Day 2: Minot, ND: 970 km

June 30, 2013

No rain!!!!! (but hot) I am not as sore as I was. Much less moving around on the bike today. Much less standing on the pegs. We may hit a dealer in Edmonton to try some Airhawk seat pads.
In the first 136 km today I saw two deer and my GoPro broke and tumbled down the road.
Dendog was behind me so he missed seeing the deer but did notice the GoPro. The GoPro was not filming, so nothing to see. I circled around to pick it up. Just need to find a new case.
I met a new best friend, but he isn’t a floor (inside joke) and Dendog was not jealous. We followed a seasoned rider on his BMW K100LT for about 150 km. the bromance ended when he stopped at a rest area. We never met, but we shared a moment.
It took us 2.5 hours to leave the hotel this morning. We just keep talking to people about our trip / their trip. We met a guy from Grand Bend, ON that was staying at our hotel. He had a BRP Spyder with a trailer. He had more than two sets of clothes.
We passed through the center of North America, Rugby, ND.
In addition to my GoPro, my sunglasses were crushed by a truck after they flew out of my pocket west of the Fisher Landing, MN rest area.
So far, the only accessory I really wish I had, is a real cruise control. My Excel Throttle Lock is great, but we had very long stretches of very straight roads. For the roads we have travelled so far, a Goldwing or FJR 1300 would be ideal. I may now get a call from Art at Motorsportsworld.
Going to hook Dendog up on WordPress so he can share his perspectives.
We are at Applebee’s and our hotel room smells a bit like sewage. Some Robaxacet and good night!
I typed this one on the iPhone. Sorry for mistakes.
Lunches at subway = 2 for 2.
Some pictures follow.

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Day 1: Hurley, WI: 981 km

June 29, 2013

Sorry, no pics.
Today’s firsts:
-I saw three Great Lakes in the same day
-I saw Lake Superior for the first time
-Longest MC ride for both of us
-I crossed the Mackinac Bridge for the first time (I recorded that with the helmet cam but was scared poopless to look around too much)

Video of the Mackinac Bridge crossing.

This is what we learned today:
-my seat is not very comfortable
-Dendog’s rain gear takes about 1/2 hour to get on / off we will have to remedy this somehow.

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-Do not accidentally go to the NEXUS line at the bridge, that will cost you an hour inside secondary screening
-The Sena Bluetooth headsets are totally awesome
-people talk to you and ask you about your trip
-It can be very windy near lake Superior

One cool thing (ha ha), as we approached Lake Superior, the temperature dropped 8 C in 20 km.

In summary, we had a great day. It rained for a while in the lower part of Michigan, but after that, it was pretty nice. Bikes were good. Met a guy in Grayling, MI that recognized my ADV (Adventure Rider Forums) and DSP (Dual Sport Plus) stickers.

We did a little over 1/14th of our total distance today.

I actually used the hot tub at the hotel. It felt good. The other one of us will be stopping by Walmart to get a bathing suit since he forgot his:)
I actually saw a mailbox that said “Sharts”. At least that’s what it looked like.

I hear many are enjoying the Spotwalla stuff.

Off to Minot, ND tomorrow.

Day 0: Sarnia: 717 km

June 28, 2013

Rather rainy today. No traffic. Just a few slow downs on the 401.
All of the gear stayed on the bike. This is a big success.
Realized at the first gas stop that I need to park far enough from the pump so I can get off the bike sideways. After trying to get off unsuccessfully, I got back on and then moved it further out.
Spotwalla was working properly. The motorcycle icon does not represent direction if travel. At least it will be more accurate on the way home.
Tomorrow we cross the border and head to Hurley, WI.
Rain in the forecast. I’m getting better at rain 🙂
Tweeted a pic of the bike from the McDonalds on Brock Rd.

Technology on the Road

Computers and Cameras
This is the most disappointing part of the research and execution. Cameras are pretty easy, you need a GoPro, you need a way of zooming in and shooting video and you need a way to zoom in and shoot photos. You get a DSLR that can do all of that, or a bunch of less expensive cameras.
The hard part is what you do with the pictures and video and how you archive on the road. Ideally, it would be cool to do some short video edits on the road. You could use an iPad for that. You could use an iPhone (but not an iPhone 5) for that. You want to be able to copy your SD cards to backup media just in case. You can’t use an iPad for that.
Content is too large to back up to the cloud. The GoPro shoots ~ 3.6 GB per half our of 720p 60fps. Unlikely that even one of those would make it up to the cloud during a single night hotel stay.
The technology choice became a series of compromises, followed by acquiescence. With limited room, I don’t want to bring something as large a MacBook Pro.
In the end, I settled on a 4 year old HP Netbook we had. That will serve as a mechanism to get files from SD cards to the external hard drives. It will also allow me to do basic WordPress editing and upload pictures. Video posts will be limited to those shot and edited on the iPhone. The Netbook can’t even play back the video at a reasonable frame rate.
If this doesn’t work, I’ll have to stop at an Apple store, make room in the bags and get a fresh MacBook Pro.

GPS
Motorcycle specific GPS units are rather expensive and the reviews are not overwhelmingly positive. The Garmin Montana is a nice multi-purpose unit but with a significant $$$. Garmin also makes nice, low end car GPS units that you can get at Costco. They aren’t waterproof, but a ziplock bag can (hopefully) fix that. Add a ram mount, a hard wired power source and you have decent setup for well under $150. It’s easily replaced too.

SPOT
Just get one. The yearly service fees are significant, but insignificant if you every really need it. They are coming out with a Satellite Phone. That looks tempting too.

