The Alaskan Highway 
Solo
on a Roadstar Raider Motorcycle

The Alaskan Highway by Motorcycle. A dream left unfulfilled for far too long.

The ALCAN... likely the biggest Motorcycle Touring Dream of a great number of American Bikers... I suppose, kind of the Holy Grail for Motorcycle Touring in America.

The number of riders who've made the Alaskan Highway journey, are not few... Many thousands have made the 8,000 mile, plus, journey. But, I feel pretty safe in saying... those thousands are still in the minority of the total number of Motorcycle Riders in the country...

So, those of us who've made the ride can feel good on that score, just a lil' ego boost there.

... and I don't know... pumping up My ego here... making my Alaskan Highway Motorcycle Ride solo, likely includes me in an even smaller minority... don't it? and smaller yet for fellas who have rode it on a Roadstar Raider! :o)

Distances on the Alaskan Highway...

I'm not going to tell you that Solo Motorcycle Camping along the Alaskan Highway, from Fort Collins to Denali and back is akin to running Africa... or across China... but for my Old Bones? It was still a challenge. It's not that the road itself is that difficult, 'cause it ain't. It's actually a pretty good road these days...

What keeps riding a Motorcycle on the Alaskan Highway a challenge, in my mind, are the distances... you look at maps and they put Arizona... on one page. They put British Columbia, and the Yukon on one page too. You can get deceived by the distances. They look similar on a map... until you start LOOKING.

Let me tell you, the scale on those maps, north of the border with the lower 48, is a whole lot smaller! And the distances, a whole lot farther!

I can ride clear across pretty much any U.S. State in a day, most of 'em quite a bit less!... It took me all day and 700 miles just to ride across just the S.W. Corner, of the Yukon Territory!

... and as one Aussie told me; "You people talk about killer snakes and spiders in Australia... that's nuthin'. Those buggers just bite and sting... Bloody Hell! You folks up here on the Alaskan Highway have things that will EAT YOU!"

Makes a man proud... don't it? :o)

There's been at least several million words written about riding the Alaskan Highway... What to see... What to do... Little point in rehashing what others have done... you'll have no problem finding that, and it's not what I'm about anyhoo.

I'll try to not repeat too many of 'em... and maybe actually come up with some unique perspective... you'll have to be the judge whether I succeed or not.

I guess the first thing to spin a tale about, when you start talking 'bout riding the Alaskan Highway, is my feeling for the land itself... British Columbia, the Yukon... and Alaska. All the places, North of the lower 48 U.S. Border, that you'll ride through as you wander along on this journey.

One of the first things you're likely to have to deal with is... the weather. I'm guessing that you understand, there's nothing to "deal with", if the weather is good... right? :o)

This Great North Country... Is NOT... a gentle country.

Of the 8768 miles I logged from Colorado to Fairbanks and back... something around 3,000 of 'em... was in the rain. I ate breakfast, in the rain. Broke camp, in the rain. Rode most of the day, in the rain... set up camp in the afternoon/evening... in the rain. So be ready for it! :o)

The way it was told to me was something like; "If you try to fight it, you can't win. So just go with it. Embrace it. Adjust to it... find a way to fit into it. you'll be much happier. If you don't, it will beat you."

Get Ready for Alaskan Highway Weather

One of the first things you're likely to have to deal with is... the weather. I'm guessing that you understand, there's nothing to "deal with", if the weather is good... right? :o)

This Great North Country... Is NOT... a gentle country.

Of the 8768 miles I logged from Colorado to Fairbanks and back... something around 3,000 of 'em... was in the rain. I ate breakfast, in the rain. Broke camp, in the rain. Rode most of the day, in the rain... set up camp in the afternoon/evening... in the rain. So be ready for it! :o)

The way it was told to me was something like; "If you try to fight it, you can't win. So just go with it. Embrace it. Adjust to it... find a way to fit into it. you'll be much happier. If you don't, it will beat you."

One benefit of that was... I hadn't much issue with skeeters or no-see-ums! They were hidin' from the weather I guess! :o)

First part of the ride is through Southern Canada... I'm guessing 95% of Canadian Population lives within a hundred miles of the U.S. Border. So you'll not feel much of a change, from this side of the border for a few hundred miles... though I thought the "eh" that ends just about any Canadian comment, to be nearly as grin making as the musical accent from the wondrous land of Australia!

The country you'll ride through is gorgeous... with no shortage of campgrounds, either government camps or private.

Charlie Creek Campground British Columbia

The country just leading up to the Alaskan highway is huge. It grabs a person who is paying attention. It's a soul filling, humble making, Spirit Freeing, expanse of country.

North of Prince George, on the ride to Dawson Creek, in British Columbia, the population thins out... the land opens up... and you start to feel the true personality of the road... The thing that gets driven home on this ride is NOT bad road... those days are gone. The road itself, for the greatest majority of it... is as good as anything south of the Canadian Border... for the most part, don't listen to those who talk about the poor road... that stopped being true some little while ago...

Naw... the truth was... the absolute worst section on the 8678 miles of my ride... was on the Homeward bound leg... on the eastern slope of Togwotee Pass... once I'd returned to Wyoming!

So... what is that One thing that got driven home?... The Distances... I know, I likely keep repeating my self... but... That is the thing that keeps the Alaskan Highway challenging to ride on a motorcycle.

You can ride across Wyoming in a day... and from West Yellowstone Montana in the far south... to Glacier National Parkon the Northern Border in a day...

... to get from the Southeast corner of British Columbia near Cranbrook, to Dawson Creek, where the official start point ofthe Alaskan Highway is located, took me three days... without really dawdling, along too much... with that, very, very, long day up to Watson Lake... Just across the Border into the Yukon.

Dawson Creek Start of the Alaskan Highway

From there, up to Tok, 700 miles away, I traveled in one "possessed" day.

Now over those long runs you'll find fuel... about every hundred miles or so... sometimes a mite further... my bike, the way the fuel gauge works... pretty much requires fueling at about 150 miles... unless you can get comfortable running through that last gallon, while the needle sits on empty... the only real complaint I have with Yamaha engineering on this Raider! :o)

I used my auxiliary fuel bottles one time... when I thought I'd miscalculated. After putting in 3/4 of a gallon, hoping to insure that I didn't run dry... I hit a fuel station just another 15 miles down the road... so in the end using those aux. fuel bottles wasn't required... that said, I'd not travel the Alaskan Highway without 'em!

I have no idea what provoked me to make that ride from Watson Lake to Tok, Alaska in one day... maybe just the desire to see if I still could... The section from Destruction Bay to the Alaskan Border and beyond, more than a hundred miles, was THE worst section of the Alaskan Highway... and I don't fear anyone contradicting me on that... at least not in August of 2010!

It's the only section that can really still lay claim to being a "Bad Road"... frost heaves, wicked, deep and wide ruts in the pavement... running wild and 'trapping' you between converging ruts and breaks...

Pot holes and zig zagging broken pavement just beats you like a step child... and for me... in the last two hundred miles of an already Loooong... 700 mile Day...

I'd stand on the pegs to ease the impact of a frost heave... only to have the bike jump up and slap me as it hit the next heave, just as I'd started to settle back onto the saddle... Yes Sir... an Athletic Piece of Open Road... :o)

I pulled into Tok tired and road weary... but knowing... when it came to it... I still had the "stuff" to make the ride... and feeling like Billy Bad Ass, knowing that I could ride worse...

... as long as it was Shorter! :o)

Well, Until the next morning anyway, when I walked out from breakfast, preparing to head deeper into Alaska... feeling pretty smug 'cause I pushed my Roadstar Raider up a hell of a chunk of bad road yesterday... and found a guy, older than me... rolling a Hardtail, 1936 Indian... from Southern California... into the lot!

PPPPssssssssss... you could hear my ego deflating as I twisted the throttle and went on down the road... not feeling quite so "Bad" any more.

What about the the land itself as you cover those thousands of miles, those vast distances of the Alaskan Highway?

You find yourself riding through an Intimidating Landscape. I rode the Alaskan Highway solo. I rode many, many miles where as far as I could see ahead, or behind... and I could see for MILES... I was alone. Not a car, not a bike... not a truck.

The land is so vast it just swallows up the thousands of wanderers that 'You Know' are on it... Motorcycles, Motorhomes, Travel Trailers... Freighter Semi-Trucks...

