Northern eXposure - gold roads, wilderness trails, and bacon.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JMo (& piglet), May 23, 2017.

  1. Patobez

    Patobez Adventurer

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    Thanks for coming up to visit JMo and Piglet. It was awesome to meet and ride with you.

    For anyone on the fence about the RR kit...truely I have no regrets in going with this bike and L3 kit. It is a joy to ride and extremely capable. It even survived a good hard crash on a uphill sandy road with only a few scratches to the barkbuster and engine guard "wing" and a minor adjustment to the front forks trailside. Is "cracking good fun" the proper English phrase Jenny?

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    #81
  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    OK, I'm back in the US now (crossed the border early this morning) and safely ensconsed in a budget motel in Choteau MT - that seems to have suprisingly good wifi, so here goes...

    Day 9: Wednesday 21st June - Jasper AB to the kitchen and back... (0 miles)

    "Catching up"

    The 21st of June might technically be the longest day, but after shelpping through the northwest deluge for hundreds of miles these past few days, for once the CB didn't even turn a wheel today!

    It was really good to have a constant supply of Keurig coffee and stable wifi, and plenty of time to catch up with all my photos/videos and updates here (above) from the first week on the road.

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    photo. A bit of bed-time reading - Bob had left this book in the guest room, and yes, there was a chapter on extreme weather!

    After far too late a night eating and drinking and catching up with our respective news once more, I didn't actually get to bed until after 1am (the light late nights this far north don't help either), and had to be up in good time the following morning to load up my bike with my freshly laundered luggage and head off again on a little sorjorn to Saskatchewan...

    cont.
    #82
  3. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 10: Thursday 22nd June - Jasper AB to Leduc AB (424kms = 265 miles)

    "Flat out in First"

    I arrived in good time in Hinton (on hwy 16), having arranged to meet Alan Buck from RMABTC at a civilised 10am and ride together back to their base in Leduc, approximately half way across the province, and just south of the capital Edmonton.

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    photo. Arriving with a good few minutes to spare, and yes, having got rained on again on my way east, I ducked into a Tim Horton's bakery (I'd been in Canada five days already and had yet to sample their delights), only to find Alan had had exactly the same idea, so we officially met over coffee and a bun!

    Alan had plotted a fast gravel road route east, staying off pavement for a couple of hundred kms, before hitting some still minor roads for the final leg. However, barely half an hour after we first hit the dirt, the first mishap of the day occurred:

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    photo. Yes, I know what you're thinking - why is the Africa Twin lying on its side, especially when it clearly has a centre stand fitted?

    Riding side by side, I noticed at the same time as Alan did that he'd got a puncture in the front tyre - damn it.

    Hoisting the beast onto its centre stand, we pulled the front wheel off only to find that dispite the modest luggage load bias on the rear, the AT is still not actually all that well balanced, and it tilted forward onto its fork legs... no problem we thought - until the stand sprung up and meant it was now resting on just the rear wheel and the fork bottoms in the dirt.

    note. A trick we really ought to have employed at the outset was to hold the centre stand in the down position using a strap* forward to the engine guard for example, so that it cannot spring back up...

    *Giant Loop Pronghorn straps work very well in the regard as we were able to confirm once reassembling the bike.


    Anyway, it seemed stable enough, so Alan got on with fixing the flat - interestingly nothing had actually penetrated the tyre, rather a small rectangular shard of metal seemed to be embeded in the inside of the tyre, and had rubbed a tiny hole in the tube - and we ended up patching it.

    Then the wind blew the bike over.

    And then it started to rain, again.

    We deployed the centre stand (compete with bungee strap) and together we heaved the beast upright - then I supported the rear of the bike while Alan hastily refitted the front wheel so we could get going again and try and outride this rain...

    As soon as he set off, it was clear something was amiss... the DCT gearbox was now stuck in first gear, and nothing he could do would shift it.

    Initially we wondered if the clutches had been flooded or something since the bike had been lying on its side for a good half hour, but no manner of idling or even lying the bike down on the other side had any effect.

    He rode on for a few minutes (fortunately the Africa Twin will do around 50mph in 1st gear, so 35 mph was bearable for a short stint at least, particularly as we still had a very long way to go!), then over the intercom we considered if perhaps pulling a few fuses might reset something, so it was off with the seat to see if that did any good. It didn't.

    Another few miles and another stop to let the bike cool down. Once on the move again and Alan noticed the ABS light was also illuminated, together with the Traction Control... I wondered if the ABS ring had been damaged/bent during the refitting, when almost immediately it finally dawned on Alan that what if he had fitted the front wheel in the wrong way around...?

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    photo. that 'Doh' moment, and a huge sigh of relief!

    Sure enough, once we stopped and inspected the front end, the mistake was clear - while the AT has twin front discs, it only has a single ABS sensor ring, and while the wheel will fit in the forks either way round, in this instance there was now no pulse for the sensor, so the bike was running in a limp-home mode*

    *I have to say, I find it odd that Honda will let you switch off the ABS and the TC from the dash and still ride with a full box of gears, but if there is a wheel sensor issue, then it locks you into first - presumably they don't trust you cope with no ABS or TC other than if you've consciously made the decision to switch them off.

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    Once we'd finally sorted the wheel, it was full speed ahead back to the RMABTC HQ (away from the mountains, the middle of Alberta reminded me very much of rural northern France) and the evening spent with well earned pizza and beer or two with the family - a great way to round off the dramas of the day!

    cont.
    #83
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  4. RMABTC

    RMABTC Been here awhile

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    It wouldn't be so hard to bear if it wasn't for set of brand new RRP tubeless rims sitting in Leduc for me on our return!![​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #84
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  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 11: Friday 23rd June - Leduc AB to Macklin Lake SK (340kms = 212 miles)

    "Rendezvous"

    Alan and Lisa had offered to support the weekend's dual-sport riding event with a Hog-Roast scheduled for the Saturday night. Lisa had already collected the pig itself while we'd been riding over the day before, and it was currently being kept cool in their garage, in a kids paddling pool filled with ice - looking like some bizzare macabre drowning incident!

    Alan was scheduled to collect the rotisserie this morning, before hooking up their huge (38ft) 5th-wheel camper, which rather fortunately had more than enough accommodation for me to not have to set up my tent at all this coming weekend - result!

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    photo. I took the opportunity during the morning errand run to stock up on a few replenishments for my depleting stash - coffee, crunch-bars, camping gas and chain lube, plus a replacement Camelbak valve and a new Buff - both of which I seem to have misplaced during the previous few days...

    It was then time to collect the trailer:

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    photo. The 5th- wheel is demountable, allowing Alan and Lisa to carry up to two spare/stricken bikes in the back of their huge double-cab pick-up as might be required during a Tour.


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    photo. The camper tends not to be used on the Tours themselves (Lisa drives the pick-up as a sweep/support car, typically for when they are wild camping for example), but can carry all four of their Level 2 Rally Raided CB500Xs in the rear garage section of this 'toy-hauler' design.

    With that, I jumped back on my own bike and rode the short distance into Edmonton to meet with a handful of members of the Alberta Dual-Sport Club who were co-hosting the weekend with their compatriots across the border in Saskatchewan.


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    photo. Local ADVrider inmate Patobez also joined the group for the 340km ride to the Macklin campground that afternoon...

    On arrival we found the main dinning tent was already set-up, and it wasn't long until the barbecue and general bonhomme flowed in copious amounts for all concerned. This was going to be a fun weekend!

    More soon...

    Jenny x
    #85
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  6. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    "Then the wind blew the bike over.

    And then it started to rain, again."...classic!

    Good work on figuring out the AT technological oddities! Good to know stuff!

    Juan
    #86
  7. RMABTC

    RMABTC Been here awhile

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    Juan wait till you see the short 'interview' she did with me on the side of the road, when we finally realized what was wrong, my errrmm ummm 'sense of relief' was very visible!!

    Alan


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #87
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  8. RockyDS

    RockyDS Lost in the wilderness

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    It's not every day you meet a Dakar rider in Western Canada!

    Posing with Jenny by my bike at the Rendezvous, Macklin Lake Sask.

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    I should get a poster made from this photo and put it up on my garage wall. :-)
    #88
  9. Scratch

    Scratch Been here awhile

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    It was truly a pleasure to have had the opportunity to ride with you Last weekend on the Scavenger hunt Jenny. And yes, perhaps the R1200GSA was not the most ideal choice on our little "Shortcut", however the beast did make it thru in the end without to much trouble. I still think the "Road" we were following on your GPS "Might" have been a road back in 1812, but it was still damn good fun....

