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Thread: Ohio-Alaska-Spokane Rally-Ohio - 9,001 Miles - Five Weeks

  1. #1
    Rally Rat Jim Shaw's Avatar
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    Ohio-Alaska-Spokane Rally-Ohio - 9,001 Miles - Five Weeks

    24 JUL 2004
    Arrived at the Ann Arbor house last night about 11, with the GS clock ahead by almost exactly 9,000 miles.

    Rode the first leg with my friend, the incomparable JJ. We took the new jet ferry across Lake Michigan, from Muskegon to Milwaukee. It is a great trip, and the $80 fare for one bike and rider is competitive with the costs for us to ride all the way around Chicago. The trip through Canada to Edmonton was uneventful with good weather, except for 40 knot gales through Manitoba that tried to take my head off. Then things got a little interesting, dodging the many forest fires in BC and Yukon. The Alaska Highway was much better than I remember it from eight years ago (and the GS was better in the construction zones than the old K100LT was). We were delayed one day in Fort Nelson with the (only) road closed due to fires.

    The Last Frontier Rally, in Houston, Alaska was a great time. Got a day off the motorcycle, camping was great, people there are friendly, and the food is good. Not a big rally - maybe sixty-seventy there - including 17 states represented. I'd definitely go back, if it were just a bit closer.

    The fires were a problem in the North, so I cut off planned trips to Fairbanks and Denali. Visibility was poor, those places stank of smoke, and I'm told many of the hotels were filled with evacuees from the forest fires.

    So, we headed back out through Tok and Haines Junction. I was told the Cassiar Highway (planned route) was pretty ragged due to construction most of its length (source of wisdom: two pretty rugged looking GS riders from LA, who'd just come up it). JJ desparately wanted to go to the Lunatic Fringe Rally, near Calgary, so he went his way at Haines Junction. I took the FluffyButt option, and floated down the inland waterway on the Alaska Marine Highway. Cost about a grand, but I had a stateroom. They had a piano in the bar, so the beer was mostly free. Saw a pod of Killer Whales (USFS naturalist on board said 20-30 of them - very rare to find). What a sight! Whales breaching and blowing everywhere, right next to the ship. The Marine Highway is a nice cross between a ferry and a cruise ship. It took five nights to go from Haines to Bellingham, WA.

    Arrived in Bellingham the Friday morning before the MOA Rally, so I met up with my rabid IronButt riding friend, John Ryan for some sightseeing. John had just finished an IBA 50CC Gold ride (New York to San Francisco in 47 hours), recuperated for a couple of days, got his Russell seat rebuilt in CA, and rode up to Portland, where we met up for some northwest touring.

    A meal at the Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood has become ritual for me, when in the Portland area. It's as nice as ever, though overrun with people even older than me. Then, a day around Mt. St. Helens. I visited a friend in Seattle, while Ryan did St. Helens from the other side, and Rainier.

    I rode alone (remembering for a day how nice it is to ride alone) across WA 20, which they call the "North Cascades Highway." It is one of the more beautiful roads I've ever ridden, and was wonderfully free of other vehicles. 20 dropped me off in Spokane, where I was a day early for the MOA "Northwest Passage" fete. In a word, it was the best MOA rally I've ever been to. Jackie Hughes, the Rally Chairman, left no detail unplanned. This year, I hotelled it - at the very comfortable Best Western just a couple miles from the site. MOA provided hourly shuttle service to the rally, in case I wanted to indulge at the Beer Tent. GiSmo, my trusty GS, got a couple days off for good behavior.

    Saturday night, after the closing ceremonies, friends Paul and Tricia Taylor, Jeff and Sharon Davis, Rebecca Vaughn, John Ryan, and I had a fine seafood dinner at the four day old Anthony's restaurant in Spokane. Paul offered Ryan a buck if he'd ride through the city's fountain on the way. In a rare show of citizenship, John decided a buck was too little pay for the stunt, and we were saved from a probable jailhouse visit.

