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Old 08-12-2011, 06:04 PM   #76
Swissican OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahp View Post
Nice write-up of my dream ride! I'll bet some dual sport (or at least knobbier) tires would have made a world of difference for you on those roads. Still, great job, can't wait to see the rest!
Thank you. Yes, some knobby tires would have made thing easier. However, my baby would have looked as ugly as a luggage rack on a Ferrari Plus, I don't think they even make kobbies that big. Either way, I love my Metzeler Marathons and riding with any other tire would make me feel like I'm cheating on them
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:05 PM   #77
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Bluhduh Day thirteen

Today was pretty uneventful since I took the day off so I could see what was going on with my rear brake and also to do some laundry and rest up for my trip home.

As I mentioned towards the end of my last post, a few miles before I reached to the south end of the Dalton I started to hear a grinding sound coming from my rear brake whenever I'd apply them. When I stopped to see what it might be I saw that the rotor had quite a bit of dirt and mud on it. So I figured that the dirt was making those funny noises. I brought spare front and rear brake pads with me since they were a bit low prior to my departure. After I woke up I took my tool bag and my spare-parts bag down to my motorcycle. When I visually inspected my rear brake pads...yea...there was no pad on one side of the disc I guess it was time to change the brake pads...

Since I don't really know anything about fixing a motorcycle I went onto YouTube to find a video that would teach me how to change brake pads I know, I probably should have done that prior to leaving but I'm a fast learner After viewing several videos I figured it couldn't be too difficult. So I went back down to my bike and started with the front pads (they didn't need to be replaced but I figured I might as well change the front, too). I was able to unscrew the bolts holding the caliper in place but for some reason I couldn't get it off the disk. The caliper kept on getting stuck between the rim and the rotor. Hmmm...I played with it for a while but just couldn't seem to get it off. Oh well. So I put the caliper back in place and tightened the bolts. Off to the rear caliper.

When I packed for my trip I took all the tools with me that I figured I'd need to tighten or loosen any bolts or screws. Well, when I wanted to take the rear caliper off I found out that it was different size allen wrench than the front. Of course, I didn't have the right size What to do?! I could have easily finished my trip with the pads that were on in the front but the rear ones had to be replaced. In California I ran into a student on the college campus who's step-dad has a motorcycle shop up in Fairbanks. So I decided to give them a call. Since it was already lunch time I was hoping to bring my bike over in the afternoon. I called Thunder Road, told them my story and they were willing to work on my bike as soon as I could get it over to them. I packed up my tools and rode off to the shop. Since I didn't want to further damage the rear rotor I tried to refrain from using my rear brake. After a short trip I made it safely to Thunder Road where I was promptly greeted and a mechanic started working on my bike right away.

Since I was cutting into the mechanic's lunch time I offered to help him loosen bolts or do what ever he needed help with. So he told me what I could do to help out. Now, I don't know about you but I thought that that was a very nice gesture of him. After he replaced the front pads he started working on the rear ones. Once he got them off he showed them to me...again, I'm don't know much about motorcycles, or cars for that matter, but when I saw the pads I knew I was lucky that I didn't get into an accident.

WARNING: PLEASE make sure you're seated before looking at this picture!!!


Yea, I don't like to waste anything so I guess I got my money's worth out of those pads Before the mechanic put the caliper back on he checked the rotor and said that I'd be fine on my trip back but once I get to California I should probably have the rotor resurfaced or replaced. Here's a picture of the rotor about 1000 miles (1609 km) after I had the pads replaced:


Side note: I don't know if it's necessary but I noticed that the holes in the rotors would fill up with dirt and mud really quickly so I made it a habit to "clean" the holes every time I stopped. Since those holes are there to keep the rotor cool I figured having them filled with mud probably wasn't the best thing...

Anywho, after the mechanic finished up with the brakes I asked him to give the bike a quick check-up to make sure no vital parts (I think there are only vial parts on a motorcycle ) were loose. All in all he spent about an hour working on my bike but he was kind enough to only charge me for half the time. Relieved that I was able to get my brakes "fixed" I headed back to UAF.

Later on that day I took the time to take shower, do some laundry, and get ready for my trip back to California. Since I had lost my helmet camera and I was in a bit of a rush I decided to ride home as fast as I could (no, not speeding just longer riding days). And without a helmet camera I didn't need to spend 4h a day recharging the batteries. The plan for my trip back was to take the Alaska Highway all the way back to Dawson Creek, BC where I would continue on the John Hart Highway towards Prince George. From there I would take the Caribou Highway and follow the same roads as I did coming up North. At least that was the plan...
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:36 PM   #78
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Greatly enjoying your RR, Swissican. Quite an accomplishment getting your cruiser to Deadhorse and back in such grand style. Rudi also had problems with his HeroCam, but as usual, it was mostly his own fault. He dropped the camera itself and scratched up the lens on the camera body. Like having a large bug permanently cemented in every shot for the entire return trip. You can't replace that lens (you can on the waterproof housing), so Rudi got a jeweler to buff the scratch out. In doing so he cracked the lens and the camera is kaputsky. It was all still worth it, though. Congratulations on your journey and thanks for sharing it was all of us.
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Old 08-15-2011, 12:44 PM   #79
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Still in!
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Life is dangerous. Not doing what you love makes life even more dangerous...
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:17 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by Rudi G View Post
Greatly enjoying your RR, Swissican. Quite an accomplishment getting your cruiser to Deadhorse and back in such grand style. Rudi also had problems with his HeroCam, but as usual, it was mostly his own fault. He dropped the camera itself and scratched up the lens on the camera body. Like having a large bug permanently cemented in every shot for the entire return trip. You can't replace that lens (you can on the waterproof housing), so Rudi got a jeweler to buff the scratch out. In doing so he cracked the lens and the camera is kaputsky. It was all still worth it, though. Congratulations on your journey and thanks for sharing it was all of us.
Thank you Rudi! Sorry to hear about your camera. Not sure if I mentioned this but what pissed me off about losing the camera was not necessarily the fact that I lost it but how it happened. Yes, I paid about 230.- for the camera but I paid over 400.- (including the camera, of course) for extra batteries, mounts, and the 32 GB HD Flash drive. So not only did I lose a 230.- camera but technically I lost over 400.- worth since without a camera, well, you can't really do much with just the batteries

