Mike and Al’s Big Adventure – Destination Alaska Part Two

Story by Glenn Roberts// Photos by Glenn Roberts
November 1 2008

Back in the beginning of June 2008, I went on a two-week ride from St. Albert, Alberta to Anchorage, Alaska and back again. The ride to Alaska, called Mike and Al’s Big Adventure, was the 2008 installment of an annual ride that brothers Mike and Al Poplett organize. The destination could be chosen in a number of ways; it might be that they quickly decide on a destination driven by a simple desire to go there, they might toss a coin to decide, or they might throw a dart at a map. Either way it is their ‘Big Adventure’.

At the Edmonton Motorcycle Show in January 2008, Mike and Al approached me and asked if I would be interested in joining them on their adventure. After a brief discussion with my understanding wife, I agreed to join them. Rob Pawluk and Dave Jobst, also accompanied us on the ride.

I flew to Edmonton where Al picked me up at the airport and took me to Riverside Yamaha Suzuki KTM. This is where I would pick up my ride for the next two weeks, a 2008 650 V-Strom that was graciously lent to me by Suzuki Canada. The 650 V-Strom is an amazing all-round motorcycle and was the perfect vehicle for this trip.

This is part two of my adventure with Mike, Al, Rob and Dave. Part 1 was in the September/October issue. I hope you enjoy the rest of the story.

Anchorage to Glennallen – Sunday June 8

Since the home base idea didn’t work out, we opted to leave Anchorage a day early, allowing two days to cover the 700 km trek back to Beaver Creek. Rob and Dave knew this, so if we were to meet up again, it would be in Beaver Creek. Their plan was to make it somewhere between Seward and Beaver Creek on Sunday and meet us in Beaver Creek on Monday.

Leaving mid-morning, Al, Mike and I left for an easy 320 km to Glennallen, just a bit shy of the halfway mark to Beaver Creek. It was still cold in the morning but once we got through the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountain ranges it warmed up nicely all the way to Glennallen. While the roads are modern and wide, there were some very high elevations through the mountain passes with no guardrails and not looking over the side was perhaps better than knowing what was below.

We wondered how Dave and Rob made out camping. Neither one had a tent, but instead just a sleeping bag and a bivi bag each. A bivi bag is sort of a one-man tent, just big enough for a sleeping bag to fit into with mesh over your face when it’s closed up. It’s not that we felt sorry for them but rather chuckling at them for opting to camp in the cold dampness of Seward, without a decent tent.

The return trip would be, for the most part at least, a rerun of our journey to date. There aren’t any other roads to choose from in the area so we didn’t have much choice anyway. Regardless, quite often the same road looks totally different on the return trip. The scenery on the second time around didn’t disappoint and was once again spectacular.

In Glennallen we stayed at the Caribou Motel, a quaint place set off the highway with a separate gift shop and restaurant. Too many coffees at supper I suppose, but I couldn’t sleep. After a few hours of watching TV, I took a walk at 1:00 a.m., in broad daylight. I read about an active volcano on the restaurant’s menu that is easily seen straight up the road, so during my walk I tried to see if I could see the steam rising out of Mt. Wrangell. I did see something that resembled a cloud at the top of the mountain and it looked different than the other clouds. Whether it was steam I’ll never know.

Glennallen to Beaver Creek, YT – Monday June 9

As we were leaving the restaurant in Tok, we saw Dave and Rob pulling in so we went back in while they ate. We then continued on to Beaver Creek as a group once again. The waitress told us that there was lots of snow in Whitehorse the night before and that might explain the lack of traffic heading north. Turns out Dave and Rob still hadn’t used their camping gear. In Seward they chose a motel and Sunday night they found a cabin at Sheep Mountain, just south of Glennallen.

Construction in Alaska isn’t as intense as it is in the Yukon. In the Yukon there were long stretches of loose gravel and many of the construction sites didn’t have any workers. Maybe their thought was to let the traffic pack down the gravel until it’s time to lay the tar and chip road surface. No matter how you look at it, it can be treacherous and intimidating for motorcyclists, especially a novice rider.

In Alaska, there were only patches of rough road for what might have been ten metres at a time except for one place in particular. A stretch between Tok and the border had major road ‘improvements’ being made. I use the term ‘improvements’ loosely. They were blasting through the base of two mountains and it was obvious that the reason for this mess was to make the road straight and level. The length of construction was huge—meaning we were at the mercy of the flag person and a mile of cars, RVs and tractor-trailers. We were behind the ‘Follow Me’ truck for a quite a few kilometres as it wound its way along side the mountain faces. To tell you the truth, the existing road was way more fun than the end result will be. I will never understand why changing a road from twisty and hilly to straight and flat can be construed as a road improvement.

