Tag Archives: Alaska Ride

Trip Presentations Made – Northampton Community College and Buck Ridge Ski Club

Had the opportunity to make a presentation on the trip to Alaska to both the Northampton Community College and to the Buck Ridge Ski Club this week. I have attached a “movie” version of the presentation for anyone interested.

If you are connected with an organization and/or group that might be interested in seeing the presentation, I’d be happy to do it for you.  No cost, just furthering the cause.

Final throws of the fundraising through the Jingle Bell Run in Malvern, PA in a few weeks.  If you have a notion to contribute, I will probably keep the fundraising site active until the end of the year, the its to the mothballs for it…


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.


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…

Day 17 and 18 – Prudhoe Bay back to Fairbanks


Odometer: 35,109 miles
Miles today: 532 miles
Total Miles: 6,488 miles

Alaska Pipeline

Yesterday I left Prudhoe Bay about 5am intending to make it back to Wiseman to stay for the night, then on to Fairbanks on Wednesday.  The day started with its challenges.  Temperature was 36 degrees with heavy fog.  In fact, once I got started on the Haul Rd south, I couldn’t see more than about 50 yds in front of me for almost 25 miles.  A bit scary when you see the truck headlights appear out of the fog and in the center of the road… Oh well, builds character.

Haul Road Climbing Thru Atigun Pass

I was determined to get some pictures on the way down, as I took none on the way up.  By the time I got to Atigun Pass, the weather had pretty well cleared and the sun was actually shining.  The pass rises through the Brooks Range to about 4,700 feet via a very steep climb.  The pictures I took do not portray the rugged nature of the mountains here.  As I mentioned before, in several spots the guard rail was missing, indicating an accident of some type.  Apparently an area of frequent avalanches in the winter.  Ice Road Truckers and all…

The bike had no problem with the pass, easy climb – not so much for the rider  on the other side though.  I really didn’t like going downhill in that loose gravel and wet Calcium Carbonate.   Just waiting for the rear to start sliding – guess that’s an impossibility with the traction control.

The ride was becoming very pleasant – but the mosquitos smelled fresh meat – aggressive little buggers…  All of the photos were pretty rushed because of the blood suckers. Within 30 seconds of stopping,  hundreds would be buzzing around my face.  Always kept the helmet on until just before taking the picture.

Another Moose

Muskox Along the Haul Rd

I got a good shot of this guy munching on flowers next to an access road.  He wasn’t too worried about me, but he knew I was there.  The muskox gets its name from the smell emitted from male to attract females during mating season.  These guys are survivors of the ice age – the sure look prehistoric.

I had to do one self portrait proving my presence along the Haul Rd.  This was shot about 9am and the weather was truly spectacular.  I was having thoughts about continuing all the way to Fairbanks – was just having a good time.  By now, the gravel didn’t bother me too much and the roads were dry, making very good time except fro stopping for the photos.  Got to Wiseman about 11am and stopped in to see Clutch at the Gold Rush Camp.  Spent a few minutes chatting, then headed back on the road.  For a couple of hours the weather held, then it went bad – really bad.  Cold and raining for 4 hours back to Fairbanks.

It is hard to describe the character of the Haul Road when it goes from dry to wet.   The dust is gone, but replaced with the sloppy, slippery muddy mess that coats everything.  You can see the clouds building here and the road surface – I didn’t stop to take any shits of the wet stuff – too busy staying right-side-up.

Anyway, got back to Fairbanks – to Rich and Steph’s place – about 7:30pm – over 14 hours on the road.  I was cold and wet and Rich graciously offed to have me stay with them rather than finding a hotel.  I picked up a terrible cold along the way and had a miserable night fending off a sinus infection – my telltale symptom of exhaustion.

The next day I spent 48 quarters at the car wash trying to clean Sally up a bit.  I got most of the slim off, but I think the Haul Road dirt will be showing up in the oddest places over the next few years.

Tomorrow is an easy day – probably change the oil, filter and some other maintenance  and get ready to head home.  One more stop to Anchorage then back to PA!

What is the D2D in Dawson City? A bit of History

My sister, Terry, recently commented on the “cool” nature of the D2D Non-rally. Participants and organizers make sure to emphasize that “this is not a f#@* rally” – in contrast to the many organized rallies that many riders dispose (yours truly included).  For the sake of those not yet familiar with the story, I have reposted it here.  This is a direct copy from the ADVRIDER.COM site by a guy named “Fighter” , who I expect to meet tonight…  This was kind of one of my motives for coming to Alaska now – hoping to get some of these riders drunk and have them sign some checks for the Arthritis Foundation! But really, I was very attracted to this type of free-form gathering – promises to be a blast!

So far I have met riders from W.Va, Oregon, Washington, MD, NV, AZ, CA – all heading to the D2D gathering.

Here it is:

2010 D2D Riders – from ADV Riders

This year marks the 20th consecutive year riders have trekked to Dawson City, Yukon Territory to gather for two days of camaraderie, friendship and good times. This is where you sign-up; do not use this thread to ask questions, make comments or whine about how you would be coming if only…. this thread is just for signing-up, there is another thread for questions, comments and unbelievable snivels. First a little background about D2D…….

D2D History as per Fighter:

Ca$h Register, along with Jim Coleman and myself are the original founders of the Dust To Dawson (D2D) “gathering” back in 1992. It was hatched over a few beers in the Dawson’s Midnight Sun where we first met.

A little pre-history
In Spring of 1990 the Alaska Last Frontier BMW Club here in Alaska receive a letter from an Oklahoma rider by the name Ca$h Register. In that letter Ca$h related this story:

Ca$h and his long time riding buddy Jim had planned a mega-trip to Alaska for 1990 and were going to attend our little local rally. They had pre-paid their entry fee and about a month prior to lift-off Ca$h collapsed in a restaurant. Heart attack.
Jim was with him at the time and tried in vain to resuscitate his best friend. Paramedics on the scene weren’t having much luck either. At Jim’s insistence they hit the go button on the paddles a third time and Ca$h’s heart lit back up. Obviously their much anticipated trip to the North was on hold. OBTW, to this day… Ca$h’s business cards include the phrase “You only live twice” Our local club, upon reading that tearful letter and hearing the story, sent a refund to Ca$h and Jim and included for each of them a club license plate frame.

Fast forward to June of 1992.
I was on a solo run to Dawson City, YT and saw two well decked out PD’s parked in front of the Midnight Sun. The Oklahoma plates with the LFMC frames caught my attention immediately. It didn’t take me long to determine who owned those two GS’s. Ca$h and Jim had finally made it to the North country after an extensive rehab. Doctors to this day are at loss to medically explain what had happened.
I introduced myself to these two holligans and another chapter or two was written.

That evening over a few adult beverages the three of us hatched a plan to tackle the Dempster and try to make the 500 mile run to Inuvik. The road had been closed for several days due to high water on the Peel River. Lack of gas at Eagle Plain was most definitely our main issue. We waited a day or two for the road to re-open and made our break. The three of us had a wonderful ride. I remember Ca$h standing on his head at the Arctic Circle. It was his 60th birthday. Both Ca$h and Jim were excellent riders as I later substantiated on my visit to Ca$h’s hometown of Dill City, Oklahoma… the summer after we all met. Two walls of Cash’s shop were smothered with trophies and plaques that both of them had earned.

Jim’s life was tragically cut short on Halloween eve 1994 while returning home from Cash’s place…… his R100GS was no match for the Suburban.

On the original 1992 Alaska trip Jim and Ca$h had taken a side trip to Eagle and both were so taken by the beauty and solitude that they made a pact with each other. The deal was struck that when either of them died, the survivor would return to the North Country with the remains of the fallen. A year later Ca$h gave me a call from Whitehorse.

“Fite… I’m on my way! Got Jim with me in the tank bag. We were doin’ a hundred on the Casiar and Jim was laughing his head off”.

I will never forget that call, nor the one I had received on the previous Halloween night.

Ca$h was retracing the exact route the two of them had taken in ’92. He camped in the same places, hit the same cafes, took pictures from the same vantage points. Had a beer at the “Sun”. Jim’s final ride with his life-long riding partner Ca$h was just as it was the first time they came north.

