It is hard to believe, but after over a year of much planning, researching and daydreaming, the time has finally arrived and I’m about to start this long awaited road journey: two full months riding a motorcycle from my South Florida home to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a whooping 15,000 miles round trip. I leave this Monday, 6/17, and should be on the road for 8 or 9 weeks, coming back by the end of August.
Talking with friends about my plans over the past year, I noticed that the questions I got asked the most were always the same. Am I going alone? What kind of motorcycle will I ride? Where am I’m going to sleep? But the question nobody ever asked, and the most important to me, is “Why?” Time for some quick answers here…
The first difficult decision was to figure whether I would ride alone or have company for the road. Doing a long trip like this with one or more friends would be fantastic, and also a bit safer (safety in numbers). Going by myself, I’d be free to change plans as I please, and it would also make the interaction with people along the roads much easier. Tough one… At the end, I simply let things happen: I have had some friends really interested in doing the whole two months with me, but for one reason or another, no one was able to join me and I found myself ready to go by myself. No win or lose here, I will just enjoy the solo ride as much as I’d have enjoyed some good company – and I’m free to ride in (light) rain without anyone complaining!
The motorcycle I’m riding is a BMW 1200 GS Adventure, a monster of a bike that feels at home on the road and, with some limitations (it’s incredible heavy to begin with), very capable off road too. Many, many years ago I used to race enduros in Brazil, competitions in which I would ride lighter dirt bikes across the countryside, sometimes for multiple days. This gave me a good foundation to off road riding, but the smaller bikes are simply not suitable for long distances on the highways. The GSA makes me feel absolutely comfortable and safe, and it was a obvious choice for this trip. With its side and top aluminum boxes, I can carry what I need for the time away from home, and the huge gas tank allows me to ride with fewer stops for fuel.
I’m planning to sleep in hotels and motels alongside the road whenever possible, but I’m bringing a full camping set with me for the inevitable days when I won’t be able to find any available rooms. From what I’ve read, hotels in the most remote regions of Yukon and Alaska are booked way in advance during the summer, and the very nature of this trip makes it impossible for me to book anything in advance. I want to enjoy the ride and be free to stop wherever and whenever I want, so having set dates to be in specific places is not an option.
As for the why, here’s where any simple answer won’t do… I realize that a journey like this is something that most people wouldn’t consider doing, and to some extent I can understand why: we live around work schedules, family responsibilities, fear of risk and danger of any type. The list goes on and on, and that’s how dreams remain dreams. For those who have the pleasure of riding motorcycles, though, such a trip is something absolutely logical and desirable. My own personal reasons are many, but I guess the main one must be curiosity. I enjoy traveling immensely, I always did, and a long road trip to Alaska and the Yukon has been forever on my wish list. Because of a lucky combination of work flexibility and a very supportive family, I figured nothing was preventing me from doing it now. Add to this mix a couple of practical “excuses”, like a possible book project and many photo opportunities along the way, and the decision to go became surprisingly easy.
There’s no need to say how excited I am… I plan to be posting every now and then on my blog, but it probably won’t be as often as I would like to, since Internet access may prove to be difficult and/or slow the further North I get. Before hitting the road, another personal (and important) note: my biggest THANK YOU to my family, not only for the support and patience with all the preparations, but also for believing in my project and my dreams. Nicole, Duda, Nanda, Gui and Ju, you are my life and I love you with all my heart. You all will be riding with me, every single day. See you again soon!
One month ago I did a test run and drove the GSA from home to Greenville, SC, to attend a two-day off road course at the BMW Performance Center. I felt I needed to refresh long forgotten skills and learn a few new tricks, and the course was simply fantastic. More important though was the ride to and from Greenville, because I was able to test the bike on the road and feel how it handles fully loaded. I did a little video using a GoPro, also a good training for some better footage on the roads up North.