Alaska to New York in the winter…on a motorcycle?
Jason Hersey/Sun Star Columnist
Feb. 4, 2014
For the third time since September
2012, Fernando García of Spain, known as El Búfalo, passed through Fairbanks on the same beat up Kawasaki motorcycle with another crazy travel scheme—this time: Alaska to New York in the middle of winter.
This winter break was cold, dark and it was refreshing in a sick sort of way to watch my friend deal with the harsh cold here, so far from his beach home in Southern Spain. I had known that he was planning this trip since late October
2013, but I kept messaging him on Facebook that people don’t just ride their dirt bike down the Alaska-Canada highway in the middle of winter. I have never seen anyone on a motorcycle in my ten years, I told him. You can’t tell El Búfalo what to do, I realized .
My wife and I met El Búfalo via couchsurfing.org in September
2012. He had just landed in Anchorage and bought the Kawasaki 650 KLR second hand. He made it to our place in Fairbanks planning on taking the bike up to Prudhoe Bay and then descending to the tip of Argentina—the Tierra del Fuego, or Land of Fire.
As is the custom of the couch surfing community, El Búfalo stayed with us a few days before his trip to Prudhoe and a few more before heading south late that September. I remember thinking that he seemed incredibly unprepared for this trip and already the bike was having electrical problems that needed fixing in my driveway before he could go anywhere.
El Búfalo’s style of travel is one that is seeming to become more popular in the last few years. In ways,
similar to Christopher M cCandless’s story told by the book and movie “Into the Wild,” El Búfalo travels to tell a story of adventure and perseverance with little regard for how he will get there and also—with very little money.
I travel so that those who follow my story and those I meet will realize that they could do it too, he always told me.
And they do follow him! With over 3,000 Facebook friends, about 800 on Twitter, a blog that is full of advertisements from friendly Spanish businesses, El Búfalo self-documents his travels continually with video, stills, writing
, and a GoPro strapped to his helmet. There was even a reality TV documentary that aired in Mexico while he traveled to Tierra del Fuego with episodes of him crossing and getting stuck in the world’s largest salt flats desert, Salar de Uyuni of Bolivia.
So after the trip to Argentina (and back to Anchorage) on the same motorcycle and when in mid-December in Fairbanks he told me he was going to go get his motorcycle out of the shop in Anchorage and return over my winter break to start the trip to New York, all I could say was, “The door is open. You’re crazy, but the door is open.”
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported on Dec.
26, 2013 that a traveler on a motorcycle from Spain pulled in to the Clear Sky Lodge in Anderson on Dec. 23rd , taking some time to warm up and that his heated suit had quit working. In fact, the suit never worked at all the entire trip, which took him nearly 16 hours that day from Anchorage.
El Búfalo arrived that night from Anchorage to my Ester cabin just in time for a -40 cold snap. After some days of sitting frozen in my driveway, we finally got the bike to a heated garage in the back of my pick-up. We managed to figure out that the heated suit, which was wired straight from the battery by a very expensive Kawasaki shop in Anchorage, only worked with a different size fuse.
Today, El Búfalo is in Edmonton, Alberta waiting for a new thermostat for the Kawasaki to arrive so he can continue his journey to New York. As always, people are amazed seeing this traveler on a dirt bike ride in on the snowy highways. They continue to offer their couches, some dinner,
and exchange laughter at his many crazy and amazing stories from the road.
Stories like the one he told to my wide-eyed students in my Spanish classes while student teaching at Hutchison High School when he was here in December: “I crossed the salt desert into Chile, where only drug traffickers go, with a few bottles of water and a chocolate bar.”
You can follow El Búfalo at http://bufaloiceman.blogspot.com/