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Old 09-12-2014, 01:34 PM   #1
ibafran OP
villagidiot
 
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: chicagoland
Oddometer: 1,289
Alaska - 3 guys, 3 bikes - 'goin for broke

Alaska Trip Prep, Section 1


Introduction: How It All Began



Fran: Once upon a time, ...way, way back in December of 2013; Bryan remarked to me that he had ridden to the Far North including Prudhoe Bay back in 2009. That was a bucket list item for me since I was 12 and riding there was the only way to go since I was 17 as I explained. The next thing that I know, he invites me to ride with him and his good bud Thomas in late May thru Mid-June in 2014. I had seen Bryan ride at a track school and at a track day and en route to the fun on the public way. Thus, I was assured that he had riding skills generally suitable for survival on such a trek.

I had been invited to ride north several times before this occasion. For a variety of reasons, these invites all flamed out as planing time ran short. Because Bryan had been there, I figured that he would actually go when the time to depart arrived. My response was that I would not consider the trip until after the holidays and give an honest answer in mid-January.

After talking to my beloved spouse, Maureen, in January, I let Bryan know on 1-21-14 that I would go providing my funds were available. The funds, if any, were expected to be available in early to mid-March and he would get a firm commitment then if possible. Naturally, the funds were not available until late March and I was scared to death that they might not be available at all. And I would miss yet another chance at my dream. While awaiting the accumulation of funds, many dreams were dreamed and many checklists compiled such that I might be ready to swing into action at the first arrival of monies.



Already, new 'firsts' beset me. I had never needed a passport before but was advised that I needed one now. It was my first official purchase for the trip. Because "Bry" said that he was buying a purpose-made adventure bike just for the trip, I considered doing the same. After some deep soul searching, I decided to take a big risk and ride my 05 Triumph Sprint ST for extra credit and even more stupid adventure than might otherwise be available on more adequate equipment. These are the kind of decisions that have gotten me into trouble all my life. And my bike already had 70+K miles on it and was a bit ragged from track day falling and other abuse heaped upon it over the years. Granted, it had never been in a collision and should be mostly sound. Thus, I believed that I could get the thing to perform well enough to see me through. And it was already plumbed with a 3.25 gallon auxiliary fuel tank and I had trip bags for it. And, I am somehow psychically bonded to it as a favorite tool. Just like I prefer to use the same hammer of the 25 hammers that I own whenever possible.

Bryan also informed me that his bud, Thomas, would be riding too. No info at the time about Thomas was remembered by me? I just figured that if Bry thought that Tom was capable of the trip, then that was good enough for me for the time being.




Preparations

Fran ...Bry was a wealth of info including sharing packing lists and other checklists and I considered everything that he communicated very carefully. And then did whatever the hell that I wanted. When he told me that he was going to buy a 1200 GS adventure bike for the trip and that I might be wise to do the same, I did a lot of soul searching about that. Even My Own Dear Maureen asked me if I was going to get an 'appropriate' bike for the trip? Hmmmm? I decided that the trip might end the usable life span of my Sprint. Thus, I could buy my 'next' bike after the trip and have something nice to ride for a few years. Besides, I told myself, any damn fool can ride an appropriate bike to the Great Far North and not extract nary a wit's worth of adventure stories for the effort. This might be the only time that I get to ride North. Let me bet my life as best as I can rather than risk a coronary on my couch watching the golf channel? Shoot! Tom intended to

ride his brand new, high gloss, uber-touring, RT Beemer. No way was I going to be upstaged by that. And I came to know that he is also a Harley rider on top of that. So, it seemed that I should ride my Sprint as more/less in the Spirit of "Death Before Dishonor".

Maureen supported my "Death Before Disability" outlook as she preferred not to waste her Golden Gramma Years tending to an invalid. Consulting friends and family, her fears were laid to rest as they all thought that I was/am too stupid not to kill myself in my efforts and become a drain on her well-being. "Make sure that your insurance is paid up and all the paperwork is readily at hand for easy administration", they said. "What could possibly go wrong?" they said.


THOMAS: I too thought this was a perfect excuse to convince my lovely bride that a 1200GS was the only bike for the trip and thereby securing ownership of 2 BMWs along with my Harley Davidson Electra Glide. Unfortunately, a dear friend, Larry Wayne (LW), passed away. He was the type of friend everyone hopes to have – loyal and would do anything to help a friend. After the funeral, his family offered to sell me his Harley Davidson Fatboy in an effort to finance his son’s college. Was there even a choice or decision to be made? What would LW do? Well, when a mutual friend of ours, Ben, passed away, LW financed the funeral because Ben’s family had no money. So, it was an easy decision, I’d be the friend LW was. I’d buy LW’s Fatboy and ride my new RT. Did I mention it was my brand spanking new RT that I was going to ride over the Campbell and Dempster?

Bryan: Yep. I'd done this before and had already gone thru the pros and cons of trying to ride anything other than a dual sport. In 2009 I had decided on buying an 1150GS and in 2014 decided to buy a 1200GS. In both cases I bought used bikes and spent some additional bucks tweaking and farkeling these rides. The difference was in 2014 I knew exactly what I wanted changed on the bike...in 2009 I was pretty much guessing.



I figure I got it 95% right this time.

I'm very familiar with providing lists, detailed spreadsheets and copious advice... and having it all ignored. So we decided in advance that in the event of a serious mechanical failure or bone sticking through the skin kind of injury, that the other riders would get the injured bike/rider to a safe town with options for mechanical/medical care. And he and his bike would be left there to figure it out on their own. I know that once off on the gravel your options dwindle quickly...repair parts are days/weeks away and medical care is a variable depending on what country/region you are in. This group decision proved to be prescient.

I'd ridden extensively with Thomas and a bit with Fran and was comfortable that their riding skills would get them thru whatever bad decisions they were making.

We were looking forward to the Yukon. The Yukon can and will kick your butt.


Fran: About a week before the Team Chicago Road Race School in which I participate annually, I bought a car tire for the Sprint's rear wheel. The first tire did not fit and rubbed on the swingarm. My digitally adept son-in-law, Jason, helped me find a better tire online. Lithe Daughter, Liz, had to STAND on the sidewall to force the bead into the well of the wheel mounted on a professional No-Mar Tire Stand while Jason and I used ALL the No-Mar tools and lube to mount this tire. The idea was to have a very tough and long lasting (40K miles, no less) tire negating the need to change it mid-journey. And it was cheap too. And it would last out the rest of the riding season and into the next Spring. And I could take it off and use it for the next big trip while enjoying a regular bike tire for my daily commute and Sunday rides. The idea was to have it mounted for the track and test it there as well as on the 500 mile commute to and from the track while carrying camping gear and extra fuel. Alas, the track school was canceled due to bad weather. A weel later, I took a 500 mile test ride to Moonshine IL. which had an anual biker event at the time.

Riding away from my SIL's house on the new car tire, I expected it to feel 'different' or 'odd'. It was so different and odd feeling that it immediately had me thinking, "Maybe this isn't a good idea?" But, I expected to have to get used to it to some degree and persevered. Later when riders asked me how it was, I told them, "It's a lot like getting married and having to make a transition to the 'New Normal' in a lot of unexpected ways. So far, it hasn't done anything dangerous ...yet." And it didn't until later in the trip.

My 'cornering' lights were removed as I figured that they would only get beat to death. I only really needed them to spot the goofy joggers and road debris in my neighborhood. The aux fuel tank replaced my Pelican top box. I knew that I would miss the convenient storage space of the waterproof case. But fuel was a priority for the long stretches in the Far North. Maureen found a nice ambient air temp. gauge that I hook&loop taped to my bike where I could see it while riding. Engine heat and sun load played hob with it. But it was great to have anyway. Tom had a temp gauge on his RT too. Daughter, Bex, gave me a Demon Bell to ward off evil and help protect me. Laugh as you like. I very much appreciated the thought and gladly installed it prominently on the bike. The bike got a valve adjustment and a computer check at the dealer, MCC in Villa Park. I did the oil change myself. Jason helped me order a chain and sprockets from the Web for a taller
gearing change to compensate for the change in rear tire size which I changed out myself. I added a homemade mud flap extension to the front fender and another to the rear wheel well to keep debris off the suspension linkage. A separate rubber wrap went around the rear shock and spring just because it was easy to do and could catch any mud missed by the rear wheel mud guard. The rear wheel mud guards worked well. The front add-on did not work as well as hoped. While I had the bike apart and had easy access to remote and critical bolts, like the rear brake caliper bolts, I drilled them for safety wire. My shift linkage pins looked a little sloppy after 70+K miles. So I safety wired those in such a manner that I hoped would keep them together for the trip.

Bike support supplies were laid in. Fuses(Hah), various electrical crimp fittings(Hah), some hard to find screws that like to come adrift despite my best efforts(Hah), web straps as better handholds for picking the bike up from tip-overs and getting it on the center stand fully laden. J-B metal epoxy. I bought a cheap 6" c-clamp for a tire bead breaker and drilled 40 holes in it trying to lighten it. Tools not normally carried on the bike like the aforementioned bead breaker were assembled for packing: I bought a cheap 11'x11' tarp and 2 telescoping cheap painter's poles to use as an 'emergency/temporary' rain fly. Thus, I had a 'workable' garage if needed in the rain. Cheap cord for guy lines for this tarp set-up too. I didn't have Eye-of-God driving lights nor bark busters with stone guards. I bought a 'new' can of Dupont Multi-Lube with Teflon for daily chain spray and wondered if it was going to be enough for the trip? I carry enough gear for
the bike as a matter of course that no further gear was added.

