Well, it was time for a road trip, focusing as much as possible on the dirt aspect of things. I have pulled out all the stops for this one. Be amazed at my sooper awesome Snip Tool skills 🙂
Pictures? well yes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/97730749@N03/sets/72157654951082902
The participants, and their fine rides
Serge, on his 2005 BMW F650. Well sorted bike, with a new rear tire, a new battery (which decided it needed to expel some extra battery acid all over his bike throughout the trip)
Reg, on his first gen KLR, with a 685 Kit. Nicely set up bike, with everything one may need for a trip of this kind.
Matt the Aussie, on his 2nd gen KL-aaah. This is the war-horse of war horses. Been to South America and back on it, without any real issue. Even though he did his own wiring on it. Moar on that later.
Myself on my trusty Super T, with mitas tires well past their best (front and back at 20% tread). My newly installed ABS off switch paid for itself. A must on tricky terrain. My new bush axe to ward off bears and honey badgers, and the ability to pick my nose if needed.
Sunday: Plan was to ride from Calgary to Salmon Arm the long way. We did just that. We got to ride some gravel in the AM (FTR 40 south to Coleman), then pounded pavement well north of Kaslo. The 31A from Balfour was none too crowded, and the road north of Kaslo kicked ass. The gravel road to Trout lake was entertaining as always. Day done, we finished up 12 hours later. 2 hours ahead of google’s estimated time! Beer time. See below sooper awesome sketch of the day. The gravel high lighted in yellow was excellent. The optional roads are decent as well, but we did not ride them that day.
Monday: We left Salmon Arm, and headed north to Barriere, Little Fort, then over to 70 Mile House, ending the day in Lilooet. The bulk of the riding was on gravel roads. The interesting bits were off Big Bar road where we had a choice of:
Option a: west side of the Fraser river via big bar ferry. Nice ride, but the ascent is mostly made up of soft sand. So we opted out
Option b: Peter out, and take the Jesmond gravel road. Nope too easy.
Option c(just noticed the inaccuracy of my doodle below…I have two option a’s East side of Fraser river using a well used, but narrow dirt road (High Bar Road) that ended in a 23% climb that brought us roughly 1 kilometer above the dirt road. This is the route we took. And a good choice it was.
We took the short cut through Clinton-Pavillion road, to join up to the remainder of hwy 99, which was great fun on the tenere. The KLr’s were pretty much wide open, and tapped out at 120km/h. Below, Monday’s route. Again, gravel in yellow marker.
Tuesday: Tuesday was a doozie. Both good and bad. High line road was conquered many times over, so it’s a well know road to me. No issues there, scenic, and involving. Win! What wasn’t so damn cool, is towards the end of the HL road I needed to water the surroundings. I parked up just off the gravel road, walked into the bush (10 feet) to take a leak. Not 20 feet from me I saw a bear cub hauling ass away from me. I have never put all my gear back on this quickly. Rule of thumb, if cubs are around, you have a protective momma bear around. As I hurried back to my bike, I told Serge about my sighting. I pointed in the general direction of said bear cub. Just behind a tree, the bear cub stuck his head out to see what we were up to. It was time to leave.
The paved road from D’Arcy to Pemberton is nice, so no issues there. We stopped in to Pemberton (or a small town north of it…forgot the name) for some lunch and quite a few mosquito bites.
After lunch, we hopped back on the 99 heading north, for about 5 km, to join up to a gravel road that was to take us all the way down to Hope BC. Well, holyshitmonkeyballs! What a hateful piece of road. Please note, dear readers that this is the first road that I have not traveled before. Take note, as this phenomenon will be repeated in this trip.
The first 80km were hard pack gravel, with sharp pointy bits sticking out, intertwined with bits that had 4″ of fresh gravel put down. Magic!
And the last 50km was something prepared by satan himself. You know you’re in trouble, when the mile/km markers fall off, the road narrows to 8 feet, complete with loose shale, bear shit, and lots of washouts thrown in for fun. Did I mention the 30% grade. Not easily negotiated with heavy piggies that we were riding. We were contemplating to spend the night in the bush. Soon enough we made it through satan’s arm pit, and were rewarded with pavement. Rottiserie chicken, and beer for dinner. That’s Tuesday then.Serge having a good time Reg summing up the Tuesday ride nicely
Harrison Lake, looks like an inlet. It’s huge
Wednesday: It seemed like a simple enough day. Hope to Winthrop WA. Well you guessed it. It didn’t go to plan. My initial route had us going up the 5, then hitting some tasty gravel to go east to Tulameen. The first turn off had a huge gate. Ramblists, cyclists, and tree huggers only. Motors are bad, so you can’t go there. Ok, back on the 5 to head north. We hooked up to the Tulameen FSR, great road. But then my non-existent navigational skills had us riding all over the shop, as long as it wasn’t in the actual direction we needed to go. Eventually Matt, and Reg told us that we missed a road that was well hidden and out-of-the-way. That would be the Tulameen River Road. Another winner. We finally made it to Princeton at 330pm. Lunch time!
We changed plans and decided to stay the night in Penticton. The rest of the day was uneventful, the bit east of Hedly is worthwhile. Also the road on the North side of the river is a nice stretch of pavement.
The road that is awesome…but goes nowhere. Yes 25km of gravel bliss one way, a locked gate, and another 25km of gravel to ride backEast of Hedley, gravel.
We were warned.
Thursday: We decided to stick to pavement. Tuesday was not an easy day. Serge was suffering from some serious swelling of one of his feet. Matt took a tumble on the his bike, and was a bit banged up. We headed north through the valley, taking in west bank road. Excellent. At the end of the WB road we took a breather, and noticed that a: Reg’s rear tire had split from right to left, b: my headlights were not functioning, and c: Matt’s KLR was not behaving in the electrical department. Serge meanwhile provided the colorful commentary on the previous days’ happenings.
We quickly found a dealer, broke out the precision hammers and got to work. Reg secured a tire, and had it sorted in an hour, for less than $100 mounted. Bargain!
I spent a staggering $3.63 on two 25 Amp fuses (one to go in, and a 2nd as a spare), and got my lights going.
Matt needed some help with his rat’s nest of a wiring job, to trouble shoot the problem. $10 later, he was on his way with a new relay. It’s a well-known fact that all KLR-ists (klr owners) travel everywhere with multimeters. Which came in very handy indeed.
So, irony of ironies…all three jap bikes needed work, while the BMW needed none.
We ended the day in New Denver. Great paved roads, with all sorts of good bits thrown in. Found a great camp site in ND, moar rotiserie chicken, and naturally local brews. I even got to use my bush axe. Nice!
Friday: We woke up to thunder and lighting. Matt made the most excellent suggestion to get the hell out of dodge! So we did. We rode the 31A, a beauty, even in pouring rain. My well-worn Mitas never gave me any concerns. The rest of the day was spent on pavement, with light traffic, and seriously heavy winds on the 22 heading north to Calgary (45 to 60 km/h winds).
Trip Summary. A great time was had. The guys had a good time, or so told me to my face 🙂 The tenere rolled over 60k on the trip, with very little concerns, apart from the budget busting $3.63 spent on the fuses. The Mitas tires held up well, and could have gone another 2k before replacing. But since the rear had next to no tread left, I pulled it, and the front in favor of new tires.
Actual route taken:
Gear..well, I’m still using my Klim Badlands jacket and pants, top marks. Kept me dry in the wet, and cool in the heat (relatively of course). My alpine stars scouts are still holding out the majority of the moisture. My Shoei Neotec soldiers on, great lid, and versatile to boot.