Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: Alaska Trip

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    7

    Alaska Trip

    I would like to plan a trip to Alaska. I am looking for info on traveling to there on my RT. I live in southern CA and would like to ride there, but don't know what to expect, once I get north of Washington state. What is the route from there and what can I expect in the way of road conditions and accommodations? Are there any books on this subject? Thanks for any info that you can send me.undefined

  2. #2
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    1,587
    Try this: This is a ride report from a rider, John Clarke near LA ,who has this link on the Bill Mayer saddle website . He made that ride on an RT as well.

    http://clarkejohn.com/page1map.htm

    Bill Mayer

  3. #3
    Ambassador at Large Jim Shaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Hinckley, OH and Ann Arbor, MI USA
    Posts
    236

    Go, but don't be a Tourist

    Quote Originally Posted by lrccci
    I would like to plan a trip to Alaska. I am looking for info on traveling to there on my RT. I live in southern CA and would like to ride there, but don't know what to expect, once I get north of Washington state. What is the route from there and what can I expect in the way of road conditions and accommodations? Are there any books on this subject?
    I've been there twice on a motorcycle, 1996 on a K100LT (not exactly the perfect bike for AK) and last year on an 1150GS (close to being the perfect bike for AK). Two trips don't make me any kind of expert, but there are some things I can tell you.
    ~The best time to ride AK is 1 July to Aug 20 or so. That's past black fly and the heaviest rainy season.
    ~Your first reference should be The Milepost, which I have seen for sale in the large chain bookstores. Make sure you get the 2005 edition - it changes every year.
    ~There's a saying amongst riders up there that any road information that is not first hand, or is more than 24 hours old is useless. I have found that to be true. Bad information is worse than no information.
    ~There are a million naysayers, who will tell you war stories about riding AK. Most, if not all of them have not ridden there. Those who have will tell you to GO.
    ~As the adage goes, AK has two seasons: winter and construction. It's true. Crews move incredibly fast up there. One day, the road is fine, but needs repaving. The next day, the road is gone - from right-of-way to right-of-way. Mud, sand, gravel, boulders, dust, blasting, you name it. Third day, they are hauling, dumping, dozing, leveling, grading. Fourth day, they are paving. Fifth day, you hardly know they've been there; 30 miles of new road.
    ~Your RT should do just fine. Go with an all purpose tire, but not nubbies necessarily.
    ~Expect stone damage to lights and Tupperware. Protect what you love and need the most.
    ~To keep dust down, they use what I think is Calcium Carbonate, or such. Mixed with dirt, it makes a form of concrete. Wash your bike frequently, especially hot engine parts. Once that stuff has set, you'd need almost a jackhammer to get it off.
    ~Expect your bike to age significantly on the trip. It will. AK really isn't the best place to take your show bike - it will be mildly (or wildly) trashed depending on how and where you ride.
    ~Remember that a nice, hard, packed, gravel road in AK can turn into a quagmire in a long heavy rain.
    ~Look out for forest fires. You'll have plenty of warning, but they take most of the fun out of riding BC, Yukon, and AK - last year was a disaster for riding in early July. If I knew then what I know now, I would have turned around and gone someplace more fun. You can't see much except the centerline in a fire area.
    ~Keep in mind that you will probably ride more miles in BC and Yukon than AK, and study accordingly.
    ~You will find the locals to be exceptionally friendly and helpful.
    ~Consider going to the Last Frontier rally north of Anchorage. It's the world's friendliest rally, with great people, who come from everywhere.
    ~Don't forget your passports. You will move from CA to the US several times.
    ~Excellent service is available for BMW riders in Anchorage. Also George Rahl (sp?) at Trail's End BMW in Fairbanks can be very helpful, but quirky. Call ahead if you know you're gonna need an oilchange or new tire, and know in advance.
    ~Follow the rules for bears, etc. if you're camping.
    ~Consider taking the Alaska Marine Highway one way, maybe. It's gotten pricey, but it's a magnificent cruise. Last year, it cost about $350 for me, $350 for the bike, and $300 for a stateroom for the ride all the way from Haines to Bellingham. If it hadn't been for the forest fires, I would have ridden it. YMMV.
    ~Most important, remember that AK is not your sandbox to play in. It is beautiful and challenging, but it is serious riding. As a businessman in Dawson City told me, "You're in the wilderness up here, boy. You know what that means? That means you ride outa here tonight, and fall off, we'll maybe find your shoes next Spring. That's what wilderness means." Or as George Rahl put it, "We got two kinds of BMW bikers up here - we got riders and we got tourists. And the tourists more often than not leave their motorcycle up here and go home on a plane. Don't be a Tourist."

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim Shaw; 05-10-2005 at 08:07 PM.

  4. #4
    USERNAME
    Guest
    jim - great post!

    irccci - check out advrider.com ride reports. lots of folks head up to alaska over there. then post a great ride report over here so we build more of a body of experience on the MOA site!

    and regarding bears, it's like corporate america - you dont have to outrun the bear, just the slowest camper.

  5. #5
    bigfoot105
    Guest
    I second what Jim is saying......

    One last note: Call the Motorcycle Shop 907-561-1165 ASAP to set up any type of service you might require at about the time you will be here. They usually try to help get the traverlers in and out but any type of notice will be appreciated. I was just over there about an hour ago and their services lead time is already three weeks out. I made an appointment for a 12K sevice for May 31,

    Duct tape works wonders for protecting painted plastic pieces......It looks like crap but, it is better than paint chips and rock dings. Besides, duct tape is an Alaska staple. You can find it in most any store and in Every home!

    Have fun and ride smart!!

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    7

    RE: Alaska Trip

    Thanks everyone for the info, it really helped. I will probably go someday,sounds like it would be a lot of fun. I'm the kinda of guy that gets all the information I can get, then studies it throughly before I make a decision. Looks like I will need to get a GS model. I told my wife ,when I bought the RT ,that would be my last motorcycle purchase. Oh well, never say never!

  7. #7
    Ambassador at Large Jim Shaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Hinckley, OH and Ann Arbor, MI USA
    Posts
    236

    GS isn't required

    Quote Originally Posted by lrccci
    Looks like I will need to get a GS model.
    I hope nothing I said indicates you NEED a GS to go to AK. Your RT will do a very credible job up there for the most part. Sure better than the Gold Wings, Harleys, and my old LT, who have made it home and given their riders a fun time.

    It's just that the GS is close to the perfect bike for AK. That's because it carries a lot of baggage, has a durable suspension that takes road and rider abuse without complaints, and doesn't have a lot of shiny stuff to get dirty. On rutted gravel and in construction zones, the spoked wheels are a big asset. But the rugged dependability of the RT is plenty good enough. Just take it a mite easier on the holes and ruts. And slow down a little on the frost heaves. And if you have the amazing, collapsible three spoke wheels (well known BMW safety feature), keep a lot of air in the tires.

    And remember, you'll have some frontal protection on the brisk rides up and back. Last year, in huge crosswinds in Manitoba and Alberta, I envied my riding partner on his K12LT. He envied my GS whenever the pavement ended.

    GO!

    Jim

  8. #8
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA
    Posts
    4,595
    Jim wrote:
    ~Consider taking the Alaska Marine Highway one way, maybe. It's gotten pricey, but it's a magnificent cruise. Last year, it cost about $350 for me, $350 for the bike, and $300 for a stateroom for the ride all the way from Haines to Bellingham.
    But you can save the money for the stateroom. If you have a tent you can set it up on deck, or you can sleep in one of the many lounge chairs. Lots of people do. Showers are readily available.

    It is a wonderful highlight to the trip. When Paul and I went we rode up and cruised back to Prince Rupert, and then took the Yellowhead highway. A never to be forgotten trip! Just go!!

    And no, you don't need a GS.

    Voni
    sMiling
    Last edited by Voni; 05-12-2005 at 02:15 AM.
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves/
    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
    Selected Friends of Wile E Coyote/ A Million BMW sMiles

  9. #9
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    ATL/WNC
    Posts
    8,511
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shaw
    IIt's just that the GS is close to the perfect bike for AK.
    Agreed, and for all the reasons Jim mentions. Your RT will do just fine, but the GS is the ideal.

    To help you with planning, good friend Tom Bowman wrote a great article about preparation and for packing your bike to ride to Alaska. These are on "dark" pages on our site, so I've given you links straight to them. We rode there together in 1998 and posted our adventures on the Internet well before it was easy to do such things.



