Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

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timdenning
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by timdenning » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:23 pm

Thanks Clark - good to pick up the tale again. I'd be interested in some info about fuel consumption and average speeds if you have the time to work it out and would you take all the spare tyres and tubes and stuff if you did this again - you seemed to have a heavy load!!

Tim
2002 Ural Tourist - UK spec so no drive to sidecar on the left!!

Gone but not forgotten:
2008 Ural Tourist - written off arguing with a car - it was a draw - wrote off the car as well...
And over the years...
BMW R1100 GS, R1100RT, R100LT, R80RT, R80
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:52 pm

In reply to your questions I would bring fewer changes of clothing and less dehydrated food since the turned out to be redundant to our needs. I would bring the two spares and all of the repair parts as travel across Canada and Alaska was through pretty remote areas. The gas cans proved to be good ideas as 92 octane was not always available and m y experience with bad gas out in South Dakota was the most trying part of the entire ride. I would advise anyone making this trip no NEVER buy 92/93 octane from a small isolated station since it may be contaminated with water or sediment as it isn't in great demand in those places. Bad gas costs us in my estimate a day and a half in traveling trying to get the bike running well again. The mileage even with my load was about 130 miles per tank and less when climbing mountains or against headwinds out west.Even when riding around my home my 30 miles a gallon is about what I get with the bike unloaded. I've heard of folks switching out carb needles and adjusting for altitude to improve performance and gas consumption, but my breakdown paranoia told me to leave things alone.Most of the ride was at about 55 mph or less depending on the road and at times 65 mph on flat areas with a tailwind. I found that a good steady 55 was a more than reasonable speed especially on two lane roads and more than fast enough on both the ALCAN and Dempster highways. I put K-37 tires on the rig and found them to wear and ride better than the stock tires and again availability of tire can be sketchy as I will discuss or experiences latter in the trip.
Last edited by ClarkA on Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by BobM » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:04 pm

One more question, Clark. When you say you averaged 55 mph, is that 55 indicated or actual. On my bike my indicated speed is about 5 mph higher than the actual speed as measured by my GPS. So when I show 55 on the speedometer, I'm actually going 50 mph. I really enjoy your story. I can really relate to your story as I also ride with one of my sons (and sometimes the second son in the sidecar) when I travel.

Bob :)
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:24 pm

To tell you the truth....I'm guesstimating, since I used my GPS in the Kilometer mode and 80-90 kmph was what I recall as my speed. You know that you are at "Ural Speed" when RVs are passing you on hills or level ground out in the Great Plains! Even at those speeds the time spent with my boys went by way too fast!!
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:56 pm

The morning of 31 May dawned very sunny and yet not too warm, but the day was darkened by the departure of my son Christopher from the ride. It's bad enough when a fellow rider leaves the tour, even worse when it's a loved son. My remaining son joined me in loading the machines for our trek northward towards Detroit where one more rider's forced decline to sally forth to Alaska with us resided. My son's friend was unable to secure the consent of his National Guard unit commander to miss the upcoming drill weekend, so he couldn't join us. :x The ride towards Detroit was still on as the local BMW shop nearby, had reportedly ordered a difficult to get rear tire for my son's GS and the offer of free lodging and beer was extended to us by his friend. Approaching the Tennessee Kentucky border the sky began to take on an ominous hue of darkness which revealed itself with fury a few miles into Kentucky. The rain fell in that abrupt sky emptying severity of those Mid-West summer storms, where the drops actually hurt on impact and lash at exposed skin, create that blinding road mist glare and road slickness that motivates your sphincter to work harder! Coupled with this inclement weather, the funny noise gremlin returned accompanied by an occasional flat spot in the power band of the bike! My son and I sought refuge from the weather and stupid car drivers by making a fuel stop at a station with a huge awning over the pumps, made even better by a television displaying The Weather Channel.
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As we let the hot jugs on our bikes dry out our gloves(somewhat) we took note that the weather front was following our planned route northward. I took to my cellphone in an attempt to find a Ural shop to take a look at my machine, change the oil and repair my flat tire also. Being that it was Friday afternoon on short notice I asked the Road Gods to bless me and I was rewarded with the kind understanding of Heindl Engineering agreeing to help me the next morning, if I could be there by 8 AM! I've had online dealings with this shop and the service and prices were excellent and the shop service replicated my previous experiences. John the technician normally doesn't work on Saturdays but agreed to come in to help me out. :clap: :clap: :clap: . This plan resulted in my son and I agreeing to meet up the next afternoon at the Detroit area BMW shop along with my contacting a friend in Cincinnati for a dinner reunion. My son and I rolled northward into the rain and rush hour traffic of southern Ohio , soon parting ways with a horn toot and waves. A so-so German dinner was made better by the company of my good friend and the end of rain followed by a good nights rest at a Comfort Inn. My early morning wake up call was accompanied by the approval of a late check out so I could leave my burden in the room while the bike was serviced.( Thank you Comfort Inn Monroe , OH an unsolicited plug , due to the excellent customer service)I arrived at the Heindl Engineering shop in a light rain and the overhead door lifted and I received greetings like an old friend coming to visit and was invited in and introduced to those present. John went right to work on my machine and pointed out that the 2012 Air Box hoses were not only loose from the carbs(my flat spot in power) but in function inferior due to their 3 piece fabrication= restricted air flow and recommended they be replaced by the 2013 single piece assembly, changed my plugs and oil replaced the inferior grade inner tube with the sheared valve stem. While this was occurring , I did what I do best when idle, took a nap, being awakened with the announcement that the machine was ready for the road, again. I settled up a more than reasonable bill and thanked John for him going out of his way to help me and departed , again in a slight rain.Please, if you can do stop by and meet these good folks at Heindl Engineering and leave a few dollars with them, we need good people like these out there for us. I will make it a point to tell you about the good guys & gals out there who deserve pats on the back and our business throughout my report. I must admit that my experiences in times of need or in general, the people of "America's Heartland" made me feel welcome which shouldn't surprise me since I've been married to a Wisconsin raised woman for close to 40 years.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:06 am, edited 4 times in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:06 am