Again, thanks for reading and sticking with me 'til the end

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Still in!
I'm amazed by your stamina. I would have given up on reading my RR a long time ago
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Old 08-16-2011, 12:54 PM   #81
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Day fourteen and how Mosquitoes are Satan's Minions

When I woke up in the morning I was still pissed about losing my camera but I tried to think positive. So I left Fairbanks and started heading down the Alaska Highway. The plan was to get as far East as possible that day. Since the Alaska Highway west of Watson Lake, YT was in pretty good shape I figured it would hold true east of Tok. Before I left Alaska and entered Canada, I got stuck in some road construction. The lady with the Stop sign was kind enough to wave me to the front of the line, in addition to telling me that it will be a while until the pilot car returns. So I took my helmet off and got comfortable. After a while the pilot car came and I followed it through a long construction zone. But here's the thing...the entire construction zone was covered in gravel/rocks and for some reason the lady driving the pilot car thought that everyone following her could drive as fast as she did She was such a horrible pilot car driver that I actually lost her out of my sight multiple times!!!

Oh well, I figured things couldn't get worse after that. WRONG!!! The Dalton Highway was pretty tough and there was gravel/rocks/mud on the road for the most part but at least the drivers of Semis and other vehicles knew how to drive respectfully. When they'd pass you, either from behind or coming the other way, they would slow down as much as possible in order to not bombard you with rocks, mud or dust. But once I entered Canada (apparently taking off your helmet at the border crossing helps speed things up ) I found out that there are actually people out there who have absolutely no clue how to drive on gravel roads (shocking, I know ). I was traveling on a very dusty stretch of the road littered with rocks. So, naturally, I had to slow down quite a bit. Well, here comes this truck from behind and passes me considerably faster than I was going. And to top it off, he cut back into my lane about 30 feet ahead of me. This created such a dust cloud that I had absolutely ZERO visibility! What made things worse is that this happened in a long left turn so I knew I had to go that way, but had no reference point as to where I was on the road. Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic because once the dust settled I was all the way on the other side of the road So that...that already got me in a pissed off mood.

Then, on another gravel/rock riddled stretch of the Alaska Highway, this completely ignorant ass was coming towards me at a high rate of speed (way too high for those road conditions). So naturally gravel and rocks were flying everywhere. And sure enough...a rock, at least the size of a golf ball hit me in my right shin Not quite sure how that rock made it from the left side of the road to my right shin (I did hear it bounce of my bike a few times) but it did. And that's when I pretty much gave up on that day
There were a few other occasions where cars/trucks/SUVs would just haul ass past me and it was always like someone was taking a handful of gravel and just tossing it at my bike (even my windshield has a few marks on it). Honestly, I didn't really care about any of those rocks hitting me...what kept me fuming was all those rocks hitting my bike due to ignorant cagers. There was still a nice layer of dirt and mud stuck to my bike so I wasn't been able to make a damage assessment but I would do that once I got home.

So, to make things even worse, I drove past some amazing scenery! It was really beautiful and since I didn't have my helmet camera anymore I couldn't capture the moment. Yes, I still had my other camera but I couldn't simply stop in the middle of the highway to take a picture. In addition to the scenery, I came across two huge brown bears (about 5 ft on all four). One was walking towards the highway until he saw me. Very politely he stopped at the edge of the road and let me pass. Once I was past him he actually (I continued to look at him) looked both ways before continuing across the highway! The other one was about 30 ft from the highway and it was actually a brown bear (same size as the other) playing with her little cub. Unfortunately she was too close to the road for me to feel safe enough to stop and take a picture. But of course there were plenty of cagers there enjoying the bear and her cub from the safety of their...well...cages

In addition to the two brown bears I saw a hedgehog (he wasn't too happy to see me) and some goats (WTF?!?!).
So then I continued on towards Whitehorse for the night and at around 2100 I stopped to see if I could find a campsite. Well, I forgot that when I crossed into Canada that I was back in PST so it was actually an hour later. So of course, all the campgrounds were closed. Even more pissed off I continued down the road until I found a place. They weren't open but there was a sign that said that late arrivals should just pick a spot and pay in the morning. By this time it was about 2300. So I thought I would set up my tent and get some sleep before getting up early in the morning. Well, that would have been nice hadn't it been for Satan's Minions! I'm not talking about one or two or even ten mosquitoes...I'm talking about a swarm of at least 40 surrounding me the second I got off my bike! I had to stay in constant motion in order to prevent most of them from biting me and for some reason I was having difficulties setting up my tent Anywho, after about 15 minutes and about 20 mosquito bites later I got everything set up and back in my tent.

It was late, I was tired, still pissed off, and just generally in a very bad mood This wasn't the first time I had thought about this but at this point in time I wish I hadn't done this trip alone. But I'll elaborate on that point during the conclusion/final thoughts of my trip. So yea, I hadn't had anything to eat for most of the day, I was covered in mosquito bites, and was just at the end of my sanity. If I could have called it quits right then and there I probably would have but it wasn't really an option so I had to hope for tomorrow being a better day. I just curled up in my sleeping bag, while wearing my socks and Space Suit, and tried to sleep...