    It all started off quite well, as we did manage to get to a few of the locations on the scavenger hunt and grab some photo's, like this one of you and @Patobez

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    And this one too....

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    And really, the roads were not all that bad in the beginning, solid gravel and hard pack.... eventually becoming slightly more interesting...

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    And the views were spectacular.... even if the roads we starting to disappear...

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    And slowly but surely, the began to fade further.....

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    and further.....

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    Until they were, well gone!

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    Jenny insisted there was a road here, well according to the GPS... But I fail to see one anywhere. But hey, Push on and keep going, it's adventure riding right?

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    Well, one thing led to another and soon enough we are traveling down what amounts to little more than a gap in the trees, and even then we needed to do some bushwhacking to get around some fallen ones...

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    Still no road, but it was a lot of fun....

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    Finally found something resembling what could loosely be called a "Path" of sorts. But of course it was deep sand, and worse yet on an uphill incline.... My first attempt did not go so well....

    there was a lot of incentive to keep the bike upright, with branches and sticks to the left threatening to impale anyone who fell that way, and a rusty barbed wire fence to the right...


    [​IMG]

    We removed one of the panniers, let some air out of the tire and I tried again.. Massive fail once more...

    Jenny then hopped on the GSA and I am not ashamed to say she rode the thing up the hill first time. An impressive sight to see :)

    So that's about all I have to add really. Jenny, was a pleasure, hope to ride with you again some day, maybe on a smaller bike if you are going to follow shortcut's and all....

    I have to say those CB500's are pretty amazing machines. Far better suited for the terrain we were riding in than the GSA without a doubt.
    #89
  10. garry_kramer

    garry_kramer Been here awhile

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    And then there was the pig!

    2017-06-24 14.53.43.jpg
    #90
  11. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hee hee - great photos (I realise some of those were mine already shared, so apologies for any duplicates below) and a really great time... I suppose I ought to get on with the weekend from my perspective then?!

    Day 12: Saturday 24th June - Macklin Lake to Macklin Lake (loop) SK (180kms = 112.5 miles)

    "Jungle Love"

    The format of the event day was to 'treasure hunt' a series of waypoints (using your GPS) that were typically landmarks, and take a photo of one or more of your team members to prove you'd been there... Simple enough, and to be honest, the whole competitive element was distinctly loose - as it ought to be when the primary purpose is to have fun of course - with bonus points awarded arbitrarily depending on how silly your photos were (see some of Scratches' examples above).


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    photo. Macklin (Lake) played host to this foolish endeavour, being an ideal location for the neighbouring clubs in Alberta and Saskatchewan to 'rendezvous' - hence the title of the event.

    But more importantly perhaps, what is a Bunnock you might ask? And is it at all relevant?

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    The answer in reverse order is no, and actually the bone from a horses foot - that are used as a kind of skittle game, (devised by Russians originally), and seemingly abandoned to this little corner of Canada. Personally I couldn't help but think it was all an excuse to have a massive naked lady as their town mascot!

    Anyway, back to the job in hand... with all the other teams raring to go, conversely I admit it was a leisurely start for team CBeebies (that would be Patrick and myself on the CB500Xs), who were then joined by 'Dual-sport Dave' (Scratch, above) who was the organiser of the event, who also fancied a bit of a run before getting back to camp in good time to great the other competitors on their return, which suited us all just fine.

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    photo. One of our early checkpoints was this old church, seemingly still in use at least occasionally...

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    photo. We signed the visitor book - the most recent previous entry was from 2016!

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    photo. More messing about at a checkpoint, oh how we laughed!

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    photo. These old buildings looked like they were part of some kind of commune (there was a series of other 'accommodation' buildings in a line nearby) - not a checkpoint as such, but a suitable rest-stop so that we might adjust Patobez's bars after his inaugural drop.

    As Scratch explains above, most of the trails were fast gravel roads between the huge fields that make up this rolling border country - however, there was one particular section - on my GPS as the shortest route between two particular waypoints - that progressively deteriorated from two-track, to grassy two-track, to faint indentation, to overgrown trail - excellent!

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    photo. Patobez weaving the CB500X through the undergrown to circumnavigate a fallen tree.

