First report: 5,500 miles, 2 weeks, 1 cylinder
My name's Travis and I've just gotten into the whole riding thing. I'm 20 years old, I sell knives, and I ride. I've been riding for 4 months now, and in those 4 months, I've put on over 10,000 miles. I figure that's worth mentioning, seeing as I only live 2 miles away from where I work.
The planning for this trip started a few months ago when my parents mentioned that they were heading from British Columbia to Ontario for my brother's university graduation. They were taking a camper-van, and planning on a long trip, and I wanted to attend the graduation as well. I knew I wouldn't be able to take as much time as they, so I began looking at the feasability of riding there and back in 2 weeks. It looked to be a lot of riding, but well worth it in the end.
This is my report.
I'll start out with the bike and what I've done with it to make it reasonable to do long days and long distances with it.
2006 KLR650: Red
From front to back:
-Front tire: Pirelli MT90 Scorpion ST
-Fairing/windshield: to begin with, no windshield whatsoever. I received one later on in the trip, but that's another story.
-Tank panniers: cheap ones from a local supply store: cost $20, and were worth about that. I had a zipper fail on one as I was loading my bike, but other than that, they faired well.
-Tank bag: Wolfman Enduro: great little bag. Well constructed and thought out. I can now see the reason for a larger tank bag.
-Seat: stock seat with an Alaska Leather Dualsport buttpad
-Panniers: Caribou Cases 35L Pelican cases. These things are every bit as good as they are made out to be. They cost a bit upfront, but you realize why after.
-Top bag: Basspro Extreme Boat Bag: NOT WATERPROOF.. I learned this a while back. I also learned that it works well to hold water IN.
-Gearing: went up a tooth on the front to a 16. It made all the difference, especially across the prairies.
-Rear tire: Pirelli MT90 Scorpion ST: it's about done now, but it lasted the whole trip, plus approximately 3,000 miles beforehand.
Other than that, the bike is stock. Nothing has been done to the engine, carb, airbox, or otherwise. Hell, it has the original spark plug in it.
You'll also note that it still has the stock doohickey in it, which was adjusted prior to the trip, but nowhere during the trip was it adjusted again. This was partially due to the fact that my 10mm wrench I had with me was a pile of garbage and would not get my skidplate off.
If you've got any more questions, please ask. Other than that, stay tuned for the report. I probably won't get through all of it today. Each post takes a bit of canoodlin'.
Day one: Abbotsford, BC, to Castlegar, BC.
Odometer: 14600-15150: 550km
http://www.mapquest.com/mq/7-TMh3rSIUdxEDmf9f (Disclaimer: these maps are rough outlines of my trip for that day: there may be slight deviations in the route. I'll try to get the important ones put in.)
I started the day at my apartment in Abbotsford. I finally got rolling at around 9am, headed for Agassiz, which is just down the road. My parents live there, and I wanted to do a final check, an oil change, and tire pressure check, when I was there.
At home. Thanks to my roomate for the picture.
Well, the trip to Agassiz was fine, the oil got changed, and off I went. The weather had not been cooperative, and I was met with rain from Agassiz to Osoyoos (300km approx). This rain was mainly in mountain passes, so along with the wet came the cold.
Mineral lake close to Osoyoos. I've driven past it many times, but never gotten a picture.
After Osoyoos, I headed further east down the Crowsnest highway. This road I would recommend to anybody riding in BC, especially if they have a bike more capable of higher speeds. Lots of corners and great scenery.
I carried on through Midway and stopped in Grand Forks for fuel.
From Grand Forks to Castlegar was probably the wettest weather I have yet ridden in. Maybe that's not saying much, since I've only been riding 4 months, but still.
It poured, and as I got into Castlegar, I was stuck behind a semi which kicked up even more spray. I got soaked down to my soul. Even though my gear is termed waterproof, it still has zippers and nice little pockets for water to seep into. I also learned that my jacket, a Belstaff, does not include its pockets in being waterproof, other than the fact that they hold water in nicely.
