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TAT to Alaska to TCAT

Discussion in 'Americas' started by rudy4pl, May 18, 2019.

  1. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    107
    I feel like it’s finally time to make this post. I don’t usually like to plan much or spoil the routes to myself, but I do like to be prepared well for what can be thrown at me and have a decent overall picture. So the reason for this post is to prepare somewhat well and brainstorm a couple of ideas and places along the way.

    The starting plan is to either quit my job or possibly get an extend leave of absence (don’t really care which as I can find an entry level job that pays reasonably well (to my standards and lifestyle at least) without any issues when I’m back) and leave at the start of July. Full TAT from NYC, going north to Alaska and finally taking the TCAT back home, about 3 months +/- is what I’m going for.

    I have been riding for about 5 years and on my last trip around the states that took place 1.5 years ago, I didn’t do much off-roading. When I did, I really enjoyed the remoteness and ruggedness of it, so that will be what I’m going for on this voyage. Mostly free camping (freecampsites.net will be used extensively), some campgrounds and I’m guessing I’ll throw in the comforts of the cheapest lodging I can find from time to time to freshen up (or to cut out hotels, maybe purchase a membership to a large gym chain where I can shower, or that’s too much of a hassle?)

    So now about the detours. I really want to hit:

    - Grand Teton National Park

    - Yellowstone

    - Colorado 740, junction of 135 and 740 (not sure what’s out there but I wrote it down a while back)

    - Boneville saltflats

    - Moab slick rock

    - Canyonlands

    - Horseshoe bend

    - highway 33 to carrizo plains (not sure if worth)

    - Maybe Grand Canyon again ( I did hit it last trip)

    Any other cool detours to take along my planned route, especially in Canada and Alaska?

    Also, is there any TAT-esque connection between end of TAT and Alaska?

    Regarding weather, is it worth bringing some cold weather gear or buy heated grips for the higher elevations, or tough it out as there isn’t (?) many?

    What about mosquitoes in Alaska?


    Regarding the bike itself, it is a 2016 DR650 with 20k miles on the clock with a bunch of upgrades: aux lights, skid plate, 5.3 acerbis tank, side engine protection covers, windshield, battery voltage monitor, beefier handlebar, cycra handguards, seat concepts seat, low pegs, beefier tool tube, upgraded front sprocket cover, upgraded chain guard, ungraded radiator protector, tusk racks with tusk panniers, givi top case, procycle top rack, tail tidy kit, plus probably a couple more I'm forgetting, no engine/fueling work other than new clutch plates and nsu. I was thinking about suspension upgrades, but I already put a lot of upgrades on it, plus I weight 150lbs so I don’t think I’ll have much issues with the stock setup. As for the metal tusk panniers, I don’t think I’ll be taking them as I’m kind of afraid of getting my leg caught underneath them in case of a crash. I’ll be getting the moose adv1 soft saddle bags and will probably keep the lockable givi top case for the more expensive goodies.

    Maintenance/preventative items:

    - oil change
    - valve check
    - air filter clean + relube
    - brake pads
    - fresh clutch plates
    - will probably get fresh spark plugs
    - fresh tires
    - chain+sprockets have like only 5k miles
    - going to install a new battery
    - nsu has been done
    - purchased replacement clutch and throttle cables just in case they give out on the road
    - purchased spare levers
    - spare tubes
    - pulse coil

    - bought fresh wheel bearings, so will probably change them before trip as I’m still running on the stock ones.
    - possibly steering head bearing change
    - will purchase GPS, any good cheap options?
    - was thinking about a garmin inreach explorer, not sure yet

    Any tips or suggestions you guys can offer?

    *Route to and through Alaska is currently unknown

    Thank you

    Attached Files:

    #1
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  2. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    Dec 23, 2007
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    Way to go son! Last year we met a kid from New York (inmate here) he lost his license plate and has been marooned by mounties crossing from Hyder to Stewart.. he was riding DR too. Later he ended up doing Dalton it was snowing when he was coming back from Deadhouse. We were lucky avoided this snowstorm as we finished Dempster just a few days earlier. BTW he was riding that trip in several segments storing bike at West Coast, Anchorage, etc.. took him several years.

