Two Old Idaho Cowboys ride to Alaska...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by silverspurs, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. silverspurs

    silverspurs why?

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    I was raised on a small ranch in Idaho... My friend Gaylon was raised on a ranch in Utah, but he's lived in Idaho for decades now. We both gave up our buckaroo ways a few years back because well... hell, we're just gettin' old! We don't ranch anymore. We've become city folks and have city jobs. I guess that's just the way of it.
    A picture of me and my oldest grandson on the ranch... He's 17 now!... time flies!
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    I had motorbikes as a ranch kid to help me get my chores done and to work for neighboring farmers and ranchers. So when I gave up my horse, it was a natural thing to switch over to a bike. As a result; in the past few years, Gaylon and I have done trips to the West Coast, California and all over the Western States on our bikes. On several of these trips, we've discussed that some day we both wanted to ride those bikes to Alaska, to Purdhoe Bay, Chicken, Dawson, Deadhorse and Valdez.

    We hadn't set a date yet, but we were getting mentally ready to do this trip about 5 years ago. I even bought a bike to do it on. A 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere. I thought it was a pretty nice bike: here is a picture of it at the top of Steens Mountain Oregon overlooking the Alvord Playa.
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    I rode that bike to some fun places and was having a blast on it. I knew I had the right bike and was ready to start planning for Alaska... then whack!... 3 1/2 years ago, a 3/4 ton Ford PU cut across two lanes of traffic and nearly killed me, he killed the bike and as I lay recovering from surgery, I was pretty sure the Alaska dream was dead. The bike was totaled.
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    and I very nearly was...
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    So; Alaska Trip on hold!... while I took a couple of years to recover...

    About a year ago, I was starting to get around a lot better and I called Gaylon. We hadn't spoken for a while, because I was busted up and wasn't riding bikes... we had lost track of each other. I asked him if he was still interested in making that trip to Alaska... he said "Absolutely!" I asked him if August of 2018 for a month would work for him... He said he would make it work!... and we were on.

    Now I had a trip scheduled and no bike to do it on... so I started looking... I knew that the Super Tenere's had acquired cruise control starting in 2014, so I knew I wanted a 2014 or later model. I was open for any suitable adv bike, I even looked at a couple of 2006 and 2007 era GS 1200's... I finally found what I was looking for down in Utah, it was a 2015 Tenere. It was already set up the way I wanted, only had about 5000 miles on the odometer and the price was reasonable. Now I had a trip planned and a bike to do it with!

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    I informed work that I was going to Alaska for the Month of August, (they were not pleased) and that I would either retire or take a leave of absence, it was up to them. They chose LOA, so we were set! I could go and still have a job waiting for me when I got back!

    Gaylon got the ok from his work and then it was time to have the chat with the wives... actually that was the easy part! Both our wives knew we had been planning this for a long while, we are both old farts and frankly; I believe the wives were happy to have us out from under their feet for a month... so we were set!! Alaska here we come!
    #1
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  2. haystack

    haystack Just ride

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    YeeHaw
    :lurk
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  3. freewaystreak

    freewaystreak Adventurer Supporter

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    Good luck and God's speed. You have inspired me to contact and old friend for a long ride!
    #3
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  4. reed valve

    reed valve Just ride.....

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    Looking forward to the rest of this
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  5. RJ44

    RJ44 Been here awhile

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    Hope the trip was memorable. Looking forward to hearing the story.

    Rob
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  6. silverspurs

    silverspurs why?

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    Let's see... where were we?... Oh ya, I now had a bike for the trip!...

    Gaylon has been riding a 2006 (or therebout's) model GS 1200 for several years. He has done many trips on that bike and has it pretty well sorted. The Tenere was well set up when I bought it, so we were down to fine tuning the bikes for 8000 + / - miles of Alaska trip. One thing that concerned us was figuring out how our butts were going to handle an average of 300 mile, 8 to 10 hour days, day after day, for 30 days in a row without developing pressure sores, cramps, piles and whatever else that much time in the seat would create. Having ridden thousands of miles in a western saddle over the years. I discovered that the best saddle seat for long days was a smooth leather, un-tooled and un-padded or lightly padded seat. No thick cushioning, no rough-out leather, no stitching etc... because a smooth polished seat reduces friction and chafing and was the easiest on my butt for long days horseback.
    Something like this:
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    I thought this might apply to motorcycle seats also, so a few years ago I bought a leather Corbin seat for a bike I had. I was mistaken, it didn't work well at all and I found it to be very uncomfortable for long hours on the bike (ymmv). So I did some research and almost ordered a Daylong seat, but found that the wings on those seats that make them very comfortable for interstate cruising, had many riders experiencing a difficult time getting their legs down to "dab" when on gravel or muddy roads. After more research, I settled on a new custom seat by a a maker in Northern California. Many people gave good reports on his work and customer service. The price seemed reasonable, so I contacted him. I took photos of me sitting on the bike, sent my measurements and my weight (that was embarrassing) and submitted the order. I did this at the end of May 2018 and notified him that I would be leaving August 1st 2018 for Alaska. He expressed no concern regarding the time frame given, so I made the order and moved on to other things. I emailed him every couple of weeks to see how things were going. After no response from him by mid July, I decided it was time for a call. I will not go into details of that call other than to say, he was angry that I was putting pressure on him by requesting a delivery date. Ummm ok, every communication I'd had with him included the need to have this seat installed on my bike by July 31st 2018 for my Trip to Alaska. Long story short, I canceled the order, rode out to "Seat Concepts" in Caldwell Idaho, had them install new thicker foam and a new seat cover in 1 hr (as I watched), put my beaded seat cover on top of that and took my airhawk pad along just in case. Maybe not the best solution for anyone else, but this worked great for me...

