My trip is over and I'm back home in Chicago minus my bike, auDRey :(
I left Tok on Tuesday morning and all though I thought she was running fine she wasn't sounding too good and I was a bit nervous. I was headed for the border and didnt really want to have a major break down in Canada because things would be more expensive. There was heavy construction from Tok to the border and I was told there was more construction further on to Haines Junction and somebody warned me earlier that quite a few bikes had crashed on that part of the road.
I was going through heavy gravel construction and it was slightly raining and I think I was bit too tense considering everything that was happening and I had a low-side into the ditch. It was slow speed and no damage to me (helmet didn't touch the ground), but poor auDRey was almost upside down with the throttle struck open because of my Throttle Rocker and she sputtered dead. After getting her right side up and trying to fire her up, she wouldn't turn over and it sounded like metal against metal. I waited a few minutes in case the carb was flooded and tried again but it sounded really bad and I knew that was the end.
With my luck on this trip still running incredibly high, a family that was heading to Fairbanks from Whitehorse for the state motocross races stopped and offered to take my bike and me to Fairbanks to the Suzuki dealership (where I was a few days ago) and they were friends with the dealership owners.
The dealer, Northern Powersports were outstanding and they were very helpful to me. After tearing down the engine, we saw that the piston head was damaged and a piston ring was destroyed too, which probably caused the extensive cylinder head damage. The quote to get it fixed in running condition was $2,000 and they said if I wanted to ride the 4,000 miles back to Chicago, since I was spending all that money, I'd better go ahead and change out the valve train instead of having it fail in the middle of nowhere and that would cost a total of $3,000 plus more than a week or so of wait time for parts and repair.
I'm not sure if just the crash incident caused all this damage or what part the defective muffler had to play in this, but my insurance is covering it and the bike is considered totaled. This sucks. I put so much time and energy into getting auDRrey prepared for this trip and future trips and didn't want to leave her there. Even with all the joking comments throughout the trip that I better sell it and buy a BMW, the DR was perfect for me. If they could've got her fixed without totaling her, I was thinking about flying back maybe over Labor Day Weekend in September and finishing the trip. But no go.
The dealer was willing to give me $500 for the bike towards a trade in for something there to be able to ride home. The closest thing he had was a Suzuki V-Strom DL-1000, and while that's a great dual sport bike, I didn't want it and if I was going to ride back to Chicago, I'd want to the prep the bike a bit and just didn't want to do it. I was also running out of time for the trip to conclude.
With insurance covering it, I guess I shouldn't come out too bad out of all this. I removed everything that I put on the bike (hard luggage, rack, electrics, etc.) and shipped all that home and I used some airline miles to fly me home.
It totally sucked flying out of Fairbanks with the feeling that I couldn't finish my trip on the bike. I guess I should be thankful that I wasn't injured in any of this and I wasn't stranded in the middle of nowhere. And besides (being the optimist), I had a great time with the family from Whitehorse.
They're small business owners and they were taking their son to the motocross races. Very kind and nice people and I got a great insight into one family's life in the wilderness near Whitehorse. They hunt most of the meat they eat and truly enjoy being out in the woods. The father was a pro snowmobile racer in his younger days and is seeing if his son has it in him. I've never been to a motocross track before and I got pretty immersed into how the whole thing works. I think they also learned a little bit about India and we had a good time.
Even with the unfortunate ending, this was a fantastic trip and I met so many interesting people, formed new friendships and gained insights into how various people live across the US and Canada and especially Alaska. I'm glad I was able to finish most of my trip before auDRey let go and these incidents allowed me to spend more time in Alaska than I planned, which was a good thing.
I don't have the cable for my camera (put it in the shipped boxes accidentally) but I'll get a card reader soon and upload a few more pictures. I'm heading to North Carolina in two weeks to present at the Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meeting about laptops and staying digitally connected while on the road, so the full ride report might be a few weeks away.