Alaska on a BMW K1600 GTL

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by judgebill, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    CONCHSCOOTER,

    Yes, you're absolutely right. I've had my share of tears dealing with the obvious challenges of starting with such a huge monster. But I try not to focus on the fear. And Bill has been a great motorcycle coach / teacher. :norton
    #61
  2. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    ROLLCAST,

    You're right. Imagination for most people is a good gauge of what they can do. I wish I had 1 - 3 years of practice, going from say... a 250, to 650 to 1200. But I really wanted this tour with Bill - so I just had to make most of the couple weeks of preparation.

    I guess you have your endorsment now?:freaky

    clif 201206280002 cache creek bc canada
    #62
  3. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    Bob,

    Your post is extremely helpful. I have been very worried about riding in the rain. The concern I have is that wiping out at high speeds in the rain could be the first AND last mistake while riding.

    I haven't read anything about slippery roads. I mean... I know that in general, car oil and antifreeze deposits make the road slippery for "only" 30 minutes after rain starts.

    Why are the Alaska roads slippery when wet?

    THANKS:puke1:deal
    clif 201206280011 cache creek bc canada
    #63
  4. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    SELENESOLER,

    I look forward to meeting you too!

    I made a video with "Bill's face". But the internet here is... relatively poor. I'll try relocating the laptop to see if a better signal could facilitate upload. I've been struggling with it for an hour now. I think though, that I should be able to upload it within 48 hours if not tonight. Sooner or later, we should encounter "good internet" right?

    Thanks for following us.

    My friends have ALWAYS told me that I have limitless energy. But I can't remember a time in my life I ever had the energy Bill has. He's a very unusual, special person. I literally can't keep up with him.

    Keep posting here... and make any requests you like. I'll do my best to accomodate!:D
    #64
  5. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    201206280027 @ cache creek BC canada

    I had a nice youtube vid prepared to upload, but the internet isn't cooperating.

    Today the roads were dry and I liked that. My gtl was "connected" to the road. I didn't have to worry about slippage / slipping in the rain.

    One dangerous situation today was that I was trying to pass a white semi when the single opened to a 2 lane - for passing. Once I accelerated, I realized I wouldn't even be able to see the "2 lane end" sign. I allowed that concern to... I ignored that concern, because I could still see there was no oncoming. Then, the hill I was riding up abruptly ended AND another semi came oncoming. So... I just slowed down and decided to pass later.

    The semi... I think the driver was either slow because they slow going uphill, or he / she was trying to let me pass. What ended up happening was that both of us were very, very slow.

    In hindsight, probably what happened was the semi driver was like... 10 feet above the ground level and could see that it was safe to pass. That's why it slowed so much. But I was very low on the bike and couldn't see anything over the hill!

    So at one point, I was in my own lane, but uncomfortable between a semi in the oncoming, and the white one to my right.

    I also had the windblast to worry about.

    Anyway... this is an example of how there can suddenly be like... 3, 4, or even 6+ considerations to make suddenly. And you don't have time to "think it through". You just have to know what to do.

    And if you're scared by it, or know it was a "bad" situation, then you just have to start out slow, be conservative... or do whatever you have to in order to preserve safety.

    I think I have the moment between two semis on my helmet cam. Again, I had my own lane, but it was uncomfortable. I have been riding in a way where I minimize my time and "interaction" with semis. They have windblast and they can also switch lanes suddenly (which could be a death sentence). So again, I was uncomfortable with that.

    Oh yeah... the other surprise I experienced was that in the tunnel, I turned my head to look at the wall because I was curious what it looked like. The combination of the weird lighting and rhythm of the wall passing nearly drew me into it.

    I've started to realize that the psychological, sensation, and physics of riding is just: FOREIGN. I look at the wall of tunnels all the time when I'm driving. I've never been "drawn" into it. But today, a large part of me for whatever reason just wanted to turn the bike into it. But fortunately, the small directional part of me said, "uh-uh, no. Bike stays straight."

    Windblasts are also weird. Some trucks have a little kiss when you think it'll blow you into the forest. And other trucks that look like they're carrying pillows gut punch you! But I have started to be wary of the weird shaped trucks - they tend to have really odd windblasts. Then, aside from semis, you also have the canyon windblasts! I passed several signs today that warned of windblasts - and sometimes they appear AFTER the fact.

    What a strange world! I've been driving for decades on the road and I never knew so much / many invisible forces were at play on the road.

    Finally, 4 days on the tour and I haven't gotten a ticket yet (despite me passing a state trooper on the shoulder!) My Canada friend told me that ... well, several friends mentioned that Canada is really strict now with speed. I have been coming to Canada a lot, so I can't afford to get any tickets.

    It's really hard to resist. You're sitting on a machine that delivers 1600 cc's of power - and so bmw smoothly...

    Is it possible I could go the entire tour without 1) getting hurt and 2) getting any tickets?

    I hope we get good internet tomorrow (oops! it's already "tomorrow"!) Then I'll get caught up in video uploads. And - PICTURES! :eek1
    #65
  6. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    Ah... i put all my worries on the last posting.

    Awesome things?

    Today during the ride, I saw a waterfall in the mountains.... high, high up. It didn't make sense at all. How did that much water get up there? It was beautiful and odd. It looked like a child's drawing - the way they can create fanciful designs that defy gravity and reality.

    The other more subtle pattern I noticed (and only because Bill pointed it out) is that the daylight hours are increasing. This makes me feel that our planet is a lot tinier than we thought. If some riding can see so much climate and astronomical / planetary change - in such a short time - then really we live on a little planet, right? Shouldn't we take better care of it?:eek1
    #66
  7. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    Well said :deal

    I'm sure the "fears" you describe we all share(d) at times in our riding experiences. You are on a big, heavy and powerful motorcycle that offers you some of the best of handling, braking, lighting, etc., while on modern tires with traction and wear properties well beyond anything available not so many years ago. Keep practicing all the basics of your riding classes, plan ahead, look where you want to go, stay relaxed, breath and stay smooth with all you movements, have faith/comfort in the knowledge that your motorcycle will do amazing things if you dance with her and always ride your own ride even when with someone on a similar bike. Confidence when playing follow the leader can be a helpful tool as you know your bike can do it too, but there is no substitution for good skills developed with experience as it is most often the rider that makes the difference rather than the machine. BTW, motorcycles are very stable on wet roads and your bike is as good in the wet as she is on the dry, but I believe the "slippery" stuff referred to in AK is when you get on dirt and gravel roads then add water. You'll have a ball, take your time and stay loose and the fun meter will stay pegged on the good side.

    Not intending to sound preachy, just a reply to your shared thoughts. BTW, You could be on any bike and get injured or worse by being a poor rider so don't fear the 1600, just respect her heft and power and explore/enjoy all she can do to enhance your travels.

    Cheers
    #67
  8. oldtouring B

    oldtouring B Been here awhile

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    Try not to over think your actions--Just react and a habit pattern will develop.

    When passing any vehicle drop down one or two gears and haul a##

    The tunnel taught you that the bike goes where you look.

    Your bike weighs 750# No need to worry about wind blast.

    When passing a semi take a quick glance at the tires that are close to you. U are looking for tread seperation.

    Try to RELAX a little more each day.

    No need to worry about rain on paved roads that are free of gravel. The tires today have amazing traction.
    #68
  9. rgiroux

    rgiroux Invisible Man Supporter

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    great tips. also would recommend you "go with the flow" to some extent as you break the bow wave of the truck you are passing. hard to describe, but you wanna just tell yourself a blast is coming, relax, and dont over-react to it when it gets there. that bike wants to stay up, and stay straight.


    kudos to you both. for doing the trip, for doing it on those bikes (only because they are pretty and your going to hit some gravel :lol3), and for a newbie combining all these into his first trip.

    definitely subscribed!
    #69
  10. Solarmoose

    Solarmoose electric Supporter

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    Clifnotes,
    You've received some great advice from bobw and oldtouringB and it is worth noting.

