Motorcyclist tells of cool Arctic trip

By GREG FOX

OBSERVER Staff Writer

For some people, riding across the country by one’s self on a motorcycle with nothing more than a few supplies sounds like a daunting endeavor – but not for Fredonia resident Jim Pasquale.

Pasquale recently returned home from a solo motorcycle trip to Alaska that took nearly four weeks and covered thousands of miles. His journey took him to the Arctic Circle, all the way up through barren tundras.

“Alaska is just one of those places you hear about,” he said. “You know, you talk to somebody every now and then that’s been there one way or another and it just sounded so cool. It’s just so big and I’ve always wanted to see it. So, I thought, ‘What better way to see it than on a motorcycle?’ I’ve been riding motorcycles basically my whole life, ever since I was 6, when I got my first motorcycle. That’s what I do; that’s my hobby.”

Pasquale first thought about taking the cross-country trek several years ago, but it was really this past year he told his wife he was determined to fulfill his dream.

He picked out a brand new bike (a 2013 Ducati Multistrada, which is a sport touring motorcycle) a month before he left and began gathering equipment over this past winter

“I kind of planned the trip, but not totally,” he said. “I thought it would be more of an adventure if I left everything undone, so that’s pretty much the way it went. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and had one stop there.”

Just before Pasquale arrived in Alaska, he stopped at the annual Dust to Dawson Motorcycle Rally in Dawson City, Yukon in Canada. People from all across the globe gather for the event to mark the summer solstice, when the sun is visible for a full 24 hours.

“Once I got to the Arctic Circle, my end goal, it’s just all mud, gravel and rocks and secondary road,” he said. “As a matter of fact, when I got to Alaska, I took off the street tires on my motorcycle and I had dirt tires put on it. Even though the weather was good, it was still pretty rough.”

Pasquale said once he hit the Arctic Circle, he continued on for about 80 more miles to find a gas station before turning back around.

“Fuel is very rare when you get up there,” he said. “I had to carry extra gas with me because there’s some points up there where it’s almost 300 miles in between gas stops, where gas could get up to $8 in some spots. You never pass a gas station up there. But, it was beautiful up there, absolutely awesome.”

He also said he never experienced a weather delay throughout the trip. He encountered a few rainy days, but for the most part, it was warm and nice up there.

“A lot of times I would call back home here and the weather was much nicer and hotter there,” he said.

However, that didn’t stop him from having a few close calls with some of the local animals up there, including moose crossing the streets and a grizzly bear walking around outside of a restaurant he stopped at.

“They’re just like deer right here. They’re everywhere!” he said.

On his way back home from Alaska, Pasquale stopped in Colorado at Pikes Peak and did a run on his bike up the mountain. He said he filmed the entire run using a video camera mounted to his helmet.

The mountain there is the site of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for automobiles and motorcycles. According to the competition’s website, it is the second-oldest motorsports race in the United States.

“It’s kind of a big Ducati thing since Ducati motorcycles win that race every year,” he said. “So, I figured I’m going to do it on the same bike they win the race on. It’s a pretty treacherous ride, too! It’s over 14,000 feet, there aren’t any guardrails; it was pretty awesome.”

In total, Pasquale spent eight days traveling in Alaska and put a total of 12,000 miles on the bike.

Back at home here, Pasquale, who is married and has four children, has worked at the Nestle Purina PetCare Company in Dunkirk as a maintenance team leader for the past 10 years and is also a retired veteran. He was in the New York Army National Guard for over two decades.

“That trip was definitely one of those life-changing things for me,” he said. “All those miles and all the unique people you meet along the way really made it amazing.”

Pasquale said he will more than likely do the trip again within the next several years, but joked he is trying to ease his wife into it all over again.

“I would love to do it someday with my kids,” he said.

Comments on this article may be sent to gfox@observertoday.com