    A couple suggestions:

    GPS - unlocked Kyocera DuraForce (basic one runs $60-80 on Amazon), OsmAnd+ ($5).. add $20 Chinese RAM mount with charger. Inexpensive and waterproof mine went through hurricanes without quitting. Most importantly phone supports GLONASS in addition to GPS satellites which gives you a reliable lock at higher latitudes. My friend's Zumo could not get a reliable lock above Arctic circle.

    Oil changes - Walmart. Get your oil filter and change it in the back. Guys in Autocare will give you a pan to drain oil some basic tools. You would need to sign in the book to have oil recycled.

    Dust is very hard on chains they don't last consider Scott oiler. Carry front sprocket you can always find chain and rear can be reused or reversed in emergency.

    You definitely need heated grips, handguards and enough gear to be able to ride in freezing rain for 8 hours up north yet sustain at 104F in Kansas. Get hydration pack, rainsuit and Gore-tex waterproof boots.

    EDIT: re-read your post. If you have only only 5k on chain don't replace it before leaving; it won't last regardless. Replace it in NW before going north or on the way from Alaska or coming back from north. New chain cost me $300 in Fairbanks (just chain no sprockets as they didn't have them!). When in lower 48 you can order the whole kit on Amazon and have it shipped to Amazon locker or friend ahead of you.
    #2
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  3. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
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    Location:
    God's country, Western North Carolina
    Great comments from cyclopathic. Good luck, amazing journey and adventure. Each of these sections (TAT, AK ++) will require reasonable endurance, skills and equipment as well as being prepared for basic first aid, bike repairs/service and consumables like tires, tires and, and...

    Sometimes "it is better to be lucky than good" and in some ways your post has great detail and in another it raised a flag when I read about basic clothing or if mosquitoes may be a concern, etc. May be preaching to the choir, but I would read a few ride reports to these destinations and see how folks prepared for and also assessed gear and equipment pros/cons when all said and done and ponder some of their shared knowledge for an idea on how you feel you're prepared. Weather in general is The big variable to be prepared for and being in remote areas with many days exposure where the same location and only days apart may see triple digit heat or snow and your health/ability to ride/fun can be seriously impacted compared to being on a local ride and just toughing it out if needed gear is not at hand.

    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and have a ball! This amount of time will allow so much flexibility and regional forums can provide suggestions for places many have to bypass as their schedules are too tight. That said, three months will go by faster than one may imagine (you easily could spend that on one region and not run out of places to explore) and it will be easy to try and cram too much in so stay flexible, have fun, repeat daily.

    Cheers
    #3
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  4. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

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    I'd dread getting caught in a snowstorm while riding close to my home, not to mention being all the way out in Alaska during it! He must have had a fun adventure

    Thanks for the tip on that gps, I check it out and compare my options. My current phone has some issues with the headphones plug, so I might bang out 2 items with 1 unit.

    I'll most likely bring like 2 or 3 spare oil filters, and replace them every other oil change.

    The scottsoiler seems a little bit expensive for me. I think I'll simply purchase a small spray chain lubricant.

    I have gerbing gloves which I use for winter riding and they work extremely well (rode in 5 degrees fahrenheit, during heavy wind, and was fine in them :D), but I don't think I want to bring them as it's just another item, plus all the wires running through the jacket and then I'm connected to the bike with them. Might just go with the heated grips and I have nice large handguards. I've got a 4 season jacket which is very warm with all the liners, and has enough ventilation for the warmer temperatures. I have winter overpants, which I unfortunately will not be taking as they are too bulky. 2 layers of pants and my waterproof suit will have to do when it gets too cold. I've got my hiking hydration bladder which I might take, but I'm not sure if I want to have a backpack on all the time. As for the boots, I was thinking about the Forma adventure wp boots.

    I might just do that. By the time I'm done with TAT, the tires will most likely need a change, so I might order a chain as well if it's going to be shot.

    I'll most likely be getting a smaller front sprocket as currently I'm running stock gearing.

    Thank you for the tips!
    #4
  5. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

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    I think I should be fine regarding the endurance (unless I dump her like 5 times in close succession). Skills are fairly limited offroading, especially on sand. First aid kit is there and I've gotten to know this bike fairly well regarding maintenance and repairs.

    On my last trip when I was at high elevation in Yosemite and when passing through Colorado, I definitely wished I had brought my liners for my jacket and had some kind of a heated element for my hands. I won't make that mistake this time. Yeah might be a good idea to visit some early stages of other's ride reports to see how they prepared and to see if I'm missing anything.

