So, last spring I sold my company and being that it was a fairly complex transaction it drug out a few months starting in January, closing April 30th. As part of the agreement I was required to stay on an additional couple of months in a training capacity. This shot my planned spring ride to Morocco all to hell. July was spent taking part in family events and working on my “Retirement” honey-dew list. By August I needed a ride in the worst way and somewhere away from the summer heat was a priority; Yukon, NWT and Alaska would fill the bill. What to ride? My Harley, I have ridden it on gravel back roads in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming but na, definitely not going to cut it on the Demptser. I’ve been building a KTM EXC 450 for a planned ride to Argentina but maybe something a little more comfortable, and faster in the prairies. My 990 SMT? It’s a blast on the pavement and it’s also OK on gravel but wheels are a little small and throttle’s a bit touchy for mud, especially shale mud. The wife’s been hinting that I should get rid of the 990 and act more my age so maybe it’s time to trade it on a touring bike. Local KTM dealer really wanted the SMT so excellent trade value and I’m the new owner of a 1090R. As a bonus, a couple days after picking up my 1090 I get a call from a friend who’s living/working a couple thousand Km’s East and is buying the 990. He needs someone to deliver it! I live 350km West of the “Local” KTM dealer and after riding the 1090 home I decided to take a day trip to the Shed in Warroad and check out what was new in the collection. My turnaround would mean that arriving back at the dealership to pick up the SMT would be right on the1500km initial service for the 1090. Dropped off the 1090, strapped my pack on the 990 and it was a mid afternoon departure for the 2200km delivery. It’s always a great ride on the 990 and this would be no different; rode the North Shore to Sault St Marie then up through Mattawa toward the Ottawa valley. Zig zagged numerous backroads ending up having to backtrack to the drop off in Bellville. It was two days of great riding and the bike’s rear tire was showing cords on arrival, front was getting close as well. Train to Toronto, flight to Thunder Bay and back on the 1090 home to get it ready for the ride. First change required would be saddle height; I’m short and the 1090 not so much. Sourced a hyperpro progressive rear spring for the rear from Calsport UK which amazingly arrived in 4 days, thanks for the great service guys. But couldn’t get anything for the front so just raised the forks in the triple trees to match the rear. Built a set of mounts for my saddle bags, installed a 12v acc plug and USB charge port, installed a Chameleon auto chain oiler finshed changes off by replacing the giant, stock resonator with one from Leo vice which half the size and weight, sounds a whole lot better too Good enough. While I was prepping the bike an old friend, who used to race sleds with me back in the day, called to say he and some others were going to be riding up my way. Mistake one. Me: Sorry man, I’m going to be headed West/Northwest about that time. Him: Oh really, where? Me: Tuk, Prudhoe Bay and wherever in between, would’ve been nice to see you but oh well. Him: Hey I’ll come along, I got time Me: Ah probably not, not with your bike. I don’t think a bagger is what you want to be riding on the Dempster. Him: Gravel and mud? Ya you’re probably right. Which bike are you taking? Me: Well I traded the SMT on a 1090R. Him: OK, well talk to you later. I had one more family commitment to take care of before I could head out on my solo ride; I was taking my youngest daughter to a Billy Joel concert in Boston, on her 21st Birthday. Would fly out Friday August 10th, attend the concert that night, spend Saturday sightseeing with her, fly home Sunday and head out on the bike Monday the 13th. Saturday August 4th my buddy calls; Him: Hey man, bought an Africa Twin and have got some crash bars and stuff being sent to your place to install when I get there. I’m coming with!! Will be at your place Friday. Me: Ah shit(not out loud). Now don’t get me wrong, he’s a good guy but…. I kinda like riding alone. There are very few people that I don’t mind riding with, mostly because I prefer RIDING to talking about riding. I don’t meet groups at a coffee shop to compare leathers, blings and 100k riding stories. If I’m going for a day ride, it’s generally going to be no less than 300k and will most likely be about 700k. A typical ride, in North America, will consist of anywhere from 800k to 1,200k/ day depending on the roads and 400k to 700k/ day in Europe. Guess I better lay out how I will be riding; Me: If I start the day with you, I will end the day with you. If you don’t want to go in the morning when I’m ready, it’s up to you to catch up. You need a day off, well then, we either have a predetermined rendezvous location or you figure out how to catch up. Multiple days off in a single location; Not Happening! Him: Oh ya, I’m in. I like to put up miles and often end up doing 100’s of K’s more when my friends quit for the day. I’ll be right with you, no problem. Me: Hmmm, why’s it taking you 4 + days to travel the 1,600km’s here? (Not out loud) So buddy shows up Thursday, parts were here Wednesday, spend Thursday prepping his bike. Friday leave for Boston, return home Sunday evening, too late to get repacked so end up leaving a bit later Monday.