Ride North – Two photographers ride from San Francisco to Alaska! (KLR650 & GT1000)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by caliform, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
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    456
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    San Francisco
    Heyo ADVriders! I've been a long-time lurker, living vicariously through your RRs in the shadows of the boards. In the last few months, I have been specifically feeding on your beautiful recollections of Alaska, in the regional board and right here... it seems like it's truly the season!

    Swissican's was definitely one of my favorites - so great. And then there was another one dear to my heart, a Duc rider herself, AKGeekGrrl! Ah, so many great stories...

    Time to make our own. We call it Ride North!

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    Me and my friend Stuart are riding from San Francisco to Alaska. We're leaving in two weeks - June 20th by the latest. We're good buddies and photographers with a passion for travel and hiking and riding to Alaska was Stu's idea initially and Seb enthusiastically decided to tag along!

    The bikes:

    Stu's got a Kawasaki KLR650 - an ADVRider staple! And has done most of the mandatory work on it, from doohickey fixin' to homegrown hard luggage, this guy's got it all going on. I'll let him add more info about his bike if he feels like it, the bastard's lounging off in Spain now!

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    I'm Seb, and I am riding a Ducati GT1000, in a true effort to break the Starbucks stereotype and take what might be the first SportClassic on an Alaskan adventure, I've upgraded and kitted out my Duc for the ride North...

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    Comfort seat, performance package, Hepco-becker luggage rack w/ KTM Gobi panniers, Ventura rack setup (thanks to a Ducati.ms member!), little thingie for throttle lock, RAM mount, added a quick hookup for battery tender and a 12V socket for phone, leather tank bag, frame sliders and of course some more suitable tires.


    The plan:

    We're very flexible on our plan, estimating about 60-70 days for the whole trip. We will try to camp as much as we can - we're just young dudes on a budget, after all... Initially we plan to stick to the Pacific Coast Highway and then hit up the Redwood National Park, then moving on to Klamath Falls and Crater Lake, to Bend, to Mt. Hood / Hood River and meet up with friends in Oregon. From there on we have 'stops' and sites we want to stop at and see, but we'll be very flexible. This is an adventure, and we'll take our dang time for it!

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    Bonus: Photo gear:

    We're packing 2 SLRs, a full-frame mirrorless digtal rangefinder camera, a Manfrotto tripod, Gorillapod, a Manfrotto super-clamp and Magic Arm, two GoPros and more. Pretty serious stuff! Makes for cool hanging-cameras-off-bikes shots and videos: :D

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    Either way, we'll update here with our last preparations before we leave around June 20th! Next update: full load adjustments to the bikes to get the suspension right and show off our fully kitted out babies!

    Oh! We have a little Kickstarter to make a fantastic photo book out of all this that we'd love for you to check out! Just a few days left... EDIT: All done!
    #1
  2. threetwoseven

    threetwoseven n00b

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    Looking forward to this.
    #2
  3. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Welp, it's been a while. In fact, it's almost been a year! Did we do it? Yep, we sure did!


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    Made it to Prudhoe Bay! What?! Yeah, that wasn't our plan...

    Me and Stuart got back in San Francisco late sometime last year, after both having spent 90+ days on the road. I won't spoil too much -- that's all for the juicy updates! :evil


    Now, some of you may have actually seen this trip come by in some bigger posts on Buzzfeed, Reddit and People, but they were just a few simple pics and a short summary of things. I have always loved ADVrider's reports... a touch of insanity, a morbid amount of honesty, the juicy details... and B-roll photos. And oh, of course, technical specifics. Ahem.

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    (oh, Canada - that one was taken by Stuart)

    So, without much ado, me and Stuart are going to start updating this... slowly. Over the next few weekends we are going to start opening our print shop so you folks can also buy (discounted) prints if you are so inclined, or pre-order our book that I've been slaving away at.

    Consider yourself our rough draft guinea pigs.



    Anyway, I am losing track of this whole thing! Specifics!

    We decided to go on this ride because of a shared passion of photography and motorcycles. We had both seen some pretty bad setbacks in life and it inspired Stuart to float the idea of riding to Alaska. Where? No idea. Why? No idea. Why not? :D

    I had a garage where we'd work out of.

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    --------


    So, I was (am?) riding a Ducati GT1000. Ducati SportClassics were a nice bike from the 2006-2008s, kind of a retro styled sportbike. It was unfaired, had fairly cheap components in most places, completely nonadjustable front suspension, had a reliable dual spark engine used in most Ducatis in that time and thus Ducati saw fit to immediately discontinue them.

    I always wanted one. I thought they looked awesome. So, I bought one in March last year with 20K miles on it, complete with an awful windscreen and some really nice loud Termi pipes.

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    I rode it up from Temecula, CA to San Francisco. I loved it. It was raw, the throttle choppy, the suspension nonexistent. Loved it. I had to lose the windscreen, though. Projected all the wind right into my head (I'm 6'2" and it was probably designed for wee Italians...)

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    I lost my job (on top of getting divorced earlier too), and my buddy Stu was now also jobless, so our collective misery was pretty complete. About a week or two after getting the bike someone also saw fit to merge right into me in downtown SF - that was nice.


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    You know, considering, it wasn't too bad: scraped the right side can, bent the shift lever, the bar end mirror and the turn signal, but the frame sliders did their job and the bike did fine. Only one detail (and remember this one for later) -- the stupid, dinky, total piece of sh** brake fluid reservoirs Ducati put on this bike snap off if you so much as look at them.

    The footpeg was also fine! Must be stronger than I... oh

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    :cry

    I had 10 or so witnesses and the chick who drove into me ran away so insurance gave me a nice payout. Fixed up the bike and then started looking at the necessary upgrades for the ride to Alaska! Again, I'll only mention my part of this, Stuart will be updating with his own KLR-tastic backstory.
    #3
  4. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

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    So my main idea for making the GT more roadworthy was intense suspension upgrades, a better windscreen, perfect electronic cruise control, reinforced components...

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    Nah, just kidding. I was going to repurpose some old ammo cans as panniers, strap a two-gallon Rotopax to the back and bring my backpack and that was gonna be that. No way in hell I could afford to put decent suspension on that bike! But with a 120 gallon fuel tank I was gonna need to carry some spare gas in places, and I was going to lug along a lot of photographic gear so ideally, some lockable panniers and my tent, sleeping bag, clothing...



    The GT1000, while the touring version of Ducati's SportClassic 'Sport 1000' model, doesn't have a lot of 'touring' upgrades. But, Ducati saw fit to bless it with a few optional items that were, by 2014, extremely hard to find, but at the very least existed!

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    I upgraded the pegs. Oberon sold a set of 'touring pegs' for the GT1000. Looking back I am not sure if it was an upgrade or a downgrade; the full on metal pegs had a bit more grip for standing on, but I barely did stand on the bike (the bars were rather low) and they were plenty slippery themselves.

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    As Stu was slaving away on his bike I waited for my hard to find eBay parts to come in.

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    In order: a Ducati Performance (makes the bike go faster don't you know) tank bag + 'tank bra', a very kinky black leather thing that goes around your tank and holds the bag with plastic clips.

    This part, by the way -- the tank bag -- is compatible with the same kind of tank bra for the 1998 Monster I have. Wait, let me reiterate:

    Ducati made a part that is compatible with 10 years of bikes!

    Must be a mistake of some sort... :D


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    I found someone on the Ducati.MS forums that was willing to part with his Ventura Rack, which is a tail rack solution with a very tall 'Sissy Bar' option (I'd rather refer to it as a 'silly bar': it looks preposterous, but it DOES work for mounting a shit-load of crap to a GT). I got it and upon receiving it mounted it right away. Huzzah! Luggage!

    When I was laid off I got to try it right away by transporting my 30" screen from the office back home. Precarious? I say 'FUN'!

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    (it was fun :D)


    I added a little 12V socket, wired up to a quick connect Battery Tender harness for charging my phone (and a RAM mount for said phone - works great!). Notice my decidedly 'Hello, I am from California' mounting spot for the 12V:

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    (rain? What's rain?)


    I also put on Pirelli Scorpion Trails. It seemed the most decent 80/20 tire, and I did plan to get different tires in Alaska if needed anyway. They were... OK. Amazing compared to the standard tires on the SportClassics, which are basically suicidal hell donuts.

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    I got some pannier mounts to mount the ammo cans and that's where I hit a snag. For one, the cans were too heavy for the mounts, and the mounts rather flimsy. I didn't expect them to hold a good amount of weight, and they weren't lockable.

    I found only one other luggage rack option for the GT1000: Hepco Becker. A familiar name here, but new to me then, apparently HB makes luggage for BMW bikes and they're known to be solid, and locking. Great! I got it for cheap in an auction: it was a little pre-bent. Who cares? I had a rack!

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    Now, I researched and plotted for a month to try and fit the ammo cans with Hepco Becker mounts and it just didn't work out. It's actually nearly impossible to adapt a can to mount to a Hepco Becker rack: it does a unique kind of 'wrapping' around the luggage frame that's not easy to design or machine a mount for.

    But, the universe provided. An ad on Craigslist popped up for a set of cheap KTM Gobi panniers -- made by, who else: Hepco Becker -- and I jumped on it. $300 later (ouch) I had a set of locking, watertight, pristine and totally working panniers!

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    I tested the setup with a few rides, which felt good, and mounted a camera on the frames a few times to see how that would look. Not bad!

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    Oh, the pictures weren't half bad either. :D

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    --------

    Travel tip: Get some travel karma by selflessly hosting Couchsurfers! There was at least one couple!

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    And maybe a girl. Okay, maybe more than one girl. They liked the bike! See? It's good for touring, it has to be. The girl-test! Essential to get your ride blessed by the butts of the beautiful.

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    --------


    To test my mettle, I actually took a trip to Lightning in a Bottle, a music festival, with my tent and a bunch of other stuff right before the trip in May. I didn't get to test the panniers yet (this was before I'd acquired them) but I did got some training in loading up the bike, using ROK straps and bungees and generally showing off how bad I was at this stuff:

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    Ouch. Regardless I made it to the festival well, did a bit of 'off-roading' riding in the sand parking lots which felt pretty good -- did I mention it was my first time riding a motorcycle off-road? -- and took tons of pictures there. I have a bunch of them online here:

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    On the way back I was getting a lil' better, and a fella took a picture of me as I departed after that weekend:

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    I felt confident in my luggage solution now! On went the panniers (and off went the previous owner's stickers)...

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    And I was... well, I was pretty done. Over the next few weeks I'd prepare a solid set of things to bring (detailed in my next post), go over maps, make a list of places we'd like to see and help Stu with his bike (mostly by drinking beer in the general vicinity as he was working on his KLR. Every beer matters)

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    I did at some point got an epiphany seeing Stu's KLR's little hand-guards, and sent off an email to Barkbusters asking them if they, by any chance, had ever done something as ridiculous as mounting Barkbusters on a Ducati SportClassic?

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    I got an email back (seriously, those guys are so cool) and with some pictures, measurements, waiting and finnicking later, I got a set of Barkbusters on my GT1000! I would not regret this: they were so, so great. Kudos to Barkbusters again for working with me.

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    And so, my list of mods is complete. I summarized it (and did nice, non-cellphone photography) here on my blog in a post titled the 'GT1000 adventure edition'. Ah, I was young and naive then.

