I’m on Top of the World!


August 8th, 2011

It was chilly in the morning, but I expected it to warm up as I headed west. The Top of the World Highway leads from Dawson to Tok(ish) in Alaska. I was only planning to ride as far as Chicken Alaska, just was just before the pavement would start again.

Oh, yeah. Top of the World isn’t paved. The Canadian side was in pretty good shape. The US side…

The bike started in the morning, which I took as a good omen, and I headed across the ferry back into Dawson to refuel only to find the one gas station in town was out of gas. So I had to head a bit further east to find a gas station with gas, fueled up, then back to the ferry and across again.

Top of the World runs along the tops of ridges, as well as being pretty far north. It is one of those roads were you come around a bend, or go another couple of hundred yards, and want to stop again and take some pictures.

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It was still chilly and I pulled into a rest area to cook some lunch.

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After which…you guessed it…dead motorcycle. I made a few attempts to bump start without any luck, then started flagging down cars as they passed.

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I ended up with quite a few people stopped to help, and while no one actually had jumper cables we managed to rig up something and get the bike started. I wouldn’t shut it off again until I reached Chicken.

In the mean time there was more beautiful scenery to look at.

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I had some problems at the border. There was something like a semi-trailer scale with a  red light, which I stopped at and waited about 5 minutes (it felt like 30, with the bike running and knowing I was still far from gas), then rolled up to the window (with another stop sign) thinking I just wasn’t heavy enough to set off whatever I was waiting for.

Well, an older guy came over to the window to yell at me, saying they were busy and I was supposed to wait for a green light. I apologized, and asked if he would like me to back up and wait more (There was another motorcycle and a couple cars back there now), but he just continued about my needing to have waited. A younger guy came over and took over my entry. He was much more relaxed about the whole thing, and listened when I said I didn’t know if the bike had set off whatever it needed to for the green light. He explained it was controlled inside and they had everything on cameras. In fact, he didn’t seem upset about it at all. Good cop bad cop, maybe?

The US side of Top of the World was in much worse shape than the Canadian side, but I didn’t take many pictures. It wasn’t long until I was off Top of the World and in valleys (which, to be fair, were warmer), and reached Chicken without further issue.

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Free dry camping with fill up…I spent $5. Showers, though, were $8.

At Chicken I met Pete, Eric and Jordan. Pete was on a bicycle, Eric on a chopped up Versys and Jordan a R1200GSA, his first adventure bike. He was already thinking about something smaller. We all camped together and tried to use up all the firewood.

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It is true there aren’t enough tents there, Eric sleeps on the ground.

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I didn’t.

In the morning I packed up and headed for Fairbanks. The original plan was to head south first, but the cold was making me think getting Fairbanks and the arctic circle out of the way first would be a good idea.

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