    I live in Fairbanks AK, lived here most of my life, been over the AlCan many
    times. AlCan = ALaska CANadian highway though the Canadians mostly
    refer to it as the Alaska Highway. It starts in Dawson Creek, BC and ends at
    Delta Junction AK. It was built in the early 40's as a supply road for WWII.
    My folks drove up here in the late 40's so I've seen it "evolve" over a long time.
    My wife and I rode our bikes up this past May and its in the best shape I've ever seen it.
    We both ride heavy street tour bikes like yours.

    Its very popular with bikers. You'll see lots of motorbikes, and lots of RV's
    plus semi's and oil field service vehicles. There is lots of cool stuff to see
    so keep in mind the RV drivers may not be looking for you.

    The alcan is "paved" all the way. Much of it is chip-seal. Fresh chip-seal is a
    bit like driving on marbles before it gets packed into a hard surface. If you
    get into any of that just slow up a bit, relax and let the bike do its thing.
    We saw no fresh chip seal in May.

    There will be construction zones with pilot trucks; there were four places
    where the road was washed out in early June due to unusual heavy rain.
    Two between Watson Lake and Teslin and two more between Haines Jct
    and Kluane Lake.
    The section from Kluane Lake to Beaver Creek is bumpy with frost heaves.
    There also are several short (few hundred feet) gravel sections and most are marked.

    There are four or so steel grate bridges, not unique to the Alcan but you
    don't see them everyday. The bike will feel a bit "squirrely." Reduce speed
    a bit, keep it constant, relax the grip and let the bike wander. It won't go far.

    We all had our first long distance ride at some point. Its the best time.

    SM
    #70
  11. limeymike

    limeymike Who Me?

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    Ist bike; a 1600GTL, 1st trip; Alaska.



    :hmmmmm I know I'm not the only one thinking what i'm thinking. . . .
    #71
  12. IDRider

    IDRider Been here awhile

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    Back to God's Country - nurturing my soul!
    That there is a very fine line between being cool or the idiot? :evil

    I have to say that I am damn jealous on many levels.

    I am enjoying this ride report very much, please keep it up.

    Ride safe. :thumb
    #72
  13. Harry Swan

    Harry Swan One more time

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    When you run into a wet freshly graded road under construction from this point and further north, you need to be very careful. They use a bonding agent, calcium chloride I believe, which when mixed with water and graded into the road surface it will dry to hard motorcycle safe surface to ride. BUT when it's wet it's as slipery a surface as you'll ever likely to find. Second, it's a bonding agent and when wet mixed with whatever soil it will fill in the spaces on your tire leaving you essentially with slicks. In the worst case when that happens and you give a little too much throttle or make a directional change you may find yourself going down the road sideways. I know that from personal experience.

    If you take the Top of the World highway make sure it's dry! If you get into construction stay loose, calm, straight up and down and keep a steady throttle. As has been said if you're in wet situations and the bike starts to get loose stay with it. Don't panic ... just ride. That's advice I wish someone had shared with me back when. No matter how dire or slick a road up north might get it's still worth it and I'll be back up as often as I can.

    Good luck and ride safe.
    #73
  14. oldtouring B

    oldtouring B Been here awhile

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    Don't get Monkey Butt. It can make grown men cry!!
    #74
  15. judgebill

