Thursday, September 3, 2009

In person presentation on my trip to Alaska at RevZilla Motorsports (Philadelphia, PA) on Saturday, October 17

I've been asked by RevZilla Motorsports in Philadelphia to be a part of their Fall Open House on Saturday, October 17 and to give a presentation on my trip to Alaska. If you want to know more about riding to the North or think you might want to make the trip yourself then come on by! The show starts at 2:00PM. More details as the event gets closer!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 44 - Epilogue. I didn't ride anywhere today!

Day 45 – Epilogue
Miles Today – 0

Here I sit on 4th of July. A mountain of mail needs to be sorted and the bills paid. The first of several loads of laundry is underway. Even so, I am drawn to reflect on the events of the past month. By several thousand miles this was my longest motorcycle trip to date. Friends have pointed out that 12,000 miles is equivalent to just about halfway around the world. Even so I don’t feel particularly weary. Rather, I feel invigorated by having been so far and having seen so much. Were there things I would do differently? Sure. Nonetheless, I could never really imagined that the entire trip would be so trouble and drama free. It went by in a blur! These are a few thoughts I'd like to share.

Regarding the bike:
My 2009 BMW F650GS performed almost perfectly throughout the trip. The exception was an intermittent stalling issue that appeared at about 4000 miles into the trip. I lived with the issue for about a week before putting the bike in the BMW dealer in Anchorage. Whatever they did (they weren’t talking) fixed the issue as it never occurred again. If I were starting out again I would do two things differently with the bike. First, I would add an extension to the side stand to make the foot bigger. I had repeated issues with the small “foot” sinking into the soft gravel and dirt in gas stations and parking lots in the North. Likewise, when it was just about 100 degrees last Tuesday in Wichita the bike began to sink into the soft asphalt. Fortunately things never quite so far out of hand that the bike fell down. Secondly, I would have replaced the very good, but street riding focused, original equipment Bridgestone Battle Wing Tires with something a little more appropriate to the dirt and gravel on which I regularly found myself riding. In Oregon, on the way back I had a set of Metzeler Tourances installed but, of course, by then most of the dirt riding was over. The greatest “pucker”/”heart stopping” moments of the trip were in the mud and soft gravel of construction areas in Northern BC and the Yukon. Sure did wish I had some more appropriate tires then!

Regarding the route:
If I had this amount of time to make this trip again I don’t think I’d alter my route much. I did keep a pretty aggressive travel schedule and if I had wanted to have the opportunity to stop and see more things, make more sidetrips along the way then I just flat would have needed more time. Disregarding the days when I stayed over somewhere, I averaged 332 miles per day on the Northbound trip and 375 miles per day coming back. That’s quite a bit and doesn’t leave a huge amount of time to enjoy the incredible number of diversions to be found virtually everywhere I went. On the other hand, if I had cut back to 200 or 250 miles per day it would have taken another month to make the trip. There are places that I should have gone (Cassiar Highway in BC) but it’s a little late to second guess now.

Regarding my equipment:
My only equipment failure of the whole trip was when the heated vest quit (conveniently-the day before the coldest/wettest day of the trip!). I carried all the appropriate gear that I needed for the conditions I encountered – everything from the high 20s with freezing rain and sleet to nearly 100 degrees (F). One irony of the trip is that I carried camping gear but never camped. It’s a little hard to explain but during the Northbound portion of the trip it was mostly too cold to seriously think about it. Overnight temps around the low 30s were just beyond what my stuff would have made comfortable. Then on the return trip I had gotten so geared up to have internet each night and do daily postings here and elsewhere that I kinda forgot about the camping thing. Of course, it was always there if I needed it in a pinch. Which I did not. I think for future travel I’ll be a little more specific in planning whether it’s a camping trip or not. My RevIt Sirocco Jacket performed brilliantly, although it is now so filthy that the only appropriate thing to do might be to burn it (only kidding!). It (along with my helmet) was the only piece of equipment that I wore every mile of every day. I might have wanted it to be a bit warmer on those 30 and 40 degree mornings but, on the other hand, it remained mighty comfortable in the 80 and 90 degree afternoons toward the end of the trip. For sure it’s a sound 3 season jacket not a piece of winter gear. Maybe I just didn’t understand that winter wasn’t quite over everywhere I went.

Other thoughts:
One of the very best parts of the trip was meeting new friends, whether on the road or online through my blog or web forum postings. There are plenty of motorcyclists on the road in the North from the end of May on. They are friendly, helpful, and most are also fascinating to listen to as they tell their stories. People in the hotels, restaurants and other motorists are also helpful, interested and attentive. Traveling North America is easy and it’s as rewarding as it is interesting. I have just this one additional interesting anecdote to add. I had no GPS and, frankly didn’t really need to use maps all that much. However I did usually have a map in my tankbag. Occasionally I would stop alongside the road to look at or study the map. I did this a number of times throughout the trip. I specifically recall that I did it 3 times in Wisconsin. The reason I remember Wisconsin so well is that EACH time I stopped, someone pulled up in a car or pickup to ask if I was having any trouble or needed any help. On the other hand this NEVER happened anywhere else I went. I don’t know what it is about Wisconsin people but they sure are eager to help. Fascinating. Reassuring.

While there were many highlights to this trip, the biggest of all was to be able to do something for others who are less fortunate than I. The trip has managed to raise several thousand dollars for the Austin Hatcher Foundation and, even now, additional donations continue to arrive. Thank you all for your generosity!

I also need to thank, once again, the fine folks at RevZilla and Their support and encouragement was first rate throughout. If you need motorcycle gear & equipment they’re your guys. Give ‘em a call or check ‘em out on the web at Likewise a shout out to Hermy’s Cycles in Port Clinton, PA. They’re my BMW dealer of choice and became a supporter of the ride early on. I especially liked being able to participate in their Spring Open House back in May before the trip began. The F650GS is going to go to Hermy’s for it’s regular service just as soon as it can be scheduled. See them for your BMW and Triumph needs.

Anyone who is contemplating such a trip, even remotely following my route, is welcome to contact me at for insights, advice, or just to talk about the great adventure of it all.

A sincere thank you to everyone who has joined me on this trip. You’ll never know how much encouragement your interest has provided me.

Be Well,
Jack Broomall

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 44 - Pickerington, OH to Malvern, PA. 12,000 Miles Later - HOME!!!

Day 44 – Friday, July 3, 2009
Start: Pickerington, OH
End: Malvern, PA
Trip Miles Today: 447
Total Trip Miles: 12019

I can only say WOW! After 44 days, 20 states, 2 Canadian Provinces and a Territory, 4 time zones and 12,019 Miles I am, at last back home. No crashes, no tickets, no bike drops. Just home. Safe and sound.

There isn’t a great deal to say about today’s ride. I slept in just a bit and didn’t get on the road until about 8 AM. I ground out 100 miles in the first 90 minutes across Eastern Ohio via I-70. Inasmuch as I skipped all those “Boyhood home(s) of ……” in Kansas the other day I decided to catch at least one in Ohio. In New Concord, OH. I stopped by the boyhood home of astronaut John Glenn – now set up as the John and Annie Glenn Historic site, right there on the main street in New Concord. As a kid I was enthralled by the space program so John Glenn was a boyhood hero of mine, as he was for many of my generation. Alas, the house was not open for visitors so I kept on rolling. Sometime later, when I was about 200 miles out, and just beyond the Pennsylvania State Line it began to rain. A fine welcome back! I rode on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for about an hour in and out of showers. Nothing drenching, just enough to require full rain gear and the increased attention rain riding requires. Later the rain abated and I took the opportunity to leave the PA Turnpike to follow US-30 (The Lincoln Highway) through the western part of the state. Route 30 is a marvelous ride from Breezewood, PA headed East for about the next 30-40 miles. It’s mostly mountain views and twisties up and downhill. Any road posted “Dangerous Curves Ahead – Truck runaway Ramp 1 Mile!” has to be prime motorcycling territory. The number of other bikes out confirmed my assessment. A great ride. Further on I stopped briefly in Gettysburg, PA sight of the famous Civil War Battle (fought July 3-4, 1863…146 years ago to the day.) Pretty facsinating stuff for the Fourth of July weekend. After that it was just grinding out those last hundred miles. I was met just as I exited the PA Turnpike for the final time by my wife Lisa, and friend Don Verdiani who had ridden out to the same place they left me on that Thursday Morning 6+ weeks ago as I departed. Then my “posse” escorted me the last few miles home. That’s it. I’m home now. Of course, with ideas for other adventures after a suitable rest period!

As you know, an important part of this entire enterprise was to raise awareness for and generate donations to the Austin Hatcher Foundation ( If you have enjoyed this story and have, at any point felt compelled to join me in doing something good for those who are in need then I’d ask you now to make a donation to the Austin Hatcher Foundation. Just go to their website and click on the “Donations” tab. If you do so please make a note in the comments field that you are supporting the “Ride to Alaska” or similar. If you don’t wish to donate online but would feel better writing a check simply send a check along to The Austin Hatcher Foundation, 7421 Savannah Drive, Ooltewah, TN. 37363. Again, please enclose a note that says you are supporting the 2009 Ride to Alaska. The Austin Hatcher Foundation is a 501c3 charity.

A big part of the fun of this adventure was meeting new friends, both on the road and online. I consider all of you who are reading this to be my friends and it’s been great to have you along for the ride.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting some “epilog” and summary stuff so don’t stop visiting just yet!!

More pictures from my ride are available to see at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 43 - Vandalia, IL. to Pickerington, OH. Last night in a hotel!!! One more day!

Day 43 – Thursday, July 2, 2009
Start: Vandalia, IL
End: Pickerington, OH
Trip Miles Today: 358
Total Trip Miles: 11572

Today started out a little differently. At departure time it was cloudy, overcast, and it looked as if I might get rained on. The lack of that early morning sun burning my retinas was actually a welcome relief from the past few days. Off we went, first through the southern Illinois farmlands, then into Indiana, and ultimately through the cities of Indianapolis, Dayton and Columbus. These are bigger cities now and they come at me more often as I near the more populous Northeast. There is not much to really say about the ride as it was all Interstate 70, as it has been for days now.

We haven’t really talked much about “road warrior cuisine” but I do want to give a shout out today for one of my favorite road foods – Skyline Chili! Skyline Chili is the prototypical “Cincinnati Style” chili. The company was founded in 1949 by Greek immigrants and has, over the years grown from the original store (within sight of the Cincinnati “skyline”) to outlets through Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and a few others. Mostly it’s a Midwest thing. I believe I previously mentioned that I lived in Michigan for many years and going through the Cincinnati area always required a stop for Skyline Chili. I was fortunate enough to find a restaurant near Dayton today and boy did that make me happy! I heartily recommend the 5-way (Chili, beans, onions, cheese, and spaghetti) if you ever get the chance. Skyline Chili can sometimes be found in food stores in other parts of the country but it’s somehow not the same as having it served to you at one of the restaurants.

For lack of time, I passed up two stops that ought to be on every traveler’s short list. I skipped the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum because it was sort of out of the way and also because the Indianapolis Beltway, I-465, is all torn up with construction and I feared taking a huge amount of time getting to and from the Speedway. I’ve also been there in the past 7-8 years so I just kept on riding. Likewise I drove past the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. As much as I would have like to stop in I just didn’t have the time. Since this is a motorcycle trip, I voted to allocate my time to the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum just outside Columbus, OH. I’m glad I did. The museum has two currently active displays. The first is “Moto-Stars” a display dedicated to celebrities and their motorcycles. Among the notables with strong motorcycle connections are Steve McQueen, Tom Cruise, and Keith Urban and there are both bikes and cycling memorabilia from these and others on display. Also featured, in a different gallery is a collection of the customs from noted builder Arlen Ness. Not exactly my cup of tea stylistically but nonetheless incredible craftsmanship that anyone can surely appreciate. In addition to these special displays there is the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Gallery and much more. If you ever travel this direction the Museum is just moments off I-70 a few miles East of Columbus in Pickerington, Ohio.

Well, tonight is my last evening in a hotel and for that I am grateful. Another 450 miles or so tomorrow and I’m back home after 6 ½ weeks on the road. I have no particular stops in mind for the final day. Just whatever coffee and “stretch your legs” breaks are required to get me through. It’s been fun but I’m not quite through yet. Maybe something surprising or interesting could yet happen. If so I’ll let you know. I really enjoy having others travel along with me.

More pictures from my ride are available to see at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 42 - Wichita, KS. to Vandalia, IL. Back East of the Mississippi River!