    The trail was still as clear as day on the screen in my GPS, but on the ground, any track was rapidly returning to nature under the long grass, and increasingly punctuated by some quite substantial saplings...

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    photo. I nicknamed the GSA 'Thunderbird 2' after we'd had to bend a series of saplings sideways to squeeze the beast and its boxes though... again to navigate another fallen tree on the 'main' trail.

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    photo. Pausing for a breather and a crunch-bar lunch... "Trust me fellas, we are still on the trail!"

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    photo. Sandy single-track trail had it's moments, but we all got through eventually...

    After what seemed like forever, the official trail in the GPS was bysected by a barbed-wire fence, but fortunately there was an established single track trail alongside on our side, that led us the final two kilometres out into an open field, and ultimately the main track and our destination waypoint beyond - boy we'd earned that one!

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    photo. Re-inflating the GSA's rear tyre as we'd let it down from around 40psi to 25psi in an effort to gain as much traction as we dared in the sand.

    With that, we elected to call it day and head straight back to camp now as it was after 4pm already, and the hungry riders would be returning shortly...

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    photo. Forunately Alan (& Lisa) had chosen to stay behind at camp and keep an eye on the pig, who was doing very nicely by now!

    Food, beer and copious chitter-chatter followed, winners were announced, and the campfire lit... the perfect end to a full-on day on the trails!

    I retired to my comfortable letter-box bed in the camper a touch before midnight - sated and tired... It would be a long day [all] on the road tomorrow, as I'd decided to head all the way back west across Alberta to Jasper, spend one more night with my friends Bob & Janet and enjoy some more of their wonderful hospitality, which in turn would allow me to ride the length of the Icefields Parkway (hwy 93) through the National Park the following day, which I'd been assured was "not to be missed!"

    cont.
    #91
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  12. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 13: Sunday 25th June - Macklin SK to Jasper AB (690 kms = 429 miles!)

    "Liaison"

    Like a page right out of the Dakar Rally, today was effectively a 'transit' - a needs-must to set me up nicely for the following day...

    After some fond fairwells and promises to meet again, Pat and I rode together as far as Edmonton, where I continued west, punctuated only by fuel stops and Tim Horton's comestible ingestions...

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    photo. As the afternoon wore on, I'd almost forgotten about all the rain I'd endured the previous week... it was actually warm too!

    I rolled into town a little after 8pm, to find Bob in the garage, finishing off some work on his Polaris race buggy:

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    photo. I first met Bob in 2010 when we competed in the Tunisian round of the FIM cross-country rally world championship (both on bikes that time)... he's now given up two wheels for four, and does very nicely thank you!

    It was a joy to spend one last evening with the Joneses, and I retired (much too late again) having sorted all my laundry, maps, and fully charged all my electrical gadgets. Things were unlikely to be quite this comfortable for a while now... and yet at the same time, I was now relishing 'moving on' again at last - and into the second chapter of this latest cross-country odyssey.

    Jx
    #92
  13. RockyDS

    RockyDS Lost in the wilderness

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    The Icefields Parkway is to be fair a tourist route but the scenery is fantastic. I'm sure you'll be impressed.

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    Best wishes on our journey.
    #93
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  14. RockyDS

    RockyDS Lost in the wilderness

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    Zen and the art of Alberta Dualsport ...

    [​IMG]
    #94
  15. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Chapter 2
    Day 14: Monday 26th June - Jasper AB to Pincher Creek AB (599kms = 375 miles)

    "Due South"

    Another 'Dakar' day, and I'm still not out of Canada just yet!

    I left Jasper in good time, stopping only to find a local shop that sold GoPro spares (I'd cracked the lens of my Session - presumably having it mounted low by the front wheel while riding the fast gravel roads with Alan on the Friday), one place who fortunately had just the parts I required - result!

    There is a reason why they say the Icefields Parkway is one of those 'must-ride' destinations in Canada (if not the whole world) - the views from the highway are breathtaking, and photos really can't do some of the vistas justice, although I'll include a few here to try and illustrate what I mean:

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    photo. Early on, a view from hwy 93A, that loops around to rejoin the main road (full of motorhomes) near the Athabasca Falls (car park full)...

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    photo. After a few miles, the traffic thins out to a natural level, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop at the roadside for photographs.

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    photo. This rather caught me by suprise - Jasper NP has its own glass skywalk too!

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    photo. That is a frikkin' long way down!

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    photo. I glimpsed this view initially as I rode past, so turned around and scrambled down a bank to get this particular shot!

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    photo. The same snow-layered peak from a little further south - the glacial lakes here are turquoise blue.

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    photo. Leaving the park en route for Banff.

    Today would turn out to be very much a day of two halves... I'd already ridden nearly 300kms by the time I rolled into Banff mid-afternoon, and have to say, felt a little flustered, crabby and tired, so wolfed down a restorative sandwich and a coffee in a cafe on main street while I plotted the second part of my marathon day...

    A quick tap on the GPS showed a dirt-road alternative to my proposed route south, and sure enough, on the outskirts of Canmore I was able to pick up the delightful Smith Dorrien Trail - a fast and sweeping gravel road that skirts the Spray Lakes Reservoir, to ultimately join up with Alberta Route 40, which is made up of a series of gravel roads and sections of backcountry paved highways, that run the entire length of the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.

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    photo. I feared I might get soaked again towards the southern end of Spray Lakes, but fortunately the road turned away from the weather front and joined a paved section of Route 40... marvellous!

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    photo. Highwood Pass would be the highest elevation I would reach today.

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    photo. The sheep though, they don't care...

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    photo. It wasn't long before I was back on the gravel, heading south on 'highway' 940 - a delightful dirt road (also part of Route 40) which sweeps though forests and mountains for the best part of 120 kilometres...

    I eventually hit a main highway (hwy 3, at Coleman/Crowsnest Pass) for the final leg into Pincher Creek which offered a number of motels, one of which I most certainly needed - and elected to bed down in the affordable Parkway Motel which included a free breakfast. I was so tired I don't think I even made use of their free wifi that evening!

    More soon... I'm going to be back in the US(S)A tomorrow!

    Toot toot for now!

    Jenny x
    #95
  16. Patobez

    Patobez Adventurer

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    Jenny, It was an honor to be able to join you on a little part of your big adventure. I hope to be able to do it again some day. Thank you for including us crazy Canucks in your fine trip report! Enjoy the rest of your journey. Can't wait for the next chapters!

    Pat
    #96
  17. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Sorry I've not been able to update you all just yet - Montana has been intense - so much so that I elected to forefeit Yellowstone (like Camelot, it is a silly place), and instead chose to embark on a mission to plot a through route on as much dirt as possible (mixed in with some choice scenic highways too of course - afterall, I'm on an ADV bike... and I always say in a trip like this, if you can't ride a few dozen miles of pavement here and there, then you've chosen the wrong bike ;o) - effectively a Montana BDR if you will... lets just say, its been both epic and emotional.

    I'm now in Wyoming, heading east as I have a reasonably tight schedule to stick to the next few days...

    More soon, once I get some decent wifi, and as importantly, some time!

    Toot toot!

    Jenny x

    PS. I'm sure I read that a CB500X owner (on one of the threads on here, or Facebook?) was planning on riding over the Beartooth Pass at the end of June - and I'm sure they posted a photo of their bike - a white (with red X) and yellow soft panniers... if so, that was me riding down the Wyoming side this afternoon while you were on your way up!!!
    #97
  18. mendoteach

    mendoteach Long timer

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    Jenny, great trip. I'm enjoying it.

    Alan, any idea what would happen with the manual AT if the wheel was installed backwards? I can try it one of these days when I spoon some off road knobs on the new bike.
    #98
  19. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    I can answer that (from my phone somewhere in the middle of South Dakota!) - John did it with his manual AT, and all that happens is it flashed up the dash warning lights, but you've still got a full manual gearbox regardless...

    Jx
    #99
  20. Hi-De-Ho

    Hi-De-Ho Mad Scientist Super Supporter

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    Jenny, when that AT had the flat front tire.....I am surprised that no one took a short walk into the treeline, found a piece of wood, and used it as a prop under the engine skid plate. With a centerstand, you can have one person push down on the rear of the bike, so the front tire is off the ground, then have a second person place a piece of wood under the skid plate, as a prop rod, and keep the front of the bike elevated.

    Wind...rain....flat tire........sounds like a lot of fun. :-)