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Thread: Teaser -

  1. #1
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Unhappy Teaser -

    On May 22, three bikes and reasonably skilled riders left Chicago to challenge the gods of weather and terrain in the Great White North. Just two bikes limped home under their own power.

    The team consisted of a 2005 R1200GS, a 2013 R1200RT and a 2005 Triumph 1050 Sprint. All riders made provisions to change to knobbies in Watson Lake before we tackled 2250 miles of gravel, dirt, mud, ice, snow, washboarded roads, rain, hail, sneet and snow on the Campbell, Dempster, Dalton and Denali.

    Notable elements of this 12,600 mile trip include - earthquakes, drifting pea sized hail, record rainfall storms with tornados tossed in for spice, angry mother moose, Grizzlies gorging themselves on dandilions, herds of moose intent on outrunning us, dead caribou, live caribou, ice fog, Hyderization, random road encounters (RRE), roadhouse bands, beer and dining, Black Bears as numerous as housecats and more....................

    The trip report with lavish pictures is being crafted..... anyone care to guess which bike came back via motorfreight?






    Last edited by Beemer01; 06-23-2014 at 05:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User arthurdent's Avatar
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    but my gut says the 13 RT W.

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    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    I was going to guess the GS because it is the one that you'd think would be best suited for those roads.

    But then no mention was made as to WHY a bike came back motor freight. Maybe a bear took a liking to one of them resulting in unspeakable things.

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    Out There Somewhere bmwrider88's Avatar
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    I'm certainly on the edge of my seat....
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

  5. #5
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    The brand new RT...

    came back via motorfreight. The needed repair parts were at least a week and air delivery away. The Triumph experienced British Motorcycle electrical problems, but was patched and kludged back together and made it.....the GS turned out to be the support machine for this trip and made it back with only the normal scratches, bumps and bruises.

    Details to follow in the Trip Report............................................ .......................



  6. #6
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    The RT with the knobbies makes a great pic anyways!
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
    It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away-D.Dillon/G. Strait

  7. #7
    Registered User wbrownell9's Avatar
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    Dayum, I saw you guys at the gas stop on the Dalton Highway, by the Yukon river! I was with my son in the tan Jeep. I remember the Sprint. I spoke with a couple when we stopped for gas going back the other way. The woman was astonished when I mentioned the Triumph. She was riding an F800GS but said she had a Sprint as well and hated taking it in a gravel parking lot, let alone hundreds of miles of unpaved roads. There was also a solo guy on a Harley tourer who'd ridden from Tennessee.

  8. #8
    Braz J Brase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by henzilla View Post


    The RT with the knobbies makes a great pic anyways!
    That's what I thought. Weird looking.

  9. #9
    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    Cool

    Okay, you are evidently skilled at marketing . So just a tad more info to entice us to read the full RR. Were the RT's problems mechanical or the result of a mishap?
    Kevin Huddy
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  10. #10
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    It Starts.....

    The shattering rain came abruptly and went just as quickly, the lowering clouds shifted like wraiths in the storms, the wind howled, gusted and then withdrew back to the mountain valleys. Clouds broke, and shafts of sunlight pierced the mist showing the towering rocky crags above us...only to be sharply withdrawn as rain and thunder returned snapping off the light as if a cosmic switch had been thrown.



    It was a ride climbing up through the valley of the shadow of death,or a really good facsimile of a chapter in a Tolkien novel. And still we gained altitude and latitude as the wind moaned and the Beemer charged on into the growing battle. The dark forests beckoned as branches blew across the narrow highway only to be crushed under my heavily laden tires.

    Coffee, therefore, tasted great when we reached the visitor's center before the Icefields Parkway! It's always somewhat jarring to dismount your bike shivering and stamping off the wet and cold while families of tee shirt and shorts clad children look at you strangely as they dance past in the parking lots.

    But I'm getting ahead of myself and our narrative.

    Back in January of 2014 I was weighing my next big trip... would it be Mexico to the South or back to try and get to Inuvik, Northwest Territory again in the Great White North. A Canadian riding acquaintance was murdered a year or so ago while soloing in Mexico, so I decided on one last shot at Inuvik and the Arctic Ocean instead of the better food and legitimate margaritas down there.

    I invited a couple of friends on this trip, one is a secret agent/Captain America...Thomas - who works in some very Senior DOD IT security related role in Washington DC and the other is a semi-retired operations guy-Fran - with a colorful background that includes multiple Iron Butt certificates, MSA instructor experience and is a skilled track rider with teaching certificates there as well...he is also a pretty good wrench if things were to get pear shaped on this trip.

    And experience gleaned from an earlier 2009 attempt taught me that if things can go wrong up there they will. Marginal equipment, poor design and flaky electrics will all be problematic....... it's just a matter of what will fail and how serious the consequences will be. And your repair options can be few.

    Or none as it turned out.

    Surprising to me, both guys accepted almost at once with only a few of the usual caveats. (I had actually expected to be doing this trip solo, so was delighted to have the company and support. Solo riding on some of those roads is just a bad idea for someone with my limited technical and mechanical skills)

    I work in the consulting field, so am accustomed to having my considered advice ignored..I have thick skin.

    I explained why I had purchased a BMW R1200GS with aluminum panniers, had installed a new rear shock set up for this trip, had purchased knobbies to be installed up there, why I added obscene amounts of axillary lighting, why I was packing additional fuel and why I had taken the BMW off-road riding course down in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    Both gentlemen listened carefully and then generally proceeded to ignore my counsel.

    Except for the tires, they kinda paid attention to that. Sorta. And lighting - Thomas and I have on ongoing Lumen arms race. I'm still winning.

    These are the bikes that made the trip. Three left, two returned on their own power.




    Thomas decided to take his almost brand new BMW R1200RT on the trip and Fran decided to see if this could be done on a well broken in sport bike.

    I know, really?

    As I pushed back, it became a matter of proving a point... as Fran said, any yuppie POS could do this journey on an overfarkled BMW GS.

    I had a premonition that we would not return with the same number of bikes we left Chicago with.

    We all agreed last winter that in the event of a complete mechanical failure, or a bone sticking through the skin kind of injury that the other riders would get the damaged bike or injured rider to a safe place with options and the rider and bike would be left. The ride must go on.

    We left Chicago together and separately meeting up outside of Madison, Wisconsin at 7:00AM. After spending absurd amounts of time over preparing my bike, I discovered that I had now a dying battery. Yeah, buying skid plates and wiring in aux lighting is more fun than buying a new battery. I had to jump my Beemer from my Bimmer in the driveway. Embarrassing, but I arrived on time.


    Day One 875 miles Chicago to The Badlands, SD.

    We settled into the ride...some crosswinds, but I've seen worse in Southern Minnesota and South Dakota. For this trip I bought and activated a Spot transponder. At least I thought I'd activated it.

    When I checked our breadcrumb track on the page I'd sent to everyone, I discovered that something was amiss. The screen showed a single point... still at my house. I was in South Dakota now. I dug the Spot manual out of my tankbag and searched fruitlessly for the solution. I decided to call Spot's help line and was routed to a French guy who spoke very heavily accented English.

    Caveat / I know Spot is a completely global product and they must have a couple of call centers with native speakers in the major languages around the Globe. But I was pissed and not a good customer at this point. The help desk guy informed me that there was a problem with my "Charpaage" setup. I listed impatiently and finally told him that 1. I don't speak French and 2. I have absolutely no idea who or what a "Charpaage" is.

    I think I hung up on the poor guy, now worried that I'd purchased a faulty Spot and that people tracking me would think I'd never left Chicago., and this whole this was a farce.

    This conversation is being held on a Sena Headset in a gas station parking lot in South Dakota, with my amused co-riders listening in on half of the conversation.

    Note and embarrassed disclaimer. NEVER, EVER BUY FANCY ELECTRONICS LIKE A GPS, CAMERA, HERO VIDEO RECORDER OR SPOT WITHOUT NOT ONLY TESTING THEM FOR FUNCTIONALITY, BUT PRACTICING USING THEM EXTENSIVELY BEFORE A TRIP SUCH AS THIS.

    The fault was 100% mine, another help desk person was able to assist me later by hacking my incorrectly set up Share page (I'd also failed to remember my passwords) and activating the tracking button. Apologies to everyone involved.

    Back to the story.

    We made the Badlands by early evening, so stopped at the Restaurant in the park for dinner . The food was pretty good, the beer cold and the service was passable...until the holiday crowds grew at the doorway. No fault of the staff, they were simply not enough of them to handle the crush!



    Camp was set up quickly, at least for Thomas and me. Fran took a little longer, I assured him that in a couple of days he'd be an old hand at this.

    Our neighbor in the orange tent seen in the background in the picture was a young French lad who was bicycling across America .. into the wind .. from East to West. He was fairly chatty - riding solo does that to you - and asked about the lands and dangers to the West. I thoughtfully said that the only thing I'd be worried about in the Rockies were Mountain Lions. He looked a bit alarmed, he'd never heard of this. I explained that they were slightly smaller than their African cousins, but could still run at over 30 MPH and big enough to take down a cow. Or a Bicyclist.

    He looked quite concerned as he returned to his tent. I fully intended to tell him in the morning that I had exaggerated the menace, but he'd already left. Man...I did not do my share this day to improve Franco-American relations.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 08-05-2014 at 03:25 PM.

  11. #11
    Thick As A Brick r184's Avatar
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    Well so far great story. Looking forward to more.

    But your mountain lion story to the bicyclist wasn't an exaggeration. While rare, mountain lions have taken down mountain bikers with fatal results. At least two incidents near me in SoCal. One fatal, one almost fatal.

  12. #12
    Registered User arthurdent's Avatar
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  13. #13
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    More More More!

    Yeah, I'll vouch for the mountain lion caution - if you're slow and look like food, you can have a problem. SoCal has had many instances of adults, kids, and pets being stalked. (Bears just go through the garbage and lounge in the pool.)

