in case. A few times the rocks would hit your foot and it felt like someone was hitting you with a baseball bat. You could hear the clunk of the rocks on the underside of the bike and felt a few hitting the center stand. The vistas seemed endless and the massive size of the mountains and open ranges was phenomenal. We passed the beemer guys at a pump station heliport, and they seemed to be waving at us to stop. When we stopped to get a picture on up the road, they caught us and stopped to tell us they had seen some muskoxen and the pipeline workers had told them to watch out for them up the road. They left first and a few more miles up we saw a herd of muskoxen and stopped to get pictures. It was getting colder now too. Mark said that he had seen a special on TV or read something about how muskoxen gather in a circle before they charge so he said we should go out through the tundra to get a better picture. As Mark started onto the tundra, I’m thinking about what he said about them getting into a circle before they “charge.” So city boy Bill decides he should stay behind and use his 10X zoom lens to get a good picture of Mark just in case they run him over and I can go for help and have proof that he existed. I’m not too quick what with my size and all, so I knew I wasn’t about to outrun a charging bull. Mark kept getting closer and the herd started to gather. He had left his helmet on and his riding suit but I don’t think they recognized the brand. As he got to within 20 yards the herd was now in a tight little pack with the women and children to the inside. The bulls were on the outside and the oldest one finally decided to charge at Mark since he still had not stopped his advance. By the way Mark got some great close up pictures of the muskoxen. Once the bull charged, Mark started to back away slowly and then a fox came out of a ditch close to the muskoxen. Mark no longer posed a danger so they now charged the fox.
Logged

Peter
PEOPLE WHO HAVE VISIONS SHOULD GO TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR

Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #1 on: 12/23/03 2329 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Guys - my buddy and I am planning on driving up to Hyder, Alaska (from Columbus, Oh) in July.  I have a 2003 DL1000 and he has a SV650.

Any suggestions or thoughts about sights, place to stay, accessories or parts?

Thank you,
Mark
Logged
Peter
Candyman
******
10/12/03 1453 Hours
Posts: 5688

DL1000K2 (sold)
Singapore
www Offline
« REPLY #2 on: 12/24/03 0136 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

QUOTE BEGIN >>>Zuke has no freaking idea what this motorcycle is capable of.<<< QUOTE END

Sentence of the year 2003! I sign that in any thinkable way.
Logged

Peter
PEOPLE WHO HAVE VISIONS SHOULD GO TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR
Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #3 on: 01/01/04 1549 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Just wanted to say thanks for posting Mark and my story about our trip. I agree that Suzuki doesn't get it with this bike, especially the dealers. They could really go after the BMW market for GS but it would be difficult to get the BMW cult people to leave BMW brand for a better bike. They would need to get the person who is open minded and will consider all bikes of the class regardless of name or mystique. Thats how I became a VStrom owner and have always been glad I am.

Happy new year to everyone. Keep up the good work on this forum.

Peter, I have this ride report with several more pictures inserterd in the proper places if you want me to mail you a disc. Let me know.

Bill
Logged
Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #4 on: 02/10/04 1841 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

QUOTE BEGIN >>>billclel2002 wrote on 01.01.2004 10:49[/i]
I have this ride report with several more pictures inserterd in the proper places if you want me to mail you a disc.<<< QUOTE END

Bill sent me the disk with full report and pictures.  You can find them both on VStrom.Info at:

http://vstrom.info/htmls/alaska/

The report with embedded pictures converted to HTML.  Any errors in the presentation are mine.

There is also an album of all pictures available on the site.

Rgds,

Dan

Logged
johnofchar
Former VSRI Administrator
Former Member
******
10/19/03 1511 Hours
Posts: 12035

SV-Strom & K9 ABS Wee
Charleston SC USA
www Offline
« REPLY #5 on: 02/10/04 2005 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

An outstanding report to start with, but just superb with the pics. Thanks Dan.

jw
Logged

“Most of the stuff people worry about, ain't never gonna happen anyway.” 

  Get your flags
Peter
Candyman
******
10/12/03 1453 Hours
Posts: 5688

DL1000K2 (sold)
Singapore
www Offline
« REPLY #6 on: 02/11/04 1411 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Alaska Ride Report - Part 2

By Bill Clelland


Mark got back to the road and we started toward Prudhoe again as the weather was now cold and the wind was blowing fairly hard. At times the wind gust would move you around a little and I would inch up closer to the tank to put more weight on the front, which seemed to help. We had only gone a few miles when the road turned to fresh dumped gravel, I mean it looked like the trucks just opened their tailgates and ran down the road to spread it. They didn’t bother to compact it since the trucks run constantly and the road is always being worked on as well. Sometimes you would come to a grader on your side and have to cross over the pile of dirt and gravel that he left with his blade. This wouldn’t be a problem in a truck but with a motorcycle you had to learn the correct technique. Since the gravel had been recently dumped the width of the road, you had an area the width of the truck tandems to ride in or get into really loose gravel that was about 12 inches deep in some places. We found this to be pretty nerve racking and I saw the milepost and knew we were still about 70 miles from Deadhorse. It was getting colder by the minute and I wasn’t really dressed for the weather now. I didn’t want to stop with the wind blowing constantly at 40 mph from the right and gusting to what must have been 50-55mph. So we’re now riding on a two foot wide road with 12 inch high loose gravel on both sides with a constant 40 mph wind trying to shove you over into the loose stuff and a truck going 55 to 60 mph coming at you spraying gravel. We saw caribou feeding on the sides close to the pipeline and then we saw one of our beemer buddies in the middle of the road walking toward us waving his arms. His friend had gotten into the loose stuff and lost control. His bike went end for end for 50 yards and he highsided and landed on his head. He had no short term memory of why he was there or even how he got there, but he knew who he was and where he lived. A van driver heading south took him back to Deadhorse while we followed his buddy into town.


It was very cold now and even the heated grips didn’t help with my lightweight gloves on, as the constant cross wind blew I saw Deadhorse ahead and felt good about making it into town. As I was shivering from the cold and wind, I felt a slight stumble from the engine, guess what, dead out of gas again only 3 miles out of Deadhorse. I put about half of my can of reserve gas in and got into town not knowing what direction Mark had gone. I followed the signs toward the 2 hotels and there was Mark and the beemer guy in the Prudhoe Bay Hotel parking lot. Mark was still sitting on his bike talking with him when I pulled up. He said the better place to stay was the other hotel since that was the one where all the temporary workers stayed and they had a better restaurant. I said lets go and get out of this cold (37 degrees) and Mark said he couldn’t because while he was idling and talking, his bike ran out of gas too. So we took some pictures and gassed up Mark’s bike and headed around the corner to the other hotel. The beemer guy went to check on his buddy and we checked into the hotel. Later that night the rider got worse and they had to medivac him to a hospital in Fairbanks.


The hotel like everything in Deadhorse is a modular unit tied together with a common hallway with wings off to the sides. You have a choice of a room with a bed and common bathroom in the hall for $75.00 or you can get the deluxe room with a bed, TV, and a shared bath with the adjoining room. We took the two rooms with shared bath for $110.00 each.




All meals are included in the price and since we had gotten in too late for the buffet, we had to settle for whatever was in the coolers, all kinds of sandwiches, hot dogs, etc., along with fruits, pies, and other desserts. The buildings are built on piers so the heat from the buildings doesn’t affect the permafrost and all the sewer, power, and water lines are above ground with a shed type structure built around them with insulation. Every building has outside electrical connectors for the vehicles to plug in when it gets cold so the motors don’t freeze. Most diesel engines aren’t turned off in the winter months since it gets to 50 below zero and once hit 70 below zero. The greenies are ever present and have their own rescue operation in case of an oil spill on land or water. They record literally every drop of oil spilled and even require the parked trucks and equipment to have a plastic pan on the ground to catch any drops from the bottom of the engines. The oil companies have set aside millions of dollars for site cleanup once the fields have played out. They have a gravel washer on site so when a spill occurs, they remove all the gravel to the required depth and take it to the washer and clean and replace it as needed. Most of the construction and exploration is done during the winter months since everything freezes so thick they can build ice roads out to another drilling site and move the heavy equipment and supplies over these ice roads. They also build ice roads to replace the haul road in the winter because they can go straight over the rivers and lakes that freeze over. They have a tank truck that hauls water to the lakes and puts a coat of water on the ice road to thicken the ice. They freeze it to around 6 feet deep for the weight. The truckers who haul on the ice roads in the winter get their normal pay plus a bonus and hazard pay. They have to space themselves out on the lake crossings and can only drive at under 35 mph since any speed over that can create ripples under the ice that can multiply in amplitude and blow out the ice on the opposite shoreline. This would be fatal to someone approaching the shore. We signed up and paid our $37.00 to take the tour bus out to the Artic Ocean the next morning. We did ride to the East Security Gate which is the most northerly point you can ride to on the North American continent and took pictures of us with the security guards.


Warren, the guard asked if we were doing that butt ride thing (Ironbutt) and needed proof our time and date. It seems they are getting more of those guys each year. I asked how many motorcycle guys come up there each year and he said maybe 50 per year. He said the sad thing were the people who actually have walked up to Prudhoe in hopes of getting a job; they didn’t realize that all hiring is done in Anchorage. The girl at the front desk, Whitney said that she worked 6 weeks then had 3 weeks off.