    The second concern I had in preparing the bike for such a big trip was tires. The PO had installed Michelin Anakee Wild tires that were about 1/2 worn out. I needed a tire that would take me 8000 miles, give acceptable traction in loose and muddy conditions and still hold and deliver a smooth ride on tarmac. Frankly I was convinced there was no such animal! I was wrong. There is such a tire. After reading many positive reviews, I decided to take a chance on the Mitas EO7 Dakar tires and have had no reason to regret that decision... the best 60/40 tire I have ever ridden. and after 8000 miles with over 1000 of those miles on gravel/dirt/mud, I figure I will still get another 3-4000 miles out of them. I now have no plan to put any other brand of tire on this bike as long as I own it as long as Mitas doesn't mess with the design. They are that good!

    [​IMG]

    With the bikes pretty well sorted, our planning became focused on camping gear, personal gear and route. These items are so unique to each individual that I will not go into much detail about what we took except for a couple of observations:
    1) buy bear spray and learn to use it. Your chances of needing it are slim, but better safe than sorry.
    2) your tent is your home away from home. get a good one. Gaylon brought a 12'x12' cabin tent (seriously! a cabin tent!) because he liked setting it up as soon as we got to camp, putting his cot and camp chair in there and then cooking his meals in there! Once he had that castle set up. He went in and didn't come out til time to pack up next morning. He did this to escape the bugs and because he likes his privacy... Turns out that in August, we encountered very few bugs. I took a two man good quality back packing tent. I like to be outside, so I wore a head net (I think I only had to do this twice on the entire trip). I did everything outside and only went in my tent to sleep. To each his own. Take what makes you comfortable and test it out before you go. That summer before we left, Gaylon and I went on three, multi day rides, to test our gear and make sure we could live with the set up we each had... I would recommend you do the same.

    Final Stages of Preparation;
    I own a Victory Vegas motorcycle because I have friends in Utah that ride cruisers (Harley's!!) and I occasionally go on multi day trips with them. Here is the Vic near Howe Idaho:

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    Anyway; my Harley friends in Utah expressed an interest in going to Canada with us to Jasper Ab, circling West over to BC and then back home to Utah. We readily agreed to have them come along for the first three days of our trip. I had been in that country before and knew that they were in for the trip of a lifetime. They decided to haul their bikes to Boise (isn't that what Harley riders do?? haul their bikes everywhere?? :rofl)... then we would leave from my home in Boise August 1, 2018. They arrived on July 31st and stayed at my place that night (Gaylon lives only a mile away from me). We were pretty much set. We had the bikes ready, the gear ready, a route that we intended to take, new passports, and our bear spray. Like kids on Christmas Eve, we had a hard time sleeping the night of July 31st. At 7am the next morning, we are outa here! :wings
    #6
  7. Switchglide12

    Switchglide12 Been here awhile

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    I am sure you guys had great trip, can't wait to read the rest.
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  8. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    The ride to Alaska from Texas and back was the trip of a lifetime. Once is not enough. But may be.....
    #8
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  9. black 8

    black 8 Long timer

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    :hide
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  10. dedecaster

    dedecaster Adventurer

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    I m in for the trip.
    #10
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  11. silverspurs

    silverspurs why?

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    Day 1, Boise to Missoula. 396 miles.

    Rick, Gaylon, Barry and Martin headed out at 7am sans breakfast, with the intent of stopping 2 hrs up the road in McCall Idaho at the Pancake house. If you haven't had breakfast there, then you need to give it a try.
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    We are riding North on Idaho Hiway 55 until it joins US 95 about 20 miles North of McCall at New Meadows.This entire route is a beautiful ride along the North Fork of the Payette River
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    US 95 is also a great MC road. It parallels the Salmon River through Riggins and Whitebird, site of one of the battles in the Nez Pierce war of 1877. Most of our route today is steeped in history. The Nez Pierce War, Lewis and Clark trail, Lolo trail, Gold Prospecting and The River of no Return (Salmon River)...
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    At Grangeville, we left Hiway 95 to ride the very twisty and fun Idaho hiway 13 and 14 down to Kooskia. There we linked up with Idaho Hiway 12 that follows the Lochsa River East to Lolo Pass, the Continental Divide between Idaho and Montana and on into Missoula
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    Lochsa River
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    Although it was a very warm day, we were riding some of the most beautiful MC roads in the world. All was going well until we got into the out skirts of Missoula Mt. where around 6pm, Martin's Harley got a flat rear tire. No problem... right? Well, when you've got those fancy chrome spokes in your wheels which require tubes to hold air, if that tube gets pinched... it can become a big deal! We ended up having to get a tow truck to haul the bike to the local Harley dealer. There we hoped they could get that tire fixed early the next morning. More on whether you should ever trust your faithful Harley Dealer to mount a tire on your bike tomorrow... Tubed tires!... one more reason NOT to own a Harley... ymmv

    I've made it a personal rule for many years to avoid Denny's if at all possible. Unfortunately, we got the tire and bike towing settled so late that evening that Denny's was the only place we could find that was still open for dinner. Wanting to start the trip on a good foot by eating healthy, I decided to order their baked salmon dinner... I regretted that decision for the rest of the night! Thankfully, the nausea, vomiting and explosive diarrhea episode resolved itself by morning... (sorry, TMI :puke2)

    Temperature in Boise today topped out at 107 F... Missoula was 102 F... a bit warm to be broke down on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck for two hours... I'm hoping Alaska will be a bit cooler!... Most of our motorcycle trips start out like this... We figure we're just getting the kinks worked out and settling in... right!!?? :flush

    #11
  12. silverspurs

    silverspurs why?

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    Where in Texas? I lived near Austin for ten years in the 1980's... hook em'!
    #12
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  13. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    I am going to read this one. Sounds like it should be fun.
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  14. CharlestonADV

    CharlestonADV I do my own stunts.

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    Great start to your RR. Like the way you spin your yarn.
    #14
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  15. sweet jimmy b

    sweet jimmy b Living life like a song!

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    I'm in. Looks like a great trip and report!
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  16. SlowMovinDream

    SlowMovinDream Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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    I’m game to follow along. Living in Texas all my life I’ve come to the conclusion that cowboys tend to spin a good yarn .
    Thanks in advance for the entertainment.
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  17. RevyRider

    RevyRider FXD Traveler

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    I am on board and following, looking forward to the ride! Thanks for posting.
    Cheers
    #17
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  18. wobbly one

    wobbly one Adventurer

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    Nice report cowboy - please press on.
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  19. silverspurs

    silverspurs why?

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    Day 2 Missoula to High River AB... 373 miles

    We woke up this morning with a dilemma... how to get 4 riders and all their gear to the Missoula Harley dealer on 3 bikes that were already way overloaded... Martin's bike was towed to the Harley dealer last night, but after the dealer had closed. So we had a lot to do, get all of us and our gear down there, get his tire fixed and ride 373 miles today. We took Martin down first so he could get repairs rolling. Then the rest of us made a couple of trips hauling his gear to the dealer for him. They had his tire fixed and we were ready to go about 10am... but the Missoula Harley dealer determined that the Utah Harley dealer had installed the tire incorrectly in the first place which caused it to fail... Utah agreed to pay for the repair and new tire, but Missoula wouldn't let us have the bike until they received payment from Utah! Stalemate! We stood around and shuffled our feet while our collars we were getting hotter and hotter... finally about 11:30, the two dealerships came to an agreement and paroled the bike. Another wonderful Harley experience!... we're finally on the road with 373 miles to go and Glacier NP to travel through as part of that... Then we remembered; Hey, it's an adventure! so we calmed down and made the best of it. It didn't take long to get into the mountains, which made all the morning travails disappear like smoke on the wind... I will say, that the dealer in Missoula took good care of us and moved us to the head of the line :thumbup...
    the Harley dealer in Utah that installed that brand new tire incorrectly?? :dizave
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    Once we got going, we had a great ride along the Eastern side of Flat Head Lake
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    and on to Glacier NP
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    Lake McDonald
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    Going to the Sun Hiway
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    St Mary Lake
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    We had also planned on going into Waterton NP, but the delay at the Harley Dealer left us short on time... :( However this leaves me with an excellent excuse to get back up there... all good!
    We got to the Canadian border and had a "friendly" discussion with the border guard. Him: "where you Headed?"... Me: "Deadhorse Alaska"... Him: "No Way"... Me: "way"... Him: "That's bear country, you carrying a gun?", Me: "nope, just bear spray"... Him: "I think I better search your bike"... Me: "you'll waste a lot of your time and find nothin"... Him: "where you staying tonight?"... Me: "High River"... Him: "you'd best be on your way then, you got miles to go!"... and we were through the border!... :clap
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    We took a breather in Cardston... a very pretty burg... I could live there!
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    Gaylon and I had planned to camp that night at Chain Lakes Provincial Park and take some back roads up to Banff tomorrow. I had NO desire to go anywhere near Calgary. But we were so late due to the morning's escapades, that we decided to stay in High River with our Harley pards and skirt around Calgary in the morning.
    While we missed a chance for camping... I have to admit that it was a nice bed!... and a good buffet... :thumb
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    All in all, a fun day with world class scenery. With just a little drama at the border crossing... and a full day of eye popping vistas that wouldn't quit. We are all excited about tomorrow and the Ice Fields Parkway... :ricky

    Attached Files:

    #19
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  20. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    Granbury Texas. i am a Longhorn fan also. Hook Em Horns....
    #20
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