Dave remembered the width of his bags this time at the border-crossing making for quick and easy passage back into Canada.

Later in Beaver Creek, a traveller told Dave that there was a foot of snow in Haines Junction. We were still a day away so no need to worry about that just yet.

Since we were all together once again we decided we would discuss the route home since now we had an option of a different route. The options were to take Highway 37 at Watson Lake through the interior of BC to Smithers, or stay on the same roads we came on. The issue with Highway 37 is that there is 210 km of gravel road. Even though Rob wrote his beginner motorcycle license the day before we left for this trip, he was quite comfortable on his KLR and had a permanent grin on his face by now, he was the only one that wanted to take 37. Dave didn’t want to take his ZZX1200 on that much gravel, Mike was a bit gravel shy after his spill on the northward portion of the trip, Al was sticking with Mike and because it would add a day to our trip, and I couldn’t afford an extra day because I had a plane to catch on Sunday. If it was feasible to do Highway 37, I would have liked a different road and I had no reservation that the V-Strom would be up to task.

Beaver Creek to Whitehorse – Tuesday June 10

It was confirmed from travellers that Whitehorse and Haines Junction did indeed have snow the day before. The amount of snow is irrelevant when you are travelling on a motorcycle.

Dave and Rob left after Mike, Al and I. Just outside of Beaver Creek the two of them had to stop in the middle of the road to let a grizzly cross. Dave figured it was about a year old although I’m still not sure how he would guess this.

We were heading into the worst stretch of road out of the whole 7,000 km and then into the long stretch of loose gravel that Mike lost his bike on. I knew he was nervous but sometimes, like riding in the cold and rain, you just have to grit your teeth and deal with it because there aren’t any other options. To throw salt in the wound, it was raining heavily when we were making our way through that nasty 20 km stretch of loose gravel just north of Kluane Lake.

As it started to rain I was busy taking electronics out of my tank bag and putting them in my coat to keep them dry. While I was doing this, my sunglasses got wet inside, as did the inside of my helmet’s face shield making it impossible to see. Pulling over to dry them off, it was apparent how loose the wet gravel was as my kickstand sank about 2 inches into the soggy roadbed. A fair bit behind me were Mike and Al and by the time I was ready to ride again they had caught up to me.

The day cleared up and I stopped for photos at beautiful Kluane Lake while the others kept going. At one point I took off on a logging road. It was just me and the bike, the warm sun in my face and no wind, there was wilderness all around me and the trees blocked my view of everything else except for a majestic snow capped mountain directly in front of me. It seemed a million miles away but at the same time it was as if I could ride to the summit in minutes. At that moment, I knew that those twenty minutes of logging road travel, although minuscule in comparison, easily made this trip worth every second of the cold and rain, construction and the mud that I had experienced so far.

I met up with the others at Haines Junction for lunch. If there was snow the day before, you wouldn’t know it.

Earlier in the trip I had mentioned to the guys that because of all the travelling I do within Canada, I know quite a few people from coast to coast, although I didn’t expect to see anyone this far north that I knew.

We had just pulled into our hotel in Whitehorse and a Yamaha WR250X and a WR250R pulled right up to me. Mike looked over at me just as I was giving one of the riders a hug and he thought, ‘How could he know someone in Whitehorse?’ I recognized Tom Mann from Biker TV right away although with my sunglasses on and the fact that we were both so far out of our element, he didn’t recognize me for a second or two. His only thoughts were, “Here’s some bikers, I’ll pull over and interview them,” but instead I greeted him, shook his hand and gave Heather a hug before she even got off her bike. Doug at Yukon Yamaha told them I was in the shop days earlier, but the odds of us meeting up in Whitehorse were pretty slim. Along with Tom and Heather were Lex and Tom’s father, Bob, who were in the support vehicle carrying the necessary camera gear and other items that would be impossible to be carried on the minimalist Dual Sport bikes.

Later that night the Biker TV crew and Dave, Rob and I went to a bar and we met up with another motorcyclist, Steve. Steve is a new rider that had rode from Toronto on a 650 V-Strom to Skagway in eight days. He was determined to be at the Arctic Circle for the Summer Solstice at midnight wearing a Speedo, smoking a cigar and drinking a beer. He made it and accomplished his task I later found out.