    One of the best riding days of my life occured between Whitehorse, YT and Tok, AK. We rode alllllllllllll day long, stopped at the Salmon Bake restaurant.... which featured all you can eat Salmon, Halibut, beef ribs and reindeer sausage... and then free camping for diners. Oh yeah!

    Don't miss the Denali Highway!

    Wish I was going with you!

    Ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    ________________________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '00 1150 GS || '06 HP2e

  10. #10
    Brrr YB in IN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Bloomington, Indiana
    Posts
    1,185
    I wouldn't fret too much about having to buy a new GS to make it up there. I know a guy who went clear up to Prudhoe Bay on a severely clapped out R80/7. Remeber what Nietzsche said:
    "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

  11. #11
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA
    Posts
    4,595
    And there's Bob Hall who rode his stock R11RT to Prudhoe Bay - and back - to win the 2001 Iron Butt Rally.

    Voni
    sMiling
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves/
    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
    Selected Friends of Wile E Coyote/ A Million BMW sMiles

  12. #12
    Ambassador at Large Jim Shaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Hinckley, OH and Ann Arbor, MI USA
    Posts
    236

    Gotta go, gotta go

    Quote Originally Posted by lrccci
    I will probably go someday,sounds like it would be a lot of fun. I'm the kinda of guy that gets all the information I can get, then studies it throughly before I make a decision. Looks like I will need to get a GS model. I told my wife ,when I bought the RT ,that would be my last motorcycle purchase. Oh well, never say never!
    No, no, too late now. You asked, and we went to all this trouble spilling our guts on truths and fantasies of an AK trip. Now, it's your turn - you gotta go. This summer! No backing out. Gas up the RT, check the air and oil, put the kids in the kennel and the pets in boarding school. Pack five sets of undies, the Milepost and a warm shirt. Leave a note for the post office. Turn off the coffee pot, and pedal down the driveway. About July 1st would be right.

    Jim

  13. #13
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    1,587
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shaw
    [B] Leave a note for the post office. Turn off the coffee pot, and pedal down the driveway. About July 1st would be right.

    Jim


    Pick Me ! Pick me!
    I'll go!!

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Port Angeles WA
    Posts
    1,429
    Good advice by Jim and others. Here's some additional input:

    The Milepost: Alaska is available through Whitehorse Press www.whitehorsepress.com

    Alaska by Motorcycle: How to Motorcycle To Alaska by Greg Frazier is also available through Whitehorse Press. Greg may be a bit of a curmudgeon, but he's made a number of Alaska trips, and his advice will give you lots of ideas.

    There are alternatives to the Alcan ("Alaska-Canadian") highway. As Voni Glaves pointed out, you can take the Alaska Ferry (Alaska Marine Highway) between Haines and Prince Rupert, or all the way to Bellingham (90 mi N Seattle) There is also a BC ferry between N Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert. (W terminus of "Yellowhead Highway")

    I mention the ferries because boats ARE the main highway in SE Alaska. Ferry tolls may seem excessive, but can turn out to be cheap compared to getting your bike trashed in a construction zone, or plated with calcium chloride.

    The roads in BC and Yukon are wild and scenic, but you can never assume you'll be able to ride a motorcycle on your planned schedule. Construction, weather, forest fires, etc. may require that you delay a few days or take a different route. For instance, if the weather is good, definitely ride the Cassiar #37, but if the weather is miserable, you'll appreciate the ferry ride instead. Alaskans are used to this, and able to alter travel plans according to what's happening.

    I'm off to Hyder myself on Monday, ferry to Vancouver Island, ride north, Ferry to Prince Rupert, ride E, N on 37 to Mesiadin junction, W on 37A to Stewart & Hyder. Southbound will be 37 back to Yellowhead, E to Prince George, S on 97 through the Frazer Canyon to Hope, W on 1 to Abbotsford, S to WA state.

    I'm taking the ferry north because it's on the right schedule. I'm riding south because I don't want to wait for the next boat. As it happens, the ferry may be a good idea because of the weather pattern at this time.

    What's a good "adventure touring" bike? Get on your bike and go somewhere. When you get there, stand back and look at your bike. It's an adventure touring bike.

    pmdave

  15. #15
    Narcaleptic Insomniac TZOLK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Plymouth. Michigan
    Posts
    335
    Yes, GO! Having riden up there on a Yamaha TDM850 I agree with those here that say you dont NEED a GS. However it would be most fun on a Honda Trail 90.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •