Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 229/230 - Fairbanks - Wiseman (within the Arctic Circle) - Fairbanks

Distance travelled (by bike): 33,350

Still raining as i left Fairbanks and headed north. The fog had closed in leaving visibility very limited. Following Highway 2 until i got to the Dalton Highway, or as locally known as, the haul road. I was warned that though about half the highway is now paved, it has huge potholes everywhere. With the rain still coming down the unpaved sections were mud, making driving harder especially when a vehicle passed on the other side or i was behind traffic, the mud would be splashed over the visor and wiping just smeared the mud. Pulling over to clean my visor became a regular occurrence. 
Once on some of the paved sections i got the chance to overtake some of the slower vehicles, speeding up and bouncing over the potholes.
Around mile 70 the 'Roller Coaster' starts, now famous since the Ice Road Truckers TV programme, the road flows up and down steep gradients, much like a roller coaster.
Soon Passing into the Arctic circle!!!
In the afternoon i stopped at Coldfoot (population 13) for fuel, stopping further up the road at Wiseman for the night. Eating dinner in Coldfoot i got speaking to some of the truckers, when i told them i was heading to Deadhorse one of the older ones told me 'the weather is sh*ty, so the roads are sh*ty, Deadhorse is sh*ty. Son, you've travelled far enough, there ain't nothing worth seeing up north, can't even get to the sea without paying to go on a tour, takes a while as they need to do background check n' stuff like that…you know since 9/11'.

Another wet start to the day. Having thought about what the old boy said and seeing more rain i decided he was right. I was within the Arctic Circle and to go further north without getting to the Arctic sea would be pointless, especially as i'd have to return the same way. 
As I drove back down the Dalton the rain stopped for a while and the sun came out, it really is beautiful when you can see the scenery. 
Enjoying the drive and apparently ignoring the speed limit i was pulled over by two police cars, both driving towards me on the opposite side of the road. Since it only took one officer to book me the other petrol car took off. I knew i was speeding, but i had no idea what speed i was doing when they clocked me, i also had no idea what the speed limit was. This was soon explained, speed limit 50mph, my speed 75mph. The police office was good banter, sadly he didn't drop the fine or ticket, explaining that it was just to fast. No problem, fair is fair, i was speeding. Before he left he did point out my rear tyre was running on the tread wear marking. I knew it was wearing close, but every mile counts. Maybe time for a new one!
As i returned slowly into Fairbanks the rain had started again. Taking the officers advice I went in search of a new tyre. Arriving at Trail End Motorcycles, They had the tyres in stock. I was told i should speak to Justin (working in sales), he and his girlfriend had had been travelling on his motorcycle for 18 months through south and central America, returning in April, turns out we missed each other by hours twice in Argentina. 

start of the Dalton

stopping to refuel

its official, i made it

the only fuel along the Dalton, the desolate Coldfoot services

on one of the pit toilets on the way down the Dalton

part of the 'roller coaster'

The state trooper with my ticket in his hand!

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