To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part III

I really enjoyed spending a few days in Anchorage.  It gave me time to catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen for some time.  As always I stayed with Ray and Margie, my other set of parents,  I guess really they are my ex-inlaws but they are so awesome I had to keep them.  It was good and bad that they were around when I got into town, they should have left for Washington in the morning that day, but Ray’s back went out so they put off the trip for a few days.  It gave me time to spent with them before I had to take them to the airport then I pick Jaime up from the airport on the same day only later in the evening.  She and I’ll will have one day to pick up bike up from the dealership, get it cleaned up, repack everything, and than she has to spend part of the day with my mother doing the shopping that she wanted to do before we headed off to Fairbanks.  The second snow storm had just rolled through Deadhorse with  at least two more in the immediate forecast.  We agreed that riding up the Dalton highway with that type of weather was out of the question for this trip.  We were just going to have to plan another trip up to ride that road another time.

Once we’d finally gotten everything in order to head back out on the road, we started toward Fairbanks.  I’ll admit this was the slowest I’ve ever made the trip up the Parks highway in all the times I’ve travel that road.  It took us just over 13 hours to do the 360 miles that day from Anchorage to Fairbanks, we stopped at every touristy stop there was and took a number of pictures.  Talkeetna for lunch was a great diversion.

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The guy in the picture below, I almost paid him $10 to stop singing….   I’m not sure but I really think that was his plan on how to make money.  He kept singing the same song over and over, not to mention he wasn’t singing it well.

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Then of course there is the Igloo, it’s seen better days.  It used to be a gas stop back when I was making this drive in college.

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Along with the general pretty splendid sights along the way.

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Denali Park is a must do stop on the way to Fairbanks.  We spent some time in the visitor center.   It’s also where we ran into a kid who’d just ridden down from Deadhorse that day. We spent about an hour talking with him, about flat tires on the way up there, how he had to stand up and walk his bike through the snow and ice to get up there… the things you can get away with when you are 20 years old and 6 foot one.  Not to mention riding a bike that you can stand up over… Neither of us can do that, heck I can barely get my feet on the ground when I’m on the Tiger.  It just made me feel better about giving up on the idea of riding up there.  On the other hand, in another week the road would likely be perfect.  We just wouldn’t have the time to ride it then.

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I’m pretty sure that his almost bald tires is the main reason for the flat…

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I do regret not having enough time to make a stop here for some of my friends back home, I know they need a few things from here.

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By the time we rolled into Fairbanks that night it was really raining and the road to Lori’s cabin was bit on the sketchy side to say the least.   I know that I wasn’t very nice when I was on the phone with her asking her why  she didn’t warn us about this when she texted me directions.  I’m sure there was some smart comment about her picking the bikes up out of the mud if we dropped them when trying to get to her place.  Yes, we had to make that turn through the nasty part.  Not fun, but we didn’t fall in the mud so I considered a good night.

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We blew a couple of days in Fairbanks, getting new tires on the bikes, changing the oil and doing some sightseeing.  I recommend the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum.  There were so many great cars there, but I picked this one as I have always had a soft spot for snowmoblies, it was one for the first things that my dad ever tried to teach me to drive when I was like 5 years old.  Needless, to say he saw the error of his ways when I gave it way too much gas and he flew off the back.    Hum…  I guess I was born throttle happy… somethings never change.

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We also took a side trip over to Circle Alaska, to get a feel for the new tires on gravel roads. This is one of the highlights of the trip.  I’d never been out to Circle, we had been thinking of trying to make a run up to Coldfoot and back just so we could say we crossed the Arctic Circle twice on this trip, but were talked out of it by John, who’s a friend of Lori’s he does a lot of hunting,trapping and surveying around the area. He recommended we do head to Circle instead while we were playing poker the night before. I’m really glad this night of poker ended better than the last time I played poker with him and Lori.

Once we left the pavement I knew it was the right choice!

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There were a couple of roads that went off from the main road so we followed them to see just where they lead, not a single time were we disappointed…

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What I liked about this one of Jaime, was that we were talking about how do you take pictures of the scenery that do it justice.  I think that her look pretty much sums it up… you can’t.  You take a picture, then look at it, then you try another or 4 and none of them manage to capture the splendor of what you are looking at.  No matter how great the pictures are.

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Once we got back to Fairbanks I took her to what I refer to as the experimental farm, at UAF  aka Large Animal Research Station.  They have musk ox, caribou and reindeer there.  We got there in time to see the reindeer eating dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part II

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To me these warning signs looked more like Devo hats…

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Steep grades indeed.  This trip was the first time I ever recall seeing signs saying 20% grades.

There was just so much great scenery heading into Dease Lake, this was where we hit the first of the construction and gravel sections.  They were easy and actually in good shape.  I can’t say that for all of the construction that we would be going through, that’s like a funky sign for gravel roads, eh?  lol.  The steep grades sign here was a joke compared to some that we’d see later in the trip.  I didn’t get pictures of them, as it’s kind of hard to stop on 20% grades with switchbacks to take pictures.  I am pretty sure that Jaime’s got more GoPro footage of it, though.

The lady at the desk of the  Dease Lake,hotel where they let us wash our bikes.  They gave us a bucket, dish soap, rags and pointed us to a hose.  What really nice people, the bikes were liking rather ratty for new bikes.  I’m not so sure they liked the bath, the fuel gauges on both bikes just stopped working until the next day, go figure.  Strange.   There were a few miners working on the hotel during their weeks off from the mines, they were entertained watching us washing the bikes, one of them gave me a really nice and large piece of jade that was a perfect match to the paint job of my bike.  They had some great stories to tell us about people who’d been visiting the hotel too.

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See all clean, at least for a few more minutes.

It was here that we met up with ADV Inmate Tewster, Kelly had told us that he hosted him at his place and we’d likely run into him on the road.  Tewster told us about his run down the side road to Telegraph creek.  It sounded amazing both Jaime and I agreed that we’d rather come back and hit it on the way home.  She really wanted to get to Anchorage so she could get down to Sitka to see her family for her birthday.  I was hoping to get there by the 5th of June to see my in-laws (actually ex, but I got to keep them in the divorce, they are just too awesome to let go of.) before they headed down to Washington to see the grandchild.   At this point I already knew I wasn’t going to make it in time to see them before they left, but was still hopeful we might make up enough time for a quick visit before I took them to the airport and took over their home.

