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Old 03-03-2015, 10:07 PM   #1
nconoan OP
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Nebraska to Alaska and Back

Hello all:

My name is Nick, and I was born and raised in Bellevue, Nebraska just south of Omaha. At 25 I am trying to put together my first major motorcycle trip as life circumstances have created a perfect opportunity for it...problem is I don't know what the hell I'm doing ...

The proposed trip (very rough outline): Bellevue to Des Moines to visit family, then to Mt. Rushmore/Black Hills National Forest. Through western Nebraska into Wyoming and then South towards Denver for a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Southwest to Gunnison National Forest continuing West to meet up with the Colorado. Follow the Colorado to the Grand Canyon. From there head to Lake Mead to see Hoover Dam. Cross the deserts of Nevada towards Yosemite. From there Northwest until reaching Highway 101. North up to Seattle, then into Canada. Through British Columbia to the final destination of Anchorage AK where I have family.

I realize that the above paragraph is very skeletal, and that after Yosemite it is massively skeletal as I have not decided exactly what I would like to see along that massive stretch of land (this is just day 1 of planning).

My proposed departure date: May 25th-ish
The concert will put me in Morrison, CO on June 3. Past that no dates have been set yet.

Proposed machine: New 2014 Suzuki DR650
I figure, when going this far alone (yes I am currently planning on being alone unless Inmates would like to meet up along the way) simple is best, as I am not a particularly skilled mechanic. And new gives me the best chance of avoiding mechanical issues.

Total Mileage (very rough estimate): 9,500 miles

Time constraint: Don't want to get caught in AK/Canada when the snow starts coming.

Budget: Not that far yet, but I want to camp off the bike for the majority of the trip. Maybe get a cheap motel once every week and a half or so. I will be selling my 2008 Husqvarna TE610 (watch for the ad in the flea market if interested ) and my YZ125 (also will post on here) and those together should get me enough for the bike. I figure with that much camping and not eating fancy I can pull the 3-5 month trip for $2,000-3,000. I have savings so if I end up way underestimating that is OK, but I would like to not blow through all of my money in case I don't find work right away when I get back.

My concerns: I am not sure I can cover the ground and see everything I want to see before snowfall in the North.

I am not a very experienced camper, never done alpine camping.

Air cooled bike in the Summer heat of the desert.

Longest journey to date was Philadelphia to Bellevue in 3 days (1,300 miles).

Please, weigh in on things I should bring, gear selection, bike choice, route modifications, time concerns, mechanical concerns, weather concerns, safety concerns, as this is all new to me.


Thanks for reading!
-Nick
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Old Yesterday, 12:00 AM   #2
HeliMarc
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Hi Nick,

I'm heading that way too, coming from farther away though.

Camping in the cold: have an inflatable matress with light insulation. Approx $100.
New bike with air-cooled engine shouldn't cause problem.
Your body will adapt to increase daily mileage as required. Should rather think in terms of hours in the saddle, as some sections might obviously take longer :-)
Plenty of time to do the round trip before winter returns.
Route is not so important, follow instinct... and compass :-)

Absolute two items: Passport & credit card.

Gear: a few tools, flat tire kit, irons, compressor. Usual light weight camp gear.
Clothes: 3 of each of the following is enough: underwears, socks, t-shirt in quick-dry fabric. Washed at night, dry next morning. One pant.
A heated jacket under the Outer Jacket is fantastic in reducing the amount of layers and it fits well as light casual jacket.
Quality boot with gore-tex membrane is adviseable. Riding takes it's toll on boots. Waterproof booties (overboot) don't last very long.

If you forgot anything, buy it along the way. No matter the trip, you'll find you always carry too much and it becomes an annoyance to pack.

Safety: bear spray + follow posted advices in parks. Try to be with other rider for longest isolated sections; or (like me) have a satellite communicator for emergency.

The way you write your post, you have the right attitude and that's most important.

Marc
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Old Yesterday, 11:39 AM   #3
nconoan OP
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Thanks for the tips Marc! You mentioned you are heading the same way, what are your riding plans? I'd like to do a majority of the trip alone, but it is always nice to have company and meet new people if the conditions allow.

Your advice is encouraging, as it is in line with a lot of what I already had planned. The inflatable mattress in particular is a good note, as I was on the fence about that.

Do you use a SPOT tracker for your emergency communicator? I was definitely considering one.