As I resumed my effort to rendezvous with my son in suburban Detroit the super slab of I-75 was my obligatory route though the center of varying degrees of the decaying once prosperous manufacturing centers of America.
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I entered the welcome to Michigan Rest Stop and left my fully loaded bike with some trepidation due to the presence of young men taking a strong interest in it. As my bladder fullness took charge, I hustled to the appropriate area to address this function of nature. I returned to the bike with baited breath to discover my concerns were exaggerated and all was as it should have been with the bike. Placing a call to my son I learned the BMW shop had failed to order the tire as promised, so a major detour wasn't productive other than to give my son a night of beer drinking and shooting the breeze with a friend. We coordinated our next moves to enable us to join up and resume or westward ride. I caught up with my son cooling his jets in his Kermit chair in the lot of the now closed BMW shop with the look that all parents know when their child isn't happy. We discussed our situation and took a look at the map (yes I still carry maps)and decided to head for Muskegon, Michigan. One might ask why Muskegon.........easy the Fast Ferry to Milwaukee , Wisconsin leaves from there which would put us on track to get west faster without the horror of backtracking and riding anywhere near "Chicagoland" traffic!!~! A quick call to the ferry reservation line to secure the last 2 motorcycle spots on the boat (so they said) followed by a call for a room at the Comfort Inn nearest to the ferry terminal and we were off. Pushing westward that evening into the sunset and you guessed it, rain made for another evening of miserable riding on the slab.



We spent the night in our nice ground floor room with our gear spread about the room to dry and air out, while our bikes were under the canopy in view of the hotel desk staff (again thank you Comfort Inn Muskegon) for the night. We awakened to a sunny warm day and reloaded our beast of burden for a 10 minute ride to the ferry dock to endure the two hour wait for the ferry and suffer the attendant "Homeland Security" shuffle Identifications please, where are you going, do you have any weapons or dangerous material, etc?A word of advise to anyone using the ferry, spring for the deluxe cabin since no kids are allowed, non alcoholic drinks are free and it is QUIET, you actually have a valet type service during the 3 hour trip across Lake Michigan. At the appointed time we loaded the ferry, motorcycles first of course and the obligatory instructions to use tie down straps to secure your bike speech, from the deck crew made me chuckle.
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I did as a precaution remove the components of my "electronic warfare suite" for the trip, to reduce potential thieve's temptation. The trip across the lake was uneventful for me since soon after leaving the dock, I did what I do best when idle, slept. Our arrival in the town Schlitz beer made famous, was without any untoward experiences other than traffic getting to I-43 so we could head for Madison and our entry to I-90/94 west. My limited view ofthe Milwaukee Brewers stadium from I-43 as we passed by, impressed me greatly one day I'll make a visit there.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:20 am, edited 4 times in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by reduc » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:54 am

Good stuff. Some folks just have a way of telling a story that draws the reader in, and you, Clark, have that gift. Thanks for sharing. :cheers:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:40 am

