Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Ride : Fairbanks, Alaska -> Grapevine, Texas

It has been a great summer selling motorcycles in Fairbanks at Outpost Alaska/Trail's End BMW.  Even with the slow economy sales stayed strong.  It is a true pleasure working with the team at our shop.

Outpost Alaska/Trail's End BMW  during the 2011 Alaska HOG Rally
The BMW Order Trade Fair is coming up September 25-27 in Grapevine, Texas.  Management decided I would be a good candidate to attend.  And just like that, a bulb flashed on over my head...  What if they let me ride a motorcycle there?

I started doing my research.  I plotted my ideal route from Alaska to Texas.  I crunched the data:  overall distance, daily distance, estimated driving times, anticipated mileage and fuel costs.  And what I realized was that time was getting short.  So I put together my loose proposal, took a big breath and gave my pitch to the shop owner John Haddad.  As I rolled through my plan to take a $20,000 BMW Luxury Touring motorcycle off the sales floor and go galavanting down the biggest mountain range in North America, I silently wondered if I'd lost my mind.

We talked it over with the management team;  Clark, Doug and Wendy.  Next thing I know I'm scrambling to pull the details together and prepare for my last day of work.  No they didn't fire me.

We all agreed that if I was going to do this, time is of the essence.  The leaves have changed to a golden yellow on the hillsides surrounding Fairbanks.  My morning commutes on my demo BMW R1200GS have been getting crisper.  The geese flying in formation look like big arrows pointing south.  And just yesterday it looked as though Old Man Winter was struggling to get in the door early as heavy gray clouds dumped cold rain on my final commute.  The 42° temperature has me worried about snow and slick roads in the mountain passes.

The sun is shining today though as I pack my necessities.  The brisk fall air tugs at my nomadic mind confirming my decision to make my way south.  I am excited to fuel my unending desire to explore more unknown roads and landscapes on two wheels.  I am truly grateful for this opportunity to complete the journey I started nearly two years ago that has lead me through some 16 countries over 30,000 miles so far.  Aside from the having to wait until next year to ride the Dalton Highway 'Haul Road', I will have traveled the length of North and South America by motorcycle.

Not exactly solving the World's many crises, but small steps right?

So here is the plan.  I will leave tomorrow, Monday, September 12th aboard Shamu, our 2009 BMW K1200LT, ride as far as I can, sleep, repeat 10-12 times which if all goes as planned will leave me riding up to the valet parking at the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine, Texas on Saturday, September 24th.


  1. Have a fun trip Justin. I'll be following your adventure. Wish I were younger and could go along to pick up the BMW parts and share the ride. My H-D can carry a bunch (humor is all).

  2. Have a nice trip and thank you for the Tuesday evening rides (even though I only managed to make one of them!) I'll be following your trip.


  3. Justin,
    I hear you about that metal bridge, the bike wonders around in the dry too. Todd and I made it the lower 48 today (got off ship in Bellinham this morning). Great RR so far keep it coming.
    Jill & Todd