So here I go again! In 4 days I'll be taking off from Key West, FL and headed to Deadhorse, AK. The total trip as I have it routed on my GPS right now is 14,751 miles, but this could change due to route changes and whims along the way.
I've decided to go ahead and start the ride report a little before my departure to give you all a little intro about the trip, show you what I've done to the bike, and hopefully wet your appetite to follow me as I make my way up.
Yes, that's right, I'll be updating this RR as I make my way north! I did this when I rode the TAT (Trans America Trail) solo back in 2009 and I found that I got a lot of enjoyment from reading everyone's posts and comments (mostly friends but also a lot of inmates whom I'd never met) and it also provided a lot of encouragement for me to keep going when the going got tough. In this way I find that a live RR is quite like a symbiotic relationship where both parties gain something.
Alright, where to start!? Alaska has been on my radar for many years, a dream ride of sorts. Towards the end of last year a buddy of mine back in VA called me and asked me if I still intended to ride to Alaska some day, and when I replied "Yes" he said "How about next summer?" Well that was just the kick in the ass that I needed, and since about December of last year, I've been in full prep mode! (unfortunately, it looks as though I may be on my own in the end
) First order of business, find the bike! Earlier that year I had purchased a 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 650r which I planned to eventually modify into a dual sport type bike similar to what JDrocks had done
. However, living in Key west without my tools and garage space, I reallized that in the amount of time that I had, I would not be able to accomplish this. So I started to look at selling the Ninja and just going ahead a buying a Versys. I know that this is not the most common bike that people use for this type of ride, but this is what I wanted. In December I successfully sold the Ninja and two and a half weeks later found a 2009 Versys with 1500 miles up in Kentucky. Between Christmas and New Years, I left warm and sunny Key West, for cold, I mean REALLY COLD Kentucky!
I packed up a bag, had my dad ship me my heated gloves and took a plane to Kentucky. The bike checked out just like the guy said, and so I hooked up the heated gloves and headed for VA.
Needless to say, I was freezing! Temps that night as I rode away got down into the 30s! My blood has thinned a little since moving to Key West. Well to make a long story short, I rode first to VA to see family and then from there back down to FL. The ride from VA to FL was a nice way to get to know the bike. It's practically the same thing as the Ninja, just a different suspension set up and riding position.
Since then I've been working hard, saving my pennies, and prepping for the trip. I first layed out my route on paper maps and then input it into my GPS mapping software. I've also ordered a bunch of aftermarket stuff for the bike. The bike is now fully prepped, and I've just got two weeks left at work and then a couple days to pack up all my belongings before I hit the road! Here's what I've done to the bike.
Homemade rear tire mud flap to protect the inards of the bike from mud and stuff:
Front fender raised to accomodate bigger tire and homemade mud flap:
Headlight protection, super easy to apply, just uses stick on velcro pieces:
Stainless radiator guard, easy bolt on:
Vstream windshiled and Zeta handguards. Both easy installs.
Two dash mounted 12v marine outlets:
SW Motech crash bars and engine guard. A little tricky on the install, but not too bad thanks to some help from a good friend. Thanks Sneed!
Luggage set up. I wanted to go with hard plastic luggage for its waterproofness and security. I hope to keep this bike for a while and use it for other trips in the future. I ended up going with a Givi 36NJ for a top box and Givi E21s for side cases. I looked at using the 36s for side cases but they're so damn big! With this set up, the rear of the bike is practically the same width as the handle bars.
And last but not least, some highway pegs:
Well that's about it for now. Just in case you're wondering how one finds a way to escape for what I anticipate to be a month to two month long motorcycle trip, well it's very simple: 1) not married, 2) no kids, and 3) yesterday was my last day at work!
This will be the second time that I've quit my job and put all my stuff in storage to go find adventure (the first time being when I ran the TAT in '09), and it worked out well that time so I don't see why it shouldn't work out again. What it really boils down to is that I believe that life is a precious gift that we shouldn't squander away. When I find myself laying on my death bed, I don't want to look back at my life and wish that I had done this or that when I had the chance.
PS. Here I am with the bike this morning on the end of Blimp road on Cudjoe Key after loading up the bike with 90% of my gear and going for a little test ride. Cudjoe Key is just a few keys up from Key West.
PPS I've created a shortened URL to reach this RR if you want to pass it along to friends. Just type in: www.tinyurl.com/kw2dh2011