June 13 2013 dawned with me being rested and saddle sore and officially 60+ years old, my son as usual was sound asleep as I plotted my day. We had a bunch of dirty clothes laying about laundry entered my head along with needing to stop by the local NAPA store and getting my official US Army retired ID card out at Fort Wainwright. The weather in Fairbanks was hot, during our ride record highs were reported so the lack of air conditioning was felt by us in our accommodations. I got started on my to do list and found myself back at the condo where my son was up and looking at the map with the goal of hitting the road for the Arctic Circle! I was in full agreement so we stripped off all extemporaneous items from the bikes and headed north out of Fairbanks in the heat of the afternoon.The riding the Elliot Highway across varying road surfaces as you might expect in the land of weather extremes through beautiful scenery .We motored past the Hilltop Truck Stop which made me think about truck traffic. This would come back to haunt us , but that was later, since neither of us filled our tanks. The road and the views were perfect for" Ural Speed" riding and my concern over truck traffic wasn't confirmed as heavy trucks were a rare encounter.We stopped at an overlook about 100 miles out of Fairbanks and refueled from the "Jerry cans" I had attached to the boat and pushed on to the Dalton Highway.
The ride along the Dalton Highway has not as challenging as I had expected, but there were more than a few good jolts along the at times paved road. The sun was setting as the road led us northward towards the Arctic Circle the scenery along the highway produced a sense of visual overload as there was just so much to take in along our route.There was one particularly steep gravel covered downhill section that almost got me going sideways downhill as the brakes on the boat didn't catch as well as the bikes brakes so the rig began to slew sideways at about 45 mph. After I swallowed my heart I released the bikes brakes and used the transmission to slow me down to a manageable speed and straightened the rig up on the gravel . This reminded me that sight seeing from the saddle could bite you and to pay attention to the road!As we approached the Yukon River Bridge we took note of the service area on the far bank and our need for fuel. We exited the highway stooping at the gas pumps which proclaimed , gas $5.75 a gallon but worse they closed at 10 PM and it was now 11 PM!! The only thing worse than this information was the mosquitoes that swarmed us to the extent I can't describe the severity of their attack. Luckily , we had more fuel in the cans on my rig so after filling up the bikes we got back on the road. We continued on our way along the Dalton to the overlook at Finger Mountain where we encountered a good number of people parked and looking out over the valley. What was interesting our GPS systems went from night mode to day mode as we rode up the highway with the sun now rising to our front. We pushed on in the cold daylight night towards our destination after taking some scenic overlook pictures. Were were soon greeted by a sign announcing 46 miles to the Arctic Circle , motivating me to snuggle down inside my suit and continue the ride. We rolled into the parking lot of the official Arctic Circle at 2 AM and were greeted by the ravenous swarms of mosquitoes.
Having been attacked by blood suckers, starting to get pretty cold and far from resting questionable fuel supply, we decided that the discussion of riding to Coldfoot, AK was out of the question. Photos taken bladders emptied , we headed south towards Fairbanks. I have yet to understand why heading home under uncomfortable conditions always takes longer than you planned. As we approached the Yukon River Bridge we took note of just how much it is angled downhill.
We pushed on after crossing the bridge until my son signaled the need to refuel his GS , we took notice of our dwindling fuel supply and the distance we need to cover until fuel was available and realized , we would be cutting it close to make it back to Fairbanks.As the sun became higher in the sky we still wore our heavy gloves and heated vests over wind shirts to ward off the mornings cold, as we shepherded our bikes along to conserve fuel. Our progress was steady and we rarely encountered traffic in either directions that early in the day over the very scenic ride which due to our speed we could enjoy . I knew my fuel tank level was steadily dropping and became apparent when climbing a steep section of road the bike began to sputter from fuel starvation. We pulled to the side of the road and used the last few gallons of fuel which didn't top off either bike's tanks . By now we had serious concerns about making the 50 miles to Fairbanks with what we had in our tanks. We soon discovered it was deja vu again as we crested a hill and spied.....the Hilltop Truck Stop! Suddenly the ride wasn't so miserable and the outlook for getting back to our room without aggravation was assured! With full gas tanks and Fairbanks within spitting distance we remounted our bikes and headed to the "most northern" Denny's for breakfast and our beds.
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Last edited by ClarkA
on Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:30 am, edited 3 times in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence