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Old 07-05-2005, 01:18 AM   #1
MooseKiller OP
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Location: New Spokananian, DrySide WA
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It was a dark and stormy night...

OK, so it was a mildly over-cast and cool mid-afternoon in reality, but I really had no other idea as how to start my first ride report... I figured I would start with a "Snoopy" even though my college creative writing instructor would beat me senseless with a dangling participle, since that is all they are really good for...

I have been riding for about 2 years now after having been interested in motorcycles for the previous 13. School and family life seemed to have taken priority during that time. When I finally came into the market for buying a bike, I had my sights set on a cruiser I decided on about 3 years before I bought it. About a month before I signed on the dotted line, I became aware of the Dark Side... Something it's follower's refered to as "Adventure riding" or "Dual Sport"...

Well, after nearly buying a Yamaha XT225, I went with my original desire and picked up a 650 Silverado. I put a fair amount of miles on it so I could learn how to ride without (hopefully) killing myself. I thoroughly enjoy putting miles on the Beauty as often as I can. But the call of the Dark Side kept whispering to me...

Fast forward nearly a year to this spring. After lurking ADVRider.com for what seemed like an eternity, I was finally preparing to buy my first DS bike. Fighter pointed me in the direction of KeithInAlaska for a used KLR 650, but Uncle Sam decided he wanted a few more duckets from our intrepid hero (uh, that's me...), so the KLR ended up not becoming mine. A few months passed and some creative refinancing ensued in an effort to make a BMW 1200 GS become a reality spring of 2006.

Then one day I was perusing the ads in the paper when I spied a '96 1100 GS just begging for a new owner (again, that's the intrepid hero... Me...). After some nail biting and selling of souls, mine and others, a bright shiny red new-to-me DS became all mine. And the Lord spaketh, and it was good! I met ParrotHead in the process, so I owe him a big thanks for being the impetus for my turn to the Dark Side.

So where does this long winded prologue take us? Well, on July 2nd of this fine year, it took me on my FIRST DUAL SPORT RIDE!!

While I may lack the creativity of Flug, Vance's manliness, or Striking Viking's experience, I shall venture forth and attempt to make this report as entertaining as possible for the wizened and grizzled veterans.

This brings us to the mildly over-cast and cool mid-afternoon in which I prepared for the ride of my life. I packed the camera and some water and proceded to do the smart thing and give the Beast a good once over for safety reasons...

Oil: Yup
Tires/Pressure: Yup
Brake fluid: Yup
Lights: Yup
Antifreeze: Nope (Which is a good thing)
Dead Dino-juice: Yup
Flux Capacitor: Fluxing

I don my stitch, boots, helmet, gloves... I warm up the Beast, point her into the wind, pop the clutch and OFF I G..G..G...G.. stall the engine. *AHEM* I start it again and slowly scoot away, taking comfort in the fact that I am wearing a full face helmet so nobody can see how embarassed I am.

I get a block away and do a final check while I am at the stop light, only to realize I left my wallet at home. Dagnabbit... We are NOT off to a good start here... OK, so after returning to get the plastic and license, I'm finally off on my adventure to Hatcher Pass, just out side Wasilla, Alaska.

After about 45 miles of slab (as there really is no other way of getting there. I mean I *COULD* trailer the bike, but it's not a Harley, so what's the point?), I finally arrive at the lower turn off to take a few pix.


I take a picture of the informational signs to edjumakate myself in what lies ahead. (Apparently there are no fireworks hiding in Hatcher Pass, which keeps the park safe...)


While I am there, a Harley pulls up and off hop Dwayne and his daughter Robin. Apparently Dwayne grew up in Willow, which is where I will end up if my ride over the pass is successful. We chatted a bit and then wished each other safe riding. Here is Robin (far left) and Dwayne (black vest obscured) talking to some people they apparently knew. Nice folks!



I hop back on the Beast and get about a 1/4 mile up the road when a perfect photo op avails itself to me. I pull a quick U-turn and set it up. The cliff is a good 100 somethin feet.


