Tag Archives: motorcycle trip

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….

Day 12 – Dawson City 2 of 3

Today was a very lazy day.  Took the bike out with the new tires for a 60 mile run off-road (dirt and gravel).  Performed well and I got my off-road legs back, at least a bit.  Didn’t do much else.  Below is a rough map of the route today and a view from the top.  Lots of active gold mines and was real easy to get lost out there.  Was a fun ride with just enough anxiety to keep things interesting. Actually had a little hail while riding up on the top.

Route Above Dawson City

View from the Top of the Dome

The “gathering” in Dawson City is in full swing.  Lots of bikes, riders and characters.  All are very supportive of the ride and one person came up to me and thanked me for the effort as his daughter has juvenile arthritis.  Good to know that the effort is appreciated.

However, I am sort of itching to get back on the road.  If it wasn’t for my commitment to announce the fundraiser at tomorrow’s dinner, I would probably head out and get an early start to Fairbanks.  Going to be a long ride Saturday and I can’t get my desired early start as the border crossing doesn’t open until 9am – that is mid-day for me!  It is a 11-12 hour ride which means getting into Fairbanks at 9pm and getting up to start the ride to Prudhoe Bay the next morning.  Might be tough…

New (and hopefully final) Schedule

With the recent additions to the agenda for the Ride to Alaska, I have modified the proposed schedule a bit.  Activities that have been added to the list include:

  • Stop in Fargo and/or Bismarck, ND to promote the ride and garner support for Juvenile Arthritis
  • Participation in the July 4th Parade in North Pole, AK prior to the Jingle Bell Run on July 7
  • Participation in the Jingle Bell Run (5K) on July 7 (then heading home)

As noted in a previous post, the Jingle Bell event adds a week to the trip and sort of stretches the whole thing out to a more comfortable pace.  On the other hand, I am sure I will be yearning to get home to the family.  As my wife pointed out, when I undertake these crazy excursions, I am usually ready to head home within a week or 10 days of leaving – gonna be tough to make it almost 30 days…  I have advised all involved at the Arthritis Foundation of this trait of mine and all have been very understanding of potential changes in the schedule to accommodate it.

So, here is the revised schedule for the ride.  It is pretty set for now, only to be influenced by the weather, mechanical problems or the like.  Although the schedule looks pretty easy, distances are deceiving as on many of the roads in the Yukon and Alaska, 30-35 mph is a good estimate of speed due to conditions and traffic.  The total mileage is about the same, but is sure to go up.

Contributions Break the $2,000 Mark!

Donations to Date

Although it may not seem significant considering the goal of raising $25,000 for Juvenile Arthritis, each contribution and subsequent milestone provides motivation for me. We exceeded the $2000 mark in the fund-raising this week-end and activity seems to be picking up.  We will begin a major employee matching program in a few weeks at White Wave Foods, Bridgeton, NJ and hope to see a boost from this activity.

Most of the major advertising and press will happen over the next 6 weeks and I will be pounding the pavement to bring home the corporate and commercial contributors.    All have advised that it is just too early to expect folks to step up, especially so soon after the Holidays.  I have to admit that I am touched by the generosity of folks who have contributed this early – seems like those who have the least to give, give the most. Thanks to all of you!

Motorcycling in Alaska/Alaska Photography

For those interested in the spirit of those who ride motorcycles to and in Alaska, you really should check out the ADVRIDER.com  forum – kind of a meeting place for adventurers on 2 wheels.    My favorite is the Alaska Regional forum – lots of

Jack "Alcan Rider "

information, stories and general jabbering about riding in Alaska.  My favorite contributor is Alcan Rider and his frequent posts, always well written and frequently enhanced with great photos of the Alaska countryside.  Many of Jack’s photos were used on this blog (with permission) – great stuff…  Check out Jack’s SmugMug Photos

Interestingly, the ADVRIDER site is hosted by the same folks who developed and manage smugmug.com – millions of great photos.

If you get the chance, turn off the TV, grab a beer and sit down and poke around this site with its forum and photos – pretty neat.