We arrived at the Artic Circle in darkness and found a great little site to camp under the stars…and oh yeah the most spectacular dance of color as the Aurora Borealis showed us that she is one to be captivated by. It was cold, but we popped up our outdoor heater and sat out for hours watching the sky twist and turn with great power, captivating through every breath, the type of magnificence and power that only nature displays. After a wonderful evening of living skies, we woke to our Arctic Circle photo shoot, and then it was time to ride!
Whoa -deep exhale-deeper inhale… I felt it slide to the left, a depth that wanted to take the bike deeper into the earth, then I heard the team coming through our headsets- “more power, you got this”- as I accelerated a little more I felt the weight of the batteries slip and slide like a fish out of water. The pull and flip was enough to get the heart racing. As the mud continued and the tension of my arms began to numb, I reminded myself – I could do this, I got this! And all three of us having felt the depth and slip of the mud, made it back to a solid road with pride and two wheels staying rubber side down!
Twice I have ridden the Dalton Highway, last year on my Triumph Bonneville and this year on a KTM 950 customed Electric Bike – and am excited to say that both rides I stayed upright, although yesterday in the depth I thought “ahhh” I am going down, but then you shake yourself, focus and pull through it. There is such presence in riding these types of roads, because even if you typically are thinking and working on multiple things (as my mind does), during this time, on these roads, you are completely in focus with what you are doing and making it to the other side! It is challenging, exciting, tense, and wonderful all wrapped up into one! And of course, once you make it through a victory fist pump into the air feels damn good!
It took 2 days to ride the 198 miles from the Arctic Circle to Fairbanks. Day one, we found out that bike 1 has a 12v issue in the first 14 miles, then at mile 28 (the next 14 miles) we were stopped on the side of the road with bike 2 for a rear flat. So as we passed through mile 42 I exhaled as I thought we were starting a 14 mile stop pattern and my bike was due next as bike 3! But it rode well and we made it only 60 miles that day to the Yukon River Camp.
Day two we departed at 10:45am from the Yukon River Camp and arrived 140 miles later in Fairbanks at 10:45 pm…it took us exactly 12 hours! We had 4 stops for charging, 2 for 12v battery issues (that we have now worked out) and two charges for the main batteries as we are not getting what expected, and still working through kinks and calling battery manufacturers and builders. This is the adventure in working through with a bike that is not out there, and being at the forefront will have an interesting challenge. I can honestly say when we finally arrived at our camp we were happy and excited, especially considering before our last 2 hr charge we thought we could make it…but at just 18 miles from our evening home we had one of the bikes go down with no charge…we stopped and charged all three – so that we would not have to stop again! And we made it, proud of our technical riding, exhausted from our constant stop and start, and thankful that our truck is our bed (there is no tent to set up in the cold evening rain – our beds are ready and so were we!)
We are riding Alaska – Arctic Circle to Terra Del Fuego – Argentina, a wonderful journey! If you have ever seen the movie Gone in 60 Seconds, you will understand that Prudhoe Bay is my Eleanor…twice I have attempted to make the full Dalton and start from the top at Prudhoe…but the weather has made different plans. Partly because I have made it late in the season both times, and both times the road was filled with snow and ice, and just unsafe -but the Dalton has not seen the last of me…I will ride Prudhoe and I look forward to the challenge.
For more pictures of the journey thus far and as it continues – check out the Smug Mug photo albums: https://bt2bt.smugmug.com/Expedition-Electric