Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Prez Sez, by Gary Johnson, the Incognito Prez.

Hello Beemer fans and other motorized single track vehicle fans. We made it through the tropical month of July. I hate to say this, but some of those days had me dreaming of December and cross-country skiing in the Newton Hills!! If you don't know it by now, I hate riding in 100 degree heat index conditions. I have trouble concentrating on my riding, I get drowsy, and it’s just darn right uncomfortable. I know, I know, its summer and we have to expect hot days, but this past month was awful.
Oh well, enough complaining, there are better days ahead. Like Baxter Cycle's Open House in Marne, Iowa, for example, and Hawes Biker Days in Sept. By the way congrats to Larry & Mary on there 50th wedding anniversary. Sorry I couldn't be there, I hate to miss important events like that. It's been a busy summer with family from out of state here for two weeks and everything else going on. To those who did attend, I envy you. I did get to one rally, and that was the BMW-RA Rally at Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Several Autobahners were in attendance, and a good time was had by all.
Another motorcycle gathering was held at the Diner downtown on Phillips Ave., Sioux Falls, July 28th. This was the first of what many of us hope will continue to happen on the LAST THURSDAY of every month. I guess there isn't a name for it yet, but it is for anyone that likes motorcycles, especially vintage or unique models, and just likes to mingle with other riders. I counted about 40 bikes there with many belonging to Autobahners. It is a non-Harley sponsored night-out for the rest of us who aren't impressed with "chromed-out noisemakers", but still like bikes. I guess that's how I'd best describe it. It’s not a commercial event, just a place and time to "kick back" with fellow or non-fellow riders. Ladies are welcome, too, of course.
There were several Autobahners at the Newton Hills State Park over the weekend for the 32nd Annual Sioux River Folk Festival. Gerald & Sandy Winters, Gary Wilson & daughters & grandchildren, Dale, Romie, & Will Nordlie, and Jan & I were there for this excellent musical event.
I guess that's all I care to yak about for now. See you on down the road.

Motorcycle Trip to Alaska for the Summer - Part 2

“A trip of a lifetime, this rally begins wherever you are and culminates in Dawson City at the Downtown Hotel”

