The Gray Grizzlies 2: What to Ride to Alaska?

Tags

I’ve heard that there are four parts to any vacation, each of which should be equally fun: Planning, Preparation, Execution, and Reflection. The Gray Grizzlies just completed the Preparation part; it has been interesting, costly, and fun, and way more involved than we ever imagined.

What bikes to ride? We all had comfortable, dependable, long-distance machines, but worried a bit about the many miles of gravel and dirt we would encounter. Don already had a BMW 1200GS (GS is German for on and off road) which is a dual-sport adventure machine, comfortable for the long haul and competent off pavement.

The GS bikes are tall in order to accommodate the longer travel of the front and rear suspensions. With my 30-inch inseam, I was never able to get my feet on the ground—until now. In 2017 BMW built a 1200GS with a lowered chassis. Awesome! I bought one; the 2018 model. When astride, my feet reach the ground, which is a very helpful feature.

Jim’s new BMW R1200GS before tricking it out with crash bars and running lights.

Richard’s parking lot pig, whoops, I meant lovely interstate queen K-bike would look terrible caked with mud from the Haul Road leading to Prudhoe Bay, so he needed some other option as well.

“Hey Jim, how about I get a camper trailer and pull it and my bike with my truck; I don’t think I am up for a full 12,000 miles on two wheels.” That was an email from Richard a couple of months ago. After some thought, we Gray Grizzlies concluded that Richard’s proposal was a fine idea. In addition to his bike, he could carry our extra sets of tires and a beer cooler. And if we camped and cooked, we would save a ton of money. Moreover, there are safety advantages of being able to haul a second motorcycle if necessary. The search was on for a suitable camping trailer.

The Livin-Lite Quicksilver Toy Hauler is a collapsible pop-up with a platform in front large enough for two motorcycles. Richard found a used, stripped-down 2006 model not far away. After working together one day per week for five weeks we had cleaned it up, built a loading ramp, installed new tires, a 12 Volt system, propane tanks for cooking and hot water, and plumbing for an inboard water system. Don, always the guy who finds the best deals, tracked down a like-new BMW 700GS for Richard to carry on the trailer and ride on excursions along the way.

Jim and Don posing with Richard’s great looking rig, all tricked out; ready for the long haul.

A dry run to a four-day Horizons Unlimited motorcycle rally near Appomattox, VA, provided a chance to test all the systems in the rig. Everything worked pretty well, especially the beer cooler.

Camping at a Horizons Unlimited rally near Appomattox, VA. Shown are the BMW GS bikes that we will ride to Alaska.
Gray Grizzly Don grilling burgers on the new rig.

If the Execution part of our trip is as much fun as the Preparation, this will indeed be a great adventure. The Gray Grizzlies have had lots of fun already.

For other motorcycling adventure stories, go HERE.