Camping supplies and gear had its own checklist. Eureka 2-man tent on sale for $90 w/ and extra pole section in case I busted one, Swiss Army Knife-style/brand sleeping bag good down to temps of about 50F and calm winds (should have got a silk liner for the bag but it was too pricey when I was looking at one) were already at hand and I didn't need to buy gear.

Bryan - I think I did tell everyone that a 30 degree bag was required. Yep, being cold at night sux.


What I did buy was a gallon of Starbrite Waterproofing w/ PTEF from West Marine, usually $55 but was on sale at $37 for use on my tent fly and my Stich. And it worked great on my tent fly. It worked great on my Stich too when I remembered to get the zips closed and the wind flap over the main zip secured. The sealer also perfomed well on my nylon duffle, my nylon 'possibles' back pack in which I stored my munchies at the ready, and my tank bag. The underside of my tent fly was treated with Sawyer premium Insect Repellant with "Permethrin" . The idea here was to set up the tent and walk away while the bugs died or moved away. Thus, getting into a bug-free tent was more likely if no bugs were trapped under the fly. This worked well enough too. Having been to the Yukon during Black Fly season, I bought a headnet. Fortunately, I didn't need it but it was very comforting to have at the ready in my tank bag. The First-Aid kit was checked and upgraded. I bought&packed a Camel Back-type hydration thing but never felt the need to use it. Water was packed in 20oz plastic bottles. I had powdered electrolyte to add to it if I wanted to. An 'emergency' rain suit and an 'emergency' rain poncho were placed in an outside duffle pocket and were never needed.

Bryan had the camp hatchet. But, I was in a fancy tool store and saw a nice one that I was tempted to buy anyway. The $147 tag put me off. BUT. I will be on the lookout for one just like the fancy one in the pawn/resale shops forevermore. Bry also packed a stove for fancy coffee and fancier backpacking meals. I need neither but enjoyed the possibilities. Bry was kind enough to pack a camp chair for me which I seriously enjoyed a bunch of times. I pack a foam garden kneeler which doubles as picnic bench cushion and all-round body cushion in the tent or roadside etc. Never leave home w/o a nice foam kneeler. Handy for any religious observations too.

Bry cautioned that "Cotton kills" in the Far North. I bought some fancy and expensive non-cotton undies for this trip. Always wanted to try 'em and this was a bonafide good chance. In some ways, I felt like a bride-to-be putting together a trousseau. I did not find the fancy stuff to be better than my usual cotton. But! I had acrylic fleeces for the truly cold rides to the Arctic as well as an electric vest which I wore in cool temps just in case I needed a little heat. I also packed all the chemical hand warmers that I had. And I used a lot of them one night. Rumor has it that the big chemical pads that Wal-Mart sells to back pain sufferers work well but I did not have those. In addition, Walgreens had a end of season sale on women's lycra-type 'tights' for $9 each. I bought 2. All my 'arctic gear went into one saddlebag making it easy to leave one bag undisturbed until really needed.


THOMAS: Preparing for the ride gave me an excuse to upgrade some of my gear - new sleeping bag and pad. We had spreadsheets for every aspect of the trip: all the required essentials, medical gear, satellite phone, and camping gear. We also had spreadsheets with the full itinerary including miles, types of roads, RON (Remain Over Night) locations, etc. The planning was an exciting part of the journey. It gave Fran and me a chance to get to know each other and for the 3 of us to do some male bonding. The planning and spreadsheets were immensely helpful in convincing my wife that my entire years worth of vacation would be well spent riding with Fran and Bryan, rather than vacationing with her….well, ok, I tried to use them to convince my bride J …she at least was convinced I was serious about the trip.

Bryan: In 2009 I learned quite a few lessons and applied them to this trip. My backpacking grade camping gear was pretty much the same - hard to winnow this down further, but added more freezedried meals, Red Bull, Five hour energy vials, beef jerky, protein bars, powdered Gatoraide and a Camelback. The 2005 GS was outfitted with rugged Aluminum panniers and top case and I dramatically upgraded the on bike lighting with 35 Watt HID high and low beams and LED Aux lights. I remembered how dark British Columbia highways can be enroute to the land of the midnight sun, and how big the animals were that wandered on said highways. I think I was now packing about 12,000 lumens of light all in. I carried my extra tire strapped to the top case.



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ibafran screwed with this post 10-05-2014 at 03:07 PM
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Old 09-12-2014, 01:39 PM   #2
ibafran OP
villagidiot
 
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: chicagoland
Oddometer: 1,289
Continued prep

Section 2...Getting Started

As mentioned earlier, I had my car tire on by April 3 and hoped to test it at the roadracing track school day which was canceled. I still needed to test the tire and took a 500 mile day trip to Moonshine IL on AP. 12. a week later. The tire performed acceptably. My 3.25 Gallon fuel cell was tested on the same trip and found to have a 'slow' fuel filter. The filter allowed fuel to keep up with demand at highway speed. But it did not transfer fuel fast enough to see the fuel gauge 'rise' while riding. A new fuel filter was installed but not tested after the day. A second filter was bought for Alaska. Having no spares, like fuses and a few nuts and bolts, in the Wilds was unthinkable by me. Me being me, I packed no spare cables after looking at the original one's on my 75K mile bike and pronouncing them 'good to go'.
Nor did I pack any spare levers. Back in the day, bikes had matching, cheap levers. And having a spare or two was no big deal. Nowadays, the levers do not match and are as expensive as all get out. Besides, the fancy brake lever had already been bent and snapped off in a previous fall. It was cheaper to have it welded than buy a new one. And because it was now appreciably bent but not straightened by the welder, the likely-hood of it being broken again was greatly diminished. The welder (thanks, John Y.) actually asked me if I wanted the lever straightened? My reply was, "No, it is now pre-disaster'd and I find the bend much more pleasing for my usage."
The foot brake lever was also bent and ground down in a previous 'get-off'. I straightened it a little more and touched it up with a file so my boot would slide on it a bit better. This repair was also tested on the road and judged to be 'almost perfect'. I learned long ago that 'almost perfect' was as good as I was ever going to get. And that fooling with stuff beyond that usually resulted making things worse for me instead of affecting the perfection that I hoped for and was so seemingly easy for others. This is why I don't ice cakes among other things for a living.
Somewhere about this time, another guy from ADV got wind of our trip and wanted to tag along. We were accepting and I posted an 'intro' of myself to all, and Bryan sponsored a group phone call to let us all understand what such a trip would entail.

We never heard back from this guy, we must have deeply and totally freaked him out.

Make of that all the humor that you will. By the way, originally there was a 4th guy scheduled for the trip. A man of language and a physician. I was really excited to have him along. Real medical care in the wilderness would ease a lot of my trepidation about doing this trip. To our extreme sorrow, he had to bail out. I have never adventured with a physician and very much wanted to do so. I very much missed getting to know him.

May 3, my sprockets and chain were replaced with new gearing at the Chicago Norton Owners Club Tech Day. My fellow club members were interested in helping out, rendering opinions, cautions, and as much humor&teasing as possible. I found my new chain too short for the desired gearing and tire spacing limitations. This required me to add 2 links when I got home. What? You never had 3 or more master links in a chain before? If not, maybe you are not quite ready for some real adventure yet and need more practice before heading out?

May 4, I tested my tire and gearing under load. It was a fun test. I politely asked a nubile and spirited young lady if she would like to go for a ride including breakfast. She accepted and we had a nice 100 mile loop. The bike seemed to function well and the car tire seemed to work better under load. Because I explained my test needs, she told me that she weighed 160lbs. She is a tall lady and the 160lbs is delightfully delegated in the best possible way. Ergo, I now had a nice benchmark for loading my bike with all my adventure gear.

My bike went to the dealer for valve adjustment and computer check-up. which resulted in another story of the bike not starting for the dealer, free plastic-wear, and some other details. the dealer got a charge out of the car tire but didn't want to test ride it although a few shop mechs did,

May 10, Bry scheduled a 'walk thru' and I had no idea what that meant nor what might be expected of me on the day. And in an agonizing effort to keep my mouth shut and appear no more the idiot than usual, I didn't ask. For the week before, I packed all my gear and practiced loading it on the bike. The rainproof Ortleib saddlebags got thrown over the seat. A large nylon duffle got put crosswise over the bags. The knobbie went on top of that. Because the knobbie provided a nice 'basket' area in its center, I added a small nylon backpack to carry snacks, water, and other "possible's". My tank bag had the important electronic gear and stuff that I absolutely needed to know to be safe. After years of losing stuff off the back, seeing critical stuff depart from the bike at the moment it was happening is necessary to me. What? You never saw your stuff coming out of your tank bag at speed because you forgot to close the zipper? I have. Which is why I have a very prominently displayed note in my tank bag's map window reading, "Close The Zippers". If I note the note and remember to actually do so, so much the better.

Riding the fully loaded bike to Bry's was an eye opener. I only had 103lbs of gear including 10lbs of survival munchies; nuts, raisins, jerky, dried fruit plus 1.5Gal of fuel in the cell. And the bike handled almost as bad as a camel with a broken leg. Imagine my pleasant surprise upon getting to Bry's and finding that the Walk-thru included all our bikes fully loaded? I was pretty happy that I was prepared...for a change. Bry took one look at my rope lashing my gear to the bike and immediately 'gifted' me with a pair of old Rok-straps. Not wanting to turn him down or disappoint him in anyway, I politely accepted them with some remarks that I often wanted to try a set but that they seemed unduly expensive for the application. Also, my lifelong Boy Scout familiarity with rope and lashings was time tested and not to be taken lightly. I didn't bother to mention all the stuff that I have lost over the years from the back of my bike that might have been secured by such cordage and lashings. Nevertheless, I was very glad for the gift and very much wanted to give the straps a try on such as adventure. (FYI: I am now a believer in Rok-Straps. They worked very well although I wish that they had been longer.)

Of special note was Tom's SS/DIA/Army level medical kit which was quite extensive. Bry told me that Tom had the extensive training to use the kit. Thus, I no longer missed the physician for his skills nearly as much and very much hoped the trip would go well enough that such extensive medical supplies would play no part.

With 12 days to go before departure, all riders looked to be in good shape and properly prepared. Except that my bike now ran like crap. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, it ran so poorly as to be nearly unride-able by me. I phoned the dealer on Saturday that he could expect to see the bike early Tuesday afternoon for diagnosis. He was very helpful knowing that I had this trip on schedule. Tuesday, A miracle happened. The bike ran perfectly. Can't fix what ain't broke, much less determine what might have gone bad? Bike continues to run perfectly right up to departure date. There is nothing quite like a huge load of psychic angst concerning bike malfunction with which to start the trip of a lifetime. Rather than let my compadres share in the fun, I kept my mouth shut.
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ibafran screwed with this post 10-05-2014 at 03:22 PM
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Old 09-12-2014, 01:44 PM   #3
ibafran OP
villagidiot
 
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: chicagoland
Oddometer: 1,289
Planned schedule: Day 1, May 23, Friday....Chicagoland to Badlands National Park...82

Alaska, Day 1


Due to our various locations in Chicagoland, our actual meeting point for the trip was Gander Mountain, De Forest,WI 53532 at 7AM. Thomas elected to get there on his own route. I elected to meet Bryan at the Full Moon Rest. in Lake Bluff IL at 4:45AM for the ride to Gander Mtn. It is a little out of my way. But I get to check out Bryan's uber driving lights in the dark on real roads. They were pretty impressive and aimed well so as not to blind oncoming traffic or scorch my retinas from my mirrors. I was glad that such light might be available for our trip. The lights on my Sprint have some sever limitations making riding after dark a chancy thing. Having Bryan out in front of me lighting the way after dark could be a very good thing in the wilds. I hoped that our trip timing would keep me from riding in the dark most of the time.

Normally, I am too excited to get much sleep before such a road trip. This time I didn't get much sleep because I had a lot of worries on my mind that I couldn't seem to shake off. I was worried that my bike might start running poorly for no reason that I could find like it had for 3 days only the week before our trip start. I worried nearly continuously that I hadn't packed essential gear and the gear that was packed might be packed poorly? This first day had large mileage and I was worried about whether we could stay on schedule and what I might be able to do if/when we were not on schedule. So my mind felt like it was just in a slog to get started and I did not have the ol' Road Trip Excitement going for me.

With sunrise at our backs and nice comfy temps, my spirit perked up a bit as we rolled westerly out of Milwke. WI. (there is more than one such town justifying the addition of the name of state). Something catches my eye and I look down to find a piece of my bike's tupperware waving in the breeze. I snap it back into place but it doesn't stay there very long. One of its tabs/ears has broken. It looks like it will stay attached well enough that I won't lose it... for a while. Naturally, this is the very kind of thing that good ol' duct tape will fix until a proper repair can be made. And I am amused that I only got about 80 miles into the trip before I need to affect some sort of 'repair'. I am not amused and somewhat embarrassed that said repair might take some time and be very annoying because my duct tape is buried with my tools half way down into my gear. Because of this, I will be subject to much teasing right from the beginning of the trip. BUT. A thought occurs to me as I ride along. If I can get to the next gas stop without losing it, I can stick the piece down with the bit of chewing gum that I am masticating and bum a bit of scotch/packing tape from the gas station to hold the tupperware in place while the chewing gum sets up. What a plan! And not only is the plan executed perfectly, but it seemed to have worked so well that there is no note in the trip log that I had to stop and apply duct tape before the end of the day. Because my Sprint is silver, I can apply the 'Kentucky Chrome' anytime and it doesn't show up well from a distance. The casual glance rarely notes it on a bike like mine. And I should mention here that all my tupperware was devoid of tape and properly glued when I started the trip.

Bry and Thomas invited me to share in the fueling stops. The idea is that each rider take a turn at paying for all the fuel at a stop. The bikes roll up to a pump close enough that the hose will reach each fuel tank. I was assured that over the length of a trip that the costs will even out. Until I see the numbers that support that, I will believe my math projections as the turnip truck that I fell off of has long since departed. BUT. I did enjoy watching 2 bikers do the dance at the fuel pump. And my stop watch showed that it was indeed a fast way to get bikes fueled. I kept to my own habits while figuring out how to insert myself into the procedure in a safe and pleasant way for a later experiment. I have done a lot of silly things in my life and derived much humor from the effort. No use trying to curb that habit now. I timed some of our fuel stops. But the results so depressed me that I gave it up before the day was out for the duration of the trip.

Our ride across the Great Plains had some serious crosswinds. My bike was being blown about and my tank bag was being blown over to one side of the fuel tank fouling the handlebar often enough to really annoy me. Saving graces for this day were seeing all the calves as we passed ranches and the weather was pretty good. It was cool enough that we did not bake in our gear while in motion. The animals and weather perked up my trip spirits very well.

A real saving grace was Tom's electronic cruise control(CC). Being able to roll along at a constant speed without worrying about going too fast to get cited nor too slow to keep on pace allows one to appreciate the scenery mo'betta. And it conserves fuel by keeping me from getting 'happy throttle' and altering my speed so much as to impact my MPG for the worse. When riding alone, I use a cheap throttle lock to do nearly the same thing. But it loses speed up hill and gains it back on the downhill. On a solo ride, this is not much of a problem. But the rubber band effect of it on a group is annoying. It is really nice having a leader on cruise control to smooth out the progress of the group. Riders can stay spaced several seconds apart for safety yet still communicate by Senna. I was very glad that Tom had CC for crossing the Plains in such a manner.

Bry reported at one of the fuel stops that the Spot tracking link page was not working. Because he can use his phone from his bike while in motion, he was trying to get the Spot link to work correctly. While dealing with a customer service rep with a heavy french accent, he became so frustrated that he told the rep that he would call back later when stopped long enough to manage the problem. Bry told us that there was something wrong with the "sharpahge" according to the service rep and that Bry had no idea what he was being told. Later he got an 'american-english' speaking rep who sorted the whole thing out. And Bry managed to figure out that "sharpahge' meant the 'share page' link. Friends and family at home thought that we hadn't left on the day or that we had crashed just as we were leaving. The chaos was very annoying during the problem but mildly humorous after the fix.

Arriving in the Badlands Natl. Park was great mostly because we had a decent amount of daylight left. First order of business was to pay our way in. My Natl. Parks Senior Pass and Thomas' Serving Army creds got us in for free. Poor Bry had to pay. I had hoped to go to a campsite right away and get set up before losing daylight. But we went to eat at the park rest. first. I was so elated that we arrived only 30min late that I bought dinner. Prior to walking into the diner, I watched Tom pull out an ascot and 'dress' for dinner. That was so cool and so much fun that I promised myself to do something similar given the chance on another trip. There is no chance that I will ever have so much personal elan' to do the ascot thing as well as Tom. And I noticed that it had a pleasantly startling effect on all waitstaff that noticed it for the remainder of his trip. I have yet to think of anything that might match this fun.

After din-din, we headed off to the nearby campground. Which Bry missed the signs to. So we road 7-8 miles out into the Badlands looking at mule deer and the sights. I figured that Bry had some other campground in mind when he passed the nearby one. And because Bry and Tom were experienced campers way beyond my skills, who am I to question anything that they might be doing? We got back to the Park Campground and my Senior Park Pass got us half-off on the camping fee.



I timed my camp set-up to see what it would be like in the real world on this trip and to compare my tenderfoot skills with the Masters of the Universe. They had their tents up and were lazing in their camp chairs in about 18min. My whole scenario came together in 50min...sigh. It was going to be a long trip for me if I couldn't do better. When I mentioned this, Bry said that I would do better with a few days practice. Thanks, Bry, for the polite optimism. As it turned out, 50min was about what I could do without the serious impetus of mosquitos and/or rain. Enough mosquitos and I might be able to get my time down to 45min before I started losing to the bugs and taking longer. Bry also took a moment to tease me about my $2, chinese-built, pool toy, air mattress as being insufficiently sturdy for the trip if not the very first nite. I politely thanked him for the observation and used my noisy, mini- air compressor to inflate the thing and noting that I had to listen to the noise and disturb the whole camp for a solid 6min to get the job done. I had packed a quiet hand pump for the job in case we rolled into a camp too late to create noise.




Of the other campers around us, one was a bicycle camper who was a long way from home. Impressed me a lot but not enough to remember the particulars or write them down.

Bryan – our neighbor was a French lad bicycling across America. He was chatty enough – riding solo for weeks will do that to you – and enquired about local Fauna. I responded that as he was heading West across the Rockies, I’d only be concerned about the Mountain Lions. I was completely deadpan delivering this line. He’d never heard of Mountain Lions – I described them to him and told him that they would run at 30 MPH in sprints. He appeared shaken and returned to him tent. I intended to tell him in the morning that I was more or less kidding – but he’d already left. Well, I did my part for Franco-American relations this day.

