To the Top of Alaska, An Introduction (and Day 1)

In Travel by AbhiLeave a Comment

Alright, I’m finally getting around to writing up my Alaska trip. Several of you requested it so I made the decision to share it on this site – I apologize in advance to those of you who have no interest. I suspect the end goal will be two-fold: hopefully it entertains you but also gives a little bit of guidance for those who are thinking of taking a similar trip in the future. With respect to the latter goal, feel free to ask any questions, and I’d be glad to share all of my limited knowledge with you.

So with that said, let’s begin!

I originally got into motorcycles because they were the cheapest way I could find to go fast. This meant time on Japanese sportbikes, and the idea of motorcycle touring never crossed my mind. Fast forward a few years, and an old boss of mine convinced me to get a ’88 BMW K75. That bike opened my eyes to the trips one could take on a bike. I got an Iron Butt entry ride out of the way just to see if I could do it, and I even went Border to Border (Canada to Mexico) in less than 24 hours on that bike when it was 24 years old. Getting into Canada made me want to dream bigger, and for years I though how wonderful it would be if I could somehow have the time and the money to ride a motorcycle to the top of Alaska. Last summer, my girlfriend’s uncle (who bought a R1200GS after some years away from riding) mentioned he was also interested in the trip, so I felt like we had to make it happen. Thanks to hours of research on sites like ADVRider, we were able to make it work. So, here we go:

You’re going to meet 3 people (and our weird mascot) on this report.

Apparently, this is the only photo of all 3 of us together on the trip – with Mendenhall Glacier in the background.
Bike-urious Alaska

Individually, we’ve got my buddy Bui, the owner of a beautiful R12GS in that fantastic white on red livery. I shot this photo of him on the way back from the top – I believe at this point we were enjoying the sunset near Twin Falls, Idaho.
Bike-urious Alaska

My girlfriend, VyVy, who is an absolute trooper for putting up with me on this trip. While she normally rides this Honda S90, she could only join us for a week of the trip, so she flew in and went 2-up with me.
Bike-urious Alaska

And me, whom you already know enough about. Here I’m giving the ADV salute while alongside the oil pipeline on the Dalton Highway.
Bike-urious Alaska

Last but not least, my riding buddy, Baby Jack. I guess you can see him on my 1150 above, but let’s give him his own show. A miniature Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas, this guy travels pretty much everywhere with me. I used to have a weird stuffed animal on the back of my bike as a joke passenger, but VyVy thought it was ugly. One day she spotted this little thing in Downtown Disney, and Baby Jack has been on the back of one of my bikes ever since. Some Baby Jack dolls have moved on to other callings (one flew off my bike on the way back home from the Grand Canyon, and the other was stolen at an In-N-Out parking lot), so “Baby Jack” has evolved into a legend rather than a specific stuffed figure. We’re on Baby Jack the 3rd, and I believe he’s covered about 80,000 miles in his 3 years of tenure so far.
Bike-urious Alaska
(Yes, my bike is stuck in this photo. Here I tried to go into Valle de los Gigantes, but my street tires and general lack of off-road skills at the time were a good recipe for getting stuck. At least I didn’t need to put a stand down!)

Day 1 is easy to recap. I had a final for grad school that wasn’t scheduled to end until 7pm. Thankfully, my professors were kind enough to let me present first so I could head out early. Packed with the most luggage I’ve ever put on a bike, I took off from LA and just slabbed it up to Fremont to meet Bui and get ready for our real departure early the next morning.
Bike-urious Alaska

I usually take a photo of my starting mileage right as I leave, but I was in such a rush that I forgot this time. I remembered during my first fill-up, so let’s just assume that I’m about 150 miles in to the trip at this point:
Bike-urious Alaska

I got into Fremont around 2am, tried to burn off some of that nervous energy you get before a trip like this by chatting with Bui for a little bit, then went to bed. Day 2’s summary will come tomorrow, and then further updates will be a bit slower as I’m currently in France. Hope you enjoy how this goes!


Continue on to Day 2
June 5th, 2014 – Fremont, CA to Fort Bragg, CA, ~215 miles