Category Archives: Ride Details and Fundraising

December Jingle Bell Run

About 6 months ago, I committed to running in the Jingle Bell Run in North Pole Alaska (in July) – but later reneged on my commitment after about 8,000 miles of highway and dirt had taken their toll.  The guilt of disappointing the folks in AK and the Arthritis Foundation has been haunting me and in self-retribution for my action in AK, I have signed-up for the Jingle Bell Run in Malvern on Sunday December 9, 2012.

If anyone out there still following the blog and Ride to Alaska, and has a few dollars left, please consider donating a fe bucks to the run.  My goal is a very modest (still paying for the Alaska trip) $100, and I have already put in $25.  If you click on the logo above, it will take you to the fundraising site.  Thanks in advance to those who contribute.

On another subject – while still related to the Alaska Trip – I will be doing a presentation on the Ride to Alaska for the Northampton Community College on November 14, 2010.  Kind of a continuing education series for the adult education section.  If there is any interest in attending, please drop me a note or comment below and I’ll respond with the details.  Also, if you are involved with an organization or school that might enjoy hearing all of the gory details of the trip, I am happy to make a presentation at no cost – just to continue to get the word out on Juvenile Arthritis. Drop me a note if you have an interest.

Photo Links…

All of the photos from the Ride to Alaska will be posted on Smugmug and can be reached HERE!

Check ’em out and comment if you like!

Reflections on the Trip… The final post…

After spending 26 days and nearly 12,000 miles on the road to get to Alaska and back, I thought it might be appropriate to spend a minute and reflect on the ride a little.  The dust has finally settled and after about 3 weeks, I have finally recovered from the ride – physically, mentally and readjusted to “normal” life.  I wouldn’t say that the trip was a life-changing experience, but it certainly was an accomplishment – at least for me.  Keep in mind that hundreds of riders do much more extensive and challenging rides every year with little worry.

I wish that I was more articulate in my attempts to describe the odd mix of feelings encountered during the ride.  In some sense, compared to the planning and anticipation of the ride, the execution was a bit anti-climatic.  Once the wheels began to roll down the highway, life was pretty simple… eat-sleep-ride…  On the other hand, there was definitely a dichotomy or trichotomy of goals or objectives.  Part of me wanted to keep moving and get to the next spot while part wanted to hang-out and get to know the land, people and sense of place.  Part of me yearned for companionship and fellowship, while part of my soul soared at with the solitude and single-minded simplicity of life as I faced each day.  Part of me despised the need to be in a certain place for the fundraising aspects, but that turned out to be the most fulfilling part of the ride.

In the end, my drive to complete and “succeed” or “do what I said I would do” won, in most cases.  I think I put way too much on my plate – and my nature is to clean the plate – at all cost.  Between the fundraising objectives, Prudhoe Bay objectives and the desire to see more – by the time I got where I wanted to be, I was too damned tired to do much more than recover for the next day.  A common error apparently – trying to do/see too much and ending up doing it all superficially.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a phenomenal trip; worth all the planning, physical expenditure and cost.  But, I could have spent 2 weeks on the Cassiar Highway alone – exploring, photographing and experiencing; maybe 3 weeks.  Still, the solo aspect was inspiring.

Do you remember the TV series “Then Came Bronson” – maybe 25 years ago – that’s my point of reference – has been for 20 years.  The romantic notion of traveling from place to place on a motorcycle, helping the single mother in distress, working odd jobs for gas money then traveling to the next town – what a neat life…

But…  On the other hand, I am way too connected to my life as I live it.  I missed my wife and daughter tremendously; missed the contribution that I was making (real or perceived) to my clients and their business success, and missed the comfort of familiarity – waking up knowing that there were clean socks in the drawer or weather was inconsequential to my routine. Not quite as romantic as Bronson portrayed.

Anyway, enough blathering about the ride and those deepest feelings about it.  Would I do it again, yes, but differently.  More time for nature and photography; less schedule and probably without the fundraising aspect.

Thoughts On the Bike

No worries.  Performed flawlessly.  I was a little concerned when the outside temp reached 105 degrees F and the engine sounded like hell, but later learned that the “anti-knock” program of the engine computer doesn’t work that well at high temp.  A few oil changes, a few bulbs and tires, and Sally was good to go.  12,000 miles w/o a hick-up.  She was forgiving of my ineptitude on the Dalton and all of the gravel; she went down the highway at 85 mph for 4-6 hrs without missing a beat; she even tolerated enough mud and calcium carbonate to clog her engine fins and kept on running.  No better bike to do the trip – spot-on with this choice. I should note that the overpacked panniers (BMW Stock for GSA) leaked a bit.  In fact, the left one had about 1″ of water in it after 16 hours in the heavy rain. But, that was the extent of her failings; not too bad in my book.

