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Old 02-13-2011, 10:58 AM   #1
Parepin OP
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Location: That's... a tough one to answer
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The Rootbeer Run, Chasing the Sun, and other misadventures

So, I thought I should get this all down in one form or another before my THC-polluted memory bank fizzles away into just a color-filled haze. This has been a journey years in the making, covering well over 30,000 miles. It includes adventure, mishaps, bloodshed, and an un-expected tale of love and loss. I don't know what I really expected to get from all of this. Hell, I barely even had a plan in mind. No final location, no goal at the end of the day or mile marker to aim for. Just get back on and ride. And after all, what's a story if it hasn't been told. It would be a shame to let these experiences and memories remain locked up in my jumble of misfiring neurons known as the mind.


We'll start out with a simple introduction. Here we have our fearless (and a bit clueless) leader.


This handsome Italian fellow goes by many names. Alex at birth, I have been known to reply to anything from Al, to Al-Buns, Exalander, Upstate, Road-rash, and Burnout. Hell, if you can catch me in a brief moment of lucidity as I stumble about my natural environment, I'll answer to damn near anything, with an abundance of “Dude” and “Man” being thrown about. But don't let the bad-ass shades fool you, I'm far from intimidating. Quite the opposite, really.


Now, I've always been an adventurous soul. I've had the term “free spirit” thrown my direction more than once. Growing up in upstate New York in a predominantly lower-middle class household, I really had to get creative to get my fix. There were no amusement parks, and the funding wasn't there for any vacation above an annual trip to one distant relative or another. So I amused myself with what I did have an abundance of, restricted access. If I wasn't supposed to be there, I wanted in. Even at a very young age, barely into my teens, I had a fort which was nothing more than an abandoned warehouse down by the railroad tracks. I'd spend entire summers there, and have the scar tissue to prove it. Re-inventing myself as what would become known as an “Urban Explorer”, I was able to occupy myself for years creating a rather impressive database of various abandonments, semi-abandonments, and various natural wonders. With a website to feed, and a crew of misfits, I have seen quite a bit. Been everywhere from defunct city armories



to a vast network of drainage tunnels beneath the city


to caves and caverns, both man made and natural



long forgotten subway tunnels and massive railroad terminals


and vacant power plants powerful enough to light a city of 220,000.




These adventures were often fairly well planned out, including recon and security scheduling, but were fairly poorly funded. This often times resulted in a lot of necessary equipment being jimmy-rigged by whatever I had on hand, including a repelling harness fashioned from a length of tow rope


just to figure out what the hell this hole was all about.


These tendencies and my often overpowering curiosity blended well with the art of adventure touring and would manifest themselves numerous times throughout the years.

Parepin screwed with this post 02-13-2011 at 11:31 AM
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:17 AM   #2
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Excellent intro

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Old 02-13-2011, 11:44 AM   #3
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Here I present you with my weapon of choice. I have here a 1998 KLR 650, picked up off of craigslist for 2,000 with just over 10K miles on the clock. My first real bike purchase, and the first bike I could really call my own, it wasn't long before I had it stuck in a cornfield or being thrown clear with the best of them. With progressive springs in the forks, and a stiffer re-sprung stock shock, I've tried to hit the middle of the range when it comes to suspension mods. The engine comes with a 685 Schnitz kit, another first for me as I'd never done any real engine work before. The luggage rack is welded gas line, yet another first for me, and includes the cheapest ammo can panniers I had available. Quite bad ass, I feel, and better yet the bags are narrower than the bars allowing me to slip easily through most doorways. This feature is much more useful than you'd imagine. Other mods include aluminum skid-plate, thermobob, bark busters, electric connections, and tool tubes in abundance. The rubber, a pair of 244 Shinkos. can't beat $70 a pair.


