How Not To Ride To Yellowknife

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Superzoom, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Back in July of 2012, I went on a fairly epic 12 000 kilometre ride from Toronto to Yellowknife, North West Territories.

    [​IMG]

    I could write a fairly comprehensive book on what not to do when motorcycle touring based on my vast first-hand experience. I consider myself a pretty smart person, but for some reason, when I get on a motorcycle, I start to get stupid. And not in a live-life-to-the-fullest, balls-to-the-walls way. It's more of a lost-all-common-sense stupid.

    So the title of this ride report describes all the dumb things I tend to do while touring:

    - I speed
    - I get impatient, and end up driving aggressively and passing cars when I shouldn't
    - I do 1000 km days (which is way too much)
    - I choose boring main highways in order to "make good time"
    - I don't stop as often as I should
    - I usually finish a tour with a 1000 mile last day/night
    - I eat like crap (usually two "meals" a day, with one being a bag of chips and a chocolate bar), and let myself get dehydrated
    - I feel depressed and guilty because I should actually be working, not out on a motorcycle trip goofing off

    All these actions result in me not having as much fun as I should. Did I still have fun on my trip? Yes, but not as much as I should have. Someday I will learn.

    Anyhow, now that I'm done being awkwardly honest about myself, let's get on with the ride report, shall we?
    #1
  2. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Back in July, I went on a solo motorcycle trip WAY west and WAY north. The plan was to visit my friend Adam in Calgary, then ride up to Yellowknife, NWT, to visit my sister-in-law Katherine.
    [​IMG]

    This is the bike pulled over somewhere on HWY 69 about half way to Sudbury. The skies were looking sketchy, so I put on my waterproof boot covers and gloves.

    This was my third motorcycle trip riding out west, so I made the foolish decision to stick mostly to the Trans Canada Highway to make good time. Unfortunately, this makes for very dull riding.
    [​IMG]

    It wasn't too long after Canada Day, so Canadian flags were in evidence in numerous places along my route.
    [​IMG]

    That evening, I only made it to Blind River, ON, as I had left so late. Blind River is a lovely little town that is just big enough to have a KFC... Yay! Man, I have a horrible junk food addiction when I travel.

    I did go out for an eight kilometre run all over town to make up for dinner. Very hot, but I discovered that running while on vacation is a fantastic way to sight see. I decided after that run that I would try to take my camera on runs.
    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Cookin' up some brekkie in my room.
    [​IMG]

    Ramen! Breakfast of champions.
    [​IMG]
    #3
  4. Chisenhallw

    Chisenhallw Avowed Pussbag

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,394
    Location:
    Conover, Nawth Cackalacky
    Can you give a rough loc on where this was taken, please? I have a real need to go zipping through Canadian arboreal forests.
    #4
  5. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    On the ride out of Blind River in the morning.
    [​IMG]

    I find this shot inspirational.
    [​IMG]

    Continuing to follow the Trans Canada.
    [​IMG]

    On a road side pullout in Lake Superior Provincial Park. This park is genuinely beautiful.
    [​IMG]

    In Lake Superior Provincial Park.
    [​IMG]

    Stopped in Wawa for a quick "oie" (goose) shot.
    [​IMG]

    And stopped in Thunder Bay at the Terry Fox Memorial.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is really one of the most beautiful memorials that I know of. Such an amazing setting, on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior. I get a little misty each time I visit. If you've ever had anyone close to you get cancer, you probably understand.

    I'm no Terry Fox expert, so I recommend you read the Terry Fox Wikipedia entry like I did. You'll be impressed.

    I'd like to take my wife Allie to see this memorial some day.

    Last time I was here, the place was overrun with tourists. It's much more appropriate when it is quiet, like it was this time.
    [​IMG]

    This is a place where motorcyclists like to stop for a photo. Not sure why, but I think it means you're really far north.
    [​IMG]

    This was my dinner in Dryden, ON. I chose this horrible fleabag motel solely for the fact that it was next door to McDonald's. It was worth it. And yes, I ordered a Big Mac AND twenty Chicken McNuggets for dinner. I did leave a few of the nuggets for breakfast the next day.
    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Chisenhallw,

    Somewhere just south of the Alberta/NWT border on Highway 35, I think. I passed through lots and lots and LOTS of this type of forest on this type of road once I was in NWT.

    https://www.google.ca/maps/dir//Mac...ee01ff9!2m2!1d-117.0501774!2d59.8119186?hl=en
    #6
  7. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Back on the road next morning.
    [​IMG]

    Still in Ontario.
    [​IMG]

    And I cross into Manitoba, but not until after acquiring a little award certificate for my "efficient" driving while still in Ontario. For fifteen kilometres over! The cop who pulled me over said a woman had been killed on a motorcycle recently, so I guess she thought it was prudent to single out all motorcycles and give them tickets rather than warnings. My first speeding ticket in over a decade (and second ever).
    [​IMG]

    Still on the Trans Canada.
    [​IMG]

    Couldn't be much straighter or flatter through a lot of Manitoba.
    [​IMG]

    Canola is a popular crop in all the prairie provinces. Makes for a beautiful landscape.
    [​IMG]

    In about five hours, I make it across Manitoba.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And another six hours later, I'm through Saskatchewan. At this point, I've decided to push on and try to make it to Calgary, which will have me riding for a couple of hours after sunset. No sweat, I think to myself.
    [​IMG]

    And thus began "The Night Of The Killer Mosquitoes"...