We found ourselves in "Mad City" for those of you who can remember the 60's and 70's . Madison,WI is the home of the University of Wisconsin, where we found ourselves on a hot day with empty gas tanks trapped on a spaghetti maze termed the junction of three interstates. Luckily the fumes lasted longer than my being disorientated , not lost and ending up at a Shell gas station.Something I've not mentioned because we Ural riders go through it every time we ride, the "what is that, how old is that, what kind of BMW is that" interrogation, in Madison is was the same.We refilled the tanks and slaked our parched throats then headed towards our next planned stopping point of Wisconsin Dells. Why stop there you might ask? I would reply because they have gas there and it's a tourist area that caters to tackiness bordering on being ostentatious, that any rider must visit. My son has low tolerance for my tasteless behavior of going into truck stops to buy souvenirs, bumper stickers or t-shirts which makes doing it, so much more fun for me. We pushed on westward past the I-94 I-90 split near Tomah where we stopped for fuel again and my son announced his plan to go pick up some parts from the previous owner of his GS which he had purchased about 60 miles from our location. The plan was for him to rejoin me in Albert Lea Minnesota along I-90 . Why there you might ask, because I thought the name was cool and couldn't be mistaken for any other place.We said see you later and headed our separate ways for now. Having ridden both east and west on this stretch of I-90 many times I was content to motor along at Ural speed and enjoy the scenery and read the license plates of semi trucks speeding by me and waving at kids in the backseats of passing cars. Riding solo also is relaxing to me, it frees one up to concentrate on your own ride and not worry about keeping up or near your riding partners. I was soon at one of the true indicators of the approaching west, the Mississippi River a few miles past LaCrosse, WI home of the largest Six Pack in America(if you've been there you know what I mean, if not go check it out).

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I made a stop a the overlook and welcome to Minnesota area to take in the views and empty my bladder, both of which I enjoyed doing.
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My dream destination located in the city of Austin , Minnesota was coming up well before I would arrive in Albert Lea, that place was the SPAM Museum at the Hormel Meat Company.Sadly I arrived a half hour after the home and monument of this savory meat like treat had closed for the day!!! :(

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The security guard at the gate was as interested in my bike as I was about getting some pictures so he let me in to take some after we had spoken about the bike and my trip. As I was burning daylight and heartbroken, I swung back onto the saddle and headed for Albert Lea at a blazing 80kmph along I-90 West into the setting sun. Albert Lea is about 80 miles from Austin so upon arrival in town, I pulled into a gas station to fill up and empty myself before calling my son to inquire as to his location.Well, he of course didn't answer his phone so the dad alarm started to ring until I calmed myself with the idea he was riding and couldn't answer his phone. I left him a voice mail and settled down to partake in a Starbuck's Mocha Espresso energy drink and some beef jerky at a table in the truck stop. I do not like to sit still out on the road when there is good weather and it's early, so I took out my map and plotted another destination along I-90 and called my son to leave a message that I was heading for get this, Blue Earth, Minnesota and off I went. Again the town had a cool name and could not be confused with any other place and it held a long desired place to visit. Upon arrival at my destination I waited at the gas station for 30 minutes and then sought lodging for the night leaving another message on my son's phones as to where I was staying. Just as those parent genes were starting to rev up my son called and announced he was filling up just down the road and would soon join me!! :D I'll leave you all in suspense on the mystery destination for the next day. Good night from the Eastern Aleutians.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by timdenning » Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:29 am

All this and suspense for the next episode as well!!! You'll have TV companies queuing at you door for the broadcast rights...... Tim
2002 Ural Tourist - UK spec so no drive to sidecar on the left!!

Gone but not forgotten:
2008 Ural Tourist - written off arguing with a car - it was a draw - wrote off the car as well...
And over the years...
BMW R1100 GS, R1100RT, R100LT, R80RT, R80
Panther + Busmar Chair
Norton Big Four + Chair
Matchless G3LS, BSA Bantam D10

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by Albuquralque » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:25 am

Keep it coming! :thumbsup:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by BobM » Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:34 pm

Great, great story. I can sure identify with your "parent gene" kicking in. No matter how old we or our kids get, that "parent gene" stays alive and active. Thank goodness for cell phones.