Natl. Parks do not have showers but State Parks often do. Make of this what you will, Dear Reader.

We were blessed with a pleasant temp and enough breeze to knock down any bugs. Not that there are many skeeters in the arid Badlands. By the time that I retired for the night, my Trip Spirits were pretty happy with the day and the moment.
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ibafran screwed with this post 09-15-2014 at 08:48 AM
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Old 09-12-2014, 04:56 PM   #4
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villagidiot
 
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: chicagoland
Oddometer: 1,289
Planned schedule: Day 2, May 24, Saturday....Badlands, S.D to Red Lodge, Mont....520m



THOMAS: My notes reflect the following as an FYI only.

Dep Badlands National Park campground, South Dakota at 0700. Traveled 525 miles on hardtop, gravel and dirt, through 2 land slides which washed out roads (didn't stop us) sunshine, rain and snow. Temperatures ranged from 49 at 8400 feet in the Rockies to 80+ in Montana towns.

Notes: Motorcycling heightens the senses, and in particular the sense of smell, which was very powerful were powerful, especially after the rain - cedar, pine, hay. The cloud formations were spectacular - white puff to almost black storm clouds and the sky as blue can be.

Because my cell phone was already conveniently set for my daily 5AM alarm, I decided to go with that. What the heck? I was going to need extra lead time over the pro-campers just to break my camp and get the bike packed. I was hoping that the arid and windy West would keep any dew off my tent fly. Didn't happen and I was wondering how the Big Dogs deal with such a thing? I shook off as much dew as I could and spread it to dry off to one side while I packed up the rest of my kit. Maybe something would occur to me or I could steal the hot set-up from one of the Big Dogs at the last second when they weren't watching me aping all their hard won lore and techniques? My camping style is more recreational with lots of time to let stuff dry etc. I am not used to being under the gun to get my camping act together in a timely and professional manner. Because I do not have a clue as what to expect for the day, I nosh a little on some dried fruit and nuts just to tide me over til my budds decide to do something about food for the morning.
Just about the time that I have got myself together with the bike packed and ready to leave, I note that the Pros who have gotten up with at least 40min extra beauty sleep after me and are now bright-eyed and bushy-tailed are now packed and ready to go. Like a good camper and experienced tenderfoot boy scout, I have policed my area and picked up whatever trash necessary. I had a just a bit of extra time and folded up Bry's Kermit chairs as an appreciative gesture because he had packed one for me and set it up the previous night. My biker budd, Paul, has one that is tough to get back into its bag. Bry's bags seemed roomier and the chairs packed fairly easy when I was expecting more of a tussle with them. When I mentioned this to Bry, he remarked that some people sometimes make a big deal out of something that isn't. Looking over the whole of our campsite for last second debris, I noticed that I had forgotten to pack my tent fly. This is akin to leaving one's bathrobe on the bed in one's hotel room. Sigh, it is only the dawn of the 2nd day and I am nearly screwing up big time. Torque'ing up my courage and trying to phrase a dumb question well enough to hide most, some, of my dumbness; I asked Bry for the secret of how todry and pack a wet tent fly? Much to my surprise, I was told, "There's nothing one can do about it and it just has to be packed 'wet.'" So much for my expectations of 'camping enlightenment' from the Big Dog, hisownself! Not wanting to stuff it in with perfectly good dry stuff, it got stuffed into my possibles bag with my munchies that were in bags that would not be harmed by any wet.
To me, nothing is quite as magical as leaving a campsite at dawn on a motorcycle. And leaving the Badlands was really special. The dawn's early light on a clear western morning is just about as good as it ever gets. The prairie dogs were up watching us leave. Two rabbits were spotted who seemed to have no fear of birds of prey. And I checked the sky for those bir
ds at the time. Antelope were seen on both sides of the road.
Once out of the Park, we stopped for a bite to eat in Wall, South Dakota) at a diner so slow as to take 90 minutes for coffee and eggs. The place was so slow that the battery powered wall clock had stopped. The coffee was actually cold when served to us and it tasted terrible too. Normally, all this would have driven me crazy and I would have bailed out for food elsewhere. BUT. Tom had dressed for breakfast. And it was sort of entertaining to watch my budds deal with such idiocy. Heck, something might have made it worse? and we wouldn't want to miss that?
‘Tween Gilette and Sheridan WY. Bry got us off the Slab for some country ridin’ on Rt14. Hallelujah! As good as it was to get off the Slab for the Badlands last night, it started to really feel like a bike trip now. Near-zero traffic and real grassland rolling hills scenery instead of billboards was appreciated. We had some road construction thankfully short distances. BUT. We had one section that was longer that I entered doing about 30mph. And it had grades and curves and some ruts. And it was enlightening to me…in a bad way. I already knew all too well that my bike does not like gravel roads. The street tire on the front end gets that “riding on ice’ lack of traction feel when I know that a fall is immanent and it is only a matter of how some and how fast. This is the kind of feeling that has me slowing to 12mph, if not stopping, and gives me a bad case of The ‘Fraids’. I also know that sometimes I can gain a little speed and the bike feels and rides much better…maybe. My car tire on the rear was not helping as I hoped and expected it would. Watching Bry sail along and gain a lot of distance on me was having a terrible effect on my hopes and dreams for this trip which was scheduled to have 25oo miles of gravel road in the Far North. I noted that Tom was a bit faster than me and he had stock MC street rubber fore and aft on his bike. My car tire configuration was not bolstering my confidence. I did my best to motor along as fast as my terror would let me while vowing that I would go barely slow enough not to crash and ruin my trip on the 2nd day. Once we got thru this bad moment and stopped for a bit of a rest or fuel or something that I can’t remember, Bry said that the recently passed construction zone was way worse than anything that we would have in the Far North. I prayed that it might be so. And I wondered if my knobbie would make all the difference? I sincerely wished with all my heart that it be so.

Alternate Rt.14 was still closed for the winter at Lovel WY. Bry routed us along Rt.14 towards Greybull. We had rain showers for a spirited ride thru the pass of the Bighorn Mts which registered 49 degrees on Tom's thermometer equipped bike. Somewhere up near the top of the Pas, we stopped to zip up and add a layer as needed and met an old hippie, High Country for a few pix. He was up there to see a hang gliding competition that wasn't happened at the time that we rode thru. I can't believe that I am playing 'Johnny Roadracer' coming down the mountains on a wet road with tar snakes while shod with a car tire carrying a 100lbs of gear?! It was delightful fun even though I managed to touch a toe down a few times without scaring myself half to death. But I chickened out several times as I just didn't like the way several turns looked and slowed for them. The road was grippy where there were no tar snakes. And I didn't feel like trying my luck on the tar snakes. There was some road construction in these twisties with mud/silt/marbles accumulating in the tire ruts of the pavement. Slithering about in the curves did not appeal to me at the time. The Rt.14 let out into one of the most beautiful canyons that I have ever seen. And the post-rain smell of mountain cedar, earthy wet grass, and such was pretty heady. A really swift roiling river followed alongside the road down out of the pass adding its own scents and relieving the aridness of the west with its nearby mist blowing over us. Of note was that the road lines painted on the mountain hwys were very worn and very difficult to spot. I had difficulty planning turn-in points and apexes without them and didn't always stay on my side of the road as well as I would have liked. My twistie road riding skills need some serious concentration and tuning after so much slab and no twisties in the flat of the mid-west.

Later in the day we had a variety of the usual trip stuff. We had some road construction where we met up with 2 harleys, one of which had a female rider, a flag girl, and the female pilot car driver. All of whom declined my offer of Jolly Rancher hard candy? I carry such candy especially for these moments. The offering of candy allows me to a pretence to go to the front of the line, schmooze with the powers that be in a light banter, find out what the construction zone will be like, and do my very best to have FUN with one and all. I must have been way off my usual charming self to zero-out on my candy fun?

Again, in the late afternoon, I note some rain clouds and do my best weather control hoping to slip between them. Two Harleys are riding near us. One of whom looks to have their raingear on and the other looks to be a little light in raingear. Fortunately, we dodge the worst of the rain and only get caught in a shower for a couple of miles. And speaking of the weather, we got to see some great lightning from a reasonable distance in the Bighorns and at our Red Lodge MT. KOA campsite. Town name of interest to me on the day was Frannie at the MT. state line.

We get checked in at the KOA and set up camp. The nice desk people at the KOA recommended a dinner place. A taco joint. Unbeknownst to me until the moment, my biker budds favor exotic cuisine from countries less developed than our own. Apparently, they also like the smell of these places so much that dining al fresca is not an option even though the weather is so delightful that it seems to me that I have arrived in Nirvana. Grabbing the best scenic outdoor table and waiting for them to come outside, I finally went in after them and inquired if they were ever going to come out. I got teased in reply when asked, "What, you haven't been outside long enough today?" What could I say? So I sat down with them in the sweltering stench of a taco joint instead of basking in the fresh mountain air freely available a dozen steps away and with a glorious view of a western cloudless sky, etc. About this time, we learn that the nearby Beartooth Pass has been opened for the season. This is one of many biker meccas not to be missed if at all possible. We make plans to ride it early the next morning. Bot Bry and Tom have been there but it will be a first to me.

Back at camp, we meet Ratina, a student in exchange from Cambodia, who is studying US culture and agricultural methods via the US State Dept. Linda Young at Montana State Univ. escorting him for language help. The KOA had some silly postcards on sale and I bought a few. The idea was that I was going to put some silly humor on them and post them from Prudhoe bay for the cancellation stamp and fun of it. The day was so good that I missed a lot of my favorite people. As we sit around the campfire and watch the approaching storm with lightning, I wonder if I am going to wake up in a sodden mess or if my efforts to rain-proof my kit will pay off?

