Alaska Triangle Trip - 2011

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GaryAK, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. GaryAK

    GaryAK Easy Going

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    255
    Location:
    49th State
    No big whoop - just a 3 day Alaskan road tour in our adv riding apprenticeship. Mostly a shake-down ride evaluating our bikes, gear, road strategies, and ourselves. Plus, for those thinking of an Alaskan trip at some point - some pics of the stuff along the route.

    Also special props to Dr. Rock and LDF :super, and many others who have selflessly taken the time to post their ride reports and freely share their knowledge of these adv rides. :clap

    The Route: Anchorage - Tok - Fairbanks - Anchorage, June 28, 29, and 30, 2011, for a total of 942 miles on the clock.

    The Bikes:
    Deb is riding her beloved 2009 Kawasaki Super Sherpa modded and farkled for adv touring, including a Clarke 4.1 gallon gas tank, Denali LED lights as part of our "be seen" strategy, up one tooth on the countershaft sprocket for easier highway speeds, and a sweetcheeks seat widener for comfort.
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    Gary - is riding a 2011 Suzuki Vstrom or Wee - with ABS. Still tweaking the ergos, with risers, lowered footpegs, and sw motech racks and pelican cases. Still waiting for the skid plate and engine guards to come off their back order status. Enough of that, let's ride!
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    Day 1 - Anchorage to Tok, Ak

    Got a late start and didn't leave home until about 12:30pm. We wanted to make it to Tok, which is about a 340 mile trip, and the weather didn't look that great. So for the first hour, we worked our way through Anchorage and made it to Palmer for gas - having left home with low tanks.

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    Once we got past Palmer, the roads thinned out.

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    The weather was a mixed bag - mostly overcast with threats of rain, and occasional sunny breaks.

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    So for a while, we were treated to sunny vistas.

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    Matanuska Glacier in the distance.

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    The wet clouds were getting more brazen - and we knew it was just a matter of time before we would be practicing wet riding and testing our gear. :wink:

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    Found a neat rest area to ourselves for a roadside lunch.

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    Our bubble of good weather and scenery was about to burst - or we would get to test our gear. :lol3

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    Ahh - there is the first rain cell - it only lasted a few miles.

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    Out the other side - no issues.

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    Just to fake us out a bit - there was a promise of dry roads and sunshine for a while.

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    Winter snow plow markers.

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    You can see the cell that nailed us in the back ground.

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    When I first saw this mother of all rain cells - I could swear that I heard Rod Serling talking about the twilight zone. This is the last pic for 40 or so miles - the torrential rain storm ahead kept us busy with visibility issues and trying to ride the high spots of the lanes to avoid hydroplaning. We and the gear made it through fine, except boot leaks. Deb has Thor boots, and I have Sidi Discovery boots. Anyone who would offer insight into dry feet - we're all ears. :ear

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    We made it through Glennallen and out of the rain, and then took the turn off to Tok - and discovered that this would be a 23 mile construction zone - with ball bearing gravel. Oh well, back off on the throttles and keep the weight back.

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    At least no dust, and light traffic. We're just glad to be here.:wings For info - Deb's Mefo Explorer tires did better than my stock Bridgestone Battle Wings.

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    As with all good construction zones - you get to meet the flag person. This one was a sweetie and we chatted with her during our 15 minute wait for the pilot car.

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    The flag lady even took our picture.

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    Once past the construction zone, the next bunch of miles were twisty and dry as we neared Tok.

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    We really liked this part of the ride.

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    Meet inmate maiden.jade from Washington - a really neat lady and now a good friend. She knocked off the trip to Alaska with 400+ mile days - awesome rider.

