Sunday, April 30, 2017

How I went from two to three wheels Part 3

I couldn't believe it

Sharon said she wouldn't ride on the back of our motorcycle with me, I should have known better, she hated riding two-up on a snowmachine. To the point that we had separate machines, even while we lived in Wyoming she had her own enduro motorcycle. But we were doing all of our riding in the Red Desert and off road. The only traffic we ever dealt with were Wild horses, Pronghorn Antelopes and a occasional herd of Elk. I asked her, about getting her own bike, and she flatly refused even talking about it.

So it was back to the drawing board for me. I really couldn't complain because I had two years of solo riding with a complimentary kitchen pass.

I rode almost every road I could in southcentral Alaska, and since I'm retired it meant just about everyday, but I was missing having someone to share my adventures with.

I think of Chris McCandless, and the note he left in his journal, "Happiness is only real when shared"  

I just had to find a way to share my ride

I called my friend Hobo who was the only guy that I knew who actually had a sidecar a KLR 650 with a sidecar, and asked him what he thought about putting a sidecar on a my 1200GS. He thought a bit, and told me it was a great idea, and that my GS would do great with the additional weight. He told me to visit the forums on ADV
ADV Hack Forum  ( Link)

My Inspirations 

So I started visiting the ADV Riders forums again and found that they do have a forum dedicated only to sidecars. And what a wealth of information there is there to see. 

In 20011 - 12  there was only a couple of sidecar builders is the US. and absolutely none in Alaska.                                                       And not much has changed in 2017

During this time, I read about a couple that had just purchased a BMW 1200 GSA that lived in Texas and were planning a trip to tour South America with a new custom made sidecar, and were going to see Claude Stanley in Middleburg Pa, to get a sidecar built.

This is the first time I realized that something like this was even possible. 

I'm not sure when I first heard of Matt and Kristen but I think it was a posting on ADV Rider about their trip to the arctic via a Ural. I was really intrigued in the fact that this couple were traveling together from Texas. Soon they started their own blog Bugs on my face and I immediately started following them. They had finished their arctic trip and were planning a trip to south america, but they were taking a BMW 1200 GSA and a custom made sidecar. 

I really got excited thinking this was going to be really possible for me to do, just cruise to Pennsylvania and just get this done. But then reality told me different, I live in Alaska, there is a couple feet of snow in my backyard, and I couldn't even think of driving out out of here until April. 

And 4,300 miles was really a long way to go and then a possible 7 week wait to get it built, I had to find a better way

Matt and Kristan in Bolivia ( picture from their blog)
Salar-de-Uyuni   (link)

Claude Stanley owner of Freedom Sidecar's Middleburg Pa.

The difference between Matt & Kristen's (Big Boi) and a Ural

Photo from Claude's' Facebook post

Meanwhile back in hack area of ADV Rider, I started reading about a couple of guys, who lived in Florida had taken their 1200 GSA's and sent them to a shop in Washington to have their sidecars purchased and installed.I started following this fellow with the screen name of ClearwaterBMW, his bike was basically like mine. 

And what really caught my eye was that, he had decorated his sidecar with Christmas lights. I sent him a private message via the ADV rider forum, and explained that I loved his pictures of his rig and would really like to talk to him about it, I included my phone number. 

I couldn't believe it, he called me back about an hour later and we chatted for about 20 min. He told me if I had any more questions to give him a call back. What a gentleman I was even more impressed with the fact that he was a doctor and took the time to spend the time with me on the phone. 

Xmas lights what a hoot

But what really sold me was a posting on ADV Rider by a fellow with a screen name of Abenteuer Fahrer which is the German for Adventure Rider. He had received his sidecar from DMC about the same time that I had bought my 1200 GS. 

And seeing pictures of it's delivery and the way it was created, I figured this was exactly the way I wanted to go  

Ingrid on delivery date 

Elmers wife and their new acquisition, This is the way it comes from DMC if you don't want it painted. Elmer was going to do a custom paint job for the sidecar and his 2005 1200 GS  

What a beautiful outfit, I copied quite a few options that Elmer had on his outfit, electric tilt on the sidecar, disk brake, the Micatech Pilot luggage on bike 

And after seeing that Elmer and his wife had made it up to Alaska from Arizona, I figured I would just move forward and order my sidecar

I contacted Jay with DMC and we talked a couple times, while I made up my mind what all I wanted in this side car 

From Clearwater's Rig (Greg)

I took his idea of getting a M72DX with a sidecar brake 
Two tone Paint Job
Front and Rear Kodiak Racks
Windshield, Sidecar Tow Hooks, Front Bumper W/Driving Lights, Aux gas tanks