And here is the raging river just hiding behind the drop off on the other side of the bike... Purty!! It is looking back toward the spot I first stopped at.


I pop it back into gear and start climbing up the pass. One thing I seriously enjoy about the bike is that hills do not affect it at all! many people were very kind and waved me safely by! Thanks!

So get to about a mile from the top after enjoying the twisties when I pull off to snap a few more pix. I mean, you need pix for a ride report right? Right!

Here's looking back toward where I just came from. Just on the other side is a HUGE drop off, so don't forget to set the parking brakes!


As you can see, the clouds are getting closer, and I anticipated some nasty weather... Not really anticipated, more like looked forward to it eagerly!

While I was putzing around, a Park Service employee stopped in to put up a few signs expressing their request to not camp in this lot. Duely noted... I figured I would chat up the young lady and get some info on the pass road and conditions. She expressed concern due to mud and washouts and suggested I perhaps wait a while and try again later in the year as the road just opened a few weeks ago. Here's Carrie doing her duty...


Well, I figured there would be no adventure in the ride if I just turned back and called it a day. So back on, start 'er up, and off I go (this time no stalling...)!

I cruise up past a few more twisties and mosey onto the pass road where it finally turns into dirt. First thing that greets my is a sharp switch-back, sprinkled with mud and gravel. Wee! I make it around without falling! WOO HOO! I'm an Adventure Rider! Woo Hoouuuuups! Wiggle wiggle squirm slide.... OK, so, don't get cocky...

I end up behind a 4x4 that's taking it easy, which is fine as it sets a good pace and keeps me in check. We slink past a few more switch-back on a road that changes every few hundred feet from gravel to mud to small streams of water (perhaps a foot wide, so I will not classify them as water crossings...), all the while a combination of potholes or washboard. All the while the drizzle turns to rain to that ambiguous doesn't know which way to slobber stuff.

Eventually I make it to the pass, which is near a place called Summit Lake. I am sure there was a lake up there somewhere, though I am sure it was hiding up a foot path which was probably covered by snow. To my left was a wall of the white stuff about 10 feet tall. I was tempted to grab a shot with the camera, but it is not as adventuresome as I am... To have pulled it out and put the lens on in this weather was begging for a ccd imager to blasted with water. Last thing I'd want to do is toast a $1500 camera set up before I got more pictures in.

After the wall of snow it was more of the same type of road conditions, only instead of going straight up, it was going straight DOWN. Of course, this simply obeys the laws of physics. I take my time and scoot on down, concentrating on the mud and easing around corners. I eventually descend about 500 vertical feet and the weather starts to break. I find a nifty pull off and take a few pix.

This is looking back up where I just came from.



Some of what makes Alaska so amazingly b-e-a-yootiful, as well as so remote.



So I slurp some water, squish the now wet gloves back on, and head further down the road. It smooths out a bit so I am able to put a bit more throttle into it. I have gained a bit more confidence after what I just came through. I wish the weather was a bit more conducive to picture taking, but I needed to focus on the road and learning how to ride in this stuff, not getting lost in the scenery looking for more photo ops. It was about this time that the adrenaline subsided and I noticed my hands getting a bit chilly. I hit the heated grips (everyone say it with me: Ooooo! Ahhhhhh!) and my chilly digits warmed right up!

As I was enjoying the ever increasing speeds (OK, 25 mph may not be warp speed, but it felt fast nonetheless!), I was waved on through by a few other nice people. I felt a bit guilty when I pulled over for another photo shoot just a few miles later...

While I was there, one of the trucks I passed pulled over and offered to take a picture of me and the Beast! Woo hoo! The nice folks were up visitng from Nevada (Las Vegas) and we did a bit of chatting. Unfotunately I didn't catch their names... I also asked if they'd like me to take their pix, and they politely declined so I respected their request. But here is the magic they worked with my camera!


Here is more magic, but from a higher power...


And still more... Man, I love this stuff!!



By this time I realized that if I was ever going to make it through the 34 miles of dirt, I needed to actually do some RIDING. I promised myself that I would not stop for a long while as starting and stopping all the time doesn't build RIDING experience. But now I can see what challenges all you adventure riders face... When to stop and take pix, and when to just keep going. For now, I needed to just keep going.

The road got easier from here, and it seemed like the first six miles or so were the toughest, and I survived!! Yay!! Go me!! The longer I continued, the more people showed up. Campers, ATVs, wild free-range Alaskan horses... OK, so they aren't wild or free range, but they were off to the side of the road munching some of Alaska's finest natural salad fixin's...

Eventually the road changed from dirt to pavement, though I would have taken dirt all the way back to the Parks Highway as there were tar snakes all over the place. Speed had to have been kept in check, so no scrubbing of chicken strips was to be had on this road. And any sign that warned of "bumps" was really a warning of some broken pavment... Bleah.

I stopped and grabbed another swig of water and popped off a few more pix... Damn tar snakes...



Artsy fartsy... Kinda. And I need to work on my photoshop skillz to get rid of power lines. Chicks dig guys with skillz....



I hit the Parks Highway and headed back toward Wasilla. The slab was nice as I am not used to the off-road stuff, and I was beginning to tucker out. While on the way back, the Beast and I were nearly assaulted by a 30 foot gorilla!!! (You think I am kidding?!?!) GRRRR!!!



After King Kong backed off, I hit the highway, topped the tank off, and cruised back into town to finally kick back and revel in the fact that I just survived my FIRST DUAL SPORT RIDE!



I do believe that it is now time to celebrate appropriately!


In total, this was a 176 mile ride, with 34 miles of dirt. Every inch of which was excrutiatingly enjoyable. I long for the next DS trip I get to take! I have had the GS for about 3 weeks now and I am so thankful that I bought my own little slice of heaven. While the Beast sports a "Dust to Dawson 2002" badge of honor, I persoanlly have not and I am hoping that next year I possess the skillz to attempt the D2D ride and earn it myself...

Because chicks dig guys with skillz...

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Old 07-05-2005, 01:55 AM   #2
walrond
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Nice report

Nice ride report with some good pics. I am new to my GS as well and really look forward to getting off the beaten track with it. Living in Alaska must be incredible, well at least during the summer. I'm sure I will find the opportunity to get down to the Alps this summer or fall, but it's a good 5 hour ride on the Autobahn to get there. That's not a ride a my butt is looking forward to doing. Thanks for sharing and please continue posting more pics of your rides. I can only imagine how many opportunies you have to get out in the wilderness living where you do...
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Old 07-05-2005, 02:21 AM   #3
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Hey, great report. You write well. How long is the riding season in Alaska? I see you've got a separate monitor for each forum what a clever idea.

Yeah, the weather is quite impressive. I love massive clouds, especially if the sun is poking through as well. I suppose in Alaska you better like local weather or you are not going to be a happy chappy.
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Old 07-05-2005, 04:56 AM   #4
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Nicely done!

Congrats on the new-to-you bike as well.

When I joined up here I really didn't like the look of all the R1150GS bikes. The asymetrical half swingarm/ final drive thing and asymetrical headlight make me feel off-balance just by looking at them. The little light+big light thing makes me feel like its staring me down or giving me a stuck-up sidelong glance. But as I see more older BMWs with symetrical headlight arrangements, i'm begining to warm up to them. Your bike dosen't suck.

So I guess Alaska in the summer on a moto with a cool camera dosen't suck either. Very nice report. Do it again soon!

Thanks.
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Old 07-05-2005, 05:02 AM   #5
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Outstanding!
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Old 07-05-2005, 05:22 AM   #6
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Nice job there Killer.
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Old 07-05-2005, 05:45 AM   #7
JimVonBaden
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Great start, especially the beginning!


By the way, on a DS ride you are supposed to get your bike dirty, then post pictures! This bike is entirely too clean!

Jim

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Old 07-05-2005, 07:05 AM   #8
MaddBrit
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Nice report very nicely written! (and nice GS too). Thanks for taking us all along for the ride..

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Old 07-05-2005, 08:56 AM   #9
OldPhart
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Great report! Great looking bike (but, it is too clean)! I look forward to hearing more of your explorations of your great state!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:33 AM   #10
MooseKiller OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walrond
Nice ride report with some good pics. I am new to my GS as well and really look forward to getting off the beaten track with it. Living in Alaska must be incredible, well at least during the summer. I'm sure I will find the opportunity to get down to the Alps this summer or fall, but it's a good 5 hour ride on the Autobahn to get there. That's not a ride a my butt is looking forward to doing. Thanks for sharing and please continue posting more pics of your rides. I can only imagine how many opportunies you have to get out in the wilderness living where you do...
Thanks for the compliments! I used to live in Solingen back in the early 80's, and I really enjoy Germany. It is a beautiful country with some great people... One of these days I would love to take a trip back and do a motorcycle tour of Europe... The summers are amazing here in Alaska, but the winters can be a bit harsh. But it is times like this that make it worth while. I hope you are eventually able to get that ride in the Alps down and post a report of your own! Ride safe!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:40 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kokopelli
Hey, great report. You write well. How long is the riding season in Alaska? I see you've got a separate monitor for each forum what a clever idea.

Yeah, the weather is quite impressive. I love massive clouds, especially if the sun is poking through as well. I suppose in Alaska you better like local weather or you are not going to be a happy chappy.
Thank you for the compliments... I was concerned my report wasn't going to get much play, but it seems to be doing well so far! I appreciate the support! Yeah, I am a bit of a techno-geek, but it is all in good fun.

Riding season really varies depending in when the ice/snow makes it's arrival/departure. I was able to get a few miles in last March, which is really quite early. You can generally keep scooting into September and October, though that tends to be it. I love it up here, but eventually I will head to a place where I can ride year around.

In Alaska, you can't let weather (aside from ice) dictate when you ride. I kinda like cloudy/light rain as it stays cool. Besides, I need the experience! Hopefully I can head to NZ one of these days and do some riding! A friend of mine has been there before and she said it was amazing! Ride safe!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by RoundlightKnight
Nicely done!

Congrats on the new-to-you bike as well.

When I joined up here I really didn't like the look of all the R1150GS bikes. The asymetrical half swingarm/ final drive thing and asymetrical headlight make me feel off-balance just by looking at them. The little light+big light thing makes me feel like its staring me down or giving me a stuck-up sidelong glance. But as I see more older BMWs with symetrical headlight arrangements, i'm begining to warm up to them. Your bike dosen't suck.

So I guess Alaska in the summer on a moto with a cool camera dosen't suck either. Very nice report. Do it again soon!

Thanks.
Woo hoo! My bike doesn't suck! I will have to tell Flug... Thanks! I kind think BMWs are a love 'em/hate 'em relationship. I didn't like the light set up on the newer models like you, but I am warming to them. But then again, ANYTHING that can grab a cager's attention is a good thing when you are on a bike. In all I guess it is a moot point as I have a bike that I love and I have no intentions on getting ride of it anytime soon... Thanks agian for the compliments, and I look forward to my next report too!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:47 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by dragoon
Outstanding!
Thanks dragoon, I appreciate the encouragement!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Curvrider
Nice job there Killer.
And a big thanks to you too, Curverider!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:51 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by JimVonBaden
Great start, especially the beginning!


By the way, on a DS ride you are supposed to get your bike dirty, then post pictures! This bike is entirely too clean!

Jim
Yeah, I know I am supposed to get the bike dirty... I am working on it! I figured it would have been a not-so-good thing to throw a few roosts, only to drop the bike my first time out... Next time I promise to do better! Thanks!
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