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Author Topic: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009  (Read 1236 times)

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Offline kendenton

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #30 on: July 14, 2017, 12:31:00 PM »
Excellent so far!
IBA #37902

Online DNA

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #31 on: July 14, 2017, 02:16:40 PM »
Great start - compelling and mucho expensive so far.
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack  -You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile- You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife-
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #32 on: July 16, 2017, 04:42:27 PM »
I'm in. 

I actually got back from Alaska in June but I got there on a cruise ship. 

Offline BMW-K

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #33 on: July 17, 2017, 11:17:35 AM »
Even though Alaska was still 6+ months away, the planning was necessary.  I had learned that while back to back to back 500 mile days were possible, it just wasn't very fun.  Further, while that could be doable, the other issue was that there would be zero margin for error.


So the plan was to figure out, roughly, a nice, "easy" route that wouldn't wear us out.


We also wanted to schedule up a few layover days off the bikes so we could wander around, visit towns or do side shows, or replace the inevitable final drive.  Because, well, BMW.


There was also one other really big thing we wanted to do:  leave something for surprise.  I'm quite a planner and in general I avoid surprises.  At the same time we didn't want to kill off the wonderment of a new world.


These were all learned lessons btw.  When we did the 2007 STN Nationals, we covered 6,000 miles in 2 weeks.  Each day was a 500-600 mile slog, many times in big heat.  We were absolutely worn out, getting in late a couple days into a hotel or a town that was full.  Once we got off schedule (left at 10or 11am) we never recovered and the trip was a pure grind.


The plan therefore was for 3 weeks (turned into 19 days on the road). And roughly 6,000 miles.  We would do two "short" days (250-350 miles) for every "long" day of 550-ish miles.  The key to the "short-short" days is that if we wanted to, we could readily combine two short days into one long day and pick up a spare layover day in the process.  Mix, Rinse, repeat as necessary throughout the trip.


This gave us a total of 4 additional possible "flex days" if something went really wrong.  So, if we actually did have a breakdown, we had the ability of flex in some spare days off without affecting the overall length of the vacation.


There would also be 3 semi-planned layover days.  A day in Dawson City for instance, or a layover in Hyder.


So the goal was simple:  depart by 9am at the latest and get into town no later than 5:30.  First stop:  Gas (and recommendations for a hotel), Hotel, Food.  In that order.  If hotels were filled up, we already had tanks of gas to cover the distance.


Other lessons learned from the Nationals:  while we did bring camping gear on that trip, we suck at camping.  It was going to be hotels all the way. That, and I sleep with a CPAP so an outlet is pretty much mandatory for existence.


There were a number of things I either learned...or figured out on the trip.  I can't remember which.  Here's a list:


 1.  Gas is available every 100 miles with only two or three exceptions:  The Haul Road, Campbell Highway (North), the Dempster to Innuvik.  In each of these cases you do need about a 250 max range.
 2.  Canadians are thrilled to take credit cards virtually anywhere.  No need to hit the exchange counters.
 3.  The smaller Towns largely roll up the streets by 8pm and in some cases 6pm.
 4.  The roads are brutally rough.  Notsomuch potholes and the like, just a really rough surface that chews up tires.  We could see and measure the visible wear on the tires between gas stops.  A useful unit of measurement is that you will only get 50-60% of normal tire life.
 5.  Sporks.
 6.  If you are a cheap bastard (*and I am), you can use Revzilla etc. and their free shipping to pre-ship tires to a hotel you intend to stay at and change tires yourself in the parking lot of the hotel.
 7.  Yes, everything really is more expensive in Alaska.
 8.  It will rain.  Lots.  Maybe.
 9.  It is indeed cold above the arctic circle.  My e-Vest sat in my bag right up until, well, I needed it.  :)
 10. MedJet or other evac insurance on the Haul Road is a darn good idea.
 11. AAA towing service will not help you on the Haul Road but RV Roadhelp will.
 12. The first 30 miles and last 30 miles of the Haul Road are the worst.  Unless it's raining and then it all sucks.
 13. Because the days really are freakishly long, you actually have 18-20 hours of riding time a day without the need for lights.  A watch or timepiece is a good idea, it's super easy to get discombobulated and not know if it's 11am or 11pm.
 14. Moose...are really, really big.
 15. People in Canada are embarrassingly kind.
 16. There's free coffee at gas stops!  (*or at least there was!)
 17. It is fully expected that motorcyclists gently ride up to the front of any construction lines.
 18. In 2009, there was lots of road repair and construction.
 19. Metal grate bridges will make you pucker, especially in the rain.
 20. Bring a hat.
 21. A waterproof camera on a tether for pix on the fly.  Yes, I did indeed go to BestBuy and test drive cameras with my gloves on.  And a back up camera is a good idea too.
 22. IF you are concerned about spare parts, check with your local dealer and see what they normally have on-hand...or get friendly with some people who can manage bailout plans.
 23. IF you can, try to pack thin enough to have one saddlebag or top case completely empty.  VERY handy for stashing things when the packing isn't quite perfect.  Like taking off wet raingear. 
24.  A small squirt bottle with a touch of Windex in the water and a rag (in the tank bag) to clean face shields on the fly.  If we stopped every time we got a good bug strike we'd still be in Alaska! 

