SoSlow... Riding to BC

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by SoSlow, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    Somewhere around two years ago, I had this great idea to go and visit my sister and her family out in Victoria. At the time, however, I'd only been riding for a year so I didn't feel confident enough to try it. I really started planning it around eight or nine months ago. Just me, the KLR, and a tent. Initially, my wife thought I was crazy but she has been enormously supportive of the trip - I'm very, very grateful.

    So I busied myself with maps and equipment lists and things I needed for the bike, thinking I had plenty of time to get everything sorted out. Well, time flies - I leave tomorrow right after work, and I'm in full-on panic mode. Do I have all the tools I need? Do I have too much stuff? Will the bike make the trip? Will I make the trip?

    It's funny how when you're six months away from a trip you're really excited about it and maybe a little nervous... but when you're six DAYS away, you're really nervous and maybe a little excited.

    The plan is to take the KLR and spend 23 days on the road. Ten days outbound, five days on Vancouver Island, and eight days back. I'm more a country boy than a city boy, so the objective is to avoid cities wherever possible and try to stay off the biggest roads for most of the way.

    Here's the plan:

    Day 1 - Winnipeg, MB -> Brandon, MB. Good shakedown run.
    Day 2 - Brandon, MB -> Oyen, AB. Saskatchewan, I like you... but I can visit you any weekend I want.
    Day 3 - Oyen, AB -> Canmore, AB.
    Day 4 - Canmore, AB -> Valemount, BC.
    Day 5 - Valemount, BC -> Clearwater, BC.
    Day 6 - Clearwater, BC -> Williams Lake, BC.
    Day 7 - Williams Lake, BC -> Nimpo Lake, BC.
    Day 8 - Nimpo Lake, BC -> Bella Coola, BC.
    Day 9 - Take the 25 hour ferry from Bella Coola to Port Hardy, BC. I decided to take the 25h ferry because: a) I'll probably never be in the area again, and b) It gets in at 0900 the next morning so I can get in a full day riding.
    Day 10 - Port Hardy, BC -> Gordon Bay PP. I'll meet my sister and her family and friends here, and we'll stay for a couple of days.
    Day 12 - Gordon Bay PP -> Victoria, BC. Halfway point. A couple of days to rest. Change the oil, re-pack, and get ready for the trip home.
    Day 15 - Victoria, BC -> Cache Creek, BC.
    Day 16 - Cache Creek, BC -> Chain Lake / Link Lake / Summerland, BC. I'm hoping to squeeze into the campsites at either Chain or Link Lake, but failing that, I can get in at Summerland.
    Day 17 - Chain Lake / Link Lake / Summerland, BC -> Grand Forks, BC.
    Day 18 - Grand Forks, BC -> Toad Rock Campground, BC.
    Day 19 - Toad Rock Campground, BC -> Sparwood, BC. Last day in BC...
    Day 20 - Sparwood, BC -> Cavan Lake, AB.
    Day 21 - Cavan Lake, AB -> Weyburn, SK or Brandon, MB, depending on conditions and how I feel. Sorry about that, Saskatchewan.
    Day 22 - Weyburn, SK -> Brandon or spend an extra day in Brandon.
    Day 23 - Brandon, MB -> Winnipeg, MB.

    At least, that's the plan. I'm also planning to spend some time on FSRs and trails between Clearwater and Williams Lake as well as between Summerland and Grand Forks.

    I've never done an RR before, and quite a few of the places I'm hoping to stay at do not have wireless, so I think this will be an RR in two parts - the first part will be "live", when I'll post whenever I can, and I'll do the second part after I get home to fill in all the blanks and post more pictures/stories.

    We'll see what happens. I've got no ego when it comes to riding - I just enjoy it a lot. I'm hoping that 24 days from now I'll be rolling up the driveway, covered in dead bugs and smelling of exhaust and fresh air with a giant smile on my face. But... I may be posting in two days saying I broke the KLR and am in a Greyhound station, waiting for my bus home.

