Ride Report - 2020 BC

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by shanekingsley, Aug 31, 2020.

  1. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 12 & 13:
    I have a cousin who was living on the island and a couple days ago they decided to move back to Vancouver. She is 6 months pregnant, has a 2 year old and a very active dog. Her husband was helping to unload the moving truck and happened to badly sprain his ankle while walking down the ramp. So her Mom calls me to ask if I could go over and help them finish the move in and unpack all their stuff. They live in North Vancouver and my sister lives in Richmond - if I wasn't riding my SV modified bike all around the city I would go crazy. The traffic can be pretty brutal especially if you have to use major bridges to connect from one area to another during rush hour times. Anyways, I spent the last two days helping them unpack and settle in. Had a nice family dinner there last night with my sis and her kids and good times all around. The bent right handlebar on my bike is started to grow on me. I can go from dork to stud in milliseconds now.

    The husband who sprained his ankle is very active and does a fair bit of mountain biking and hiking in the mountains. I ask him for some cool places to see and run or hike and he gives me a decent list of places to check out. One of them is right next to the Vancouver Airport and not too far from my sisters. It's called the Iona Jetty and it's essentially a gravel/concrete pier that sticks out 4.1km into the Strait of Georgia, towards Nanaimo. There is another jetty that is 3.2 km which I think is beach sand all the way out, so I hope to have time to check that one out.
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    Before Covid, I was working out pretty much every day. In the 5 months since Covid, I've been now working long hours from home and have maybe worked out 5 times in total. Heading out to the Iona Jetty would be a nice easy flat run of anywhere up to 8km, which is perfect for my out of shape self.
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    As someone who like native plants, it was a pretty nice area of many marsh and sandy beach type plants. Lot's of cool flowers and tons of birds and butterflies out and about.
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    There's also some serious birder photographers who come out with their ginormous cameras:
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    Not very many people at this time and it's pretty straight!
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    Once I ran out to the end, I was greeted with this prize - I guess that's Nanaimo in the distance somewhere:
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    I was able to run almost the whole 8km without gassing out too much. Really looking forward to going on a few more runs and maybe a hike or two. This picture is at the very end of the jetty, looking back at the mainland and airport. Directly under the rising sun is the airport:
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    Because it's so close to the airport there are planes of all sorts flying over the jetty every few minutes. Despite this, it's actually very quiet out there:
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    I totally lost track of time and was an hour late to the dealership to get my new bars put on. I pulled in and they took my bike right away and had it all buttoned up in 90 minutes. The mechanic also found some issues from work the previous owner had done and sorted them out, so now the bike rides like a champ. I forgot to ask him about my clutch, but it seems to be fine now.
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    They even had one of the new Katana's there which gets me thinking about my next bike....
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    For the next week there's nothing planned. Maybe I'll have time to get out to the island, maybe I'll have time to go out on a day ride or two, or maybe I just stay in town and relax with family.
    #21
    yamalama, thwak, davide and 1 other person like this.
  2. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 16-18: Richmond to Richmond

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    Many years ago I had been out from Victoria to Nanaimo, but I've long since forgotten what that was all about. This trip was going to be with my sister and her 16yr old son and 14 yr old daughter. Unfortunately we were in her 2007 Honda Odyssey van with almost 350,000km on it, but the trip was spectacular nonetheless.

    We went from Sunday to Tuesday which was a good thing, because all the lodgings were booked up. The cheapest places in Tofino and Ucluelet were around $350/night so no thanks. There was one place that was $1350/night!

    So we found a decent place called the Hospitality Inn in Port Alberni which was around $100/night. Getting there involved a 2hr ferry from Richmond to Nanaimo and the weather was incredible - around 25deg and sunny and views for miles. The scenery is breathtaking from all vantage points:

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    We arrive at the Duke Point ferry terminal and drive for about 90 minutes, along some sweet roads to get to Port Alberni. We were arriving into Port Alberni around 6pm and had a bit of time before dark, so we wanted to go for a short hike or see something nice. We found this small hole in the wall hike and decided to check it out. There wasn't much info on it, but it seemed to be less than hour round trip, so off we go. It's an easy descent along a well used path that opens out in to this - literally a hole in the wall:
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    We walked across the water and climbed up into the hole and checked out the other side while my sister looked on with a mild scared look on her face wondering what bad lessons I'm teaching her kids. It was worth it though, because it was pretty sweet on the other side too with large fallen trees and and dense forest all around.

    Afterward he need to find some food and some place called Dimitri's Pizza gets good reviews so we check it out. It turns out it's a 2 minute walk from out hotel and they also serve East Indian style pizza with butter chicken or tandoori etc. My sis and the kids all got different pizzas and they loved them. I decided to try out the veggie lasagna, which they added curry powder and made it super spicy for me and it was big and delicious!

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    We wake up the next morning and head down to the waterfront for breakfast. Port Alberni has a really laid back waterfront with nice views. We drive over to Ucluelet to go for some hikes, see the coastline and maybe some big trees in the rainforest. As luck would have it we found just that. We do the short walk on the left side of the map, but you can see there is a decent amount of ground to cover if you are interested:
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    There is a trail called the Rocky Bluffs which we decide to check out. It's only about 3-4 km and the views are the perfect combination of rugged and glorious:
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    After the Rocky Bluffs we do the Giant Cedars loop and these trees are supposed to be around 800 years old and they really are giant:
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    I like big trees:
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    From here we head north to Tofino. The drive along the coast is really nice. Sometimes the road is surrounded by trees, and other times it's open views of the Pacific Ocean and the 35kms of beautiful beaches. We all really wanted to just relax in the sun and maybe watch some people surfing. The walk to the beach looks promising:
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    And the beach delivers just what we all needed:
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    There was even some rocky outcrops with starfish, and some other cool stuff happening just below the waters surface:
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    It's almost time to head back to Port Alberni, so we stop off at Chocolate Tofino for some amazing gelato. Well worth the visit and wait if there is a line-up. We arrive back in Port Alberni and have more pizza and lasagna for dinner.

