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In the summer of 1978 I undertook a
3-month 11,500-mile (18,660 km) journey by moped from Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
to Yukon (Canada), Alaska (USA), and up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, NWT (Canada), and
back to Toronto.
As far as I know this is the longest
journey ever made on a moped. A journey made in 2006 *may* have been
longer. For more info, please see the following page on this site:
A World Record.
This website contains a
complete travelogue of this trip, with over 300 photographs and a
description of the trip, plus technical information about the moped and
details of the trip.
There are two introductory pages, followed by the
travelogue pages, ending with two pages of newspaper/periodical articles
and several pages of technical info about how I accomplished the journey (the moped, what gear I took, how it was
packed, where I stayed, what I ate, etc).
Overview of the trip
I left Toronto on the morning of June 3,
1978. I headed around the north shore of Lake Superior, then gradually
northwest across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to the start of the Alaska
Highway at Dawson Creek, BC. I then proceeded north along the Alaska Hwy
to the Yukon. I toured around the Yukon a bit, then continued northwest
into Alaska to the end of the Alaska Hwy at Fairbanks. I then went east
across Alaska back into the Yukon to Dawson City. From there I headed
north up the Dempster Hwy to Inuvik, NWT. I returned the same way and
headed back down to Watson Lake (in the Yukon) on the Alaska Hwy. From
there I headed south into BC along the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy. I then turned
and headed back east through Jasper and down the Icefields Pkwy, continuing east
across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to Ontario. I took the
"Northern Route" of the Trans-Canada Hwy across northern Ontario,
following Hwy 11 all the way back to reach Toronto by September 7.
The total trip took me 97 days, and I traveled
11,518 miles. I spent only $106 (Cdn) on gas.
Here are two pictures of me as I was
Here is a picture
of me taken when I returned to Toronto
You are probably asking....Why travel on
Well, I used to do a
lot of bicycle touring. I liked it because you travel slowly, fully
experiencing the country through which you are traveling. You experience
the air, the wind, the sun, the weather, the smells, and all of the noises of
the country, unlike travel in a vehicle where you are cut off from most of that.
The slow pace ensures that you don't miss any scenery, and you can stop anywhere
much more easily.
I found that by traveling by moped I was able to experience
and be involved in the country in the same way as bicycling, but without the
tremendous effort involved. I traveled anywhere from about 100-300 miles
per day, at a speed of about 25-30 mph (a bit more with a tailwind), which is a bit farther and faster than a
bicycle, but not by much. When I toured by bicycle I found that I was able to
average about 100 miles per day.
Traveling on a moped is also a good way to meet people, since
they are very curious about this unconventional means of travel and are
constantly coming over to talk to me and ask questions.
This was not my
first moped trip. By the end of 1978, I had traveled a total of 27,525
miles by moped over 4 years, most of it in Canada. I had been
to every province and both territories of Canada, and to the farthest east,
west, and northernmost points accessible by road in Canada. These are:
I never made it by moped to Point Pelee or
Pelee Island, the southernmost points accessible by road in Canada. But I
have been to Point Pelee by car.
A moped is a very small motorcycle. By definition a
moped must also be able to function as a bicycle. However, with the larger
mopeds this is rarely practical. The pedals and the bicycle aspect are
present mainly for very steep hills, to start the engine, and to satisfy legal
definitions. Since legally a moped must have an engine size of less than
50cc displacement, most have 49.9cc engines (which mine did).
I used a brand-new Mobylette moped. This was my second
Mobylette. I had put 22,000 miles on my first one traveling all over
Ontario and the eastern provinces of Canada. I took the old one apart and
left the parts at home in Toronto in case I needed something to repair the one I
was traveling on.
The moped was able to
reach speeds of up to 40 mph, but I usually cruised at a speed of 25-35
mph. It was able to take me up most steep hills, except for the very
steepest ones. For those I would have to help it along by pedaling, or, in
extreme cases, get off and walk alongside the bike while it pushed itself up the
hill (one hand on the throttle just enough to keep the bike moving at walking
speed). But this was very rare.
The Mobylette used a
2-stroke engine, thus requiring frequent decarbonising of the engine. This
involves removing the cylinder head and scraping off the black carbon deposits from
the top of the piston and the cylinder head. The exhaust system required
periodic cleaning as well. Other frequent maintenance involved cleaning
the spark plugs and points.
I carried a complete set of tools, with everything I needed
to repair virtually anything on the moped. I was able to obtain
specialized tools, designed specifically for the Mobylette, including ones that
enabled me to set the timing and dismantle every part of the bike.
I carried a one-gallon
gas can with me, in which to mix the correct ratio of gas and oil (2-stroke
engines require oil to be mixed with the gasoline). For the particularly
remote Dempster Hwy I carried two gas cans.
Mopeds get phenomenal gas mileage, typically get
as much as 200 miles per gallon. On this trip I averaged 150 mpg, mainly due to the fact that much of the trip was on unpaved roads, through
mountains, as well as the obvious fact that the moped was fully loaded with all
Overall I averaged 120 miles per day, but that includes days
on which I did not travel.
Please move on to.... Introduction,