    We got a TeePee!
    After a great steak sandwhich (sorry, no pics) at Fast Eddy's in Tok (highly recommended) we headed over to a neat motorcycle only camp ground - http://www.thompsonseaglesclaw.com/ - and rented a teepee complete with wooden floor and cots, for $20 (regular tent spots are $10). Although the Eagle's Claw is "off the grid" and does not have any electricity, it was almost whimsical with the various sleeping accommodations - wall tents w/floors & cots, bunkhouses with aviation theme, a retired ambulance set up for sleeping, our teepee, and of course, regular tent spots. It even had a steam room - complimentary of course. There is a place to change oil, maintenance, and even a lift. There was a common area with outhouses, fresh water, and propane burners so that you could wash up with hot water. Probably the only thing missing was wifi - but that can be had in nearby Tok, a mile away.
    We had a blast the next couple of hours socializing with various riders and inmates. Somehow, wine was being supplied, I'm not sure who to thank - but thanks! Met a neat group of GSA riders from Colorado, and Mike from Indiana (also on a GSA), a couple of guys from Anchorage, Ariel from Alaska Moto Quest, and of course, inmate maden.jade from Washington. After a couple hours of perfunctory wisdom exchanges of all things motorcycle, it started to rain, signaling that it was snooze time. Very cool falling asleep to the rain pelting the teepee walls and knowing we wouldn't have to strike a wet tent. We slept the sleep of the dead and got up around 8ish the next morning.

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    Social hour - or two.

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    Inmate maiden.jade's accommodations for the night.

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    The Colorado GSA riders (from Ft. Collins I believe) had a bunkhouse.

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    More wine, more social hour - you get the idea. :D

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    Common area.

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    Deb really dug the teepee. Night Sweetie...:raabia

    Next - Tok to Fairbanks via the Richardson Hwy.
    #1
  2. scottdc

    scottdc Been here awhile

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    Portland, OR
    Wife and I stay at Thompson's Eagleclaw every trip we pass through Tok (which is most of them when you live in AK!), love that place!
    #2
  3. ColininKodiak

    ColininKodiak (not in Kodiak)

    Joined:
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    I stuck the ADV decal over the door in this wall tent last year! First rider of 2010 to stop in to the Eagle Claw:clap
    Cool ride report. I've lived in AK for four years but have only been able to ride it once other than locally on the island. Seeing the pics from your trip is bringing back some vivid memories of one of the best months of my life. Keep them coming!
    #3
  4. Turborob

    Turborob Minimalist.

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    Wodonga, Straya
    Looks good!

    Keep 'em comin!
    #4
  5. maiden.jade

    maiden.jade Been here awhile

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    699
    Location:
    Doha, Qatar
    Hey Gary and Deb, it was great meeting and hanging out with both of you while I was in Anchorage. I'll see you both when I return to Anchorage probably tomorrow or the next day.
    #5
  6. XRWilly

    XRWilly Been here awhile

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    Tampa Area
    I linked in from over on the Serpa Group. Very coolÂ…great report! :clap
    #6
  7. PHILinFRANCE

    PHILinFRANCE Long timer

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    Location:
    S W France my little bit of paradise
    Nice one Gary ......trail by rain :evil looks like a great place .....but it's a long way from France:cry maybe one day, as for DRY FEET take a look at SEALSKINZ water proof sock i"ve had a pair for over two years now and THEY WORK ......boots are soaking in and out but my feet stay DRY and WARM
    Phil
    #7
  8. GaryAK

    GaryAK Easy Going

    Joined:
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    Bonsoir, Phil!

    Thanks for the pointer on the Sealskinz - we'll definitely be searching them out. :thumb

    Gary
    #8
  9. Ks-Rydr

    Ks-Rydr from the land of Toto

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
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    Location:
    Kansas
    Too cool Gary..... Am enjoying your RR, keep it coming. Oh, and the ROMEO's from Kansas say Hi !!!!
    Which clark tank did you fit to the Sherpa ?
    #9
  10. GaryAK

    GaryAK Easy Going

    Joined:
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    KS,

    Thanks - I will. I have two more days and a bunch of miles to post. :wink:

    This is the Clarke tank we used: http://www.justgastanks.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_70_380&products_id=1091 It mounts fine, not perfect, but fine. The front puck slots are the correct diameter as the sherpa, but needed to be a little wider - so I used some furniture leg protectors and some threaded rod. The rear mount can be easily secured using a hose clamp and a plumbing pipe end fitting - just cut a slot for the hose clamp to grab on to, and drill the end cap for the bolt and the tank bolts down fine - mounted on rubber, of course. The only fitting issue was the seat - I fabbed a plate an inch higher for the front seat tab to secure under. Good clearance around the head for airflow - and you can even change the spark plug without having to remove the tank. :clap

    Range-wise, Deb has done 260 miles on the tank and took on 3.6 gallons at the pumps - so depending on how much of the last .5 gallon was usable, there is a theoretical 300 mile max range - although we haven't tested this possibility.

    The ROMEOS? I did a little research and the ROMEOS sound like my kind of crowd. Maybe I am already a ROMEO and am just too far away to attend the dinners. :dg:smile6

    Maybe I can be a ROMEO assigned to the Alaska sector? :thumb

    In any event - my best to the Kansas City ROMEOS! :wave

    Gary
    #10
  11. GaryAK

    GaryAK Easy Going

    Joined:
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    We slept very good through the night and heard the GSA riders start up and leave at 6:30 am. and we dozed back to sleep. Got up at the crack of 8ish and was happy to see it had quit raining. We decided to load the bikes and head to Fast Eddy's in Tok for breakfast. I lubed and checked the chains and then we packed up. A nice bonus was that Ariel (from Alaska Moto Quest) heated up some extra wash-up water for us - thanks Ariel!

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    Starting to stir and get the rolling stock ready for today's miles. Strangely, there were no mosquitos here - I wonder if it has to do with the cool spring/summer we've been having? In fact, never once needed any mosquito dope or head nets.

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    Vstrom chain looked good - lubed that puppy up.

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    This neat trail stand made the job easier. They are here: http://endurostar.com/

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    Ariel was heading over to pick up some adv clients in Tok. Bye Ariel!

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    Here's a cool place to sleep if you stay at this campground.

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    Deb's got the sherpa loaded - let's head to breakfast!

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    To this place - Fast Eddy's - motorcycle friendly and good food.

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    Deb had the home made chicken and rice soup and a croissant sandwich.

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    I had the "light" breakfast. Well, it's considered light in these parts. :wink:

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    Today's ride was mostly dry, but we battled gusty headwinds most of the day. I think we did 225 miles into Fairbanks today and posted the worst gas mileage of the trip.

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    White puffy clouds over an old forest fire burn area. Looked like it was starting to come back, though.

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    The sun came out and it was getting downright hot. Turned off our heated gear at this point.

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    These mostly empty roads were a blast as we headed toward Delta Junction.

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    An observation - only saw 3 or 4 trucks all day and they were fuel tanker trucks, presumably to service the gas stations along this route. Must not be a regular truck route like the Glenn and Parks highways.

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    Break time and some shade.

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    Nice twisty roads kept the fun factor high.

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    Birch Lake. They have a neat military recreation site here.

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    The miles slid by and we picked up some rain as we were entering North Pole, Alaska. How did we know? (read on :D)

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    Because Santa was there to greet us. :lol3

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    And there's his house.

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    We rolled into Fairbanks around 5ish - just in time for rush hour traffic, so I had to put the camera away while we worked our way to the dorm housing at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks.

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    Here's where we stayed tonight - got a double dorm room at the university. This option is available to traveling motorcyclists between mid May and Mid August, reasonably priced at $39 for a single room or $46 for a double room (especially when you can easily pay over a hundred for a fleabag hotel in Fairbanks during the summer tourist season). More info here: http://www.uaf.edu/guesthousing/reservations/guest-reservation-form/ As a public service announcement, I'm told that more than 300 adv'ers stayed at this dorm housing in the summer of 2010 - if you stay here, please follow the rules, don't be weird, don't steal the towels, be a model citizen, and do not screw up this good deal for everyone else. :deal Seriously, this is an awesome nirvana in a sea of fleabags waiting to separate us riders from our money. :ricky

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    Our room - we liked it a lot considering it rained all night like the proverbial cow urinating on a flat rock. Warm, dry, safe, and quiet - what's not to like?