The companies fly them in and out of Anchorage, so most go home to the states for their 3 weeks off. One girl lives in Ott, AL and commutes to Prudhoe. She said that while she is at Prudhoe, she gets room and board and there is no place to spend money, other than a few things at the general store/ post office. So she watches the fare wars and fly’s home to AL every 6 weeks. As she said there are a lot of people in the lower 48 who work all year for 3 weeks vacation, she has that every 6 weeks and makes the same kind of money. She has been doing this for 11 years. The oilfield workers work for 2 week stints and have two off. No alcoholic beverages of any kind are allowed in Deadhorse, but if you are a visitor they won’t take it away, but you must keep in sequestered in your room and not let anyone else participate. A field worker who had been working at Prudhoe for almost 3 years was sent a package from a buddy who had taken small bottles and put vodka in them and labeled them as something else. They inspect all packages and found the Vodka. They called the guy in from the field and fired him on the spot. His buddy cost him a job making $120,000 per year.

Yes they do get Polar Bears coming in off the ice packs sometimes and of coarse everyone knows to avoid them since a polar bear will actually stock a man if hungry enough or surprised. The security guard told a story about a polar bear that had came in during the spring thaw and got stuck in town since the iceberg blew back out to sea, so the bear, who they nicknamed Toby, just took up residence under the end of corridor B at the hotel, and everyone was told to watch out for “Toby” when they would go out the door, so as not to disturb the bear and provoke a possible attack. Two Germans who were called to come up and fix a piece of equipment for one of the drillers decided to ride some rented BMW’s to Prudhoe, and upon checking into the hotel the clerk told them to “watch out for Toby when they went outside”, she thought they had been told about the resident bear. As they were going out one turned to the other and said what’s a Toby and the other said he didn’t know either. As they opened the door they saw the bear with the GS 1150 in its paws, standing erect and eating the foam seat off the bike. The one said “I guess that’s a Toby”.



Standing in the Artic Ocean 1300 miles from the North Pole and 9000 miles from South Carolina


After the tour, we went to have lunch at the hotel and left town in 32 degree temperatures (June 24) and what else, a crosswind. The wind blew the morning fog out, so it was good and not quite as strong as the day before. When we got to Coldfoot the beemer guy had left a message that his buddy had been discharged from the hospital in Fairbanks and was going home to Anchorage.

The pipeline pilots had been told to look for us and give us the message. As we entered the bottom section of the Dalton the fires were burning close to the pipeline so we topped to get some pictures of the flames. We camped at a roadside rest stop that night on the pavement and headed down to the Suzuki dealer to get our new rear tires the next morning. We may have gotten another thousand or maybe two out of them, but we were certain this dealer had the tires for us and uncertain if we would be able to find another one later, so we had the back tires changed. I also had my first oil change for the trip. Mark said he was going to wait till he got home. When Mark and I first got together back in Ft Nelson, Mark let me ride his bike on some of the gravel roads so I could feel the suspension change he made with the Gold valves and all, but what I really had noticed was the racket his clutch made. Even at idle and standing still the clutch made a hell of a racket. I knew my clutch had no problems when I heard his. His dealer had told him that was the nature of the beast, so Mark took the extended warranty and is waiting for the clutch to break. It now has 24,000 miles since it started making that noise and hasn’t broken yet.



While we were at the dealers another VStrom owner came in the store. Jeff lives in Fairbanks area and commutes daily on the Strom. He had seen us in Tok a few days earlier and had written on the Strom2 site to inquire who we were. His sign on name is RDJeff so we asked him to post who we were, and that we were doing well. We talked awhile and he had to get back to work so we left Fairbanks with new rear tires and headed to Denali to see Mt McKinley.



Northern Powersports had our tires waiting when we got down from Prudhoe Bay

We got to Denali Park late in the afternoon and went to a pull off where you can sometimes see the mountain. We met a guy and his wife on a couple of rented BMW’s from Eurosport who were touring Alaska and hadn’t seen the mountain yet.


So there we stood, waiting for the clouds to move and expose the mountain which doesn’t happen too frequently. We gave up and headed back to the visitors center and they said that 80% of the people who come to see Mt McKinley never see it, but they have a bus tour that takes 8 hours that takes you closer, but you still might not see the mountain. Mark had done the 13 hour tour when he was up here with his wife a year before. I didn’t want to spend the time to take an 8 hour tour so I passed and decided I might be one of the eighty percenters who leaves without seeing it. When Mark had been here before on his ST1100 he had camped below the park at the Grizzly Bear Campground so we headed there for the night. They gave us several options for a site and we rode around till we found two side by side that were up on a hill next to a tour troup from Germany. We pitched our tents and I noticed the guide making dinner for the group. I asked what he was making and he replied that it was a salmon stew, and he said that if he had any left he would let me have some. I went to do my laundry while Mark made himself some freeze dried food for dinner.




