Virginia to Alaska and back on an '86 Yamaha Radian

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by ruffntuff, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    113
    Location:
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Haha!...figures you would know LTS. He does still have the GS...same as yours. He calls it "The Pig". Got to go for a ride with him in CA when I was there. Will probably be in the report later ;) I'd like to see you guys stand back to back...definately the two tallest dudes I know. The Radian is still rockin' but beat as hell, not so shiny any more. I'll post pictures don't worry. :)
    #41
  2. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    113
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    Charlottesville, Virginia
    :beer
    #42
  3. 1marka

    1marka Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
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    103
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Subscribed and looking forward to the rest of your ride report. Looks like it is going to be a good one!
    #43
  4. High Desert Rider

    High Desert Rider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    124
    Location:
    Fallon, Nevada
    Subscribed!

    A friend just got his first bike: a 1987 Radian. He doesn't think its good for long distance rides and just uses it around town. I'm sending him a link to your RR!
    #44
  5. NCJ

    NCJ Long timer

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    Wow. In! :lurk
    #45
  6. RokLobster

    RokLobster Far from sanity

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    New Harbor, ME
    Awesome. Glad you were able to fulfill you and your brother's dream.
    #46
  7. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    113
    Location:
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Day 6:
    May 26, 2012
    Fort Collin, CO – Lander, WY: 299mi

    I really didn’t have much of a plan on my route through the states. All I knew were the places I wanted to see along the way. Most of those places were big ass mountains, twisty roads and national parks. I wanted to head toward the Tetons and Yellowstone, so when I looked at the map on my handy Droid, it looked like 25N, to 80W, to 287 towards Dubois was the best way to go.

    I considered taking 191 instead of 287 in order to travel through Jackson, a town I heard was nice to see. But since I have Snake Indian (aka Shoshone) in my blood I decided to see the Shoshone reservation and grave of Sacajawea instead.

    It was beautiful leaving Colorado. I rode through some desert canyons scattered with massive red rocks and green sagebrush. It’s certainly a state I’d like to go back to and have more time to explore in. I rode way too fast through there.

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    As I got into Wyoming the landscape became flatter and I started to feel the wind pick up and temperature drop. I rode through some rain off and on throughout the day and was happy to pull out my new heated gloves for the first time. My hands were dry and toasty. Although with no temperature control, they were a bit too hot at times. I had to unplug them now and then to prevent me from getting burned.

    I tried to ride fast most of the day to make miles since I slowed down for a couple days in Colorado to see friends and family. I didn’t stop much but I did manage to pull over at Split Rock where the old famous Oregon Trail runs through a valley between some beautiful boulder formations. It looked like a scene from an old western movie. I could just imagine the train of white-backed wagons down below, oblivious to the natives hiding in the rocks watching every move they made.

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    As it got later in the afternoon I ran into some bad weather that challenged me mentally for the first time. The temperature continued to drop and as I got into higher elevations the fog became so thick I could hardly see my own speedometer. Even with my heated gloves my hands were starting to freeze and my visor was icing over. I had to turn my head sideways to peek through the single patch of visibility left on my visor in order to see the road.

    I stopped at a rest-stop concerned with my plan on making it all the way to Dubois. I realized at this rate there was no way I’d make it there and with this weather I needed to find the closest place to warm up and sleep indoors rather than camp. I was beginning to feel insecure with my decisions and lonely with the realization of how far I was from anyone that I knew or anything that was familiar. I started doubting myself that I really had no idea what I was doing and if the conditions were this bad now, what the hell was it going to be like in Alaska!

    The next town was Lander. I stopped at a gas station and pulled out the Droid to search for cheap motels. I found a cute lodge closeby for just $60/night. The lady there was sweet and gave me the best news I’d heard all day. They had a hot tub.

    She also informed me they had strange weather lately with snow and low temperatures, unseasonal for this time of year…Just my luck. When I told her I had come into Lander on 287, she was surprised to hear it was still open since she heard they had a lot of snow. I must have just missed it.

    After thawing myself immersed in hot water I put some comfy, dry street clothes on and walked down into the little town of Lander and found a brewery, my favorite spot to find in any town. I enjoyed a good stout with a big ass burger, and was glad to be in a cozy lodge for the night.

