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Old 02-26-2012, 07:26 AM   #1
sasho OP
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Call of the wild 2011

Last year dogger54 and I rode our KLRs to Alaska, starting in the middle of May and returning 4 weeks later.

A few photos of things to come...

The crew:

The bikes:

The route:

Spectacular scenery:

Fantastic friends and stories to last a lifetime:

Intros and report to follow...
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Old 02-26-2012, 11:09 AM   #2
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Old 02-26-2012, 11:26 AM   #3
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Nice mosaics...bring it on.

Freedom is never free.

Pacifism is a luxury of the defended.
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Old 02-26-2012, 11:37 AM   #4
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Old 02-26-2012, 01:00 PM   #5
sasho OP
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A short intro

I am fairly new to motorcycles, and went through the MSF course in 2007 but did not start to ride until 2009. My colleague and later riding partner, dogger54, listened a great deal about me going through the dilemma about whether or not to buy a motorcycle, since I have never owned any type of vehicle before, have no knowledge about maintenance and do not even have a place to store it. Desire overcame common sense, and in the end I bought a used 2008 Kawasaki KLR 650 with about 1700 miles on it, without knowing anything about mechanics.

Dogger54 did not have a bike at the time either, although he has ridden in the past. One day he showed up at work telling me that he is buying a Suzuki GS1000. Later he rode the KLR, and was soon wishing a dual sport ride as well :) He ended up with not one, but two!!! I'll let him tell the story if he wants...

After riding together around the PNW for 2 years, we inevitably fantasized about riding to AK as a result of reading ADV . We talked about it for a year, and decided to take the trip during the summer of 2011
. I have never been to Alaska before.

The idea--to follow Jack London's footsteps, who casted a spell on me with his writing ever since I stepped in the public library in my hometown in Bulgaria as a kid. The biggest thing for me was to visit Dawson City, and see where he lived. That, and maybe some fishing if possible

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Old 02-26-2012, 09:23 PM   #6
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My story.

After a 26 year hiatus the riding bug bit me again.

I used to ride a ’77 GS750 and back in 1983 I ended up abandoning it in the middle of a 3,000 mile ride due to engine trouble …that was the last time I rode until Sasho picked up his KLR and rekindled the fire.

Initially I picked up a ’79 GS1000 because of the memories it represented, but as I rode I felt that something was missing…then Sasho let me jump on his KLR and I knew immediately what the problem was, I live in western Montana with thousands of miles of dirt roads and trails with fantastically spectacular views that weren’t accessible to me on a road bike…I had to have a dual sport.

Well, I looked and looked for months without luck and then Sasho came to the rescue…he found a KLR650 advertised in good shape and at a reasonable price…we made a road trip half way across the state of Montana to take a look at it and it panned out so I jumped on it. The trip back was really interesting, we had a 50mph head wind with the bike in the back of the pickup…the truck was noticeably lacking power and then I noticed it was running really hot…stopped and looked things over but I couldn’t identify a problem. In order to get back we rode all the way home on that hot August day with the windows rolled down and the heater running wide open to help the radiator out…turns out my youngest son had the truck out without my knowledge and was mud bogging with his friends and had nearly plugged the radiator with dirt.

Well, as luck would have it, later that winter Sasho found another KLR650 at a price that was too good to pass up…and of course if one dual sport is good, two dual sports have to be GREAT, besides it’s a great chance to bond with my grown kids….at least that was my reasoning while trying to convince my wife.

As Sasho stated previously, we talked about this trip for about a year…all that time I really didn’t hold much hope that we would get it done considering our lack of experience and the slim chance that we would both be able to take a month off from work and at the same time. Well, the planets aligned and good fortune smiled on us…we were able to accumulate enough comp time to take the trip and it was early enough in the year that nothing pressing was going on at work…GAME ON!

We still needed to somehow prepare ourselves and the bikes for the trip…we’ll cover that soon.

Sasho has told you about his being influenced by Jack London and The Call of the Wild and what this trip meant to him. I didn’t have such an influence but during our stay at Dawson City I was introduced to the works of the poet Robert Service who was in Dawson City shortly after Jack London, as it turns out he wrote a poem titled The Call of the Wild…I feel this poem embodies my feelings about this trip.

Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there’s nothing else
to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streak-
ing through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God’s sake go
and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
And learned to know the desert’s little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o’er the
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods
and changes?
Then listen to the Wild—it’s calling you.

Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed
twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? Mushed your huskies up
the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map’s void spaces, mingled with the mon-
grel races,
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with
Then hearken to the Wild—it’s wanting you.

Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet
grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature
(You’ll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do
things –
Then listen to the Wild—it’s calling you.

They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with
their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teach-
But can’t you hear the Wild?—it’s calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betride us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to
guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go.

Robert Service

I hope you stick around and enjoy the ride. For those of you thinking about doing a ride….GO FOR IT!…the Wild is calling you.

