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Nick Sanders blog: Day 2

By Nick Sanders -

Touring & travel

 24 August 2010 15:34

Here is Global adventurer Nick Sanders latest report. Nick is attempting to ride a 2009 Yamaha R1 from the very top of Alaska to the very bottom of South America in under 20 days, alone and with no luggage...

In Tok, it’s 6am and a storm is brewing, I can hear the wind outside, but no rain. A plan is forming now I am getting closer to the start line.

Either I ride the 200 miles to Fairbanks then the next day push onto Prudhoe, 512 miles in dirt or ride to Fairbanks and then a further 175 miles to Coldfoot Camp and stay there. It’s academic, but on Friday 20th August I’ll leave Prudhoe with the aim of riding the 3374 miles to Salt Lake City in four days. Should be ok?

A major service is planned for me at Wrights Motorcycles. Tim is waiting with four mechanics. The only snag is the unpredictability of the weather. It’s changed. Yesterday warm and sunny, today dark and stormy. I have 1000 miles on dirt on an R1. There are animals everywhere, night riding will be slow. I am nervous. It’s time to go.

The ride to Fairbanks was very cold and wet. 200 miles before breakfast and that was only a hot chocolate in a café in some supermarket. I still felt uncoordinated, not quite myself, besieged if you like by nerves. There was so much at stake.

I am in such a place of privilage, I know this. I intend to make the most of every minute, but that doesn’t take away the grit that irritates the way you want to think. Often, the road takes away thinking.

Such is the focus of watching the side allys where cars poke out and the bushes where moose want to rush across your path, the head is empty of distractions, just full of speed calculations of large animals and the co-efficient of a trajectory.

Yet nothing, not a bear, no caribou, elk, deer, only squirrels the size of a large hand recklessly flinging themselves across the road.

After buying a fuel container and some straps, an alarm clock and a sleeping bag I left for the Dalton Highway. The route from College Street took me to the lights where I turned left onto the Steese Highway once again.

My departure time out of the city was much later than planned and whilst there was plenty of daylight, it soon began to rain. Alaska is a desert and gets only a tiny amount of precipitation a year, but barely a day passes without some falling on Prudhoe Bay.

Still the wind was warmer than the morning and my spirits were high. In fact my mindset was determinedly strong. To show weakness now would mean this ride would fail. It could not be allowed not to succeed.

The route undulated, climbing around bends and then sometimes feeling quite sullen on the straights. The bike and I were in some unison and we fitted each others movements well. After so many miles and so many journeys around the world, my body knew it’s way around the tight spaces of this bike well.