Anyway, I got to Castlegar and found a hotel. I had planned on camping most of this trip, but when you're soaking wet and you know you'll be soaking wet in the morning too, a place to dry gear is appreciated, if not necessary.
I got to the motel and could barely sign the paper. My hands were numb, stiff, cold, and wet.
Gear drying by the heater. Thanks to the staff for the extra towels. My jacket and pants, hanging over the heater, dripped for 3 hours. After that, they were just damp.
A warm bed, a nice shower, and ready to tackle the next day.
Day two: Castlegar, BC to Calgary, AB
Odometer: 15150-15780: 630km
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I started the day at a leisurely 9am. I knew it wasn't going to be that long a day, so I took my time, and it also takes a bit of time to get everything organized after drying everything out the night before.
I'd watched the weather channel in the morning (a common occurrance whilst staying in motels) and saw that the forecast was more rain, and the chance of snow in the passes. I couldn't help but laugh.
The ol' girl saddled up and ready to roll out
Blue skies: that makes for a good day, right? Right?!
Well, I started riding and things were going peachy. I mean, it was raining, but water has never killed that many people, right? Other than flooding, drowning, icebergs, and avalanches.. But, at least I didn't have to worry about icebergs.
As I was motoring up one of the passes, the Kootenay Pass, the tallest pass on my trip, I noticed a sportbike (SV650) pulled off in one of the pullouts. I did a cheerful beep and a big wave as I went past, and see him frantically waving his arms at me. I turn around and go back to see what the matter was. The young man informed me that there was snow in the pass ahead, that it was slippery, cold, and the visibility sucked. He was turning around. I told him that I'd at least check it out.
He gave me a bewildered look, shook his head slightly, and we parted ways.
I headed into the pass, grinning a little bit, and looking forward to what I might encounter. I was a little disappointed. That sportbiker had promised me slush and snow, and all I got was a wet road with some bits of slush in the middle, and snow on the sides.. In any case, it was cold, damn cold, and kinda fun.
The Kootenay Pass: June 7, 2008. Snow? Whatever.
Into the unknown
After that pass, the rain turned a little more spotty, and I kept on riding and grinning. This bike is so gosh darn fun in the mountains. I truly live in KLR country.
The world's largest truck, the Terex Titan. Found in Sparwood, BC. Sometimes I wonder if it would've gotten better fuel efficiency than I through all those passes with all the weight I had on the little piggy.
I carried through to Alberta, where the weather cleared up significantly as soon as I hit the border.
The promised land, at least for the day.
What I was coming out of.
At this point, I hopped back on the bike and pressed the go button.
And pressed the go button.
And pressed the go button.
Checked all the possibles: red shut-off switch, sidestand while in gear, neutral.. Nothing.
My clutch safety was acting up, and it turned out that the way it would start is if I had slight pressure on the clutch as I hit the go button. This worked just dandy through the entire trip when it acted up, which was not often.
Onward to Calgary!
The weather's nice in that direction!
I headed north to Calgary on AB hwy 22. This carries along the side of the rockies, and with that feature, this road brings with it a ridiculous crosswind from the west. On the plus side, the center of my rear tire was spared a little wear for a couple hundred kilometers.
As I neared Calgary, fatigue set in, and I got a little turned around. Those are miserable times, especially after a day of eventful riding.. In any case, I got to Calgary and stayed with some friends from college.
Carl on the right and Chris on the left: brothers-in-law, and great people.
Slept on their couch and planned my next day, which was to be a long one.
Day three: Calgary, AB, to Moosomin, SK
Odometer: 15780-16750: 970km
Well, I started this day quite early, knowing I had a lot of ground to cover. I don't have many pictures for today from different places, partially because I was on a time budget, and partially because it was wet, and less pictures are taken by me when it's raining.
