It wasn’t supposed to be a solo trip.
A group of three or four of us had decided we’d ride from Anchorage, AK, to Portland, OR, taking advantage of the tour company MotoQuest’s seasonal transporter special offer. By agreeing to ride MotoQuest bikes from Alaska to Oregon, paying for our own gas, food, and lodging, we’d get the bikes for almost nothing. A BMW R 1250 GS would run only $40 a day, while a BMW F 850 GS would be half that. Some Suzuki V-Strom 650s were available, too.
But one by one my riding friends begged off. I decided to ride alone. I requested one of the three remaining 1250s, only to be told they were all taken. But I could have the last 850—and I could have it for free. I typed “yes” and pressed the Send button.
I’d done a similar ride with friends some years earlier. I knew the huge expanses of Alaska and Canada’s Yukon Territory demanded close attention to things like gas stops. So, I mapped out a 10-day ride, making hotel reservations for the first six nights and even telephoning gas stations in the more remote areas to make sure that they were, in fact, open and selling fuel.
I knew the weather was highly variable, too, going from warm and dry to very cold and wet. I packed accordingly. Even though I included emergency items, like tire repair and first aid kits, a full tool roll, and a rented satellite phone, I thought I was traveling fairly light. But I left home lugging a huge gear bag carrying my boots, helmet, riding suit, and other necessities, plus a 28-liter Speedway backpack and 50-liter Speedway duffle bag from Velomacchi.
The trip was complicated by COVID restrictions. Canada welcomed American visitors, but only those who were vaccinated and had been tested for infection no more than 72 hours before crossing the border. Luckily for me, a booth in the Anchorage airport offered free rapid tests to arriving passengers.
Motorcycle & Gear
Charles used the following motorcycle and gear during this trip.
Kickstands Up and Cold
It was 55 degrees and drizzly when I got to MotoQuest’s Anchorage offices to find the 850 ready and fitted, with a substantial aftermarket windscreen. By mid-morning, I was off. My destination for the night was the village of Tok, and it was a long, chilly day away. I was glad to be wearing a GORE-TEX suit, waterproof gloves, and a helmet fitted with a pin shield.