    The next morning I wake up at 6am to go for a run. It's damn cold out, but it was so worth it. I found a nice trail along Sproat Lake for a hilly 7km run. Because I'm an idiot I ran up this ramp thinking it would be fun, but I didn't realize it was covered in spider webs all strategically at the height of my face for a protein breakfast:
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    Tons of bikes out along the #4 between Tofino and Port Alberni:
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    Stopped off in Coombs to the Country Market and checked out the green roof and the lawn mowing goats:
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    Heard that there was a nice Petroglyphs Park to check out and so we did. It feels like everything we did was really educational for the kids:
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    Decided to go check out a waterfall nearby and it was incredible. We could get really close and walk right into the water (which was ice cold!) and just enjoy the moment:
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    Got to see many more giant trees next to the waterfalls:
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    Then we caught the sunset ferry back to Richmond. What an awesome few days on the island with my sis and the kids!
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    Next up - not sure yet - maybe a ride up the Sunshine Coast or maybe a ride out to Port Renfrew or maybe spend some downtime before the long ride home.
    #22
    dtysdalx2, davide, EmmEff and 3 others like this.
  3. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 19 Route (I actually did many more backroads than shown here, but this is all Google Maps will allow in one route, so more detailed links are below): Richmond to Richmond
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    After going back and forth about what to do, I decided to head back over to the island, but this time on my bike and explore the Port Renfrew loop. I had read that the coastal ride near Port Renfrew was remarkable and when I looked into it further it also seemed that there was quite a few backroads worth checking out, which actually turned out to be some of the best roads I have hit up on the entire trip.

    Since I'm heading back home tomorrow, I have to be back at my sisters place for dinner so we can have a nice last night together. I have to catch the 7am ferry out of Richmond, which is pretty awesome, because I get to do a sunrise ferry after doing the sunset ferry last night. And the sunrise did not disappoint!
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    There were only two other bikes on the ferry. I think one of the bikes was a DR650 and the other was a Fireblade. The guy on the DR650 was there for work and we didn't talk much. The guy on the blade was named Dean and an elevator technician who was going to spend a few days of aimless riding around the island. We spent pretty much the whole 90 minutes chatting about bikes and trips and stuff. Very nice guy!
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    The ferry docks and we ride off. As part of this ride I want to spend as little time as possible on the main roads. Using the Destination Highways BC maps, I find out that there are some backroads worth checking out very close to Victoria and right on the way to and from the ferry terminal. Turns out that it was pretty cold and wet in the morning and it didn't seem like a good idea to push it on these roads. Some of them were pretty tight and technical, so I decided to ride them nicely and then try them out again on my way home when it was much warmer out.

    Somewhere along the way I pass this road which can only be a good omen of things to come:
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    To make my way over to Lake Cowichan I also read about a bunch of other decent backroads, so I check them all out too. All of them were quite nice and much more interesting than taking the highway.

    Once I headed south from Lake Cowichan the road gets petty tight, there is no centreline and it's quite bumpy in the turns. There was also pretty much zero traffic on this road and often the GPS and me cell would both lose all signals. It was a nice ride to see all the logging that had been done over the years and there were many dead trees standing - perhaps from the pine beetle or something else:
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    I make my way south to Port Renfrew and stop to take this mandatory picture and as I do so this guy photobombed my moment. I would pass him about 5 more times and he would catch up to me every time I stopped for a picture:
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    Instead of staying in the town and checking things out there, I want to make my way over to the Pacific Rim Park and check out the water views and the beaches. By now the elevation has increased significantly, so the faint outlines of mountains in the distance and views of the water are incredible down below:
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    I had read that pretty much where this picture above was taken, there is a hiking trail along the waters edge which spans many kilometres. I think it was called the Juan de Fuca trail, located in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, along the Juan de Fuca Strait. I see a beach called China Beach and think this must be a good place to see the water. I head down and they had this interesting sign showing the expanse of the hiking trail, which seems to be pretty challenging in some areas:
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    Another vista of a beautiful beach awaits with more terrific trees. It was about 30deg out now and I walk the 500m down the hill in my full gear which was pretty easy. It wasn't so pleasant coming back up however, but I did find some amazing beach pebbles to take home which made it all worthwhile. As you walk out to China Beach:
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    This was a pretty quiet beach!
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    No shortage of big trees at the waters edge to the rainforest:
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    All these frequent stops are making me feel like I'm going get late for dinner. I decide to pick up the pace and just as I do so, I'm being asked to go slow. Shirley you can't be serious.
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    As I come into the town of Sooke, I decide to check out some more backroads. If you are ever in the area make sure you check these out. They are flat out awesome. Amazing pavement, tight turns, nice scenery and no traffic.

