After a good night sleep, even though the sun never disappeared below the horizon, I woke up early and quickly had the tent packed and everything put away. My plan was to have breakfast in Deadhorse. After an energy bar just to keep me going, we mounted our bikes and left the campsite on the side of the road. I'm finally on the last leg of my adventure to Deadhorse. I leave first and head up the hill only to look in the mirror and see Dave stopped on the side of the road less than 100 feet from the campsite. I wait a few minutes thinking he's simply getting his things together but after a few minutes of seeing him walking around the bike, I turn around and head down. Dave had noticed the bike moving around and after stopping noticed his Heidenau was flat. He had a puncture and the tire had deflated during the night.
The Heidenau's have such a hard sidewall that while stopped the tire doesn't even look flat. Dave starts working on the tire by putting a plug after pulling out the nail embedded in it. The picture doesn't show but the road was sharply banked. In order to be able to put the bike on the center stand, Dave had to angle the bike pointing to the side of the road and we had to dig a hole for the front tire to drop into it so he could keep the rear in the air.
The picture below also shows how treacherous the road can be when a truck comes from the opposite direction and you have to move to the edge. You can easily be caught out by the deep gravel.
Dave on the ground attempting to pull out the deeply embedded nail. After pulling the nail out he realized how big the hole was and at this point we were afraid the plug was not going to hold air.
With the tire inflated again, we continue towards Deadhorse about 60 miles ahead of us. The road was dry and the sand well packed, we could keep a good pace, easily 60 or 70mph.
A little over an hour later we start seeing the first of the oil rigs. These gigantic rigs move to different spots, drill a hole and after it's capped the whole structure moves to another location to start over again.
As we approach Prudhoe Bay we start seeing the houses where the oil workers and the support personnel live. These structures are all prefab and built entirely on man-made gravel pads, the modules shipped to Deadhorse via barge or air cargo. Some of the structures are massive and can house quite a few workers.
We pass lots of heavy machinery along the way and tracked vehicles the workers use to move around in the middle of winter when temperatures can be as low as -40 F which is the same as -40 Celsius. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −62 °F (−52 °C) on 27 January 1989.
We arrive in Prudhoe Bay and start looking for a gas station, my reserve light had been blinking at me for the last 20 or so miles. We had been told there's only two. After a few stops to ask for directions we finally find the gas station. There is no Premium, only diesel and 87 octane gas and it's not cheap. I fill up my tank with 5.9 gallons (tank holds 6.3) and pay almost $32, the most I had ever paid to fill the tank. A gallon of gas is $5.35 9/10.
In Deadhorse there are no banks, there's two rather basic hotels, a US post office, two ATM's and a general store. With the tank full it was time to fill our stomachs with food, we head to the famous Prudhoe Bay Hotel, a prefab structure. The only way you are allowed inside the hotel is by wearing these booties no matter who you are. We joke as we put them on over our riding boots, pretending we are entering the operating room of an hospital.
There is no alcohol in Deadhorse, the town is completely dry. We head to the cafeteria only to find it closed, we had arrived in between breakfast and lunch, we are out of luck. We find a small coffee shop and quickly order coffee and sandwiches. I top off with a nice warm muffin.
Inside it's warm and very rudimentary, there's no luxury here, most of the people staying here are temporary workers. The rooms are $199 per night with shared bathroom down the hall.
I chat with the young lady in the coffee shop, she tells me she's from Anchorage and works here for a few months than goes back home only to return a few weeks later. They usually work 12 hour shifts 7 days a week. The company pays for the accommodations, food and transportation and since there's really no place to spend the money in Prudhoe Bay she can save quite a bit of money. She tells me the pay is also quite good. She plans on working here for a while to pay for her college.
After buying the requisite stickers in the hotel store we head outside. We had to start heading back as our plan was to have breakfast in Prudhoe Bay, turn around and ride back to Coldfoot. When we arrived in Prudhoe Bay Dave had noticed his tire was down to 20psi, the plug was not holding hair. He pulls out the compressor and quickly refills the tire. After a few pictures we mount our bikes and head out.
To be continued.....