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Old 01-05-2014, 06:07 PM   #1
beechhunter OP
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Vienna (Not Austria) Georgia to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska 2013

EDIT: Traditional Ride Report Below The Videos

For the past few years I have enjoyed the Ride reports on Adv more so than any other motorcycle media outlet. In my opinion some of the best riders/writers in the world post here. With this in mind I have prepared my contribution of motorcycle madness in hopes of giving something back.

In 2012 my brother and I hatched a plan to ride the TAT in summer of 2013. We tossed the idea around with our Dad, in hopes he would join us. He had a different idea-- Alaska !!! With very little discussion, a rough plan formed and the 3 of us went north. The only stipulation I had was to ride the bikes the entire way from Vienna, Georgia, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, no trailers. We spent the next 10 months preparing.

The trip has come and gone and now is the time for reflection. This will be a video ride report. I had every intention of posting a traditional ride report but editing video has sucked the life out of me. The task of editing raw footage has been an adventure in itself, ie. it sucks. I am finally finished and below is my less than mediocre attempt at moto journalism. Enjoy.

There are 7 videos for a total of about 30 minutes. The 7th being a slide show of still shots.














beechhunter screwed with this post 01-19-2014 at 07:59 AM Reason: Change in layout
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:23 PM   #2
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Vienna (Not Austria) Georgia to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska 2013

In addition to the videos above, I thought I would share my trip through a traditional ride report. As I mentioned above, my brother and I were planning on doing the TAT in 2013. With both of us reaching important milestones in our lives by graduating college together (me at 33 in Accounting, he at 25 in Business Management), we decided to take a motorcycle trip to further commemorate the year. Honestly, it was something to look forward to besides tests, readings, assignments, etc.

I decided to go back to college with a full-time job, full-time family, and a full-time class load--kudos to anyone else who has done the same because it is hard as hell. For the last two years, my motorcycle has kept me sane.

My brother and I kept trying to talk our dad into doing the TAT with us, but with over 30 years off of a dirt bike, his off-road skills were questionable. He suggested a trip with more pavement and he expressed his childhood dream of traveling the Alaska Highway. Sounded good to us.

After little deliberation, in July of 2012, we nailed down some dates and wrote it on the calendar. That is the best way to actually go through with something of this magnitude. I’ve read in another RR that if you start telling people what you are doing, it holds you more accountable. So that is what we started doing--telling family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. That way, if we didn’t go on the trip, we would look like total jackasses.

My brother and I both owned KLRs that we were preparing for the TAT, but having owned a R1150 GS before, I felt like that was the only bike for the trip. We’re all big guys and the KLR just won’t cut it. So we started scouring the internet looking for our bikes. Within a few months, we found our bikes: mine in Miami, my dad’s in Savannah, my brother’s in Hilton Head.

Going to get my bike was an adventure in itself that has garnered me a contact in El Salvador. My dad and I drove about 8 hours one way to arrive at a condominium complex in Highalea. The guy that owned the bike was an immigrant to the U.S. from El Salvador. He put himself through college working construction and has been an engineer for the past 30 years travelling throughout the world working projects. Upon meeting him, he immediately invited my dad and I to have dinner with he and his family. They were in the middle of an annual party they throw for friends and family from all over the world. We dined on traditional Central American cuisine and conversed with people from all corners of the globe. We remain in contact to this day.

All three of our bikes and my dad:

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Over the next 8 months, bike preparation sucked up any and all of our free time. Every weekend, it seemed like we were at my dad’s house working on the bikes. His garage became our bike shop. I used information gleaned from past RRs to hopefully prepare us for what was to come.

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Working and preparing the bikes is one thing, but we were also researching and accumulating gear we personally would need to take the trip. We planned on camping and thought hammocks were the answer. Not. (Didn’t realize that until Day 3 of the trip. Hammocks Suck.)

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As the weeks passed, the physical preparation was going smoothly. But honestly, I wasn’t mentally prepared. I wanted to back out up to the day of departure because I didn’t want to leave my wife (she likes to ride too) and three year old son behind for a month. I was asking a lot considering we do everything as a team and she would be without her teammate for weeks.

