Two Tigers to Alaska - Retirement Trip

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Viper7, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    My wife and I will be riding our Tiger 800's to Alaska later this month. This is the trip that I planned in 2009 when I bought a new KLR650. With busy summers due to my Military Schedule (Oregon Army National Guard - 23 years), my retirement this last March made this summer's trip finally possible. I've enjoyed reading previous and current ride reports and I've learned a bit as well. I wanted to start ours early enough that if I/we were missing something obvious, an inmate would let me know.

    In the past months we've put together what we believe will take care of our needs on the trip. Although we've taken 4k mile trips on motorcycles before, our destinations were relatively close to resources; Sturgis, Glacier National Park, a sweep through Jackson - Grand Canyon - Yosemite, and a 4K trip through Oregon. Those trips were on a Softail and a Triumph T-100. We purchased Tigers this last year for the trip to Alaska with more to follow I'm sure.

    We loaded them up two weeks ago for a shakedown, packing everything we think we'll be taking on the trip north, short of spare fuel. I'm still trying to decide on what use for storage. The first thing we learned is that we need to check tire pressure every time before we leave. I should have known this - I race small vintage bikes and I check my tire pressure EVERYTIME I go out on the track. I checked the pressure two weeks earlier before we headed out on a ride and set the pressure for both bikes. Fast forward two weeks later, bikes loaded, with a 15 degree change in ambient temperature, and the bikes handled like old trucks when we left. After getting the pressure set to the right pressure, and increasing the pre-load, the bikes felt like they should have. My wife did have a couple low speed falls in parking lots ( due to sharp corners and an increase in weight ), we now have an extra set of levers to take with us, and Barkbusters with aluminum guards on the way. We found rain at 1230 and road through it until 2030 HRS. We learned a few things during our shake-down. Lisa's new waterproof boots weren't. She sent her new Forma Boots back for testing and they checked them as soon as they received them. A liner failure was found and her new replacement boots are on the way. Her new waterproof pants weren't. She sent them back to Aerostitch and they have tested them and have them on the way back as well. My 10 year old water proof riding pants are anything but waterproof (an off brand that will get several coats of camp-dry and a new set of Frog Togs for over top). My old riding boots we not made for the rain and they need to stay home. I now have waterproof TCX's that will hopefully keep me dry. Lisa's pannier was leaking and we found the source by dunking it in the tub. It will be sealed up as well in the coming days. As cold and wet as we were, I'm so glad we took our trip in the 8 hours of rain. We have the time and resources to address issues now rather than later, when we're 100's or 1000's of miles from home.

    Services are scheduled for the 13th. New K 60's will also be mounted. I've been asked about chain and sprocket. If we clean and lube them daily, is it likely that I'll need a replacement on hand? I hadn't plan to bring a chain breaker and spares, should I? I'm trying to keep the tools as light as possible. Between the essential and tire spoons, inner tubes and pump, etc., I am concerned about the total weight.

    I've been doing all of the maintenance / parts installations on the bikes with my tool roll-bag to ensure I have everything I need - I'm glad I did. A simple thing like a 3/8" drive 6" extension was missing (try to adjust the pre-load with out an extension - nearly impossible).

    Our draft itinerary is below. Some of the stops are locked in because we needed to ensure we had reservations secured. We will be camping 1-2 days followed be a hotel/motel stop so we can get cleaned up. I've gone several weeks without a shower during training, but Lisa isn't into that sort of smell.

    Portland to Leavenworth
    Leavenworth to Chache Creek
    Cache Creek to Fraser Lake
    Fraser Lake to Prince Rupert
    AL Marine Hwy to Juneau
    Juneau to Haines
    Haines to Beavercreek
    Beavercreek to Anchorage
    Anchorage to Valdez
    Valdez to Old Denali Hwy
    Old Denali Hwy to Talkeetna
    Talkeetna to Denali Park
    Denali Park to Fairbanks
    Fairbanks to Tok
    Tok to Dawson City (Top of the World Hwy)
    Dawson City to Whitehorse
    Whitehorse to Laird River
    Laird River to Fort Nelson
    Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek
    Dawson Creek to Williams Lake
    Williams Lake to Vancouver
    Vancouver to Portland

    My apologies for the long intro - hell, we haven't even left yet. The 27th or 28th is our planned departure date.
    #1
  2. outdoorsman

    outdoorsman Lets Ride! Supporter

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    I'm leaving in two days for Prudhoe Bay on my Tiger 800 xrx. I just finished packing and everything is ready to go.

