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Austin to Alaska ... July 2014

Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
Prologue:

Well, like all good stories this one starts in the middle... not the middle of this ride, mind you. Not in the middle of my life (hopefully). Not in the middle of a divorce (she might have because of this - but i haven't married her yet --> Win). But, in the middle of the summer in Texas when you just want to head north towards cooler weather.

After riding 48 States in 10 Days last September, I decided to do the only logical thing there was left to do... open my very own combination oil change/manicure/hair salon place in South Austin... Ok, maybe not. But, the place is weird enough for it to work...

Where was I? ... Oh yeah, I decided to ride to Alaska.

I started reading books, stories, ride reports and watching youtube videos of people's experiences while traveling through the Yukon and beyond. That'll get ya hooked quick.


This is an amazing series of videos that 2 guys shot riding from Nebraska to Deadhorse in 2011. If that doesn't make you want to go do it for yourself... I'm not sure what will. I watched the whole series through and bought a v-strom a week later.... this was going to happen.
[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kBWfegUhmk&list=PLA8KfE_jrc9mHGxg72RenkQDnKIt63wcp"]This[/ame]

The Plan:

Iron Butt pace out of Austin making a B-Line north. Ride across Canada and get lost in the mountains of Canada and Alaska for a week or so. Camp along the way/Hotel if needed, Tire Change in Fairbanks, Do magic and make 1/2 my seat disappear from clenching while i ride the Dalton. Check out the sights. Then B-line back home.

Alaska_Route_info.jpg


A. Nuthin'
B. Nuthin' Eh?
3. Moose avoidance training
q. 1000 miles of "Come to Jesus" moments
R. Recalibration as to how beautiful this world really is
&. Avoid Yogi and the boys while camping
7. Tap the rockies (coors light) - National parks, $1M highway
F. Back home through the Hairdryer-like texas heat in the summer.

Work is pretty tough to get more than a few days off at a time, but I managed to get 2 full weeks off + July 4th. So that gives me 17.5 days of riding time to get this done. I'll trim some of the stops off, I'm sure, as i go - depending on the progress i'm making, but i'm counting on a minimum of 10 hours in the saddle/day with 1 or 2 "easy" days built in.

My office for the trip:
V-Strom_5S.jpg


A. Spot Tracker - The "Come quick and bring the heli-chopters button" also lets loved ones and stalkers know where i'm at.

B. Garmin GPS - Utilizes multiple geosynchronous orbiting satellites and some flavor of witch-craft called "Triangulation" to route me in the wrong direction 50% of the time.

3. Gopro - My Early Warning Device. Based on previous experience - This will record the miles of dull, un-interesting portion of the trip and then the batteries will die moments before something beautiful/dangerous/fun comes into view. Just watch for the light to go out and get ready to hold on.

D. Sped-O-Meter - No, I spelled that right. Not a speedometer. It tells me A speed. It's not my speed, the bike's speed or the crazy blue-haired ladies speed that happens to be driving next to me at the moment. The Japanese were able to make an engine that only needs a valve-shim adjustment every ice age... but they couldn't figure out to measure how fast it was going.

F. Fuel Gauge/Temp gauge/Idiot lights - The fuel gauge is full when there is 1 bar missing and the instant it clicks to 1 bar remaining, you have precisely enough time to mutter curse words under your breath and pull over as the engine dies.
I can only assume the temp gauge works because it heats up and cools down proportionally to me.
The idiot lights are all off, which worries me because it should know that i'm driving it and respond appropriately.

$. Tach - Works... spends lots of time above 6K

W. Bark-busters - for those trees I plan to hit.

T. Aux Light switch - Connected to legal(debatable) aux lights that are bright as ****.... good thing i'm heading to a place that gets 19 hours of light each day.

7. Phone - Uses the stuff I make at work to connect me (magically) to the rest of the world on a whim. Except when theres no coverage (Canada/Alaska) and where i don't want to pay for international roaming charges (Canada).... So, it's going to play music for me instead.

g. Throttle lock - The lazy button. Useful for letting you take pictures, eat something, take a drink, adjust "stuff" with your right hand and many more not-quite safe things while riding.

Z: Random parts I forgot to re-install (there's always extras) and tools (mostly hammers) that I haven't picked up yet after giving the bike a once-over

Absent from Pic:

1. Heated grip switch - 2 settings: Off and Burn
2. Powerlett outlet - Powers Camera and Gopro battery charger in my tank bag - This way, when the gopro dies and I see something interesting, I can put another one in thats charged already... and as soon as it dies, I can see something interesting again.
3. 2 Cig Outlets - Powers Phone and GPS
4. Battery LED - Lets me know when its getting close to pushing time.
5. Coax Cable - For heated vest/gloves


The bike is ready, Panniers are packed, gear is prepped... and now we play the waiting game....

The Trip kicks off July 3rd after a half-day at work.

Spotwalla
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
13,843
Location
Arlington, TX
Dang, two weeks to ride that? We did it in three weeks and looking back on it, I feel like I didn't see hardly a thing other than the pavement. And that was us trailering the bikes from DFW to Calgary and back, driving in shifts with no breaks. So that cut 2-4 days off of our travel time if we had done it by bike.

Have fun, and I hope you get to see more than just the pavement. Because truth be told, Canada and Alaska pavement looks a whole heck of a lot like the stuff we have down here.
 

Vinny

Forum Supporter
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
2,043
Location
Austin, Tx
Subscribed.
If anyone can do it, it's the guy that rode 48 states in 10 days !! :giveup:
If we weren't in Texas I would ride the first couple of days with you. That part is going to suck. I'm sure you'll be burning 1000 - 1200 miles the first couple of days to get to the good stuff.
We'll live thru it via your Spot. Good luck and be safe. :rider:
 

JB

Joined
Mar 11, 2003
Messages
126
Location
Austin
I'm looking forward to this one. I'll be checking in (stalking) your Spot Tracker through out your trip. Enjoy.
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
881
Location
Zephyr, Texas
You write great ride reports. This one will top your last one by far. I'll be following it closely. Good luck! Are keeping the stock seat or using a custom one?
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2014
Messages
19
Location
Arlington
Let's see...I made it to AK in 8 days, but I was not in a hurry. All the way to Prudhoe Bay and back in 17.5 days...sounds aggressive. Minimum 10000 miles round trip. Don't forget to change the oil in Fairbanks!! Have a great trip
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
You write great ride reports. This one will top your last one by far. I'll be following it closely. Good luck! Are keeping the stock seat or using a custom one?
Thanks! I'm hoping to keep it updated while on the road, but it will probably just be with quick pics and check-ins due to the schedule. I'll most likely write the whole thing up after I get back again... but we'll see.

About the seat: Stock seat + Airhawk cusion - it has over 15,000 miles on it and my butt feels pretty good. I thought about buying a Corbin off of Mr2mch, but decided I wouldn't get enough time to test it before I head out.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
On packing for a trip of this magnitude:

People tend to ask: What are you taking with you? Where will you put it all?
What i've found during the course of my trials and tribulations so far is that most people tend to overpack and bring waaaay too much stuff...

So i've narrowed it down to just the basics:

Vstrom_Rear_explained.jpg


Everything else is just fluff you can pick up along the way.

A smart man chooses the WeeStrom over it's larger brother due to its nimbleness, light weight and ease of handling.
A wise man chooses it because the single exhaust lets you keep beer cold on the left while thawing out your steak on the right. :eat:
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2006
Messages
2,219
Location
Waco, Texas USA
17.5 days?

I've looked at Waco to the Arctic Circle via Alaska and I can't see the things
I want to see along the way and ride the roads I want to ride in less than 30 days.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
3,937
Location
Coryell city
Road Whore over by me made the run to DeadHorse and back in 14 days flat on a weestrom....His wee has never been right since. Skip a beer or 2 and carry extra oil. He rode so hard that he burned oil and could not find ANY 15-50 up there. Wound up topping off with 30 wt...He made it home but his Wee now smokes like a diesel on start up:eek:
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
Road Whore over by me made the run to DeadHorse and back in 14 days flat on a weestrom....His wee has never been right since. Skip a beer or 2 and carry extra oil. He rode so hard that he burned oil and could not find ANY 15-50 up there. Wound up topping off with 30 wt...He made it home but his Wee now smokes like a diesel on start up:eek:
Ok, so I was exaggerating a bit with the minimal packing list. :giveup:
Oil is there, so is a spare filter since it sticks out in front like a rock magnet.

Everything fits in the panniers, tank bag, top box and 1 dry bag.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2008
Messages
214
Location
Austin
This is an amazing series of videos that 2 guys shot riding from Nebraska to Deadhorse in 2011. If that doesn't make you want to go do it for yourself... I'm not sure what will.
That music will make anyone want to do whatever's shown in the video! You could shoot a chess tournament or people knitting and Pirates would make it seem dramatic.

