Dear God No, Not another Alaska Ride Report: Los Angeles to Alaska 2019

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AllSeasonRider, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    We’re nearing the end of another Alaska riding season, and despite being unsure of what value I could possibly add to the already broad selection of Alaska ride reports, I’ll go ahead and throw my keys in the basket.

    But first, why would anyone choose to ride to Alaska? It’s cold, it’s wet, and it’s, like, really far. There are blood-sucking mosquitoes, wildfires in all directions, and it’s a toss-up whether you’re more likely to be mauled by a grizzly or shot and set aflame by serial killers. (BTW – I’m terrified of bears.)

    Not to mention, all of the cool kids are making this trip and, just like eating Tide pods, that alone makes me less interested.

    But at the end of the day, Alaska holds a certain rite of passage that can’t be ignored.

    Well, that, and I’ve crossed the continent East/West four times already and it’s getting a bit old hat. I tossed a coin and it came up Mexico but my wife said no way (no bears in Mexico, hun, just sayin’), so northbound it is.

    I decided to go for Alaska 4 years ago. Between waiting for the Tuk road to open and some major life events sprinkled in, it’s been a long time coming.

    Turns out the wait is just what I needed. I’d been keeping up on the progress of the Road to Tuk, I’ve been reading ride reports to figure out what to see along the way and how to get there, and I’ve been brushing up on my bear fighting skills. Most importantly, I was stoking my excitement in a way that only rabid consumerism can – new gear, new parts, and a new bike!

    Now I’m ready… mostly… I think… I decided from the start to be as flexible as possible for this trip, and that means I’m running solo and self-sufficient. It also means I don’t have a single reservation booked anywhere. We’ll see how well that goes…

    Of course, “as flexible as possible” comes with but a single caveat: I’m a working stiff and will burn up every day of vacation I have to do this trip. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will only be scratching the surface of the places I see given my allotted time frame, but that’s just the sad reality of the gainfully employed. The slow-down-and-smell-the-roses crowd has been heard, but I’m faced with the dilemma of doing this trip in only 3 weeks or not doing it at all.

    So with that, here’s the plan:
    Step 1) Ride North until I can’t go any further.
    Step 2) Ride West until I can’t go any further.
    Step 3) Ride South until I can’t go any further.
    Step 4) Go home.

    Sleep here and there, eat once in a while, take a few photos, don’t get attacked by a bear. All steps are optional and can be completed in any order. Excepting Step 4… and the bear thing.

    Lift off in a week!
    #1
  2. Lucky Explorer

    Lucky Explorer Traveled the world

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    343
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    Northern Arizona, usa
    I loved this and can't stop laughing. Off to a great start. My wife and I have traveled across all continents by moto, some several times. Been to Alaska 3 times and have a 4th planned. And we ride a 1190. When asked about our favorites, Alaska is always number 1. Every trip up there from Flagstaff is the greatest scenery. And that rain potential? '79 was snow, '07 was solid rain, '13 was 8 hours rain max so you never know. All were 30+ days. So go, enjoy , and let us all know of the fun,
    Allen
    #2
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  3. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    How's this for a great start? Took the 1090 to lunch today and saw this:
    20190802_161859.jpg
    That tank is a third full.

    This is the fuel float. In fuel. Not floating.
    20190802_170026.jpg

    I've got a good dealer a couple miles away and they can get me a new fuel sender before I leave, so there's that. My concern is it seems you've got two options with these KTM fuel senders:
    1) Leave them alone and they'll get stuck on full, or
    2) Sand the float down a little so it doesn't get stuck, but then the float gets gas logged, sinks, and gets stuck on empty.

    It's a new part number coming, so here's to hoping it's good out of the box!
    #3
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  4. TropicalDale

    TropicalDale The Adventures of Peter Pan

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    Cleveland,Ohio
    :lurk
    #4
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  5. Davethestick

    Davethestick Been here awhile

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    Agoura Hills CA
    :clap
    #5
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  6. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    I've gone back and forth over whether to post a map or not. After all, there's only so many roads up there and everyone's route ends up looking similar.

    But hey, who doesn't love a good map?!
    AK trip map.jpg

    Here's the rough plan - Escape from L.A. and beat feet north. Take the Cassiar up, stop in Hyder if it makes sense, visit some lakes on the way up and stage myself in Dawson City. If there's a hole in the weather, I make the run to Tuk. If not, I head west into AK to Denali, then south to either Homer, Valdez, or both. Back east and attempt Tuk if I missed it the first time, see Haines, stop at Laird Hot Springs, Banff, Glacier, Lolo, Death Valley and back home. Of course, it will all be dictated by weather and road conditions, along with the condition of my body. And by that, I mean it will depend if I'm bleeding out from a bear attack or not.