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Old 02-13-2011, 06:48 PM   #4
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This journey was originally intended to just be a fuck off, honestly. After an associates was earned in an career I quickly lost interest in, and several years of fairly profitable employment with a local industrial roofing company, I quickly realized that I hadn't built up much of a life. With a history of antisocial behavior and crippling anxiety (for those that know me, this is where the ganja comes in handy), I hadn't experienced nearly as much as I probably should have. Sure I'd seen a lot, but I freely admit that I could count the friends I had on one hand with fingers left over. My history with the ladies has also been less than successful, and the upstate NY lifestyle on the whole left me fairly unsatisfied. And so that's where I've hatched this crazy plan. I figured, hell, I've got nothing to lose. With a fairly decent bankroll and no direction in life, I quickly threw together a “plan”. I could have either paid off my school loans early, or piss it all away in a road trip. I pretty much went with “buy bike, ride till money runs out.” I wish I could say I had more thought put into this, but this is the cavalier attitude I've been known for. Plans and schedules only succeed in making me tense. Always with a deadline, a place to be and a time to be there. Fuck it, I'm just gonna wander the earth.






And so the ride was thrown together and the gear was purchased. Having been a self-taught rider with no previous experience, I had the scars and battle wounds that would make the average rider cringe withing the first 5K miles of having my license. Having wrecked my dad's old CB-500, I decided on a KLR 650 that so many people seemed to be happy with. And with all the money I saved over a BMW purchase on something I would surely throw air-borne into the bushes on more than one occasion, it left me with plenty of gas and food money left over to slowly burn through.






Its now early July, 2009. Having just been offered a permanent position in the roofing company as a crane operator, I promptly gave in my two week notice and continued preparing for my departure. Unfortunately, the roof on my mother's house decided to go tits up a week before departure. Being the son that I am, I ordered up a dumpster, borrowed the equipment from my former employers and spent two weeks tearing into four layers of asphalt and cedar shakes. One of the worst, most labor intensive jobs I've ever performed, considering I was the tear off crew, the laborers, cleanup, and installers as well as initial financer for the entire project. I don't come from a well off family, so I did what I had to do to make sure the job got done. It hasn't leaked yet, so I've at least got that to show for it.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:19 PM   #5
muskeg
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:24 PM   #6
ulyist
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Looks like a good start, now we wait for more.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:24 PM   #7
AZ_ADV_RIDER
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I'm in - bring it on!
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:04 AM   #8
ClearwaterBMW
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another fascinating riding adventure is unfolding before us
can't wait for me

thanks for sharing
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:30 AM   #9
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You guys really know how to keep a guy motivated. I'm not even into the actual report yet and I'm all psyched about the feedback.
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parepin View Post
You guys really know how to keep a guy motivated. I'm not even into the actual report yet and I'm all psyched about the feedback.
Well, you've got style my man. Now make with the rest of the report before the inmate shere get unruly... ;)


....you had me at "rootbeer"...
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Old 02-14-2011, 01:17 PM   #11
Flashmo
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Awesome, Alex. Your writing is exactly the same as the way you talk, I can hear you when I read it.

Are we going to see you out west again this year? Sounds like T_T is going to settle down up around Darby (if he can stand the winters).
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:29 PM   #12
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Where in upstate NY?
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Old 02-14-2011, 05:25 PM   #13
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Ahh, back to the road trip. Keep in mind that this is two years ago. I'm pouring over a crudely written journal and hundreds of photos in an attempt to spark some sort of recollection of the events. It won't be easy, so I'm gonna hafta really put some effort into this. Seeing as I'm goin through a rather intense case of the winter blues, I've decided to use this as a distraction and, in the process, actually get some work done.


So last week of July, don't remember the day specifically. In the end, it doesn't really matter anyhow. I spend the morning doing some fine tuning to the old KLR. A quick luggage check, a valve adjustment, and a side-case removal to find a socket dropped during the valve check, and I was good to go by noon. With a wave to my brother and giving my nephew a shove I say my good-byes, bound off the porch, over the curb and out onto the highway. Leaving behind the town of 5,800, Lyons NY. I stopped by my mother's place of employment for one last hug. As I've mentioned, I never really had much of a game plan. West was the goal, with Alaska always kicking around in the back of my mind. I remember simply going south from there to the first westerly route and just following it to see where it ended. As it turns out, Route 20 apparently goes on for.... awhile.


