Me and the Uly, Anchorage to Dallas

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by davevv, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    Yep, it's another Alaska thread. Seems to be a lot of them this year, but why not? It's a great ride.

    The background that goes with this story is that I'm a bike junkie. I've had quite a few from most of the major brands since I started riding in 1961. When I see something new and interesting I usually end up with one and the Ulysses had caught my eye. If I hadn't been jonesing for the Uly, I probably would have bought a new Sargent seat for my '99 1100GS and done a round trip, but the Uly had me hooked. So, I sold my '05 Road King (I'm 60 but discovered I'm still not ready for a geezer glide.) and purchased the Uly from House of Harley-Davidson and Buell in Anchorage about three months ago. I found a one way plane ticket for $229 and shipped all my riding and camping gear to the dealership.

    To make the ride a little more comfortable, I also shipped a set of Polly grip heaters, a Laminar Lip, and Touratech handguard extensions to the dealer so they could install them before I picked up the bike.

    At 6:00AM on June 18, I got on the plane and headed for Cleveland. Had a loooong six hour layover there (maybe why the ticket was so cheap) and then got on the flight to Anchorage. I had checked on hotels in Anchorage and anything above 1.5 stars was more than my plane ticket. Since all my gear was at the dealership, I had to have a place to stay, so I ended up at the Spenard Hostel. The cab driver at the airport was really po'd because he had waited 45 minutes to get to the head of the line and the hostel was so close that the fare was only $9.00. I gave him $15.00, but that still isn't much for an hour's work.
    [​IMG]

    Only $21.00 for the night and about a block from the dealer I needed to be at in the morning. This was my first night ever in a hostel and it was an interesting experience. Very wide variety of people staying there, mostly young but a couple my age. One guy from Istanbul and two young girls from somewhere in Scandinavia.

    More to come.

    #1
  2. Stretch67

    Stretch67 Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,166
    Location:
    Bent, But Not Broken
    I camped in their back yard once last month. :ricky
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,597
    Everyone's going to or from Alaka these days :thumb Let the adenture begin

    :lurk
    #3
  4. Stretch67

    Stretch67 Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,166
    Location:
    Bent, But Not Broken
    Yeah. But like the man said, it's a great ride.

    Ain't nothin' to it, 'cept to do it. :ricky
    #4
  5. Makalu

    Makalu Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,872
    Location:
    Event horizon
    :lurk :lurk
    #5
  6. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    Tuesday, 6-19-07

    Woke up early this morning as I have been doing for at least three weeks now. Having a hard time sleeping in anticipation of this trip. Walked over to Gwennie's restaurant for breakfast which is directly across the street from the dealership.
    [​IMG]

    House of Harley-Davidson and Buell, Anchorage.
    [​IMG]

    Obviously it's still early and they're not open yet. But it was worth waiting for when the doors opened at 9:00. My previous best dealership experience was at Max BMW in New Hampshire and these guys are as good and maybe better. I had been dealing with the sales manager, Joe Matteson, over the phone and he had all the paperwork ready. The bike was ready to go, and during the morning I was introduced to at least 2 or 3 people in every department. When everything was signed and I had listened to the standard operational spiel, I moved the bike over to the parking area for their campground.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The campground is free for motorcyclists. It has a restroom and shower. They don't care what you ride, only that you're on a bike. There were two KLRs, an 1150GS, and a 650GS there besides me that night. The KLRs were ridden by a father and son from California and one had a standard KLR on the road type repair job on the instrument cluster.
    [​IMG]

    The 1150GS belonged to Paul Brown from the Washington DC area who had already been on the road for a couple months and was waiting for his girlfriend to fly in. They were planning to run in a marathon the next week and then had a motor home rented for awhile.

    I retrieved my box of gear, set up camp, and installed my GPS on the bike. While this was going on, Bob the finance guy, aka Big Bad Bob here on ADV, walked out to shoot the breeze for about 20 minutes. He had noticed the note in my sig line here that I had a Uly waiting for me in Anchorage and sent me a PM a couple weeks earlier. Just another one of the friendly people there that came by to welcome me to Alaska.

    Next on my agenda was a stop at Alaska Leather for one of Barb's sheepskin buttpads and Paul decided to head over there with me.
    [​IMG]
    Barb wasn't there, but I got my pad from her daughter and Paul ended up buying one also. There was also a slim blonde lady working there that I didn't talk to until much later that day. Paul went off to find the BMW shop and schedule some service on his bike and I made a stop at Walmart to pick up the little stuff that hadn't been worth shipping.


