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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by DYNOBOB, Oct 10, 2016.
Friday Sept 16 - Sunday Sept 18. Etherington to Home. 2306 miles.
You may recall me mentioning at Dawson City that we'd need to average 470 miles a day the last 9 days to get home. You may also have noticed that there have been quite a few days since that we haven't done 470 miles. Now it's time to pay the piper... I intended to keep riding the bike down to Waterton Lakes and the east side of Glacier NP before loading up and jumping over to I-15. However, I can see the math isn't working and it's time to load the bikes and turn and burn. Sadly, the Wing goes on the trailer and we settle into distance mode. In hindsight, I wish we would have gone south from Longview toward Waterton Lakes before dodging over to I-15. That route runs much closer to the Rockies and is a lot prettier drive with fewer big towns (we did it in '13).
After driving 525 miles Friday we decided to get a proper rest/shower before the remaining 30 hour push. We found a neat little campground in Three Forks, MT and slept well.
With 1800 miles to go we got going early Saturday morning and arrived home safely Sunday evening. Amazingly, we didn't see a drop of rain since we left Valdez 13 days ago. I somehow remembered to snap the truck odo at the beginning and end. With 5% speedo error (bigger tires) = 11,853 miles.
That's one dirty truck!
I'll be back with a trip summary/thoughts post.
we too have trailered our bikes so we can ride more and not just boring highway.... we also can "team drive" the cage and we routinely crank out 700+ miles a day, while one sleeps the other drives... probably going to do that for next year's vacation in Colorado. It works because if you only have two weeks of vacation you want to get where you want to ride quickly and then be able to quickly return home when the hour glass runs out and you have to return to the job to earn your pay. Really like the photographs in your RR!!!!!
Well, I just spent most of this afternoon reading and taking in all of your great pics. I've been to AK 3 times on motorcycles and have seen a lot of what you have viewed. I want to do it one more time by myself this time. Maybe 2017 or 18.
It was nice to see AK Rider again, (your looking good Jack!)
You guys really did a nice job on your ride report and I'm a little envious of having a camper to stay in. Those motels along the way get really expensive and most of them don't even rate 1 star.
My main reason for going back one more time is: On my last trip I picked up a book called Klondike Fever by Pierre Berton. It's a must read!! I want to mainly go back to Dawson City and read it again while I'm there.
Thanks for sharing your trip.
Ready to do it again?
One of the best RR's I have seen posted. Congratulations on a great trip and thank you for your wonderful telling of the story!
Very well done DynoBob.....you have many "wallhanger" photos here and I really enjoyed reading your ride report. I wish I could interest my son to share such an adventure as you and your Dad have done....but I can't even get him interested in even sitting on a motorcycle much less ride one from Vermont to Alaska and back.
Some of the best photos I've seen on Adv.. Job well done, thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
Yep, trailering buys you precious time for better quality riding. If you live west of the Mississippi it's prob not as big a deal and if you're running solo w/ no second driver you're going to have to stop anyway. Having ridden to Key West and back, I do see the attraction to doing the whole thing by bike though.
Absolutely ready to do it again. I feel the temptation of a used 2014- Tenere w/ cruise and would do the whole thing on bike.
Thanks for the heads-up on Klondike Fever, just ordered it! I'll meet you at the Yukon River Campground and we can kick back for a week and read .
Okie, Thanks for your comments and for following along.
Honored that your first post was here Allen. Glad you enjoyed it and welcome to the forum!
Thanks Dan. That so many have enjoyed taking the trip with us makes the time writing it worthwhile.
Thank you for sharing your adventure. Your pictures were truly wonderful and amazing. Great Job.
great pictures & RR!
Fantastic trip with beautiful roads, and perhaps the most stunning and impressive photography of any Alaska trip that I've seen posted. What camera were you using - the image quality is very nice!
90% were my Sony A7/10% were Dad's A7. What I've put in the report is maybe 15% of what we took - I rely on the blind squirrel method of photography...
Bear with me please, I'm almost done with my summary post.
Some random thoughts/advise about the trip...
- First, I have to thank all of the AdvRider members who have taken time to share their AK trip over the last several years. I can say with near certainty that our trip never would have happened without the info and increased "comfort level" your ride reports gave me. I bought The Milepost 14 years ago, so that tells you how long it's been on my mind. Hopefully our report reduces the "unknown" and causes a few of you to pull the trigger on this amazing trip.
- I don't want to deceive with pictures of blue skies and beautiful roads - this is a long, long ride. You often hear "it's about the trip, not the destination", and while Alaska is certainly about the destination, you had better derive enjoyment from just being on your bike and grinding out miles. The romance of "riding to Alaska" may wear off when those long mile days start to add up. Add in being cold and wet with hundreds of miles still ahead of you, a flat tire, or wondering if you'll make it on fuel, because that will likely be reality at some point. I have thought to myself a few times - what's wrong with me that I enjoy this?
- Regarding the Dalton Highway: The best piece of advise I read somewhere was to slow down (way down) and pull right for approaching semis. If you do this, 90% of them slow down and you don't get a gravel shower. If you keep the hammer down, they keep the hammer down. The only damage we sustained was a small rock chip on the truck windshield. I rode in the dry and in the rain but never found the Dalton slippery or treacherous (granted I was on knobbies). Except for the last 30 miles of construction entering Deadhorse, I could have ridden it on the Wing. Not suggesting it would have been fun, but it could have been done. If you find yourself in Fairbanks, I'd at least ride up to the Arctic Circle sign. You could do that in one day.
