Monday, 6 August 2012 Fairbanks, AK to Anchorage, AK (381 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4666. 6 hour riding time.
Weather – Cool with temperatures in the mid 40’s to mid 60’s with mostly cloudy skies with some sunshine.
Had breakfast with Mike & Vicki Kennebec after waking up to a sunny, balmy 43 degree morning in Fairbanks…Vicki also packed a nice lunch for me – ham & cheese sandwich, chips, chocolate chip cookies, mixed nuts & a banana…it sure was tasty on the road especially when you are hongry!
Made my way out of Fairbanks heading south on two-lane, Alaska Hwy 3 with very little traffic and few large trucks which only confirmed Mike’s comments the day before that the majority of goods shipped into Fairbanks are by rail. After passing through the small village of Nenana, Denali National Park was next and all I could hope for was some clear skies to possibly get a glimpse of Denali, or known for a long time as Mt. McKinley, but the skies were cloudy approaching from the north.
Typically the best view is from the south and as the clouds started to break, I found myself constantly looking in my mirrors for the massive peaks. At a parking area south of the park, I noticed quite a few folks looking back to the north, many with cameras. And there she was, Denali and not a cloud in the ski – the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet with both the north & south peaks exposed for all to see. Later I learned that Denali is only visible about every 2 weeks due to weather conditions and while living in Alaska back in the 70’s, I can only remember seeing the mountain a handful of times.
Passed through a number of towns including Wasilla – believe there is may be a political figure that once winked at me from the television that may be from that town. Anyhow, I kept looking at my clock and wanted to get into Anchorage early so I could have someone from the Suzuki dealership look at my drive chain in case there needed to be some parts ordered for a repair.
After going inside Anchorage Suzuki/Arctic Cat I met the service manager David and he asked one of his techs, Kurt to come outside and take a look – he reached down and grabbed the chain an said it’s adjusted too tight for the load I’m carrying and he’d seen them break under similar conditions – he recommend I run the chain play at the high end of the tolerance – loose in simplest terms. Also, he’d seen V-Stroms run 60,000 miles or more before needing a chain replacement…at least now I feel a bit better about riding another 10,000 miles across Russia and Europe! I have a complete service scheduled with them the following morning including tires and a proper chain adjustment.
Next I headed over the DHL to check on the shipment of the bike to Inchon, South Korea scheduled for the weekend and finally got to meet Rindy Veatch – she has done a fantastic job getting me a good shipping rate throught Polar Air Cargo. We discussed the paperwork, pick up times for the bike and payment, and for now, it looks like they will pick up the crated bike on Thursday for shipment on Saturday.
Made my way over to Alaska Scientific where I was greeted by Del Salyer in the parking lot – I had called their office trying to find their location since there was major road construction in the area with detours. After some brief introductions and a tour of the facility, the folks there helped me find an “old-style” carwash with the hand wands so I could spray off the ten days of glacial silt, mud and bugs of all types – some I can’t even pronounce.
Later, I joined Del, his wife Kim and several from Alaska Scientific for a dinner at an Italian restaurant – it was also Kim’s birthday and I was happy to be a part of the celebration.
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