    So every time I stopped, including taking this pic, I was instantly swarmed by dozens and scores and hundreds of mosquitoes. This area of Alberta had seen a lot of rain in the past few weeks, and I'm guessing there were probably millions of mosquitoes every square kilometre.
    [​IMG]

    After sunset, I was in a real pickle, because my visor would become completely coated with mosquitoes, making it difficult to see. I would then stop by the side of the road to clean my visor and get attacked by hundreds of ravenous mosquitoes. I would then hurriedly clean my visor and take off again, only to have my visor become completely bug encrusted in only minutes.
    [​IMG]

    Does our intrepid rider make it? Or does his visor become so bug splattered that he loses vision completely and crashes and is eaten alive by the Millions Of Mosquitoes Of Alberta?

    Check back soon to find out...
    #7
  8. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    I eventually made it to Calgary by following a semi truck's tailights, seen through a tiny clear spot in my buggy visor.

    Made it!

    1696 kms and 18 hours after leaving Dryden, Ontario, I'm in Calgary.
    [​IMG]

    What to do after an epic ride? Square Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!
    [​IMG]

    Here's my helmet after the ride... GROSS!!! Imagine the visor itself encrusted with as many dead mosquitoes as the rest of the helmet, and you can imagine how difficult it was to see.
    [​IMG]

    And after a good cleaning. Better!
    [​IMG]

    Next... Part II... Calgary and a trip to Nelson, BC.
    #8
  9. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    My first day in Calgary and I'm staying at my friend Adam's apartment. I've known Adam for a few years, now. We worked on a few TV shows together. I helped Adam move out west a couple of years ago.

    Adam is as crazy for authentic Japanese ramen as me, and maybe more so, so he takes me to Muku, which is the best Ramen in Calgary, in his opinion. This delicious combo comes with pork on rice, which makes this meal ridiculously large AND good.
    [​IMG]

    Next morning, while Adam was at work, I went for a run along the Bow River Pathway. This is an outstanding path which runs all the way to downtown Calgary and beyond.
    [​IMG]

    The famous Calgary Tower, which is only the third largest structure in downtown Calgary now.
    [​IMG]

    I crossed a bridge and ended up in Eau Claire Market, where they were serving free breakfast to coincide with The Calgary Stampede, which was going on. In fact, free breakfast is served all over the city during Stampede. One look at the massive line, and I decided to pass on breakfast.
    [​IMG]

    My motorcycle was disgusting with bug guts, so I actually cleaned it. I NEVER clean it!
    [​IMG]
    #9
  10. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    A quick visit to Adam's workplace, Heavy Industries, where they make gigantic public art installations. It's a little known fact that all public art is produced by turning it on a giant lathe, as Adam demonstrates here.
    [​IMG]

    We join up with Adam's friend from work, Chris, and head on over to check out The Stampede. This is us en route.
    [​IMG]

    It's the 100th anniversary of The Stampede. Yippeekaiyay!
    [​IMG]

    The Stampede grounds are really quite similar to other exhibitions, but really HUGE. Chris was cool and wanted to show me a "genuine" Stampede experience, but in the end, we were overwhelmed by the massive crowds.

    We tried to get into a few beer tents, such as Nashville here.
    [​IMG]

    In the end, we gave up, and left The Stampede grounds and went to The Twisted Grill lounge for a few drinks.
    [​IMG]

    Next day Adam and I left town for a fun weekend trip to Nelson, BC. The entire route was spectacular, with mountain and river views and twisty roads galore.
    [​IMG]

    Even the "boring" roads were beautiful.
    [​IMG]

    Rain clouds taunted us all day, and we stopped to gear up for rain. It never got heavy, luckily.
    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Passing through a lovely flood plain.
    [​IMG]

    Close to Nelson, we took this small ferry across Kootenay Lake.
    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    We got a kick out of this safety poster.
    [​IMG]

    Apparently the life jacket technology hasn't changed for fifty years (although hairstyles have).
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    We chatted a bit with this nice young couple from Saskatoon, who were meandering their way west on vacation. We had actually bumped into them previously when we all stopped to help an older lady Harley rider who had wiped out on the road. We guessed that the Harley woman was drunk.
    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    A short ride on our bikes and we reach Nelson, BC.
    [​IMG]

    The least expensive place in Nelson, supposedly.
    [​IMG]

    We partook of some crisp and cold local brews.
    [​IMG]

    Next day I got up for a morning run around town. This is the main street.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    There's an honest to goodness pirate ship docked in the river!
    [​IMG]

    And it's the size of a small sailboat!
    [​IMG]

    Breakfast at The Full Circle Restaurant, which had great food.
    [​IMG]

    My bennies.
    [​IMG]

    Cute hippie girl.
    [​IMG]

    More hippie spotting outside a cafe.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    We ducked into a head shop for laughs. Nelson is also known as the weed capital of Canada. Could there possibly a connection between the hippies and the doobies?
    [​IMG]

    Not sure what these are, but they sure are purty.
    [​IMG]

    Adam expands his general knowledge. This girl knew a LOT about getting high (for medicinal purposes only).
    [​IMG]

    So I specifically said to the girl scooping my ice cream, "Just a small serving". She gives me this. I finished it, of course.
    [​IMG]

    We descended upon Finley's Irish Bar, upon the recommendation of the owner, whom we'd bumped into on the road earlier.
    [​IMG]

    It was Karaoke night! We had a blast listening to the drunk, brave, wacky locals.
    [​IMG]

    Pulled Pork Poutine. 'Nuff said.
    [​IMG]

    For every bucket of Corona's ordered, you get a free hat. "Two buckets of Corona's, please!"
    [​IMG]

    Went for a short blast out of town and back on a pretty amazing stretch of road between Kaslo and New Denver, HWY 31A. Adam can effortlessly ride about five times faster than me when the road is curvy, and he kept leaving me behind. Jerk.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    For dinner, we hit this tiny place for some BBQ take out, just as it was closing. It was in fact closed, but the owner took pity on us and served us. I think we mentioned something about reading it was the best BBQ in town.
    [​IMG]

    We devoured the BBQ back in our room. It was outrageously good. Maybe the best either of us had ever had.
    [​IMG]

    And a small (as in huge) tub of ice cream for dessert. We kept going back for seconds, and in seconds, we had finished it.
    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Coming back on the ferry, things were a little more crowded.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    On a Monday morning I packed my bike (which takes forever) and said goodbye to my gracious host Adam and his girlfriend Emily. Off I went to Yellowknife.

    Again, my route was not the most interesting, as I was opting for efficiency over interest. I didn't actually take this lovely road. I was stopped here to put on rain gloves.
    [​IMG]

    Evil rain clouds to start the day.
    [​IMG]

    I'd heard that gas stations up north were few and far between, so I stopped at The Tire to get a one gallon gas can.
    [​IMG]

    This little puppy was good for another fifty kilometres or so. I ended up using it once when I ran the tank dry in northern Alberta.
    [​IMG]

    Rain! The rain was brutally constant approaching Edmonton and beyond.
    [​IMG]

    Traffic got more and more sparse as I made my way north. This is HWY 35, which is known as The Mackenzie Highway, which goes all the way to the Alberta/NWT border.
    [​IMG]

    Not much traffic up here!
    [​IMG]

    I stopped for the night in High Level, Alberta, a few hours from the border.
    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Back on the road the next day heading north.
    [​IMG]

    This would finally be a day with no rain!
    [​IMG]

    Listening to my MP3 player, I was suddenly overcome with sadness. I was missing Allie terribly. We had been apart for two long weeks. I pulled over to commemorate the moment. The road I was on was desolate and beautiful.

    The song I was listening to was Norah Jones' "The Long Way Home".
    [​IMG]

    First of many warnings.
    [​IMG]

    The past summer was pretty terrible for wild fires in Alberta. I passed many patches of scorched forest right beside the highway. I could actually smell the fragrance of charred wood. I wasn't even completely sure if I could get through the area, as they had closed this highway just a week before due to the fire and smoke.
    [​IMG]

    There were so many firefighters on active duty because of the wild fires that they had to live out of tents at this firefighting depot.
    [​IMG]

    Best sign of the trip, although every bison warning sign was fun too.
    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    [​IMG]

    More straight roads... but lovely weather put me in a better mood.
    [​IMG]

    Something was burning up ahead. I first thought it was one of the wild fires, but later figured out it must be controlled burning of some kind.
    [​IMG]

    You have to take this ferry across the Mackenzie River to get to Yellowknife. It's free and it's super efficient, going back and forth across the river without pausing.
    [​IMG]

    On the right is Deh Cho Bridge, which will put this ferry out of commission. But the bridge is well behind schedule.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    On the other side of the river.
    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. Hikerjms

    Hikerjms Shaft Drive

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Dumfries, VA.
    Great trip post!
    #19
  20. Superzoom

    Superzoom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    599
    Location:
    Toronto
    Look out for bison!
    [​IMG]

    More arrow straight roads.
    [​IMG]

    Don't forget to look out for bison!
    [​IMG]

    Every kilometre or so, there was a weird perfectly rectangular man made pond. Didn't know what they were for.

    ADDENDUM: I just did some Googling and found out this is a "borrow pit" left over from road construction. Materials are dug out of the ground, and the remaining pit becomes a pond.
    [​IMG]

    Don't hit the bison!
    [​IMG]
    #20