How much planning needed for Alaska, really?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by NumberCruncher, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. NumberCruncher

    NumberCruncher Long timer

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    I am so disappointed in myself.

    I left Tuesday after Memorial Day and returned home Thursday morning. I have always had issues with self-confidence and got hit hard by self doubt when I woke up at 1:00 in the morning on Thursday and could not fall back asleep. My overactive vivid imagination had me paranoid I would get leg cramps and be unable to continue. It sounds lame I know but that fear of something like that happening had me turn around. Ironically, I had no concerns about flat tires or other mechanical issues as my bike is in tip top shape and I am comfortable changing tires by hand. I was also not worried about hitting a car or animal. As riders, we live with these last two items every time we ride. And given how light traffic was, I found myself more relaxed than on just about any other ride. If I had to guess what triggered this sudden and sever lack of self confidence I'd blame the adrenaline come-down. Tuesday when I left my spirits were high but I was anxious as well. I breezed right through customs and had a great first night at Fairmont Hot Springs. The next day I made it to Kootenai Park and the scenery was just starting to get awesome. I didn't care for Banff all that much as it was too touristy but I filled up with gas and had lunch to say I did. I rode to Lake Louise and stopped for an early night. By now the adrenaline was starting to subside and I think a person has a "low" after the "high" and it was at this low point that I chickened out. I so wish I could have just gotten on my bike and headed north convinced that once my system returned to normal I would have been okay.

    So my planning was not to fault, just a sudden lack of confidence which I have struggled with all my life. Even more ironic is that while am contemplating a drive in my CX-5 this Wednesday I am more concerned about flat tires as I have four tires that can go flat and only one spare. How ironic is it that a person feels safer and confident on a bike while exposed to the elements than in a car when isolated from them? I may just head back out on the bike Wednesday with the intent of riding the ice fields parkway and heading back. If I feel up to it, I'll have all my gear and can continue on. Not sure what else to do.

    So when you plan your trip to Alaska or other grand adventure, make sure to pack self confidence with you.

    NC

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    #61
  2. banjobart

    banjobart Been here awhile

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    I do not plan too much, just a bit. I leave on road trip to AK number five on Saturday. Never had a problem, other than falling down and breaking bones, that was not planned
    #62
  3. banjobart

    banjobart Been here awhile

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    The most useful purpose of the Milepost is for toilet paper.
    #63
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  4. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    In the car The Milepost gave the kids something to look at and gauge our progress by, sometimes they made suggestions about where we should camp at the end of the day. Made them feel like they were navigators.

    Number Cruncher, Don't beat yourself up. Stuff like that happens. Ride your ride, live your life. Perhaps this just wasn't the right year for that trip for you.

    JathkaJoe, hopefully departing 6-20 for a ride home.
    #64
  5. FLARider1

    FLARider1 Long timer

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    Honestly not much planning is needed as most of indicated. The planning I did for 2011 and my trip on June 30 this year is really around the route I wanna take to get the best bang for the buck and setting up a daily itenerary to keep me mostly on track. Both my trips are up there are Key West Florida to Prudhoe Bay and back to Key West, I live in Homestead Florida. So with only with only a total of 32 days off and because I can get easily distracted on journeys, I have a daily plan of places to be each day..........however no hotel reservations or such to lock me into a set place on a set day. Mastery is very correct, fuel/food/lodging are not hard to find, although they can be pricey. Fuel can be spotty, but just pay attention to your level and consumption and when you get to remote areas, don't pass up an open and pumping gas station!! 2011 was first real camping trip on a bike for me, so lots of gear research for the basics, but sounds like you got that set already. This years trip has been looking at ways to reduce weight and size. For me, the planning/research aspect of it kills the time from when you commit to the trip till you actually get on the bike and roll.

    So bottom line, put together a route, a time line that works for your time frame to do the trip, be ready to camp or hotel, be able to do basic maintenance on the bike on the trip, have yourself and the bike ready for a long trip.......then kickstand up and roll!!
    #65
  6. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Not knowing all your circumstances, what follows is nothing more than speculation and I could be totally off base. But... if it were me, I would have by-passed all the spectacular scenery at the beginning of the ride (after all, that is close enough to home to hit in a long weekend) and put some miles behind me right away. That way, you realize you are on a trip from the start. The distance you managed in your first two days was just a little over what you could have done on the first day before a lunch stop had you gotten an early morning start. By concentrating on riding you could have made it to either Prince George (if you were going to take the Cassiar Hwy) or Hinton (if you took the scenic route through the Kootenays and Banff/Jasper) without undue strain. Starting out the next morning from either of those points, you would know that the day previous you had successfully completed a decent number of miles and could look forward to a repeat performance your second day.