There was a great deal of this on the trip, between chain cleaning, lubing, and checking tire pressures every day.

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Once we got back onto the Cassiar hwy heading heading North again.  We had promised we’d stop at Boya Lake to  check out the turquoise colored water, how could we not after hearing about how it was the prettiest lake in the area. IMG_20160604_112308476_HDR

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Once we made it up to the junction of where the Cassiar meets the Alaska/Canada hwy there was another DUI check point.  With yet another really smoking hot Mountie asking us where we had come from and where we were going.  I shocked he didn’t think I’d been drinking given I couldn’t answer a single question coherently.  It didn’t help that I had Jaime making comments over the Sena while I was attempting to answer his questions.  In my defense, this one was so good looking that even Jaime had a hard time forming a coherent sentence when he asked her questions.  LOL.

It was at this point that we hit our first sections of road construction, these section weren’t too bad compared to the sections that we’d hit later on just after Destruction Bay.  I kept having people warn me about them, but I wasn’t passing the info onto Jaime.  I didn’t want her to worry about it.  One of us worrying about it was enough.

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Saying that Hwy 37 is paved the whole way isn’t really true, it’s not really pavement, but isn’t gravel either. It’s like the picture above, tar and gravel  that makes look it’s paved.

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We’d keep hitting nice sunny patches then nice wet cold patches, although the sunny patches really weren’t that warm, I wore my heated gear all day I just kept turning it on and off all day.  Jaime put her rain jacket on along with her heated gear.

Destruction Bay was stunning and really cold.  The visitor center there was full of tourist a number of them loud kids, that were giving me a headache.  The upside was that they had the scopes out so you could see the Dall sheep up on the mountains above.  I didn’t take any pictures due to the cold and the headache.

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I did talk with a women from England who was driving a camper around, she had crossed paths with us in two other locations.  She remembered seeing us and she stopped me to tell me that she loved the Triumphs.  During the course of this trip we crossed paths with a number of other tourists, over the weeks going in and out of Alaska and Canada, who would come up to one or both of us and tell us they had seen us in a location earlier in the trip and that they were glad to see that we were okay and still having a great time.  It added an extra element to the trip that made it even more special for me.

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That bridge in the background was the scariest one of the whole trip.  It’s metal grating was really in bad shape, it had signs up requiring all vehicles crossing it to slow down to 30mph, honestly that might have even been too high.  The bike moved all over the place and it was really unnerving.

Once past Kluane Lake and Destruction Bay, we hit the worse of the road construction.  I felt for Jaime as she still had the deathwing stock tires on her Tiger.  The FullBore tires handled it well and I didn’t have too many issues with the deep gravel but she had a number of moments, the really rude semi driver didn’t help out either.  She made a number of comments about how close he was to me when he past me, and that it looked like he was going to hit my bike. He wasn’t that close, but he was a lot closer then he needed to be.  I didn’t really enjoy the gravel hitting me that he kicked up, I ended up with a few bruises on my arms and legs from it.  Once we got to the Alaskan border it was all smooth sailing.  It was also the first time we’d get to see two moose, they were just like I’d told Jaime they would be.  In the marsh, sticking their head into the water eating the grass.  It was a mother with what looked like a yearling baby, it wasn’t that small.  We still weren’t see much for wildlife on this trip.

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From there it was a fun ride to Tok, Alaska.  This section of road on a bike is like a roller coaster ride from all the frost heaves.  It a car it’s horrible but we had blast and a few times we even caught air.  Once in Tok we stay at Thompson’s Eagle Claw Motorcycle campground.  The place was really awesome!  It was set up really for bikes, there were place for you to throw up your tent or you could chose to stay in a bunkhouse, or a teepee, an ambulance, or even a convert school bus.  We happened to be there with three others that night, so it was nice and quiet.  Jaime opted to turn in early, I stayed up to chat with the three coast guard guys who were heading to their next assignment.  They were telling me about their trip up the Dalton on CRF 250’s.  It sounded like a blast.  I was really looking forward to riding up the Haul road myself.   The road was permit travel only when I lived in Alaska so the farthest I went up the road was to the Yukon river when I was living in Fairbanks for college.

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The next day was a mad dash to Anchorage to see if we could get Jaime’s bike into the dealership there so they could put a new map on it.  It was running fine, but there there was features we couldn’t access, like changing it to dirt mode and shutting the ABS off or the Traction Control or changing the time on it.  Frustrating.  Needless to say we didn’t make it.  We stopped to many times for pictures the rain that day was also just horrible so it was hard to make good time.  Jaime had to remind me a couple of times that she didn’t know the roads like I did and that I needed to slow it down a bit… oops.

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Once we got into Anchorage we hit rush hour traffic,  it was the first time since we’d left NM that we really had to deal with traffic of any kind and the traffic on the Seward hwy is really special too.  Funny, how something never change.  At least I remembered the back way to the Margie & Ray’s so we didn’t have to sit in the rain for an extra hour or more, but there was no way that we were going to get her bike to the dealership.  I did call to see how late they were open.  I kind of like that Sena for things like that, it came in handy for calling Mike in SLC too while I was riding on the interstate.  Never thought I’d be able to do something like that.

Once in Anchorage, Jaime took off to Sitka for 3 days, I spent it with my family and friends, I did some driving around, cleaned up my bike, did some shopping for warmer clothes. and tried to plan out the run up the Dalton. However, the snow storms that were rolling through were making that part of the trip look less likely to happen.

 

 

 

To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part I

This was a 39 day trip for me, most of it was spent riding from one location to another, but I’m only going to summarize most of the days and lump them together.  I’ve talked about this trip a few times now and have come to the conclusion that there just isn’t anyway for me to really impart just how epic, wonderful, amazing, and grand everything that we saw was.  The pictures we took are great, but they really don’t do any of the scenery justice.

I was behind on prep before the trip started; I don’t know how that happened when I’d been planning this trip for over 6 months.  I had Jim come over and go through most of my gear to help me figure out if there was stuff I should be leaving behind.  He managed to help me narrow down the tools a great deal and thin out a number of other things.   This was a good thing since I was out of room for them.  I did discover he packs twice the amount of clothes that I did… see not all guys pack light.    😛

I was satisfied with how the bike was packed by the time I left.  The only thing not in the image below was the two one gallon gas cans that went into the TourTech brackets on the front of each of the panniers.

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I also go the tool box mount on the bike between the left pannier and the bike so it was somewhat hidden. You could only see it when you looked at the bike from the back, and it looked like a power outlet.  Nice way to hide things on the bike.  The picture above is what the bike looked like for the entire trip, fully loaded up.  When I weighed out the boxes with all the gear it came out to just under 98 lbs.  The list of what I packed is here:  Packing List.  I ended up sending home from Anchorage, my off bike shoes, tee shirt, extra under armor and cotton socks.  I picked 3 more pairs of smart wool socks, and shirts to replace them.  I actually used everything I packed with the exception of tools and spares, but those are things I would take with me again.  So the list I believe is pretty solid.

Before I get into how the trip started, I’ll just say now it didn’t get off to the best start.  I shattered a brand new Ipod nano as I was walking out of the garage first thing in the morning, followed by leaving, ear buds at home, along with dumping a full glass of water all over Jaime at lunch on the first day,  there was issues with logging into work, screwing up things at work, than fixing the things I’d screwed up, getting pulled over,  issues with bear spray, and bike issues.   I was thinking that was going to happen on Days 1 and 2 it kind of wondering just how the rest of the trip was going to go…. I was really thinking at the time it might be best to cancel the trip and give it up then, before it got any worse.

The first two days of the trip were spent in Utah. It’s usually hot, but not this time, I ended up using my heated hear coming into Salt Lake when we had to ride through two really have thunderstorms. It was still pretty for most of the ride.  Heather met me at my place, we rode to pick up Jaime and the others at her place.

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Loaded and ready to head out
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Heather made it and is readjusting things before we head to pick up Jaime and the others.

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Finally everyone shows up and is ready to head off to Goosenecks for our first night of camping… or at least that was the plan.

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However, we ended up here in Farmington.  Now I love Brian (the really tall guy), as he’s been a great friend/sponsor for years now, but could have gone without spending so much time him this day.  On the way there, we discovered that Karin’s taillight had stopped working, we taped it up just outside of Chama, rode to Farmington to Speedin Motorsports were I knew that Brian and crew would be able to fix it.   They did but it took a couple of hours to dismantle the bike sodder some new connections, add more wire, and make it so that it wouldn’t come apart again.  By the time all that was done, it made the whole setting up camp thing rather hard to do, since we would be getting there in the dark.  So we opted for a hotel close to where they wanted to have dinner that night.

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When we rolled into the parking lot for dinner at 8:30 that night, little did I know that was going to be pretty much the way this entire trip was going to go, really long days, with really late dinner stops, if we ate dinner at all.

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Then again, I don’t really mind drinking my dinner….

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We did manage to get off to a decent start in the am, by 8 we had the bikes ready to roll. I only mention this, as it would be the earliest we got moving for the entire trip.  I’m not a morning person, as luck would have neither is Jaime.

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See this would have been a great place to camp last night!  We left Heather at Goosenecks, she was starting her ride off to New Foundland,

Jaime and I headed off to Moki Dugway to ride our first section of dirt road. Once at the top, I had the brilliant idea to head to the lookout for some pictures, I remembered the road being more hard packed, but about 50 feet down the road, I hit some deepish sand.  I told her on the Sena, that this might not be the best idea I’d had for awhile.  It was about 20 feet later that I hit the REALLY deep powdery sand, the bike got really out of shape, I gave it bit more throttle and sat back some more, it straightened up, but then it just got worse and I went down in the sand the bike slid for a couple of feet.  No worries, Jaime go it all on the GoPro.  Well, she had it on video, but she’s having issues finding the video of it, maybe it got lost with the video of me in Dawson after having a bit too much to drink one night.  One can hope.

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The bike once we got it back up.  I was really happy to have those H&B upper crash bars on the bike, they got bent, but they saved the tank from any damage.  The bike wasn’t happy about it.   The check engine light was on once I we got the bike up and restarted.  It stayed on for 3 restarts of the bike and than went off.  I’m sure it had to do with the tip over sensor.  At least that is what I was hoping it was.  It didn’t come back on so I figured it was all good.
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The section of sand/powder that I fell down in… Yeah, for getting the first (hopefully the only) crash out of the way.  😛

After the excitement, we decided to just head straight to SLC so we could crash for the night at Mike and Lindsay’s.  However, our excitement for the day wasn’t over, thanks to Jaime’s great idea of seeing how closely our cruise controls matched.  What speed did she pick for the test?  85mph, Did my common sense kick in? No.  Course not.  Did this test end well?  No, course not.  Just how did it end?  With me getting pulled over by a Utah trooper of course,  there are no pictures of this…  I didn’t get a performance award, my version of why I didn’t get a ticket and Jaime’s are different, and we are just going to leave it at that.  However, the officer did thank both of us for wearing all of our safety gear, unlike a biker they had scraped off the pavement earlier in the day.  His wording not mine.

I was just happy to not get a ticket, as we pulled away, I was starting to question the wisdom of having the Sena being paired.  Since I had Jaime, giving me grief about not even being out of his sight and my already speeding… For the record, I wasn’t according to the GPS and by the speedo on the bike I was only 2 mph over.  The next two days of being always being under the speed limit kinda bugged crap outta me, but she got over whatever it was and was back to her usual speedy self by the third day.

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We had a great morning riding some fun twisty roads out of SLC with TMC and Lindsay, Mike, as usual had to show me some great gadget for cleaning and lubing chains.  He then gave it to us since we were going to be do a great deal more of that than he was for the next month.  He’s just an amazing, smart, talented, funny, and generous guy; I’ve met the best people because of motorcycles.  Only getting over to see him once or twice a year just isn’t enough.  He’s helped me a great deal over the past years with my racing.  I’m just going let him keep thinking that he’s still faster than me on the race track….

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BTW: That’s him directly behind me in this picture.

Back to the ride report…
Our next stop was Stanley ID.  We met up with another inmate there I want to say his name was Grizzly, but I’m not sure that was right.  He was riding a BMW but wearing a Triumph jacket I didn’t think that was allowed.    We stayed at Motel there so I could log into work that night.  Part of the deal I made so I could get all this time off was that I would take my work computer with me and I would log in to get some things done while I was gone since I’m the only one who know how to do them.  It’s nice job security. Even with the time in the hot springs I still managed to get about 5 hours of work done.

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There was no way we were going to get lost on this trip… Just sayin.

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Along the way we’d make sure that Jaime learned how to work her Sena, GPS, and her bike computers.

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But does that mean I can tell you where every picture was taken?  Not a chance!  Lol.

However this one was up at Flathead lake, which is where we FINALLY did some camping. Not a bad view for the night, eh?

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This was the site of the bear spray incident.

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Let’s just say I now know how to use it, and so does Jaime, she also now knows how it tastes too.

The next day we cleaned up the chains on the bikes, and used the grease ninja that Mike gave use, this was the first time that Jaime had taken her bike off the center stand by herself with it fully loaded… it didn’t quite go as planned.

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It might have been the first drop of the trip, but it wasn’t the last.

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Don’t let the pictures fool you this was our last day of sunshine, from here until the 3rd day in Anchorage it rained almost non-stop. We did have sections of no rain, with little bits of teasing bursts of sunshine, but it really did rain every day for 8 days.  Overall not a bad average, for a 40 day vacation, but I was feeling a bit water logged on the second day.   From here we made a mad dash up to Shuswap in Canada, we stayed at a really cute camp ground with cabins. The people who ran it were just awesome to us; they let us use their dryer so that we didn’t have to put on wet stuff the next day.

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This would be the day my Jet Boil die a horrible death at the hands or tires of a Semi truck…  No pictures it was just too horrible to see it all flattened out like that. The replacement jet boil would be brightly colored so that it wouldn’t get left on the muffler of the bike.  I just can’t figure out how it stayed there for >200 miles before it fell off.  I think it was a subconscious thing; I had wanted to buy a new stove, for this trip but couldn’t justify it since the one I had worked just fine.  This  new one has much better simmer control  it’s also  much cuter too.

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Just before the Jet Boil died….. I’m not sure how I missed it still sitting on the muffler when we stopped here for lunch.

However, finding the replacement in Prince George in the pissing rain was horrible, but I’ve gotten a head of myself.  Our next stop was in Prince George, we crashed in on a poor unsuspecting inmate who kindly offered his yard, but ended letting us stay in his house due to the rain.

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Kelly was super kind to let us take over his house with such short notice not to mention his dogs are just too adorable! We headed out the next day in search of a jet boil, who knew it would take 3 hours and that we would tour the entire city… Next time I head to Canada, I’m going to see about getting a better data plan for my phone.  So I don’t have to guess, the location of things or bad directions from people who work in the stores that don’t have what I’m looking for.

My view of Jaime for like 95% of the trip…

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Those sunglasses died a bit later, they were uncomfortable.

Those sunglasses died a bit later, they were uncomfortable.  This picture is a great example as to why Jaime has a picture of me taking scissors to my bangs in a rest area.

From Prince George it was a long day up Stewart.    We still made pretty good time and inspite of a the road being closed for an hour we still made it into Stewart before 11pm.

We figured if we took a picture of the map, we’d be able to remember where we were when the low blood sugar kicked in.

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Speaking of low blood sugar…. I believe it was outside of Prince George one of the times that we had been riding for like 10 hours, in the rain, I was cold, on the tired side, and I was coming up on the side of hangry.  (ya know… hungry to the point of starting to get irrationally angry  about silly things.)  I was pissy that Jaime kept talking about being hungry and how she wanted a steak.  We rode past a place that looked like a decent steak house.. and by that I mean.  A nice looking building that said it was a restaurant.

So I snapped that we are were going to stop there so I didn’t have to listen to her anymore.  We turned around, worked our way back to it on some back streets, I pulled into the parking lot that was basically empty. For what ever reason I pulled up next to the only car there and promptly grabbed my front brake… Now, you should know happens when you do that while turning a really tight turn, right?  You fall over!  That is exactly what I did. Right next to that parked car, I was lucky that I missed that damn car by about an inch…

Jaime pulled up and sat there looking at me, like I had two heads and then asked me how I could be standing there when there wasn’t enough room between the bike and the car.  I still don’t know how I missed the car.  Or why I was in that spot to begin with. Jaime wisely choose not to take any pictures of the bike on the ground and just helped me pick it up.  We went in to eat and while waiting for our food saw the guy who owned the car leave.  He didn’t seem to notice the bikes at all.  I was glad to see that.  Drop #2  Not that there was any counting going on…

Jaime didn’t get her steak as the only steak on the menu was steak and bacon poutine.  So that’s what I had for dinner.  It was really tasty!  If you haven’t heard of poutine, it’s kind of a comfort food made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy, that has a number of variations.  This was Jaime’s introduction to Poutine, she wasn’t brave enough to try it… boy did she miss out.  It was about 3/4 of the way into dinner that she made the comment about me being more like myself and that I needed to not let the it (whatever it was, take your pick –> hunger, tired, or being cold) go so long next time.  Jaime doesn’t think that I should tell anyone about this, that we should stick to the great scenery, sights, and interesting people along the way, I’m not so sure about that.  As this was one of things that I’m still laughing about when I think about the trip. As well as one of the things that I don’t need a picture to jog my memory about.  So why not share it?

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The tires I’d never heard of before I bought this bike were actually great and holding up really well.  I think I’ll be using them more in the future.

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FullBore Tires

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We stopped for more pictures along the way, the rain was on and off, most of the time I was actually happy to see the rain, as it kept the blood sucking mosquitoes off me.

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The guy the trike showed us his bear pictures once we got into Stewart, we didn’t see a single bear and hadn’t seen any wildlife until this road.  On the way down we saw two bald eagles.  Jaime was starting to get upset by the lack of wildlife.  I’ll just tell you now, it doesn’t get any better for Jaime, either.  Lol.

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You’ve gotta love a hotel that has motorcycle parking up on the sidewalk.

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They also had some great art, kind of like the painted ponies that we have around Santa Fe.  I loved these two bears!

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I had been looking forward to getting my fill of seafood on this trip, but we were too early for this local stop.

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Instead we checked out the docks and a local gift shop where I picked up some fudge so I could feed it to Jaime when her blood sugar got low and she got grumpy, or when I was getting grumpy.    I also picked up a new hat for when we were camping, that night at Flathead Lake reminded me that I needed one when I was cold while camping.

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The one way border crossing was interesting, I have to say this guy was a great deal nicer than the first one.   I’m sure the guy at the first border crossing was an okay guy, but he was easily spooked and not very friendly.  He acted like I had tried to stab him when I grabbed the window to keep from falling over with my bike.  They really need to make sure the areas in front of those windows are level and not slanted, I went to put the kickstand down, pull my helmet off, after handing him my passport, and the bike started to tip over I grabbed the window and my helmet.  He leaped back knocked his chair over and then got rather snotty.   He took my passport and told me to go wait under the carport around the corner for someone to come talk to me.  I figured I was hosed and that they were going to tear my bike apart, but a nice lady came out and handed me my passport after about 15 minutes.   This second guy was nice and funny, he wanted to know why we were in such a hurry to get through Canada?

It’s pretty, but at the time it was really wet…

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I don’t know what to call this, since it’s more about making the trip than about destinations (New Mexico –> Alaska) Part II

We didn’t let the foul weather stop us from making our test run this weekend. I’m actually glad that the weather was so crappy on Saturday it made it clear that I needed to rethink a few things.

I of course waited until the last minute to finish packing up the last of my gear onto the bike. I had the panniers packed, but I had planned on taking the bike down to Abq to work for the race club at the R&S Expo. I didn’t want to have to drive the truck unless it was pouring down rain or if it was snowing.   I met up with Nicole who had just picked up a new street bike and didn’t want to go for a ride on it for the first time alone. So we rode down Hwy 14 to Abq together after coffee in Madrid. We spent about 4 hours at the expo with Scott and a few others, there wasn’t as much traffic as the year before I think the weather scared everyone off. It was still fun to sit around and BS with a few people.

Charlie and Scott teasing me about not being able to flat foot the grown up bikes, like they can. Wankers!   LOL!

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After a fair amount a ribbing that I can only flat foot an 85cc dirt bike… L I left to head home to finish getting ready for the test run. I loaded up the Tiger. I could tell right away it’s going to need a fair amount of preload in the shock when I load it up for the trip. I can’t imagine why. The Right pannier was 34lbs the left was 26lbs the top box was 26lbs the jerry can was 3lbs and the wolfman bag was 5lbs. Each of the cases empty is 11lbs. So in all I had ~ 95lbs more than normal on the bike (58lbs of gear) I had been trying to keep it under 50 lbs. I should be able to get it down. Here’s the bike loaded up.

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The Tent and my sleeping bag are my heaviest and bulkiest items they are the two items on the top of the panniers in the dry bags. Which worked just fine in the rain and snow, yes, snow.

We rode up to the Valle Caldra to see what the bikes would feel like and how they would handle loaded.
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Must remember to add preload! I don’t like bikes that feel like a copper. In all, the bike handled great, I was comfortable on it, the hard part was getting the comms to work. We found a camp spot we liked in the woods that we could all set up in we started to set up camp. Of course, we got rained on, but at least the tents were up by the time the rain started.

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I think I need to look at a tarp to make a rain shelter to cook under. Heather had one that we used that night. The best part was para cord that was reflective so I didn’t walk into it and straggle myself on it.

I’m going to need to do some practicing with the camp stove so I don’t burn dinner…. That’s all I have to say about that.
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We had some great neighbors for the evening.

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Now I had checked the weather forecast, so knew that it was likely to snow on us, but I was really hoping we’d be lucky and it wouldn’t….

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We weren’t lucky. Jaime wasn’t impressed. I heard a lot of swearing in the morning… I woke up about 1 or 2 a lil chilled, dug around for my hat and bag liner. Went back to sleep, I have to say I was really pleased with all of my gear. As long as I stayed on the sleeping pad I was plenty warm, the couple of times I woke up, chilled, never cold, I realized I had rolled off the pad. Once back on it I was plenty warm. Heather, wasn’t happy with her sleeping bag, and Jaime wasn’t happy with her tent. I thought my tent was a bit small but I’m actually okay with that… I still don’t get how they thing two people would fit in that tent.

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We were going to make breakfast, but decided to just leave and go get a hot breakfast down the hill someplace…

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Jaime, in one of the many… OMG I can’t feel my fingers moments!

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Unpacking the poor over loaded bike… I think CJ is right I need to rethink all the stuff I’m taking with me.  There is just too much stuff on the bike.  I’m not going to need it all.IMG_20160430_191147510 (1)

The poor Tiger covered in snow. This is a first, I’ve never had my bike covered with snow. I’m liking my pink Rok straps more and more too.  They really stand out!

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I don’t know what to call this, since it’s more about making the trip than about destinations (New Mexico –> Alaska)

Really it’s more like Santa Fe, NM to Anchorage, AK to Fairbanks, AK to Deadhorse, AK, to D2D, to Inuvik, back home to Santa Fe: I really want to cross the Arctic Circle twice in two weeks, just because I can. (if you count up and back its four times, hum.) Its really only 40 days of riding, only 40… did really just say “only” ha.

I started this to keep track of everything that I was doing to get ready for this trip, because I’m just a tad excited to be able to be able to go on this journey. The funny thing is that I never really appreciated the splendor of Alaska when I was growing up there. It wasn’t until I had been in New Mexico for some time that I realized just how different it had been for me living up there. Yeah, there was all kinds of things I guess I missed out on, like TV shows, or large malls or Disney land road trips. But, how many people have gotten to catch a 150 pound halibut as an 11 year old? I do wish I had found motorcycles when I was much younger. I’ve covered a lot of ground on them though in the past 11 years.

Background: I guess I’ll start with some background as to how this trip came to be, since that is the section heading. I’ve never done any trips like this. I started riding in Sept of 2005 Labor Day weekend to be exact, I took an MSF class. I had never ridden a motorcycle I was intrigued by them and thought they looked like fun and something that I would like. It was the start of an obsession; I bought a brand new bike that afternoon and never looked back. At one point in 2006 it looking like I might be part of a RIF so I got to thinking about riding around the US for a few months, while looking for a new place to live. I didn’t get laid off so the longest trip I’ve ever done was some long weekends where I covered 3,000 miles or so in a few days. This is going to be the first time I’ve camped off the bike for more than 1 night, too. Lots of things to learn, so far it’s been great fun reading up on things. I also know from a past life with horses that you can’t become good at things just from reading up on them. It doesn’t hurt to have some book knowledge but that doesn’t really cut it when you are out in the middle of nowhere trying to figure things out.

