Today I go up the haul road. Last night I got reservations for the Arctic Ocean tour at 9am Sunday morning. Got everything packed to go this morning. As I travel to get to the Dawson Highway (North Shore Haul Road),I run through twisting turns around the side of the mountains. The curves are fun and the scenery is gorgeous.
At first the haul road is good. Nice asphalt, or groomed gravel. As I go further the gravel becomes loose like sand and the asphalt has cracks up to 8” wide along with pot holes that are 10-12” deep. They are rebuilding in one area so we get to follow the road through the ditch and back out. Steve missed his fueling point and did not think he could make it to Coldfoot, So we start riding in fuel conservation mode.
I am carrying a gallon in case he would run out.
He made it only to find out they have not gas. I got 69 miles per gallon, the best I have ever gotten. We stop at the arctic circle for a picture. This is where we meet Bill and Karen for the first time. Karen is a 5 time cancer survivor and wanted to do this ride with her husband of 30 years.
The fuel truck is due to arrive today sometime. They are currently out of gas. The temperature is in the 70s. The road hasn’t been to bad. Very rough and some very loose gravel. Only a little mud. I had a $10 burger and fries. The burger was very large, good and filling. The fuel truck arrives at a little after 6pm. The original plan was to be in Prudhoe Bay by 7 pm and it is still 244miles away. We get in line for gas and we are off.
The daylight will be no problem because the sun doesn’t set at this time of year. The road is getting rougher. There is stretches of gravel that is the size of your fist. They are applying calcium nitrate to keep the dust down. The dust become so thick when a heavy truck rolls thru that you can’t see the front tire on the bike or the road. You hold your breath becaue the salt in the dust burns. It is very slick mud when first put down. The wind is picking up at about 20-30 mph. It is getting colder. The temperature drops to 38 F. Even if the sun doesn’t go down it gets colder as you go far enough north. The sun is at its lowest point in the north sky and we are headed north. You can’t see if the road is wet and slick, or the potholes of the cracks or the deeps. It is miserable riding, but we push on along with 4 other riders at slower than normal speeds. I don’t see the scenery, I concentrate on the road. I would only see an animal if it was in the ditch or in the road. Any little mistake will have major consequences. I am over 500 miles from the nearest hospital. Both the metal and physical stress wears on you.
Gas is getting low, The strong winds and bad riding conditions are eating it up. Steve has to stop 22 miles from Prudhoe Bay to put gas in, Karen has to stop 16 miles out, Bill adds some to his at this point, I have enough to make it to the gas station. I as running the smallest bike. The others are 1000 and 1200 CC bikes.
I arrive in Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay a little past midnight. The sun is still 20 degrees above the horizon. Prudhoe Bay is an oil camp town. Everything has a function or it isn’t there. The gas station is built to serve industry not the tourist. The gas hose had double shut offs and a catch pan is required to fill up. The card reader is inside the building, only the hose was outside. It took a while to find the place, because the industrial town is spread out over several miles. And there is no signs for us tourist to follow. Then it is time to find the hotel. The hotel looks like every other building in town. A bunch of modular units put together. At the Prudhoe Bay Motel, I split a room with Steve so it only cost $110 each per night. But because it is a working oil camp, food is served 24 hours a day and come with the room. Really it is not a bad price considering you can eat about $30 in food in a single meal at what food costs up here in the north.
My legs hurt from holding having to stand and balance on the pegs. My arms and hand ache from fighting the handle bars trying to hold the track. My back aches from the stress it is in. I have a headache from concentration on the road looking into the sun for hours. It is a wonderful feeling. I finally made it to the top of the USA by road. I need to sleep , but I am giddy like a little kid. Wide awake, because only 6 hours from now I get to go to the arctic ocean.