BIKER BUDD OBSERVATIONS: After 2 days on the road with these guys, surely, I ought to have a few things to post regarding their delightful quirks? Who am I to let the Dear and Gentle Reader go without such insights? And my Budds can take delight in poking fun back at me for all my silly quirks using the SAME paragraph heading and space. Our luvable ramrod likes to stop in the worst places to tend to adjustments. Even though we are in the middle of nowhere and traffic seems to be completely non-existent and stopping on the roadway for a few moments to check a map or adjust a piece of gear seems perfectly safe, I can't bring myself to feel comfortable doing that. I really, really need what I call "a wide-spot in the road", abbreviated to just "a wide spot" in order to stop and not have to keep an eye peeled for traffic. Stopping on or right next to the roadway of my own free will is not going to happen if I can do something better. I tease him as gently as possible afterwards about "nice wide-spot you picked there, budd". We have a discussion about this later on and I discover why he likes to do it that way. He has good reasons and I learn a lot.

On another issue, we have these Sena communicators. I was worried that having people talking in my helmet would be an annoying distraction. I was dang pleased to find that my budds had a lot of self control. And that we could keep the chatter to a comfortable minimum. This was my first experience with comms on bikes. And by enlarge, it worked out pretty well. I was dang glad to have the gear most of the time. Although, when it failed to work, it did so at the most annoying times. Perhaps, this worked so well because it was only guys using it. If there had been a female in the group, it might have been different. (That line ought to stoke a conflagration of discussion on the topic?)

Also, I do not see my buds waving to other bikers and various persons very much? Bryan - Fran could have passed the Queen Mary landlocked and not seen it. Waving to nearly every dang thing while riding is a big habit with me. So much so that I can get fatigued late in the day from that activity alone. Heck, if I haven’t waved in a while, I will start waving at cattle and the odd stray dog if there is nothing more worthy and available. Combine this aspect in my buds with the lack of hard candy to share with the populace as met, and I begin to wonder exactly how much fun they are really going to be and how much fun we are going to miss? Granted, Tom’s ascot is a big hit. But, so far, that is all that he had going for him that I had seen on this trip. Heck, I had a deck of cards in my tank bag in case there was going to be a long wait for the pilot car and we could rope the flag girl into a game of strip poker. I know that I don’t look good naked anymore. But, I could get lucky and not lose my shorts before she does? Ok Ok, Maybe my buds wave a lot and I just don’t notice or am not in a good position to see much of it?
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"beware the grease mud. for therein lies the skid demon."-memory from an old Honda safety pamphlet
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Old 09-16-2014, 06:20 AM   #5
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villagidiot
 
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: chicagoland
Oddometer: 1,289
Day three - To Flathead Lake State Park


Arise to 41 degrees at 4:50AM. Complete my ablutions by 5:30. Strike my camp by 6:24.

Noted here before I forget that the KOA lady tells me that the previous night’s thunderstorm that we were watching rolled in about 12:30AM. Being an unusually sound sleeper combined with the exhaustion of the day’s adventure, I slept right thru the storm which was reported to have been pretty good. This is a miraculous moment for me. Usually, when I camp in the rain, I get wet to a greater or lesser extent. Mostly to an extremely uncomfortable degree. But this time all my kit stayed dry! A true miracle to me! Combine this with the facts that my Stich did not leak and dampen my crotch in yesterday’s showers and that my duffle and tank bag did not ship water, either; and I am nearly giddy with joy that my waterproofing efforts were paying off. I am so happy about this that I actually offer a prayer of thanks to the Prime Mover for my good fortune. Theologically, bikers may not belong to any organized religion nor avow a particular creed. That does not mean that bikers have no appreciation for the Sacred.

The previous night we decided to ride Beartooth Pass by arising a little early. It is not more than 90min to get up and back in time for breakfast at the KOA and still stay on schedule for the day. As it turns out, Tom’s back is pretty sore and he declines to go so that he can stretch it out and get some meds working on it. He has been on Beartooth Pass already and did not need to go again. After riding the Pass, I could appreciate how much Tom’s back must have hurt in order to keep him from riding it again.







Beartooth Pass could not nave been ridden in better conditions. It was cool enough to keep us comfortable. The day was cloud free and the bright morning sun lit the mountains with a clarity that had to be seen to be appreciated. We were riding it so early on Sunday morn that there was nearly zero traffic. The girl driving the huge snowplow down from the top was coming into town as we were on our way out and up. We exchanged waves and she had a big smile. There was a charity event scheduled for the day that had people walking/running up and down the road. So some organizers were out setting up. Beartooth is a famous mecca for bikers. The scenic turn-out near the tree line was so beautiful that I had real tears on my cheeks and emitted a couple of sobs to go with them. We met some riders from Arkansas there. Riding to the top, we saw x-country skiers enjoying plenty of snow up there. On the way down, I dispersed the second bits of the cremains that I had brought for this trip. The Badlands got the first bits. I managed to get the Go-Pro camera working for the trip down. As neat as that was, there was a smear dead center on the lens that I didn’t catch which made the video annoying to watch. Kind of a little highpoint for me was sharing a ‘coast’ with Bry on the way down. Amazing to me was finding out that Bry had never coasted down a mountain before. He seemed to enjoy it. It is usually illegal to coast on any road. But I do it anyway when I think that it is pretty safe. Switching off the engine and listening to the quiet hum of the tires and maybe a little chain noise is a delight. Because my brakes do not rely on engine vacuum, they work perfectly well while coasting. And I can switch on the bike without firing the engine if I need the bike’s lights. Beartooth Pass is/was so beautiful that I decided that no matter what happened on the trip that the trip was worth it for that alone. BTW: the posted speed limit on Beartooth is 70mph. That has got to be a thrill for someone ripping along and seeing the next mtn, curve marked 25mph.



Getting back to the KOA, I note that I had forgotten to back my wet tent fly again. Sheesh! Tom was feeling much better. We finished clearing out our campsite and had the pancake breakfast at the KOA. It seemed a bit spendy but the pancakes were big and filling. I loaded up on syrup for the sugar hit and rush. I packed the camp chairs again. It was the least that I could do. Bry had a mental-meltdown moment when he cannot find his air mattress. If I lost a $70 piece of critical gear, I would melt down too. There was nothing for it but to get over it and Press On Regardless. I felt really bad for him and hoped that we would come across a place where he could buy something to replace it? In a funk, we left the KOA and Bry spotted his air mattress pack by the side of the road! Retrieving it with great joy, he remarked that he must have forgotten to secure it before heading for Beartooth. Everyone’s day was brightened by this moment of good fortune.

My journal has a series of notations for the day. Signs noted: “Crazy Mts.” and Bridge Mts.” All the local kids that I saw and met on the day were great fun. My journal says that we had a bunch of “great sweepers” which are biker names for long fast turns and not persons pushing brooms. (Not everyone who might read this is a biker nor know the jargon.) Riding into Three Forks, MT, I note the Sacajawa Hotel and Bar which Tom takes a pic of. Three real cowgirls were out for a ride on their real cowponies on this Sunday. At the gas stop, 2 women rolled in with their pickup truck, bought gas, and proceeded to open the hood and fool around in the engine compartment. I was curious and wandered over to meet them. They were great fun. You know that you are finally in the West when you see your first real cowboy hats on the trip. The gas station had non-polarized sunglasses which are hard to find and I bought the last 2 pair that they had. Polarized glasses interfere with the visor on my helmet. Having non-polarized glasses really makes a positive difference. I couldn’t find any before I left on the trip. A train carrying airplane fusilages was fun to see.
All the rivers that I saw were full and flush with melt water. Everyone of the rivers reminded me of the river in the movie, “River Of No Return”. Rivers had magical names (for me), Yellowstone and Powder rivers to name a couple. As great as the view of the mountains is, I still get pretty annoyed when I fail to get past a trucker and get stacked up in traffic behind him on the mountain curves for five miles, grrr.
After the gas stop, Bry misses a turn and we ride 11 miles out on a lonely road before Bry notices. He is kind of embarrassed but I don’t mind. I have a motivational sticker on my bike that reads, “A good traveler does not mind being lost and does not expect to arrive anyway.” That said, it was fun to note that Bry had a hard time making a u-turn in the road with his heavily loaded bike. After stopping in the roadway to tell us about the error, sigh. After Bry got out of the way, Tom and I rode along the road a little ways and picked a nice ‘wide spot’ for our u-turn.
There was a great road here that brought tears to my eyes again. ) We traveled along I-90 next to a river on the other side was a RR line. The river was so full and so fast that I wondered why it was not eroding out the x-way and the RR line? Along here I saw a tan and white horse sharing pasture with 2 llamas. Tom’s cruise control was working great and I got to see a lot of scenery. I had a great ‘earworm’ song going most of the afternoon. Tom had a 5-Hr energy drink and gained 10mph thereafter. Coming into Polson, some bikers going the other way stood up on the pegs to wave at us. I stood up on my pegs to wave back. Didn’t see Bry or Tom do that, sigh. Saw a very small teardrop shaped RV trailer that Bry identified as a “Little Guy” and noted that his sister had one. Someone noted that the Polsun town hooker was carrying pink tulips. Why I should note such a thing in my journal escapes me at this writing? Noted also that I had a flying bug in my helmet for about 15 miles. Hope the bug found his way back home? Saw a lot of birds and Bry kindly identified a “whisky jack’ for me. I knew that from long ago but couldn’t remember it on the day for the life of me. Leaving Montana, I noted to myself that the Long Distance Riders Community (LDR) thinks that Montana is the best State for riding. And I tend to agree with that. But I will listen to argument on topic.
Can’t remember where it was. We rode past the first serious traffic accident of the trip. The driver looked pinned in the van. Various responding authorities did not look comfortable with the problem. There was a broke down tour bus in the mtns with the passengers outside and sitting in the shade. They looked miserable.