    I would suggest you bring a chain tool with you and master links/extra links.

    Enjoy your trip and hope our paths cross at some point.
    #2
  3. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    Outdoorsman, thanks for the suggestion. The chain breaker and a few links is a lot lighter than a back-up chain and sprocket. Safe travels! I'll be updating the report as we go.
    #3
  4. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    With 10 days to go we are waiting on new tires for Lisa's bike. I'll post the packing list but I am concerned about the weight. We keep adding gear; rain gear, tools, spares, etc. I've done a few 4k mile rides in the states, this one seems different. We've added a SPOT device, AAA subscription, and additional tools and spares. I haven't weighed the gear yet but I'll add the weights when I take them. Damn science degree - everything needs to be scientific. The ride reports I've read don't focus on the preparations, am I over thinking this? I'd like to not be risk adverse, but the distances are much larger than I'm accustomed to. The SPOT could be a bit more intuitive to set up, but with time, I've got contacts established and the messaging figured out. I tested the messaging and the custom messages went through fine, the check-in message did not come through but it registered on the SPOT app. More to follow as we get closer to SP.
    #4
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  5. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    image.jpeg Final tool review. I'm still concerned about the weight. However, I'm not comfortable leaving anything behind with services so stretched out.

    Tool Roll (11.5 lbs.)

    Zip Ties, Assorted
    No-Pinch Tire Bead Tool
    4" Vice Grip
    Metric Allen Wrench Set
    Gorilla Tape & Safety Wire
    Electrical Tape
    Front Axle tool
    6" Adjustable Wrench
    4pc Screw Driver
    Combo Wrenches (17mm, 14mm, 13mm, 12mm, 10mm, 8mm)
    3/8" Ratchet and Breaker Bar
    6" 3/8" extension
    Sockets (17mm, 14mm, 13mm, 12mm, 10mm, Allen 5mm, 6mm, 8mm)
    2 Master Links
    Lock Tite - Blue stick and Yellow

    Miscellaneous Tools

    Slime Air Compressor 2/ Valve Stem Snake
    Tire / Tube Patch Kit w/ CO2
    Motion Pro Tire Irons & Iron w/27mm Axle Wrench
    Chain Breaker Tool & Small Chain Press/Riveter
    1/4" T-Handle Socket Set 8mm-14mm
    Inner Tubes (2-Front, 1-Rear)
    Spare Brake/Clutch Handles - 1 set
    Tire Air Guage
    Spare Mini-Fuses
    Tow Rope
    Rotax 2 gal. Fuel Can
    Gerber Tool
    JB Weld - Tube
    Assorted Nuts, Bolts & 6mm Nylon Push Clips
    Chain Lube & Chain Brush
    #5
  6. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    Enjoy your trip, very nice that SWMBO will be riding too. I tend to over pack even though I am much better now than my first trips years ago. I carry tools needed to do the basics like pulling wheels, repair a chain, etc. This allows me to do any basic repair or service and if the odd chance of a catastrophic failure occurs I couldn't fix it regardless tools on board. You can use https://www.cyclopsadventuresports.com/Motorcycle-Tire-Pressure-Monitoring-System_p_171.html . Petrol range can be supplemented by strapping on a cheap plastic gas "can" available almost everywhere or more pricey roto pax, etc. I would only carry extra for the few stretches you may have genuine need as long as you fill up where available along the way you should be fine. Clothes add bulk and weight so make sure all temps/weather gear is adequate and then add just enough clothes as is practical as you can do laundry in any hotel or town you stop in (compression bags are your friend and add a handful of laundry soap pods). Worst case is you buy something you need more of or forgot along the way as long as you have your basics covered which it appears you have. Have a great time and enjoy safe travels!
    #6
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  7. ronbo1911

    ronbo1911 Adventurer Super Supporter Supporter

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    When do you plan on being in Prudhoe? I work up there (I'm here now) Let me know, I would love to meet you and talk about the trip to that point. I want to make that ride in a couple years...
    #7
  8. ronbo1911

    ronbo1911 Adventurer Super Supporter Supporter

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    Safe travels.
    #8
  9. outdoorsman

    outdoorsman Lets Ride! Supporter

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    I'm actually heading to Inuvik today. I'm no longer going to have time to get to Prudhoe Bay. Maybe next trip?
    #9
  10. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    The plague of the first-time long distance ride. By the time you get back home you will have decided that at least half of what you brought was unnecessary. But right now you don't know which half that is. :D
    Rain gear is pretty much a necessity any year, and so far this spring it looks to be one item you don't want to come up here without. I like the FroggToggs - lightweight and efficient. But be aware that you want clothing that breathes, as well. It can get hot up here on sunny days. :knary You'll find that out, with the sun shining brightly for 18 to 22 hours, depending on how far north you go.
    You've planned your travel schedule quite conservatively, so that should allow you a leisurely pace with plenty of sightseeing opportunities.
    Spare fuel shouldn't be necessary, so long as you don't try to push the miles too far. I've traveled back and forth on an 1100cc bike with just a 5.8 gallon tank and had no problems. On my KLR (the only bike I own with spoked wheels) I've sealed the rims (actually a pretty simple job) so I can run tubeless tires. I'd rather find myself putting in a plug than having to break a tire down to patch a tube. And flats always happen in the rain, don't they!
    Nice that your better half is making the trip with you. It's twice as much fun that way. :nod
    Enjoy it! You'll be talking about it for years to come.
    #10
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  11. ronbo1911

    ronbo1911 Adventurer Super Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks for the update, hope all is going well. Like I said, I want to make the trip to Prudhoe in 2021, I will be looking for others for the ride, keep me in mind if you want to. Best regards, have a safe trip back.
    #11
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  12. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    bobw - Thanks for your thoughts. We're packing light (clothes) and plan on laundry during hotel stops. The bulk gear is our camping equipment. We are splitting the tent / sleeping bag between the bikes along with the cook gear (Lisa won't camp without coffee - a small sacrifice in my mind). We've learned to roll with unplanned events as they often add to the adventure so I'm sure we'll have a great time.
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  13. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    We're finally off. Later than planned due to an unusual morning but off none the less. The next update will be from the road.

    Alaska Route.gif 20190628_120444[1550].jpg
    #13
  14. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

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    Safe travels and in for the ride...:lurk
    #14
  15. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    Day one is in the books. We got a very late start. Last night as I consolidated my wallet, I realized that my Tiger registration was missing. I have NO idea what happened to it. Who was at the DMV at 8am this morning when they opened? This idiot. I pulled # 32 and after 50 minutes I walked out with my $5 replacement. Meanwhile, Lisa was at the hardware store buying bolts and gaskets for the toilet tank that started leaking last night. She's increadibly resourceful and willing to try just about anything. She diagnosed the issue and had it nearly done by the time I got home. After completing our packing, and the list of things we didn't get done this last week, we were off at 1300 (1 pm for the civilians) just in time to sit in stop and go traffic for an hour and a half. The ride over White pass on Washington Hwy 12 was worth the wait. IT was Beautiful! We missed the forcasted rain and had a glorious 65 - 75 degree ride. Between the stop and go traffic on fully loaded bikes, and the 16 miles of grooved pavement on Hwy 97 North (north of Ellensburg) we've gotten much more comfortable maneuvering the bikes loaded with tools and camping gear. We finished off the evening in Leavenworth, Washington. A couple of German beers (Lambic for Lisa), some Schnitzle, spƤtzle and strudel, we were set right after the 7 hour trek.
    The photos are from the ride over White pass - Lisa's hair brushed out (albeit she may have yanked half of it out in the process). Maybe braids for tomorrow? Tomorrow we are headed across the border to a camp ground to be determined.... Hopefully north of Cache Creek. image.jpeg image.jpeg
    #15
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  16. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    The Trials of Preparation -
    The last thing I wanted to be doing the night before our departure was to be putting parts on the bikes. We planned ahead - ordered parts early. The supplier claimed they were in stock - they weren't. I had to laugh through the our preparations because this stuff kept happening. Tires back ordered, the wrong parts, etc. I order most of our parts through our local Triumph dealership, including our Barkbuster 2 point hand guards with Storm covers. The parts guy (Super Patient Wayne) verified they were in stock. He let me know when the supplier shipped them 2-3 days later. He also let me know that they were not in the shipment that arrived 5 days later. He called the supplier - they said they would be out with the next shipment - um, they weren't. He called again and insisted that they send them next day because we were leaving inn 8 days at that point, that was Thursday. When they hadn't arrived by Sunday we knew we'd have to wait until Tuesday when the shoot was open again. When I came in on Tuesday, Wayne broke the bad news. He only received the aluminum brace, no hand guard covers. Buy 9am he'd already been on the phone with them and they were overnighting the Storm covers in a complete kit. Thursday comes and I head to the dealership. Wayne's on a call so Randy (the salesman that has talked us into not one, but three Triumphs, damn you Randy! Just kidding, we love them all!) checked the newly delivered box from the supplier. The supplier that shall be unnamed had shipped hand guard covers and another set of aluminum guards, they just weren't the Storm covers. The VPS covers they sent don't do much for weather. After calling every motorcycle dealer in the PDX area I found two sets of covers at the BMW dealership (Thank you Garret!) and the install began. To keep me on my toes so it could't be too easy one of the hand guard kits was missing the two self tapping scores to attach the guards to the aluminum brace. A quick run to the hardware store and a longer hunt through their isles of fasteners and I found some auto body trim screws that worked great. Throughout the process I couldn't really do anything but laugh, really. At the end of the day, it wouldn't have been a sho stopper. I just wanted to try to protect the $60 a piece levers - and it all worked out in the end. Huge thanks to team at Cascade Moto Classics for their patience, persistence, and flexibility. Support your local dealers! They keep us informed, entertained and happy!
    #16
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  17. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    I just went through a tool kit revamp in preparation for my Alaska trip (departing August 10th). I realize you're on your way already, but I try to look for things you have more than one of, and things you don't need at all. For example, I see a ratchet, a small breaker bar and a t-handle in your tool kit. You only need one of those. I also see what looks like a complete set of allen keys - I'm certain there are sizes in there that don't exist on your bike, so leave them home. I did decide on bring a chain tool, master link and some spare links - unlikely I'll need it, but I've heard of chain failures here and there so I'd rather have it with me.

    Have a safe ride and don't rut up the roads too bad before I get there!
    #17
  18. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    Day two is in the books and it was an amazing ride. We left Leavenworth after a delicious quiche breakfast and coffee for Lisa (of course)! We headed west to link up with 97 North and a nice 100 mile ride to the Canadian border. The border crossing was quick, and the agent split my tobacco allocation between the two of us to save the tax. I'm not sure what the tax is per can of tobacco, I just know that a couple years ago I priced a can at a 7-11 in Abottsford, BC and it had a price tag of nearly $20 - I left the can at 7-11 (although I think Lisa wishes I would have paid the price).

    We followed 97 North as it followed a system of lakes to Peachland, BC. The travel was slow through many of the lakeside towns, but the views made up for the lost time. A turn west on 97C and the two lane highway turned into a 4 lane divided super highway with with long sweeper, stunning views and a 110 KPH speed limit (we took it as general suggestion). After quickly navigating the route through Merritt, we found another two-lane highway with long sweepers that culminated in five or more miles of an 11% downhill grade with fast sweeping corners and stunning overlooks that made it hard to focus on the curves ahead. We rolled into Ashcroft about 1830. As we filled up we inquired about the local camp grounds and a source for beer (in BC all alcohol is sold at liquor stores or authorized distributors). We lucked out (or so we thought), the campground was located next to a small pub that sells beer to go (more about the pub later). The camp host was extremely friendly and he found us a tent site near the latrine with a view of the river. I mentioned that the view couldn't be better and he responded with, "yeah, there are the trains, but you'll have them any place near water.". That seemed like an ominous warning that totally went over my head. What I didn't know is that there were actually two train tracks, one on each side of the river. I also didn't know that every train that came through this small town blasted not one, but four to five warning blasts. All eight of them (I did count) passed between 11pm and 6am. I finally gave up at 0600 and got up to get the coffee going.

