Thursday, July 8, 2010

Riding up the Al-Can (A Motorcycle Trek to Alaska) Chapter 23

The Bike and I Arrive Home Last Night
As I posted, although the starter turned over and the Bendix seem to engage, it would not lock into the flywheel and turn the engine. I could see this through the inspection port, but was unable to see why. I even used a screwdriver to roll the engine an 1/8th of a turn or so to make sure there was not and issue with a broken tooth on the flywheel. When the bike would not start, I had called Paul and he was able to get George to come get me and the bike using Wayne's truck and trailer. (I think that was RC's trailer, but I'm not sure.) George arrived at Border City Lodge (about 4 miles this side of the US Customs station on the US side) at about 4:00 AM. We grabbed my stuff (we thought) and headed up to the Customs Station to get the bike where it overnighted. Wayne had sent a spare starter from his Boss Hoss along with George, but we thought it more prudent to load the bike on the trailer and use gas in one vehicle instead of both. (I did not know the exact cause of the problem anyway, so the time to replace the starter was a gamble I decided not to take. That would prove a good decision after I got home.)

The trailer has a full width gate and the parking lot had a nice downhill slope, so loading the bike was very easy for George and I. We got it strapped in and left for Border City to double check the straps and how it was riding. All looked good and we headed for Tok, AK, about 90 miles away.
At Tok we refueled and then I discovered I did not have my iPhone. We called the lodge and they confirmed they had it, but could not mail it as they have no mail service because they are too remote. George laughed, handed me the keys, and we started back to Border City. The first trip to Tok went very fast as we were earlier than the construction crews in the construction areas as well as ahead of the RV traffic. Not so much for this round trip to get the iPhone...
We lost about 4 hours making the trip, but when we returned to Tok and refueled again, we started South. George had driven all night to get to me, so I drove us home. For the most part, I concentrated on driving so he could nap. (He had ridden his bike to Anchorage from Seward to pick up the truck and was planning to ride back to Seward that night when we got back into town.) Once we were to Tok, we made pretty good time and maintained a steady pace.

The next refuel point was at Glennallen, AK. We finally had decent cell phone service, so we checked in with Wayne and Paul to let them know our status and ETA. I also called Nick, who I bought the bike from and he was very apologetic about the break down, I told him it was fine and the bike had been running great otherwise. Nick told me he had never ridden that far in a single trip and he was jealous. (He even posted a comment here saying he wanted the bike back. Sorry Nick, I am hooked!)

From Glennallen, the road was pretty smooth and once again we were on a good, steady pace. We passed several very cool views which I had seen a lot as the bike run to Eureka Lodge at Mile 128 on the Glenn Highway is a popular one and a lot of fun. Then we passed the Matanuska Glacier on our way to Chickaloon, AK and King Mountain Lodge, another popular bike destination.

We started looking for a car wash with spray wand to rinse off the bike from it's AlCan dust, mud, bugs, etc. Knowing I was going to need to pull the starter when we got home, the thought was it'd be easier if the bike was clean. We stopped in to the one on the North end of Eagle River and the bike got a much needed bath.
We pulled into Anchorage a little after 5:00 PM and I refueled the truck and we dropped the bike in my garage. George and I were meeting the guys for burgers after 6:00 PM so I had to work fast to get the bike fixed.

After pulling the seat and side cover off, I disconnected the battery and the wiring from the starter. I pulled the back bolt off and the starter fell free! As you can see here, the mounting block for the starter broke. Turns out one of those unexpected pot holes did more damage than I could have imagined.

For now, I'm unable to get a good grip on the bolt to get it out, so that's the next step toward getting the starter replaced and the bike running. There are a few other things to do as well, but all in all, the bike held up very well for such a long and rough trip. At least it didn't leave me stranded somewhere completely on my own and I was able to get the help I needed.
That'll close this chapter and serious of blogs Grizzly-nauts. I hope you enjoyed this adventure as much as I did. I'll post a blog when the bike is up and running, and am sure to blog about other things as well. Stay tuned!

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