2002 Alcan


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Heros of the 2002 Alcan 5000 Rally
On the top of some mountain outside Jasper, Alberta
(pictured Dave Dennison, Steve Willey, Pete Soper, Rob Dunn, Eric Horst, Nick Marcus.  picture by Chris Witzgall)


Scattered thoughts left on my laptop, they might hav been edited and fortified into a real story but, no, they are hence tossed to the web ...

Hav you ever looked up at migrating birds and wondered what drove them to make such a journey? why don't they just find some nice intermediate latitude and setup permanent shop? All this going back and forth, never really getting to see much of one place or another always on the move.

I'm not claiming that a marathon TSD rally such as the Alcan 5000 Rally is completely analogous to birds migrating from home to home in search of better eat'n but there are considerable parallels.

Perhaps even some local birds look up at the marthoning Canada goose and think them silly for going on such long drives. Me thinks that the little brown birds that spends all year at my birdfeeder hasn't been to the Yukon or Northwest territories. If they had they'd be trying to keep up with the big birds and spending some more time in the some of the most beautiful county

Greetings from day 5 of the 2002 Alcan 5000 Rally. As I write this we're cruising down the Alcan Highway on a transit between two timed sections of the day.

We just crossed some continental divide here in Yukon Territories. It's probably the divider between the Makenzie and Yukon drainage basins. Up here the landform drainage is more complicated than the continental US. This morning as we headed over White Pass out of Skagway you see the water running east even though you're 30 miles from the pacific.

OK, lets try this again, greetings from day 7 of the Alcan 5000 Rally. today was a very light day and we stay here in Yellowknife, NWT tonight as we did last night. the rest day gave a lot of teams the chance to recharge their batteries and do a little shameless tourism. Also, it gave us a chance to handle duties like topping-up fluids and other minor car maintenance items. we're at rally mileage 3179 and some of the new cars even went so far as to change the oil.

Yellowknife, northwest territories is on the north shore of Great Slave Lake. despite being the territorial capitol for both itself and Nunavit there is only one road in the summer that connects it to the rest of world and it isn't paved.

Our wildlife checklist was almost completely complete from this trip. Many of the animals were greeting us from the middle or close side of the road. Black bear, Cariboooo, cows, horses, moose, grouse, ravens, arctic fox, some other kind of fox, wolves, feral dogs, bison. The only animal that would hav

Luckily all of the animals coexisted with the 2 and four wheel beats of the road and no animals were injured in the making of this rally. Unless, you consider bugs. Taking a black car was a good choice since bug guts are generally black after being sun dried on the front of the car for a few days. The Canary Yellow Subaru Impreza WRX of R. Dale Krashausr, Larry Richardson, and Ken Eklund provided a nice contrasting color for the black bug bits and perhaps that's one of the reasons why R. Dale washed it every day.  

For those of you who hav heard me blather-on about rallys you probably know Rule #1. This pre-emptive imperative is 'Fuck the locals'. Sorry locals but too often you are driving either too fast or slow for us, yes, more often too fast. Our job is to be on time all the time and the local want to get where they are going. Sometimes that means getting out in front of the unpredictable local or maybe passing them when you're making up time only to immediately change our speed to two miles an hour less than the speed limit. Car 10 of John Fahey and Mike Maiello, two journalists from Forbes, hav added a subscript to Rule #1; "don't stop at the next gas station".  

Thanks to Rob and Nick and the need to distribute a late night driver's bulletin we were alerted to some beautiful Aurora Borealious visible from our hotel in 'downtown' Yellowknife, NWT. I had already turned in when Eric came back to the room with the news. it was well worth getting up for. a long ribbon of green shimmering air greeted us from the sky. Despite a previous trip north and some time in the southern latitudes I'd never seen either Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis so I was very pleased to see it now. But not pleased enough to get dressed and drive out of town away from the lights.

The Alcan 5000 is a test of man and machine, sometimes when things get tested they get broken.  We've seen motorcycles break-down, a cyclist break a wrist, and a car get broken.  Whether it was a break in concentration or a damaged sense of one's abilities, we're not sure.  On day six while hauling-ass toward Yellowknife Ryan Douthit rolled his Subaru. Luckly neither Ryan, his navigator or journalist Patricia Murphy were significantly hurt. Cars that roll like this don't survive. The car will get towed into some salvage yard and get sold for scrap. 

Awards Banquette: Some years ago Isuzu endowed an award that would be earned either thru noble action or hearing the call of the road more loudly then the rest of us and clocking extra miles behind the wheel. This year the award was won by cycle competitor Tumu Rock. Tumu was handily leading the cycles until Watson Lake where mechanical problems forced him to put his Yamaha KLR 650 in the trailer and hitch a ride in a cage. Not content to stay on the sidelines considerable effort was exerted in Yellowknife, NWT to 'borrow' the parts that got him back on the road. Thru the cheerful influence of the Alcan cycle entrants the Yamaha cycle shop in Yellowknife contracted KLR owners in the area and were able to find an owner who cheerfully cannibalize his own bike to loan the parts to Tumu. Luckily the donor was preparing to take a vacation and wouldn't be needing his bike for longer than it would take to hav the replacement parts delivered to Yellowknife. it was a great feeling to see Tumu back where he belonged, in the saddle and waving cheerfully.  

The image chosen for the trophies were of a Nunatack which is a large human shaped rock structure used by the first peoples of the area for a number of purposes including herding Caribou, locating food caches, and as navigation cairns.

steve willey August 2002


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