Tag Archives: Photo Gear

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!


Packing for the ride… 2 weeks until departure

The time is here to shift from writing, planning and fundraising  to the ride and beginning the technical preparation.  All of the necessary gear for 34 days/14,000 miles on the road is here – next the packing.

Because I intend to camp as often as possible, with hotel stays only every 3rd or 4th night, a bit more gear is necessary to brave the elements.  Tent, sleeping bag, pad, cooking gear, food and similar equipment is necessary as well as a place to store all the stuff on the motorcycle.  To this load, add the myriad  of parts and tools that allow the rider to be self-sufficient in terms of  emergency repair and maintenance for the ride, and you have quite a bit to carry.  Maybe after the 3rd or 4th solo trip the list of gear would get a little smaller, but for my 1st solo ride, when in doubt I am bringing it along.

So, what does all the gear look like prior to loading?  Take a look below to see. This picture shows all of the stuff that I am taking with me, including the riding gear and helmet.  Think it will all fit?

Well, the picture below shows the bike with all of the gear loaded and ready to go.   This exercise is kind of critical to complete prior to the ride.  I was hoping to have the top box empty for the ride to use the space for food, quick storage access and the like, but I had to use it to get all of the gear on.  For those nights where a hotel  is available, I only have to grab the duffel and the rest of the gear stays in place.  For nights spent in the tent, a good bit of the gear needs to be unloaded and used.

I am sure there will be some last minute incidentals that I will add, but I should be in pretty good shape.  I am guessing that the bike and gear weigh a little over 650 lbs – but the bike handles well at this weight and has no trouble handling the highway – very comfortable.  The electronic suspension compensates well for the increased load.

For those interest in the details of the packing, I have included my packing checklist in pdf form HERE.

The next 2 weeks seem to be crammed with activities related to the ride, securing my consulting practice  while I am gone and of course, connecting with the family that I will be separate for about a month.  Will be harder than I originally thought…  As for blog posts, they might be a bit succinct over the next few weeks, until the ride starts.  Just not enough hours in the day.

Funding Approaches $4,000! $200 more!

As the departure date approaches, the donations appear to be increasing a bit.  We are still a long way from the $25,000 goal, but donations are coming in from all over the country including South Carolina, Michigan, Georgia and Alaska.  Slightly more than $200 in donations will get the total to $4,000, so, come on folks – get out those checkbooks and credit cards!  I still have hopes for a rush of donations during the ride with all of the radio, TV and other publicity.  My next fundraising event till be at Hermy’s BMW in Port Clinton, PA where we will have a table at the upcoming Spring Open House Saturday, May 19th, 9am-4pm. Stop in and say hello!

With about a month to go until take-off, my focus is going to be less toward fundraising and more the planning of the trip itself.  The route is pretty well set, but will be weather dependent.  I have formal commitments in Fargo and Bismarck, ND, Anchorage, Fairbanks and North Pole, AK; but, other than those, the schedule is pretty open.  I do have a few folks that I would like to see in Missoula, MT; Calgary, AB and Houston, BC; but those visits will depend on timing and ride progress.  Just hoping that folks won’t be offended if I don’t stop if timing just isn’t right or I am behind schedule.

Still have a bunch of minor unresolved issues including:

  1. Riding Clothes – BMW vs. Aerostich Riding Suit? After my last 12 hr ride in heavy rain, my opinion of the Aerostich suit that I have come to rely on dropped down a few notches.  I got pretty wet and cold – although admittedly, I wasn’t well protected with the helmet shield up.  Haven’t tested the BMW Rallye Suit in heavy rain, but might be the way to go..
  2. Electronics – Still need to work out some bugs in keeping all the electronic gear charged and functional.  More of an entertainment issue than technical, but hopefully the folks at Powerlet will help me out.  Need to keep the iPhone charged for music and communications!
  3. Photo Gear – As I have mentioned in previous posts, capturing some of the scenery in high quality digital files is one of the 2ndary or tertiary goals of the ride (adventure, fundraising, photography).  I have been working with Owen Biddle of Lansdowne, PA over the last few months to hone the image capturing skills for this trip of a lifetime.  To do it right, lots of gear is needed and I need to be sure to have it accessible, yet  protected – two diametrically opposed objectives…  Once I get this all sorted – I’ll update the list of photo equipment in the “Gear” page of the blog.  If you are looking to develop some skills in this area, I strongly suggest contacting Owen for  some one-on-one time, no matter what your level.


  4. Loading the Bike –  I still haven’t optimized the loading of the bike, although whatever I come up with will probably change as the trip gets underway.  As usual, I am taking too much stuff and may well send much of it home from the road.  Between the camping gear and the emergency maintenance stuff, seems Sally (as my daughter has named the bike) is pretty well to capacity…
  5. Helmet/Hearing Protection/Entertainment – This is not a major issue, but I still have not finalized the “system” for all of these issues.  Good hearing protection is critical for safety and comfort, but sort of eliminates the ability to have music in the helmet durring the ride.  Have tried a number of different systems, none seem to address all of the concerns.  I originally thought that the Schuberth helmet was the way to go, but, as mentioned in previous posts, not too thrilled with its performance on the last few rides.
  6. Phone cards, bear spray/bangers, cash, SOPT GPS site, GPS routes, maps, etc… are all issues that may or may not get resolved before the ride, but can be handled on the way – when needed.
  7. Work – My small environmental engineering company, TSD Environomics, Inc. allows me lots of freedom to pursue things like this ride.  However, the basis of this freedom is the understanding of most of my clients who are more or less involved in the ride and support it.  Technology allows me to coordinate from the road and short of a  few face-to-face visits, most work will continue without interruption.

Equipment for the Ride – Wolfman and Photo Gear Protection

The last couple of posts that I made dealt with the arthritis side of the ride: healthy eating, research, etc…  For those more interested in the mechanics of the ride itself, the next coupe of posts will deal with some of the equipment that will get me from Philadelphia to Prudhoe Bay and back, and all of the places in between.

Wolfman Luggage

Wolfman Luggage was kind enough to provide a couple of pieces of luggage as a supporter of the Journey to Alaska at no charge.  As part of the arrangement, I told the folks at Wolfman I would give them some feedback on the pieces supplied (both before and after the ride).    The first piece added was the Rainier Tank Bag – a medium sized bag for holding all of those miscellaneous items that the rider wants readily available on the road.  Admittedly, I have only had the bag on the bike for a couple of thousand miles of commuting – not much of a test…

Rainier Tank Bag

In my case, as an avid, amateur photographer, much of the non-riding time on the trip will be spent trying to do the Yukon/Alaskan landscape justice via digital images.  I want the DSLR camera readily available for those once-in-a-lfetime shots I hope to encounter.  The Rainier Tank Bag fits this bill perfectly.  If I choose to just carry the camera and a few accessories , I will keep the bag in its compact mode.  On the other hand, if it is jammed with other stuff, I can simply unzip the expansion zipper and add another 3″ to the bag.

Rainier Tankbag with Minicell foam

One thing that I learned in my previous riding in Patagonia, without some sort of vibration insulation the camera can take quite a beating as it is jostled around in the tank bag. To prevent this, I cut a piece of 1/4″ mini cell foam and inserted it into the bag to reduce vibration.  Even with the full DSLR camera and a few other items, there is still plenty of room in the bag. Nothing sophisticated here, just a layer to adsorb the vibration.  I’ll probably end up adding some additional foam to the sides as well.

The Rainier Tankbag is defiantly robust and well made.  The 4-point harness to the bike is solid and strong.  I especially like the additional side pockets, as much of the main compartment will be filled with the camera.  The Rainier is chock full of well thought out features and I recommend it highly.  The only negative I have encountered with the bag (getting very picky here)  is also one of its positives as well, the heavy zipper system.  The way that the zippers are constructed, with a heavy fiber covering the zipper, I have a tough time opening the bag with one hand (while riding).  The heavy-duty zipper binds with the overlapping fabric and makes opening difficult. I am guessing that this issue will resolve itself with a little use – not sure what purpose the protective flap serves as the bag is not waterproof…

Before leavening the subject of camera storage, I should mention that the main method of photo equipment storage is actually a Pelican Case mounted directly to a Touratech Seat Replacement Rack.  Seems to work well and camera is accessible at any time.  This system allows the removal of the case with a key for transport (with the rack) to a hotel room or other sheltered place.

Tomorrow I’ll continue the equipment review with a summary of the Wolfman Ridgeline Bag.