Monday, October 27, 2014

Ride Alaska 2015

Ride Alaska 2015

Ride Alaska is Back for 2015 and after such a successful Alaska trip in 2013 and an amazing CA, AZ, UT Adventure in 2014, this ride has all the makings of an epic Adventure.

A great deal of thought goes in to a "Destination" for my Adventures, and 2015 seemed to have me thinking twice about heading south in to Mexico and beyond. 
(Photo the cartel? the Federalist)
I contemplated once again about Colorado and  the back-country Adventure we were a bit early for last year, but that would put my plans out to August of 2015, too far out for me and Alaska could be done much earlier in the year, The number of routes to Alaska and Number of  new sites to see would mean this trip would not be a repeat trip and I could create an all new adventure to Alaska!.

A few things stand out that looked to be in need of exploring on a "next time I do this" list: The inside Passage and the Ferry system, Denali Highway, Richardson Highway, and Valdez are just a few, yes this "Destination" is worth a second trip.

 (photos left to right inside passage by Northern Dream charters, Richardson Highway by Mike Criss, Valdez the Alaska Government Finance association) 
As this trip is still in the early stages of planning,  you can expect lots of updates regarding Riders, Gear, Bikes and the rout as it unfolds.
If your thinking of an Alaska Adventure of your own, I would highly recommend picking up a Copy of (The Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska) Lee Klancher with Phil Freeman have done a great job of detailing, routs, stops, sights to see and places to eat.

its going to be interesting to compare my notes from this trip from that of the 2013 trip, wondering how many times I will contradict myself in retro spect!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Start planning your trip to Alaska

Solo or group adventures will all require some level of planning, but where do you start?

Some say start by setting a date and a destination, then start the planning, the amount of time would then allocate the amount of planning you will do. Then again some say plan out all the details and the date and destination will naturally appear!

If you have the dream of riding to Alaska, then you have already completed step one in my book, you need a strong dream to drive the passion for adventure, most of us that are adventure riders are also big dreamers!
I would suggest setting a date and a ruff idea of the destination see how much time you can set aside for your adventure, then start thinking about how you can make that time match your dream.

Research: asking friends, reading blogs, and surfing the net for information, you will be amazed at the amount of information you can find on the subject its absolutely overwhelming in the vastness of quantity, not nesisaraly quality, you do need a starting point.

Starting point: you need a fairly concise, easy to reference guide as a starting point!  I would suggest this is not the adventure forum, not the mile post, not a blog, these are all great places to fill in information gaps and learn form others trips even gain knowledge of what to expect when you are out these, it may also be the fule for your dreem, but not the starting point of you Alaska trip planning.

Books are also a great resource for feeding the dream, but most are just that food for the dream and not a planning guide.

Start your Alaska Adventure ride planning with The Alaska riders Adventure starters kit! 

Ok well thats not exactly what its called but thats exactly what it is, and yes it's a book! "The Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska" by Lee Klancher and Phil Freeman. 

now the authers may get a little excited about me calling it a starters kit, but if you think of it like a home brewers starter kit for beer, giving all the right ingredients to make your first "good" beer well then yes this is that for the Alaska adventure. and like any good starters kit, you will want more! And there is plenty of that, this will get you on the right path right now! and In just 221 pages you get a guide to everything form road conditions (ever changing), bikes, gear for the bike and gear for you as well as places to stay and some sites to see. 

The advise you receive is well founded and well grounded, from two experienced riders and a native Alaskan, it just doesn't get much better than than!

As you plan your trip keep a watchful eye and the advice you receive don't dismiss the seemingly obvious, as your foundation of planning should be simple, and be wary of the overly complex or costly advice, as your adventure should should always remain well within your means! 

You don't need all the latest gear, or bike, but what you do bring will need to serve you well. Better a well  tuned Honda Ruckus shooter well within you means than spending your last dime on a shiny new BMW that will break your wallet if it breaks. (Oh and yes I saw more than one Honda ruckus scooter making the trip to Alaska)

Looking at the photoes of the book, it may not be as obvious but the quality of this book is over the top, with think pages, amazing photography and sound advice, it's published by Octane Press and runs about $30, they also have an adventure calendar that keeps me thinking of my next adventure!

The They Sayers, say! Start with the End in mind ? Well, no not really, let's start with adventure in mind and understand that their needs to be room in that plan to just go with it. and that will change many of those well founded plans. Relax, and take some time to ask for directions, even if you know the way! 

