Thursday, August 15, 2013

Whitehorse to Fairbanks ALASKA.

I left my fleabag motel in Whitehorse after the 3rd time the room service lady tried to get in the room.  I just wasn't ready to leave yet.  I was somewhere between exhausted and ready to go but I wanted to upload all the pictures and spend more time then usual writing about the last few days worth of adventuring.  I think I finally left the room shortly after 11am.  I had a long ride ahead of me but the sun hasn't been setting until 9pm out here so I figure I'll just ride later into the evening.  The roads haven't been terribly crowded with wildlife but I'd still rather be able to see them fully before I go crashing into them.

It hasn't been easy to slow down and put it all online but I'm glad I'm doing it.  I'll be able to sit back and read this in 25 years and hopefully recall the memories easier and realize what kind of kid I was at the age of 32.  I've gotten a lot of feed back from friends and strangers on this blog somehow motivating them to get outside and live more fully which makes me happy.  I'm glad people are reading about my shenanigans and finding it enjoyable to watch me race North.  It's also nice to get positive feed back from all you poor saps sitting in an office chair somewhere pretending to be productive for most of your day.  Don't worry about getting caught reading this at work.  Hopefully you'll get fired and have enough time to plan your own trip.  With any luck I'll be ready for another adventure by then and we can really kick up some dust.

Today's ride was nothing short of spectacular and sketchy all at the same time.  I gassed up on the way out of town because I wasn't sure where I was going and all the touristy parts of Canada seem to be south of me.  I am quickly leaving all the oil fields too so I figured I would have to be a little more conscious of my gas consumption for the whole day.  On average I've been using two tanks per day.  The Yukon Territory is pretty legendary for being remote and the last place I wanted to be on this trip was on the side of the road with my thumb out exchanging favors for gas in the middle of nowhere.

The roads through the Yukon are awful.  I guess the Canadian Government figured out that the only reason you're on these roads is to get the hell out of Canada and go spend money in Alaska so they must have stopped paving it properly in the mid 80's.  It was fun in a lot of sections but sketchy in others.  I would dive into a corner at full speed only to have to drop down a few gears and get hard on the brakes because the curve's exit was covered in gravel or had some giant frost heave.  Riding in gravel is absolutely ridiculous because you get absolutely no traction sometimes on both tires and other times one tire will stick and the other won't.  It's fun only when the back tire slides.  When the front tire slides you will immediately require a change of underwear.  

The frost heaves are fun but wear you down after a while.  I'm not sure what scientific process causes these giant buckles in the road but they will either drop you down into a launch ramp or launch you about a foot into the air without notice.  These ramps were awesome the first forty or so times but when you hit them on a turn or land with your front tire first instead of the back tire it can be a lot to handle.  Even if the bike wasn't fully loaded they'd still scare the bejezus out of me.  I've got too far to go to yard sale my gear all over the side of the road in the Yukon.  

I cut across the border at about 5 in the afternoon.  The border guard asked his obligatory guns, drugs, and alcohol questions and I was free to go within 3 minutes.  ALASKA! Finally.  It was nice to see paved roads and miles per hour signs instead of the gravel roads and metric system everywhere.  The roads improved immediately so I was back on the throttle trying to cut my way through the state into Fairbanks before the sun went down.  

I haven't seen a news report in 2 weeks and I also stopped looking at the weather maps on my phone sometime after Nebraska, so I really didn't know what I was driving into.  Rain or shine, I'm headed North.   War in Iran or not, I'm still headed North. So I haven't seen the point in keeping up with the fuss.  I rolled into some town just before Fairbanks and really wished I had checked the news.  On this occasion the fuss really did matter.   Apparently there were forest fires raging through the townships causing havoc on small communities and burning down hundreds if not thousands of acres of land.  I'm not sure if there was another way to get to Fairbanks but had I known about the fires I would have gladly taken a detour.  4 hours of looking through and breathing in heavy forest fire smoke will make you weary.  I couldn't get to Fairbanks fast enough but response crews were all over the highways doing whatever it is they do.

I pulled into Fairbanks at about 10pm.  The sun was still out but I didn't care.  I found a suitable campsite 3 blocks from a bike shop and passed out within minutes of setting my tent.  No dinner, no phone calls home, I just wanted sleep.

The sun never got lower.  It just crossed from West to East.

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