« Volunteering for the 2010 Winter Olympics | Main | Photo Trek to Maasai Mara National Reserve »
Monday
Aug312009

Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride

Prepping for Canadian Rockies Ride

Like last year, I get to ride for a week with my brother - a real treat.  We're off to ride through parks in Idaho, Montana, Alberta and British Columbia, with a few stops to see family and friends. 

Day 1 Canadian Rockies Ride

Morning departure from Manhattan Beach for Sacramento; temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley are forecast for +100ºF, so I make a last-moment decision and veer off I-405 for a ride up the cooler US-101.  Exit east on CA-152 through Gilroy, then north on I-5 to Sacramento.  I've ridden up and down this section of California so many times that I think about things other than what I'm doing, which is, well, stupid.  The alternative route added 100 miles to the ride, but subtracted several degrees of temperature, a reasonable trade.  Stayed with friends, really nice home-cooked swordfish for dinner.  490 miles, 8.5 hours.

Day 2 Canadian Rockies Ride

An early start - work and school emptied the house - and another change in plans.  I'd intended to cut over to US-101 and CA-1 to ride up the coast, but instead blast up I-5, exit at the town of Weed - what a great name - near Mt. Shasta, riding north on scenic two-lane US-97.  In California, the posted-to-be-exceeded speed limit on US-97 is 65 mph, but drops to 55 mph once in Oregon.  What happened to Oregon?  The state used to have liberal speed limit - and other - laws, but now its becoming more restrictive.  Motor through Klamath Falls, exit west on OR-62 to Crater Lake National Park, ride the west rim of the lake, meet an elderly gentleman and his wife who used to ride Indian motorcycles - very cool.  Take OR-232 to exit the park, east on OR-138, back on US-97 for a significantly-over-the-55-mph-speed-limit ride to Bend.  Bend is a stylish city, with many traffic circles, which I like.  Dinner at a great restaurant, whose name I can't remember, my table alongside the Deschutes River.  Good riding weather all day.  499 miles, 11 hours.

Day 3 Canadian Rockies Ride

Highway access in Bend is a challenge - it takes me 20 minutes to find a northbound on-ramp to US-97.  Stop in the town of Madras, visit the pharmacy to talk with a pharmacist about…helmet itch - that dirty secret that's only talked about in biker bars and addiction support groups.  I'm rarely afflicted with it, but today is the rare day.  Perhaps this is my penance for using a bar of soap to shampoo with.  The pharmacist dissuades me from using something effective like diphenhydramine, as it causes drowsiness.  Instead, he recommends a good-tasting but totally ineffective, chewable substitute.  West on US-26, I stop and visit Clear, Frog and Trillium Lakes near Mt. Hood.  A quick stop at Timberline Lodge, where I'd skied a few times, then into Portland to stay with my sister Pam, her husband, and two cats.  Too many glasses of wine over dinner, and I initiate a discussion of politics, which is rarely wise.  It's a good thing we get along so well!  A great evening, nonethless.  179 miles, 5 hours.

Day 4 Canadian Rockies Ride

Oregon has mandatory gas pump attendants - you can't pump your own gas.  They usually make an exception for motorcyclists, though, as it can be tricky.  Case in point:  at the Shell station near my sister's home, I'm straddling the motorcycle, peering into the gas tank as I carefully meter fuel through a poorly-maintained pump handle.  With an almost-full tank, I release the pump lever - gas keeps flowing.  With a full tank, I watch, wide-eyed, as gasoline erupts out of the tank and over my head, soaking me and the motorcycle.  The gas station attendant is standing in front of the motorcycle, also wide-eyed, but immobile.  I wrench the spewing gas pump handle out of the tank, soak him and splash the recreational vehicle at the next pump, eventually pointing the gushing stream of gasoline behind me onto the driveway.  Eventually, the gas attendant runs to the gas pump and turns off the flow.  No smoking, please.  After spitting most of the gas out of my mouth, and wiping down my face with paper towels soaked in dirty windshield-cleaning fluid, I'm northbound on I-205, over the Columbia River into Washington.  Exit east on WA-502 into Battleground, where I stop and wander through a pink barn with second-hand stuff and a lot of dust, then north on WA-503 into the backcountry.  WA-503 transitions to Nf-90 along Swift Reservoir - I grew up not too far from here - then north on Nf-25 through the remote east side of Mt. St. Helens, or rather what's left [of the mountain].  There's been an outbreak of sinkholes, which makes for some excitement on blind curves.  The road briefly becomes WA-131, then I motor west on US-12 along the Cowlitz River to northbound I-5.  Heavy rush-hour traffic through Tacoma, traffic opens up near Seattle, take I-405 north along Lake Washington, then east on WA-520 to Redmond, where my brother, Gordon, lives.  Dinner with Gordon and his wife, a great evening.  379 miles, 8.5 hours.