    The weather forecast didn’t look good overnight. Continuous rain and snow in the higher elevations. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be riding into the Tetons or Yellowstone. There would possibly be an unexpected rendezvous tomorrow. However, I remained determined to face my obstacles and continue my journey.

    Quote of the day:

    At one point in the day I was feeling under the weather (no pun intended) while I was at a gas station. An older man came up to me intrigued with where I was from and where I was going. When I told him he just shook his head and smiled, “Just have fun.”

    Sometimes people just say the right thing at just the right moment.
    #47
  8. Hughlysses

    Hughlysses Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,445
    Location:
    Summerville, SC
    I have the feeling this is gonna be one epic ride report.

    That is definitely the way to end a full day of riding!
    #48
  9. AirDrive

    AirDrive Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    270
    Location:
    Central California
    It's so good to see that youth is not ALWAYS wasted on the young :1drink

    Looking forward to the rest of your report and reading about the little life lessons you learn.
    #49
  10. limeymike

    limeymike Who Me?

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
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    657
    Location:
    Dakota Territories.
    Need more, c'mon where is it? :*sip*
    #50
  11. smash81

    smash81 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
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    493
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    IN! :clap
    #51
  12. JasonH

    JasonH Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    194
    Location:
    McKinney, Texas
    Inspiring report! "My" first street bike (shared with a college roommate) was also an 86 Radian - same color and everything. Also purchased for $1000, even though it was only 3 or 4 years old at the time. We thrashed it for a few years and sold it for $1000.
    Long live the $1K Radian! :clap
    #52
  13. dave6253

    dave6253 Pentaxian

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,234
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    This is an outstanding report already. I'm looking forward to the rest.
    #53
  14. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,816
    Location:
    Granbury Texas
    Your brother is smiling from ADV Heaven. A ride to Alaska shows you the true meaning of Life. TO LIVE. There are no guarantee's when the clock stops.

    Your brother would and is, SO PROUD of you. So are alot of others. Thanks for sharing.
    #54
  15. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    113
    Location:
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Day 7:
    May 27, 2012
    Lander, WY – Livingston, MT: 406mi

    I was pleasantly surprised to wake up in Lander with a touch of blue sky, although it was still chilly around 40 degrees. Eager and hoping to make it to the Tetons and Yellowstone I walked over to the hotel office and asked if they had heard about the road conditions. Unfortunately there was a lot of snow overnight in the mountains and the roads were closed.

    I still wanted to see the Shoshone reservation and Sacajawea’s grave however, which wasn’t far at Fort Washakie. I stopped at the Trading Post just before the cemetery and saw some beautiful Native American turquoise and beaded jewelry, woven baskets, and leather crafts.

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    Walking through the graveyard was powerful seeing the red grave mounds spiked with crucifixes randomly scattered over the hill surrounded by mountains of the Shoshone Forest. Many were surrounded with brick or stone and decorated with tacky fake flowers, plastic beads, candles, dolls, pictures and figures.

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    The tombstone of Sacajawea was the tallest amongst them and in the center of the hill. There was something peaceful about standing there. I felt as if her shadow was looking over the others like a mother stands over her child.

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    I backtracked to Lander and headed towards Riverton on 789. Unexpectedly I cruised through one of the most amazing canyons I have seen, the Wind River Canyon part of Boysen State Park. It was breathtaking.

    Again I felt as if everything happens for a reason. This was a providential detour to my trip. Even though I was disappointed by not making it to the Tetons, this experience made it worth it. I followed the Wind River through the twisty canyon and stone tunnels that pierced through the mountains.

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    I was listening to music on my Bluetooth when one of Dan’s favorite U2 songs came on, Van Diemen’s Land. I saw a hawk fly over my head at this moment and couldn’t resist tears from blinding me. I pulled over and stood over the river feeling that Dan was with me.

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    Once reaching Thermopolis, I came to a fork in the road where a decision had to be made. I could either go right and follow the Bighorn River into Montana staying at lower elevations, or I could go left and take the Chief Washaki Trail scenic byway to Cody and get up to Montanta staying at higher elevations.

    I could see rain clouds in the distance if I followed the river, but I also knew I could hit cold weather and possibly snow if I went towards higher elevations. I really wanted to stay close to the mountains and hopefully get a glimpse of Yellowstone from afar, so I headed to Cody and detoured around the large rainstorm I could see ahead.

