Alaska bound


Friday, June 30, 2006


I writing this from a motel room in beautiful Miles City Montana. Let me tell you about the trip thus far. We left Bob's house at about 7AM on Thursday, June 29......Bob lives in Western Massachusetts so it seemed like a good idea to head out through upstate New York to Pa and on out west. Sounds easy, except for some major flooding in and around Binghamton NY. Route 88 and Rt 90 (NY State Throughway) were shut down. It took us most of three hours to figure a way west as all the secondary roads were also closed........Once we accomplished that we hit a major traffic jam on the border of NY and PA. An accident that took the life of a fellow driving a new Hummer required Med Flight and created a thirty mile back up and a wait of over an hour. At this point we are over four hours behind schedule so we decided to drive straight through the night, taking four hour turns behind the wheel while the other one slept. We hit more major traffic in Chicago at 1:30 AM and lost another hour. We have spent 36 hours straight in the truck! And we have another ten to twelve tomorrow to get to my friends house in Polson MT.........But we are having a ball. This afternoon we took back roads through Wyoming and Montana to look for animals..........saw tons of Antelop, and a few mule deer.

The plan is to be on the bikes and on the road first thing Monday AM.............Later

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Are We There Yet!!!

Here it is, the night before we leave..........I can't stand it. I have tons of work to do at Tweeter, yet I can't wait to get on the road. I love road trips! Nothing like seeing new things, eating in new places and just being out on the road. I missed my calling. I should buy a big rig and long haul for a living!

Everything is packed..." A place for everything, and everything in it's place".....The bike is ready, and as soon as I finish my budgets at work and take in one more meeting tomorrow, we're on the road. I'm going to spend the night at Bob's house in Western Mass and get a good start early Thursday AM...........

Something that I hadn't really thought about, is that we will be traveling up through Canada during the 4th of July holiday.......Now I know it isn't a holiday in Canada, but I hope we don't have a difficult time getting camping sites during this coming week......We'll see.

So that's it...wish us luck. The next report will come from the road!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What's in that Pelican Case?

Folks are asking what I'm taking for photographic equipment and how I'm transporting it......I mounted a 100% waterproof, extremely heavy duty Pelican case to the rear luggage rack with a Touratech quick detach mount system.......It's the balls!
In this case I have a Nikon D70 Digital SLR, a second telephoto lens, A Sony Digital Video camera, a bunch of battery chargers that run off 12V to charge batteries for both cameras and flasklights, 16 rechargable AA batteries, various cords to download from the cameras and a couple of CDs to download the programs for the cameras if need be............All veryy safe in the Pelican Case....

Bob's been packing too!

I just got an email from Bob............He's been playing the "packing game" also.........
Here's his email to me..

"Roy, Here is the first dry run on the packing.
Tank bag: camera, bug juice, knife, rope, shield cleaning stuff, small sundries Left bag: tools, gloves, rags, spare parts, fly rod (on top) Right bag: clothing, poncho, roll of tp Top full opening duffel: tent, sleeping bag, kermit chair, pillow, thermarest Top end opening duffel: second jacket, electric vest. This bag is just to keep these items clean, and also to serve as auxillary storage in case I splurge on some antlers or bear claws etc.
What do you think? Note that the gas can will go under the rear duffel and will serve to locate the bag a bit better. May need to alter the strapping method a bit."

Pack - Unpack - Pack - Unpack - Pack...............That's what I did for a couple hours this afternoon..........And I still don't have it where it "feels right"......But I'm getting close! I was able to pare down some clothing so I could use my medium size RED Orlib bag instead of the Jumbo size yellow one. This allows me to access the locks on the tops of the side painers easily. And it created just a little bit of space over on the right side for the auxilary fuel can that will be needed on the Haul Road up to the Artic.

