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Old 11-10-2007, 02:39 PM   #46
bananaman OP
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
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The journey with The Black Bike is over

Today the black bike got a new owner. I am already feeling nostalgic.

I doubt I'll ever find another ride as sweet as my black RS.

I know I wasn't supposed to take it to Alaska, but when I asked it to go, it went and it went great. Realistically, before I went, I never thought I'd make it. I certainly thought that an eleven-year-old RS was almost the perfectly WRONG bike to ride all the way to Alaska. And back.

All the way the argument in my mind was like this: get to the fight ready to fight and the fight will be easier no matter what I have to fight with. Now that I'm back I can only shudder at the idea of day after day after day struggling with the big pig my GS is.

I wonder if, with the GS, the Cassier would have felt epic? Would the Dalton have even been a challenge? Would the hundreds of miles of "construction" on the Al-Can have been noticed? It would have been a very different experience.

I'm glad I took the RS. I would do it again.

bananaman screwed with this post 11-10-2007 at 02:51 PM
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Old 11-10-2007, 05:46 PM   #47
granitehead
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Great story and great narrative! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-10-2007, 07:03 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
So, one of the customers, a regular who'd bought one of those harleys brand-new in about 1955- he goes to me, "You ride alone? You got no friends to go with you?" and I didn't have an answer for him. Here was a guy who was making $200k a year working the oil fields part-time. He and his friends had lived the life of a roughneck. They'd work, make a pile of money, and leave- with no destination in particular. How could I explain that my friends lived all over the country in jobs they call "careers" that support the lifestyle that's killing them. Mortgages, kids, wives, ladders-to-climb. None of them could swing a leg over and ride for three weeks. Maybe they could squeeze a ride into a busy Saturday afternoon, but they'd have to justify it economically or spiritually to somebody. Not many understand that the ride is about the ride.

It's not that hard to ride alone.

That quote sums it up rather nicely. Thanks for the ride, the pics and the words. Excellent.

Cheers Steverinoh
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Old 11-10-2007, 08:07 PM   #49
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Sleeping out-of-sight

I would really have liked to crawl into the woods and lean up against a scrub-fir tree and sleep for a week but there were BEARs. Big ones with heads bigger than my gas tank.

Sleeping by the propane tank in front of the cafe at Yukon wasn't really dangerous. Even though the place was closed there were still people moving around, coming and going. I slept with my head on my tank-bag. I kept my keys in my pocket. My helmet was next to me, touching me. I slept like a deadman but I was also awake and aware, like dreaming that I was awake.

The best protection was my stench and my look. Even in BMW riding kit- even if I'm a total wuss, I'm sure that I didn't look like a total pushover. And after a while you start to get a swagger that you carry even when you sleep.

The bum- I didn't detect any animosity or threat from this guy at all. The way he said that he'd seen me- I think he was surprised that I'd managed to keep going. This bum wasn't a tenderfoot. And my look- swagger, posturing, sleeping with my head on my tank bag. He probably thought that I was almost dead. If he knew anything about motorcycles, he'd have known that an RS shouldn't have been there and certainly shouldn't have gone on. He must have left way before me and then he must have made good time to Coldfoot.

Incredulity- that's what I'd say his statement carried. He saw me sleeping. He hadn't expected me to actually get up.
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:02 AM   #50
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I ran into an old friend yesterday, a guy who as a geologist used to go to Alaska regularly. We talked a little about it. He told me how it was. I told him how it is. He told me the old story about bear protection. I let him because he's old. It went like this: "I went into a gun shop outside of Fairbanks to get myself a pistol. Something big. The gunsmith sold me a great big 357. Magnum. Revolver. Like Dirty Harry. So I paid for it and before he gave it to me, he started filing off the sights. "Ah," said I. "You're filing off the sights because when the bear is coming at me I won't need to aim, right?" "Nope," said the gunsmith. "It's so it don't hurt so bad when the bear shoves it up your ass."

He told me about hitch-hiking. And what he said made sense. When he used to go up there, sometimes they'd leave their truck in a town, and just get a ride with all their gear to a trail head. They'd pack everything in to where ever they were going. And when they came out, they'd just hitch-hike. Rules in Alaska are- wait a sec. RULES IN ALASKA? Alaska really is wild. Kids can drive. I think I saw a 9 year old driving a truck. So the old guy hitch hiking? Maybe he looked like a bum, but I use that term with affection and admiration. In Alaska people dress for work, not to look like a Field and Stream model.

On the way out, right before the Texans got a flat, there was a halt in traffic for the construction, and I saw a handsome fellow on a big GS dressed in the same Rallye Pro suit I was wearing. I wanted to crawl away and hide. He looked like such a posseur. I looked like him. What did that make me?

Scott Schoppenhorst- the kid I went to school with back in Wisconsin who now lives in Wiseman- he has a Harley. Guess what he wore for protection when he last rode it from Fairbanks to Wiseman? Sunglasses. Not even gloves. Just jeans, a T-shirt, work boots, and sunglasses. He said he had a wind breaker with him but never needed it.

Edit: I got an email from a fellow inmate-wannabe who asked me to add a couple of things, some I can put here and some that only belong in Jo Mamma. She "...says I have a very don't-fuck-with-me, mean-son-of-a-bitch snore [even though I'm a good guy], so maybe that's why I've never been bothered, sleeping out in the open." The rest I won't put in Jo Mamma but if I did it'd be pretty funny.

bananaman screwed with this post 11-14-2007 at 08:28 PM
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:30 PM   #51
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Maybe he was a pilot.

Hitch-hiking in Alaska...

Some people only have airplanes. They might have trucks too, but who knows where they keep them. If they don't have planes of their own, sometimes they hitch rides on other peoples' planes. And when they get somewhere, they need to hitch rides in cars and trucks.
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Old 01-31-2008, 03:15 PM   #52
mrudy
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thanks for the report

Outstanding report. An inspiration to many of us who plan to tackle the northern roads. Thanks.

As for bear repellant, whenever I tried to apply it to my skin, it would make my eyes burn and snot would pour out my nose.... Maybe it was because I had used OFF! first for the mosquitos.
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Old 01-31-2008, 04:55 PM   #53
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Bear repellant!

[quote=mrudy]

As for bear repellant, whenever I tried to apply it to my skin, it would make my eyes burn and snot would pour out my nose....



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When he rode the first three corners before putting the front wheel back down, I knew we were in trouble.

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Old 07-09-2008, 10:54 PM   #54
damasovi
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MUCHAS GRACIAS amigo!!

All the tales you have writting, all the pics you have posted it, they all make me want to go. I know that is a big trip to Alaska even for you that are almost half way there (as compare to me down in Mexico)

Any way, you and your style inspire me!!

Damasovi
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Old 07-22-2008, 12:11 PM   #55
coaxial
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saulo
I am a total noob and reports like this really get the "I want to do that" attitude going. This was a great read. Thanks you for sharing, I frankly don't know if I can do the solo thing.
Agreed on all points. Inspiring and informative report, it will help me with my upcoming yukon ride
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:49 PM   #56
Louv
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I found this thread while searching for stories about trips to Alaska. Gotta give it a "bump" because it is such a great read. Thanks for sharing.

Someday I want to do an epic trip like this. My "not-so-epic" 4000-mile+ road trips have been in a cage, staying in hotels each night. Can I survive a ride to Prudhoe Bay? Maybe, with some riding practice. I've never done more than a 200 mile day in the saddle... well, not in over 20 years, anyway.

Again, thanks!
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Old 01-13-2009, 04:54 PM   #57
bananaman OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrudy
As for bear repellant, whenever I tried to apply it to my skin, it would make my eyes burn and snot would pour out my nose.... Maybe it was because I had used OFF! first for the mosquitos.
You're welcome.

[quote=DruiD]
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrudy

As for bear repellant, whenever I tried to apply it to my skin, it would make my eyes burn and snot would pour out my nose....

mrudy sure is funny!

Quote:
Originally Posted by damasovi
All the tales you have writting, all the pics you have posted it, they all make me want to go. I know that is a big trip to Alaska even for you that are almost half way there (as compare to me down in Mexico) Any way, you and your style inspire me!! Damasovi
Thanks, Damasovi! Alaska is way easier than Mexico. You could do it muy facile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coaxial
Agreed on all points. Inspiring and informative report, it will help me with my upcoming yukon ride
Did you ride the Yukon? If so, how was it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louv
I found this thread while searching for stories about trips to Alaska. Gotta give it a "bump" because it is such a great read. Thanks for sharing.
Again, thanks!
Thanks for the bump. It's been like a year and a half since the ride, and over a year since I shoved off for South America. It's not hard once you go. GO!
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Old 06-09-2010, 05:00 PM   #58
TourPros
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Very cool

Great report. Well written with lots of info
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I really like what your are trying to do. I'm just not sure about how you are trying to do it. It's been a pressure working with you and the pleasure was all yours. If you need me I'll call ya..
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:56 AM   #59
snowjob
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Damn you Bananaman!

So my sister is now officially settled in Anchorage (was supposed to be Fairbanks but there was no housing I guess). I have just started planning the trip for next summer to go visit. Reading this report makes riding up seem almost viable. The fact that you are from Madison feels kinda like you threw down the gauntlet. I can't believe some of the distances you covered during the trip. Google reports 3400 miles from Madison to Anchorage.

They do have bike rentals and tours from Anchorage (mostly BMWs & KLRs) and logistically it makes travelling with the family easier and uses less vacation time, but I am compelled by your trip report. Though I did my adventure trip this summer and I am really starting to dig the whole destination hardcore offroading. (If I ever have more than one offroad bike running at a time I may just drag you on a dual sport ride in WI).

What to do, what to do?

Rent Alaska
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