July 16th 2011
Observation: The employees who work in Deadhorse, the staff at the hotel were all so polite and respectful. The hotel was super clean, The Prudhoe Bay Hotel that is, everyone opens and closes doors for you. No booze in town, hard working folks from all over the world made for just a nice short visit.
When we set out this morning we thought to ourselves why not try and get back to Fairbanks in one day? I mean it is only 800 KM of riding in unknown weather conditions as well as how the Dalton would be on the way down. I checked the weather before we left Deadhorse and it said moderate rain outside Deadhorse all the way to Coldfoot. That made it less promising that we could make it all the down but in the end we did. What a day of riding this was.
Riding into Deadhorse on the 15th was a killer because about 50 miles out they were grading the roads, spraying them with calcium chloride and adding fresh crushed gravel. Heading out we were apprehensive of the first 50 because of what we had encountered on the way in. Well, to our surprise we left around 0800 and we guess the grader operators may have been sleeping because the road was easy and smooth for the most part. What a difference a day makes.
The skies started out like this….
Not totally clear but light fluffy clouds not the dark ominous one’s that freak riders out.
I was just taking pictures from all angles while riding. Some are not too level.
The ride all the way to Atigun Pass was great and very enjoyable, the roads were relatively dry but the mosquitos were another story. All this trip we have not really encountered the bug attack until today. But keeping on rolling they can’t get you.
If you enlarge the pictures you can see the mosquitos in action. It’s kind a gross how they want to eat you so badly.
The Dalton is a decent road with many paved parts as nice surprises. But add rain to the mixture and this road becomes a hazard. That is the difference between the Dempster and Dalton. The Dempster has not one paved area and if raining you are on slippery stuff the whole way with no breaks.
lot’s of pretty smelling wild flowers all along the side of the road and up the hills.
The ground squirrels are out and about on the roads, they dodge right in front of your bike. I hit a bird the day before and Cheryl hit one of these cute critters today and broke her heart. Don’t have a picture but if you are riding up here in the summer they do make it hard to miss them.
Think I need to clean the lens of my camera. Being around my neck can’t be too good for the little guy.
As I was saying the ride to the pass was pretty easy and on and off paved, dirt, gravel riding. As got closer to Atigun Pass the weather people seemed to be correct. However, Cheryl kept saying she had a feeling it would clear up by 1600 hrs and we would be able to make it to Fairbanks. I was less optimistic than she, what else is new but you will later find out Cheryl was correct.
The skies up there are most amazing. I really have become fond of clouds and the array of patterns, colours and what it all means down on the ground level for us. We fear no rain anymore, we fear no wind as a matter we are just embracing whatever mother Nature has in store for us because why fight it? Makes us miserable and this happens to be the worst wet summer Alaska has seen in years and COLD.
Still at this point no sign of rain
We can do decent speeds at times on the Dalton. I can see 108 KM on the trip, only 700 more to go!
Just goes on and on forever it seems. Not a bad thing just so LARGE, larger than life it seems. One of our goals today was to make sure we did not dump the bikes are get hurt at all. Actually this is a goal everyday we just do not speak of it not to jinx us.
We need to mention at this point that Cheryl’s bike has been stalling a lot lately. We have some thoughts about why. One is that she rides behind me all the time and all this crap from the roads might be buggering up her radiator. When you look at both bikes they do not look much different in the amount of crud on them. The bike stalls when the ROM’s drop below 1000 and it is not a good thing. When the bike is cooled down it seems to start and not stall until the bike heats up. We are going to try and see if we can get into the Anchorage Triumph dealer and have the bikes checked out. Maybe a fuel injection issue? Whatever the case it sucks for Cheryl and is very stressful especially when riding int he back country.
For those who do not know the pipe line is pretty much seen from the road throughout the ride out.
We have not seen much wildlife since being in Alaska but today we got to see a Moose and her calf.
I could have stayed there until they left but time was a wasting and off we went.
clouds are getting thicker by now
With Cheryl’s bike stalling she was not very much into chatting. Understandable because we both can not really figure out how to stop this from happening so we just rode in silence most of the way.
Just going to post pics that lead us up to the pass. That is when I had to put the camera away for a while in a safe dry spot.
Self portrait again!
This is an Italian woman who is riding from Patagonia to Deadhorse. We past her and she was in great spirits, making videos and seems to be doing really well. She had 286 KM to go before she would reach her goal. Now that is IMPRESSIVE!
She was warning us of how bad the pass was.
So interesting to see how the road looks just heading in a the other direction. It was like I was seeing this road for the first time even though we road it the day before.
Just have to show off the fork seals yet again. Amazing how well they are holding up.
The radiators are getting all cemented up but not much we can other then chip it away while on the road.
More scenic pictures
Coming up to Atigun pass this is what we began to see
Or could not see is better
Just LOVE this slippery cement goo!
Had to put the camera away at this point because it rained on us for the next few hours until Coldfoot
Down the road a bit we ran into our buddy Ray and we rode on and off together all the way out to the dorms in Fairbanks at the University.
there was a brief break when we got through the pass to eat something and of course what else, pee.
Needed to refuel, although these bikes are getting much better gas mileage since we broke 5000 KM just not enough to get out to Coldfoot.
Here is Ray. He left Deadhorse around 0630 and we caught up to him.
We all rode into Coldfoot, got gas, a bite to eat and made the decision there that we would at least get to the Yukon River motel/gas station and see how we feel about going all the way.
Ray cleaning his rad or trying too
and Cheryl was RIGHT, there was sun past Coldfoot and we all got rejuvenated and said what the hell let’s go to Fairbanks!
I think at this juncture we are still 6 hours away from the dorms
The road from Coldfoot to the Yukon was some paved, some chopped up pavement and that clay, hard pan stuff. Lucky for us it was mainly dry and the dust was kept down as well as any really slippery spots.
what a difference a few hundred miles can make with the weather and rider spirits.
How does an ADV rider clean his bike in the field? Ray knows, besides he invents things so this is no surprise he found a mud puddle to clean his bike.
it just getting nicer out and nicer. We knew we made the right decision despite how long of a ride this was. Under normal conditions like being on a paved road for over 800 KM would be easier but taken on the Dalton this way, well, we all felt pretty proud.
We have over 7500 KM on the bikes now, the tire are looking pretty good considering
The skid plate
We did say we wanted to keep these bikes. We are now thinking after this trip we want new bikes!
That is Ray with me passing him. Cheryl and I think he needs a bigger bike.
At the Yukon River
Taking a break before our last push for Fairbanks
The final stretch of the Dalton
I am trying to take a picture of my shadow
Didn’t work out that great.
And coming to the final end of the Dalton before we hit the Elliott Highway to Fairbanks. All we can say is while you are in the middle of no where getting poured on and just trying to keep your bike in a straight line, not all thoughts in your head are good one at the time. When you simply look back at what you just did, makes you shake your head and say WOW that was awesome. Awesome to not have dumped the bikes, we all got out safely, not bumps, bruises or anything. It was a long day, by last 40 KM my arms, wrists and shoulders were done. But it was all worth it to be able to say we went to Deadhorse and came back in one day!