Remnants of the oily surface of the Alaskan highways were still stuck to Dan Maxey’s motorcycle when he got back to Oklahoma City.
Maxey had washed the motorcycle three times but the signs of the trip were still fresh and tough to get off the cycle.
"The roads are made of oil there and gets harder and harder as you go and cakes on the cycle," said Maxey, 59, of Oklahoma City, who rode to northern Alaska and back on a summer jaunt.
Maxey, owner of Maxey’s Motorsports on NW 39 Expressway, changed the oil in his Yamaha Super Tenere 1200 and took off July 5 with another motorcyclist, Kevin Waldschmidt, 51, of Choctaw. They rode about 350 miles a day for five weeks, logging about 11,800 miles to northern Alaska and back.
It wasn’t Maxey’s first time to see Alaska on a motorcycle. His first try resulted in a horrible crash on a one-lane highway across the border in Canada.
In 2002, on the narrow Dempster Highway in the Yukon Territory, Canada, Maxey saw a tractor-trailer barreling downhill at him at about 90 mph. The truck driver didn’t see Maxey. Maxey’s motorcycle was sucked in the wind as the tractor-trailer passed. He lost control of his motorcycle and overturned, sliding across a rocky surface.
The crash broke his wrist, a vertebrae in his back and his helmet. A doctor later said his heart had dropped two inches. He was sore from other internal injuries, but not too sore to ride back home.
This summer there were no crashes. Maxey and Waldschmidt stayed in a number of landmark places along the way. They stopped in Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Cache Creek, British Columbia, Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory and then north of Fairbanks and up the Dalton Highway to Coldfoot Camp in Coldfoot, Alaska.
The plan was to make it farther north to Deadhorse and the Prudhoe Bay, but snowfall changed their minds and they decided to stop and go south for the long ride home.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing wildlife. Maxey said he saw bears, a moose, deer and rabbits along the highways. Maxey said he noticed more convenience stores and gasoline stations than he did in Alaska in 2002.
They changed tires in Fairbanks, camped out a lot and even stayed one night at dormitories at the University of Alaska.
The Dalton Highway was full of potholes, he said.
“I hit one on the way back,” Maxey said. “You can’t see how deep they are. I bent the rims on the front and rear wheels.”
His trips across Alaska on a motorcycle are not over, he said.
“I plan to make one more trip to Alaska,” Maxey said.