P.S. So here's my take on mosquitoes...If you're having a great and wonderful day, they have the satanic power to suck every last iota of happiness out of you! I don't care how up-beat and happy you are, if you're surrounded by a swarm of them you will feel insanely miserable very quick (yes, I WAS using 100% DEET but apparently they didn't care). Now, if you're already having a bad day, well, it will get a lot worse very very quickly. To add to that misery, the only place exposed was my head and my hands. Now, when I'm on my bike I can sort of scratch my hands but forget about trying to scratch your head...kind of difficult with the helmet and all
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:10 PM   #82
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Day fifteen to Day nineteen

Dear avid readers! I'll squeeze the last days of my RR into this one post. For one, nothing too noteworthy happened, plus, I don't really have any pictures But lets take one day at a time.

After fighting off about a million mosquitoes before going to "sleep" in Whitehorese, YT I woke up around 7. As usual, I didn't really sleep that good. Last night I was the last one to enter the campground and in the morning I was also the first to get up and leave. After I had packed up my tent I walked over to the office but they were still closed. So I just slipped some money into the doorjamb, hopped on my bike, and took off towards Watson Lake, YT.

The Alaska Highway was still in good shape so I made it to Watson Lake without an incident. After I filled up at a gas station I grabbed a sandwich and got out my map. Since I came north on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway I wanted to take the Alaska Highway down to Prince George, BC. I was still pressed for time so I asked the person working at the gas station which way to Prince George is the fastest. Actually, I had been asking pretty much anyone I ran into which why they thought was the quickest and for some reason I got different answers. Anywho, so I asked the clerk and he said taking the Alaska Highway down was quicker but he wasn't too sure about that. While I was eating my lunch I ran into another rider and asked him. He told me that the Alaska Highway is quicker, however, there weren't as many gas stops on the way.

So I thought about it for a while and for some reason my gut was telling me to take the Stewart-Cassiar Highway back down. At least I was somewhat familiar with the road and I knew where to get gas. Anywho, I took off down the Cassiar and something interesting "happened". While riding I noticed how the scenery heading south was a lot nicer than the one heading north. You would think that it wouldn't really make a difference in which direction you went but it did So, if you're planning on taking the Cassiar I would recommend heading south on that road.

That day I was hoping to make it back down to Bell II but I was also contemplating riding further south before I would find a place to spend the night. Once I reached Bell II I noticed that I was getting tired and grumpy again so I just stayed at the Bell II lodge for the night. Yes, once again, I paid more for a room than I did up in Deadhorse but I really didn't care. This time I didn't get such a nice room (I also paid less) but it still had the down feather comforters so I was happy

Day sixteen:

I woke up after a pretty decent night's sleep and was ready to continue my ride home. Once again, I packed up my gear and took off. I guess this is a good thing but my ride down the Cassiar went well (good for me, not so good for you since it makes for a boring RR ) . I made it to Kitwanga in one piece where I ran into a rider who's bike I had seen the previous day up at the Bell II lodge. We got talking and he admitted to taking a picture of my bike because he had to prove to his friends/family that there was a bike out there that was more dirty than his . After he took off I ran into another fellow rider, CaptUglyDan! He was on his way up to Deadhorse and we talked for a bit. He was also kind enough to take this picture of me.


Unfortunately I can't remember but I'm pretty sure CaptUglyDan told me that there had been some severe rain along the Alaska Highway between Watson Lake and Prince George. It had been so bad that several bridges had been flooded and from what he knew they were still closed to traffic. I guess it was a good decision to listen to my gut and go back down the Cassiar

From Kitwanga I took the Yellowhead Highway towards Prince George. From there I continued south on the Caribou Highway. Since I never really slept that well on this trip (except after reaching Deadhorse at 1:30 in the morning ) I was, once again, having difficulties with staying awake while riding. So today I had to take a few power-naps. That night I decided to sleep at the Travelodge in Quesnel, BC that Rudi G had recommended in his RR (thank you, Rudi, for that tip).


I took this picture when I was heading north on my way to Deadhorse.

As I mentioned when I first posted this picture, the family who runs the Travelodge was really nice. They offered me towels to wash my motorcycle with. I thankfully accepted but once I saw my bike I decided to not clean my bike until I got home. However, since I have a K&N air filter I decided to see how it was doing. The filter itself wasn't really that dirty; however, a huge bug (possibly Junebug) had gotten sucked into the filter. So I cleaned it for the last couple of thousand miles back home.

After a nice shower and something to eat (yes, some more sandwiches) I went to bed. I did feel sad about my trip slowly coming to an end. I wish I hadn't lost my camera and that my trip hadn't been cut short. Oh well, what can you do?!

Day seventeen:

I woke up somewhat rejuvenated so I had at least a good start into the new day. From Quesnel I continued south on the Caribou Highway towards Hope where I would head west towards Vancouver.



I took this pictures right off the Caribou Highway while stopped at a construction sight

These past few days the weather had been nice as well but I did run into rain while riding west from Hope towards Vancouver. From the Trans-Canada Highway I took a left at Aldergrove and headed back into the US. Crossing the border wasn't too bad. The officer had a quizzical look on her face when I told her that I'm coming from Alaska and heading back to California. I guess she didn't think I actually did that trip on my bike. But I guess my handsome features persuaded her to let me through without a hassle

From Lynden I took the 539 down to the I-5 where I rode until I got to Olympia, WA and checked into a Motel 6...
Now, when I bought my Kawasaki lightbar a few years ago the ground wires to the blinkers broke off where they were soldered to the bulb "socket". During that trip I was able to solder the ground back onto the socket and I made sure that I put enough solder on it so it wouldn't fall off again. Well, right before I pulled off the I-5 at Olympia I noticed that my left blinker wasn't working anymore Once I got my room key and had transferred everything to my room I went back to my bike with all my tools and spare parts. When I unscrewed the blinker I was greeted by this picture:


Not only did the socket mount snap off the casing but the ground wire had broken off again. Hmmm...what to do?! I figured I could go ask around and see if anyone had a soldering gun or something like that but it was getting late and I didn't feel like riding around Olympia without a blinker. Soooo, I did what every responsible person would do...I used electrical tape to fix the issue I stripped the ground wire a bit more and wrapped the wire around a small piece of solder that was still there. Then, I just wrapped the whole thing in electrical tape...


