Distance but a void

Logs submerged made no reference to their past. Still. Mavis by my side, stripped down, twisted wires by electrical tape, dirt encrusted. Bags to the ground. Days riding pure, connected. Standing upright, body moving, knees reacting, sweeping bends, curling road through emerald green. Stop!

Entering Whitehorse, Yukon territory, I swung off to the right, wheel scraping under seat, first petrol station within sight. Opposing bowser a bike heading south pulled in. Guitar strapped high above packs a plenty. I waved to the rider and pulled away, heading further into town.

After a week or two’s “bush repairs” to Mavis’s busted suspension and a quick oil change, the journey continued ever North onwards to Alaska, leaving Whitehorse all but a memory and a flash in my rear view mirrors. I’d met a German guy at the campground during my stay, who serendipitously was the same rider I’d passed at the petrol station when first coming into town. Oliver started his journey in Anchorage, Alaska en route for South America and recommended I travel along the “Top of the World Highway”, departing from the historic gold rush town of Dawson City, Canada. 200km’s + of unsealed, extremely isolated road lay before us heading West into the open plains and across the border to Alaska.

Riding into Dawson at sunset, we slowly crawled along the dirt streets, girt by wooden sidewalks, historic weatherboard buildings; a barbers shop, a church all passed us by. Pulling up in front of the old saloon, I backed Mavis up to the roads edge and kicked down the stand. The saloon doors burst open and a man in riding boots swaggered over the muddy street in my direction. “Nice bike ya got there, where you coming from?”. “Texas” I replied. A conversation followed as he proceeded to explain he’d gone on a ride from San Francisco to Reno on his sports bike, but just decided to keep riding north after reaching Reno. Dawson had this strange sense to it, that perhaps people had been passing through in search of something for a long time. I felt like I could have been here before in a previous life. After a long days ride into town, I’d have lashed my horse to the post out front and headed for the saloon bar.

Waking to grey skies and a fogging head, we headed down to the banks of the Yukon river. The day was still and the river glassy. I waited for the ferry to transport Mavis and I to the west bank. As if a beach assault, the steal boom fell to the ground, unleashing Mavis and I onto the gravel before us. Deep ruts and corrugation.

Finding our way through the country side, rising and falling. Passing no one, albeit a moments glimpse of two riders traveling in the opposite direction, presumably heading south for warmer weather. Hour after hour ticked over as we crept our way along that long empty road. Concentration firm, loaded up heavy, the loose gravel washed around Mavis’ front wheel, dragging it sideways, ever trying to pull us to the ground.

Climbing to the apex of yet another hill, we suddenly lost power. Being not more than half way, it seemed odd, and I quickly ruled out a lack of fuel in the tank. Engine. Dead. Stop. Suddenly our journey was halted. Isolated. I’d not known why at the the time, nor what made me think to get them, but I’d purchased a new set of spark plugs last thing before leaving Whitehorse. I jumped off the bike and started fumbling round the engine. In search of the usual suspects; a loose wire or a bad connection, I found nothing and changed tack. Using some vice grips, I slowly twisted each spark plug from its cylinder and replaced it with new. The old plugs appeared to have fouled and had caused the engine failure. Flicking over the bike, we once again had power and drive. The journey continued…