Author Topic: ACA North Star 2014  (Read 9695 times)

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Offline Cyclesafe

ACA North Star 2014
« on: October 18, 2013, 10:36:22 am »
Anybody else hoping to do this tour?  This would be my second time as I was a participant in 2006.  Hi Carla!

I will use a hard tail with 35mm Marathon XR's and panniers.   Last time I used a touring bike and a trailer, which worked just fine too.

Offline yumadons

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2013, 10:59:39 pm »
 8)  Wow, they brought the North Star back!! Went in 1989 - best trip ever, even with all the gravel & rain. Hurry, hurry, it says one trip is full with waiting list and second trip is "almost full."   

Offline Cyclesafe

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2013, 02:09:16 am »
Of course I put my application in before I started blabbing about it on the web.  When I said "hoping" I was hoping the second trip would also be a go.  I think there's a very high chance now that it will!

It sounds like from the description they have giving up any pretense of doing the Glacier loop, Banff, Hyder detour, and the Denali Highway, but there are still many great roads to travel.

Offline yumadons

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2013, 11:59:37 am »
Any idea why they now put you on a train from Denali to Anchorage? Hope not due the '89 group's mutiny.  On both my ACA trips, the leader took up with a participant  >> extra drama    :D   

Offline Cyclesafe

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2013, 03:51:14 pm »
Can't answer as to why the train.  It could be as simple as not finding a reliable shuttle.

On my four ACA trips the drama was between the participants, not with the leaders - at least not with me.  Spending months together in tough conditions with strangers is alway trying, so drama is inevitable.  Also part of the fun!

Offline Wally

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 12:01:12 pm »
Hi everyone - Wally here. I was involved in planning the North Star for 2014, and am also going to lead the first trip. 

Regarding the routing: the tour takes 60 days, and we really need to get to Denali by mid-August. So that means we need to leave Missoula by mid-June. With that timeframe, going over Going to the Sun road (Logan Pass) is hit-or-miss, and at best it is usually unpleasant.

We have a scheduled day off in Lake Louise, and it would be relatively simple to get to Banff from there if desired, or take a tour of a glacier.

We didn't include the Hyder detour as it seemed to be a day of climbing over a significant pass and then turning around and coming right back.  Yumadons, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about the Hyder detour.

We chose to go up to Fairbanks for a couple of reasons: the Denali Adventure tour uses the Denali Highway, so there is an alternate tour to take if you want to experience that road. We wanted to go up to Fairbanks to get a different view of the mountains/glaciers and to check in to a big city after weeks of wilderness. And who knows, the group may decide to rent a car and drive to the Arctic Circle.

As to the train from Denali National Park to Anchorage, it has been our experience with the Denali Adventure that once folks get to Denali, they want various options. Some want to go into the park for an extended period, some want to explore other parts of Alaska, and some are ready to head for home. Using the train to get back to Anchorage gives participants maximum flexibility. Plus the train goes through some magnificent scenery that you can't see from the highway.

Hopefully this answers the questions you have about the 2014 tour. If you have other questions, please send them our way.


Offline Cyclesafe

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 12:37:42 pm »

You're right about it being early for the Glacier loop.  It would also be a lot of climbing at the beginning of the trip.  This should be saved to savor another time.

The Hyder spur was very scenic and the sister towns were fun to visit.  But I've  already been there so...

It's too bad that the plan is to not do the Denali Highway.  For those who do not plan to necessary go again to Alaska on an ACA tour, this ought to be disappointing.  If there as any room for reconsideration on the route, this should be it.  If people are weary of touring in the bush by that time, they can easily leave the group before entering the Highway and ride on directly to Anchorage.

Good rationale for the train.  I guess the implication is that an individual doesn't necessarily have to go back with the group to Anchorage.

Wally, I in no way desire to buck your authority.  You plan the trip as you see fit and there will not be a peep from me - unless asked.

Offline Wally

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2013, 01:07:01 pm »
Hi Cyclesafe -

The idea that the planners had of going through Fairbanks on the Richardson Highway rather than using the Denali Highway is to give a different view of the Alaska Arch mountain range. In theory, we should have a great view of the northern flank of the mountains, whereas the Denali Highway shows the southern slopes.

Yes, the trip officially ends at Denali National Park. Transportation via the train to Anchorage is included in the tour price, but if someone wants to ride back or go to Fairbanks or do something else, there is the flexibility to do that. So yes, a participant doesn't have to travel back to Anchorage with the group.


Offline yumadons

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2013, 02:11:42 pm »
Oooh, the ride to Hyder I still remember to this day because on the little dogleg in, you ride closer to a glacier than anywhere on the route. I remember a sign saying instead of "Caution, Falling Rock!" something like "Caution, Falling Glacier!" and we all rode like hell by it as fast as possible. The other thing Hyder NOW has is a famous "grizzly bear viewing area" that my snowbird clients show me pictures of. You can stand on a bridge & literally watch grizz fishing.

We stayed in a hostel in Banff and camped at Lake Louise along the way to Jasper, where elk walked around town.  It was the most wildlife rich stretch of the trip other than the park service bus tour thru Denali.

Half of us alleviated the drudgery of weeks of wilderness by detouring along the (paved!) Alaska Highway to Whitehorse - we were not about to miss the capital of the Yukon!  Added plus: bartering veterinary work for bike repair  :)

Great idea to think about setting aside time to rent a car in Fairbanks and DRIVE to Inuvik. My only regret of the trip was nobody even realized the Arctic Circle was a possible til we came to the turnoff & met people going that way. Miles and miles of opportunity to find a polar bear shaped Yukon license plate.

And yeah, after Denali, people did their own thing.

An *extra* to consider is flying from Anchorage to Juneau to catch the Alaska Marine Highway to Bellingham - you can ride from there to the Seattle airport. They let you pitch tents on deck so you don't have to pay extra for a cabin. Though not a *real* cruise,  a park ranger gives talks & points out sights along the way. Takes 3 days and worth every penny of the (now) $379.

I kept my ACA North Star booklet (we didn't have an actual map) & will RV the route in a few years. At the time - pre Robin Williams - I kept thinking that "RV" would make a great horror flick   :-\


« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 02:16:19 pm by yumadons »

Offline Jerry

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2013, 09:55:57 am »
My buddy and I are trying to put together a trip to alaska. He and I will ride while his wife and kids follow with the camper. Actually, I imagine his wife and kids will ride for parts as well.

Rather than reinvent the wheel where can I find good,safe (minimal traffic) route info?

So far all I've gotten is check road maps... And that the Alaskan highway is dangerous in July.

How long to ride from Missoula to anchorage. Is a surley with 32's and panniers ok?

I wouldn't be surprised if I end up finishing the trip alone as the family may run out of time..

Any advice would be greatly appreciated..


Offline Wally

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 01:58:14 pm »
Hi Jerry!

Thanks for your note - details for the Adventure Cycling North Star tour are found on this web page: We are taking 60 days to make our 2,725 mile journey.

if you go to the itinerary tab, you'll be able to suss out the roads we are using. To make it a little easier, here is the general routing:

Missoula -> Whitefish -> Eureka -> Icefields Parkway (not over Going to the Sun, but the west side of Glacier National Park)
Icefields Parkway
Yellowhead Highway
Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Alaska Highway (just a connector piece, about 20 miles on this highway)
Robert Campbell Highway (40% paved, 60% gravel, or  – 217 miles gravel)
Klondike Highway
Top of the World Highway (0% paved – 79 miles gravel)
Taylor Highway (60 miles paved, 36 miles gravel)
Alaska Highway
Richardson Highway
Parks Highway

There is approximately 332 miles of gravel on this set of roads (indicated above), which is mostly hardpacked surface. I would think your 32mm wide tires would be fine, but if it were my bike, I'd put as wide a tire on as I could fit - I know that 38mm wide tires fit on a LHT, and wider may fit too. The wider the better on gravel, in my experience.

I am riding this route this summer, and will be doing it on a bike with 50mm Marathon Supreme tires and panniers.

« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 02:47:43 pm by jsieber »

Offline yumadons

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2014, 09:41:22 pm »
Did anyone keep a North Star journal?

Offline mbattisti

Re: ACA North Star 2014
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2014, 09:55:41 pm »
for an account of this year's ride, check out