    After a chef salad at Gwennie's and a quiet evening, I went to bed fairly early. When I got up about 2:00AM for a restroom break, the blonde lady was sitting in a chair by the restroom door (there was a power outlet there) working on her laptop. Turns out she was from Florida, was riding the 650GS, had been on the road for 2 months, wasn't planning to go home 'til August, and had come in and set up her camp after I had turned in. Stupid me, found all this out at 2:00AM but forgot to get her name.


    Tomorrow we get down to actual travel.
    #6
  7. Stretch67

    Stretch67 Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,166
    Location:
    Bent, But Not Broken
    That's Jacqueline L.
    RocDoc and I met her at that campsite last month.

    [​IMG]

    She has an ongoing thread here: "Hoon on the Loose.. Jacqueline Heads to Alaska".

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=223032

    :ricky
    #7
  8. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    Got up early and packed up camp. Now to figure out how to load everything on the bike. I had ordered the Buell side cases, which are actually Hepco Becker Journeys with a Buell logo, but not the top case. The side cases are very roomy and all my clothes (in dry sacks from Cabela's) went into the left case. Tools, service manual, shoes, sandals, and a quart of oil went in the right case. All the camping gear, rain suit, jacket and pants liners, and odds and ends went into a size large MotoFizz tailbag that strapped across the rear seat. I had guessed just right on what I could carry and had just a little room left over.


    With everything on the bike, I headed up the Glenn Highway to the Parks Highway. My plan was to run up to Denali NP, spend two nights and come back to Anchorage with enough miles on the bike to get it's first service on Friday.


    Man, was it tough keeping the rpms down on the Uly during the break in. The bike loves to run and although I'm not a hooligan anymore by any means, it was a serious test of my willpower to hold back.


    I had this view about 130 miles from Denali.
    [​IMG]
    For all of you who have been to Denali, but never got to see Mt. McKinley because it is usually covered in clouds, that's it.


    Couple more shots along the way.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I stopped in the park during the afternoon and bought a ticket for a bus ride into the park the next day. For those who don't know, there is only one road into the park and you are only allowed to drive your own vehicle in a short way. But the park is huge at nearly 6 million acres (9400 square miles) and the road is 92 miles long. So, if you want to see much of it, you have to take a shuttle bus to get farther in.


    From there, I rode on up to Healy, 11 miles north of the park entrance, where I had reservations for the next two nights at the White Moose Lodge. About $100.00 a night and a nice comfortable place. A bit hard to find though as it is not visible from the road and their sign is somewhat hidden by trees when you're headed north.


    The weather had been great all day, the bike ran perfect, and the winter riding gear I had sent up was just right without the liners. Altogether a beautiful day on the road.
    #8
  9. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,789
    Location:
    Grand Haven, Michigan
    That's cuz it's an awesome ride!!! :ricky
    #9
  10. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    Yep, that's her. Seemed like a very nice lady. Wish I'd had a better opportunity to get to know her.
    #10
  11. Stretch67

    Stretch67 Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,166
    Location:
    Bent, But Not Broken
    So that's Denali.

    We were there for two weeks and never did see it.

    This was our view on the Parks Highway...
    [​IMG]

    Glad you had good weather on that leg of your trip. :ricky
    #11
  12. infoatnmmoto

    infoatnmmoto with the band

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    21,463
    Location:
    Wanted felon
    Great report so far. I camped at Wonder Lake a few years back and only got to see the peak a few times in 3 days.
    The weather looks beautiful. I was in Alaske for 3 weeks and I think I only had
    a 1/2 day of sun.

    :lurk :lurk Me and wifey.....
    #12
  13. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    Finally managed to sleep in a little this morning and then headed to the park for the bus ride at noon. Had some rain last night so things are wet and it is cloudy and overcast, but no rain all day today. Not much to talk about, but I do have pictures.

    In case anyone is curious, all these pictures were taken with a Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd that I bought specifically for this trip.

    [​IMG]

    This is the sign where you board the bus. My turnaround point was at the Toklat river, 53 miles into the park. It's a six hour ride if you go out and back on the same bus, but the busses are actually a shuttle service. You can get off at any point and catch another bus later going either way. You just can't go past the turnaround point you paid for.
    [​IMG]

    Views from the bus.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Caribou feeding. And no, he never did lift his head for a better shot.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There are three Grizzlies in this next picture. The one you can see standing in the middle of the picture is a female. The light dot just to the left and slightly above her is her two year old cub laying down. Above the right edge of the snow is another light dot that is a large male. I actually got a better view of them than the pictures shows because I was carrying a set of 10X Nikon binoculars with me also. They were about a mile away.
    [​IMG]

    Golden eagle.
    [​IMG]

    Wildflowers in the park.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    During the day, I saw 3 Grizzlies, 4 caribou, 1 golden eagle, two ptarmigan, and about 40 Dall sheep. I didn't have a chance to get pictures of the sheep as they were on the other side of the bus and too many people were in the way.

    Being overcast, there were no views of Mt. McKinley today.

    It seems strange to me, but Denali reminds me a lot of Big Bend NP in Texas. It is an open, rolling, somewhat featureless landscape. McKinley is 20,000+ feet, but the rest of the mountains surrounding it are only 4-6,000 and Big Bend has mountains that tall too. Denali is obviously more lush, but being tundra, what trees are present are stunted. It's hard to explain, but somehow it brought Big Bend's desert landscape to mind.
    #13
  14. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    Got up early this morning and rode back to Anchorage. Weather was solid overcast plus smoke blowing north from a forest fire. Between the two, it was the lowest light level I saw all the time I was in Alaska. Had a little bit of rain on the way, but nothing serious.

    Got back to Anchorage about noon. Unloaded the bike and checked it in for service with 539 miles on it. Joe had messed up and had it scheduled for Wednesday, but they managed to get it done even though they were overrun with service business.

    The bike does have one problem they didn't have the parts to fix. Every time I turn the ignition off and back on, the clock resets itself to 1:00 and the two trip meters rest to 0. They wanted to replace the whole module, but you have to order them with the correct mileage preset, so it will have to wait 'til I get back to Texas.

    I'd heard it said that you should never pass up a chance to buy gas in Alaska, and I almost learned the hard way as I was headed to Denali. I was 10 miles into the reserve when I got to Cantwell. So, after the bike was finished, I headed back over to Walmart and picked up a 1 gallon gas can to carry with me.

    No pictures today since it was dark and I was covering the same ground as two days earlier. No one but me in the Harley campground that night.
    #14
  15. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    My original plan had been to head down to Homer on the Kenai peninsula to see the sights and maybe do a little fishing for a couple days. However, the NOAA weather forecast was three days of rain in that area and there was also another forest fire close to Homer. So, I packed up and headed for Tok instead.

    It was a beautifual sunny day and the Uly was running great. The views along the Glenn highway are outstanding.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Alaska Wildlife Museum is located in the little town of Glennallen. It's a collection of animals that were all hunted or trapped in that valley except for the Kodiak bear. The taxidermy work and displays are excellent.
    [​IMG]

    Dall sheep.
    [​IMG]

    Ptarmigan in winter plumage. The ones I saw in Denali were a dusty brownish color.
    [​IMG]

    Wolverine.
    [​IMG]

    Lynx. Notice the oversized paws that allow them to run on top of the snow in winter.
    [​IMG]

    This wolf reportedly weighed 170 pounds when trapped.
    [​IMG]

    Cinnamon bear fighting with wolves over a caribou carcass. The cinnamon bear is actually the same as a black bear, just a different color. Kind of like blondes and brunettes. Cinnamons supposedly comprise about 4 to 5% of the black bear population in Alaska and they claim a large percentage of those are in the valley around Glennallen.
    [​IMG]

    Moose fighting off wolves.
    [​IMG]

    Bear and caribou.
    [​IMG]

    Otter.
    [​IMG]

    Sorry, I can't remember the name of this one, but it's a fox of some sort.
    [​IMG]

    More fox.
    [​IMG]

    Kodiak bear.
    [​IMG]

    After the museum, I headed on up to Tok and checked into the Sourdough Campground. I highly recommend this place. Lots of trees and good facilities. Ken, the owner, spent 28 years running major hotels and knows his business. They have a pavilion with live entertainment (mostly bluegrass and country music). If you don't want to cook or go to a restaurant, they serve reindeer chili and beef stew in sourdough bread bowls for dinner. And he serves his wife's homemade pies for dessert. Believe me, the blackberry-rhubarb is damned near worth the trip to Alaska all by itself. Ken reminds you a lot of Jeff Foxworthy and is one hard working guy. He checked me in when I got there, served the dinner, picked up his guitar and joined the show when everyone had been served, then ran a sourdough pancake tossing contest with free breakfast at their restaurant for prizes.

    In the campground I had a group of 8 bikers from Anchorage (7 Goldwings and 1 Harley) who were headed for the big Goldwing rally in Billings, Montana on one side of me. John and Mary from Sacramento and in a motorhome were on the other side. John tells me the road to Haines is all torn up with construction and a real mess. The Goldwing guys are all telling me I really should go to Dawson City since I'm this close already. Since it looks like about equal amounts of dirt and gravel either way, I decided to head to Dawson City in the morning.

    I apologize for no pictures in the campground. Years ago I quit carrying a camera on my trips because I found myself spending more time worrying about the photography than actually enjoying the sights and experiences I had made the trip for. Now, I tend to forget about the camera occasionally. So if you are sometimes wishing for pictures that aren't there, that's the reason.
    #15
  16. btretired

    btretired anal retentive

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,031
    Location:
    On Top of the World, Tehachapi, CA
    :clap Good Job so far-- I've been to Alaska and Denali before but not on a bike.. But with all these trips looks like I've gotta figure out how. You may have the best idea, fly in- ride out..

