Topeka, KS to Inuvik, NWT, Alaska & Prudhoe Bay
My plans are to leave Topeka June 8, 2009 for my second trip to Alaska. In July I purchased a 2005 BMW 1200GS for this trip. I have rode about 6,000 miles on it since purchased and many of these miles have been on rock and gravel roads to become familiar riding it on roads similar to Alaska. Since I purchased it I added the following farkles:
Russell Day Long seat
Aeroflow clear half faring
Aeroflow headlight cover
Happy Trails panniers
Marsee Tank bag
Kaoko throttle control
Jesse luggage rack
Sirius satellite radio
Coleman hydration bag and probably a few things I forgot about.
But before I head for Alaska I should have a shake down cruise so I did a Saddlesore 1000 from Topeka to Wakins, CO and back this week. I made the trip in 16 hours for 1031 miles. Since I was riding hard I only averaged 37 mpg which wasnÔÇÖt very good.
I left Topeka at 4:11 am on Thursday May 7 on I-70 in a light rain. I donÔÇÖt like riding in the rain, especially in the dark, so I rode about 65 to 70 to begin the trip. There are many deer in our area and I donÔÇÖt like surprises. By the time I got to Salina, which is 100 miles, I was getting cold so I pulled up an exit ramp and put on another jacket. I noticed quite a lot of water on the seat and didnÔÇÖt think it was raining that hard. I wiped it off and away I went.
As I got west of Salina the rain quit and daylight began to appear so I cranked it up to about 77mph and tried to maintain a speed about there. I sure miss the cruise control I had on my K1200 LT. I have the Kaoko throttle control but itÔÇÖs still not a cruise control but did give me a chance to let go of the throttle and give my hand a rest. Just west of Salina there is a huge wind charger farm and they were hardly turning so there was not much wind.
Some people donÔÇÖt like these but I think they are rather fascinating to watch. Some of these are right next to the road. I went on to Russell that is about 180 miles from Topeka and stopped for gas, potty break, coffee and a couple of sausage McMuffins. The temperature was 59 degrees.
I headed on west on I-70 trying to maintain 77mph. This area is pretty flat and if the wind blows, which it usually does, it can be a tough ride. Today was a good day however. There are spots where there are trees and some low areas where deer cross. In the east bound lane a semi was the side of the road and a Trooper behind it. The semi had struck a deer and it was stuck in the grill. Glad it wasnÔÇÖt me! My next stop was at Goodland for gas and a short potty break. I was now about 335 miles into the trip.
I headed on west into Colorado. I was getting thirsty and picked up the tube from my hydration bag and nothing. I knew I put about two liters in it. Maybe that is why my seat was so wet! That was my first equipment malfunction. I have the Sirius radio and my Garmin connected to a MixIt 2 and have ear buds to listen to both of them. It makes the time pass quicker if I can listen to some music. The time changes just west of Goodland to Mountain Time. As I was coming to the Watkins exit I stopped and took some pictures, I thought. The camera was on video so no pictures. Another malfunction. Darn! So when I pulled into Watkins, CO which was my turn around place it was 11:02 MDT. I fueled up and purchased a large bottle of water and a Snicker bar. I checked the Coleman Hydration bag and the drinking tube was loose on the bottom so I screwed it in tight and filled the bag with water. That fixed the first malfunction.
I thought I sent a Spot signal but turned on the tracking instead. I called my wife at work and she said she received a Spot message at 4:11 AM when she checked her email. That was the time I fueled before leaving.
Well time to head home. So far I feel pretty good. I drive cars for a dealership in Topeka and make trips to Denver and back in about 16 ?¢ hours and it is 1,100 miles. The furthest I have ridden a motorcycle before today was 832 miles. I had some wind in Colorado but not terrible. I made a move to adjust something and my music quit coming out of one ear. I fiddled with the connection where the ear buds plug into the MixIt and that seemed to be where the problem was. Darn, no music! The third malfunction. It was starting to warm up so I pulled off a ramp and took off my Aerostich rain gear and put on my Olympia mesh gear. Ah, much better! My next stop was Goodland again where I fueled up. Then it was on to Russell where I fueled and ate a burger. Around Hays and Russell the temperature rose to 90 degrees and was still 89 when I went through Salina. I really enjoy coming from the west on I-70 towards evening. East of Junction City you enter the Flint Hills of Kansas and they are especially beautiful in the evening in the spring. Many burn the pastures to kill the cedar trees and to get rid of the old growth of grass. When the pastures green up like now, you can see the rolling hills of green grass with cows grazing. On top of some of the hills you can see for 20 to 30 miles. I love the views. Next stop was home and when I fueled it was 8:02 PM just shy of 16 hours with driving time of 14.02 hours and average driving speed of 73.5mph.
