Off-roading is all about doing something new off the grid and if your lucky somewhere most people do not go. The Alcan 5000 pushes the limits of both man and machine in an 11 day journey.
The Alcan 5000 rally is a winter rally that happens once every four years and starts in Seattle, Washington and ends in Anchorage, Alaska while hitting areas such as Grimshaw, Yellowknife, Whitehorse, and Fairbanks. This is no ordinary race that happens every couple years, and are on roads that are only there during the winter.
This year one team has come together to see what man, machine, and tire can do. The team is made up of X Games and rally car driver Andrew Comrie-Picard, 2016 Smittybuilt Everyman Challenge winner Brad Lovell, and one of the worlds top race mechanics Chris Komar.
We had the chance to speak with Andrew as they came near the end of their journey. “We are about to get past the arctic circle today near Coldfoot, Alaska. This is a two part journey with the first part being the Alcan 5000 rally. We are doing pretty well competitively overall we are 10th and third in our class. ”
“The second part of our journey starts Saturday as we head back to Whitehorse, Canada and go straight North to Inuvik, Canada and then to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada. It is about 120 miles from Inuvik on the roads that the show Ice Road Truckers made famous. We will even go a little further than that onto the sea ice,” Andrew continued.
What would make someone want to do an off-roading trip like this compared to hitting the trails in Moab, Andrew lets us know his reasoning, “It is the adventure and challenge that appeals to all of us. We are going to places that none of us have ever raced on and the extreme conditions. We are driving on roads that are only put in during the winter in the freeze, streams, rivers, and oceans. It is negative 31 degrees now and we think it will be closer when we get to Tuktoyaktuk.”
“The rally itself also appealed to us. It in itself is extremely difficult as it is something new for Brad and I. This is some we are not used to doing. I am used to going 120 mph on a dirt road, Brad is used to King of the Hammers, and we have even done the Baja 1000 together. This rally we have to keep to an exact schedule and be everywhere while being there on the exact second. We can get penalties if we are too early or late, as they call this a regularity rally or time speed distance rally. It is one thing to do this type of rally in normal conditions, we are doing it through the arctic. You cannot have any type of failures and everything has to be reliable,” Andrew continued.
We asked Andrew about the tires they choose to go with for the journey, “Brad and I are both BFGoodrich guys and because of this we decided to bring the All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire along for the trip on our 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. We wanted something that would have traction on all types of terrains. We did an ice solo on a frozen lake while all the other teams where using studded or winter tires we used the All-Terrain T/A KO2 with no studs and finished fourth overall.”
“We have not had any issues on the trip, the only issues have been between our own ears. The navigation and time is extremely difficult and there are just other people that are more experienced. With being used to going so fast going an exact speed is very difficult for us. Going 100 mph flat in our normal races is is more stressful for us. Going 42.1 mph not any faster or slower is way more stressful for us,” Andrew spoke about the difficulties of the rally.
The light at the end of the tunnel may be there for the rally, but as Andrew said, “The most dangerous part of the journey has not even started yet. We have to go solo to Tuktoyaktuk to do some testing. We have survival gear with us incase anything goes wrong.”
Their biggest take away from the rally for the team is, “You have to plan to survive, you do not think about it when you are on your local trail, but out here you need to. We were just talking about this earlier. We have extra fuel tanks and if we did not have them we would have not been able to get up a hill we went up earlier. You have to be methodical with everything you do. You learn to be very calculated in everything you do.”
We wish the team the best in the remainder of the rally, and on their solo testing expedition to the sea ice. How do you prepare to go off-road? Tell us in the comments below.