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June 16th, 2010
Hello All,

First let me introduce myself for those that don't know me. My name is Binh Cheung from San Jose, CA. I am going to ride the SYM Symba to Alaska. I'm a long distance motorcycle & scooter rider. I'm know on various scooter/motorcycle forums (advrider.com, ModernVespa.com, UrbanScootin.com, TotalRuckus.com, ScooterCannonBall.com, SYMforum.com, SouthBayRiders.com, Honda599.com) as such and my user name on these forum is DaBinChe. In the scooter community I'm mainly known for riding a 50cc scooter everywhere.

My ride to Alaska will be to the Arctic Circle if not the Arctic Ocean via the Dalton Highway. I'm looking at up to 8k miles round trip and about a month for the ride averaging about 300 miles a day. I'll be camping along the way.

I don't have a web site or blog or any such thing. I mainly use forums to share my adventures. On this trip I'll be loading pictures onto Photobucket every few days when there is internet available. Once pass Vancouver internet availability or any modern communications is on the low side. I'll be relying on you the Media to keep folks on the most current happenings.

This is my Symba Alaska file:

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/

I'll keep this as up to date as possible. Due to limited bandwidth and the anticipated views I'm asking you to download my pictures and sharing it that way instead of direct link to my photobucket file. I also request that credit is given when using my pictures.

I just got the Symba yesterday afternoon so it still needs to be prep. I'll take pictures as soon as I'm done. In the next couple days I'll be breaking in the new bike as well as preparing it for the trip. I plan on leaving this weekend.

If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Thanks

Binh


June 18th, 2010
Hi folks,

Sorry for not being more prompt in sending pics and such.  I'd been really busy finalizing everything from prepping the bike to tying up loose ends before I go.  I wasn't able to break-in the bike fully but got 70+ miles running around town.  Just need to take it easy on the bike till Seattle. So far the Symba has been a joy to ride, could actually keep up with traffic now compared to my Metropolitan.

So to answer some questions that you have:

I always wanted to go to Alaska to see it before it gets muck up more then it already has.  Alaska is sort of "the last frontier" for us and is considered to be about as adventurous as you can get without leaving the country or at least the developed world for a motorbike ride.  Many think of it as a wilderness but along the roads it is more developed then most undeveloped countries.  Almost everyone thinks I'm crazy to do this trip on such a small bike but that is what I find challenging and adventurous.  When I go on trips, I like to keep it as simple and spontaneous as possible.  No real plan or destination really cause the journey is the soul of the trip. I'd pick the arctic circle/ocean cause that gives me more of a journey.  I'm very confident in my abilities and resourcefulness and live in the moment as much as I can hence I have no real itinerary or plan except to the make the trip.  Too much planning takes the adventure out of a trip like this. This trip like any of my trips is an accumulation of years of experience
traveling, riding, camping and adventuring.  I have always had a desire, a need, a drive to wander and explore.

My longest scooter trips are from San Jose to Denver (Ruckus) and San Jose to Seattle (Metropolitan).  Both trips were about 2500 miles round trip and took 3 days there, three days back.  My longest day on a scooter ride was
about 540 miles on the first day's ride to Denver on my then Ruckus.  I also do long rides on my motorcycle but find that it is too easy and isn't as enjoyable as a small bike.  The reason I like to go on trips with a small bike is the slow pace that is very relaxing and I'm able to see things around me while on the move.  Originally I was going to do this trip on my Metropolitan but Pete heard about me riding to Alaska so we worked out a deal for me to ride the Symba.

I'm self reliant so this trip is a self sustain one.  No chase vehicle, no riding partner, everything I need will be carried with me or can be had along the way.  Pete McIntosh and the folks at Carter Bros. is there to send me anything I need for the Symba if it comes to that but I believe the Symba is capable of a trip like this.

For the folks that want to do long rides, multi-day rides you only need the desire and to free your mind of constraints.

I'm leaving today and will be in Seattle by Sunday night.  I'll update you then.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/ 


June 21st, 2010

Short Video of Binh Cheung at Seattle Scooter CenterGot to Seattle late last night.

First day was a late start only did about 250miles thru the central valley. Stayed just north of Chico on hwy32. Did the second oil change around 300miles

Second day was a long one, over 450miles. I wanted to make the ride into Seattle a shorter one for the third day. Stayed a little past Bend Oregon. Did the third oil change around 600miles.

