Stu and John’s Escapade North – Destination Inuvik Part Two

Story by Stu Seaton// Photos by Stu Seaton
March 1 2009

On July 1, 2008, Stu, riding his BMW 1200 GS Adventure, and his brother, John riding Honda Canada’s new Varadero, left Ontario to head west with their final destination in their sights, Inuvik, Northwest Territories. In the first part of their story they travel through the prairies, play in the Rockies and end up in Victoria, BC, before their long trek north.

July 09 2008. Vancouver Island.

Today is a service day. It was time to have both the Varadero and the GS looked at by more professional hands than ours. Action Motorcycles made some room for us on top of their monster schedule. John asked service manager, Mike if he needed the V.I.N. number off the Varadero and his reply just split me up: “Naw, we should be able to keep track of the one Varadero…” Okay you have a point there. Within forty-five minutes we were on our way to get the GS looked at over at Island BMW. New lubes, filters and a good visual was the call.

One thing to remember when you visit Island BMW is that it’s always more than you bargain for and money has nothing to do with it. The dealership is built for riders who are on the move and you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll end up in conversations with people from all over the world; Durell Wiley makes sure the atmosphere allows that to happen. John and I were gabbing with everyone when a familiar face waltzed in. Paul Mondor, big as life and twice as bold came charging through the door and that capped it. I knew we weren’t getting out of this burg anytime soon.

Paul parked himself and some serious ice cubes in the Guinness Book of Records after making a cross-Canada ride (Mile 0, Victoria, B.C. to Cape Spear, Nfld.) that started on January 1, 2008. I can remember talking to Paul in June of ’06, when he was prepping for the ride, at the time he was betwixt which bike it was going to be. Afterwards I followed Paul across Canada on his trip website (www.paulmondor.com) and was very pleased that CBC covered his epic journey so well. I was, and will always be, in awe of his trip. The long and short was that we had some major catching up to do and what better place to catch up in than at Island BMW.

Paul was still nursing some of the wounds he received whilst taking the sub-zero ride, but was very excited about his two books hitting the shelves this spring. I can hardly wait to have a peek at them, because if he writes with the same passion as when he speaks, the books will be impossible to put down. We discussed our Inuvik trip and he threw his two cents in regarding our routing which gave us some ‘must do’ ideas. ‘Mondor Ideas.’ Scary.

Once we were gabbed out and the GS was ready to roll we took off to where we felt our journey really began. The plan was to grab the ‘must do’ Mile 0 shot and then run up #1 over the Malahat Pass, on to Nanaimo, do the ‘smug’ lane number one run to the ferry and head north on the Sea to Sky, Highway 99. We were told that due to the 2010 Olympics there was some major construction enroute and to expect dust and delays. They say that there’s two seasons in Canada: Winter and construction. In this case ‘they’ didn’t lie, however the construction was more concentrated on the south end of 99 and was very well organized so delays weren’t as bad as expected.

Sea to Sky is something to behold. Today it rewards riders with long runs that are twists and bends stacked one on top of each other, no barricades, just this little two lane (sometimes less) road that offers breathtaking views and one riding challenge after another. The speed limit signs are somewhat subjective. If it says 30 km/h you know that it can be exceeded no problem. But when it says 20 km/h, well, that’s a different story. I swear they should read: 20 km/h. I dare ya! John, whilst standing at the side of the road, noted that he was eye level with the top of a 100-foot lodge pole pine and there was nothing between him and the tree. Nasty place to misjudge a corner!

The Sea to Sky will captivate you, sometimes the pavement is really good, some spots were choppy, sometimes there was the odd tree lying across the road. Black bears could be seen here and there, one cub was practicing a balancing act on a felled tree limb, ‘Look Ma! No hands!” Sometimes the pavement looked like it was just a remnant of a 1950’s road building effort. Highway 99 is a route I will do again and as motorcyclists we should keep our traps shut about this gem. The last thing I’d want to see is any kind of improvement. Keep 99 the way it is, ruts and all.