Bryan – we camped at Flathead Lake State Park, on the shores of the largest lake West of the Mississippi…full of Holiday campers we got one of the last spots.

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Old 09-16-2014, 06:29 AM   #6
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villagidiot
 
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: chicagoland
Oddometer: 1,289
Day Four - Into Canada

Once again, it rained over night. So my tent fly had to be packed wet again. I examined it for flowering mold and didn’t find any. Examined the interior of my munchies pack where the wet fly has been packed for 2 days’ travel and found no mold there either. Perhaps the pyrethrum that was applied to the underside of the fly in an attempt to keep bugs from entering the tent was killing any mold? By the way. Beitknown that I was in charge of the weather for this trip. If my compadres want to have fun with that, so be it. But, by and large, I thought that I did a magnificent job weather-wise.



Bry crawled out of his tent looking a little worse for wear and like whatever he was doing for ‘beauty sleep’ was not working. His first remark was that his big buck, high fallutin’, backpacker air mattress had sprung a leak. Normally, I would have leaped on the chance to tease him about giving me carpola for my el cheapo mattress and how the karma was especially thick about him. But, for the same reason, I did not need to curse myself in a similar way and kept my mouth shut, barely, for the time being. We were camped next to Flathead Lake and Bry took his mattress to the water for quick and easy leak identification. According to the mattress instructions, a dab of rubber cement was al the was needed and no real patch was applied. Bry has a lot more faith in some instructions than I do. And it seemed to work too. I remain amazed to this moment about that.
Somewhere about this time, Bry had the Sena helmet comms synch’d up the way that he liked. And he announced that the Spot Tracker Page was working properly. Subsequently, I learned that my friends and family would have a great time jesting about the Spot info as well as being assured that we were not dead somewhere in the Wilds.



At a nearby breakfast place, Tom wow’d them again dressing in his ascot. I had the Cow Patty Skillet. It was traditional fare with a non-traditional name. I will often order something that has a fun name just so I can write about it later. And, yes, there was a distinct resemblance to a cow patty that made it fun to look at. Unfortunately, it didn’t look so good and so much fun as to put my fellow bikers off their feed for the day. Apparently, we are all old enough and experienced enough at eating shit that such fare looks normal?
Not too far into Canada, we pulled into a fuel stop where I noticed another biker of the female variety. While chatting her up and observing her kit, I noticed lettering on her bike that read, “Dust To Dawson” and other challenging ride of the Far North. Her Alaska plate piqued my curiosity and I was cordially told that she was a Univ. teacher in Fairbanks returning from a month on the road. In an info sharing mode, I responded that we were traveling North and that she was welcome to join our group if she cared for the company. I needed to use the facilities and encouraged her to meet the guys. After the gas stop, I noticed that she was tagging along at a distance. Considering myself to be an accomplished group rider (whether I really am or not is still being debated by a few riders who like to argue such things), I waved her up when passing some traffic. This seemed to make her feel more comfortable and she followed closer and looked to be more closely part of the group. This was really exciting to me as I was looking forward to speaking with a real Big Dog rider of the North and picking up all sorts of delicious riding tips for our own effort. Alas, we stopped a couple of times in the rain along side the road for navigation decisions and this caused her to abandon us as she had her own schedule to keep and obviously knew where she was going. For me, this was my first heartbreak of the trip. We were obviously missing a great opportunity to share some riding with an accomplished Alaskan biker and see how that was done while picking up some real, hard won and time tested biker lore of the Far North. At our next gas stop where we took a break to snack, Bry spotted her across the street fueling at a different station. I walked over to see her and invite her to tag along again. She politely declined. BUT. She told me that she was “Kul Mom” (pronounced ‘cool mom’) on ADVRider and that we could share notes there. I am ‘ibafran’ there and Bry is on that site too. When I got home, I sent her a private message on the site and we exchanged a few notes on our respective trip fun. When in Fairbanks, I thought to ask Bry if he could get on the website and ask her to meet. But we were pretty busy and I didn’t see how we could make time for that?
My notes of the day say that “Note To Self: Bry is not married to schedule.” This is a good thing to know because our schedule is very tight. Bry is a realist and understands that trips have setbacks that must be accommodated. Thus for the record, I am not as anxious over our progress as I was when starting out on Day 1.
As for the riding of the day, we traversed a provincial park seeing 2 black bears and 1 deer looking young enough to be a fawn but with no doe nearby. Riding between mountain ranges, we had some fairly short but heavy showers. The river along side the road was pretty swollen and had a lot of speed. Tom’s temp gauge reported a cold spot of 39F. And Bry described the place of the heaviest showers as “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”. Wherever that was, I didn’t think it was that bad. The traffic was nicely light and we didn’t have to eat traffic spray which is something that I really detest about rain riding.
Bry reports that the animal ‘walk-overs’ that allow migration are new since he was there in ‘09. Not only are these things obvious bridges over the highway, but they are dirt covered and have grass and tree plantings so that the animals might feel that things are normal. And the fencing is very high and sturdy as big animals are expected to use the crossings. We have yet to see Dall sheep, moose, mtn. goats. But a coyote crossed the road.



Somewhere along the day we see our first glacier in the high ice fields. My notes say that I coasted down from the glacier but not how long nor how far. For me, coasting is a lot of fun and very relaxing. And I do it whenever it looks really safe. I am somewhat chilled riding in short pants sans electric vest under my Stich. Tom reported that he was really comfy and toasty warm in his electric clothes with heated seat and grips. So much so that he had to turn off some heat. Atta boy, Tom, rub it in. How he knew to dress so warm in the first place is what I want to know? I don’t recall getting the memo that morning? There was a lot of gravel in and along the rivers during this stretch. Being from the flatlands, I never saw so much river gravel before. Gave me a whole new appreciation for what is called the ‘alluvial plain’. We crossed into the Pacific time zone which was a ‘first on the bike’ for me. There were a lot of ‘first on the bike’ moments for me during this trip starting about day 3 when I was constantly riding further west and north than I had ever been before on my bike. I learned from Bry that the ‘treeline’ is dependant on more than just altitude. We were so high and so cold and so rained upon for the day that bugs on the visor did not happen. Tom reports that during the short time that we were riding in sleet and wondering if we were going to get hail that it was 35F. I knew that it was chilly when it was happening but didn’t know that it was that chilly. The pix should show that we picked a nice ‘wide spot’ for that ice field location.





Now that we were out of the States, I thought that I would try to join the guys in the ‘multi-bike fuel stop’ dance. Always looking to try new and fun stuff with the bike and various riders, I had a good time. Hint, with enough bikes, it helps to have some bikes go to the other side of the pump. Otherwise, getting the bikes oriented all on one side of the pump can be tricky if the riders are not on the same page and paying attention to the fun. Like seeing how many idiots can be stuffed into an olde-time phone booth or a Beetle, getting a lot of bikes to the same pump hose could be a new fun sport for group riding. Natchurlly, the group has to ride up to the pump from the street and stop with no fancy jockeying after coming to a halt. It was fun to see who messed this up and how? My still-evolving rules say that all riders must be able to get off their bikes and get out of the glut so that bathroom visits can be made while the bikes are being fueled. There are other rules, but the Dear Reader gets the idea about it.
Late in the day after a gas stop, I didn’t get my gloves on fast enough, or something and was late getting into traffic with the guys. Not only did the guys get out on the street in front of a long line of trucks but the traffic was really moving. The road curved a lot and on-coming traffic made passing opps impossible. Tom and Bry could have passed a few trucks and not eat wet road spray. And Bry did. But tom hung back for me and ate a lot of road spray. Very very kind of him and I appreciated the sense of camaraderie. But I told him not to do it again as I thought that it was too dangerous to have his vision obscured and be invisible to surrounding traffic if the spray got heavy enough to obliterate lights and reflective surfaces. I may not look or act like a real safety maven 99% of the time. But I will care about safety when things get truly ugly.
Near the end of the day, we get a campsite near the town of McBride. The only local diner is Chinese run solely by a Chinese guy with poor language skills. My biker buds think this is great and order Chinese food. I ordered from the ‘western’ half-page. My burger was edible. Their food was less so. After dinner, Bry sees a moose on our way to the local campsite. Our campground has wifi which the guys nake use of. We also have our first mosquitoes of the trip. The insect preparation on the underside of my still damp tent fly does not kill/nuke the skeeters with the instantaneous wild abandon that I hoped that it would. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the protecting that it affords if only on a psychological basis. I think that I only had to kill 2-3 skeeters in my tent before I could relax and drift off to sleep with no bug whine in my ear.
As a side note, I salvaged some rope from a previous campground. I will salvage stuff which I think too useful to pass up. On the good side, I am a packrat. Others think of me as some sort of strange and deranged street-person on the topic. Anyway, Bry identifies the rope as good climbing gear which is expensive and made in France/Italy and only good for one ‘fall’ before being destroyed as unusable. Bry is a rock climber and knows this stuff. He said that the rope was Kermantle. I coiled it around my aux fuel tank for easy access and safe keeping.
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:19 AM   #7
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We never heard back from this guy, we must have deeply and totally freaked him out.