In any case, I was blazing along pretty quickly, taking the Trans Canada Highway, which is not recommended for anyone other than those on two-wheeled highway yachts (Harleys, cruisers, tourers). I saw ahead of me a heavily loaded bike doing about 80km/h in a 110km/h zone. I whipped past him, gave him a big wave, and hoped that he would pull into the same gas station in Medicine Hat, which was just ahead.
This is Kenneth's bike. He's from Red Deer, and he was headed to Dryden, ON. I was headed there as well, and would be there in two days. He was planning on seven.
His bike is a Honda Rebel 250. It probably had about 200-300lbs of stuff on it, and Kenneth was probably a good 300lbs himself. I now understand why he was going 80km/h. He put $5 of gas in it and was on his way. I had put in $20. I don't know how far he had gotten on his fuel, but I know for a fact he was getting better mileage than I.
AB SK border
Yup. Saskatchewan. Two looong days of this.
I carried on, through Swift Current, and onto Regina. I stopped for Lunch in Swift Current, and got a few comments on my lack of sanity for being out in such rain. I didn't think it was that bad. I mean, my fingers have been more mobile, but I could still smile!
In Regina, I stopped at a Tim Hortons for tea and a bagel. I would have eaten more, but I was so cold and bedraggled that I couldn't fit any more than that into my gullet. It was hard to tear the bagel, my hands were so cold. Anyway, some nice folks inquired about my bike, as did happen a fair amount in Canada, and I got to tell them about it. Those were fun times.
The weather backed off between Regina and Moosomin, and I was able to relax and take some pictures:
The mask deal is a breath deflector, allowing me to close my visor fully without it fogging up, even in the most torrential downpours and humid environments.
And now, you know what Saskatchewan looks like. Never ride across it on a KLR650. Actually, do it once. Then you'll understand.
As I neared Moosomin, the sky blackened. Darker than I had ever seen before. I had to take a picture or two before I headed into it, because it just looked so ominous.
There's a storm a-brewin'.
I wish I was headed that way..
On the plus side, I got to see the most brilliant rainbow ever. It was amazing. The colors were so vivid I'm sure I said "Wow" audibly more than once.
Wet roads, trains, and semis. Mmm good.
It turns out the amount of time I stopped to take pictures was just enough to let the storm pass in front of me. I never got rained on, but instead experienced the joy of wet roads, rainbows, and wet construction, which turned my bike into the dirty pig it really is.
I stayed at another motel. I figured I deserved it after doing nearly 1000kms that day, 75% of which had been in the rain, and 50% of which had been in the pouring rain.
My room for the night was the sketchiest of the trip. The TV took 5 minutes to warm up, the shower was rickety at best, and the soap dispensers were industrial liquid ones: both by the sink and in the shower. No bar soap or shampoo here.
At least it was cheap!
What a long freakin' day.
I slept like a rock.
Day four: Moosomin, SK, to Dryden, ON
Odometer: 16750-17480: 730km
After my slumber, I lubed and adjusted the chain and prepared for another day. The weather looked promising, and I set out with a childlike hope that maybe, just maybe, I would see a day without rain.
SK MB border
I took very few pictures today, mostly because this was my second full day on the prairies, and there are only so many pictures a person can take of flat, grassy areas before they become redundant. I found other things to take pictures of.
Old tractors: these are for my dad. He loves his old tractors.
The KLR was done visiting with the relatives (steam engines and old diesels), and was ready to roll.
So we did. I hit Winnipeg at noon, got a bit of lunch, and realized it was Sunday afternoon. Great. Weekend riders galore.
I noticed on my trip, especially around weekends, when one neared urban centers, the percentage of riders who waved lessened. The dick factor rose as the population densified. There's probably a math formula in there somewhere. In any case, weekend bikers are lame. I hate to say it, but I have very little respect for them, especially if they don't give the time of day to other riders.
Onward and forward! More prairies!
Okay, so it's actually a green bike under red plastic, but I liked the sign, and it meant a gravel road to backtrack on to get to it.
