A motorcycle journey from Mexico to Alaska

After riding 7,000 miles Scott Fredrickson reaches the Arctic Circle in Alaska. (Scott Fredrickson)

After riding 7,000 miles Scott Fredrickson reaches the Arctic Circle in Alaska. (Scott Fredrickson)

Saddleback College’s instructor Scott Fredrickson shows adventurous side on summer break

Avid world traveler and Saddleback instructor of economics and business, Scott Fredrickson spent his summer break riding his motorcycle from the border of Mexico to the Arctic Circle. The trip marked his second venture to Alaska on a bike, however he used a different route through the National State Parks from his previous coastal ride on Highway 1. After three years of motor biking experience, Fredrickson completes 7,000 miles in 9 weeks of travel.

With 27 countries visited under his belt, Fredrickson thrives on new adventures and exploration. He is accustomed to long distances, such as traveling from Houston to Los Angeles upon learning to ride a motorbike after a one-day class. He started his trip with an equipped bike outfitted with a satellite phone, protective jackets with heated gloves and a tent for emergency lodging.

“I drove 7,000 miles without any music in my helmet,” said Fredrickson. “It was very zen-like, being able to go at my own speed with my bike and nature.”

Beginning at the Mexicali border 30 mph winds blew Fredricksen and his motorcycle at speeds of 85 mph and he covered 500 miles on the first day reaching Sedona, Arizona. From that point on, he had no sight of freeways, and therefore continued his trip on single laned roads. When headed into the National Parks he began his ventures at 6:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise and avoid crowded roads.

Scott Fredrickson reaches the outside of Sedona, Arizona on his first night. (Scott Fredrickson)

Scott Fredrickson reaches the outside of Sedona, Arizona on his first night. (Scott Fredrickson)

“To Loa, Utah, I rode on the most amazing road I have ever been on with the bike,” Fredrickson said. “Wonderful turns and curves through stunning rock formations and down the spine of some steep hills that had no guard rails and only two ten-foot lanes. I had the GoPro on and was only able to enjoy the ride after watching the video.”

Fredrickson arrived at his first National Park in Bryce Canyon, Utah, where he drove along the scenic route for 38-miles and stopped at each of the 13 viewpoints. Alongside his Nikon lens camera for scenic pictures and the GoPro atop his helmet, he was able to capture footage for his travel blog.

Bryce Canyon National Park has a 18-mile scenic road and highest elevations reaching 9,000 feet. (Scott Fredrickson)

Bryce Canyon National Park has a 18-mile scenic road and highest elevations reaching 9,000 feet. (Scott Fredrickson)

Fredrickson arrived at Arches National Park known as a red-rock wonderland for its 2,000 natural stone arches. From Utah he headed through rainy weather to Road Springs Wyoming, before arriving at the Grand Tetons mountain ranges and Yellowstone National Park, Montana. The stormy rain clouds set above the view of the snowy-peaked mountains forced Fredrickson off the highway to the first motel.  

Arches National Park, known for giant balanced rocks and 2,000 natural stone arches. (Scott Fredrickson)

Arches National Park, known for giant balanced rocks and 2,000 natural stone arches. (Scott Fredrickson)

The weather remained unfavorable when he headed to the two parks in the morning with no animals in sight for their breakfast feedings. Fredrickson’s motorbike computer flashed temperature readings of 32 degrees instead of displaying the customary fuel gauge. The snowy conditions approaching Yellowstone led him at a diner off the road to meet other riders who discussed their weather challenges in the waiting game to get back on the road again.

Stormy weather causes challenging sight seeing conditions through Yellowstone National Park. (Scott Fredrickson)

Stormy weather causes challenging sight seeing conditions through Yellowstone National Park. (Scott Fredrickson)

Upon arriving at the Glacier National Park, Canada, Fredrickson found it closed due to an avalanche two weeks prior. He was disappointed not to drive through the park and miss what was known as ‘the road to the sun.’ On the diverted road he only caught glimpses of the forested valleys and alpine scenery as he headed to Yukon Territory.

“Driving through Yukon there are so many desolate roads,” Fredrickson adds. “I had smooth and peaceful rides on the winding roads.”

From Destruction Bay, YT to Anchorage, Fredrickson avoided stormy weather by taking an alternative trip of 11 hours in nicer weather. This was his longest leg of 575 miles in a day, to arrive in Alaska after three and half weeks and 5,500 miles.

In Hope, Alaska, Fredrickson’s son joined him on an exhilarating grade 4-5 white water rafting adventure dropping 50 feet per mile on the Six Mile Creek. The glacier-melted water chilled the crew as their swimming abilities were tested in 38 degree water in dry suits. The widest point of the creek varied from 100 yards to 15 feet between the cannons and shoots.

Fredrickson and son Chris, paddle into grade five rapids on the Six Mile Creek. (Scott Fredrickson)

Fredrickson and son Chris, paddle into grade five rapids on the Six Mile Creek. (Scott Fredrickson)

The final trek ended at 7,000 miles in Prudhoe Bay across the Dalton Highway. The road currently ranks as one of the top dangerous roads in the world according to the BBC. The dangers are found in the gravel roads and the summer months experience a daily traffic of up to 160 trucks.

Fredrickson came head to head with Alaskan wildlife in the road north of Coldfoot. He headed down a single-lane bridge and noticed a looming black figure as he arrived at the midway point. The figure appeared to be an 800 pound black bear shuffling away as he heard the sound of the motorcycle. Fredrickson then committed to ride past the bear at 30 mph.

“I muttered out loud to him in my helmet, ‘please don’t do anything stupid’,” Fredrickson said. “He continued lumbering in his lane and I shot by in mine. As I passed him I realized how large he was and that I could have kicked him with my boot.”

A feeling of panic struck him as he rode by as he came to grips with what he had encountered. With his adrenaline at an all-time high, he reached Atigun Pass at 4,739 feet, where the Dalton Highway crosses the Continental. Fortunately, with an empty road, he crossed the entire path by himself.

With 30 miles left of his journey, Fredrickson dealt with the most unruly road conditions he had experienced. He compared the stretches of loose gravel to balancing on marbles for long distances. With old motorcycle debris on the side of the road, Fredrickson became more focused on the completion of his journey on the final two to three inches of non-compacted gravel.

“My goal was to ride to Prudhoe Bay,” Fredrickson said. “I never said I was going to ride out. The next morning I shipped the bike to Anchorage via a trucking company and took the afternoon flight back – glad to be in one piece.”

Reflecting on the road trip, Fredrickson reports that he discovered overcoming the process of fear. He intends to spread the idea of taking chances to his students and to readers of his blog.

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