Whitehorse to Watson Lake – Wednesday June 11

We left Whitehorse by 9:30 under a ‘Simpson’s sky’ and while it was possibly the nicest day we have had all trip, with the exception of our domestic day in Anchorage, there was one point we ran into a bit of rain and it turned cold really fast. Both Mike and Al had thermometers on their bikes and the temperature drastically went from 19 down to 9 in very short order. Once out of the rain the warmth of the day returned.

Dave and Rob announced to us once again that they were finally going to use their camping gear. Our plan was to get to Watson Lake on this portion of the trip, but they would be continuing on to Liard Hot Springs Park for their first night of camping.

Evidence of past forest fires that have taken out thousand of acres of wilderness during this whole trip makes it apparent of what Mother Nature can do with a single bolt of lightning. It’s also a grim reminder of what can happen when campers get careless with a campfire or if a cigarette butt is tossed from a car window.

Other than flying or travelling by boat, there is no other way to get to Alaska or the Yukon other than taking the Alaska Highway, at least part of it anyway. That got me thinking, what if we were in the Yukon or Alaska travelling south and we ran into a forest fire making the highway impassable. We would have no choice but to go back and wait it out.

Watson Lake to Fort Nelson, BC – Thursday June 12

Mike is a stickler for tire pressure, checking everyone’s tires every morning. His persistence paid off. He discovered before we left on the days ride that his rear tire was seriously low and upon inspection he found the head of a small nail sticking out of the tire carcass between two tread blocks. Mike would check his tires many times a day after this discovery, and rightly so. He did make it home without having to stop for repair.

I was looking forward to this leg of the trip knowing that my favourite road was just ahead as we began our ride back into the Rocky Mountains under sunny skies. There was no construction on this leg of the trip to speak of, making the ride so much more enjoyable. At one point of the days ride we came to a high elevation pass between two mountains with the road hugging the side of a mountain on one side and a massive valley on the other. Riding on the edge of the world was my first thought when travelling north and was the same thought I had heading south. The vista was the most incredible I had ever seen and blew me away both times I saw it. Coming down the other side of the mountain was equally impressive.

During our return ride from Anchorage it became very apparent the increased traffic of motorcycles, motorhomes and fifth-wheel trailers heading north. The difference of one week made us glad that we did the trip in the first two weeks of June. I’m told that after school gets out the roads are plugged with slow moving RVs putting a serious damper on motorcycle travel. I was surprised to see so many RVs on the road considering at one gas station I paid $1.58/L for regular fuel.

Our first stop after leaving Watson Lake was for gas in Liard, across the road from where Dave and Rob camped. I mentioned to the pump jockey that I had seen a grizzly crossing the road just a few minutes ago and he proceeded to tell us that a grizzly had trashed a few tents in the Park that morning. Luckily no one was hurt and that park officials managed to scare the bear away. Wondering if the rampant bear affected Rob and Dave, we described them and their bikes and the attendant thought they bought gas around 8:00 that morning, putting them about three hours ahead of us.

We didn’t see either of them for the rest of the trip but we knew they made it home safe and sound by way of text messaging. In an email after the ride, I mentioned to Rob about the grizzly making a mess of tents at Liard Hot Springs and his comment back was, “It’s a good thing we didn’t have a tent, then.” Always the comedian.

Animal count today in the Rockies and around Muncho Lake was much the same as before; five black bear, one moose, six bison, seven caribou, too many mountain sheep and goats to count, five wild horses and one grizzly bear.

I had ridden the V-Strom for 12 days and some 5,900 km by this time and have to say that while the seat is quite comfortable, I decided to pamper myself and put my Butt Buffer seat pad on the bike for a bit of a change.

Fort Nelson to Grand Prairie, AB – Friday June 13

We changed our day’s riding plan slightly today. Instead of stopping in Dawson Creek for the night, we decided to press on to Grande Prairie making our last day of riding to St. Albert a bit shorter.

Leaving Fort Nelson in rain set the stage for the next 300 kilometres. My FXR Igniter riding coat fits and looks great and has done a fantastic job of protecting me from cold and rain. After 200 kilometres of persistent pounding rain and driving wind, my arms were wet but my body was still dry. The jury is still out whether a seam in the waterproof Cordura coat let water through, or more likely, the rain ran down my sleeves and into my gauntlet gloves, and then wicked its way up my shirtsleeves. Regardless, I was lucky the coat remained windproof.