I also rearranged the Pelican case on the rear rack so I can access all my photo gear very easily. Off the bike, open case, grab camera, take a picture, put camera back, close case, get away from the bear I just took a picture of all in about 20 seconds!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

My Grandson's "Ride"

I have a 1.5 year old grandson, Reece (One of my Daughter Claudia's two kids and my son Ryan has two more....Damn that makes me feel old just writting that!)......Anyhow.....Reece is a complete motorcycle NUT! He will come out into the garage with me and sit on one of the bikes for hours if I let him. The other day I was over my son Ryan's house and I was watching the AMA Superbike races on Speed Channel, Reece stood at complete attention infront of the TV and watched just about the entire race! This is a kid that shows no interest in TV. He rarely watches "Barney" or "Tommy Train" or other kids programs....But when ever a motorcycle is on TV...There he is, totally enthralled........The other day I saw this little red motorcycle at the store and just had to buy it for him. You should have seen his face when I brought it into the house!
Having your Kids (and now grandkids) ride is always a delemma for me. Although there is almost nothing on this planet I would rather do that ride a motorcycle, I fear for my kids that ride. My daughter Angela was the first one to take riding seriously. She attended the Motorcycle Safety Foundation training and got her license, progressed up through three bikes, did a bunch of riding and toured one or twice with me. She always wore the gear and was (is) one of the best motorcycle riders I ever had the pleasure of riding with. Although currently she doesn't have a bike, I was always concerned for her safety when she was riding.
Ryan rode for a bit. At one point he had a Ducati 996 "death machine" and as much as I tried to get him to wear the gear, he is a confirmed "squid"........What can you do.........Al least he wears a helmet.......and recently he has been know to wear a Joe Rocket jacket......
My son-in-law Mike has come a long way in his riding. He started out on a Honda 600Fi "crotch rocket", but found that bike very uncomfortable and decided to adopt the Harley lifestyle. Thank God that only lasted about a year. Beenie helmet, sleeveless shirts, sneakers......a recipe for disaster! Now that Mike and my Daughter have two children, he's approaching his riding in a whole new way...Sold the Harley and bought a Honda VFR 800 Sport Touring motorcycle. Fantastic bike! He's outfitted it for serious touring and bought all the gear....Boots, full helmet, fully armored pants and jacket...........His riding skills have improved measurable, but most of that might have been that Harley........We took our first long camping tour last weekend and I think I can say Mike had a good time......It was so much fun riding with him up on some great curvy roads we found in New Hamshire, and camping out at night.....He was a bit sore after 450 miles, but he'll get used to it. I told him long distance riding uses mucles you don't usually use, it takes a while to work them in..............I can wait to get back from the trip and do some touring with him......if he can get a pass from my daughter :-)


So here it is, Saturday....Five days before we leave on our "Epic Journey".........I just can't take the waiting! I sometimes think the best part of these tours I take is the preparation. I love selecting gear, working on the bike, figuring out the packing, the maps, the milage calculations, etc, etc.... But you have to remember, I did this all last year.............And two weeks before we were to leave..........BANG!, I'm on the ground. When that accident happened all I could think of as I was flying through the air was 'Oh Sh-t, this is going to screw up the trip!"....We'll that was actually the second thing....The first thing was "This is gonna leave a mark!"........In any event, that cancelled that trip..............I told Bob to go on without me, but he said "No Way!"....We planned this trip together and we'll do it together.......period!" That's a good friend.....
Folks ask if the accident had any effect on my riding. Was I nervous about getting back in the saddle? As strange as it might sound, I never had the least bit of trepidation (is that the right use of that word?)....Although sometimes I close my eyes when I go through the intersection where it happened..:-)
But I can tell you that I haven't ridden a motorcycle in a week............I was going to take it to work the other day, but at the last moment I decided not to jinks it...and took the car. What can I say.....I'm superstitious!
Today I'll change the oil in the bike and that will be the final preparation.........We'll be good to go on Wednesday......

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My mistake!

