Category Archives: Motorcycling

Posts related to motorcycling and adventure travel

When Alaska Calls, You Answer

Looks like another trip to Alaska on “Sally” has infiltrated my otherwise sedentary future…  This time, the Demster Highway and Tuktoyaktuk is the plan.  For any number of reasons, this won’t happen until 2020 and I have yet to request permission, so who knows.  But, there is a large part of me that yearns to get back there – in a more open and relaxed state of mind.  The spirit of the place is persistent but subtle.  Kind of lurking, calling and teasing all at the same time.  I spoke to “Sally” tonight and she is game.  With over 70K miles, she is willing and so am I.  Stay tuned…

To Ural, or Not to Ural…

For some reason, I have recently become obsessed with riding with a side car motorcycle.  Might be the “Sit, Stay, Ride” video or just looking for something a little different, but definitely been bitten by the bug…

Buying a  Ural, even a used one, defies all logic.  Overpriced, slow, circa 1930 technology (although slowly changing), maintenance headache, challenge to drive…  but, what fun!!   Visions of riding up the coast of Maine with one of the dogs in the side car or a load of camping equipment is hard to resist.  If my wife approved, I would probably suit up my daughter and give her a ride as well…

As anyone who knows me can attest, I love to ride and am always looking for ways to combine adventures.  However, with the 2009 BMW Adventure (Sally) it seems that trips frequently end up on the highway, buzzing along at 70+ mph – very focused on the destination rather than the journey.  The Ural would force a bit of change here.  Damn thing hardly goes 70 mph – and is not happy doing so.  Much more comfortable at 50 mph or less on country roads.

Then there is the UDF (Ural Delay Factor) best described by this excerpt from the “Soviet Steeds” website message board:

Talk about yer Ural Delay Factor

by Yankee Dog » Mon May 05, 2008 12:55 pm

It was a fine Sunday afternoon. The missus and I were have a fine time just tooling on back home after a visit to town. As we came up to the road where we live I spied a State Trooper with someone pulled over.

I gave him some space as I make the turn but imagine my suprise when he hooked his finger and motioned for us to pull over. I was being good, so I figured it must be a licence check. As the guy aproaches I start sweating as I cannot remember where my registration is and I think the new proof of insurance is on the table at home. :o


So there we sat for about twenty minutes sitting on the side of the road shooting the poop. He asked all the usual questions and then one of the county sherifs pulls ups and it starts all over again. I could hardly believe it. :roll:

The missus and I almost fell out laughing as we finally pulled away. yeah, we get in converstations where ever we go. But I never thought anything like this would happen.

Life is good.

Wild camping near Algeciras, Spain.

Whatever the motivation, just seems like good old-fashioned fun and an opportunity to meet folks interested in the machine.  It certainly draws attention.

Wonder if I could justify it as a marketing  tool for TSD Environomics  maybe visit all of the 100 or so breweries in the state of Maine?  One of them must need some wastewater help…

Honestly, it is hard to justify for other than something fun;  without any real financial or other practical basis. 

One of my biggest challenges here in Maine is not riding during the cold weather, but snow and ice-covered ground.  Even on the days were the roads were safe, I couldn’t get out our long driveway on the motorcycle due to ice.  Usually, the BMW sees about 8,000-12,000 miles/yr on a combination of pleasure and work related trips.  Last year, mainly due to the horrible winter, Sally only saw about 3,000 miles – mostly from a few trips back to PA for work.  Driving the Boston, CT, NY, NJ corridor on a motorcycle is really not much fun…

So, here’s my plan.  Buy a Ural with the intention of riding around Maine over the next year and visiting every brewery I can find – at last count I think there were 112 of them…. Or, maybe use the Ural as a “vehicle” to experience the state and write about those experiences?  Hmmm… not sure either would fly – but would be great to try.

Found a demo bike out in Minnesota – probably $15,000 to get it – not including flying out there and driving back.  Looks a little too pretty for my intended use, but should do the trick.

Now, the next step is convincing the responsible one in our family that there is a good reason to have a 2nd bike as I am sure the 1st question will be “Why do you need a 2nd motorcycle?” – How do I answer that one?



Picture Credits: Copied from Ural Website – w/o permission (hope they don’t mind a little free advertising…)

To Indianapolis then La Crosse, WI

Mississippi Backdrop - La Claire, IA

Mississippi Backdrop

After over 1200 miles on the road, made it to La Crosse, WI on the banks of the Mississippi.  All has gone well; no mechanical issues, the old body has held up and the young one has done nothing eventful – all in all a good trip so far.  Lunch at the Blue Iguana in LaClaire, IA – nice Mexican place..  Saw some other old farts heading to the Rally.  Judging by the age of the participants, doesn’t appear that anything crazy will happen there.

We managed to get off the 4-lane highway for the last couple of hundred miles and having great fun on the mini-twisties…  Should make it to St. Paul tomorrow am and can dig into the BMW culture – we’ll see how long that lasts…  Might be a short stay…

Bodega Brew Pub

Bodega Brew Pub

Found a nice brew pup in La Crosse – Bodega Brew Pup – great beer and food.  Not the best portrait of the 2 of us, but my arms were not long enough to get the whole scene.

Now ready to crash after 12 hrs on the road.  We did get stung by the time change – planning off by an hour. So, to bed early and off to St. Paul early tomorrow.

More later!

St. Paul Bound!

Ben Ted bikes-1Well, finally getting on the road again after over 2 years…  Ben, my son, and I are heading to St. Paul next week to attend the BMWMOA Rally in MN.  Should be a great ride, about 1200 miles and my 1st with Ben on his Versys.  We are heading out Tuesday morning (hopefully early) and plan on doing the ride in 2 ½ days.  About 2 days at the Rally then heading back.  Might be a bit of a push, but we’ll see.  No real agenda and we are camping along the way.  Should be fun to mingle with over 6,000 other riders, albeit a bunch of old farts like me.  Folks from all over the world will be there as well as many locals from our area.  Will be great to be on the road with Ben and sharing the freedom – leaving the cares behind for a few days…

I think many folks hear of a motorcycle rally and immediately think of Sturgis and all of its craziness.  Not this one, pretty subdued…  just a bunch of BMW riders getting together to exchange stories, look at the newest junk to add to their bikes and share a little camaraderie before heading back to the grind. Hope to get a chance to post a bit from the Rally and ride, but not a priority.

Biggest challenge will be dealing with the mid-west highways and the boredom – hopefully. More later!

Rene Comier at Hermy’s

BMW 650

BMW 650

Had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Rene Cormier at Hermy’s BMW in Port Clinton this past Saturday. What a great opportunity to chat with someone who has actually done what many of us dream about. Rene presented on his 5 yr adventure around the world on his BMW F650 of about 100,000 miles.  I had the opportunity to chat with Rene and Colette (Rene’s wife) about his adventures and how he is trying to offer a taste of the same through his motorcycle tours in Africa.  Hard not to get excited about…


Bullet Hole In the Gas Tank

Interesting how cavalier Rene is about all of the “hazards” described by so many adventure riders – maybe all of the risks of international motorcycle travel are a bit hyped by unsubstantiated ride reports? However,  a closer inspection of the bullet hole in he 650’s gas tank gives me pause.  With a little more discussion,  I found that this incident occurred here in the good ‘ol US, before the trip even started…

Check out Rene’s book “University of Gravel Roads” and all about the tours in Africa on his website Renedian Adventures.  I kind of like the looks of the Victoria Falls to Cape Town tour, but any of them look to be a trip of a lifetime.



Jack London Quote

Saw this quote at the beginning of the video referenced a couple of posts ago and thought it was worth reposting here:

“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.” 
― Jack London

Think we could all use a little of this attitude in our day-to-day decision-making…  Something to think about when you are doing you 2014 planning – “What will I pursue this year?”

Welcome Sally, Jr!