The better part of our lives revolves around two wheels:

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My son reminds me on a weekly basis that I am taking him to “the Alaska” when he “gets bigger”. I can’t wait.

Future Adventure Rider:

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Having fun with 50cc:

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Now we are up to July 2013…preparation is complete and departure day is Friday, July 26, 2013.

More to come…
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:15 AM   #3
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Good RR

You have now graduated to Ride Report Motojournalist. Congradulations. Good job.
I will do this one day.
I hope.
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Old 01-15-2014, 04:40 PM   #4
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Great Family Time

This trip was a blast and I would like to thank my son's for inviting me.

[IMG] photo 2013-08-04_10-07-44_27_zps3faf8f45.jpg[/IMG]
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:10 PM   #5
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Excellent videos! Want to do the same ride when I can get enough time off from the ole work routine.
What did you do to repair the final drives on the road and what tires did you change to before the Dalton? Anyway, great ride and thank you!
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:34 PM   #6
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Time to Ride

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcgee View Post
Excellent videos! Want to do the same ride when I can get enough time off from the ole work routine.
What did you do to repair the final drives on the road and what tires did you change to before the Dalton? Anyway, great ride and thank you!

Work is the biggest hurdle for most of us. I saved vacation days for a few years and made the time commitment. I could only swing 26 days away and that is the time frame we worked with. We didn't have much time for smelling the roses, so to speak, but it was take it or leave it.

We had the tools on hand to split the final drive and then we traveled to the closest bike shop that had a press.

I left GA with Tournaces and put Heidenau K60 in Fairbanks. My brother left GA with new K60s and made it up the Dalton and back to Seattle. Roughly 10,000 miles on the K60. Great tires.

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Old 01-17-2014, 06:42 PM   #7
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Great vids! It's the adversity that makes it an adventure! I'll be following along...
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:48 AM   #8
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Hitting the Road

Friday, July 26, 2013 has arrived. I finished my last final on Tuesday and my brother on Thursday. I took off work on the 25th to make any last minute preparations and to spend time with my family.

Since all three of us were coming from different directions, we all decided to meet up the road in Perry on I-75 at 12:00pm. Our first stop was BMW of Atlanta to have extra keys made. We gave each other our spare keys in order to prevent the unthinkable from happening (losing your stuff and not being able to ride your bike—in the wilderness of Canada).

Getting gas in Macon, Georgia--the first of 79 total times.

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The first night we stopped just north of Nashville. We decided to motel it because of 1) the heat 2) so we could save time in the morning getting on the road.

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On our first full official day on the road, our goal was to ride from Nashville to Linn, Kansas. Our cousin owns and operates Midwest Outfitters there. We rarely get to see him since he moved out there about four years ago. It is a great place to hunt deer and turkeys. He also offers upland bird hunts as well.

My wife and I with my first bow turkey kill in April 2012.
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It took us about half the day to get through St. Louis. An obligatory stop at the Arch led to the decision not to get off the bikes to ride to the top, but it was still neat to ride so close to it. I’ve seen it many times from the interstate, but never from the bottom of it. It is humongous.

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We rode and rode close to 850 miles for that day, making it to Linn in time for supper. There is nothing but dirt/gravel roads in rural Kansas—making for some interesting riding at times. On the second evening of our trip, my dad dumped his bike on the final road of the day. No pictures because we were too worried and trying to get the bike and him up. He hurt his right ankle bad and limped for the rest of the trip. That is one negative about using hard boxes because his leg got pinned under it.


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Wes, Travis, Riley, and Tim
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After a meal of smoked pork chops and other fixings, we sat around and talked for hours into the night. The next morning we got up late and did not depart until 11:30…
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Old 01-19-2014, 11:22 AM   #9
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Enjoyed your report. FWIW, I used hard, aluminum boxes for a cross USA ride in 2011. After finding that it was far too easy to get a leg trapped under them I switched to water-proof soft panniers for last summer's cross country trip. Quite pleased with my decision. In addition to reducing the potential of leg/foot injury...the soft bags are considerably lighter and don't bang your gear around. But weight reduction probably isn't much of a concern for GS riders.
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:03 PM   #10
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Canada by Way of Old Faithful and Company

We left Kansas headed west towards Yellowstone through Nebraska and Wyoming. The first pit stop of the day was the Cabela’s headquarters in Sidney, Nebraska. If anything outdoors is your bag, this is a really neat place to visit.