    Sunday morning, at the crack of noon, John and I set out for the return voyage. He'd ordered a new Roadcrafter to replace his trademark beaten-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life leather jacket. So, we rode US 2 all the way to Duluth - a pilgrimage many riders make to the Mecca of riderdom - Andy Goldfine's Aerostich factory. What wonderful people he has working there! I bought a new set of bounce pads for my Darien (now about age seven), and got free fixes for a couple of broken zippers, a new belt, and a handful of zipper-pulls, for free.

    From Duluth, it was a short ride across the UP to St. Ignace, where John headed for a friend's house in Vermont, and I crossed the Mackinac Bridge on my way to Ann Arbor, later to ride to my home (and GiSmo's garage) in Ohio.

    Total Mileage: 9,001
    Time spent away: five weeks
    Gasoline used: Lots
    Highest price paid for a US gallon: $3.54 (in the Yukon)
    Tires: 1 set, Tourance, now still going strong after 12,000 miles
    Oil change: one, in Tacoma
    Washes: One, in Spokane, to remember what color GiSmo was, and to remove about twelve pounds of Alaska
    Repairs/adjustments/oaths to GS: Replaced the gas cap in Anchorage, after an out-of-control gas spout whacked it and broke the hinge

    Glad to be home; glad to have gone. Now what?

    Jim Shaw
    Ann Arbor, MI and Hinckley, OH USA
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    FRAZZ
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    What a wonderful trip! Your report made me feel the ride through your eyes...thanx

  3. #3
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Jim,

    I'm totally jealous. It was great to see you in Spokane and the closing ceremonies were truly terrific. I got all emotional when the flags were out there on the horses.

    dave
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  4. #4
    Rally Rat Jim Shaw's Avatar
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    Originally posted by KBasa
    I'm totally jealous. It was great to see you in Spokane and the closing ceremonies were truly terrific. I got all emotional when the flags were out there on the horses.

    dave
    Thanks. So, this year the sound system worked, and the complaint was, "The music was too loud." No good deed goes unpunished

    See you next year in beautiful, metropolitan, scenic Lima

    Jim

  5. #5
    REBECCAV
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    Great trip report, Jim. That's about the number of miles that I put on all of last year! It sounds like GiSmo did well.

    Thanks for letting me help out on the closing ceremonies - it was fun. I know, I know...therapy!


  6. #6
    Rally Rat Jim Shaw's Avatar
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    Originally posted by boxergrrlie
    It sounds like GiSmo did well.

    GiSmo is pretty much a dream come true. He was a handful when full height, especially for a guy who's congenitally inseam deprived. Today, lowered by an inch and a quarter, the bike is very manageable at stops and off road. Alaska on my old LT was a fornicating nightmare back in '96. This year, it was (as we used to say in the flying business) "never seriously in doubt". I personally believe that the GS is the ideal one-up touring machine. It will haul anything you can tie on it, and still do a wheelie (independent verification available from IBR winner Paul Taylor, among others).

    Adding an electronic cruise control this year made the dream even better. I can take my right hand off the throttle for as long as conditions allow, and adjust Darien vents, put on sunglasses, flip visors, etc., and never change speed. The chance of LEO encounters due to speed is greatly reduced by setting the cruise for about 8 miles over, and not worrying about the speed creeping over the threshold of LEO attention. At that, I'll probably get there before or at the same time as my radar-detecting, urban-warrior buddies - and with many fewer fine driving awards.

    New PIAA 1100s on a Micatech light bar make me a lot more visible in the daytime, and light up the night pretty well. Xenon filament-type lamps in the GS low and high beams make road surfaces and conditions easier to see with bright, white light. I can see a Touratech HID high beam in the crystal ball before next year. Still, I hate riding at night; I've lost a friend or two to Bambi, and it nags at me to pocket GiSmo's key after dark. Riding in AK after dark is Russian roulette, with three chambers loaded.

