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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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  #1  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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Wiped out on the Dempster

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Its well known that the gravel on the Dempster Highway from Dawson to Inuvik is a killer… as I learned 70 kilometers south of Inuvik. You would think that after having driven almost 700 kilometers in the stuff I would be used to it. But no… every patch of loose gravel on the Dempster is different. I was riding my fully farkled DL650 with TKC80 tires.

It wasn’t speed… I was only doing 60 or 70 kms/hour when I hit the gravel patch. It wasn’t weather… it was a beautiful day… about 24 degrees Celsius – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The back end started to fishtail, the bike went into an uncontrollable wobble and went down low side. In the process my foot went down and I could feel the bones in my ankle snapping. Then it stopped. The engine cut out and there was silence. Total silence. I was in the middle of the road. I knew my leg was broken, but everything else was OK. ATGATT. Never compromise. I was under the bike but not pinned. My Caribou cases kept the bike up off the injured leg.

Fortunately I had decided to bring a satellite phone with me and got the number of the RCMP communications centre in the Yukon before I left. It worked perfectly…. Though I was now in the Northwest Territories. It took a few seconds to transfer the call to the RCMP detachment in Inuvik. From my GPS I was able to tell them how far down the road from Inuvik I was, and was able to give them the precise GPS coordinates. While on the phone a camper van from Washington State driven by a really nice chap named Ralph pulled up. Though you’re riding alone on the Dempster, at this time of year you can count on another vehicle coming by every 10 or 15 minutes. The RCMP asked to speak to Ralph just in case I passed out. He agreed to stay with me until help arrived.

It took the RCMP about 45 minutes to get to me. 50 minutes for the ambulance. In the meantime, a couple from Inuvik on the way home stopped and helped get me to the side of the road and get the bike off the road. Several other vehicles, including one biker, stopped to offer assistance.

Inuvik has a little hospital with very kind and competent medical and nursing staff. They X-rayed my leg and sent the X-rays electronically to an orthopedic surgeon in Yellowknife. It was decided to Medevac me to Yellowknife on a fixed wing air ambulance…. Oh… Insurance…. Don’t leave home without that either. The Medevac bill was $15K.

And the best motel I “never” stayed at? I was heading for the Arctic Chalet in Inuvik. When the proprietor learned that I had been in an accident, she came to the hospital to see me, but I had already been airlifted to Yellowknife. She tracked down my wife in Toronto and offered to help in any way. She and her husband are now making all the arrangements to get my bike, gear and luggage shipped home. If their accommodations are half as good as their kindness….. its unquestionably 5 star.

And a plug for Caribou cases… the laptop this is being typed on was in the case that hit the ground the hardest. The mountings on the left side are bent up, but the cases themselves are still intact and will be on the bike for the next trip.

I was told by the RCMP that the bike is in pretty good shape. Only real damage is bent handlebars, and a broken side mirror. Crash bars and barkbusters helped there.

Yeah… I crashed my bike…. I broke my ankle…. But I made it to the Arctic Circle and had my faith in humanity restored.

Check out the video... YouTube - Brendan Reaches the Arctic Circle
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  #2  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brendanseaton View Post
I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Its well known that the gravel on the Dempster Highway from Dawson to Inuvik is a killer… as I learned 70 kilometers south of Inuvik. You would think that after having driven almost 700 kilometers in the stuff I would be used to it. But no… every patch of loose gravel on the Dempster is different. I was riding my fully farkled DL650 with TKC80 tires.

It wasn’t speed… I was only doing 60 or 70 kms/hour when I hit the gravel patch. It wasn’t weather… it was a beautiful day… about 24 degrees Celsius – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The back end started to fishtail, the bike went into an uncontrollable wobble and went down low side. In the process my foot went down and I could feel the bones in my ankle snapping. Then it stopped. The engine cut out and there was silence. Total silence. I was in the middle of the road. I knew my leg was broken, but everything else was OK. ATGATT. Never compromise. I was under the bike but not pinned. My Caribou cases kept the bike up off the injured leg.

Fortunately I had decided to bring a satellite phone with me and got the number of the RCMP communications centre in the Yukon before I left. It worked perfectly…. Though I was now in the Northwest Territories. It took a few seconds to transfer the call to the RCMP detachment in Inuvik. From my GPS I was able to tell them how far down the road from Inuvik I was, and was able to give them the precise GPS coordinates. While on the phone a camper van from Washington State driven by a really nice chap named Ralph pulled up. Though you’re riding alone on the Dempster, at this time of year you can count on another vehicle coming by every 10 or 15 minutes. The RCMP asked to speak to Ralph just in case I passed out. He agreed to stay with me until help arrived.

It took the RCMP about 45 minutes to get to me. 50 minutes for the ambulance. In the meantime, a couple from Inuvik on the way home stopped and helped get me to the side of the road and get the bike off the road. Several other vehicles, including one biker, stopped to offer assistance.

Inuvik has a little hospital with very kind and competent medical and nursing staff. They X-rayed my leg and sent the X-rays electronically to an orthopedic surgeon in Yellowknife. It was decided to Medevac me to Yellowknife on a fixed wing air ambulance…. Oh… Insurance…. Don’t leave home without that either. The Medevac bill was $15K.

And the best motel I “never” stayed at? I was heading for the Arctic Chalet in Inuvik. When the proprietor learned that I had been in an accident, she came to the hospital to see me, but I had already been airlifted to Yellowknife. She tracked down my wife in Toronto and offered to help in any way. She and her husband are now making all the arrangements to get my bike, gear and luggage shipped home. If their accommodations are half as good as their kindness….. its unquestionably 5 star.

And a plug for Caribou cases… the laptop this is being typed on was in the case that hit the ground the hardest. The mountings on the left side are bent up, but the cases themselves are still intact and will be on the bike for the next trip.

I was told by the RCMP that the bike is in pretty good shape. Only real damage is bent handlebars, and a broken side mirror. Crash bars and barkbusters helped there.

Yeah… I crashed my bike…. I broke my ankle…. But I made it to the Arctic Circle and had my faith in humanity restored.

Check out the video... YouTube - Brendan Reaches the Arctic Circle
Glad you are OK; respect to all who helped.
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  #3  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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Hey Brendan,

Sorry to hear about your accident but good to know that you are alright. If the shipping home arrangements end up being expensive or complicated, you are welcome to store the bike at my place or a friends place here in BC and then fly out next summer and ride it home. Heal well.
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  #4  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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ooo sounds nasty !!

Glad you're ok now though...

May I ask.. Were you wearing good boots ?? Motorcross boots ?
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  #5  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
ooo sounds nasty !!

Glad you're ok now though...

May I ask.. Were you wearing good boots ?? Motorcross boots ?
They were Alpinestar full length boots. I forget the model. All of my gear is enroute back to me. I'm certain that it wasn't something that would have been changed with a different boot. I must have reflexively taken the left foot off the peg to break the fall and it got caught between the road and the bike and twisted. If I had kept my foot on the peg I would likely have been alright.
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  #6  
Old 14 Jul 2010
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Originally Posted by MountainMan View Post
Hey Brendan,

Sorry to hear about your accident but good to know that you are alright. If the shipping home arrangements end up being expensive or complicated, you are welcome to store the bike at my place or a friends place here in BC and then fly out next summer and ride it home. Heal well.
The people at the Arctic Chalet (Judi and Olav) in Inuvik have arranged to have my bike and gear shipped back to Toronto... for $342 if you can believe it. They obviously have some influence with the shipping company. If you're taking this ride I would highly recommend this as your turnaround destination.

Thanks for the offer just the same. Much appreciated.

Last edited by brendanseaton; 26 Jul 2010 at 12:06.
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  #7  
Old 15 Jul 2010
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Originally Posted by brendanseaton View Post
I'm certain that it wasn't something that would have been changed with a different boot. I must have reflexively taken the left foot off the peg to break the fall and it got caught between the road and the bike and twisted.
Sounds like you were lucky not to transfer that twist to your knee... Best of luck with the recovery and what a brilliant response from all those who helped!
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  #8  
Old 19 Jul 2010
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Thanks for the post, I'm due to be on the same stretch of road over the next few weeks & will try to be as cautious as possible. Fingers crossed!

Best wishes for your recovery & if there is such a thing as karma, those that helped will reap their rewards in time.

Take care.
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  #9  
Old 25 Jul 2010
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so you did have insurance?? I m confused but that is normal. glad your ok.
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  #10  
Old 26 Jul 2010
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Ouch! Crap luck, but well done for making the Arctic circle.
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  #11  
Old 26 Jul 2010
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Originally Posted by trying59 View Post
so you did have insurance?? I m confused but that is normal. glad your ok.
I know that experienced travellers consider insurance with air evac coverage a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people have only the minimum coverage required by law. I'm sure that they're the same people who ride in shorts and flip flops. I've posted my ride report on other forums and people have responded with "insurance... yeah.... good idea!" (paraphrased).
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