I watched the whole series through and bought a v-strom a week later.... this was going to happen.
Videos like that also motivated me to get an adventure bike. Looking forward to following!
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
Brian, enjoy the ride. Be safe and have tales to tell.
I'm hoping I'll have 1 or 2 good ones after this. But, we all know motorcycle stories are like fishing stories and all statements should be considered D@mned Lies.

I see that 1190R made it into your sig line :eek2:
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2014
Messages
7
Location
Washington
Ok, I've subscribed and will be following. If I ever get my bike to Texas when working or visiting my sister in Plano, will for sure head to the Austin area to do some riding. Good luck and safe travels!
 
Joined
Nov 12, 2007
Messages
161
Location
Lakehills, TX and Ruidoso, NM
Did San Antonio to Dawson City for D2D 2013, rear tire change in Anchorage ( I mailed a take-off to the Suzuki shop), and back to San Antonio via Inside Passage from Haines to Prince Rupert, 27 days and had time to spare. Did it on a 2004 Wee, no oil burn, no oil change, 50+ mpg avg (OK, it was running lean).

Anyone interested can read about it here:
http://www.wtrrtw.net/Elephant1.html

or here (short version)
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=910984
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
Did San Antonio to Dawson City for D2D 2013, rear tire change in Anchorage ( I mailed a take-off to the Suzuki shop), and back to San Antonio via Inside Passage from Haines to Prince Rupert, 27 days and had time to spare. Did it on a 2004 Wee, no oil burn, no oil change, 50+ mpg avg (OK, it was running lean).

Anyone interested can read about it here:
http://www.wtrrtw.net/Elephant1.html

or here (short version)
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=910984
Nice Write up on the trip.
I hope your buddy is doing better.

My Wee is an '04 as well.... only 13,000 miles on it though. Bought it with 9K on it this February.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
So,
The packing list was a bit sparse before... I'm going to try not to bore anybody with the details... just go with: yes, i'm bringing that stuff that I won't need and of course i've forgotten the one thing that I surely will. That's how it always goes anyways.

I think I've got everything needed to do a full teardown roadside if needed... except maybe the skill, patience... and time.
But, as my mother would say: "Brian, if the girls don't think your handsome, they should at least think your handy."
So, if something does break, it'll most likely look like this after I piece it back together.
images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQHfytdq0BUvWDH5CZL7BPA1ghzkhtlz_lJTwMwKMxQyfyQ64hg.jpg


Re-waterproofed the suit last night, sprayed the camping gear down with permethrin (the chemical smell lets you know its working):shock:, and loaded up the bike.
20140629_162804.jpg


I got word back last night from advcycleworks that my K60's are waiting for me in fairbanks... hopefully I don't make them wait too long. Their prices are equal to what i could find here in Texas for tires and I don't have to worry about shipping anything... sweet.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2014
Messages
19
Location
Arlington
Sounds like you are well prepared...I made the trip in 2006 with 1 set of tires...I did get a flat in Dawson City on the return, plugged the tubeless tire, added fix a flat and made back to Arlington with steel cords showing! Dumb I know. My riding partner rode a KLR, he got a new rear tire in Whitehorse on the way up...they had it one in stock. Go, have a great trip. With your touring experience I am sure this trip will be a breeze.
 
Joined
Oct 26, 2010
Messages
1,030
Location
Bandera, TX USA
ADVcycleworks be good people. Sure did me right in 2012


ATGATT. Lee
" I never worry about getting lost.
I just change where I plan on going."
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Jeff S

Forum Supporter
Joined
Feb 21, 2011
Messages
1,230
Location
Austin
subscribed.

Have a great ride, and good luck with the weather up north. Do you have a spotwalla page?
 
M

mr-roboto

Brian - You are the toughest LD rider on TWTEX! Your endurance is simply amazing. I look forward to tracking your trip.

:clap:

The guys who boast about riding 700 to 800 miles on hard packed dirt are probably jealous by now.

:lol2:

Safe Travels,

RB
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2014
Messages
783
Location
Austin, TX
Brian - You are the toughest LD rider on TWTEX! Your endurance is simply amazing. I look forward to tracking your trip.

:clap:

The guys who boast about riding 700 to 800 miles on hard packed dirt are probably jealous by now.

:lol2:

Safe Travels,

RB
Thanks but There are guys on this site with 3 digit IBA #. I think they've got me beat for LG riding by a fair bit.
 
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