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Old 05-10-2009, 04:58 PM   #76
Douf OP
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Day 7: Cantwell, AK - Anchorage, AK







Late last night, the day's proceedings had culminated with the three of us squeezing into the only available room left in Cantwell (at the Lazy J cabins), which was unfortunately blessed with only one cot and, judging by the pained expressions on both their faces, undoubtedly that bed - in which I was currently relaxing - possessed significantly more comfort than the bare floor which Gary and Joe had been forced to endure for the duration of the night; but looking on the bright side, at least we weren't camping. And, Putting a further appealing spin on our day's prospective itinerary was the knowledge that today's mileage would be reasonably sane by our trip's ambitious standards, so in reality the next twenty four hours would be as close to a rest day as we'd likely get on this particular journey. With that in mind then, the three of us even indulged in the unusual treat of breakfast at the Lazy J which was (a) cooked with something other than a microwave or a gas station rotisserie and (b) consumed while actually sitting on real chairs with an honest-to-goodness table in front of them - rather than the semi-familiar forecourt breakfast two-step which had become our usual daybreak ritual. Whether or not any of that had anything to do with the experience, I 'm not sure, but that was the best damn breakfast I'd tasted in a long time - Joe and I even bought Lazy-J t-shirts to commemorate the experience.



The Unbridled luxury that is the Lazy -J



After the meal, once packed and ready to roll, the spectacular surroundings of our current location, - which in last night's semi-comatose quest for lodging, we'd been somewhat indifferent to - became breathtakingly apparent, and put the limited creature comforts of our closet/room at the Lazy J in a much better light. Being in the vicinity of the Denali National park, thankfully today the air possessed the kind of clear crispness that would hopefully permit the upper elevations of Mount McKinley to be clearly visible, which apparently is usually less than a foregone conclusion. As we started the bikes to make our way south, the KTM rattled and ground its' way through the starting sequence with a familiarity that disturbingly, seemed to be intensifying slightly. But as the ominous noises subsided once the starter motor disengaged, once again - with fingers crossed - we carried on, blissfully ignorant of what potential mayhem was brewing within.





After a brief stint in the saddle, the much anticipated unobstructed view of Mount McKinley did indeed materialize and the three of us stopped at the roadside to take a couple of pictures. Although our location wasn't particularly close to the mountain, as I understand it to get any nearer, the only alternative is to go into the park itself and then board a bus which from the photos I'd seen didn't appear to get significantly closer itself. Anyway, with the other two guys being about as keen as I was on abandoning the bikes and sitting with a bus load of regular tourists for a couple of hours, the likelihood of that reality occurring was slim to say the least.





One immovable object meets another

With a satisfying number of photos dispatched to the cameras, our journey continued southward, until we reached Anchorage. At this stage, our intent was to purchase supplies for an oil change to be done later that day at whatever hotel we ended up at, and then head south to catch a glacier boat early in the afternoon. However, the staff at the Motorcycle Shop (for that is its' name), being obviously quite familiar with the plight of the long distance motorcycle traveler, were very helpful and offered to set the three of us up with drip trays, cardboard and whatever else we needed to do the oil changes right in their forecourt. Feeling that this was an offer too good to refuse, we decided to take care of the maintenance immediately. Now I'm not saying that my beloved KTM is maintenance intensive, but I vaguely recall that Gary put a new clutch in the V-Strom and Joe even sourced a nitrous kit from the lower 48 and installed it in the GS - all in the time it took me to change my oil. Seriously, I really don't want to get into a KTM mud slinging match - especially as it's frowned upon in the Ride Report section by the mods who control these things but, well, it's my ride report and I'll whine if I want to. Anyway, enough said, but for all you would be 950 owners, here's a quick rundown of the oil change procedure, per the owner's manual (feel free to draw your own conclusions):





To start with the manufacturer suggests that, since 'many parts must be dismounted for an oil change, we recommend having the engine oil changed by an authorized KTM workshop.' Furthermore KTM's official position is that they will quite happily void your warranty if this procedure is done by an unauthorized source (that means you or me amongst others). Altogether quite convenient for an Adventure bike.



The Motorcycle Shop, Anchorage. Great folks

To the procedure itself then.

