Sunday, July 15, 2018

Some plans aren't suppose to work out

   This past weekend, I had a plan. I was going to take a 400 mile ride, visit some folks in Tennessee and then turn around and ride back.  I decided to take care of some business by trying to making it to Tennessee before business hours ended so that I could renew my expired tags. I go through this every year just like last year at this time, I was riding around on expired tags in Canada. Well the good news is that I made the 390 miles ride to my legal home in Tennessee at 4 pm and was able to get my new tags. Bad news was this threw me off schedule for meeting friends.
The next day, I got up at 7am but had to ride back roads 50 miles to meet up with friends again. Of course I was later so they left. I back tracked the same way I had came and 50 miles later, caught up with them at Tellico Plains. This is one of my favorite rides in Tennessee. It is the Cherohala Skyway. It was cool riding with them along this route. We climbed higher and higher till we were on a chilly mountain in the rain clouds. About the time it was looking like we were going to get wet, we descended back down and made our way to Deals Gap.
  Now I've been there plenty of times and I always enjoy it but a busy weekend in the Summer can get a little crowded to me. After taking a break, my friends were riding back to Knoxville but I decided to go the opposite direction and ride east towards Maggie Valley.
   I almost made it to see my friends at Wheels through Time but then I got sidetracked again. I rode along the  Nanahala National Forest  and heading towards Tennessee again. I thought I might check out some friends at one of the many white water rafting companies on The Ocoee River. As I was riding through Murphy, NC, I remembered a back road that was a gravel goat trail over the mountain range and into Tennessee. I took this last year but only got turned around by Federal officials who had it quarantined due to what they said was a military fighter jet crashing months before. I guess part of me missing the Alaskan gravel road up to Prudehoe Bay last year, got me wanting to do more gravel. This was only 30 or 40 miles of gravel though, nothing like The Dalton Hwy ( Ice Road Truckers Road). Still, I seriously doubt that anyone would want to ride their Harley across it, much less a chopper.
It turned out to be a lot rougher than last year. There was more ruts, washouts from all the rain they were having and the overgrowth made the single lane road even more narrow. The dirt bike riders that passed me, gave me a huge thumbs up and I could tell, they don't see many Harleys on this road. I continued on and was looking forward to learning where this road came out at. Turns out that it is what I thought, coming from the other direction, was a dead end into the Cherokee National forest for camp
grounds and also Bald River Falls.
I ended up riding right up until dark, basically from dawn till dusk. I ate my favorite dinner of a 7 pepper, pan seared, ribeye steak at The Tellicafe in Tellico Plains. Man, that is a good steak. I turned out to be more tired then I knew because after that, instead of meeting up with friends for festivities, I rolled my sleeping bag out and didn't wake to the sun came up. Now just a short 390 mile ride and I'll be back on the coast of South Carolina

Monday, May 21, 2018

Another Dream Come True

   Years ago, I purchased this 1967 Honda Dream 305. I remember them as a kid and always thought they were ultra cool. It set in my parents garage, waiting patiently to be resurrected. Finally, I hauled the bike to Summerville, South Carolina, where long time friend Darren of Hawk Bros Cycles would help me get it going.
    Turned out that it need more than gas and spark plugs, having sat for over 44 years. Darren and his man Johnny did most of the real work. I polished, cleaned and touched up paint and together we got the old girl running again.
   This opened up some new ideas for what I was going to do with it. Being called a " Dream",  I started dreaming. I came up with it would be a perfect adventure bike for riding to South America.  As I got closer to finishing this bike, I was already reconsidering because that sort of trip could end abruptly with a chance of having to leave my ride behind. I was already developing a bond to the bike and didn't want to just walk away from it.
    The next important step was for a shakedown run. I needed to take it for a long ride to test out my theory on just how road worthy my 1967 Dream was. An upcoming run was The Greasy Dozen Run .
 It is in Central Ohio so one day after we got the Dream running, I threw it in the back of a truck and hauled it back to my parents in Louisville, Ky. There I would ride it on what I thought would be an easy 200 mile ride up to The Greasy Dozen Run.
   Right off the bat, I knew I was in over my head. The little bike is way under powered and hopes of running highway speeds were soon abolished. Within 20 miles, the little 305cc motor acted like it wanted to seize after running along at 55 mph. I backed it down to 45 and the scenery slowly passed me by, bring back flashbacks of my cross country mini bike ride. Even on the back roads, cars would fly by me dangerously close. I went through every little town and every single street light too. The back roads added another 50 miles and made it even more time consuming. as if this wasn't enough, Summer rainstorms were in the forecast.
    The showers came and went all day as I putted along till finally in Florence, Ky, they settled in to a nonstop deluge. I called it a night and got a motel in Florence, Kentucky, barely 100 miles from my starting point after a long and hard 4 hour ride.
    The next day proved to be much of the same, hard riding, slow going, and off and on rain showers. I was fighting a chill and didn't have a coat so I pulled in a Salvation Army store and grabbed a sweatshirt. While standing at the counter to pay for it, I looked out the window to see it was now down pouring. I put the sweatshirt back, went into the restroom and stole the plastic garbage bag out of the bin to make me a rain suit. It was took the chill off just fine.
   It became obvious that even if I got to the starting point of the ride ( Columbus, Ohio) I wouldn't be able to keep up. Plus they were riding the scenic back roads of Ohio and those were the very same roads that I was already riding. I opted to head straight for the finish line which is a remote farm in Peebles, Ohio. I got there and pitched my tent first, just in time for another rain shower but that made for a nice nap inside. When I woke, like mushrooms, tents were popping up everywhere.
  I had finally made it and the reality of my dream was setting in. This little bike is cool ( cool enough to win the Best Jap Bike category of the ride) but no cross country rider, much less a cross Continent bike. I would have to dream another dream. Now this is the best part.
    Brother Speed always told me, " The Harley God giveth and the Harley God taketh away." My dream of riding this motorcycle to South America was taken away but at 1 am, around that campfire, in a small farm in remote Ohio, Bear with Old Bike Barn, did the epic giveaway- a 2 week motorcycle tour in the Himalayan Mountains! And wouldn't you know it, the Harley God giveth, and my number was pulled from the raffle helmet! I'm now making plans for my next adventure!!!!!!!
And here is a small video of theirs that explains just a fraction of what I'll be doing over there with them!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Part one, part two and part 3 of my hike out to The Magic Bus

   This is Part one of my footage I compiled of my self recorded trip I made to Alexander Supertramp's resting place, The Magic Bus I'm working on the second part of this video but till then I hope you enjoy watching this. At least your feet will stay a lot dryer than mine did.
This is the second part of the trip or day 2.
This is part three that includes a night at the bus and the two day hike back to my motorcycle that was left parked at the end of Stampede Trail.
The video below is the river crossing that basically took place in between these two videos.
  The river crossing over. It went bad but could have easily been much worse.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Looks like I'm trailering my bike to Sturgis

   After crossing back across the border into Montana today I pulled over for this picture of my bike today. I then restarted my bike and began to head south to Sturgis. About 50 miles later, the engine suddenly died at 80mph. I tried to restart it but the starter was dead. I pulled over and checked the lights and they were as dim as could be. I was in the middle of no where and I had a dead battery. I disconnected my headlight to lessen the volts being used and tried to push start it. After about 20 tries, I got it started for about 2 seconds. This was bad. Real bad. The battery was also really hot and had acid seeping out the top even though it is a sealed cell battery. I made a couple of phone calls, including my friend Frank Kaelin at Kaelin's Custom Cycle in Louisville. He answered the phone saying he knew I was having problems- that's only when I call. Just as I'm trying to get some over the phone advice, a group of bikes passed by. They gave me the thumbs up and I gave them the thumbs down as they went by. After about a half of mile, they pulled over. They then turned around ( all 6 bikes) and rode back up the interstate to where I was pulled over. One of the riders looked at my bike and swore, " I don't believe it. It's f*ckin' Bean're". I knew this was a very good sign.
I started telling them what my problem was and the next thing I know is they had an ace mechanic named Hillbilly riding with them. He dove in with his knowledge and also a multi-meter and started figuring out I had some major electrical issues besides a dead battery. That was why it wouldn't push start.
  I got to talk and tell stories while he continued to work on my bike. He found a dead short that turned out to be my voltage regulator and possibly it took out the battery and stator too. They explained they were from Alberta, Canada and were doing their annual Sturgis run. This time they were doing it all on Shovelheads. And THIS is where the story gets even better. They had a chase truck with another Shovelhead in it. They said I could put my bike in the trailer and ride the Shovel. So just like that, my good luck turned and ugly situation into an awesome adventure. I'm riding a cool Shovelhead the next 550 miles to Sturgis even though my bike is getting trailered.
   So now I'm back in the wind, running with the pack.
Do you think it is possible for a guy to be any luckier? See ya in Sturgis!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Finishing the ultimate vacation

    With 30 days on the road this July, it all seems like a dream. A really, really good dream!
    I really enjoy meeting people in my travels but this trip seemed to be about Mother Nature and all her glory
I saw so much wild life. everywhere I looked was bears.
and not just black bears.
This made for exciting camping but I don't share my sushi, even if it is salmon.

This caribou stopped and posed for me before continuing to walk under the Alaska Pipeline
I also have tons of video footage that I filmed and when I get a chance to edit it, I'll pass it along here.
 Like my visit with Yukon Jeremy and his wonderful mom and my visit by boat, up the Yukon River to their home off the grid.
And of course, all my video of a little bit of what it was like to hike for 4 days, 42 miles "into the Wild" and see the Magic Bus.
Till then, I'll keep showing people that choppers were made to be ridden.
All the way to The Arctic Circle and BACK!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Into the WIld and The Magic Bus at Healy, Alaska

Hiking 42 miles total in 4 days through some very tough terrain to see the REAL bus that was in the book and movie - "Into The Wild".
Most of the trail was wet and muddy to say the least. This was just one of the beaver dams that flooded so much of the trail too.
But the views were spectacular and I'm sure very few people have struggled to get out here to see this. The trail with mid and thawed tundra, ruts and fallen trees not to mention the two rivers makes it near impassible even for off road utility vehicles.
This was a lot farther down than it appears.
Here is a video of two other crossing the river after I did. Crossing with full packs is brutal and VERY dangerous

But the harder the trail got, the better the views became

Camping 3 of the four nights but only 1 night did I sleep in the tent.
One night was in the ground in my sleeping bag
even after I found this bear track outside of my first night camping area and I know it wasn't there the day before. I think my snoring probably attracted it.

And one night was on the bus in the actual bed where they found Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp
This headstone is located at the door of the bus as you go in.
And the inside of the bus is signed with visitors from all around the world that have been touched by his story. Even his sister has signed the walls and visited here 3 times as the dates show.
So was it worth it for me? YES, it was on so many different levels. As I sit and write this, every muscles is screaming, I'm drinking tons of fluids and eating real meals instead of campfire food- and needing about a weeks worth of rest. But no time for that. I'm off on my next adventure

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Slow Down and Smell the Moose Nuggets

 Finally taking a break on this trip but not by choice. It is 41 degrees and after getting wet for 2 days, I decided to get off the Alaskan Highway and wait it out. It should be sunny and in the near 70's soon again. In the mean time, I found this Hostel in Haines Junction. The sleepy little town is just like the town from the TV series "Northern Exposure". But then, most of the towns scattered along the ALCAN are like this. After two nights in my own tent, I wanted better accommodations but didn't want a standard hotel room although, up here you have to take what you can get. Things can book up fast in the evenings. I found a pretty cool hostel called " Wanderer's Inn". I got there early enough where I had some choices. For 40 dollars I could stay inside in a dorm with bunk beds. They also have an outside cabin/ tent set up dorm style but for a few dollars more, they have a single private cabin/ tent with heat, electricity and a big comfy bed. It even has wifi so I splurged.
  This cabin/ tent has wood floor and sides but the coolest part is the roof is made from a government issue tent from the 1930's era. It was decommissioned and sat until the Wanderer's Inn picked it up and incorporated it in this cabin. Instead of heavy canvas, it is made from thin parachute like material. You can see the tent on the inside but on the outside, it is covered with a tarp to keep out the in-climate weather. As it rained all night, it made the nicest sound but stayed totally dry. I got the best night sleep in awhile.
  Still, hearing the non-stop rain only reminded me that soon I would have to be off and riding in it. I should also explain that although I am still a ways south from mainland Alaska, daylight is prevailing. Sundown is about midnight and sunrise is 4:30am. I've been waking up pretty early.
    After morning coffee inside the main house, I came to the conclusion that what is the sense of being a motorcycle nomad if I had to be on a schedule? I'm going to hang out and talk to strangers who will soon be part of my next story. After all, isn't that what life is all about?
  "Downtown" Haines Junction.

Night before last in Watson Lake, Yukon. Clear sky and 20 degrees warmer. Weather here can change fast.