Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review: The Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska

The Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska  (ISBN 978-0-9829131-2-3, Octane Press, 224 pgs.) puts 20 years of road knowledge together in a beautiful, information-rich travel guide designed for adventure motorcyclists (but happily not only those who ride "ADV" bikes). Created by motorcycle journalist Lee Klancher with expert guidance from Alaska native and motorcycle tour guide Phil Freeman (owner of touring company Motoquest), this comprehensive tour guidebook covers what must amount to nearly every highway in Alaska, pointing out the best riding routes, picture-perfect natural wonders, and offbeat destinations in the state. It also includes suggested itineraries, colorful maps and recommended hotels, as well as cautionary warnings for the unexpected. The book is printed on durable, heavy stock (should hold up well in your tank bag or pannier) and is filled with great photographs and useful charts. 

The writing is focused and engaging; I believe this book would be an essential resource for planning a bike trip to Alaska, and will certainly use it as such when I make my trip some day. Because I've never been to Alaska, I thought it would be prudent to run the book by seriously adventurous riding friends John & Patti Heveron, who have ridden their motorcycles from their home in New York state to Alaska twice in the last three years,  and are planning to do it again in 2013.

Patti & John, pegging my jealously meter.

From Patti:
We are always looking for new sources of info on how to enjoy the Alaska adventure more, including two presentations I went to by Phil Freeman (coincidentally!!).  I've seen him at a couple of rallies, and have been to his shop in Anchorage once, passing by him in Carcross as he was leading a group into the town.We are delighted that he is a part of this book, as he is our inspiration for believing we could actually do this!!!

The first REALLY HANDY part of this book is the description of the three types/sizes of bike you should ride there on, and then tells you in each of his sections of highway descriptions what bikes are best (or not!!!). I love it! Now I know that some of my ideas on where to go next are “a go” and some are NOT!

Breaking down each area or highway like pieces to a giant puzzle…to be researched individually and then pieced together for YOUR perfect trip, is genius…..Where to stay, where to get GAS, what cool stuff to hunt down….everything you need….

As a beginner, those were my highest anxieties….Do we have the right bikes for the roads, and where do we stop for the night and how often can we gas up? Once you research these, the rest is the fun part!!!

Patti astride her GS; the FJR is John's, evidence that you don't have
to ride an adventure-tourer to do Alaska.

From John:
As the primary route-planner…
This book is loaded with tons of useful information. Even riders who have ridden in parts of Alaska will be surprised to learn what was just around the next bend, warmed by reminders of special places like Emerald Lake, and informed by explanations of phenomena like that desert area outside Carcross.

The books appeals to every rider from the adventurous off-road explorer to the pavement seeker. The author creates the perfect recipe by blending awe and wonder with a healthy respect for this special place.

You will want to make notes to design your perfect trip, but bring the book along with you as a reference manual. Its size permits that and is so full of useful information that it will be surely missed if you travel to Alaska without it.

The author makes you chuckle with comments like his description of a densely overgrown off-road route “Call your Mom before you go – You will most likely never see her again.”

Not even the thorough and indispensable Milepost provides such meaningful information about road quality and scenery, much less great brewpubs and where to get your tire changed!

If this doesn't make you want to hop on your bike & ride
to AK, maybe you should take up golf instead.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Twist in Motorcycle Endurance Sport-Touring

The Motomarathon Association will debut its first satellite start in Macedon, NY at the 2012 Empire State Motomarathon, set for September 13-16th. The satellite start allows Western New York motorcyclists to join fellow endurance riders, who will begin the long-distance tour from the main starting point in downstate Fishkill, NY.

“Motomarathons often start in population centers, then reach to a distant location to loop out of a twisty-rich environment,” said Motomarathon Association Founder John Metzger. “Given the often extreme distance disparities from starting points, we’ve considered adding satellite start locations for this type of ride, and are going to try it out for the first time at the Empire State Motomarathon.”