The little town of Lillooet came into view and that was as far as we wanted to go. As we rolled into town I was taken aback by the width of the main street, which even by today’s standards is huge. It turns out that this sleepy little town was at one time a major centre of commerce and the street was purposefully built that wide in order to allow an oxen train to turn around. In fact, in the Gold Rush era of 1860, Lillooet was the second largest city west of Chicago, second only to San Francisco. Lillooet also has a bedrock connection to places like the 150-mile, 100-mile and 70-mile House as all those titles were based on the measured distance to the Mile ‘0’ Cairn of the Great Caribou Trail that starts in Lillooet. Cool, eh?

As much as I could get lost in history, tonight we were more interested in securing a room at the Mile 0 Motel, a good dinner coupled with some warm and dry ZZZ’s. The Mile 0 was more than happy to give us a ‘roll-up-to room’ and the young lad behind the counter got a chuckle out of our addresses as he was from Peterborough, Ontario and out for the summer to give his family a hand to run the business.

The next morning the skies were clear and 13 C, yay, let’s ride! We were aiming for Prince George where we planned to get caught up on laundry and basically goof off. This was July 11 and we had been riding for eleven days straight; time for a breather. From Lillooet we carved through Pavillion and Lower Hat Creek before running into a sign that darn near produced tears. Highway 99 was at an end. The epitome of great motorcycling roads was about to turn into slab when we made the junction with Highway 97.

I wanted to go back. I could waste a lifetime on 99 and felt a pang of jealousy knowing that Lesley Gering could ride this route whenever the fancy struck her. That’s just plain unfair. We hung a left onto 97 and joined the throng of motorhomes heading north.

My indignant Lady Garmin directed us to the Prince George Best Western that had some first floor rooms. While we were unloading I couldn’t help but note that R.C.M.P. officers were continuously walking through the breezeway. I said to John that we’re either in a pretty tough part of town or something’s going on that requires a thorough Police presence. Nope, wrong on both counts. On one side of the Hotel is the Prince George R.C.M.P. Detachment and on the other side is a Timmies. We had a chuckle with a few of the Coppers mentioning that we couldn’t ask for better bike security.

From Prince George we would truly be heading into the north. Off to fill a shopping list. I needed a new headlight bulb, John had to scrap his tiny raincoat for something that fit and some of our el-cheapo bungee cords were fraying beyond imagination. Hint here, don’t buy cheap straps, they don’t work well or last long. I also wanted two fuel cans for a ‘just-in-case reserve’, I found a pair of one U.S. gallon plastic fuel cans that mount perfectly atop the flat GS bags and Voila! The GS looked positively dashing.

By the time we got back to the hotel and had everything in shipshape, other bikes were beginning to roll in. One fellow was delivering his wife’s GS from Alaska to Seattle, another couple, Jinx Bryant and Gunnar Clem came rolling in, Jinx on a GS and Gunnar on a V-Strom. They were just bubbling about the south run down from Hyder, Alaska and Highway 37A. About ten minutes after their arrival out came the pictures, maps and a bottle of wine. I had to admit this was one eclectic pair, Jinx is a very tall woman, she sits on a GS with feet flat on the ground with her legs bent, Gunnar is pretty much the opposite; he sits on his V-Strom and kind of tippy toes around. Nonetheless it all works out just fine and they were having the times of their lives. After listening to the pair, John and I made the decision to do the 37 route north, as Jinx describes, “The road starts out just fine, then the lane markings stop, then the shoulder disappears, then the pavement get’s sparse and then you just sort of end up sharing the roadway with the wildlife.” Sounds good to me!

