Last chance tour: the Kootenays, British Columbia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Grainbelt, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    ***edit: I finally finished this, on Nov. 15th. the last half of the trip is on page three.***


    I hadn't ridden a curvy road in exactly a year. That realization was hugely depressing.

    To add to the frustration, I'd lived within 2 days of the best street riding in Canada for 4 years and never been there. My expatriate assignment up here could end any time now, and I decided that leaving Canada without having ridden the Kootenays is unacceptable.

    So I posted a thread in Regionals and got started planning my trip to southeastern British Columbia. Lots of good advice was given, rooms were offered, and I was ready to get on with it. That thread is a good preview to the trip.

    Plan was to leave Friday morning to make the short 5-hour trek to Edmonton to stay with curbjumper and catch up with some people there. I got fairly wasted at our last slowpitch game of the year Thursday night and had to pack everything while hungover Friday morning. :sick

    Eventually, I was ready to hit the road.

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    I spent 45 minutes travelling the 30 minutes thru Lloydminster, AB road construction. Thank you, flip face helmet: I was able to eat the roast beef and provolone sandwich I packed for lunch while duckwalking the bike the length of town.

    I eventually made it to the Shell station just west of Elk Island park, got ahold of curbjumper, and headed to his place. The Anthony Henday highway that loops around Edmonton the south is a blessing. Made it to his place with plenty of time to relax, BS, go out for chinese, lube the chain, and drink beer. Rob1313 and aj226 stopped by for a bit. Everyone kept asking me when I was getting a new rear tire... It looked ok to me. I wasn't planning on using the middle for the rest of the trip anyway. :patch

    Good to see you guys. :wave

    Next morning had a quick breakfast and started the ride west. curbjumper let me ride his Ducati for a bit, and I had a hard time wiping the smile off my face. That literbike torque is addicting, even on a short ride.

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    We switched back to our respective bikes, and I got an escort to the edge of town. Many thanks to curby and his wife for the hospitality - a short ride to a comfy destination to park in a garage is a great way to start a long road trip. :thumb

    That was the first of 9 days, and served only to whet my appetite for more and better riding.
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

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  3. Sask_pirate

    Sask_pirate Been here awhile

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    Mike; the Duc looks good on you... oh look new riding duds... you really went all out
    #3
  4. aj226

    aj226 Sloth

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    That is a pretty shiny out fit there.

    Did you hit any rain to try it out?

    Aj
    #4
  5. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    I've had the Olympia suit for over a year, it has been fantastic. A little hot (you'll see my squid outfit later) but very waterproof. No rain on this trip, but I've tested it thoroughly. :thumb

    Regarding the duc, I had an ST3 with carbon pipes pass me in Kananaskis on the way home and reeeaallly liked it. :uhoh
    #5
  6. Lexington

    Lexington deliciously wicked

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    :lurk

    :wave
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  7. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    I headed south on 2 from Edmonton, planning to go west to Saskatchewan River crossing, ride 1A, then take 93 to Radium and south.

    Edmonton to Red Deer - nothing much to report, though I used an H3 as a blocker (smokey and bandit style) to run 130 for the majority of it.

    Between Rocky Mountain House and the lake pictured below, I fell in with a rider on a GSX650F for a while. He almost got taken out by a two-up bagger when he pulled out to pass them, as they pulled out to pass a motorhome. I hate watching that from 30ft back and not being able to do anything. :huh

    The little lookout over the lake toward Mt. Michener was as beautiful as I remembered, and the temps were climbing as it was late morning and we were in the bright Alberta sun.

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    edit: lets try that again too.

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    From the lookout spot thru Sask River Crossing to Lake Louise was a bit of a downer. I remembered it as more fun and prettier... 1A is still great but I don't run that pace alone very often, and there were far more bicyclists and pedestrians in late Aug than my previous trip just after Labour day in Sep.

    From 1A I circled back to 93 and headed south to Invermere. I love long sweepers. Wick it up to 140 and go. A pic from the Kootenay river:

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    I went thru Invermere and kept going south, with no plan in mind. I hate resort towns, not stopping in Fairmont. I had a tent, and wanted to use it, so I rode around, hoping to see a campground. Thought there might be one in Canal Plains. There was not.

    There was a campground in the provincial park in Wasa, but it was full, and I almost ran over the same small family thrice due to one-ways I was looping looking for a site.

    Kimberley looks like a great little town but the highway95A (main drag thru town) was wet loose mud and gravel and I just got the heck out of there.

    Looked at the GPS - it was getting close to the hour of the hooved forest rat, so I noted Cranbrook was close, and just booked it there on 93. Lookeed around, saw a Days Inn and called it a day.

    Lemongrass Thai in the best western across the street was decent, if not authentic. I snapped this pic on the way back from dinner:

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    Back home we'd call that a 'Buffet'. Smorgasbord? Seriously?

    At that point it was back to the hotel, where I succumbed to drinking 'Thirsty Beaver' amber ale in my gitch in the hotel downloading photos and updating this report.

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    Tomorrow I need to get to Kaslo, so I decided to at least partially plan that route as well. Day two had been noticeably longer than I planned at ~800kms, so I'd have to kill some time riding the long way to use up the day. No better place than the Kootenays for that. :D
    #7
  8. Kodanja

    Kodanja Been here awhile

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    Looks Great! We just returned a couple weeks ago from Banff and Jasper National Parks and the Selkirk Loop. Kaslo was great...be sure to buy a ticket to see the Moyie. I doing a report on it right now. Keep it coming.
    #8
  9. rob1313

    rob1313 Still learning

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    looks great so far keep it coming
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  10. agplant

    agplant Ride Fast Travel Slo

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    I am running off next week to the same area. Great teaser so far. :thumb

    :lurk
    #10
  11. curbjumper

    curbjumper Lane Changer

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    Nice Ducati!


    :thumb
    #11
  12. kootenay kid

    kootenay kid Lets Ride

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    Oh yes the Kootenays.
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  13. aj226

    aj226 Sloth

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    More please.
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  14. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    Sorry about the delay. Been busy, then went out of town for the weekend. Pics all uploaded and ready to go.

    I arose in Cranbook, only needing to make the short trip to Kaslo. I decided to hit the Dennys across the street, which turned out ok.

    Route planning was minor - go west to Castlegar, then north thru Nelson to Kaslo. I knew I had all day, so there was no rush.

    Highway 3 remains fantastic - I love long sweepers, the kind you just set a line and rail on for a half a kilometre. I stopped along one for a photo op.

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    Somewhere along the way, I grabbed a pic along the river. Speaking of railing on a line - old rail lines are fantastic.

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    I passed thru Creston, which, at least along Hwy 3, is hippie independent orchard congestion.

    Looking south thru the valley just east of Creston:

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    edit: I have photoshop now. Lets try that last pic again. :thumb

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    From Creston I continued to Salmo, crossing untold orange painted bridges as the highway meandered from one side of the river to another. No lunch to speak of, just snacked along the way.

    The road north from Caslegar is a bit slow, and from Nelson to Balfour is even worse. Not sure if it was just due to it being a Sunday, but the traffic was brutal, it was hot, and I really didn't enjoy myself a whole lot.

    Balfour to Kaslo is a terrific ride along the lake. I rolled into Kaslo well ahead of check-in, so I wandered around town, had a coffee, and relaxed. The folks at the Kaslo Hotel were more than happy to keep my gear company while I wandered around, and I checked in a little after three.

    Not wanting to waste any riding time, I put on my squidly version of warm-weather gear and headed west on 31A to New Denver - they have an outdoor store, and I needed sunglasses and icebreaker shirts.

    Valhalla Outfitters:

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    Nice lady inside helped me spend a bunch of money. :lol3 I stuffed it all in my tank bag and noticed a haze over the lake. This would be the first of many smoke-obfuscated mountain views.

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    I stopped along 31A for a quick photo on the way home. God I love that road. :bow

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    #14
  15. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    My accommodations for Sun night thru Wednesday morning.

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    The room

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    Not bad. Big patio outside since I had a corner room.

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    From there, I grabbed a fantastic supper in the hotel pub, but didn't have a camera, so no pics.
    #15
  16. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    Monday was set aside to run #3A and take in a tour at the Columbia Brewery, makers of Kokanee, which I've consumed untold quantities of since moving to Saskatchewan in '05.

    Up around dawn, need to hit the 8:10 ferry at Balfour to make a 9:30 Columbia brewery tour.

    The ferry was quite nice!

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    Good views that early in the morning.

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    No problem getting to the ferry, but I was the last one on, so I had 50 slow moving vehicles ahead of me on the 3A... I briefly considered a kamikaze double-yellow run to get to the tour on time, but eventually calmed down and figured that left me ample time to gas up, change out of my riding gear, and make calls about tires before the tour. Yes, calls about tires. :patch

    The Kokanee sasquatch. :D

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    The tour was good, if uneventful. Got to see Night_Wolf's cans being filled and found out they exclusively use malt from my company. Then a sample! Samples were served in a little pub in the gift shop.

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    I had no plans for the rest of the day, so I ate at Jimmy's pub (great burger) and then decided to take the hwy 3 I love so much to Hwy 6 at Salmo and work my way north to New Denver, ending my day on good old 31A.

    Obligatory burger pic:

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    Hwy 3 was great, I got to see a truck that had taken the runaway and parked itselt in the trees on the hill. No pics, there was no way I could stop in time and I was having too much fun to circle back.

    Some great views along Hwy 3.

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    Even had some flowers growing along the road.

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    Hwy 6 North from Salmo proved useful. Hwy6 is uneventful until Slocan, then it gets much better. The section coming into and out of Silverton is amazing. :evil

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    Same old haze along yet another lake. See my (NSFW) PUI thread in the basement for my drunken opinion of mountains. :lol3

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    All that, and it is only the end of Monday.

    :freaky
    #16
  17. bross

    bross Where we riding to?

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    Keep it coming... :deal Enjoying the ride along so far. :1drink
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  18. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    Tuesday was the unplanned day. I figured another day in Kaslo couldn't hurt, and I'd take whatever I learned from the previous days to select a route for a short day trip.

    Hwy 31 continues north from Kaslo, but then turns into an unpaved road along trout lake before connecting up with 6 and 23 near Nakusp. I was a little sick of seeing tourists and RV's, so it seemed like a decent plan.

    The road north to Lardeau is a typical Kootenay Lake road. some winding curves, then a tight one into the mountain to hop over a stream, then back up on to the ridge. Rinse and repeat.

    Once thru Lardeau and Argenta 31 turns to gravel. No biggie, I was pretty sure that would happen, and this bike has seen plenty of gravel.

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    This road is everything I wanted the paved ones to be - narrow, scenic, quiet, and just beautiful. There are 400m shady lanes thru the trees, then the road meanders along the river, then you break away into the woods again. Fantastic. I recommend one of you ride it, and look for my lens hood. :bluduh

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    Some rafters were floating calmly down the river.

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    I was getting hungry, so I pulled off the road to have a snack where a small stream feeds the river.

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    Follow the Lardeau river north to the edge of Trout Lake, then there is a sign that says, to paraphrase: 'moron on sportbike: this is a one lane logging road. WTF are you thinking?'. Ride right past that one, the road actually gets better - no loose gravel, just hardpacked dirt. Ok, it was bumpy, but it was thoroughly rideable on a street bike if you have some idea what not to do on loose surfaces.

    Some spectacular lookouts over Trout Lake. I have pictures.

    First, the road.

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    And the mountains.

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    Once thru that section, you hit pavement, then the pavement ends, and you ride along the edge of a valley and what might have been Strawberry Lake.

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    Pop onto the highway and blast thru the twisties to Hwy 23, then over to 6, down to Nakusp and New Denver.

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    That's right - I planned the day to end up in New Denver so that I just had to take 31A back to Kaslo again. This time was pure bliss - I rode in 4th and 5th rather than 5th and 6th, kept the motor right in its power band from 6-8k, and let go. I only passed one vehicle the entire run, and I came up to them right before a passing zone, so it was basically half an hour in heaven. I'm not a particularly good, nor fast, rider, but this last time through was just how I like it - smooth. I wish I had a passenger - people need to experience that caliber of road on a decent bike with a competent rider.

    From there it was back to the hotel for supper, and to think about a route thru Nelson (tires) to Osoyoos, where I spent the next couple of nights.
    #18
  19. Lexington

    Lexington deliciously wicked

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    :raabia
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  20. aj226

    aj226 Sloth

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    More please.
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