What are the challenges of a motorcycle trip to Alaska?

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Road to Alaska

Time:

Not a lot of people have enough time  or days off (paid or unpaid) to make a round trip to Alaska on a motorcycle which can very well take 30 days or even more in ideal conditions if you want an enjoyable trip.

Money:

Gas, camping, hotels&motels, motorcycle maintenance (pre, during and after trip), new set of tires, new chain, weather proof clothing, some spare parts, and other necessary items like mosquito repellant or net, international roaming will add up. A trip can cost anywhere from $3.000  to $10.000 depending on your particular case.

Spousal/Parental Consent:

Parents and spouses can try to discourage you by highlighting all the possible worst case scenarios. What if this? What if that? Who is going to take care of kids or the baby while you are away?

In my case, my wife seemed not minding much for my Alaska trip planning in spring months but when the summer came and I started making final arrangements, she told me that she did not think I was seriously going. She thought that I was just fantasizing about it and I wouldn’t actually go. She complained me about our 6 month old son and how I shouldn’t leave them and go on a one month long motorcycle trip. And my mum, my dad and sister all objected my trip. I still did it but on a very big compromise.

Lack of Riding Buddy / Fear of Riding Single:

When you tell your motorcycle buddies about your intent to ride to Alaska, a lot of them will say they would join you. And often times you may end up having to ride by yourself or postpone your trip to their times and terms. Riding with other people or riding by yourself have both advantages and disadvantages.

The Shear Distance – 7,558 miles:

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Road to Alaska

Alaska is far. And not only that, it is also BIG. It’s the largest state, twice as big as Texas. The distance from Las Vegas to Prudhoe Bay (north of Alaska by the Arctic Icean where the road literally ends) is 3,779 miles one way and 7,558 miles round trip excluding any off the route trips, assuming you are always on the freeway without any exits. It will demand a lot from you physically and mentally and also from your bike.

Weather (Rain and Cold):

A seemingly sunny day can turn into a rainy one in such a short time that you may not even have a chance to stop and put on your rainproof. Rule of thumb: put on the rain gear before you get wet. Once you get wet, you will get cold too. Also even in a sunny day, high altitude mountain passes can be cold, much colder than your starting point earlier in the day.

Bears, Mosquitoes and other animals:

Bears can be a serious threat while you are camping. The smell of food, your mere presence in their territory, or your camp light may attract them towards you. If you need to camp, chose designated camp sites, preferably with other people around. Try to prevent your food or cooking from enticing the possibly hungry bears. Don’t leave your trash or food left overs behind you as this will make the bears come and check out these campgrounds more often for food. Most camp sites should have bear proof garbage disposals. If possible do not camp alone in wilderness where bears can be present.

Mosquitoes love water to breed and Alaska has lots of water. When you stop for a break or camping, if you are in the wrong place, a swarm of mosquito will form a cloud around you. Spraying mosquito repellent on your helmet, and jacket will keep them away. Or you can have a net over your head. Mosquito repellent can be better in providing a more broad protection and  is less obstructive if you need to work on your bike or prep up for camping.

Alaska and the way to there has rich wild life from bears to caribous. It is not unheard of to to hit these animals on the road. I for my part hit a sizable bird in Glenn Highway which left some of its feather and blood on one of my gloves.

Border Crossing:

Study what you will need to cross into Canada. Passport, photo id, insurance, registration are some standard things that must be in order. Also you should be able to verbally convince the border agent about your intention to be admitted into Canada. Citizens of certain countries may need visa. Bringing a gun can pose extra challenge. Being denied entry to Canada or delayed can upset the rest of your trip. Prepare in advance for a smooth border crossing.

Overthinking:

Overthinking is a subtle but a serious challenge. It is a blend of all other challenges. Whatever challenge you may think of, think of it as something that needs to be addressed with reasonable effort. Give it some consideration, do something about it and rest your mind. Don’t over think. Don’t let it stop you from riding your motorcycle to Alaska. All takes is start the bike and ride it north. You can not plan for everything. And that’s why it is fun, the factor of unknown.

 

 

 

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