Camping Gear

We don’t intend on doing a significant amount of camping on the trip, but you have to bring the same gear for 1 night as you would for many nights. The hammocks stay home (sad face) so here is the rest of the list. Some details may be omitted due to laziness.

Shelter
Tent: Go-lite Shangri-la 3
Tarp: Warbonnet Superfly
Tent Pegs: 3 different types
Guy lines: Home made self tensioning
100ft of Paracord

Sleeping System
Thermarest (I forget the model name – it was on clearance)
MEC +5C Down Sleeping bag (I forget the model name – it was on clearance)
Thermalite Reactor +7C sleeping bag liner (Sea to Summit)
MEC Base Camp Pillow

Food Prep & Consumption
JetBoil Sol – with plenty of fuel
Folding Spork
Aluminum utensil set (GSI)
Plate (MEC)
Mug (MEC)
Kitchen Sink (Sea to Summit)
AutoFlow Water Filter (MSR)
Dromedary Water Bladder (MSR)

Fire Prep
Back Paxe (Gerber)
Folding Saw (Bahco)
Small Shovel (MEC)
Fire Starters

Other
A-Lite Monarch Chair
Thermarest Seat Pad

I will post pictures of the camping setup the first time we camp.

Loaded for the Trip: Trial Packing

This post contains some pictures of the bike “fully” loaded for the trip. Trial packing is essential but I assume we will refine as we go. I did notice that the lack of easy access storage (like a top box) is a bit of a pain. The tank bag is handy, but in the rain it is covered by a rain cover. The Wolfman Expedition dry bag is great for protection, but it is strapped down 16 different ways and is a roll top. The Jesse panniers are great, but are covered by the dry bag. My brother mounted a RubberMaid Action Packer to his rear rack. I can’t really do that as I need the rear rack to carry a gas can once we are north of Edmonton.

Now the devastating (exaggeration) news. I don’t have room for my camping hammock. It will be tent camping only. When going unknown places, you don’t want to rely on only having a hammock. You may not find trees or you may encounter a hammock unfriendly campground. Perhaps this is the incentive I need to stay in more hotels.

Now that I finally fixed the (in)ability to upload pictures, I can post some.
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Alaska 2013

This site was created to capture details of our “ride of a lifetime”. My brother and I will be heading to Alaska in late June 2013. Inspired by many things*, we figured it was a cool thing to do as we bookend a milestone birthday. No, we have never gone that far on our motorcycles. We have done three hour rides, and really, this is just a bunch of three hour rides strung together. Approximately 45 three hour rides strung together. We are doing this in three calendar weeks.

It isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey as we attempt to reach the goal. It would be nice to see Mt. McKinley, a bunch of wildlife and not meet the people I have seen on “Alaska State Troopers” (really, I don’t want to meet any of them, but given a choice, I’ll take the troopers). We don’t intend to go to Deadhorse nor take our pictures at the Arctic Circle sign.

You can follow by watching our trip progress on Spotwalla. The map will go live June 28th. It will show tracking points from my Spot every 10 minutes (as long as I remember to turn it on).

Inspired by:
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenace (Robert M. Pirsig)
Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road (Neil Peart)
Roadshow: Landscape With Drums, A Concert Tour By Motorcycle (Neil Peart)
Long Way Round (Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman & Claudio von Planta)
Long Way Down (Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman & Claudio von Planta)

There are plenty of great ride reports on Alaska by motorcycle. I recommend the “By Way of Motorcycle” series by billma and Rick’s Alaska series by ricksandyfox.

Back to regularly scheduled pre-trip motorcycle maintenance.

Riding Gear ATGATT

I believe in ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time).
If I ride 2 km to the store, it’s the same protective gear as I would wear riding 50km to work. Weather will dictate the base layers, gloves, what vents are open and whether I wear a cooling device around my neck.

Outer Shell
Klim Badlands Pro Jacket
Klim Traverse Pants + D3O Armour

Helment
Arai Signet Q (White)

Boots
Sidi Adventure GoreTex

Gloves
REV’IT Alaska GoreTex
REV’IT Summit H20
Klim Adventure

Base Layers
Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Underwear
IceBreaker Socks
IceBreaker Thermal Long Johns and Long Sleeve Shirt
Paradox Thermal Long Johns and Long Sleeve Shirt
Klim Balaclava
Buff
Under Armour Heat Gear Shirts
Columbia Zip off Pants

The Super Tenere

The 2012 Super Tenere has been modified just a little bit.  Here is a list of the mods (pics to follow when we are on the road). Links would probably help too.

Heated Grips (Yamaha)
Touring Windscreen (Yamaha)
Tank Protector (Yamaha)
Tank Bag (Yamaha)
Headlight Protector (Yamaha)
Alaska Sheepskin Butt Pad (Alaska Leather)
Excel Throttle Lock (ExcelThrottle.com)
Rigid 90661 6″ Light Bar (Rigid Industries)
Side Tank Protectors (Tech-Spec)
Rox Adjustable Risers
Madstad Adjustable Windscreen Mount (Madstad)
Skene P3 Auxiliary Brake Lights (Skene)
Jesse Odyssey 2 10″ Panniers (Jesse Luggage Systems)
Skid Plate (Altrider)
Engine Guards (Altrider)
Universal Cover (Altrider)
Brake Master Cylinder Guard (Altrider)
Side Stand Foot (Altrider)
Rear Luggage Rack (Altrider)
Fuze Block FZ-1 (FuzeBlocks.com)
Hydraulic Line Extenders (RideOnADV)
X-Creen Screen Extender (MRA)
Wolfman Expedition Dry Bag – Large (Wolfman)
RAM Mounts

I think I should stop now.