Well, when Bob sent me his little blurb about his bike, I though that loverly young lady was some kind of movie star, who just happened to be lounging on a BMW R1200GS, just like Bob's. It turns out she is Bob's son's girlfriend Naomi. Both Bob's son and Naomi are professional cheerleaders. How else do you think you stay in that shape!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Let's meet Bob....

I asked my riding buddy to send me a couple of pictures of his bike "fully loaded" for the trip......and here's what he sent me.........

If you knew Bob you'd know how out of character this really is..........that's why it cracked me up.

Bob' is a great guy.......He's a scientist, a husband, father and business owner. Can speak informed on just about any subject and is extremely good company. One heck of a motorcycle rider....and as his nick name implied..."He ain't stopp'in!"

Here's what he sent me for a Bio...

"I'm Bob Hadden, aka Bob Ain't Stoppin'. That name was given to me by a very dear friend, and I treasure it, but I'm not any sort of an iron butt. Like to ride, though, and stoppin' ain't part of the picture.
My only qualification for this journey is that Roy needs someone to help pick the bike up if he falls over. So do I, and we're going to make a good team. I'll be following Roy all over the place and take a pile of pictures. Don't know if many will make it to the Blog, but we'll make sure to post the good stuff right here first!
I'm from Hinsdale, MA in the western part of the state, so the start of our trip will be from my house. The first leg is via GMC express to Montana. We want to start the riding right in the good stuff, so Montana is our starting point on the bikes. Right by Glacier National Park.
I'll be riding a 2005 BMW R1200GS. It's quite stock. All the fun stuff is on Roy's bike. I ride for the 'get away from it all' aspect, so no radio, radar, gps etc. for me. There are a couple of things though. A Bill Mayer saddle raises the comfort level slightly over stock, there's a bicycle computer for digital speedo and trip meter"
So, that is a picture of Bob's bike with his son's girlfriend Naomi, (a professional cheerleader) making it look that much better..................!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Here's something interesting.....

Here's a couple of guys that have just completed the exact same trip Bob and I are embarking on, with the same motorcycles we will be taking..........After you look at his travel log you will see what kind of adventure we are getting ourselves in for!

Check out his travel-log here...

Shake Down Cruise.....

This weekend I loaded the bike up with everything I will be taking to Alaska and went on a 450 "ride" up through New Hampshire to test out the equipment and to see how the bike responded to carrying that load. The bike and the gear worked flawlessly! We're ready.....

My buddies that I was riding with told me they were having a hard time seeing my rear directional lights so upon arriving home I swapped them out for another set I had lying around that came off one of my other bikes. These lights are about 50% larger and much brighter. It's interesting to note that my friends were almost always behind me so they had lots of time to look at my "rear" directional lights...:-)

I made up a check list of items I'm taking with me. If I don't write it down, you can bet dollars to donuts I'd forget it!

Alaska Trip Packing List:

6 Wicking T Shirts
2 Pairs Jeans
6 pair wicking undershorts
12 pair wicking socks
1 polar fleece sweater
1 long johns
1 Hat
1 Bug Net Hat
Camp Shoes
Bathing Suit
Electric Jacket
Jacket Cord

Ground Cloth
Sleep Pad
Sleeping Bag
Collapsible pillow
Wash Cloth
Toilet Bag
Unscented Soap
Unscented deodorant
Unscented toothpaste
Hair brush
Coffee Cup
Cook Pan
Portable Radio
Collapsible Cooler (optional)

Tire Repair Kit
Tire Irons
Tool Kit
First Aid Kit
Motorcycle Cover
Various Nuts and Bolts
Wire Ties
Duct Tape
Multi Tool
Face Shield cleaner
Security Cable
Gas Cans
Rope (25’)

Three season Jacket
Air Pants
Over Pants Rain Pants
Riding Boots
Air Gloves
Three Season Gloves
Extra Face Shield (optional)

Extra Eye Glasses
Sun Glasses
Ear Plugs
Canada Insurance Certificate
Drivers License
Medical Cards (Med Jet & BCBS)
Various Credit Cards
AAA Card
Point and shoot camera
Nikon D70 SLR / Lens
Movie Camera
Fishing gear (two sets)
Cell Phone
Cell Phone Cord
Lap Top
Lap Top Cord
Battery charger (AA Rechargeable)
Alaska Books
Toilet Paper

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Getting Ready...

