Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Alaska Trip, some stats, some thoughts....

There's many things I need to continue refining in my mind about my ride to Alaska and back by Ural.

For now, some stats:

A total of 75 days away from home:

Of these, the majority of them (42) were days I stayed at the home of friends I knew, friends I met along the way and friends from the Internet.  24 days were motel days when I either couldn't find an open campground (and didn't know you could camp at highway turnouts/rest areas).  Five days I actually camped (good thing Valencia lugged all that camping equipment there and back huh?) and finally 4 days on the Alaska Ferry.

Valencia's odometer read 20,907 Kilometers at the start of the trip, it now reads 38.937 Kilometers which means she and I rode 18,030 Kilometers or 10,818 miles together.

Valencia, carrying myself and all the crap I packed for the trip, weighed in on a highway scale at 1250 lbs.  She weighs 736 lbs dry, and has a gross vehicle weight limit of 1344 lbs.  It was close to max limit.  I must be more weight aware next time.

At an average miles per gallon estimate of 27 MPG (yeah, sad, but that little 40 hp 750cc engine was lugging around almost 1300 lbs of sidecar rig, rider and gear!), I figure I used up about 400 gallons of gasoline.

I went through five tires, three of them on the pusher wheel.  Again, I must say I was highly disappointed with the mileage achievable on the DURO tires.  Both the HF308 and 307 versions rendered less than 3000 Km as pusher tires when on Alaskan/Canadian roads.

Two flat tires, resulting in three ruined inner tubes.  Yep, three.  Let's just say the guy at the tire shop in Watson Lake, BC really wasn't up to the task of doing motorcycle tire changes.

Wildlife sighted: One small black bear, two small herds of Caribou, about ten moose total (none with racks), one Bald Eagle (in Oregon), assorted squirrels/varmints doing the death dash across the road as I approached.

Best part of the trip?  Meeting with old friends again and also meeting new friends on the road.

Worst part of the trip?  Well, the mechanical issues encountered sure weren't exactly joyous times; but it was the uncertainty they generated in the trust I had on Valencia at the outset of the journey that was the worst part.

Still, time was on my side and so it was more inconvenience and some costs out of pocket not covered by URAL's incredibly fast and comprehensive warranty coverage.

 All the above fit on the rig, either inside the sidecar, or on it in some fashion
The above stuff got used.

 The above gear also was in the sidecar or on it, but didn't get used at all!
Again, when one has a sidecar, cargo discipline is damn near non-existent!
But it could have been worse, at one point, there was a small Honda
Generator on the packing list!

Valencia's odometer reading yesterday afternoon as I got to the house.

I was told, upon arrival up North, that mid-April was really too early to show up to Alaska as the state doesn't really open up for warm weather tourism till Memorial Day Weekend.   There being a "late spring", the likes of which hadn't been seen by folks who've lived up in Alaska over thirty years, didn't help things.

I will say though, if you want to see lots of snow on the mountains still, mid-April is just right.  Destruction Bay, YT in mid-April was beautifully snow-clad, later on in late May?  Not so much.

Roads not taken:  Dalton/Haul Road to the Arctic Circle and Atigun Pass, weather and trust issues with the rig.  Denali Highway, not open due to late Spring and snow-clearing operations ongoing.


Spent the day cleaning up Valencia and putting things away.  She continues to run well, the air filter was a bit dirty but not clogged with ash as I'd thought last night.  


RichardM said...

Some of the "not used at all" did get used. The come-along was needed to get Valencia on the trailer. And didn't the tripod get used for a group photo?

Right now, it's starting to get crowded as you saw in Seward. At coffee the other day, someone mentioned seeing SIX cruise ships in Skagway. That'd be like 12,000 visitors wandering a town of a few hundred.

George thought that you may be hard on Urals as he thought that anything over 55mph would be really pushing a 750cc.

redlegsrides said...

Hi RichardM

hmmm, ok, the comealong and the tripod did get one use....still...

as to 55mph, the manual says to not exceed 62 mph. I tried to keep it at an indicated 60-65 mph, which given that the speedometer reads 5 mph optimistic, would mean I rode her along at 55-60 mph? I do get George's point though. My thinking now is to keep things at an indicated 55-60 mph from now on.

thanks for the updates. I'd hate to be in Skagway or Seward right now. Did you meet up with CCJon?

GlennandSun said...

Dom, we shared you highs and lows along your epic journey. You experiences are greatly influencing our planning for an Alaskian marathon.....the difference between our trips is I will be carrying my darling little monkey when we start our leap of faith and go. We learned from your trip that there are a lot of great people along the road, that Ural will stand behind their product and we should start the trip about June 1st.
I learned I can believe in my Gear Up, have faith the machine to carry us through....and any difficulty can be fixed. I learned, if you can do it, we can do it too!
Your journey and sharing is a treasure; adventure and exploring is very much is what we make it, or choose to fail to make it. Your journey inspires us to stand in the door, jump out and count to four. Airborne! Thanks, you blazed a trail for us to follow. GlennandSun

redlegsrides said...

Ural stands by their product Glenn, you guys will have your rig sorted out soon and you'll see why I like mine so much even when she breaks. Thanks for the kind words but if its all the same to you, I am looking forward to a long, long, long period of no issues with the rig! ;)

Unknown said...


thank goodness for luck & friends at all the spots where you needed help the most. and also thank goodness for the excellent Ural service and warranty repairs.

That 750cc was sure pushing a lot of weight, that's probably what ruined your tires.

the main thing is you made it to Alaska and made it home safely with lots of memories and a host of new friends.

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

Unfortunately, no. Exchanged a few text messages but didn't have an opportunity. Invited him to coffee by I think he was anxious to get on the road to Deadhorse…

Andrew Thomson said...

Epic trip and what must have been a bit trying at times. I'd love to do the same thing...

The trouble is 18,000km here would about 3.5 times around the country. I need to plan an overseas adventure...

redlegsrides said...

Bob, I agree that all the weight didn't help but I still believe main culprit is the stuff used in the roads....some said it was the chip seal, some said volcanic ash...

Geodoc (aka James) said...

Ah, too bad you didn't get a picture of the Handi-Shower - considering it made the trip from Enumclaw to Alaska and back with you.

Trobairitz said...

Great summary of your trip statistics.

75 days away. That would be hard when you family is back at home. I bet you are still sooo happy to be home in your own bed.

Spat said...

I'll try to post again I have had as much trouble posting as you did on the trip :)
1st I'm glad you only had mecanical issues, had a safe trip and your at home with the ones who love and support you. You sure found a way to keep us glued to seats following your travels. As a Ural brother It was a great follow and a heart break when I read of you mecanical challenges But ride on Bro you made a fabulous journey on a mysterious machine.

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, truly happiness right now is waking in my own bed....

Spat, thanks for the kind words and comments. Hopefully, all that was related to her being a Monday bike has been replaced by now. :) Now if we could only get some heavy rains, one to help fight the current fires and two to prove out the ignition system/air filter rough running solutions.