Pictures: Day 13

Day 13 / Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not able to get a ride, I stayed the night and went down with Steve the next morning. This is the road leading out of Prudhoe Bay going South.

Water trucks filling up from the lake and spraying down the road to keep the dust down.

Chris made it down to my bike the previous evening and waited for me, hoping I'd be able to get a lift. But thankfully he realized I wasn't able to make it down so he continued on to Coldfoot and we ended up separating from there on. Great riding with you buddy and thanks for sticking with me.

Arriving back at where I left auDRey yesterday and proceeding with installing the tire, hoping it would last. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

But alas, the newly multi-patched tube went flat in only 10 miles. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Thinking ahead that this might happen, I purchased a roll of duct tape at the general store as a desperate measure. I patched up the new holes and wrapped the whole tube in duct tape to give it some reinforcement.

Not going to give up! Duct-taped tube installed in the tire. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

But sadly, that lasted only about 7 miles before letting go. Now, I was really up a creek without a paddle. I was about to call down to the Suzuki dealership in Fairbanks, using Steve's satellite phone, to have them ship out a proper sized tube to Prudhoe Bay and I would continue with Steve to Coldfoot before hitching a ride somehow back to Prudhoe Bay. But thankfully, just then a group of three bikers, whom I met at Dawson City for the bike rally pulled up and the KLR rider, Matt had a spare tube for me.

This is Professor Nick, riding the familiar BMW R1200GS Adventure, who has a breadth of automotive knowledge and consults for the Big 3 in Detroit. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

They had heard of my troubles from my riding buddies from yesterday and I found out almost everyone on the Dalton Highway knew of my troubles. Good job on trying to keep a low profile. Almost every passing biker stopped by to make sure the story was true and that I was ok. Tim here is graciously banging my bent rim back into shape. These guys said they would do whatever it took to make sure I was good to go. What good people.

The impact of the first flat yesterday was serious enough to bend the rim. Here, Ryan is holding my old tube over the rim, as the camera captures an action shot of the hammer pounding on the rim. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Forget the tube, direct contact was needed. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

It felt like a triage scene, with Nick and I fixing a new puncture in the tire from a nail and Matt and Ryan banging the rim back into shape.(Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Tools were scattered everywhere and Nick told me I was a messy mechanic, but I said it was reflective of the current situation. This is Matt's KLR here on the left and he's done some fabricating; like the fuel bottle holders and the tool tube. Nick has also done some extensive fabrication on his GS with a carrier for fishing poles, tire tools and even a bottle of brandy. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Mounting the tire back on the rim.(Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Installing the correct-sized tube. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Checking the air pressure and all set to go. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

With the right sized tube in my rear tire, I was set to make it back to civilization and carry on with the rest of my trip. We finally got going by 7 pm and all the trouble from the previous day couldn't really dampen my spirits because check out this awesome scenery. This is coming up to Atigun Pass. I was still loving being out here north of the Arctic Circle. I knew my life was never in danger and I had confidence that I would get out of here in one piece on the bike.

Unbeknownst to me, I was to be dealt some more bike troubles with this falling rain. I had to refuel before I made it into Coldfoot and unfortunately it was raining. I tried to cover the opening to the gas tank as I poured some extra fuel in, but some water got into the fuel and created problems. The road became slightly slick with the rain, but riding with my 80 street/20 dirt tires was no problem.

We took a long break in Coldfoot and Steve said he had to make it into Fairbanks the next morning to get his Landcruiser serviced and arrange for a new windshield, so we decided to ride through the night. My energy levels were feeling good and it was still light out, so we took off. Starting my bike in Coldfoot was pretty rough, but I got it going. This was about 12:45 am.

Taking a Red Bull break at 2 am on the Dalton Highway. Surreal experience.

We passed a couple trucks with oversized loads and figured they probably do the trips at night to avoid the traffic during the daytime. Someone said the oil companies don't really like all the public traffic on Dalton, because it slows them down, but the state insisted that the road be open to all.

Riding the Dalton Highway, with the first traces of sunlight. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

At the E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge at 3:30 in the morning.

Looking west across the Yukon River, so this must still be remnants from sun set.

It was pretty cool to be sharing the ride with an adventurer in a Landcruiser. It reminded me of the trips we used to make in my childhood growing up in Africa in old 1980s Landcruisers into the wildlife game parks in Zambia. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Capturing what it felt like to ride the Dalton Highway. It's a journey unto itself. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Almost out of the woods. I had to stop to capture this picture of low forming clouds by the sun's rays in the valleys. The temps were pretty chilly right before dawn, around the low 40s F. This was about 5 am. The heat from the sunshine colliding with the cold from the valleys formed these thin clouds.

Steve in his Landcruiser.

Woo hoo! I survived the Dalton Highway. All though my troubles could have occurred on any other road, the circumstances of the events on the Dalton Highway for me was a life-affirming experience.
Psst, note the guy sleeping under the sign. I think he's waiting for a ride to the Yukon rest stop. (Picture courtesy Steve Jones)

Next: Day 14 - 16, Rafting Denali down into Anchorage

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