Day 42 – Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Start: Wichita, KS
End: Vandalia, IL
Trip Miles Today: 527
Total Trip Miles: 11214

This was a day for which I had no real expectations, except that it would be a long ride on a hot day. Well, as it turned out, this was a day of a number of fun surprises. My only real goal for the day was to make it across the Mississippi River before calling it a day. To do so, I felt the need to leave depart early, which I did by getting underway just before 6:30AM. It seemed a bit unusual to be packing up the bike in the pre-dawn darkness inasmuch as two weeks ago I was in Alaska where there was virtually no darkness at all. It was 65 degrees when I took to the Kansas byways and I took that as an omen that another sweltering day was in store. Anyway, off I went. The initial part of the trip took me on the Kansas Turnpike toward Kansas City, about 200 miles distant. I relished the lack of traffic at that hour and in the bright morning sunlight one could see lots of deer grazing in the farm fields. Pretty nice! I covered 100 miles before 8:00am and that amount of progress gave me confidence that my Mississippi Crossing goal was in reach as well as reinforcing the notion that I could stop in St. Louis and visit the Headquarters of the BMW Motorcycles Owners of America. So on I pressed. It was shortly after passing Kansas City that I got my first exciting “surprise” sighting of the day. Just barely into Missouri and what should I see but a sign proclaiming that the town I was passing through, Blue Springs, was the home of American Idol 2008 winner David Cook! The “World’s Biggest Prairie Dog “ yesterday and now this! I guess it’s just plain wrong to say there’s nothing to see on the prairie! And on I rode. About 2:30 I arrived in Ellisville, just outside St Louis at the BMW MOA headquarters, an organizaion to which I have belonged since the early 1990s. They gave me the grand tour and I spent some time speaking with the organization’s magazine editor about doing a piece based on this blog and on my trip. We explored ideas and left open the possibility. Maybe the best part of stopping in at BMW MOA was that it’s just right down the street from the Historic Route 66! I’ve spent days (no weeks!) following all manner of pioneer trails – the Oregon Trail, The California Trail, the Mormon Trail, etc, etc, etc. However, to we geezers from the motorized travel era nothing is bigger than Route 66. The Mother Road! And I got to ride on it (if only briefly) on my bike. How cool is that? Later in the day I had another encounter with Route 66 as I stopped just before crossing the Mississippi at the location of the historic “Chain of Rocks Bridge” that carried Route 66 over the Mississippi “back in the day.” All in all a pretty good day. Oh yes, it never really got hot either. Highest temp I saw all day was about 85 and after crossing the River I rode for another hour in mid 70s temps. Just about perfect I’d say.

The plan for tomorrow is to get another early start and to arrive in the Columbus, Ohio area early enough in the afternoon to go and visit the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Heritage Museum in Pickerington, Ohio. The distance is reasonable (only about 370 miles) but I get hit with another of those pesky time zone changes and lose an hour! Fortunately it’s the last one as , by this time tomorrow I’ll be back in the Eastern Time Zone where I belong! I only have one other thing to tell today but this is really weird. Tonight I’m in a hotel in Vandalia, Il. My room number is 312. In fact my room number has been 312 for 3 of the last 4 nights! Rock Springs, WY – 312. Limon, CO – 312. Now Vandalia, IL – 312. Very creepy! Maybe this means something but I don’t quite know just what yet. Stick around and maybe we’ll see before the trip is over!!

More pictures are available to be seen at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 41 - Limon, CO. to Wichita, KS. Hot day in the High Plains!

Day 41 – Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Start: Limon, CO
End: Wichita, KS
Trip Miles Today: 433
Total Trip Miles: 10687

