I learned from my first three trips to
Alaska that reaching Inuvik in the in the early 1980s and enjoying the ride was a challenge that required good planning and preparation, a reasonably good dirt-riding ability and the right motorcycle. The bike not only needed to be capable of handling well on loose, rough surfaces, but it also needed to be comfortable enough for my body to tolerate a 10,000-mile trip, especially when 2,000 of it would be on gravel. Modern dual-sport machines were not yet available in the Northwest Territories - at least I didn't know of any - and what might be out there was too expensive to spend on my hobby, so it was a matter of choosing from what was available and affordable to me at the time. US
Soon after returning home from my third trip to
in 1983, I began to look for the right bike for the trip. In early 1984, Honda made available a bunch of leftover 1982 FT500 single-cylinder Ascots at a greatly reduced price. I bought one in spite of recognizing a few shortcomings with it. The first thousand local miles proved that handling on dirt surfaces was adequate but the seat and suspension might be too stiff and uncomfortable on a longer ride. I decided to take it on a shakedown that amounted to a huge figure-8 trip around the US. Alaska
I told my longtime friend and enduro teammate Ralph Spencer in
Arizona about the plan and he promptly went out and bought an identical Ascot, paying $300 less than I did in . He said he would meet me halfway and ride about 3,000 miles of my planned tour with me. We eventually agreed to meet in New York Ruston, Louisiana, although Ralph aborted the ride two days later in , when the discomfort of his seat and suspension became too much for him. I continued on alone and completed total 7,500-miles. It was a great ride, albeit somewhat uncomfortable at times due to the stiffness of the ride. I loved the sound, handling and response of the little single-cylinder bike in spite of its shortcomings, but I eventually decided against taking it to Dodge City, Kansas Inuvik - mainly because of the discomfort. The detailed story of the trip is in my book, Motorcycling Stories. I took the photos below while I was on the trip.
This shot was taken in south-central Pennsylvania. I generally traveled across the northern part of the state to Mt Jewett, where I headed due south on US Route 219 for West Virginia
Another picturesque farm scene in southern Pennsylvania
Early morning fog in the valleys south of Johnstown, PA.
Here's a nice farm scene in West Virginia
I came past this old covered bridge in southern West Virginia.
Barn on fire near Loudon, TN
A small fire truck arrived in time to save the house.
Tobacco farm in Tennessee
Sorghum Mill along Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi
I crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg
Ozark Mountains, Arkansas after meeting Ralph in Ruston, LA
Dogpatch, USA, Ozarks
Dodge City, Kansas
Feeder Pen in Nebraska
Estes Park, Colorada - view from my motel window
Near Fall River Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grassy Lake Road, heading into Idaho
Several shots in Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah
Near Heber City, Utah
Sky-ride near Provo, Utah
Sevier River overflowed its banks, south of Provo, Utah
Indiana - almost all 18 wheels were still turning when I came upon it.