June 18th, 2014 – Fairbanks, AK to Tok, AK ~200 miles
6:30am the next morning, I get a call from the son. “I’m sorry but I didn’t hear the phone ring. I’m about to head to my day job, but I’ve given my dad a heads up and he’ll be ready for you as soon as you can get over to the shop.” Well, then. 45 minutes later, I found myself at the shop, curious to see how quickly I could get out of there.
But that’s when I met Dan, who was absolutely incredible. He took excellent care of the bike, explained things in a way I (as someone who’s not terribly mechanically-inclined) could understand, and somehow was able to work very quickly while still chatting my ear off about all kinds of topics. I realized now that this is somehow the only photo I took of Dan, which makes me an idiot.
Picture a cross between Rob Ryan (especially the hair) and Michael Chiklis? Or ignore my absurd attempt at blending of celebrities and refer to this photo from Short Way Round:
I can’t say that the fork seal task tested Dan as a mechanic, but I can say he does good work, he does it quick, and he’s clearly passionate. He’s a no-bullshit kind of guy, which can make for entertaining conversation. Get him to start talking about bears – I highly recommend it.
Right after Dan finished fixing my bike, three guys showed up to get new tires before they headed up to the top. One of the bike owners was CEO of a large construction company, and he takes an incredible trip every summer – last year for him he enjoyed 1,500 miles in northern Africa.
I made it back to Bui and we packed up our stuff, ready to head out to the Denali Highway. Now, I should mention that earlier in the trip, I had something personal come up that would require me to get back to Los Angeles nearly a week before I had originally planned to. This removed any of the “free days” we had built into the schedule, and frankly didn’t allow enough time for things to go wrong. Until now, this hadn’t posed a problem. But as we made our way towards Denali, we realized that it was so foggy and raining so hard that the Denali Highway was going to be all mud. Even if we could safely cover it in limited time, there’d be no visibility to see anything interesting. We sadly decided to bail and instead head towards Tok.
We made it back to Fast Eddie’s for dinner, where I saw an Adventure version of my bike, and was amused by the German phrase and eye fog light covers. Turns out it’s the bike of Fiter, one of the guys who started the Dust to Dawson “rally”. He was very convincing in trying to get us to join for the ride, but after hearing from other riders that the road up was muddy and had some snow, we thought we wouldn’t be able to get it done and still get back home by the new deadline.
Because the D2D was just about to start, there were a lot of motorcycles in the Fast Eddie’s parking lot. One of my personal highlights was this Paris-Dakar, probably my favorite generation of the R-GS series.
Soaked and tired from the day’s riding (and a little bummed that we had to skip out on two roads that we were really looking forward to at the beginning of this trip), we decided not to stay at Thompson’s Eagle Claw and instead get a room at a cheap motel in Tok.
Go to Day 16
June 19th, 2014 – Tok, AK to Whitehorse, YT ~385 miles
Go back to Day 14, Part 2
June 17th, 2014 – Prudhoe Bay, AK to Fairbanks, AK ~500 miles