Today was the first of several days in a row of highway mileage that will close out my trip. Eastern Colorado and Kansas are really lovely places but I am very sure that riding through these states on Interstate 70 doesn’t show off their beauty to maximum effect. The first thing I noticed this morning, upon leaving Limon, CO before 7:00 AM was that it was already over 60 deg (f)! I took this as a clue that today might be a “warm” day. Riding eastward and looking directly into the morning sun is always a challenge but I guess that’s the price to be paid for these early morning departures. Today was, again, all about covering maximum distance so I didn’t factor in adequate time to check out many of the “ attractions” to be found in this part of the world. For example I had to pass up the “World’s Largest Prairie Dog” in Oakley, Kansas. I also made the mistake of failing to leave time for visits to any of the many “boyhood homes of famous people” scattered across the Kansas landscape. For example, I drove right past the boyhood home of Walter P. Chrysler in Ellis, KS and completely missed the boyhood homes of both Bob Dole and Senator Arlen Specter in Hays, Kansas. First thing tomorrow morning I will likewise miss, no doubt, the boyhood home of Dwight D. Eisenhower in Abilene, KS. What I did see today were the rich farmlands of Kansas which deliver wheat, corn, and other important crops to all of us. There is also a surprising number of oil wells to be seen as one drives along. Not the most scenic of views but nonetheless beautiful and important in their own way. The heat of today was pretty oppressive. By the end of the ride today I was looking at 98 degrees on the bike thermometer. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit cooler. Tomorrow's plan is to make my way to St. Louis and hopefully beyond the Mississippi river. The evening was capped off with a very nice dinner at the new aviation themed restaurant, Hangar One, with good friend Lori Lucion from Cessna Aircraft. Thanks for being along for these last few days of the ride. Jack

There are more pictures to see at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Day 40 - Rock Springs, WY to Limon, CO. Rocky Mountain Monday!!

Day 40 – Monday, June 29, 2009
Start: Rock Springs, WY
End: Limon, CO
Trip Miles Today: 497
Total Trip Miles: 10254

I feel really good about today and the route I took. By getting off Interstate 80 near Rawlings and heading south into Colorado, I was able to entirely change the character of the ride. My route took me off of the Interstate by 8:30 in the morning (yea!). Near the small town of Wamsutter I turned south on Wyoming Route 789 toward the Colorado border and the small town of Craig, CO. This portion took me through high desert and across the Continental Divide for the first of 4 times today. By the time I entered Craig, the terrain had transformed from the Wyoming High desert browns and reds to the Colorado lush greens. A VERY refreshing change. In Craig I turned East on US 40. Next location of note was the ski town of Steamboat Springs, CO. Steamboat is a little bit artsy and touristy but still with a taste of the old west. From Steamboat the Route 40 goes seriously uphill and into the Routt National Forest. The segment from Steamboat to Kremmling was the surprise and delight of the day for scenery. Forested mountainsides, alpine lakes and more. Then it was on to Granby, Grand Lake and Route 34 through the Rocky Mountain National Park. Pictures do not do these places justice, you must visit! Aside from about 15 miles of construction, near the West entrance, the Park was just about perfect. I also had my closest ever encounter with Elk. They were actually grazing in the roadway. After leaving the park I passed through Estes Park then continued on through Bolder, Denver and (sadly) out of the mountains and into the prairie. After Denver I joined I-70 and proceeded to Limon, CO, my overnight digs. I say sadly because there is a lot of flat and seeming featureless country before me as I proceed across Eastern Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. I will be on Interstate 70 for well over 1000 miles before I exit in Pennsylvania some 4 days hence. The trip total miles is now over 10,000 and that seems like a real trek. Someday it will make me tired just thinking about it. But not yet. I’m beginning to get amped up to just pound out miles and get home. Thanks again for letting me share this little adventure with you. Jack

You can see lots more pictures from my trip at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 39 - Nampa, ID. to Rock Springs, WY. Through the Wasatch. 478 miles but all on the Interstate!

Day 39 – Sunday, June 28, 2009
Start: Nampa, ID
End: Rock Springs, WY
Trip Miles Today: 478
Total Trip Miles: 9757

What can I say about today? 478 miles (3rd longest day of the trip!) but all on the Interstate. My route of travel is easily described – I left Nampa, ID on I-84 East. I stayed on I-84 until it ends in Utah East of Salt Lake City and at that point I jumped on I-80 East for the rest of the day. You can certainly make good time on the Interstates, especially in the west where the speed limits are high (like 75 all day today!) You do miss out, however, on much of the scenery and interesting elements of how people live their lives in the localities that you pass through. That being said, for tomorrow I’m going to leave the Interstate for a few hours and cut through the Northeast corner of Colorado via secondary roads. It’s my last day in the mountains and I’m really looking forward to the diversion, regardless of how long it may take me to reach tomorrow’s overnight destination, Limon, CO.

