Alaska 2014 Trip – Post #4

Now, that part about not being over prepared, make sure your first aid kit has wound closure strips and other items to use instead of stitches and an antibiotic shot. Also handy were the various zip-ties that secured the controls for the clutch in place for the next three thousand miles of travel in Alaska, Yukon Territory and British Columbia on the way back home. Many thanks goes to the group of motorcyclists from Georgia that did the yeoman’s job of putting the bike back together and of course to Bill who knew where everything was and supervised the reconstruction. I do not know about the Amex card and not leaving home without it, but definitely do not leave home without duct tape and zip-ties.

This event pretty much sealed the decision of whether to go forward towards Deadhorse or turn back. My vote made with gestures as I was drinking a beer with a straw, was to not chance having the field repairs fail further out on the Dalton. The other riders at Coldfoot over breakfast were ruminating on the conditions and the wisdom of heading on to Deadhorse. To me, any decision on riding the Dalton Highway or the Haul Road (original name) comes down to confidence, skill level and conditions all aligning themselves. The road has witnessed many serious accidents in all conditions, and therefore overconfidence often leads to an unpleasant situation.

The day following my crater parking job, we returned towards Fairbanks, and the conditions were much improved. I was starting to feel comfortable when I arrived at the sign to the entrance to the Dalton Highway for a memento picture in front of the sign and slowed down to turn left and waited for a car approaching from the opposite direction to turn into the sign turnout. Another motorcyclist passed me on the left at the same time as I started to turn left. Fortunately the other rider stayed upright on their bike whereas I found myself in the road with a dumped bike with a bit more damage (relatively minor compared to the crater parking). My Lumix camera though did not fare well nor my riding pants, but the good news is that I had also brought another camera and was able to download all the pictures taken up to the point of impact on to my laptop. By now I had to wonder whether I was going to survive and truly exit the Dalton Highway alive. Wow, what a ride and adventure – I will be back.

One of the pearls of advice that I finally came to the conclusion was ridiculous was to use PAM on your motorcycle to help get the wet Calcium Chloride off the bike before it dried on and became a part of the bike never to be able to be removed in the future. That advice was a bunch of crap. Where was I going to spray PAM on the motorcycle where it would not be burnt onto a hot engine/exhaust part or get on my riding suit etc.? Calcium Chloride should be removed timely, but this idea that when it dries it will be difficult or down right impossible to remove is just sheer nonsense. The day after we arrived back from Coldfoot, we went to a regular car wash bay where you do it yourself and easily power washed the Dalton Road off the bikes. Now granted there are numerous orifices and other nooks and crannies that will forever have a piece of the Dalton in them, but I did not go to ride the Dalton Highway and other various roads of ill repute to improve my bike’s resale value.