    Either way, it's going to be an adventure! :ricky

    Oh, and one last thing - I'll be running a SPOT tracker - if you want to see where I am, check it out:

    http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=00ulptDKhIUVtZx7TdPqVfioVI4eOLmFb
    #1
  2. craftsmanracer

    craftsmanracer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    235
    Location:
    Englewood, FL
    Can't wait for the ride report, take lots of pictures!
    #2
  3. BC Brian

    BC Brian Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    617
    Location:
    Fort Fraser BC
    Looking forward to you RR
    See you next week
    #3
  4. Lycan1

    Lycan1 Grizzly herder

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,096
    Location:
    Calgary
    Sounds like a plan. I look forward to the ride report. You will enjoy the ferry, spend lots of time on deck, you should see lots of whales, I did.
    #4
  5. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    I found out last night that the stuff I was hoping to take wouldn't all fit on the KLR. Figures. My wife (who is an organizational marvel) gave me a hand and we took some stuff out and rearranged things and at about midnight, we finally had it - everything fit. Just for kicks, I hopped on to see how I would fit.

    I fit just fine. Unfortunately, there was an ominous *clunk* sound from the rear suspension.

    Yep - bottomed out. Shouldn't be a huge problem, all I needed to do was bump up the preload... which, unfortunately, was already set to 5.

    Crap.

    By 2AM we gave up and went to bed. I was feeling very down at this point and was very disappointed - a little in the rear spring, but mostly in myself for not loading everything up earlier.

    A bit of sleep does wonders, though. My wife sent me the list of everything we'd packed to work, and I asked my boss (who rides anything that burns gas and has two wheels) if he wouldn't mind going through the list to see if there was anything I could get rid of. He found lots of tools - some things I had multiples of, some things the OEM kit would do just fine, and a lot of tools that could do double duty.

    I think my biggest problem, though, was that I was trying to plan for every contingency. What if I break the shift lever? What if I cook a wheel bearing? What if... what if... that's the kind of thinking I do every day, and it doesn't necessarily translate well to riding in an area of a country where I'll likely never be far away from a town or city.

    So... I headed home early from work and another bin full of tools and spares weighing 18lbs came off the KLR. I hopped on again, and couldn't make it bottom out. I was almost on my toes again (I'm usually on tiptoes on the KLR, but was very flat-footed when I sat on it last night).

    Full-on panic - averted!

    My wife and I sat around inside for a little while to cool off (repeatedly loading and unloading a bike whilst being fat and nervous makes me sweat), and I almost... ALMOST thought about calling the whole thing off. She reminded me how long I'd been thinking about this trip, and she reminded me I'd feel better as soon as I was on the bike (the bike always seems to put me in a good mood). She was right. As soon as I started rolling, the tattered remnants of my confidence pulled themselves together. The bike felt fine - no problems handling, stopping, or starting. A good start.

    I got gas and then hit the highway, headed west. I was initially going to head down Hwy 2, but with all the extra time I'd taken today, I decided to take Hwy 1 instead and shave some time off the run.

    It was about 28C, but while moving it didn't feel all that bad. Lots of dragonflies out there!

    As I got closer to Brandon, an electronic sign caught my attention:

    "Next 20km, fresh oil and sand on road"

    A little way ahead, I could see the road crew fellow switch his sign from SLOW to STOP. I coasted to a stop and slowly started to cook in my gear as the traffic piled up behind me. Barry (I don't know his real name, but I'm going to call him that) would occasionally glance at me and then back down the road.

    I kept checking my mirrors and didn't see anything, until finally a sanding truck pulled up and out in front of us and started spraying sand on the road.

    Barry looked at me and said, "BET YOU'RE GOING TO LOVE THAT!"

    I looked back at him, nodded, and said, "No kidding. Oil and sand on pavement - my two favourites."

    He chuckled and said, "DON'T WORRY - NOT MUCH LONGER NOW!"

    Eventually, a pilot truck came up and pulled in front of the convoy. Barry switched from STOP to SLOW, and we were off at 50kph for a little while before he pulled over, waved us on, and we were out of the construction area.

