Riding motorcycles is way more fun when you have good riding buddies to share the adventure. I am blessed in that regard with at least one out of a half dozen always ready to go for a ride. This is a story about two of them, they’re special because they will accompany me on a ride to Alaska. Yeah, you read it right: ALASKA! The plan is to ride 12,000 miles round trip from Virginia. More about that later. First, let me tell you about these two riding buddies crazy enough to embark upon this venture.
From right to left in the photo above are Richard and Don, and that’s me, Jim in the background on the left. The photo was taken at the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville, PA, on our way to a rally last year. Richard is riding his sexy, red 2003 K1200 BMW, considered by most BMW riders as the prettiest BMW ever made. It is also known as the “interstate queen” (smooth) or the “parking lot pig” (difficult) depending on where it happens to be. Richard retired from the Faculty of Forestry at Virginia Tech where he was Superintendent of the Reynolds Homestead Research Center near Stuart, VA. Prior to our up-coming Alaska trip, Richard’s greatest travel adventure was snooping around the West Pacific and the South China Sea as a crewmember of the Grayback (submarine) during the Cold War in the mid-1960s.
Don is standing next to his BMW R1200RT, one of the best long-distance touring bikes that is worth every dollar of its high price. Don retired after a long career with Volvo Truck Manufacturing, USA, near Dublin, VA. Don’s greatest travel adventure prior to our Alaska ride was a stint with Volvo in Sweden where he traveled, when not working, and where he was nearly captured by Russian border guards for taking photos of prohibited Russian territory in the backcountry. If you know Don, you would understand how he talked the guards out of an international incident and even got his camera back—including the film.
In the photo at the top, Jim is standing in the background next to his BMW R1200R. The bike is called a Roadster, but it is set up for long-distance touring. Jim is a retired Virginia Tech Forestry Professor. His greatest travel adventure was a three-year period, first in Vietnam in 1970 as a Huey helicopter pilot, two years flying for the Army in Germany, then five months riding his 1971 BMW R75/5 through 17 European and African countries.
With those combined travel experiences among us, a quick ride to Alaska and back should be a cake walk. But wait! I think we were all a bit younger and a lot stronger back then. For a couple of us, those experiences were 50 years ago or more. They say, “with age comes wisdom,” therefore, instead of physical strength, we will need to rely on our old man smarts to complete this trip safely. As an example of being smarter, we will all ride bikes more suitable to the roads we will travel on our way to the Arctic Ocean. We now have BMW adventure bikes for this trip, photos of which you are sure to see in following blog posts.
You can wish us luck as we proceed on our journey by following us on Facebook and subscribing to this blog. Look for The Gray Grizzlies moniker we adopted. We had other moniker suggestions from well-meaning relatives including Gimpy Grizzlies, Doddering Grizzlies, Tottering Grizzlies—you get their point. In any case, where you find the following logo, you might find a story or at least a few photos of our adventures along the way. Can’t wait to saddle up! Alaska or Bust!
For other motorcycling adventure stories, go HERE.