What you're Missing: a Guide to Side Trips off the Cassiar

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Crooked Creek, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Crooked Creek

    Crooked Creek Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Alberta
    Hey. So last year, thanks to ADV, I went on my first bike trip. 4100km in Northern BC, Alaska and the Yukon was just enough to catch the adventure riding bug. Turns out that my favorite parts were the side trips, the trails and tracks, the routes, roads and ruts that most people fly by on their way north.


    So I went back.


    My name is Ben.

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    That's my family.


    And this is my bike.

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    I love them both (and in that order), but my family isn't as keen on adventure riding.


    Anyways, some people name their bikes, but I am not one of them. Last year, my steed was a trusty 2001 KLR 650. The 1000 or so km of off road I did with the bike that summer convinced me that a lighter mount was in store this year. BigDog's escapades had me lusting after a WR250R, but the price difference between an R2 and my old KLR was a little prohibitive.

    So I bought what I could afford, a TW200. It was fun, but not exactly what I had in mind, especially on the highway. So I sold it, making $700 on the transaction. Hmm. Next, I found a super clean DR350SE a few hours away in Edmonton. I caught a ride down and bought the bike with the money I just made on the TW . The DR was much more like what I was looking for. Riding it down from Edmonton to a conference I was attending in Calgary, I took dirt roads the whole way, loving every minute. But when I arrived in Calgary, something happened. The Kijiji Alert (an instant email notification for a specified search item) that I had set up for "WR250R" went off. I had set up the alert in the spring on the odd chance that one might come up for sale in Alberta and odder chance may be in a position to purchase it.

    But here I was, 731 km from home, and up for sale is one 2008 WR250R. And it's 6 blocks away from where I'm staying. I took this as a sign that I should at least take a look :evil. I hadn't seen an R2 at this point, never mind ridden one. So I basically went for a free test ride, but to make a long story short, one thing led to another and soon I was riding my new bike the 7 hours home. In the rain. But that's another story.

    What happened to the DR? Well, somehow I convinced the former R2 owner to sell it for me in Calgary. In a couple days, it was gone and the cheque was in the mail. That was my signal to put the KLR on the block and in a day it was sold and on the way to Edmonton.

    In short order, the WR had new shoes, handguards, the big tank and was training regularly for the trip.

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    Speaking of the trip, I should get back to that. Basically, my goal was to head back to the Cassiar/Alcan loop but this time, do a little more exploring. I didn't do a lot of planning, which was great, because things didn't go as planned. I did, however get about 1700 kms off dirt, rock and mud in (and a little snow), and saw some beautiful country that I'd like to introduce you to.


    Side Trip #1: the Hazelton Shortcut

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    Side Trip #2: the Spatsizi Rail Bed - South


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    Side Trip #3: the Spatsizi Rail Bed - North

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    Side Trip #4: the 40 Mile Flats Trail

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    Side Trip #5: the Golden Bear Mine Road

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    Oh, and I'll throw in some free scenery and wildlife:

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    #1
  2. mountainfever

    mountainfever Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    69
    subscribed , cant wait
    mf
    #2
  3. koh kood

    koh kood Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    121
    Location:
    Koh Kood, Thailand
    Looking forward to these ride reports.
    Thanks
    #3
  4. Mercenary

    Mercenary Mindless Savage

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,034
    Location:
    Prince George, BC Canada
    Again...living vicariously......hurry up!!!!:rofl

    :lurkI am literally eating popcorn at 6:30 in the morning.....
    #4
  5. Almost There

    Almost There Up, up, and away

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    351
    Location:
    NW Oregon
    Was just there 2 up so we stuck to pavement. Very jealous.:cry
    #5
  6. swinada

    swinada Adventurer

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    Apr 10, 2008
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    Sunshine Coast
    I wish you would use something else than photobucket or flickr to host your pictures. both those services are blocked on our company network. :(
    #6
  7. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,643
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Will fishing be involved??? Can't wait!:thumb
    #7
  8. Crooked Creek

    Crooked Creek Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Alberta
    Popcorn at 6:30am, nicely done :clap. As far as hurrying, last time I took 6 months to start a ride report (and I'm still not done) so I'm already way ahead of schedule :D .

    I thought you were the official computer nerd for the company, couldn't you sneak a little little backdoor in or something. I'd use SmugMug, but I had already paid for an unlimited account with photobucket.

    Maybe...

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    #8
  9. swinada

    swinada Adventurer

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    Apr 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
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    Sunshine Coast
    im only the little local nerd and have no access to those kind of policy settings. :(
    #9
  10. aquadog

    aquadog Dude Buddha

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    654
    Location:
    Yukon
    Subscribed, thanks CC. Just back from picking up the North Canol trail quad expedition - ever seen a quad become a submarine, Billy? In the video, only the headlight is showing...
    #10
  11. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2003
    Oddometer:
    4,028
    Location:
    Just over the rear wheel
    I suspect Ben is going to provide us with another visual treat. :clap But please, don't say too many good things about the little Yamaha - I can't afford any more bikes. :lol3

    :lurk
    #11
  12. yellowknife

    yellowknife Is In Canada

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    708
    Location:
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Great Start Ben. I only wish that one day I will be able to return to that part of the world for some more exploring. Bring it on! :clap:clap:clap:clap:clap
    #12
  13. GISdood

    GISdood Been here awhile

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    Apr 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    803
    Location:
    Prince George, BC
    In, and eagerly awaiting updates! :lurk
    #13
  14. Crooked Creek

    Crooked Creek Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Alberta
    As a matter of fact, I have :D. When I was guiding, I rode a little 93 Suzuki King Quad that racked up well over 30 000km and a lot of submarine duty. Snorkels are a pretty common ATV accessory in these parts. With the old trikes, we used to just float them across.

    That I can't guarantee, but the best bike is always the one you're on.
    #14
  15. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Pagosa Springs, CO.
    Great RR Ben, keep us smiling and informed. While living at Tete Jaune Cache I had heard of many of your rides but never got the chance or took the opportunity to ride them. You are making some dreams reality through your eyes and report.

    Thanks, gale
    #15
  16. Crooked Creek

    Crooked Creek Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Alberta
    When it comes to bike trips (and life in general) I tend not to be the type to over prepare. But during the course of my 700km ride home from Calgary on my "new" bike, I decided a couple upgrades would complete the bike as an adventure tourer. After my low fuel light came on after 160km on my first tank (admittedly of blasting down the highway at 120), I knew the fuel range would be an issue. Even just commuting and running around, it's nothing for me to do 200-300km in a day and there's no 24 hour gas in these parts. (No premium either, but the bike has survived just fine. I add a little octane boost when it's warm out or hauling a load.)

    Here's the before pic:

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    She looks so young and innocent in this one.


    I settled on the IMS 4.75 gallon tank, as it was much cheaper than the Safari and bigger too. Some guys had trouble with the fitment and install, but I had in on in 40 minutes and working like a dream. Ran it completely dry the next day and put just over 5 US gallons in.

    While I was at it, I ordered some Tusk D-Flex hand guards (again, because they were cheap and worked fine on my KLR) and some new tires, as the stock Trailwings has 6300km on them and were starting to show it. This was my first attempt at swapping over a tire and went pretty well considering all I had was some Windex, a couple flat screwdrivers and a crowbar :lol3. The Mitas knobbies transformed the bike off road and did just fine on the highway.


    After:

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    I don't think the bike will ever be that clean again.


    But anyways, the new shoes, though ridiculously fun in the mud, were about half gone (especially the rear) after a couple weeks (and thousand kms.)

    So the night before the trip, I was up until 4am levering on some new K270s (among other things). And yes, I said levering. You'll be happy to know (if you're familiar with my trip last year) that I invested in a $15.00 Tusk fender bag, complete with two mini tire levers and room for not one but two spare tubes. I was almost hoping to get a flat.

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    While I was at it, I changed the oil, cleaned the air filter and took a look at the chain and sprockets.

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    Yes, that's a milk crate. I guess there's a little KLR owner left in me still :wink:. But anyways, the chain was the original and with 9300km on the clock, looked A-1 to me. I had switched to a new 12 tooth front sprocket about a 1000km back, and the rear still looked like new. The previous owner lived in the city and lubed the chain after each ride. Still though, I had heard about the infamous "seal, guard" on the WR250R and had tried to order one a couple weeks before. Just in case. But there was none to be had in Canada, so I figured I would have to take my chances. Some of you may know how that turned out :rofl.


    Besides the milk crate, the other essential upgrades for the trip were the custom bi-level touring seat/back rest and the farmer hot grips I purchased earlier that day. May have been the best $25 ever I've spent.

    And wha-bam, the next morning here we are. Ready to go. In the rain.

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    #16
  17. swinada

    swinada Adventurer

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    Apr 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast
    I didnt know your bike had such nice colors, i've never seen them.
    I know your bike like this
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    #17
  18. Crooked Creek

    Crooked Creek Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Alberta
    Use a proxy server. That's how all the kids use Facebook at school :D.

    Thanks for the kind words Gale (and everyone else.) This RR is going to take a while, but I'll keep chipping away when I can in the evenings.
    #18
  19. Crooked Creek

    Crooked Creek Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Alberta
    I was going to elaborate on the planning of the route and the pre-trip research, but the only part that I planned was the part that I didn't end up doing. So, I think I'll just get on with the trip, and fill in the relevant bits as I go.

    As you may know from Swinada's report, even though I like to ride alone, concerned parties (read: mom and wife...) had convinced me to seek a partner for the rail bed attempt. My goal was to see if I could ride the whole of the (incomplete and abandoned) Dease Lake extension from Takla Landing to Tatogga Lake. This meant cutting a lot of deadfall, slogging through a lot of mud, and floating 3 major rivers in about as remote of a location as you can get in BC.

    I knew the odds of finding a like-minded individual (especially with the short noticed and limited time frame) were pretty slim. But, providentially, I had met Swinada (or Markus, as I know him) the year before and being fellow KLR owners and adventurers, we had bonded instantly. After racking my brain (and putting out feelers on ADV) I remembered that Swinada had a history with the Spatsizi rail bed and I fired him off the following hopeful email:


    His initial reply was hesitant, but my sales pitch prevailed and within a couple days time off was booked and we were figuring out just how much fuel you can carry on our bikes and still ride them across a river :D.


    Swinada: a man's man, adventurer at large, bike picker-upper extraordinaire and (more importantly) a superb cook and the only one who brought food on our trip.

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    Reading his RR now, you can see how fortunate I was that he came.
    But he did come. And even though we both knew the timing was bad and the weather was worse, when Thursday morning came, I loaded the bike, kissed the wife and kids and headed out. In the rain.

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    Did I mention that it rained?
    #19
  20. Oh2RideMore

    Oh2RideMore Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,312
    Location:
    St Louis MO
    Love the cassiar and would like to see all these side trips on a reliable lightweight bike. Oh, did I mention I have one too? :D
    #20