Bob :)
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:36 am

Well fellow Uralistas the moment has come to display the surprise for today!
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‎ This where you should go to see what made my dad heart smile after seeing the look of enjoyment and happiness on my son's face! In spite of his disdain for my affinity for stopping at hokey tourist traps, actually he enjoyed the stop and even bought some post cards there.
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As the sun rose higher in the sky we returned to our westward ride towards the great state of South Dakota. I commented on the joy of Ural speed on the highway as it does allow for one to take in the often missed subtle findings lost to high speed travel. One of the things that I noticed was the large number or dead turtles along the highway with a few survivors on the shoulders. I can only surmise that the months of May and June are migrating months as there are so many bodies of water along I-90. Among the other flights of ideas floating through my mind as we tooled along, was the approaching junction of I-90 and I-29 and the city of Sioux Falls , South Dakota which happens to be the largest city in the state. Not only is it in Minnehaha County, it's airport code is SUX. I don't know if that moniker is correct and we didn't stop to find out but again all of this was tumbling around in my mind as I rode along.With my mind slowly dissolving into mush , I realized that some cerebral stimulation was lacking and I set my sights on finding just that! It was 120km from SUX to the desired site of stimulation/ monotony breaker of Mitchell, South Dakota. Those of you acquainted with the region know of what I speak, as the center of culture in the urban prairie oasis.........Mitchell's own The Corn Palace!!‎
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The midday sun and the rush of hot air across our bodies had effectively dried us out and sapped our strength to the point that multiple cold drinks in an air conditioned truck stop were required to feel refreshed and revived keeping us off of the road for over an hour. The summer shade less heat of the great plains can be a true butt kicker, to those who do not heed their body's request to seek beverages and cool shelter during their ride. Re-hydrated bodies, refueled bikes, sights to see and a long way to Alaska combined to move us on our way.
Experienced riders heading for the annual " Mecca of Kabuki Theater Motorcycling" know that after leaving Mitchell other than the Missouri River there isn't a lot to see until the Badlands and ..........Wall , South Dakota home of the penultimate tourist trap and kl itchy business Wall Drug. We were nailing down the miles heading for Wall being barraged by signs extolling the virtues of stopping in Wall and leaving your money there, when both mother nature and the fuel tank called our progress to a halt in a little town about 70 miles from our night's goal. We exited onto State Highway 16 and were confronted with two service station one just to our right the other 1/4 mile up the road on the right. For the sake of convenience we entered the nearest station my son stopped at the regular pump while I pulled to the super, we proceeded to fill or bikes and without delay heading back for the interstate. When entering I-90 I rolled on the throttle to reacquire the previous good speed only to feel the bike losing power , really this time no gremlins or imagined events as we went down the road I was required to stay in 3rd gear to maintain 40 mph on flat surfaces having no top end power in 4th gear or 3rd when ascending a slope resulting in my pulling off into a rest stop to look for the source of the bike's problem. Having my wrench son with me we made all of the usual check, spark, cables intact, carbs secure leaving the suspected culprit as bad gas! Luckily we had an empty gas can and were able to drain the most recently purchased fuel from the bike and replaced it with some of our emergency stash of 92 octane.
The bike fired right up and a test ride around the lot was completed and we hit the road again.......for now. Upon attempting accelerate to highway speed the bike again lost power requiring me to stay in 3rd gear to maintain 40 mph all the way to Wall. You know the distance seemed to get longer the more we rode and I stopped believing those mile markers, knowing they were just there to taunt me! :( Finally there it was the exit for Wall , SD in all of it's neon lit, fast food, gas stationed, hotel motel , free ice water glory refuge for the night! My son and I sought food and a bed after taking this.....
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I can tell you that if you go into a combination bar, casino , cafe in Wall after 9 PM and order the Mexican combo, since that was about it on the menu, you will regret it the next day. Use your imagination! We located a reasonably priced Mom & Pop Motor Court just off of the highway, near a place selling beer,which allowed me to drown my sorrow and proceeded to search the web for a Ural shop on our route west. I found a listing for Outdoors Motorsports in Spearfish, SD about 100 miles away with a website message board where I posted my plight and my plea for help. With that task done, I turned to another cold beverage, then hit the sack planning on an early morning departure for the Ural shop. The next day was like the others with clear sunny sky not too warm but wearing a wind shirt under my stitch was't a bad idea.
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The loaded bike fired right up and idled well . but resumed it's recalcitrant behavior when I put the throttle to work heading onto I-90. I settled into a almost steady 40 mph 3rd gear ride to our destination of Spearfish , SD, the normally 2 hour ride turned into a 4 hour trip including a stop at this iconic sign.......


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Last edited by ClarkA on Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:50 am, edited 4 times in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by Albuquralque » Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:39 pm

Left me (all of us) hanging! :lurker:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by Albuquralque » Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:40 pm

"I can't show me standing on a corner in Mitchell South Dakota, what a fine sight to see"....

I thought it was " Standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ....such a fine sight to see......." :D
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by thumper05flstsc » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:57 am

Just came across this and will be reading it with interest. I made a trip from Key West to Alaska on my Harley Springer a few years ago and want to go back up on my Ural. I was in an endurance competition the first time and did not slow down so I could actually enjoy it. I don't think I will go all the way to key west for the next trip up however.

Thanks for taking the time to post this and I look forward to reading it. :bow:
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