June 18, 2011

Once again we made a dumb error first thing.  We left Downtown Dease, BC and didn't get gas because we already had over 200 miles capacity left from yesterday.  Real dumb.  Up here the golden rule is if you see gas - buy it.  We rode about 100 miles and thought we'd just top off - nope - station closed. Same with the next one about 50 miles further on and one more.  We were down to about a 60 mile reserve when we finally came upon a lodge that was open and sold gas.  By this time we were cold and it was raining (what else!) so we stopped and had a bowl of homemade soup after filling up. Back on the road we saw lots more black bears as well as rabbits and the occasional smaller critter dashing across the road.  One bear was walking down the middle of the road and looked like he/she was about to contest ownership but didn't like 99's horn and finally ran off into the forest.  Shortly thereafter I began noticing lots of clumps of what looked like dirt on the road.  Since this is a chipseal road (a type of paving using tar and pea gravel) and no dirt after a while my curiosity got the better of me and I stopped.  Woah! - Bear scat (bear poop)
Bear poop
About this time Charles came along and stopped to see what I was looking at and mentioned that there was lots of these clumps of "mud" on the road.  I informed him of what it was and that I didn't want anything to do with critters that have fur in their poop.  He agreed so we rode on - thoughtfully alert.  Now of course We noticed every drop(ping) and marvelled that there was a pile sometimes every 20 feet or so and had been for several miles. This continued on for about 20 miles then no more.  What gives? Does every bear in the neighbourhood come to this stretch of road to crap?  Why not in the bush where they are supposed to?  As Robert Service so aptly said "There are strange things done under the midnight sun" - so I'll just leave it there.  The Cassiar Highway takes you through some of the most remote areas in British Columbia and is a spectacular road to drive now that it's paved.  The only problem is that now we are far enough south that the trees grow tall and obscure the magnificent views.  I knew however that the best was yet to come.  The final stretch of road into Hyder is in my opinion one of the best in Canada.  It is smooth, lots of curves and the Scenery is as good or better than any road I've ever been on - anywhere.  The mountains rise straight up on either side of the pass through which the road winds.  There is a river flowing along the bottom and glaciers and waterfalls at every turn.  Combined with the lush greenery of this rainforest's vegetation it is a delight to drive.  I kept stopping to take photos even though we were still on the clock.  It is just that good.

99 contemplates a glacier. She seems to like them 'cause they are white too.
A typical scene on the road in.  I must have dithered for 5 minutes as there is lots of photos and they all show a lousy image of what is truly magnificent scenery.
Unfortunately the "Hi Speed" Internet here - isn't.  So I'll just have to get by with a promise to upload a lot of photos to the photo site after the ride.  There is one that can't be put off however.

We made it!  We are now the first riders to complete the "Alaskan Insanity" ride.
The name of the ride is tentative for now as it has to be actually named by the IBA and Mike Kneebone has to approve. But it will suffice for now.  It is a completion of the top of Alaska (Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse) on the Arctic Ocean to the bottom of Alaska at Hyder at the bottom of the panhandle on a long fiord only a minute from the Canadian border.  While Hyder is a mecca for the long distance community, most rides end up here and it is the northernmost point of the ride.  An easy(ier) way to "be in Alaska".  Our ride is unique in that Hyder is the southernmost point of an over 1700 mile trip that began at the shores of the (still frozen) Arctic Ocean.  We started out on gravel roads running through frozen tundra, over several mountain ranges, many of them above the tree line. Continued on to central Alaska then through the Yukon Territory in Canada and finally finished in the beautifully lush rainforest mountains of Hyder Alaska. Once more on dirt roads as Hyder has no pavement of any kind.  What an interesting ride.  We rode around town and out onto the pier that sticks out a long long way into the water.  Wish I had time to upload all the photos.  We had lunch at the bus where Lynn and I ate the last time we were  here over 4 years ago.  It's still the best place in town and the seafood is truly fresh and excellent  Try the smoked salmon pate - WOW. And yes, it really is just an old bus with some picnic tables out under a plastic awning.  If you could bring that food to the big city however it would be a 5 star place.  Back to the Hotel we found a lot of bikes there and it turns out there is a Harley Davidson group stying here tonight from Smithers. It is a little town about 100 miles east of here. 99 and The Old Girl were quite proud to show off all their road grime "makeup" to all these shiny Harlies. I'm sure some of the riders still don't believe our stories.  Some however looked more closely and just shook their heads. Oh well, long distance riding isn't for everyone. Charles once again had to adjust one of  The Old Girl's exhaust valves.  He thinks he found the cause in a loose exhaust pipe flange causing a small exhaust leak that would cause it to run hotter in the valve area.  99 was a pretty good girl today and only required minor stuff.
     Unfortunately I think it's going to be difficult to sleep tonight as we are right above the bar.  So far it is really loud with one guy playing his bike's speakers out on the road just in case the music from the bar isn't loud enough.  There is always one!
   I just checked my email and found a letter from a chap in New Zealand.  Now how in the hell can someone that far away be interested and following our ride. Thanks for the words of encouragement Andrew. I just checked some stats and it seems that this blog has generated over 5000 hits in the past week and the two Spot sights are up over 20,000 hits when combined.  This is amazing.  It is very solitary riding along isolated from everything.  You exist within the helmet. Peering out through the sometimes rain streaked face shield with the shriek of wind in your ears. Concentrating on keeping this small screaming thing upon the road and going in the right direction.  Always trying to encourage her to faster speeds and better performance.  It is just you and the bike, all alone, watching the scenery go by.  It is inconceivable that someone is following your movements from a location half way around the earth.  Not only that but they can use Google Street view to actually see a "road view" as if they were  here.  Perhaps I should be looking over my shoulder. 
    Tomorrow we start the long trek east that will end up at the "other ocean". We are heading towards Jasper, then Edmonton and the Yellowhead Highway and from there retrace our rout back to Key West.  Seems like a long way at the moment.  Hoping for the end of the week if all goes well.....oh damn......I know that is doubtful.....Ha.....more like a sure thing. Something will again delay us.  Hopefully it will all be fixable as it has so far.  I did notice that my new tire from yesterday is already down from 6 to 5 on my tire gauge.  I sure hope I don't have to get another.  After all this is number 3 so far.  99 sure is a high maintenance dame. But then the good ones always are.
Goodnight from rainy Hyder.
P.S. I promise - more photos - later on when I can get a high speed connection after the ride and bulk upload some.

No comments: