The sign for Trail's End BMW in Fairbanks, Alaska

Day 20 Friday June 25

Went to Trailís End BMW and met George. There is an oil leak on the left cylinder of the RT, but George says it isnít serious, so Iíll wait Ďtil we get to Anchorage.

Washed the bike and spent a total of 2-1/2 hrs cleaning it. Still not perfect, but itís better than before, and I went to the laundromat this PM.

I have to repack the luggage (saddlebags and trunk on the bike) for tomorrowís run to The Circle - I donít need to take the sleeping bag, tent, mattress, my clothes, etc.  Weíre riding to Anchorage Sunday and Monday AM early I am flying to El Paso for 3 nights. There are some pressing issues at Teramar that need my attention.

Later - After a lot of thought, Iíve decided not to ride up to Prudhoe Bay tomorrow. Jim doesnít want to go past the Arctic Circle and said heís only going because Iím going. My thinking is that riding 241 miles on gravel road alone would be risky, especially if I take a spill or have a flat tire. I don't have a gun to protect myself or to use to signal with or frighten off wild animals, etc and I would feel very vulnerable out there alone. So, Jim and I will ride to the Circle and back and that will have to do this time. Iím thinking maybe a BMW model F650 would be perfect for the trip and I could get one up here or maybe rent one? I need to find someone to take the ride with me. George of Trailís End BMW said there is a BMW rally this weekend but didnít say where. Maybe we will bump into someone on Sunday and I can ask them. I want to have the 12K mile service performed on the RT in Anchorage, and replace the tires if theyíre worn out. Oh yes, and have them check the left valve cover gasket for the oil leak.  Overnight at Fairbanks, Alaska

 

Day 21 Saturday June 26

The day was clear and bright, with a cloudless sky (and warm). We rolled along until 65 miles from Fairbanks (60 miles from the next fuel and help) when Jimís engine blew a coolant hose directly under the gas tank, and coolant sprayed all over the engine. Not 10 minutes after that happened, two men towing an empty flatbed trailer came by, stopped, and agreed to take the bike to Yukon River crossing, where they were going. What luck! After they unloaded the bike at Yukon River, they would only accept lunch at the cafe as payment.

Jim worked on his bike while I rode up to the Circle and back (120+ miles round trip). He was ready to go when I got back.  We stopped at a Trading Post on the way up, and learned that if we looked for and got the Ďpasswordí off the back of the sign at The Circle, they would give us a free certificate for reaching the Arctic Circle. I forgot to do that, but two Gold Wing riders gave me the word and we got certificates.

Alaska has shown us trees of many descriptions since Haines, and the ride north from Fairbanks is no exception. However, as we rode toward the Arctic Circle the trees became shorter and with fewer branches.

The ďArctic Circle or BustĒ sign is still on my bike as I ride the dirt road north. This is the highlight of my ride - reaching the Arctic Circle - further north than I have ever dreamt of traveling. The sign sits on a hillside with a panoramic view northward. As I approached the driveway to the Arctic Circle sign I was numbed by the enormous distance I had ridden and the remoteness and wilderness surrounding me. I was in awe of the expanse of barren tundra facing me. Itís possible that I had some fleeting thoughts about Jack Londonís books - White Fang, Call Of The Wild, etc. and the savage frontier I was in. I felt elated and humbled - my mortality and my insignificance enveloped me briefly. Then I celebrated, had my photo taken in front of the sign, talked with others who were there at  the same time, and generally relished the moment.  

The pavement ends north of Fairbanks.

 

Yukon River gas pumps - the bare necessities and no more!

 

Gravel road near the Arctic Circle.  Note the Alaska Pipeline on the right.

 
 

YeeHaww!!!  I made it!!!

I packed an extra water bottle in the trunk and the cap somehow came off and the entire contents emptied onto and soaked the trip log and my clothes. Everything is salvageable, but Iíll need to use the other logbook for the rest of the trip. The trip back to Fairbanks was uneventful, but seemed very long.

I didnít write at the end of the day for two reasons: 1) it was 9:00 PM when we rolled back into Fairbanks. We ate a quick Mexican food dinner, and I was dead tired; and 2) I didnít want to look for the other log book I brought.  Overnight at Fairbanks, Alaska.

 

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e-mail:  hforaker@maui.net