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Published: September 10th 2009
To start the journey proper we headed north for 886 miles to get to the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay - a 3 day journey; Anchorage to Fairbanks, Fairbanks to Coldfoot Camp, Coldfoot to Deadhorse.
Our first exciting moment happened in the car park before we had even left. Edwin took the bike off the centre stand and it immediately toppled over on top of Kevin, the group leader, taking Edwin with it so he was lying on top of the bike with his feet waving in the air unable to get up - I dont have any photographic evidence as I was too busy laughing. Still at least it meant the group set off with a smile on their faces.
We travelled the first 100 miles as a group then after coffee set off at our own paces. This was our second exciting moment. We were happily riding along and had just overtaken a truck when the police car coming the other way put on his blue lights executed a swift U-turn and came racing up behind us. We couldn't figure out when we had done wrong and were both thinking we were about to get the first
police fine of the group. Edwin moved over the the edge of the road and thankfully the police car overtook us and pulled over the truck in front of us.
Luckily the rest of the day was uneventful and our only concern was where to stop and take photos - the scenery was amazing and we could have stopped every 5 minutes to take another photo not that you could capture it on a photo as it was all so vast. We even caught a brief glimpse of Mt McKinley through the clouds lying on the mountain tops. At Fiarbanks we got to meet John Binkley the ex-Alaskan State Senator who 40 years ago was the 1st person to ride a motorbike from Prudhoe to Ushuaia, leaving in December with temperatures of -40C. He had some fantastic tales of his time on the road and his makeshift equipment to get him through.
To get to the Arctic Ocean we had to negotiate the aforementioned Dalton Highway. It is basically a dirt road used by trucks to service the oil terminal at Prudhoe Bay. Our constant companion on the journey was the oil pipeline running from Prudhoe to Valdez.
the start of the Dalton HIghway
we look pretty clean before starting on the dirt road
We were incredibly lucky and we had two warm sunny days so the 500 mile dirt road was nice a firm. In fact it was far too warm, it just didn't feel like we were in Alaska and all the warm layers of clothing stayed packed in the bags.
There were a few tricky patches just to keep us on our toes. The 1500m Atigun Pass was one long mud slide and the truckers who were used to the route had their own pace and were not going to slow down for a wobbly motorbike in front of them. Then there were the roadworks which involved a few miles on rubbley track and them surmounting a foot high mound of dirt and rocks to get back onto the 'road' which was 6 inches deep in freshly laid gravel which had just been watered - all good fun on a motorbike.
Again the scenery was incredible, just vast, vast areas of wilderness stretching away to the horizon. A consequence of it being so dry & sunny there were several forest fire which created a lot of smoke in some places. But they also cleared the ground so the fireweed
could grow generating vast patches of purple flowers in amongst the charred spruce trees. Beyond the Arctic Circle the trees disappeared to be replaced with arctic tundra and caribou. We saw 2 massive herds of 1000s of animals including stags with magnificent antlers, we just stood and watched as they filed passed us seemingly unconcerned by our presence.
The last few miles tuned out to be the trickiest. Just as we were relaxing and thinking we are there there was a mile of deep slippery mud. It was also 240 miles since the last petrol station so we were constantly checking the petrol gauge and scanning the horizon for signs of the town. WE finally rolled into Deadhorse with 2 miles worth of fuel to spare.
Tot: 2.614s; Tpl: 0.048s; cc: 20; qc: 78; dbt: 0.065s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb