May 23rd 2017 "Ok piglet, I think it's time for another big adventure..." "Ok Mama!" It's been two years since my cross-country trip on the first production Rally Raid CB500X Adventure in the USA (and those of you who followed that exploit at the time may recall that at this time 730 days ago I was still recovering from camping at below freezing during the 2015 snOverland Expo!), and a lot has happened since then... Not least, having been so impressed with the way that bike ate up the road miles and devoured the trails (including the complete Trans-Am Trail on my way back west), that I've now bought my own CB500X and kitted it out in a similar fashion, and already racked up nearly 12,000 miles all over the western USA - highlights from last year include the inaugural CBXpo [group] ride, and of course that little foray Juan Browne and I enjoyed* on the Rubicon Trail last September... *I say 'enjoyed', I mean endured of course - to see what I mean, his video is here: In all of those instances, I'd been fortunate to have either already ridden the roads/trails in question, or at least been familiar with the region and terrain I'd be passing though - although that's not to say you can't still get caught out by the unexpected of course! However, this year, I feel it's time to spread my wings a little further afield, and explore some states and indeed a whole new country, that I've never visited before... Oh Canada! Yes, I think it's finally time to embark on a little moose-dodging, and see what the northern territories have to offer! Fortunately this desire has also coincided with a couple of invitations to ride with some long-term friends and associates north of the boarder - in the western provinces I'll be visiting an old rally-racing pal who lives in the Jasper National Park, en route to spending the weekend of the 23-25th June with Alan and Lisa from the Rocky Mountain Adventure Bike Touring Company (www.RMABTC.com) to take part in their 'Canadian CB500X Rendevouz' - an informal gathering of CB owners in conjunction with the Alberta Dual-Sport event held at Macklin Lake, Saskatchewan - do contact RMABTC for more info. It's only $40 for the weekend! photo. RMABTC rental fleet includes 2016 model Honda CB500Xs with the Rally Raid LEVEL 1 and 2 kits fitted. In the east, and indeed the ultimate destination this particular trip is going to be Toronto (although I'm actually planning on dipping back into the USA for a time during my journey east - see details below), where I've been invited to attend the Overland Adventure Rally - hosted each year by the esteemed Canadian Dakar racer and all-round moto guru Lawrence Hacking - and I'm scheduled to present a couple of AV seminars during the weekend of July 7-th-9th. More info regarding that event in the link above. So, using those more formal commitments as a structure - in between time, piglet and I will endeavour to take you on another cross-country adventure using words and pictures (and of course blogged here on ADVrider - almost in real time whenever possible) - that I'm confident will include some new [to me anyway] and exciting wilderness routes on road and off, that in turn will hopefully inspire you to get on your bike and explore further afield too! As with the original 2015 Trans-Am 500 trip - this isn't intended to be a catalogue hard-core off-road challenges... indeed, the reason I built my own adventure bike around the Honda CB500X is precisely because of it's all-road / all-terrain capabilities - and certainly my proposed route is going to include just as many epic paved highways* as unsurfaced roads and trails. *In that regard, my initial route planning has included the Butler Motorcycle Maps for various states I'll be passing through - and where they have highlighted their recommended 'gold roads' in each region. In addition, I also intend to visit a number of 'tourist' spots on my way both east and back west - not least as I'm always impressed with how the US tends to make the most of their landmarks and historic points of interest. Some of these will be instantly familiar (I've never seen Old Faithful or Mt Rushmore for example - hence me dipping back into the US during the east-bound leg), others perhaps less so - but all ought to offer some interesting punctuation along the way... So, enough waffle* - what can we expect in the coming weeks? *You can never have enough waffle of course, or syrup, or bacon... Route outline First of all, I've split this trip into four distinct parts - not least as it makes route planning far more manageable, and hopefully easier to follow too! The first leg will be to travel north through the pacific coast states, and cross into Canada. LEG 1: San Jose CA (USA) - Macklin Lake SK (CAN) photo. Note this is google maps, which tends to snap to paved roads - the actual route is likely to deviate slightly from this overview. Day -21: My plan is to leave the Bay Area exactly three weeks from today (on Tuesday 13th June), and head north on some familiar and favourite paved roads - although I also intend to incorporate a few new trails in Northern California en route to visit Harold and the team at Giant Loop in Bend Oregon. From there I'll take a scenic [primarily] paved route via Portland, before picking up the southern section of the Washington BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route, again published on paper by Butler Maps for those unfamiliar) en route for Seattle, and ultimately the boarder crossing into Canada. I will then loop initially north west of Vancouver on a series of backcountry highways and dirt-roads (passing though the Whistler Ski/Mountain-bike resort) in British Colombia, before crossing the Rocky Mountains into Alberta through the Jasper National Park. RMABTC are based about an hour or so south of Edmonton AB, and we'll be riding together to the Alberta Dual Sport weekend (23-25th June) just over the province boarder in Saskatchewan. LEG 2: Macklin Lake SK (CAN) - Toronto ON (CAN) This is the sector I'm particularly looking forward to! Initially I will actually head back south and west a little, to cross into Montana at the north end of the Glacier National Park, and pick up the legendary "Going-to-the-sun Road" which is one of Butler's Gold Standards in not only Montana, but the whole of the United States! I will then work my way diagonally south on a mix of dirt roads and scenic highways, and cross into Wyoming on the western side of Yellowstone National Park. Now I'm conscious that at this time of year, Yellowstone is likely to be particularly busy with tourist traffic (of which I am part of course!), so I'll make a break back into southern Montana for a moment at least, via the epic Beartooth Scenic Byway (Hwy 212) - topping out at an elevation of almost 11,000ft - and another one of those Gold Standard roads in the region. Conscious that I will need to keep moving east if I'm to meet my deadline in Toronto, I've plotted a route through northern Wyoming that mixes scenic paved roads and what look to me some pretty decent wilderness dirt trails, before inevitably snatching a few interstate miles towards Sundance, where I'll endeavour to get of the blacktop as soon as possible, en-route for Deadwood* South Dakota... (*one of my favourite TV shows from a few years ago - not least because of the copious profanity, for which I myself am known of course ;o) Of course South Dakota also plays host to a good number of other iconic landmarks and attractions - including Mt. Rushmore, the ongoing Crazy Horse monument and Badlands National Park, all of which I intend to drop by and see what all the fuss is about! From there though, it's likely to require another stint on the interstate, where I plan to pass through Minneapolis and pay homage to Prince at First Avenue, then head north for Duluth (Love it or loathe it, you can never leave it or lose it), before ultimately crossing back into Canada and riding right around the top of Lake Superior en route for Toronto, and the Overland Adventure Rally weekend. Phew! cont.