    Question - On the Trump and the RT, how did the mag wheels hold up?

  14. #14
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Here in the foothills of the Rockies of Alberta and BC we have a variant of the Mountain Lion, our Cougars can and will hunt lone humans on foot and bicycle. Fatal encounters are somewhat rare but do happen.
    Ken
    [2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blue) - Mine]
    [2007 R1200RT (Sand Biege) - Hers]

  15. #15
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Two - to Red Lodge

    I awoke to the sounds of Thomas and Fran packing up their camping gear. I upzipped my sleeping bag, reached over and opened the valve on my sleeping pad and got moving. Dawn in the South Dakota Badlands is fascinating and beautiful.I always feel like I'm riding in a Dr. Seuss book when I'm there. We were pretty quiet, mindful of other campers, packing our bikes and were soon rolling over to Wall SD, watched intently by Prairie Dogs on adjacent grassy knolls.





    Wall, SD consists simply of a handful of motels, the Wall Drug megaplex, a couple of gas stations and one so-so restaurant. (If there are more there I've never found them.) Avoiding the Wall Drug empire, we selected the restaurant,it seems like I?m a regular there over the years. Service, coffee and food were all just average. Fran did note that his coffee was cold when served, somehow mine was warm, but weak. Anyhow we spent too much time there, we'd eventually realize that Breakfasts were time wasters and cut them out.



    Thomas did demonstrate his elan and fashion sense by wearing an ascot. I'm comfortable in saying that his was the only Ascot worn that day in the entire region that day. I think the 17 year old waitress was impressed. Or confused. Or just wondered who we actually were.

    We hit the Slab over to Gillette, WY and grabbed 14/16 through the back country. We saw the usual curious antelope watching us motor by, but then encountered quite a lengthy stretch of the road under reconstruction. Probably a good training session for all of us I thought as I watched the other bikes bump and plow thru the mess of mud and loose gravel. All of us had street tires on at this point, so the word fun wasn't used to describe that section. Fran later disclosed that it was horrible for him on the Triumph, he prayed that once the knobby tire he had on the back of his bike was installed on the front of his bike that the gravel handling would improve. Dramatically.

    Did I mention that Fran had also decided that he would run this entire trip with a car tire on the back of his Triumph Sprint? This decision led to many moments on the journey. It certainly did not improve his braking ability on anything other than perfectly dry paved roads. Handling proved to be "interesting" in his words. I should mention here that he had as well installed a 3.5 gallon auxillary fuel tank behind his pillion seat on a platform that appeared to be supported by two pieces of electrical conduit screwed and bolted into place. He swore that this fuel setup worked great on his previous Iron Butt trips?..yeah, we'll see.

    We got to Ranchester, WY planning on taking Alt 14A over the Bighorn Mountains only to discover that the heavy winter snows were still blocking some of the route, according to an electric billboard sign on the West edge of town. We returned to Ranchester, trying to get more current information at the gas station.

    Have you ever noticed that many of the people who work at these gas stations know almost nothing of the world more than 20 miles away? We got vague information, the woman thought that 14 should be open, but that Alt 14A was still closed but she wasn?t sure. So we rerouted a bit South on 14.

    A couple of years ago I'd ridden these roads about the same time of year and learned that if the mountains are draped in clouds, it's time to gear up, plug in and hope for the best. That was again true as we gained altitude. We noticed that there were quite a few cars pulled off in a scenic overlook area watching a Hang Gliding competition, there we met an old Hippie, "High Country" who was spending a day watching the Gliders launch and soar off the mountain and over the plains below.



    14 is a great road, but as I had guessed as we gained altitude the temps dropped and the clouds lowered. Snow and fog weren't far behind. Thomas reported over the Sena that the lowest he saw on his RT's digital thermometer was 46 degrees with blowing fog .but the roads were clear if not dry.

    We turned North towards Red Lodge and lit the wick a bit, restrained only by the presence of Tar Snakes on the curves. Nonetheless we had some spirited riding. Since Fran is the motorcycle track instructor, we let him take the lead.. it was 'interesting' watching that rear car tire on the curves, which usually meant that he was riding on the edge of the tire. He kept a good speed up, based more on skill than traction.

    When riding, you notice even slight changes in temperatures and you certainly notice the smells of the forest, damp cedar, wet pines, moss emerging from snowbanks all combined for a near sensory overload. We followed a wonderful valley that paralleled a rushing stream and finally emerged into sunlight at lower altitudes.

    A bright sun warms better than all the heated gear in the world.



    Red Lodge, MT is a cool little town that seems to get more sophisticated every time I pass through. We pitched camp at the KOA North of town and the newest owners recommended a gourmet Taco place near the town center for dinner. This place is built in what appears to be an old Gas Station, they have daily specials and we can heartily recommend it. Parking for bikes right alongside! Tell em we sent you. It's not in YELP, and I'm pretty sure the owner doesn't care.



    Cigars and scotch again around the campfire. Scotch is running low. This is serious.

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