Later that night several more GSs and a Moto Guzzi roll in. They all looked like they spent an ‘extreme make-over month’ at the Touratech factory. I’ve never seen so much Titanium gathered in one place. At four o’clock in the morning John is up as he hears some tinkering going on outside, one of the riders was doing a cold engine valve adjustment and that was all we needed for an early start as neither of us had slept a wink. For some reason the north crept into our thoughts and kept waking us up, like two kids the night before going to Disneyland. It seemed like every rider at the hotel had the same idea; at the crack of dawn everyone was loading up and getting ready to roll. Big boxers and V-twins fired up, shattering the morning silence with pitiful putter. Obviously an audible statement is not required for quality adventure riding. I swear one of these days I’m going to hang an Akrapovic can on my GS just so I can hear the damn thing. The Varadero also prescribes to the ‘silence is golden’ rule with a similar audible statement of the pifft kind.

We were off under clear skies but a cool 6 C which seems to be the morning norm and now we were finally adjusted to cold and wet riding. John now has an XXXL yellow PVC suit that wraps him up like a cautionary condom so he’s happy. Let it rain! And rain it did. Northwest on Trans Canada 16, aka the Yellowhead, which was really just more slab, but at least the scenery was decent and there weren’t too many motor homes. We finally hit Highway 37, also known as the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. That’s where we realized that there are really good road construction crews and really bad road construction crews. Highway 37 was sporting the latter. Pea gravel thick enough to swim in and grader operators that seemed to enjoy leaving a 36” high berm of the dreaded soft stuff across the entire road bed. I just about washed out in one of these berms and three seconds later John makes handy use of my divot by taking the same trail. He floated through my BMW shaped gouge like he was sprinkled with friggin’ fairy dust. I’m sure that if I had gone down he would have just used me for traction. Brothers. Sheesh. Regardless, heaped up loose pea gravel is just plain rude.

As we pass Cranberry Junction the temps start to drop, 5, 4, 3 C. Okay this is cool. I have my bar heaters on, but the Varadero didn’t come equipped with them and John is really feeling it. Luckily he had picked up some insulated PVC gloves that saved the day. As we approach Highway 37A, I convince John that it would be neat to run into Stewart, then cross over into Hyder, Alaska and see some glaciers. Highway 37 was not as interesting as we had hoped; certainly nowhere near the Sea to Sky type of feeling. The wet, cold and construction didn’t help much so it took some convincing for John to agree on a 135-kilometre detour. After some ‘what ifs’ at the side of the road we agreed to go for it and it turned out to be a good call. The road into Stewart offered us three black bears and a really neat glacier to ogle. The roadbed was much better and we were in Stewart before we knew it. Not only was it a quick scoot, it was now twice as warm, at a balmy 6 C.

Fuel was our first stop and I asked the kid at the pumps how far Hyder was as I wanted an entrance stamp in my passport. He told me that it was about five kilometres down the road, but there probably wouldn’t be anyone at the border, hey, it’s a northern thing I guess. We hung our hats at the King Eddy Hotel in Stewart and enjoyed some really decent halibut. John’s still shivering as he sucks the BTU’s out of some steaming hot coffee. Bar heaters…a very good option. Yessiree.

The next morning was much the same weather. Let’s see, what’s the date? Ahh ya. The 14th. We both look at each other as we have now completely lost track of time. Oh-my-god! We’re turning into Hippies. John’s trying to figure out what day it is and scouts out a calendar. “It’s Monday,” he said. “So?,” I say. “Well, I thought you should know.” While John’s adjusting his workaholic time clock to read ‘Monday’, I’m looking at what I think is a sea captain mannequin sitting in the lobby of the King Eddy. Man, this is one neat sculpture. Very well done, ruddy red face, perfect white beard, all the right clothes, proper Captain’s hat, cool, nicely done. I point it out to John when suddenly ‘it’ got up and walked away shooting me this disgusted look. Honest, I thought he was a sculpture. We took off back to 37 and I helmet ponder why a guy would dress up like that and sit perfectly still in a hotel lobby. He must have a warped sense of humour which I find I’m appreciating much more as we start to absorb the north.