    And... with that being my only riding story for today, I suppose you've already guessed the rest of the ride was pretty routine. You'd be right. Enjoyable, but routine. :D

    Got into Brandon at about 8:30PM. Everything's good so far. The bike ran well, the luggage stayed put, and I'm no longer worried about the KLR being uncontrollable with all that weight on it.

    I should really look into getting a new spring for that rear shock. I wonder if I could get it done in Victoria, hmm...

    Up early tomorrow. Next stop - Oyen, Alberta!

    Attached Files:

    #5
  6. Lycan1

    Lycan1 Grizzly herder

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,096
    Location:
    Calgary
    :lurk:*sip* Good way to start my day. I like your writing style.
    #6
  7. 8thdwarf

    8thdwarf perfect,just perfect

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    129
    Location:
    Ventura Co. CA
    :lurk.... good luck on your adventure!!! must have a VERY understanding wife..... :D
    #7
  8. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    In Oyen, all is well. Very hard ride today between the road conditions and wind. Any of you guys with DRZs, KLXs, or WRs would probably love SK highway 15. It's pretty bad.

    Met quite a few interesting people (I'm pretty sure that I met Carol Kester when I got gas), and the B&B I'm staying at tonight is really very interesting, I (so far) highly recommend it to anyone going through the Oyen area.

    Tomorrow will be a relatively short ride to Canmore and I'll have more time to do up a real post, not this "I'm tired and wanna go to bed" crap.

    I love prairie storms. I grew up out in the country and would always sit outside and watch the clouds approach (much to my mother's chagrin).

    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. BC Brian

    BC Brian Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    617
    Location:
    Fort Fraser BC
    944 km?
    Holy!! thats a good day on any bike, let alone a slightly overloaded KLR, on crappy roads, with lots of wind!!!!!!

    Looking forward to reading more.
    #9
  10. Motojournalism

    Motojournalism motojournalism.com

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,678
    Location:
    Montreal via BC
    I HATE that part of any motorcycle trip!
    On my last trip I almost left without my riding jacket - containing my passport, licsence, insurance etc. :baldy
    Like you say, as soon as you start rolling you can exhale and start enjoying yourself :ricky
    #10
  11. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    Finished day 4, sorry no wifi yesterday and I've got 2 minutes of batteries left now.

    In Valemount, things are going very well. Ride today was awesome, I've never been in the mountains before and it really takes the breath away!

    Met three other KLR riders from Montana going to Alaska, and one Vstrom rider from (get this) Maui.

    Had my closest call ever today - was stuck behind some doofus towing a trailer that was much too big for his truck, I finally got the chance to pass... goosed the KLR for all it was worth, pulled out, and as soon as I crossed the centre line, one of the bikes on the back of his trailer FELL OFF and bounced along the road. :eek1

    If there's wifi and an outlet where I'm going tomorrow (campground in Clearwater (if I can get there - there's apparently some huge chemical spill on Hwy 5 that may or may not be cleaned up (don't you love nested parentheses?))), I'll do some catchup posting.

    Attached Files:

    #11
  12. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    Thanks! I'm not much of a writer-downer of things, but I'm trying (keeping a little book with details to post later)!
    #12
  13. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    I was walking pretty funny the next morning, let me tell you...
    #13
  14. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    And that's exactly how it played out - once I got on the road, my worries about the trip itself disappeared. That's one of the things I love about riding!
    #14
  15. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    Thanks! I do have a very understanding wife, she's very supportive of all the neat, weird, and dumb things I try to do. :lol3
    #15
  16. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    Woke up this morning to the sounds of wind rattling the windows. My fears came true - the brutal winds from Day 2 (the kid at the gas bar said they were 70 gusting to 92) were back. There was a good side, though - they were from the west, not the south. So, fuel economy would be in the toilet, but at least I wouldn't be getting blown into the ditch...

    Got up, showered, and went downstairs for my scheduled breakfast at 8:30AM. Was greeted warmly and served poached eggs on toast and a sausage, which was wonderful. The other fellow staying at Prairie Bells (whose morning routine seemed to consist entirely of making sounds like a cat coughing up a hairball) was downstairs already. We all had a good chat (he was a very nice fellow despite the weird and repeated noises) and enjoyed breakfast before it was time to pack and fetch the KLR.

    Fetch, you may ask? Kind of a cool story, that.

    The folks at Prairie Bells (Cheryle and Manfred) don't have a garage. They did, however, have the keys to a house that was vacant and up for sale, so I followed Manfred over about a block away and stowed the bike there overnight. I'm paranoid about the KLR at the best of times, but with the wind (chunks of trees down all over town) I was very happy to have a place to keep it safe.

    I can say that Prairie Bells B&B is a classy, clean, and well-run establishment that is also motorcycle-friendly.

    Once everything was loaded up, it was time to say goodbye to my hosts and their grandchildren (one of whom asked me about a thousand questions about the bike), and I was off, headed west and into the wind. It was much cooler than the previous day, however (about 18C), and the rain overnight had taken care of a lot of the mugginess in the air.

    My plan for this trip is to take less-used roads where I can. That's not to say I want to ride single-track all the way out to BC, but I want the roads to be a little less used. For that reason, I decided to take Hwy 570 instead of 9.

    Well, where taking Hwy 15 instead of 16 on Day 2 was the biggest mistake I could have made, taking Hwy 570 instead of 9 on Day 3 was the best thing I could have done. What a gorgeous road. Recently repaved, it starts out straight as an arrow and then after a little while goes into some gentle curves and inclines. Fantastic scenery, too.

    The neatest part about the 570 was that it was where I got my first glimpse of the mountains. It looked like dark clouds on the horizon... but they didn't really move. It was a pretty momentous occasion for me.

    Drumheller... wow. Alberta - your drivers are insane (passing on a double line into a curve seems to be a sanctioned sport there) , but if you want to take someone and give them a smack in the face about what you're all about, send them to Drumheller. It took my breath away, I had to pull over and gape at the rock formations.

    Stopped at the Hoodoo rest stop, took some photos and climbed on the rocks for a little while. There's just no precedent from where I'm from for that sort of thing. It's incredible... absolutely amazing.

    Got gas in Drumheller and stretched my legs before hitting the road again. Took the Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22) down to meet up with Hwy 1, but it was too developed for my liking. Hwy 1, though - wow... it's like Death Race there. Still riding into the wind, I was flogging the poor KLR, trying to keep up. Even when you're in the "slow" lane, people seem to think you'll go faster if they ride right up your butt. Had to pull over a couple of times to let people go just to be on the safe side.

    Where Hwy 22 was a little too overdone, Hwy 40 was... well, I'm having trouble finding the right words for it. Incredible? Astonishing? Amazing? None of them seem to fit. The roads, the scenery, the curves, the smells... everything was just awesome. Lots of people out on motorcycles, lots of waving (even the Harley dudes were waving at me today). TONS of people on bicycles.

    Eventually, I got to Sundance Lodges. The folks at the front desk were very friendly, but there was definitely a sense of there being rules there - it's a family-friendly campsite that has bears around, and they're serious about it. Suited me just fine.

    Tent sites are divided by trees from other sites and there is a gravel pad to put tents on. The ground was quite hard so I had to scrounge around for a rock to hammer the pegs in. HULK SMASH!!!

    Used my little Trangia stove to cook up some freeze-dried grilled chicken and mashed potatoes for supper. Scrumptious!

    I ended the evening by relaxing in the tent, listening to music and jotting down notes from the day.

    Here's the view out my tent window (I have GOT to get me a SmugMug account, one attachment per post isn't going to cut it):

    Attached Files:

    #16
  17. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    Ah, bliss... and with a west wind, no getting blown all over the road. :D

    Attached Files:

    #17
  18. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    You decide!
    (It was mountains.)

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    In Drumheller. When this stuff swam up out of the distance, I knew I was a ways away from home.

    Attached Files:

    #19
  20. SoSlow

    SoSlow Having fun

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    Manitoba
    Absolutely amazing views. I kept walking up and down this path to watch Mount Greyskull come into view.

    Yes, I'm aware it's not called Mount Greyskull, but that's what I'm christening it as I've not much inclination to look it up (and internet connectivity here (Clearwater) is spotty at best).

    Attached Files:

    #20