Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fairbanks - I like it.
 Even if I don't understand it.

I had "issues" with my bike.  I won't go into details but I spent the evening with a guy called Dan who had a garage and a shed load of kit. He mends bikes and changes tires (tyres). It took him and his son two hours to get the bend and broken bolt out (see picture) before they could install a rack. Meanwhile 7 other bikers turned up (all from the US) looking to tyres before they head up to Prodhue bay.

Next day I headed up to the Circle. I was worried about the road but it turned out to be fine. It's 200 miles from Fairbanks to the cirlce whereI turned around. It was a little weird to turn around- face south- and think that I was now heading for Panama. The road continues 300 miles north from the cirlce to Prodhue Bay. Many bikers make the two day trip but the road is quite bad in places (described as riding on snot and marbles) and I've heard of people crashing and braking stuff. If I'd ridden up from Argentina or this was the end of my trip then I guess I'd have felt compelled to make it all the way up. But as I've only ridden this bike for three days and have just started I decided not to risk it. In a way I'll always regret not making the last stretch but at last I'm still alive and moving!

I've met SO MANY people I haven't had a moment to feel like I'm doing this trip "on my own". Whenever I stop there are other bikers around or just friendly curious people who ask where I'm going etc. Just thought I'd mention it.  On yah - and it's SUNNY at last.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Video of Moose


Am I Fairbanks today. So far I like it. It's got that end of the road feel (because it is) BUT its a huge University town and has real University feel to it.

More importantly, the day before yesterday I rode 250 miles down from Anchorage to Seward "on one of Americas top 10 rides". Not a bad way to start a trip. The route was fabulous, sweeping views, curvy roads, ice blue lakes, snowcapped get the idea.

Oh yeah, and MY FIRST MOOSE. See picture (and hopefully a video link when I get enough regular wi-fi to upload it.

I've tried to put in a few pictures to show the vastness of this place. It doesn't work but let me tell you ALASKA IS B I G. 2.2 times as big as Texas! Think, the best bits of Scotland, supersized and with a dash of danger (ie bears)

Loving it so far...

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Off and running...

This is quite a long post. Sorry, they will get shorter.... and sometime I'll include nice pictures of Alaska in the sun – when I see it!

Made it! No problems with the flight and after a TWO hour wait for luggage and passport control (they took my finger prints and photo but didn't really grill me about the trip) I phoned up Motoquest and they came and picked me up. I was a little concerned when they said that Nicole (who is the person I had been dealing with for the last 6 months ) was “no longer with us” but everything seems to be fine. The bike looks, well, like a bike and they had the stuff I had ordered. Next to the small Motoquest shop is a huge Harley Davidson store)see picture). They have a small patch of grass out back where I can camp and there are free showers. There's another tent there and a UK registered bike so I might even make a friend.

Across from here is a “diner” mentioned in the Lonely Planet as “ Alaska at it's best; lots to look at - totems, stuffed bears and a gurgling stream – and big portions”. AND THEY ARE RIGHT. Although the vege option is very very limited. I came in last night and all I could have was omelette and potatoes. It was far too big and not very appetising. Monday morning, I asked for toast and scrambled egg. After giving me a huge variety of breads to chose from (what is soar bread?) I was asked if I wanted homefries or grits??? Being me I was too ashamed/polite to ask what that was, so said homefries. I ended up getting EXACTLY what I had last night, the eggs were more omelette than scrambled and the homefried were sliced potatoes fried. I'm finding it all rather weird, surreal and amusing. The waitresses are super polite, friendly and just so bloody American – as are all the other diners. I guess I'm still a little shell shocked/jet-lagged but I feel like I'm in a Nick Cage film. It's really weird being in such a new place which is so recognisable.

PS It has rained none stop since I arrived, and my tent seems to leak.

PPS I've already adopted American language, this morning I asked if I could “get” some coffee instead of “have” some coffee. OMG! Better go the the rest-room if I can bring myself to ask where it is...

Monday – what a busy day. After “cowffeeee and eggs” I got the bike signed over to me in 10 minutes, drove around the corner and sorted out the insurance and then spoke to the bike mechanic all before midday. The mechanic was really helpful and I'm happy that the bike is ready to go (despite the flashing red “brake failure” sign that comes on whenever you turn the thing on) Of course it was still raining today so I bought some bike waterproofs – NOT from the very expensive Harley shop. In the afternoon I actually RODE MY BIKE – in the rain. It was a little scary to actually ride it for the first time, mainly because it was still raining. I rode to a shopping area and bought a few things including a mobile phone. I went into a hunting shop to buy a knife! It was massive(the shop not the knife) and full of stuffed animals, guns and stuff to ATTRACK bears to you!! I meant to buy a bear repellent pepper spray but forgot so I'll have to go back tomorrow.

I'm getting into the “American way”. This morning for breakfast I asked for what I wanted and refused the homefries. “You got it” She said. I'm beginning to like Americans!

It stopped raining last night for about 4 hours then started again. It's no longer funny. Apparently Anchorage is surrounded by mountains, but I haven't seen one yet. The tent is wet and all my paperwork is damp. Even the cover of the LP has curled up in disgust. The forecast isn't good so I need to get out of here. I've got a few things to sort out today and then first thing tomorrow I'm heading off. If the forecast says head north to Fairbanks for sun then I will.

Will add picture later...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Captain's Log. Star date one

All packed and ready to go.I've managed to fit everything that's on my packing list into my one big bag that will sit on the back of the bike. And it all weighs 20 (ish) KGS, which is just as well as that's all Lufthansa will let me take. Am flying via Frankfurt and arrive in Anchorage late Sunday night UK time. Am camping behind motorbike shop and hope to all legal and on the road by Wednesday.

This last week has been weird as I've been ready to go and just hanging around, getting in Tracy's way! No last minute issues or problems and although I have no idea what will happen over the next few months at the moment I have absolutely no regrets about doing this. Let's hope that holds.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Thanks Rupert

Just went to London to meet someone I met on the Internet. Well, it wasn't quite like that. I met Rupert at the HUBB meeting in Derby. Rupert has been around the world on a BMW 1200 GS and he, very generously, got in touch and offered to meet up and chat about it. I went down to London last night, he picked me up on his GS and we went to a pub. He showed me the potential problems I might have with a GS and gave me a couple of tips which will ho doubt help. Thanks a million Rupert!

Other than that I'm really just waiting to go. I've sorted out some bike insurance with Progressive, which was the last thing on my list and am all ready to go.

This will be of no interest to anyone else but I thought I would list my packing list here. I've tried to keep it to a minimum, and hope I won't be taking too much but if I list it here I can reference it later to see whether I took too much or not. (I said it wouldn't interest anyone else)


Shirts (2)
Trousers (1)
Socks and pants (3)
Sun hat
Training Shoes
Swimming trunks

Bike Gear:

Bike Jacket

Travel towel

Sleeping bag


Washing up stuff


Driving License and IDP
Dummy wallet
Haynes manual
Photocopies of docs.


Bike spares
First Aid kit
Leatherman knife
ear plugs
Mone belt
various padlocks and straps.

oh yeah and a BMW motorbike!