    As I head back north towards the ferry terminal I have the chance to again ride the backroads I started the day off with. By now the temps are around 33 and the tires are sticking like glue. It also helps that have left all my gear at home so the bike is riding quite nice. I only keep the side cases on to make me appear like gentleman. I really liked Munn Road and one of my favourite roads on this entire trip was Finlayson Arm Road. It's short, very narrow, has many blind corners and extremely steep hills, so I did most of the road in first gear!
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    As I make my way back to the ferry I pass a sign saying that the world famous Butchart Gardens are only 2km away. Being someone who likes plants, I decide to check it out since I know many gardeners who praise this place. It means I miss the ferry and will be getting home a bit later, but it would be pretty dumb for someone like me who worked as a gardener for 15 years not make a little time to see this place. It was incredible and I will go back!
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    I catch the 5pm ferry which will have me back for 7pm dinner. I'm also the only bike on the boat this time so it gives me a chance to take in what an amazing day I just had. In case you didn't know, these big ferries don't require the bikes to be tied down, since the boats are very large, slow and gentle. Just put the kickstand down and if you want you can take a tiered block and wedge it on the opposite side of the bike like I have done here.
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    Tomorrow I say goodbye to my sis and start my slow journey home with an opportunity to ride the southern interior of BC!
    #23
    dtysdalx2, davide, EmmEff and 4 others like this.
  4. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 20 Route: Richmond to Merritt
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    I said my goodbyes to my sis and off I went at 7:30am. I really wanted to ride the Sea to Sky Highway with little traffic on it and since today was a Thursday morning, it looked promising. As I made my way out of Vancouver it dawned on me that I did not have my spare clutch cable. Doh! When I was at the shop, they had replaced my handle bars and were supposed to give me the cable to take with me. They forgot to and I equally forgot to ask for it. They called me later that night to apologize for the mistake, but I had other commitments at that moment, so I said I would pick it up before leaving my sisters... but I never did. Good thing the bike is working good and I'll have to remember to ask them to ship it to me or send it to my sis.

    As I'm heading north, the Sea to Sky has next to no traffic on it, just as I had hoped. I didn't take any pictures because the sun was still really low and the views were better suited to my memories than dark and grainy photos. It was also incredible to move at my own pace without all the RV's and cruisers slowing me down - and much more enjoyable with proper handlebars! Once I passed Pemberton, I looked for the wooden bridge I slipped on a couple weeks ago. I come across it and now the sun is shining on it and it actually looks like a pretty good bridge - new wood, no algae - I guess it was just the mountain dew that did the trick. I was coming from the opposite direction when it happened - probaly around 7:30am that day vs 9:30am now:
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    I continue on and just a few minutes up the road is that same beautiful picture postcard spot I saw when heading south a couple weeks ago. This time, it seems someone else was there and maybe went for a hike or canoeing, because their chairs are left there, but no one is around. Pure Canadiana here:
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    From here on in, the road is going to get really good. I have so many pictures of awesome twisty roads. The section between Mount Currie and Lillooet is one of my favourites to ride on. For this picture, I parked my bike way down below and walked back up the hill about 1/2km to capture the view as I saw it when coming around a corner to this:
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    I reach the town of Lillooet and it definitely has a rugged feel.
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    After Lillooet I decide to head south towards the Yale/Hope area. I had read that the TransCanada section north of Yale is really nice. I couldn't recall if it was supposed to be twisty, scenic or both. For some long stretches, the road hugs the shoreline of the various rivers or lakes. It's always better to ride with the water on the right and I'd say this road is pretty nice:
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    At around the halfway point between Lillooet and Hope, I come across a bunch of bighorn sheep munching away. They must be really desensitized to humans or plain dumb, because they routinely stroll out onto the road in front of traffic. For this pic I actually rode up and down past them 3 times trying to get a picture and they didn't flinch.
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    There were several really cool tunnels to ride through:
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    Just before I reached Yale, I come around a corner and I see a bike just neatly parked in the ditch. The guy who owned this bike had stopped to take a couple of pictures and then was trying to do a U-turn, but rode straight into the ditch. From where he was parked on the other wide of the street, it meant he could not manage to do a U-turn inside the width of at least 2.5 lanes. Dude needs some lessons. I stopped to assist and myself and another guy helped him get it out while he just stood and watched. He looked really frazzled, so I didn't tell him that he has no skills. He and the other guy went to look for a path out of the ditch while I made sure to capture the epic fail:
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    I take a much needed break in Yale. It's getting really hot out - somewhere over 30deg and no breeze at all. After getting some food, water and rest in me, I basically head back up the way I came to eventually make my way to Merritt. Originally I was going to stay in Cache Creek, but my sis also told me it wasn't the best town to stay in and the roads to get there weren't flat out amazing to even make that worthwhile. As I made my way back up the TransCanada towards Lytton, it was now closed for some road work. There were crews out fixing up the rock faces at various points and it's worth mentioning that many times I would come around a corner and there would be small rocks in the lane that had recently fallen. The signs that say watch out for falling rocks mean business up here. The line-up is really long at this falling rocks closure:
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    This really nice lady who is doing the traffic control comes up to me and says it going to be at least 20-30minutes and I should come up to the front and park my bike in the shade of this big truck instead of cooking in my full gear. What a nice lady! I pull up and as I'm waiting there she's sitting on a cooler in the baking sun trying to use the stop/slow sign to shade herself. My sister made this really good chocolate chip banana bread, so I walk up to her and offer her a bunch. She says sure and takes it and loves it. So here's me parked in the shade of the truck as she eats her banana bread in full sun:
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    When it's time to go I didn't have my helmet or gear on and she patiently holds the whole line up for me to get my gear on, so I could be first. That turned out to be really sweet because then there wasn't a vehicle ahead of me for the rest of this road. From Lytton I make my way east to Merritt and crash at the local Super 8 motel. It wasn't the longest day of riding, but it was an amazing collection of people, scenery and roads. Back in my hotel room I eat some banana bread while thinking about what lay ahead with game 7 of the Raptors/Celtics...
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    Next up - tomorrow heading south to the Okanagan and then up to somewhere around Vernon for the night!
    #24
  5. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 21 Route: Merritt to Vernon
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    The plan today was to make my way from Merritt to Vernon. Normally it's less than a 2hr ride, but I'm going to use the opportunity to explore some of the Okanagan. I've read that Vernon is a good area to have as a base for exploring and I also wanted to check out the Penticton area, since my wife likes to do Ironman's and the Penticton Ironman has been on her bucket list for some time.

    On my way south I read that just south of Merritt is a really good backroad called Coldwater Rd. It was awesome. It had flawless pavement and was basically like a very hilly, twisty farm country road - it kind of reminded me of riding in Ohio. After this I headed south on the 5A and the road was pretty cold and the elevations felt pretty high up. I came across this interracial couple posing for me:
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    If I happen to see cows on the side of the road, I usually pull over and moo at them. It gets them looking at me and sometimes a whole bunch of them will come over and check me out:
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    I bet this pilot liked flying high:
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    From there I wanted to check out some back roads near Princeton. One particular road I really liked was the short little out n back from Princeton to Tulameen. It was awesome! It was super tight and twisty and had zero traffic on it. There were some houses and interesting things to see here and there and the road often hugged a rocky mountain face with very little room for error. At the end of it, I stopped in Tulameen to take a quick break. This logging truck drove by and reminded me that I wanted to snap a pic of one that had full length logs on it. These things are huge when fully loaded! This one has both of the empty sections on it, but alas no logs...
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    The trip out to Tulameen - another amazing road in a sea of amazing roads:
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    On my way over to the Okanagan, I stop for a break in Keremeos. There are endless picturesque vineyards and orchards in the area:
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    At this time I check my phone to look into places to get my rear tire changed. Gene (aka Lightcycle on this forum) had let me know that a shop worth checking out in Kelowna called Valley Motorsports was a good shop and they may be able to help me out. I call them up and the guy is super nice and says he has a Continental Conti Attack SM Evo or something and it will fit my bike. They can get me in tomorrow and swap the tires. I still have some life on my current tire, but today is Friday, shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays and I'm not confident I can get another 3k on my rear tire.

    Gene and I had made plans to get together and grab a meal and do some riding. I let him know my plans and I'm just about to sort out my place to stay in Vernon and he offers to let me sleep in his house and do some laundry. Thanks Gene!! So obviously that totally makes my day and now I spend the rest of the day wondering how I will convince Gene that V-Stroms are the finest bikes ever made.

    On may way towards the Okanagan Valley including Penticton and Osoyoos, I ride Old Hedley Road, Green Mountain Road, Eastside Road, Green Lake Road and a short bit of the Crowsnest Highway - all flat-out, amazing roads on the west and south side of Penticton.

    Since cattle in the western provinces is such a big thing, you will often cross over these Texas gates - gates in the road that prevent the animals from leaving their ranches and wandering onto the main roads:
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    Coming south of Penticton along Skaha Lake (Eastside Road):
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    In Osoyoos I decide I need to stop and eat a fresh peach. I want to go to a small local fruit stand and eat one of their freshly harvested peaches. I see a small sign directing me down a winding road and decide this is a good one instead of the larger tourist trap ones that are all along the main roads in the area. As I make my way down the road this is what I see - their place is the one with the reddish roof on the far right:
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    I get to the fruit stand and there's this really nice grandmother working the stand by herself. We start talking and I tell her I rode all the way from Ontario to eat one of her finest peaches. She gives me one and won't accept any payment for it either:
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    I want to buy something nice for Gene and Neda for their impending kindness. They know nothing about me other than I am the map guy on a local Toronto area forum (GTAM). I find some locally made salad dressings and hope they eat salad. That's a fine peach I might add:
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    From here I make my way up the 33 to their place in Kelowna. At the bottom of the 33 I'm reminded about the potential for forest fires in this area and wonder what it must be like for those who live in areas that are subjected to this kind of stuff. Frequent threats of evacuation, loss of homes and livelihoods and even dealing with the smoke from neighbouring fires!
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    I make my way up and arrive at their house. I see no evidence of motorcycles and no grease or oil stains on the driveway - I hope I'm at the right place!
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    Up next - some riding, some talking and some tire changing.
    #25
    thwak, davide, EmmEff and 1 other person like this.
  6. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 22 & 23

    Gene and Neda's place is great and they were very gracious hosts with a very clean, cozy and comfortable home. It's always nice to meet some fine folks off this forum and as we talked, it came out that I had taught at RTI starting the year they began their big trip. They taught at RTI (the same rider training school for new riders) until they quit their jobs, sold their homes and went riding, so we know a lot of the same people. Neda used to also work in a similar environment as I currently do so that was interesting. And we all love to travel and have been to different places so that's always refreshing to hear about others experiences. It's also nice to meet folks that ride, and be able to have great conversations about other meaningful things like family and happiness - other than bikes or motorcycle forums!

    We have a nice dinner of Indian food take-out and Gene and I plan to ride some nice roads the next day. I have a rear tire waiting for me to be swapped in the afternoon, so we can go riding in the morning and then maybe have some lunch and take care of the tire swap.

