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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake


Magic Mud

August 11th, 2008 by sunflowers

Thanks to a recommendation of a fellow ADVrider we stayed at the Alaskan University student accommodation which included free laundry facilities and a big tub with scrub brush. Most of Monday morning was spent trying to get the mud of my bike and riding gear. It seems that no matter how many times I scrub it off it is still there. Amazing.

FairbanksFairbanksFairbanksFairbanks

In the afternoon I went on a Riverboat tour which included a dog sled show, native dress making, small plane display and reindeer display.

FairbanksFairbanksFairbanksFairbanks

FairbanksThe boat held 900 people and there were more than 10 tour buses parked outside the docking building. Amongst all those people I felt the loneliest I had been on the trip. But not for long as I met up with some more advriders for dinner and had a near naked water skiing display. Alaskans make the most of the summer.

Posted in Alaska | No Comments »


Fellowship and Hardship

August 10th, 2008 by sunflowers

I have been really lucky so far to meet up with people to travel with. Going up the Dalton Highway I rode with four others. Russell a Texan on a GS, Estefan, a US/Hungarian on a GS, Craig a Florida(n) on a Goldwing (btw it is a picture of him getting a speeding ticket in the next post) and Jack a local on a KLR. I would like to thank them as they made my the trip up the road a great experience as well as I know that they were all looking out for me. That is not to say it was all joy and laughter.

Prudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe Bay

Quite a bit of the way was muddy and very slippery, particularly where they put down something on the road to grade it. We reckoned they were using oil.

There was also a pass that is regularly covered in snow to go over and then the worse section for me, 250 miles with no petrol stops, toilets, shelter and freezing cold. I ran out of fuel which I knew was going to happen. Had to stop on the side of the road and dance to warm up. It was a long four hours.

Prudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe Bay

On the way back we did from Prudhoe Bay back to Fairbanks, leaving at 7am and getting to the accommodation after midnight as we also had to stop to wash down the bikes. Along the way I was thinking that I was disappointed I hadn’t seen a bear but watching a rainbow and missed seeing the bear on the side of the road.

Prudhoe BayPrudhoe BayI also got a riding lesson on the way back. I had been trying to do the bends correctly, leaning in, looking ahead and counter steering. Only to find out that I was turning in too early and needed to keep my head upright. I realised that I was totally over turning which made it much easier.

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Prudhoe Bay and the Alaskan Pipe Line

August 9th, 2008 by sunflowers

The Dalton Highway has been built along side the Alaskan Pipe Line that brings oil down from Prudhoe Bay. It is above ground as the oil is pumped out at 180 degrees fahrenheit and only cools to 115 degrees 800 miles later in Valdez. The ground up here has permafrost which means it has been frozen for more than two years. So the line is above ground with cooling shafts along it. Where the pipe has to go below the ground they actually fridgerate the ground around it to reduce the environmental impact. They must be doing it all right as there are lots of animals around. Squirrels, caribou, muskoxen, loons, snow geese and foxes.

Prudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe Bay

I was expecting something a bit more town like from Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay is the area and Deadhorse is the town). But it looks more like an industrial estate but with more mud. We stayed in a working hotel called the Oilfield hotel and looked like the prefabricated temporary buildings we used to use at our school.

Prudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe BayPrudhoe Bay

The only way you can get to the Arctic Ocean is by taking a guided tour. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to go swimming as a couple of polar bears had been seen around the place so I stood in it instead. Prudhoe Bay

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Flat Tyres Above the Arctic Circle

August 8th, 2008 by sunflowers

It was an auspicious start to the Dalton Highway. The night before we hadn’t checked in until almost midnight and I quickly logged online to find out why my debit card was being declined only to find that my card had been cancelled and I had a distressing email from a friend which cut down my possible amount of sleep from 5 hours to 4.

Dalton HighwayDalton HighwayDalton HighwayDalton Highway

So it was with red eyes that I started the most gruelling part of my North American trip. Just before getting to the gravel we stopped and let down the air pressure of the tyres from f26/b36 psi to f15/b25 psi and it felt like I was riding a bike made for off road. Like wearing hiking boots to wade through the mud rather than running shoes.
When riding a motorbike is you need to be so much more aware about the machine you are riding and how to handle it as if in a car your front tyre slips on a rock you get a bit of a jolt but on a bike it could mean your down.

Dalton HighwayDalton HighwayOn the first day we took it pretty easy and the weather was pretty kind to us with only scattered showers to make the road slick with mud to dodge the oversize trucks. That night we stayed in Coldfoot which is how far a motor biker on a huge GS (like Ewen McGregor rode) had gotten before turning back due to tough road conditions. Beautiful wildflowers.

300 miles, 7am till 6pm

Posted in Alaska | 1 Comment »


Alaska

August 8th, 2008 by sunflowers

Largest state (twice as big as Texas)
Capital City: Juneau (not accessible by road)
Population: 600,000
Motorcycle Facts: Filtering and lane splitting is illegal but you are allowed to ride without a helmet (though seems only to apply to Harley Riders whereas in London it is to young boys riding scooters up our road)
August 7: 125 miles
August 8: 400 miles to Fairbanks (total 850)

News from home: Flat upstairs was raided by 10 police with crowbars in 2 riot vans and tenant was taken away so I guess he won’t be making heaps of noise anymore.

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Seats, Service and Socialising

August 7th, 2008 by sunflowers

Hatchers PassYesterday I rode around Anchorage to put some more miles on the bike before taking it for it’s first service. The good news is that the Air Hawk seat showed up early and the gel seat that wasn’t going to turn up also showed up. So now I have an extra comfy seat.

After a bit of sight seeing I met up with a bunch of AdvRiders (an adventure motor biking forum) for dinner and some drinks.

Hatchers PassToday we rode to Fairbanks to start the death road, sorry haul road (Dalton highway). On the way we passed Hatchers Pass and I did my first gravel and almost lost the front wheel. But was very glad I had done the bmw off road course.

For the next three days we are riding up the haul road and not sure if I will have internet access . If you don’t hear from me in four days phone 911.

Posted in Alaska | 2 Comments »


Kenai Fjords National Park

August 6th, 2008 by sunflowers

Last night I stayed in an overpriced and underserviced hotel with bare blankets and no towel. But the tour of the Kenai Fjords today more than made up for it.

SewardSewardSewardSeward
Seward.

I saw Holgate Glacier and Pederson Glacier, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, humpback whales and puffins. But the best things I saw I didn’t manage to capture on camera. Two whales fluking (I don’t know if that is the official term when they dive and you get to see their tails) and the glacier calving (which is the official term for bits of the glaciers breaking off into the sea to create icebergs).

I was tired and cold by the end of the tour and a bit nervous about riding the 130 miles back to Anchorage but feeling more comfortable with my bike and scenery like this I was fine. Even looking in the review mirror was great!

SewardSewardSewardSeward.

3 humpback whales, 175 miles, 3 hours riding, pulled over by the state troopers once

Posted in Alaska | 5 Comments »


Mountains and Mixed Feelings

August 4th, 2008 by sunflowers

Alaska Cycle CentreAlaska Cycle Centre specially opened their shop for me to pick up my bike which was wonderful of them. Then I met up with fellow length of Americas motorbike traveller Oisin who was there while I was taking my first tentative steps with my new bike. Using his gps to find Walmart (cell phone and mozzie repellent) and a camping shop (dry bags).

Ride to SewardOver lunch we discussed why people decide to do trips like ours. For Oisin and I it was somewhat or a swan song before we settled down. I asked Oisin if it had met expectations so far and he said the scenery had surpassed but the people contact was less than expected. My personal desire for the trip had been to get away from everything and to be able to worry about nothing. The picture in my head was of me, a bike and my music.

Ride to SewardSo seeing as how I had been looked after since I had arrived I was feeling a lack of adventurous spirit and decided to set off for Seward. I kept my bike at 55/miles per hour as I had forgotten to get running in instructions.

Ride to SewardDriving down the coastal road of the peninsula you are surrounded by mountains which are spectacular. But after about an hour my bum was beginning to hurt, my ears hurt from my new ear plugs, I hadn’t brought my thermals so I was a bit cold, I was bored and wondering what I had gotten myself into and while wishing I was on a twin cylinder bike.
But I think with a cushioned seat, my thermals and a bit of sleep it will be a whole different story, a new day and I am going on a tour where I might get to see an orca and a humpbacked whale.

3.5 hour riding, 150 miles

Posted in Alaska | 3 Comments »


Arrived in Anchorage, Alaska

August 4th, 2008 by sunflowers

After a 20+ hour journey I arrived last night in Anchorage and was picked up by a fellow Advrider. Up this morning at 5:30am with excitement or jet lag and just waiting for 10am to arrive so that I can go and pick up my new bike!!

Posted in Alaska | 4 Comments »


Seat, Sikh, Spot and Start

August 2nd, 2008 by sunflowers

Sikh WeddingThis week has been mad made making last minute arrangements. I found out on Wednesday night that the ordered Suzuki gel seat is now showing as out of stock so I was up until two in the morning trying to find an Airhawk seat supplier that would ship to Alaska.

Cadbury WorldMotorcycle GPS’s are too expensive but in looking for one I came across a satellite personal tracker called Spot Messenger which I have ordered and will apparently link up to google maps to give my friends and family real time position tracking.

And tomorrow I fly out of Gatwick to start the first leg of my journey which is strange as just last weekend I went to a friend’s Sikh wedding in Birmingham along with a visit to Cadbury World and Rugby School where Rugby was invented when someone cheated in football (soccer) by picking up the ball and running with it.RugbyRugby

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