Friday, June 28, 2013

Fast Approaching Date of Departure

With a fast approaching date of departure I can think of vary little but getting on the road.

I’m left with a few thoughts today as the temperatures reach 103F at home.

  • I must pass through Redding CA as they prepare for 113F
  • Oregon expects to see 97F
  • BC and the Yukon upper 90s

My wish for sunny weather seems to be coming together ;-)

And this just in: This appears to be the year of the largest infestation of Mosquitoes in recent history.

I HATE mosquitoes …..

Thank you Brett Carsten for his sketch of –Alaskan Mosqutoes

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Budget Top Box

Quick update: In my last post I talked about my tank bag and not wanting to use it for the Alaska trip.

It would be nice to have a Top Case for the Givi rack on the back of the bike the ones that match the side bags are about $300, and I'm not a fan of the look. I like the TourTech case but that is about $600 wow!

Not totally sure I will like either option I decided to try this

It's  a Stanley FatMax tool box $28, lockable but not water tight. I also bought a tube of silicone waterproof sealer to seal all the seams $4.99 as well as stainless steel hardware to mount the box $4.

First I made a template of the mounting holes on the rack with a pice of paper scented that to the bottom of the box and drilled the 1/4 inch holes in the box and mounted the box. Its about a one hour job including sealing all the seems, 24 hrs to dry! I then bought a 12 x 23 Outdoor Products water resistant duffle bag and inserted that in to the box for extra protection. The result looks good, locks and the size is perfect. The trip to Alaska will be a good test to see if it keeps my gear shaft and dry.

For about $65 I have a total solution for my top box and now no need to use the tan bag! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shake Down (Pre-Trip Ride)

I had a great ride and camping trip with good friends this weekend as a shake down trip for Alaska.
 I brought all the gear I would have with me on my ride to Alaska and would get a chance to make some last minute decisions on gear,  and try out the Spot device (GPS locator) blow is the link to the map with GPS locations for this trip.

For tracking, the device reports out every 10 min, even during the time we spent waiting for lunch 70min.
It can be fun to see the progress as the trip and each GPS location on the map along the way.

Two decisions were made on the trip, along with a confirmation of the gear working well in optimal conditions of course.


1) I don't want to bring the tank bag: this is the first time I road with it on this bike and it just feels out of place and not totally secure. It's a magnetic type and worked well on my sport bike but not so well on this bike because of the different shape tank.
2) Larger tent: I have two tents, and I was having a difficult time trying to decide witch one to bring, I brought them both On this trip and decided on the larger of the two.
RE: If I get stuck in the rain, the larger tent will provide more room to sit and read a book and have all my gear in the tent with me to keep dry

I tested the Coleman waterproof matches (just in case) it took 9 matches to get one to light lol, a lighter works better!

My new motorcycle boots work so well I only took them off to sleep, we took a nice hike around the lake and they did great, love the new boots!

My 2011 V-Strom 650 got 70 mpg, fully loaded over the 300 mile trip, confirmed with my wife's bike,
same bike same miles also posted just a blip over 70 mpg...... Now that is nice!

Some photos from the trip

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Calling from the Road

I quick tip about making calls from the road and out of Country

Also shout out to Google! THANKS

I live in the US and traveling through Canada is an expensive PHONE CALL proposition, when you want to keep in contact with loved ones on the road.

I will be using my I-Pad (WiFi only) to make and receive calls from/to  BC/US while on the road
(You can also do the same with your I phone, make sure to turn off all the phone services in settings while in BC)

There are many options to make and receive calls on the road
  • Rooming with your current plan (expect a bill above $100, more like $200)
  • New calling plan for Canada (don’t forget a data plan) they are expensive
  • Buy a new simm card for your phone when you arrive in BC, (still may have to consider long distance out of BC)
I found a better option

Google Voice and Talkatone:
1)      I created a Google Voice account
2)      I Installed Talkatone on my I-pad (this integrates with Google Voice and allows your I-pad to act as your phone over WiFi (no simm card required)
a.       I have all my phone number ring to this new number (you can use an existing number as well) its an easy setting in the application, just add your numbers to a list and confirm them with one call.
b.      I will use my i-pad to make all calls in BC
c.       Phone calls to all my numbers will now will ring to my I-pad, when I am connected to WiFi and all voice mail is available on my I-pad in Voice and text form!

Nearly every Gas station, restaurant, hotel and Camping area have free WiFi in BC, and  I won’t be talking while I’m riding so this option works well for me. And best of all its FREE…. Such a nice Price!

I-Phone (If you are using your I-phone you only need Google Voice for I-phone, just make sure you turn off your phone services while in BC)

How this works:
Most modern phone services are now voice over Internet protocol or VOIP. True land lines are quite rare these days, if you have a Land Line in our home it is likely transferred to VOIP substation you’re your local vender (Comcast, ATT, and many more)

Your phone communicates to a modem and translates your voice in to a Data Stream and sends it just like a text message to another modem that in return translates it back to a Voice communication and your voice is heard on the other end and same in return, simple! (for you techies yes this is an over simplification and the actual process does vary from this explanation, but I think it get the point across in a simple manner)
 So now let’s look at this from a practical side: If you have an internet connection you can make calls anywhere the internet can reach, yes anywhere!

