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Old 06-12-2013, 09:46 AM   #1
Madmardigan OP
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Location: At the corner of Space and Time, Mizz-oo-la, MT
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Accidental Alaska...

I accidentally bought a 1200 GS Adventure... The words sort of hung in the air as the mechanics all laughed. How does one ďaccidentallyĒ buy that? We laughed, but it was true. And, it was in Alaska to boot and I needed to get it home to Montana. Soon, as my summers need to be left open for my job. This is the genesis of my predicament and what led me to attempt a grand tour with almost no preparation, on a bike I didnít know. Solo.

I am pretty familiar with Alaska. Iíve visited my times for pleasure and work. My mother lives in Talkeetna, I spent a part of 6 seasons working on Denali, Iíve traveled nearly every road in the state and had the privilege of flying to some other amazing places. I truly love the far north. Iím also an avid rider. My trusty 1150 GS is one of my great joys in life and am often puttering around on it. Even did a cross country trip a few years ago. However, these two aspects of my life have never coincided. Not until now.

Some background. Really, itís serendipity. The short story is that friend/work colleague mentions his co-worker is selling his 1200 adventure. I take a look, recognize the good deal, and come to the realization that I canít afford to NOT take over the care and feeding of this beast. Shockingly, 8 hours before I was a happy idiot. Ignorant of my (clear) need to upgrade my trusty mount. I became compulsive. Mind you, Iíve always admired the 1200. Mostly from afar. The floor folks at my local shop often council AGAINST test driving this beast as they simultaneously tell me how easy it is to take a spin. Against? I ask. Yes, they say. Donít ride it they gently tell me. Why not? I ask. ďBecause itíll make you do crazy things....Ē The words hang, again. ď...like do anything to upgrade. Iíve seen it happen many timesĒ, they say. Iím skeptical, but trusting. I never ride it. Just admire from afar... Besides, what am I going to do with two GSís?

And now this. Not only have I purchased a 2008 vintage of the legendary machine, I have an epic trip planned. Or not planned, as it were. Simply stated, the goal is to get to AK by any means necessary (fine, Iíll fly), visit me Madre before she vacates the state for a few weeks on a trip, familiarize myself with the steed, pack gear, and get home via the most circuitous route I can imagine. No problem, right?

Iíve driven to AK and back a few times. Iíve always loved the far north. Since I got my first GS a few years ago, a trip on the moto-beast has topped the proverbial bucket list. It just didnít come together. In fact, it was so far off my radar this year that Iím sort of shocked by the whole thing. However, itís a reality. The deal is made, the bike is mine. I have a couple of weeks and an adventurous mindset. I envision thousands of miles of northern riding bliss. The weather being spectacular, the bugs minimal and unobtrusive. The roads dry and not too dusty. The machine, flawless. My riding skill akin to a BMW versions of Marc Coma. A grand solo adventure. One where my ability to learn the computer, ESA, ASC, ABS, and other fine pieces of Bavarian engineering on this modern mechanical wunderkind, come easy.

Which brings me back to the original comment. I visited the good folks at my local shop to get some ideas on what to look for and keep an eye on regarding this new ride. They were very helpful (as always) and didnít give away what they were probably thinking about this half-assed idea. Donít mess with the clutch reservoir, eyeball the brake reservoir, pay attention, and get some damned knobbies. Just a few of the many helpful tips.

Paul Theroux says: ďTourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going.Ē I aspire to the realm of traveler. I have ideas, but Iíll be flexible. I expect nothing less than an adventure. Stories worthy of the landscape. I plan to document when I can. Iíll be on the road for a couple of weeks. Iím writing this report for (mostly) my own reasons, this grand and ridiculous trip. To tell a story of how I accidentally bought a 1200 GS Adventure and what happened to me afterwards. I have no expectations, not much of a plan, and a bit of time. I expect this story to be absurd, memorable, and hopefully a bit entertaining. See you out there....