- Clothing: Merino wool base layers - they rock! They're naturally anti-microbial, don't get stinky, insulate when wet, and never really feel damp against your skin even if you're sweating. I had two short sleeve/two long sleeve Ts and a lightweight zip neck. Two pairs of lightweight travel pants, lightweight merino long johns (wore them 2 days), 4pr of wool blend socks, 4pr underwear. The reality is, we only got a shower every 2-3 days and wore our outer clothes for a week usually. We did laundry twice on the trip.
- Riding gear: A heated jacket serves as a layer, a jacket, and when it gets cold you turn it on. To me they're a piece of safety gear and you don't need to wear 5 layers and look like the Michelin Man. The most I had on in 40deg temps was 2 thin wool layers, heated jacket, outer jacket. If it looked like all day rain or 30s I'd add my long john bottoms and rain jacket. I'm obviously a fan of Aerostich stuff, the 1 piece Roadcrafter was perfect for this trip. A cheap rain jacket over it will keep you dry in the worst rain/dirty spray the Dalton can offer. Aerostich 3 finger rain gloves are the best of anything I've tried at keeping my hands dry in a day of pouring rain.
- Tools, etc: Have what you need to fix a flat and know how to use it. If you're going to Prudhoe or Inuvik, carry an air pump and maybe a backup way (CO2?) to inflate (two guns is one, one is none...). Help will not be close at hand on those two roads and everywhere else feels like civilization by comparison. Even so, your ability to perform a repair may prevent lost days for the trip no matter where you are. Know the weaknesses of your machine and be prepared. I carry a #4 injector line, spare alternator, voltage reg, fuel filter, and serpentine belt for the truck. The box of Husky parts has an ECU, fuel pump, coil, crank sensor, oil/air filt, TPS, masterlink, sparkplug, brake pads, wheel bearings, etc. I've never needed any of them, but it is a euro bike. No spares for the Wing...although I did find a loose muffler bolt after the trip to McCarthy. The one misstep I made in preparation was not investing in larger mud flaps for the truck, my paint paid the price in a few areas.
- Fuel: If you have 200 mile range you be fine everywhere except the Dalton, there you'll want 275 to be safe. We had 6gals of diesel and 1gal of gas in the trailer cargo box, I used the gas once and that could have been avoided.
- The mental game: Avoid the avoidable problems. 1. Look after yourself. Eat right, drink plenty, carry snacks - your judgment and reaction time are important. 2. Look after the machine. Don't beat it to death with an unnecessarily fast pace. I often catch and remind myself to "slow down to speed up". 4000 miles from home is not where you want to get yourself a broken collarbone because you overcooked a corner. We had two very close calls on the trip. On the first day from home I nearly hit a mule deer going 70mph on I-80 as it started to get dark. Critters had just crossed my mind and I'd taken the cruise off of 73 but it still took all the brakes I had not to hit it (Dad nearly ended up in the floorboard as he was asleep). At a photo stop along the Turnigan Arm, Dad didn't see a RV coming at 50mph and pulled out. The RV evaded but my truck mirror put a 10ft black stripe down the side of the RV. Amazingly it rubbed off and the mirror was fine. Whew...
- I don't have 4 weeks to do this trip, what do I prioritize?: If you're riding a bike from the mid-west it's going to take a week to and a week from the AK state line. The good news there is, once you hit the Icefields, Cassiar, and Alaska Hwy you're on great roads. In Alaska I'd prioritize the ride to Seward, the ride to Valdez, the Denali Hwy, and the Arctic Circle sign. If you have a day to spare at the end, use the Top of the World to exit the state. That should make the trip doable in ~3 weeks. Alternatively, you could do a fly and ride into Anchorage, spend 12 days riding the state, and do it in two weeks.
- I want to do Alaska with my spouse and not drive there: IMO, forget doing a cruise, you're locked into their schedule regardless of weather. Fly into Anchorage and rent a modest size RV or a car/SUV. Remember, the weather calls the shots so watch the forecast as you arrive and if Denali is clear go there first. If not, go south to Seward first. When you return to Anchorage from Seward look at the weather and decide on Denali or Valdez. You see the pattern here. The three things I really recommend are the drive to Seward, to Valdez, and to Denali. If time permits add Fairbanks/Arctic Circle sign and McCarthy. If you want to see the calving glaciers and killer whales take a day cruise from Seward or Valdez. Again, if you're calling the shots on your itinerary you can choose to do this on a nice day. If you do an RV you can really slow down, have lunch, and stay wherever you want. Rental rates drop in Sept, I'm told that a late model 27' Minnie Winnie can be had for about the cost of a hotel room. A car/SUV is not a bad option though and there are plenty of cool places to stay. A SUV would make doing the Denali Hwy, McCarthy, and the Arctic Circle sign easier.
- Trip timing and the weather: I wouldn't change how we did it. Early September has less rain, less mosquitoes, and less tourists.
- Read Jack's (Alcan Rider) primers on Alaska travel and try to connect with him on the trip. I contacted him a year before we took the trip to bounce some questions off him.
That's all I got for now, RIDE ON!
Once again, great pics and report. We appreciate all the work it took to create it.
A great ending to a superb trip and trip report. Many thanks.
great pics & report, excellent observations/advice!
When is your next trip and RR? Enjoyed following along. Quite the different weather than my my month's trip to Alaska this past April/May.
Great report and great advice in post #173.