Saturday, April 27, 2013

Uraling in Alaska - Day 21: Coffee with Airheads and the Museum of the North

Cold day here in Fairbanks, AK.  My rig Valencia remains in the shop, still being diagnosed but the end is hopefully in sight according to a late report this evening by Jon, the owner/mechanic of Frozen Motor Works.  He's done some work on the left cylinder to bring compression back up to 145 psi so that puts it within the 10 psi parameter to the right cylinder's 150 psi reading.

He's still battling the sputtering issue when trying any RPMs much above idle, which the tug does fine.  He's discussing further steps with Jim Pettiti of Raceway Services tomorrow, I am keeping my fingers crossed for some resolution.

As all this was going on, I rode into work with RichardM in his sidecar rig's hack, as the monkey.  A novel and quite "brisk" experience for me as temperatures where below freezing when we left his house.  Still, it was a short ride and hypothermia had barely started to set in when we pulled into his university parking lot.

RichardM introduced me to some colleagues and we then walked down to the local coffee house to meet with some local Airhead riders.  I believe RichardM had sent out emails inviting them, or this might be a regular thing.  The walk down was short but definitely "cool", I was glad to get in out of the cold.

I was warmly greeted by the two Bob's, one is the Alaska Air Marshall for the airhead contingent for the state and the other was a former Alaska State Trooper Moto Officer.  I believe the first Bob was also a moto officer as well.  Coffee in hand, we chatted about my Ural, their Beemers, Ducatis and sundry other bikes.

Later on, we were joined by George R, an airhead legend here in Alaska and former owner of the Trails End BMW dealership.  In his 70's, George continues to be the guru for all things airhead and BMW vintage motorcycles.

As a bonus, I spotted a rider come into the parking lot on a familiar looking airhead beemer!  Yep, it was Austin from Wednesday's riding in the snow!  He joined our table and the process of his becoming an Airhead was begun.

 Bob's checking out Austin's Beemer while he and George discuss the 
finer points of BMW motorcybles

 Austin is from Golden, CO, a fire fighter working a seasonal job as
part of a "Hot Shot" quick reaction fire fighting team in Alaska.
He just bought the airhead behind him and is looking forward to learning all about it
from his new fellow riders, the Alaska Airheads.

The coffee meeting over with, Air Marshall Bob graciously gave me a ride over to Frozen Motor Works where we briefly talked to Jon and he showed me some of the work he'd done.  Troubleshooting is ongoing at this time however so we left him alone
with his work.

Bob dropped me off at the entrance to the University of Alaska's Museum of the North.  There for the small entrance fee of $12, you get quite the education on Alaska's history, it's resources and wildlife.

 Artwork Bear at the museum's upper floor exhibit

 UAF's Museum of the North

Had I been able to stand on the platform with him, I would only reach
to his shoulders, maybe.

 A montage of an old time garage's contents

 More artwork: the Outhouse Experience

Quite the museum, good way to spend a few hours learning about what I am finding to be a great state!  I wandered back to RichardM's office which was close by.  He lent me his sidecar rig so I could run home and pick up the stock Ducati ignition parts and drop them off with Jon at Frozen Motor Works.  This is in case he decides to use them to test the viability of the PowerArc ignition system.  

It was quite enjoyable riding RichardM's rig, though it was quite brisk and I got a bit lost doing so as well.

Returning to the University, RichardM then took me home, with me as the monkey once again.  After dinner we watched a film about this group of Indian riders riding overloaded Royal Enfield Thumpers down some really tough "trails" as they searched for a road that wasn't there in the NE portion of India.  Quite the film, you should watch it if you can find it: "One Crazy Ride".

A rather enjoyable day, helped me keep my mind of Valencia's status.  I got to meet some great guys in the Alaskan Airhead community, a young rider who's becoming part of the brotherhood, learned stuff about Alaska and a great moto movie to top it all off.  What a host he is, RichardM!


BeemerGirl said...

Well, if you can't be riding, that is just about the next best way I can think of spending a day! Seems like a great group of people to hang around, wonderful museum, Valencia is in good hands, and "One Crazy Ride" is pretty damn crazy. (I don't know if I could ride over that bridge...)

Canajun said...

Just getting caught up on the last few days' posts. With all the long and relatively inhospitable miles you've covered so far you were indeed lucky to break down where you are. I hope they get Valencia back on the road for you soon but meantime am enjoying the pictures and reporting from Fairbanks.

redlegsrides said...

Beemergirl, yeah I don't think I'd ride that bridge either. That would have been the turnaround point for me.

Canajun, progress is being made on Valencia's if they can only figure out that sputtering/missing issue.

SonjaM said...

I keep my fingers crossed that the mechanics can figure out what's wrong with Valencia.

I like the museum, we visited Fairbanks in 2004 but I believe the building didn't exist back than.

Unknown said...


Frozen Motor Works seems like they know what they are doing. I also hope they get the sputtering issue fixed.

I am picturing you as the Monkey, I still can't imagine you on the wrong side of the rig. I hope you managed to snap a few photos.

What a great place to break down. It's like having a holiday within a holiday. You may like it so much you won't want to leave

Riding the Wet Coast