Now I'm gonna go ahead and point out that these first thousand miles don't include many pictures. I'm not as photo-minded as I should be, but I try. And to be honest, I had seen all of this before. Pennsylvania was a lot like New York, and Ohio was pretty similar to Pennsylvania. The goal was just to melt through some miles. I followed Rt. 20 into Buffalo, grabbing a pair of combat boots at a local surplus shop before stopping over at my buddy Bill's place. This is the guy that first got me into the KLR. I remember wandering through an abandoned office building in the outskirts of Buffalo and watching this fool drive down third floor hallways on a KLR.. fun times. A good-bye bake leaves me back on the bike heading south-west towards Erie, before pitching a tent off some old railroad grade. Awoke the next morning to...rain. There's only so long you can go back to sleep before just giving up and packing it up. It's well past noon by this point and I ride in the rain to Erie, PA where the weather picked up to a full on downpour. Taking shelter in a Tim Hortons, coffee was ordered and the GPS updated. With the rain dying off, I fled the scene leaving behind a generous tip and a large puddle of water that enveloped the neighboring two tables.


I got as far as Cleveland that night before exhaustion kicked in and I headed for the nearest green blob on my GPS. Turns out to be some suburban park of decent size. Riding up and under a fairly large covered picnic area with conveniently placed power outlets, I lay out the bed roll on one of the tables. Got a BBQ rolling and lay out my socks and underwear to dry. At one point the local 5-0 come rolling up to inform me that the park closes after dark. I motion to camp and tell him that I just threw my panties on the grill and would leave as soon as they crisped. He was cool with this and rolled on. I stumble back to the concrete table that would be my bed for the night and pass out.


I come to the next morning with a dog smelling around the bike. A long retractable cord leads to an older gentleman with a bewildered look on his face. I roll up my boxers and head out before the early joggers come cruisin through the morning mist. Managed to get a fairly decent amount of miles down today, surely a result of the early start. This won't be the norm. Cruised on along Rt. 20 through Cleveland and Chicago. Just west of Chicago, over the wide open fields, I noticed a deathly black front moving my way. Being the stubborn SOB that I am, I continued onward determined to beat the weather. Didn't work. It wasn't long before I find myself bouncing through a ditch at near-highway speed and aiming for a long semi trailer parked in the middle of the cornfield. No sooner had I hit the kill switch that I dropped the kickstand and in one fluid motion rolled off to the left and under the semi as the rain kicked it into high gear and dumped buckets of rain down for a solid half our. Not much I could do but lay flat on my back under this godforsaken semi-trailer and wait for it to end.


As the rain tapered off, I checked my GPS for the nearest green blob and managed to find some covered picnic areas to once again seek shelter under. I swap out for some dry clothes and cook up a bag of dehydrated chili. With an hour or so of light left I realized this park was way too small to pull off any kind of stealthy camping, I headed out to the next green blob on the GPS. Found an abandoned road cutting through Silver Lake State park and pitched camp on the asphalt. Just before calling it a night, I notice something amiss about the KLR. The luggage, actually. Where the hell is the lid? And half my shit? A quick backtrack a few miles of dirt and asphalt and I find my can lid and my folding saw just off the side of the highway. My new camping stove is AWOL. Awesome. I vaguely remember whipping the remainder of my bag chili into the woods in a fit of anger. I'm pretty sure that's where my super-bad ass space age spork disappeared to as well. I'm off to an awesome start.
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Old 02-14-2011, 05:48 PM   #14
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I love road trips with no plans. They always seem to be lot moore fun.
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Old 02-14-2011, 05:53 PM   #15
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