In Vancouver

I got into Vancouver Sunday night and am staying at a motorcycle friend's place. The ride has been great so far. I didn't find much WiFi on the way here, so that's why I couldn't post anything. Alright, the ride report starts below. The thoughts are a bit scattered...
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It felt so good to finally get going and leave home cause I've been preparing for this trip for the last 6 months, but I still ended up doing lots of last minute stuff. Two days before the trip, I finally got the chance to install my Scottoiler, shorten the kick stand and add a wide plate and add some highway pegs and I'm really glad that I got all that done. I ended up packing till like midnight the night before leaving, but I got everything done.

Some trip prep photos:


My Bike Krutch that I made out of a walking cane. I got the idea from a post on dualsportbc.com. It works great in lifting the rear tire off the ground for tire repairs on the road.


Happy Trails panniers and my mounting plate that I made out of 1/4" Al to give support to the top box.


Welding a wide plate onto the kick stand after shortening it an inch. I had to shorten it because all the weight on the rear doesnt allow me to fully deploy the stand. It works great with an inch off. The wide plate was a 1/4" steel and also working out good. Thanx to my riding buddy Rick for the welding work.


Scottoiler Touring Kit installed on the back. I wanted the touring kit so that I dont have to think about the chain every night or refilling the standard chamber every day. Thanx again to Rick for helping with the fabrication of the rear license plate bracket. (It just looks cock-eyed because my tail fender is slightly bent.)

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The plan was to take four days to get to Vancouver: two days slab and two days through the twisties of Montana, Idaho and lower British Columbia in Canada. Because I was so last minute I didn't get a real chance to take a test ride with the bike fully loaded. She's been handling fine so far and the weight doesn't seem to be too much a penalty. I know the mantra is all about keeping the weight down, but there's some items I wanted and I was ready to accept the weight penalty.

I got the top box because I wanted to take a Digital SLR camera and a heavily padded bag for it and I figured if I keep light-weight bulky items in there (like my sleeping bad and pad, etc), there shouldn't be too much weight up there. I'm also taking along a spare rear tire because I'm not sure when my current tire is going to be done (I put it on in Monterrey, Mexico). I mounted the top box so that a bit of it is resting on the seat to help with spreading the load. And I got the box also so that I could access my gear while also carrying a spare tire. It works as a great tire carrier. I mounted the tire in front of the box and strapped it down on the seat so that the bike's frame is taking the weight of the tire and not the subframe. Working out great so far.

In my panniers, I have clothes and food in the right side and tools and food in the left side. I'm taking about 15 meals with me (ready to eat stuff), so it should get lighter as the trip goes on.


I got tonnes of rain for the two days on the slab, and really heavy winds. I thought the heavy weight would really affect my fuel mileage, but it's not been bad in calm winds. In the heavy winds, my mileage was varying from 48 mpg down to like 28. All through North Dakota and Montana there was a headwind of about 25 mph, which was hurting me. A guy in a Camry heading east (getting the tailwind) said he was getting about 45 mpg!

For the first night, I made it past Fargo, ND (did about 700 miles) and found a campsite off the highway a bit. Great site, but the winds were really really strong. And at night, it started raining a bit and I wasn't falling asleep. I finally managed about 4 hours of sleep before getting on the slab for another 700 miles to Great Falls.


Campsite at Ashtabula Rec Area, north of Valley City, ND. Great location but howling winds. The tent is real fast to put up, maybe just 5 mins.


Painted Canyon in western ND. Check out the stormy clouds.

The ride through Montana's plains was nice, good scenery. A lady at a gas stop (part of ABATE in Montana) figured I must be an engineer because it looked I had everything planned. Haha. Yeah, people are seeing the spare tire and spare gas tanks and saying, "Wow, looks like you're ready for just about everything." Yup. Of course people are a bit shocked when I say I'm heading to Alaska, especially on that little motorcycle :) Quite a few people have said I should instead be on a Harley, but then I point to my highway pegs and say I'm getting there.

After Great Falls, the riding has just been fantastic. I went around Glacier National Park, up through north-western Montana and into southern BC on the third day. At the border, after I said I was going to Alaska, the officier asked what I was carrying to protect myself. Huh? He said, no firearms or mace? Nope. Hmm, looks like I should atleast get some mace for the bears.


auDRey with Glacier National Park in the background. This was on MT-49, which is south of the park, but the road was just as amazing. And the weather was fantastic. A little chilly, but nice.