    The Saturday route we are going to do will include a few of the best roads in the area, which is also helpful because I was going to ride these exact roads the next day anyways and this will reduce the length of that route. Here's our plan for Saturday: Kelowna to West Kelowna
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    We wake up and get rolling at 8am. Gene is on Neda's BMW and I'm riding ol faithful.
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    The ride up the 97 takes me by surprise. I was totally expecting a drab slab experience, but the views of the water and hills to my right were really beautiful in the morning. Gene is leading which is refreshing for me. It's the first chance I've had to ride without thinking about anything and just blindly following someone else. As we make our way onto the Hwy 6 towards the Needles Ferry, Gene motions me to go up front and off we go. The 6 is a really nice ride with a good balance of excellent pavement, fast sweepers, tight corners when going up or down the mountains and some really nice scenery throughout. Since it's a Saturday morning, there isn't much traffic and we can move at a fun pace. When we get to the ferry we take a break and there is a noticeable amount of smoke that is sitting along the mountain ridges. It was not like that at all yesterday. I wasn't sure if this is normal at this time of year from the local fires or if it's from the big fires in Washington/Oregon, but it was certainly there. It actually reminded me of the Blue Ridge and the Smoky Mountains:
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    I want to grab a picture of Gene and there he is, embracing the elegant mediocrity of a VStrom:
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    By now the amount of vehicles coming to and from the ferry are starting to increase, so we decide to make our way back to Vernon. On the west side of Vernon is a road called... Westside Road. It's really nice and hugs the shoreline of Okanagan Lake. The elevation goes up and down and the corners are pretty tight in some spots. It's a must ride if you are in the area:
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    Gene is a great rider and it was a pleasure to ride with him. Very smooth and very safe. After this we head over to the shop and it's pointed out to me by the staff that I booked the tire swap at their other location which is just a few minutes from Gene's house. This one is at least 30 minutes away. So we hop on the bikes and head over to the other shop and they take my bike in right away. While they are putting the tire on, the Indian restaurant we had dinner from yesterday is very closeby, so we have that again for lunch. I could eat Indian every day!

    Later that evening Gene attempts to educate me a little on MotoGP and it's very interesting. We also watched this really cool doc called Religion of Sports which had a focus on the Isle of Man TT and it's actually produced by Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Deepak Chopra's son or cousin or something. It's really good!


    It's time to hit the sack and I pummel off a few more days of this ride report and pass out. The next morning I wake up and look out the window. I could have sworn there's more houses and some hills in this view, but it's all smoked out:
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    It's amazing how much the sky has changed in 12 hours. Gene shows me a picture of what the fires are looking like in the US and it's really heartbreaking. Just total devastation down there. I pull out my phone and start reading more about it and it seems like this is going to get pretty bad in southern BC before it gets better. This is one of those moments where I start thinking about just how bad my day is going to get. I'm also thinking about whether I should just get out of BC, or head north and get up and out via Jasper or try my luck and head south towards Creston like I had originally planned. Because I'm an idiot, I choose to do my Creston route. I quickly pack up, skip breakfast and say my goodbye's. Thank you very much Gene and Neda for all you have shared with me - very much appreciated and it would be an honour to host you both if/when you make it out my way.
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    My planned route for the day to get me to Creston: Hwy 97 N to Creston
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    As I make my way down the 33 towards Rock Creek I'm starting to have second thoughts. The air is so thick that it's actually hard to breathe. The further south I get, the thicker the smoke becomes. It's kind of like riding in a dense fog, but it's smoke and it's scratching up your lungs. As I make my way down the 33, I see another rider who has just stopped - maybe about 50 km south of Kelowna. I also stop and we talk for a bit - taking pictures of the sun against the backdrop of smoke!
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    He asks me where I'm headed, so I pull out my large map and he looks over my planned route. He tells me it's an awesome route and I should do it. He just came from that way, so it seems like heading to Creston was the right choice!

    "Hi, I'd like to report a wildfire"
    [​IMG]

    I get on the 3 (Crowsnest Highway) and start heading east. By the time I'm at Grand Forks I have to stop because the air is so thick. I can't really breathe and also can't stop thinking about what this is doing to my lungs. The smoke is similar to fog, in that one area is really smoky and then a few km up the road or around a few corners it's a little better. It's all still crap, but some spots seem to be much worse. Today is actually supposed to be a sunny day with no clouds!
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    I stop inside Subway in Grand Forks and plan out what to do. I could continue my ride. I could stop here and wait this Apocalypse out. I could skip the upper portions of my route and just go straight to Creston. I decide to go direct to Creston and then reassess the situation. Maybe I can wait it out for a day and ride those upper roads tomorrow or day after. No matter what, I need to wear a mask right now, so I take one of the awesome facemasks my beautiful wife got for me before I left and stuff it with a subway napkin. Hopefully this makes more of a difference than it did during Game 7, otherwise I will have to stop riding.
    [​IMG]

    I continue on along the #3 Crowsnest Highway and about 3 minutes before reaching Rossland my GPS shuts off and won't turn back on. Noooo.... I am fast approaching a fork in the road and didn't have time to read the signs and go right. Nope. This takes me to the US border which I only realize after seeing this sign:
    [​IMG]

    I'm glad I brought my old iPhone 5 and a Ram mount with an X-Grip as a GPS backup. However since I didn't use the iPhone 5 for the entire first half of the trip, I gave it to my sister and so now I'm using my primary phone as my GPS upload_2020-9-15_23-17-26.gif

    I have already had to wipe the inside of my visor clean because the ash is building up inside my helmet. My black gear has a thick coating of brownish/grey ash all over the front facing side. Regardless, the mask seems to be working well and I can breathe clearly. And having the cell phone mounted means I can take selfies and other pictures while I ride!
    [​IMG]

    I get to Creston and this is what it looks like:
    [​IMG]

    I take a moment to read some more news. It seems the smoke will be this bad up here for at least a day, likely two and maybe more depending on how the weather shapes up. I don't trust what I read and know that I have to get home for work by the following Monday and I don't want to suffer the black lung just for a few roads. I can't even believe map guy just said that! I decide to press on and see how far I can go. Pretty soon I see another sign telling me there's a fire ban in effect:
    [​IMG]