    Then here's the mode of transport:
    1090 ready.jpg

    Excepting the fuel sender snafu above, it's finally ready (so as to say, it's not ready, yet). Today I washed and waxed it for some reason, adjusted, cleaned and lubed the chain, cleaned and oiled the airbox prefilters, and generally stared in amazement at how it's never looked this clean since the day I brought it home. I'll fix that soon enough!

    Bike prep has been a long road. Aside from the typical and required new bike farkeling (skid plate, bark busters, etc), I've also added @PowerCell cruise control and air filters, @Perun side luggage racks with Wolfman rollies, and I've got a Giant Loop Great Basin and tank bag, and an old Givi top case for luggage. It all looks something like this packed and ready, a la DV n00bs Rally 2019:
    packed1090.jpg

    Getting ready for this trip over the last couple of weeks had me replacing the chain and sprockets and the chain slider, adding a Nemo chain oiler, changing the oil and filter, servicing the air filters, installing new Motoz Tractionator GPS tires, and replacing the fuel filters.

    I'm tired.
    #6
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  7. RokLobster

    RokLobster Far from sanity

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    Location:
    Mill Creek WA - Land of perpetual wet
    :lurk
    #7
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  8. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
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    Burbank CA
    Not to be missed!

    Great start. Enjoy and we’ll keep you company.
    #8
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  9. Retired 18Z

    Retired 18Z Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2019
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    Clarion, PA
    Looking at the trip, I can't imagine there are many bikes better suited for the combination of asphalt and mud/gravel. I'm interested in your impressions of the bike, the tires (or tyres) and gear you take on the trip. What camera(s) are you taking?
    #9
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  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
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    471
    Not saying it can’t be done, but 9,500 miles in three weeks is a marathon. I am a working stiff too and did 6,900 to Alaska and back in three weeks this June with short days (200 miles) while in Alaska.

    If you catch rain days on the way up, you are going to miss the scenery- and there is some epic landscapes- but you won’t get a chance to see them on the return with your route.

    I deliberately skipped Glacier, Banff, and Jasper and saved them for another trip. Glad I did.

    I had four rain days out of twenty but they were all day long biblical downpours - mostly with 40-60F temperatures. Five hundred mile days are tough in those conditions.

    Not trying to be a Downer - it is your ride. Ran into quite a few riders from SoCal. The rain and cold were tough on them. Just providing info.

    Look forward to following your RR.
    #10
  11. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    The bike has been great so far, but this will be the first test of a long trip (only day rides and weekends so far).

    I've used a set of Motoz RallZ and have been really happy with them. The GPSs feel rock solid, but I've got all of 10 miles on them. Hoping they'll last the entire trip!

    Camera is a Canon G7X II. I used to to the DSLR thing, but it was just way too bulky.
    #11
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  12. AwDang

    AwDang Long timer

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    Gotta agree! 9500mi is only 10-12 days, why all the extra padding? Budgeting evac and ER time from the bear attack?
    #12
  13. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
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    Canada
    Did similar run last August;15,000km in 18 days. Did Tuk and Deadhorse as well. My 1090 was fine only 2 rear tire and an oil change in Fairbanks
    .
    #13
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  14. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    All fair enough, the schedule is decidedly aggressive.

    I'm planning on knocking out 1 or 2 big mile days right at the start and will bring the average for the rest of the trip down to ~350 miles per day. I've used this tactic before with good results (see my Coast to Coast 2015 link in my signature).

    And that was on a Ducati Monster... the big Katoom with cruise control should munch miles more betterer.

    All this said, I'm anticipating needing to make some decisions along the way on what to skip. I'd like to avoid skipping Banff, Jasper and Glacier as they've been on the list for longer than Alaska has been.

    The rain does slow things down, but I'm not a SoCal native and have done a lot of rain riding in the past.
    #14
  15. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    Don't be silly - they don't send bears to the ER.
    #15
  16. AwDang

    AwDang Long timer

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    121 miles from Tellico Plains
    The only input I have on your trip is, make an effort to get to Tuk.
    #16
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  17. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    Tuk is numero uno for this trip.
    #17
  18. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    What made this month and next your choice to do the trip? Weather?

    I would love to do the same.
    #18
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  19. middleage crazy

    middleage crazy When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

    Joined:
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    :lurk
    #19
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  20. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    Hey Joel - There were a few things for consideration:
    1) At the advice of @Alcan Rider , it was suggested that the road to Tuk would be more reliably passable later in the season. The riders attempting to the trip in June of last year had a hell of a time.
    2) I kind of wanted to avoid the crowds associated with the D2D event.
    3) I've seen photos of the place when the leaves start to change - I've no idea if I'll see them, but I'm not willing to push it any later.
    4) The extra 2 months gave me time to earn a couple more vacation days at work, which means less unpaid time off.
    5) The bears, hopefully, have already had their fill of Yankee tourists.
    #20
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