Third day. This day had some drama. My original route was snowed covered. I had planned to go over the Gifford Pinchot NF passes but got stuck in the snow. Had to turn around and go around. This added over 150miles to Seattle, turned out to be a 450+ miles instead of the 300 as planned. I had to go by local direction which made it take even longer. The bike started to make funny noises and I noticed the license plate starting to crack, epoxyed it.

I was only going to stay the night and continue north but decide to stay in Seattle for a day then head north. This break gave me time to do break in maintenance: valve adjust, chain adjust, clutch adjust, 4th oil change around 1275miles started using synthetic. Bike sounds normal now and runs much smoother and quieter then the previous day. The funny noises was cause by a very loose drive chain.

Epoxy didn't hold up so my buddy Fred here in Seattle made me a backing plate for the license plate so it can be held using all 4 holes. Bike now has over 1300miles and runs strong. The fastest I got it up to was just shy of 70mph down hill and about 60mph on the flats.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


June 23rd, 2010

I'm in Prince George now and will go maybe another 200 miles today.

Yesterday was a long 400+ mile day.  Canada Customs thought my trip was pretty outrageous so they had me go through the questioning area so it took a while.  Hit the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 for 70+km bike was able to go 55-60mph the whole way.  Camped a few miles shy of 150 mile house.  BC Hwy 97 looks a lot like hwy 395 in Cali.  After this I won't update till I get to White Horse (the next large town).

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


June 26th, 2010

I'm in Whitehorse, BC.

The scenery here has been pretty monotonous, my favorite section so far has been between Bell 2 and Iskut on the Cassiar hwy.  The roads here are in very good condition, better then many highways in CA.  There are short
sections of gravel road.  Even that is fairly good, very flat and compact. I'm able to go 40mph on the gravel sections.

I just put on new tires today.  The Factory Tires held up well. The front still looks almost new while the back is almost gone.  Surprisingly the front tire handle gravel roads pretty well and the rain didn't slow it down much either.  There will be more dirt/gravel sections coming up.  The mostly all dirt road is call the Dalton Hwy pass Fairbanks, AK

The last few days had some drama.  The day after Prince George almost near hwy 37 the bike felt like it had a flat.  I pulled over and discovered that the swing arm bolt had came out half way, it had lost the nut.  I was able to scavenge a nut off the kickstand.  At the end of that day almost half way up 37 at camp I discovered that one of the exhaust header bolt had sheared off.  I used safety wire to tie it back up.  The ironic thing was that those two things were the things I didn't prep on the bike.  I fixed both problems here in Whitehorse.  A fellow local rider saw me changing tires out in front of a motorcycle shop and was able to hook me up with a buddy of his that had a welder.  I was able to weld material on the broken bolt to grab it with some vice grips.

I find that the bike runs best on 20w50 oil, anything less and it will make funny noises after a couple hundred miles.  I even tried Mobil 1 10w40 sythetic motorcycle oil and that acted up after about 300 miles.  My first choice would be Mobile 1 20w50 synthetic motorcycle oil, it ran 1000miles okay.  I just changed the oil today to some other 20w50 synthetic, I'll see how that holds up.  Castro GTX 20w50 motorcycle oil holds up over 500 miles okay.  Running almost wide open on an air cool motor for 12+ hours a day breaks down oil fast!!!  I'm keeping the speeds between 50-55mph now.  At these speeds the bike runs best, smoothest better then any other gear/speed
combination.

I think I'll be in Fairbanks AK on the 29th if all goes well and will be back in Fairbanks from the Arctic Circle late on 7/1/10.  Having mostly ridden paved roads and only a few sections of gravel dirt roads I'm concern that other things will break or fall off.  I'm not going to aim for Dead Horse.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


June 28th, 2010

I'm in Fairbanks now.  The computer here at the visitor center is not letting me up load pics, will look for a libary or internet cafe.

At the Public library now.

Got to Fairbanks a day ahead. Yesterday was another 400+ mile day. Camped about 20miles past Tok.

Yesterday was the first day of constant rain past Koidern. The bike did well I was able to pass Goldwings, Harleys and RVs in the rough wet roads. Getting to Koidern the pavement got rough. Crossing the border the gravel road here in AK is horrible. Way worst then in Canada. I'm only able to do up to 30mph. Looks like the Dalton will be just as bad if not worse so it will take me all day to go from Livengood to the Circle and back.