Denali National Park (from a previous trip)
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:15 AM   #2
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Nice intro and pic. Definitely going to be following.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:23 AM   #3
Long Trail
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This sounds like it could be very interesting. Good luck mate, I'll be following.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:36 AM   #4
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Triage!!!

I can sympathize with your predicament as I too have found myself "accidentally" buying a bike or any number of parts or components.

I will be following with trepidation.
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Old 06-12-2013, 11:42 AM   #5
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some suggestions

Of which you will get many!

I have tried to spend more time enjoying my surroundings as I travel, if some people do it in 2 weeks I do it in 4 weeks. As far as Dalton vs Dempster, choose the Dempster, company town vs real Inuit town at the end of the road.

Check out my ride report of my trip in 2008 (link in Sig below)also just uploaded slide show to Youtube of the trip, it's 28min http://youtu.be/bvCZWaK-ynI


You never did say when you were taking the trip?
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:12 PM   #6
Oldone
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Great country....

Two of our kids live in Anchorage so we've had times when we traveled around the state a little. Never on my bike though and that's what I feel bad about since it's looking like the time is getting away from me. Going on 70 in a couple more months and health stuff that's getting in the way of going too far. I always enjoy reading Alaska related topics though so thanks for that.

Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride

Oldone screwed with this post 07-18-2013 at 04:51 AM
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Old 06-12-2013, 06:40 PM   #7
Madmardigan OP
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The accidental AK trip begins, in earnest, on Friday when I catch a flight north. Some small familiarization rides on the new bike (current moniker: Fršulein, but searching for something better and less, you know, vanilla, in a German way) , a trip to town for some required maintenance, then the official launch next week. Until then, I will post anything of note (or not of note - whatever). With lots of photos.

Today was all about ferrying the current beast from Whitefish to Missoula. It was a beautiful day cruising the shores of Flathead Lake. So nice that I only have a few pics.... (btw, MT is nothing to scoff at when it comes to riding - easy to forget when planning a northern trip!)



Mission Valley

The current beast - the GF claims I love this more than her. Soon to be for sale - the GS, not the GF - unless....
(Yeah, yeah, useless without pictures???)



Now - back to packing. Sadly doesn't look like room for the DSLR. Hmmm... Looks like plenty of room for the GoPros to tag along though...


And some more teasers from previous AK trips:

Denali, from the North. That there Wickersham Wall is well over a vertical mile of pure Alaska Range glory...



I expect I'll see some of these?!

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Old 06-12-2013, 09:36 PM   #8
Mcgee
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Looking forward to your trip. I too bought a 1200GSA sorta my accident and love it!
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:45 PM   #9
Madmardigan OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitstik View Post

I will be following with trepidation.

With trepidation, indeed....
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Old 06-13-2013, 02:25 AM   #10
guitstik
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Third eye blind

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madmardigan View Post
With trepidation, indeed....
At least it isn't trepanation. I have no desire to open my chakra in that manner
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Old 06-14-2013, 11:49 PM   #11
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So it begins....

Greetings inmates... Today the trip began. I won't bore you with the trials and tribulations of generic air travel, tight seats, over-priced food, and general ill-behavior people exhibit in airports. Suffice it to say, AK airlines delivered me safe and sound in Anchorage and I very nearly took the Horizon attendants up on their normal complementary drink out of MSO, though it was 0700 - even the attendant mentioned it was noon somewhere... The best part was that Denali was out and visible in all it's gigantic glory as we approach Anchorage. An auspicious beginning indeed.

So, long story, short, I arrive ANC, get picked up, see a long-time friend for a quick lunch (finally got my beer - the IPA is rather nice!)....


(or where Montanans meet Alaskans?)

..... and headed north to Talkeetna. I can say that Anchorage is just as busy as I remember and Wasilla seemed more so. The weather was the most remarkable part - sunny, warm. Beautiful. All that packing anticipating cool to cold weather seems to be for naught. Of course, the weather can always change but I'm told it's been the most beautiful 2-3 weeks. So, again, I'm feeling good. In fact, it's 81 at 9 pm as I write this! Nicer than where I came from.