The Russell Day long is a great seat. My butt did not get sore. My neck and shoulders sure hurt though. I really like the Aeroflow windshield and half faring. It keeps the wind from beating me to death. My odometer showed 1021 miles and the Garmin 1031 miles.
So I sent in the paperwork for the Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000 and hope to be added to the list of ÔÇ£Worlds Toughest RidersÔÇØ. I donÔÇÖt know how some of them can do this for 11 days though. Now they are Tough! Of course I am 66 so maybe in my younger years?
A very bug splattered windshield.
Everything seemed to be okay with the bike and the oil level was still full. I will need a new rear tire before heading to Alaska. I can do away with the MixIt and plug the ear buds direct to the Sirius radio and if I need direction I can plug the ear buds to the Garmin. So that is the way I will use it for now. It frees up a pocket in the Marsee tank bag for other things more important. I am glad I made the trip and will probably not try another 1000 miles trip unless I need to get somewhere quick.
Today went much better than I feared.
Joe on left & John on the right. Great guys!
I was at Big Sky BMW before they opened and when they arrived John, the lead mechanic, looked at my bike outside where I parked it. He looked underneath and saw a little oil and said it might be a seal leaking and that they didnÔÇÖt have a clutch in stock. Joe, the service head, said they could get a clutch by tomorrow if needed. Looks like I may have to spend another night. John said to take everything off my bike and he would take it for a test drive. HeÔÇÖs not a very big guy and has a limp. I said it may not slip when itÔÇÖs cold and he said if it is slipping he will get it to slip. After about a half hour he took it for a spin. When he came back he said he may have fixed it. The hand guard had slipped and was holding the clutch from fully engaging. He wanted me to take it up the mountain for a test ride to see if I could get it to slip after warming it up good. I tried everything I could and it didnÔÇÖt slip. Thanks to John & Joe for their prompt service. They were booked solid for the day and had one mechanic that wouldnÔÇÖt be in. They have a wonderful shop and service area and a huge display of new BMWÔÇÖs and KawasakiÔÇÖs.
While loading my bike Terry Logan arrived for service on his BMW.
He is heading for Alaska next week. Maybe I will see you on the road. Terry is from Somers, MT and told me to take Hwy 93 into Canada at Roosville. So that is where I entered British Columbia. I left Missoula a high noon and it was a great day to ride with temperatures in the upper 60 to around 80 at the warmest. The border crossing was effortless.
Some scenery along the way.
Around Polson, MT I came to a huge lake, Flat Head Lake, and part of it is on the Flat Head Indian reservation. This lake just seemed to go on forever.
Tonight I am staying in Mountain Shadow, in Sparwood, BC. After checking in a said I donÔÇÖt suppose you have Wifi and she said yes we do. Super! So first things first some Jack Daniels.
Then to set up the tent.
This is what my new cot looks like before assembled.
t took several swigs of JD to get these poles in. That is the hardest job.
Then you lay out the rest.
And end up with this.
Then I add a self inflating air mattress and my sleeping bag.
And now you have a $400 bed. I will let you know tomorrow how it sleeps!
I have now ridden 2,000 miles in 4 days with today they smallest at 271 miles. I seen more deer and elk along the way including a baby elf calf. Hoping for another good day tomorrow.
The day started off good with my computer working and being able to post to this site and my blog. I also felt much better and ate a good breakfast. The day was bright and sunny and just a great day to ride. And it was the easy side of the ride with much better roads. It must be downhill as I got much better gas mileage too. I took a few pictures and only had one scare with a moose running beside me. When I got back I fed and watered the old girl and she looked much better.