From  Abenteuerfahrer's Rig (Elmer) 

I took his idea of the electric trim for the sidecar. But most importantly, because of his great build report. I gained the confidence that I could really do this myself 

I put in my order with Jay 12-19-2011 and with 50 % down I was on my way to become a brand new sidecar owner in Alaska

Jay, Owner of DMC Sidecars, Washington

My next purchase was the famous Yellow Book 

The book is great because it show some history of sidecars

And some of the different types

But most importantly it gave quite a few tips to driving along with some exercises  to do with your new toy

So I put it together and we never looked back

Chasing Highway 1 in Oregon 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Going from 2 wheels to Three Part 2

Part Two 

From the very beginning my thoughts for my bike where to be able to tour Alaska and the Lower 48 along with my wife, and additionally ride any road  I wanted to around my home. 
I started utilizing all the information that was available on the   ADV Rider Link   (please click)
After visiting that link, a dozen or so times showed to be that I really wanted to be involved in this type of a lifestyle. 

But it didn't take long before I realized that Alaska was more of a destination point then I thought that it was. And if I really wanted to get involved in this lifestyle it was going to take more then a short camping trip to McCarthy Alaska.

I found this book to be a great add to my library

There is a lot of information to consider

Great tips about getting your bike ready

A great read and I would advise anyone to pick up a copy

After coming back from my first moto camping trip I was putting some stuff away and Sharon came calling for me carrying my phone and telling me someone from anonymous ? is trying to get with you.

Anonymous is part of the BMW Owners of America in which I'm a member, and every year they publish a book called Anonymous where members will say how they able to help a fellow member on the road it doesn't post your name but only your number and it lists what you're willing to do, my codes are listed c,b,d,kk. C stands for camping or tent space. B stands for sheltered bed roll space, D will travel to help depending on situation and time, and kk stands for coffee and conversation. I think it was the D that got his attention. s he was about 30-40 mi north of Trapper Creek Alaska. Which makes it a little over 100 mi.  He said that he thinks that he broke his leg and that the bike had fallen over on him, apparently someone was there to get the bike off him. I tried to calm him a little on the phone, and asked if he had called  911 yet. he said no. I told him to make the call and to call me back. I then called Robb up and asked if he wanted to do a recovery with me. I'm not sure how it happened but it was decided to use his snowmachine trailer. I drove over to pick up Robb and the trailer and a bunch of ratchet straps that we had between us. Sharon said this is going to be exciting I'm coming with you guys. I still hadn't heard back from Bruce yet, so I gave him a call. He told me he had called the EMT and there were coming from Trapper Creek. I told him I was on the way up there as we spoke. He told me that someone was with him waiting for the EMT's. I was glad to hear that whoever was there to lift the bike off him stayed with him and he wasn't alone.

Apparently Bruce  was on his way back from Prudhoe Bay rolled in this rest area and was a little too close to the wooden rail, as he was setting his kickstand he didn't notice the asphalt sort of sloughed off a bit and he lost his balance between the bike and rail. And he felt something go bad in his left leg.

While this was going on, a fellow riding a Harley was parked in the rest area and witnessed the whole event and ran over to lift the bike off Bruce and went ahead and offered his assistance. Bruce in the meantime thanked him and politely and explained he had it under control all this time, He was looking for someone in the anonymous book. There were five numbers in the book and I as the last one.

During the drive to recover the bike, arrangements were made on getting the key to me, phone numbers were exchanged. 

We were actually making great time because when we got Talkeetna, we met up with the fellow that had the key and exchanged numbers

Check out the size of those Panniers

Loading the Bike

Stabilizing the Bike while I set the Straps up

Finished product, not to shabby for our first time. And I'm happy and proud to say the bike didn't move for the 100 miles over a frost heaved road back to Wasilla. 

Bruce made it to the hospital and it was discovered that he had damaged the connection point at the Tibia and Fibula on his left leg. Apparently Bruce had damaged it before, the hospital advised him to go home and see his own orthopedic man. They supplied him with a walking cast and he went back home somewhere around Ontario Canada. We kept in touch after he left, I moved the his bike over to the fellow that first assisted him when the bike tipped over. mainly because he had more space to store it, as no one was sure at the time it would have to be stored. Or when Bruce would be coming back.

Bruce left on the 22nd of August and went home, he returned on the 22nd of September, after a fast healing process and got reacquainted with his bike.