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    I never got around to getting an expensive and hard to mount set of different brake fluid reservoirs on it. This would later be... well, a thing. We'll get to that somewhere near the Lynn Canal, Alaska. A far way away from this post... and any Ducati dealers. :D


    --------


    We had a little going away party (thanks again, everyone at Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem!)

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    and shot our bikes with San Francisco in the backdrop one last time a few days later.

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    Then, when Stu was completely done with his bike: June 19th, we loaded up the bikes, and went to bed. The next morning, we were riding out early with our friends over the 1, North, North, and beyond!

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    In the next update: Day 1!

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    #4
  5. gungpasuruan

    gungpasuruan Adventurer

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    this gonna be amazing RR........keep goin
    #5
  6. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    San Francisco
    [​IMG]


    And so we set off. It was about 6:30 when I stirring Stu awake who was sleeping on my couch. I made coffee, quickly showered, and look over the bikes outside. Yep, we were pretty loaded. It'd be the last time I'd see my bike this clean.



    For some astonishingly ridiculously idiotic reason I actually filled up my spare Rotopax 2-gallon gas can, so there was far more weight in the back than in the front of my bike (which caused it to also be plenty top-heavy...) so my always nimble bike suddenly felt like it was going to fall over if I as much as turned it in slightly. It was a bit scary letting out the clutch and feeling like I was riding Howl's Moving Castle, a shaky stack of my earthly possessions on a motorized set of wheels.


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    We rode to the Haight to meet up with our friends. It was gonna be a pretty diverse group of riders: me and Stu with the Duc and the KLR, two of my friends Todd and Jameson with big ass Harley Glides, Rich on an old Honda CB Four and Stu's friend Alex on his wee-strom. We were really just missing a supersport for a complete family of bikes.

    After some more coffee and buying snacks for the road we set off! It was a stunning day, and as I rode over the Golden Gate bridge the reality really started to sink in: holy shit, we were riding to Alaska. Fucking nuts!


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    We weren't planning on slabbing it: in fact, we wanted to avoid all interstates where we could, so we turned off at Mill Valley and got on the Pacific Coast Highway (aka 'the 1'), overtaking cars with ease as the two straight piped Harleys made most cars turn into turnouts with shaky, sweaty hands.



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    We made some great time and made our first stop at Marshall's, a great place for BBQ oysters just past Point Reyes on the twisty Highway 1 at 9:45. I backed my bike into the gravel turnout, kicked the stand down, felt it was safe enough to get off, and as I walked away from the heavily laden thing it slowwwwwly fell over on its side.

    The guys all laughed, I asked them to help me lift it back up. Oh well. This was going to be a thing from now on. At least I got my first drop out of the way :D



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    We rode on at a nice high pace (those guys can ride) over the 1. Gorgeous scenery, absolutely breathtaking cliffs and riding. It was really hot, so the few times we had to wait at a signal around roadworks I was dripping sweat like a boy on prom night faced with the prospect of copping a feel. It was intense.



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    I'll be honest: I was intensely nervous riding my bike with it being so loaded up and being so top-heavy. I had a hard time turning the bike aggressively (I'm already no cornering wizard) and so I wasn't outrunning anyone. After an hour or two though, it began getting more and more enjoyable.



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    First stop for gas was Gualala. Stretched a bit, gassed up (I only have 120 miles of range, even with economical gearing) and managed to actually not drop my bike. Progress!



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    Somewhere further down the line we were stopped for a bit more roadworks when Rich's Honda refused to start. We did some troubleshooting but figured we couldn't get it to run nor could we bump start it, so our Harley friends stayed behind tinkering and we went on ahead to secure a campground.



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    We continued on past insanely gorgeous scenery and stopped to set up camp at Van Damme State Park. It's a lovely park, where many local families fish for abalone. We'd be woken up to the sound of them bashing abalone on rocks in the morning! We got one of the last available group spots.



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    Not long after, Rich and the crew rolled in with a great tale of the country boys in a pickup stopping by and concluding 'dat dere apparedentally chargin' system ain't working'...



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    It was pretty funny to roll into the camp where all the families were staying with our somewhat rougher looking company, but after we introduced ourselves the fellow campers quite warmed up to our presence. One mother laughed and said her little girl saw me and the Harley guys roll in and express, ponderously "I'm not sure about this..."



    Stuart managed to almost cut his thumb off cutting wood, which led to the curious but funny coincidence that we had matching bandaids on our hands. I'd cut my finger a few nights prior demonstrating to Stu how well sharpened my hunting knife was.



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    It was very well sharpened.



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    The guys came back from the town (Fort Bragg) with more booze and we laughed about how they drank some whiskeys and rode their bikes here and somehow sustained less injuries than we did. Ha! We had a time night barbecuing up food, bullshitting, and drinking beers. Alex had to leave that same day, riding back to SF (about 8-9 hours in the saddle, not bad!) and the other guys were leaving in the morning.

    After a snack and a drink Stuart rode a ways back with Alex alone, took a few photos with him and then returned to the campground. A bit later, he suddenly found himself missing his phone, and started to suspect he'd given it to Alex... who by now was an hour south.

    A bit caught between despair and finding the whole thing rather funny, we sat sipping on some beers when a friendly guy on a bicycle popped by our campground and asked if this, by chance, was a phone one of us belonged to?



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    He'd found the phone on the road in the campgrounds (must've slipped out of a pocket...) and checked out the photos on it, which featured... naturally, our bikes. So he found us and returned it. Crazy travel karma cash number one. :D Naturally he got a Ride North sticker and he put it on his bike.

    We drank more (a lot more), shared stories, went on a nice walk by the beautiful little Van Damme beach and took photos as the sun set. The waves were rolling on the beach and it was a beautiful moment of inner reflection for me.



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    We went back, ate and drank more and eventually passed out from sheer beer and whiskey induced stupors. I set up my hammock to sleep for the night. It would be the last time I got to use it for sleeping. It was almost worthless for most of the rest of the trip -- I broke it out again in the Yukon.



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    (day 1 selfie to later reference when doing my last day selfie)



    All in all, it was a short day, a great way to break in to the daily riding routine. The next day we'd be making our way North out of California, this time entirely by ourselves...
    #6
  7. ORexpat

    ORexpat Oregon Expatriate

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    West of Seattle . . .
    . . . . Keep it comin' !

    :lurk
    #7
  8. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard I have no soul

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    Sub'd :lurk
    #8
  9. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Murakami reading Bikers with Leicas:clap
    #9
  10. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv

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    very good RR and thanks for sharing

    IN!
    #10
  11. Zaboo65

    Zaboo65 Been here awhile

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    Madison, WI
    Subscribed! :deal

    Alaska ride reports are awesome as are those with fantastic photos! Yours fits both bills, I'm looking forward to more. :clap:clap:clap
    #11
  12. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
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    456
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    Whew, it's been a bit but I've been busy updating our website, and working on our photo book which you can now pre-order if you are so inclined!

    Previously, I left off as we were dozing off in our campsite, soon to be rudely awoken by the sounds of abalone being smashed into rocks to make breakfast. We'd drank plenty and as the first bit of light was in the sky people were already scurrying around the campground to dive into the water. Not us, we were sound asleep...

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    Under the trees...

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    Anyway, good morning! It's a fine day to be riding! We were at it alone now, since after this short breakfast we were gonna go ride up to Alaska without our buddies. Coffee first...

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    and then our friends packed up and headed out. They first proposed to go with us but we had no signal and no plan so our first stop was the unglamorous nearby Starbucks to figure out places to camp tonight. Oregon? Maybe. We figured Crescent City was a nice goal if we looped over the 1 to the 101, took all the twisty roads and ended up right there. Crescent City... sounds picturesque! (boy, we were proven wrong later...)

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    Stu's face reflects our general love for Starbucks. It was foggy, wet and miserable that morning but we soon broke through that and saw some really nice parts of the last California stretch of Highway 1. Lots of people going to the beach...

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    We snaked our way through to the 101 by means of a very twisty and curvy mountain road. It was gorgeous, but a bit exhausting with the somewhat heavy hangover on my head. Stu zipped ahead as I hung back a bit and swung my bike around the turns with all my crap hanging on feeling like it was going to tip over all the time. The intercom crackled when I got back in range of him again. After an hour or so of nice, super twisty roads we were spit out here, at the One-Log House, getting some patriotic gas.

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    We didn't give them a go, instead just drinking some coconut water to nurse our hangover. The coconut water would soon prove to become quite a tradition of ours, until we finally ran out of the Good Juice somewhere in the Yukon. It's all gatorade from there on out...

    This is where I first started shooting from the seat of the bike, still somewhat nervous and bad at it. Eventually, easily over half of the shots in this RR will be shot from my seat, relaxed and with my throttle locked.

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    Mostly straights here, and for some reason I completely forgot we didn't really stop to take photos at the Avenue of the Giants, where we rode through beautiful old Redwood groves. Colossal and beautiful trees, they are among the oldest on the continent and unique to California. I did take this picture of Stu at a turnout where we swapped GoPro batteries, I think.

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    Also unique to California are the tacos, and we stopped nearby to have some of those!

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    The lady working there had a lot of interest in our story, these two strapping young lads heading North to seek adventure. She chatted a bit with us as we scarfed down the tacos and rode off quickly, as the day was going by fast and we wanted to find a place to stay before sunset.

    We had contemplated the parks between there and Crescent City, and while nice, they were a bit cold and rather hard to comprehend from the map. We checked out the coast here; a stretch of barren and less than hospitable coast near the Lost Coast that wasn't the best we could do. It was gorgeous, though!

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    There was a campsite a bit back but... we were Riding North!


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    And so we took a left turn here.

    The last bit of road here is gorgeous. As the 101 sort of winds down in California towards Crescent City, there's little traffic and beautiful sweeping curves. You eventually go downhill on somewhat shitty grooved pavement through a thick and gorgeous forest towards the coast. It was a great ride, and I loved it all the way until we arrived in... Crescent City.

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    Crescent City is not picturesque. It felt a bit like a run-down town that was once quaint but had been gripped by the bad influence of methamphetamine and the Dark Weird Folk that sometimes inhabit fringe towns. We got nothing but bad vibes getting some booze at the liquor store, so we headed to Safeway for some food and decided to just ride into Redwood National State Park to get a campsite there.

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    Safeway parking lot!

    It was fast getting dark: as we rode into the park the roads got nice, but the light was very rapidly dwindling. Fearing being unable to get a spot we rolled into the campground and the cutie ranger kindly informed us it would be $25 for the night, plus an additional $6 per motorcycle, plus some other fees. They were also completely full.

    I was annoyed and somewhat desperate, but Stuart being the optimist and adventurer that he is asked:

    "So, this other land, that's all State Forest, right?"

    "Yes indeed", the ranger replied.

    "So... we could technically just camp anywhere there."

    "There are some restrictions, bu-" - as the ranger said no 'no', we hurried off to find ourselves a spot in the park. We twisted through some back forest roads running by a creek and Stu opted to go up a thin trail leading up a hill. He came back quick and said he found a spot! We were in business!

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    Getting the Ducati up there was a fun challenge, as it was my first time on anything but tarmac. The trail uphill had a bunch of large, loose rocks and lots of gravel, but I got the bike up there with lots of sweat and a lot of swearing and rejoiced to see this beautiful vast open space for us to camp! We made it!

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    We made a fire, Stu prepared so asparagus and other snacks and we ate like kings and sipped whiskey like a bunch of winos as the sun set completely. As the fire got down a little, I got up to get some more firewood when...