I am that guy.....but I was not freaked out. It just happened that the timing wasn't good for my work schedule. I did make the trip with my brother though. I started in Texas and he started in California. We met in Idaho and teamed it up to AK....because of time constraints we had to do the whole trip in 16 days. My brief ride report is in here under "Texas to Alaska; California to Alaska." Our trip was less arduous since we did not go to Prudhoe Bay.

Looking forward to your next chapter and sorry to hear about your friends RT disaster.
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Old 09-16-2014, 10:36 AM   #8
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'Scribed. Text was a bit intimidating for the first few posts, but a good story so far keep it up
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:33 PM   #9
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'Scribed. Text was a bit intimidating for the first few posts, but a good story so far keep it up
Thanx for the feedback. Sorry to hear about 'intimidating" and I could use some clarification on the matter. I am not a writer and most of my schooling didn't "take". I may re-write the whole dang thing just to make it read better and can use all the free help that I can get. What is being posted is most of the raw feed from my journal notes editing out some of my least kindly thoughts. Glad to see somebody reading this as I thought that I had offended the public/forum in some way? In a lot of ways, this was a brutal trip but worth every mile of the adventure.

As for the poster from Texas, moralem, I am sorry that I missed you. I met a bunch of inmates as one would expect on such a trip. You would have been a delight to add to my list. I didn't meet anyone from Texas which kind of surprised me? One can usually find a Texan nearly everywhere of note?
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Old 09-16-2014, 03:08 PM   #10
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Day Five

I arise an hour early as my cell phone alarm did not account for the time zone change till later in the day. Sigh, the wonders of technology. And I woke up my biker buds too. Riding away from camp, we saw 3 black bear and a moose with a calf. It’s always nice to start out the day with viewing wildlife as it portends adventure for the whole day. Due to the unexpected early start, we decide to ride a bit and do breakfast later in the morn. It is coolish and my electric vest quits working leaving me to ride cooler than I care. But, I figure the breakfast stop will be a good place to sort it out.
Thomas- We were up at 0400 as our timekeeper forgot we were PT. We packed under gray skies and drizzle and 44 degrees. As soon as we hit the road the rain started and the temperature dropped to 38. Do you know how cold 38 and rain feels while your riding a motorcycle? It's bone chilling as evidence by my compadres donning their heated jackets and heavy gloves. Me? Ha! I was wearing my magical ascot / neckerchief. Actual, by days end I was chilled but drove on with out succumbing to the opium of foul weather motorcyclists, ie heated gear.



During our first 2 hours we saw several black bear, caribou and a Mouse with her offspring. Mrs. Mouse and youngster crossed the road in front of us and she clearly did not like our presence as she turned towards us and took several steps towards us. The message was received loud and clear, so we departed post haste. -Thomas



It is at this time that I get my first highly amused moment of the trip. Bry pulls over at a decent wide spot and announces that he does not have enough fuel to reach the nearest depot. His GPS lets him know where the nearest gas might be found and his bike’s instruments let him know that he will be empty before her gets there. All three of us have spare fuel containers on the bikes. Bry has 2 and both are dry. Tom has a nice, flat 2 gallon container that too is dry. Tom’s bike gets the best MPG and his main tank probably has plenty of fuel. But we would have to find out who has the siphon tube to get some fuel out of it and go through that minor hassle? Grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat, I tease my buds about neither of them throwing a gallon of fuel into a spare tank for times just like this? And to think that they are long time traveling buds and neither has ever come up short on fuel before, amazing to me? Bry also has a red metal fuel bottle in a neat carrier on the back of one of his panniers. It holds about a liter of fuel but is empty too. Having experienced a wide array of foolishness (most of it of my own cause) all along my life time, I am not surprised to be in this condition at the moment. BUT, I am no longer dumb enough to have an aux fuel tank plumbed into my bike without some fuel in it. The main purpose of hauling a little extra fuel is to have a constant way of checking the system for leaks. So, back in Chicagoland when I fueled the bike for the start of the trip, I had made sure that my aux fuel tank got a gallon of fresh fuel. And I noted to myself at the time that it would be funny if I had to supply fuel to a budd the very first time that one got caught short? Bry’s little red bottle got filled from my aux fuel hose and the fuel got transferred without much fanfare or teasing. Thus, the whole incident was essentially a non-issue and mostly fun. So much so that it didn’t even feel like a real “save”. Although, I noted in my journal that I considered it the first ‘save’ of the trip. Lots of riders on a trip will carry a small bottle of fuel as mostly a safety measure and consider a trip successful in part if they never need to use the fuel.
We get fuel at the next town and decide to do breakfast as long as it is available. The gas station attendant recommended a place on our route out of town. And it turned out to be a ‘Chinese-Canadian’ cuisine. The place had a few local boys and one remarked about my legs. They were probably not used to seeing a guy in shorts removing his riding gear. I gave them a flash of leg through the zipper and made some comments about how they should start throwing money, or some such carpola. This interaction sort of set me off and I decided to have as much fun as possible with these guys throughout breakfast. Also, at that moment,, I discovered that a wire for my elect vest had shorted. While waiting for food, I fixed the wire and a test showed that the fuse under the bike seat had probably blown. The good ol’ boys told of a local auto parts place where I could get a fuse. Bry offered mini fuses but the one under the seat is a standard size. There were spares in the nose of my fairing in a remote fuse box that I had disconnected for the trip. But I figured that it would be easier and faster to buy some fuses at the store. After have a good time with the boys at the diner, I left a little early for the fuse fix. And my budds would enjoy some extra coffee and follow after. Subsequently, my buds awarded me a “10” for my breakfast performance with the locals. Bryan has seen me in action before and I think that he invited me on this trip hoping that my comic relief would overshadow all my other personal failings. Poor Tom had to take it like it comes and try to deal.
Thomas- Our hunger coupled with cold rain and the knowledge we needed nourishment to make 636 miles by days end, drove us to a local restaurant in Purden Lake. Guess what kind of restaurant? Chinese - Canadian of course. We visited with the patrons who told us we could never drive to our intended destination in 1 day. So, game on! _Thomas
As it turned out, I was lucky to be at the auto parts store. The allen wrench size that I needed to remove my seat was not in my kit. This really surprised me as I had made it a point to be sure that my tool kit had such an essential tool. I bought the tool and fuses after waiting a loooong time in the checkout line. As long as I had the bike completely unloaded and on the center stand, I lube’d the chain. I oiled the chain every night of the trip as that was easiest. Because I had an easy opportunity to oil it at the store, I didn’t want to pass that up. The rattle can of chain lube was kept on the outside of my aux fuel tank for easy access and to be assured that it didn’t discharge itself inside my kit. A serious note was made to self to re-locate this fuse out from under the seat and all the trip kit piled on it for my next big trip. And I was thanking Tri. Corp. for locating the main bike fuse panel in a fairing pocket. This fuse replacement took 40min of which 15-20min were waiting in a checkout line, grrrr. And even though I bought a 5 pack of fuses, the extras were never seen again and I didn’t find them cleaning out my kit after I got home? Who knows how this stuff happens?
Back on the road and out of town, I am so grateful that I am out of urban traffic that I am nearly giddy. I had forgotten what a pain it is to ride in town traffic. As we rode along, I noted 2 mule deer. Bry, of course, sees a total of 8. Bry likes to tease me for my lack of skill in seeing animals other than road kill. We all see a herd of caribou. We didn’t see any bicyclists this day? I mentioned that I saw a grove of birch trees that had the trunks split open at various heights with few trees looking undamaged. Nobody noticed this but me. My guess it that severe winter cold did the damage. All the rivers that I saw looked to be full from the Spring melt and running at record rates. These rivers pleasantly reminded me of an old movie, “River of No Return” staring Robt. Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. And the Spring melt had water cascading out of the hillsides to join the rivers. As a flatlander, I don’t get to see this very often.
Somewhere about 50 miles from Fort Nelson we took a rest break in delightful 70F temps. And we suffered the first skeeters of the trip. Also, we started to experience the various grades of northern pavement on the Al-Can while riding toward Fort Nelson. The Al-Can had no animals that I saw and no adventurous bicyclists either. At the end of this day I note that my Stich now has Al-Can dirt and the highly desired patina of ‘adventure’ riding that so many admire. Thus, I will never have to buy Aerostich’s “Authenta-Crud” as my relatively new Stich now has real adventure crud embedded into it forevermore.
Thomas- We proceeded to burn up the road, including the Alaskan Highway, through brief periods of clouds, rain and sunshine, with the low of 38 and a high of 72, for the better part of 10 hours to finally pull into Fort Nelson, BC. HA! And they said it couldn't be done...mind you we nearly ran out of gas save a 1.5 liter can of fuel we were sporting. Dinner, A&W :- RON? Well, we asked at a local gas station where they offered us a $10 spot in the dust bowl behind the gas station. We settled on Triple G, Fort Nelson, BC, based on the recommendations from the folks at A&W. -Thomas
At the end of the day, I note that I have lost my “Stupid Hurts” helmet sticker due to ‘enough’ rain. This sticker can be had at Honda dealers. The text is printed on what looks to be a band-aid. I trim off the Honda logo and re-curve the ends. I find the sticker a good safety reminder to myself to cool my jets and ride within my minimal talents. On a trip like this, surviving should be right at the top of the safety checklist? I actually feel bad about losing the sticker. I try out one of those mini, micro-fiber towels after the night’s shower and it does a good job of drying me off. But it does not dry overnight like advertized. Boo hiss, I am underwhelmed. Another amusing highlight of the day for me was Bryan remarking that I am neat and “fastidious” with my gear. Bwah-ha-ha! I thank him politely as I was convinced that he was not being sarcastic at the time. And I asked him to make sure that Maureen knows about this, seriously. At home, I kinda drive Maureen nuts with my pack-rat tendencies and my kids are amazed that I can find anything in my garage.



