More Dalton Highway Dos and Don’ts

January 30, 2014
By Phil Freeman
3. Don’t: Go Without an Emergency Plan

The Dalton Highway runs through the most remote parts of North America. There is no infrastructure up there to deal with accidents. If you get into an emergency situation, chances are, you are going to have to get yourself out of it. There is heavy truck traffic up and down the highway, and they do help riders quite often, but do not rely on it.

Bring a Buddy: With a second rider, at least you can formulate a plan of extraction without feeding mosquitos off to the side of the road without a plan!

SPOT: bring a spot device, especially if you are riding alone, so at least your friends and loved ones will know where you are and can help you, albeit belatedly.

Bring a Sat Phone: This is by far the smartest solution. If anything should happen, you can at least start fixing the problem immediately. The sat phone saves time, a worse injury and life. There really is no good reason not to have one if you are going to travel in this remote corner of the world – especially alone.

4. Do: Make Sure to Have Dirt Riding Skills

The Dalton is not the place to start to learn how to ride dirt. I have seen too many gung-ho riders take their unprepared bikes up there, only to receive a strong thwarting from the conditions. Some bikes come back broken, some come back on the top of trailers. Some of these bikes never run again. The truth is, the rider did not have the skills for the terrain.

Some riders seem to think that since the highway exists on a map, and looks like any other road on the map, it must be like any other road. Wrong. If you did not grow up on dirt bikes, race competitively, or take an off-road course and practice, then this road can be over your head. If you do not know to get on the pegs and give it the gas when things get creamy, then you should not be on the Dalton at all. This road will throw everything at you, and your mistake can cost you thousands of dollars or worse.

Before you ride it, be sure to know how to handle your bike in gravel, deep gravel, and mud. Practice on fire roads at home and dirt tracks. Spin that back tire and get familiar with acceleration…. these are the tools you need to master before going up the Dalton safely.