The ground was soft, so I used the ol' stone under the kickstand trick to keep it up. As I was mounting the steed, however, the rock and sidestand connection slipped, and I came very close to dropping that bike in the soft earth. I didn't, but I was sweating.
MB ON border
Northern Ontario is beautiful, but one has to be careful. I did not stop for gas, thinking I could catch another one a little ways up the road. That was a mistake. Them gas stations are few and far between up there in the sticks. I didn't run out of fuel, but I didn't feel comfortable for a while.
I made it to Dryden as planned, and pulled into my stop for the night. I stayed with fellow ADVer and all-around good guy Zzr_Ron. I highly recommend this stop if you're in the area overnight. Give him a shout beforehand, and he'll treat you good.
Ron, the man behind the steak. This guy was so generous, and his hospitality was greatly appreciated. Basically, he fed me steak, and then kept on feeding me good cigars and beer through the night. I'm not sure if he was trying to kill me or help me, but I felt welcome.
Oh yeah, he rides a KLR too. His was a lot cleaner than mine at the time. As you can see, mine is hiding in shame at being next to such a pristine motorcycle.
The talk, beer, and cigars lasted well into the night, and I fell into a beer-induced slumber somewhere after midnight. Ron had mentioned that he may ride with me a bit tomorrow, so we would see where that went.
Day five: Dryden, ON, to Jackfish Lake, ON
Odometer: 17480-18170: 690km
Well, I got up kinda late, and the day started on the late side. I was worried to begin with, because I had planned a long, 800-900km day, but I ended up with a shorter day. This was because I had two tour guides/co-riders today. Ron rode with me for the morning, and at noon, we were met by his friend, Steve (Old Fart at Play), in Atikokan.
Between Dryden and Atikokan
You'd have to ask Ron what he's hiding behind his back.
We kept rolling at a laid-back pace. It was so nice to ride with others for the day. Especially other guys who knew the area and could show me some of the places to see. These guys were smart when it came to riding, and rode at a pace that was comfortable for all. I can't get over how much I appreciated their company.
The arctic/atlantic divide
Terry Fox Memorial overlooking Lake Superior
I forget the name of the canyon, but it was quite spectacular, especially for being in Ontario.
Ron and Steve
Supper: great home cooking at this place. Bison breakfast sausages and all that went with them. You can see in this picture that Ron and Steve are almost ready to go and I'm still taking pictures. This happened often, and although they didn't say anything about it, I know they were snickering at the noob.
I must mention that Steve was riding his Vstrom 650, a bike that I've had my eye on for some time now, and he was gracious enough to let me try it out. My next bike will indeed be a Vstrom 650. I just think it will work better for the riding I plan on doing.
More falls I don't remember the name of.
That night, in Jackfish Lake, I spent the night in the same room Terry Fox had stayed in when he passed through.
The night ended with more cigars, whiskey, and friendly conversation with these two full-on riders. These guys rode nearly 700 kilometers with me for the simple sake of riding. I was floored.
It was a good day.
Day six: Jackfish Lake, ON, to South Baymouth, ON
Odometer: 18170-18970: 800km
One thing I forgot to mention earlier about Ron's generosity was the windshield. I had ridden the first 2,000 miles or some such distance with a fairly unfaired bike. Ron had an extra bar-mount windshield that he used to use on his KLR. He was not using it anymore, and offered to let me use it for the trip. I thought it would be nice to try, and Ron let me take it with me to continue on my journey. It sure was nice having so little pressure on my chest, although it turned my already un-streamlined boat into a sailboat. In any case, it was much appreciated it, and it stayed on the bike for a few days (more on that later).
I parted ways with Ron and Steve in the morning and set off on my second last day of the trip there. Steve had recommended a great breakfast stop on the way that had excellent omelettes, so I stopped there and was not disappointed.
I then carried on down the road, through Wawa and onto, Sault Ste. Marie. The road between these two cities is one of the most beautiful in Ontario. You wind along the lake and are overtaken by breathtaking vistas every so often when you round a bend and see the lake again. The downside for the day was that it was fairly fogged in, which happens frequently along Superior.