When I got back from the laundry, Mark had cleaned up his pan and told me that the guide had come over and said that he had some stew leftover for me. So I went over and introduced myself to his tour group and got my stew. The group had taken the 13 hour tour bus that day and had just returned without seeing the mountain. The group was 10 women and 2 men. One of the women was from Finland and another was from Austria and everyone else including the guide was from Germany. They were all curious about Mark and me and where we had been. Bernd was especially curious about our bikes and our journey and we were invited to go with them to a bar across the highway at another resort hotel, so we all went and had a great time. The next morning I was up at 5:00 and made myself a pot of coffee and repacked my clean clothes and tore down my camp. After Mark had gotten everything packed we said goodbye to our new friends who were staying.



Bernd was curious about our bikes and travels.

Another day to hike in the mountains and I headed over the hill to the main entrance. I was down there for a while but Mark didn’t come down the hill, so I went back up and saw Mark looking at his bike. He had no clutch, the reservoir was completely empty. The camp store wasn’t open yet and besides they probably wouldn’t have DOT 4 brake fluid anyway. I would go up the road to find some brake fluid and Mark, of course would wait there. It took me 25 miles to find some DOT 4 fluid at an auto parts store north of Denali. When I returned, we poured the fluid into the reservoir and decided to head back to Fairbanks to the dealer to get it fixed. I followed Mark and we got there and
explained what had happened. They took Mark’s bike straight into the shop and had the required seal for the slave cylinder on hand to fix the bike while we had breakfast nearby. We were back on the road again and headed back to Denali Park, where we went back to see if I could see the mountain. Today the clouds did move out a little so I could just make out the mountain and hoped the pictures would come out.



The snow capped peaks with the clouds behind doesn’t always come out. As we were taking pictures and waiting for more of the mountain to be exposed a gust of wind came up and I heard a sound like a sail being filled by a burst of wind on a sailboat. We left with our pictures of Mt McKinley and went back to the Grizzly Bear Campground and our same camp spot next to the tour group for another night. We told the guide that the mountain was visible and he took the group down the road to another overlook south and they were able to see and take good pictures of the mountain. They came back very happy to have gotten to see it and they were pleased with the guide for taking them back out to get the pictures. We also returned to the resort bar for another night as well. I decided it was cold enough to put my shell on to go to the bar. When I went to get the shell out of the right side bag, it was missing. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find it. Then I remembered that I had gotten my binoculars out and had left my insulated shell on the seat but didn’t think, that was what the noise was at the Park when we were taking pictures. It was too late to go back to look for the shell that night so I went the next morning before Mark was ready and couldn’t find it. So if you go to Denali, and see a bear in a green outer shell it is probably mine.




Denali Highway is the original route to Denali that runs east west and is another gravel road. It has some really gorgeous scenery and great places to fish. Wildlife was all around and we stopped to have lunch at the end of the road before heading down to Valdez. The little restaurant at the end of the Denali highway had some beautiful pelts for sale and made a great fish and chip lunch with fresh Halibut.


On the way into Valdez you pass Worthington Glacier and cross Thompson Pass which is where we stopped to take the pictures of us and the Stroms on the rocks. Valdez is the end of the pipeline also, so we had pictures of the beginning and end of the pipeline. As a side note for those of you who may not know, Prudhoe Bay is the largest oil find in all of the United States and at its peak they pumped 2 million barrels a day down to Valdez. The oilfields are now controlled by BP Oil (British Petroleum) and all the oil produced in Prudhoe Bay gets shipped to Japan. Not a drop comes to the US.


From Valdez we return to Tok via the Glenn Highway and tried to look up Tony at the grocery store on Hwy 2 where he works when he’s not out riding. While we were at the grocery a guy pulled in with a 2002 model Goldwing and asked if we were coming or going. When we told him we were heading home he asked if we had been to Prudhoe and if so, how were the roads. We told him, and he said that he was heading there and didn’t care if his bike died along the way, so we said he could probably make it as long as he had that kind of an attitude. He was holder of 3 Ironbutt records and had over 80,000 miles on that 02 model wing. I think he’ll be OK.



From Tok we rode on down to Haines and met Gunther who was riding a KLR.


He had seen us coming into town and had never seen a VStrom up close so he followed us to a parking lot where we stopped to figure out where we needed to go to catch the ferry to Skagway. He asked a lot of questions and sat on both bikes. He will probably end up with a strom since he really felt the need for more power and comfort riding in that part of the country. We all got ferry tickets to Skagway and Mark and I headed to the motel while he went to a campground. We met another guy on a bright yellow Goldwing pulling a Bushtec trailer. The guy must have weighed 325 pounds and the passenger who we learned was his mother was at least 250 pounds herself. They had been to Prudhoe as well, with the trailer in tow. The rear fenders of the trike were blasted off by the gravel and the whole front and bottom front section of the trailer were completely eaten away by the gravel along with the front end trailer bra. The ferry ride to Skagway took 45 minutes and cost only $40.00 for the bike and 1 person, but that’s a lot better than having to backtrack 345 miles to get there by land.