With the addition of a satellite start in Macedon, the event will now accommodate riders not just from the Southeast Tri-State region, but from the reaches of Western New York as well. Riders completing the entire Empire State Motomarathon will have the opportunity to earn the same number of checkpoints regardless of their starting location.

Concurrently at 8:00 a.m. on September 13th, Routemaster Joe Majsak will direct the primary start from Fishkill (at the Quality Inn & Suites, 849 NYS Rt. 52), and Routemaster and veteran Motomarathoner Shawn Pearsall will manage the satellite start from Macedon (at event sponsor Filer’s PowerSports, about 20 miles east of Rochester on Rt. 31, at 1136 Pittsford-Palmyra Rd.).

Both groups of riders will "reach" from their respective start locations, converge along the way and end Day One at the loop base hotel, The Hungry Trout Resort, in Wilmington, NY. Days Two and Three find all riders bagging checkpoints on the same upstate routes.  On Day 4 riders will return to their respective finish points in Fishkill and Macedon for final check-in.

The Hungry Trout Resort is sold out. Overflow rooms are available 1.5 miles down the road at Steinhoff's Sportsman Inn, 5570 NYS Rt. 86, Wilmington, NY, 12997, (518) 946-2220. Ask for the Motomarathon rate.

Motomarathons are four-day, self-guided motorcycle events where riders are in the saddle an average of 8 hours/day. Routes and checkpoints are kept secret until the night before. Participants complete a series of self-recorded checkpoints using digital cameras to photograph their badge numbers at designated landmarks.

For more information or to register for the event go to and select Register Now or contact Caty Metzger at or at 303.621.5356. Walk-ons are welcome.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

EPA mandates 4 gallon minimum of E-15 at blender pumps!

First, take a large helping of stupidity, add a large corn lobby and a sprinkling of high-ranking federal bureaucrats, mix thoroughly, half-bake and viola! An idea.

This just in from the American Motorcyclist Association:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require all consumers to buy at least four gallons of gasoline from certain gas pumps after the new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend is introduced into the market.
The EPA revealed the requirement to the American Motorcycllist Association in a letter dated Aug. 1, responding to AMA concerns that E15 -- a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume -- could be put in motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle gas tanks inadvertently when consumers use blender pumps. A blender pump dispenses different fuel blends through the same hose, and the vast majority of motorcycles and ATVs in use today aren't designed to operate on E15 fuel.
"With E15 gasoline, our members who make a concerted effort to fuel their motorcycles or ATVs with E10-or-less gasoline may be unknowingly refueling with residual fuel left in the hose," Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, wrote in a June 20 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
"Unlike an automobile or SUV that has a large fuel tank, the residual fuel left in a fueling hose could be detrimental to the performance of motorcycle or ATV engines due to the small size of their fuel tanks and the higher concentration of ethanol that would, therefore, be present in the fuel," Allard wrote. 
"In addition, the use of E15 will lower fuel efficiency and possibly cause premature engine failure," he wrote. "Use of E15 fuel voids many manufacturer warranties. In off-road engines, the effects can even be dangerous for users." 
Byron Bunker of the EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory responded to the AMA on behalf of Jackson. 
"EPA requires that retail stations that own or operate blender pumps either dispense E15 from a dedicated hose and nozzle if able or, in the case of E15 and E10 being dispensed from the same hose, require that at least four gallons of fuel be purchased to prevent vehicles and engines with smaller fuel tanks from being exposed to gasoline-ethanol blended fuels containing greater than 10 volume percent ethanol," Bunker wrote.
"Additionally, EPA is requiring that retail stations that offer E10 and E15 from the same hose and nozzle use additional labeling to inform consumers about the minimum purchase requirement," Bunker wrote.
"Since motorcyclists and ATV users, as you suggest, have relatively small fuel tanks, they should pay careful attention to the labeling of blender pumps to ensure that an appropriate fuel is chosen, in this case E10 or E0," he wrote.
Another problem with the new EPA policy, Allard said, is that not all motorcycle and ATV gas tanks hold four or more gallons.
"Not only do we find it unacceptable for the EPA to mandate that everyone -- including our members -- buy minimum amounts of gas, but the EPA answer simply won't work because of the sizes of many motorcycle and ATV gas tanks and the fact that off-highway riders take containers of gas with them on their trips, and most times those containers are much smaller than four gallons," Allard said. 
"The EPA needs to come up with a better solution," he said. "The EPA also needs to back an independent study to determine whether E15 is safe for motorcycle and ATV engines."
The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to motorcycle and ATV engines caused by the inadvertent use of E15 when the new fuel becomes widely available, and has asked that motorcycles and ATVs be part of any scientific study into the effects of E15. 
Ethanol is essentially grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn that is mixed with gasoline to produce an ethanol-gasoline blend motor fuel. In October 2010, the EPA approved the use of E15 in model year 2007 and newer light-duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles). Then, in January 2011, the EPA added model year 2001-06 light-duty vehicles to the approved list. 
No motorcycles or ATVs are currently on the list. 
You can take action on this issue by contacting your federal representatives. The AMA makes is easy; just click here!