Did I mention the mountain was out? All 20,320' of its bad-ass self (this from Talkeetna overlook with a new point and shoot camera I'm trying to figure out)




After the drive we arrive at mi madre's casa and I finally lay my eyes on the newest member of the family:



It's a remarkable machine. Here she is wearing a traditional Mongolian scarf given as a gift of friendship to her previous owner (through work with the NPS). He passed the scarf on to me with the same intent. It's a remarkable gesture, really. Very kind. And I'm reminded of colleague who did work in Mongolia - a friend taken too early. Great memories of a giant of a friend and an incredible gesture.




We take the time to size each other up, assess strengths and weaknesses, figure our respective approaches. Then it's time. The inaugural ride.

Wow, she's a different beast than the 1150 GS I have in the stable at home. Very different. Off we go....


Up and down the Talkeetna Spur road...




In town:




Back at the overlook - Denali is washed out:




At the famous Talkeetna airstrip (one of my other great loves is airplanes - there will probably be a number of those in this report)



My initial observations - probably not news to many of you, but I'm sayin' it anyway....

1. The 1200 is more throaty than the 1150. I like.
2. Twitchy throttle on the 1200. Maybe the 1150 is just more ham-fisted and that's why things seem twitchy. Will take getting used to.
3. 1200 is taller. Significantly.
4. 1200 feels waaaaay lighter. I mean waaaaay lighter. It's not, but it feels it. There's not much fuel in the tank. Maybe that'll change things.
5. 1st is looow. 2nd is juicy.
6. Seat is less comfortable on the 1200.
7. I'm going to keep banging my f#^king shin on the right cylinder...
8. 1200 affords more protection from the slip stream.
9. Speedo still registers about 3-5 mph higher than the gps. Probably a good thing for me!
10. You can tell the two bikes are related, but they strike me more as cousins than siblings. The 1200 feels like a very different machine to me.



I think I'm in love!




Little float plane base at Fish Lake (more planes)




The road goes on forever.... Or, rather, a few more miles until it dead-ends in the Susitna River immediately after rolling through Talkeetna and its myriad tourists...




After that, it's in for the night. The daylight is playing its usual tricks on me. After sleeping very little last night and being tired most of the day, I'm now wide awake. The sun is shining, the mozzies are buzzing, I'm back in AK. Screw it, you can sleep during the winter!

Now it's about sorting gear, getting things packed up, and maybe heading out to quick hit the Denali highway before the maintenance date in ANC on Tuesday. We'll see. Tonight I'll read more about this fine, fine stead and try to figure out how to work these things:



Bonne nuit, riders.
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Old 06-15-2013, 05:57 AM   #12
MizzouRider
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Congrats on the new bike!

I'm following along, at least until I head for Alaska on my 08 GSA, I'm leaving Friday.. I'm convinced 08 was the best year ever for the big girl.. rofl

I hope the weather stays the same for another few weeks.. I know, the chances of that are pretty slim. I'm prepared for rain and cold, but a little clear and warm would be fine..

Thanks for posting, I've thought of little else for the last year
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Old 06-15-2013, 06:27 AM   #13
Timba
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Old 06-15-2013, 07:51 AM   #14
whatsgnu
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An RR with bikes, planes and Alaska......not hard to take ! Keep up the great report and have a wonderful and safe trip !
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:52 PM   #15
Madmardigan OP
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Day 2

Not a whole lot to report today. Sorting gear and getting ready.... One thing is getting the RAM mounts set up for GoPro cams:




And testing some ridiculous mounts:




Stumbled across this mount while charging up the battery on a ride after running the damn thing down... Didn't see the rider. Anyone recognize?




One from the road today. Heading towards Petersville:



Soon I'll be getting this show on the road for real...
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