    judgebill Been here awhile

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    Dawson Creek today (6/28). Long day, 500 miles, 12 hours (including gas stops, pit stops and food stops). Saw some wildlife today, 3 moose (2 cows and a bull) on separatte occasions. The cow moose decided to cross the road right in front of me. Fortunately I saw her from a distance and had slowed to a crawl. She was BIG. Also saw a deer running alongside the road and even a black bear, also alongside the road. Talked to one fellow here in town who said that at least once a day someone hits a deer or moose. Probably an exaggeration but should make the body shop people happy.
    Teh mountains rise straight out of the ground, no foothills like I'm used to in California. And they are covered with towering pines from the very foot to the very top. Saw snow t oday, first time on the trip. Up high. The snow melt runs downhill and makes nice small waterfalls alongside the hig hway.
    Traffic has been light in both directions. When someone wants to pass we simply pull over and slow down. Speeds are marekd in kilometers per hour and while the speedometer shows the conversion my eyes can't read. Teh result is I ride according ot what I would anticipate California speeds would be, moderated by road conditions. Also, there isn't much danger of hitting a moose in California.
    Eventhough it was a long day I find this bike is such a delight t hat I don't feel the exhaustion I would have expected. I guess thats a testimony to the comfort and overall design of the bike. In other words, I will attest to the idea of riding all day on this bike and still feeling great. Clif absolutely agrees. As an aside, my first bike was a K1200LT and it too was wonderful on long rides. Then I had a 1200 GSA, which was great but not as comfortable for long trips. I have an F800GS in Uruguay which I dearlly love and have ridden it on long trips but it definitely doesn't compare favorable with the 1600.
    Tomorrow we resume and will tell all.
    Bill :clap
    #75
  16. ClifNotes

    ClifNotes Facebook Me!

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    clif 2012 june 28 2346 @ dawson creek, canada

    Internet! What's better than internet? FAST INTERNET!

    I'm in a good mood because by nearly complete chance, we finally ran into each other at night.

    Today we started riding at 8am and I personally didn't stop until... about 20 minutes ago. So... that's what? 15.5 hours of riding. (I didn't stop long enough to even eat at any restaurants today. But when I starved, I pulled over on the freeway and ate a bag of trail mix Bill gave me). Riding required filling up the tank twice - so I used up 3 gas tanks today. I anticipated I'd have to walk into Dawson because I was on "empty" for... about 40 miles. I would have filled up, but I just couldn't find any stations open this late.

    I'm backed up on uploading videos. I want to upload last night's video - especially Selene made a request. And today's? I'll have to import the videos first.

    Bill was lucky and saw a bear! I can't believe it. I wish I saw it too! That's probably part of the reason it took me so long to get to Dawson. I love animals and I stop to record ALL OF THEM! Look up "elk bill clif" on google and our vid should pop up.

    ok... I'll start getting tonight's vid ready (import, edit, "share"). And... oh - I have so many things to catch up on. I want to read all your replies too - so I will get to it. It's great to have so many experienced people giving me references, help, and instruction.

    OHHHH! Today I was riding some portions of the bike standing on the pegs. And the road was new and wet from rain. So standing up gave me this angle where I could see the reflection of the trees and mountain and sky and clouds... ALL SHIMMERING IN THE ROAD. It was so addictive! I love it!!! Heaven on Earth? I felt like I was in a great dream and flying... I loved that reflective effect below me. There were no cars on the road at all - I had it all to myself. So I was standing while riding. The air smelled like Christmas trees, the air was cold and humid... why did I wait this long to ride motorcycles?

    I'm so grateful to Bill for getting me into this and learning what all the motorbike fuss is about!
    #76
  17. oldtouring B

    oldtouring B Been here awhile

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    Some stations leave the pumps turned on for credit card transactions only after closing. Be sure U check if low on fuel.

    Wait until you fill up in Alaska:cry
    #77
  18. Harry Swan

    Harry Swan One more time

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    Just a heads up on moose and bear ... they're numbers 1 and 2 on the food chain up there. If you run into mom with young be ready to flee. They are very aggressive and she will charge a motorcycle. Just keep in mind you're number 3!

    BTW, in another day or two the internet is going to be slow and expensive.
    #78
  19. NakedBikeRyder

    NakedBikeRyder Adventurer

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    The Deer Whistle on the bike is apparently working, yes, it was not for moose, I noticed the deer stayed at your side. Clif, I'll bring one for you when we meet up in Kamloops. Be Safe, looking forward to riding with the two of you in 2 weeks on your return south to BC and US.:wave
    #79
  20. Quikegeo

    Quikegeo Been here awhile

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    Sooooo true! what a great advice!

    Drive safe guys!! .. ! :evil
    #80