Submitted by Gary Pedersen

First, I apologize for not explaining how I got my 650 fixed in Part 1 (July issue). I took it to Tigard BMW of Western Oregon. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the Service Department they had the bike in the shop. They worked on it for 2 hours, found and fixed the problem and had me on the road. It seems that the computer in the F650GS sometimes decides to “remap” itself. Scary! The tech put all the settings back to where they should be and it runs great. I suppose the “Air-head” guys are now all going: “See, we told you so!”
June 20th. I met my Alaska riding buddy, Tom (who grew up in Junius, SD), in Eagle River at 10:00 and we left for Tok. Tok is only 330 miles so it’s an easy day that starts with a ride up the Matanuska Valley on the Glenn Highway. It’s a reasonably clear day with views of the Chugach Mountains and the Matanuska River on the right, and the Talkeetna Mountains on the left. You could go into scenery overload. From Palmer to Sheep Mountain Lodge is one of the great motorcycle rides in North America. However, the Alaska Department of Transportation is working steadily at changing this part of the road to a great motorhome ride. The DOT projects have removed or straightened hundreds of curves in the last several years. By leaving at 10:00 we arrive at Sheep Mountain Lodge about noon for lunch. Their soup, rolls and pie are legendary. Then it’s on to Glenn Allen for gas, and then on to Tok. The weather has changed to heavy overcast and it will start raining in the next few miles. The first 24 miles of the Tok Cut Off have just had the marbles put on the chip seal. Alaska and the Yukon both use the same method for chip sealing roads. (See picture at left.) A thick layer of oil, and then several inches of ½ to ¾ inch round rock for the surface. You can imagine what this is like to ride on. The temp has also dropped to 40F and it is raining. Just great! With Firstgear Kilamanjaro suits and Gerbings liners we do stay dry and warm. We have never ridden from Glenn Allen to Tok without rain.
June 23rd. We wake up to a torrential downpour. The first thing I do is call my wife and wish her Happy Birthday. Not the best circumstances to wish your wife Happy Birthday. It’s only 195 miles from Tok to Dawson City but most riders spend the night in Tok so they will have an entire day to make the ride to Dawson City. The 195 miles can take from 4 to 10 hours depending on conditions, and the conditions today are bad. The first 74 miles are either paved or chip seal so we’re in Chicken in a little over an hour, even with the rain. The temp is now down to 38F, there is thick fog and the rain is relentless. We arrive at Chicken drenched, and ready for some hot coffee. From Chicken to the border is a sea of mud mixed with bottomless mud pits where the permafrost is pushing clay up through the road. The mud on the surface is like riding on 2 inches of grease on a polished steel plate. It takes us 2 hours and 45 minutes to go the 48 miles to the border. From the border to Dawson City is 66 miles with about 20 of those chip sealed. The rest is more mud! It’s another 2 hours and 15 minutes to Dawson. Yuk! Trying to pick a line to go through the mud is exponentially more difficult due to the fog in the air, the fog on the face shield, and the fog on my glasses. Several riders are down in this stretch, but no one requires hospitalization. I’ve made this run every year since 2002 and this is the worst I have ever seen this part of the road. I guess if it didn’t get like this it wouldn’t be called Adventure Touring. As we start down from the ridges to Dawson the rain finally lets up. While waiting for the ferry to cross the Yukon River I notice that I have a problem. Either my 12 year old Firstgear riding pants are leaking at the crotch, or I relieved myself when I went through one of the bottomless mud pits. Or both? At least the rain has stopped. Dry clothes, coffee, not beer, and I feel much better.
Later that afternoon we notice that we have an interesting development in Dawson City. This is for the record books. There seems to be a large number of people dressed like the Village People walking around the D2D bikes on the street. Besides the 230+ riders in Dawson City for D2D, there are 90 Harley Davidson “owners” in Dawson City. Notice, I did not say HD riders. These 90 HD owners are on a BUS TOUR, a BUS TOUR, of the Yukon and Alaska because everyone knows you can’t ride real motorcycles in the Yukon and Alaska. That was basically a quote from one of the HD owners. They are wearing their leather ON A BUS! They even have special patches commemorating their “Harley Davidson Tour of Alaska and the Yukon.” Someone forgot to tell us, and us includes 3 HD riders, 2 Victory riders and 6 Goldwing riders that made it to Dawson City that you can’t ride motorcycles in Alaska and the Yukon.
June 24th. We wake up to “not a cloud in the sky” and it is going to be warm. The high points for today are the Poker Run and the Banquet. I’m with Joe on check point 5 today for the Poker Run. Check point 5 is at the top of Midnight Dome above Dawson City and because of the rain the day before and the sun today the views are spectacular. Joe’s rear tire is flat when we are ready to leave so he’ll be up later. There are 2 ways to the very top of Midnight Dome from the parking lot at the overlook. The backside has an old trail that the Canada Parks people have tried to make impassible, but not for a GS. The front side is straight up a bluff about 80 feet above the parking lot and is as steep as the middle of a hill climb. Only a couple of riders each year attempt the front hill climb side. Joe arrives and motors up the back trail on his R1100GS. Joe is 74. This year 2 riders came up the front hill climb. They are 20 somethings with 1 on a R1150GS and 1 on a 2 wheel drive KTM. As everyone is complimenting these guys a HD Street Glide comes into the parking lot, downshifts, does a left turn, and comes straight up the hill climb on the same line as the 2 young guys. Now this is a HD rider! After Joe and I are done on the Dome, we head back to the Downtown Hotel. Joe heads into the bar to find the guys with the air compressor and I head to my room to drop of my stuff and then back to the bar to rehydrate. When Joe comes out of the bar his back wheel is missing. He goes back into the bar and someone buys another round, when he comes back to check on his missing wheel it is back on his bike, with a new tire. These are D2D people.
D2D is now too large for any of the available banquet capable places in Dawson City. The Fire Marshall has limited the Opera House to only 150 people, and there are over 230 in attendance this year. We hope to get Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, the casino, for next year but that will be a stretch. The good news is that I ran into Jeff Sar (pic at left.) from the Sioux City BMW Club at the banquet. I haven’t seen Jeff since we ate lunch together at The Dock at Running Water. Since the Sioux City club members are also (well honorary anyway) Autobahners, we’ve had a 100% increase in attendance of Autobahners at D2D. In order to have a similar increase next year there will need to be at least 3 more of you to make the trip. The bike games were over at midnight and the bikes were posted. Jeff now has a “Dust to Dawson 2011 sticker. And he earned it in the mud on Thursday.
June 25th. Another clear, warm day. The Top of the World and Taylor Highways are the best I’ve ever seen. They are still damp from the rain and hard packed like the clay on a flat track oval. Yeeee Hawwwww!!!!!! The bad news is that several riders get carried away and we now have at least 2 that were hospitalized. I have supper with Jeff at Fast Eddie’s in Tok and he heads back to the campground and Tom and I head to the Golden Bear Motel. In the morning Jeff will head home and Tom and I will head back to Eagle River where I have to make amends for missing yet another birthday.
June 26th. There is only a light sprinkle this morning as we head south, and this lets up after about 20 miles. The sun is trying to come out, but the St. Elias Mountains are still covered with clouds. However, a record has been set. The temp is in the 50s and it ISN’T RAINING OR SNOWING! What a pleasant ride. Gas at Glenn Allen, lunch at Sheep Mountain Lodge and on to the curves. Well, some good things do end. It seems that every Ma and Pa Kettle in America is on the road this afternoon. One guy with Washington plates in a Lincoln Navigator is doing 40 mph in the straights and 20 mph on the curves. Sure enough, when one DS passes in a straight section and probably hit something way over 55 mph the Alaska State Troopers were johnny-on-the-spot to point out his errant ways. Tom and I are just patient and take our time.
I’m 7100 miles into this summer’s trip. America is great. D2D 2011 is history. 2012 will be the 20th anniversary of D2D. Now is the time to start making your plans. See you in Dawson City on June 21-22, 2012.

National BMWRA Rally, by Marlin Wolter

Betty & I arrived at Chippewa Falls, WI, Thursday afternoon, July 21, for the BMW Rider Association Rally. We checked into our motel and then went out to the rally sight to check in. It was held at the Northern WI State Fair Grounds, which had plenty of room etc. I didn’t tent this time but I’m sure some of the Rally attendee’s would have liked to see a few more trees for shade.
After we checked in we walked around a little and ran into Tom Meister and Dave Mc Bride. Tom and Dave were relaxing on a bench under a big shade tree close to the Beer Garden (these guys had their priorities straight). We left the grounds and explored Chippewa Falls, looking for a place to eat and get some much needed ice cream. You see “IT WAS HOT”.
Friday morning our phone rang and Gerald Winter was on the phone. They made it OK last night, and do we want to go for a ride together today? I said well it’s going to be hot, but sure we would go. So we met at the Rally site and headed north. It was very pretty scenery but it got hotter and hotter. When we finally got far enough north and decided to start heading back we saw a thermometer that said 99 degrees. It felt good when you were moving but when you stopped for a break “It Was Hot”. I found out later they set a record high temp that day. I’ve only been to two Rally’s this year so far and they both set record high temp’s while I was there, my luck I guess. Anyway we had a good ride and we found some really nice riding roads.
Friday night the Rally had a fish fry which Gerald and Sandy attended, Betty and I dined with the Veteran BMW Riders’ group. They had brats and all the fixin’s for a donation. I like this group, as we meet new people every time we get together. We sit around and tell how we won the war and how we’d win this one. Have to give Mike Johnson credit for keeping this group going and informed, he and his wife do everything. That evening we were beat from the heat. We went back to our air-conditioned room and crashed.
Saturday morning Sandy called inviting us to join them and Gary Johnson and Dale Nordlie for breakfast. “Thanks for the invite” but we weren’t moving too fast. We ate a little later. Saturday was a lot cooler. A weather system went through in the night and dried out and cooled off the air. Betty and I did some shopping and looking around down town in the morning then went for a ride north east of town. That turned out to be a real nice ride also.
Had to get back to the Rally for the Closing Ceremony and the last walk through the vendor area before they closed. We had supper and hung out with our group waiting for the band to start. And “Start They Did”. I will have to say that band had their sh-t together. Just hanging out there and listening was the highlight of the Rally (that’s only my opinion). I’m sure Betty would say the same thing. Oh, yes, the Mason Shoe Factory Outlet Store would probably be her close 2nd highlight.
Sunday we took our time coming home. Had to stop at Lanesboro, MN, for lunch and a walk, then on to Harmony, MN, for a stop at that big Antique Mall. You never know what you might find there.