Highway 37A is still sporting black bears and a brown one all doing whatever bears do and not paying the slightest bit of attention to us, which is fine by me. The glacier was still there and this time even bluer than yesterday. Why is glacier ice so blue? More ponder. Highway 37 shows up and we’re back on crap construction and pea gravel. We’re hoping to make Watson Lake tonight, but with this construction it was going to be one long day. Oh yeah, it’s raining, again… still. Actually we’re now getting pretty good at the whole rain suit thing; John jumps into his big yellow PVC condom, grabs a roll of duct tape and waits for me to tape up the joints. There, done in thirty seconds and he’s good for the day, minus the pit stops. John notices that the placement of the Honda’s mirrors seem to push air onto the top of his hands and we try to adjust them a little ahead of the hand guards, but that just cuts way down on his rear view vision. We come to the conclusion that if the mirror arms were about an inch longer it would draft air away from his hands. Either that or we could be wimps and stop riding in 5 C weather.

It may sound like we’re having a lousy time of it, but that really isn’t the case. Regardless of rain and some cool temps, we were just being knocked out with every corner, vista and critter that we saw. Both the Varadero and the GS are running beautiful, we feel great and are eager to see around the next bend. Mist hangs low on the mountains and shrouds their peaks in mystery, the smell of the trees permeate everything and I can’t help but revere the people that passed through these parts a century before. They would have considered our pea gravel trail heaven on earth. There must have been some pretty tough nuts wandering about in those days. We’re wimps in comparison as we sit on our 100 horsepower machines equipped with every conceivable bit of gear. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

I’m having quite a historic ponder time in my helmet at the same time as I jam my front wheel through a mysterious sinkhole at 90 km/h; BAM! I’ve hit big potholes before, but this was a new experience, I was sure I broke something and my hands were just numb. It was sort of like simultaneously whacking both your thumbs with a really big hammer. I pulled over and painfully had a peek at the front-end which I thought would be a complete write-off. John gives me a hand to yank the GS up on its centre stand and I slowly rotate the front wheel. Son-of-a-gun, spokes are all playing the same tune, tire is good, wheel looks true; everything seems A-OK. I do a little dance and try to get some feeling back in my hands. Of course John was watching where he was going and missed the sinkhole; he told me I should maybe try the same idea… Ya-ya. I was amazed that the GS took that kind of shock without busting something.

We pulled in for fuel at Dease Lake and it’s the first time that I got to experience northern black flies and mosquitos at their evil best. I popped my helmet off at the gas pumps and immediately lost about a litre of blood. Other people were wandering around like there wasn’t a bug in sight while I’m in the centre of the swarm from hell. John tells me they only like rotten meat. I made him ‘take it back’ after he got swarmed.

Highway 37 was starting to improve a bit; weather was dry and almost warm. Things are lookin’ up! I started to figure out a few northern bits of technology trivia. If I was within a hundred kilometres of an R.C.M.P. detachment I had full Bell signal on my phone. Neat. John was using Rogers that crapped out somewhere past Parry Sound… in Ontario, so we were pretty much relying on Bell and I seemed to have a signal just about everywhere. We made the dash for Watson Lake, which turned out to be closer than it looked on the map, although my indignant Garmin Lady was spot on. Maybe I was daydreaming again. Thank god I missed the next bazillion sink holes. My wrists still hurt like hell.

At the corner of 37 and Highway 1, the Alaska Highway, we saw the sign we were looking for: ‘Yukon’. Oh yeah, Kodak moment. We pulled into a gas station and dragged the map out not knowing if we wanted to go west on the Alaska Highway towards Rancheria or east to Watson Lake and then take the Robert Campbell Highway 4 up through Ross River? For someone looking on, it may have been an odd sight, two guys standing beside motorcycles with Ontario plates flipping a coin. Watson Lake won out and it was a good call. Two good calls in less than three days, hey we’re getting’ better at this stuff. Watson Lake wasn’t far off and the famous Sign Post Forest popped into view. We pulled into the visitor’s centre where a very kind and well versed Watsonian lady told us about everything that Watson Lake had to offer, and then promptly freaked out when a bee flew out of a fold in my riding coat directly at her. Turns out that she’s very allergic to those things and was quite happy as I smeared it into the Visitor Centre’s new carpet without her having to use her EpiPen. Sorry for the smudge folks.

We pull into the Air Force Lodge which is nothing more than a barrack, an exceptionally clean barrack at that. After the very German owner told us how things worked at the Lodge and just about everything else – including Europe, we settled in for the night. This would turn into another impromptu motorcycle rally as members of the Pine River H.O.G. Chapter were hanging their hats there too. I also found out what it’s like to be recognized. Seems like they all subscribe to Mojo and knew me on a first name basis. Honestly, I love it when people respond to an article, good or bad, but I’m a little lost when it comes to face-to-face encounters. Another ‘go figure’, it’s probably because I can’t hear worth a damn and my hearing aids were buried too deep in the electronic pile to fish them out, so pardon me folks if I missed some comments and just nodded a lot as I tried to speech read. It’s all good fun when riders from wherever get shooting the breeze. I choked down some Tylenol for my throbbing wrists and cursed sinkholes, by ten o’clock I’m comatose and I’m pretty sure John is already dead.

The next morning everyone is coming to about the same time and our pitiful putter couldn’t compete with the Hogs. Weather was complete crap, it was raining to beat ninety and colder than a witches tit. Time to re-evaluate our routing; we decided to drop the gravel route through Ross River and stick to Highway 1 to Whitehorse. Cold, major rain plus unknown gravel just felt like a dumb thing to do.

Rancheria looked like a good breakfast stop and by this time even John’s yellow condom couldn’t keep Ma Nature at bay, we pull into the old time lodge and were glad to feel some heat. Right in front of our table was a T.V. that was tuned to the weather network. It was the most depressing breakfast company anyone could ask for, actually John and I got to laughing at it… God says: “See the two yellow suits there… Hit the ‘smite’ button. Har-Har-Har!” We finish our breakfast, say goodbye to everyone, which seems to be the proper thing to do when you start to get north… Say hello, shoot the breeze, listen to the history of the place, eat, pay the bill and say goodbye. Everyone wished us well. I give John a double duct tape wrap and we head on. 5 C… oy.

The run to Whitehorse was pretty much the same as our run past Superior. I couldn’t tell you what anything looked like besides water and road ruts. By the time we hit Johnsons Crossing the rain was less than torrential and had calmed down to a steady drizzle, the temperature had sky rocketed to 8 C and by this time we were just grinding on. Whitehorse wasn’t far off and the skies were looking a bit brighter in that direction so with a bit better visibility we turned on the taps and ate up some klicks. John was noting that since I had strapped the two gas cans on the GS my wind blast had substantially changed for the better and now he could ride closer without getting beat up. I looked at the two cans and tried to figure out how they could dramatically change my aerodynamics; I gave up on that ponder as we were a tad above the legal limit. Finally Whitehorse, Yay! A damp Kodak moment at the Whitehorse sign then off to find a Timmies and the local Harley dealer for some Whitehorse souvenirs for our buddies back home.

With a soggy map in hand we figure that we could hit Dawson today as the Big Guy had finished mucking about with the ‘smite button’ and the weather was starting to clear. The Klondike Highway (Highway 2) was calling. I believe that’s where we spent $86.00 on fuel for the two bikes plus reserve. Wow.