Highlights for today were few but the one which always stands out for me is the ride from the Salt Lake City area heading east. The climb up through the mountains is eye-popping and even the Interstate is interesting here, with sweeping s-turns, many posted for 45 or 55 mph but capable of being negotiated at higher speeds. I am definitely looking forward to lots of mountain twisties tomorrow.

The bike continues to handle the miles without complaint. I did confirm today an observation I made at the beginning of the trip coming across North Dakota and Montana. That is that the gas mileage really goes in the pot when you try to cruise at speeds above 75. While I would suspect that the overall gas mileage for the trip is about 57mpg, by really twisting the throttle to cover ground quickly the rider can drive the mpg value into the 40s. On the other hand, proceeding at more “sedate” speeds on secondary roads often yields over 60 mpg. Take your pick!

As I mentioned, tomorrow it’s Limon, CO. I’m getting far enough along that it’s getting possible to predict where I’m gonna land for the rest of the trip. That projection kinda looks like this: Monday night-Limon, CO; Tuesday night- somewhere around Salina or Lawrence, KS; Wednesday night-St Louis area; Thursday night- Columbus, Ohio area; Friday night – HOME in Malvern, PA. Still lots of miles to go but the end is coming in sight! Thanks for being here with me. Jack

There are more pictures available to see at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 38 - Pendleton, OR. to Nampa, ID. A second morning at Hodaka Days, then on to Idaho.

Day 38 – Saturday, June 27, 2009
Start: Pendleton, Or.
End: Nampa, Idaho
Trip Miles Today: 270
Total Trip Miles: 9279

On the way back to Athena early this morning I took a few moments to cruise by the Pendleton Woolen Mills. Founded in 1893, Pendleton Woolen Mills is known worldwide as a maker of fine Indian blankets and men’s plaid shirts. It could very well be the only thing you ever heard of from Pendleton, OR. My early morning ride also gave me time to soak up the views of the local farms and the agribusiness. The area’s main crops are wheat and hay but I’m also told that a great percentage of world’s commercial green pea crop comes from this area.

Back, then, to Athena I went. What I found were many more bikes now present – maybe as many as 150-200? Also, by attending Saturday morning I got to view the Hodaka Parade through downtown Athena – a sight not to be missed! Not only is the parade fun for the participants but local folks all come out and it’s a grand old time. Many of the local residents seem to look back fondly on the Hodaka era when the brand carried Athena’s name proudly to the most distant corners of the United States. The parade brings with it the sounds and smells (and smoke!) that was the signature of two-stroke motorcycling in the 60s and 70s. Just like a trip back in a time machine! Also by visiting again on Saturday I got some time to speak to Paul Stannard and his wife Patti who are the real catalysts for the continuation of this great event. Paul is the president of the Hodaka Club and also operates one of the premier outlets for Hodaka Parts, information, and accessories. Their company, Strictly Hodaka, is based in Vermont. Paul and Patti are friendly, outgoing people, willing to help in any way and they have made a successful business out of their passion. We should all be so lucky! However, even this fun had to come to an end as I needed to get on the road and cover some ground eastward. Before noon I was on my way, rolling eastward in I-84 and covering the last 100 miles of Oregon. Shortly after crossing into Idaho I decided that enough was enough and that I had to get off the Interstate if I was to retain my sanity. I took a chance and went south from the highway and worked my way into the Snake River Valley. I followed that for about thirty scenic miles before turning back north toward Nampa, ID. my overnight destination. Unfortunately, going eastbound the time zone changes steal hours from you. When I crossed into Idaho I entered the Mountain Time Zone and lost an hour from the available riding time. Fortunately I’ll be in Mountain Time for the next couple of days so I don’t have to dial that correction into my travel plans again for a while.

It looks like each of the next few days will need to be over 400 milers in order to make my planned arrival at home on Friday, July 3. Tomorrow’s destination is Rock Springs, WY and Limon, CO the day after that. Riding the Interstates will make the mileage accumulation possible but I’m not looking forward to just highway miles. Hopefully I can cover ground quick enough to get off the highway from time to time and see the truly interesting stuff. Time will tell. Thanks for coming along. Jack

There are more pictures available to see at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 37 - At Pendleton, OR. Hodaka Days in Athena, OR!! Two stroke, vintage bike fun!

Day 37 – Friday, June 26, 2009
Start: Pendleton, Or.
End: Pendleton, Or.
Trip Miles Today: 47
Total Trip Miles: 9009

Today was day spent in the Pendleton, Oregon area. Pendleton is pretty well known as the home of Pendleton Woolens and Knits (no woolen knits required today – 80 deg. and sunny!) Less well known, at least to people outside the motorcycling community, is that less than 20 miles up the road is Athena, Oregon the home of Hodaka Motorcycles. In the early 60s Athena based agribusiness company PABATCO (Pacific Basin Trading Company) found themselves in the motorcycle business through an odd set of circumstances including the bankruptcy of the obscure Japanese motorcycle manufacturer Yamaguchi, currency trading restrictions with Japan, and the critical mass of motorcycle enthusiasts within the PABATCO management corps (Long story made short!) The Hodaka product was pretty advanced for it’s time – employing a steel tube frame for it’s “trail Bikes” when the products from the Big 4 Japanese manufacturers were still pressed steel weldments. Also, these capable little bikes had lights, horns and other street equipment which allowed the owner to ride to the trailhead rather than haul them in a trailer. Success rapidly followed and the company sold 10s of thousands of bikes (in the US only) in just a few short years. This success was rather short lived as the little company never really had the resources to compete directly with the much bigger Japanese manufacturers such as Honda and Yamaha. When the big guys finally got it right with their “dirt bikes” (think Yamaha DT1) in the late 60s and early 70s, the Hodaka brand was wound down and finally closed about 1978. Nonetheless these bikes have quite the following nationwide and their annual “homecoming” is in Athena this week. Attending the event is special treat for me as I have a “basket case” Hodaka at home awaiting its turn for restoration. It’s exciting to see all the different models (Hodaka was famous for it’s “tongue in cheek” names for the different lines of bikes – “Super Rat”, “Road Toad”, “Dirt Squirt”, and “Wombat” were all part of the fun). Importantly, these are not just show bikes but they are ridden and ridden hard! Nice to see classics out there in the dirt! Anyway, I was able to spend the afternoon at Hodaka Days just absorbing the ambiance. I plan to return tomorrow to spend another half day experiencing the bike parade, swap meet and bike show. But, all good things must end and I plan to depart about noon or 1:00pm for destinations east. I’ll try to put a couple of hundred miles under my belt tomorrow afternoon – perhaps over near Boise, Idaho. Then the next few days afterward will be mostly just pounding out those boring highway miles while making my way home. At this time I anticipate arrival in SE Pennsylvania on Friday, July 3. I should know more after a couple of days but that seems a reasonable projection for now. I hate to see the end in sight but there you are! However, we’ve got another week to ride and anything can happen so I hope you’ll stay with me! Thanks again, Jack.

There are many more pictures available to see at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Day 36 - Ashland, OR to Pendleton, OR. Crater Lake!

Day 35 – Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Start: Ashland, Or.
End: Pendleton, Or.
Trip Miles Today: 436
Total Trip Miles: 8962

The trip is getting to be pretty close to 9000 miles now and this afternoon the very first pangs of “get home itis” began to creep in. From now on, every place I go will be closer to home than the last but I’m really nowhere done yet! Today, for example I banged out over 400 miles and visited one of my absolute favorite places on earth, Crater Lake National Park.