Thoughts on the Land

Although I can’t determine if it was the timing of the trip, lay of the land or just my energy level, British Columbia was the most impressive part of the trip.  It was the only place that I felt connected and inspired.  I can still feel the excitement when I think about the scenery of Route 39a enroute to Stewart and Hyder.  The Cassiar was breathtaking – a must do if you have the opportunity.  As for Alaska, I think that by the time that I got there, it was just a place on the map.  The Haul Rd, although impressive, would be one of the 1st things I would eliminate from the plan if time was short.  Kind of a been-there-done-that king of place.  Prudhoe Bay ?  Don’t bother… go to the Arctic Circle or Atigun Pass and turn around…

I think My future holds another visit to BC or the Yukon, maybe even Alaska.  However, I am sure it will be a few years and the itinerary will be much less structured.  Always wanted to do it with my son, Ben, but things just never came together.  But, now he has a bike and is learning how to keep the rubber on the road.  Maybe in a few years…  think I have time….

Hopwood School & Camp & Wrap-up

Today was the last “gathering” of the Ride to Alaska for Juvenile Arthritis.  I visited the Hopwood School of Lansdale, where my daughter attends day-care and camp to meet with the kids and accept a check from the proceeds of the Hopwood fundraising efforts.  The kids had lots of great questions about the ride and were intrigued  with the motorcycle (Sally) – was hard to keep them away from the hot engine of the bike.

About a month ago, the kids at the Hopwood School and Camp participated in some competitive fundraising games described in my Post of May 29, 2012.  Between the Penny Wars and the Tread-a-thon the kids raised about $850 and donated the funds to the Ride to Alaska for Juvenile Arthritis. Heidi Geverd, the school/camp director, presented me with a check for the Arthritis Foundation and the kids seemed truly excited to give to kids living with the disease.  I know that all of the kids dealing with juvenile arthritis would want me to pass along heart-felt thanks to Heidi, The Hopwood School and especially to all of the kids and families who participated in the event!

Accepting the Check from the Hopwood School

This was the last scheduled event for the Ride – and what a great way to wrap-up an unbelievable fun and rewarding experience.  The mix of adventure, physical endurance, planning and giving a little back to the community made this one of the neatest things that I have ever done – surely life-changing.

Thanks!

I know I have been negligent in acknowledging  the support I received, but 1st and foremost I need to thank my wife Andrea for supporting me in this event – living a month with a 4-yr old with no support is in itself a test of endurance…  And of course, my daughter Azhar, who never really figured out why Daddy had to ride all the way to Alaska when there are plenty of planes flying there…

The ride would never have been possible without the support of those at home and enroute- all giving without any expectation of compensation.  A special thanks to Mark in Fargo, Tom in Bismark and all the riders there, Dennis and Fite from the Team Pterodactyl in Dawson City and Anchorage, Rich and Stef in Fairbanks;  Kristin, Mark and all the folks at the Alaska Native Medical Center and the riders who joined us to ride to the picnic, and of course the Arthritis Foundation in Phila, Fargo and Anchorage.

Finally, a warm thanks to all who contributed to the ride.  I believe we are going to end up at a little over $8200 in total contributions resulting from the ride.  Some large donations may not appear on the Kintera site for administrative reasons.  I know times are tough and each dollar donated is a dollar you could have spent on yourself or family.  I am going to try to add a page listing all who contributed, so check back in a day or so.  The donation site will be open for at least another 6 months so feel free to add to the pot if you haven’t already.

The blog has had a little over 9,000 hits since the idea was conceived in July of 2011, so I think we did well in raising awareness for the kids and their challenges. Thanks for following, commenting and keeping me aware that you were all out there and watching – maybe living a bit of adventure through the ride I was doing.

Tomorrow night I will do a post on some personal reflections on the ride, the people I met and all of that.  Getting late tonight and the fingers are getting fatter each minute…

Camp Victory 2012

2011 Camp Victory Particiapants

I had the opportunity to stop by the 2012 JA Camp Victory today and make a brief presentation on the trip to Alaska.  Some readers may recall that the Journey to Alaska formally “kicked-off” at the 2011 Camp Victory with the signing of the panniers.  The presentation I made on the trip can be downloaded via this link:    Wrp-up Presentation

I am working on getting a smaller version posted in a MOV format… Stay tuned.

Was a scorcher of a day, 97 degrees out when I hit Bloomsburg today.  However, was worth it to see all the kids an folks from the Camp and who had participated last year.  I was a bit overwhelmed, not one used to a lot of gratitude for the things that I do – truly heart felt thanks from the kids and made all the trials and tribulations worth while.  I think there must have been about 150 folks in the room and all were appreciative.  Great feeling.

Next “appearance” is at the Hopwood School on Friday, then things are pretty well wrapped up.

Again, will have a summary after the Hopwood appearance this week – hopefully this week-end.