We jump on Highway 2 and begin the climb out of Whitehorse, it seems that as we climb so does the temperature and before we know it we’re in 15 C temps. Whew, time to shed some clothes. The Klondike Highway is a decent road, some well-marked chips and dust and decent hardtop. We start to enjoy some spirited riding which brings me to the law in the area. In Ontario you just don’t speed cause you can be guaranteed that an OPP will nick you. The 50 km over law means that you’ve just wrecked your life with an immediate roadside suspension and impoundment of your vehicle, not to mention an insurance rate to follow that would break Bill Gates. In the north things seem to run on a different set of rules. Aside from the R.C.M.P. that were wandering through the Best Western breezeway, we’ve only seen one copper on the road, I get the impression that up here you take more responsibility for your own actions. We turn on the taps, which is just about the same time we see the next patrol copper coming in the opposite direction, he simply lights us up and motions us to slow down, which we do. Besides, at these speeds we’re positively scarfing down fuel. We settle in for a 20-over putt and carry on. The scenery is changing and we see no wildlife on the road, anywhere.

As we near Pelly Crossing we see that there is some major construction in progress, but the road crew here is a good one. Grader operators finish off pea gravel like they were shaving the roadbed just for us. One of the flag ladies was celebrating her birthday and waiting impatiently for three o’clock when there was gonna be a partaay. She cringed at our rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and told us to be careful a little further up because there was some loose stuff. We later chuckle at her version of ‘loose stuff’ as it was as close to pavement as it gets. If this crew had been the same as the 37 crew, I would have gotten off and walked.

Stewart Crossing and Flat Creek were not far off and now we felt great. Temperatures were really heating up and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Now this is just so right. Oh, yeah. It wasn’t long before we arrived at the junction of Highway 2 and 5, the infamous Dempster Highway. There’s a lodge right at the junction called the Klondike River Lodge and it had our names written all over it. Fuel, food, beer and nappy noo. In that order.

Checking into the Klondike River Lodge is sort of like joining a big family for the night. The ‘lounge’ consisted of a big room with overstuffed leather chairs and couches that were constantly being re-arranged according to the conversation at the time. We met a geologist that was working on his fourth or maybe fifth marriage, he wasn’t really sure, but it was something like that. His love was the north and he made no bones about it. It is what it is. We met Dan Blake, a soft spoken giant First Nations fellow who was originally from Inuvik, he gave us the lowdown on the Dempster which seems to have a life of its own and it all depends on rain and the colour of the road. If it’s black it will be way past slippery with mud everywhere so watch out, if it’s grey you’re good to go. That meshed with another rider that had just returned on a KLR that was caked in mud. He had just shredded a rear knobby, which gave us a bit of a chill. Our tires were still in great shape and the weather looked good for tomorrow, but still, the great unknown was niggling at us. We had a compressor and tire repair kits with us, but just looking at what was left of his tire had us wondering if we shouldn’t have picked up a couple of spares just in case. This was where we made some serious mistakes. One, we should have opted for full spares and not just repair kits. Two, we should have off-loaded some gear at the lodge and gone much lighter as the GS was forty kilograms from maximum load and the Honda was just shy of its maximum load by about thirty kilograms. Heavy bikes, an unknown road surface and a possible mud waddle should have been yelling at us to make some changes but we seemed to skip right over that part. That will never happen again.

The Mighty Dempster

The next morning, the 16th, don’t ask me what day, as both of us had abandoned the ‘what day is it’ notion. We awoke to crystal clear skies and 20 C temps. Now we’re talking. Let’s go! A close inspection of the bikes came up good and we were off. The mighty Dempster. This is what we came for. Some photos at mile 0 and we hit the trail. The first twenty klicks or so were hardtop and I thought that maybe the things we heard were way overblown. They weren’t. The roadbed was dry and much like travelling on good pavement. The scenery was really changing now. Gone were the majestic pines and they were replaced by these whacky monstrous hills of gravel–glacier poop I guess–they had the look of something that never got quite organized. Nevertheless they were majestic in their own right. At about the 160 km mark we stopped at one overview, popped the thermoses and had a coffee while marvelling at a horizon full of crazy hills. This was truly stuff we had never seen before and even really good pictures can’t do it justice. You need to stand there and feel the utter isolation. You could be the last person on earth and that’s what it would look like. Up until this point we were able to manage an easy 90 km/h and if it kept up we thought the 700 kilometre run would be a done deal by night, which really isn’t night because the sun just sort of hangs around, then does this tiny little dip and keeps glaring. If we had good light we weren’t worried about riding later than normal. Inuvik looked very doable. By about the 200 km marker we start to get into scrub trees and muskeg, which is some seriously goopy stuff.