Looks brand new to me

So that should, hopefully, work until I get back home to replace whatever I can replace. Since I already had my tools out I figured I'd do another walk-around and make sure nothing was falling off my bike. When I checked my right horn I came across this bugger...



Haha...stupid wasp! Thinks he's smarter than the bee, which was still there

After that I went back to my room and well, went to sleep.

Here's the short version of what happened the next two days: I took the I-5 down to Redding, CA where I spent the night. The next day I continued down the I-5 until I was home. Simple enough, I know

Now, I hope you don't feel like I cheated you out of two days riding but, as before, absolutely nothing happened during those two days. I had sun shine, fog, and some rain. Other than that, nothing worth reporting.

I think I mentioned this in the beginning but one big drawback about living in southern California is that it takes you forever to get anywhere and you're surrounded by desert. Anywho, I was still glad to have made it home just in time to pack up my stuff and move to a different apartment...

Within the next few days I'll post a few more...uhmm...posts where I give you my humble opinion on certain things about the trip. I'll also post some more pictures as well as a short gear list and a list of bike mods, as well as a very basic post on how much fuel I used/how much money I spent. Again, thanks for reading (I do apologize for the lack of pictures and that my trip back south wasn't more interesting) and I hope you stick around to see the last few posts...
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:15 AM   #83
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Good job on the ride and the report. Not everyone can pull off what you
did or would have the guts to try. I like your attitude. We see the bikes
go home in a box from riders who don't have your attention (and have
been riding long enough to know better) to conditions every summer.
I also liked your willingness to accept and appreciate what is around you.

May you have the opportunity to do great rides again!
Solar
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Old 08-17-2011, 11:29 AM   #84
Swissican OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solarmoose View Post
Good job on the ride and the report. Not everyone can pull off what you
did or would have the guts to try. I like your attitude. We see the bikes
go home in a box from riders who don't have your attention (and have
been riding long enough to know better) to conditions every summer.
I also liked your willingness to accept and appreciate what is around you.

May you have the opportunity to do great rides again!
Solar
Thank you very much for your kind comment Thanks to my parents and various life experiences I've learned not to rush anything; to take my time and to give anything I do my undivided attention. I do wish I hadn't lost my camera and especially hoped to have more time for this trip but it is what it is. Again, thank you...
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:19 PM   #85
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The clean-up

Once I returned home I packed up all my stuff and moved to the new place. Since I was leaving for ten days immediately after I got back I decided to give my bike a quick basic wash. Pretty much everyone I ran into on my trip told me to clean my bike up in Fairbanks so the mud wouldn't damage my bike. I thought about it for a while and figured I'd just wait until I was home. The only thing I cleaned after my run to Deadhorse were my brake lights and my license plate:


As you can tell it was necessary And while I was cleaning those few parts I noticed that I would have to physically wipe off the mud - that just using a pressure washer (which I didn't want to do in the first place) would still leave a nice film of slimy mud on my bike.

But since I was home and would be leaving for a while I didn't want my bike to stand around in the garage with all that mud on her. So I took her outside for a quick wash, which still took me 2h to do .

Before:


After:


Believe me when I tell you, she looked good from far but far from good! The next day when I walked out to the sidewalk I was amazed by the amount of almost clay-like mud that had collected at the end of the driveway. I know it's been mentioned before by pretty much anyone who made the run up to Deadhorse but the mud will manage to get EVERYWHERE! I'm not just talking about a little here and a little there. Underneath my seat I have a little tray that used to hold my tools and yea, there was over an inch of compacted dirt there! Not only that, but all my wires and even the Power Commander where caked in dirt. Hmmm...So I just made sure the power was turned off and I sprayed it down with some water. Thankfully it didn't damage any of the wiring.

So, once I got back, again, I figured it would be time to really clean my bike. Throughout the year I try to wash and wax my bike every month or two so I wasn't unfamiliar with that task. However, this time it was a bit more daunting I figured I'd just take my bike apart as far as I feel comfortable with (which isn't much). Here's the layout after I had already washed my bike that first time:


I know...still pretty dirty. Now, those of you who actually look at my pictures ( ) might have noticed the ping-pong paddle lying among the part and you might ask yourself what the hell is that doing there Allow me to explain:

Since I have a cruiser (duh) I stick to paved roads (well, this trip was an exception ) . But while reading some RR's in preparation to my Canada/Alaska trip I saw a lot of deep mud or soft soil. I also noticed that quite a few riders welded a plate onto the bottom of their kickstand in order to increase its surface. For me, welding anything to my bike was out of the question since I still wanted to look good while cruising back and forth to school so I tried to find something that I could stick under my kickstand if the situation ever called for it. After a while I came to the conclusion that a ping-pong paddle would work best because its wide, light weight, and it doesn't use up any room. Plus, both sides had the little nipples on them (I do apologize if I've insulted some table tennis players ) . So that's the story behind that...

Anywho, so that time I spent over eight hours washing and waxing my bike. And just yesterday, I washed and waxed her again. Now, there's still plenty of dirt stuck to my bike and at first I was annoyed by it, however, I came to the conclusion that after what I've put Calypso through, that she has the RIGHT to not look the same as before the trip! On that note...while I was tenderly washing her I starting to assess the damage that my trip (with all the rocks thrown at me) had done to her. And this is where it gets weird...there were absolutely NO dings, scratches, dent, etc. on my front fender !!! And even the front of my tank was clean of damage. My windshield and main headlight had a few chips in them but nothing too bad. There were also some chips off of the side of my bike (air filter, transmission case on both sides) but other than that I had to admit that the damage was far less than I had expected I still have to figure out what to do with my front blinker but I'm sure I'll come up with a solution. After washing/waxing my bike yesterday I also put on the accessories that I had switched out for the trip (pipes, mirrors, foot boards) and now she's, finally, back to her old self! I forgot to take a picture yesterday but I'll take one sooner or later and post it so you can see a true before/after.