1. Remove the four screws and take off the bash plate.
2. Remove the oil drain plug.
3. Remove two bolts that hold the cap for the oil sieve and pull the sieve out with a pair of pliers.
4. Remove two bolts that hold the cap for the oil filter and pull the filter out with a pair of pliers.
5. Remove the six screws and take off the glove box cover.
6. Remove the five screws, take off the upper left fairing panel and disconnect the turn signal.
7. Close all three fuel taps and disconnect the fuel lines from the left tank.
8. Remove the three screws, lift the tank approximately 15mm and carefully tilt to the side. Disconnect the cable from the fuel level pickup cable and set the tank down.
9. Remove the lower screw from the right tank, then remove the hex head screws and take off the battery cover.
10. Remove the drain plug from the oil tank and allow the oil to drain into a receptacle.
11. Remove two screws and tilt the oil return valve to the side.
12. Carefully pull the oil screen out of the oil tank (btw it's quite difficult to accomplish this without getting at least some oil over the engine and for those of you keeping score this is the third filtering device that has to be removed).
13. Clean the drain plug, rubber seal rings, cover and oil screens.
14. Mount the oil drain plug in engine and torque.
15. Slide in oil screen - make sure ring is in place and tighten to 10Nm.
16. Insert a new oil filter, mount cover and tighten to 6Nm (btw a different enough value from step 15 that a torque wrench set at 10Nm is sufficient to twist off the bolt head).
17. Mount the oil drain plug on the tank with a new seal ring and tighten to 20Nm.
18. Grease the seal ring, slide the oil screen into the tank, position the oil return valve and tighten.
19. Mount the battery cover and torque the screws.
20. Connect the pickup cable to the left tank, insert the three screws and tighten, reconnect the fuel lines and open all three fuel taps.
21. Add the oil - which since it's a dry sump system, you must remember not to just throw in with a single application (or there'll be oil spilling everywhere), but rather you must add 2.5 litres, put in the dipstick, warm the bike up and add engine oil up to the max mark (which quite a few folks have found takes a fair bit more oil than what is recommended).
22. Loctite the four screws and mount the skid plate.
23. Connect the turn signal cable, tank vent hose and mount the left fairing panel.
24. Install the screws and mount the glove box cover.
25. And you're Done! Unless you've got the Hardparts engine guards which require a bit more removal and installation.



'Hey Gary, that's the fifth coat of wax you've put on that V-Strom'



Hmmmmmmm........did I replace all of the filters?

Anyway, as I stated previously, we intended to catch the glacier boat in the afternoon, but after the protracted series of events that is a KTM oil replacement procedure, we missed it. Damn! After considering our options, and concluding that the Glacier boat was definitely not to be missed, there was no option but to remain in Anchorage for the rest of the day and catch the boat in the morning. With that scenario in mind, after a suitable lodging facility was located, the rest of the day consisted of nothing more challenging than some laundry and, with barely more than 200 miles to show for the day's efforts, we at least managed to get a decent dinner where - if I recall - some of us even managed to get a beer or three for a change.

Douf

Feel free to add whatever (although I'm reasonably certain I've got KTM maintenance pretty well covered).


Douf screwed with this post 05-10-2009 at 07:44 PM
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:08 PM   #77
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Oil change procedure

No, really.... you made that up.



You are teasing right?
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:30 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by Tadpole
No, really.... you made that up.

You are teasing right?
I wish I was. That whole procedure (except where I've shortened the descriptions a little) is exactly how the manual describes it - even the bit about voiding the warranty is true. I've just updated my 'day 7' posts with a couple of shots of the oil change. Notice how neither of the other two (with the exception of a bit of windscreen polishing going on with the V-Strom) are actually doing anything to their bikes, as they've long since finished.

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Old 05-11-2009, 06:28 PM   #79
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Thumbs down The Fan's Spinning At Full Speed - And Here Comes A Huge Dollop Of Flying Shit

Day 8: Anchorage, AK - Whitehorse, YT







Having missed the Glacier boat yesterday afternoon, the primary mission on today's adventure docket involved an early morning trek down to Whittier in order to rectify that situation. However, the weather forecast for the area didn't look like it was in any mood to co-operate with our plans, but undaunted we set out as planned at our usual early morning hour. The scenery, at least what we could see of it in the current drizzle, was definitely improving and as we headed southwards, the road snaked along the waters' edge, with a series of imposing mountains forming the backdrop to this currently hazy reality. Before we had even managed to get anywhere near a boat though, the drizzle had steadily increased to such an extent that any thoughts of taking a waterborne excursion in the present meteorological mess were regretfully abandoned and, it was with a sense of despondent resignation that the three of us backtracked a few miles northward in order to find somewhere to dry out, eat breakfast and consider our options. We consulted a few of the locals, who confirmed that the type of storm that this area was currently gripped by wasn't the sort of thing that would just blow over. The weather forecast, which predicted no end to this onslaught for the next few days, was the final nail in the coffin and so, without the time dependent luxury of waiting out the current squall, we left the area having seen nothing but the smallest of the region's glaciers.



A glacier at Kenai peninsula - or maybe a little low cloud

I think we all felt a sense of being cheated by the elements to some degree. In reality, the weather had conspired to prevent any of us from experiencing many of the aspects of Alaska that - prior to the trip - had been on our collective short list of must-dos. We'd been turned around at the Arctic Circle when the weather looked like it would prevent a realistic assault on Prudhoe Bay, and now, this: the glacial treasures of the Kenai peninsula had remained off limits to our party by virtue of mother nature's non-cooperation. It was always a possibility that events would conspire to culminate in our less than fulfilling present reality, but as we motored away from the peninsula and headed for the Alaskan exit door, I for one definitely felt a sense of unfinished business and promised myself that this certainly wouldn't be my last visit to the area.



Breakfast - always a pleasure

After regrettably leaving the unobserved beauty of the Kenai peninsula behind, our thoughts turned to whatever remaining delights the Alaska highway had in store for us. Preferring to travel the Top Of The World Highway and leaving the last section of the Alcan unridden on the way north, our intent was to complete this part of the road as we headed back through the Yukon on our return.



In the limited summer months of an Alaskan year however, relatively mild temperatures combine with almost unlimited daylight to produce conditions which are eminently suitable for whatever road maintenance efforts are necessary before the re-emergence of the climatic hostility (not to mention darkness) that more typically characterizes fall through spring in these northern latitudes. An omnipresence of highway construction and maintenance work is consequently of no great surprise then - indeed, so overwhelming is the occurrence of pot holes and other such surface inconsistencies in these parts that I would seriously advise anyone contemplating a journey here to consider a dual-sport bike as the machine of choice, even if no actual off road mileage is intended. Predictably therefore, while our journey to the northern end of the Alaska highway continued, consistent progress became more difficult as we encountered repeated instances of the aforementioned construction delays along a stretch of road known as the Tok Cutoff.



And then suddenly, exiting one more stretch of road maintenance, in what - so far, touch wood - has been the closest call I've had since I started riding at age 12, I almost got myself killed. Our usual road going pecking order of Gary leading, Joe and I following, had been temporarily suspended and - probably prompted by the frustration of our current inability to maintain anything resembling consistent headway - I had taken the impetus and whenever possible was attempting to increase our ground speed beyond the GPS indicated 75mph that had been the de-facto cruising speed to date. Passing a stream of slower moving cars as the temporary construction area road surface reassuringly returned to the relative predictability of Alaskan blacktop, the two lane route stretched out arrow straight in front of the three of us and we steadily accelerated towards a water truck that had pulled ahead. As I approached the vehicle (which I'm guessing was moving at around 50-55mph), with a significant speed advantage I prematurely pulled into the oncoming lane in order to give the truck driver plenty of mirror time with which to observe my approach. Inexplicably however, as my bike and I - at this stage running at an estimated speed of 80mph - neared the rear of the this vehicle, it suddenly swerved across the road right in front of me and headed towards the coarsely graveled shoulder - which was maybe three quarters of a lane wide and situated on the other side of the road. Beyond this shoulder was a drop off of approximately six to ten feet, some boulders and a small creek. There was no explanation for this sudden maneuver except for the distinct possibility that the driver was attempting to purposely run me off the road. Swerving off the blacktop onto the unpredictability of the gravel as I hit the brakes, my closing speed on truck was still significant and, as I target fixated on the vehicle's large and threatening front wheel sitting right under the cab, thoughts of impending disaster vividly flashed through my mind; I prepared for the worst. The bike fishtailed considerably as the back wheel locked up on the gravel, but miraculously the entire pantheon of my two wheeled riding experience somehow contrived to lift my panicking foot up off the brake pedal sufficiently to allow the brake to release and the bike to straighten up. Even more amazingly however, at the very moment of impact, unbelievably the truck suddenly veered back onto the paved surface which, although abating any immediate carnage still left me sitting atop a rapidly moving motorcycle that - with equally terminal consequences - was about to disappear off the end of the gravel turnout and into the trees/rocks below. With what felt like inches to spare, in one last fantastically fortuitous twist of fate I somehow managed to wrestle my steed back onto the pavement and we continued along like nothing had happened. Well, on the face of it that's exactly what we did do, but as we rode along my heart was pounding incessantly while a mixture of adrenaline and shock competed ferociously for control of my immediate emotional state.



This series of events is etched so vividly in my mind that I realize to some extent I'm probably over dramatizing the actual occurrence. Having said that and legitimizing my own potentially overblown recollection the incident: what was in my mind was obviously a near death experience, happened in plain view of the other two and, when we eventually stopped sometime later, it had apparently also shaken the pair of them up to such an extent that not one of us said a single thing about it. It was only sometime later that evening - when all three of us has apparently calmed down - that Gary (whose variety of two wheeled experience I admire greatly) said that if he'd been in that situation he didn't know whether he'd have saved it or not, so I assume it must have looked about as potentially life threatening as I thought it was. In fact, it scared me so much that I've never even spoken about it to that many people since - just writing this has been somewhat cathartic. And, returning to that motorcycling karma deposit I made when we helped the Canadians on The Top of The World Highway on day five: I think I'd just made a big withdrawl on the Tok cutoff.

Surviving the remainder of the Cutoff was - thankfully given my hysterical mindset - merely an exercise in mental tenacity, as the weather got warmer (why the hell wasn't in like that in Kenai) while the construction zones got longer and longer, with the pinnacle of frustration being a full fifteen miles of contra flowing, gravel strewn purgatory, that had me regularly dreaming of the nearest interstate. And as a final insult, in truly authentic roadwork's tradition, there was a traffic back up about the length of Kansas complementing whatever misery the Alaskan DOT had managed to concoct for us.



Are we having fun yet

Comparatively speaking, the remainder of the day was fairly uneventful, although significantly more expensive than had been anticipated - especially for Gary. Once again the culprit was the nationally sanctioned extortion racket that masquerades as Canadian customs control. If you're one of the two readers of this thread who's been totally absorbed in our captivating tale since day one, you may remember that it was Joe who was almost denied entry to this wonderful country way back at the start of the trip. Gary on the other hand, had been granted entry without objection.



Last gas in Alaska

However in the few days that we'd been out of the Canadian countryside on our Alaskan odyssey, the authorities had apparently managed to dredge through the ancient minutiae of his youthful history and - surprise, surprise - consequently unearthed some trivial detail, the essence of which was so dastardly that only a $200 payment would prove sufficient to allow him back into the country. Or, he could just turn around and head back into Alaska of course. BASTARDS! Let me tell you something: that mickey mouse collection of banana republics down in Central America have got a lot to learn about border control payola, judging by the scale of the operation we've got running just to the north of the U.S. From what I've read in other trip reports on this very site, the equivalent cost of one Canadian border crossing would allow the average citizen to bribe his way around two or three laps worth of bogus speeding tickets and customs kickbacks in the entire southern continent.



To add insult to injury, Gary's rear tire didn't look like it was going to make it any further either, so he was faced with the immediate prospect of buying a Canadian example - if indeed one could be found - at the same typically inflated prices that the gas, lodging and most other retail items manage to get sold for in this oasis of taxation. I guess those free ferry crossings have got to be paid for somewhere, eh? With another partial day of (at least tire) maintenance in our immediate future then, an additional night in Whitehorse became the next destination on our itinerary as, since we'd noted what looked like a decent sized dealership on the way out, we concluded that our best chance of scoring a new rear hoop for the V-Strom would be in this location. So it was ultimately that we called the River View hotel, made a reservation and eventually returned to its' vaguely familiar surroundings. As a pleasant caveat to this final stretch though, a brief scenic consolation prize presented itself in the vicinity of Yukon's Kluane Lake, which was both remote and incredibly beautiful. And we still managed to put in over 800 miles on the day - in retrospect I guess I'm glad I didn't slow down too much on that gravel after all.

Douf

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Old 05-11-2009, 07:24 PM   #80
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Wow, amazing!! I live IN Cumming! I'm in for the rest of the story!!

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Old 05-11-2009, 08:42 PM   #81
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Great RR Douf! Love your writing style. Had me laughing out loud..thanks for the entertainment!

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Old 05-12-2009, 05:04 AM   #82
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Great RR Douf! Love your writing style. Had me laughing out loud..thanks for the entertainment!
YES! I knew there had to be one more out there besides me.

I hate to disappoint you though, but the although the KTM fails to start at the beginning of day nine's proceedings, rather than my usual unrealistic sarcasm, I intend to treat the entire situation in a totally objective manner

Douf

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Old 05-12-2009, 07:44 PM   #83
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Day 9 (Prequel): Whitehorse - Fettling Precious

'You temperamental over-hyped worthless piece of orange crap' This morning, for a change, what followed the sadly predictable pre-ignition cacophony of starter gear annihilation was the frustrating sound of an all too familiar clicking noise as the starter failed to turn over the motor and then.......not a god damned dickey bird. Admittedly the inanimate object of my current exasperated displeasure had indeed successfully awoken from its' slumber - albeit with an expected accompaniment from the threateningly ominous mechanical alarm bells of its' starting ritual - and had even managed to transport me to breakfast in what I foolishly took to be a perfectly reliable fashion. However, in order to pick up a couple of personal hygiene trivialities, I had foolishly elected to briefly forsake the company of my two traveling companions (along with any possibility of a push start) and was now marooned outside what I assumed was the only Wal-Mart-a-like in Whitehorse with a dead f%$^King bike.

Subsequently though, just as I was about to lose all faith in humanity, dash to the nearest gas station and buy a gallon of premium - nothing but the best for my sweetie - and A BOX OF MATCHES, a couple of events contrived to slightly restore my misanthropic faith in humanity and partially refute my pessimistic perception that naturally, no good deed ever goes unpunished. For those of you reading along, rather than just looking at the pictures (and really, I'm not even sure which is the less enthralling of the two - the commentary or the photography) you may vaguely remember from yesterday's action packed tale of frantic Naugahyde sucking, I'd surmised that whatever Karma deposits were made by helping to rescue the two Stranded Canadians on day five, had been all but extinguished on the gravel and tarmac roulette wheel of the Tok Cutoff. But - and I swear this is absolutely true - as I gazed across the expansive Fake-Mart parking lot, I suddenly rubbed my eyes in disbelief as, over on the far side - in a scenario similar to spotting an oasis in a desert - stood the one and only Yukon Honda Motorcycle Dealership. No shit! And, it gets better too, since they also carry KTMs - and not just the dinky little dirt bikes either. The mechanics have done the training courses and the dealership's got their big bike credentials signed off - they carry the whole bloody range. What are the odds, eh? me and my orange prom queen break down in the freakin' Yukon and we're sitting in the parking lot of an honest to goodness KTM dealership. BMW-On-Call: 'Suck it!' In retrospect I should have just left the piece of shit right there, caught the first plane back to Atlanta - this story would have had a great ending and we'd all have lived happily ever after. If you knew me though, you'd realize I'm just not that smart. And indeed I wasn't! Ever the optimist, I dragged that 500lbs worth of unpredictable petulance across the parking lot and prayed for a mechanical resurrection. However before the dealership druids would have a chance to sprinkle some factory fairy dust on my ailing beauty, I was offered the use of a garage and tools by an incredibly kind gentleman who happened to spot my futile tinkering attempts in progress outside the store. It wasn't the first unsolicited offer of help I'd received in the remoteness of Northern Canada and without question it certainly reinforced the sharp contrast between the type of close knit community spirit existing in places like this - where people even depend on each other for their very survival - compared to the selfish indifference of the tawdry middle class suburbia in which I normally find myself marooned for the other fifty weeks of the year.



Yukon Honda - you guys RULE

By this time I had also made contact with the others who soon enough pulled up at the front of the dealership. And since Gary's mission this morning centered around locating a fresh rear for the V-Strom, in the twisted depths of my illogical mind, things couldn't have turned out more conveniently really. I'm not really sure that Gary would necessarily define his replacement tire arrangements as particularly convenient though, as the best he managed to come up with was a 140 section Kenda for the princely sum of $85.00. It had decent tread though and definitely presented a better opportunity to get home in one piece than the Dunlop Kojak that was his current alternative at the time (pop culture note for those of a tender age: Kojak was a 70's era TV detective, known for his bald head).



The V-Strom waits quietly for its' new rear - meanwhile the rest of us look a suitably blunt instrument with which to pound on the KTM

With the V-Strom sitting on a brand new rear, we merely needed to conclude the eminently simple task of getting my little orange drama queen to curtail her non co-operative mechanical tantrum and we'd be ready to hit the road. However even though the dealership had plenty of inventory in stock, the battery saga was ultimately a little more involved than merely tossing in a new one, paying a king's ransom for it and motoring happily on our way - which in some respects was perhaps a good thing since those puppies were priced at over $170 U.S. each. In retrospect I'm not sure how robust that battery really is anyway. Subsequently I discovered that mine was going dead and I found that leaving the GPS plugged in was draining it overnight, which initially surprised me. However the GPS has a charging system built in which is maybe sucking more current than I realize, as I've since confirmed that exactly the same thing happens on the KLR. The KTM's battery still remains in a state of marginal charge even without this complication though and moreover, this irritation appears to be a fairly common problem that many 950 owners have experienced, apparently without any satisfactory resolution.



I got some other interesting battery insight from the dealership too. They related that a whole shipment of batteries on new 950s had been returned under warranty, which they'd initially put down to the harsh weather up there. However, in retrospect they questioned whether the temperatures had made any significant contribution to the situation, as they also stocked two further batteries which were brand new, had been fully charged (properly) and had been sitting on the shelf for only a month. Both of these were no better than the marginal one I was trying to replace. Furthermore they also said the 950 demo bike they'd got there wouldn't crank if you left it idle for more than a couple of weeks. They were pretty good guys though; they messed around with my bike for quite a while without demanding any payment whatsoever and eventually after charging the battery for a while we succeeded in getting it to run and ultimately left with the original item still installed in the bike.

Douf

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Old 05-13-2009, 06:03 AM   #84
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love this RR. First read, I'm like come to think of it you dont see alot of KTMs racking up mega miles going to AK. or in the IB community.

I'll still buy one.
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:01 AM   #85
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This is top-notch reporting. Your flair for the dramatic is quite god without being overdone. Bravo!!

By the way, do you think that the same trip on an FJR1300 would be feasible? I can change the oil without disassembling the bike.

Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:06 AM   #86
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love this RR. First read, I'm like come to think of it you dont see alot of KTMs racking up mega miles going to AK. or in the IB community. I'll still buy one.
Well, as much as I've whined about the bike - there's plenty more of that too come as well - and as I think I mentioned already, if you're the kind of rider that doesn't mind tinkering a little (and shouldn't that be all serious adventure riders?), there are really no regularly ocurring known problems that, given a little preventitive maintenace should really leave you stranded. At the time, the solutions to half of the probelms I encountered with the bike were still evolving in the knowledge base of owners - for instance I was one of the first to get hold of a starter torque limiter repair kit that actually worked (they'd already had one unsuccessful attempt at fixing it before that).

Douf

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Old 05-13-2009, 02:45 PM   #87
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[quote=Meltdown]This is top-notch reporting. Your flair for the dramatic is quite god without being overdone. Bravo!!

Thank you sir, I appreciate it. However, I see you've picked up on my flair for the sarcastic too.

By the way, do you think that the same trip on an FJR1300 would be feasible? I can change the oil without disassembling the bike. quote]

Unless you're the type of person that just can't stand getting his bike dirty, it shouldn't be any problem at all. I really didn't encounter anything that was particularly difficult, road wise, so if you're happy enough dodging a few potholes down some pretty benign twintrack and sliding around on the sporadically sludgy Haul Road, you'll have a great time. And even if you're not: with the exception of the Dalton Highway, it's possible to do the entire trip without hitting anything worse than the occasional gravel covered construction zone.

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Old 05-14-2009, 09:10 AM   #88
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Thanks for the reply. Just noticed my typo. Haha. I'm typing this out on my iPhone and it likes to spell check in unusual ways.

As far as getting the bike dirty, couldn't care less. That's why there's Honda cleaner and microfiber rags. I just wanted to be sure that I wouldn't get into anything that I couldn't get out of. Although having said that I am one of "those" people who typically keeps their bikes surgically clean.

In any case, I'm really enjoying the report and if you ever head south through Flatistan (Florida), steak and beer is on me.

Cheers!
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Meltdown screwed with this post 05-14-2009 at 11:00 AM
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Old 05-15-2009, 01:43 PM   #89
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Day 9 (The Riding Bit) Whitehorse - Iskut







Well, even with a bike as reliably unpredictable as my ever magnificent 950, there's only so much inefficacious dealership pointlessness in which to wallow on any given day, and so - absolutely fresh out of unexpected maintenance requirements, I rattled up the old girl and along with the other two mechanical paragons of uninspiring dependability, at around lunchtime, my erstwhile riding companions and I eventually conspired to indulge in a little recreational transportation.



Don't be put off by my crap photography, it really is beautiful - and I only get the camera out on the straight bits



And thankfully, I'm happy to report that a trek down the Cassiar Highway, is more than worth every last ulcerating moment of frustrating insanity that my adversarial Austrian nemesis could possibly hope to deliver. Dual Sport Dreamland is right here, slap bang in the middle of British Columbia; If there really is a God, apparently he did not rest on the seventh day, but instead created this fir lined wonderland of endless two wheeled possibility along with suitable big bore dual sport transportation, and he indeed saw that it was damn go(o)d.



Canadian duck pond - yesterday



An idyllic combination of part asphalt, part dirt, the roads themselves are a quintessential representation of exquisite long distance dual sporting splendor - both fast enough for efficient mileage disposal and just interesting enough to render every one of those miles a sublime union of swiftness and technicality. And then, there was the scenery. Whatever overblown stereotype my mind had strained to conjure in anticipation of the mountainous grandeur of B.C. was without the slightest shred of doubt blown into total and utter oblivion by the stunning reality of the place. Picture postcard perfection does not even begin to do it justice. Absolutely unbelievably beautiful - guilty as charged; even the pungent scent of pine that wafted fragrantly in through our helmets as we rode along was so overpowering as to be almost cliched.



WTF - we're in the middle of freakin' NOWHERE



After watching one too many T.V. ads for the haemorrhoid donut, Gary becomes very reluctant to relinquish his used rear

A legendary afternoon of riding, over 450 miles of indulgent pleasure was almost the perfect antidote to my own particularly infuriating morning of mechanized uncertainty. We'd have gone further too, but one look at a map of this region and - unless you're prepared to fall victim to the scourge of the middle class wannabe hardcore motorcyclist a.k.a. the dreaded camping experience - it's everyone off at which ever of the very few potentially suitable locations happens to roll into view at the part of the day that non-masochists often refer to as dinner time. Buck that particular trend and it's entirely possible that another 150-200 miles of haemorrhoid pummeling will merely land you squarely at the next dot on the map which then materializes as nothing much more in reality. Tents out boys!



Gary - thwarting a couple of unsuspecting cages



For a brief pause in the proceedings however, let me interject a surprisingly positive attribute possessed by my wonderful KTM (although since the bags are a Hepco Becker offering - they're not strictly a KTM product as such) which was prompted by one of the comments on this thread that jogged my memory. When we came back from the Dalton Highway, our three bikes were in a pretty grubby state and, before leaving Fairbanks to head south, we took them to a do it yourself car wash. I actually pressure washed my hard bags, and upon inspection they didn't leak a single drop - a feature that I thought was quite impressive. As a corollary, one of the latches on the bags actually broke during the trip, but since I'd previously dropped the bike on it while attempting to turn around in the road, I can't really blame the bike for that. As it turned our though, I bungied the bag onto the frame and it was fine for the rest of the trip; when I finally got back to Georgia, the latch was easily replaceable too.



When you're riding a 950 - always stop on a downhill



He's only really standing, cos he's got no skin left on his arse

So, with the distinctly unappetizing optional discomfort of a spinally tortuous night under the stars firmly out of the question in our overly pampered suburban minds it was - in retrospect - with much more than a little irony that we miraculously happened to stumble upon a flophouse of such obvious disrepute that - even though it proudly boasted a roofing material which was indeed more substantial than mere canvas and technically, even combined three actual box springs and mattresses in a single room, was obviously in every other conceivable aspect the residential inferior of the most humble of tents. Ladies and gentlemen: I give you, The Iskut Motor Inn.



A bridge - Oh the adventure of it all



These are really a lot of fun in the wet



Confronting this establishment for the first time, personally I wasn't entirely certain that the building wasn't abandoned, but as we parked the bikes after undertaking a further inspection of the premises, surprisingly some vague signs of commercial activity revealed themselves and consequently, flush with our eternal sense of optimism, the three of us marched inside. The property's interior consisted of a small reception area, which immediately opened up to a large dining room, sparsely furnished with an unimpressive compliment of inferior quality furniture.



I missed a lot of the best big mountain photo's - Joe's bag kept getting in the way.



There's something in the road up ahead, but I'm damned if I can tell what it is



A small group of men loitered aimlessly around a table towards the center of the room, amongst which I assume was seated the business' proprietor or at least some of the administrative personnel - although in all Possibility they may have been nothing more than squatters. Our possibly surprising entrance was greeted by a collective sense of disbelief by the squatters, who were apparently astounded to encounter anything - or anybody - walking around on its' hind legs, that wasn't covered in fur and with an insatiable appetite for salmon - let alone three paying customers. After an initially euphoric reaction, our request for accommodation was actually greeted with a sense of uncertainly regarding even the existence of an available room - which was certainly a surprise to me, since there didn't appear to be another single guest in the entire tenement. Subsequently a subset of the vagrants/employees were dispatched into the bowels of the building on the premise of making up a room, but in reality I suspect they were merely hoping to locate quarters which they might - without excessively significant embarrassment - pass off as fit enough for paying human occupation.



More water



Presently The Three Squatter Stooges enthusiastically re-emerged into the reception/dining area, reporting with an almost delirious excitement that they had successfully managed to sufficiently decontaminate one of the available hovels and were - unbelievably - even intending to charge us for a evening of its' rustic ambiance.



I think we go straight here guys - Joe and I would've been really screwed without Gary's navigational expertise



Straight here too



Having established a base of sorts for the night then, our genial hosts were subsequently presented with the task of feeding us, which was, on the face of it - considering each Stooge's cliched mountain man appearance coupled with the area's abundant prevalence of wildlife - a significantly more likely proposition, especially for three unabashed meat eaters. And so it transpired; whatever the rudimentary heathen table service lacked in finesse, the excellent food more than made up for in its' undeniable quality (unless you happened to be a vegetarian of course, in which case you were - somewhat predictably under the circumstances - comprehensively s.o.l. and might have been lucky to get a stale bread roll with a side order of rancid butter). The menu, unsurprisingly, rather than being presented on a series of artfully designed, carefully crafted and ultimately somewhat effeminate placards was scrawled haphazardly in a barely legible script on a nearby chalkboard, inevitably comprising a selection of excessively protein enriched dishes reflecting a variety of members from the local food chain, each served with a baked potato (upon request).



Now that's some technical twin track



After receiving the entree selections from the three of us (after careful deliberation we all decided to select a piece of meat along with the optional potato), our less than sophisticated garcon hastily disappeared through a grubby plastic curtain into the kitchen area. At this point in the proceedings, I would imagine the order was diligently relayed to the executive chef who, overseeing a small army of lesser - but nonetheless more than competent - gastronomic experts, supervised the pain-staking preparation of our respective dishes, in conjunction with manipulating a gleaming stainless steel arsenal of unimaginably expensive state-of-the-art cooking equipment.