A little further up the road we start getting into loose gravel; or what we thought was loose gravel. A bunch of potholes and the normal stuff you’d expect of a far north road. Our speed was now down a bit to the 60 – 80 km/h range. On the plus side, we couldn’t have ordered any more perfect weather. It was the warmest we’d been since we left Ontario, my computer was reading 24 C and I was down to just my outer armour with all the vents open. John was grinning like a Cheshire cat. At km 250 I was at an elevated overlook that was just breathtaking and was setting up for a shot when John came puttering up beside me. He shut down and very calmly said, “Me thinks I have a flat.”I looked at his rear tire and, yup, he sure did. Not only did he have a flat but his Bridgestone tires looked like someone went nuts on them with a switchblade. “What the hell were you riding in?” I asked him, “Dunno, I was following you.”

This particular Varadero did not carry the optional centre stand so it took us some time rolling the bike back to find the hole and when we did find it, well, it was pretty impressive. Right in the tread groove and it looked more like a slice than a puncture. Right then and there we knew we made some mistakes and they were about to bite us big time. Out with the compressor, tire kits and we set to plugging the hole. One plug. Nope. Two plugs, better, third plug with a twist and voila! No more bubbles. We both knew that where the slice was located this was going to be a real temporary fix at best. The plugs were in the skinny section of the tire and a rock in the right place would simply undo everything; a split that big would deflate the tire in a heartbeat. Not good. Tubes would have been handy, but we both knew that the tube would poke out of this split and be toast in no time. Woulda-coulda-shoulda… If we had been carrying vulcanizing patches this would work. If we had been carrying a full spare we’d be on our way in about an hour. If, if, if. I feel like a complete idiot and John is feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon wheel rut. Damn. We get the map out and look at our options; Eagle Planes looked to be about an hour north. What was in Eagle Planes that would help out? Didn’t know, but should have known. Okay, what’s the risk? Damned if I knew and neither did John, the fix could last forever or it could disappear in the next two klicks. That was the kicker. If it let go John would only have a few seconds to react. If that ‘let go’ was somewhere in a corner it may spell disaster.

Out came the thermoses and a go or no-go discussion followed. There’s a big sign at the start of the Dempster that makes no bones about the fact that there is no emergency medical services. Anywhere. Use your head and go accordingly. Cell signal is zip. We’ve been here for almost two hours and not a single vehicle has rolled past. As a matter of fact, we hadn’t passed anyone yet and we were at the 250 marker. Yup, this is definitely the boonies. I had a look at the Metzelers on the GS and they looked perfect, maybe I had missed whatever it was that John ran into. We stomp around a bit and weigh our options which don’t look real optimistic.

I simply will not go for taking an uncalculated risk. That’s just stupid. Riding on a difficult roadbed with properly functioning tires is not what I’d call risky, doing it with what we now had was way past risky and we both agreed. We also said some very bad words. Kilometre 250. I even took a shot of the marker. More bad words. A fellow in a Toyota Camry came up on us, stopped and asked if we needed help, explaining that he had no tools, but he could give us a lift. I told him that we were okay and he carried on. Wait a minute! Why didn’t I ask him what Eagle Planes had to offer!? More bad words. Our only source of information was now a dust cloud in the distance. Okay you pair of old farts. Make a call.

To be continued…

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