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Thread: Advice for long, fast ride. San Antonio to Anchorage, Alaska

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    Advice for long, fast ride. San Antonio to Anchorage, Alaska

    I have taken a few long trips over the last few years...Central North Carolina to Cabbot Trail, Nova Scotia. San Antonio to northern Maine/New Brunswick. Planning on doing San Antonio to Anchorage, Alaska over a 16 day period (limited time due to how I can schedule vacation) in late July-early August. Having taken some longer trips, I've gotten the packing down to small, requisite items, and plenty of layerable snivel gear. Plan to take the fastest route to Anchorage, have dinner with a friend, then take off again, but drop down and pick up the pacific coast highway in Oregon and take it all the way down to I-10 then zip back across ASAP. Due to the wide temp variability, was planning to load up on layerable gear, no camping equipment and stay in hotel/motels only. Looks like about 9000-9200 total miles. Will be on a 2013 1200RT. Will be at about 26,000 miles on the bike, about 2k after the 24 service, Amsoil, and on a set of Michelin Pilot Road 4 GTs that will have about 10k miles on them. At 8k now on those tires and they're wearing great.

    Any advice for a trip this length over that time period, advice about area conditions, other advisable bike prep, or areas/pitfalls that could result in an epic fail?

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    #13338 PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcmillan73 View Post
    I have taken a few long trips over the last few years...Central North Carolina to Cabbot Trail, Nova Scotia. San Antonio to northern Maine/New Brunswick. Planning on doing San Antonio to Anchorage, Alaska over a 16 day period (limited time due to how I can schedule vacation) in late July-early August. Having taken some longer trips, I've gotten the packing down to small, requisite items, and plenty of layerable snivel gear. Plan to take the fastest route to Anchorage, have dinner with a friend, then take off again, but drop down and pick up the pacific coast highway in Oregon and take it all the way down to I-10 then zip back across ASAP. Due to the wide temp variability, was planning to load up on layerable gear, no camping equipment and stay in hotel/motels only. Looks like about 9000-9200 total miles. Will be on a 2013 1200RT. Will be at about 26,000 miles on the bike, about 2k after the 24 service, Amsoil, and on a set of Michelin Pilot Road 4 GTs that will have about 10k miles on them. At 8k now on those tires and they're wearing great.

    Any advice for a trip this length over that time period, advice about area conditions, other advisable bike prep, or areas/pitfalls that could result in an epic fail?
    Take the best wet weather riding gear you can find. The latter half of July and early August is the wet season. And start out with new tires. Otherwise I think you would be looking for new tires somewhere in Canada where you pay twice the price and wait 4 to 7 days to get them. If you really think the old tires are worth it, keep them and remount them after you get back.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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    FUKENGRUVEN SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Random thoughts:

    Tires will wear faster in northern Canada and Alaska because of the chip-seal road surface. On one of our trips from MT to AK I was down to the cords on my rear (Pirelli Scorpion) at 6000 miles. On another trip I had to buy a rear tire for my RT in Prince George, BC. Three day wait for a Dunlop sport tire that was squared off in 1500 miles.... $400. Do not start on tires with 10,000 miles on them unless you plan to change them along the way before you cross into Canada.

    On a trip in July one year it was 34 degrees and raining between Whitehorse and Haines Junction. Ten days later it was 86 degrees and sunny on the same stretch. That sort of varience in weather is not rare. Good rain gear and heated gear are smart ideas.

    Go up the ALCAN and return the Cassiar. Divert to Hyder, AK if at all possible; it is 40 miles from the Cassiar, but a stupendous ride. They just announced that the border crossing at Hyder will be closed from midnight to 8 AM each day. Consider riding thru Banff and Jasper Parks on the Icefield Parkway then to Hinton and Hwy 40 to Grande Prairie to get to the ALCAN.

    Take bug dope and a head net. Fixing a flat with 82 bazillion mosquitos feeding on you is unpleasant.

