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Old 10-05-2012, 07:47 PM   #1
runnin4melife OP
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MT to AK need guidance

I am planning a trip from Billings, MT to Alaska. I would really like to speak with someone that has done a trip of this caliber. I may also be doing it solo (yes I know it is not ideal but that adds to the mystique). I will be riding a highly modified BMW F800GS.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:59 AM   #2
Pantah
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What do you want to know? I've ridden the Alcan 5000 twice. 2006 and 2010. Both on the same KTM 950. I'm planning on entering again for the 2014 event, but on a smaller bike.

It starts in Seattle and finishes in Anchorage. Lots of dirt roads usually.
http://alcan5000.com/

Weather? You'll get lots of rain and use your heated gear alot.
Roads? I can offer a few dirt routes you could do solo.
Gas? Expensive, but plenty along the way. Need about 175 miles range.
Lodging? Well I know the places I stayed at.

-P
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Old 10-06-2012, 01:19 PM   #3
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The Alcan would be awesome but I cannot commit to a timeline like that due to the military I am mainly curious about dos, don'ts, must haves, wastes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantah View Post
What do you want to know? I've ridden the Alcan 5000 twice. 2006 and 2010. Both on the same KTM 950. I'm planning on entering again for the 2014 event, but on a smaller bike.

It starts in Seattle and finishes in Anchorage. Lots of dirt roads usually.
http://alcan5000.com/

Weather? You'll get lots of rain and use your heated gear alot.
Roads? I can offer a few dirt routes you could do solo.
Gas? Expensive, but plenty along the way. Need about 175 miles range.
Lodging? Well I know the places I stayed at.

-P
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:03 PM   #4
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OK, to me the great white north is no different than Montana where you live. The temps are the same until you get to the Yukon, where the wetness and cold sets in. My favorite roads are all dirt. They are:

1. The South Canol. 130 miles
2. The Top of the World. Maybe 100 miles.
3. The Denali Highway. 140 miles

I'd add a couple others, but you really have to be into it. Maybe look at the 2006 Alcan Itinerary for clues.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:28 PM   #5
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Sounds great, I will be shipping the bike from the DC area. Current stationed there so it will be a moderate weather change. I plan on doing some research in the mean time such as items to bring etc... It will be an intense trip because I will have a modest time line and will require a lot of planning to get it to work out alright.
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:07 PM   #6
LuluOfDenver
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CO to AK

I just did Denver to AK on my F650GS. It was a blast! Do you have a route planned or approx daily mileage in mind? I'll log back on tomorrow and give you my 2 cents when I've got more time.
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:31 PM   #7
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I just did Denver to AK on my F650GS. It was a blast! Do you have a route planned or approx daily mileage in mind? I'll log back on tomorrow and give you my 2 cents when I've got more time.
I am looking at starting in Billings, MT because I have heard that is a great start location. Based purely on time I would like to do ~400+ miles a day (~2500 miles over 6-7 days), I am crushed by a 2 week schedule inherently so I will have to do a lot of driving just to make my timeline. I know that is not ideal either but because of my status in the military I may not be able to get more than 2 weeks, perhaps 3 but I cannot count on that. Adventuring on a time line like this is fun but it has its constraints.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin4melife View Post
I am looking at starting in Billings, MT because I have heard that is a great start location. Based purely on time I would like to do ~400+ miles a day (~2500 miles over 6-7 days), I am crushed by a 2 week schedule inherently so I will have to do a lot of driving just to make my timeline. I know that is not ideal either but because of my status in the military I may not be able to get more than 2 weeks, perhaps 3 but I cannot count on that. Adventuring on a time line like this is fun but it has its constraints.
You can do 400 miles per day easy. But it's a long way. For planning purposes, I'd look at the Alcan5000 schedule for 2014. You won't be able to do the whole thing, though. The ride to Seattle from Anchorage is 4 days of hard slabbing 600 miles per day.

I think the following would capture most of what the GWN has to offer.

