Tag Archives: arthritis 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…


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.


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.

Day 15-16, June 24 and 25 PRUDHOE BAY!!!!!

Odometer Reading: 54,577
Mileage Today: 239 miles 
Total Miles: 5,956 miles

Day 15 (June 24, 2012)

Road from Fairbanks to Wiseman (just above Coldfoot) after stopping by the Northern Moosed RV Park and Campground to meet with Rich Welliver (owner and Arthritis Foundation contact).  Rich helped out by making arrangements for me to stay at the Wiseman Goldrush Camp in Wiseman before heading to Prudhoe Bay.  Wisemand is about 250 miles south of Deadhorse, AK (Pruhoe Bay) via the Haul Rd.  Thanks for your help Rich!

Headed north from Fairbanks about 8am and crossed the Arctic Circle about 11am that morning.  The Arctic Circle is partially defined as the place above which the sun does not set – and I can testify to this.  I am still having trouble dealing with bright sunlight at 1:00 in he morning. But, a good night’s sleep the night before hitting the road has made all the difference in the world. Felt good and the reputation of the famous Haul Road didn’t seem as intimidating.

Stopped off in Coldfoot for gas and guess who came running out of the restaurant? Roger Patterson of Areostich Tours fame!  Roger lead the tour of Patagonia that I did about 2 years ago.    For all the details on the “End of the Earth” tour, see the Patagonia Blog or check out the Patagonia video.  Roger had tried hard to talk Aerostich into sponsoring the Ride to Alaska, but I guess it kind of bucked the company policy.  If any of you riders out there has an interest in doing one of Aerostich’s tours with Roger – do it, you won’t regret it.  Roger was leading about 28 riders from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and back – they were on the return trip.  Was good to see him and we both committed to staying in touch.

Made if to Wiseman about 2pm and met Clutch Loundsbury, owner of the Wiseman Goldrush Camp.  Quite a character and heard many interesting stories over the next few hours when we ended up going back to Coldfoot for dinner.  Clutch donated the stay at his place to benefit the Juvenile Arthritis cause.

Day 16 – June 25, 2012 – Wiseman to Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse)

Well, everyone I talked to about doing the “Haul Road” on moto cautioned that gets pretty tricky only if it rains.  The calcium chloride used by the road crews to keep dust down gets really slick when wet.  Well, of course, the clear warm weather trend of the last week or so decided to change just in time for my push to Deadhorse.  It rained most of the night and temperatures dropped to about 50 degree F.  It had stopped raining by the time I actually got moving, but the damage was done – the dirt roads were wet and slick.  Very, very big space up here. Miles and miles of tundra and nobody else around, especially at 5am.  the bike danced on the gravel and slid on the wet smooth sections.  Just about the time my confidence grew, I would hit a patch and almost loose the bike – needed to be very attentive on this ride.

Passed over the Atigun Pass after about 55 miles – pretty amazing and kept the adrenaline flowing.  Not sure how steep the decent is over the other side, but couldn’t imagine doing this in winter.  This is the spot of all of the drama in the Ice Road Truckers series.  I saw evidence of past catastrophes in the damaged/missing guardrail at 5000′ ASL.  Dramatic plunges to the valley below.

Prudhoe Bay (note the ice on the Bay)

Anyway, by abut 11am, I pulled into Prudhoe Bay. Outside temperature was about 43 degrees and the wind was howling.  Impressive place – even though it is mainly industrial buildings.  As one who works in the industrial environment, I can only imagine the work it took to establish this industrial complex, all to satisfy the insatiable thirst for oil – makes you wonder…

So, I made it.  Now begins the long trek home, after a good night’s sleep and a few meals.  Heading out by 5am tomorrow.  Supposed to be about 35 degrees out.  Will be chilly for the 1st 2-3 hours.   Just hope the rain quits.  Depending on how I feel, I might just continue on the  Fairbanks – would be a 12-14 hour ride.  However, if it is warm and dry by the afternoon – I am finding the dirt/gravel road kind of fun.  Dirty though – thorough cleaning needed  – both me and the bike…

Sally Needs a Bath!

Day 13 & 14 On to Fairbanks

I know, I know…  Getting negligent about posting.

Mileage today: 404 + about 200 yesterday (exploring)


I did visit Chicken, AK yesterday, or I thought I had.  Apparently missed the town, even though I was looking for it…

I have a ton of photos from the Top of the World and just haven’t had time to sort through them all. Kind of falling apart in the organization department.  Dawson was getting a bit nuts and I was ready to head out.  Glad to be in Fairbanks on the final push of the ride.  More on tomorrow in a minute, 1st the Top of the World Highway:

View from Top of the World Highway

Gives and idea of the road… mostly gravel

A Cairn Along the way (just before the AK border)

Last night was the final night of the D2D – lots of partying and games.   There was the slowest rider contest, the slalom, the blind stopping contest and others.  I will embellish on these later, but for now a few photos:

Today I drove to Fairbanks in preparation for the run to Prudhoe Bay.  Have to admit a bit of apprehension, it’s a long way and there are lots of horror stories.  Although the weather has been very good the last few days, rain is in the forecast and that makes the Haul Road a bit of a challenge.  Apparently the calcium carbonate surface gets pretty slick when wet.  Also, there are a few spots of fresh gravel that is pretty deep – some have said axle deep.  Not a big problem when you see it and are join slow, but at any speed…  Well, my skills aren’t up to that level yet.  I will putt along at my agonizingly slow pace and get there eventually.  I did finally get reservations at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, which eliminates the need to head right back to my starting point – many have advised against trying to return inane day…

Anyway, Here is my route tomorrow through Wednesday: Fairbanks (A) to Wiseman (B) to Prudhoe Bay, then return.  I am pretty sure I will not be posting during this time, but will catch-up  when I am back in Fairbanks on Wednesday night and Thursday.  Friday to Wasilla to have the street tires mounted, Saturday to the Alaska Native Medical Center Function, then home.  I opted to cancel the engagement in North Pole (Jingle Bell Run).  I am just too tired and there are too many things pressing at home.  I really miss Andrea and Azhar and am going to push to get home quickly.

The Route to Prudhoe Bay and Back

One Day to Go; Alaska Highway Closed…

With about a day and an evening to go before departure, the frantic activity trying to line up the ducks continues…  A couple of quick items of worthy news:

Alaska Native Medical Center – July 30

With the help of the folks at the Alaska Native Medical Center, we have put together a “gathering” of riders, community, kids and families for an informal picnic on the 5th floor of the Center’s parking garage.  Some of the folks from the Center are organizing an “escort” (for lack of better term) for me coming into town and to the picnic.  The Center and the Arthritis Foundation are conspiring to leverage the event into some much-needed publicity aimed at building awareness of the Juvenile Arthritis challenge.  Some may remember the signing of the BMW’s panniers back in July of 2011 by the kids at Camp Victory.  Well, we hope to have some kids/families do the same in Anchorage on June 30th!

I am always looking for an opportunity to showcase the strength and perseverance of the kids and families who have been touched by the disease.  The kids, whether from Alaska or Allentown, all seem to share the same energy and attitude when dealing with the disease – can’t help but admire them…

Alaska Highway Closed

An excerpt from a recent forum post – here is what you are dealing with in Alaska travel:

Alaska Highway Closed

FAIRBANKS – Heavy rain in the Yukon washed out the Alaska Highway in two places Thursday night, according to the Yukon Highways and Public Works Department.

The road is closed in two places. South of Whitehorse, a mudslide and washout was reported between Junction 37 and Teslin. The highway is also closed just south of Kluane Lake between Haines Junction and Destruction Bay. 

Travelers already in Whitehorse can still reach Fairbanks via the Top of the World Highway, a detour of several hundred miles.

Sounds like fun, eh?

Hopwood School Comes Through for The Ride to Alaska!

The Hopwood School of Lansdale, PA has come through to help the kids with Juvenile Arthritis by offering to donate the proceeds from a couple of fund-raising events at the School to the Ride.  The Hopwood School and Camp provides a unique experience for kids age 2 through kindergarten on a beautiful 8 acre facility in the Lansdale area.  With a wonderful,  dedicated staff; a “farm” type country setting and crisp, well-managed programs, you couldn’t ask for any thing better for your  child – I know, my daughter attends.   During the week of June 25th it looks like there will be about 175 “campers” participating in the two events: Treadathon and Penny Wars.  I have not been involved in these fundraisers in the past, so can’t offer too much detail. Here is what I know about the fundraisers so far.

I think that the Treadathon is pretty self-explanatory as the camp has two pools for the kids to use, but the Penny Wars may need a little explanation.The idea with Penny Wars is that the 2 camp groups, Middle ages 6-8 and Upper ages 9-12, collect change in their camp group container all week. Each penny in the container is a point but any silver or dollars count as a negative amount in the amount of the coin or dollar ( a dime is -10 points, a dollar is -100 points, etc.) What happens is each camp group puts the pennies in their container and the silver and dollars in the other camp group’s container. Usually the groups with the smaller negative amount wins. The prize is a special snack like ice cream sandwiches. Sounds a bit like the beginnings of a hedge fund, but all for a good cause.

About the time that the Penny Wars are getting started at Hopwood School, I will be leaving the comfort of my dorm room at University of Alaska Fairbanks and heading north for 500 miles of dirt roads to Prudhoe Bay.  If I can find an internet connection somewhere out there, I am going to try to connect via Skype or other means to show support for the activities back in Lansdale.  Might be a long shot though.  Between the 4 hour time difference and the nearly nonexistent internet connections in that part of the world, connecting will be tough. Before I leave in about 10 days, I hope to bring the bike to the school and talk to the kids about the ride and what I am trying to accomplish.  Maybe a bit of a challenge for a 3-yr old to digest, but the kids always love the bike.

In any case, a special thanks goes out to Heidi, Mary and all of those at the school who have offered to support the Ride to Alaska through these activities.  I am sure that if they could, each one of the over 300,000 kids in the US who have been impacted by the disease would offer their heartfelt thanks as well! Now, get those pennies ready; well,  better yet, make them dollars…