    I pull out the phone and figure that today I can make it as far as Lethbridge AB and hopefully the skies will be much clearer there. I call a motel and book a room. When I arrive the thickness of the smoke in the air is not as bad as southern BC, but you can still taste it.
    [​IMG]

    The Crowsnest Highway is a remarkable road. It stretches all the way from Hope BC to Medicine Hat AB. For all the stopping today and smoke to deal with, it was a very long day from Kelowna to Lethbridge. By the way - the town and area all around Fernie is simply gorgeous - I can't wait to see it again under clear skies.
    [​IMG]

    Up next - the smoke will decide for me!
    #26
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  7. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 24 & 25

    The plan for these two days is to cover as much ground as possible so I can be in Sault Ste Marie on Wednesday night. While covering ground, I also want to explore some of Northern Ontario a bit.

    Leaving Lethbridge my goal is to make it at least to Brandon or Portage La Prairie in Manitoba. I had checked up the guidelines around interprovincial travel and now Manitoba is allowing people to stay in their province if you are travelling to or from Western Canada, which was not the case when I left for BC.

    Day 24 Route: Lethbridge to Portage la Prairie
    [​IMG]

    This is just doing my ride out west in reverse, still taking the TransCanada. Along the way there are these massive grain silo's situated on the rail tracks. I recall reading about these many years ago and I think it has to do with a regional cooperative of farmers who bring their harvest here for shipping across the country. For some scale in this picture, at the bottom of the grain silos is a very long line of train cars - just outside Medicine Hat:
    [​IMG]

    The interesting thing for me here was there was no definition in the sky. It was just an even sheet of grey and no clouds at all, but at least the air felt fine to breathe in and no face mask required while riding. Smoky skies from morning til night all the way into Manitoba:
    [​IMG]

    I made it to Portage La Prairie at 6pm and had just enough time to grab a bite before passing out. 1100km in 11hours!

    Day 25 Route: Portage la Prairie to Thunder Bay
    [​IMG]

    One my way out west, I missed the opportunity to ride a couple roads because of my clutch concerns. With that gone, now is my chance. I want to ride south from Kenora along the 71 through Sioux Narrows and then pass through Fort Frances and then make my way up the 502 to Dryden. A local from the area told me that the 502 was brand new pavement and a treat to ride. The run down past Sioux Narrows looks good on a map with so many lakes along the way.

    Once I crossed the Ontario border there was some life in the landscape starting to reemerge and now I can start to see the definition in the clouds. All the trees were just starting to turn colour and they were mostly yellows with a touch of orange there and there. Along one stretch just before Kenora, I saw some red trees in a group and they looked brilliant!
    [​IMG]

    The 71 south of Kenora was a great ride. The top half is really scenic with big sweeping curves around lakes and elevation changes. The bottom half is pretty straight but has lots of interesting farmland on either side. This was a really interesting bridge on the 71 with wooden supports that I don't see very often:
    [​IMG]

    I really liked Fort Frances and would go back with my wife to spend a night or two - very quaint town with lots to do in the area. Just outside Fort Frances is a pretty sweet bridge over a long section of water:
    [​IMG]

    Now coming up the 502 the pavement is smooth like glass. It's a very fast road with long sweepers. There isn't too much for wide open scenery as the trees are in pretty tight to the road. 160km of no driveways and no services. I think I saw 2 other vehicles on it the whole stretch. One thing that I was really excited to start seeing again is the rock of the Canadian Shield, especially when the roads are cut into it:
    [​IMG]

    I've seen so many full logging trucks go by me in the opposite direction, i was resigned that I would not get a picture of a full truck. And lo and behold I see this one waiting for me at the top of the 502.
    [​IMG]

    As I pull into Thunder Bay, in the distance I can see this big hill in the distance. I go to check it out since it's my first time staying in the town and it was pretty cool. I did not know that Thunder Bay has lots of these big rock formations all around it.
    [​IMG]

    Another 1000km in the books and now the rest of the trip can be shorter days. I can take my time since I only have two more days before getting home:1drink

    Attached Files:

    #27
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  8. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 26 Route: Thunder Bay to Iron Bridge
    [​IMG]

    The plan today is to make it to Iron Bridge where I have a room booked at a motel that gets great reviews and is really low key. If time permits then I want to ride the good portion of the 129 - from Thessalon to Aubrey Falls.

    My morning starts off with me not setting my alarm and sleeping in until 7:45. Normally I wake up by 5:30 so I can be on the road by 6:30. I also decide to do a relaxed sit down breakfast in Thunder Bay, so now I'm leaving at 9am. I wanted to stop at the Terry Fox Memorial again, having done so back in 2011 when I did a specific trip just to come out to see it. Any time I'm doing something and feel like quitting (like doing something physically exhausting, doing some complex task, etc.), I think of Terry and what a weakling I am to complain when i have it so good. I then shut up my mental dialogue and finish what I have started. Now leaving so late in the morning, I decide to scrap that idea of revisiting the site and paying my respects.