Sat – June 30 – Anchorage

I know, I know…I am going backwards here…

Because I left immediately after the picnic in Anchorage, I had no time to make an entry for one of the best days of the ride – the gathering/picnic in Anchorage!

The Anchorage “Escort”

About 10-12 riders met up at the House of Harley in Anchorage on Saturday about 2pm to show me the way to the Alaska Native Medical Center.  It was a great group of folks – a good mix of Harleys, Ducatis, BMWs and everything in between.  Some had attended the D2D earlier in the week and others were connected to the Medical Center where the picnic was to be held.

Because we had a little time to kill, the group took me on a little tour of Anchorage and Seward Highway.  I have to admit, I was not too worried about where we were going, just enjoyed the scenery for a change and followed.  We stopped off at a pull-off to enjoy the scene – king of made me wish I had spent more time in Anchorage than running up the Haul Rd.

After chatting for a bit at the stop, we headed back to the Medical Center to meet the folks there and some of the kids who would deign the bike for the trip back to Philadelphia.  We were created by 20-30 folks at the center that had everything set-up/  Grills, food, tents of shade and the works.  Was very nice.  But, the special part was meeting some of the kids and having them sign the bike.  Seems like kids always react the same to motorcycles…  A little scared but itching to sit on it to see what it feels like. Unfortunately, I don’t remember everyone’s names and by this time – my mind was a little toasted from being on the road for 3 weeks.  Anyway, kids loved it and certainly re-inspired me.  Sometimes you need to be reminded why you are doing what you are doing.

The Signing!

 

Things wrapped up about 6pm and of course, I was itching to get moving.  The group presented me with a token to remember them and a “thanks” for the ride – made from a ’76 Chevy – Very Nice!  Hanging right above my desk:

Was a great gathering and special thanks to Kristin Helvey and Chris Mandregan (of the Center) for setting all of this up.  Thanks also to the Haldane family (Mark, Sandy and Corbin) for helping in any number of ways.  Word has it that there will be a special donation to the Ride coming which should amount to $1,500 – I’ll wait to name the donor as not to put any pressure on…

The kids in Alaska have it even a little tougher than the lower 48 kids with JA.  Most of the best technical/medical help is in Seattle, an expensive plane ride away.  Many don’t have insurance that covers this trip, so the parents must come up with this out-of-pocket or just wait for treatment – tough call.  Things are getting better though.  A camp for kids is coming up in a few weeks – the 1st one.  I can only hope that the kind of attention that I may have garnered speeds this process along a bit.

Wrap-up

Looks like I have two more scheduled events related to the ride, then will be wrapping things up.  On July 17, I will be visiting the kids at Camp Victory to recap the Ride, then on July 20, I am meeting the kids at Hopwood camp to talk about the ride.

In closing – was an inspiring event.  Can’t wait to share this with the  kids at Camp Victory in a few weeks – I am sure they will think it was “awesome.”

I will do one final blog entry after all of this with some reflections on the trip, the best parts, what I would change and the perceived impact n me,and those who participated.  For now, I am going to nurse my tired and sore body back to its pre-ride condition, contemplate the previous 4 weeks a bit and maybe have a beer or two in a self-toast to another once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Home! Thursday, July 5, 4pm

Mileage Today (and Yesterday): 1,822 miles (36 hrs)
Odometer Stop: 39,884 miles
Odometer Start: 28,621 miles
Total Distance: 11,263 miles
Miscellaneous Info: 2 oil changes, 1 air filter, 2 sets tires, 1 headlight bulb – no mechanical issues
Funds raised:  Just over $10,000 – exact count  pending
 

Weyburn, SK – Home

I will be doing some post-dated posts on the activities of the last few days in Alaska, but for now, just letting everyone know I am safely home.

After getting stranded in Weyburn, SK by my 3rd set of violent T-storms, I decided to push for home at 4am on Tuesday morning.  I was trying to time it so that I made it through Chicago about midnight or later to miss the traffic – WRONG!!!!

I forgot that it was the 4th of July and hit Chicago about midnight – 4-5 lanes of traffic all night long.  I had left Weyburn about 4am, so had been on the bike for nearly 22 hrs when I hit this mess.  I was not a happy camper to say the least. Man, and I thought Philadelphia traffic and drivers were bad! Then there were the construction delays…  more later.

Anyway,  was finally on the PA turnpike about 2 pm on Thursday cruising about 80 mph, when I caught sight of a couple of crazy people waving and jumping around on the side of the road!  It was my sister, Georgia and her partner Ron with their own version of “Welcome Home.”  What a surprise!  I have to admit being fairly delirious by this time after almost 34 hrs of straight driving, but a welcome sight! Thanks Guys!

Writing this from home and will update the blog later this week-end so check back.  Epic journey to say the least.