After the bath:
A few pictures I took today:
I had a little rain but it didn't amount to much. Tomorrow I head to Alaska!
I forgot to mention I am staying at the Klondike River Lodge at the beginning of the Dempster. It is a very nice place with , gas, tire repair, camping, rooms for $89, restaurant, lounge and Wifi. The food is very good and the people friendly. I stayed here before heading up the Dempster.
And I am glad I arrived back yesterday as it rained most of the night. I like to hear the patter of rain on the tent but its hard to roll out in the morning. I mentioned earlier about my cot, air mattress, and sleeping bag and they really work well. I probably sleep better than in a motel. There is heavy overcast but not raining now.
My stay at Eagle Plains was great also. They have great food, friendly help and excellent Wifi. What made it great was the rooms, restaurant, lounge, and lobby all in the same building. What I have noticed is that one person may be the waitress, cashier, bar tender, and store clerk all at the same time. Both in Eagle Plains and Klondike Lodge it is that way. I like talking to the different people that come in. Quite a few truck drivers in here.
I don't know if you noticed from some of the pictures but I have made a loading change to my bike. I was carrying the gas on the top rack but at my first stop in Eagle Plains on the way up I grabbed a hold of it and it was loose. There was a screw that held the front of that plate and then in the back my son in law, Roger, welded me two brackets that bolt onto the Happy Trail panniers. I knew the screw was the weak point. I used plastic ties to tie it down and it is probably better than new. I decided to put the weight down lower anyway and it has worked fine.
Well its off to Alaska after being on the road for two weeks and 4,700 miles.
Prudhoe Bay Part 2
I went for the gas. I finally had to ask someone how to get there. The sign showed on this road but you would think after starting up there you would see some other information. Nope! Anyway I found out I had to go north about a mile to the intersection and then turn left. I found it. I put the nozzle in and then seen you had to go inside to pay. Not one to waste time with instruction it took me three times to finally get it to pump. I forgot to mention it was 36 degrees with a 40 MPH north wind blowing.
I heard this loud crash and seen a pickup facing south with the end gate up. He had 4 ft X 9 ft steel panels on the truck and the first one blew off. He lost his hard hat when he got out of the pickup. I finished pumping and went inside and followed instructions on getting a receipt and of course it didn’t work. When I went back outside the guy was still fighting the steel siding and I offered to help. He was a little reluctant at first that I might be injured. I had gloves on and it was very dangerous to try and get this loaded without getting cut. He had a pallet holding the rest down but we managed to get it loaded and the pallet on top. He thanked me I mentioned the cold and wind and he said, “Yes its not like Mexico”.
After leaving I went back south to the road I came in on and continued over to the Arctic Caribou Inn. I went inside so see if I could get something to eat. One guy there wanted to know if I was riding a cycle and I said yes. I asked if he knew where the Post Office was as I wanted to take a picture. So he took me outside to explain how to get there. Go back where the gas station is and turn right about ?¢ mile. The Deadhorse end of the Dalton sign is also there. Darn if only I knew this before I went to get fuel. So anyway we went back in and I asked about food again. He said they start serving lunch at 11 AM and this was about 10:30. I saw a guy sitting there eating cereal and thought that looked good so I got a small box of Raisin Bran and dumped it into a Styrofoam cup and put some milk in it and warmed up an English muffin and got some jelly for it. I sat and ate it and no one showed up so I left. I guess this post of your sign for advertisement will have to do.
I rode back down to the Post Office and took my pictures.
I really wanted a sticker saying I had been to Deadhorse but didn’t know where to look. After looking at Milepost I should have went in the Post Office because it is also NAPA and general store. You can’t get to the Haul road from there so I had to go back the way I came in. So my stay was probably 45 minutes in Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay. Then I headed back.
Some random pictures of Prudhoe Bay.
A different kind of goose I have seen.