    Thanks for the tips and your encouraging words, fun will be had :D
    #5
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  6. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    7,430
    I ride with 2 sets of gloves summer and winter; when you have heated grips and guards summer gloves good down to 57-60 and winter gloves good to 75+ so you get reasonable overlap. Of cause winter gloves are waterproof. Bring latex gloves for oil changes and for riding in rain water tends to drain down into gloves and then they are impossible to put on/take off latex gloves make huge difference.

    Snow is quite possible I got snowed a few times way south on Icefields, Kootenay and Dease pass. Wen you get far enough north campsites don't have water. BTW there's a free campsite on Dalton behind Arctic circle sign. If you decide to do Dalton check weather in advance and go there on Friday. Most truckers start from Anchorage on Monday and try to get back by weekend there will be much less trucks on weekends. Be nice to truckers try to avoid kicking gravel up those windshields are really expensive. Moreover they all have CB if you treat one bad all of them would treat you bad back. Beware there are several corners on Dalton where trucks have to take both lanes to make it, and many of those hills are 10% so they can't stop either especially on that wooden bridge over Yukon if it's wet.

    Buy Off and mosquito net.. coils work pretty well too. If you decide to do Dempster camp at Rocky River and don't stop at first camping spot. 3/4 loop down there's a bunkhouse roof and mosquito net. Beware they use calcium chloride on Dalton and new sections of Dempster it's slick like soap when it gets wet. In Tuk you can camp on the beach at the Point it's free. In Dawson Gold Rush for camping or if you need hotel check Bunkhouse and say hello to Ule. His prices very reasonable especially if you get to share hostel room.

    In Whitehorse go to hot springs (name starts with T?) they have camping and hostel it's pass town a few miles down Klondike hwy. In Tok Thomson Eagleclaw on cutoff. If you get a chance do Cambell it's paved 30ni pass Ross River and first 50mi from Watson Lake. There's a section there when you stop to pee it's like you are back to 1942 nothing hard to even call it road you.'d be lucky if someone comes by in an hour. If you get a chance stop by at The View you'll see a sign on right hand side about 10km before Ross River, facing backwards. Sign says advriders are welcome please kept by a couple (say hello to Judy and Neil) just for personal entertainment. They gave us roof and beer and cooked us dinner.

    There're many camping options pass Ross River, about ~40mi IIRC. Beware of gas situation Ross River is the only place to get it on Cambell.
    #6
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  7. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the good info
    The only set of winter gloves that I have are Gerbing t5 (I believe). I think they were initially advertised as waterproof, but that surely ain't the case. I was considering the mosquito head net earlier, thanks for the reminder as it probably would have slipped my mind.

    I feel like there is still so much stuff to do, I gotta start putting in work
    #7
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  8. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

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    I forgot to ask this in the initial post:

    On my last trip, basically all I ate was fast food and junk food. I do not want to repeat that, and since then I've become a much pickier eater. I plan on buying good quality meats, veggies, fruits, etc. and basically doing all the meals/cooking myself. I'll be carrying a gas canister with one of those mini burners that you screw on, a metal pot that came with some cups and small pan most likely.

    Has anyone on here ever travel with a small soft cooler? If so, how did it work out?
    I was looking at a soft cooler from "Polar Bear Coolers" https://www.polarbearcoolers.com/h2o-waterproof-coolers/12-pack-H2O.html . It seems like they advertise it as being able to hold ice for 3 days. Would storing perishable foods for like 2 days be doable and then restocking it + adding new ice?
    #8
  9. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    You need to decide how much time you want to spend riding, cooking or fishing; personally I have somewhere a can of Spam which has been to Dalton, Dempster, Gabos and Copper Canyon.

    Up north there won't be many places to buy food or ingredients between major towns, and because it's cold they will survive without cooler. Carry something like boiled eggs, dry mash potatoes, ramen packs.. onion, salary sticks, carrots fast to cook and will survive for relatively long time.
    #9
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  10. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

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    I won't mind taking the extra time to cook as I don't have any serious deadlines. Boiled eggs are a good idea and less of a mess to clean up, initially I was worried about bringing raw eggs as there's a chance they'd break.
    #10
  11. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    Yeah boiled eggs will survive a few days and you can talk people into boiling them for you; my friend is very good at that . Good source of protein and low on calories. Personally I am leaving my stove/kit home don't want to carry extra weight. After all cold food is still food and food is cheap in 3rd world good luck.
    #11