Ca$h (with Jim in the tank bag) rounded a hard right hander about 10 miles south of Eagle and there on that windswept mountainside stood a single tree. The anemic looking black spruce, that had survived a myriad of brutal winters, stood tall against all odds. The view was spectacular. Ca$h later told me that when he rounded that right-hander, thoughts of Jim were so vivid that Ca$h began to weep uncontrollably. The thoughts of his lost riding partner were so intense… and the pain so near…. he could barely keep his PD upright. It was on that lonely road with its breath-taking view and scrawny tree that Ca$h said his final good-byes to Jim Coleman. An emotional two man private ceremony gave way to the Jim’s final send off and a plaque being posted on the tree. Ca$h turned around and headed back to Dill City.

For many of us it has been a long time D2D tradition to make a side trip into Eagle, Alaska (on our way to/from Dawson City) and to stop at Jim’s Tree. We do it for Jim AND Ca$h. You can see in the photos where a brush fire has swept through the area. That fire, along with brutal weather conditions wouldn’t dare “mess around with Jim” The tree has been visited and annointed by many of us and the memories of both Jim and Ca$h are alive and well. It is my hope as “keeper of the Tree”…. that the tradition continues.

For additional history go to: Jim’s Tree

Carry On.

General info about D2D per AKRider:

Here’s how it works. You get on your bike from wherever you are. You plot your own course to Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. Join some friends along the way, or make new ones. Arrive in Dawson. Dosen’t matter where you stay or if you camp you will find moto friends everywhere, just make a new friend or two. Remember it’s notta rally.

The Downtown Hotel is the center of all the action. Meet our local host “The Dick”, that alone is worth the price of admission. Speaking of admission-there is no registration fee. Just remember you get what you pay for. Just don’t call it a rally.

There are a few events you just don’t want to miss:

Friday at Noon sign up for the Poker run. Ten bucks (american) gets you in.
Besides the opportunity to win half of the total collected (the other half goes to a local charity) you get to ride 60 miles of the famous 1898 gold fields. Adventure riders everywhere would pay twice that much just to listen to your stories when you get home.

Purchase a ticket for the biker banquet. Steak dinner, cash bar and door prizes out the wazzoo. It is held in the Palace Grand theater. Right out of the 1890’s. Trust me, it has all the beauty and charm of the period. And-you can’t get inside any other time, it’s that special.

After the banquet take to street to either compete or just watch the
Biker Games. Remember it’s a gathering not a rally so the games are just a little different. But still a true test of skill, and humor. (that means we laugh at you when you crash). Great prizes to all the event winners and the top tree overall. And since we dont call this a rally, the entry is free.

Hang out, with your bike, in front of the Downtown hotel until midnight. It’s still 80 degrees and daylight. At the stroke of 12, or somewhere around there we Post the Bikes. Get your Dust to Dawson fender sticker for your bike. Wear it proudly. You have to be present to receive this FREE gift. It may not be a rally but we sure give alot of shit away FREE. Ever get anything free at Daytona, Sturgis, Americade etc.-Hell no.

This is a gathering, not a Rally

Ok not everything is FREE. You have to purchase a D2D t-shirt, your entry into the Poker Run, the official D2D Decal, (no pannier is compete without one), and the Banquet.

Besides meeting Dawson Dick there is alot to do in Dawson——

Ride up to the Dome
Taste the sour toe cocktail (only at the Downtown Hotel)
Gamble away your child support payment at Diamond Tooth Gurties.
Visit the Dredge. (take the tour it’s worth the $)
Take a walk in the 1800’s grave yard.
Visit the Robert Service Cabin.
Take a walking tour of the town.
Spend an hour or two in the Museum.
Check out the paddle wheeler.
Throw rocks into the Yukon.
Go skinny dipping in the Yukon.
Meet “Fighter” the Founder of the D2D. (the original name was the Over The Top Hop but D2D fit on the t-shirt better)
Or just stand around on the board walk and BS with other ADV riders. After all this ain’t nor F###### rally so have fun.