Also check out Motorcycle Riding in California, my next series of rides, at Ride California or

We will ride through the smoke of the yosemite fire, 
adventure with a group ride in to the eastern sierras and a ghost town called Bodie !
And explore the back roads and gold towns of California.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Ride Home

Today 7/26/2013 I ride home, 401 miles from Grants pass OR to Livermore California.,  have a hard time sleeping in, my mind thinking about the hot weather to come.
Im on the Bike at 5:30 looking for an open gas station and find one at the entrance to the freeway.

I make a stop at the Vista Point overlooking Mt Shasta, its an overcast day and the mountain is in a haze, just behind me a late model Honda Goldwing pulls in with Jay on board, Jay is just finishing up a ride himself and is headed back to the San Jose Area.
Jay's Story is A grand adventure of his own, he was out to fulfill a childhood dream and MUST do bucket list item, I loved his story, to make it short and sweet, as a child he like many of us read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in England in December 1884,as a young man he always wanted to build a raft just like Huckleberry Finn,(lashing together what he could find on the shore line, and sail/paddle it across a lake for adventure and fun, well this week He did just that. With the knowledge this adventure might look a little strange among the ski boats fishing boats and party platforms, he continued his adventure with determination and his trusty Dog, he also had his ridding buddy and daughter there to witness the event along with the lake ranger who paid him a visit mid way across the lake.

With a Raft made from driftwood and a sail crafted from the bottom of a discarded tent Jay made his way across the lake and with the grace of the wind sailed back again, and upon his return was greeted by more than 30 people including the Ranger all cheering him on! Great Job Jay!
Oh and what did the Ranger say to Jay halfway across the lake, well after a short discussion that started with what the heck are you doing, he said "Power On"

Im really curious whats next on Jays list of adventures?>! Power on Jay...

First stop after 200 miles is Breakfast in Red bluff, Just 201 miles to go, but 76 miles later I feel spent and I pull into a rest stop and rest a bit, text my brother, poor cold water over my head and push on.

I'm 45 miles from home and I pull in for my last gas stop and a conversation with Beverly, from Redding, its Hot and she has some advice from the Hot Rider (temperature not my good looks)
She and her husband both ride Yamahas and they hate the heat so they got mesh jackets and Cool vests, the vests are soaked in water once on they keep you cool as you ride for about 2 hours....I could use on of those right about now!

I'm back on the road for one last push and I pull into my home town, its a little strange to be home after so long, but just like that, the trip is over......

Time to clean up the bike and stash the gear for the next adventure! Colorado and the Rockys?


Motorcycles - I saw lots of motorcycles, the largest number by far is the BMW, next Harley davidson, then Kawasaki and Suzuki, with Yamaha rounding out the top Five.

Gear - all the gear worked out well, I used everything I brought, with the exception of two Video cameras (I sent these back with the family from Anchorage) all the photos were taken with my i-Phone 5. I also added a new coffee pot to my gear in anchourage (thank you Tim, he had this with him on the trip up and gave it to me for the trip down) its an AeroPress, along with some fresh Kaladi Brothers Coffee I had the best cup of coffee each and every day of the trip! there coffee is excelent.

The AreoPress coffee maker is a lot like a French Press but without the mess or broken glass, I highly recommend one for your gear. its clean because it uses a small filter and when your done making your cup of coffee, you open the end with the filter and tap on the plunger end (opposite side) and out pops the filter and old coffee in one solid puck, done!
Best Places to see:
Sea to Sky Highway
Stewart Cassiar Highway
Top of the world highway
Drive to Homer Alaska
Northern Rocky Mountains
The Last 100 miles in to Hope BC and Hells Gate area.

Misconceptions - the Stewart Cassiar Highway was in much better shape than the Alaska Highway, in all I ran in to about 1 mile of dirt road on the Stewart Cassiar and about 50 to 100 miles of dirt on the Alaska highway, also I ran in to many more potholes and accidents caused by rough roads on the Alaska highway.

The Stock tire for the V Strom 650 is the Bridgestone Trail Wing it did an excellent job on the trip, I have also used this tire in dry off road conditions and they did an excellent job.