I am also still on the fence about using a GPS or not. I like going by feel as opposed to following a set route, but sometimes it is nice to know where things like gas stations/grocery stores are.

Any suggestions for rain-proofing the luggage so things like sleeping bag and clothes stay dry?
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Old Yesterday, 03:53 PM   #4
AKDuc
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Hi Nick. Are you planning on riding back down from Anchorage? Usually you can leave AK and get thru Canada thru Sept w/o hitting any snow tho it'll be getting pretty chilly and the daylight will be shorter than mid-summer.

I highly recommend trying to get to Dawson City Yukon for the annual Dust2Dawson gathering where a couple hundred like minded riders from around the world meet for fun and folly. This year's is Thurs/Fri June 18-19.

Many of us also have a lot of fun camping out at http://www.thompsonseaglesclaw.com/ in Tok on our way to and from D2D. It's in the woods with unlimited free firewood and the water there is great! Good times.

I also suggest spending time reading stuff in the Alaska forum on here for suggestions about AK. My sig line links to a few ride reports I've done on AK and the Yukon too.

SPOT can make for a lot of peace of mind for friends and family on your travels and they can follow your progress besides being a good emergency signal device.

Good luck and have fun, Mark H.
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Old Yesterday, 08:56 PM   #5
nconoan OP
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Hey Mark,
I would love to make it to Dust2Dawson, it sounds like a blast. But I won't be hitting AK until mid to late July I'm guessing. I am planning on riding back from Anchorage, though I have not yet planned that half of the trip. I would like to spend most of the time getting up there, and spending time with family while there (but will definitely check out those threads to see what kind of trouble I can get into with fellow ADVriders up there!). So my route home will be much more direct and quick.

Thanks for the thread links!
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Old Yesterday, 11:00 PM   #6
mach1mustang351
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I made a trip to AK from Central California in 2008 (I enjoyed it so much I live here now). I had 26 days to cover the trip. I worried about being able to see everything I wanted to see. I took 14 months to plan the trip and the solution I came to is... You cant see it all. You could take a year to make that ride to Alaska and I guarantee there will still be places you really wish you had more time to check out.

I would start your planning with how many miles you are comfortable riding in a day to keep your schedule or close to it. If you want to spend some time in a place work it so you get there in the afternoon or however you want it to work out.

I found great success and had a great trip by playing it completely by ear. The only plan I made was my cabin I booked for the end of travel day 1. I did this cause it was a place I used to go as a kid and I wanted to check it out again. From there I decided to not spend a lot of time exploring on my route to AK and spend more time checking stuff out in AK. At night I would look at the map and zero in on a stopping zone. Usually a 300-400 mile window. If it was tough riding I would stop earlier and if I felt good I would go further. These days I feel most comfortable in the 500-600 mile range but I have changed some.

Not everyone likes traveling this way but I found it stress free, for the most part. It is a little spooky as it gets late and there isn't a camping place that looks like fun but that can be worked out.

As far as roads up I had a great time on Trans Canada 16 last summer on my ride back to California. The Cassiar Highway is the best way to get to the Alaska Highway in my opinion. Great riding, great scenery, and no heavy traffic.

As Far as weather... its anyone's guess. We can have snow any month, but it generally is rideable in May and snow sticks to the ground in late October. I bring out the bike first part of May and it tends to go way end of September. ... its anyones guess though. Roads are clear and dry right now so who knows. It will probably snow 3 feet in June

Hopefully some of this helps. Enjoy your trip. Any more questions let me know... from the perspective of my California family and friends I am an Expert of Far North Motorcycle travels... but like I said... that is all a matter of perspective.
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Old Today, 04:42 AM   #7
MountainsandRivers
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Yo! Another Nebraskan! I was raised in North Omaha, near Florence. I am now in southwest Colorado. PM me when you get close, if you need a hand or more local advice.
You worry about getting down from BC before it snows. Also be prepared that you could still get some snow in Colorado in June. The highways will be open but probably not a lot of the high jeep road passes.
Good luck on your trip!
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Old Today, 07:59 AM   #8
froger
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You want a compression stuff sack for your sleeping bag.

Get the best riding and camping gear you can. Gore-Tex boots saved my ass. In fact, everything south of my helmet was Gore-Tex.

If your not doing something stupid, black bears seldom cause trouble. But your heading for griz territory. I have on occasion stealth camped in grizzly country. But after once finding a fire hose sized turd on the road that wasent there the night before, I don't think too much of that idea anymore. Nowday's I give the campground money.
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