Next topic: Gear list
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Old 08-17-2011, 01:50 PM   #86
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Gear List

I hate to disappoint you but this list won't be that long. I did buy a few items specifically for this trip but nothing too fancy. Anywho, here it goes:

Helmet:
Shoei RF-1100 / Sever 2 TC-1 When I first bought my bike I had an Icon helmet (not sure what kind) but I noticed that if I wore the helmet for more than a couple of hours the padding would dig into my forehead and it would start to hurt quite a bit. Plus, if I was wearing sun glasses than those would dig into my temples as well. I was recommended the Shoei helmets because they were supposed to fit my oval/egg/banana-shaped head a bit better It was pretty expensive, however, it was money very well spent! Last summer I did a month long ride across the US and my head didn't hurt once during that trip. Plus, this helmet has groves at the level of the temples where you can slide your sun glasses into, therefore eliminating pressure on the side of your head.
Gloves:
TourMaster Synergy Electric Gloves I had bought these, again, for previous trips and they work well. Unfortunately they aren't water proof so they soak up with water pretty quickly but at least the water was heated a little bit On the previous trip across the US I rode through some 20ēF/-7ēC weather (without wind chill) and my hands were still okay. At that temperature they certainly weren't warm but I could still feel them. Even if the heating elements are not turned on the gloves keep you pretty warm.

Icon Merc Short gloves black These were my warm weather gloves. I bought these back in April '07 when I got my bike. Not quite sure what to say about them. They're comfortable and they do the job
Riding Suit aka "The Space Suit":
TourMaster Centurion One-Piece Suit I bought the Space Suit specifically for this trip. Usually I would just wear a military Gor-Tex over all my riding gear (which was always a pain in the ass). But for this trip I needed something that would keep me dry, warm, and safe. Once again, this might have been an expensive purchase but it was money worth spent. After buying it I took it for a test ride through some rain and it leaked around my left leg. I took it back to the store and they had no problems with replacing it. This suit is guaranteed 100% waterproof so it was nice of them to replace it without a hassle. Unfortunately I wasn't able to test it prior to my departure because rain is a bit hard to come by out here in southern california . On the Dalton I noticed that at slow speeds it would "leak" a bit but as soon as I was going faster I stayed completely dry. Now, on that note, I can't guarantee that I actually got wet on the Dalton. It was raining and it felt like my jeans were getting wet. However, I was still on the road for a few hours and when I stopped my pants were dry so it could have simply been that I had mistaken cold with wet. Anywho, I love The Space Suit but unfortunately I won't have any use for it in the next few years. One last thing, I had to get an XXL because all the other ones were just too short for me. But I still had to take the knee protectors out because they would just dig into my knee-caps and yea, that hurt . Another important thing (sorry): The Centurion has a ton of vents, however, they didn't really do me any good because I had the windshield and yea, vents don't work too good without wind
T-bag:
TourMaster Cruiser III Sissybar Bag Large I also bought this specifically for this trip. I comes with a rain cover but I found out that the cover is a very tight fit so I just decided to leave it at home and take some heavy duty trash bags with me instead (The Hanzo). Again, I'm not quite sure what to say about it. Other than the crappy rain cover it held up well, never had any issues with the zippers or anything like that.
Tank bag:
Iron Rider Cruiser Tank Bag I had this bag for a while and it works well. One big drawback, however, is that it's not water proof. So far I've never really cared because whenever I'd need it for long trips I would always mount my windshield, therefore protecting the tank bag from the rain. But on this trip a few things did get wet, oh well. Another draw back (might just be due to my inexperience) was that it would leave marks on my tank. Magnets hold it in place and there's this nice rubber surface on the entire bottom side of the bag. But it still left a pattern on my tank. Again, oh well...it's not that noticeable.
Tent:
REI Camp Dome 4 As I mentioned in a previous post I bought this tent because it was the "cheapest" good tent I could find. It's not made for severe weather but I figured I'd get wet on the road anyway so I didn't really mind if any of my gear got wet. I also purchased the footprint for it. Not sure if it was necessary but I got it anyways. It is a two person tent but since it doesn't have a vestibule it's only big enough for one person with their gear. Even though I am 6'2" (188cm) I was able to stretch out inside the tent.
Sleeping Bag:
No idea what brand it is and I don't care to look. It was a crappy sleeping bag anyway But then again, maybe it was my fault that I trusted the temperatures written on the label
Camera:
GoPro HD Helmet HERO with the Battery BacPac Well...uhm...not quite sure what to say here. Almost all my pictures where taken with this camera (at 720 dpi) so I'll let you be the judge. I'm trying to find the right words...okay...here I go. The electronics of the camera seem to be pretty nice. The camera is easy to operate , even with gloves on and while riding. The camera casing (not the water proof housing) is the cheapest and most flimsy thing I've ever seen. The battery cover broke the second time I opened it and yea, if you take the camera out of the housing make sure it's in a padded room or else it'll brake if a fly flies into it . The BacPac worked well. It allowed me to take pictures the entire day without changing out the batteries. The only time I almost ran out of juice was on the Dalton.
The other pictures were taken with a Canon PowerShot (just a basic compact camera)
Boots:
Alpinestar Ridge Waterproof Absolutely phenomenal !!! My socks/feet stayed dry throughout the entire trip. They were comfortable and they also kept my feet warm up in Deadhorse. Not sure what else to say...
Uhmm...that's about it. Now, before you start wondering if I did the entire ride with nothing but my Space Suit on, I didn't. I just brought my normal cloths with me...a few t-shirts, two pair of jeans, a sweater, two pairs of hiking socks, some underwear, a military fleece and balaclava. I have a 18" laptop so I was going to use a friend's laptop to take along. Well, unfortunately his laptop broke a day before I left for my trip so I had to lug my 18" true widescreen with me . I also got a basic bear box and bear mace.