Sertao maxWell, pulled the trigger on a “new” 2012 BMW Sertao from Max’s in CT.  Has about 4 miles on it and got it at a pretty good discount. Pick it up on Tuesday. Heading to Hermy’s today to take advantage of their “Black Friday Sale” and pick-up some needed parts to modify he bike a bit including:

  • High Seat – adds about an inch to the height to facilitate the long inseams. Also, reported to be a little more comfortable
  • Oil and air filter
  • GPS Mount – hope to use the same GPS from the 1200 GSA
  • High windshield (maybe)
  • Engine crash bars (maybe)

Other items I’ll need to add (other sources) include:

  • Handle bar risers
  • Bash plate to protect engine
  • Racks and saddle bags – probably soft (Wolfman)
  • Tank bag – bolero use my old RKA from the GSA
  • Center stand – aids in servicing the bike and changing tires
  • Various protection – headlight, master brake cylinder, ABS and radiator

Probably other things, but no real rush. Need to get a few thousand miles on the bike before going too crazy

Anyway, the ride to Hermy’s was a bit chilly. Thermometer showed 15 degrees F when I left the house. Met up with my son Ben on his Versys for breakfast a the Sunflower Cafe.  A balmy 22 degrees by the time I got there.

Ashes Before Dust

Ran across a great video that does a great job capturing the sense of adventure experienced on the ride to Alaska last year.  If you have an hour to spend, check out the video put together by some folks making the ride to Alaska from Seattle.  Check it out HERE!  Hope I can figure out how to post i ton the blog.

Trans America Trail – On for 2014!

the-trans-am-trailLooks like I am “on” for the Trans America Trail in 2014!  About 5000 miles of off-road motorcycle riding from eastern Tennessee  to Oregon.  I am not sure that I can take the time to do the whole thing – minimum of 22 days, but will at least get a few weeks in this year.  Pretty much decided on a BMW Sertao for the ride – about 150 lbs lighter than the GSA I rode g650gs_sertao_zoom_1to Alaska and much more manageable off-road.  Some say this bike is still too large, but I think it is a compromise between the highway miles to get to the start and the single track stuff I may encounter.

Can’t wait to find and outfit the bike.  As I said above, much lighter and simpler than the big GSA.  One cylinder and fuel injected which means about 65 mpg.  Just need to find one at a reasonable price – might be a challenge.  Then the outfitting starts…  Soft luggage and a few minor modifications and I should be ready to go!  This trip I am planning on taking the time to enjoy the outdoors and scenery.  Have invited my son, Ben along – hope he can make it…

Stay tuned!



Jesse Luggage, Transam Trail, etc…

Jesse Luggage

After nearly 50,000 miles on the 2009 1200 GSA, one of the issues that has gotten progressively worse is the weather resistance of the panniers.  With the various falls, bangs and bruises from any number of accidents, the panniers take the brunt of the impact.  As such, they get bent, pounded back into shape and bent again.  Inevitably, the lids leak a little more each time.  Not a big deal if you are going camping and keep everything in water proof bags, but daily commuting with papers, files and a laptop is a bit riskier.

I decided to abandon the factory BMW bags and replace them with a set of Jesse Luggage panniers.  Spent the last few nights removing the old system and installing the new.  Cleaned-up a few issues such as stripped threads on the frame and wiring routing in the process.  In spite of all of the reports of difficult installation and poor instructions, went without a hitch.  Now, the 2 panniers that I have, give me about 30% more storage capacity, even without the top box.  Great therapy working on the bike – cheaper than a counselor…

The Trans-America Trail


The Trans-America Trail is  a 5,000 mile off-road trail from Tennessee to Oregon geared towards dual sport motorcycle riders. It was put together by Sam Correro; extraordinary effort.

I would love to do this one.  Looks like takes about 22 days if one pulls out the stops, 30 days is more doable and fun.  Not sure I could do it on my big 1200 GSA, but maybe a KLR 650 or BMW Sertao.  According to the various posts, the only way to get through the high passes along the western part of the route is to do this portion of the trip between July and August – means leaving in late June or July.

Thinking about it – not sure the domestic side of my life can afford it, but can’t hurt to think about it.  Maybe 2014?  I’m about due…

Road Trip

Not a very exciting blog entry, but felt like rambling a bit about a little trip to Maine on the bike.  I forgot how much I enjoy blogging, so until something more exciting comes along….

I have been itching to get on the road again with the bike (Sally) and found my excuse this weekend.  Had some maintenance to do on the house in Maine and scheduled contractors to be there Friday (June 7).  Just so happened that my route took me a few miles from Max’s BMW in CT where a few BMW Sertaos were sitting, just dying to be ridden…  Hmmm…  hard to resist. Following the Liberty visit, I am scheduled to head up to a photo session with Mark Picard in Baxter State Park.  Hope to get some pointers on capturing a moose or two on film… errr… digital image…  Stay tuned for some images from the trek.

SertaoSooo… Headed out early Thursday morning, staying as far ahead of Hurricane Andrea as I could.  Seems like every time I head north on the bike I am either heading away from a hurricane or into a nor’easter.    Made it to Max’s in CT by about 11am and took the Sertao for a ride.  Wow!  What fun!  About 150# lighter than the GSA and much more responsive.  The single cylinder, “thumper” engine was much smoother than I expected.  Had a hard time keeping the front end on the ground up some of the steep climbs – really enjoyed it.  Much lighter (obviously) and did well on the twisties.

Guess the question now is why do I need another motorcycle?  Beside the desire to do the Pine Barrens 300 mile tour this Fall, I guess I really don’t.  Not sure what I’ll decide, but I can always rationalize the 75 mpg, lighter weight and FUN!!

From Max’s, headed up to our house in Liberty Maine and got there just about dark.  Always feels good to get there, but as usual, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the maintenance that needed to be done on the place.  Hopefully someday I will get to sit back an enjoy it rather than seeing it as another bunch of items on the ever-too-long todo list…

Cargil Pond From Our Dock

Cargil Pond From Our Dock

After the contractors left, I still had a good bit of the afternoon and decided to take a paddle on Cargil Pond to visit my furry friends at the other end of the lake.   Last year, I surprised this father beaver as he was busy building the house for the winter – wanted to stop by and see how the family was doing.

Beaver Tail Slap

Beaver Tail Slap

Not very good pictures, but I was kind of surprised myself.  For those unfamiliar, beavers will slap the water with their tail to warn others of danger.  This is a shot from last Fall when I surprised this guy.  Don’t think he was very happy.  The family has been busy and I am assuming there must be a few little ones in the house by now…

Spent a nice relaxing morning Saturday waiting for the rain to stop.  Funny how hard it is to relax when the pace slows.  I think it takes me a week or so to bring the pace down to normal – am working hard at it.  Well, intended to run into town and fill up with gas and pick-up a few things, but the soaked and soft ground had other plans for me.  Spend a couple of hours getting stuck and unstuck trying to get Sally out of the lower level garage and up to the road.  My worn TKC 80 tires just didn’t do the trick.  FIrst time I ever got stuck- and alone…  Had visions of spending the rest of the month stuck in Maine – wold be tough to explain this to clients….

Dirty Sally

Dirty Sally

Unloaded the bike, found a new path on more solid ground on on the 3rd attempt, managed to get up to the driveway and ready to go.  Whew!!! Now I really know why I need the Sertao!  Could have just pushed it up the hill! (at least that is what I am telling myself).  Well, at least Sally looks like a true Adventure Bike…


DSCN0244Ran into Belfast for lunch and to check out the marina.  Lots of artsy fartsy stuff going on – but very nice.   The bike, muddy as it was, really attracted attention.  Must have had 3-4 folks come up to me asking where I was from, going and just checking out the bike.  One old fellow chatted with me for about 10 minutes until his wife started yelling at him to get moving.  I could tell he would have loved to jump on and go for a ride….

Now prepping for the the trek to Millinocket tomorrow morning.  Should be a nice 3 hour ride up to moose country.  Should be there soon enough to get out and take some photos.  Meeting Mark and Anita at 5am on Monday for a full day of photography.  Then heading home – 12 hrs of riding.  Probably stay in Portland, ME and head home Tuesday.  Return to reality….