On the way back I had a set of Shinko Trail Master tires installed and, how do I put this? they are a Dangerous tire, Please do not use these tires, hear is why:
1) Negatively affect steering: feels like the tire is flat (I stopped many times to check for proper inflation 31 front 37 rear, extra pressure as recommended for the load )
2) loss of control: many bridges in BC are made of a metal surface, like a grate you can see through. The first bridge of this type I hit with the new tires sent me sliding from side to side, and the bars swinging back and forth, it was the first close call I had with crashing the bike. I crossed the same bridge with the Bridgestones just a week before and I did not even notice a change in traction. (this happened at each metal bridge crossing I had, I still shake a little thinking about it.
3) Poor and unpredictable traction: The tires also slip wildly on tar stips and the slightest sign of mud or gravel dry or wet.. I had so many close calls with these tires I really can not count the times I though I might crash. I will replace the tires before riding again.

This was an amazing trip, and has me wanting more, getting up and not having a great ride planned for the day, has me Planning my next adventure.....

So many places to see, so little time!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home Run

Oh look at the map, wow! Just over 100k to the boarder. And just about 1,000 miles to my door step!

I've been down this road before! I feel like this is the end.....well lets call it a home run, two days if things go well.

I cross the boarder, friendly customs agent welcoming me back (must have been a long hall he says) "its been a great time" is my reply, and I'm on my way.
After finding my way through a maze of construction zones and re-routs on The US Side I stop for a BIG breakfast, and then i get on my second to last freeway before I'm home, interstate 5 I will follow this for a very long time!

Today is a ride from Hope BC, through WA, in to Oregon up to Grants Pass, about 600miles, saving 400 miles for tomorrow! 

I have one image floating in my head all day

A big part of me is still sitting by this river, in my little backpackers chair, I'm at pease hear and that part of me always will be.

This the second to last day of my adventure to Alaska and back, I reminisce over each day and each memory that is now etched in to my sole, It is an amazing thing, to Ride Alaska Solo.

Canada was a large part of this journey and it was magnificent.

When you ride on your own, people are more open to approach you, welcome  you and share their experiences with you, it's a great thing.

One more day of riding and I will share my final thoughts of the adventure, now it's time for rest.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hudson's Hope to Hope!

As it started to rain last night in camp, drip,drop on the ipad! I huddled up in my tent to right my blog, it was a neat way to end the day!

I woke up this morning to a dence fog, I could only make out a few camps down the way as I pack my gear and head out for an early start to the day. The ride up out of the canyon was quiet and calm, deer seemed to line the road so it's slow going this morning.

The morning ride remaind cool, with some great sites as the fog cleared I sopted a few times just to some it in, once you turn off the machine it's amazing how quite the hills are the highway sounds get lost in the hills so you are left to feel like you are on your own, it's a nice feeling.

 The sound of compression breaking form the next big rig reminds me I should be on my way.

As my morning fades in to the afternoon I'm struck by the change in climet once again, this time it's the heat, wow 97F im not used to that right now, I move on thinking it will pass but it just seems to get hotter! I take a few breaks to dowse my head with water and find shelter in an A&W hamburger stand, oh the ice cold frosty glass of root beer is so, good!

I'm struck by the endless ribin of Tarmac that seems to go on for ever, hear are two shots same day much different weather and landscape to go with it, keeps me thinking what's around the next corner or over the next hill, don't you want to know.......yes, I keep riding!

Finally as I head in to a deep canyon, the heat of the day dissipates and I'm presented with some amazing sites of a massive river running at what seems to be as fast as traffic down the highway, it's a spectacular site to behold, and I can only emagin the massive force of the river steep cliffs and tight curves make for a great ride! and not a single photo....oops!

With road construction and 650 miles of Tarmac, I felt the effects of a 13 hr day on the bike, I made contact with the family and called it a day!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rocky Mountains

I would like to start out with an interesting thing I did today: This morning getting on the bike and heading out felt a little strange, no one on the road, and no signs saying what highway I was on or what direction I was going, soon yes there were other cars and some motorcycles too, but still no signs? Did I go the right way? I start to see a lot of other bikers traveling in both directions but still no signs...  Do I care if I'm going they right way, well no I think, not really.
I know I'm not going back the way I came and so it seems I'm headed east, or south east, at least I think so. Well long story short I don't see a highway sign for 500 miles and I don't ask.
I'm sure this is right and it just feels better to just be out enjoying the ride, even if I might be headed the wrong way.
so I guess what I did today was follow my instinct and trust my sense of direction, it felt good!

