UCCC- A ride done by Tim Yow
I had always wanted to ride to Alaska and when the opportunity presented itself I decided to not just do a UCC, but upon checking and finding that only 4 riders had done it up to that date, and none on a single cylinder, I decided to instead attempt a UCCC ( Iron Butt describes it as the “Ultimate Coast to Coast to Coast Insanity). I also decided that since the Ironbutt Association who certifies these rides allows plenty of time for this ride that I would stretch it out and milk it for all it was worth with many side trips & sight seeing. All the IBA rides that I had ever done were all so time intensive this was a real treat and I enjoyed it to the hilt.
The ride began at 3 A.M. Monday, July 10th, 2006 in Charleston, Illinois, my hometown, with a plan to ride to Key West to officially start the ride and to return home for a couple days to take care of some business and to see a returning friend that could only be there the 15th of July. So I rode directly to the keys ( 1300+ miles) in 22-23 hours trying to avoid the Miami traffic, and the next day rode on to Key West and met my friend Randy Freyer who was going to be my IBA witness. He had ridden in the rain to help out a buddy and together we found a police officer Diane Liensky Badge # 2686 to also witness and Randy & I took the required Polaroid pictures of the “Buoy” at the Southern most point of the U.S.A. Randy & I left the next morning in the rain and left each other as he headed home & I continued on the Florida Turnpike. My muffler fell off the KLR (w/ 5K miles on it – there was later a factory re-call) near Fort Pierce and I rigged it enough to get to a service plaza and I fixed it there while it rained. I continued in the rain to somewhere between Macon & Atlanta, Ga. I spent the night north of Atlanta and rode on home the next day w/o rain- it was the July 14th.
I got a call from a friend Robert Thompson from Terre Haute who had planned to meet me in Edmonton on the 22nd after he attended a meeting in Denver. His plans had changed & he would join me at my home & ride from there on his Gold Wing as far as Anchorage,Ak. We decided to leave Sunday, July16th. We got off to a rather late start at around 2-3 PM and rode to Black River Falls, Wisconsin before stopping. We did stop to aid a family that blew a tire on their Yukon SUV in front of us and flipped over on it’s side and flipped it’s camper trailer upside down. I was fearful of a gasoline fire and called 911 as I ran to the car and then managed to get the door open which was now up on top. Robert & I pulled the 3 kids, the wife, and the driver out of the top. As soon as help arrived and we were assured that they were OK, we continued our trip. They were from Green Bay, Wisconsin and this happened just north of Bloomington, Illinois.
The second day we rode to Devils Lake, N.D. That day I blew a rear tube near Minneapolis, Mn. and were treated very well by a Honda Car dealer (not bike) who I may recommend receive the appreciation award that the MTF (Motorcycle Tourers Forum) issues. I fortunately had spare tubes ( it was totally blown), but they went out of their way when they heard what we were attempting, and it was on the week-end. We were back on the road in a couple hours.
The third day we traveled to Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It’s tourist season, so most rooms were taken, but we finally found an out of the way interesting room.
The fourth day we traveled to Calgary, Alberta. We found a bike dealer where I bought a couple more tubes-They also went out of their way to help us, and a rider named Watkins helped us find a room– once again it’s tourist season, so the help was appreciated.
We decided to not take our planned route up to the AlCan ( Alaskan-Canadian) hwy., but rather to ride through The Canadian Rockies through the Banff region, Lake Louise ( Which I had always wanted to see), and Jasper National Park What a good decision–Absolutely breathtaking. Somewhere near Lake Burns at a gas stop I noticed that my Mermite container was about to fall off, and on closer inspection found that a 1/8″ bracket had broken off and was gone. I rigged it up and found a welder just outside Lake Burns who welded a new strap on, and we were on our way. We stayed in Prince George and decided the next morning that we wanted to once again alter our plan & do the Cassiar Rd ( Route # 37) ( also Alaska-Stewart Hwy) as suggested by Don Kime & Roger ( Wheeldog) and others. We had our first introduction to Calcium Chloride , and our first but not last ride in “Snot”. We were very lucky to get the last cabin at Iskut-one of the rare gas stops on the Cassiar, just as all the other gas stations up ahead (Dease Lake) were closing for the night and very few places to stay. No running water, no nothing, no problem. It was getting cold so I started a fire–shouldn’t have–We burnt up the rest of the night even after dragging all the logs outside. Laughed til I thought I’d die.. The Cassiar in places was muddy,rocky,dusty, and sometimes thick gravel.- but memorable-2 black bears and a moose. As soon as we got on the Alcan we had good roads to Whitehorse, Yukon. Part of the Cassiar is in British Columbia and part in the Yukon. We also passed the turnoff to to Stewart, B.C. / Hyder, Ak. but were pressing on at the time.