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I picked up a riding buddy while I was in there. My three year old loves raccoons, so I decided to take this one with me for the rest of the trip. I sent pictures from various places throughout the trip back to him with “Meeko” (what my son named him). That was a great way to stay connected while being so far away.

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Windmills in Nebraska (not many of these in Georgia)

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Late that afternoon (we always wanted to stop before total darkness set in) we were looking for a motel in Rawlins, Wyoming, and saw a bunch of bikes parked at this place. The lady who owned it was a Polish immigrant who loved Elvis and John Wayne. The entire motel reflected her love of those two men as the décor/motif was like stepping back into a 1960s western.

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After leaving Rawlins we headed up the Chief Joseph Scenic Hwy. There were some nice views but it was mostly just HOT.



“Split Rock” historical marker. During the brief run of the Pony Express there was a station here. There was also a herd of wild horses but we did not see them.

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After Split Rock we rode hard towards Grand Teton National Park. We planned to camp inside the park that night. When pulling up to the guard station at the Jackson Lake campground we met George Kulakowski. We quickly made plans to share a camp spot. We had a nice evening talking with George as he just completed the Dalton Hwy. George quickly broke out his notebook for information sharing. A truly nice guy and what motorcycle travel is all about.

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Tim, Wes, Riley, and George

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The next morning we snapped a few pictures through the Tetons heading towards Yellowstone.

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We only planned for one stop in Yellowstone and that was to watch Old Faithful. I have heard about Old Faithful my entire life. To be honest it was let down for me, but it has been checked off the list. The parking lot looked like an amusement park and the people were stacked deep.

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No explanation necessary.

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North entrance to Yellowstone.

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Next stop, Canada...

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Old 01-22-2014, 07:06 PM   #11
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Getting Closer to the Border

After leaving Yellowstone, we were headed toward Glacier National Park and the Canadian border. At some point along the way we stopped in Missoula, Montana, shipped 40 lbs of excess gear back to the house, and gave some stuff to the kids working in the UPS store. I read previously on Adv you should “pack everything you need on the bike and then throw away half of it”. Very true. Most of the gear was camping related. We gave up on camping for a few reasons: 1. Dad hurting his foot real bad. 2. Saving time in the mornings and evenings. Breaking camp is not conducive to 14-16 hours in the saddle. 3. Too much extra gear/weight involved.

By this point, about a week in, my brother and I were ready to kill each other. If any of you have traveled with family, you know what I am talking about. You wouldn’t think there would be much to argue about riding a motorcycle in the same direction day after day. Trust me there is plenty. However, I would not trade the trip with my brother now that it is over.

Wal-Mart is arguably one of the least favorite shopping places in the country, but its prices cannot be beat when it comes to the groceries. One of us would run in and buy a big sub sandwich from the deli, a bag of chips, and a drink to split. $2.50 a meal is cheap eating. The free shade wasn’t too bad either.

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After leaving Missoula, we headed toward Glacier National Park and the Going to the Sun Road. This part of the trip proved to be some of the most scenic riding overall.

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The guard rail is not doing much "guarding" around here.
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My brother Wes cheesing as usual.
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After riding out the back side of Glacier, we crossed into Canada. The border patrol agent was less than friendly, but I did forget to stop at the stop sign. They made us come inside and gave us the 20 question bit. No big deal, 30-40 minutes. I think it was my beard.

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We stopped at the first motel we came to; pretty nice place for $60.

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Old 01-29-2014, 07:50 PM   #12
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The Ride Continues

After sleeping our first night in Canada we headed towards Crowes Nest Pass and Road 40 (the gravel road that runs towards Kananaskis). Before getting to Crowes Nest Pass, we stopped at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. Quick history: this is the spot in 1903 where the deadliest landslide in Canada's history occurred. Basically they just moved the rocks over and built the road right through the middle of the rubble. Impressive sight.

