1/2crazedbikr's Alask RR-first installment
As I sit here on the front deck of my home, roasting in the 90 degree central Florida heat and humidity, the cold temperatures of the far north are a mere memory, and I am beginning my Alaska Ride Report.
My basic plan was simple.
Starting from my home outside Deland, Fl, I would ride down to the southernmost point in the US at Key West, Fl. I would then ride up to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the northernmost point in North America accessible by road, via the Dalton Highway, then ride a great loop around Alaska, and in addition to the Dalton, ride the Denali Highway, and Top of the World Highway as they are mostly unpaved and therefore struck my self abusive fancy.
I would then return by a different route to my home, and thereby close the loop on a journey of nearly 14,000 miles, that has created a lifetime of memories...
However, completing this ride report may be nearly as arduous a task as the journey it describes, as I live on a houseboat on the St. Johns River with a wifi whose signal rivals the weakness of any I found in the Yukon.
And so it begins.
Day 1 July 7, 2016 490 miles
The day begins by leaving my home at 5 am. I had worked the night before and so that was the best I could manage. I had a friend accompanying me on this first, and only leg of the trip. Unfortunately, since I was unable to string together enough days off together, I had to do my Key West run first, then return home and work a few days, then hit the road for the trip north.
I met Sam, who had originally planned on doing the entire trip with me at a rest area on I-4, right on schedule at 5:30 am. Unfortunately for Sam, life and finances intervened and he was unable to accompany me on the trip north. But his company was more than welcome on the first leg.
We snuck in just under the Orlando rush hour and hit the Florida Turnpike at a decent time. From there it was smooth sailing for about 300 miles or so until we hit the South Florida traffic, which even on the Turnpike can be horrific.
Once off the turnpike it was a pleasant, mangrove lined ride through everglades like terrain down US 1 to Key Largo, where civilization once again rears it subtropical head.
The Florida Keys are beautiful from the water, but on the road, well there is only one road in and out, US 1, and there can be 80 miles of stop and go traffic between the beginning of the Keys in Key Largo and the end in Key West. Nonetheless we made it to Key West by mid afternoon, and I snapped the obligatory pic. Unfortunately there were hordes of tourists armed with selfie sticks, all with same idea, so I had to settle for a picture of my bike only.
The temperature was near 100 degrees with similar humidity so, parched and overheated, we walked around Key West searching for any establishment with air conditioning and a cold beer, finally settling on Denny's. After cooling off and slaking our thirst, it was back up US 1 for our stop for the night in a funky little mom and pop hotel directly on the Atlantic Ocean of which I forgot to get a pic. With some more ice cold beers and a pizza we discussed the days events and called it an early evening.
Day 2 July 8th,2016 440 miles Grassy Key, Fl to Deland, Fl
The next morning it was an early morning ride into the sunrise over the Seven Mile Bridge which capped a pleasant morning riding through the Florida Keys. Unfortunately, our early departure put us in the crosshairs of Miami's morning rush hour traffic, which we finally cleared after 1 1/2 hours. By mid morning the temperature was already hitting the mid 90's but we had an easy ride until we hit the traffic crunch again in Orlando at about 3:00. I finally made it to Deland by about 4:30.
So it was a successful run down to the Southernmost point in Key West, and though I would not be able to head north for a few more days, it made me aware that I would need to make some changes in the seating area. Although I have done many long previous trips on cruisers, this was my first on the V Strom, and my butt was protesting. At Macdoc's suggestion, I obtained a Beadrider seat cover, and it was to make all the difference.
Day 3 July 14th, 2016 Deland to Richmond, IN 1015 miles
Excited, and barely able to sleep, I was up at 1:30 am for a planned 2 am departure. The bike was all packed the night before so all I had to do was wake up, drink a cup of coffee and hit the road. I am having problems placing my pics where I want them in this report so just know that the ghoulish figure in the dark is yours truly at 2:10 am about to hit the road.
I had set an ambitious goal for the first 2 days northbound of reaching Fargo, ND. My planned destination for this first day of my northbound leg was Richmond, IN, just shy of Indianapolis. Not wanting to contend with Atlanta traffic, I came up with a much more interesting route through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana.
Armed with my beadrider seat and the strom's great fuel range, I was able to put together 2 or 3 200 mile runs in between stops, which I have never been able to do before. A big key to this success I believe was my head to toe riding gear. My first trip so equipped, I found I needed to drink less water and so did not need to stop and pee as often. On previous trips, as a sun burned cruiser rider in jeans or shorts and a t shirt, I was much thirstier. Whatever the reason, I consumed much less water on this trip, and was never dehydrated.
I of course was busy riding and so do not have many pics for this day, other than this one of my still clean bike in a Virginia rest area, which is not downloading due to my sorry internet connection. Oh well, that's the price of living in paradise!
Other than hitting a midwestern style monsoon outside of Indy, the day went pretty smoothly, and I reached my destination by 7:30 pm or so.
More to follow, in the meantime,
Ride Safe Y'all