The thought floats across your mind as you ride; "If something goes wrong"... the bike breaks, at the wrong time... in the wrong way... as I wander along... Solo..."

"... it might take 'em months... years... or maybe never... to even find where it all went wrong..." ...

... Then, the next day you roll around a corner and watch this fella's Trike, careen across the road in front of the pickup, in front of you... and slam into the side of the mountain...

'twas a good thing he hit the mountain... if he'd gone the other way... it was a long way down!

I'd Pull off in overlooks along the way... where I could see mountain ranges that according to the map was a hundred miles away... with another couple hundred miles of empty wilderness behind it... I'd get this uneasy, queasy feeling... a small fear buried deep in my gut. Thought for a while I was getting sick...

Now understand... I've lived a goodly part of my life out in open, less than gentle country... but this Alaskan Highway, through the Yukon and into Alaska, is intimidating... unless you're blind... and I came to understand what that feeling in my gut was...

If you stop and think of the people who used to cross this land with dog sleds, or simply crushing heavy back packs on snow shoes, and then only in the winter, because the bogs are pretty much impassible in the summer, while we do it in a few days... and then brag about how "Tough" it was...

...you start to get a "sense" of the land...

Then, just to juice things up a bit... you start thinking; Laying in your tent at night, the rain rattling on the canvas near to Haines Junction. The words of a Canadian Friend echo through your head; "Out there, on the Alaskan Highway, you aren't living at the top of the food chain... any more!"

You learn a lil' humility... and have to figure out how to deal with that "queasy" feeling... now fully aware of what it is... and where it came from.

Some folks will talk about how "Boring" the Alaskan Highway ride is... "Just miles and miles of Trees"... I just have to wonder; "Were they asleep?" Didn't they SEE the glorious land they were passing through?... It's like looking at the Grand Canyon and saying; "Ho Hum... just a big hole in the ground!"... I say those folks need to sit down and think about how they look at the world around them... They are missing WAY to much!

Maybe, that's just their way of "Dealing" with that "Queasy Feeling" deep down... If you just ignore it... refuse to admit that it's real... than you can trick your brain into thinking it isn't and you get past it? ... me? I don't want to "Get Past" anything... I want to see it.. to feel it.. to Know it...

Like Ewan McGregor talks about in his "Long Way Down" DVD... I don't care about facts and figures too much... I don't care about the particulars of "what happened when" that awful much... what I want is to breathe in a land, hear its people talk about it... I want to come to know the personality, the spirit, of a land... not just compile a list of the Tourist Traps I notched on my Travelers Belt.

I choose to embrace that feeling... knowing that you're never quite as alive... as when you walk out and step up to the edge of the "other side", if only for the sliver of a taste... for the blink of an eye... and come back... ALIVE!

Riding my Raider motorcycle along the Alaskan Highway, in the Rain... smelling the wind off the trees, seeing the debris torn out of the mountains above, carried down the mile wide, foot deep rivers, feeling the weight of mountains, a hundred miles away, that still seem to dwarf anything from the lower 48...


... laying in my bedroll at night, camped along the Alaskan Highway, as the rain fell on the canvas above my head... warm in my bed... my muscles aching from the cold, wet, ride that day... The conscious thought would float across my memories of the day; "I'm not the top of the food chain in these woods"... 'cause there was a sign to that affect at the first campground I pulled in to that afternoon... :o) I got a taste of the Spirit of the Great North, The Alaskan Highway... and the British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska it passes through... a taste that only whets my appetite for more.

Though I knew it going in... and just simply couldn't carve myself out a longer time... 25 days is not enough for this trip... It doesn't do it justice... not even close. twice that would not be too long... but I took what I could get, and count myself lucky for that... If I don't make it back, to do it right...

... my 25 Days... in Absolute, Joyous Freedom, Motorcycle Touring Solo on the Alaskan Highway... was Shining Times... Not to be Missed!

Lessons Learned and Packing Light Along the Alcan

Riding the Bad Weather on the Alcan

Is Motorcycle Touring Solo More Dangerous?

Return from The Alaskan Highway to Motorcycle Touring on Freedom Road