This trip like a few of my other really Epic adventures I place the “blame” on others for coming up with the bad ideas. I’m not going to be held responsible for going along with or even running with the bad idea. Otherwise, how would I end up having so many great stories? Okay. Back to how this trip came to be, I’m going to “blame” the whole thing on Jaime. Below is a of us with a couple of our racing buddies starting from back to front Lance, Myself, Scott, and Jaime at our SMRI 2015 Awards Banquet. I met Jaime two years ago when she decided she wanted to start racing. I spent a lot of time working with her last summer working on getting her to go faster and drop time at the track. So we’ve gotten to be pretty good friends. She, Lance and I went to Miller last year to race with the club there. Road trips with racing buddies are always a great time! It was a shame that Scott had to drop out of the trip at the last minute. You’ll notice I get side tracked easily. I usually do make my way back to the original train of thought, I promise. Jaime has done long trips a number of times and she has camped out and she also has been riding much longer than I have. So it’ll be nice to have her along on this trip. At least that’s what she tells me, right before she tells me that I have to help her go faster on the race track. Lol. Or that I have to show her how to put new farkles on her new Tiger. We each have things that we’re good at. Between us, we can figure out things. I say that now…

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Once Jaime learned that I was originally from Alaska, she told me that she had always wanted to do a road trip on a bike up there. It was the topic of many talks we had at the track and the reason I think that we got to know each other.

She toured around the Pacific North West a few years ago on her 2012 Tiger, with the original intent to go to Alaska but and had to come back to New Mexico I’m still not clear as to what happened. I know that she has diabetes, with that she has a number related the health issues that go along with it, like RA, she also had to have disc in her neck fused last year, she’s has neuropathy issues, she has an insulin pump that she rides with, there have been a few times that I’ve had to ask her to check her blood sugar while we are at the track, as she wasn’t acting like herself. She has been through all kinds of treatments; I don’t think I would even dream of doing some of the things she does just so she can keep riding, like injections into her eyes… ick! Never. Not to mention she on some really strict anti-inflammatory diet. I predict that I’ll be dropping some major weight on this trip… Yippee! (I’ve already been working on that) Not to mention she’s older than I am. Yet she still is riding with those health issues, and the challenges that come with a spouse and two kids. I’d say that she’s an amazing woman. One that I’m happy to call my friend, as another friend of mine has said many times… I’ve gotten to do so many really awesome things, meet so many people, and have great adventures, why? …. “Because Motorcycles”

In 2014 I flew home (to Anchorage) to do a fly and ride with my BFF (Lori) from high school. We spent 4 days riding the Denali Hwy and camping. After I came back from that trip and talked about the fun we had. Jaime was more determined that she had to do the trip up there and it had to happen in the next few years, as her health wasn’t getting better and she is worried that she might not be able to do the trip if she waits much longer. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty much up for anything to do with two wheels. So she asked me if I might consider doing part of the trip with her.

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After my short ride around Alaska I was game for doing a ride up there. Now not long after I got back from my trip I had a pretty nasty crash on the track where I cracked some ribs, a broke a couple bones in my right ankle, and just about ripped my right thumb off my hand, along with some great bruises the cherry on top was a nice concussion. I had to have surgery on the hand to reattach the ligaments to make my thumb work again, and then just about when the hand was healed I got the pleasure of spending a week in the hospital with a ruptured disk in my neck. Talk about agony! It took a week just to get the pain under enough control so I could lay flat for the MRI. I had to have surgery on my neck to fuse two vertebras in order to fix the ruptured disc in my neck. Thanks to nerve damage from that, I still can’t really feel three fingers on my left hand.

After that crash and a 9 month recovery from all of that I was left wondering how much time I’ve got left to really do all the fun things I really want to do in life. It got me thinking about doing all the really epic trips I have thought about doing. Like a trip riding to Alaska. So now I’ve committed myself to this trip. There was no half way about it. I knew that there was no way I could do it with the street bike I had that time. Since, it wasn’t comfortable after the disk fusion (and at times it was downright painful) for me to ride more than a hundred miles, so I went out and bought a bike just for this trip. Not really, just for this trip, but it was a great excuse to buy the bike I had been lusting after for a couple of years now. Not to mention perfect timing, since Triumph came out with an improved version that took care of a number things I was going to have to modify if I had bought it a year earlier.

New Tigger

New Tigger

Even though the trip was months away, I figured winter was a great time to start working things out. I’m planner of sorts; I don’t like to work out the minor details, just the big picture.

However, I figure for this trip it’s a long time to be on the road, it’s a great number of miles to cover, especially alone or with two women who are okay at working on their bikes. Originally I thought I would be doing most of the trip on my own. Jaime and I had started out planning this together, but she and I both had different things we want the trip to be about. It looked like we will meet up in a couple spots rides some miles together and then go our separate ways.

Well, with life being what it is, àa messy clusterf*ck, which never goes as you think it is. Jaime ended up with a few family problems now get in the way of her plans. Her mother who’s been suffering from Alzheimer’s had a stroke around the end of March. So she moved her home to let spend her last days with family. Her last days ended up being just over a month. Taking care of a dying family member who is at home is a lot of stress. I ended up having to take her bike, and ride it so that she could get enough miles on it to get the first service done. (It’s rough having to ride someone else’s brand new bike.) She’s been so preoccupied with family that she’s not had any time to prepare for the trip. Luckily she didn’t need to go out and buy all kinds of new stuff like I did.

Jaime's Tiger

Jaime’s Tiger

Jaime’s Tiger, on its break in run up to Antonito, CO. Yes, that’s snow in the background; it was rather chilly in the passes over 9,000 feet. In spite of the cold and the less than clean roads it was a great ride. I of course think my bike is prettier than hers. But don’t let her know I said that.

With everything going on Jaime has pretty much now decided that she is just tag along with me. I’m okay with that; bedsides, it’s making my mom feel better. J That way I’m not all by my poor lil’ self, I mean after all, I’m just a helpless little girl… Sigh. Oh Mom. I was actually looking forward to some alone time to do some thinking about my life. pft. On the other hand, maybe, I should do too much of that… LOL. Things really are just fine the way they are. I couldn’t ask for things to be better, unless of course someone wants to leave me a few million. I’ll take it, then I could do some more racing at different tracks. Or say I find some really hot rich boyfriend along the way, who wants to go with me to the tracks… pft…

I’m going to see about getting Jaime to join ADV so she can post pictures up as we go along, she’s a photographer, I’m definitely not one, I do like to snap pictures with my phone, but I don’t even own a camera anymore. I’m not count my old 35mm film Minolta camera that I bought after college, which is collecting dusk in a closet. Now I’ve met the two main players, there is Lori. She is supposed to join Jaime and I in Fairbanks. Lori is going to ride from Fairbanks to Deadhorse and back with us and then over to D2D with us. She’s one of my best friends from high school in Alaska. She is also likely the reason I became interested in motorcycles. She started to ride when we were in high school; she stopped and started riding a few times over the years. She started back again the last time when I dragged her kicking and screaming out to ride dirt bikes…. You can see that she hated every second of it.
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So much so that went out a bought a small bike that similar to that TTR in the truck bed. (XT250). She rode that when we camped along the Denali highway in June 2014. Our hunt for firewood, cuz after living in NM for 20 years I’m no longer able to take the cold and I was freezing. We still had two more nights of camping left, so finding more wood for a fire at night was critical, as you can see we found a stash to haul back to the campsite. She played firewood Tetris for about an hour before I got to snap this picture… We had wood stuffed in everything that we could. :p I’ll have ya know that wood stayed in place for the 30 mile ride back to the campsite.

Sucess!!!!

Sucess!!!!

Preparation:

Route Planning: So I used Furkot to plan out a route. Than imported it to Google Maps to get this:https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?…0&authuser=0&mid=1ehoHH1eiTFBC2P25Qthc7l3IQkM

Total Distance for this route is 11,170 miles with 230 hours of riding. Daily Ave: 287 miles riding 6 hours a day.

The only thing I can say for certain is that it’s a sure bet that we won’t stick to the daily mileage maybe not even the route, but it at least was a place to start. I’m kind of figuring on the earlier days being much longer and higher mileage days, especially while we are in the US. Then we’ll likely slow it down and do more of a stop and smell the roses kind of ride. She and I both have reasons though to be in Anchorage before June 3rd. You can see that this schedule doesn’t let us do that. I have another map that does, roughly the same but we cut out Prince Rupert and ride bit more each day. With the Delorme, it’ll be easy enough for those who want to track us along the way. Jaime has my SPOT3 so her family is going to be tracking her too.

Bikes: à We both picked up brand new 2016 Triumph Tiger XCAs. I got mine just before Thanksgiving. Jaime picked hers up toward the end of January, after she sold her 2012 Tiger. We’ve done a number of similar things, to our bikes. The only mods I’ve done to my bike for the trip are:

· H&B upper crash bars
· DSBP Raid Toolbox
· Laminar Lip windscreen
· 20 mm Fender riser
· Stash Box Lockable License Plate Storage Box By Twisted Throttle
· Headlight protector
· Wiring for electric Vest
· Fuze Block
o Hard wired in TomTom Rider 5
o Hard wired in Delorme Explorer
· 3.5 litre Jerry Flex fuel bladder (attached to side of top box-side toward me so it’s between the top box and the tail bag)
· Wolfman tail bag
· We both have Sena 20S comm systems
· Both bikes have the rear wheels converted over to Tubless by Woody’s Wheels Works.

Gear: à I basically had to start from scratch for this trip, dang it’s expensive to live like a hobo. I had some camping gear, but camping out of a truck is really different from camping off the bike. Also the gear that I had used when camping off my bike in the past wasn’t ideal for long trips. Or for cold, windy or wet weather, so there was some upgrading to be done there too. I have an Excel spreadsheet with everything listed out, (See This) if anyone is really curious. I’m still not sure if I’ve over or under packed at this point. I’ve been working on how to pack the bike for what seems like months…because it has been months. I like to plan, but I’m also really quick to deviate from my plans. Kind of like figuring out how to pack all the camping gear. I started with that in February, but haven’t finished with the final packing list yet. I’m more a big picture kind of planner… not a small detail planner.

It starts out like this…
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Then gets sorted out to be more like this….

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From top left to bottom right: Mess kit, sleeping bag, maps, towels, Jet boil pot, jet boil, pillow, sleeping pad, jet boil fuel (2), chair, Misc Bag(slime air pump, powerlet to usb, pen light, bug dope, tent repair kit, and para cord) bike lock, and hatchet. (Note: I’ve ditched all but two of those maps now. Decided I didn’t need all of them.) Total weight including the pannier = 34.6 pounds. It’s a bit heavier than I wanted. I’m still figuring out how to shuffle some of it around. The rest of it is almost as heavy, so I’m looking at more than 50lbs of gear from what I’ve weighed out so far. I haven’t weighed the work laptop or tools yet. The tools are the heaviest part, of course.

 

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That’s just one of three, saddle bags…

Of course, it’s not going to stay that neat. The next question is do I really need the stuff that is in there? Does it all work like it should? Do I need different things from what is there? I haven’t even tested some of that stuff yet…. Yikes!!! This means I need to do some test camping.

Ready to go on the bike?

Ready to go on the bike?

So off to do some testing, but with it still being winter, I opt for some indoor test first before I move to the outdoor testing. I set the tent up in the living room with the sleeping pad and sleeping bag. It can’t be too bad; I fell asleep in the middle of the day playing around with it all. It might have helped that I was sick with, but I did sleep great for a few hours, until the cat woke me up wanting into the tent. The fear of her putting holes in it made me get up in a hurry. Next I wanted to do a test out doors to see how it all worked. Kind of a dry run, pack up the bike with everything I intend to take on the trip to see if I use it on a daily basis or not. Then reevaluate if I should take it with me. I had hoped that I could do that in Moab with my ADV Brewsday family, but I ended up having to work on Thursday and Friday. So it looks like I’m going to have to settle for an overnight trip some place closer to home.

This brings my story up to date; I’m planning on head into the Jemez, this weekend which is going to be much colder than going to Moab. Since I’ve committed myself to working for the race club for a few hours on Sat in addition to going into work for a few hours. I’m not going to leave until the afternoon. Jaime and Heather (whom you haven’t been introduced to yet) are going to meet at my place we are going to ride up to the Jemez and find a place to camp for the night. Should prove to be an interesting night, I plan to bring some hard cider along just to liven things up.

 

Kicking off the 2016 Race Season

Our first event for the club for 2016 was the BMW sponsored track day.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day, for the first time in about 5 years the weather cooperated with us.  The day was perfect!

The only downside I can come up with was the number of people who fell down during the day.  We had 10 crashes, which is 10 too many in my book.  Two of them where the same person on two different bikes.  I’m thinking that he was just pushing a bit too much for his first day back out on the track.  I’m really pleased that none of the crashes where students that I worked with.  Goes to show that my program does work.

I spent my morning on a drift bike… not really but every time I went to the throttle the back of the bike stepped out.  I did manage to get a lot of use out of that tire.  Two Race days last year, two track days at Sandia, a track day at Arroyo last year, a few laps and a race day at Arroyo this year and that morning.  The tire looked great, just looking at it you would think it had lots of life left, it just wasn’t hooking up.   After I figured out what it was I started to play with it and making it step out on purpose in a few of the turns.  I just wasn’t about to take the bike into the expert group and try to put down some really hot laps with it.

Once I put a different rear tire on at lunch I did get out for some hot laps, it felt great to get some fast laps in.  I’m going to need to a lot more of those if I am going to do any racing at all this season.  I’m still in teaching mode and rolling off way too soon for a few of the turns.  In all it was a really great day.  I hope the next track day is just as nice.

Breaking in a new bike… again

Another new bike… What kind of a crazy person trusts me with their brand new Tiger that only has 10 miles on it???

Jaime's Tiger

Jaime S. That’s who… She’s got some issues with her family, so she asked me to put the miles on it that it needs to get it’s first service done.  So I rode it around town for a couple of weeks, than I took it out for a short but brisk run to CO for the day.

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I love that Delorme.  I’ve only got to put another 40 miles on it before sat.  There are some things that she also needs put on the bike.  I’m going to do those for her with some help at the beginning of May.  Since she is going to be riding with me for a good bit of the trip to Alaska.  I want to make sure that she is good to go.

It was a really fun lil ride up to Antonito CO and over to Chama for lunch.  It was pretty cold over the passes, but the roads were in great shape.

The crew for the ride

CO has some interesting signs these days.

CO has some interesting signs these days.

Desert Daze

I had wanted to check this ride out last year, but I was back to riding much at that time.  Since I had just gotten cleared by the Doctors to get back on the bike only a week before.

So I made it a point to go this year.  I took the Husky and the Tiger with me, since I knew I wouldn’t be riding alone and that meant help picking the Tiger up if I was to fall over with it.  I took off and headed over to the Triangle T on Thursday, I had a spot for the Toy hauler reserved. I got there early to unload and set up.  I met a few of the others as they rolled it.  Of course, they are easy to spot, they all have bikes.  😀  Met a guy who rode in from Washington, who was really from Canada, long way to go, he was pretty entertaining.  As were a couple from TX.    It was a small rally so it didn’t take long for every one to show up that night.IMG_20160325_150717437

The “disorganizer” Raven was a hoot.  She was very hands off and the rides where really just suggestions on a map on the wall of the saloon.  I found a couple of guys to ride to Tombstone with the next day.  It’s funny how most guys just assume that you can’t really ride.  It was also funny who I wasn’t the one who drop my bike that day.  😀

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The next day was just wondering around trying to find a route, it was the most fun day of the three, but least productive for finding a route.  Each night was a campfire, with entering characters, and stories about the rides for the days.  I would go back again next year.  Only this time I would make sure to have a GPS that could do GPX tracks so I did not do so much back tracking. There is a lot of great stuff to see, there and it made me really want to do the AZBDR even more.

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North/South Challenge

I’m late with posting, as usual.  😛   It’s work’s fault.  It keeps getting in the way of my fun.

The first time in 9 years… yes, 9 years.  The last time the clubs got together to do this was the year I got race license, so I remember it well.   I know I keep saying that I’m not going to really race this year, but I had to go down for this event.  It was how I started  my racing career, it’s fitting that I take part in it this year.  As I’m not sure sure what the future holds for me with regards to racing.  I’m still having issue with my neck from the fission of the vertebrate in Nov 2014.  I still can’t turn my head as far to the right as I need to when I hang off the bike to the right, I still also don’t have the feeling back in the finger on my left hand.  It’s better for all of it, it’s just not back to where I really need it to be.  Time will tell.

There was a great turn out for the weekend. I was thrilled to see it.  I was really glad to see all the SMRI racers down at Arroyo for their first race weekend.  I’m hoping it means that a number of the ASMA racers will make the trip to Abq for the July round.  I did four races mostly just so I could get into the swing of things.  I hadn’t been on the bike since our last round in Oct.  That’s six months without being on the race bike, to jumping into the deep end of the pool.

Saturday I made sure I was ready to go for the first practice session since with the weather prediction for high winds and dust storms I was sure the day would get cut short.  I wasn’t wrong either.  However, the day was even shorter then I thought it might be due to a rider going down in the kink and the track having to close down while the ambulance transported them.  By the time the track when hot again. the winds were such that I just called it, and got undressed for the day.

Can I just reiterate now how much I LOVE having this toy hauler and how awesome it is to be able to get out of the wind and sand!!!!  Not to mention take a shower after having to stand out in that stuff talking to people.  It was great to have a place to sit around shot the breeze for a few hours, with people and watch movies before calling it a night.

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Racing the next day was great!  Everyone put on a great show, there wasn’t any undue drama, no one left in an ambulance.  In all I would call it a huge success.   I didn’t really have any races that would have to call out.  I was really pleased with how I rode.  I was thrill to have Mikey give me a tow in the first practice session and tell me latter he was impressed with my braking into the carousel turn.  I drop some time as the day went on, but could have drop even more with more practice time.  I didn’t win, but I wasn’t last either.  😀