Robert & I, based on a conversation with a RV traveler at a gas station and what Don & Roger had told us, decided to take the road (Klondike Hwy) up to Dawson City, Yukon and Top Of The World Hwy over into Alaska. Also that there was a music festival that should be winding down and we should be able to find a place.The road from Whitehorse to Dawson City was difficult at times. There were stretches of 15-30 miles that were very deep and extremely dusty gravel. Often you could not see the road or the ditches and you couldn’t tell if you were on the right side of the road or whether anybody was coming at you. As dusty as I’ve ever ridden in I believe.And me with contact lenses. We did meet many very interesting people when we stopped for gas or food. One stop along there they sold Cinnamon rolls as big as a dinner plate. Upon arrival in Dawson we did find a B&B that worked out great and we had access to a computer albeit Dial up. Next day we took the guided tour through the town learning of it’s history. Well worth the time & money. We than rode up to the “Top of the Dome” looking out over Dawson City and the convergence of the Klondike River & the Yukon River (4th longest river in the world). from there we crossed the Yukon on the ferry over to the Top of the World (TOP) Hwy. We immediately ran into road construction with you guessed it Calcium Chloride. We meet some British riders and found out later that one or more of them had gone down in the “snot”. We crossed at a lonely border crossing way up there by itself. A man & his wife live there in a cabin and run the border crossing by them selves. After that crossing we rode 37 miles in deep loose gravel to Chicken, which had burnt awhile back but was rebuilt. I sat on the porch and talked to some old prospectors- very interesting as they discussed their luck or lack of it. The little gas station isn’t the town– turn off the main road and go down and see the town. I asked one of the old timers how the town got it’s name–figured someone chickened out. He said that the original settler’s name was similar sounding but nobody could pronounce his name, so they decided that they could all say ‘ Chicken” so that’s what it became. No way to verify that. From Chicken to TOK, Alaska ( on the Taylor Hwy) was a comparatively good road–no calcium. We once again lucked out and got a room at TOK.
Heading to Wasilla, Ak. next day we started with 37+ miles of serious road construction on the Tok Cut-Off Hwy or “Tok Bypass”. Roger explained later that an earthquakes had taken this road out as well as the AlCan Hwy.when you first cross into the Yukon from Alaska, and they have never got the repairs to really hold since. He also told me that Alaska has more Earthquakes than California, which I didn’t know. Later I decided he must be right.
Robert & I got to Roger (Wheeldog)& Mary Ellen Bliss’s home and were greeted as long lost friends. What a treat after the ride we just rode. We got a chance to clean ourselves,our bikes,and our dirty clothes. We were taught what Calcium Chloride was – we had just thought we were riding through water & mud. What an oasis and now we had access to the internet which had been rare and sometimes expensive when you did find it. On the Cassiar their satellite telephones cost $3.50- $4.50 per minute.
Robert took off to anchorage the next day and I must say that I was very impressed with Roberts riding ability to handle that Gold Wing under those conditions.
