Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bikes are Packed and Ready to Ride!

Today we made sure the bikes' tanks were full, and that everything was ready to go. Once we knew the bikes were ready we started packing. SInce we've changed our mind about motels, and will be doing quite a bit of camping, our load has increased a bit. Bobby has extra gas in his panniers, as well as extra fuel for the jet boil, WD40, a tarp to cover the bikes, tools, 2 spare inner tubes for my tires, and a tubeless tire patching kit. His extra camp pillow and an extra blanket for me are also in the panniers. He is carrying a dry bag with our sleeping bags, and a collapsable cooler for some liquid refreshment when we are done riding for the day. Tomorrow morning we'll pick up our satellite phone that will also go in his panniers.

I have our emergency kit, gravel plates, tire pressure gauge, glasses cleaner, cell phone, camera and extra lens in my tank bag. In the top case are our tent, both air mattresses, a can of Off, baseball caps, and a supply of Power Bars. Farkle will be riding sweep on this trip. I have Mountain House dinners in one dry bag strapped to my bike, and our extra clothes in the other dry bag. I'm carrying a two liter bottle of water with a squirt nozzle to spray my radiator down to keep it a little cleaner, and our camp towel.

So now we are ready. LET'S RIDE!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Prudhoe Bay Trip is less than a week away!

Well, our plans have changed a little. We are now planning to camp as we pass through Fairbanks. We have reservations at a campground on the Chena River. It's the same campground I stayed in back in May. We also changed our plans about staying in Coldfoot. We are going to go to The Arctic Gateway B&B in Wiseman instead. I am very excited about this change. I feel like we'll get a better night sleep here, and am looking forward to meeting the family who runs the place.

We have also gotten our emergency plan into place. Two friends will have all of our itinerary information and Iridium phone number as well as the numbers to call for emergency personnel if we aren't back home when we are planning to be (with a 48 hour cushion).

Friday, July 4, 2008

TKC 80's On the Road

I understand that TKC 80 tires are primarily off-road tires, but they do a fine job on-road as well. We rode about 100 miles today to scrub in our new tires and I came home impressed. If these tires make the kind of difference off-road that they are claimed to make, the slight increase in vibration on-road is well worth a little tingle in the hands. At slower speeds I could feel the knobbies, it felt like the front tire was bouncing. Honestly, I enjoyed the feeling. It made me laugh. The real test will come when we take the TKC 80's off-road, but so far I am very pleased with our choice to use them on our trip up the haul road to Prudhoe Bay.

Here are some pictures of Portgage from today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Preparations Begin!

My husband and I are planning to ride our motorcycles to Prudhoe Bay the weekend of July 11! For anyone not familiar with the route, we will ride the Dalton Highway, otherwise known as the haul road, about 500 miles on gravel from Fairbanks to Deadhorse. The last 250 miles are completely isolated, with no services of any kind. It will be by far the most challenging ride for us to date.

So how are we preparing? The first step was to replace our street tires with TKC 80's. My husband has already made that change on his bike; we'll pick up the tires and do the switch on my bike this afternoon. It will be my first time riding this bike on knobbies, so I'm excited to see how it will change how the bike handles.

We are also going to replace the right front fork seal on my bike. It has begun leaking, and we want everything to be 100% when we are on the Dalton. We'll be putting the panniers back on Bobby's bike, and I'm going to ride with just my top case and my tank bag. Since we are staying in motels in Coldfoot and in Deadhorse we don't need to carry as many supplies.

I spent today reading everything I could find about the road, and feel like I'm mentally prepared. As we make more plans, I'll keep them posted here so anyone else planning a motorcycle trip up the Dalton Highway can follow along! I'll also post pictures as I get them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Visit from Dakar

During our Spring 2007 tour we met Dakar and became good friends with her. This year she is doing her big tour and we were fortunate enough to have her stay with us for a few days. Her ride report is posted in under the title "Dakar's (Top Secret) Grand Tour..." She has traveled so far from Kansas City to New York, to Maine, back to New York then across the Northern U.S., up the Alcan Highway to Tok, and now she's working her way South.

I met her in Tok, abut 320 miles from where I live. It was a fun ride up even though I wasn't sure what time she would arrive. As it turns out, I had just enough time to get checked into a motel room and change out of my riding gear when she pulled up. The good news was that she had made it without any real problems. The bad news was that there was oil coming out of the final drive on her motorcycle. Uh Oh!

We didn't have internet access where we were staying so I called home and had my daughter post up a "SOS" on ADV rider. Within 7 minutes a guy called us back and said he'd be passing through Tok the following day about noon, and that he'd bring parts if we could order them in Anchorage. We immediately got on the phone and got a new seal ordered. Whew!

The next day a few people passing through on their way to D2D wished us luck and reassured us the seal replacement would fix the problem. A little after 1:00 a different guy from ADV pulled into the parking lot of our motel. He had also brought the seal, and since he's a motorcycle mechanic, he offered to do the work. As soon as he pulled the seal, however, we knew it was more than a seal as we heard chunks of metal falling into the pan we put out to catch the oil. Her final drive bearing was shot. We called Fairbanks - no bearings that would fit, sorry. We called Anchorage - same answer. Anchorage, however, said they could order the parts and have them in the next day.

I immediately got on my bike and rode back to Anchorage, hoping the parts would be in early enough to make the trip back to Tok, and still get through before road construction closed the only road back to Anchorage at midnight. We got lucky, and everything worked out, but what a way to start her time in Alaska!

We spent the next week exploring and enjoying the company. It was sad to see her leave yesterday, but her tour must go on!