As far as tools I can't really tell you what I took along. I just looked at almost every bolt and screw and brought those tools with me. Since I'm a little bit paranoid and expect the worst out of pretty much everything I brought quite a bit of spare parts along. Now, I didn't have a second disassembled motorcycle with me; I simply took the spare parts along that I knew how to switch out, and as far as the brake pads go, I figured I could do it myself or then take it to a shop. but just in case they didn't have my size pads I would have then at hand.

Anywho, I think this wraps up my gear list post. If you have any questions about any of the gear, please let me know.

IMPORTANT: When linking my gear to websites I tried to use the manufacturer's site but some items were no longer carried by them so I just inserted a link to a different vendor. That being said, I really, honestly, truly don't care where you buy your gear at so don't think that I'm trying to steer you towards a specific website

Next up: Bike mods
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To Deadhorse on a VN900
Video of my bike
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:18 AM   #87
jpdude999
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Dude, great report! I couldn't put it down! (Book speak, I know.) You've pretty much convinced me that I can make this trip. My wife won't be happy...

Anyway, about your fogging problem - try the pinlock (linky) anti-fog visor. Check out the link. I got one included with my new helmet, and it really works. About your blinker - some JB weld should take care of the mounting tabs, and, contrary to popular belief, when it comes to soldering, the bigger the blob IS NOT the better the job. I live down in Clairemont, so PM me, and if you want to come down some weekend, I'll solder it up for ya.

PS - were you a green-side pecker-checker?
PPS - I'm retired Navy, and a V-Strom guy, too!
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Old 08-18-2011, 02:35 PM   #88
Swissican OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpdude999 View Post
Dude, great report! I couldn't put it down! (Book speak, I know.) You've pretty much convinced me that I can make this trip. My wife won't be happy...

Anyway, about your fogging problem - try the pinlock (linky) anti-fog visor. Check out the link. I got one included with my new helmet, and it really works. About your blinker - some JB weld should take care of the mounting tabs, and, contrary to popular belief, when it comes to soldering, the bigger the blob IS NOT the better the job. I live down in Clairemont, so PM me, and if you want to come down some weekend, I'll solder it up for ya.

PS - were you a green-side pecker-checker?
PPS - I'm retired Navy, and a V-Strom guy, too!
Thank you. I'm glad to hear you've enjoyed my RR. From my experience (and those of others on this forum) it is possible to make the run up to Deadhorse on pretty many type of motorcycle. What you ride will just determine how "fast" you get there.

Thanks for the info on pinlock. I'll have to check it out even though I'm done with ADV rides for a while I'm thinking of just putting the stock lightbar back onto my bike and find a way to mount the spot lights...
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To Deadhorse on a VN900
Video of my bike
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:03 PM   #89
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Bike mods

This list will be even shorter than my Gear list.

Bike:
2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT (Calypso)
What can I say? Hmmm...this was my first bike and it was new when I bought it. Prior to buying Calypso I hadn't had any prior experience on motorcycles so I don't have any point of reference as to what's good/bad out it. When I was looking into buying a motorcycle I was told that I shouldn't get too big of a bike. 900cc is nice but it's a little bit too low on the torque and speed. But it certainly sufficed for this trip. One big drawback, I guess, was the weight which is 595lbs (270kg) dry. So with all the fuel, oil, and gear I would have to guess that she weighed in at about 800lbs (364kg). That's a lot of weight when you're trying to pull the bike out of a ditch or even if she takes a nap. On the flip slide the weight did help me keep traction, especially while taking the Roller Coaster on the Dalton (it was raining and the road was...well...slippery as hell).

Tires:
Metzeler ME 880 Marathon Touring (front and rear)
As of right now, the front has nearly 27k miles (43k km) on it and I still have another thousand miles to go before I get down to the little ridge-tire-depth-thingamabobber (hey, let's not get all technical here. I like to KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid ) Prior to my trip I switched out my rear tire but I still got over 17k miles (27k km) out of that tire.
Prior to the Metzelers I had the stock Dunlop tires and I have to say I love the Metzelers! They run a lot smoother and quieter than the Dunlops. The only issue I was anticipating for my trip was a flat tire. I have AAA roadside assistance but I figured they wouldn't come pick me up on the Dalton . Since I have spoke rims I couldn't really fix my tire on my own. I did bring a CO2 canister along but that would only get me so far. Someone suggested that I just bring a spare tube along and fix the tire. Yea...about that. Considering my bike's weight and the location of my rear axle, changing my own tubes was out of the question. But luckily it never came to that

Grips:
Kuryakyn ISO grips with throttle boss. They are a big improvement over the stock ones. The ISO grips really minimized the vibrations my hands had to endure.

Engine guard with highway pegs:
Ever since I got my new seat with the backrest I never really use the highway pegs anymore. But it was nice to have them...

Even for a tall guy like myself the handlebar was a little bit far away so I bought Kuryakyn Kickback Risers (4" rise and 1 1/2" pullback). They were okay. I can't say that I noticed a big difference but they still look good


K&N airfilter


I usually have a Cobra Speedster Long exhaust system on my bike but I switched it out for my stock exhaust for this trip. Due to the Cobra exhaust I installed a Cobra PowerCommander but left it when I switched out the pipes. Definitely can't say anything about this. Nothing happened, so I guess it works


About a year or so ago I installed a RBT (Run Brake Turn) module to increase my visibility from the rear. Again, ran like a charm, no complaints.


One thing I did buy specifically for this trip were my PIAA 1100X spotlights. Initially I was thinking about getting some HID lamps but it seemed like it would have been too much of a hassle to install them. These two puppies were actually brighter than the high beam of my regular light. I bought them because I wanted people to notice me (basically I would just blind them until they acknowledged me ) but also because I wanted to see as much of the road as I could. For some reason I never thought about the fact that I would be going up North in the summer and that the sun would be out most of the time. Anywho, I'm still glad I got them.