Taking Bruce to the airport

Getting ready to complete his ride

Bruce the very first traveller I ever met

The panniers that Bruce had on his bike,  I absolutely had to have, they seemed to be constructed so much better than the plastic boxes supplied by BMW. Unfortunately since I bought mine the owner of the company quit making them for a while, and was looking for someone to buy his business, glad I bought them in time 

Traveller  Number Two

Approximately a month went by since Bruce left and Sharon had purchased a couple of china cabinets from a friend of hers and we were going to pick them up. I told her that we should go to McDonalds, because you know what you're going to get and it's fast and inexpensive. As we were finishing our meal Sharon caught my attention and told me to look out the window.

I saw thru the window of McDonald's a helmeted rider , with a GoPro attached to the top of the helmet, we quickly finished our meal and went outside to meet him. He explained he was from Slovenia and was in the middle of a around the world tour. I thought "I just had to talk and spend some time with this guy." We offered him a place to stay for the evening, and explained we had to pick up some stuff and asked if he wouldn't mind waiting for us. He explained that he wanted to use the McDonald's WI-FI and have a shake.

I realized a little later that it is the absolute truth, McDonald's and Starbucks are the best when you're on the road and want to check with family and friends via the internet.

We got back to the McDonald's and Bostjan was still inside checking his mail and the internet. After finishing we told him to follow us back to our house.

Jack (Name of the Bike)  Bostjan and Myself in front of McDonalds'

After spending the better part of the evening swapping stories about each other, he explained that he had been on the road since 2008, he showed me his site that showed all of his travels and stories to go along with.

He also asked about some of the more popular rides around where we lived. I explained to him about Hatcher Pass, Denali Highway. He went on to explain that he only had a few days before he had to be out of Alaska because his Visa would be running out. I then suggested that he take a trip to McCarthy Alaska because it would be on his way out of the state. He said it sounded like a good idea and would give it a try. 

After a pleasant evening, hot shower great conversation Bostjan was packing up and getting ready to go. I opted to ride as far as Glenallen with him

Glenn Highway (link)

The Glenn Highway is one of the better riding roads in the state. as we were moving up the highway I noticed that Bostjan was no longer around, I pulled over to stop and turn around about a mile back he had pulled over to take pictures of his speedometer and his milage. He had just went over a 100,000KM.


The place where  his speedometer turned 100,000 KM

Inuksuk (Link please follow)

Natural Born Traveller 

The Boy

The Man

Just before meeting up with Bruce and Bostjan, Sharon and I were all set to do our first two-up tour on the bike. I even contacted Hobo to tell him about it, The plan was to go to Haines Alaska, ferry to Skagway Alaska and back home.

Unfortunately we had a ton of rain in August that year, and just won't leave during a torrential rainstorm, I don't mind riding in it, but I just won't start a trip in the rain.

In the meantime Sharon informed me that she didn't really want to ride on the back of a motorcycle!!

She reminded me about the time I bought a snowmachine and she had to have her own. 

 To be continued 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Going from two to three wheels 1 (My eight year journey)

Going from two to three wheels

This is my fourth attempt at putting this blog post together.  I started it on 8-15-16, but I think I've been trying to manipulate too much data for a single post, or I just wanted to say too much.

 Recently a friend of mine sent this jpeg to me, please excuse the cuss words but they add a lot to the paragraph, and I personally want to live with this, in the back of my mind.

And now I continue

This started it all for me
(Link) ( please click)

I picked the BMW 1200 GS because I wanted a bike I could ride dirt roads with and tour wherever I wanted to

I first heard about Dawson when I first bought my new bike a BMW 1200 GS.  The fellow that delivered it is really involved with the riding community, and mentioned that I should really check out Dawson. I knew it was going to happen but I had to get used to piloting my new machine first.

April 18, 2009 my bike arrives

 As a side note, the day I bought my bike from from the dealer, I gave my son a call and told him that I had bought a brand new 1200 GS from The Motorcycle Shop in Anchorage. He was stationed at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage and living in Wasilla at the time. A couple of days went by and he called me back, to tell me he had bought the same bike identical to mine. Both bikes have the same accessories as a GSA except for the larger fuel tank and the wire wheels. I was really surprised that he went ahead and bought a bike, but thought it would be kinda of neat to have someone to ride with.

I already had quite a bit of experience riding Enduro Bikes, (now they are called Dual Sport ) while living in Wyoming.  We lived in a company town, in Jeffrey City Wyoming, about 15 miles from the job site right on the edge of the Red Desert. A couple of  guys and I rode our bikes to and from work dailey. On weekends a group of us would ride up to Green Mountain and have a picnic. The folks that had bikes would all ride, Sharon had a bike so she would ride also. We would ride game trails that we had to share with wild horses and antelopes. But I had absolutely no experience riding in a semi urban or rural area for that matter.

