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Offline Horsepower

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An Extreme Adventure
« on: April 28, 2009, 02:27:45 pm »
An Extreme Adventure
On New Year’s Day, German adventure traveller Doris Wiedemann started a
16 000 kilometre, ten-week trip that many thought would be impossible – to ride north through Alaska in wintertime, crossing the Arctic Circle en route to Prudhoe Bay and the frozen Arctic Ocean.

Three months later, having ridden around the United States, across Canada and then north through the frozen wastelands of Alaska on her BMW F 800 GS, Doris and her travelling companion Sjaak Lucassen have encountered extremes of blistering heat and severe frost, and experienced a fascinating diversity of natural wonders while riding their motorcycles.

Doris on the frozen ocean at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska

Having recently arrived back in Germany, Doris is still coming to terms with her achievement and plans to write a book about this amazing journey.

“It was incredible trip and there were so many different highlights along the way,” said Doris.

“There was such a contrast from the early stages of the journey to what we encountered as we were nearing its completion. In the ‘lower 48’ States, l loved the Florida Everglades as well as the swampy land around New Orleans and the dry country in Arizona.

However, the wintry atmosphere in Canada and Alaska was very special and I am still fascinated by the snow-covered tundra in the northern parts of the Dalton Highway and at Prudhoe Bay, where the frozen ocean of course offered another highlight.”

When Doris and Sjaak neared their final destination, they had their doubts whether they would actually be able to ‘dip a toe’ in the ocean at Prudhoe Bay – not just because the sea was completely frozen, but also due to the fact that because there are no ‘normal’ tourists at this time of the year, access is prohibited for members of the public.

Fortunately, a friendly employee from local civil engineering contractor Cruz Construction, gave Doris and Sjaak special access and even transported them the final few miles to Prudhoe Bay, albeit in a truck rather than on two wheels!

“We knew that there would be no tourist tours in this area in winter but we did hope to find a way to the frozen ocean, where we wanted the trip to end,” said Doris.

Putting extra studs in her tyres on the famous Dalton Highway

“What I didn’t expect was for it to be so difficult for us to obtain permission to make the last few kilometres of our journey. Naturally, the people who live in Alaska have a strong sense and understanding for an adventurous lifestyle since this is what their everyday existences entail, due largely to the harsh climate they are living in.

Therefore they are by nature very supportive, but ever since the 9/11 bombings, there has been a tremendous increase in security measures all over the States, so it was a big surprise and a great honour that we were finally given permission to go into the security area at Prudhoe Bay.”

With the temperatures they encountered ranging from a sweltering 29 degrees Celsius in Florida, down to minus 31.5 degrees Celsius on the Dalton Highway in Alaska, Doris was glad she had chosen the best clothing and equipment for this trip.

However, nothing could have prepared her for just how cold she would be on her motorcycle, with no shelter from the elements, and snowstorms restricting their progress on one day to less than 40 kilometres.

“It was certainly the coldest I have ever been in my life – and not only when on the motorcycle,” said Doris. “We had very good equipment (Doris took Ortofox and Held thermal underwear, Klan heated clothes, BMW Streetguard suit and BMW Winter gloves, Klan heated gloves for temperatures below minus 15 degrees, Carinthia G-Loft Windstopper suit and Held rain suit) so I managed very well while riding.

Waking up and cleaning the snow off her F800 GS was a frequent occurrence

However, during the necessary stops for taking pictures and filming, the cold quickly got to my hands and my face suffered from the cold wind almost as soon as I opened the visor. This type of cold was almost unbearable – mostly due to the wind-chill – and I had to do something against it immediately.

At times, it was just too cold to take pictures, because I couldn’t open my visor. Often I’d have to warm my fingers inside the heated gloves with the engine of the motorcycle running so as to not discharge the battery.”

Where Doris and Sjaak have been very successful is in providing pictures and video footage to Sjaak’s colleagues at the Dutch website, www.Reismotor.nl. Marcus Kingma and Ripko van Alberda have edited and posted many videos, which have allowed lots of adventure travel enthusiasts to follow Doris and Sjaak’s journey on a daily basis.

In order to allow friends and family to follow their journey online, the two explorers used POV.1 helmet cameras from V.I.O. and a Canon HF100 camcorder for the filming. For the photos, they each used a Canon EOS digital SLR camera and a laptop for image selection.

Furthermore, Doris also used a ‘geotagger’ from www.geotate.com to tag her pictures with GPS coordinates, before putting them online at the www.panoramio.com website.

This automatically places the pictures on a Google Earth map and allows not only viewers to see exactly where and when the pictures were taken, but also allows Doris to easily select pictures in the future with GPS coordinates, using www.cdfinder.de software, when she starts publishing articles.

On reflection, Doris is undecided about which was the most important piece of equipment she carried with her from New York to Alaska. While the camera was useful to document the trip, and she would have struggled without such good quality clothing, her biggest discovery was studded tyres, without which the majority of the trip would just not have been possible.

“Naturally, your riding skills improve with every kilometre travelled, but I just couldn’t believe what excellent work studs can do in a motorcycle tyre,” she said.

Is this the first F800 GS to cross the Arctic Circle?

“I was amazed just how much grip you have with these little nails pointing out of the rubber. Overall though, the F 800 GS was definitely a very good choice of bike for me to use on this trip. It never let me down – neither in the blistering heat or in the freezing cold – and I had lots of fun riding it on gravel and asphalt, as well as on ice and snow. It served my needs perfectly and the only modifications I would make on a future trip would be a headlight protector and wider crash bars to make it easier to pick up when fully loaded!”

The bike is now on its way back to Europe and will be on display at various meetings and shows during the next few months. As for Doris, her book about a recent motorcycle trip to China has just been published, so she is currently engaged in publicity for this.

Following that, her plan is to make a video of the Alaska trip and write some magazine articles about the adventure, as well as consider writing a book about this trip.

And last, but not least of course, there is the dream of another trip, because as any adventure traveller knows, once the adventure travel bug has bitten, it’s hard to stay at home for too long…

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Offline DRAZIL

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Re: An Extreme Adventure
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2009, 02:39:23 pm »
Know here is a ride report that will not be duplicated to soon.
Stunning absolutely stunning. :thumleft: :thumleft:
“You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody's crazy.”
Charles Manson