Prior to my trip across the US last year I invested in a Mustang seat which had a backrest. In my humble opinion, that purchase was worth more than all the other things combined! Once again, it was a bit on the pricey side but nothings too good for my butt . Honestly, I couldn't have survived this trip without it.


Horn:
Candle Power Electric Dual Horn Kit I had bought these because the stock horn had took a turn for the worse and I needed something a bit louder. And at 115dB...they get the job done

And I think this wraps up my bike mods. As I said before, I didn't really do anything special to my bike in preparation for this trip. I did swap out some parts for the stock ones (mirrors, pipes, foot boards) for this trip but yea, nothing too severe.

Again, if you have any questions about any of this, ask away. I'm all ear
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To Deadhorse on a VN900
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Old 08-18-2011, 09:00 PM   #90
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Cry Last thoughts, including stuff I forgot to mention...

It deeply saddens me to inform you, my avid reader, that this post will conclude my RR In this post I'll bombard you with my thoughts on my trip to Deadhorse. Conclusions that I came to and things like that. I do apologize in advance if this post might seem a bit "all over the place"

Windshield:
The first thing I did when I purchased my bike was to take the windshield off since I really don't like how my bike looks with it on. However, whenever I'd embark on trip a I would mount it back on since the windshield makes for a much more comfortable ride (nothing like holding onto my bike for dear life while traveling the interstates at a high rate of speed ). Naturally I put the windshield on for the trip to Alaska and I don't regret doing so. HOWEVER, here's what I noticed:
When traveling on normal paved roads I can look over the windshield and see the road in front of me. And I didn't run into any "problems" until I hit the Top Of The World Highway and the James W Dalton Highway. Traveling on those roads would cause dust, dirt, and mud to build up on my windshield, preventing me from seeing through it. Now, on a "normal" road this wouldn't have been a problem since I could just look over it and see the road 30ft ahead of me. But on the treacherous roads I had to keep a closer eye on the road, meaning I was going slower and I had to look through the windshield in order to see what was immediately in front of me (that pothole off in the distance sometimes turned into a bottomless abyss a few seconds before I'd pass it ) Now, looking through my windshield was made nearly impossible due to all the dirt on it...
So. if you're planning on taking a similar ride and have a real windshield (not those tiny "plastic bags" that most dualshort bikes have...I mean a REAL windshield ) then I would either leave it at home (if you won't be on the freeway too often) or, if you're going to take the Dalton, see if you can leave it at a Motel or something where you can pick it back up on your way home. Hope this made sense...
Emergency gear:
As I've mentioned in an earlier post I did fill my entire right saddle bag with a medical kit. Once again, I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to things like this so I brought everything along (medical wise) that would allow me to render "first" aid to any major trauma I might encounter. I mean, I had about ten pairs of heavy duty medical gloves, a ton of normal gauze and roller gauze, two tourniquets (the high-speed low-drag kind ) , QuickClot (a hemostatic agent), and other stuff that would probably get me in trouble if I actually used them (despite potentially saving a life). I also took some medication with me, for diarrhea, fever, swelling, etc. But I figured that if I actually needed other meds than I would just stop by a drugstore somewhere. My medical kit also included a box of condoms. Now now...not for THAT Sheesh!!! Condoms are quite versatile since they're waterproof, elastic and pretty durable (except around sharp objects). If you want to know any specific applications, let me know.
Anywho, for my emergency gear I also took three red 15min roadside flares with me. Just in case I came off the road and had to signal someone or if I had to get a fire started real quick. I also took a LED headlamp and flashlight with me, as well as a orange safety vest. If something did happen and I was stranded on the side of the road, especially in the dark, I would be more visible (nothing like changing a fuse on the side of an interstate at midnight in the middle of the desert ) I also took 500ft of 550 cord with, two carbines, and two cloth-loop-thingemabobbers (like a very short tow strap with a loop on each end).
Attitude:
I have been trying to subtly point this out throughout this RR but I'll point it out once more for clarity:
Pay attention!!! Throughout the entire trip I constantly kept my head on a swivel. More often than not I forced myself to pay attention. Especially after I've been on a bumpy, rock littered road and came onto a paved section the temptation of becoming comfortable was constantly there. And, as I've mentioned before, IMO paved roads up North are the worst surface to ride on; you automatically get a bit complacent and the potholes are just gargantuan! I don't care who you are or how long you've been riding, The Dalton is not an road to be taken lightly (Top Of The World can be challenging, too, but fortunately I experienced it on a nice day ). And if I offended you, I really don't care. If you're riding in a group and they're riding too fast for you then screw them and tell them to slow down next time you catch up to them. Which brings me to my next topic...
Riding solo:
Obviously I can't compare riding solo with riding in a group since I've never done a ride like this before with a group. I've done all my bike rides alone and I do enjoy riding alone. It might have to do with the fact that I haven't found someone to ride with but mainly it has to do with me. I like to cruise. I enjoy twisty roads, going fast, etc. However, I don't feel like finding out how far my bike will lean to one side (I have scraped the foot boards a few times, though) or how much traction my tires can have in a turn. Riding alone, I could eat, sleep, shit, and stop where I wanted to, which was nice. I wasn't too worried about getting stuck in a ditch because I knew I would stay on "well" traveled roads (at least a car or motorcycle every hour) so if I ran into a ditch and couldn't get my bike out I wouldn't have to wait too long for some help to come my way. But there were some drawbacks, too. That night in Whitehorse after having my worst day of the trip, I could have really used someone to talk to or just to get my mind off of things. At this point I do feel like mentioning that so far (all 37k miles on my bike) I've never had any form of entertainment while riding (MP3, CB radio, XM radio, etc.). Plus, when you're alone you have to carry all of the gear. If there's more than one rider, they can spread the load around. However, riding in a group can and will bring it's own challenges. If you're not completely in-tune with each other than that can lead to some disastrous situations. I'm not talking about fighting over who ate the twinkies (well, I've heard people killing each other for twinkies ). I'm talking about the small things that start to piss one person off which can potentially lead to someone really getting pissed off and as I've mentioned before, nothing's more dangerous than riding while angry/pissed off! And by "small things" I do mean small things. Like, if the riders aren't at the same skill level. One will want to ride faster than the other. One wants to stop and take lots of pictures, the other just wants to get to the next destination...Things like that. Don't get me wrong I'm certainly not trying to bash riding in a group! I would love to do a similar trip in a group. I'm just saying, riding in a group can often be more dangerous than riding alone. Anywho, enough of that...
DEET: Once I got bitten by that "whatever it was" up in BC I started to use my 100% DEET lotion every day. However, I must be a tasty bugger. The mosquitoes really didn't care when I had that DEET smeared all over me. I didn't bring one of those green mosquito-coil-burning-things along; so I would definitely recommend taking that along.

