Call of the wild 2011

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by sasho, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    662
    Location:
    MT/Bulgaria
    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:

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    The bikes:

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    The route:

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    Spectacular scenery:

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    Fantastic friends and stories to last a lifetime:

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    Intros and report to follow...
    #1
  2. Ladybug0048

    Ladybug0048 Bug Sister

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    11,538
    Location:
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    :lurk
    #2
  3. aDave

    aDave Lovin' Life!

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    185
    Location:
    the Ozark suburbs
    Nice mosaics...bring it on.:ear

    Dave
    #3
  4. MiloBramble

    MiloBramble Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    59
    Location:
    Chandler AZ
    Subscribed...:freaky
    #4
  5. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    662
    Location:
    MT/Bulgaria
    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 :D. We talked about it for a year, and decided to take the trip during the summer of 2011
    :wings. 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 :deal
    #5
  6. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Florence, Montana
    My story.

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

    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 :cry…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:clap…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.:baldy

    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. :wink:

    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! :thumb

    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.

    THE CALL OF THE WILD
    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
    blazon,
    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
    ranges,
    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
    curses?
    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
    renders?
    (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-
    ing—
    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.

    Dogger54
    #6
  7. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    662
    Location:
    MT/Bulgaria
    With spring approaching quick, my preparation wasn't going well at all... I kept looking around and slowly buying things for the trip:

    [​IMG]

    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... :huh :doh :loco

    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:

    [​IMG]

    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... :baldy 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:

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    Waaaay over my head here :loco:

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    Valve cover off:

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    Removed the head as well:

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    Old cylinder came off:

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    New cylinder ready to go in:

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    We wrestled quite a bit with installing the new piston:

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    Old and new:

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

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    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 :baldy. I guess I didn't put enough goop around the gasket, and the bike weeped a bit of oil:

    [​IMG]

    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!!! :beer
    #7
  8. Too Tall

    Too Tall Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    216
    Location:
    Iowa Great Lakes
    Great start. Keep the story going.
    #8
  9. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,045
    Location:
    Maine
    :lurk
    #9
  10. Racer_man

    Racer_man 500,000 miles so far

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    Gilbert, AZ
    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!

    Garry
    #10
  11. GRTWHT

    GRTWHT n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Mt Home, ID
    This has been my dream ride for many, many years as well and I'm already enjoying your RR - keep it coming!
    #11
  12. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    662
    Location:
    MT/Bulgaria
    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. :clap

    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.

    http://www.overstock.com/Sports-Toy...Long-Lightweight-Air-Pad/3964108/product.html

    3) Synthetic sleeping bag rated at 0F:

    http://www.overstock.com/Sports-Toy...-Sleeping-Bags-Pack-of-2/5751177/product.html

    Overstock initially sent me this one actually rated at 20F, which I think would have been better:
    http://www.overstock.com/Sports-Toy...ee-Sleeping-Bag/36434/product.html?cid=123620

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

    5) Rokhinon binoculars

    Electronics

    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.

    Luggage

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

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=466760

    2) Tourmaster saddle bags--I already had them, got'em used for around $60:

    http://tourmaster.com/xcart/catalog/Cruiser-III-Slant-Saddlebags-p-309_64.html
    #12
  13. Flameout

    Flameout Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2003
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    I'm right where I'm suppose to be all the time!
    Subscribed!
    #13
  14. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,634
    Location:
    Pagosa Springs, CO.
    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.:lol3

    ciao,gale
    #14
  15. grub

    grub Requires Supervision

    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,215
    Location:
    Waiting for a green light on the red line
    How's the cabin fever treating you this year Gale??:lol3
    #15
  16. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,634
    Location:
    Pagosa Springs, CO.
    Grub, you got me dead on

    I shall hit Wolf Creek xc trails tomorrow roads permitting, , several up hill intervals at 11,000 ft until I see black spots, come home, pat the 640 on the ass several times and then read some more of this RR:lol3
    #16
  17. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Florence, Montana
    Sorry for holding up the show….Alex is chomping at the bit to post day 1.

    Bike preparations
    I do a bit of back country camping so I already had most everything I needed for the camping part of the trip…I just needed some way to pack everything on the bike. I already had a top box fashioned from an action packer but I really wanted some hard panniers. The commercial panniers were bank busters for me so I struggled for a solution.

    After Sasho and I began talking about the Alaska trip we had to take a road trip for work, luckily this took us through Idaho Falls, ID where we found this well stocked military surplus store along the interstate…WOOHOO!…they has these sweet ammo boxes, not the puny 50 cal. boxes I had seen up to this point, but some cubic foot capacity boxes with a hermetic seal and, although made of steel, relatively light weight at 17lb…and only $15 each!

    Ok, so now I need to mount these bad boys, I looked at commercial pannier racks but they cost way more than I wanted to pay…since I had plenty of time I decided to build my own out of tubular steel purchased from the hardware store.
    [​IMG]

    There was no way I was going to poke holes in the boxes and destroy the seal so my solution, however cheesy, was to build a carrier for each box that would then attach to the pannier rack. A few pieces of aluminum angle and strap purchased from the hardware store and I managed to kludge together something that, while not pretty, would do the trick.
    [​IMG]

    After assembling the panniers and top box on the bike I proudly showed them off to my wife, she got this disapproving look on her face and promptly stated "It looks like a hobo bike!"…YES!! The KLR aesthetics were still intact! :thumb

    I added highway pegs with engine guards and strapped a section of 4" PVC with clean out plugs to the highway pegs to carry tire tools, pogo stick, wrenches and rags.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I replaced the clutch springs with heavy duty springs and added a 12V outlet to my instrument cluster to keep my GPS and camera batteries charged.

    Spooned on a new set of Heidenau K60 Scouts.
    [​IMG]

    Changed the rear brake pads.
    [​IMG]

    My sister-in-law gave me an Air Hawk butt pad that literally saved my a--.
    [​IMG]

    Greased everything I could think of and double checked every nut and bolt I could find.

    Gear

    I laid everything out on the floor for a couple weeks before we left so I could look at the lot and make adjustments.

    We used The Milepost to research routes, sites, and fuel locations, these were loaded into my Delorme PN-60 along with the western US, Canada and Alaska road and street maps.

    I packed a netbook for e-mailing home and setting up reservations while on the road and a SPOT locator which I triggered each evening to keep family and friends current with our location.

    I found that my cheap pay-as-you-go phone worked everywhere but the Yukon.

    I carried basic tools that would get us through all but the worst mechanical issues, a Clymer manual, a hatchet, a folding tree saw, a folding camp shovel, a rubberized canvas bucket, water purification pump, some camping cooking pots, heavy duty plastic camping utinsils, ramen noodles for emergency, a couple heavy duty tire tubes, tube repair kit, slime, a small bicycle tire pump, a couple quarts of oil, visor cleaner and chamois, a small bottle of dish soap for dishes and tires, waterproof gloves, clothes for varying weather conditions, and a mosquito net hat.

    I brought along $400 Canadian which came in handy at times.

    Sounds like I brought along everything but the kitchen sink…but I should have packed more. The loaded panniers weighted in at 35lb each and the top box probably weighted about the same. I had to be careful with all the extra weight up high and did manage to lay the bike down five times during the trip…no damage to the bike or me.

    This Forum was an indispensable source of information for planning routes, places to see, things to do and watch out for and people to contact.

    On to day 1.
    #17
  18. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    662
    Location:
    MT/Bulgaria
    I didn't hear anything definite about the job in Russia... This has got to be the slowest bureaucracy in the world, argh... :baldy May 14th is coming up quick, at least my boss showed understanding and gave me the time off despite the situation.

    And so the departure date arrived. I got up early and got my luggage packed. I tied it to the bike and did a test ride around the neighborhood. Everything seemed to stay secured, so I decided I was ready. The bike is started and ready to go:

    [​IMG]

    So I waited, waited and then waited some more... Eventually I get a call from dogger54 that he had a problem with the departure--I'll let him explain if he wants. Meanwhile I was getting egged on by colleagues what am I still doing online, I should be gone on vacation already...

