Prepping for Alaska

Back in 2008 I spent a few months planning a trip to the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Part of it was the trip of course, but another part was taking the Hayabusa on a longer dirt type road and getting a Denver Post picture of me, the bike, and the Arctic Circle sign. I even thought I could head up to Prudoe Bay. A much longer dirt road but I have seen ride reports from guys on Hayabusa’s making the trip.

I did head up in June of 2008, made it to Fairbanks, but in a twist of luck, I followed the signs instead of looking at the maps (who would have thought). The sign said that Circle was to the right, Fox Hill (or something) was to the left, and Livengood (again, or something) was straight. So I went right. Turns out I went to a town called Circle on the Yukon River. Unfortunately on my way back to the intersection, I got a flat tire and had to get a lift back to Fairbanks in order to get the bike picked up, a new tire, etc. It was certainly interesting but not quite what I wanted to do.

Anyway, since I failed to reach the Arctic Circle, I really want to try again and I think giving it a try in June of 2014 which will let me complete my goal.

This post is meant to provide a little back ground (read the ‘Alaska’ posts on or the ones on the blog under the Alaska category although the ones are being moved to the blog as part of this preparation) and as a checklist or set of goals that need to be achieved prior to the trip. Mainly to make sure I’m ready for the trip again. I’ll mark the goals as Optional or Required and use the ‘strikeout’ option in the blog to mark items as completed. Some can’t be fully completed until May of next year like new rear tire or chain. For the chain, I can partially complete it by getting a new chain any time prior to June.

Motorcycle Checklist:

1. Pull light bulbs to make sure connectors are clean and carbon free.
2. Check the Fuse Box to make sure all connections are marked and in use.
3. Repair the Autocomm (the cord is coming out) and test it.
4. Change oil and filter.
5. Change brake fluids (front and rear).
6. Change clutch fluid. Just checked and it hasn’t popped but it could be sponged out and fresh fluid added.
7. Remove the broken key from the trunk. Since I’ll be using the spare gas tank, I need to get the trunk off. With a broken key in the lock, it can’t be removed and in fact, it’s hard to perform maintenance on the bike with the trunk on the back.
8. New chain.
9. New rear tire minimum. The front tire is pretty new (115,014 miles) but the rear tire was put on last year (112,057 miles). With 118,000 miles now, it should last to next year with no problem but won’t be able to take a longer trip without making arrangements with the Powersports folks in Fairbanks for a replacement (hmm, an idea).
10. Check the valves and adjust if needed.
11. Adjust the Power Commander. Bike is popping too much.

1. Replace exhaust with original exhaust.

Camping Gear Checklist:

1. Check tent. Poles and pegs. Check rope for tiedowns. Clean inside and out.
2. Check sleeping pad. The big REI one I got is a little bulky but fits the tent well.
3. Check sleeping bag. See if it needs to be cleaned prior to the trip.

Motorcycle Packing Checklist:

1. Get the saddlebag pins on. A couple broke off last time when the bike fell over. Glue them in place and mount the few new ones.
2. Check the tank bag. Last time I used the three tier bag I’d recently purchased but found it was too high for comfort. I had to use a bungee cord to hold the bag up. So check it out and make sure it is stable with just two tiers.
3. Check the tail bag which snaps into the saddlebags.
4. Check the spare tank to make sure it’s clean and ready for use. Mount it and put fresh gas in it, then use it to fill the main tank to make sure the hose is clear as well.

Riding Gear Checklist:

1. Contact Aerostich to see if I can get the front zipper repaired. The zipper split and needs to be redone or replaced.
2. Contact Gerbing to get the jacket sleeve connections repaired. The gloves don’t work when plugged in to the jacket.
3. Check the Gerbing gloves to make sure they still work.
4. Make sure I have spare visor parts as they break somewhat easily (3rd set so far). Two sets are currently on order. – Received the parts along with a couple of replacement visors.

Carl Checklist:

1. Currently I’m 20 to 30 pounds heavier than I want to be. This means losing up to 30 pounds in 8 months, 5 lbs a month. I’ll keep a running “How am I doing” post here for that putting in my current loss.
2. $1,000 more in savings.

1. $2,000 more in savings.

Cat Checklist:

1. Check in with a cat service to come by and feed Slash, change the cat litter, and hang out with him in addition to checking on the house. Of course if Rita comes out again next summer, this may be a moot point.

General Gear Checklist:

1. Using the gear checklist, go though the items in the list making sure it’s all clean and up to date (where things can expire). Eye-wash for instance probably should be replaced every so often.
2. Make sure I have current maps.
3. Get the Milepost magazine for 2013 or 2014 and run through it for information. Most of it seems to be advertising but there’s some good touring type stuff in there. Since I’m planning on 3 weeks this time, I should have a bit more time to hang out for a day and explore vs just run up and back.
4. Make sure I have travel size chain lube cans, plexus, oil, and brake fluid (dot4).

That’s the list for now. I’ll continue to add to it in preparation. Let’s see how it goes.

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