Facial hair (yes, this applies to females as well): I had a goatee and longer hair before I left but I figured I'd want to be as low maintenance as possible, so I shaved pretty much everything off. Now, I didn't think of this before but I learned my lesson quick. Make sure you cut, pluck, tweeze, etc. your nose hair. I know it sound stupid but there's nothing more annoying than a nose hair tickling you while you're trying to keep your bike vertical on the Dalton or some other treacherous road! It happened to me a few times and yea, no fun...

Money: Living in Switzerland I was used to simply walking into a bank if I needed some foreign currency. But here in the US I had no clue how that would work So I decided to just head to Canada and use my credit card for gas and motels, and pay with USD for everything else. Once I was there I would try to get some Canadian Dollars out of the ATM. Yea, bad idea. At the time of the trip 1 USD was worth about 0.90 CAD. However, when I paid with USD, no matter where, they would treat it as 1 CAD being worth 0.90 USD. So basically, if my math isn't too bad, I was losing 0.20 USD per CAD I spent. I tried numerous ATM's but for some reason it wouldn't let me withdraw any money. The first and only place I was able to get CAD was in Kitwanga, BC when I was heading back south So my advice to you is, do whatever it takes to get plenty of foreign currency prior to your departure (this holds true no matter where you go).

Key: This has probably to do with the fact that I'm a bloody noob when it comes to ADV rides but I didn't think about bringing a spare key with me . Shocking, I know. It never even crossed my mind. And this is how I found out how important it is to always have a spare key with you. While I was taking a brake in Coldfoot, AK two guys from Florida came rolling in on their Goldwings !!! They filled up and pulled in front of the restaurant. It was raining so they rushed to the door. Now, this trip from their bike to the door could have only been about 30 feet, max. but one rider managed to lose his key chain. According to him, it wasn't a small key chain, either. I helped him and some other look for the key but it was nowhere to be found. I probably looked for 20min or so. Fortunately he had brought a spare key with him so he wasn't stranded (unlike I would have been if that had happened to me). So yea, bring at least one spare key along

Riders: I would have to say that I met an interesting mix of riders on my trip. About half were nice but half of them were complete pricks! They would just give me this disapproving stare and, a few times, they would actually make a point to avoid me. I guess I was below them for taking my beautiful Calypso up to Canada/Alaska. That being said...I found out very quick who the cool dudes were. Everyone who had an ADV sticker on their bike was nice and friendly. Yes, there were a few stellar guys I ran into (Mr. V-Strom and his buddies) who didn't have a ADV sticker but yea, I was often just perplexed when I encountered obvious hostility towards me due to the kind of bike I was riding . Oh well...I really didn't care!

SPOT: Dear mother, read this part at your own peril . While reading through various RR's prior to this journey I saw that pretty much everyone had a SPOT with them. I thought about it for a long time and eventually I came to an arrogant decision...that I wouldn't need it. Again, I figured I'd be on traveled roads and that if I would update my facebook account almost every day then that should be enough to let my family and friends know that I'm okay. And if something were to happen then they I would contact them as soon as possible. The most immature decision I've made in quite some time Anywho, it is what it is. Thankfully nothing happened but here's my take on it. Throughout the whole trip I was never worried about getting injured. What I was worried about was crashing my bike and having to try and get it out from where it was and shipping it back home and dealing with the insurance. If I were to take on this adventure again, would I buy the SPOT?! Absolutely. But I wouldn't buy it for my own safety, rather for the piece of mind it offers to those back at home.

Costs: I tried to keep receipts throughout my trip but it didn't always work. The dollar amounts I spent are pretty accurate. When it comes to the gallons of fuel I used...not so much. Riding in the US I was used to the gas receipts having the gallon amount on them, in addition to the price. Well, not all Canadian gas stations offered that (granted, I didn't check). So I had to base the gallons off of other receipts where I paid about the same amount.

Total distance: 8300 miles / 13'350km
Fuel: 174.79 US gal / 661 L
Costs:
Fuel: 830.17 USD
Food/Lodging: 1375.33 USD Now, I did spend 271.- up in Deadhorse and roughly 320.- at the Bell II Lodge. Yes, I could have saved more than half if I had stuck to camping (except in Deadhorse) but hey, it was worth it.
Total: 2205.50 USD
The most I paid for gas:
In the USA: 5.399/gal (1.428/L) in Coldfoot and Yukon Crossing, AK
In Canada: 1.4899/L (USD 5.734/gal) in Dease Lake, BC
Well, I guess this wraps up my RR. I'm sure I've forgotten to mention a few things but once I remember I'll update this post.

At this point in time I would like to thank you, my patient readers, for enduring this long process with me Thank you for relieving this trip with me and for all your kind comments, full of wisdom and encouragement!

Feel free to send any question, comments, or concerns my way, either by posting in this thread or by sending me a PM. Again...thank you
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