I got to speak to Fletcher on the phone to find his progress getting to Alaska. Fletcher was coming from Mississippi taking a short cut that he knew about through Nova Scotia :-). He was attending a BMW Rally in New England, riding a V-Strom no less. While I waited on Fletcher, it gave me a chance to take riding tours around Central Alaska. Some even led by Roger himself who showed me all the highlights and then we both joined some local Adventure Riders for a memorable ride that night ( about 9-11PM – it’s daylight all night remember) through Hatcher’s Pass. Robert Baker a professional photographer ( AKPHOTOG) lead us up to an old abandoned gold mine camp passed signs warning us to not even consider it and introduced us to some private prospectors who were not impressed with our riding ability to get up that far. Nobody was wounded and somehow Robert talked the angriest prospector into taking a picture of all of us with Robert’s camera- Nerves of steel. I’m telling you that those Adv.Riders up there can ride. Wish I lived closer to them.
Roger even arranged for me to get to experience my own Earthquake. About 5 AM one morning the truck camper that Roger let me stay in started shaking violently and I though Roger was jerking with me. I yelled “Roger”– no answer–OOPPS. Later found it was an earthquake of 5.8 on the Rickter Scale. Roger will do anything to entertain his guest.
Fletcher Clark arrived after riding the T.O.W. Hwy and the Tok Cut-Off in blinding rain. Never seemed to bother him a bit. We spend a few days doing much needed maintenance. Tires, chains, sprockets, air filters, oil, oil filters, etc. and we headed north on the George Parks Hwy towards Fairbanks, past Denali National Park to get Fletcher a park stamp (Yeah, he’s into that IBA National Park Tour, big time) and hopefully a clear view of Mt. McKinley ( it was not to be at this time), but we experienced one of the highlights of the trip- Going rural at Trappers Creek we finally found the beautiful cabin of our own Joe & Sandra May. Joe & Sandra have lead very interesting lives and our visit was memorable-Among the many accomplishments of Joe was winning the Idit-i-rod in ’80 and he is a local celebrity and the folks in the area are mighty proud that he hails from there. Many of you know that Roger also competed in a few Idit-i-rods and was also a finisher. So when he says he is going to attempt a UCC in February starting in Prudhoe Bay, you don’t waste your time trying to warn him of the dangers. BTDT. One of the the ultimate goal of many traveling to Alaska is to see Mt. McKinley and they spend big bucks to accomplish that, and I’ll always remember turning around in Joe & Sandra’s living room and there was Mt McKinley filling their picture window as if framed–and they look at it anytime they so desire. We really enjoyed as they shared their lives with us–from catching fish for most of their meals, cutting the wood that provides their heat, and dancing with a cantankerous Moose with an attitude down the road between his cabin & favorite fishing spots. Fletcher & I hated to announce that we must go because we were on a quest and we were pushing our luck weather-wise as it had been exceptionally good locally for a few days. Being so remote one can imagine that there aren’t just an abundance if visitors, so it had special meaning to me that when we announced our intentions to leave, Sandra looked us straight in the eyes and informed us that we couldn’t because “She wasn’t done with us yet” I’ve remembered and laughed about many times since. What a couple of unique & interesting folks.
Well Fletcher & I managed to get back on the road toward Fairbanks, and missing a turn off to Ester, an old gold camp settlement that we were told by Roger was the best, most interesting & cheapest place to stay in the area, we went into Fairbanks and after checking the local Motels as well as B&B’s decided it was worth it to go back 5-6 miles to check out Ester. One of the best decisions that we made. Just like stepping back about a hundred years or so.
Even though we had recently had good weather we heard that it had turned bad up around Deadhorse, and we knew that everybody had said that weather was everything on the “Haul Road”, and that it can change radically & quickly. So we decided to call ahead ( I strongly recommend calling ahead during tourist season) to Coldfoot and make reservations at that last outpost before the most difficult part of this trip. We hoped that by staying over night maybe the weather would clear up and make the ride somewhat easier. The room at Coldfoot was $ 175, IIRC. Camping was an option but if you heard the wolves all around the camp all night, you would gladly pay it–they were so loud it was hard to sleep especially since it’s was light all night long. I took and strongly recommend earplugs & a sleep mask. We would have liked to been able to wait out the weather, but Fletcher & I both decided that we each had many reasons that made that close to impossible. We had to press on the next morning, even though when we first arrived they were Medi-vacing a rider out and his GS was in pieces in the back of a truck on the way back to Fairbanks. We never got the whole story. We met a couple of other GS riders. The two that had made it up & back warned us of the roads dangerous condition & there was another GS rider who had decided to not go any farther and was heading back to Fairbanks.