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    More of the accommodations - just down the hall are clean bathrooms and showers. Also - laundry, day room with a tv, and computers are available to guests.

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    As the day wore on, more bikes showed up.

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    Then we spot a familiar bike - we met the rider last night at Eagle's Claw campground in Tok - it belonged to Mike from Indiana.

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    We soon ran into Mike and we all headed over to the campus cafeteria for dinner. Of course, during dinner, it began raining hard and we got drenched heading back to the dorms.

    We were in bed and asleep by 9, and got a good 8 hours of sleep. Up at 6 am. and the three of us strolled over to the cafeteria for breakfast, chowed down and started loading up the bikes. It was still raining - today would be wet riding for awhile.

    Next up - Fairbanks to Anchorage.
    #11
  12. GaryAK

    GaryAK Easy Going

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    255
    Location:
    49th State
    It rained hard all night - was glad to be tucked away in a dorm room. Up at 6 am. and met Mike, and we all went to the cafeteria for breakfast. We would drive the 367 miles to Anchorage today.

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    Time to load the bikes in the liquid sunshine.

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    Mike loading up - he was heading to Deadhorse today.

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    We all three drove to a nearby gas station, fueled up, and said our goodbyes - Mike, it was a real pleasure meeting & hanging out with you.

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    The next 40 miles were in the rain, as a result, not many pics.

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    The rain let up as we approached Nenana.

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    Yep - we were digging it.

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    The rain had quit and a slight promise of better weather.

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    Another construction stop.

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    The roads were a bit bumpy through this section.

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    Entering the mountains.

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    Oddly enough, the sign was right - we bucked headwinds most of the way to Anchorage.

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    Occasional sun splotches.

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    Break in Cantwell.

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    Another break, we're only about 120 miles from home at this point.

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    Finally, some blue skies just North of the Big Susitna River.

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    Passing Eagle River - almost home.

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    Rush hour traffic the rest of the way home.

    Enjoyable trip - thanks for coming along. :thumb
    :clap
    #12
  13. Bravo21

    Bravo21 Been here awhile

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    Spokane, WA
    Awesome trip report, Gary. Thanks for posting all the pictures! Would love to ride to Alaska some day.:nod

    Dave (aka SpokaneSherpa)
    #13
  14. MNGeezer

    MNGeezer n00b

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    #14
  15. GaryAK

    GaryAK Easy Going

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Geez,

    Many thanks!

    One of the travelers that we met - Mike - was using these on our trip - we'll have to get these and some Sealskinz ordered.
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    Appreciate! :thumb

    Gary
    #15
  16. ridingAK

    ridingAK On the Road Less Taken...

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
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    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    Has Deb tried the Tourmaster Solution 2.0 boot? I have ridden in daylong downpours with these boots and my feet stayed dry throughout. I see that they are temporarily out of stock on the Tourmaster site, but I seem to remember seeing them available and discounted through MotorcycleGear.com (NewEnough) within the last week.
    #16
  17. arwenalaska

    arwenalaska swimmin' the lacunae

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
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    BearyWoods
    Thanks for the tip on your boots. I had not heard of them, and will check them out. Waterproof boots are essential gear!
    deb
    #17
  18. gus1911

    gus1911 Team F5

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2008
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    Virtual Bivouac
    Nice RR! Thanks for sharing.
    #18
  19. Skinny Moose

    Skinny Moose Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
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    98
    Location:
    Wasilla Alaska
    Nice pics, the wife and I are going on a similar trip in a couple weeks. I`ll think we`ll visit Chena Hot springs when we`re around Fairbanks. I`ve never stayed at the Dorms, maybe we`ll give that a shot...cheers...Mike:D
    #19
  20. maiden.jade

    maiden.jade Been here awhile

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    Doha, Qatar
    Hi Deb, greetings from Beijing, where I'm yet to see the blue sky. :lol3 No, it's not raining, just very, very hazy all day long.

    I had the Sidi Jasmine rain boots on throughout my trip. My feet stayed dry all the time. Living proof. :wink:
    #20