Should have listened. Throughout the planning process Diane mentioned she wasn’t ready to ride Alaska. Her two bug-a-boos were road construction (gravel) and bears. I put it off as jitters, that she would get passed that once we started riding. The opposite happened. The closer we got to wild country the more vocal they became.
We wouldn’t ride any known dirt or gravel roads but would still encounter road construction which was unavoidable. The Cassiar Highway as well as the Alaska-Canada highway are not your normal tar based roads. The more remote it gets they start making roads using a method called ‘chip sealing‘ which is cheaper. Part of the process involves gravel and usually it’s not just a short section but kilometers/miles on end. We encountered just one such section east of Watson Lake. It was only about 3 miles long and actually relatively easy but at one point they had pilot cars going both ways which stirred up dust everywhere making it hard to see. After that section Diane told me she had initially felt bad for going east when we left Watson Lake instead of west towards Whitehorse, YT … but not any more :-).
Wildlife is abundant in the north, including bears, we saw several along the road way. The bear spray I purchased from a fellow rider going back south wasn’t enough to assuage her fears. She figured the bear wouldn’t touch me since I’m just skin and bones 😉 but go straight for her – much more meaty and sweet, so she says.
So, option one was to keep on riding to Alaska (Diane said she’d go, grudgingly). We would get to do the ride but neither one of us would be having much fun. Diane for the reasons stated above and me because I would constantly worry when we got to difficult construction sections of the road and I would also have to holster the bear spray and escort her on nightly bathroom trips ;-). Two unhappy people does not make for an enjoyable ride and in the end that’s what we wanted and why we ride – to have fun and enjoy ourselves riding the country.
Option two was to realize that I had planned too much ride and underestimated or too easily dismissed Diane’s concerns, regroup, change plans and continue riding the roads that she would be comfortable on. In the end it was an easy choice because I don’t want to loose my riding partner to a bad or intimidating ride. Alaska will still be there next year. We’ll work something out where we both get to see the state our way. I’m confident.