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Showing posts from August, 2010

The Two Faced Dalton Highway

Considered one of the most isolated roads in the USA due to its extremely limited services and the lack of real towns, the Dalton Highway is one of the holy grail roads for adventure riders in North America. I have to admit that it was not at all what I expected – the sordid tales of extreme road covered in fist size rocks, foot deep mud, extreme drops, and horrid corrugation were all true… but only in very small sections of the road. I expected 414 miles of some of the worst road on earth and instead encountered maybe a grand total of 20 miles of not-great road in total – and at least a hundred miles in total of some of the most pristine tarmac I’ve ever seen. As such, I went into the Dalton expecting an extreme riding experience and a severe challenge of my skills and discipline – and on the way up, I got it, but only due to the weather. It was absolutely horrible, with temperatures hovering just barely above freezing, rain and mist a constant companion, and fog massively reducing

The Bittersweet Final Push

On July 15, I left Washington DC with four simple goals: I wanted to swim in the Arctic Ocean, I wanted to have an amazing experience getting there, I wanted to inspire my friends and others to take risks and live life, and I wanted to raise money for a cause that’s important to me. Today, just over a month later, I sit in Fairbanks Alaska preparing for the final grueling 500 miles up to the Arctic Ocean. I have traveled just over 7,500 miles and spent 28 of the past 32 days on my scooter, often from early morning to late at night. I’ve slept on the side of the road in a tent for all but six of those nights. I’ve seen much of the varied terrain that North America has to offer, from plains to prairies to lakes to mountains to glaciers and forests. I’ve been nearly face to face with wild bears and wolves without a cage or fence. I’ve been soaked through to my skin and shivering in pain from cold, been blistered and red from heat and wind and sun, swollen from bee and wasp stings, and bl

The Story of a North Face Jacket

It’s a simple love story, really. It started in January last year when I was preparing to ride my Vmax from San Diego back to Washington DC in the dead of winter.  I needed something that would keep me warm at temperatures equivalent to -10+F due to windchill and I knew the North Face ski pants I had picked up on the way out did the trick (when layered appropriately).  I walked into REI San Diego and ended up spending more money than I have ever spent on a single piece of non-formal clothing, walking out with an awesome red Hyvent North Face hardshell. Amazingly, it exceeded all my expectations – with three fleece shirts, a down jacket, and the North Face hard shell I looked like a giant puffy red ball, but I actually stayed warm in temperatures equivalent to -30+F when I encountered a massive cold front on the east coast.  Even more amazing, the shell kept me dry (and warm) when riding for five hours through a tropical storm in Florida (everything I owned was soaked, except my ch

The Alaskan Freakin’ Highway

I still can’t figure out how I feel after the last three days on the Alaskan Highway. It all started so well leaving Dawson Creek, a beautiful sunny day with only a bit of frustrating wind to hold me back. Traffic wasn’t bad, the road was nice, the scenery was green, and all was well. Except for those evil looking clouds in the distance… By the early afternoon, those evil looking clouds were no longer in the distance. In fact, they were pouring evil cold rain on my head.  Now, rain itself isn’t so bad, especially a fairly mild rain. It’s easy to walk around town or run to your car and not get too wet. Riding through it on a motorcycle or a scooter is something entirely different though. First of all you get completely soaked because of your speed – I mean, really soaked. It’s like standing under a shower, everything gets wet regardless. Next, you lose a ton of visibility. The clouds block the sun so there’s low light, then your dark tinted goggles work against you. Except they’re co

Red’s Dead, Baby, Red’s Dead

Actually, Red is fine – I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to Pulp Fiction (“Whose chopper is this?  Zed’s.  Who’s Zed?”). Two days ago as I left Edmonton through the small farm roads of Alberta, I was e-mailing back and forth with Ryan Jeffries at Scooterworks USA about my issues.  After a lot of back and forth including me sending him mp3’s of my engine sounds he agreed that it sounded fine and came to the conclusion that the impacted plugs may have been due to carbon buildup in the exhaust with bits breaking off and impacting the plug.  At this point it was just wait-and-see and pay careful attention to Red’s every whim looking out for any signs of engine damage. I just got Red back from the mechanics at Scooterville Montana and Ryan was right – there was a lot of gunk in the carb and tons of buildup in the exhaust.  They cleaned it all out, gave him a bit of a tune-up and now Red is rocking just like the good old days.  He sounds great, moves fast, and cruis