Instead of The Bohemian Alps Rally, by Brion Hase

June 25th would have normally been the weekend of the Bohemian Alps Rally in Verdigre, but the BMWMOA ON magazine and website reported earlier this spring that the rally had been canceled. By the Monday of June 20th, I knew I was going to need a ride on Saturday and was thinking about camping. Folks had been talking about an informal campout at the Verdigre City Park and Campground, so I called the City of Verdigre to see what was going on. The lady there told me there would be 40 to 50 families camping in the city park there that weekend for a family reunion so I decided that I didn’t want to camp there.
I woke up Saturday morning at 6 AM and it looked fantastic outside… for the first 15 minutes of the day anyway. I still needed a ride. A few minutes after the Big Sioux Rider breakfast with it being heavy overcast, I called Dale Nordlie on his cell phone. Dale said Gary Johnson and he were heading over to look at the Fort Randall Dam, but Gary had to be home by 7 PM. Dale also said that Larry Hawes and Bill Claussen were heading to Verdigre to camp. The weather to the south looked worse so I told Dale I would ride that way from Sioux City and try to run into them somewhere, then maybe drop down to Verdigre to see Larry and Bill.
I got the GS ready and left home about noon. The water from the Big Sioux and Missouri river were nearly touching I-29 as I headed through all the road construction to the Vermillion exit. Figuring I was running late, I hurried to Yankton where after searching around a bit, I went down to the river side park and took some flooding photos. I also got to look at the new and old bridges. From there I followed all the traffic to the Yankton dam where I got a front row parking space below the dam to see what 160,000 CFS looks like leaving the dam. The force of the water coming through the gates of the dam was impressive, but it’s was also one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Dakota at the time.
After taking some photos and looking around for a few minutes, I left the crowds and the water behind and headed towards Pickstown. I pulled off at the Fort Randal Casino to look for Gary and Dale’s bikes and found that the new Casino was open. The new casino looked nice, but I didn’t go in. There was a Pow Wow going on down the hill behind the facilities. I didn’t see any BMW motorcycles in the parking lot, so I headed on.
At the Fort Randall Dam there were signs asking people not to park by the roadway, but to use the visitor’s area. From the visitor’s area one could hike down the dam and watch the water go down the spillway. I decided I would get a better look of the spillway from the Fort Randall Recreation area below the dam. At the gate there was a young college aged gal sitting in a chair, reading a novel, and watching out for people like me… people without a SD park pass. I was able to sweet talk her to let me into the park for a few minutes without paying. I got some nice photos of the park shore and the spillway and generation station in full action.
Next I rode up to the overlook area just west on the south side of the dam were I got some more great photos. After that I headed west on Highway 18 and then down to Spenser, NE, where I intended to take Highway 12 (the “Outlaw Highway”) east to Niobrara. When I got to the turn, the sign said that Highway 12 was closed. I headed south on the detour a few miles and then exited the detour and took the next paved road west, which was appropriately called “Old County Road” on my old GPS. After about 12 miles the pavement, “Old Country Road” ended abruptly. It was only about 22 more miles to get to Verdigre, so I decided to take gravel and hopefully get there in time to have dinner with Larry and Bill. After about 6 miles of really bad gravel, the road was paved again. After this it was a great old road with lots of curves which went directly to the east side of Verdigre.
When I got to the campground the first people I saw were Dale, Larry and Bill. They offered me a beer and a crushed beer can for my side-stand. Well, one beer can was not enough to keep my heavy GS “Pig” from sinking into the soft ground, so the guys threw down 4 more crushed cans and it held. I was guess I was lucky they started without me and had plenty of beer.
After drinking a beer (or two... as I was really thirsty by this point of the day) and some talk, the four of us headed up to what was the Flyway Café in Niobrara. The café was under new ownership and they are still working on a lot of things, including a larger menu and new name. They had built a sandy bank around the restaurant, but it looked like the water still had a ways to go before it would cause any problems for them. We all ordered burgers and had a nice meal. The new owners were really friendly. After dinner we went into town, filled up the bikes, and took some photos of the flooding there. Afterwards we headed back to the campground in Verdigre where we talked for a bit. I didn’t have any camping gear so after saying hello to George Forst, (prior years rally chair) I got back on my bike and headed home.
Riding though Nebraska at night can be… different. Near Verdigre I saw a car which had spun off the road for no apparent reason and slid against a steep embankment. There were plenty of people there and it didn’t look like the car had rolled, so I kept moving. With the 6 lights on the front of “Pig” I was able to see deer out feeding but they were all some distance from the road. I did encounter a raccoon at an unsafe distance, but he quickly got out of the way. Shortly before midnight, somewhere in a flat area of Highway 20, pretty much out of sight of any human dwellings, I passed a 6’ man in a white t-shirt, heading west… on a skateboard. I cannot imagine what the explanation for this would have been had I turned around to ask!!
I got home about 12:30. It was nice sleeping in my bed, but I missed a great night of camping in Verdigre with the Autobahn.
(Check out Brion’s Picasa site with all his flood pictures and more at: