Tuesday, March 22, 2022

You call this a Ride Report? (Canada/Alaska 2022 pre-ride planning)







I’m met Steve in late 1988 when we were both working down on the border in South Texas.  I had been in Laredo about a year when he arrived and we became fast friends and we’ve been close ever since; we’ve both moved all over the country— and actually lived in the same city in North Carolina for about a year way back when.  


We’ve done some rides together, most recently a nice Baja adventure a couple years ago.  So, he and I had planned to travel to South America on our KLR 650s when I retired in 2018 but I broke my leg on a Baja ride just a couple months before we were supposed to leave and that kind of scuttled that plan.  Then, after I recovered, COVID shut the borders and made most of our trip impossible.  Then, I once again became gainfully employed and had to take a two-year break.  


So here we are in early 2022… We’re both free and available now and the urge to ride down to Ushuaia— although still on our minds— is not as pressing as it once was.  however we still wanna do a long-term ride.   


He recently asked me about Saskatchewan or Newfoundland or somewhere else in Canada and I mentioned the ride I did to Alaska in 2014 and that it might be something I’d want to do again.  He readily agreed so the planning commenced.


The last time I rode up there was for 30 days in July and August 2014 and the weather and traffic were fine so we are planning for those months.  Looks like 45 to 60 days riding through Canada and Alaska…and this time it’s personal! 😬 Though we are not shooting for Inuvik or Deadhorse this time, we do want to see a lot of what Canada and Alaska have to offer.  


He’ll be on his 2020 Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L and I’ll be on my 2018 BMW R1200GS Adventure.  We have unlimited time and fairly unlimited budgets.  We plan to camp as much as possible.  We are flexible as to the route and mileage though we don’t plan on really long days of riding; I’m an Iron Butt guy and he isn’t.  


My main concerns right now are the routing and whether to use hard or soft panniers.  I took soft side bags and a hard top case on my KTM 990 Adventure last time and that worked well.  But these big aluminum side panniers sure are convenient.  I’d travel a lot lighter with soft bags.  His main concern is….absolutely nothing: He just wants to ride.  


So, we have over 3 months to plan, and I want to make this ride as enjoyable for my buddy as possible.  With that in mind, I endeavored to seek out the coolest places to see and spend the least amount of time on roads that weren’t that fun…hence, nixing the Dempster and Haul Road.  I reminded Steve we’ll still ride plenty of dirt, gravel, bad pavement and muddy roads—due to construction or just cool places (McCarthy, Skagway, Valdez, etc.).


Yes, we’re actively planning this ride…but we’re also taking a “whatever happens, happens” approach and play it somewhat by ear.  We’ll see how that goes.  


Some of the places we plan to see:


Banff 

Jasper 

Dawson Creek

AlCan Highway

Fort Nelson

Muncho Lake

Liard Hot Springs

Watson Lake/Signpost Forest

Campbell Highway

Carmacks

Dawson City

Eagle

Top of the World/Taylor Highway

Chicken

Tok, AK (Thomason’s Eagle Claw campground)

Richardson Highway (The Old Rich, between Valdez and Fairbanks)

McCarthy (60-mile dirt road, one way in/out)

Valdez

Edgerton Highway (between the Old Rich Junction to Chitina)

Wrangle—St. Elias Nat’l Park

Fairbanks

Coldfoot (?)

Parks Highway

Denali

Anchorage

Kenai Peninsula

Seward

Homer, AK (The Spit)

Palmer Highway

Denali Highway (Hwy 8), 140-mile dirt road

Tok (again)

Destruction Bay

Haines Junction

Whitehorse

Hyder

Cassiar Highway

Smithers

Irkusk

Dease Lake (take the road out to Telegraph Creek)

100 Mile House

Prince George

Pemberton

Cache Creek 

Lillooet 

Duffy Lake

Whistler

Kamloops

Highway 16

Highway 97/Alaska Highway 

(Just south of Clinton take a right at 99 to Lilooet, the Duffy Lake road to Pemberton, Whistler and down to Vancouver. A must see.)

Fraser River gorge/Hells Gate area

Sumas (exit Canada?)







Sunday, March 13, 2022

St. Patty’s/Sarasota Humane Society Poker Run

It doesn’t get much better than getting out on a Sunday and riding with your friends on a perfect day… but it sure didn’t start out like that!


It’s was 37° when I woke up this morning and it was only supposed to warm up a little bit. But I had committed to riding this poker run with my friends and doggonnit I was going to do it.  So I put on my warmest clothes and I rode down the I-75 south to Sarasota to meet up with everyone. 


There were about a dozen of us and we were all bundled up like Floridians who don’t know how to dress warm.  


We headed to the first stop, and the real reason today’s ride: The Humane Society of Sarasota. In addition to news crews and many other riders, we were treated to coffee and donuts.  


I bought 3 poker hands and drew my cards.  Then my friends and I took a look at the stops along today’s route…a bagel shop and three Irish pubs!  Erin go bragh, indeed.  


The sun was out and it had warmed up to the low 50’s by 10:30…just perfect riding weather.  


The ride leader knew his way around Sarasota and we rode along the beach and through the tourist areas.  The brisk weather wasn’t keeping anyone home on such a beautiful day.  


After reaching our final destination and drawing our final poker hands, we submitted our sheets and hoped for the best.  Not sure a pair of 10s would win me anything, I held out for low hand! 😆


As we all said our goodbyes and headed home, the temperature had crept into the 70’s... typical Florida!


A good time was had by all and it benefitted a worthwhile cause.  Even filling up with $5+ a gallon gas couldn’t dampen todays mood.  🤭