Skagway is really a neat place and it would be fun to stay there a few days, but by now our time was running out and Mark wanted to get home earlier than he had originally planned if he could.

We got pictures and headed over White Pass and Chilkoot Pass to Carcross and Tagish and on to Jakes Corner. White and Chilkoot Pass is impressive and there is a lot of history about the train and how the miners got over the pass.



Just past the border crossing back into Canada there were several cars pulled off the road and as we passed I looked back to see a large grizzly bear that was hidden by rocks from the direction we were traveling. I should have stopped to get his picture but there were a lot of cars and campers behind us and I didn’t want to go back. As it happened, this was our best chance of getting a really good grizzly picture and I missed it. We rode that night to a place called the Rancheria Ranch Inn where we spent the night and went to the 24 hr restaurant and met Steve, Tom and his wife Jaine, and there son, Tom Jr.. Jaine recommended the cheeseburger all the way and it was great, but naturally a conversation about what we were doing and where we had been started. Steve commented that I must have had a great wife to let me do this kind of thing and I inquired if he was married. He said that someone else was now playing with all his toys and I asked what that meant. He said that his wife had thrown him out with just his clothes on his back so the guy that moved into his house was playing with his 4 wheeler, his dirt bike, his boat, his tools, etc. Steve said, “I should have known better when just after we were married and my wife caught me in bed with another women, I told her then that this insane jealousy was going to drive a wedge between our relationship, and it did.” Steve said that it was alright because he had his eye on another guys toys and he had better toys than his were.

The next day, July 1st, we headed down the Cassier Highway south and stopped at Jade City to buy jade right from the mine.



There is also a gold mine across the road and a Diamond mine a few miles from there. We continued to Meziadin Junction for gas and on to Stewart and Hyder, AK. Everyone talks about the bears on the roads over to Stewart and then Hyder, but we didn’t see any. Once in Hyder we ate dinner at the Bus which is literally an old school bus that was converted to a kitchen with seating at picnic tables outside or you can go into a covered screened porch type building and eat there. We got the usual fish and chips that were, as always, great in AK. We went out to the bear viewing area and talked to the rangers but no bears. This is where a camper was taken from his tent and eaten by a rogue black bear last year so we decided to stay at the Sealaska Inn and get Hyderized.


Hyderizing is a process of drinking a shot of 151 proof grain alcohol in one motion then placing the glass upside down on the table which is then lighted by a match and burned. If there is too much left on the table then you have to do it again until the bartender or official says it’s ok. We were successfully Hyderized with only one try. While there we met Vic Frederick who is on a 49 state tour to raise money for Children’s Dyslexia foundation. Vic was riding an anniversary model Harley Electra glide and was to do 49 states in 31 days following virtually the path of the Ron Ayers book. His local dealer was paying for all his on road maintenance and he was having a ball, which is why we all do these things. Vic had a website that he was being followed by and he took our picture and said it would be posted on his website in a few days. Since getting home, I went to his site but he must have posted it before I got home, so I never saw it. The next morning I heard Vic pull out early. Mark and I went to get breakfast before leaving Hyder and as we parked at the restaurant the side stand was sinking into the loose gravel and mud, so I found a larger rock and set it under the side stand. After breakfast I decided to get my other gloves out of the right side bag and when I closed the bag the bike slipped off the rock and fell over just grazing Mark’s bike, but sheering off my indshield and breaking off the tip of the clutch lever. By now my chain was also getting pretty worn and so I decided to go to the local hardware store in Stewart and buy the biggest can of WD 40 I could find. The chain was crying for the WD 40 and finally quieted down a little when I gave it a good dowsing. I promised myself that I was going to have to lube it more frequently now since it was wearing so badly.

We rode on down to Kitwanga where the Cassiar meets Trans Canada Hwy 16 and stopped for gas and a break. As we stood there at the sign welcoming people to the Cassiar Highway, a few motorcyclists would stop; take their pictures with the sign in the background then head on down the road. I went in to get a cup of coffee since it was cold that morning and when I came out Mark was talking to a couple of people on BMW’s. As I approached I recognized the two riders. Ironically it was the father and son from Iowa that we had lunch with back in Tok on June 22nd. They were coming from Prince Rupert where they left the ferry that morning after leaving Seward a few days before. This was July 2nd and many miles and smiles after we first met for all of us. We rode 16 east to Tete Jaune Cache and took Highway 5 south to Kamloops, which is the largest city we had seen for a long time with all the traffic and people we could stand. Then we took Highway 97 down to Osoyoos. The most beautiful thing about this area though is the lakes that go for miles along the highway, with all the boating and resort type activity. We finally got to Osoyoos and stopped to decide whether we wanted to cross the border here or go further east to cross. We met another BMW rider who was going home to Seattle from Wisconsin and had taken a more northerly route because of the heat further south. That convinced us to go east so we headed to a crossing at Grand Forks and a motel in Republic, Washington.



From there we headed east to Glacier National and took route 2 around Glacier Park to Shelby, MT. We were both tired and pulled into a motel in Shelby when Mark says that if he went down Interstate 15 to Butte he could make it home the next day. So we parted ways at the Comfort Inn parking lot in Shelby, Montana July 5th after riding together 19 days and a whole lot of dirt, gravel, miles, and smiles. Maybe we’ll do something together again in the future.

Thanks a lot Mark, It was fun.

P.S. I got home on July 10th after having to replace my chain and sprockets in Evansville, IN while I stayed at my friend’s house again.

Total Trip Mileage: 14,072 Odometer reading Difference due to 42 tooth back sprocket. 13,506 GPS Total.

Total Gravel Rode was over 3,000 miles.






Presentation of all pics from trip: Click here - Quick Time required.
Logged

Peter
PEOPLE WHO HAVE VISIONS SHOULD GO TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR
V-Strom Ry
***
10/30/03 1913 Hours
Posts: 129
Hamilton, ON, CDN
Offline
« REPLY #7 on: 02/11/04 2130 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Most excellent trip write-up, dudes!

I thought about doing something similar from my East Coast trip last summer, with pics, but really everyone and their dog's been pretty much every place I went, anyway.  Maybe I should write it up anyway while I still more or less remember what pics were taken where.

This definitely gives me more confidence for taking on something like the North Road from Chibougamau to the James Bay Rd., or the Trans-Taiga Rd., or maybe even the Labrador Hwy.  I wonder how many people have ever done the Trans-Taiga Rd by bike?
Logged
billclel2002
**
06/04/04 1706 Hours
Posts: 86
Dl1000K2
South Carolina
Offline
« REPLY #8 on: 04/24/05 1550 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

This is a much better report with the pictures.

Peter knows about not having them transferred from the other host, but if you want the report with pictures prior to Peter being able to get them transferred just pm me and I will try to accomodate you.

Thanks
Bill
Logged

Bill

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy sh*t ...what a ride!"
Peter
Candyman
******
10/12/03 1453 Hours
Posts: 5688

DL1000K2 (sold)
Singapore
www Offline
« REPLY #9 on: 05/17/05 1544 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Alaska trip report with pictures updated. It took me one and a half evenings. It's worth it.
Logged

Peter
PEOPLE WHO HAVE VISIONS SHOULD GO TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR
Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #10 on: 05/17/05 1604 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Great job.  Really captures the flavor of the "Alaska" experience.
Logged
billclel2002
**
06/04/04 1706 Hours
Posts: 86
Dl1000K2
South Carolina
Offline
« REPLY #11 on: 05/18/05 0628 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Thanks Peter for your hard work getting the pictures back into the report. I really appreciate your work with the forum as well.

The first picture of the Suzuki dealer is in Fairbanks and doesn't go in the place it is now but it really doesn't matter. This is where you need to get things fixed if you make this trip. They are great folks and Mark had them set aside a front and rear Tourance for us just in case we needed them. We only needed a rear even after all those miles (around 9,000 to 10,000 since leaving home) since we were mostly on mud and gravel and the tires did extremely well witht the ride-on product in them.

Thanks again to Peter

Bill Grin
Logged

Bill

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy sh*t ...what a ride!"
Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #12 on: 05/19/05 0014 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Just one word: AWESOME.

Thanks for all the work on posting.
Toaddie
Logged
Peter
Candyman
******
10/12/03 1453 Hours
Posts: 5688

DL1000K2 (sold)
Singapore
www Offline
« REPLY #13 on: 05/19/05 1718 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Quote:

billclel2002 wrote on 18.05.2005 13:28[/i]
The first picture of the Suzuki dealer is in Fairbanks and doesn't go in the place it is now but it really doesn't matter. This is where you need to get things fixed if you make this trip.
Bill Grin




Fixed. It did matter to me. Smiley

Logged

Peter
PEOPLE WHO HAVE VISIONS SHOULD GO TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR
mcho
***
10/19/03 0401 Hours
Posts: 191

02 DL1000/07 DL1000
Sloan, Iowa, USA
Offline
« REPLY #14 on: 05/20/05 1555 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Thanks Peter, that is a great job.