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    Regardless of missing one rainstorm, I still suffered through wind and scattered showers the rest of the day while the temperatures continued to drop as I got closer to Montana. It was a beautiful scenic byway but one of the flat stretches got me pulled over for a speeding ticket. I was only going 9 miles over the speed limit, but I can imagine the officer must have been bored. I’m probably the only person he saw on the road all day and thought I was crazy to be riding by myself in the middle of nowhere with wintery weather.

    I followed 120 into Montana and passed an orange sign saying: “Construction Zone Ten Miles Motorcycles Choose Other Route.” Not wanting to backtrack all the way to Cody and hoping there would be no construction since it was Sunday, I took my chances and kept going. Before long I ended up on ten miles of unpaved road with packed dirt, gravel, and pot holes everywhere. I tried not to panic and told myself, “You better not drop the fucking bike you idiot! Just don’t stop, don’t stop, keep going!”

    Amazingly I made it to the other side of that construction zone after an hour of treacherous riding and I booked it to I-90 with the desire to make-up some miles. It was getting colder as it got later and the color of the sky did not look promising.

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    I stopped at a gas station to ask about the weather and was told unseasonal low temperatures, snow and strong winds were predicted overnight. Everyone kept saying how abnormal it was. I was planning on camping but after hearing this I decided to head for the next town wondering if the unfortunate abnormal weather was following me on this trip.

    I filled up and headed towards Livingston and searched for another cheap motel. I found an old cute motel that looked like it hadn’t had any upgrades since the 60’s. There were bright colors, shag carpet, and an old fashioned TV. There wasn’t a hot tub but I had a bath tub in my room and enjoyed a hot soak after a long cold ride.

    The gentleman at the desk told me they were calling for snow the next two days. I wanted to get to Canada tomorrow but that would depend on the weather overnight and road conditions in the morning. I really didn’t want to have to spend another day in Livingston. There wasn’t a brewery.


    Quote of the Day:

    I was at a gas station with all my gear on, bundled from underneath, looking like a blue and black marshmallow power ranger. A girl came up to me and said:

    “I’m so glad to see you’re wearing gear. These other guys I see out there with nothing, I just shake my head.”
    #55
  16. reticent rooster

    reticent rooster ____________________

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Aberdeen, MS
    Best part yet! "There was no brewery..." LMFAO!
    #56
  17. salsvstrom

    salsvstrom keep ridding

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    Salida,Ca
    you know I want to keep reading, I like reading when solo riders do these long trips especially to Alaska. I want to go to Alaska but I dont want to go by my self but when I read threads like yours I want to go even if its solo. I have don three long trips but its been with my cousin. the longest was a 6 days and thats about the limit for my cousin and I know going to Alaska is at least 18 days from central Califorina .. I did do an overnighter to death valley by myself. Keep Ridin Safe.
    #57
  18. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    Jan 22, 2007
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    1,809
    Location:
    Fly over zone
    This RR just keeps getting better and better.. :clap
    #58
  19. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    113
    Location:
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Day 8:
    May 28, 2012
    Livingston, MT – Cardston, AB: 378mi

    “What an amazing day. I feel humbled. So much can happen in one day. So much ground covered. The earth seems so vast, yet the world so small.” (Journal excerpt)

    Getting started in the morning didn’t look good. There were winter weather alerts in Livingston and the entire surrounding area. I debated on just taking the interstate into Canada but I really preferred to take a scenic route.

    89 goes through the Lewis and Clark National Forest all the way to Great Falls. Then it turns Northwest towards Glacier National Park before hitting the Canadian border. This was the way I wanted to go so I called #511 for road conditions.
    Although it was 28 degrees and they were calling for more snow all day, the roads were open and clear. They were only wet. I decided to take the risk and head out while it was only sprinkling with freezing rain in Livingston.

    As I was packing up the bike I noticed an older man staying in the room next to mine. He was curiously watching me from the window as I came in and out of my room loading up the bike. He moved to the doorway and stood there staring with a perplexed look on his face.

    I was starting to feel uncomfortable. Without my gear on I was only wearing my under-armor. I was starting to think this guy was a creep. Just as I was warming up the bike he finally asked me, “Did you really ride all the way from Virginia?”
    When I told him yes he just shook his head dumbfounded. “And you’re doing it alone?” I hesitated to answer that. When I nodded he shook his head again, this time with a smile. He went back into his room watching me from the window with a concerned face and half a smile as I put on my gear and left.

