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The Glenn Highway


We woke up the next morning in Tok, AK to the sound of pouring rain. We  got dressed and parted ways for a bit while she went off to dry her overpants in the campground’s laudromat, while I tore down camp and loaded up the bike. The next hour was a Spinal Tap-esque comical experience wherein we kept trying to find each other in the maze of roads and RVs all of which looked exactly alike. Eventually we did manage to meet up and walked together to the campground kitchen to get breakfast. They had a buffet – the though of which excited me having been starved of real food for a while, but it turned out to be mostly all you could eat pancakes with some dodgy looking syrup and fruit. I did get to try reindeer sausage for the first time, which was exciting for the entire five minutes of the experience.








We managed to make breakfast last for about an hour as we took the time to relax and finish the pancakes and coffee.

As we rode out of the campground, we realized that it was consistently pouring down rain. We stopped at the local gas station to fill up our tanks. A couple of adventure riders were filling up near us. They told us to be extra careful out on the roads due to the pouring down rain and the danger of hydroplaning.

The first ten miles or so of the route was bad. Shortly after, it reached truly epic proportions of miserable. Riding in pouring down rain isn’t fun in the best of times, but it’s even less exciting when you know that you have about 350 more miles to go. Before the first 50 miles were up, I found that I was shivering violently from the cold and I couldn’t feel my hands anymore. For the first time in the journey I realized that being out in complete wilderness also meant that I couldn’t just pull over, go indoors to seek shelter and get warm. Most of the highway didn’t even have much of a shoulder to pull off on, should I inexplicably have wanted to do so. I was pretty much in auto-pilot mode and all my numbed brain could think of was to keep going, ticking off the miles until the next sign of civilization. Sarah pulled over a couple of times to take pictures and this was one of the few times on the trip that I truly wanted to shove her off a cliff, as I pulled over and waited for her and got rained on and froze some more.



After what seemed like a lifetime, I saw what looked like an oasis – a lodge in the distance with an honest to goodness parking lot. I rolled in, parked and barely managed to stumble in. My heated vest had stopped working and I was freezing cold. Everything we were wearing got soaked and I think I was very close to hypothermia. We couldn’t stop there though – it was either turn around and go back to Tok, or keep going to Anchorage. I chose to keep going although I was near frozen and exhausted from the effort of riding in the now near zero-visibility rain.

By the time we reached a town called GlennAllen, I was all but ready to give up. I pulled in at a building that appeared to be the visitor center. I have no idea how I managed to turn the bike off, get off it or walk up the stairs to collapse into the warm shelter because my body had now stopped having any feeling, my clothing was completely waterlogged, and my hands were frozen so stiff that I didn’t have any feeling in them anymore.

At the visitor center we were told about the Caribou Hotel where we could find a room for the night. It was only the middle of the day but I knew that I was done riding for the day.


As we stood in the hotel lobby waiting to be checked in, we observed with mild amusement biker after disgruntled biker walking in looking harassed and defeated. We nodded at each other in solidarity, no words needed.

At one point, I counted a total of 17 bikes parked under the front of the hotel lobby.



The room turned out to be a complete ripoff – an unbelievable $120 for a small double bed room where the heating didn’t work right and the toilet kept running. I didn’t care though. I was grateful at the thought of getting into a hot shower, thawing out, and climbing into a real bed.

We hung out all our wet things in an effort to get them dry. Unfortunately the hotel didn’t have a dryer that we could use and we had to resort to air drying. We even borrowed a little space heater and tried to use it to dry out our waterlogged boots.









We left the town of Glenn Allen the next morning eager to put as many miles as possible between us. Anchorage was a mere two hundred miles away and the thought of finally reaching the capital city of Alaska was exciting. We got off to a spirited start, feeling spoiled by the dry roads and warm sunshine.

Perhaps many others leaving Glenn Allen had had similar thoughts and provoked the ire of the local authorities though, because before long I saw what looking like a gleam of red and blue in my side mirror. I slowed down but Sarah was far ahead going well over 80mph. The red and blue lights overtook me and then her with an alarming rapidity and pretty soon we were both pulled over on the side of the road, sheepishly climbing off our bikes and wincing like schoolchildren as the cop walked over to us with the inevitable jaunty swagger. He asked us where we were going and why and whether we knew how fast we had been going. We looked appropriately confused and innocent and tried to bullshit our way out of it, to no avail. My heart sank as he pulled out the ominous book and started writing out a ticket.


“Umm… aren’t you going to let us go with a warning?” Sarah asked him at what I can only describe as spirit of undying hope in the face of adversity. I threw her an exasperated look which she answered with a shrug. The cop looked at her and said, “No.”

He then looked at both of us and said – “You were both going 79 in a 55 and you could get into big trouble for this. I’m going to write it up as a 72 though and I’m going to write out just one ticket. You can decide which one of you gets it.”

I looked at him with a look of amazed disbelief and imagined myself being on a reality tv show where this was the test complete with dramatic tense background music, and the decision would decide the course of our friendship for the rest of the journey.

“I’ll take it,” I said in a spirit of heroic sacrifice.

“What? No, I’ll take it!” said Sarah, not to be outdone with the heroics.

“Now wait a minute…” I started, ready to list all the downsides of having a speeding ticket on her record, when she interrupted me with – “Oh wait, I could lose my job if I had a ticket, seeing as how I need to drive an emergency vehicle around.”

“Okay then…,” I started, a little deflated.

“Hold on, let me call my boss!” she said and whipped out her phone to call her supervisor in Oregon and proceeded to have a chat with him while the cop and I patiently looked on.

“It’s okay. He said it won’t affect my job. I’ll take the ticket.” She said beaming, as she ended the call.

The cop walked back to his car to pull up her license and write out the ticket.

Touched by this act of magnanimity, I turned to her to express my gratitude when she said – “You’re splitting that with me.”

“Oh. Right.”

I decided to make good use of the time and took my camera out to take an incriminating photo of the bikes with the cop in the background. When he came back to us, I asked him if we could take some pictures with him for our family albums. He said yes, but we couldn’t post them on the internet. Busted!

As we got ready to get on our bikes, he warned us to be careful and not get caught again. “We wouldn’t dream of it, officer!” we said meekly and rode off.

Where we had been doing a good clip of 70+mph throughout our journey, we were now slowed down to the regulated 55mph. I wanted to go at least the accepted ten over, but Sarah wouldn’t hear of it. Given that she had just taken one for the team, I respected her decision and kept to slow, snail like pace. We kept our heads low in shame as we were overtaken by RVs and semis. The shame, oh the shame! That was the slowest one hundred miles of the journey.











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