Alaska to Argentina – de arriba abajo

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  • In early 2020 my partner and I started chatting about the idea of a long distance, multi month bike tour - our copy of the Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook was reread with a more critical eye than it had been in the past and we set about on deciding a route to follow. Within a few weeks the seed of an idea to take 6-12 months off to ride somewhere had developed into an 18 month tour from Alaska to Argentina along the Pan American Highway.

    We wanted to time the start of the trip with the opening of Denali National Park in Alaska which meant a start date of late May/early June - this was only a few months away at the time so we decided to set a target start date of May 2021. Frustratingly long to wait but it would leave plenty of time to sort the planning and gather the new kit we’d need.

    Roll on March 2020 and COVID-19 put a sharp stop on any plans we had. Planning (and buying new camping kit) continued but it was more due to lockdown boredom and wishful thinking than any real hope we’d actually get to go on the tour as planned.

    Fast forward to the start of 2022 and the borders are back open, visa appointments were booked and plans to leave our jobs were in motion. 29 months since dreaming up the idea and 12 months delayed from the original planned start we’re flying to Fairbanks, Alaska this Friday.

    Our route roughly follows the west coast and travels across USA, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina. We’re aiming for about 20 months start to finish but will see how things go, I think revisions and adjustments to the plan are inevitable.

    I’ll add some more details of bike set ups and kit tomorrow as well as the itinerary for the first month in Alaska (as much detailed planning as we’ve done so far).

    Any local tips / route advice / gardens to camp in or sofas to sleep on along the way would be appreciated!

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  • This is gonna be great, congratulations on making it happen!

    My one recommendation is Pigeon Point hostel, south of San Francisco. The clifftop hot tub with Pacific views is really something.

  • Well done troops. Had a similar experience with Covid and the big trip. Currently in a tent in Hungary with a gigantic daddy long legs.

    Hopefully those 2 extra years of planning and kit building turn into a blessing.

    My advice, such as it is being a noob to all this just under a month in, is to look after your knees in the first week or so. :) Enjoy

  • Amazing, will be epic. Done the Patagonia section and put this together in case you find it useful (maps places to stay etc). Tho this was 2014 and I think a lot of it has been paved since then which should make it more enjoyable.­m/

  • Congrats! Finally! Have an amazing time.

  • Fuck yeah!

    No info myself but I loved (RIP) Iohan's films. He did a similar thing a few years ago and gradually got more and more wild with his trips. You've probably seen them but if you haven't, they're rad. We still say "hey buddy" in his style at every dog we see on the road nowadays and ducks are now "dooks"...­v

  • Thanks everyone, will definitely take a look at your blog @greeno and have added a google maps pin on the hostel @Will-37.

    @Stoo61 - what route are you following? Glad to hear your plans also happened and you’re out on the road.

    @Aroogah - your old Koga bars are being put to good use, they’ll see some sights over the coming months

    @hippy - I watched his films down to when he reached the Darien Gap, he did some amazing stuff and got through sone pretty wild situations (I think we’ll be taking a more relaxed approach). I love how he had conversations with people in the middle of nowhere, I’ll be replicating “what is your horse’s name” in my broken Spanish when we’re on the backroads of Central and South America.

  • My glittery Straggler has served me well commuting and touring over the last 7 years and will be my bike for this trip too. During the first lockdown I made some changes to make it more ‘world tour’ appropriate and inadvertently ended up changing almost everything but the frame.

    Went from drops to loop bars with microshift thumbies and Avid speed dial levers and bb7’s.

    New SON 28 dynamo wheel and a matching Hope rear. Got a great deal on old style Hope Tech Enduro rims and had everything built up by Arkane Wheelworks. 40mm Marathon Mondial tyres just about fit under my old mudguards and will hopefully provide enough cushioning.

    Swapped the CX drivechain to GRX 2x10 to lower the gearing but annoyingly the cranks don’t use standard bcd spacing (which I didn’t realise at the time). I had hoped to have an option of installing a smaller inner ring if needed but that’s not going to be an option. Currently have 30/36 as the lowest gear but could maybe bump the cassette up to a 40 if I need lower gearing.

    Luggage will be Ortlieb Sport Rollers (the smaller ones) front and back, a homemade Fabio’s Chest style saddle bag and basket bag.

