PREPARING FOR THE JOURNEY

AN UPDATE OF WHAT IS GOING ON

It’s starting to feel a little real these days.

When I decided to go to Fairbanks by motorcycle I didn’t actually have a motorcycle, nor had I ridden one in about 40 years. I have always missed being on two wheels, but obligations and responsibilities kept me from riding for 4 decades.

When I literally blurted out that I wanted to ride a motorcycle to Alaska to my wife she didn’t hesitate for a moment. “Do it”, she said.

“You have earned it.”

My oldest is getting close to 30, and my youngest is in college, so I figured it was time to do something for me. A big cruiser bike seems like the right thing. Heh.

THE BIKE

My wife has no interest in riding at this point, so I have even removed the passenger seat and replaced it with a luggage rack. I plan on getting a good, solid motorcycle luggage bag to go there so I can pack my cameras in a thin bag between it and the trunk.

I have a few other modifications that I want to do.

  1. Add some fog lamps to the front array. Yes, I already have a passel of lights, but I want a couple of very bright lights so the cagers can see me coming, and so I can look for campsites if it is getting dark.
  2. Add a new trunk with tail lights in it for more rear visibility. The current big, black trunk has no tail lights and I want there to be no mistake that there is a bike in front of the cage.
  3. New saddle. Mustang wide is what I am looking at. The stock seat that is on it seems fine for 300 miles with days off, but for 35 days straight, I need a wider-ass model so my legs don’t stop circulation completely.
  4. Tires. I will need a set before I go, and a set when I get back. Motorcycle tires get about 10,000 miles and that is pretty close to what I am going to be doing. I may have to get a new set in Anchorage since the bike will have extra weight, and the roads are fairly rough… lots of chip seal.
  5. Running lights… colorful LED’s. You know – you’ve seen the cruisers all lit up like a christmas tree. Yeah… like that. Shut up – I like it. 🙂
  6. A cover for the bike for bad weather. EBay has some good ones.

Also working on a way to tie down all the gear without it looking like a sherpa bike. Will keep you posted on that.

MY HEALTH

Well, this is where it gets interesting.

I had a rough autumn last year with a big setback to my left leg (the one that had the humongous clot). No matter what I did, it seemed the leg was getting weaker and weaker. I was really thinking there was not going to be a good outcome to the path I was on.

In February, we took the annual Project 52 Roadtrip and on the second day I decided to take the steep way out of a canyon and just forge up the wall of sandstone in front of me.

I was huffing and puffing when I got to the top… but instantly realized my leg was no longer hurting. I had somehow pumped enough oxygen into it that it had become ‘normal’ or whatever. Continuing with this therapy, I have made some pretty strong strides in getting my legs back to a place where I feel confident I can make the trip.

Since we have been back, I have begun to hike the mountain trails near my home, and it seems to make a difference. I started hiking it 4 weeks ago and only got in as far as where it became steep. Last Sunday I made it to the top, then repeated to the top on Wednesday. I will be going to the top tomorrow morning as well. My daughter accompanies me and my bud Dennis as well. He was instrumental in getting me over the top.

Him, and his magic walking stick that he gave me. (Dumbo? Feather?… hmmm)

This is the map of the hike.

telegraph

The route is quite vertical after the ‘Y’, and the terrain very rugged. It is a lovely walk in the cool mornings.

I’ll get back to you when the 120 degree June days begin to broil it.

On off hiking days, I am walking the dogs twice a day for 25 minutes. This gives me about 9000 steps a day according to my step counting device. My goal is to always be over 8000.

Upper body training is spotty, but a new schedule kicks in this week to pump the iron 4 days per week.

CAMPING GEAR

Not only did I not have a motorcycle, I had not one piece of camping gear. And I love camping… as long as there is a mini-bar.

I have not camped in nearly 50 years, save a few overnights in the car while awaiting good light for a photoshoot.

But I want to camp, and I want to adventure. My new goal for a portfolio is to add adventure, especially adventure for middle aged folks, into the book. That is my tribe, and I want to make images that show how interesting and vital these years can be.

Camping gear acquired:

  • Tent A (big, two person tent, takes two people to set up)
  • Tent B (small, two person tent, can be set up by me)
  • LED Lantern
  • LED headlamp for working in the dark hands-free
  • Sleeping bag (down to 20 degrees)
  • Blow Up Mattress (a good one)
  • Blow up pillow – a must
  • Camping chair (folds into almost nothing… cool)
  • Compass

I want to get some bear repellant, pulleys for hanging food high, and a few more staples of a happy camp.

Most everything else I already have. I am not sure what to do about a stove, or whether we will need one. Not much for breakfast, nor do I drink a lot of coffee. That said, it would be nice to have some warm soup and such when needed. Not sure which way to go on that – will be back with a final gear packing list well before the trip.