While i'm getting my life back together, please look at a fine selection of my photos:

Sunday, June 29, 2008


!! Photo's!! finally i got the opportunity to upload all my photo's on my smugmug account:
http://sanderd.smugmug.com/Alaska2Ushuaia. There are a lot of them...
Inspired by new friends in Dawson i decided to go to Inuvik. Afterall, i'm in the neighberhoud anyway... After Prudhoe bay another challange for man & material.

I was lucky again. The weathergods must love me, blue skies and occasionally a cloud. From Dawson it is a 2 days ride up and two down. Altogether appr. 1500km drive in 4 days without proper tarmac. Halfway is a is a gasstation and Campground. Again, challenging ride, lots of roadworks and thus new, loose gravel. I'v learned that the trick is to stay at about 70km/h and pick your own trail. Oh, and ignore everything the first 30 meter in front of you, not much you can do about it anyway ;-) Getting from 0 to speed and from speed to 0 are the scary bits, so not much pictures ;-) Tiring but fun and a great feeling of accomplishment.

I met a few retired guys driving 1200gs-es up that road. They're FAST! Talked to them and they've been racing all their lives. Awesome guys. Had dinner with them and i was complaining on senior citizens in huge RV's. Turned out one of the guys had actually a 1.5 million$ RV. Oops. Sorry Bud! He retired and sold his own transport company. You see that a lot around here.

On my way up (and down) i meet two couples riding both 2-up on a 1200gs. Respect to those guys. They were on the road for 5 weeks now. Without over-loading their bikes. Speaking of "Light is right". Way Cool.

The roadconditions were worse than prudhoe. Although the road was dry. There were lots of roadworks going on. These stretches have loose and very loose gravel.
The worst part was a 70km stretch between ferries: fresh, very loose gravel. After a days ride quite challanging. Tiring and sometime scary. At some point you get the hang of it though. The trick is to stay abouve 70km/h and pick your own point to look -and thus- drive to. Oh And don't mind the stuff 30 meter in front of your front wheel. To late to do anything with that anyway, so ignore ;-)

The scenery is, as with Prudhoe, breathtaking, except for the last 200km or so. Boring woods with small trees.

There was something of a learning curve there. The way up in 3th and 4th gear, the way down in 4th and 5th. Nice!! :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just a short update. stil no laptop. luckily i can use a laptop of a guy i met today.

This morning i left to Inuvik, the far most north place in Canada. Again, as the road to Prudhoe, i am astonished by the beautiful sceneries. TTR proved reliable. Tonight i camp in Eagle plains, somewhere halfway Dawson-Inuvik.

After a few hilarious days in Dawson (bad for budget & liver good for everthing else) it is good to be back on the road. I'll try to post a new story asap.

Ben, Dave thanks to let me stay in your backyard ;-)

Andy: Stew was great diner tonight, please mail me the link to "the dawson bargirls" threat on ADV rider asap! Can't wait to see the pictures! I hope yer Ural made it home ;-)

To all: St. Marty, Brian, Andrea, Motomac, Gary, and the rest: Thanks guys, I had a really good time!

cheers, sander!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tale of the lost sparks...

Edited: for my english speaking friends i translated the Prudhoe Bay adventure.

I could it also call it 'breakdown at pumpstation #2'. Both are good titles for an adventurous story. And to me, with limited to none travel experience, it was. Right now i'm back at the campsite in Fairbanks from where i left. Free internet and a motorcycle shop across the road is good base to solve technical problems on my TTR.

The road and scenery from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay /Deadhorse is breathtaking. Starting with forrest and, across the Brookrange over the Atigun pass, changes to Tundra. The road follows the worldfamous oilpipeline from Prudhoe to Valdez.

The ride went without problems and all went well. Plan was to stay at the campsite at the arctic circle. When i arrived it was empty, no-one there except me and probably bears. Didn't feel right, so i decided to drive another 60 miles to Coldfoot. The last place for gas and limited shopping before the 250 mile stretch to Prudhoe. It was about 17:30, Spirit and weather both ok, so off i went. Eventually is stayed at a nice campsite 5 miles north from Coldfoot. Hosted by a friendly old couple. From them i learned that the tourist information center gives drinking water for free. Nice people there. The next day got gas and water and left early.

During a break a 1200gs drove up. It's a Colombian guy traveling with his daughter on one bike. We drove together over the Atigun pass and had lunch: Tortillas with cheese and spam. I provided the coffee. He invited me to his home in Colombia. Friendly guy, but a bit crazy: he did Fairbanks-Prudhoe-Fairbanks in one stretch. Insane. After lunch we separated, me no hurry. And, more important, my guardian angel isn't that fast...
At about 58 miles from Prudhoe and 192 miles from Coldfoot the TTR starts to misfire and dies. I try to start, check fuel. Nothing. Damn!! Luckily i'm on a hilltop and a few miles in front there's an oilpumpstation, which means shelter and communication to civilised world. Good. I decide to get there first to be safe and from the road. Trucks don't like to slow down...