Do not go gentle into that good night
- Dylan Thomas

'02 KLR 650, '96 XR200R
'79 Suzuki GS1000EN, '88 XR600R - WOOHOO!!!
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:23 PM   #7
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With spring approaching quick, my preparation wasn't going well at all... I kept looking around and slowly buying things for the trip:

In the mean time I knew that my '08 KLR was burning oil... As I mentioned, my mechanical skills are non-existent, and I relied on dogger54 to help me tackle the problem. Meanwhile he snatched time off starting in the middle of May--hmmm, we will be heading to Alaska in May...

My boss "'kind of" gave me the time off... His answer was "it depends, I would like you to apply for work in Russia, and if it goes through, you will go there."

That's pretty much how we waited out winter--preparation was sort of under way (mostly BSing on my part), plus we have to find time to swap the cylinder in my bike, and we have no idea if I will get to go, depending on the Russia thing...

I didn't have a top box and bought the Walmart dry bag to hold my camping gear and clothes:

April arrived, and all of the sudden we realized that we are running out of time.

Dogger54 provided his expertise and garage for the cylinder swap. The 685 kit arrived, but then I had to go to Toronto for a week. One more week wasted... Our time for preparation was running out.After I came back from Canada, we got together and swapped the cylinder. Some pictures from the carnage:

Bike stripped down:

Waaaay over my head here :

Valve cover off:

Removed the head as well:

Old cylinder came off:

New cylinder ready to go in:

We wrestled quite a bit with installing the new piston:

Old and new:

We adjusted the valves when we re-installed the head:

After buttoning it up, we did a break-in according to Wyman Winn's instructions.

After a few days I notice that we didn't get a good seal around the base gasket . I guess I didn't put enough goop around the gasket, and the bike weeped a bit of oil:

It wasn't leaking much. After getting the engine hot enough the leak stopped, but we decided to repeat the procedure--who knows, it may decide to start gushing when I would at least suspect it. The second time the process went quite a bit faster. We made sure to add enough gasket goop this time.

I got new Heidenau K60 tires as well. I purchased the rear from Black Dog Cycle Works in ID. While we are changing the rear tire, dogger54 took off my swing arm and greased the bearings and such. I also got a front tire from another inmate in Missoula, JeffD, who too lent expertise and garage space during the tire install. Thanks Jeff!!!

sasho screwed with this post 02-27-2012 at 07:25 PM Reason: forgot that I was using color for fonts
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:08 PM   #8
Too Tall
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Great start. Keep the story going.
2014 KTM 350EXC-F
2012 Triumph 800XC
2010 KTM 990 SMT
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:30 AM   #9
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"The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world."-- Max Born, Nobel Physicist
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:45 AM   #10
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Subscribed! Your timing is great, myself and 2 buddies are doing this same trip this June, also on KLR's!
Looking forward to your stories!

We have enough youth... What we need is a fountain of SMART!
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:03 PM   #11
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This has been my dream ride for many, many years as well and I'm already enjoying your RR - keep it coming!
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:28 PM   #12
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Thank you all very much for the interest and encouraging words. We'll keep this report going, we sure don't lack material...

I'll take the opportunity to list some of the gear I took with me:

Camping gear

1) Alps Mountaneering 2-person tent: I got it for ~$50 from REI, supposedly discounted from $200. Free standing, with 2 entrances, and the full fly has 2 vestibules.

2) Apls Mountaneering inflatable pad: I liked the tent so much I kept with the brand. I would probably get a non-inflatable foam pad now.

3) Synthetic sleeping bag rated at 0F:

Overstock initially sent me this one actually rated at 20F, which I think would have been better:

4) Emergency blanket as a footprint for the tent. I also carried a tarp.

5) Rokhinon binoculars


1) Panasonic DMC-F2 point and shoot camera.

2) Nokia N900--a phone and a tablet. I didn't carry a computer. The N900 has a full browser, but with the thumb keyboard made for awkward typing, and it was not easy to send pictures while on the road. I didn't spend time to set it up before we left. It also has a GPS, but I didn't use it.


1) The Walmart "water resistant" bag ( ), others have tried it as well and posted here:

2) Tourmaster saddle bags--I already had them, got'em used for around $60:
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:39 AM   #13
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:06 PM   #14
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IN IN IN, I am tired of xc ski training, I am tired of pumping iron , I have more snow to shovel and blow, another front is moving in as I put these little words in sentences.

I slid/slithered the 640 out for a 50 miler last Saturday and then we got the 12 inches on the drive now.

I think this rr will be a breath of fresh air, I can dream as I read the many RR available, I can ski more , I can plan a little more on our next trip to AK/Yukon, green grass will come for sure.

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Old 02-29-2012, 06:17 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Gale B.T. View Post
IN IN IN, I am tired of xc ski training, I am tired of pumping iron , I have more snow to shovel and blow, another front is moving in as I put these little words in sentences.

I slid/slithered the 640 out for a 50 miler last Saturday and then we got the 12 inches on the drive now.

I think this rr will be a breath of fresh air, I can dream as I read the many RR available, I can ski more , I can plan a little more on our next trip to AK/Yukon, green grass will come for sure.

How's the cabin fever treating you this year Gale??
'05 KTM 300 EXC - 1996 BMW R1100GS
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