You need software to do this (there is a standard for the protocol used by service providers and your voice data package must match that protocol exactly)

Google makes this easy and handles all the details including voice mail and voice to text so you can read you voice mail as well as listen to it. Talkatone installs on your I-pad enabling Google Voice on your I-pad its simple straightforward and the install process guides you through the set up and use of the application with Google Voice. (set up your Google Voice account first)

The technology and ability to do this has been available for a very long time, I have used this method through OOMA as my home and business lines for about 6 years with no phone bill!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Camping gear and Tools

Lets start with tools:

Tire repair kit: fits under the seat, along with 5 CO2 canisters and a nice mini CO2 re-filling tool from my cycling gear (for airing up tires as needed)

Each bike is different so your tools will differ as well, but the process of figuring out what to bring is the same.

First grab a sheet of paper and pen and head for the garage; staring at the front of the bike check each nut for size and work your way to the back of the bike, best to have a wrench screwdriver or socket for anything that might come loose or need maintenance for your trip.  You will need to make minor adjustments to the bike during your trip so pay special attention to these areas (chain tensioner, levers, shifter breaks and oil drain plug, your filter can stay in place longer than the oil can, so in my case, 7,000 miles, I don’t need the filter wrench, I can also barrow one when I change my oil at the half way point (Auto zone will lone tools for free and there are three of them in Anchorage).  

Once you have all the tools noted down pull the tool kit from the bike and start checking off your list, I found that the majority of the tools were provided by the factory and I only needed a few items added to the tool kit, it’s all now a permanent part of my kit on the bike.

Add to the tools kit some cable ties (zip ties) I added 4 long and 4 short to my kit. They will help when you lose that bolt or two that should have seen some lock tight before you left.

Camping gear!
OK this is the fun stuff, I love my camping gear, after years of Backpacking I have accumulated the gear that works well for motorcycle camping. Plus so many lessons learned I think I could fill a book
Let’s start with four lessons learned:
Lesson one: bringing the right gear is always better than bringing the most gear
 The mantra is: “Everything you pack must have at least one mandatory purpose you can’t live without, and everything else is extra”
 (Lots of extras in my pack!)
Lesson two: comfort is mandatory (it’s not just survival it should also be a good time)
Lesson three: learn what can be had on the trail/road and try not to bring it all, you can shop along the way.
Lesson four: you can do laundry along the way, pack as little as possible.

How much does it all weigh

You may want to weigh all your kit, it will give you a better idea of the magnitude of stuff you are attempting to bring and this step helps keep things manageable.
In backpacking my limit was always 30lbs, on my last trip, I decided to do the test and I tipped the scale at 50lbs, time to re think my kit!
It helps to ask yourself a few questions before you go, try and be firm with decisions: are you going to camp. What are the possibilities for weather?  The more possibilities for change the more gear you will bring.

Do you really want to camp
 I don’t think the decision to camp should be a maybe, there is just too much gear involved, and its really easy to just get a hotel,  your bike will be much lighter you will get better fuel economy and you may enjoy your ride all that much more with a good night’s sleep and a shower.
For me, I’m camping on this trip, I want the outdoor experience and I just love camping, so the camping gear is in! Now I have an extra 30 + lbs of kit on my bike.
Here is a photo of all my kit, a practice packing three weeks prior to departure, missing is my camera gear, towel and extra clothing

Clothing: I will cover this next time (less is more?)

Tent:  REI Half Some 2 Plus
Stove: Brunton Vapor AF (this will run on any gas! but it is also vary loud)
Sleeping Bag: The North Face -30 cold weather bag
Air mattress: Therm-arest NeoAir Xlite (light and small also reflects heat back to your body)
Water purifier: MSR (cleanable, reliable and fits on the end of my water bottle for easy pumping)
Note: not all campgrounds in BC have potable water
Kitchen utensils: Fork, Plate, Cup (doubles as measuring cup) and one Pot, top and removable handle, Cleaning pad, and soap, Hiking knife
Hatchet: (2 lbs) for splitting fire wood (campgrounds always give you big pieces of wood that are hard to start; the hatchet will cut smaller pieces off and make it easier to start).
Chair: (1lb) Alite Mayfly (if your camping you need a chair to sit in at the end of a long day, this one is tiny)
Close line:  Part of my backpacking gear it’s a tiny little thing with clips works well to dry things out when they get wet.
Miskito repellant: 98% deet for the hardcore mosquitoes and second one that does not melt plastic or make your face go numb, in case they are not too bad.
Rain Gear: (North Face) Light and new (bad things happen when you put your gear away wet and forget about it for a long, long time)
Hat: oops! I forgot it, “putting that in now”
Shoes: Viberam FiveFingers; Vary light and can be used in the water and will be great around camp
Stuff Sacs: these are light and help keep gear organized, nearly impossible to pack my side cases without them, they also work well as a pillow, just stuff a jacket in and fluff it in to position!

Food: I’m bringing too much food, dinners for each night and some oat meal for a few breakfasts and some coffee (still on the shopping list), everything else I will pick up on the road. Why all the dinners, I recently bought some extra Backpacking food on sale, so it was hard to leave it behind when I had it sitting there. All this is available on the road so I really did not need to bring all this food, one or two dinners would be normal.

Motorcycle straps: these are in case I decide on the inside passage on the return trip, I want good straps to anchor my bike to the deck of the ferry