Route to Deals Gap via BC and Cali

Discussion in 'Americas' started by shanekingsley, May 15, 2020.

  1. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

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    I'm going to spend the weekend of Oct 9-11 @ Deals Gap. I thought it would be nice to visit my sister on the way, but she lives in Richmond, BC. My wife thought it would be awesome if she flew out to my sisters to meet me, and we ride 2up south from BC down to San Diego along the Pacific Coast Highway. Then she would fly home from LA and I would carry on my trip over to Deals Gap and come home.

    Very general outline, but no ferry across Michigan and probably only as far south as LA:
    [​IMG]

    Normally I hate riding on the highway, but with this type of trip that slab will be inevitable for long stretches. I can take 4 weeks off work, so I'm shooting for 30 days for this. I figure ~13k miles would be the ideal distance for this trip with some long days here and there to eat up the miles. I'll bring a tent and split time between motels and campgrounds.

    Right now I'm just connecting the dots of things suggested to get a feel for it. Very rough plan so far for the first leg is something like:
    Ontario to Vancouver: https://goo.gl/maps/outpXL8JqK8gTCPA9

    Part 1 includes: Black Hills (Iron Mountain, Needles) to Devils Tower to Bighorn 14A to Beartooth Pass to Chief Joseph to Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park, then head north back in Canada and up to Banff to Jasper to Prince George via the Icefields Parkway, down BC 97 through Whistler to Vancouver.

    Any must ride twisty or mountain roads along the way without detouring too far off the general route?
    What amazing roads with big nature in all it's glory would you suggest I consider riding through?
    All suggestions welcome - - the art of trip planning is making it all work based on my interests and limitations.

    Hoping that by October we have the all clear to ride like this again.
    Thanks!

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I see a few potential weather concerns for your dates and route. Oct means the rocky mtn areas can be snowed, or not. OTOH, it is one of the two most glorious times in the SE USA. Fall color season is great riding until the rains begin in October, otherwise it's just cool enough to be best riding weather.
    From Stecoah, the best next riding area is in the Ozark mtns of S MO & NW AR, not across the middle of the deep south.
    I encourage you to be willing to choose some fast roads to further enjoy the best scenery & riding. An e.g. is to ride as much of WV, VA & KY as possible when headed S to NC & TN goal. Deals Gap is fine but only a tiny piece of the best riding, in fact in normal times it's too busy with public road racer boys for me, I prefer being able to enjoy my surroundings and curves as found in many other spots w/o someone trying to set a speed record behind me.
    OH has great riding but your coming down the "wrong side of OH" to see any of those roads. PA also has great riding as does W NY and MD in the mtns also places your route misses so I'd cross at the "Sue".
    Fall color comes in Sept in the rockies so you could also tweak NM & AZ to include more mtns then head to SD,CA by riding south from say, Sedona toward PHX, AZ then W.
    #2
  3. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

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    Thanks for this - much appreciated.
    I've ridden PA, OH, WV, VA, NC, TN many times (and will do so yearly, so those areas are less of a priority for what areas to ride on this trip.
    I agree with your thought about Ozarks and will avoid the far south after LA and will swing up through Sedona and surrounding area instead on my way to Deals.
    #3
  4. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I like W TX as it's much like ED KY, woods and critters. Same for Ozarks which are fun to ride, more sweepers and roller coaster roads, a bit more open then my neck of the woods but also much similar. The entire NW quadrant of AR is very worthy in the fall. My thought was if ya gotta head S might as well be the better part of this and that. Hope the little virus bug doesn't screw your plans.
    #4
  5. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Assuming the border will be open for general travel by then , September ,or a second wave is not washing across parts of the US there still is the problem of weather as Kantuckid points out . Your route is okay, for a summer trip , but I would hesitate doing the northern parts you describe and map in late September . Weather has a way of being unpredictable and unexpected , and in September that means crapppy and cccold . The tow truck crews are getting readyto service the " Highway Through Hell" in BC:D . Remember the snow we just had in May ! And to put a definite not-to-be-missed appointment at Deals Gap at the tail end is a nerve wracker in the making .

