Beaver Creek

They don’t roll up the sidewalks at 11 p.m. in Beaver Creek, Yukon, only because there are, in fact, no sidewalks to roll.

We hit the border crossing from Alaska’s Glenn Highway at about 8:30, with magic light firing the golden leaves of aspens and the temperature reading about 10 degrees C (50 degrees F).  I’d been riding along for the past two hours in a land of endless rainbows: half-rainbows, full rainbows, short-radius rainbows, ultra-bright rainbows and double rainbows.

Occasionally, the glory of rainbows was mitigated by a lurid, knobby-tires-on-pavement, two-wheeled slide as my attention to the horizon overcame my survival instinct to keep a close eye on the morphing road surface.  These tires hunt a little but are otherwise fine in the dry.  In the wet, they secretly plan to kill me.

The first time it happened, I was staring off at a low, particularly intense rainbow.  Rounding a 90 mph sweeper (kindly devoid of “woom-bahs,” woom-bahs being the peculiar northern road swells that go whoomp-whoomp-whoomp-WOOM-BAH! as the road drops away from the bike and then rises to pound your behind and either you go airborne off the seat or the bike temporarily — and, it must be said, with evident joy — sheds the fetters of gravity and soars with aching, mechanical heart toward yonder rainbow), I was startled to realize that the bike was scrithering.

No motorcycle should scrither.  Really, not ever.  A throttle-induced slide is one thing, but scrithering is right out.  The problem with a two-wheel drift on wet pavement, on a street motorcycle, is that just about the time you get it sorted out, the wheels catch traction and launch you over the high side like the unlucky circus clown who drew short straw for this week’s human cannonball act.

Needless to say, this is suboptimal.

For reasons owing more to fatigue-level reflexes than to calculating skill, I managed to stay in the throttle and ride it out, instantly thereafter yodeling a huge “whoo-HOO!” into my helmet (the helmet remained inexplicably unimpressed by my display of skill and bravado fortissimo — it is, in its defense, a Shoei and thus inscrutable).

Seconds later, I conceived a pressing need to pee.  Immediately.

Stopping at a photogenic pullout, I wandered out into the middle of Highway One, looked both ways and listened.  Not a sound but the gentle white whisper of wind through stunted, slow-growing, cold-country branches.

Then I took the silicone putty out of my ears.  Still not a murmur of traffic noise.  The north country has about the right amount of traffic:  one vehicle every six to 15 minutes coming head-on (note that Alaskans are both competent and confident at driving long distances over empty roads and thus closing speeds tend to hover around 160 mph), and a vehicle or two overtaken and passed about every 20 minutes to an hour if you are pacing the road with confidence.

I waited.  Sure enough, after a few minutes, two things happened:  my adrenaline subsided and a motor home pulling a trailer ( does every single Alaskan and Alaska tourist have a trailer with recreational gas burners on it?  They’re burning up my gas!) puttered past with a desultory wave.

Alone again, I dropped my trousers and saluted the road with everything I had in me.  “There,” I noted confidently, “is one friggin’ clean spot on this greasy damned road.”

I was there for quite a while.  Nobody drove by to be scandalized.  There are no guard rails here, no runoff areas, no shoulders and no cell service.  Drop the Wee into one of the dozens of roadside ponds and it might be weeks before enough of me floats to the surface to make ID.

Shortly thereafter, the road turned to dirt and the knobbies on my WeeStrom Wonder Pig came right into their own.

We beat the cars into Beaver Creek by nearly an hour.  Arching over the  hotel, a rainbow of particular intensity invited me to slide on in.

Next Post

Speak Your Mind