By Keith Strange
August 3, 2013
The price for enough gas to ride to Alaska? About $1,300. The experiences gained by the journey? Priceless.
Six of the seven riders who embarked on a cross-continent ride to Alaska on July 12, made it to their destination, an epic ride that was the envy of many motorcyclists in the area.
According to ride organizer Darrell Wilson of Lexington, everyone is back safely at home after three weeks of hard riding and hard laughing.
Only one hiccup befell the group, a flat tire “180 miles away from any help.”
“We were on the Ice Fields Parkway in Canada,” Wilson said. “There was no cell service and nothing at all around. A person in a truck saw us and stopped and gave us a ride to where there was a pay phone — they still have them up there. The owner of a Harley Davidson dealership came out himself at 11:30 at night and picked up the bike. The next day the bike was repaired and we left.”
Other than that, the ride was the experience of a lifetime, despite some uncooperative weather.
“As far as the trip up, there’s only one way to explain it. We got some rain, then it started raining, then it rained some more, then it really started to rain,” he said with a laugh. “The first four or five days, rain is about all I remember.”
Which claimed one rider, who returned home through what Wilson described as a torrential downpour on just the second day.
“Don’t know what happened to him,” Wilson said. “He just dropped out of the group and we didn’t see him anymore. We stopped along the side of the road when it was raining so hard we couldn’t see and that’s the last we saw of him. Six of us continued on.”
And what a trip it was.
“We entered Canada in Manitoba, and rode from one side of Canada to the other, from Manitoba to British Columbia,” Wilson said. “Then coming back, we split up and some of us went to Sturgis, (S.D.) but I’d been there so I wanted to see something new.”
Which led him through places like Denver, Yellowstone National Park, Santa Fe, N.M., Amarillo, Texas, and Cheyenne, Wyo., on his return trek.
As for the journey to Alaska, he said one thing sticks out about Canada.
“They have mosquitoes that are so big they could carry a large dog away,” he said. “I went through a lot of bug spray. They’re so big they even brag about them on T-shirts.”
For Wilson, the ride was about the experiences, sights and sounds.
“I’m so glad I had the chance to see the Rockies in Canada,” Wilson said. “If you think the Smoky Mountains are really impressive, the glaciers up there on the Rockies dwarf anything I’ve ever seen. They’re so majestic that words can’t express it.”
Once they arrived in Alaska, Wilson said the first thing they saw was a “huge” grizzly bear on the side of the road when they entered the state.
“That’s when I realized we weren’t at home any more,” he said, laughing. “It was larger than a minivan. That thing was huge.”
The group was escorted into Hyder, Alaska, just across the border from British Columbia, by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Once in Hyder, they were treated to a meal by the handful of town residents.
Wilson said it was the experience of a lifetime, but required determination to ride around 500 miles a day for weeks on end.
“There was nothing romantic about this trip,” he said. “It was a hard ride. We took with us our clothes, some money, a debit card, a full tank of gas and a motorcycle.
“We came back with memories and experiences I wouldn’t take anything for. It was just amazing. And furthermore, I can say I did it.”
For Wilson, the grandeur of the land is inspirational.
“You can’t really sit down and explain to people how majestic this world is,” he said. “There are people who sit at home and dream of the chance of riding a motorcycle to Alaska. There are a lot of riders who would die just for the chance. But you have to be willing to ride in the rain, be hungry, wet and miserable while having a good time at the same time.”
A 25-minute video of the trip has been posted online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kYscStrZtQ&feature=youtu.be.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.