And, of course, Farkling the bikes is always fun!

*****

In terms of my riding, the GS was a game changer.  Up until that point I'd been content riding bikes very, ah, inappropriately. The RSL was not a dirt bike by any means but that didn't stop me from hitting fire roads on it.  It certainly wasn't a track bike but that didn't stop me there either.  As a light tourer with a bit of a sporty flair it was ideal (*but truth be told, it was still too heavy to be considered a real sports tourer, IMO).

No, what the GS was, was game changer.  Long travel suspension became a true love-hate relationship.  It was great touring and on rough roads but it held it back in the twisties when more precision was called for.  The long wheelbase was supremely stable but it also meant it didn't want to turn. Telelever ate up potholes and pavement imperfections in a way I can't really describe.  I remember one patch of really rough road, I was laughing my tail off slamming through whoops frost heaves...and then I looked in the mirrors and my much faster friends were nowhere to be seen.  An entertaining road to me became torture to them as stiff track grade suspensions pummeled them into submission.

I remember that ride through the Sequoias, I think it was then that I gelled with the bike.  Track days were interesting...no way was I ever going to get a knee down on the GS.  Not with a 32" seat height and my 30" inseam.

I would not term the GS as fast in any way but I sure worked that bike right to its limits.

Over the 33,000 miles I'd owned the bike up until that point, I'd started to pick up bad habits.  Potholes were meant to be hit.  Curbs and grass burms in the Church parking lot became rather interesting and entertaining exit points.  Sticks and debris in the road were fun, small animals greased the wheels providing plenty of traction practice and the GS feared nothing nature dished out.  Sand, Dirt, rocks - it was all fun.

Mind you, 600# in the dirt is a LOT of Pig to wrestle around.  Rewarding in a strange way but still, a lot to muscle around.  With that, I started to experiment with knobbies. 

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Ok, so I needed to do some work there.  :) 

Tin cans came next. 
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And the usual Farklry ensued.  Lights, Mayer Saddle, top case, several iterations of tank bags...home made highway pegs, suspension by Ohlins and experiments with windshields.  Givi 52 on the back plus 70L of Touratech Zega's.  Plenty of packing space there!  By the time Alaska came around 2 years after the GS purchase, the GS was as good as it was going to be. 

I also did a bunch of work on Trina's GS.  Here is my Beloved modeling SW-Motech's finest crash bars.
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I love that she has the knife in her teeth on this one.  ARRRRRR!
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Givi 20's...these things were awesome.  Drop the bike and the lid popped open.  Just shove it closed again.  Lean against it?  Lid pops open.  Hit a car?  Yep!  You guessed it.  As a top loader at least all the gear in there didn't go flying out!

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Givi V46 / 20 combo.  And Wolfman Tank Panniers.

So by the time Alaska had come to be a reality I had already planned out how the logistics were all going to managed.  Whatever partially eaten tires we had on the bikes would carry us to Fairbanks and we would change to TKC 80's, with tires strategically shipped to a hotel.

Mind you, I'd never changed tires on the fly before.   :crazy:
IBA #:  20880
Damn.  Was that really a good idea?

Offline stew71

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #34 on: July 17, 2017, 06:45:29 PM »
 :popcorn:
With enough thrust, a pig flies just fine.

Online viffergyrl

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #35 on: July 18, 2017, 08:34:41 AM »
Let me just put this right here. We'll get back to this I'm sure.