Mark
Logged

07 Strom # 00146    VSRI # 030     Mark 
Just ride it!
Si
*****
02/08/05 1636 Hours
Posts: 1378

Morecambe, England
www Offline
« REPLY #15 on: 09/04/05 1502 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

I missed this report when it was first posted and only just discovered it thanks to Peter's link from the best pictures thread. This is an amazing adventure and excellent report. Its puts our little jaunts into perspective though! Something for us all to aspire to. Happy

Oh, so much beautiful places to visit and interesting people to ride with, Oh, so little time Sad
Logged

Si "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine."
billclel2002
**
06/04/04 1706 Hours
Posts: 86
Dl1000K2
South Carolina
Offline
« REPLY #16 on: 09/04/05 1538 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Thanks for the kind words. I am really glad I did the report right after I got home and for those who do these types of rides (over 30 days) it is important to keep a log or journal of the trip to record some of the places and things you do. I would not have been able to remember all the things we did witout it.

I think the best picture of the ole bike though will be the one of me riding it after its back together again. Grin

Bill
Logged

Bill

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy sh*t ...what a ride!"
Si
*****
02/08/05 1636 Hours
Posts: 1378

Morecambe, England
www Offline
« REPLY #17 on: 09/04/05 1739 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Quote:

billclel2002 wrote on 04.09.2005 15:38[/i]
I am really glad I did the report right after I got home and for those who do these types of rides (over 30 days) it is important to keep a log or journal of the trip to record some of the places and things you do. I would not have been able to remember all the things we did witout it.
Bill




For the last six years my wife and I have been keeping detailed travel journals to document our 35-42 day long European tours in our motorhome. We take it in turns to write each day's events and 'illustrate' our adventures by collecting postcards to stick into the book. Our rule is: if you miss one day it remains your turn until you do it. So if you cannot be bothered you soon find yourself with 3 or 4 days to record and even then it gets hard to remember everything. After 30 days without notes you'd have no chance! Happy Well done and thanks again for this inspiring write up. Smiley

Logged

Si "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine."
hondo8
Guest
« REPLY #18 on: 09/06/05 0841 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Hello..........I read your article and I have been all those places.....by plane or car but what a great trip by bike.  I had to write because 1.  I am currently looking out my window at the arctic ocean...and work at the Seawater Treatment Plant in Prudhoe Bay.  It is the farthest you can drive in north america....and it looks from your pictures you may have been close to here.
...and 2. I actually started reading about V-strom's and found this forum...and after reading what people had to say and getting a sense of the V family...am even more encouraged to find and purchase one.  Yes its twue...not an owner.....had lots a bikes...still have a few...sat on a 1000....mighty tall for this 29' inseam boy....and really looking towards finding a used 650....to take down to a little house I have on the central coast of california.....I acually live in Alaska.   Truth is I would like to try the bike in both places......but have an older...actually the oldest V65 down in the lower 48...so would probaly keep it there.....anyway....I really appreciate the effort put into the Vstrom forum  ......and you V-strom fellows..(and gals)....really sound like a group I would like to be a part of... Huh?
                                                  Take care all....   Jeff

but then again...was it python who said
                                                           "Id never want to be part of a group
                                                                that would have me as one of its members!"
Logged
QuickScribbles
Guest
« REPLY #19 on: 09/23/05 0251 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

This is my first reply in this forum.

I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this thread and the photos you included. You did a great job reporting about it.

I'm lurking at present while I plan a trip to Alaska for my retirement present. I currently own an 05 GL1800 but plan to by a DL1000 for this trip and others. I'm currently waiting to see the new 06's before I decide.

If I've learned anything at all on this forum it's how little I know and how much there is to do before I take this trip.

Logged
mcho
***
10/19/03 0401 Hours
Posts: 191

02 DL1000/07 DL1000
Sloan, Iowa, USA
Offline
« REPLY #20 on: 09/24/05 0313 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

No.1   Go to a book store and buy a copy of the Mile Post.  It will give you a lot of good info and you can read it over and over all winter.  This adventure is worth all the effort it takes to get it done.  It  IS  a ride of a lifetime.   Mark Grin
Logged

07 Strom # 00146    VSRI # 030     Mark 
Just ride it!
QuickScribbles
Guest
« REPLY #21 on: 09/27/05 1202 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

I must be on the right track, I've already received my Milepost (ordered online).

Thanks!
Logged
billclel2002
**
06/04/04 1706 Hours
Posts: 86
Dl1000K2
South Carolina
Offline
« REPLY #22 on: 10/22/05 2021 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Hondo8, I am sorry to say that I just now saw your reply to this thread, so I am writing to say thanks for the kind words.

Mark and I really enjoyed the ride and Alaska especially.

I hope we can do this again in the future since there are probably a few places we didn't get to on our bikes, that we can go back to Alaska for.

I hope you get one and I know that you will be happy as Mark and I have been with ours.

Now if we could only get Suzuki to believe in their own product, we would really have something.

I mean the dealers don't understand this bike and many don't sell it because of that. The dealers who understand the adventure part of rideing seem to be selling this bike well.

Thanks again

Bill
Logged

Bill

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy sh*t ...what a ride!"
billclel2002
**
06/04/04 1706 Hours
Posts: 86
Dl1000K2
South Carolina
Offline
« REPLY #23 on: 10/22/05 2027 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Hey Quickscribbles,

The one thing to remember about this trip is that just because it says there is a gas station that may not truly be the case.