I got an early start because I knew I faced a long day. Off by 6:30 am I was headed north on I-5 out of Ashland. It was only a short stint on the super-slab today though. At Medford, only about 15 miles away I had the great pleasure of getting off the Interstate an on to California Rte. 62, The Crater Lake Highway. The highway generally follows the path of the Rogue River, which originates high in the cascades near the north side of Crater Lake. By following the river’s path the highway lends itself to many beautiful vistas over the 70+ odd miles from Medford to the park. Much of the route passes through the Rogue River National Forest. Especially notable is the Rogue Gorge, carved by the river over eons. A number of picture stops and a few stops just to say “Wow” caused the trip to proceed at a fairly slow pace. I was, nonetheless, at the Crater Lake National Park South gate by just about 9:00 am. Since first visiting Crater Lake in 2005 I have longed to go back. To me it is among the most beautiful, and tranquil places I know. I was fortunate, once again to have a visit unspoiled by inclement weather. The weather gods dealt up another perfect morning! Photo ops and stops to simply “take it all in” ate up over an hour before I Ieft to continue northward. Jumping on Oregon Rte. 97, I proceeded, in turn through Bend, Redmond, and Madras. Somewhere North of Bend the character of the terrain and of the entire environment changes. Out of the dense pine forests where I have spent the past few days and into a more desert like, more barren region. Still, however, always in sight are the snow capped peaks to guide one. Mt. Hood, and the Three Sisters, now visible to the West as I have moved into the central part of Oregon. Late in the afternoon I reach the Columbia River Valley and the east end of the Columbia River Gorge. It lives up to its reputation by being both considerably hotter and a fierce wind is swirling. No so much fun for me (and all those people in campers), but good news for the windsurfing crowd, who are out in force! At the Columbia I turned eastward, once again on the interstate, now I-84, for the quick 100 mile blast to my overnight destination, Pendleton, OR. I plan to stick around here for the next day or so. As I mentioned yesterday, I have come to the Pendleton area, in particular a little town called Athena for the 10th edition of an event called Hodaka Days. For those of you unfamiliar, Hodakas were popular 2 stroke dirt and street bikes made in Japan and sold exclusively in the United States by a company called PABATCO (Pacific Basin Trading Company) whose headquarters was in Athena. I am kind of a fan and actually Lisa and I have a “project” Hodaka at home. I hope to have pictures and stories from this event tomorrow and maybe Saturday before I turn to the serious work of covering the 1700 miles between here and home. Hope you still enjoy the story and pics. Thanks for being here with me.

Many more pictures to see at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 35 - Lake Oswego, OR to Ashland, OR. Atlantic Coast to Pacific Coast!

Day 35 – Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Start: Lake Oswego, OR
End: Ashland, OR
Trip Miles Today: 372
Total Trip Miles: 8526

The early portion of today’s ride was just about getting places. An early departure was necessary to get myself 100 miles down the road to Eugene, Oregon early enough to be there when BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon opened their doors at 8:30am. My business at BMW Western Oregon was to get a new set of tires installed on my trusty old steed. This couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. With help and support from Service Manager Hugo, and Doug in the parts department, the tire change was completed in just over an hour an a half. Excellent folks. Easy to deal with, courteous, and very supportive of the traveling rider. I’d recommend these guys to anyone, so if you’re ever in the area…!

The quick work at the BMW dealer got me back on the road just after 10:00AM. This allowed me some time to play! First order of business was to head West on Oregon Rte. 126 toward the coastal town of Florence, some 50 miles distant. From Florence I proceeded South on the Oregon Coastal Highway (Rte 101) through the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. My main business here was to shoot a couple of pictures on the Pacific Coast and document the completion of my trip “Coast-To-Coast”. That being completed I continued S on Rte 101 until arriving at Reedsport, where I again turned inland to follow Rte 38. Rte 38 follows the Umpqua River Valley and makes for quite the scenic ride as both the road and the river climb inland. After a subsequent turn southeast on to Rte. 138, some 60 miles later I was again back on I-5 heading South for my overnight stop in Ashland, OR.

Arriving at Ashland about 4pm, I checked in at my hotel before heading over to visit with my high school friend Anne Bellegia and her husband Terry Asnes. We had a very nice dinner and they treated me to a quick tour of Ashland. That about capped the day and I headed back to the hotel for some rest. Tomorrow is a big day. I plan on an early start with a side trip to Crater Lake National Park, one of my very favorite places on earth. Then it’s a northeasterly heading to see how far I can get in the direction of Pendleton, OR by tomorrow night. Why Pendleton? Because Pendleton is close to Athena, Oregon and Athena is the site of the annual “Hodaka Days” festival. Athena was the home of PABATCO, the company that brought Hodaka Motorcycles to the US in the sixties and seventies. As a dual-sport rider, I consider that Hodaka holds a special place in the history of the breed. Before there were Yamaha Enduros, long before there were GSs, there were Hodakas – arguably the precursor to every on road/off road bike that followed. More tomorrow about Hodakas and Hodaka Days! Lots more adventuring yet to come

There are plenty of pictures from my ride at

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.