    The old crystal ball also shows a Russell saddle on GiSmo before long. My old LT had one, and it was nothing short of wonderful. The 1150GS's stock seat isn't bad for 400-500 miles a day, but after that, things get burning hot in the posterior department, and my tailbone carries a grudge. Personally, I can't think of any greater folly than risking seat quality to saving a couple of hundred dollars on a look-alike seat. You are allowed to disagree, if you like; my next seat will be leather, and it will come from Shasta Lake.

    Thanks for the compliments on the Closing Ceremonies. I hope the audience liked it - we did it for them. I hope MOA has learned in the last two years that these events don't have to be dreadful long dirges, which cause the audience to want to get up and leave. It's a legacy I hope I leave behind, making the audience glad they came, giving the awardees their 15 seconds of glory, giving away bikes, trips, and riding suits, and having fun doing it with as many nifty riders as I can fit on stage. My greatest joy this year as Producer was surprising those icons of BMW riding - Voni and Paul Glaves - with having the incomparable David Hough hand them their BMW AG "Freind of the Marque" placques. Sure, they knew they had been awarded this most prestigous award, but it was fun to see them recognized by their peers. Some day, you may learn just how much these two have done to the great benefit of BMW MOA - and who better to make the presentation than that icon of selfless contribution to motorcycling safety (and a "Friend of the Marque" also), David Hough. I'm glad you couldn't see me, backstage, with a headset on, and tears in my eyes for them. Thanks to co-producers Boxergrrlie (who got names, awards, and statistics straight and usable), and John Ryan (who translated my shouted, irreverant instructions into the shepherding of talent and awardees on stage, just about on schedule). Maybe next year, these two can improve on what I have tried to begin.

    But, I digress. Suffice it to say, I had a very good trip. I made many new friends, and probably irritated a few others. It's my nature.

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim Shaw; 07-28-2004 at 02:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Blocking the slow lane
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    Originally posted by Jim Shaw
    But, I digress. Suffice it to say, I had a very good trip. I made many new friends, and probably irritated a few others. It's my nature.
    Ah, you sell your skills short Jim.....I'm fairly sure you irritated MANY new people.
    Jon Diaz
    BMW K75/K12GT
    BMWMOA Ambassador

  8. #8
    Rally Rat Jim Shaw's Avatar
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    Jealous?

    Originally posted by jdiaz
    Ah, you sell your skills short Jim.....I'm fairly sure you irritated MANY new people.
    Could this be elemental jealosy, or a looming envy, oh Jon (who had to stay home and swap diapers)?

    Jim

  9. #9
    Blocking the slow lane
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    Re: Jealous?

    Originally posted by Jim Shaw
    Could this be elemental jealosy, or a looming envy, oh Jon (who had to stay home and swap diapers)?
    Hey, I'm happy to keep working and support you retirees out on the road. Just keep your Buick off the sidewalk.

    Come visit us in Milan next spring.
    Jon Diaz
    BMW K75/K12GT
    BMWMOA Ambassador

  10. #10
    Ambassador BeerTeam's Avatar
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    Jim,

    Nice old (2004, in forum time) report
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    Jim Klas
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    Enjoy the travel photos at: klasjm.smugmug.com

  11. #11
    Ambassador at Large JIMSHAW's Avatar
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    Cool Seems like 10 years ago, not 5

    Don't know where you dredged this up. That Shaw guy tells a mighty fancy yarn.

    Epilogue: The guy Ryan I wrote about has done fairly well as an LD rider. John has gone on to ride the first four consecutive 1500 mile/24 hour Iron Butt rides - 6,000 + miles in 96 hours. Then, a year later, John placed 7th in the Iron Butt Rally. Not bad for a rookie. Last year, Ryan set the new world record time for a motorcycle ride from Prudhoe Bay to Key West. 86.5 hours. Try and beat it, if you want. It bettered the previous record by 9-1/2 hours.

    I sure wish I liked looking at bikes more than riding them; it'd be a lot less costly. Gismo, the GS in that trip, just got put up for sale with 122,000 miles on the clock. It was replaced by a newer GS named MotoNoir. [Hint: it's black]

    Thanks for digging this up. I forgot I ever wrote up that little trip. Brought back some sweet memories to me, too.

    Jim

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