1. The pass north of Fort Nelson on 97 (Alcan Highway) to Watson Lake. Probably the prettiest ribbon of asphalt on the Alcan.
2. The Robert Campbell Highway from Watson Lake to Carmacks (Hwy 4 and dirt)
3. The Klondike Highway (Hwy 2) north to Dawson. Spend a half day poking around there. Dawson is a cool place.
4. Take the ferry in Dawson to pick up the Top-Of-The-World highway (dirt) to link up again with the AK Highway at Tok, AK. Beautiful road and even if muddy had good traction.
5. Denali Highway: Maybe 100 miles south of Fairbanks on Rt 3 you'll find the Denali Highway. This is a dirt road running east/west between the two roads that go south from Fairbanks. One goes to Anchorage and the other along the pipeline to Valdez. It is spectacular and quite lonely. It runs about 140 miles in length.

I'm not sure you have the time to see much more. The route to see these places is about a 6000 mile loop from Seattle I think. That's about 15 days worth even if you throw in a couple 700 mile days.

Tires: You'll need a decent front tire for the mud you'll likely face. You'll probably need to change out the rear in Fairbanks. In 2006 I used TKC 80 tires and they were awesome, but I had to change the rear in Dawson and the front in Watson Lake on my way back. In 2010 I used Mefo Explorers and they made the whole loop (7200 miles), but the front was terrible in the mud. If I were to do it again, I'd use a Mefo Rear and an extra TKC 80 for the front.

Weather: The best time of year is late August early September. That is why the Alcan5000 is scheduled then. But that doesn't really mean the weather will be good. It'll be warm until you get into the Yukon and then start to get cold. You absolutely must have a heated jacket liner and heated grips or heated glove liners. Your outer gear should be waterproof. You'll want to treat your boots and gloves with waterproofing like Moneysworth Best Liquid Silicon. You can get it at a boot repair shop.

I think you need 3 pairs of gloves. I use MX gloves when warm, Roper gloves when coolish, and Black Diamond Mountaineering gloves for wet and cold. They are textile gloves with thin palms so your hands don't cramp. Can get them at REI. I carry an old pair of Grandoe ski gloves as spares too. They also have thin palms.

Cramps: I get very painful muscle cramps on occation. I learned that happens when I get dehydrated. So I use a Camelbak always and a few pulls on that will chase off my cramps in about 5 minutes. It's best to avoid the whole thing by sipping a little every hour.

I take a Biker's balaclava for under my helmet, but have only used it in 2006 when the temps were low 30's and sleeting.

I take everything I need to change tires or repair flats roadside. Plus I practice in the comfort of my garage to avoid drama on the trail. Breaking beads and spooning tires can be tough if you haven't practiced. Neduro has a good video posted here somewhere that shows if you are forcing things, you have it wrong.

My KTM had 200 miles fuel range which is plenty. The BMW 650 singles only had about 170 miles and for them it was sketchy. Never pass a change to gas up.

I guess basically you need to be safe, able to fix flats, handle common mechanical issues, and be comfortable no matter what weather you get. Since you'll be solo, you might consider using a Spot II tracker. It's about $200 including the rescue insurance contract. I use one when travelling remote locations and my son used it in the Mexican 1000 race last April. Pretty handy when no cell service. Anybody with web access can see exactly where you are if you have it on.

Dang, this got me all excited to go try that Alcan thingie again!
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:49 AM   #9
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Great considerations! I have been considering a lot of these items for a while. I will be doing a 36 hr IBA Bun Burner this January from Rockville, MD to San Antonio, Tx as a mild form of equipment check. I will not be running the TKCs due to unnecessary wear/tear on them but I figure a ride of this distance will provide a good measure of endurance and issues that could arise in a long distance journey even though it is relatively benign. What about an intermediate tire like a Heidenau K60 to increase longevity but also make it capable of modest off road?
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin4melife View Post
What about an intermediate tire like a Heidenau K60 to increase longevity but also make it capable of modest off road?
The Mefo Super Explorers I used are the tube type versions of the Heidenau K60 I believe. I think they come out of the same plant. Are not your rims spoked and require tubes? If they are you might as well use a tire designed for tubes. On the other hand, maybe it doesn't really matter.