    If you are committed to motels then know that they can fill-up at around 5 PM. Better to start early and stop early and/or have reservations. Rooms in the oil shale area (Ft Nelson) can be hard to find anytime. I recommend you take at least a sleeping bag and bivy sack as back-up.

    You probably know this, but just in case, you'll need a Passport and no handguns in Canada.

    In Haines Junction there are inexpensive (relatively) cabins at the Paddle Wheel. Go to the bakery and ask for directions.

    Nugget City, 12 miles north of Watson Lake, has good food at their Wolf It Down Inn. They have nice cabins as well.

    Riding after 6-7 PM can limit your fuel options. Many of the stops close at night and their pumps are not credit card capable.

    Using your cell phone in Canada can be very expensive, especially for data. You can run-up a bill in the hundreds of dollars in a single evening of checking emails and surfing the net DAMHIK. Check with your carrier and either get a special plan or turn off data roaming. Texts are at normal rates, at least for Verizon.

    I know you may not have many options, but by blasting thru Canada you are possibly missing some of the best parts of the ride.

    You can often get Canadian cash at an ATM at better exchange rates than at a US bank.

    At some Canadian stations that have automated pumps you will have to go in the store and they will ask to hold your credit card; don't do it. Either offer another form of ID (not Passport) or carry an expired credit card for them to hold and then swap cards when you go in to pay.

    Have a good tow plan and make sure it is good in Canada, and not limited to 100 miles or so. You can be 900 miles from a BMW dealer on the ALCAN (Edmonton / Anchorage)
    Last edited by akbeemer; 03-03-2015 at 08:19 PM.
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    Thanks for the advice/information. That's exactly why I asked, always good to get info from someone local or made the trip before. Most of the standard article information about the ALCAN just says go and enjoy with the standard warnings about motels filling, gas stations, but nothing about how hard it may be on the tires.

    I have the bmw one piece rain suit and the plenty of layerable snivel gear thanks to a couple of govt sponsored mid east camping trips. I can easily add a duffel bag with some camping gear on the pilon, but the tire thing may make this a logistics nightmare since I don't have time to wait 3-4 days for a replacement. Mine are currently wearing very well, and one of the mechanics at the local BMW has gone over 25k with those PR4s, so I was planning on them having well over 10k of tread left for a 9k trip. I could put new ones on before I left and save these for later, but if the roads are going to tear them up that bad it won't make a difference as it sounds like I stand a chance of chewing up even a new set of tires. Putting a new set on is an option, taking an extra set is not.

    Thanks again for the information.

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    Lost again Texpaul's Avatar
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    Did Alaska back in 2010 and can tell you all the above advice is spot on. Pay special attention to the tire advice. I got about 15-20% fewer tire miles than expected on our trip and ended up having to buy tires in Canada, not a cheap experience.
    Two points I did not see in the previous postings. Summer is road repair time so be prepared for gravel and, if it's raining, mud when you hit construction. Not saying you can't do it on an RT, just saying be prepared. We didn't use our CC for gas once we entered Canada. We would go to a cash machine and get out enough money to last a few days then pay cash for gas. It was faster, easier and cheaper (fewer CC transaction fees).
    PCH is nice but can be slow going. Personally I would save that for another time and instead spend that time in the Canadian rockies, Jasper and Banff.
    Paul Mulhern
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    #13338 PGlaves's Avatar
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    You - the OP - are from San Antonio. You know what abrasive chip seal roads are like if you have ridden in west Texas, Big Bend, easterm New Mexico lately. You absolutely won't get 20K plus miles on a rear tire on those roads. Start with new ones and hope to get back home with them still with some tread left. At least you should make it back into the US and not have to buy, get shipped, and mount a tire along the Alcan somewhere. Whoever told you 24K on an RT rear tire missed one change or something.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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    FUKENGRUVEN SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    The four seasons of the Last Frontier: Almost Winter, Winter, still some Winter, Construction.
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    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcmillan73 View Post
    Mine are currently wearing very well, and one of the mechanics at the local BMW has gone over 25k with those PR4s, so I was planning on them having well over 10k of tread left for a 9k trip. I could put new ones on before I left and save these for later,
    For sure start with new tires. I get around 8,000 miles out of a back PR4 on my K1300S. The RT will be a little easier on tires, but not a lot.
    When my wife and I went up, it was 10,000 miles and the tires on our K75Ts were done when we got home.