    Sorry to be a wet blanket but it may be wiser to postpone that ride west to a warmer season ,a later year .Give it all the time it deserves.If you are such a frequent visitor to the Appalachian states the Gap has been visisted already ,no ?
    #5
  6. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

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    It's all good - I appreciate the suggestions.

    Yes I have been to Deals Gap many times and try to ride the Smokys every other year to the point that I know the best roads by memory. The only reason I really want to be down there this October is for the Eastern V-Strom Rally which is something I've wanted to do for many years but it has always been in May and conflicts with my work. I usually spend a week down there by myself so it will be nice to ride with other VStrom's.

    As I head west into the mountains, I can always change my routes and avoid higher elevations if there is snow. Cold doesn't matter too much because I will be riding with good quality heated gear as needed. I will certainly be mindful of the weather patterns.

    For me, I travel when opportunities arise, because I don't know how things will change and what opportunities will be missed for good. I'm lucky to have a good job, good health and very supportive wife.

    If you know of any other really awesome roads or natural wonders worth checking out - I'm very interested!
    #6
  7. Bayner

    Bayner Long timer

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    If you're in the high mountain regions in the west in the first couple weeks of Sept you should be just fine. Even if it were to snow, it would melt off quickly most times. It'll likely be down near freezing overnight.
    After mid Sept, well, you may be in for a surprise detour. The nice part about your route is that if you can't follow the divide up through Wyoming, Idaho and the Rockies due to poor weather forecasted you can punch across in one miserable day and the interior of Oregon and Washington will still be rideable. Same goes for the coast.
    #7
  8. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

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    Thanks - that's a good point about hitting up Oregon and Washington if some of there other stuff is not suitable due to weather.

    Rough plan to BC is currently something like:
    [​IMG]

    Rough plan from BC to home is something like the map below, where anytime I get to a marked area I'll explore a bit and I'll use secondary roads as much as possible instead of the interstates.
    [​IMG]
    #8
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  9. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    With your limit of 30 days for the entire ride including a long weekend in the Smokies it means that the last week is spoken for. If you are going to be sociable and visit with Sis a few days and do any sightseeing and stopping down the coast then the ride South to Los Angeles with the missus is also going to take a week or more .

    This will leave a net of barely a week each for the ride out west and the ride back east to TN .You will have precious little time for Jasper or any of those relaxed explorations on secondary roads you imagine to do at the various destination points you have targeted on the maps .

    Riding around bad weather sounds logical , but by the time one discovers it is crappy one is already into it and riding out/ around eats up precious time . September means shorter daylight hours restricting riding time - think of moose , elk, deer and other animals ( including drunks) which come onto the roads after sunset . Cold high country at night can hide frosty patches and even the best heated riding gear has no influence on traction . If it snows you are stuck for a while, hours or days . What if the notorious Strom alternator fries itself at just such a critical moment ?

    Camping will eat time in various ways , your best bet is hotel walk-ins every night ( no reservations made weeks before to tie you up!), and you will at least wake up rested and warm .

    You said “ normally I hate riding the highway” only later clarifying that you meant freeway super highways . I was relieved , I thought at first you wanted to cow trail it all the way .:D

    You have been to Appalachia often , so , is this your first ride ever to the west ?


    My view is that you are over-planning , relying too much on a travel-columnist-style recounting of a quick tour of points of interest along a mapped /timed/ distanced route with little consideration for expectable stuff that usually has a way of interfering. Reality.

    I realize that this does little to help you along your big vision ,but here are some ideas .

    If the sister visit is important to you and mrs. you could fly out to Vancouver for that sooner or later, send the airline some recovery business.

    Save the two- up Grand Tour of the Canadian Rockies and the west coast for a SUMMER ride .You will have warmer more comfortable weather and longer daylight to enjoy for a month.Make yourself indispensable in that job you love and then sweet talk the boss into giving you some well deserved time off during summer for the BIG TOUR.

    September can be okay for riding , but make it a shorter- distance motorcycle tour into the WEST and middle USA. Ride the freeways ,401 and interstates ,for only a day till you are past Chicago .Then use nothing but the paved two- lane highways of the various US, state , county and regional systems and actually tour at a pleasant pace. See what the US is like other than the freeway rights of way .Maybe go out as far as Wyoming then turn left and favour the more southerly areas. There are some really nice state roads running south-ish in eastern WY .You should hit some prime fall colour among the aspens at the northern edge and down into CO.Don’t be greedy for high number distances daily . Relax .Tour . Look at stuff. Bring the tent and sleeping bag for the occasional night's use . Wander around the Colorado west and the Rockies . Zigzag instead of imitating a deadly cruise missile zeroing in on its target . Keep in mind the dates you want to be at that Strom rally and turn the tour around at whatever point that you reckon will allow you the time for the same relaxed riding style to get there.

    With removal of the pressure to race to the next designated distant point you can do a lot of touring around these mountain states and see stuff you would otherwise not know about.
    For instance , do the National Forest Road 200 over Marshall Pass (first two pictures 18 september)) it is an easy gravel road for a V Strom ,loaded, and gives you great mountain scenery.
    Crested Butte is a ski resort village at the north end of paved CO 135 but the gravel CR 12 road out to the west is basically an unpaved highway , easy and also scenic ( Third picture ) beyond that here are various great rides such as across the Grand Mesa ..look at the red rocks and river canyons stuffaound Moab , and roadside stuff like Wilson Arch north of Monticello.
    Dugway where the road dives off the cliff face is always a treat and you can sit there and contemplate which way you might want to start going east across New Mexico and Texas .See some pronghorns maybe .
    Each one of these states has lots of scenic stuff to see .
    In Oklahoma don't race across on the intersrtates , go a bit farther south and at Ada pick up the OK 1 and stick to it , blended withUS 270 at times all the way to Arkansas ,it turns into a really neat ride across the Oachita Mountain as the Talimena Scenic Drive ( sixth picture) which takes you into Mena AR, and sets you u witha lot of choices to eventually reach your Smokies rendezvous .

    Attached Files:

    #9
  10. shanekingsley

    shanekingsley Motoman

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    Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate the time you took to write it!

    After reading all you had to say it prompted me to quickly plot out my plans (day by day) to at least give me a rough idea of how fast I am moving through areas and what can be kept or left for another trip. My wife and I also revisited the whole trip to see how it felt. Both of us felt comfortable with the route and distance. I slow down when with her and cover more ground when by myself. We also recognize that the current situation may really hamper my travel plans and I may be limited to staying within Canada for this year, but I will plan the trip anyways and hope that things are better by September.

    Since I do get to talk to my sis often and see her a couple times a year, I am good with spending less than a week with her on this trip. Deals Gap will also only be three days, since I do ride the area almost every year and will probably go back next year anyways. It was more about being there for the V-Strom Meet. I have left extra days to ride the Black Hills, Ozarks, Colorado and 6 days to make the ride along the coast. We may not go as far as LA and cut across at San Fran to pass through Yosemite, Death Valley and she can fly out of Vegas. This will put me a little further ahead on time as well.

    After looking at the whole trip for the 30 days, it's actually quite doable. You are right that I won't get to stop in various places and mellow out for a bit, but I'm okay with that. My bike trips are more about exploring the roads and landscapes and less about stopping. When I fly to a destination I tend to wander about and we tend to take one big trip each year to backpack through different parts of the world. I've already been to Banff, Jasper, Grand Canyon, Utah, Arizona, and BC multiple times, but never by bike, so this is a big reason for the trip. You have given me some excellent suggestions for things/places to visit, so I will look at them closely.

    Unfortunately I have less time to travel in peak summer due to my job and the time from Sep1st to Nov1st is my peak vacation time.

    I hope the Strom stator does not fry on me - I have replaced a few on my previous Strom's and know what it feels like to do the job and also be stranded. That said, your post prompted me to remember that I need to get a voltmeter installed on the bike, so I can at least view my electrical status, so that's high on the priority list. As all things go - life is what happens when you are busy making other plans, so I have no expectations of this trip and what will be will be and I will enjoy it regardless.
    #10
  11. Rips Millar

    Rips Millar capt. mediocre

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    just a quick note, when you get there, don't call it Cali, if you want to blend in that is.:lol3
    #11