The Gray Grizzlies 3: Road Trip Overview

“Why do you ride motorcycles?” I get that a lot along with the implication that I must be a bit crazy, or at least a little weird for riding “those two-wheeled monsters.” Alisa Clickenger, a writer for Motorcycle Consumer News and a motorcyclist herself wrote: “Motorcycling is viewed as something dangerous and hardcore, even bordering on extreme. People often associate the sport with popular images of badassery. To be a motorcyclist is to love leather, loud pipes, and tattoos.”

I admit that that motorcycling element exists; those folks are called “bikers.” I wear no leather, my pipes whisper, and I have no tattoos. And I don’t think anyone would call me a badass—a puppy dog more likely. My buddies and I belong to a different element of the motorcycling culture called long-distance adventure riders. We use a different type of motorcycle, different riding gear, and have a different purpose. Nonetheless, it is a raw, physical experience that requires exposure to the elements and a bit of skill and endurance.

The Gray Grizzlies, Richard, Jim, and Don, at the BMW National Rally near Nashville TN prior to departing for Alaska.

To my point, my buddies and I just completed a ride from Virginia to northern-most Alaska where I waded in the Arctic Ocean. Our trip was fifty days and 12,300 miles through some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America while encountering lots of interesting and friendly folks. I suppose one could do most of this trip in a four-wheeled vehicle, but it would be with obstructed views, with a sense of isolation from one’s surroundings, without the feel of rain on your face or the sun on your back, without noticing the temperature changing from 38 to 92 within six hours, without the smell of roadside aromas permeating the air, and without the exhilaration of balancing on two wheels at speed with the wind whispering by your helmet. Long-distance adventure riding is why I ride motorcycles.

From the Anchorage Museum.

But what about that epic trip to Alaska? I carried my laptop for the purpose of blogging along the way as I have in the past on solo cross-country rides. On those solo rides, I enjoyed many mornings lounging in a coffee shop while writing about the things I saw and the people I met. This time? No way! It was all about jumping on the bike early each day to pursue whatever lay around the corner. After all, 12,000 miles is no ride in the park.

Round trip route (12,300 miles) from Virginia to Deadhorse Alaska with several great side trips along the way.

Therefore, I apologize to my faithful blog followers. I set you up with a couple of posts about my upcoming trip, then you heard nothing from me. If you were not on my Facebook Page where I did post a few photos and brief commentary along the way, you may have thought I had been eaten by a grizzly bear, or run off a cliff into the depths of the Yukon River. No. The Gray Grizzlies had a fantastic trip, and we made it home without a hitch or glitch.

If you would like to see some great photos and hear about some of our experiences via my observations, please watch for my approximately weekly posts about our trip; I won’t disappoint you. You might also revisit the first two posts I made prior to our departure to be reminded about our plan. For that, click on the following: The Gray Grizzlies 1: Three Old BMW Riders and The Gray Grizzlies 2: What to Ride to Alaska?