    If anyway possible try to get more time off for your trip.
    Lee 2011 K1300S
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    Past BMW Bikes, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

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    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    Take at least two tire repair kits - and a way to inflate (CO2 canisters won't drain your battery). Better yet, the kits should be of different types, since little holes, big holes, and tears require different methods to fix. If a kit includes rubber cement, put in a new one before you go: the stuff can dry out, even in a sealed tube.

    Tex is right - the southern half of CA's PCH (SanFran to I-10) can be tiresome at times; and criss-crossing the Canadian Rockies is a ride of beauty!

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    cell phone costs

    "Using your cell phone in Canada can be very expensive, especially for data. You can run-up a bill in the hundreds of dollars in a single evening of checking emails and surfing the net DAMHIK. Check with your carrier and either get a special plan or turn off data roaming. Texts are at normal rates, at least for Verizon."

    I noticed the same thing when I visit the lower 48 from Canada
    1985 K100RS, 2003 K1200GT, 2010 G650GS, 2008 C14

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    FUKENGRUVEN SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveinCalgary View Post
    "Using your cell phone in Canada can be very expensive, especially for data. You can run-up a bill in the hundreds of dollars in a single evening of checking emails and surfing the net DAMHIK. Check with your carrier and either get a special plan or turn off data roaming. Texts are at normal rates, at least for Verizon."

    I noticed the same thing when I visit the lower 48 from Canada
    You'd think that the carriers could make it a seemless experience traveling between the two countries.
    Kevin Huddy
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    FUKENGRUVEN SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls1150 View Post
    Take at least two tire repair kits - and a way to inflate (CO2 canisters won't drain your battery). Better yet, the kits should be of different types, since little holes, big holes, and tears require different methods to fix. If a kit includes rubber cement, put in a new one before you go: the stuff can dry out, even in a sealed tube.

    Tex is right - the southern half of CA's PCH (SanFran to I-10) can be tiresome at times; and criss-crossing the Canadian Rockies is a ride of beauty!
    An electric pump will not run down your battery if you have the bike running while pumping. If over heating becomes an issue (never has for me) then take a break, but it only takes a few minutes to inflate a tire with a good pump. Of course a pump can break. I've never used CO2, but have watched others and it was not pretty. Takes more cartridges then I would have suspected, difficult to carry enough to handle a fix job that is still leaking, virtually useless to get a difficult bead to seal or seal fully and not practical for normal use when just checking tires. Suppose one could carry a bicycle pump as a back-up to either.
    Kevin Huddy
    Tm Pterodactyl MT Outpost

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    #13338 PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akbeemer View Post
    An electric pump will not run down your battery if you have the bike running while pumping. If over heating becomes an issue (never has for me) then take a break, but it only takes a few minutes to inflate a tire with a good pump. Of course a pump can break. I've never used CO2, but have watched others and it was not pretty. Takes more cartridges then I would have suspected, difficult to carry enough to handle a fix job that is still leaking, virtually useless to get a difficult bead to seal or seal fully and not practical for normal use when just checking tires. Suppose one could carry a bicycle pump as a back-up to either.
    Pump yes - cartidges not so much. On a good day the little kit of 3 cartridges will get your rear tire to about 20 p.s.i. And, I've had to use two cartridges just to find a leak. That scenario aside, they may be useful in an urban environment where you can find an air hose within a few miles you can limp to. Up on the Alcan where the next services may be 40 miles, or 100 miles, or more, you are likely to ruin a tire before you can find enough air to properly inflate your tire.
    Last edited by PGlaves; Today at 03:33 AM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  14. #14
    It is what it is. Bud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akbeemer View Post
    You'd think that the carriers could make it a seemless experience traveling between the two countries.
    I added Canada (voice) to my Verizon plan for $15.00 per month. Unlimited talk.
    Ride Well

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