Monday, April 25, 2011

To the Arctic Circle (and Beyond or Back?)

This is it.  Today, I head north on the Dalton highway and into the Arctic Circle.  I'm told that the Circle officially lies about 200 miles north of Fairbanks and that the terrain isn't too bad this time of year for an experienced rider.  I suppose I'll see for myself today, but all I know is I'm so close to my goal I can taste it.  My friend Jeff has been giving me updates from the pump stations along the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline.  I rained up there yesterday, but stopped last night when I hit Fairbanks.  Jeff advised that I wait it out today and let the sun dry out the roads.  I needed to get the tires I purchased mounted, so I heeded his advice.  With fresh rubber and new brakes, Hester is ready to roll.

Once I get there, I have some decisions to make.  My original goal was to just make it to the Circle monument and place Martin's hat there. Shortly thereafter, I expanded the journey northward and wanted to try to get as far as Deadhorse near Prudhoe Bay. I abandoned that later goal upon reading of horrific road conditions between the Circle and Deadhorse.  Now I'm rethinking the rethinking that I rethought a while back and I think (again) that I want to try to make it to Deadhorse.

I don't imagine I'll ever be up here again, so this is likely the only chance I'll have to truly ride to the top of the world.  I still haven't decided which way I'll turn after my little Arctic Circle arrival celebration. Weather, road conditions, and my general mood will all impact my decision.  If I turn right, the adventure continues and I'll go as far north as I can.  If I turn left, the adventure still continues as I head back home via the Black Hills.  I'll send a satellite check-in message from the Circle when I arrive there.  Since I won't have a means of updating this blog until I get back to civilization, you'll have to check in here and view my GPS status to see if I turn north or south when I leave the Circle.

Watch my status on the map, look for my update alerts, and wish me luck.