Lake Koocanusa in north-western Montana. Great riding and scenery.

Southern BC has just been amazing. The roads are beautiful and there's just so much fresh water all over the place. The lakes are a deep blue and banked with steep mountains. It really makes for an awesome sight. Stayed at the Toad Rock Campground in Balfour - great place, it's a motorcycle campground and has a great vibe to it. The owner just let me crash on their couch in the pavillon instead of going through the trouble of setting up my tent. How nice.

The road from Kaslo to New Denver is definitely in my top ten and it was confirmed as I was passed by at least 15 sport bikes railing through there. I'm keeping my top speed to 70 mph for fuel mileage concerns and tire wear too. But it's still a lot of fun on the DR.


Welcome to Canada - Kootenay Lake, just north of the border.


Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground. A great little haven for motorcyclists.


Near Naksup, BC. Southern BC is just so full of fresh water. So many huge lakes and rivers, that too surrounded with tall mountains. Makes for awesome vistas.


Tight switch-backs heading into Osoyoos, BC. Lots of switch-back riding.


The small winding road to Coalmont and Tulameen, BC. I thought this would be a shorter way of getting to the highway, but the gravel road further on slowed me down too much for so late in the day, so I turned around and hit the highway to Vancouver.


A mug shot for my mom. Hi Mom.


Coming back to Princeton with the sun setting slowly.

It's definitely been a haul to get here, but I had to make sure to make my appointment at the US consulate yesterday morning, cause it means I can re-enter the US, which is important for Alaska and coming back home.

Tracy and Claude have been great hosts and they're definitely some real hardcore adventure riders. They're leading a trip up to Alaska next week that's going to be off-road the whole way.


At Tracy and Claude's house, which is fantastic! They have so much greenery right next to the city.




What's worked well so far and what's not:

- Highway pegs have been amazing. Can't believe I didnt put them on sooner. They're great for relieving the knees and along with the spare tire as a back rest, I'm actually pretty comfortable on the bike. When I get back home I need to figure out how to put some highway pegs on the GSX-R.

- Scottoiler is doing its job but I think I cranked it open a bit too much for the rain riding cause oil has gotten flinged on everything.

- Shortened Kick Stand was a definite requirement with all this weight.

- Heated grips have proved useful quite a few times already.

- Motoport rain liners have been great in keeping me dry.

- Oxtar TCX boots, while a bit bulky when walking around are not a problem while riding. Shifting is no problem and they're sorta waterproof up to a point. But my god, they truly are squeaky as hell. I sprayed some Silicone Lubricant in the joints, but I think it made it worse. Oh well. Hope it wards off the bears...

- The bike's running just great. It truly is suited nicely for this trip. For Phase 2 of the trip is when it's really going to be in its element.


I'm collecting my passport with my new visa in there today and starting on the trip up to Alaska. Don't know how much internet access I'll find on the way, but I should be able to post some updates in about 3 or 4 days.

6 comments:

Rick said...

Wow Jay, I feel like a chump sitting here in the lab while you are kicking so much ass. The scenery looks great and must be awesome just having the freedom to go wherever the hell you want. Looks like you thought everything through really well so all you need now is luck, good luck man can't wait to see your crazy ass at the arctic ocean!

colleen (clsb: "cailin") said...

amazing! great recap and beautiful pictures. have a fun ride in alaska!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great trip thus far. Very scenic pitcures, nice camera work. Just a thought, you might want to add some flaps or rig a guard of some type to help with all the oil sputtering. Keep posting more pictures they are amazing it all look like a nice ride.

Anonymous said...

How do you keep the bears away from your food at night while your bike is parked?

Anonymous said...

Jay,

Looks like you are having a great adventure. Chris stayed at my house last night and we ate pizza. He left about 6 this morning for home. Keep posting your adventure and I will keep track. When you get home email me some of the photos we took on Atigun Pass. Looks as though you are getting plenty of support on the ride. Next year Steve Chris and I are talking about doing the CanMex ride. Let us know if you are in. Take care and get home safe.

Rick from Oregon

Jammin said...

Regarding the bear comment: most of food is sealed and I eat completely whatever packet I open and then dispose of the garbage in bear-proof garbage cans that are provided in most campgrounds. Never had any problems with bears.