While I don’t believe in superstition, there was no luck to be had on this day; after all it was Friday the 13th. While it’s estimated that 150,000 people enjoyed the warmth of summer at Port Dover, Ontario, we were stopped on the roadside to add a layer of clothing in the rain joking that there’s probably a place ‘just around the corner’ we could do this under shelter. I had been keeping track of the mileage and knew that there would be shelter at Pink Mountain, about 20 kilometres distant. As it turned out, about two kilometres up the road ‘just around the corner’ there was Buckinghorse River Lodge, a little restaurant and gas bar. We pulled in to warm up and hopefully dry off a bit. Because it was a chilly day, the proprietor had a gas fireplace warming the restaurant up so we absconded with some chairs from a neighbouring table and hung our coats around the fireplace, creating puddles around all the chairs. I don’t think the lady of the house was too pleased with us.

I changed into my last two clean dry shirts and planned on buying a waterproof windbreaker at the restaurant to provide a barrier between my dry shirts and damp coat.

Just as we were finishing our lunch, a half-frozen rider on a Fireman Special Road King pulled up outside wearing only an oilskin coat, chaps and a half helmet as protection from the cold rain. The paramedic/fireman from Ottawa had been on the road for a month and was heading back to Ontario after “being pushed by the weather in the southern States” he said. He also just missed tornadoes and floods in the mid-west.

We heard murmurs in the restaurant that there was snow in Pink Mountain and Mike confirmed this after a brief conversation with a bus driver. He assured us that if we left soon, we’d be all right since it wasn’t staying on the road, yet.

Thinking I’d stay dry as I pulled on the waterproof windbreaker over the double layers of dry shirts and my heated vest, and then my riding coat but I didn’t realize that the sleeves rolled up on my new jacket and within minutes my sleeves were wet again. About 10 kilometres up the road we noticed the ground all around us was covered in snow, and slush was forming on the highway in the center of the lanes. Thankfully the tire tracks were clear of slush and only wet. I felt sorry for the fireman with the oilskin and half helmet though. Al said later his thermometer read only 2 degrees. After all this rain and now snow, my feet were cold but still completely dry.

By the time we arrived in Fort St. John, 175 km later, the skies were blue and it was getting downright hot. The skies stayed clear all the way to Grande Prairie. I seemed warm enough while riding but when we stopped at the hotel I had developed a chill that only a hot shower could get rid of. The day’s ride, just shy of 600 km, was nowhere near my longest, but the cold and wind took its toll on my energy level. I was hoping to give some friends a call while I was in town but time, or energy, wouldn’t allow it.

Grande Prairie to St Albert – Saturday June 14

The short Saturday trip of 450 km back to St. Albert was uneventful. Later that night, as if we hadn’t had enough riding, we decided to cruise around downtown Edmonton and Whyte Avenue for a couple of hours.

Immediately after the ride I reflected back on the past two weeks—the whole trip seemed to be somewhat of a whirlwind. The days almost seemed to blend together, and to remember certain points or events on a particular day became hard to do. Day after day of outstanding scenery, amazing motorcycle roads and interaction with four strangers who, in the end, all turned out to be good friends. Details of the trip started to come back to me once I was back home and relaying the adventure to friends and family. The ride to Alaska is a vivid memory, and will definitely be my most memorable trip.

I’ve now realized that I will return. I’ve left too many interesting roads unridden, and I’m still sure that perfect-picture postcard scene of the grizzlies and the Bud girls will unveil itself.

No one broke the rules; there was ‘no drama’ and ‘no one was left behind’. Just good times and an outstanding motorcycle adventure.

Thanks Mike and Al for letting me tag along on your Big Adventure-Alaska 2008. Rob and Dave, I hope to see you guys on the road somewhere and good luck with the whole camping thing. Also a huge thanks to Nathan Naslund for arranging for me to scoop District Sales Manager, Greg Lamb’s personal demo, thanks Greg. It’s definitely broken in now! MMM


Mike and Al’s Big Adventure – Rider’s Comments

Mike riding a FJR1300

1) It was great being with the three others guys. Al and I mostly travel together, so having others along was interesting. We all seemed to get along. There was no drama and no one got left behind (the only two rules). I discovered that Rob has a great sense of humour, and has a good deal of confidence in the gravel for a novice rider. Dave brought interesting stories about other road trips that were not necessarily bike-related, but just as fascinating. And Glenn turned out to be the biggest, and most pleasant surprise—first, because he agreed to join us on such short notice, and second because his riding style (pace, interests, patience, appetite, etc.) turned out to be the closest to Al and mine.

2) I have always thought of the Rockies as being there, 10,000 feet of raw rock, after having lived beside them for all these years. But we actually drove off the north end of the Rockies. We crossed over into other ranges of course, but I never thought of there being an end to the greatest mountains in Canada.

3) We live in Edmonton where it is still light at 11:00 p.m. in the summer. And I have experienced the winter darkness in Yellowknife on December 21st—light at 10:00 a.m., dark again at 3:00 p.m. But coming out of the restaurant at 10:30 p.m. and seeing the sun in the sky as if it were only 6:00 p.m. in Edmonton was a surprise. It never seemed to really get fully dark.

4) The vastness of the north, with the incredible vistas everywhere, was really remarkable. There were times when we were completely alone – just the five of us with nothing in front of us, nothing behind and at times not a single vehicle in the opposite direction for a half hour or more. I went to Alaska with the expectation of seeing something new. I will go back to try to recapture the awe of the place.

5) Anchorage was smaller than I expected—only 300,000 people (I thought it would be 1 million). And what a nice place, almost Canadian. But, with the exception of the temperature, the ride to Seward stood out for me as one of the best parts of the trip. The twisties and elevation changes were further rewarded when we arrived in the quaint post-card village on the ocean, further north than I have ever been in my life. It even had a train station. Neat!

6) The mile-zero signpost at the start of the Alaska Highway was not as dramatic as I expected. The signpost village in Watson Lake on the other hand was a complete surprise. Over 60,000 signs – quite the sight for a small town.

7) My favorite town was Whitehorse. I think it’s a place where I could live.

8) Now I regret not having more time—particularly for Dawson and Skagway, a couple of side trips that are definite must-do’s for the next trip.

I could go on…


Al and his 650 V-Strom

One thing that I did notice is that you often referred, on your Internet diaries, to the cold weather. I had a few bad days like the one to Seward (My Fault—I had the vents open on my jacket and didn’t realize it) and of course the Friday through Pink Mountain when we had snow. Expect for those two days I think our weather wasn’t too bad and some days were exceptionally good.

The roads from Fort St John to Whitehorse were my favourite. Chili in Toad River. Watson Lake! And the end of the Rockies in the Yukon. The only problem is that I now want to go back and see Prudhoe Bay, The Dempster Hwy, Fairbanks, and Hwy 37. Guess it’s time to plan the return trip.


Rob on his KLR

The people we met were fascinating. There is an instant camaraderie among bikers that is neat to be a part of. I came back feeling like a biker and with 2 weeks worth of road grim on my pants, I may have passed for one. I like the biker’s wave, taking about each other’s adventures and looking for interesting routes in maps.

I was amazed by the mountains in Alaska. All snow covered and pristine. Somehow the big bang theory just doesn’t cut it. And then there was the morning after in Seward. Beautiful blue sky, harbour full of smiling faces with a backdrop of sparkling mountains and water. Breathtaking.

The road between Liard and Watson was great, but then so was the one between Dawson and Ft Nelson, come to think of it Anchorage to Tok, Beaver Creek to Whitehorse and Anchorage to Seward with the side trip to Hope was amazing as well.

The most amazing place we stayed was when Dave and I were camping, but didn’t, and found these quaint little cabins behind Sheep Mountain. The owners were sled dog raisers and trained them for the Iditarod (or whatever that long mother race is called). We had great conversation with the owners, learned about Alaskan sport, had great food and were pampered by not having to camp that night.

Liard hotsprings had to be the hot spot for action. Coming back we had a chance to sleep under the stars, which was thrilling. I would definitely take my camping gear on the next trip.

It was also good to experience the Alaskan Highway and get a feel for the effort it must have taken to build the road 65 years ago without the tools we take for granted today. Those boys must have had thick skin. I applaud their effort and now that I know my way around up there, I’m already thinking of next summer and the Dempster Highway.


Dave riding a ZZR1200

Yes it was a great trip and great riding with you, really glad I had an opportunity to meet the other guys. Still love the ZZR1200 and have no plans to get rid of it. Really glad I picked it up rather than a KLR. I think some of the things I enjoyed the most (being my first road trip) were finishing a long day knowing we were able to knock-off some big days, of coarse the great roads and coming across a cappuccino hut in the middle of nowhere.



Part of the Wrangell – St Elias National Park, Mount Wrangell, just outside of Glennallen, stands at 4,317 metres (14,163 feet) and is the largest active volcano in Alaska.

