A Rumble With Mother Nature
There’s an uncommon sense of freedom associated with not having to ride anywhere in particular. In search of that feeling, I set off on a 20,000-mile meandering journey around our fair continent—a journey that included the crown jewel, a run to the Arctic Circle. Before my departure, Suzuki HQ happened to be in contact with us about the release of their stem-to-stern redesign of the V-Strom 1000, and offered up the “first one off the boat” Adventure model for an extended test. How could I refuse?
I planned to ride the Dalton Highway, essentially a desolate, mostly dirt road, from just north of Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle. Though I hail from sunny (and drought-ridden) SoCal, I left prepared for almost anything. My gear included KLIM’s Overland suit and Element Long gloves, electric jacket and glove liners from Venture Heat, a tried ’n true hi-viz rain suit from Tourmaster, Sidi Adventure Rain waterproof boots, and the remarkably fog-free LS2 FF386 flip-front helmet. For luggage, a rugged set of dry bags from Enduristan did the honors. But as I approached Alaska along the Alcan Highway from “Mile Zero” at Dawson Creek, Canada, fast-changing weather and road conditions created concern about what lay ahead.
At this point, let me interrupt my tale to state that I’m hardly a dirt rider, at least not on big ADV bikes. It’s a skill I keep promising to acquire, but haven’t fulfilled. Already unqualified for that sort of thing, I had a mounting, morbid fear that I might be facing something worse—mud! Fully aware that we often get what we resist, I kept an eye on weather reports in an attempt to nail the “perfect day” for the ride. I was, however, on a limited budget and other obligations leaned heavily on the schedule. By the time I arrived in Fairbanks, I had only a one-day window to make the ride or not—would the weather gods smile on me?
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