My ‘back notes’ for Day 5, recorded on Day 6, include a stand of birches about 50 miles from Ft. Nelson that have their trunks burst open at various heights from 6’ to 15’ feet above ground. The area was maybe 200 yards long by 100 yards deep and the devistation was nearly complete with few trees intact. My notes include this mileage. Not only was I the only one to see this, I didn’t see any such similar thing for the rest of the trip. This was perhaps the first thing on the trip that I now regret that I did not immediately stop and get a picture of and make it known to my biker buds. Similarly, at this night’s campground, the men’s shower hut had a double spring varmint trap as a door pull. Looking at this thing, it occurred to me that it could be set as there was no ‘safety’ welded to it? Sure enough, I could set it with no trouble. After tripping it, I found the campground’s diner chef and let him know that the thing was not exactly ‘tourist safe’. The campground office being closed at that time of the evening, there was no one else to tell.
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Old 09-16-2014, 03:19 PM   #11
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Day Six

We are now so far north that the daylight is much noticeably longer. My 5AM alarm and arising shows that it has been daylight for a hour already and sundown isn’t until well after 10PM. And it is still very much light when I hit the sack this night. I am very much excited to be aware of this summer phenomenon in the Far North. Because the trip is tiring due to the long mileages, I have zero trouble getting to sleep due to light. Because the trip has so much scenery, I get to lie awake worrying that I have not noted all the stuff of the day in my journal. It is not unusual for me to be just about at sleep’s edge when I wake and need to fumble for my journal to scribble a note about some remembered moment. Doing this several times a night raises a little hell with getting to sleep but the subsequent sleep is sounder for the effort.
Due to last night’s less than savory dinner fare, Bry lays out a breakfast buffet of packed munchies and brews tcoffee on his backpacker camp stove. I really envy his backpackers’ kit. If the gear was mine, I would be making instant cinnamon and maple flavored oatmeal adding raisins and maybe some almond bits every morning. A rider can go a long way into the day on such simple cuisine. I toss some almonds into the buffet fare and decline tea. Tom enjoys coffee and dresses for the meal in his favored ascot.
As we progress into the North, the roads are becoming more challenging. Riding through the mountains, one of the more technical roads is devoid of painted lines. The shoulder edge has a lot of little gravel that matches the roadway in color making it dang tough for me to see where the ‘good’ pavement traction ends and the ‘slide-y’ marbles begin. Amazing to me is that the rumble strip is found where the center line might be if it was painted. This, too, is hard to see as the roadway is all of a color and the cloud cover washes it all out to a flat hue. I can’t believe how much trouble I have picking out turn-in spots and corner apexes without the painted lines. Even my exit lines are hard to see. I am forever grateful for the complete lack of traffic as I find myself not keeping to my lane very well.
Most of the road to Watson Lake have the corners banked positively. So much so that I am reminded of my own county roads with such banking that allows loaded hay wagons to move right along knowing that the bales will not pitch off the top or cascade off the wagon. This northern road is pitched so well that even though it is full of tight turns, 55-65mph is delightful in those turns devoid of gravel. The local semi’s are hustling right along too.
My journal has a nice list of sights for the day.
The remains of a moose along side the road looked like those of a large dog until this flatlander rode along side it for a better identification.
The black bears that I saw in the morning looked especially shiny making me wonder if the morning dew was heavy on them and the sun was reflecting off that?



The pace of the day was good but the temp in the sun was about 50F and I needed my vest turned on.



“Sheep In Road” is one of those signs that we do not see back where I come from. Also, the “Steel Grate Bridge”signs are a nice heads-up. Some of these bridges require leaning for a turn while crossing them which scared the hell out of me as I wasn’t going slow enough for some of them.
Bry reported seeing a caribou being attacked by a grizzly. I, of course, missed that sight, sigh.
At a wayside break, a bunch of gold miners pulled in on their way to supply their gold camp. One of the vehicles was an old school bus carrying live checkens amongst all the other gear. Bry got in there for a few pix. The driver said that the ramrod wanted a live hog too but could not find one in time for the trip.
We are so far north and high enough and it is still cold enough that many lakes still have lots of ice.
Dall sheep that we see are so young as to have only short horns and not the full curve that I had hoped to see. This makes them look like farm goats to me if it wasn’t for their different coloration.
The was a small brown critter seen that none of us could identify. Our best guess was either a groundhog or a marmot?
Saw buffalo right along side the road munching sweet roadside grass. These animals are huge and I was grateful that none were standing in the road.
The lack of traffic and towns had me waving at the buffalo and whatever lone trucker passed bye.
We get into Watson Lake so early that I wanted to change tires and get out for a few miles to get ahead of schedule. But our room reservations were locked in and considering where we were going, a motel would be a nice luxury for one night. Bryan - the next leg was 350 miles with nothing in between but wilderness.



The Air Force Lodge is exceptionally clean and neat. And the place has a rule of no shoes beyond the front door. The toilet is so poorly lit that it is a wonder that I can find my butt in there. And the shower area has very small stalls with weird doors. Shower water took a long time to get hot and was tough to regulate for consistent heat. Michael who owns/runs the place is rumored to be a biker. But he knew that we were changing tires and did not have an air compressor handy. Thus, I judged him to be a little slow on the uptake. Of course, we did not actually ask him to have an air compressor handy. So we have to take some of the blame for that.



Out tire swap went better than I expected but not as well as I hoped. Four tires got changed between 1PM and 6:50PM. Not exactly ISDT time but we were not under any sort of gun to do better. There is some sort of indecipherable note in my journal about a brake caliper bolt at this time? But I cannot remember what it means to me. It was nice to have the extra hands of my biker buds for levering the tires. I didn’t break much of a sweat doing this in the 70F heat of Watson Lake and there was enough breeze to keep the skeeters off us. Although, I did enjoy doing the tire busting on a picnic table in the shade instead of on the ground in the middle of a sun baked dirt lot. I noted that 3 biker budds and their gear to a room was a bit more cramped that I expected. Thus, I got a room for myself and told the guys that I would still pay for my share. Also, I told Michael to hold a room for me for our return and requested an air compressor and a place out of the rain for a tire swap if needed.
After the tire swap, Michael told us that the diners in town were going to close up if we didn’t get there. My budds would rather shower than eat. But, we did make one diner before it closed. Riding over to the diner on my knobbie felt pretty weird and it made me doubt the wisdom of it all. The bike handled much slower and heavier that I might have predicted. And the feel for traction in the gravel seemed very minimal.
Dinner was great. Somewhere about here, Bry told the story of “Kenworth the Bear”. A familiar local bear was on the roadway and was knocked down hard when hit by a semi truck who couldn’t get stopped in time. The bear gets up seemingly without grave injury and moves off the road. Although the local people note that every time a large truck rumbles past the bear, it likes to face the traffic and ‘tense up’ thereafter. The townspeople affectionately named the bear, Kenworth, after the make of the truck that hit him.
I did my best to get some sleep and not worry about all the adventure that was going to start the next day. The cover of my journal had come loose. And I hoped that the library paste that I borrowed from Michael would keep the book together if it got a chance to dry overnight under the pressure of a rubber band.

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Old 09-17-2014, 06:31 AM   #12
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Thanx for the feedback. Sorry to hear about 'intimidating" and I could use some clarification on the matter. I am not a writer and most of my schooling didn't "take". I may re-write the whole dang thing just to make it read better and can use all the free help that I can get....
No worries about the writing. I was more referring to the TEXT WALL that appears when you first click on the thread that makes it a bit intimidationg to many casual readers. Might cause people to skim a little more than usual. Your first post may benefit from a nice summary picture of the the riding crew to get readers attention.

Cheers, looking forward to the next installment
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Old 09-17-2014, 05:54 PM   #13
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No worries about the writing. I was more referring to the TEXT WALL that appears when you first click on the thread that makes it a bit intimidationg to many casual readers. Might cause people to skim a little more than usual. Your first post may benefit from a nice summary picture of the the riding crew to get readers attention.

Cheers, looking forward to the next installment
Ok, thanx. Sort of amazing to me is how much bio on my mates I did not have prior to the trip. Thomas I did not know at all. Bry and I have done a little bit of time together. Usually, trips like this are done with budds who have known each other for years and are comfortable adventurer budds already. Obviously, we are all older guys with a lot of inexperiance in a lot of ways. But we have had a lifetime of accumulating social work-arounds.

I do hope that the thread readers enjoy lookung at the beemer piled with tires to keep it balanced on the center stand. I piled those tires on there and kept glancing at them hoping not to see one shift and topple the bike. The temptation to ask a budd to hand me a tire to see if he would was killing me.
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:47 PM   #14
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This has been an excellent read.

Very wordy, but witty enough to hold attention for sure.

I made the trip up on July of this year solo, but in a hurry.
I got to meet some interesting random people along the way, but hoping my next time will be with some 'buds.
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Old 09-18-2014, 03:47 AM   #15
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Looking forward to sitting down and reading this in one sitting this evening. Looks like it will be an interesting tale.

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