Arctic Circle Run

It started as an April fool's joke.  Some of my less scrupulous fellow adventure riders posted a thread about riding to the Arctic Circle on April 1st.  I took it pretty seriously, seeing as I have been riding quite a bit already this season.  I posted that I was in, then I saw numerous "excuses" from others that they couldn't go.  It became pretty apparent that it was all a big joke. 

You just can't do that to people like me.  One, I hate that my weakness for adventure and my trusting (and sometimes thrusting) nature leads to the global exposure of my guile.  Two, I am all packed up, budgeted out, and psyched about tagging the arctic circle so early in the season.  

"What most people consider the tip of a lifetime, Alaskans do every weekend."~ me

What does one do when they are all dressed up, and stood up by their "date"?  I say, go anyway, and go big and hard.  so that is what I am doing. 

I've been planning this one all week, and actually, I think I am better prepared and planned than most adventures.  I plotted the trip on Google maps,  watched the weather along the route all week, Talked to people close to my destination,  made all the necessary tweaks to my bike.  And said goodbye to my loved ones. Hell, I even filled out my will.  I kept it all a secret just in case I chickened out. 

Here are some of the parameters for the trip

Common Hazards
I am fully prepared to turn around if the road deteriorates to ice. Motorcycles and ice do not mix. 
Other drivers. 
It is early season, drivers are not used to keeping an eye out for motorcycles, if they ever are. I always ride assuming that every cager is completely blind and driving by braille,  pissed off, and on the phone with their mom, while texting their lover.  I am responsible for not giving them the opportunity to squish me, and my bike. I  wear brightly colored riding clothes, ride with my headlight on, and ride with my off road lights on. I practice emergency stops for the hell of it regularly, and ride ready to execute one. 
This risk can be mitigated to a certain extent by experience and diligence.  If you are a motorcyclist, and haven't read Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well. Get it, and read it, over and over until you practice safety as first nature. 

Hazards Specific to this ride.
Frostbite, Hypothermia
This is a very real concern when plying the wind at 80 miles an hour in sub freezing temperatures. Actually, it is a concern at just about any temperature below about 70 degrees. The wind will eventually suck all the heat out of your bod. Best part is, you wont know it until you are either unconscious, or babbling incoherently on the side of the road.  I dress in layers. The first of which is polypropylene then a couple layers of good quality fleece, followed by a windproof layer, and all wrapped up in waterproof Kevlar and ballistic fabric. I make sure every possible area of exposed skin is covered. 
Other defenses include, keeping well hydrated, and eating lots of fat and carbs. Don't worry about the fat, if you are actually on an adventure you will burn it all off. 

Black ice
This time of year, snow melts and trickles across the road during the day. Then, at night it freezes.  I have scheduled my riding so that I am not riding in early morning, or after the sun goes down. I will also pay very close attention to road conditions, and never approach a blind turn or hill without slowing down, and making a bail out plan if I see the road is ice covered.  If I get far enough north that the road becomes ice and snow covered, I will turn around.  While I can and have ridden over snow and ice, I don't do it at highway speeds, and if I have a choice, I will avoid it.  I don't want to tempt the other drivers fate. 

Moose, Bear, and other furry hazards
The wolves have eaten all the moose in the interior but, I always ride well inside my capabilities to make a controlled quick emergency stop. I have developed a habit of scanning the brush and the road constantly. and I force myself to not be distracted. Riding a motorcycle is about being fully in the moment. If I am not fully in the moment when riding, I pull over and meditate. 
I think the bears are still asleep, but, if they are not, I will keep a safe distance, and keep my gun loaded and handy. Again, nobody should ride to fast to be surprised by anything. Their are instances out of my control but I have enough faith in God and in my abilities to mitigate these risks as much as humanly possible. 
Ride plan
I hate planning, except it gives my mind something to do when it isn't riding.  So here is the plan.
Departure About 10 ish AM AST April 2nd (today)
First day Ride to Fairbanks (about 350 Miles) plan to arrive by 8PM Stay in a hotel with a hot tub
Day two I will ask around about road conditions north of Fairbanks.  If they are reported as nasty, I will probably leave most of my heavy gear a the hotel, and ride north light. It is safer to have  a lighter bike on nasty roads.
 It is 149 miles one way from Fairbanks to the arctic circle sign. I am unsure about services north of Fairbanks so I will carry enough extra fuel (just enough) To make the round trip.
 Back to the hotel and the hot tub
Day three Big breakfast, and a leisurely ride back to Knik. 

Safety, and lots of pictures video, and personal insight. I will post my progress and perhaps some prose each night. 

It is about 8:10 Am. the sun is pouring through the trees in colors only spring can imagine. , the beckoning voice of the long miserable road booms loudly in my head.  I have packed and prepared my equipment.  I have said my prayers. and I am wearing clean underwear,

Only thing left to do is ride...

I will keep you all posted from the road...

Daily Ride Reports
Day 1    Day 2    Day 3
Here is the map

View Arctic Circle Ride in a larger map
Subpages (3): Day 1 Day 2 Day 3