    My partner’s bike is a Soma Saga (basically Disc Trucker geometry but with a proper sized heat tube) built up with matching components to my Straggler. 26” wheels with 2” Mondial for her, I’m definitely a bit jealous of the extra tute width on her bike.

    Her luggage will be Ortlieb Sport Rollers up front and Back Rollers on the rear with a smallBigXTop bar bag and Wizard Works stem pouch.

    Photos are off our first longer tour (2 weeks) in Japan in 2016 with my Straggler in it’s drop bar config and then the Outer Hebrides last summer in both bikes’ final forms.

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  • 30/36 as the lowest gear

    30x42T ftw! I run a smaller 'big' ring too, 46T. That's on the gravel bike, the road bike still has a 34T inner.

  • If I had my time over again I'd have made sure our bikes used the same wheels, so we could either carry fewer spares or the same spares.

  • If we were starting from scratch I think I’d have gone for 26” too but I already had my 700c frame.

    Bigger wheels on a smaller frame have caused issues in the past with toe overlap so going smaller on Suzie’s bike made sense.

    We’ve got spare spokes but no spare tyres, hopefully tyre boots and a needle and thread will get us out of dodge in the case of a catastrophic tyre failure.

  • Yeah, I rarely carry a spare tyre though it does depend on how far you're gonna be from a bike shop at any given time and since you're not going be in Europe where there's one around every corner, maybe you might end up with spares :)

  • in

    Jealous. Awesome!

  • this is great stuff dude. will follow with interest and a little envy. bon voyage

  • your old Koga bars are being put to good use, they’ll see some sights over the coming months

    They look great and better there than collecting dust at home. Super jealous of your impending great time.

    Some ex-forumengers in Vancouver these days.

    I also have a cousin in Oregon who has done the ride from his place to Alaska. Wolves and bears are a thing. Lone wolves in particular. One chased down one of his companions on the road and he had to take shelter in a camper van that stopped to help.­/2013/jul/14/motorist-has-photos-wolf-ch­ased-sandpoint-cyclist/

    He's a massively experienced camper and river raft guide. Can hit him up for advice if you need it.

  • PS. I don't know why, but I am sad you're not on a tandem. Perhaps becasue i would have liked to live vicariously. I bought a very nice Thorn tandem for my wife and I to do a similar trip, but Covid, then life. It gathers dust.

  • Currently on EuroVelo 6, perfect for kneehab. Cutting south to Budapest n just south south south. Plenty time in Bosnia and looking forward to Montenegro for instance but no planned end date or stop point. Travelling as light as possible, have already used bike shops here n there.

    Good luck man. Lucky you've got a solid partner there although I know for a fact I couldn't do this with anyone else ha.

  • It gathers dust.

    Missus just rolled her eyes when I said we should borrow it and go for some records... :D

  • Sadly not in UK, in France. Good for long distance records.

  • Oh great, another thing that can kill us.

    I’m reading Stephen Herrera’s book on bear attacks at the moment but wolves are a new one to me…

    Any tips on Oregon would be great, we’ll be loosely following the Adventure Cycling Association routes but local knowledge is always appreciated.

  • We rode a tandem once, it was fun but on this trip I don’t think we’d make it out of Fairbanks city limits without killing each other.

  • It's probably my Idaho bias but sort of a shame you can't "swing through" - it's only 500 miles to your left! Washing and Oregon coast are beautiful but inside Idaho you get everything, Hells Canyon, Frank Church wilderness, massive desert and Craters of the Moon volcanic landscape - you could even go by Kanye's Ranch! Then could could go wild and do all of Utah, Moab, etc which would also bang. I suppose the main issue is at the bottom of Utah then you'd have the Colorado Rockies on your left which are no joke or the Nevada / New Mexico desert on your right which are so flat and fuckin hot. Also fuck Californians - they treat Idaho the way basic white British people treat Spain.

    Anyway good luck!

  • Also fuck Californians

    Amen (from the Texan).

  • I should exempt JB in case he reads this, he is not californian, he just lives there

  • Oregon

    Don't strike up a conversation with a guy from Detroit and end up in a strip club at 3am the night before you're supposed to be riding across the country.

    I like Oregon though. Where's the clam chowder sketch from the Simpsons?

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Alaska to Argentina – de arriba abajo

Posted by Avatar for moog @moog