Day 5 Canadian Rockies Ride

Gordon and I leave tomorrow on the next leg of the trip, so today is a maintenance day for me.  I visit the local Harley-Davidson dealer for a tire change - 15,000 miles on the bike, and this is my third rear tire.  At $400 in labor and material per rear tire change, this is getting expensive.  I'm also ready for a new front tire and rear brake pads, so make that $779; have a nice day.  Actually, the dealership gave great service, as they had the rare rear tire in stock - most don't carry it - and they performed the service in a couple of hours, with little notice.  My issue is with Harley-Davidson - they designed a rear wheel that requires a special tire size, a tire that's only manufactured by Dunlop, and the rubber wears twice as fast as the rear tire on my last Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  End of tirade.  A quick ride through back roads to Snoqualmie Falls to scrub in the new rubber - rain is forecast for tomorrow, and you don't want to ride on unridden tires in the rain.  Dinner with Gordon, his wife, my niece and her boyfriend, and his visiting dad and new bride.  It's great to catch up on family stuff.   

Day 6 Canadian Rockies Ride

We're dressed up like Michelin Men - it's raining.  Take backroads to I-90 then over the Cascade Range in heavy rain.  For some reason, I have to pee every hour, so numerous stops in the rain, until I'm completely drained.  Now in eastern Washington, we take WA-24 to Othello, where we stop for gas, and bathroom.  We're now in the gas station across the street - something fell off of Gordon's motorcycle, and it's being re-attached - a gentleman in a cowboy hat says this is the first time in memory that it rained during the Othello Rodeo, and he's old.  Great!  By the time we reach Washtucna, the skies have cleared, and we peel off the wet vinyl.  South on US-195, cross into Idaho, then a precipitous descent into Lewiston, where it's 15ºF warmer.  East on US-12 along the scenic Clearwater River to river-side Kooskia.  We rent a cool cabin, with a hot tub on the deck, where I sear my entire left leg - always test the water temperature with a small appendage before committing.  There's no cellular coverage, but the restaurant has wi-fi, my iPhone is connected.  393 miles, 8 hours. 

Day 7 Canadian Rockies Ride

Today is starting off drier than yesterday.  US-12 climbs up through Lolo Pass into Montana.  We pass a moose alongside the road - they're big animals.  Passing through Missoula, US-93 meanders alongside the western edge of Flathead Lake - a big lake -  and into Kalispell.  Storms brew around us all day, but we seem to be driving through a corridor of low humidity - we see rain, but none falls on us.  East on US-2, then through Glacier National Park on Going To The Sun Highway, peak at Logan Pass.  At St. Mary, north on US-89, north on rural MT-17, which transitions to AB-6 at the remote Canada - U.S. border crossing.  Through stunning Waterton Lakes National Park, it's getting dark and cold, wondering if we'll encounter a town big enough to have a hotel.  We're in luck - the town of Pincher Creek has one, and only one.  Dinner is a buffet, self-serve, though an agitated meat cutter suddenly appears when I pick up the carving knife to self-serve slice off some roast beef; it seems I cut short - sorry for the pun - his smoke break.  The barmaid rides a motorcycle, informs us the local economy is based on ranching, and farming - food and wind.  There's a large array of wind turbines north of town, across an area we'll get to ride through tomorrow.  She indicates that it's always windy, sometimes exceeding 100 mph.  I hope she's mistaken, and simply mis-calculated kph to mph.  389 miles, 10 hours.