Woke up to rain most of the morning. Nearing Fairbanks it got warm and dry. 68* here in Fairbanks today. Up this far north I'm having a hard time sleeping cause it is constantly light out. I rode up until midnight again yesterday and the sun was still up. It does get cold around 4am and I have to zip up my sleeping bag.

The bike is still holding up just fine. It is finally muddied up. Will do another oil change before I hit the Dalton hwy. Seems like fixing the exhaust leak slowed it down a few mph....but it could be the rain. I also just noticed the last two days that my gas mileage is not quite the same. It seems like I'm only getting about 90miles per tank instead of 100miles per tank, this could be caused by the rougher roads or the exhaust leak repair. I'm gonna check the valves again before hitting the Dalton. Oh it could also be the tire change that cause lower mpg and/or slower speeds. There are just too many factors to have any real conclusion only time will tell.

So I plan on heading up to Livengood just before the Dalton tonight.

I'm going to ride up to the Circle then back down in one day instead of up to Coldfoot then back on separate days. It should be about 250miles of gravel road. If the Dalton is really bad and it takes me longer then expected then I will just head up to Coldfoot and stay there for the night and head back the next day.

By the time I reach the Circle the bike will have about 4000miles.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


June 30th, 2010

Back in Fairbanks.

Made it to the Arctic Circle yesterday around 3pm. The Dalton wasn't as bad as everyone said. It was a very nice dirt/gravel road. The only parts that was rough was the road construction sections. Nearing the Circle it had started raining then stopped. It was surprisingly very warm there. I had to take off all my layers and still got sweaty. It rained all the way back. The dirt/gravel road got very slippery but for the most part stayed in tack. There were several spots where I almost crashed but managed. I was able to do mostly 40mph through most of it.

The Michelin Gazelle is wearing out faster then the stock tires....could be the gravel road accelerating the wear but seems like they are just softer. The rear is almost worn out after only a little over a thousand miles. Before putting them on I thought I had brought too many tires but now think I have just enough to get back home.

I'm going to Tok tonight and staying at the all/only motorcycle camping site I was told about the other day. I should be passing thru Whitehorse on the 2nd.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/

July 2nd, 2010

I'm in Whitehorse now.

Seems like the ride back is going way faster then the way there. I think I had a head wind north to Fairbanks.  Today has been really cold, hands constantly numb. I didn't stay in Tok last night, was making such good time that I was able to cross the border and stayed just past Beaver Creek. Tomorrow might be a lazy day. Once back in the States I'm going to go down the coast all the way home. Think I'm gonna take the Alcan all the way back to Prince George, more inland means more warmth. It'll add about 100miles no big deal.

Saw three moose in all. Boy they are BIG. The scenery in Alaska as well as most of the Yukon is very similar and is very consistent not much variety.

Gas in AK is about $3.50 while here in Canada about $4-$5+ per gallon. The roads in Canada are much nicer then AK.

The bike is covered in Alaska dirt. I'll need to find a place to rinse that stuff off the wheels for easy tire changes.  Also caked on dirt will reduce engine cooling efficiency. Will do some maintenance tonight. I'm gonna have to change the rear tire soon, down to the wear bar already. Think I'll throw the stock rear back on till that is all the way worn. The Michelin Gazzelle didn't seem to handle gravel much better then the stock tires. My gas mileage has been about 100mpg give or take.

Folks have been reacting in awe of the trip on such a small bike. The most shocked folks are the BIG bike riders, they just can't believe that I'm on this trip. The usual questions from folks about the bike are expected: how fast, what cc, mpg?, how far on a tank. The question for me are you are from where!!? Alabama!? No, I tell them JUST riding from CA.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


July 3rd, 2010

I'm in Fort Nelson and will continue south today for another hundred or so miles.  In a visitor center so I am unable to upload pics.

Since I left Whitehorse it has been nothing but cold and rain.  The Alcan is very scenic between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson (Rocky Mtns.) with lots of wild life.  Saw more black bears and a heard of buffalo.  It is by far the
most varied roadway on this trip for Canada and Alaska.  As I mentioned in my introductory post, the north is very well developed, I didn't go for more then an hour without seeing another person...actually when I was lost in the mountains near Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens I went longer without see another person then I ever did in Alaska and Canada north.  Because of the remoteness of the north there are only a few highways so everyone has to travel the same roads. 