Indeed that could be exactly what did occur, However, the entire cooking process in reality more than likely paralleled the following scenario: our waiter, having received our orders, disappeared through the moldy plastic curtain (that part I am certain of at least) and - without stopping - traipsed straight through the squalid surroundings of the shockingly unhygienic kitchen area and exited directly through its' back door. Then, from an ice chest located in the bed of a nearby heavily accessorized mid 80's era Chevy 4x4, he grabbed a couple of animal loins, fashioned a selection of appropriate cuts from their meat with a large cleaver and - after having brushed away the worst of the rust with whatever unsuitable implement came to hand, slapped them conveniently on an adjacent semi-functional outdoor grill, proceeding to vaguely prepare them per our stated requirements.



Hmmmm



Looking on the bright side - the natives would need to be really desperate to sodomize something that ugly

In realty, whatever the method of preparation, the food was actually quite acceptable. During the meal we spent some time chatting with the owner who, it turned out, was also employed by the highway maintenance department (quite a popular profession judging by the area's prevalence of construction). He mentioned that during the cooler months, at the start of each day the first order of business was to make a sweep of whatever stretch of highway was his responsibility, in order to ensure that no one was stranded - since in the typical winter temperatures of this locale, survival without any artificial means of heat generation becomes an extremely limited possibility. I certainly perceived this as one more instance of the type of community spirited mentality that, by necessity, goes hand in hand within what is often a very hostile environment. It also transpired that the facility in which we currently found ourselves was more typically utilized as a retreat for members of the hunting community during the season, which would explain both the purely functional nature of the hotel's surroundings and also - since this particular time of year was somewhat far removed from the annual gratuitous firearms discharge frenzy that marks the hunting season - the total absence of any other guests.

Anyway after consuming our meal and settling the bill (I tried paying with a credit card: Ha! Ha! cash only and furthermore - wonder of wonders - the place didn't have much in the way of change) we were worryingly dispatched to the rear of the building to take our chances with the Canadian version of the Bates Motel.



Are we still in BC?



Oh My God! The ambiance (Grammar aficionados: does the use of the word 'ambiance' ever have a lowest level of implied absolute sophistication below which it cannot be appropriately applied?) of our room more than lived up to every last ounce of overblown rhetoric that I have laboriously managed to dredge from the reliably scathing depths of my wretched imagination. If what we were currently wallowing in was the best they had to offer, just out of morbid curiosity I would have been absolutely fascinated to see the worst. The interior of the room was reminiscent of one of those grimly depressing tenement blocks often depicted in the type of low budget black and white detective thriller that can all too predictably be encountered while channel surfing aimlessly at two in the morning; a series of bleakly decorated, dimly lit rooms in which the TV from three doors down can be heard in excruciatingly glorious detail until ultimately the proceedings are punctuated by a short succession of gunshots followed by the hysterical screaming of a distraught female witness. Well, at the present time, at least none of us were screaming, but the situation was indeed pretty dire.



Like a lot of 950 owners - I wish I'd got the black one instead



In retrospect, this place reminded me of a similarly glorious establishment that Gary and I also had the distinct displeasure of frequenting on our South African trip. My memories of that place (recorded in a previous report) were less than fond - and for the record, here they are:

The interiors of the apartments/cells didn't look any better either. The bed clothes if they had ever been washed, undoubtedly hadn't experienced the intimate pleasure of tumbling uncontrollably in the lathered embrace of a front loader for quite some time and so, mindful of the constant nationwide publicity advocating condom use, I pulled out my sleeping bag, carefully unrolled it and, after a few clumsily uncertain moments spent fumbling for the light switch, slipped myself eagerly into its' warm confines; hoping to shield myself from the distinctly unsavory possibility of catching an unwanted disease.


Well I suppose, in comparison, our Canadian exercise in disease avoidance can't have been half as bad as the African experience, since I didn't bother with a sleeping bag. Oh wait: I didn't pack one! So dear readers, here's tip for those of you would-be backwoods adventurers who are dead set against camping, but unfamiliar with life well outside the city limits: bring a sleeping bag anyway (even if you posses absolutely no intention of camping whatsoever), because you just never know what entirely diabolical level of disease infested cleanliness will be exhibited by the supposedly reputable shite hole in which you may unexpectedly find yourself marooned for the night.



This one looks International - let's check it out



Notice how Gary left his bike running while making the initial inquiries



However, being without the defensive luxury of a sleeping bag, as I recall I did take the precautionary measure of keeping my Roadcrafter on while in bed........boots, gloves and helmet too. I had the good sense to at least remove my earplugs though - all the better to hear any sudden outbreak of banjo playing: Soooooooo-Weeeeeeee. Sleep tight everyone.

Douf

And as ever - If you'd like to chime and (amongst other things) defend the Motor Inn: knock yourselves out!



Douf screwed with this post 05-15-2009 at 06:15 PM
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Old 05-15-2009, 08:25 PM   #90
Meltdown
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Another excellent report. Bravo!
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