Before the Great Alaska Earthquake in 1964, the west crater on top of Mount Wrangell was the most active but after the earthquake, the north crater became more active.

There is a kilometre of ice on top of Mount Wrangell and even though the mean annual temperature at the summit is -21 F, over 100 million cubic metres of ice have melted on the north crater since 1964. Just one metre below the crater’s surface is boiling sulfuric acid.

Scientists believe changes happened to Mount Wrangell during an earthquake in 2002, and during the big tsunami-generating earthquake in Asia, and are probing the crater to determine what those changes might be.



In 1942 during the building of the Alaska Highway, homesick U.S. Army G.I., Carl Lindley from Company D, 341st Engineers, erected a sign post pointing the way and stating the mileage and name of his home town of Danville, Illinois — other soldiers followed his lead. To this day, passers-by still hang signs from around the world at this site. It’s estimated that a couple from Ohio hung the 10,000th sign in 1990. Carl Lindley and his wife visited the site in 1992, 50 years after he planted the first sign post and I would have to think he would have been very surprised to imagine that his little sign post started all this.

I asked a waitress in the hotel if she knew how many signs there were and she responded with “over 67,000 they think.” Well, that may be true, but a Watson Lake tourism booklet states that in 2007 there were over 71,000.

The Sign Post Forest is quite large and when the posts get full, the town plants more. I saw signs from Germany, England, Australia, Russia and everywhere in between, including one from Punkydoodle’s Corner, a tiny crossroad near where my wife grew up. Some signs are wood, some are metal, some have family names but many are authentic town signs from around the world. Now I’m not suggesting you should steal a local sign, but if you are heading to the Yukon on the Alaska Highway you have to pass through Watson Lake anyway — and you won’t believe what you see.



First and foremost remember you are riding in the far north close to or beyond, the Arctic Circle, although many of these tips are for riding anywhere in the rain and cold. The weather can be hot and sunny or can be cold, rainy and snowing all in one day, and it changes fast. According to locals, it can snow any time of the year so be prepared.

First thing to think about is warm, dry riding gear. It all has to be windproof and waterproof. A good quality riding coat with liner, good riding pants and certainly water proof boots. Once your feet are cold, you’re cold–it’s that simple. If you must wear leather as a riding coat, be sure you have a good rain suit. Leather absorbs water, stays wet and is very heavy. It’s easy to peel layers off if it’s a nice day but impossible to get warm and dry while riding if you get wet and cold.

A heated vest may be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

A full-face helmet is very beneficial. I saw many riders wearing half-cut helmets or beanies, and they looked cold. I’ve been there, done that and a full-face is an easy fix.

Take along a couple of heavy-duty garbage bags to wrap around your exposed luggage. Don’t always trust hard bags to be water tight in driving rain. Wrap everything in plastic shopping bags in case something leaks. Freezer bags work great, they’re thick, durable and have a zip-lock.

Remember to stop frequently for gas because you’ll never know when you will find the next gas station. Take an extra gas can with you if you intend to travel the Dempster Highway to Inuvik or the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. Know the range of your bike and calculate mileages between towns so you know if you can make it.

Make sure you have good rubber. The tar and chip, or chip seal road surface can be hard on tires.

A cell phone can be your most important tool. Check with your carrier if they have service where you are going. I was without cell phone reception unless I was in a major city.

If you have tubeless tires, be sure to carry a tire repair kit. They are cheap insurance.



The first two weeks of June were ideal. The weather, for the most part was perfect providing you are dressed for it. I spoke to riders who had been up the Dempster to Inuvik and they had excellent weather the whole trip.

The amount of traffic on our second week was noticeably heavier and I am told it just keeps getting busier as the weeks progress until school gets out for the summer, at which point it is solid RVs and fifth wheels.

Dave, who has ridden a bicycle from Fairbanks to Mexico, said he saw convoy after convoy of motorhomes. Each convoy was numbered one to fifty, and they travel together. There are a lot of amazing motorcycle roads up there that could easily turn into a totally frustrating nightmare if you were constantly stuck behind one of these.

We didn’t run into very many bugs. I was warned before we left about the size of the blood-sucking insects up there and I had heard jokes about the mosquito being the official bird of Alaska. We must have gotten there before they were out.

I considered our group lucky to have gone when we did since we missed all the heavy traffic and the insects.


Thank you Suzuki Canada and Riverside Suzuki for loaning me such an incredible bike – the 650 V-Strom.


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