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Archive for July 31st, 2009

Day 235 – 31st July 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on July 31, 2009

Friday – Coldfoot, Alaska

The Arctic Circle is the initial goal today

After packing up, Simon headed for the BMW dealer while I went back to the Suzuki shop. Here I managed to get some good work done, replaced oil and filter, cleaned out the air filter, replaced the spark plugs, they were still the original and were in very good condition, I also adjusted the new chain.

The total bill was surprising, in Oz the above would have been near the $100 mark, here it cost $40 for oil, OEM filter and spark plugs, amazing 🙂 Next stop was Coldfoot, but via the local Walmart, I did not want to shop here but I needed a fuel can because I would probably run short.

Then it was north into the unknown 🙂 We did not get very far before we stopped to add a layer of clothing, we were losing about 1C every 50km or so at a rough guess.

The wind was from the south, this meant we were never going to get out of the smoke, bummer, the reduced visibility meant for poor pickings for photos and as I had been breathing bushfire smoke since Dawson, I had a cough and a sore throat as well 😦 The initial road was paved and in pretty good condition, so it was a fun ride, so that made up for the bad bits.

Then we hit the dirt, so the first thing to do was to drop the tyre pressure, I had not done this the other day, but as Simon had ridden a lot more in the dirt, he assured me it would make the ride better, as well as not kicking up as many stones etc. I used to drop the pressure but have ridden without doing so for a long time, but I guess we had a long way to go on dirt, so it would not hurt! The initial part was hard packed gravel with a loose layer on top, I had ridden that stuff the other day and it was interesting to note the different response from the bike with lower tyre pressure, definitely better all round 🙂

The road surface changed constantly, sometimes softer and then wetter, especially when the water trucks had been around!

Of course, the only reason for the road was for the trucks to get up and down, so passing these in the dust was sort of fun. In this instance it was just wait for a clear view, the watered track had laid the dust.

For the most part though it was a good road, a bit rough in sections but you could get the pace up occasionally, but not often. The pipeline is always there as well, funny thing is though, the pipeline was not always straight, maybe I will find out why one day!

Just a reminder to slow down and pay attention!!!!!

The road went back to paved for a while before crossing the bridge at Yukon River where we fuelled up, last fuel until Coldfoot. We also crossed over the pipeline where you can see funny looking bottle brushes on top, weird, I found out later they are radiators, all will be explained in a few days 🙂

Lots of different bikes go up this road, this Harley had just come back, it even looked clean!

Well, no choice now, if he can do it then so can I, my bike is better designed for this road. Off we go with some better views of the countryside, the road was actually better now, a lot better and our speed increased accordingly, hovering around the 100-110kmh. We saw a lot of bikes coming back down, mostly BMWs, but I saw at least one Vstrom.

This is the main problem on the road, big trucks and dust, basically a brownout for a few seconds.

Once again although most of the road was dirt, there were some small sections of paved surface, with the pipeline just about always in view.

We stopped at Finger Mountain rest area for a look, the views limited by smoke haze, Alaska was burning!

Then an hour after leaving Yukon River I finally reached a goal, the Arctic Circle 🙂 What a great feeling, the weather has been kind to me and allowed me to get here, yippee!!! 8) As you can see I modified my finger so it is showing where I am currently, I stuffed up on the day, but I did not realise until that night when I uploaded to my laptop.

We headed off again after some photos and stopped at another rest area called Gobblers Knob, just because I liked the sound of it 🙂

On we go but not for long now, we are within cooee of Coldfoot, in fact within half an hour we had arrived 🙂

First things first, let’s eat, I chose the full buffet, not cheap at $20 but I was a tad peckish and the only other choice was soup and salad. It tasted great and was worth it I reckon.

After that we fuelled up, pitched the tents, free camping and would leave all the gear here while we rode north.

I found some information on Coldfoot itself, basically it is a 24 hour truckstop and has a bar, of course we had some beer, silly question!

It was very smoky here and we could see not much of anything. We rode up to the visitors centre where there was a small presentation on Polar Bears by the parks service, quite good, before we plugged in the laptops and charged them as well as uploading photos etc. We did not have a late night as we had a long day tomorrow.

Just some background information here, Prudhoe Bay itself is an area, Deadhorse is the name of the town at the end of the Dalton Highway. To actually reach the water you need to give 24 hours notice, this is so they can do a security check, make sure you are not a terrorist etc. You then have to get on an organised bus tour, this is all fine, but the tours were only for 8am and 5pm, this would not fit in with our schedule, so we were not going to do it. For two reasons we declined, the first was that Saturday was forecast for dry overcast conditions, while from Sunday on it was forecast for rain, for nearly the whole following week, not good being on this road in the wet. The other reason was that to do the tour meant staying overnight, at $200 per person per room, this did not include food and it is a dry community, no booze at all. We both talked about it, but our intention was to ride the road, so there you go, if there was a midday tour we would have done it and paid the $40 for the bus, but it was not to be! If we had stayed overnight, it meant riding back all day in wet muddy slippery conditions, not for this little black duck!

Day 281 miles and 452 km
Trip – 28,367 miles and 45,652 km


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