Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Alaska ride planning. June 2014

Alaska ride planning. June 2014

In a previous post, Alaska, you call to me like a mentally unstable lover... (July 2011) (, I spelled out my attraction to the USA's newest and largest state. Maybe not an attraction, more like an obsession.

I received my hot-off-the-presses 2013 copy of The Milepost: Alaska Travel Planner, and have been reading through it even since.

I have put aside late May and all of June of 2014 (14 months away!) for a dual sport ride to "somewhere up north." I plan to visit the Arctic Circle--but why stop there?

The Milepost lays out so many route options that my head is spinning. I want to leave tomorrow!

I have pretty much decided on seeing Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay at the end of the Dalton--Alaska's famous Haul Road--where the Arctic Ocean washes up on oil company property.

But then again, Inuvik is tempting, as well. It sits waaaaaaay up there at the end of Canada's Dempster Highway.

Now, after poring over the Milepost, I'm thinking, "Hey, I have a 2011 KLR 650 and over a month to play---why not both?"  Ah, and therein lies the challenge...

So, planning continues.

Some ideas.

Riding solo or with others: A couple, three riders have expressed interest in riding with me. And I enjoy riding solo, too, so that's something to think about.  This decision will affect all other aspects of this ride.

Route: Which of the myriad routes to take? Criss-crossing several? There is SO much to see. Priorities...

When: No dates have been selected, though May/June 2014 is the target time.

Lodging: Camping, hotels, a combo of both? I would lean toward 2-3 days camping for every night at a hotel, but weather conditions and other considerations often dictate differently. I'll be prepared for either.

Contingencies: Illness, mechanical difficulties, change of plans/change of heart, etc. When to call it a day and alter plans. I'm an extent. Other riders often have different definitions of flexibility so I want to address this beforehand.

Riding schedule: I'm an Iron Butt guy. Not everyone enjoys 350-850 mile days. I like to ride, eat/break, ride and stop, with fuel stops in between. 300-mile days would be nice but I wouldn't cover much ground. 600-mile days are more my style but what would I miss seeing?

Ride/trailer/ferry: Riding from San Diego to Inuvik and/or Deadhorse is not a big deal for a KLR. The tires, maybe, but those are easily replaced. Trailering is so "Harley/Sturgis" but it sure would be nice to start the ride in Seattle! Likewise, taking the ferry back from Anchorage to Bellingham would be a neat experience and would cut 1,700 miles off the return route.  At this stage, I plan to ride up there and back on my trusty KLR.

Firearms: Decisions, decisions. Handguns are prohibited in Canada. A shotgun is OK but may not be worth the hassle. I guess it depends on how much camping (and where) I end up doing. Bottom line: mosquito repellant will likely come in handier than bear repellant or a shotgun.

Trip logging: I plan to take my trusty Garmin Zumo GPS and SPOT satellite tracking device so family and friends can follow my progress in real time.  Will have to ensure updated maps of Canada and Alaska are loaded.

Bike prep: Lots of it needed. I want to go over my bike thoroughly before I start out. I travel fairly light and carry more tools and spare parts than I'll probably need, but that's fine.


·         I will check with my insurance company about coverage in Canada. As well, I may opt for the Medevac coverage that SPOT offers....just in case.
·         I'll verify my allowances for towing, repairs and trip interruption insurance with AMA. Just in case.
·         I haven't decided if I'll provide blog updates and upload photos along the way. I may just complete a ride report at the end of my journey from notes and memory. Speaking of ride reports, I am reading as many as I can on ADV Rider and other MC sites, trying to learn as much as I can from the experience of others.
·         I am considering a crash course on small engine/motorcycle repair.  Just something to make me more confident of roadside repairs and minor adjustments on the road.

That's about it for now. Ideas, comments or suggestions? Outright angry criticism?


  1. You'll love the trip into Alaska, regardless where you end up. I put together an article of my dos and donts after I came back:

  2. As always, Steve, you put down in writing what others just dream about.

    Your post on riding to Alaska answered a lot of my questions. It's basically a checklist of what to do if you want to do it right. Plus, it's friggin' interesting stuff!

    Big thanks, brother.


  3. That looks like a lot of fun. I think Alaska is on a lot of our bucket lists. Especially when Richard always posts such great photos when he is riding around up there.

  4. Safe travels.