    Leaving Thunder Bay I immediately stop when I see this amazing view of the water and rock formations on my right:
    [​IMG]

    Normally when I take a picture of something, I stop and look around at the other side to see what else I may have missed that is also interesting. And right opposite where I stop, but on the other side of the highway is Terry himself! Sometimes you can't escape what is meant to be:
    [​IMG]

    It's hard to capture some of the things I've seen with a cell phone camera - like the amazing slew of colours that opened up just after Wawa and all the way down to Sault Ste Marie. Today was one of the most glorious displays of peak fall colours I have ridden through even though I do a fall colours ride every year and have also ridden across the northeastern states and Appalachian / Blue Ridge Mountains looking for fall colours.
    [​IMG]

    I blast my way down to Iron Bridge and get myself checked in. I drop all my gear off and eat my dinner and realize I can ride up to Aubrey Falls along the 129 and back and still make it back before dark. I've been on this road before back in 2011, but it was undergoing a massive amount of roadwork and the best portion was all fresh, soft gravel. If you have never been on this road, it's this bit right here and the best section is between the 554 and Aubrey Falls. The pavement is a little bumpy, but very scenic and still a ton of fun, especially without all the luggage to slow me down. So off I go in search of twisty bits and more fall colours:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This road is sometimes known as 'Tail of the Dragon North' because of the twisty bit I linked to above and also because the Tail of the Dragon in the Smoky Mountains is US129. Just north of the intersection of the 129 & 556 is a small gas station and they are trying to get riders in on the action:
    [​IMG]

    If you have ever ridden the roads in the Smoky's or the real US129, this north version doesn't quite compare, but it's still worth the ride if you are in the area. I do know of some other Ontario roads that are much better than this, but those I only show in person.

    Next up - finally getting to see my lovely wife who's been holding down the fort.
    #28
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  9. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Day 27 Route: Iron Bridge to Mississauga
    [​IMG]

    The place I am staying at is called the Village Inn Motel. It's a pretty nice place. The owners are a husband and wife who take pride in their place. They immigrated here from India over 20 years ago and lived in Brampton to start. They hated it in Brampton and the GTA, so they found this piece of land with 31 acres that also had a run-down motel on it. They fixed up the motel and now it's a pretty busy spot and gets great reviews. The wifi is excellent and the rooms are simple, but very clean and comfortable. Price was reasonable at $90/night with a full sized fridge. There is an LCBO next door and gas/corner store within walking distance that's open til 9pm. He gave me his business card as I checked in:
    [​IMG]

    On a side note, during the worst of riding in the smoke of southern BC I stopped in Grand Forks to eat food and put on my facemask. The guy who was making my sub also owned that Subway and was also from India like the motel owner. He came to Canada with his family 20 years ago and also settled in Brampton. He also hated it. He told me about working jobs in Brampton for less than minimum wage and since he was a new immigrant, basically being treated like slave labour, but he had his Masters in Business. He then got a job as a cook at KFC and 3 years later was the store manager. He was given an offer to relocate to Nelson BC to open up a new store there and was given very good advice from a manager in the employment services helping him find work. He was told him that opportunties await in the smaller towns of this country, if you work hard and have education. He decided to take it and moved his young family out west and stuck with it. After working there for a few years he had saved up some money and left to work at a Subway. He learned their operation and saved more money and was able to buy his own franchise location. The he bought 3 more of them and also bought 6 gas stations in southern BC where he invites any of his his friends and family back in Brampton to come work if they want to be happy in life.

    I woke up on time and didn't have the longest day planned, but wanted to get home by 6pm and unpack all my stuff before my wife got home from work at 7:30pm. I had read that the temps were doing to be dropping overnight, so it's the perfect time to get home where it's warm inside. Coming outside at 6:30am to my bike I see that the parking lot is now empty except for my bike and the ice all over my seat!
    [​IMG]

    I suit up and the ride east along the TransCanada from Iron Bridge is beautiful at 7am. The sun is just starting to rise and there is a lot of mist coming off all the rivers and lakes in the area. As the sun rises I'm looking directly into it, making it really hard to see the road. I come into the next town and it's no wonder why they named it Blind River!
    [​IMG]

    After Blind River I make my way over to Espanola. From here I want to ride the #6 south towards Manitoulin Island and Little Current. The road is really quiet at this time of day and nothing short of spectacular with the many lakes, rock formations and fall colours. I'd say this is one of my favourite scenic roads to ride on, even though it's not that technical. In Little Current there is also a really interesting swing bridge - you can watch this drone video to see how it works. Just as I'm arriving to Little Current, the swing bridge is being used and traffic is at a stop. It takes me a second to realize what's happening and once I do, then I jump off my bike and take this picture, where you can somewhat see the bridge not quite lined up with the road yet.
    [​IMG]

    I turn around and make my way up the #6 and across to Sudbury before heading south towards home. There is a lot of construction on the #69 around French River as it looks like they are widening the highway up there. I'm lucky to be here in the morning - afternoons must be heavy with traffic. I continue south and one of the things I wanted to do was hit up Old Nipissing Road and visit Screaming Heads to see just how much gravel is on the roads there. I've never ridden on Midlothian Road west of Screaming Heads. I'm really glad I did because it was really beautiful. The fall colours were really sharp and the gravel was super easy to ride on with my street tires and fully loaded bike.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Old Nipissing Road is just as beautiful to ride, but there are also really interesting houses along the way - very remote and quiet lakes. It's pretty twisty and hilly with slightly softer/more gravel than Midlothian, so you should either go slow or be better in the dirt than me or have better tires / a lighter bike than I did to have some fun on it.
    [​IMG]

    When I was starting my trip a month ago, I rode up the 400/69 highway and noticed a Lick's restaurant very close to the 518. I thought they had all closed down and looked it up and I think there are 3 locations still around. I used to love their burgers and strawberry milkshakes and it was also comical to hear them sing your orders out to the cooks and back to the cashiers when the food was ready. I decide to stop there on my way home. but no one was singing and the burger wasn't as god as I remember them:
    [​IMG]

    As I'm sitting in the restaurant eating my food and keeping an eye on my bike, I see this guy in the parking lot walking all around my bike and inspecting it up close. He then starts touching my bike! and I'm like whoa dude - you just touch my bike!?! I get up and go outside and we start talking. Super nice guy who is an aircraft mechanic, and he also has the same bike. He liked my Corbin seat and says he can't ride the stock seat more than 90 minutes. We then start talking a lot about bikes and he has 6 other bikes, but likes his VStrom more than all his other bikes - except for the seat, so I let him sit on mine to get a feel for it. He's really interested in riding longer days to far away places and says I'm a real biker - it's official now!

    After lunch at Lick's I stop again at my friends resting place. Anytime I do an intense ride I like to come here, because any success I have doing mechanical work on my bike is a result of good people like him who took the time to educate me. I also haven't cleaned my bike since my sisters place and it needs some love.
    [​IMG]

    I finally make it home and am impressed with how the season has changed and the garden of the summer has given way to a garden of the fall:
    [​IMG]

    A few things that might be of interest to anyone planning a longer trip:

    Upgrading my GPS to the Zumo590 was a stroke of luck. I was now able to get the traffic updates and seamlessly sync my phone and helmet comms to the GPS. There were a number of major traffic/construction delays which would have killed my chance to ride some of the best twisty roads, so being able to know of them in advance and plan accordingly was amazing.

    The Pactalk Bold helmet communicator I got was awesome. I'm super happy with it and the JBL helmet speakers. It's obviously not the same sound quality as wearing in-ear monitors, but the sound is more than sufficient and my ears never hurt.

    I always had two micro-USB battery backups to charge my cell and helmet comms while on the road. I used them every day since I'm usually doing 12hr days and batteries drain in less time than that, especially while streaming music from my cell to my helmet comms. If you are camping this is even more useful without access to electrical outlets. I prefer not to use the 12v outlet on my bike, which itself adds to cords dangling across my bike as I ride. With these battery packs I can recharge my devices multiple times each day if needed.

    The longest stretch I think I went between gas stations was around 202km between McBride and Prince George. Many other times the distance would vary between 100km-160km. So if your bike has a smaller fuel tank you'll need to plan accordingly - keeping in mind that some smaller towns close up earlier (but none earlier than 6pm from what I saw). I found ADVrider and the regionally specific forums to be a wealth of knowledge for things to be mindful of while planning and while out on the road. Almost every question I had has been asked before.

    Bring good quality rain gear and maybe cold/hot weather gear as needed. I was very fortunate that over the 27 days and 13,500km on this trip, it rained a total of 5 minutes and only just as I was pulling into Fort St James. In the past I have been on trips days of with back to back or multiple days relentless rain, frost, snow, heatwaves, etc - a comfortable rider can focus on riding and not how they are uncomfortable. I love my heated gear and once you have ridden with heated socks, there's almost no turning back.

    Since I do not have a modular helmet, riding with a hydration knapsack is crucial. I picked up the Ogio Atlas 3L one and it was perfect for long days.

    I used almost everything I packed, so even though I was packing heavy, most of it was useful. I packed a sleeping bag, because I thought about getting into nasty motels with bed bugs and might want to sleep in that instead. All the motels were really clean, so it never left my side case. I packed just the right amount of clothes and only didn't use one pair of pants, a dress shirt and one long sleeve running top. I never needed my roll of toilet paper and shovel!

    Gene reminded me of something that will change the way I load up my bike for any future trips. With all the weight, the handling of the bike and the fast rear tire wear can be a mild issue. Since my top case sits slightly back of the rear wheel it makes the front wheel lighter and excessively loads the rear. This changes how it handles in the corners and going over bumps or moving really quick across the prairies. I have a 55l dry bag which I will use instead of the top case next time, and strap it on the passenger seat to have better allocation of weight.

    Having a high quality paper map of BC was really useful. I didn't need this for the other provinces, but to really explore the best BC roads and knowing what to ride and what to skip made my trip so much better.

    If you see something you want a picture of, stop and take that picture and enjoy that moment. The only picture I thought I would easily have time to come back and get was the entrance into Radium Hot Springs. I didn't take it and with the wildfire smoke I never went back.

    Travelling is great, but nothing beats coming home:
    [​IMG]

    Safe travels
    upload_2020-9-18_12-56-27.gif :dj
    #29
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  10. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    What a great report Shane.
    I really appreciate the time you take from your day to take the pictures and post your ride reports.
    Absolutely enjoyed it and glad the clutch issue you had while in my area on your way west cleared up and you lost no time over it.
    Will be watching for your next one.
    BB
    #30
  11. Hollyr

    Hollyr Vesterislendingur Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,546
    Location:
    New Westminster, BC
    Great report, thank you. Loved the pics. It's still smoky in BC. Slightly better today, but won't be great until a storm hits on Wednesday. You've never seen so many riders praying for a storm!!
    #31
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  12. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 Only a matter of time.

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    26,135
    Location:
    Moneyapolis, MN
    Nice RR!
    #32
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  13. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canuckistan
    Thanks. One thing I also really appreciated was the willingness of those who live in remote areas to help out a rider in need. That was quite helpful in just making me feel comfortable with any problem and knowing that eventually it will just get sorted out.

    Getting quick advice on local shops when looking for a part or having someone offer to pick you up if you break down and fix your bike in their garage is the kind of memory that really sticks. Even Gene who lives in Kelowna was able to get me a lead on the good places to call for a new rear tire and then assist with getting me there to get the work done, which saved a lot of time and was fun to just hang out in the meantime.
    #33
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