    After a good while dogger54 arrived in Missoula, and we took a departure photo:

    [​IMG]

    And so off we went!!! First planned stop was in Eureka, where we would gas up before crossing the border and stop for a "Bubba Burger", supposedly the best hamburger in the USA 2 or 3 years ago:

    [​IMG]

    We passed Flathead lake, where we ride often. Flathead Lake is the largest natural fresh water lake in the western USA, and is a popular recreational destination. This day I noticed a bit more "nature" than usual, barely covered by swim suits :evil. Sorry, I didn't get pics of that, there was also a police cruiser parked nearby.

    [​IMG]

    More about Flathead Lake:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flathead_Lake

    We continued towards Eureka while the strong wind did a good job of trying to take me down. In addition we had to avoid the dear, which were about during bright daylight. In Eureka we experienced the first disappointed of the trip--the "Cutting Board" was closed down:

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    We turned around to get to the gas station and filled up. We knew that we wouldn't see gas prices like ours in MT for a while. I also grabbed some beer and we headed towards the border:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    At the border crossing we were asked the usual questions--do you carry arms or alcohol, etc... Did not take long at all. Once pass the border crossing, it immediately became clear to us that we were in Canada--everywhere we looked we saw postcard views:

    [​IMG]

    I believe these photos are from when we went by Columbia Lake:

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    Around early evening we got to Fairmont Hot Springs. We headed towards the resort to look for dinner, but the fancy wooden resort sign deterred us right away. We decided to find something more affordable and in no time we found Tony's grill, a "hole in the wall" type restaurant with delicious Greek food:

    [​IMG]

    Tony and I started talking, and he asked me where I am from. We started chatting about the old world, traditions, and so on (my mom's side of the family is of Greek heritage). The Souvlaki was delicious, I even returned for seconds... :1drink

    After dinner we found a campsite--the office was closed but we decided to make ourselves comfortable and pay in the morning. We claimed a spot:

    [​IMG]

    Looking around the campground:

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    Dogger54 recorded the stats for the day:

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    At the end of the day we congratulated ourselves with the start of the trip:

    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. PacificPT

    PacificPT Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    984
    Location:
    Monterey, CA
    Looking good so far, waiting for more. Go mighty KLR!
    #19
  20. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Florence, Montana
    Sasho and I were going to meet at his place at 11am but I kept finding last minute tweaks to my packing that were putting me behind schedule. I was finally ready to get going about ½ hr late…just before pulling out of the drive I twisted around to check that everything was secure when I let the bike lean too far over center and down it went. I hurried and tried to lift the bike but with all the gear and a full tank of gas I couldn’t budge it…I had to call Sasho and let him know that I would be a bit late. I pulled off the camping gear and the panniers and even then I barely got the bike up…great start! I finally arrived at Sasho’s place about 12:30pm.

    We headed north on Hwy 93 towards Eureka, MT, it was a sunny day but we had a horrendous quartering headwind. At about 140 miles we stopped for gas…I wanted to find out what my fuel economy was so I could plan my fuel stops…I was only getting 40mpg, about 13mpg less than normal…this had me concerned. We filled up again in Eureka after 70 miles of riding in calmer air…this time I got near 50mpg so all was good.

    Big disappointment in Eureka, no Bubba Burger, so we headed for the Roosville border crossing deciding to stop when daylight began running out…this brought us to Fairmont Hot Springs, BC.
    [​IMG]

    At Tony’s Greek Grill I opted for a very tasty Donair.
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    We found a nearly vacant camp ground.
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    A nice secluded spot nestled in the willows to pitch out tents.
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    A couple beers thanks to Sasho and some quiet time to sit back and reflect on the day…we were free with nothing but the open road and unimagined experiences ahead of us for the next four weeks…life was good. Then it was time to hit the sack and on to day 2.
    #20