THE DALTON HIGHWAY [4k]
- The Dalton Highway has a reputation as dangerous and wild- which is likely why its on every motorcycle riders bucket list. Come along with me on a three day journey through the Arctic Circle while I contemplate mosquitoes, tent camping in the tundra, and wondering why I didn't bring along an extra jacket.
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While the Dalton Highway motorcycle experience is something that many people spend weeks (or even months) prepping for it was more of a last minute decision for me. I'm not saying that to sound like a cool guy- more so, it gives you an idea of how unprepared I was going into it. Learn from my mistakes and have yourself a much better time on the 414 miles North.
I made the ride up from Fairbanks, AK to Deadhorse and back over three days during August of 2018. I reserved the bike on a Monday night, picked it up Wednesday after, made it to Deadhorse and back by Friday evening at last light. Here are my takeaways:
Bring Plenty of Gas for Your Motorcycle Ride up the Dalton
As I was using a rental BMW GS I had to trust the rental company that the RotopaX I was taking along would be enough to get me between fuel stops on the Dalton. While running out of gas on the highway probably wouldn't result in your demise, it would certainly be inconvenient. I wish I had taken more fuel along- I would have had a much less anxiety filled final 45 minutes rolling into Deadhorse on with the fuel light on. Additionally, I could have spent a bit more time looking for my tent that fell off the back of my motorcycle without worrying about being stuck out in the tundra.
A Tool Bag (and Knowing How to Use Them!) for Your Motorcycle Ride up the Dalton
When I rented my bike I asked if the tool kit would have everything needed to survive the Dalton. I was given a handwave and told that there was everything needed to fix a flat including an electric air pump. Next question- "What about tightening up the chain if it gets loose?"
I was assured that the chain would be fine. Twice.
Guess who ended up destroying a sprocket on the last 100 miles of the trip because of a chain that kept slipping?
It's cute when something breaks and you don't own it. It's a lot less cute when it might strand you on the side of the Dalton. Bring the tools and the knowledge with you to fix the basics. If you're renting, insist on them providing tools. For the tools they DO provide, make sure you check to make sure that they're functioning and that the last renter didn't use the air pump as a hammer.
Cash for Your Motorcycle Ride up the Dalton
I was able to use my card at Yukon Crossing, Coldfoot Camp, and Deadhorse amazingly. It wouldn't hurt to bring a big wad of cash just in case though. Especially if you end up needing help. Cash is king, right?
Full Protective Riding Gear for Your Motorcycle Ride up the Dalton
I have to be honest- I'm not a huge ATGATT guy. I almost always have a helmet, mostly have a jacket, and specialty gloves and boots if I'm doing a long ride. For the Dalton I would recommend you go all out- borrow gear if necessary. I haven't had a slide on two wheels since I was 17 but probably came the closest to having it happen to me again on the Dalton while driving on some thick loose gravel. Since the choice to ride the Dalton was a last minute audible I didn't have protective leg wear and that could have made for a very bad fall.
Do yourself a favor and be as complete as possible for protective gear. You'll be more comfortable as well.
Oh- and waterproof tall boots. My feet were soaked for two full days out of the three.
Much Warmer Clothes Than you Think You'll Need for Your Motorcycle Ride up the Dalton
You won't believe the temperature change between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. That should be obvious though. What I forgot about is the multitude of factors that can make a motorcycle ride in otherwise comfortable temps absolutely bone chilling. 1.) You're not moving your body. 2.) Windchill 3.) Exhaustion 4.) Sweaty/Damp clothing. Don't be a dope like I was- bring as much warm clothing as you could possibly imagine needing...and then a little more in case that stuff gets wet!
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