Crossing the Rocky Mountains on a motorcycle is something we should all do, it's something I have always wanted to do and today I got to do it! Wow what an amazing thing to do on a motorcycle, you get to feel each change in climate, you can feel and smell the air change density, and as you rise and descend through the clouds, rain and sun, you experience each moment through all of your senses. And yes that is better, much better than just seeing it pass by.

Looking up in to the Rocky Mountains 
Large washouts, looks like half the mountain cane down!
Loved these rock looking out at the mountains 

Some long waits today, lots of construction on the Alaska highway, I found more dirt on the Alaska highway than I did on the Stewart highway.
Descending out of the Rocky's  

I have not really talked about the wild life yet, I was saving that for latter, but let me touch on it hear, I have seen six black bear, two brown, three moose, many bald eagles (two babies), and lots of bison / buffalo, today there was a road block set up with a follow me truck to guide traffic through the buffalo, lots of them, they were right on the road and about five feet from my bike, no stoping for photos unfortunately wow some of those guys are BIG it's been great to see it all up close

After desk ding out of the Rocky Mountains Canada is FLAT and many many miles of straight roads, I ran in to a guy traveling across east to west cost of Canada today he says its like this all the way, he was looking forward to the Mountains

This is just a sample most of the time the road seems to go off the end of the earth......

My campsite for the night off highway 29, this is a great alternate rout as it has lots of winding roads and is absolutely gorgeous, I will have to get some photos tomorrow 

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Sign Post

Today I actually had to make some decisions!

Go to Haines and take the ferry to Bellingham WA or ride back, if you remember I was considering taking the inside passage and experience the other Alaska highway, well this is a motorcycle adventure after all how could I take the ferry? head east and ponder the next decision wow two in one day... 

Do I go back the Stewart cassiar highway or take the Alaska highway: well I hate to back track but their are reports of construction delays on the Alaska highway? I head to Watson Lake and will enjoy some new roads!

It's interesting driving along after Whitehorse, roads I was on just two weeks ago look so different going the other way, I question more than ones if I'm going the right way, each time I answer by thinking, well if not, this is a great way to be going! and I will just have to make up the time tomorrow when I figure our where I went LOL!
Don't remember seeing this two weeks ago

Though rain was a great majority  of my enjoyment today, I did manage a couple of shots between storm fronts.
Some great sights along the way

Hard to see hear but people will place rocks to form their name all over the place, 200 miles from anywhere and there everywhere !

Just random signs at rest stops, no real history hear just telling you people fish and hunt out hear, well it makes for a some light reading while on the road.

My thought for the day! if you would like to see the view from hear, you could just put your motorcycle gear on and stand in the shower for 8 hrs ;-), I guess that would be a good test your rain gear too, I stayed dry and it looks like my gear will dry by morning! 

The Sign Post forest totally took me by surprise, I really did not expect it to be so grand. The photos ive seen of the spectacle just don't do justice to the depth and magnitude of this spot, it is absolutely worth the stop, and if your taking the cassiar not the Alaska highway,  just turn right at the junction and make the stop at Watson lake, you will not be disappointed.

People actually bring their home town sign post, the big one with population numbers elevation and all wow! It has paths that lead down several levels and in to a parking lot, I will take my morning walk their! Guess that means I will call this a short day and find a hotel!

I am happy to report my rain gear is holding up well and my custom top box is keeping my iPad dry as well! I absolutely love having a top box it provides easy access to the things you want and it's at a level you don't have to bend down to access, supper handy!

Side note: Food! With the exception of lunch on the road I am making all my meals rather than eating out, I prefer spending this time in camp winding down for the day and thinking about the ride, it's just better for me. If you are thinking of doing the same I highly recommend Moutan House pro-pak, it's a backpacking freeze dried food and this brad is quite good.
The rice dishes I have tried are all good, along with the beef stroganoff always looking forward to the next one. A two serving dish is good for one person, if there are two of you, you should each have one or opt for the larger size and share this makes for a simple easy to clean up meal. 
For breakfast I have a can of Irish Oatmeal some brown sugar, crushed nuts and craisens, it makes for a good breakfast. I started the trip and with those instant oatmeal packages and they made for a blood sugar crash soon after I started riding, the Irish oatmeal seems to work well for me. I also bring along a couple of different gernola  bars for an extra boost mid morning.

A stock photo: building the Alaska Highway (the hard work continues today)