One of the happiest moments of my life as a motorcycle traveler: arriving for the first time at Prudhoe Bay, the very end of the road in Alaska, in July of 2013. Here’s my blog entry for that week spent in what would become of my very favorite places in the world.
“Third week on the road, and this time it is all about the ride to Prudhoe Bay, at the northern tip of Alaska. Some people refer to it as Deadhorse, but no matter what name you end up using, the road remains the same: 450 of some of the most challenging and rewarding miles a motorcyclist can dream of. It starts around 80 miles north of Fairbanks, in Livengood, and there are very few places to stop until you reach Coldfoot, about halfway through it.
Coldfoot is also the second (and last) stop for gas on the Dalton, and at that point, you are already almost 100 miles past the Arctic Circle. After Coldfoot, there is around 240 miles of pure nothing (or everything, depending on what you are prepared to see): indescribable vastness, ample skies, and a completely different permafrost landscape, almost a surreal one. It’s very deserted, and one can’t help but feel incredibly peaceful out there. The only traffic is big trucks, some bikers who adventure in this remote place, and the odd car or RV. Nothing much else.
This road is famous for being difficult and extremely dangerous, depending on the weather and the road conditions. If you’re lucky, the rough areas will be short and dry, and all you have to deal with is a lot of dust and the always complicated big rigs speeding past by and showering you with baseball-sized rocks stones. If Mother Nature decides to make your life miserable, it can be almost impossible to go through.
After carefully checking the weather, I saw a window of opportunity and made up my mind. I left Fairbanks on July 4 and rode the first 250 miles to Wiseman (close to Coldfoot), to sleep there and get ready for the “assault” to Prudhoe the next day. On the 5th, I left early and rode to the end of the road, stopping along the way for photos and the inevitable nature calls, much to the delight of monstrous mosquitoes everywhere.
I finally made it to Prudhoe by around 3 pm, got something to eat, rode around the place, refueled, and by 5 pm I was back on the road for the 240 miles back to Wiseman. At this time of the year, the sun doesn’t set here, and the ride back was something I will remember forever. If I dare to be a bit philosophical about it, I’d say it was an almost mystical experience: no traffic on the road, a magical light all the time (except for maybe half an hour of heavy rain), and a feeling of solitude I’ve never experienced before.
I got back to Coldfoot for a very late dinner, close to midnight, and then back again to Wiseman for an exceptional resting night. I felt as happy as I could feel, the Dalton being everything I imagined and then so much more. After that, all there was left to do was ride back to Fairbanks the next day. I leave here with the firm belief that nobody “conquers” this road: the Dalton will allow you to go through, if you respect it, or it just won’t. It treated me very well, and also offered me the best moment of my life riding a motorcycle, bar none.”