Did a bunch of work on the bike yesterday. Raining all day so it was a great way to spend the day. Changed spark plugs, replaced the front brake pads with a set of EBC Sintered pads. Why not have race bike pads on a bike that barely clears 100 mph...

I added more storage to the bike. That exhaust can on the left side is really not a second muffler. It's a storage compartment, The cap twists off and a bunch of tools reside inside. I also added a small Pelican waterproof case to the rear fender and relocated the license plate and light to the box. I have a small air compressor and tire repair stuff in there.

You can also see the auxiliary fuel cans I've mounted under the painers. I machined a couple of brackets and used marine grade stainless steel hose clamps to keep them in place. I had these mounted on my past touring bike and they came in handy a time or two. I'll also be using them for fuel for the cook stove.

The picture on the left shows what I'll be looking at for five weeks! From top to bottom....The little square thingy is the antenna for the Sirius satellite radio. Next down is a Garmin 2720 GPS unit. Under that is a Passport 8500 Radar Detector. Next, just below the gages is an electronic termometer. It reads temperature just above the front fender and in the cockpit. At times the air temperature can be 80 degrees but sitting in traffic the cockpit temperature can climb to well over 100.

Down from there is the Sirius radio receiver which resides in a waterproof Pelican case. In the same case, next to the receiver is an "Amplirider" headphone amplifier. This along with a set of Koss Earbuds allows me to listen to Sat Radio and have the radar detector or the GPS unit break in whenever they have something to say. Pretty neat!

A few more things to do and the bike will be ready.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Bike....

The motorcycle that I'll be using for this trip is a 2004 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. This bike was purchased used from a Doctor down in Memphis Tenn. I bought it while on a cross country trip that I was taking with my youngest son Seth in 2004. After paying for the bike, I rode it to my friends house in southern Missouri and continued on to California via Rt66 with my son. Upon returning home, I then flew to Missouri and spent two weeks riding the V Strom back home. That was a great trip through Kentucky, Tennesse, W.Virginia, Virginia Maryland and due north. But that's another story....

The V Strom was chosen for many reasons. It's relativily inexpensive, gets great gas milage (60 mpg), is as reliable as tomorrow, easy to work on and being an "Adventure Bike", it can be used on highways and on unimproved dirt roads which we will encounter in Canada and Alaska.

The modifications I've made to the motorcycle are as follows:

I've added 42 Liter GIVI side painers with a Pelican Case top box. This luggage will carry all my camping gear, photo equipment, fishing gear and anything else I can cram into them. Tied on top of the rear seat will be an Ortlib 100% waterproog duffel bag with my sleeping bag, clothing and toiletries. A large tank bag will be used to store items I might need to be readily accessable.

Electronics that have been added are:

Audiovox Electronic Cruise Control

Sirius Radio receiver

Passport 8500 Radar Detector

Garmin 2720 GPS unit

Amplirider Headphone Amplifier

Signal Dynamics Headlight Modulator

MRA Vario wind screen

Gel Padded seat

Auxilary fuse box, power ports, lighter socket in the tank bag, and heated clothing outlet.

All of these modifications and more can be seen in the photo album

My first attempt at "Blogging"

I'm going to be using this blog to post daily reports from the road on an upcoming motorcycle trip from Massachusetts to Alaska. I'll be discussing the planning and preparation. What kind of bike I'll be using and the modifications I've made to it for the trip. I'll introduce you to my traveling companion, Bob Hadden.

Stay tuned..... more to follow.............