    BANG


    a gunshot rang through the incredibly silent night air. Startled, we looked around, and before we could really realize what was going on another shot was fired. We were being shot at! By who? What was going on!

    We soon found out our little camp spot was safe from snipers, but we had set up camp on a little spot locals used as a gun range. Some spent and uh, not so spent rounds were on the ground, including under some of the rocks that we set up our campfire on. As the heat of the fire reached them, some of the gunpowder ignited!

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    We made sure to clear out all munitions and sat back down, laughing at the random barrage of gunfire.

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    (shells visible in the foreground)

    It had been a good day. We tried to shoot some stars with our cameras, but eventually just succumbed to tiredness and rolled into a pleasant warm night in our sleeping bags, no tents required...

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    Goodnight ADVRider, until tomorrow, when we go to Oregon!

    -----------

    Read ahead or preview more on our website, or find me on Instagram.
    #12
    CanuckCharlie and splitter like this.
  13. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    :lurk
    #13
  14. splitter

    splitter n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2
    Hey Riders!
    I'm Stuart Philkill, the other half of this adventure. We've been reminiscing on the regular and are nearly overwhelmed with nostalgia. I'll be chiming in soon with some more stories and, of course, photos!
    #14
  15. RumRunner

    RumRunner Sit there, turn that

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    5,683
    Location:
    Great White North
    Kids these days...

    Give me lots of hope :thumb

    DW
    #15
  16. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Oh yay, ADVRider is back up! We'll be updating this from Stu's POV pretty soon...
    #16
  17. Uke

    Uke visualist

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,536
    Location:
    HouTex USA
    Not sure I would trust a Leica at the end of a magic arm at speed on a bike, $hit happens. How do you trip the Leica when it's way out there, do you have a long-ass cable release? Or does the M have an electronic connection sadly missing on the M9-P?
    All good thus far, keep it coming.
    #17
  18. splitter

    splitter n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2
    It's been a little over a year, but the nostalgia is more overwhelming than ever....

    A little backstory on how Ride North came to be. The term "serendipity" barely begins to describe this origins of this adventure:
    Late in 2012 I suffered a devastating break-up. The woman I had asked to marry me moved to NY and our relationship crumbled. I was broken and lost. I didn't know what to do with my life. After battling emotions for some time I realized that the only thing I wanted to do with myself explore the ends of the earth. And we all know there's no better way to do it than by motorcycle.
    So I left my video production company (to my partner) and got a job bartending to save up. No expenses, low-commitment and decent cash. I was fortunate enough to land a gig at Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, a popular hipster style bar in the mission district of San Francisco. Being the new guy in the joint, I was blessed with the brunch shifts.
    It was exactly the time Sebastiaan began to frequent the bar. I didn't realize it then, but he was struggling with a relationship too: a pending divorce. He would come and self-medicate his emotional anguish with bloody marys. He never led on that he was there to get his mind off his soon-to-be ex-wife, which was good because we were able to genuinely bond (mostly about cameras in the beginning). He even had his own bloody mary recipe I would make just for him. We slowly became friends outside of the bar too, which was quite rare for me as a bartender, and surprise considering I was planning to bail in the coming months.
    In mid-August 2013 I just finished opening the bar at 11am on a Sunday and, no surprise, Sebastiaan walks in. But I quickly realized that something was amiss: he was limping and his arm was in a sling. "WTF happened to you?", I asked. With a grin on his face he struggled to sit at the bar and said "I'll have a bloody mary, please". He had been riding his Ducati Moster and was ran off the road by a corvette on skyline blvd, bruised and torn up his left leg and broke his left clavicle. Somehow the maniac rode to the ER like that... After spending the night at the hospital, his distaste for painkillers led him to the next best possible solution: and seat at my bar ;)
    At this point my goal was to leave SF on January 1st 2014. I was going to ride South America for the next year. I had just found a great deal on an '04 KLR650 with 10k miles and barely any mods: a clean slate. I started add a bit to it here and there, but didn't ride it much since I was getting her ready. I still had my '03 Suzuki SV1000 that was still my primary means to get around the city.
    September 18th 2013, I was filtering through traffic on the 101 as it feeds into SF. In the blink of an eye, without signal, a white Toyota decides to change lanes from the right to the left. Usually I would just dip around, but this driver was trying to force a space in the left lane, completely pinching me off. I slid into the left side of the car. My motorcycle crushed my leg against the car and violently twisted it. My forward momentum was transferred upwards as my torso bounced off the side/roof of the car. When the EMT's arrived they speculated that I had a broken right clavicle and a severely contused right leg. Turns out they were right: my injuries were a mirror to Sebastiaan's. Not that we didn't have enough to bond over already ;)
    [​IMG]
    One surgery (titanium plate on my clavicle), a sprained ACL and three months later, it was clear that my initial plans would be abandoned.
    The money I had saved went to medical bills and getting by while healing. I had this bike all set for adventure, but no direction and barely any money.
    One night in early 2014, Seb and I were drinking together at his place. I had started thinking that a summer trip to Alaska might be possible, but I hadn't really hashed much out in my mind. I bounced the idea off of Seb and asked if he would be interested in going. He didn't hesitate and responded "Are you serious? Yes. Absolutely".... and Ride North was born.

    Gear and prep:
    I realize that I didn't take many photos's whilst packing and prepping. I think I was just determined to get on the road! Regardless I'll run through most of the set-up as it's a common question. I'll start with my mods and get into camera and camping stuff later:
    • Progressive front springs
    • over-sized front brake disk
    • Steel braided front brake line
    • Happy Trails fork brace
    • throttle lock
    • Eagle mfg. drill-through subframe bolts
    • Happy Trails skid plate, engine guard/highway pegs, and rad guards
    • Tool roll tubes: 4" and 3" ABS tubing strapped the the engine guard
    • Happy Trails 40L top box
    • Dirt Racks luggauge bars with pelican 1550 cases
    • Top Gun Motorcycles 7.4KG rear spring
    • 17t front sprocket
    • Windscreen
    Most of this was done just a few weeks before we left.
    [​IMG]
    Ammo cans make a decent center stand on the fly. Down to the wire, I replaced the rear spring just two days before we rode out! Fortunately everything went smoothly.

    Finally, after months of prep, planning and overwhelming excitement, we rode our gear-laden bike across the Golden Gate bridge, toward Alaska. We were blessed with an entourage. 2 Harley's, a V-strom1000, an old Honda 750, a KLR650 and a Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic. What a bunch!



    BBQ oysters were a great way to start the trip.
    [​IMG]

    Day One took us up the coast on Route 1. My bike may have been loaded, but I was squeezing through all that gear to lean deep into the sharp turns of the famed coastal road. Even with all the weight, the KLR proved to be a good performer, and a comfortable ride.

    We made camp at Van Damme State Park. A great little campground full of families. Our tattooed Harley riding friends clearly made the neighbors nervous, but little did they know they were probably safer with our benevolent crew nearby.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Knowing it wasn't going to rain, I made a simple cover for my sleeping bag out of a space blanket. It was dubbed the "Bear Burrito". I needed a little extra whiskey before bed that night :lol3
    [​IMG]

    We enjoyed the moment and contemplated the adventure to come with our pals. Though I had just chopped my finger and lost my phone (See Seb's post above), we were already enjoying ourselves off to a great start.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Thanks for reading this far! I'll be posting more and getting much deeper in this week. So many photos and stories to come!
    #18
    caliform and OnTheWay like this.
  19. RobBD

    RobBD Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    419
    Location:
    Perth Australia
    Keep writing you guys - love your pics !
    #19
  20. ShineySideUp

    ShineySideUp Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    Oddometer:
    547
    Location:
    N California
    I am in :photog
    #20