Well, I've got all 49 states checked on my "ride to" bucket list now. Left June 30 and returned to the Sooner State July 23rd. Rode a little over 10,600 miles and had a good time. A bad day riding beats a good day at work anytime right? We rolled into Whitehorse on Friday and missed the Rally, sorry. Bob and Don also riding Super 10's made the trip with me too. I think that was number 49 for Bob too. Everybody was friendly except for a couple of truckers that either thought they owned the road or just didn't like motorcyles. Spent way too much money as everything in Canada and Alaska was priced extremely high. But that's what vacations are for right? Bikes performed flawlessly other than head light issues. I had the right one go out before crossing the border with about 13,000 miles on it. Swapped the bulbs and it was in the wiring. Got to Fairbanks and went to the Yamaha dealer for tires and oil but they didn't have any service bulletins on it and said they could look at it for me (still under warranty) in a week or two if I wanted to leave it. I still had one good one and a set of PIAA's to supplement if needed. Since it rarely got dark, didn't really need them. Don's failed and we met a S10 from Alabama who had his right one out too. Don said he saw one other Tenere with a right side out on the road too. Bob and Don experienced some leaky for seals.
Speaking of the Alaska Fun Center, they got us in after opening on 7-9, 9:00am and changed 3 oils and filters. I had a set of Conti Twinduros put on while there for the ride to Deadhorse. If you do the same bend over and get ready, 2 tires and an oil/filter change cost me a mere $770.00. Only $100 bucks to pull a wheel off and reinstall it plus $65 to swap the tire and balance times 2. When I got back to Fairbanks from Prudhoe, I took the tires off myself in about 15 minutes and took them back to get my Tourances put back on. They musta felt guilty cuz they only charged me $90 to swap the tires and balance the second time. Back home we're talking $52 for a pair. I enjoyed putting them back on the bike knowing I saved myself $200 bucks. While they dropped everything and got us on the road 1st, we paid for it. Oil was $16 per quart and the filter was $14 with 1/2 hour labor or $50 bucks to drain and pour new back in. I had to drain about a half quart out since the tech poured the full 4 quarts in. And I don't even want to remember how much they charged me for the 2 knobbies. Oh well, vacation right?
Brother Bob got Dan Adventure Works(?) there in Fairbanks to put on a set of Hideys for a lot less but we had to endure his slightly overinflated ego and anti-Tenere attitude. I'da got Hideys too and let him change the oil if he hadn't been so abrasive. If it ain't a GS, it ain't $hit, so if it is a GS is it $hit? I think he only charged $60 for remove and install with tire swap and balance. If you want to save some money and don't mind listening to his "I know more than anybody" dialogue he will save you a few bucks. Oh well, to each his own.
The ride up thru Canada and the haul road were boring and unremarkable. Other than watching for the frost heaves dips and cracks, wasn't much to write home about. We got rained on a couple of times and encountered clouds of mosquitoes but it was pretty much boring at best. Maybe because I've ridden MX, cross countrys, harescrambles and enduros for over 40 years not to mention back and forth between the coasts a few times, riding in the cold, dust , heat and rain along with hundreds of miles of gravel roads didn't present much of a challenge. The gravel roads were mostly not gravel. More like chat or cinders. Didn't encounter any wheel swallowing chug holes or bowling ball size boulders in the roads anywhere. Other than dealing with some dust, we ran 70ish plus pretty much all the time. I have to admit the Canadians and Alaskan drivers were safer and a lot more accommodating and motorcycle friendly than here in the states. Had to watch the foreigners in the rental cars and rented RV's tho. I took way too much stuff, spare parts, tools and survival gear based on having read all the articles and internet stories, blogs, etc. I enjoy reading about other riders travels and experiences but all they did was get me to needlessly spend a fortune getting ready to go. Welp, I'd rather have it and not needed it than not had it and got stranded.