Weighing in at a little over 500 lbs, and a seat height of a 34" my new bike was quite a bit different. 

I then started riding daily and reading everything I could about riding my new motorcycle. The biggest fear I had was sharing the road with trucks and autos, counter steering was the next big thing for me. Every kid that rides a bike does this move quite naturally, push the handlebar right to go left lean and complete the turn. Like I said, every kid with a bike does this maneuver quite naturally, I on the other hand was driving a, new to me $17,000 motorcycle and I was a little bit nervous. I also bought a couple of DVD's, the first one was Dual Sport Riding Techniques, and the second one was by RawHyde Adventures.  It was the DVD from RawHyde that introduced me to the best tip I've ever heard of. It went this way, stand next to your bike take it off the stand so you have it balanced, start the engine, don't use the throttle, manipulate the clutch so you can move the bike under it's own power around a given course, turning left and right and keeping the bike upright. 

After driving a couple hundred miles I figured it was time to get my drivers license upgraded to have a motorcycle endorsement. In Alaska they have a group called ABATE which stands for Alaskan Bikers Advocating Training and Education. They provide a service that, if you were a new rider they would provide you with a 250cc motorcycle to learn on, and classroom work. In the end they will give you a license waiver for completing a Riders Course and assist you at getting your endorsement for your license. Since I was really an experienced rider I opted to take the advanced riders course which allowed me to take a written test and then spend a couple of hours of running thru the course that they had set up under the supervision of a Rider Coach. The area that I had some problem with was performing the figure eight move, remember when I explained the counter steering. The figure eight move takes place within four parking places two wide and too deep. The rider drives into the space performs the figure eight and then drives out of the space. I was sloppy but didn't drop the bike.  Robb and I both received our M1 endorsements on   05-21-09.   

Robb and his bike

Cruising in the Valley ( Chickaloon Alaska )

Robb's bike is Orange           Mine is Silver 

Pioneer Peak Palmer Alaska 

During the summer of 2009 I read on the Adventure Rider Forum that they were going to have a 
get together and all riders were invited. Burgers, soda, BYO, it would be tough to pass this up, 

Robb and I wanted to go, as it was going to be just a few miles from our home's. I thought it was a real neat event and we met many riders, most of them were from Anchorage. 

Every make and model of motorcycle was representative at the gathering including these two Italian beauties.

At the event I met my very first Traveller

He had been on the road a couple of month at this time. And was on his way to the North Slope

He had come up from Arizona by himself, camping all the way. I instantly took a liking to his spirit of adventure, and decided this is what I always wanted to do. Ever since watching  Easy Rider just get on a bike and go somewhere and see what I could see. This really makes so much sense to me and I thought why even have a bike if you don't travel with it.

The remainder of the year was just getting used to the bike, extending the distance my riding trips, and venturing finally into Anchorage. Which was really quite a trip for a riding neophyte like myself. 

But it was time to put my new bike to bed for the winter

I put my bike to bed in the middle of November,  had a great run for a first year rider

This is a picture of the bikes winter hideout, 

taken about mid February

About the middle of March 2010 I started planning and began digging a trail to get the bike out of it's winter parking spot. I ended up digging out a 300' trail to get the bike from parking area to driveway. Another bit of chipping ice up the drive and I made it to the road. The roads were pretty much clear of snow and ice, the asphalt was definitely clear, but had just a ton of loose sand and gravel, that if you didn't pay attention would knock you right off your two wheels. Was it great to get the wind back in my face, took a fast up to Hatcher Pass, Palmer and then back home. Because I realized I needed to chip out an area to park the bike, since it wasn't going back to it's winter hideout.

It was a friday that I took a ride out to Point Mackenzie, I knew the area pretty well because when I first came up to Alaska they were building building dairy farms out there and I helped build two of them. But the real reason for me going there was a dirt road that went from there thru the back woods and on to Big Lake Alaska, called Burma Road. I rode it summer before while I was trying to get some experience on my bike.

This time it was pretty much mud bath, but I had the ultimate enduro machine so just proceed with caution. Did I mention no one knew where I was, and there was no cell service. The first couple miles really kept my attention centered but as I was moving on I found huge puddles 20' wide by 30' long and there was no way to go around them because there was still snow on the ground, on some of the puddles there were miniature icebergs floating in the puddles. Up ahead of me I could see the road start to rise a bit, I was so proud of myself for not dropping the bike and secondly for not turning around when it first started to get dicey.

As I was climbing out of the low area I picked up speed ever so much, maybe 10-15 mph max.

