RubiKon Adventures

Tales and travels of "GrizzLee", "Looksha Lori" & "Yukon Johann"

Monday, August 31, 2015

Solo Beyond The Northern Hinterlands: Germans, A Man Turns 50, The Denali Hwy and Gretchen Gets a New Shoe

Email acct (complete with spelling and grammatical errors)

Solo Beyond The Northern Hinterlands: Germans, A Man Turns 50, The Denali Hwy and Gretchen Gets a New Shoe
Germans, A Man Turns 50, The Denali Hwy and Gretchen Gets a New Shoe
From: Grizz Lee <>
Date: Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 11:32 PM
Subject: Germans, A Man Turns 50, The Denali Hwy and Gretchen Gets a New Shoe

As I left Dawson City, the weather began to deteriorate. I knew from the weather reports that I was to experience scattered showers. However, about 10 miles above Dawson on the “Top of the World Hwy”, the sky opened up. It was déjà vu all over again. In 2013 Yukon Johann and I had a similar experience. The difference this time was that the roads weren’t all tore up. On the US side, they had actually paved 12 miles of road. The same 12 miles of shitty hell that was torn to pieces in 2013. I arrived in Chicken, wet and cold. There was a bright side, however, out front sat 2 KTM 950s and inside there was FREE COFFEE!! The coffee, was great. Not because it tasted good, which it didn’t, but because it raised my core temperature to a tolerable level. Once the shivers stopped, I began chatting with the owners of the KTMs. Their names were Claus and Jo. Two pals that were circumnavigating the globe on motorcycles. They were doing it 4 weeks at a time each year. Last year they finished the Road of Bones in Russia to Magadan and travelled Mongolia. They had some stories to tell. I had to hear them. We agreed to meet up in Tok, Ak and possibly travel towards Fairbanks together. Great time. We drank beer exchanged adventures. In the end, when we parted ways at Delta Jct the next day. We agreed to meet up next year as they ride through the west coast on their way to Mexico. Maybe, even possibly ride together a bit.

Claus and Jo, travelling the world on KTM 990 Adventure Bikes

Attack by the state bird

Facts about the ALCAN

The End of the ALCAN Hwy in Delta Junction
Maybe it was a sign, or maybe it was fate, but as I headed south on the Richardson highway, alone, the sun disappeared and the dark sky was again my friend. The Richardson Hwy was beautiful, as I saw 2 black bears and got to photograph/video a lone moose grazing in a pond. Along the way I had a near miss with a moose crossing the road. A real pucker moment. I arrived at Summit Lake and the rains really began to worsen. I was near 4000 feet in a valley surrounded by glaciers ... although I couldn’t see them from all the clouds.
Lone Moose on the Richardson Hwy

Roadside stop that should've been scenic if it weren't for the weather
I pulled into Tangle Lakes Lodge for a bite. I also wanted to dry off a bit. The sun came out and it was gorgeous. So I decided to set up camp at a developed campsite nearby. No sooner had I gotten the tent up and it began to rain again. It was a wet, humid night and a bit chilly. The next morning it was cold, but breezy. So I dried everything out and hit the road. I was traveling the high country, riding parallel to the Alaska Range. There were supposedly 12,000 foot peaks and lots of glaciers. Occasionally I got a sneak peak of the glaciers, but the mountains stayed hidden in the clouds. Along the way, I met a gent riding a new BMW 1200 R. He rode up from Los Angeles. He had just turned 50 years old and this was his Birthday Present to himself. I told him that was exactly what I was doing as well.

May map says there are glaciers back there

The Denali Hwy - Cold and Beautiful

The road heads through that notch in the center across the tundra

I loved the views form this pass at Maclaren Summit

Coming down Maclaren Summit

After 136 miles, I was at the end of the gravel highway and found myself at Cantwell, the entrance to Denali Nat’l Park. Of course, the sun was shining and the temperature rose to 80 degrees. I had to peel my rain gear off and dry out again. I headed to Fairbanks through several construction zones. 2 hours to go 30 miles yikes!!! I arrived at Fairbanks where I had reservations for a room at the University of Alaska (Thanks to Lori who called ahead for me). Luckily, I had the reservations, because they were full. First time ever they said. They rent student door rooms for $38/night during the summer. Shared showers and bathrooms, but the laundry is free. Not a bad deal considering that motels run about $130-$150/night  in Fairbanks during the summer. In any event, I was glad I was indoors as it rained hard overnight. I decided to stay an extra day because I needed to get a new tire for the rear installed and secondly, I really needed a break from riding for a day.

Scenic ponds and lakes

Gretchen was having a great time.

Whoze dat guy?

The clouds were lifting

Towars the end of the Denali Hwy, the clouds receded and I
could see the base of the Alaska Range that eluded me all day :-(

Scenic rivers proved to the best views I had

An Adventure Rider Moment

It began to get warm and interesting as I finished the Denali Hwy

I spent a good chunk of my time off at Adventure Cycle Works just north of Fairbanks. It is a business run by Dan Armstrong who caters to the adventure riders passing through and/or doing the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. Dan is the salt of the earth type of guy. However, one thing you don’t want to mention is that you own a Harley. He doesn’t like Harleys and Hondas. He said he will not work on either. In fact, if you pull up on a Harley, he will politely ask you to leave and/or park it along the street, downwind from his home/business. He put a brand shoe on my Gretchen. Recall, earlier, 4 days into my trip, I had my first flat on the rear tire and thus had a plug in it. All working fine, but with the tires over 50% gone and still a long way to go home, I felt better about having a new shoe installed. Gretchen is loving her new Heidenau K60 rear tire and I am going to sleep better knowing that I have good tires … one less thing to worry about.

Well, it is time to turn in and start thinking about the ride home. Tomorrow, I point my bike south and begin the journey home. It is always a bit somber for me, as I hate leaving the north. It is a place I feel like I belong, my home. Soon I will be in the big city, fighting traffic, working and dreaming about my next trip north. However, there are still some adventures waiting for me on the way home…

Until Next Time...

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