The Adventurous Motorcyclist’s Guide to Alaska
By Lee Klancher with Phil Freeman
Copyright 2012 Octanepress
By Kevin Driscoll
I realize I am no great standout in the motorcycle community when I say riding Alaska is on my bucket list. As a matter of fact I believe that exact phrase was used in the last Ride Alaska book review in MMM. But it is still true. So I looked around for a great book and was happy I found this one. It isn’t a glorified ride report lake many books I sampled, but instead it is a true ‘Here’s how to ride Alaska’ manual.
The introduction and the first chapter alone was worth the price of the book. The Intro covers the important basics like gear, tools, choice of bikes and a breakdown of several week long trip itineraries. You’ll get advice for everything from Sat Phones to Best Bars, hotels to tire selection. Getting there by Fairy is an option I never knew of and how to reserve space, secure your bike, and get a decent cabin is all covered.
Chapter One is called Base Camp which refers to Anchorage. I believe the author picked this spot for all the available motorcycle touring amenities. Outfitters, motorcycle rentals, tours guided and self-guided, are all covered. I was slightly depressed after reading this chapter because Lee made way too good of a case for flying in and renting a bike, crushing my dream of riding to Alaska, with too much practical travel knowledge and application of common sense. Oh who am I kidding, I’m riding there.
The rest of the chapters breakdown along the major highways in the different sections of Alaska. I don’t think any of us will ever live long enough to ride it all so deciding on one or two of these routes is a must. If you’re serious about riding Alaska then read this book with a map of Alaska handy to make notes as you go. I didn’t the first time and, since I don’t have the geography of Alaska memorized, had to read it all again with the visual aide. Not that big of a deal to read twice, it is actually a fun read. With colorful writing like trails described as “Kiss your wife and kids goodbye because you may never return” or finding the local boat guide by “call from the town bar or, more likely, find him occupying the stool at the end of the bar” you will be entertained while getting useful info.
The highways, the trails, hotels, campgrounds, hot springs, how to make reservations, all broken down into daytrips. You always know how far you are from civilization, what you need for gas, and how long it may be for help. To that point, Lee cautions several times to have everything you need for an unexpected night or two, it might take that long for help if you break down. Isn’t that the true definition of adventure riding? Man, machine, and wilderness?
Alaska is too big and offers too many options to just wing it. Read through this book and see what interests you. For instance I though riding to Prudhoe Bay would be fun, you know, going to the Northern most ridable point, but it doesn’t sound scenic or that much fun riding across mosquito saturated barren tundra up dangerous company roads. The Eastern Alaska area sounds fun and scenic and has great roads and countless rustic roads. Your reason for going is likely different than mine, but whatever is your reason or destination this book will help and even tell you where to find other resources on your picked location.
I wanted to ride Alaska before I read the book, now it is a must do. This book took out most of my fear of the unknown and just left me with decisions to make; exactly where to go, how best to get there, and on what.