Old Lady Bay
I have very few pictures for today because my spare batteries had gotten wet (from rain perhaps?) and thus, my camera was rendered inoperable.
I had been wearing cheap gloves with cheaper rain covers to this point, and the seams on the rain covers finally got to the point where they were no longer useful as rain covers (not that they really were useful to begin with).
In this camera-less time, as I crested a hill, I was met with emergency vehicles on the side of the road. At first, I thought car accident, but when I saw no cars in sight, I thought, ****, please not a motorcycle. It was.
I passed by the scene and saw a GS1150A with New Zealand plates upright between the emergency vehicles. I pulled over to check if everything was alright and how the travelers were doing. It turns out they were doing alright. They were riding 2-up, and the pillion had wanted to turn around to get a picture of a nice scene along the lake. They had gotten onto the gravel shoulder which was softer than expected, the front had dug in, and over the behemoth had went. It had landed on the passenger's ankle, it seemed, and paramedics were checking her over.
They were on their way to a Horizons Unlimited meet in BC, and when I saw that things were going to be alright, I headed on my way and wished them the best.
I kept riding through to Sault Ste. Marie, checked a Kawasaki dealer for new rain glove covers. They didn't have any, so I checked the Harley dealer beside them. They did, and they were friendly folks. I paid my $10 happily and headed into the thunderstorm lurking outside while a couple bikers hunkered down in the shop until the water had passed.
Just north of Manitoulin Island
I had planned on stopping at the top of Manitoulin Island and riding down to the ferry in the morning, but the rain had let up, the corners were nice, and the roads were bare. I just didn't feel like stopping, so I didn't stop.
Georgian Bay on Lake Huron
I got to South Baymouth at around 8:30 as the weather started moving in. I had had a fairly dry day, so I thought I would get my tent down instead of staying in another stinkin' hotel room.
I got her set up with 5 minutes to spare before the rain hit, slithered inside, and enjoyed a meal of peanuts, jerky, and Jack Daniels.
I was a day away from my destination, and having the time of my life.
Day seven: South Baymouth, ON, to Waterloo, ON
Odometer: 18170-? (didn't take a reading at the end of the day)
I woke up bright and early, with the sun, as I normally do when camping, and cooked up a little breakfast. I had time to kill prior to the ferry opening or anything like that, so I did as all normal folk would do after they've ridden for the past six days..
I went for a little ride!
It was so nice to ride without all that extra weight on the back. I definitely exploited the light rear and backed it out around some corners, some gravel and some pavement.
At this point, I bombed up some gravel roads, which was not the smartest thing to do so early in the morning. Before I knew it, I was two feet away from giving a deer a KLR enema.
Here I stopped to calm myself down and have a cigar.
What I wouldn't give for a paddle tire..
Huron in the morning
I then packed up camp and headed for the ferry which would take me into Southern Ontario.
I thought it made a good pic. No, I'm not carrying the foosball table, although sometimes it felt like it.
One of them water boats.
Waiting with the other bikes. All Harleys, and all loud.
Strapped down and ready for the crossing.
After the ride, the bikes were let off first, and I snagged the holeshot, not that I'm competitive or anything.. I headed down the couple hours it took me to get to Waterloo without any real events or pictures.
On the afternoon of day seven, I had made it to my destination: Waterloo, my brother's place, with my parents there already.
It was time for a couple days of rest, some times with the family, and a bit of shop time with the KLR.
cool report. thanks for sharing :freaky
Your doing fine!
Great job for on your first RR!! :clap:clap The mighty KLR is once again proven as a worthy steed.. Waiting for the rest of this journey!:ear
Nice Trip. One day anyone that's ever been to chez_Ron's house needs to post their steak pics.
You covered a big chunk of some wide open and beautiful territory. Really big chunk for a relatively new rider.
:clap Great report,makes me think about my first rides,twenty years ago...
Wait for more :lurk
:thumb I love your pics and story:lurk
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