I couldn't believe just how fast that bike swapped directions as I went down. The only thing that kept me from getting hurt to bad was that I stayed completely on my foot pegs. I knew I was going down so I just rode it out, the only thing that got hurt was where my shins smashed into the engine jugs. But in complete honesty everything happened so fast.  
What to do  now ?
I'm miles away from anyone, absolutely no cell service, can't call for for help, and I wanted to be a adventure rider hmm. My wheels were stuck on a 12" of  ice, above the road and the roadway at this point was a inch of soupy mud over ice. I tried my best to pull it off the ice berm, but with the icy footing it was just about impossible. But I continued to tug, lift and try to get the bike off the ice and onto the road. Just then I hear a muffled laugh, and as I turn around I see another rider sitting on the crest of the road. And he was riding a sportbike !  He ducks waddled  down to where I was at and asked if I needed a hand.

I was so happy to see him, he told me he was going to have to take some pictures so he could put them on ADV rider. I told him to shoot away. We rode out together duck waddling our bikes the whole way

April 9. 2010 went down or the first time

I had to go to the dealer after this little incident to get a new left pannier, and mounting bracke, it was all plastic. as it was completely ripped off when this happened. The fellow that sold me my bike asked what happened and I explained where I was at and the road conditions, and he told me they were just snowmachining on the road a week earlier, so I was probably a little too early to be on this road.  

Mud over Ice was a little to slippery for me

July 4 2010 

Some guys from the ADV rider forum were planning   to ride over the Hatcher Pass and asked if anyone wanted to join in.  They set up a meeting for the Willow Side coffee house at 9:00 ad I said I would be there.

We started out with three guys and a fourth fellow showed up that was visiting his folks in Anchorage and he was from Cordova Alaska. I'm embarrassed to say that I only remember one fellow's name from this trip, and it is probably because he posted the ride invitation. And that was Legion (Mike)

The end of the line for this trail

Our riding season is barely 7 months long and after riding for the past seven months I was beginning to feel confident enough to try this moto-camping out. I went out and bought a new small 2 person tent and some additional weatherproof bags, because the panniers weren't going to be big enough to carry the gear for two people. I had got connected to the web-site ADV rider and  saw there was going to be a group ride going to McCarthy Alaska. A fellow came on line and offered to let the group meet up at his home spend the evening and he would supply breakfast in the morning. It's pretty hard to beat an offer like that. I left the morning of the meet up fully loaded with gear for my grand adventure 

It had been a year of riding almost daily during the Alaskan riding season on all types of roads and non roads. And I was going on my first camping trip on the bike. The very first thing that I noticed was that it took a little more pressure to break the bike and once you stopped it. It was a lot different to balance just standing there, but once underway I noticed no difference in ride or control

Sheep Mountain Lodge

I left a little early and started up the Glenn Highway, met six riders at the Sheep Mountain Lodge and asked if they were headed to McCarthy. I asked if I might tag along, and they said sure. We got up to Glennallen AK, and everyone filled up with gas, the party I was riding with decided to head straight to McCarthy, I told them I was going to find this fellow named Hobo, who had welcomed everyone to his place. So they turned right in Glennallen and I went left towards Gulkana. I knew I was running ahead of time so I took a short trip to  Paxson Ak

Pull-off near Paxson Alaska

 And then back to Gulkana to look up this fellow named Hobo thank goodness for cell phones, and the fact that he had added it to his posting, or I would have never been able to find his home.

Hobo (Mark) was waiting for me when I pulled into his drive, after parking the bike and introducing myself he points me to a pretty good sized out building that him and his wife Gayle have for their dog boarding business that I was able to throw my sleeping bag in.  Since I was the first one to arrive we spent a bit of time talking bikes and he showed me a KLR that he had put a sidecar on that he was able to dink around in the woods with, that was the very first sidecar unit that I had ever come in contact with

Robb and his wife who was riding a GS two-up on the right.  Legion standing next to his HP2

Fellow on the right is Legion (Mike)

Mark and Gayle our hosts

Kennecott Alaska 

August 2010

The first time of I ever went Moto Camping
What a great weekend, met some great people and had a fun time on the ride home I was completely elated  and excited to tell my wife Sharon how it all went. I got home in the late afternoon, and spent the evening explaining the trip and all the highlights of it.

The next day it was sunny and clear and I asked Sharon if she wanted to take a ride up to Hatcher Pass. It would have been great because I still hadn't unloaded the bike from my trip. Sharon got her gear on and she loaded up and off we went. When we got back home and were sitting around having some coffee, and again talking about the camping trip.