    Back to the pub. I asked our camp neighbors if they knew where the pub was in relationship to the camp ground. They gave me directions and they told me that is should loosely be called a pub. They had cold beer and food - we gave it a shot. As we approached, we met a regular that was sitting next to the door smoking so we chatted a while. I was wearing a Triumph T-Shirt and he had history with the brand. He loved the bikes and the cars, heck, he bought a car from a group of nuns while he was working in Ireland in the 70's. When we entered it looked like a proper seedy bar, that is to say that it looked like my favorite kind of bar. The bar tender was working a double shift - the restaurant server and the bar tender, neither the restaurant or bar shared space, they just fell under the same roof. After a bit of a wait, some of the locals explained the situation and one of them went to get the bar tender. Meanwhile, one of the other regulars poured us a couple drafts and handed us menus (I swear - BC is filled with the friendliest people I've ever met). Molson Canadian on draft and it was COLD, I mean REALLY COLD, they went down fast! Mike (the bartender / restaurant server) arrived and took our order, two greasy loaded burgers and fries. It was about 7:20pm. After about five minutes Mike returned to tell us that the kitchen had closed about 50 minutes early and hadn't told him. We had a back up plan, there was a KFC at the gas station where we filled up. I asked Mike what kind of beer they had To-Go. Mike responded, "We have everything!" "What do you have that's local?" I expected him to tell me about one of the many BC micros available hoping they'd have one from one of the many breweries we'd passed during the day's ride. Mike responded, " We have Kokanee!" I drank a lot of Kokanee in college, it's not exactly what I had in mind but it was cold, we ordered a 6 pack to go with our chicken strips and popcorn chicken. They went down faster than Kokanee probably should. Bed at a 11 with the scattered showers gone, hoping for blue skies and good roads ahead to Fraser Lake.
    #18
  19. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    Day 2 & 3 ride reports were written from a camp ground on Fraser Lake. We finally had WIFI at a brewery on the Prince Rupert water front. Breaker's Brewery has terrific halibut fish and chips BTW.

    Day three - fast beautiful roads! Lisa has had more saves than she can remember. The weight of her bike and and the slow tight turns makes for some tippy moments but she throttles up and turns her head and pushes through. I only write this because she was relaying the story of her last save in the gravel, reverse sloped parking lot in our camp ground. Her riding ability far exceeds her confidence - I hope this changes during this trip.

    0600 wake up and coffee was on (well, not proper coffee but a Vietnamese instant coffee with sugar and creamer added - not too bitter, not too sweet), did I mention that Lisa doesn't function without coffee in the morning? Lisa's response - "This better have caffeine in it!". I hope it did, if not, please don't tell her.

    The ride - after a breakfast cookie and spicy Korean noodles we left Ashcroft at 0900 headed for Fraser Lake. The roads were clear, Sunday at 0900 is a great time to travel up here. An hour an a half later we decided a proper breakfast was in order (with proper coffee). 100 Mile House had an A & W and they were open! I have never seen a busier A & W in my life. There was a constant line of no less than 5 people waiting to order the entire time we were there. A burger for me and a sausage sandwich for Lisa. After meeting the sweetest pooch (Duck) and sharing some stories we headed to the liquor store for some supplies for the night's camp and our Canada Ferry ride tomorrow. Back on the road and traffic was noticeably heavier. Not so much as to slow our pace much, but enough to have traffic ahead and behind. The roads were amazing! Once we hit the HWY 1 it was 110 KPH and two lines most of the way. The passing lanes are amazing! They are long and well signed. You always know how far until the next passing lane is available. Long fast sweepers with lake and river views. There is little evidence of burn activity which surprised me. Along the mountainous Oregon highways there is often evidence of forest fires form years past. We've been fueling up every 200 KM (this leaves us with about 150 KM to spare) and one of our planned stops was William Lake on HWY 97 North. A note to travelers - there is no fuel in Williams Lake after you turn north toward Prince George. We passed the Husky assuming that the town would stretch a bit North - wrong! We found fuel as a small convenience store about 16km north of Williams Lake. They have Regular and Diesel and only two pumps. The owners are VERY nice and accommodating. The rest of the trip was filled with smooth highway and sporadic traffic. After a quick stop in Fort Fraser for sausage, potato salad and fruit pies we were off to find a camp sight. The camp sight could not have been more ideal. The first camp ground on Fraser Lake had two vacancies and a group of Chip Drivers at their annual fishing derby. Every year their company invites their chip drivers and families to a camp out, fishing derby and be complete with games and prizes. What a wonderful way to bring families and employees together.

    Fraser Lake, as much as I've seen, is beautiful, as is most of the scenery we have the the Pacific North West. The trees in BC are vast, green and lush. Again - the people in BC are amazingly friendly. Even when we thought we'd have to move our camp, the neighbors offered to help us move. At the end of the day we shared fire works with our neighbors, stories with camp visitors and a lot of dog pets with passers by. The dream continues tomorrow as we head to Prince Rupert and a ferry ride through the the inside passage.
    #19
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  20. Viper7

    Viper7 Adventurer Supporter

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    image.jpeg image.jpeg

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