    :earmore please!
    #16
  17. bross

    bross Where we riding to?

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,165
    Location:
    Osoyoos, BC
    Great report, thanks for posting. What are your impressions of the Uly?
    #17
  18. cirrus365

    cirrus365 beaned

    Joined:
    May 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Pacific NorthWet
    +1 Its always the little things that I forget to photo too.

    I am also interested in your opinion overall of the Uly.:lurk

    Thanks for the R.R.
    #18
  19. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    Filled up with gas and headed north on the Taylor Highway.
    [​IMG]

    One of the views from the Taylor Highway.
    [​IMG]

    The Taylor Highway is a good road, but soon you get to the turnoff for the Top of the World Highway which is all dirt and gravel to the border with the Yukon Territory in Canada. No rain today, so the TOW wasn't really too bad. I easily ran 45 to 50 the whole way.

    Passed through Chicken, but stopped only for pictures.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    My plan was to buy gas at Boundary, Alaska which I could make easily on what I had left in the tank. This is what I found in Boundary.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Notice that there are no signs of life. The SALE sign on the building doesn't refer to a sale on merchandise inside, the whole place is for sale. Therefore, no fuel available.

    This is the road back to Chicken from the same spot in Boundary.
    [​IMG]

    The Uly doesn't have a gas gauge, just a light that comes on when you are down to .83 gallons left in the tank. I figured my extra gallon of gas was good for at least 40 miles and I wasn't on reserve yet, so I probably had at least 40 more miles left in the tank. That should be enough to get me into Dawson City. Don't pass up a chance to buy fuel in Alaska!

    The Milepost says that the road from the Canadian border into Dawson City is paved with stretches of gravel in construction areas. That's not quite accurate. When I went through, it was mostly gravel with short stretches of pavement. Total distance on dirt and gravel today was probably over 100 miles. The Uly handled it very well and the reduced speeds improved it's already great mileage. The reserve light didn't come on until I got to the ferry to cross the Yukon River directly across from Dawson City. 198 miles on 3.6 gallons that day.

    I got a spot at the campground in the city. I don't recommend it for tent camping as it's basically an RV park with no shade and little soft ground. The kicker is that the only other campground is on the other side of the river.

    Pictures from Dawson City. The green building on the right is Sourdough Joe's restaurant. Excellent fish and chips there.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Dawson City is a touristy kind of place, but interesting. It has dirt streets and boardwalks like you see in the movies and gold is still important there.

    Lost $40 at the blackjack table in Diamond Tooth Gertie's gambling hall. Had heavy rain at 3:00AM but the Eureka Apex tent handled it well.
    #19
  20. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,480
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    I was going to wait 'til the end to give a review on the bike, but since two of you have asked, I will say here that it is an outstanding motorcycle. Compared to my 1100GS, it is lighter, more agile, has more power and useable torque, and is much more comfortable for me. I realize we are all built different, but for me, the ergonomics on the Uly are much better. I was 14 days into the trip before I wished for highway pegs the first time. I put on a total of 5,302 miles with no pain between my shoulder blades that I get on most bikes. It also has a stock seat that is comfortable. Something that is very rare, especially on the GSs that are so popular on this site.

    The suspension is fabulous. It handles the frost heaves up there at 65-70mph without effort and is very stable at highway speeds. It is one of the most stable bikes I've ever been on in crosswinds. Also, last year when I did a 3200 mile trip on the GS, I had sore kidneys for a long time afterward. I haven't had one ache from this trip.

    Mechanically, it had no problems. A nut did vibrate off one of the two studs holding the belt tension idler pulley mount somewhere in Montana, but that is the sum total of it's mechanical problems. It used practically no oil, though checking it is as tricky as a GS. It is supposed to be checked hot. If you check immediately after cutting off the motor, it will be .5 to .75" higher on the stick than what you will see when checking a couple minutes later. Also, once when I checked it, it was completely off the bottom of the stick. I checked three times, then added about 1/3 quart and it showed overfilled about 10 miles later. I ended up taking the oil I had added back out again with a straw.

    It will get 45-50mpg fully loaded in headwinds at 75mph.

    It is tall though. I can flatfoot the GS easily, but with the Uly I'm on the balls of my feet. Also, a lot of people complain about a large turning radius at low speed because the front wheel only turns 54 degrees lock to lock, but it was never a problem for me on this trip and the '08 models have been changed to 74 degrees.

    I like it well enough that the 1100GS is now surplus and is probably already sold to another ADVer who posted a couple days ago that he was looking for one.
    #20