Respect the Dempster! 492 KM (Arctic Circle to Dawson City)
July 9 2011
Budgets? When we set out of a trip like this money is always on our minds. We always think we will save with lodging and food. In reality what happens when traveling on a motorcycle it goes something like this….you ride up the Dempster and are exhausted and hungry. You see a sign that says Oasis and it has a roof. Right away out comes the wallet and a key is handed to us for a warm dry room with a comfy bed and a shower. Out of pocket there goes an easy $152. It is that easy to over spend the nightly budgeted money for lodging. Not a bad thing just reality.
We woke up to this
The pancakes were ridiculously LARGE and Cheryl barely made a dent.
The we decided that right after breakfast we would head right to the Arctic Circle from Eagle Plains Lodge. It was only 37 KM away one way so off we went and were glad we did!
See the dark clouds, that is in the direction for Inuvik, NWT. The weather predicted for that area was rain for the next few days. We are confident that our decision NOT to go to Inuvik was the right one. How do we know this? Because we rode in pouring rain all the way out on the Dempster.
We were told this is an Arctic squirrel or something like that.
Cheryl adoring this little entertaining fella at the Circle.
Cheryl is such a monkey and climb anything like she was a kid. Then there is me…clumsy old lady.
Oh how the skies would turn on us in only a matter of a few hours from the time we took this picture.
On the Dempster there are many many trucks hauling loads for road construction. They also haul ass when they pass you and have no mercy spraying you with rocks, dust, mud or anything else the Dempster hides. Cheryl and I pulled over for this trucker as we try to do in most case and prepare to duck and cover ourselves but something happened that we never had happen before. The trucker also slowed down to a stop.
I was going to take his picture with camera in hand but he had a message. It went something like this. “Listen you need to be careful out here. Promise me you will take it slow. Promise? A biker died on this road yesterday. It was a sad day for the Dempster. It is so greasy all the way down and you need to promise me you will take it slow.” I said, “yes sir we will I promise.” He said “be safe and remember what I told you, SLOW.”
Yep, that is reality. The Dempster is the most beautiful road we have ever seen but when the weather turns it become slick, slippery even to walk on. So, we took it slow from about 40 KM out of Eagle Plains all the way to the bottom about 368 KM of painfully slow, standing on the pegs riding. We did not want to get hurt nor dump the bikes.
We left Eagle Plains at 10 am and the weather looked like this.
After approximately 45 minutes of dry weather riding, we encountered THIS, and it pretty much lasted for 4 hours. It was gruelling, exhausting riding but what an experience!
The pictures just don’t explain what the conditions were like on this infamous road. Suffice to say there were a few HOLY SH*T moments!
Trying to stay positive and in good spirits despite the conditions.
Poor dirty bike!
Clouds, clouds and MORE clouds! We could see what looked like clearing off in the distance, but we could never seem to catch it!
Sustenance! We managed to find a wee pocket of road where it was NOT raining so we could get a snack in, however the dry spell only lasted about 10 minutes, before catching up to us yet again.
Oh look, more grey skies and slimy road.
Caked on good!
It would be an amazing view if that darn fog wasn’t in the way!
This is John from Kamloops, BC. We ran into him at one of the rest stops on the Dempster and he was pedaling his way all the way up to Inuvik! We stopped and chatted with him for a few moments and he informed us that he had managed to ride almost 40 kilometers that morning and had not been rained on once!
Well, I don’t know if he has some sort of invisible rain deflecting force field around him, but about 3 minutes after leaving John, we got NAILED with the most incredible thunder, lightening and rain storm I have ever seen and it was where John had just ridden from!
This stuff on our bikes is like cement. No kidding. Even a pressure washer can’t get this crap off.
Poor bikes. I feel for the chains and the brake pads. Doing the best we can to keep the chains with some lube on them and as for the brakes, good news we hardly use them we went so slowly as promised to our trucker friend.
At this point we are only about 60 KM to pavement. And to be honest at this point we were very happy to know that something hard was only a few KM away.
Getting nicer out but a little too late for us and the bikes. You think Cheryl was happy or what?
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….the end of our Respect the Dempster ride. Glad we did it? Yep. Would we do it again? I think only if the weather GODS promised to be nicer to us and the road. This is the most beautiful road to ride in dry conditions with views to die for but add water and you could literally die trying. not being overly dramatic either. We respected the Dempster and did not dump the bikes once and came out in one piece.
In the next picture are our new buddies who we have run into a few times between Dawson City and the Dempster. They survived the ride out the same day we did. John who rides a KTM rode out with no forks seals, his wife Christine wiped out near Fort McPherson in a plume of dust at a road construction project on her KLR. She got right up and rode off back to Eagle Plains. They all aborted the trip to Inuvik. Smart move. The there is Scott, Christine’s brother who is on his BMW 1200GSA he just got for his ride cross country from Ontario to meet his brother in law and sister for their lifetime trip. Great folks and great company! Hope you all made out OK in Whitehorse. They all had a drink from their Dempster flasks.
Got back to Dawson City what a safe haven, washed to bikes, got a hotel room at the Downtown Hotel where Motoquest was there with a tour. Had a bite to eat, drank beer and then went to bed. Leslie got drunk off of 3 beers.
Our buddies again.
Oh yeah and this is the sour toe Cheryl had a drink with the other night. She got a certificate…how gross eh?
And we will close this post with my most favorite pictures of the TIGERS YET!
Remember if you are ever riding up this way the Dempster can be done if you respect the road and it’s multiple personalities. We glad we did!