The road is “relatively ” good from Fairbanks to Coldfoot, and Coldfoot is beyond the “Arctic Circle”. If your not watching you will miss the small sign indicating the turn off on your right to the Arctic Circle sign that offers such a photo opportunity. Up to Coldfoot, gas is fairly available in the day time, but just like on the Cassiar Hwy, the Klondike Hwy, etc, don’t pass many stations. If you have limited range at all–top off when possible. Fletcher & I especially liked the gas station just a couple miles +/-, passed the Yukon River crossing called “Hot Spot”. Their Hamburgers are larger than “Moonshines” about 1 lb, but they also cost $10 +/-. With all the money you’ve spent at this point– what the heck–throw caution to the wind & eat up–except for your return trip it may be awhile before you get past here again. As you walk to the Porta-Potty the signs warn you to be on the alert for bears. They must like “Hot Spot” burgers too
As you leave Fairbanks you are traveling north on “Elliot’s Hwy” until you get to the James Dalton Hwy, commonly called the “Haul Road” which you will soon find out why. James Dalton was the chief Engineer of this road which was an engineering feat being built on “Permafrost” to allow trucks to service the work camps of Deadhorse/ Prudhoe Bay with food & supplies as well as transport oil, etc back down to the Port at Valdez. These trucks often are double or triple trailers that travel as fast as they can possibly run and use 16-18 ply tires to withstand the challenges of the road surfaces of the Haul Road. They let up for very little and will cover you with mud & Chloride as they go past. Some will slow a little if you slow down and hug the your side of the road-some won’t & don’t hug it too far because over there beside the road where it’s not potholed and looks smooth, (don’t be lulled into that) is temporarily melted Permafrost and is very deep and will take you out and pull you in. Just like there are “Urban Legends” there are also “Rural Legends” too, so I don’t know for sure if it’s true but I heard that in places the Permafrost has been found to be a couple thousand feet deep and the “Haul Road” has been found to be in places 16-18 feet of rock, gravel, asphalt etc, that just keeps sinking in with the heavy loads that pound it day & night.
On the morning of July 3rd, Fletcher & I left Coldfoot, Ak to complete the last 240 miles to Prudhoe Bay/ Deadhorse, Ak. It’s not like any other 240 miles that either of us have ever ridden. We know from what we’ve been warned that there are absolutely no services along this stretch. We also found shortly that there is not one building or structure other than the few Pump Stations for the pipeline and they are fenced and non-accessible and have no services available if they were open. All we saw were lots of trucks & a few caribou. It’s as desolate as any desert and the only thing that allows you to even be there is this one road. We were greeted by rain within a few miles of our departure and continued to ride in it off & on until the Prudhoe side of Atigan Pass. It was rainy and foggy as we went through Atigan Pass and riding was a full time job. We felt that we had enough extra gas to make it, but I had hardly ever got 40 MPG with the KLR ( cleaning the air filter at Rogers made for much better mileage), but I kept remembering Don Kime kept saying that we would get better mileage than we ever had, because we would be traveling so slowly over all. Don proved to be correct beyond my dreams. We fought about every kind of bad road conditions. There were about a half a dozen different road surfaces that you had to watch for, correctly analyze and adjust your riding and speed to accommodate each of these conditions.If you didn’t do so or if you get complacent–you’re going down. There were long stretches of ditch to ditch potholes of all sizes that could not be avoided. It looked smooth on the side of the road, but you better not go there. The road base is totally built on Permafrost and you cannot go anywhere that the road doesn’t go. If you need to pull over you must wait until you reach a planned turn-off built there to allow small trucks to service the pipeline. Some of the different surfaces were shale like rocks that cut like knives (look like darker places on the road), loose rock, mud and / or Calcium Chloride, very deep loose rock, packed rock, packed mud, packed dirt, construction where everything seemed deep and loose, one stretch of asphalt near “Happy Valley” ( no wonder they call it that). All of these have varying degrees of potholes. Put that all together and it can shake the fillings out of your teeth and if you misjudge and hit deep loose rock at packed rock speeds, you are extremely eligible for a helicopter ride. Out of all the different surfaces, you will learn to fear most the road construction sites. When you see one up ahead you will probably get a lump in your gut- If you don’t, you need to lay off the medications and get professional help. These construction zone happen constantly at various intervals. As Roger told us “There are only two seasons in Alaska– Winter & Road Construction”. These construction zones usually have Calcium Chloride/ water trucks spreading gunk on the road forming what is referred to locally as “snot”. Beside