Last night I had a Cinnabon and a brownie for dinner, places here close EARLY.  I've been eating well this whole trip except last night.  All restaurant, home cooking is my preference.  I budgeted $30 a day for food and more or less am in the ballpark.  I only eat two meals a day to save $$ and also travel time.  So far I'd only paid for 3 camp sites and stealt camp all other times. 

Changed out the rear Gazzelle in the rain and mud, they lasted about 2k miles, was well past the wear bars almost bald.  I'm running the OEM rear now and just had a flat, repaired the flat in the mud...at least it wasn't raining during the repair.

I'm out of the mountains now so hopefully it will warm up.

Whitehorse was the first night in a while where it got kinda dark at night...the days are now getting shorter.  Which means I have to wake up earlier and stop sooner

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


July 6th, 2010

I'm in Prince George.

Woke up to clear sunny skies this morning, first warm dry day in two weeks. The last couple days have been COLD and WET, I actually got chilled yesterday for the first time on this trip. I was told today by road crew that it had snowed a little last night in the mountains where I had rode through today. Good thing I decided to stop early before the mountainous section.

Had to fix the rear flat again. Seems like the Slime patches I got doesn't work very well, it is the pre-glued type.  When it is cold the patch works fine but once the road dried and the tires got warm the patch fails. So I spent some time on the side of the road again but at least it was dry gravel instead of mud. I tried "fix a flat" in a can and it just squirted out the puncture. I think I'm only gonna use thick rubber patches with vulcanizing rubber cement from now on. Before the trip started my main concern with the bike was tubes. I'm not a fan of tube tire set up. They take a lot of time to repair and is more prone to flats. Tubeless are much less troublesome, even my mountain bike uses tubeless tires.

The bike has been running really smooth. I had flooded the motor a few times from over filling the gas. If you fill up make sure to stop once it gets to the top and not try to squeeze in that last ounce of gas other wise it will overflow into the evap canister. Once the canister fills it will overflow into the air box, and that will fill and gas will flood the carb then the motor. I also use a whole bottle of oil instead of the recommended 800ml..it fills up to the very top of the full mark. Taking out the oil screen/filter will allow you to drain out more oil then just the drain plug. The chain has stretched more then I had expected but the chain ring still looks good. Not sure how much the chain cover has protected it from dirt/dust. May be in normal round town riding it would be fine but dirt road riding gets dirt EVERYWHERE.

The road between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson had lots of wildlife, tons of black bears, buffalo and some reindeer. Hwy 97 is a very scenic road just as nice as Hwy 37, different but nice.

Had my first camp fire last night of the whole trip, probably my last one. Needed it to warm up. Covering so many miles per day doesn't leave time to enjoy camping life. The last few day's pace has been a little slower. I think the next few days I'll cover more distance until I hit the coast then slow down again.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


July 7th, 2010

I'm in Hope Canada and will cross the border today and head over to the coast.

It is amazing how everything looks differently with clear blue skies. Yesterday was the first day that I was able to ride without my rain suit since I left California. The trees, mountains, towns and people seems so much more colorful when the sun is out. Canada is much more beautiful under the sun instead of constant grey clouds.

The riding has been going quickly. There is mostly a tail wind. From Cache Creek down it is constant down hill following a river. Camped out just past Hells Gate and for the first time on this trip there were almost no mosquitoes.

Went through the second rear tire. The stock back tire lasted about 4k miles. I switched back to the stock front tires and threw the Gazelle that was on front to the back.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


July 11th, 2010

Just got home late last night.

The last few days have been bitter sweet knowing that the trip is coming to an end.

Riding into WA it got very warm and nothing but blue skies. Rode through the way that I had originally intended to go north where I got stuck in the snow. There was only a few patches of snow left on the side of the road.  Went
into Portland and stopped by the SYM dealership there and did an oil change, thanks for the oil guys!  They have tons of Symbas in stock.  The heat wave was happening all in the North West, it was almost 100* in the Portland Area.

Got to the coast and it got cold and foggy.  Put the rain suit back on. The fog lasted all the way home.  Once I got to hwy1 I rode the bike harder then I had ever ridden it, WOT all the way.  I love CA and it's twisty roads.  Canada and Alaska didn't have much twisties at all.  Their roads are meant for 18wheelers.The bike is very balance and handles really well.  The suspension works great for what it is.  I was able to pass up cars in the technical sections of hwy1.

Got into SF and was pulled over for a burnt out license plate light.  When I got back into the USA I was really thrown off by the traffic density and over stimulation of signs.  It was a strange feeling, almost overwhelming
confusion. Got used to being in Canada and Alaska with not much people or advertisement.

It felt good riding familiar roads again.  What I was surprised of in Canada and Alaska was the lack of big trees.  Most all the big trees there were only about a foot in diameter and maybe 20-30 feet in height, very small compared to the big trees here in California.

Up loaded more pics.  I'll write up a summary later on, think I need a break and go on a ride with my CB.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


July 13th, 2010

Got home with 7819 miles minus 72 at the start equals 7747 miles for this trip.

I used less then $400 in gas, closer to $350. It cost over twice as much to feed me then the bike.

Just washed the bike and did some maintenance. Boy that Alaska dirt is really hard to wash off, there were spots where I used a brush and it still would not come off, still some dirt left. Dirt got in every nook and cranny on the bike. I was told that once a vehicle does the Dalton it will never be the same again, I'll have to agree completely. The calcium chloride they use on the "haul road" is very corrosive and I didn't see the corrosion until after the wash. Every nut/bolt on the underside of the bike is corroded, the sleeve (made of cast iron) is corroded, pretty much any metal part that is not painted has some level of corrosion. Good thing the painted parts are okay and looks good clean.

Everything on the bike was stock except the spark plug. Normally it is a NGK C6HSA. I first used a CR7HSA then put on a CR8HIX (iridium) cause it last longer and wanted a cooler plug for prolong high speed riding. I also made some adjustments to the carb and oiled up the foam air filter (it came dry).

List of inventory:
2.5 rear tires used, half a front
one puncture rear tube
10 oil changes (1 bottle each)
an iridium spark plug
swing arm pivot point nut (loose/lost)
exhaust manifold bolt (broke) and nut

What the bike needs now:
chain/sprocket/chain ring
rear wheel flange damper
The chain is completely stretched out and has many kinks in it. The rear axle has been adjusted back by about 3/4" normally on a chain drive 1/2" adjustment is the life of a chain.

Damages:
Foot pegs, both are bent from drops, twice on the shifter side and once on the throttle side. I can' take the muffler off without taking off the pegs now cause of the bend. Also I can't heel shift cause of the bent peg, I have to use my toes on the back shift lever. Better if it had folding pegs. Foot brake lever is slightly bent up from hitting things cause by lack of ground clearance. The foot brake lever touches the exhaust header which causes lots of noise and vibration.

Having put almost 8k miles on the bike I really like it. The only thing I don't like is the clunky shifting. You have to use firm pressure on the shift lever. If light pressure is put on the 1st to 2nd shift there is a tendency for the gear to pop back to 1st. This caught me off guard many times and still does. I don't up shift with my toes cause I'm not able to put enough pressure lifting my toes up. I use the heel shifter for up shifts, stomping down on it with my toes. At first I wasn't sure about the gearing, think it was too short then too tall but now I think it is perfect.

The brakes on this bike is very strong much more then I expected. I can easily lock up the front wheel, makes threshold braking exciting. The suspension has much more travel then expected and performs very well both on pavement and dirt. I use a combination of 1 and 2 person on the rear shock during the trip with all the gear and one person with no gear. The frame handles really well too. The geometry makes the bike very neutral. With such a good combination of frame and suspension, the bike handles technical twisty roads surprisingly well.

Ride quality:
The ride is not Cadillac smooth but feels very sporty with a neutral riding position.
Wheels stayed true this whole trip.
The seat wasn't as bad as I thought. My rear didn't bother me much. What did was the edge of the saddle, it digs into the back of my thigh. That part needs more contour.

An annoyance was the gas tank. The opening just isn't very practical. Gas gets sprayed up everywhere if not careful. Also it is very easy to over fill the tank and eventually flood the engine, happened twice. Speedo is about 3mph optimistic. I ran by countless road side radar and they mostly show that I was going about 3mph less then the speedo indicated. There were a few that showed the same speed and a few that showed 5mph optimistic. I'm gonna go with the majority of about 3mph off.

The clutch only needed the break in adjustment and it hasn't been out of adjustment since. Part of what makes shifting clunky is that the clutch has full engagement once you shift unlike a manual clutch where you can ease on the clutch engagement.

The motor runs strong but can get a little buzzy at higher rpm. One of my main concern was when I was using 10w-40 and had what sounded like viscosity break down and possible piston/rings on cylinder contact from prolong periods of high load on the motor. The motor still ran fine but after each of those events I had more metal particles in the oil draining then other times besides the first oil change. 20w-50 works best for this motor under prolong load. Also It seems like the motor consumes a little oil. I pour in a full bottle of oil each change but can never get out the same amount. It usually consumes about 100ml if using Mobil 1 20w-50 up to 200ml if using something else. Once I figured out the oil issue I did a change about every 1k miles.

The carter made rack (an accessory) is great, very high quality, fits perfectly. It didn't bend, distort or anything. The SYM front rack (also an accessory) held up just as well. The leg shield doesn't cover much. If you tuck your legs in you can mostly be covered but your feet will always be exposed. If you look at the bike from head on you'll see that the foot pegs extend well past the leg shield. Even with my feet against the engine at least half of my feet is still exposed.

Grips. At first I didn't like the contour grips but found that they help me keep throttle position. I reposition the grips to fit ergonomically while near WOT.

Stock front tires works surprisingly well in all conditions, I prefer them over the Gazelle up front. The stock back is okay but feels a little flexy compared to the Michelin Gazelle.

The gas gauge has 5 lights the first/last will give about 25 miles each, while the thee middle goes about 15miles each. The last light will stay solid for about 5miles then start to blink then you'll have about 20miles left. The longest I went on a tank was 110miles, shortest was 90miles. 

I'll give a non bike summary of the trip later...still feel a little beat up.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/


July 22nd, 2010

So folks have been asking about other things on the trip besides the bike.

Clothes:
Pretty much what you see in the pics is what I brought to wear.  I used the yellow dry bag to hold clothes. 4 pairs of cotton: ankle socks, boxers, t-shirts cotton top sneakers rubber boots that I picked up in Seattle after my sneakers got wet in the snow. Jean/denim jacket and pants 200 weight fleece pants and jacket that I wore underneath my jean/denim fleece balaclava, insulated moto gloves and full finger bicycle gloves, rain jacket and pants, bicycle hat.

I was very comfortable on most the whole trip.  There were a couple occasions when I got chilled.  My cotton clothing stayed dry.  The denim jacket did get damp on the front bottom where the jacket and pants meet, and pants got damp around the ankles.  I washed my clothes every 4 days or so. Took baby wipe bathes at the end of the day.  Baby wipes works really well, they don't feel refreshing like a shower but does the job.  Washed my face and brushed my teeth after breakfast/dinner every day.  So the only thing that stayed dirty was my hair, that got oily until I showered every 4 days or so.I used a 20* synthetic sleeping bag.  I like synthetic bags for long continuous use cause it stays relatively dry compared to down.  Kept it in the blue dry bag. My tent was $20 from wally world.  Kept the bugs out and me dry.
 
I stealth camp, meaning that I find a bush to hide behind on the side of theroad.  In northern BC and Yukon that wasn't needed.  You can literally just set up a tent at a rest stop or liter bin pull out in plain view and no one
bothers you.  In the US this won't work.  I was caught stealth camping in CA on my way back but by that time I was getting up and leaving anyways.  I actually didn't do a very good job of hiding, it was getting really late.  Didn't encounter any animals while camping.

The folks in Canada are very nice and friendly.  The roads there are in great shape except before AK, but is still better then AK.  When I got into Alaska I knew I was in the US just by folks being less welcoming.  Not to say that folks in AK aren't friendly they are by the mainland standards or at least CA standards.  Also the roads turn to crap as soon as you cross the border. Forthe most part traveling in Canada is pretty much the same as the US only
difference is km, loonies, nicer roads and the Canadian accent.  I've heard Americans imitating the Canadian accent but didn't realize how thick it can get.