Other interesting comments from an Okie: A lot of the restaurants don't have ice up there. Also the Canadians like brown gravy on their fries and don't understand why we don't down here. The currency, liters, klicks etc were fun and the temps weren't in Farenheight either. The guys had trouble sleeping since it didn't get dark up north. Saw lots of different critters, but not nearly in numbers as expected. Seems everybody told me there was a moose behind every tree waiting to jump out in front of me around every turn, only saw 4, 2 cows and one had 2 calfs. The bears and mooses would run into the woods if you slow or stopped for a photo. Saw some caribou up at Deadhorse, a few deer and foxes (the 4 legged kind) and herds of buffalos. Again dissapointing there as I wanted to get some photos to bring back. Mt. McKinley was easy to see from 100 miles away but in the park all we saw was foreigners and clouds. Did I mention everything was doubley expensive? Found $2 a liter gas, $15 hamburgers and the car wash at Fairbainks was a quarter for 15 seconds. You had to put in 12 quarters to start it. I spent $20 washing the portland cement like dried road spray off the bike. Oh well, at least my fork seals weren't leaking when we got back. Mediocre motels ran $150~$200.
We crossed back over into the states and I had $65 dollars canadian left and stopped at the first bank I saw to convert it back to GW's. My $65 C netted me $60.25 in equivilent US cash. Honestly Colorado has prettier mountains that you can drive too. You can't see the snow capped Alaskan peaks like as on TV without out hopping a plane or boat. Even the Canadian Rockies a small. I'm sure they are older and more erroded but we got better stuff here and don't have to ride as far.
We had a good time and saw some pretty country but I was dissapointed. No psycho truckers, no unpassable roads, no worries about t-boning giant animals, weather was chilly at times but not untolerable, no major break downs or tire problems, always found gas and a place to stay, rather uneventful. I ran out of gas about 3 miles from Deadhorse so the spare gas can was used once. But it is a long freaking way up there, a lot of hours in the saddle, everything is outrageously over priced and the scenery was spotty at best.
I would like to compliment our hosts, crossing the states, Canada and traveling around Alaska we were accepted most graceiously and never discriminated against or treated poorly because we were on bikes. There was one waitress in Dawson was having a bad day, while the instant tea was drinkable, no free refills nor ice. I like ice in my iced tea, sorry. The people were awesomely nice and we met people from all over the world. All the Euros, Asians, Middle Eastern, Aussie's, Kiwi's and even fellow Yanks were all very very polite and tolerant considering it was the peak of the tourist season. I love the way everyone thinks I am the one with the accent. That is always the best part of the ride for me is meeting and visiting with people from other states, countries and continents. Everyone wanted to know where we were from, where we were going and where we'd been. Met a Tenere owner, Frank in Fairbanks who let us use his shop to store some gear and work on the bikes. Super guy, Thanks Frank! Love you man! Saw lots of bikes of every make and model and enjoyed looking at them and talking to their riders. Even the Beemer owners! Okay, okay before you start flinging the doo-doo at me, just kidding okay? One thing we did notice was that all the other ADV riders would rarely wave to us. The Harleys, Wing nuts, crotch rockets all would wave before we did. The Adventure crowd must have been too tired to lift their hands off the bars. If we waved first and largely, sometime they would actually wave back. Is the old unwritten law of waving a each other not apply to ADV riders? If we aren't supposed to wave, please let me know. Aw what the hell, I'll probably wave at you anyway whether you wave back or not.
Feel free to send me a PM if you have any questions or want to share exeriences or disagree with me. I'll be glad to send some pics if anyone would like to see some. Overall, been there done that probably won't go back. It was real and it was fun so I guess it was real fun. Now just gotta get the credit card paid back down for next year. Got almost 22,000 on old blue now so I gotta find someplace new to explore. Maybe Labrador, Nova Scotia or New Foundland, always wanted to see and ride the Isle of Mann. Anybody wanna go?
Super Tenere's rule! MW