Not my picture...

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I had read scattered reports that parts of the Trail were washed out from the heavy rains during early summer. We talked to several different people on the road from the area and overall we got a mixed report—even from the locals. We decided to give it a go anyway. Heading up the road, we found a nice spot to eat lunch by a river. There were a couple of guys fly fishing…not sure if they had any luck.

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As we sat eating our sardines, a couple on a KTM came blasting by two-up and loaded down. We waved and they waved. A few moments later, we saw them coming our way again. They had turned around to tell us the road was washed out just in case we were headed that direction. They were from Wyoming and were taking 2 months to get to Prudhoe Bay. We would see them again a week later when we were coming back down the Dalton and they were going up.

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After cutting our gravel ride short, we headed towards Canada 1 and on to Banff. This is where the trouble started…

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We stopped to get gas somewhere off of 1 and pulled into the shade to have a drink and discuss sleeping arrangements. While we were standing there talking, I noticed a drop of something that was under my dad’s final drive. Dismissing it as a rain drop because it had been raining and the pavement was still wet in spots, we drove across the street to check the price at the closest motel. The spot on the concrete had worried me so I looked at his bike again once we got across the street and noticed the same spot on the concrete. I ran my hand along the final drive and it was oily.

We immediately booked a room, the most expensive stay on the whole trip, at $275.00 per night. We were afraid to travel any further with my dad’s unknown bike condition and a quick smart phone search yielded Calgary as the nearest BMW dealership.

After getting our dad situated in the motel, my brother and I rode to Lake Louise. It was raining and not as impressive as the pictures I have seen.

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The next morning my brother got up early and drove to Calgary in hopes the dealer would have the part we needed. Once the businesses were open I started making phone calls to source a seal. The BMW dealer did not have the parts, but Anderwerks did. The shop foreman suggested we purchase a bearing just in case. He was right. When my brother returned from Calgary, we set about splitting the final drive and removing the old bearing. This proved a difficult task to say the least. We had a hammer, a chisel, a propane torch, and a block of wood. Keep in mind this makeshift bike shop was located in the parking lot where the tourist buses unloaded. Many people walked up and asked us questions all day.

While we were waiting on him to get back, I decided to ride to the Fairmont Hotel (impressive in a Biltmore-ish way).

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After the diy bearing job was an epic failure, we needed a press. I got on my bike and rode back to Calgary with the parts so Anderwerks could change the bearing. I cannot say enough good things about these guys. I was in and out in less than 2 hours.

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Waiting on parts...
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Once I got back we put the bike back together and rode to downtown Banff for a cheaper motel. We lost a full day of riding to this fiasco. It could have been worse...
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Old 02-05-2014, 07:41 PM   #13
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Talking Closing in on the AK Hwy

After a day of bike repairs in Banff we are ready for the Ice Fields Parkway. 100+ miles of great scenery.
But patience was in short supply this day. To circumvent brotherly violence we split up on the parkway and for most of the day I was alone. A day on a bike is good attitude adjustment.

The guy driving this VW is from Norway and making his way around the world. We met up with him on the return trip an shared a camp. Great guy and quite enthusiastic. 75 years young.

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After the parkway we made fast tracks for Dawson Creek. Stayed somewhere in a Motel 6 and crashed hard. Everyone kissed and made up and no fist fights, yet

After a good nights sleep and waffles the next morning we were ready for the AK Hwy.
But first we must see some beaver. Who doesn't like big beaver?

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Once the crude jokes finished we continued riding towards the start of the Alcan. Hard to believe that we drove our bikes from GA to Dawson Creek in just 9 days. Our dad told my brother and I he had been dreaming about riding this road since he was a small boy in the 60s. Glad I was there with him.

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Next installment: miles and miles of pine trees.
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:39 PM   #14
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Dude, post your wife and bike on "Bikes and Wives" looks like she is a winner
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Old 02-06-2014, 05:12 AM   #15
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Wow. I was there and I'm enjoying this just as much as if I had not been. Great ride report. You memory is a little better than mine or I was oblivious to some of the details of our trip. Probably the latter.
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