Day 8 Canadian Rockies Ride

Wow, it's windy.  AB-6 north, mistakenly take AB-507 west, then AB-3 east, then blast up windy AB-22 to Longview, a bit of a frontier town.  AB-541 west becomes AB-40, a stunningly beautiful ride through a narrow valley between mountain ranges - it's cold, but dry, with beautiful white clouds.  An orange, plastic water bottle, suspiciously like one Gordon uses, bounces across the road in front of me.  I pull over, let the recreational vehicle I just blasted by pass me, ride back, and retrieve the water bottle from the center of the road just before a truck and trailer crushes it; the water bottle has road rash, but it's still intact.  Short ride on TC-1 west into Canmore / Banff, where we stay.  At a cool outdoor restaurant / bar in town, we meet a couple - originally from England, but now living in Red Deer, north of Calgary.  They're motorcycle fanatics and funny, we share stories and drinks for the afternoon; they should do stand-up comedy.  234 miles, 5.5 hours.

Day 9 Canadian Rockies Ride

It's morning, and 36ºF.  Layer - verb (used with object) to arrange or wear (clothing) in layers.  Starting on TC-1, take scenic AB-1A, alternate route to Lake Louise.  Walk through the Fairmont Chateau, then a steep hike up the south side of the lake.  Back on TC-1 - we skip the trip to Jasper, due to unpleasant weather forecast for the area - travel rain-free into British Columbia, through Golden, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm - do salmon have arms? - along impressive Shuswap Lake, Houseboat Capital of Canada.  Arrive in Kamloops, check in to a modest but clean motel, dine next door at a family restaurant that serves liquor.  325 miles, 9 hours. 

Day 10 Canadian Rockies Ride

TC-1 west, up and down mountain passes.  By the time we pass through Abbotsford, it's raining so hard, we can hardly see.  Stopping for gas, ride through a foot of standing water, steam pouring up from engine and exhaust, wishing for a jet-ski.  As we enter Vancouver city limits, the rain thankfully stops, we stop by and see Henry at Intermeccanica, where my car was built.  Ride through downtown Vancouver - I've always liked this city - BC-99 through Stanley Park over the Lions Gate Bridge, becomes the TC-1, then BC-99 again, also known as the Sea To Sky Highway, along beautiful Horseshoe Bay, through Squamish, then into Whistler for the evening.  Watch the western '3:10 to Yuma' - the good guy was a good guy, bad guy was a bad guy but also kind of a good guy - I liked the film.  291 miles, 8 hours.

Day 11 Canadian Rockies Ride

Sunny and cool, perfect riding weather, we head north on BC-99 towards Lilloeet, along pretty and remote Lillooet, Green, Duffey and Seton lakes.  Rounding a corner, I see Gordon's rear tire kick out a large rock, then his tires goes flat.  He's a good rider, brings the bike to a controlled stop in the narrow gravel strip along the narrow road.  Bummer.  There's no cellular phone service, I ride ahead to Lilloeet - still no cell service for my phone - find a pay phone, discuss towing options with a couple of insurance companies, then arrange for a tow.  Ride back to the scene of the crime, soon a local gentleman in an old pickup arrives.  We put Gordon's bike in the back, they head to the Harley-Davidson dealer in distant Kamloops to get a tire change, I head back to Whistler for an afternoon of leisure, including a long soak in the outdoor hot tub.  A young woman joins me, we talk about travel, her parents soon arrive - I get the wary 'why is our daughter in the hot tub with an adult male whom we don't know' look - they turn out to be very friendly, we discuss the missionary work their daughter performed in Africa.  It's now 10:00pm, Gordon still hasn't shown up - it's a long ride from Kamloops, in total darkness, on a wilderness road with frequent animal crossings - so I'm a bit concerned.  He finally shows up, saw a bear on the road during his return.  172 miles, 7 hours - double that for my brother.

Day 12 Canadian Rockies Ride

More sunny and cool, head down the mountain on BC-99 back through Vancouver - where we get lost after navigating around the main route which was closed off as a crime scene - and to the border, with a short wait time and very few words with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer.  I-5 southbound, exit south of Bellingham on WA-11, also known as Chuckanut Drive - an interesting name, with entertaining variations - a beautiful ride along Bellingham Bay.  WA-20 west and south through Whidbey Island, catch the ferry to Port Townsend, across Puget Sound.  In Port Townsend, take WA-20 to US-101 along Hood Canal to Shelton, where we stay for the evening.  The only open dining establishment was a mexican restaurant, which served good food, though we carelessly ordered both sopapillas and raspberry churros for desert, which we couldn't eat.  It's 10:00pm on a Friday evening in downtown Shelton; everyone's gone to bed but us.  277 miles, 9 hours.

Day 13 Canadian Rockies Ride

US-101 south, WA-108 west, WA-8 west, US-12 west, WA-107 west, US-101 south again - how did that happen? - into Ilwaco, where we stop for a street fair.  Continue on US-101, across the Columbia River via the long and narrow Astoria Bridge, into Astoria, Oregon - where they filmed 'Goonies' and 'Kindergarten Cop' and probably other movies - and into Seaside.  Huge traffic for a small town, we idle for 30 minutes at the few stop lights.  Then to Cannon Beach - one of my favorite small coastal towns - and south through several other small towns.  Miss the turnoff for Pacific Beach - my fault - turn around at Neskowin, find our way to the house in Pacific Beach where my niece, her husband and two boys, my nephew, my sister and her husband are staying for the weekend.  They're there for the Blowsion Surfslam / International Freeride Watercraft Association World Tour / International Jet Sports Boating Association World Cup / Motosurf Western Championship - I'm not kidding, this is what you get when you spell out all the acronyms.  Another great evening with more members of the family, and I don't bring up politics this time.  225 miles, 5.5 hours.  

Day 14 Canadian Rockies Ride

The final day Blowsion Surfslam / International Freeride Watercraft Association World Tour / International Jet Sports Boating Association World Cup / Motosurf Western Championship start-time is delayed - allegedly due to excessive partying the night before - so Gordon heads north on US-101 and I head south on US-101.  Now in Newport, the weather hasn't improved, so I head inland on US-20, then OR-34, then south on I-5, blast down the freeway, over Grant's Pass, into California, where I encounter a huge headwind until past I'm past Weed.  Arrive in Sacramento at night, just as a storm blows in.  Holiday Inn Express & Suites was really expensive!  Dinner at Carl's Junior.  593 miles, 10.5 hours.

Day 15 Canadian Rockies Ride

When you know all the gas stations, fast-food restaurants, crossroads, orchards and cows along a stretch of road, it can be pretty boring to ride.  Good weather as I head south on I-5, I make good time, better than 70 mph average, including frequent gas stops, and the extra stop under an overpass to put on rain gear as I approach the Grapevine, which is under siege from rain clouds.  The weather clears as I ride into Los Angeles, it's nice to be home.  

I count myself as incredibly fortunate to be able to head out on a motorcycle, visit family and friends, occasionally share the ride with family and friends, and just ride on my own.  I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything…

…well, maybe traveling by private jet, really big luxury yacht, orbital spacecraft, a palanquin led by beautiful women from all over the world, a luxurious balloon with a hot tub…

...but I wouldn't trade for anything else.  

References (17)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    UGG Boots were extremely well known for being the makers of higher good quality footwear
  • Response
    NFL is definitely one particular of the largest sports in America. It has a major following.
  • Response
    Response: Frank Dellaglio
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Response: Frank Dellaglio
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Response: comprar ebook
    Rayner Marx - Blog - Canadian Rockies and West Coast Ride
  • Response
    Response: Tubemate for Mac

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>