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  1. #1
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Alaska to Argentina, what month to start?

    So I'm starting to plan for an Alaska to Argentina trip, in a year or so from now. What is the best month to start? Most journals I see have people taking off in the early summer.

    Also if anyone has done this trip before and remembers how much they budgeted for the trip (equipment not included, I have pretty much everything I need) that would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    ride lots be safe Creakyknees's Avatar
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    haven't done that trip, just a vacation to lower AK a few summers back.

    So.... I'd advise checking the usual weather / temps / rain / snow from your starting point, and asking yourself: what am I comfortable riding in all day then sleeping in at night? are the dirt/gravel roads going to be passable, or a muddy mess?

    those would seem to be the critical constraints.
    "have fun and be kind"
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  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    nancy sv and family started in June, I believe.

  4. #4
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    nancy sv and family started in June, I believe.
    I was waiting for her to reply. A definite reason for starting in summer is because of weather conditions. When I cycled the Dalton Highway in early July we had 35F and cold drizzle coming into Prudhoe Bay. I also cycled the Dempster Highway which goes across similar latitudes but in Canada. That July ride also had some cold and wet temperatures.

    July will get you a few more mosquitoes, though on an overall scale of things, I've seen worse than Alaska and the Yukon regions.

    I have kept up with some who cycled these northern routes through Canada and also Road of Bones in Canada. There are some who cycled those in March when it was still cold, but starting to have more daylight. So I wonder if in principle - if one were suitable prepared for cold (-20F?, -40F?) whether it would be possible to start in March...

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mev View Post
    I have kept up with some who cycled these northern routes through Canada and also Road of Bones in Canada. There are some who cycled those in March when it was still cold, but starting to have more daylight. So I wonder if in principle - if one were suitable prepared for cold (-20F?, -40F?) whether it would be possible to start in March...
    Speaking as a Canadian who has cycled all months of the year, and in those temps ... I suppose, in theory, it would be possible ....... but I wouldn't want to. It's hard work riding in the cold, and March in Canada (Canadian mountains and prairies) isn't anything remotely like spring. Oh sure, March might give you a nice day or two, but then it will turn on you and dump a blizzard that rages for several days. Many mountain pass roads open and close and open and close through the month of March ... even "main" roads like the Icefield Parkway. Plus services like campgrounds and parks, where you might find toilets and water in more remote areas are likely to be shut down and locked.

    I've done centuries in snowy and bitterly cold temps in Manitoba and Alberta, and I try to make a point of ensuring that I am always within walking distance of shelter ... although I did get caught out once on a ride in March. It was a lovely day with a predicted high of +8C. It didn't get anywhere near that, and with about 30 km to go it had dropped to -17C. Thankfully nothing bad happened. The trouble is, if you get a flat or anything like that, it's almost impossible to change the tire when it gets that cold because your hands freeze. And if your body temperature drops while you're messing around with the bicycle, you risk hypothermia.

    If someone were going to do this, I'd suggest taking a great deal of time to research it and know exactly what he/she was getting into and what he/she might need to survive.

  6. #6
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Speaking as a Canadian who has cycled all months of the year, and in those temps ... I suppose, in theory, it would be possible .......

    If someone were going to do this, I'd suggest taking a great deal of time to research it and know exactly what he/she was getting into and what he/she might need to survive.
    I agree, this is definitely something to prepare for...
    What surprises me is several accounts of cycling such routes through the winter, e.g.

    Road of Bones in December with temps down to -40C:
    http://www.yakutiatoday.com/travel/r...msiberia.shtml

    Dempster Highway including ice road to Tuktoyaktuk in December:
    http://www.bikeforest.com/arctic/

    This Japanese cyclist who did Murmansk to Magadan and then returned for more winter cycling:
    http://www.tim.hi-ho.ne.jp/andow/far...ishreport.html

    I've cycled the Dalton Highway, Dempster Highway and the gravel road from Chita to Khabarovsk in Russia. All of these during the summer months. I'm also aware that riding any of these three in winter cold at -40C or less is an entirely different experience requiring different gear and a different approach as well as adequate preparation. What I was pointing out is there do seem to be a few hardy souls who undertake these other roads through some rather extreme temperatures and hence in principle one might be able to start in March if one was suitably prepared.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mev View Post
    I've cycled the Dalton Highway, Dempster Highway and the gravel road from Chita to Khabarovsk in Russia. All of these during the summer months. I'm also aware that riding any of these three in winter cold at -40C or less is an entirely different experience requiring different gear and a different approach as well as adequate preparation. What I was pointing out is there do seem to be a few hardy souls who undertake these other roads through some rather extreme temperatures and hence in principle one might be able to start in March if one was suitably prepared.
    Oh yeah, it would be possible to start in March and tackle whatever nature sends your way. But I think you'd want to be very physically prepared ... and mentally prepared. Remember that mental preparation thread? are you mentally prepaired to tour. Riding in wild weather conditions would require even more mental preparation!

    Now if you go into my website, to the Links page, and scroll down a bit, you'll see a category called: Northern Long Distance Events. http://www.machka.net/links.htm The first two of those run in mid-February in Alaska. If a person were going to start such a journey in March, I'd strongly recommend going to those sites and picking up tips.

  8. #8
    Alaska Grown
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    It's dangerous here in the winter. You can do it, for sure. But you'll be taking a lot of weight in gear to protect you from the elements. You'll end up mailing them home for your summer leg. Personally, I would time it that I was leaving Alaska in the start of June. Be prepared for rain and bugs, but those aren't that big of a deal. If you time it right, you'll hit winter in the equatorial countries. But that's just me.

    People ride all year long up here. (I live in Anchorage.) I'm looking at commuting this winter. It'll be my first time commuting during the winter. We'll see how devoted I am (considering I have a 16.5 mile ride to work) when the sub-freezing temps roll in.

    Anyway, good luck on your ride, take pictures and post a blog!

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    I don't think I'd do that ride before June. Less places are open along the highway probably.

  10. #10
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    We left June 10 and it was perfect! they told us everything was still ice-packed two weeks earlier. We were also blessed with about a week of no mosquitoes - started before they hatched. The key is that you have to get down to Mexico before winter sets in, so figure you've got roughly 5000 miles to go. If you ride faster than we do (trust me, you do!) then you could get away with leaving in July.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  11. #11
    where2pedalto.com andrewh's Avatar
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    Starting in Alaska

    Quote Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
    So I'm starting to plan for an Alaska to Argentina trip, in a year or so from now. What is the best month to start? Most journals I see have people taking off in the early summer.

    Also if anyone has done this trip before and remembers how much they budgeted for the trip (equipment not included, I have pretty much everything I need) that would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
    My wife and I started at Prudhoe Bay on 3rd June and the weather and conditions were okay. We did experience some storms, but on the whole it was fine.

    Regards

    Andrew

    http://www.where2pedalto.com
    ...years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

  12. #12
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice everyone! It sounds like June/July would be the best time to leave. I commute through the winter, but I don't really want to haul winter gear on tour until I have to.

    I'll probably be postings some more questions about this trip soon. I think I am planning on leaving June 2011, since I'll need about two years to save money and prepare.

  13. #13
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Also, thanks Nancy for all the information on your site. I've just started digging into it and it has been very helpful.

  14. #14
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
    Also, thanks Nancy for all the information on your site. I've just started digging into it and it has been very helpful.
    Great! Please tell if there is something that should be there, but we've overlooked. We've tried to make a good resource for people.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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