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Road Trip Tech Kit Giveaway!

Revzilla's latest giveaway is $1000 worth of tech and luggage for your next big road trip: a Drift HD video camera to record it, a set of Scala Rider G9s to yack about it, and a Kriega US30 drypak combo to tote your "stuff" for it.  It takes all of 30 second to enter on Revzilla's contest page. Two 2nd prize winners will receive $50 RZ gift certificates.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Motorcycling on Rural Roads in the UK

The British government have recently unveiled plans to reduce the speed limit on rural roads from 60mph to 40mph. A disproportionate number of fatalities on British roads happen in the countryside, often due to speeding. Roads surrounding countryside villages usually use the national speed limit of 60mph and the reduction to 30mph inside the village is often instant.

In 2010 292 motorcyclists were killed on rural roads, almost twice the number of fatalities that occurred on urban roads. These statistics are assumed to be so high because bikers like to ride in the countryside for recreational rides, but overall road fatalities also show that rural roads are significantly more dangerous.

A motorcyclist is 50 times more likely to be killed or suffer serious injury than a car driver and 92% per cent of surveyed people (from Think statistics) think that motorcyclists are the most vulnerable people on the road. However, despite awareness of the vulnerability of motorcyclists, it is often motorists that are complacent or at fault in accidents on rural roads. There are four types of common rural motorcycle accidents; the first three usually involve new riders but the majority of crashes with other vehicles are the fault of the other party.

Bends and Corners - Misjudging corners and bends is an alarmingly frequent cause of serious accidents, although these mistakes are often made by new and inexperienced riders.

Overtaking - Many countryside roads are difficult for two vehicles to pass each other in opposite directions. The open road with fresh air and a beautiful backdrop can entice a new rider into switching off and driving irresponsibly. 

One vehicle crash - This is usually by inexperienced, reckless or careless riders and is far more likely to happen on rural roads. The state and maintenance of countryside roads can be a contributing factor.

Junctions - Crashes at junctions with other vehicles are common and dangerous. They are often the fault of the other vehicle, but it is the motorcyclist who is most vulnerable. No matter how many public campaigns are run or reflective clothing is worn by the motorcyclist, there is enormous risk and they have to be constantly aware for approaching vehicles and, once seeing them, assuming the driver’s an idiot.

Experience, continuous improvement and self-awareness are keys to motorcycling safety, but that only reduces risk, it doesn’t eliminate it. Hopefully the new measures will be enforced and motorists on rural roads will drive with more responsibility, which will reduce the number of motorcyclist fatalities in the countryside.

This post courtesy of Pannone LLP, a leading UK law firm who are specialists in personal injury cases.

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