Thursday, June 21, 2012

The "Dalton Hwy" - One Extreme Riding Experience, Accomplished!

Yesterday afternoon, Sarge & I completed the Dalton Hwy ride - back to Fairbanks, AK.....Hoo-ray!!!....
The first leg of our return trip - Prudhoe Bay to Coldfoot, AK. - on Tuesday - began late in the morning, since I'd signed up for the "Arctic Ocean tour". It involved passing thru tight security, as it would take us into the "oil fields". The tour was excellent - the guide was a native Inuit. The tour detailed the history of oil exploration in Prudhoe Bay - dating back to the early 1960's. The early years were very difficult - with no amenities. Definitely a pioneering spirit. I saw the first oil rig and the magnitude of the entire operation. If you go there, it is a definite "must see". Of course, my hi-lite was touching the water - of the Arctic Ocean. No I didn't jump in! There was still a lot of ice - little open water. Polar bears frequent Prudhoe Bay from the ice - a weekly occurrence - none this morning, though. I noticed, our Inuit tour guide didn't like the warm weather - he wore only a "Security" uniform; no coat; he had his window down and the a/c on. The temperature was 50•F. A scorcher for him! We had to ask him to turn the a/c off. The tour was to take 1 1/2 hrs. It ended up 2 1/2 hrs. Well worth it though!
At 11:45, I found Sarge at the Hotel and we headed south down the Dalton. The ride was worse than the day before - riding up. Just before we reached the Brooks Range, things went from bad to worse.
video

 A twenty-five mile stretch, consisted of 2 to 4 inch boulders; then came a stretch of some smaller stones - we sped up to 45 - 50 mph. Then out of nowhere, what seemed like a smooth surface (so we gassed it) was in fact wet slag/sandy gravel 3 - 6 inches thick. Sarge, who was ahead, went out of control; fished-tailed and slowed rapidly. Me, with the much heavier motorcycle was overtaking him, but similarly fishing-tailing/out-of-control. I came about a foot, from crashing into his bike. A truck that was barreling down on us, passed us on the right - we lucked out! Once at Coldfoot, we new the worst was behind us.
A Moment of Reflection back at Fairbanks, AK.
On Wednesday morning, we began the final leg south, at 8:30 am; a little stiff from the previous days calisthenics. Today, we would take it easy; have a nice quiet ride - you know, like on a Sunday afternoon. That didn't last long! Sarge - the burly Bulgarian - being the "loud, boisterous, competitive type", didn't like the way a BMW 1200GS went past us. We were after him - "like a hungry dog on a T -Bone!" No, of course, we didn't catch him - but no other motorcycles passed us, either. Sarge was quick to point that out, at days end. You've got to love that "fighting spirit"! As I had mentioned, in an earlier blog post, many people (both bikers, non-bikers & construction workers alike) would ask - why I (we) would take this type of motorcycle on the Dalton. I would simply say - "because it's the motorcycle I ride". Many of the bikers, on the Dalton owned Harley's/cruisers but purchased/rented "Enduro type" motorcycles for the run. I said: "It's probably the right thing, for them to do - since a 500 lb. bike is much easier to handle and lift up (if it goes down) than a 1000 lb. Harley". Simply said: "In life, if something isn't in your comfort zone - "Don't Do It"". Something WILL go wrong! We are all different, and being different, does not mean one is better or braver than the next. We're just different; that's all! "And that's what makes this world so "unique""! Today, I will rest, wash clothes and get ready for the next leg of my journey. And yes, it is time to say "goodbye" to "Sarge" aka Milen Dimitrov. Even though we have only known one another twelve days - we have a unique bond. We conquered the Dalton together - on "Harley's". Good-bye my FRIEND !
Good-Bye Sarge - till we ride again!
At the Arctic Ocean - Prudhoe Bay, AK.
Arctic Tundra on "the Dalton".
You done GOOD, Bessy!
Highlight - Touching the water of the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay!
"The Dalton"