In August, Johnny & ICON rode the Alcan 5000 on two Triumph Tiger 800XCs on an epic adventure from Seattle to the Arctic Circle and over into Alaska.
Race Day Four
Our fourth day started with a choice.
Option A: 200 miles of pavement followed by 200 miles of dirt road that would turn into two-track trail, and then camp on the North Canol River.’
Option B: 380 easy miles to Whitehorse, BC.
Our choice was made for us by a combination of tire wear and logistics. Our support truck was not permitted to take the bike-only sections on the Canol River route, and the Continental TKC-80 tires on the rear of all four Tigers we’re looking pretty thin. If we took the Canol route, we’d be three days without support and wouldn’t be able to do a tire change until Fairbanks, which was three days away. So rather than risk it, we took our time in the morning and headed to Whitehorse instead.
Before we set out, we had the good fortune of looking at the map with rally organizer Jerry Hines. He turned us on to the “worlds smallest desert” aka the Carcross desert, which we’d find more or less on our way to Whitehorse. We pounded the pavement and detoured for the dunes to do some roosting. Carcross was a surreal sight. There we were, riding sand dunes, all while surrounded by massive white-and-blue glaciers. Something about this unlikely location was magical. Just being there was this vibe of pure joy. The dune itself was smallish, and the sand was chopped up a bit from off-road vehicle use, but pulling off the coastal highway straight into a dune field was so cool.
A theme was emerging in the flow of our days. We would ride the route until we saw something off to the side that sparked our curiosity and then we’d go explore it. Our Scala Rider communication systems helped us do that more safely and far more efficiently than my traditional method of hand signals that no one ever understands. When something looked interesting, all we had to do was speak up, then we’d go check it out.
More than anything, our little detours were making the case for why “Adventure” bikes like the Tiger 800XC can be such great travel machines. We could blast up and down sand dunes or up trails whenever we wanted, then pop out onto the highway and maintain a 95 mph cruising speed (allegedly). We truly had the best of both worlds. We definitely could have run the Alcan so far on less capable bikes, but having all that versatility at our fingertips opened up so many possibilities.
We left the Carcross dune and headed for Whitehorse, and once we arrived we set up shop to spoon six new tires onto various wheels, with new rear rubber on all four bikes. The efficiency and team work that flowed there was a sight to behold. All of that wrench work took us less than 90 minutes.
Even though we’d taken the “easy” road, we’d wrapped up a killer day. We’d ridden an arctic desert — a small wonder of the world. The bikes all had fresh shoes and were running strong. Killer day. We unwound with some beers and a nice dinner and that was that. Race day done. Best of all, spirits were high and the team was running really well together.
Since we were filming and shooting photos along the way, there was quite a bit more going on than just the ride itself. Lots of side jaunts, shooting as we go down the highway, riding very close to each other to get shots, etc. I hadn’t done this kind of thing before, so for the first few days’ I’d hung back to get in the flow of things. Yet by day four we were getting to a place where we didn’t even have to talk that much anymore. We’d just fly along in formation, making the miles, getting the shots and having more fun than seemed possible.