    When I got into the Lewis and Clark Forest the rain had turned to snow. Visibility was tough through my visor. I had flurries coming inside my helmet tickling my eyes. The ground was covered and the spruce trees were dusted with white. It was a mental challenge seeing all that snow. But the roads were only wet with just a few areas of slush that were easy to avoid. I went slowly and it was a gorgeous drive.

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    This was the coldest day of my trip. I was thankful to have my heated gloves. They saved my life. There’s no way I could have ridden without them. However, when I was just 50 miles from Great Falls, I noticed my hands were getting cold and the gloves were no longer warm. Disappointed and concerned my new gloves were already broken, I stopped at a Harley Davidson dealer in Great Falls.

    I had a few stares from a group of Harley riders as I rolled in. They were decked out in all their chains and leather. I started unpacking the bike to access the plug for my gloves on the battery that was under the seat. I thought it was the charger to the plug that needed to be replaced. But when a tech came out to help me, he realized it was the blade fuse on the plug that had failed.

    Thankfully it was a cheap easy fix and I even had the fuse with me. I think it was a 10amp, which was strong enough for charging my Droid. But the tech suggested if I was using the heated gloves to go with a stronger fuse. I think we put in a 12amp.

    Before I left the Harley dealer I was packing up the bike when the manager came out. He had a big grin and said, “I hear you’re on your way to Alaska, and by yourself too!” He was eager to know my story, where I started, where I had been, which way I was going. Just before I left he chuckled, “You’re way braver and tougher than any of those Harley riders that’s for sure.” That put a smile on my face the rest of the day.

    “Rode out of Great Falls still on 89. Was AMAZING. It stopped raining. The sky was blue. And Glacier was magnificent. Seeing Glacier was just epic. I felt like I was dreaming. It was humbling, the magnitude of those mountains. The road twisted and turned at the base through aspen forests and streams. Coming through the north side into Alberta all the trees were dead, from beetles I think. It was surreal and eerie seeing all the skeleton trees backed by blue and white tremendous peaks.” (Journal excerpt)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIHjEB3qKW4&feature=youtu.be

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    Crossing the border was quick and easy. I was so excited when I got there. When I stopped at the booth I threw my hands up and yelled, “I can’t believe I’m here!” The officer kept a straight face probably thinking I was a stupid kid. All he said was “Take your helmet off.”

    My hair was everywhere as if I had climbed out of tumbleweed. He asked me a few questions about why I was coming to Canada and how long I was going to be there. I told him I was just passing through on my way to Alaska and he just handed my passport back with a blank face and said, “Welcome to Canada.” Thanks eh!

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    I rode to the next town of Cardston through a vast area of green hilly pasture. At this point my Droid was no longer able to search for campgrounds so I pulled out the Milepost and found Lee campground. When I pulled up the camp host was sweeping the porch of the office. I was so excited when I got there I just yelled, “I made it!” He chuckled and said, “You been a long way eh?”

    When I was setting up my tent I saw an elderly couple walking by. I could see the man squinting at my license plate. “Where is VA?” he asked me. When I told him Virginia he looked at his wife with big eyes. They were staying there for the summer in their RV and invited me up for hot chocolate.

    It was a nice evening sitting around a fire and talking to them about my trip. They were very kind and offered me food. They were comforting to be around and made me feel at home. I was surprised when I went back to my tent it was 10:00 and still light outside. It didn’t get dark until 10:30.

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    Sleeping in my tent was pleasant. It was only the second time I got to use it so far. There was light rain overnight which made for peaceful sleeping. I hoped the weather I went through in WY and MT was the worst I would see. All I could think of was what an epic first week of riding. After hard rain, strong winds, unpaved roads, and snow I felt as if that was my “bootcamp” for the trip. After all that, how much worse could it really get?


    Journal excerpt:

    “Saw three hawks today. I can’t help but feel Dan is with me and following me on this journey. I miss him and want him to be proud of me.”
    #59
  20. Krypt Keeper

    Krypt Keeper Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Eastern VA
    Great story so far, can't wait to read more of your journey. Trust me what you are doing is not for the average rider. People don't realize how big the world is till you ride it. The people and experiances along your journey will last forever and can never be replaced.

    Buddy of mine lives in Crozet and gave up riding a few years ago after a friend of ours was killed on his bike.


    still can't believe the cop gave you a ticket though.. :deal
    #60