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.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Trip to Denali 2016

Our trip to Denali N.P

Earlier this month Sharon mentioned she always wanted to visit Denali National Park. We've lived in Alaska awhile and had only driven up to the park once. And we wanted to spend a little time there so we decided on a short overnight,

Six years ago when I first put the sidecar on my bike, we took a ride across the 
Denali Highway. 

Denali Highway

Denali Highway
Denali Highway is a lightly traveled, mostly gravel highway in the U.S. state of Alaska. It leads from Paxson on the Richardson Highway to Cantwell on the Parks Highway. Opened in 1957, it was the first road access to Denali National Park. Since 1971, primary park access has been via the Parks Highway, which incorporated a section of the Denali Highway from Cantwell to the present-day park entrance. The Denali Highway is 135 miles in length.
  • Length: 135 miles (217.26 km)
  • Formed: 1953
And we stayed at a real nice place that was situated on the Denali Highway and was real clean and reasonably priced but unfortunately I didn't remember the name of the of the place. 

So I went to AirB&B to see if I could find a place to stay, I typed in Cantwell and this picture showed up for the cost of $ 70.00 per night. Generally the prices around Cantwell run $70 at the low to $180. for the high, we're just looking for a place to sleep, $70 sounds pretty good

Follow Link for information on Cantwell

The place we stayed in six years ago was the the Backwoods Lodge  which is at
 .2 mi. on the Denali Highway and the other is 2mi on the Denali Highway. I pulled into the Backwoods Lodge and was told there were no rooms available and that I never made any reservation with them. I immediately called the number I had on my phone and found out that I really messed up and I should have been at 2 miles on the Denali 

Follow link to where I thought we were going to be staying

The place we actually ended up staying

The building we stayed in is actually a refurbished Man Camp that was gotten off the north slope. The owner added quite a bit of money and time at covering the outside with wood so that it looked less industrial.   

Below is a actual man camp on Prudhoe Bay the building we stayed in is 200 ft long

Sharon wasn't that impressed with the accommodations

There were two doors in each rooms and Sharon thought they were bath rooms but then realized that they were closets  

The bathrooms were way down the hallway

I didn't have any problem sleeping

The Raven was right outside the window

But we're just sleeping here for one night

Inside the visitors centers they have some beautiful dioramas 

Denali and the Alaskan Range View from the South

Definitely the best view to see Denali is from Talkeetna on a clear day

Picture taken from the end of main street Talkeetna Alaska

Looking at the Alaska Range from the park entrance

Our typical ride home with rain potential

Outside the park it really gets pretty commercial 

Follow this link