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July 23, 2010


Motorcycle Travel Isn’t Always Easy


Leaving the Alaskan peninsula I was on a high from all the animals I got to see, touch, and photograph.  Not only that, but I had a plan.  To sneak up to Dawson for their music festival then head to southern Alaska.  It meant there would be some backtracking and seeing roads twice and I was ok with that.  I had a few days to make it there in too.

Day 1 I went to Beaver Creek, the last town before entering the big part of Alaska where I’d head north and tuck back into Canada for a few days.  Going this way about 50 miles longer than staying in Canada, but got me closer to where my tires were supposed to be in case I had trouble.

A Familiar Site For Me :(A Familiar Site For Me 🙁


A Familiar Site For Me 🙁


Speaking of trouble it came early the morning of Day 2.  I’d had the one flat in Atlin a few days ago and been fine since then.  After gassing up in the morning I passed the Canadian customs building at 9am and had three flats in the next 20 miles getting to the US border.  Ok, the first time I repaired two holes and one the next time.  Not a good sign since I hadn’t even gotten to the 20 miles of construction just across the border.

The next flat was on dirt/gravel, just in sight of the flagman for the main construction zone.  It was the same hole and I plugged it again sitting by the roadside for an hour to really let the rubber cement set up this time.  Taking off I discovered the air compressor had wore down the battery and I was just able to jump start it on my last try at the bottom of the hill.

Being first in line at the flagger I told them I was going to do a couple laps to charge the battery.  After lap two I pulled back up to them just as I heard another, shooooshhh, of the air going out the tire!

I was done and so was the tire, plus I only had one plug left and a long ways to go to a town.  The construction company gave me a ride 10 miles back to the border gas station who was happy to tell me that no one from Whitehorse to Fairbanks would look at a motorcycle.  He’d been through that before.

Hitchiking In an RVHitchiking In an RV


Hitchiking In an RV


Displeased with his attitude and answer I came up with my own deciding to hitch a ride 90 miles to Tok and see what I could find out there.  The first family I asked gave me a ride.  It was so different being in an RV listening to the wife read out exactly what we were going to pass and what the roadside signs said from the Milepost.

Reaching Tok and cell coverage I called about my tires to find out they hadn’t been delivered yet.  Plan 1 was to hitchhike to Wasilla and be back with the tires the next day.  Ambitious, but doable with 24 hours of daylight.  Plan 2 was well, figure something else out.

I quickly found someone in town with a used tire that would work and started making plans to do a roadside change.  The mechanic was (and is) and arrogant prick, but I came around to the conclusion that I was getting in over my head going that route.  Not wanting to give him the satisfaction (or $200) to trailer the bike back I was off to Napa for their last 10 tire plugs.

Hitchiking Back. Got a ride right after this picture, not because of the sign though.Hitchiking Back. Got a ride right after this picture, not because of the sign though.


Hitchiking Back. Got a ride right after this picture, not because of the sign though.


Hitching back wasn’t nearly as easy and it took several hours before I found a Kiwi headed my way who in an suv who is also a biker.  Reaching the bike at 11:30 I put a plug in so that it could sit all night and crashed.

In the morning all looked good and started out well as I did 15mph through the construction zone.  I was so happy to reach the end of the gravel knowing the road was smooth the rest of the way.  However a mile later out came the plug.  *&#$%&#!  One more and another long wait only lasted a couple miles.

Something different had to be done.  My only option was two plugs in one hole.  They went in easily enough and with another hours wait I set off at 20mph, 5 miles later I was still going and bumped it up to 25 stopping to look and make sure there actually was still air in the tire every few miles.  That pattern continued till I was going 40.  I’d started the day with 83 miles to go.  40mph would knock that out in no time (relative to walking at least).

Double Tire Plug


Double Tire Plug


I made it to Tok on my two plug patch mid afternoon which was my goal for the day.  The first priority was a burger and fries to settle down and relieve some stress.  So far I’d really made the right choices once you get past pushing the tire too far.

Now I lost it a little deciding to keep trying to push south and make it as far as I could.  Not only that, but I turned down a barely used tire the exact size I had on from a BMW rider on his way.  Man did I think about that for decision a lot on my ride back.

Yes, the double plug blew out (twice) before I turned around driving 32 miles back to Tok in a pouring rain at 20 mph.  I was back to the mechanic in the morning for a very used tire and two hour labor charge to change them around.  Not only that, but we discovered that the wheel bearing was put on wrong last time so I need a new bearing and it ruined the rubber shock dampers in the hub.  D’oh!

All part of the ride and the learning I was after on this trip.  Mentally I’ve been evaluating the gear I brought and what to do different next time.  The main thing would be to scale down my kitchen.  Without one I’d easily be down to my panniers, dry bag, and tank bag.  Still the motorcycle hasn’t been awkward to ride even as it is.

The clothing and camping gear has been pretty good.  Better boots for sure and now I’m thinking that the tool chest will be expanded as well.  I’m still waiting to figure out where my tires are and when they’ll be in Wasilla, but for now I’m off to Fairbanks to get replacements for the rear end.

Make Shift Rain Shelter, Not Bad Eh?Make Shift Rain Shelter, Not Bad Eh?


Make Shift Rain Shelter, Not Bad Eh?

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mama Setz
    Jul 23 2010

    Where are those new tires???

  2. Bill Doyle
    Jul 23 2010

    Here is to dry roads, new tires and smooth bearings!
    Good luck.

  3. Jul 24 2010

    That’s some crazy stuff happening. But I guess at this point the situation can only improve, at least for the near future!

  4. Sep 20 2010

    Cool blog…wishing I was a full time traveller too. Just got back from the Yukon on my DL1000…was maiden voyage, went well.

  5. Dec 25 2015

    I know but I think travel by motorcycle is very interesting.The freedom of traveling by motorbike is unmatched. You can do whatever you want and you are not confined to anyone’s schedule but your own. You can just take that interesting side road you just passed, you can have a snack at that unique road stop which you’d otherwise whip right past or stop to say hello to that group of smiling children who have been happily waving at you.


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