The first part is easy, gravity is my friend. I only have to push the bike 2 miles... I'm happy i'm not on a GS ;-) There i start to get the bike apart to see what is wrong. Water enough, powerbars enough, securitypeople at the station. Weather still good although...

My first roadside repair! With enthusiasm i start to dismantle the bike. Underneath the tank, where the electrics are, is a big mess with mud. I get the spartplug out. No spark. damn. Can't find my spare sparkplug. Left it at home, stupid result of to much preparation: I took the spare out of the toolkit in the assumtion it would be with the spareparts. A 1200GS stops and offer me to use one of his. It doesn't fit, but enough to check for a spark: Nope. I check all connectors: doesn't help. After 2 hours i give up and look at the sky, clouds are getting dark. The security gate opens and a voice ask me what i want. I need a towtruck or pickuptruck i answer. They let me use the phone. While talking to the Prudhoe wreckingservice, a security guy send a message out on CB radio. I't my lucky day: Two pickups are willing me to take me and the bike to prudhoe. With security guys we lift the bike in the pickup. I'm joining the other with driver Nancy (thanks again honey!) She guides Heavy loaded trucks. The last 58 miles to Prudhoe are quite pleasant. We had a nice conversation about wildlife, living in Alaska and US Politics. I learned that alaskans call theiselfes "sourdough", you can use that 'title' after living in Alaska for 25 years. And i saw my first Kariboe. This way breaking down isn't that bad... Arrived in Prudhoe a strong Eskimo and me unloaded the bike. I checked in to the Hotel and went to sleep. It was a long day....

The next morning i tried again to figure out the problem. I cannot believe that the CDI or stator are shot. The stator works, when i kick the neutral light lights up. I remember that there is only one stator circuit for both light and sparks. Good.

A pickup stops by and a guy, Tom, a drillingbits salesman offers help. He offers to let me use his (heated!) garage. Business is low apparantly, because the rest of the day we drove around to get parts (WD-40, spare fuelfilters and a can of Bearspray, a very heavy pepperspray. Just in case i break down in the middle of nowhere again. Besides that, the spraycan looks a bit like a fire extinguiser. I want to use it to suprise corrupt Argentinian police. They have the habid of fining motorcyclists for not having that with them. Should be fun i think. We have lunch and i use his office internet connection to check on http://www.tt600r.nl/ what the most common failures are. Thanks Tom, i really appreciate you help, i hope you got my email.

After i check all parts in the elektrick system the TTR decides to spark again. Although i cannot pinpoint what went wrong, i'm glad that no critical parts are broken.

It will be my thirth night in a way too expensive hotel. No choice here, camping is not allowed. I got to know a few workers there, and talk some with an Aboriginal and a guy who has been all over the world. Even in Iran, and that for an American. The only place he ever had trouble was in Amsterdam. He got robbed violantly. Nice country, Netherlands.

The next morning i left with Kevin. He's also travelling solo and rides a KLR. As many KLR's this one is tricked out to be the ultimate overland bike. I should have bought one.... The weather is again, no, still, perfect. On the way up on the Atigun pass it's cold, wet and slippery. I pray to the gods of mechanics that the TTR holds up.In vain, i was soon to learn. After 130 miles the misfiring starts again and TTR dies. I pull over and start getting luggage of, and remove the seat and tank. Again, the elektrics are covered with dirt. And again is start bypassing all obvious sources of problems (sidestand switch, ignition key switch, killswitch). But nothing helps.
Kevin stays and watch the traffic and helps to find the problem. Thanks again man!
At some point a truck stops and a trucker with KTM cap steps out. He's a bike fanatic and is willing to help. It doesn't work out all too well. At that point a pickup stops and a window goes down. A familiair face asks in a funny way if i broke down again (emphasis on again). It appears to be a canadian guy i met at breakfast, back at the hotel, Barry. His businees is to buy, restore and sell old gas and combustion engines. Nice, old, stuff. I ask if it's possible to take me and the bike on the back of his pickup. No problem, he says, but i'll go all the way to Fairbanks. Lucky me. That's exactly where i need to go. I got my ipod, water and powerbars. That should keep me alive for a while, not knowing that it would be a approx. 12 hours drive. I try to make some nice pictures from the back of a pickup truck. At some point i notice that the worst is that i'm looking at the same view as on my way up. This one is nice though:

