I live in Bandon on the southern Oregon coast and I've been riding for a long, long time, years, decades. We won't go there kiddies but believe me, it's been awhile. During that time I've done most of my riding on the road with occasional off-road forays, most of which were intentional. Some weren't. Until just a couple of years ago I'd never ridden a hack - that's sidecar to those who aren't familiar with the lingo. I figure riding a hack up Alaska's infamous Haul road all the way to Deadhorse should top off my torture tank for quite awhile.
Mac hails from Robins, Iowa and has been riding bikes longer than most people have been around. He managed to torture his old BMW past the 100,000 mile mark and presently rides a Yamaha FJR. His newest ride, a 2008 Ural Patrol is waiting on the dealer's highest shelf until the flood waters recede after which they'll assemble it and turn it over to him. The fact that he's heading to Alaska for his first journey on a new rig should tell you all you need to know about him...
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Man oh man was it ever raining this morning. Yesterday we'd had our tires worked on and my beast developed a new nasty noise as a result. Not wanting to chance further issues on the road we decided Mac may as well head out and I'd stay in Fairbanks until my bike was fixed. We didn't know if it was serious or not but there was nothing to be gained by both of us hanging around. With that said we did our goodbyes and off he went while I headed back to the shop. Luck favored me this day as it turned out to be nothing more than three links in my chain were binding up and clattering to beat hell. We soaked them with all sorts of magic oils and eventually they broke free so I set out to Tok, only a couple of hours behind Mac. On the way I stopped for lunch at a place we'd visited on the way up and while there bought a stained glass sockeye salmon, my first and only souvenir. Mac and I ran into each other just as I arrived in Tok; he'd already registered at the same campground as before so I set up camp with him. For a change the weather favored us and we had a decent night of it.
We started our day at the local car wash attempting to dislodge the mud and grime from our bikes. The idea being that any bike shop would be more willing to work on them if they weren't covered in crud and we both needed tire changes. There aren't a whole bunch of bike shops in Fairbanks so we started with the Harley-BMW dealer. They were willing to fix Mac's tire as he had it off the bike and ready to look at. Mine was a different story as both tires needed to be replaced and I couldn't just take them off and hand them over. "Sorry but it's a liability issue" was what they said. Hmm.... that's what I'd call pure bullshit; I'd operated a service shop for years and liability doesn't have squat to do with it, they simply didn't want to work on an Aprilia. This was particularly aggravating since they're supposed to be a BMW dealer and my Aprilia is exactly the same as a bimmer, only the name plate differs. Aprilia built BMW's 650F model for years and that's what mine is by any other name. In any event they did me a true favor by recommending another shop across town who might do the deed. Turned out to be just fine, they not only did the tire swap, they also installed new rear brake pads and solved the noise problem coming from the undercarriage. I'm forever grateful to them.
Dang it anyway, I just realized I posted the diesel fuel disaster on the wrong day, it actually happened on the 30th when we rode from Wiseman (Coldfoot) to Fairbanks. Duh... Guess I must have been tired when I accessed the blog so I'll do a brief re-do of the events. One thing I've yet to figure out on this blog site is how to copy and paste text, it just doesn't look possible so if anyone reading this knows how please post a comment on how to do it. Thenkuvermuch...
Anyway, onward to the day after our run down from Deadhorse to Wiseman. This was not our best day.
Imagine if you will what happens when a person of advancing years is yakking it up with someone else while at the same time attempting to refuel his bike... Moreover imagine that same said person has two choices of fuel to be dispensed from the same pump albeit from identical blue hoses but with different nozzels, one green for diesel and the other black for benzino (gasoline, eh?) Yakkety yak yak yak... Moving right along inquiring minds might pose the question "Just how far might an Aprilia go when presented with a full tank of #2 diesel? 5 miles perhaps?" Yesiree, 5 miles to be exact. After that it's kaput, d-e-d, the end. In a previous blog entry I went to great lengths to be clever about this entire incident and then in the true spirit of things posted it to the wrong date. After discovering the error of this I've decided enough damage has already been done and admission to this ridiculous blunder will no doubt provide adequate entertainment by itself. In short we spent several hours removing and draining the fuel tank, cleaning the spark plug, returning to Coldfoot to refuel and sell the remaining 5 gallons of diesel stored in my back-up fuel cans before finally getting back on the road.
ONWARD we said and so we did. For several hours in fact. Unfortunately while leaving the Yukon river camp restaurant I heard an ominous grinding clunking scary-as-hell noise coming from the undercarriage. Mac had already left a few minutes earlier so I stopped to see wuz up. It turned out that the chain was clogged with mud and debris from our latest slog through the local water hazard so I hosed it down with chain spray. That seemed to help but after riding a few miles it became noisier and I stopped to adjust the chain slack. Nope, not possible without a jack and guess who had the only one? Not me. Deciding the only course of action left was to ride on at greatly reduced speed I set out and after a few miles spotted Mac on his way back looking for me. We jacked the damn thing up, adjusted out the excess slack and once more set out for Fairbanks. We arrived in Fairbanks at 12:30am only to discover the liquor stores close at midnight, a very inhospitable ordinance if I may say so. Cruising around after midnight covered with mud and looking for a motel isn't the easiest thing to accomplish but we located one desperate enough to accept us (Motel 8) and we were in for the night. Mac's brain had apparently gone into superwarp mode as he decided he needed to do laundry while mine opted for gin & tonics. I admit there are times when my superior intellect shines through.
PS - The photo of me draining the diesel may appear as some bodily function. It is not that.