I had two “Oh ****” moments the first 30 miles. The gravel was different and I was riding in the right track and twice I got over too far and got into that three inch loose gravel and it pulled me right both times toward a delineator post. Both times I thought that was it but managed to get it pulled back. The wind wasn’t quite bad going back because it was at my back at least part of the time. I know most of you are thing what is that crazy old fool doing going back after leaving that early in the morning. Me too! I didn’t want to stay up there for $200 and figured I could make it back. At least with each mile I was getting closer back down. Things went pretty well going back but the roads just wear you out. My shoulders and neck start hurting and eventually my hip.
Unlike going up the workers were still out working on the road and that slows you down plus the slippery wet conditions. Some places I had to ride through the calcium chloride and you never know which side of the grader pile to be on but normally I stayed on my side of the road.
I rode for 14 ?¢ hours and the last two hours were tough. By that I mean I was really getting tired, not sleepy, tired. I was exhausted and was losing concentration. When you don’t focus and concentrate on the road you can get in trouble. At Wiseman coming into that curve I lost concentration and ended up on the right side in the gravel. Another “Oh ****” moment. Without the ABS I would have lost it but the road widened to go to Wiseman and was able to use that then brake on solid ground and back out where I belonged. That is 13 miles north of Coldfoot and about 2 miles down the road I pulled off by a river to stretch and nearly dumped it turning around. I was able to hold it up but only with sheer will power. I pulled through the Alaska state campground but decided to go to Coldfoot for food, shower, and beer. I pulled in and got off the bike and paid $19 for the buffet which is the only choice, $10 for two beers and $10 for a shower which left much to be desired. I went to bed and it was too hot at first and then the sun went down behind the mountain. I woke up about 6 AM which was good for me. As I’m setting in the motel lobby writing this thinking I had went too far too fast three guys check in that I must have met when I was coming back yesterday they were on there way up. They went all the way up yesterday, went on the Arctic sea tour this morning an d left up there this morning at 9AM and they checked in here at Fairbanks at 8 PM.
Some pictures I took coming back.
I left Coldfoot Wednesday morning about 9AM after eating a $13 breakfast buffet, again the only choice. I spoke with a guy I had seen who was riding a Goldwing. He pulled a camper trailer up to Coldfoot, left it there and headed up Sunday morning. He only made it about 100 miles and had a rear flat tire. It took him until this morning to get the new tire on and he headed back down in front of me. He had enough.
I rode at a pretty leisurely pace as I only wanted to get to Fairbanks and a motel that Jim Hoobler had recommended. It had rained ahead of me in several places and the road was wet. There are several miles of gravel and most of it wasn’t too bad. But the last 30 miles is all gravel and it was raining steady. By the last ten miles it was getting bad and this the only rain I had ridden in going up and back. I think the Lord did this just to show be me I had it easy and if could really be tough below Coldfoot also. If you had rain above Coldfoot it could really be tough.
The people back at the office where I used to work will appreciate this oversize load I had to stop for.
I am not sure how many axles but a bunch.
I stopped at the beginning of the Dalton and took a picture of the dirty bike and of myself.
After that it rained most of the way back to Fairbanks. I stopped at the first station for gas which was the Hilltop and from there on in it rained steady. I hit one large puddle probably 3 inches deep and 20 feet across. That should have taken a lot of mud off.
I found the Riverside Resort and checked into a cottage. Each room is a separate cottage and is a great area.I took all my dirty clothes to the laundry at their RV park so now I won’t smell so bad. Tonight I dined at Chenea’s Fine Dining and had a Margarita Pizza made with fresh tomatoes, basil, sea salt, cracked pepper and mozzarella cheese. I was excellent after I added crushed red peppers and parmesan cheese. I also had a salad and a glass of red wine and it cost less than my buffet and two beers last night. Jacob served it to me. Sorry no picture. I made phone call back home only to find out its 100 degrees in Topeka today. It was 48 in Fairbanks. I’m not sure where I’m headed yet tomorrow.
My wife informed me last week I received my Iron Butt certificate so I can check that off my Bucket List. When I went up the Dempster I entered Northwest Territories for my 11 Canadian Province. Check that off. Then I made it to Inuvik check it off. Now I made the Dalton to Prudhoe Bay check that off too.
Last edited by alvingee43; 08-01-2009 at 07:10 PM.