I hit the Alaska Highway today. Over 4,500 miles on the odometer, and I just now hit mile marker 1 on the highway. I ran 500 miles on it today.
What’s it like? Well…I am overwhelmed. “Big” can’t begin to describe it. I am absolutely stunned. When I try to form an impression to put into words, I end up going into a trance and sitting here with a stupid grin on my face.
There is a dark-side too…but even that appeals to me…
The wordsmith…without words.
But I must try, yes? So, some impressions:
Just imagine clear blue skies…huge skies, for as far as you can see in any direction. For eternity.
Just imagine perfect temperatures for riding…high 70’s, light winds.
Just imagine air so clear and clean it is intoxicating.
Imagine a road designed for and by the touring motorcyclist. Twists, turns, curves, up-hills, down-hills.
Imagine plenty of areas to pass, just in case a “non-motorcycle” managed to find its way here.
Imagine driving for over 100 miles and never having a car in front or behind you. Maybe passing one motor-home…just after you pulled out of your last gas stop.
Imagine seeing maybe 4 oncoming vehicles in over an hour…mostly trucks.
Imagine a road surface that is mostly in good condition. Just a few loose places and bumps to keep you wary.
Imagine speed limits that are actually appropriate for the road…running “10” over (in KPH) puts the motorcycle at the perfect speed for enjoyable and gentle “canyon carving.” Hours and hours of canyon carving.
Imagine stopping for gas, and just getting off the bike and standing there, looking off into the distance, breathing. Imagine a gas station attendant that actually understands.
Imagine friendly people, everywhere.
Imagine the best cheeseburger you’ve ever eaten, served up by a cute gal of oriental descent dressed in shorts and a halter-top, and enthusiastically singing along to the Evanescence album (she really could sing too).
Imagine roads that are so interesting, that the mountain goats hang out there to watch the tourists go by (I am NOT kidding).
Imagine being hundreds of miles from any medical help.
Imagine being 50 miles from any means to even ask for help.
Imagine finding a wrecked out motorcycle. I could see the impact and slide, and see blood. Imagine not being able to find the rider. Surely if help had come for the rider they would not just leave the bike there? Did anybody know? Had somebody picked him up? Had he wandered off into the woods? Did a bear drag him off?
Image a place tight knit enough so that even 50 miles later, they already know about the wreck, know what happened to the rider (being transported in a motor-home back to Fort Nelson, the closest medical help), and have sent somebody to put a note on the wrecked bike so others don’t spend time looking for the him.
Imagine a half-dozen basketball sized rocks (and a whole bunch of smaller ones) tumbling across the road directly in your path.
Imagine seeing your first moose…a huge and ungainly looking thing.
Imagine realizing it can run over 30 mph and wants to cross the road just about where you are at the moment.
Imagine that you can see it looking at you as it runs along beside the road…and actually understand that it sees you and has no intention of yielding the right-of-way. It is, very consciously, following the “tonnage rules” theory.
Imagine the most amazing scenery in the world vying for your attention…on a road where a moment’s distraction could reduce you to a pile of tumbling steel and flesh.
Imagine 20 hours of daylight…so you can run and run and run…
Imagine miles and miles of places where if you actually went off the road surface, nobody but the bears would ever find you or your machine.
Imagine turquoise colored waters, and great quantity and abundance.
Imagine that the trucks that ply this route…every single one of them…has a huge metal bumper worthy of a Texan’s pickup truck (except super-semi-sized) to fend off the wildlife.
Imagine that most of them are dented.
Imagine the scene of a moose-strike. The majority of the animal is gone and the truck (or whatever) that hit him is not there, but there is so much blood on the road that I almost lost it trying to dodge some of the bigger chunks. It was like driving on oil.
Imagine trucks with 10 or even 12 axels… and some of the axels have tires all the way across the width of the trailer. 56-wheelers?
Imagine areas where so much material can come off the mountain during certain events (rocks and water) that they only put a small pipe under the road. It is more efficient just to bulldoze the piles off the roadbed and resurface it if necessary.
Imagine stands of timber as far as the eye can see.
Imagine understanding that this is the only road, and there are thousands…thousands of miles of similar terrain in any direction that cannot be reached by vehicle.
Imagine 500 miles of this…and another 1000 to go on this road alone.
Imagine that you are so intoxicated by the riding, that the first clue that you have run enough for the day is that you lose your voice from all the singing along to your “tunes”.
Imagine running in these perfect conditions until you are shaking from exhaustion, then finding a small, friendly lodge to take you in and fix a hot meal.
Imagine ending the day soaking in natural hot-springs.
Imagine meeting a southbound rider who says about your northbound route, “It’s just about to get interesting…”
I’ll see you on the road…