2015 Trip to Hyder, Alaska – Reflections

What was the goal of this trip, again?

Reaching the state of Alaska on my motorcycle was the goal, part of my quest to ride all 50 states. I now have visited 28 states.

Blue States have been Visited
Blue States have been Visited

I’m already dreaming of a ‘Northern States Tour’, visiting the remaining states in the continental US. I would want to ride the whole way there and back, and maybe visit a few Canadian provinces, just for the record books.

What stands out as special about this trip?

– Exploring new territory, including riding further north than ever before. I reached latitude 56 and then some 🙂

– Seeing some great roads. The Glacier Highway, Hwy 37A, and the western-most part of Hwy 16 approaching Prince Rupert were the best overall, with the Granduc Road to Salmon Glacier winning the most scenic category, I think.

– Traveling Vancouver Island, top to bottom, was a goal of Will’s for sometime. It was great to make this happen. These roads were new for both of us and that is always makes a route special.

– Taking a cruise through the beautiful Inside Passage was super special. It was the first time I traveled all day along our route but not on the bike. With meals and seating accommodations reserved in advance, and with few other passengers, it was a relaxing and quite scenic way to have a day off the bike.

– Meeting other travelers, especially other bikers, is always one the best parts of travel.

What challenges did you have this trip?

– We traveled about 90 miles of gravel or gravel-covered roads. I took each opportunity slowly and was pleased to survive with only one minor equipment failure (the tire pressure gauge).

– Pushing out the length of an ‘accompanied’ trip to 8 days was challenging to me. Things that helped were separate rooms most nights, and the day on the ferry allowed us to spend time apart throughout the day.

– Both H7 low-beam headlights on my bike required replacement. I was able to purchase replacement bulbs at the Walmart in Quesnel, BC and install them myself (did this in 2014 as well). In all, with shopping and repairs, set us back about two hours.

– My tire pressure gauge failed. I am certain traversing the gravel roads on this trip caused the sensitive internal parts of the gauge to shake apart. Note to self: put the pressure gauge in the tank bag if traveling on gravel roads.

– I had the opportunity to use my motorcycle’s battery and jumper cables to jumpstart Will’s motorcycle one morning. I often don’t carry the jumper cables but I brought them along on this trip as it limited our delay to 10 minutes.

– Strapping down the bike for the two longer ferry trips was stressful. Neither time was there a possibility of strapping it down in accordance with the instructions found in the owners manual. Thankfully, both trips were across calm waters.

– I had to use regular gas once during the trip. The octane level of 87 was too low for my bike so I added some octane booster I purchased for this trip. I recommend bringing some along if you’re traveling in this area or points north.

– Keeping up with the blog was difficult for a number of reasons. Camping, many “high-mileage” days, time spent repairing headlights, unreliable internet connectivity, late dinners, no ship-board wi-fi, and a full hard disk on my laptop conspired to delay the delivery of complete blog entries. Maintaining the blog in a timely manner typically takes two hours per day with a good connection to the internet.

– Seeing the bike tip onto its side. Completely my fault, I was happy to see the protection bars and cylinder head guards worked to keep the bike’s parts off the ground. Nothing broke and we had the bike back up quickly.

– Communications through our bluetooth helmet communicators was problematic. This was a first trip with Will’s new GPS unit, and there appeared to be some issues with the intercom being blocked from use at times. We are still trying to sort these out but it kept us from being able to easily update each other.

Would you travel to Alaska again?

Yes, but not on my current motorcycle. My road bike, a 2013 R1200RT, doesn’t like gravel roads much, and my impression is that the further north one travel’s, the higher the likelihood of finding gravel or mud. I would like to explore more of Alaska and northern British Columbia on an adventure bike or a larger enduro bike.

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