Also the station may say open at 8:00 am but that most always isn't the case as well.

We stopped at one station and din't really need gas but when we asked if there were any more stations in the direction we were heading the owner said "NO" there aren't any stations till you get to XYZ place, so we filled up to get the range we needed.

We went maybe 10 miles down the road and there was another station and another one was about midway to where we were going.

Everyone needs to sell as much of everything they can while the lower 48 folks are in town... hehe

Bill
Logged

Bill

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy sh*t ...what a ride!"
Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #24 on: 10/23/05 0730 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Quote:



Everyone needs to sell as much of everything they can while the lower 48 folks are in town... hehe




Sorry Bill...I take offense to your comment.  "Everyone" is a pretty broad statement and my experience on most of those remote areas along the Alcan are pretty decent folks.  There might be a few opportunists...Also, Alaskans are having too much fun to target non-Alaskans.

For Quickscribbles.....your milepost will do you just fine but you would mostly use and bring your Alaska Gazette. http://tinyurl.com/7oj5a  If you have any travel experience you should be impressed with the genuine hospitality offered to you along the Alcan and through Canada. Just don't act like the proverbial "ugly-american".

Logged
billclel2002
**
06/04/04 1706 Hours
Posts: 86
Dl1000K2
South Carolina
Offline
« REPLY #25 on: 10/25/05 2129 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Akphotog, I didn't mean to offend you with that statement. I loved Alaska and the people and felt very welcome everywhere we went.

The people there are mostly friendly and like to kid around too.

One guy we met at Yukon Crossing was from Springfield ILL originally but when someone built a house within a mile of his farm he thought it was too crowded and moved to upper region of Minn. but the winter killed most of his coon dogs and then someone built within 5 miles of him and he then moved to Yukon Crossing.

He and his wife and son run the service station and restaurant there. He said he was building a cabin 90 miles up in a valley to get away from all the people coming up the haul road since there is now way too much traffic.

The only way in to this valley is by dog sled in the winter or hiking in in the summer.

Again I apoligize for the "everyone" offense -none meant

Bill
Logged

Bill

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "Holy sh*t ...what a ride!"
Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #26 on: 10/26/05 0409 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Hi Bill,

I know you did not make your comment with mean intent.  But, I felt responsible to just remind people (cuz, Alaska seems like a mystery to most folks...) that you were really speaking in casual context.  If I were to say that "everyone" in S. Caroline were redneck hicks...I am sure the locals would agree there are some of that demographic but not the whole populace.    

Apology accepted, no sleep loss and look forward to meeting you on your next trip up here!  Tongue

-Robert
Logged
Peter
Candyman
******
10/12/03 1453 Hours
Posts: 5688

DL1000K2 (sold)
Singapore
www Offline
« REPLY #27 on: 10/26/05 0424 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Alaska is a sort of mystery fascination for me, too. I hope that I ever get the chance to see what Bill and Mark have seen.
Logged

Peter
PEOPLE WHO HAVE VISIONS SHOULD GO TO SEE THEIR DOCTOR
Anonymous
Guest
« REPLY #28 on: 11/09/05 1650 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Bill,

I just ran across your report.  Excellent job.  Great pics with the narative and I was on the ride with you!

I am going to purchase a bike this spring to replace my K1200LT and the current Wee Strom.  I have ridden a fully loaded GS on a trip down the Cont. Divide, so I have some idea what they are like.  I was wondering if you have any GS seat time and could compare the VStrom to the GS from experience?  I really like the Wee Strom, but if I only have 1 bike, I need one with a little more power.  I have 2 concerns about the VStrom:

1.  No ABS, and this cannot be changed of course.

2.  The off highway capabilities of the VStrom.  My guess that they are OK on Forrest Service type roads, but not much more.  Those of us who have tried to single track a GS know that they are not a dirt bike either!

Any insight you have would help.

Ride hard, ride safe,

Hutch
Logged
mcho
***
10/19/03 0401 Hours
Posts: 191

02 DL1000/07 DL1000
Sloan, Iowa, USA
Offline
« REPLY #29 on: 11/10/05 0234 Hours »
| All unread Move to top Move to bottom  

Hey Hutch,

We did the contimemtal divide ride also. Look for the Continental Divide Ride reporte a little deeper in this part of this forum.  Ken has it on his web site.  Mark
Logged

07 Strom # 00146    VSRI # 030     Mark 
Just ride it!
Pages: 1 2 3 » |  Go to Top of page
EMAIL THIS TOPIC | PRINT
Jump to:  

 B l a c k - R a i n V.2 by C r i p ~ Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines MySQL | PHP | XHTML | CSS   
Copyright V-Strom Riders International 2003-2013