all the trucks you now encounter road graders. These graders are grading the road surface to the center of the road to maintain a “Crown” so that the water runs into the ditches. However this causes a continual pile of mud, rock, and CC about 1 1/2′-2 1/2′ right down the center of the road that you must get across, while watching for oncoming kamikaze mega- trucks that seem determined to make you a hood ornament. So you have to time everything perfectly-coming up behind the grader in the right lane , judging the extreme difference in your two speeds and after checking constantly for the oncoming vehicles, make a perfectly timed jump over this 2′ berm at as close to a 90 degree angle as you can possibly cut it. My KLR with it’s unbelievable clearance bottomed out many times and sometime I wasn’t sure of where it was going to choose to go. However Fletcher & I managed to “jump” every berm that we met w/o satisfying any of those drivers.I will guarantee some extremely world class pucker rates. On a couple that I remember I could have easily pinched a 10 penny nail in two.
It is true that anything that you need between Coldfoot & Deadhorse you better have with you, and that’s one of the reasons that even though Fletcher & I are usually solo riders, I would recommend that if you decide to accept the challenge of the “Haul Road” that you hook up with another experienced rider with similar riding skills and style. You can share the necessary tools & parts& mechanical experience., but you also have the other rider to help in case a serious breakdown or if either get hurt. No matter your prior experience or riding ability this road can bite you, and I assure you that if you are out here, you will get a lot of comfort that there is someone out there to help you if you need it. Fletcher & I were both glad that we made this decision to ride together. All of a sudden I heard my chain making that crunching sound that you hate to hear and upon stopping to check it out, found that the chain was about to come off and I adjusted the chain out as far as it would go, even though I had two + notches when I left Fairbanks. The next surprise was that when I picked out what to take back at Ester I had two plastic bags and I had accidentally picked the wrong one ( They looked exactly alike) and did not have my chain tools even though I had a new chain & master links with me. The chain was loose enough to come off anytime, so I started a regiment of lubing the chain every 50-60 miles instead of my 200-300 usual lube. I used a large can of chain lube on just this ride from Fairbanks to Deadhorse & back to Fairbanks-about 950 miles. Next my rear tire went flat for the second time on this trip about 90- 100 miles short of Prudhoe Bay, Since the bike & I were pretty well covered w / Calcium Chloride plus all the rain and regular mud, no tube patch was going to stick, and we were out where it was totally desolate and the last thing you want to do is stay out here through a night, it only left one option and that option sure helped to have Fletcher along. When we split up the tools back in Ester we decided to have Fletcher bring the air compressor ( He had a real compact one), so Fletcher pumped up the rear tire and I would take off & ride as hard as I could under the conditions while Fletcher would pack up the tools and run to catch me where I would be waiting for my next air fix. We did this all the way to Deadhorse–it was much easier with two of us. We later found a little nail in the tire. Even though it was late when we got there it was still light and we found a guy patching some truck tubes and he agreed to patch ours if we took the wheel off and put it back on. We first found a guy with a power sprayer and talked him into letting us not only let us knock all the mud,etc off the rear wheel and swing arm, but also the radiator since it was completely stopped up and the engine had been getting hotter & hotter for the last 50 miles. The Calcium Chloride had set up in the radiator just like concrete. but after patching the tube I found that while reinstalling the rear wheel, I had messed up the rear brake and neither me, Fletcher, or any one there could get to work at all, I now found it necessary to ride the 450-500 miles back to Fairbanks w/o a rear brake and considering that the grade at Atigan was 12% ( Near Chattanooga w/ runaway truck ramps the grade is 6%) I was not necessary looking forward to that. I would much rather have had the front brakes gone– but not the rear. I don’t have time to worry too much though, because I need my rest for the return trip tomorrow. Fletch and I had called ahead and had reservations at the Prudhoe Bay Motel ( you may remember that this was the motel that not too long ago they shot a Grizzly to death in the halls), and a couple years ago they had a Grizzly knocking down motel room walls looking for food. Someone there told me that late at night if you wandered around outside that you were as likely to meet a bear as a person. It begin to soak in that this is still a frontier. There is no alcohol allowed in Prudhoe Bay or Deadhorse and after observing the tough characters that work that pipeline I realized that was probably a good idea. You mix that group with alcohol and there wouldn’t be many alive after a week-end.