We arrive in Fairbaks at 00:30. Allan, a guy from Homer helps me to unload the bike. He gives me a cold beer and a cigarette. About what i needed at that point i guess. Thanks Al. This morning Kevin and i left at 8:30. It was a long day and i can't get a sensible word english out of my mouth. I'm tired, worn out, beat etc. I put up my tent and go to sleep.
Next day the whole ritual with cleaning the bike starts over again. First i take all the calcium chloride from the bike. This stuff is sprayed on the roads to make some sort of concrete with the gravel. It erodes like salt. It wears meterial out fast. After cleaning all connectors again. this time i notice that there is water in the CDI connector. Didn't notice this the first time. And, this is the only connector wit a proper seal on it. Bugger. I shoud have checked better. And it does explain why it worked after a day in a heated garage. Oh well. That's called learning as you go i guess.
One day i'll become a good mechanic.
Rest of the day i clean my riding gear, get the bike back together and have in general a good time. And then, just as you relax a bit and feeling quite a guy, this drives up the campsite, all the way from Iowa. The famous Belgium 'manneken pis' with remote control watersystem. Quite hilarious. I gave those guys my last beers.

Friday, June 6, 2008

4 days on the road

.or to be precise, 3. Total of 420 Miles. I take it slowly ;-)

Thank you for the encouraging mails!

After i left Anchorage i stayed a night camping in Talkeetna, a small very touristic village. I spend the (rainy) evening talking with Larry, a retired chemistry teacher from Colerado. It is interesting to talk with people about current politics. (I bought a book about American History in Anchorage). Again i found out that educated Americans love their country and hate it to see it go to peaces.

After Talkeetna i went to Healy, a really boring RV park. Not much tents around there...
So i passed Denali national park. I should have stopped and do a tour, but I'm a bit to preoccupied about my first 'big adventure' : Deadhorse. At the other hand: the whole road to here is already fantastic. I hope to be able to upload my pictures somewhere. Facilities are not that great around here.

From Healy i went on to Fairbanks where i arrived yesterday. I stay 2 days at this wonderful campsite, Tanana Vally Campground. Except from the muskito's, it's very nice. Today was a shopping day. There is a Beaver Sport here! And a 30% sale on men's clothing. Damn. If i knew that i hadn't bring all my clothes. I needed a new jacket/thermal layer (left it at Paul- stupid) and instantfood for about 6 days and some other stuff. Nice to pay in $ instead of euro's. Also went to tourist information for the road to Deadhorse. This was a wake-up call: for the next 800km (and back..) there are very, very limited services. So: no cellphone coverage, no internet, no -well- one tankstation, no food, limited medical services. What they do have: muskito's, wind, bad un predicteble weather, cold (around 0-5 gr. celsius). Oh i forgot to mention BIG trucks running 90 km/h over gravelroad. And they don't like motorcycles.... This afternoon i spend some time meditating if i really want to do this ;-) Weather forecast is good, so if it stays that way, no worries.

As from tomorrow i will not have access to internet for about 6 days. The route is as follows:
day one: Fairbanks-Arctic Cirle, 318 km -camping on Arctic Circle.
day two: Arctic Circle-Coldfoot, 96km - take as much fuel as possible and continue same day to Calbraight Lake, another 160km. (worst/slowest part, mountain passes)
day three: Calbraight Lake to Deadhorse, 222km. (all flat tundra)
And then back...

If i manage to do this, the rest wil be a walk in the park.

Bike does well, i took a good look at it today. the kickstart lever was loose, hopefully no damage to the axle. The seat came loose, or i forgot to tighten it. Tire pressure seems to drop slowly. Need to keep an eye on it. Camping office closes, so i have to go.

CU in 6 days or so!

Monday, June 2, 2008

1st Day Anchorage

I'm there,the bike is, got all my stuff. I'm happy! :o)

Thank you to those who made an effort to come to schiphol, means a lot!

Yesterday i arrived in Anchorage about at 20:00 local time. Paul
picked me up as promised. At his home there was diner, a beer and a
good bed. Nice.

Today was the big day. Paul scheduled his work so that he had time to
help me pick up the bike at Fedex. After passing customs (1 form to
fill in: customs form 3299, no charge) the bike was released by Fedex
and lifted on Pauls Pick-up. Back home we uncrated it. After an hour
or so the bike was ready to start. And for all people having doubts
about kickstart only: i crancked it 2 times, switched ignition on and
at first kick: presto! :-)

After lunch (nothing beats good hummus) i took the bike and picked up
my tent and bought some equipment i needed. This was also my first
driving experience on large 4 lane one-way roads....quite intimidating

Again I really appreciate the time and hospitality Paul offered. Saved
me a lot of time and money. And more important: It made starting my
trip a lot easier with a helping hand.

Tomorrow it will be a relaxed day. I go to Talkeetna, a small town
about 100kms from Anchorage on my way to Pruthoe Bay. It will be a
relaxed day with time to get used to the traffic, the bike with all
luggage and the campsite setup routine. Everything needs to settle in
the next couple of days. And i already have some stuff i'd like to
send home! ;-)