Girl Meets World on FZ-07 Motorcycle: Chapter 2, Part 12

From British Columbia to the Yukon Territory, and back into Alaska!

FZ-07 on bridge
So many bridges were made of this slippery metal grating. As I sit there trying to hold the throttle as steady as possible as my bike squirms around underneath me, Hollywood is up ahead taking pictures while riding one handed. Show off.Photo by Tiffani Burkett

You know, I gotta say, people really make the ride to Alaska out to be way tougher than it is. Granted we didn't go too deep into the state, and we have been fairly lucky with weather, but fuel really wasn't hard to come by (my FZ-07 and I even skipped a few fuel stations, as they were more frequent than expected), and it was fairly easy going. But there are definitely a few weird quirks about the ride, so let's recap!

We fueled up and started heading up the Cassiar Highway midday. This was the first day of really constant rain, and it was just cold and wet and draining. Something that I will say that's interesting about these highways: for some reason, many of the bridges are constructed of either wood or metal gratings. The wood had plenty of potential to be a bit slippery, but the metal gratings were the really interesting crossings. Something about the way the grates were spaced and lined up grabbed my tread all wrong, and just made every bridge crossing an exercise in keeping very steady on a bike that felt like it was just waiting to fish tail, especially when it was wet. But a steady hand got us over those bridges with little to-do, and didn’t pose much problem.

Our first stop was a Provincial Park off the highway. I hate paying for camping these days when there’s so much great free camping available, but with no cell service anywhere along the Cassiar, there was no way to look up where the next Recreation site might be, and we were both pretty cold, wet, and done with riding that day. We set up our tents under a tree for the night, then the next day got back on the road. Most of the road was pretty nicely maintained, but a few miles north of Dease Lake, we came across a construction zone that ended up being a full 20 miles of various levels of dirt. It was still raining, and the dirt changed from gravel to loose mud and back again constantly. There were certainly a few moments where my bike started to feel like a bit of a rodeo where both tires were moving around quite a bit. I guess all of the time I spent riding around the states prepared me pretty well, as we got through it without too much effort and no real fear (although I’m pretty sure all that mud is never going to wash off. My bike looks more rugged than a Jeep Wrangler that actually gets used).

FZ-07 construction zone
You learn a lot about being loose and smooth when you get stuck in 20 miles of dirt, gravel, and mud in the rain. I'm going to have so many sweet skills for racing when I get back. Thanks, road construction!Photo by Tiffani Burkett

We made it up to Watson Lake in the Yukon and stopped for the night at the first hotel we’ve stayed in since Nevada. Showers and laundry were way overdue anyways. We made a sign out of an old pizza pan to hang in the Forest of Signs (A tradition started by a lonely soldier when they first started building the Alaskan Highway that now consists of over 80 thousand signs from travelers from all over the world), then headed toward Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon. We stopped at Teslin Lake along the way, (side note: campgrounds in the Yukon all have huge bins of free firewood, so even as motorcyclists we can have legit camp fires!) watched the meteor shower from the beach, then headed toward Alaska again.

We decided to make our second stop in Alaska the port city of Skagway. Hollywood's great-grandfather had been involved in the gold rush, so he wanted to try to learn a bit more about his family history. The mountain pass to get to Skagway was so thick with fog, I could barely see 10 feet ahead of me, and I had to wipe my visor every few seconds to try to keep the moisture build up from hampering my visibility even further. Add in a few animals crossing the road with little time to see them, and it made for a very cautious ride. But as we got into the rainy little port town, we stopped by the local museum to fill out a research request, as they are happy to look into anything to do with the town’s history, and learned a bit about how the place came to be. Normally the town is overrun by tourists from the Alaskan cruise lines that all stop there, but the weekends were fortunately a bit more mild.

By a strange stroke of luck, as we were determining where to sleep for the night where we wouldn’t get totally drenched, a local fisherman started talking to us and offered us a spot under a tree in his buddy’s yard. They showed us around the town, even taking us to a locals-only club, and it made for a pretty memorable stop. Thank you Tim and Yukon Dave!

Pizza pan turned art canvas
A couple who was stopping to nail up a sign who also happened to be from California gave us this pizza pan and a sharpie to make a sign with so we would be able to leave our own. I think I customized it appropriately.Photo by Tiffani Burkett

Eventually, we headed back to Whitehorse, planning to head up to Dawson City and ride the top of the world highway, but it turned out the road was closed due to being washed out from all the rains, so we had to accept that we were too late in the season, and head back south. We cruised down the Alcan so we could see what the alternative route to Alaska was like and eventually check out Alberta. We stopped at Liard Hot Springs at the suggestion of many locals (which was much needed after all this time riding), and camped under a bridge for the night. The next day we continued down toward Fort Nelson, where we camped off a sandy service road in the middle of nowhere before heading down toward another recreation site near Chetwynd, BC called Big Lake. On the way in to the rec site, cruising along the road as normal, I was lost and in a bit of a daze, and got caught off guard by a sharp turn. I hit the brakes with a bit too much gusto, especially considering how much gravel was in the turn, and ended up going for a nice surf session down the pavement. I’m still in complete disbelief that I screwed that up. Over 27,000 miles on this trip so far, and I completely wadded it on a simple turn. Amateur hour over here.

Thank God (again) for my crash protection and my Dainese gear though, because the bike was still entirely rideable. The handlebars are a bit bent, but I didn’t even lose a turn signal. Hepco and Becker just earned a customer for life! I’m just a bit sore, and now have a few new holes in my pants and jacket. Could have been much worse. I’m glad all the time I spent crashing race bikes helped prepare me for the mental aftermath of this stuff, as we got back on track to the camp site almost as quickly as I crashed, where I’m now just going to stew for a bit. Tomorrow should be better….