Quote
I'm quite a planner and in general I avoid surprises.
Don't argue with an idiot; people might not know the difference. -Anonymous

Online Max Wedge

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #36 on: July 18, 2017, 08:44:39 AM »
 :clap: :popcorn:
You never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrists' office.
Where am I?

Online Andrew

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #37 on: July 25, 2017, 10:21:31 PM »
 :popcorn:
Till the morning comes, it'll do you fine.
Till the morning comes, like a highway sign,
Showing you the way, leaving no doubt,
Of the way on in or the way back out.

Online DNA

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #38 on: July 26, 2017, 11:19:31 AM »
Mind you, I'd never changed tires on the fly before.   :crazy:

Curious how this is going to work out as well....
You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack  -You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile- You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife-
You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

Offline BMW-K

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #39 on: July 27, 2017, 12:32:55 AM »
due to Photobucket being a pile of crappola, i've had to reload pix on a daily basis.  Or, more accurately, when I've had time.

The good news is that I've written the next chapter.

The bad news is I haven't uploaded the pix yet.   :o
IBA #:  20880
Damn.  Was that really a good idea?

Offline BMW-K

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2017, 12:49:04 AM »
Trailer On Good Buddy, Trailer On.
(In Honor of Concho Heritage and cousin' V-Twain)

Once you have ridden the 5 freeway through central California in the summer, you are granted a special exemption:  you can trailer that steaming basin, basking in the glory of an AC'd vehicle for the rest of your lives.  Because much like a Saddle Sore 1000, there is nothing anyway can ever do to take away the mind numbing accomplishment of 796 very straight miles.  The flat spotted tires that eliminate the need for a side stand altogether are testament to the glory that awaits.

Knowing full well that Trina and I have covered the magnificence in the blaze of the summer before, we set our minds to the task of doing it right: We borrowed a trailer.

Not too far past, Miles and James had gone in to buy a legitimate trailer.  This beast ran on tires bigger than my first car and used special oversized 1" marine grade plywood slabs as a deck.  The railings were 2" iron L-beams and the beast must have weight 1000# on it's own.

This, btw, is Miles. 
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And this is James. 
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Very much so Manly Men.  With a Manly Trailer.  And it would be pulled a truly Manly Vehicle (err, my wife's Toyota FJ...)

There was just one problem with it:  it wasn't painted.  Rust was setting in at an alarming rate and that just wasn't going to do.  As good friends we are, we agreed to paint it in exchange for borrowing it for three weeks.

The first step was to lay down a coat of rust-eating brown.  We leaned back and smiled at the elongated turd in the garage.  This just wasn't going to do.

We both set to work to enhance the appearance.

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Of course, three coats of clear was layered on top of the artwork. 

With the trailer now properly farkled, the bikes properly farkled, and the FJ properly loaded for the journey, it was time.

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Special Thanks to Mr. Sunshine for the gracious use of his home to store the FJ.

We're almost ready...

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And now we are off!

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And fuck the fucking I5. 
IBA #:  20880
Damn.  Was that really a good idea?

Online kneescrubber

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2017, 06:48:08 AM »
Trailer On Good Buddy, Trailer On.
(In Honor of Concho Heritage and cousin' V-Twain)

Once you have ridden the 5 freeway through central California in the summer, you are granted a special exemption:  you can trailer that steaming basin, basking in the glory of an AC'd vehicle for the rest of your lives.  Because much like a Saddle Sore 1000, there is nothing anyway can ever do to take away the mind numbing accomplishment of 796 very straight miles.  The flat spotted tires that eliminate the need for a side stand altogether are testament to the glory that awaits.

And fuck the fucking I5.

Most in Texas feel the same way about I10.
“Anybody who wanders around the world saying 'Hell yes, I'm from Texas' deserves whatever happens to him.” — Hunter S. Thompson

If you're not on at least a couple government agency lists, you're not living right.
Bedlamite

Offline 1KPerDay

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #42 on: July 27, 2017, 12:30:42 PM »
"Sport-trailering.net"

 :rolf: :rolf: :rolf:
My hovercraft is full of eels

Online Max Wedge

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #43 on: July 27, 2017, 01:55:13 PM »
You never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrists' office.
Where am I?

Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: The greatest ride report I never wrote. Alaska, 2009
« Reply #44 on: July 27, 2017, 03:13:15 PM »
Well done, Robert. Well done. 

Now where is the next posting??  :popcorn:
www.Dantesdame.com <-- Rides! Rides! Rides!