I awoke in the comfortable bed at the U of AK. It never got dark and I am glad I bought an eye shade. You must force yourself to go to sleep. I got the bike packed and got on the road about 9am and had breakfast about 20 miles outside Fairbanks. The day was mostly sunny and the mornign was in the mid 50s. My destination is Coldfoot which is a bit over half way to Deadhorse at Prudhoe Bay.
The weather and road conditions could not have been better. The Dalton Highway begins about 45 miles north of Fairbanks. It starts out paved and then becomes dirt. The dirt road is in very good condition and eventually it changes to pavement again. The pavement can have areas that are in retty poor condition. There is no time which you cannot be concentrating on the road surface and scanning the sides for animals. I saw a moose in the road that I had to stop for. About 20 miles from Coldfoot there is road construction so the conditioins where a bit iffy at times. I had the crap scared out of me only once when I hit a long stretch of deep gravel and the bike wallowed around in it. Lesson learned.
The vast expanses seen on this ride are almost indescribable. The elevations are not that high and change constantly from a few hundered feet above sea level to about 2200 feet. At the Yukon River crossing the elevation is about 330 feet and the river has another thousand miles to flow. The road is another corridor of trees but often times the spruce trees are very stunded and no taller then me. The are also aspen trees mixed in. There are a number of different wildflowers; fireweed, lupin, yellow flowers and some white ones I don’t know. I rode 259 miles today but it seems like a lot more on dirt.
I am camped at Marioin Creek BLM campground amongst the spruce and aspen, which are larger here. The elevation is about 800 feet and we are at the foot of the Brooks Range. The sun is shinning brightly and has been very warm all afternoon, it is about 7:30 now.
One of the things I have noticed is that there must be some kind of state sport here: shooting road signs. It is frequent in different areas the are less populated. I have not figured out the scoring system yet but i think that warning signs are off limits but speed limit and information signs are not. I don’t know if a nice shotgun pattern scores higher than holes from high caliber rounds. Maybe the internet can help here.
I have ridden just under 4700 miles so far and the bike has been flawless the whole way. The Mitas E-07 tires I chose are doing very well. When new the rear tire had 12mm of tread depth and at 4000 miles the depth has 9-9.5mm, excellent wear. On the dirt roads these tires do very well. For road use I have the pressures at 36-37psi front and 42psi rear. Dropping to 32/36 for the dirt really improves the traction and instills more confidence in this dirt rookie.