Originally I was going to bring cooking gear and cook the entire time but decided against that.  First that meant I had to carry more stuff.  Second it also meant I had less time riding each day because of time spent cooking and
time spent grocery shopping.  Third it meant I had to be more concerned about animals smelling the food.  I also had to do more planning and preparing if I were to cook.  The other main factor besides time was cost.  Cooking does save money but that will increase other expenses.  Being on the road longer means I had to do more laundry which increases cost and time.  It also means I had to take more showers which will cost more to stay at places that had showers. Overall it was just more work to cook.  Besides I was on vacation and no one
wants to cook while on vacation.  But truth be told it meant I would be eating instant noodles every meal for a month cause that is about the only thing I can cook.  So eating well the whole trip did cost a little more but I believe
the cost out weights the savings.  Almost every morning I had bacon and eggs, pancakes, toast and sometime hash browns and OJ.  I say almost every morning cause not all places serve breakfast after 11am.  I believe eating well
during the whole trip did a few things in my favor.  It kept me warmer because of all the calories I was taking in and it kept me healthier.  I didn't get anywhere near feeling sick, I actually felt great and energetic the whole time.  To
my surprise gained a few pounds.

I spent less then $1500 for the whole trip from the day that I left to the day I got home for everything.  All gas, food, camping, laundry, oil changes, tires, supplies etc.  22 days for the whole trip, 9 days getting to Fairbanks, one
non-travel day and one to the Arctic Circle, and 11 days back home from Fairbanks.  21 travel days all together, averaging 369 miles per travel day.

The trip felt easy cause originally I was going to do this trip on my 50cc scooter.  There were only a few days that I got up early and ended late. Most of the time I would not get up until 9am and was in bed by 10pm.  Having
done long trips on a 50cc that meant everyday getting up by 6am and bed time well after midnight.  Doing it on a 100+cc bike made if felt like cheating.  I was very relaxed on this trip.  Being on the road and on the bike for most of the day for so many days did take a toll on me.  But I think the main thing that screwed me up was the amount of daylight change from CA to AK and back to CA in such a short period of time.  It kinda felt like jet lag for three week straight, took me almost a week at home just to get use to a regular day/night cycle.

Being up north a few things surprised me.  The variety of the environment wasn't very abundant.  It isn't like traveling around CA where you can see lots of very different environments.  There wasn't much difference in changes in elevation. Being frozen most of the year the trees aren't very big.

Canada is very green, so many trees.  As I was passing through I thought to myself that America was once covered in forest from sea to sea back in the colonial days.  And how those trees were what fueled and supported America
before the Industrial Revolution.  Trees, like oil now, provided energy and materials for the growth of a fledgling nation.  I thought about resources and the waste that we cause and how it can be reduce by simple yet effective
changes.  Simple changes like riding the Symba.

People that know me know that I have been car-less now for almost a couple years.  I decided that I could live without one and on this trip I was considering getting a car again but am still not sure about it...it would feel as if I was going backwards and I don't like to look back.  I always want to move forward, keep heading forward.  This was why this trip went by so quickly. Many folks were very surprise at how fast I traveled.  For me it was about
moving forward.  Each time I had to stop for something it felt as if progress had stopped.  I don't know if this is a city mentality or what.  The ironic thing was that on this trip I wasn't concerned about time or date, I really
didn't know what it was unless I asked someone.  The reality was that I didn't really care for time.  I had also reflected back and looked ahead on many things one of which is getting back to my roots of bicycling again.  Bicycling, my first passion, has been neglected for the past few years as I got more into motorized two wheelers.  I will always love two wheels but just need to give more equal time to each type.  I look forward to having many more adventures on two wheels.

I'd like to thank the folks that made this trip a success:  Pete McIntosh, Grace Chao, Bill Allison and all the folks from Carter Brothers.  Thank the folks that shared my adventure on their website: Suzanne McIntosh from
Symplifylife.com, Steve Guzman from TheScooterScoop.com, April @ Scoot Magazine, Nate from TeamSymba, David Harrington from JustGottaScoot.com, Ryan from Seattle Scooter Center.  Thank the folks that helped out while I was on my adventure: Fred and Christa for hosting me in Seattle, Pedro from Vespa Portland for the oil,
the Canadians Rovic and Wolf for hooking me up with a welder, and Linda for the bug bite remedy and interesting conversation.

http://s11.photobucket.com/albums/a158/binhkc/Symba Alaska/
 

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Last modified: August 22, 2013
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