In any event the Mefo's went 7200 miles. I had a couple Pirelli take-offs with me but I never used them. I would imagine the K60's would get similar mileage. The trick is to run them at 40lbs. I didn't believe it when people told me, but I tried it and it worked.

Like I said, though, I want a knobby on the front next time. But the Mefo tire never put me down in the mud, and it was very good in the dry dirt or gravel. So perhaps the K60 or Mefo for you would suffice. You won't likely face any slop unless you try the South Canol Rd between Ross River and Highway 1 at Johnson's Crossing. Well,,, if you tried the Dempster or the Haul Road, you can get some slop in spots.
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:20 AM   #11
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The F800 has spoked rims which require tubes. The TKC 80s are actually tubeless tires and havent had any problem with that. The biggest consideration with tubed vs tubed tires in my experience is that your tube does not build up too much friction to disintegrate so if the sizes mesh it is usually fine. I have ran tubes in tubeless tires on a variety of bikes.

I tend to run my TKC 80s at higher PSI which helps a lot on the road in terms of longevity. The front can def go a lot father than the rear so that was why I was considering the Heidenuas, but if I take a spare set of TKCs I should be just fine (that and have a few locations that have them in stock as well.

I definitely like the TKCs so in the interest traversing any given terrain (safely) they may just stay on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantah View Post
The Mefo Super Explorers I used are the tube type versions of the Heidenau K60 I believe. I think they come out of the same plant. Are not your rims spoked and require tubes? If they are you might as well use a tire designed for tubes. On the other hand, maybe it doesn't really matter.

In any event the Mefo's went 7200 miles. I had a couple Pirelli take-offs with me but I never used them. I would imagine the K60's would get similar mileage. The trick is to run them at 40lbs. I didn't believe it when people told me, but I tried it and it worked.

Like I said, though, I want a knobby on the front next time. But the Mefo tire never put me down in the mud, and it was very good in the dry dirt or gravel. So perhaps the K60 or Mefo for you would suffice. You won't likely face any slop unless you try the South Canol Rd between Ross River and Highway 1 at Johnson's Crossing. Well,,, if you tried the Dempster or the Haul Road, you can get some slop in spots.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:17 PM   #12
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Sounds like you know a lot more than me. You should do well if you can get a few extra days. Luck and fun.

-P

Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin4melife View Post
The F800 has spoked rims which require tubes. The TKC 80s are actually tubeless tires and havent had any problem with that. The biggest consideration with tubed vs tubed tires in my experience is that your tube does not build up too much friction to disintegrate so if the sizes mesh it is usually fine. I have ran tubes in tubeless tires on a variety of bikes.

I tend to run my TKC 80s at higher PSI which helps a lot on the road in terms of longevity. The front can def go a lot father than the rear so that was why I was considering the Heidenuas, but if I take a spare set of TKCs I should be just fine (that and have a few locations that have them in stock as well.

I definitely like the TKCs so in the interest traversing any given terrain (safely) they may just stay on.
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Old 10-07-2012, 07:37 PM   #13
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Wouldn't say I know more ;-) I am obviously looking for information and knowledge gleamed from experience. I just know a little bit about stupid things you can do to tires. When I was a poor little MX rider I did a bunch of really silly thtings to scrimp by, some worked and some didn't. Tubes in MX tires full of wholes were a few of those things that worked... sometimes haha. I will never ever put a tube in without talc from some of my early experiences though

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Sounds like you know a lot more than me. You should do well if you can get a few extra days. Luck and fun.

-P
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:27 PM   #14
LuluOfDenver
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Camping in, around and near AK

I finally wrote a post with all the campgrounds I stayed at on my trip in case runnin4melife, or anyone else, plans on camping on a trip like this. Someone who was reading this thread contacted me about camping and asked for info, so this is what I've got.

Http://louisesbmwbike.blogspot.com/2...arder.html?m=1

I promise, I will do one about the breweries next!
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:18 AM   #15
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Thank you so much for this. I was planning on doing a little bit of camping as well as hotels etc... I have spent the better part of this fall working on my bike, I have done a lot of modifications in preparation for this trip (and other things). I have to do everything now as I will not have much prep time before I set out (besides maintenance etc..).
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