Fletcher & I start back tomorrow–I have a couple things on my mind–Will the chain make it back? Will I be able to descend Atigan Pass with just a front brake? or will I become a hood ornament or a mud flap on one of those trucks from hell ?
There are two Motels in Prudhoe Bay- The Caribou Inn & the Prudhoe Bay Motel. Fletcher & I ended up in the latter and chose to stay Dormitory style for $110 for which we share a small room with a shared bath/shower/laundry area with a long wing of rooms. I will say that they have an excellent large buffet available 24 hours a day with great variety and well prepared. All food is included during your stay. Fletcher & I prepared to start our return trip with a large breakfast. We had filled with gas the evening before at the only gas service we could find. It was unmanned and we had a complicated process to try to get a receipt ( the receipt didn’t have a location on it ), so we got a receipt from the motel also as I got my witnesses to end my first UCC and start my return UCC. I also learned something that you others might use sometime. I had heard that you could always use an ATM for a receipt by simply asking it for a balance, but some ATM’s now only show the Balance on the display and don’t give a written receipt.Otherwise you must make a withdrawal and pay a fee. So what I found was that if you insert your ATM card and enter a P.I.N. that you know to be incorrect it will tell you on the display that it is incorrect and gives you another chance. Put in another incorrect P.I.N. & you get a printed receipt telling you that your request was refused because you used an incorrect P.I.N. complete with time/date/location. Having already checked the local NAPA supply for an appropriate chain & master link unsuccessfully, Fletcher & I left Prudhoe in a fog that began immediately to freeze (it’s Aug. 4th) on the windshield and blow over the top of the windshield as little pieces of ice hitting me in the face. It’s amazing how quickly things change up here–after raining for days it was relatively dry and now mud wasn’t as much as an issue–mainly now potholes & rocks. We had a rather uneventful trip to Atigan with frequent chain lubing. As I saw Atigan looming up ahead, I got a little lump, but there wasn’t really any other option. The trip up the pass was enjoyable and now we could see that beautiful view that we hadn’t been able to see on the way up due to rain & fog. I didn’t want to think about it very long so I didn’t stop but went right over the top and immediately downshifted and began to let the engine slow down the KLR as much as possible, but my speed kept increasing and I kept down shifting until now I’m in first gear and the engine tachometer is red lined. There are some curves involved and your watching for trucks going either way, so when you get to curves you have to delicately apply your front brake to attempt to slow down a little before entering the curves. When your red lined in first and can’t apply your front brake very hard because of the deep loose gravel, and you know you have to stay on your side especially in the curves, and you know that if your chain comes off then your engine will no longer slow down your bike, you find that you have many opportunities to brush up on your prayer life. There are absolutely no options left except dragging your feet and you know that won’t help. I had decided that if the chain came off or if I couldn’t keep the bike under control, I planned to hit the bank to my right hopefully before it got to going too fast. If I made it through that I would try to tie a rope to Fletcher and maybe use his bike to slow me down, but i didn’t want to involve him unless there was no other way to make it. I’ve never been so happy in my life to see the road level out. I’m also very grateful that the weather had improved so much overnight along with the trucks continuing to pack the mud down and help dry the road out. The weather was much better all the way back, so Fletcher & I rode on to Fairbanks in 13 hours– Not bad time. There were still a few pucker times because we had decided that we were not going to let any of those trucks pass us because it was now very dusty in most places and they throw rocks, so they would gain on us on downhill and we would gain back our position on the level runs and the uphills. We were flying much of the time across the potholes and rocky surfaces, but while going downhill and coming into a curve, I had to slow until I could see around the curve and make sure that it didn’t get real steep quickly because I’m still using the engine to keep it down to a safe speed on the steep grades. Even though the trucks were going 70-90 mph, IIRC, no truck ever passed me going up or down. Two of my most painful experiences involved trucks & rocks. Both times it was trucks coming toward me. The first was on “Top of The World” road, when an oncoming truck that was flying, pinched a baseball size rock with it’s left front tire and even though I saw it coming, couldn’t do a thing about it. It hit me on the left ankle. I can’t describe how badly it hurt. When I stopped for gas the next time it was swelling up, but it was bearable. The next one came on the “Haul Road” and hit me on the left foot & bloodied three of my toes. Three months later my big toenail hadn’t fully decided what it plans to do. When Fletcher & I got back to Fairbanks we both needed major maintenance. Both of our brake pads (front & rear) were gone, sprockets, chains, broken bolts, missing bolts & screws, insulation worn off wiring. fuses blown, both my GPS’s were not working consistently, and the XM Radio was totaled & the insulation on the antenna wire was missing in many places, and that new large can of chain lube that I had bought in Fairbanks before I left needed replaced.
Fletcher needed to get back home to deal with some harvest problems, picking up more park stamps along the way, and so we stayed in Ester–telling war stories, then picked up our gear and split up for the return trip. Fletcher was also doing a UCC from Prudhoe Bay to Key West so we both had to get back to Key West before our ride was over.
Anything now should be anticlimactic. Right? Well it pretty well was until I got to southern Georgia.
After splitting with Fletcher I headed south back to Rogers for a tire change and a little more maintenance, where I managed to mess my rear caliper up again–touchy little puppies- and was saved from riding back to Denver w/o a rear brake , by Rogers mechanical ability and after a desperate late night post on MTF that resulted in a late night call from our resident KLR expert Don Kime, it was once again corrected. Drag-racer Bob was on the phone trying to help us out. Man was I grateful for MTF and it’s well informed members. I hated to leave Roger & Mary Ellen after all the hospitality that they had shown, but I needed to get back to Denver to the IBA Annual Meeting. So after making a memorable lunch stop at Glen Allen with Jack Gustafson, I headed down the Alcan Hwy to finish up my ride. I remember that the first gas stop in the Yukon at Beaver Creek, Yukon the gas was equivalent to $5.80 @ Gal. Wow. I rode for the next 5 days out of 6 in hard to downpour rain all through the Rockies again through the Yukon, British Columbia, and most of Alberta. Still you could see the beauty of that area. Animals everywhere and most of them just beside or on the road eating that nice grass that had been planted there- Herds of Buffalo, moose, caribou, etc. As you rounded corners you had to be alert. All the people that I met in Alaska & Canada were helpful & friendly.
I got to Denver a couple days early and got some rest & was able to join the IBA group that was scheduled to take off from Colorado Springs and ride to the top of Pikes Peak, something that I had always wanted to do on a bike. It was all I had hoped it to be. I was able to do this ride plus the return ride to Denver with Ron Stazak, and Carl Griffis which was a treat, even though the fully loaded KLR was a little pushed to keep up with these good riders. We also got to ride for awhile with ” Rototiller Don” who will be in the Rally this next year. The IBA Annual Meeting was a hoot and it was great to meet old & new friends there especially the MTF members. After the meeting I rode a SS1K from Denver to home. Didn’t really plan to — It just sorta happened. I stayed at home for about a week to try to put things in order before my last leg. I’d been gone from home for a long while. The evening before I left I decided that it wound be fun to ride a BB1500 to Key West if I added a few miles to the trip by going from home up to Champaign, Il at 3 A.M.and back. Since I had ridden some BBG’s but never a BB1500 that seemed the appropriate thing to do . So next morning I headed to Key West the long way, and made pretty good time riding part of the way with a friend from Casey (a suburb of Moonshine) that I had ridden a SS1K, a 50 CC, and a BBG with earlier named Jim Wilson- a lifelong friend. However Jim had stopped for the night somewhere near Atlanta or Macon, Ga. and I went on in my BB attempt planning to meet him later in Key West. A little after mid-night while riding through a 35-40 mile construction zone in southern Georgia that had already been a challenge, regularly hitting grooves and uneven surfaces and being forced into lane shifts that used the right lane and the shoulder which were very uneven and rough at times, and of course there were usually trucks all around- beside me & behind me — that didn’t allow for much error. While on the shoulder of a lane shift doing about 55-60, I hit a angling deep groove and uneven surface at the same time and the bike went wild on me. My rather aggressive knobby tires were trying to crawl out of the groove and I went into a near tank slapper. Everything went so fast and I remember the headlight being way to the left & then way to the right, and as the bike felt like it was maybe going down my left leg got caught under the Mermite container (Pannier)and it tried to pull me off the bike. I managed to stay on, & keep the bike up. The pain was extreme and as I tried to move it around and do inventory there was nowhere to pull off–I was already on the shoulder. I didn’t stop but decided to ride on to see how it would feel after awhile. It stayed pretty bad so after about 20 -30 miles , I hit Georgia exit # 3 just as I was getting ready to enter Florida. I stopped a Dairy Queen that was staying open late- it was probably 1 A.M.+/- and I had trouble getting off the bike and hobbling into the Diary-Queen- I could hardly put any weight on the left leg. I took my boot off and there were a couple dents in my leg and it already looked as if it was going to be bruised. The lady working there told me where the hospital was and suggested that I go. I explained to her that I was on a IB run and didn’t want to stop unless I absolutely had to. I decided that if I got a room next door, I would surely know after a few hours sleep if it was broken or cracked because it would be unbearable. I really had a rough time sleeping, because I couldn’t find a position that didn’t hurt. When I got up it was hurting, but not enough to go to the hospital, so after figuring my remaining time I decided that I could possibly get to Key West on time if I lucked out with the Miami & Key’s traffic. I did and after arriving with 30 minutes to spare I went back up a couple keys and returned to make sure I hadn’t come up short. My GPS and Computer printout said I was ok, but my KLR speedometer said I was a couple of miles short-(which it always seems to do) but I wasn’t going to miss it by a couple miles after the effort that had been required. I had to hurry and get my necessary witness signatures & pictures that were required, because Hurricane Ernesto was bearing down on the Keys, and after getting caught there in the middle of Katrina, I didn’t want to go through that again. I stayed the night in Miami at Jim Wilson’s daughter Angie & husband’s house. Even though I had gotten out just before tourist were ordered out they caught up with me in Miami and I had to fight some traffic as I left the next day. On the way home I stayed in N. Atlanta at the same Motel that I had stayed on the way up the first time with the same security guard who had just been wondering what ever happened to me.
Now back home to arrange all the paperwork- over 140 receipts, plus logs, pictures , etc. I have submitted it all , but don’t expect any quick reply from IBA on a ride this involved.
I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. There were too many experiences to mention them here. I’m not real good about ride reports– I just like to ride. But this is probably the longest report that I’ve ever seen.
Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, don’t ask me any questions about this ride at the next IBA, RTE, or other MTF event.
Thanks for hanging in there with me through this long drawn out babbling.
Moral of this story : If you are riding at night with no moon, and you get into a construction area that is like the one described above–Hang it up for the night & attempt it the next day when there is enough light to spot the areas of danger. Of course that doesn’t apply while on an IB run