    On a round trip with a specific destination, where you will be backtracking a good portion of the overall distance, it usually pays to aim for getting to that destination in a little under half of your allotted trip time. That allows you to make the detours to see interesting sights on your return leg. By that time you are generally ready to slow down a bit and "smell the roses". You also will, by that time, have a routine established that allows for more efficient travel each day, giving you more leisure time en route.
    #66
  7. fozrunner

    fozrunner Been here awhile

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    I'm not sure, but it sounds like you may be more comfortable riding with someone to share the experience. After travelling all over the place (albeit not by motorbike) , I've found the most worthwhile experiences I have had, have been with someone to share it with. Being in an awesome place by myself is interesting, but just not as much fun. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" If I'm there and hear it, who cares? If a buddy and I hear it smash through the canopy, make a thunderous impact and smash into a million splinters, well that story lives on!

    Just a thought, next time perhaps put some feelers out. Some inmates might join you for all or part of the ride.
    #67
  8. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    I enjoy trip planning and preparation. Its my winter hobby.
    #68
  9. NumberCruncher

    NumberCruncher Long timer

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    Looking back this was definitely an issue. I realize I should have just made big miles on day 1 for all the reasons you mentioned. On the interstates, I have a rule to put 250 to 300 miles in before lunch. This makes a 500 mile day doable if tiring.

    For as many times as I relearn hindsight is 20-20, I still cannot foresee future events where this will happen yet again. Hope this makes sense.

    NC


    #69
  10. dravnx

    dravnx Been here awhile

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    Sounds like you need to learn how to get out of your head and more into the moment.
    #70
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  11. statsman

    statsman Long timer

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    The important point is that this ride was out of your comfort zone.
    You did the right thing.
    #71
  12. Higherhawk

    Higherhawk Still a n00b

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    Hey #Cruncher, I can sympathize with your post at the top of the page. I've been riding for about six years now and even in that time I've only a paltry number of miles under my belt, especially when compared to some of these other fellas that have posted above. I'm in my lower 30s, fresh out of ten years in the Service and have found myself with lots of time on my hands while awaiting that next step in my life. So a trip to Alaska is on the books, departing 6/15. I've been planning and planning for at least 6 months, off and on. At the beginning of May I set off on a trip from San Diego to Houston on the back of my bike to visit family for Mother's Day and my Grandmother's 95th b-day. The trip was designed to give me a chance to put long miles on the bike and experience, as near as I could manage at the time, what many thousands of miles are supposed to be like when I head up north.

    I will tell you, those approximately 2000 miles to Houston were not fun. My four days equaled long days in the saddle, my body wasn't acclimated to that kind of travel as I'd never ridden anything close to that long before. I was plagued by nervousness and discomfort. "I could get hit by a car out here and die, instantly," "My butt is sore, and my hands are numb," "What was that sound? Was that the engine/chain/tires/etc?" "What happens if the bike breaks down out here in the middle of no where?" "Where am I going to camp?" "What happens if the sites are all full? :rofl" (that last one makes me laugh now, but its what I was thinking at the time). All of these were questions I asked myself. Couple them with the very big questions about my new un-employment and my future that I had going on in my head, that trip was pure misery. Everything had me on edge.

    I spent hours talking to only myself. Partially because I'm a few cards short of a full deck but really it was a constant pep-talk that helped me think through my concerns. I don't necessarily recommend it because people look at you funny, but it worked for me. My return trip was so much better. I was more comfortable with and on my machine (F700GS). It performed flawlessly and my anal-retentive attention to its mechanical details only helped it do so. I lengthened my return trip and shortened the daily miles. I'm not an Iron Butt guy. Figured that out and in doing that enjoyed the trip more. And finally, by that point, I had my own worries better sorted out and enjoyed the ride more. I stopped and took pictures and (shock of all shocks) I still made it to the camp site with hours of daylight to spare. You couldn't have convinced me to do that a week earlier.

    When I got back to San Diego, almost 3 weeks later, and reviewed my Alaska plan I realized that I was no longer concerned about the route and where I would camp or get fuel. Between the caution I used with my fuel tank and the rotopax on the back I know the bike can get to places up north. I'm not making light of anyone's concerns but when I got home I realized that all I wanted to do was stop planning and just get back on the road. I was amazed at how much everything else just stopped being a bother and the outside world just went away. I think Alcan Rider, FLRider1, and fozrunner all have great points. And I think anyone planning the trip should read the stuff they and others like them post so you iron out the surprises before they happen. But I think all of us that don't do this kinda thing over-plan to an extreme. But I also think those that have been doing this a while forget how they might have been when they started OR that the sport didn't even exist when they started and THEY were the pioneers, making it up as they went (thanks guys :thumb) You do the best you can and learn from your mistakes. Take your recent trip and learn from it. You'll know what psychological ticks you have and how to better deal with them. In the end we all probably just need to get on the bikes and ride anyway.

    I know its a novel but I wrote all of the above to hopefully let ya know you aren't alone in worrying on the road and give you someone to laugh at. Get back on the bike and just go bud. Best of luck. -Ben
    #72
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  13. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way... Supporter

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    At first read, I agreed with this post. Then I thought about it further.

    Safety wasn't an issue for the OP. So he wasn't going to get hurt by continuing on. However he delayed an opportunity for personal growth. Which is ok too, except he didn't give himself a fair chance to overcome his discomforts and fears and fulfill his dream.

    It appears to me the OP has a passion for adventure, for bikes, for this kind of experience. He admitted up front this was new territory for him (psychologically). We've all been there and most of us feel excited for him, because we've been in this exact position before. I will say right now that I am a HUGE fan of him getting right back on that bike and confronting his fears. Conquer that shit!! I'm here as his CHEERLEADER to get to it!!!

    Doing this trip will change his life. As he grows and gains confidence, his world will open up more and more. This adventure will teach him more about who he is and how he handles himself in the face of adversity, loneliness, bad weather, broken parts, low fuel, bull moose, inattentive truck drivers and on and on and on. And if he's really lucky . . . he'll have a flat tire or two along the way, in the rain, and the mud. And he'll have stories to tell his grandkids. GOOD stories. He will walk a little taller when he gets back. And that change will likely touch many other facets of his daily life.

    Nope, he didn't do the right thing. He robbed himself of a thousand new memories. But note please I'm not calling this a failure. It is a setback! And we all have them. And there's no shame in it. But I IMPLORE him to walk back out to the garage and get on that thing, hit the red button and twist it wide open.

    DO IT! and come back and share your pics with us. And your stories with us. Gush all over the pages here with your STOKE and your pride and your mishaps and successes.

    You've got this, buddy. I know you do.

    Disclaimer - sorry if it sounds a little phsycobabbly. It's what I'd straight up tell you if we were in the garage, drinking beer and looking at our awesome bikes.
    #73
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  14. statsman

    statsman Long timer

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    I have embarked on rides of thousands of miles and have completed almost all of them.
    But I am always governed by the three strike rule.
    If three major things go wrong, turn around and head home.
    #74
  15. boatpuller

    boatpuller Long timer

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    Awesome post.

    Awesomer post.

    You guys are the buds I'd want with me when trying something I was nervous about successfully doing.


    Thought occurred while reading the recent posts here: Planning is something fun to do when you are not riding. But really, after you've dialed in your cycle and your gear, and embraced an "I'll adapt" attitude, you really don't need much more than to hop on the bike and go. After doing one big trip, you're easily ready for the next one. A few years ago I did a 12,000 mile USA-4-Corners Tour. Planned two years for it when I should have been working. Had the cycle dialed in for me, safety equipment stowed, plans for contingencies, new gear bought, etc etc etc. 2000 miles into it I stayed with a man who'd done this trip before. My being there must have kindled his urge to ride it again, as he was ready to hop on his bike and ride along with me. His wife's upcoming surgery stopped him, but he would have been ready on just a few hours prep to do something I'd spent two years planning. Now I'm in his position, where the bike and gear are ready to cross the country anytime a good reason presents itself. And that's a very cool position to be in.
    #75
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  16. Qwiller

    Qwiller n00b

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    #76
  17. Qwiller

    Qwiller n00b

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    Thought about it overnight before replying, as someone who has grown up in a small town up here (<750) we watch out for each other because we have to. Adventures are not supposed to be easy or for everyone. We respect someone who plans for the worst and takes informed risks. If you come up here to play with Bears (Treadwell) or live in a bus in the middle of nowhere during the winter don't expect much sympathy when nature kicks your butt. But, if you have a problem I always have room for one more at the table, floor space, and a helping hand to get you down the road. I expect most of the people I grew up with and the Canadians feel the same.......we look forward to seeing you on your next ride....ken
    #77
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  18. Guano11

    Guano11 Stop me if you've heard this one....

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    OP's not the first guy to get bit by a form of Analysis Paralysis.
    Kudos for fessin' up and sharing the thoughts. :thumb
    #78
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  19. NumberCruncher

    NumberCruncher Long timer

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    Ha-Hah!

    I made it up and back after taking ten days to get my poop together. I did have a few muscle cramp issues and let me tell you when the inside of your thigh locks up you are in for the worst pain of your life and you can google it to convince yourself. Many nights I had to force myself to sleep perfectly straight out of fear that relaxing my leg would cause the cramping. Both legs tried it once but I was able to catch it before a full lockup. Other than that the trip was a 100% success. Well the Dalton was WAY to slippery to make it to the Arctic Circle but I told myself since I was riding alone on a 600 pound bike, if conditions weren't right, don't chance it. Try again next year or whenever.

    I'll post a retrospective trip report in the coming days but here are a few photos. 6,000+ miles the past three weeks. Met a bunch of cool people.

    NC

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    The wind was not only howling in this photo, but was almost constant. You can see the two flags in front are almost perfectly horizontal. The flag in back was sheltered by a few trees.
    [​IMG]


    Salmon glacier near Stewart B.C. and Hyder Alaska. I know the following expression is over used, but pictures do not do this justice! It is over 40 miles in length and the Apple iPhone Panorama tool did a pretty damn good job of capturing this. I think if you click on the image below you can get a bigger one.

    [​IMG]
    #79
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  20. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Congratulations! :clap:clap You overcame the demons and had a successful trip. Worth the battle, wasn't it? Hopefully, this will give your self-confidence a boost when you get ready to do it again. There has to be a next time as you just began to see Alaska and northwest Canada.

    You got some good photos, too. Looking forward to seeing more in your rr.
    #80