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?”

The 1st Ride on the Sertao


This will be my 1st blog entry via the iPad from the woods. Kind of an experiment…

Finally got the Sertao out for some camping this weekend. Was planning on a old night and it turned out to be pretty nice. I seem to be the only camper at French Creek State Park – wonder if the snow and cold are keeping folks away?

The new bike did fine with all of the gear on it, but I need to get used to only one cylinder. Now I understand why they call them “thumpers”! Got to French Creek about 4 pm and grabbed a site in the snow. Still took almost 1.5 hours to get it all set-up. Had dinner and am now curled up in the tent. About 40 degrees out, but cozy in the tent. Only a little after 7 pm, so not sure what I will do the next few hours..

Up early tomorrow and heading home. Need to be a little careful as the wet roads will be ice tomorrow. More then with a few pictures.

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….

Alaska Bound for Autism

JimmyI should have posted this article several weeks ago, before Jimmy’s departure, but I just didn’t think about it.

A young friend and fellow motorcycle rider left earlier this week from Lansdale, heading to Alaska to raise awareness and money for autism. Check out Jimmy’s story and follow the ride HERE.  You can track the SPOT GPS route live HERE.  Follow, comment and contribute as you see fit.  Great cause and great person doing the ride!

Pine Barrens Adventure Camp!

Cranberry BogWhat a great weekend!  Got the 1200 GSA off the road onto the sand and gravel with the guidance of the team of instructors from the Pine Barrens Adventure Camp.  A nice mixture of sand gravel and off-road riding to inaugurate the beginner to the true intention of “adventure riding.”  Combine patient, competent instruction with the beauty of the Pine Barrens, diversity of habitat/species, and challenging riding with the “big bikes” and you have the Pine Barrens Adventure Camp.  Truly a 1st class, well orchestrated event, well worth any rider’s time and energy.

I always start with the best intentions of taking copious notes and photos, documenting the details and providing a blow-by-blow account of this type of training.  Once I arrive and get involved, I am way too absorbed in the activities – and keeping the bike upright -to worry much about anything else. So, my account is short and from memory while relying on pictures of Jack O’Connor (Camp’s Director) to document the happenings of the week-end.

pbac 42813 087-MI arrived early on Saturday, as I usually do to such things, and found the team setting things up. I won’t go into the details of the credentials of the instructors, you can see that on the Pine Barrens Adventure Camp’s web page. All I will say is that the instructors were great and well qualified – couldn’t have asked for better.  After removing everything on the bike that could break off, Saturday was spent with about 4-6 hours of drills to get everyone comfortable in the dirt.  Slow turns weighting the outside foot peg, controlled slides while stopping, turning a stalled bike on a steep hill and a bunch of other skills.  The day pbac 42813 097-Mwrapped up with a 20 or so mile in the woods to put the skills to test.  Sand, gravel and a little mud – enough to find me on the ground looking at the 600 lb GSA on its side a few times.  All the spills I took were slow speed and in sand – soft landings…

pbac on trailThe 2nd day involved a ride through the Pine Barrens with plenty of time to stop, chat and enjoy the beauty of the area.  Mike Bradway led a nice discussion about the biological diversity of the Pine Barrens, conservation and minimizing the impact of motorized travel through the delicate ecosystem.  Quite unexpected and brought back fond memories of the talks I used to give as a kayak instructor in the area.  Good stuff.  Just goes to show that everyone on 2 wheels is not out there to tear up the woods and leave a trail of trash in their wake…


A common sight ...

A common sight … picking up big bike….

To sum up, if you have a dual sport bike and are looking for a chance to test it out off-road,  this is the course to take.  Skill and confidence building for all skill levels – most transferable to riding on the tarmac.  What started as a primer for the Pine Barrens 300 now has progressed to a stand-alone course for fledgling off-road riders.  Frankly, I don’t care what your skill level, taking a big bike through the sand is a humbling experience. Give Jack’s team a try – you won’t regret it!  See you at the Pine Barrens 300 in November!


Pine Barrens Adventure Camp Coming Up!

pbacbanner12With the recent medical issues behind me, I am gearing up for the Pine Barrens Adventure Camp in about 2 weeks.  Although a bit out of shape from the recovery from the melanoma surgery, I am looking forward to the camp and getting the GSA off the road.  My last real training on the big bike (1200 GS) was over 3 years ago when I took the Rawhyde course in Pittsburgh.  I have done very little off road riding, except for about 600 miles of gravel enroute to Prudhoe Bay last summer.  Currently back to a couple of miles a day and some light weight training, so should be good to go in about 10 days.

Promises to be fun and certainly will push the skills envelope and this tired, nearly 60-yr old body.  Hope to get the bike prepared this week-end by removing the accessory lights, removing the mud guard (always falls off anyway), adding the TKC 80 tires and a couple of more items.  Have to dig out the BMW Rallye riding gear.  A summary of the course can be found in my previous post of February 2.  Stay tuned for the gory details!