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Old 11-05-2012, 01:10 PM   #91
Iron Horse
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:11 PM   #92
ruffntuff OP
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Day 9: Cardston - Lake Louise, AB

Day 9:
May 29, 2012
Cardston, AB - Lake Louise, AB: 308mi

Before I left Virginia my mechanic gave me a one hour crash course on motorcycle maintenance. With the bike on a lift, tank and seat removed, he identified all the parts. Most of this I forgot and had to look up later in the manual to discuss issues over the phone. He demonstrated how to adjust the idle, change the oil, adjust the rear break, and tighten the chain.

After putting on brand new tires he assured me they would last until Alaska, but the chain he wasn’t so sure about. It was in good condition before I left but we didn’t know how many miles were already on it or how old it was.

Overall I never had any mechanical problems with the bike, other than a couple minor breakdowns I’ll get to later in this report. However, if there’s one mechanical thing I learned well, it was how to tighten my chain.

I woke up in Cardston at 4:30am. It got light so early and dark so late my body was not adjusting well to the northwest light. Unable to go back to sleep, I spent some time studying the Milepost, searching for the best route. The Icefield’s Parkway sounded stunning and I had heard Banff and Jasper were incredible “must sees”. But I wanted to avoid Calgary so it looked like I should get on 2-N, then head west to 22-N just south of Calgary, to get to 1-W which would then take me to the Icefield’s Parkway.

Before packing up the bike, I checked the chain as I did religiously every morning. I noticed it seemed a bit loose and was concerned with the thought of trying to tighten it for the first time by myself. At this point I had only seen it get done. The kind couple from the night before came down with some hot chocolate as they saw me rummaging around my tools. I told them my concerns and they informed me they had a brother that was a mechanic in Mountain View just 20k away.

They assured me he would be happy to tighten the chain for me and they would even call him to let him know I was on my way. It would require a minor detour however, heading west on 5 towards Waterton Park prior to getting on 22-N.

I decided this would be better since I was feeling insecure about doing it myself. I took them up on the offer and headed to Mountain View. Again, this was another providential detour. Mountain View was one of the most beautiful small towns I saw in Alberta. It is just east of Waterton National Park that touches north of Glacier National Park.



It’s a one street town and didn’t have much other than a church, a school, a gas station, and of course a mechanic. I was told I couldn’t miss it, since he was the only mechanic in town and with a bright yellow garage no less. When I pulled in I was surprised to see the skeleton frame of a small airplane. I realized this wasn’t just a car mechanic, but a plane builder as well.





The man was very friendly and eager to help me out. I watched him attentively as he tightened my chain. I was a bit nervous that he didn’t appear to be a motorcycle mechanic specifically. However, he assured me he had done a lot of work on bikes before. It had just been a long time.

He didn’t charge me for the favor and was intrigued to hear about my journey. We talked some about my trip and he informed me as a mechanic in that area the majority of his work was often on planes more than cars. There were more people there with a pilot license than a car license apparently. It is the easiest way to travel with few roads, tons of snow, and lots of water.

I left Mountain View heading west towards Waterton Park. I remember feeling so small surrounded by such vast amounts of land facing massive, rugged, blue peaks ahead. I took 6-N to 3-W which then got me to 22-N. I followed the Rockies along 22 and lost count of the number of hawks I saw. I couldn’t help but feel like it was a sign Dan was watching over me.





I was glad to avoid a storm I could see sitting over Calgary. However, I still managed to ride through scattered showers and freezing rain the remainder of the day as I got up to the Parkway. The higher I got the colder and wetter it got, but I stayed warm and dry.





I was planning on finding a place to camp on the Icefield’s Parkway but I got tired fast and barely made it to Lake Louise before feeling like I had to stop. Unfortunately the weather looked like it was going to continue raining before turning to snow overnight so I thought camping may not be so fun.



When I asked some people at a gas station about cheap places to stay, I was surprised to hear there was a hostel in Lake Louise. I was even more surprised to find out when I got to that hostel that there were dozens of hostels along the entire parkway. I was a bit disappointed the Milepost failed to mention this.

I have stayed in a lot of hostels in my life. Lake Louise was by far the most grand. It is the largest, cleanest hostel I have ever stayed in and the most private. It felt like a hotel. It even costs the same to stay there as it would to camp in the park- $30/night.

There was a sauna and a restaurant with a pub. There was a library with books and computers and internet access. There was a laundry room and private hot showers. There was a full kitchen with three to four stoves. I even had my own bathroom that I only had to share with one other person.

I met a few interesting people there traveling through on their own adventure from all over the place. My roomate was from the Netherlands and looking for work with horses, which gave us a lot to talk about with my own horse experience. One guy I met in the kitchen was riding his bicycle across Canada from Saskatchewan. His roommate was from Scotland and taking a roadtrip through the States and Canada. We all enjoyed sitting at the pub together with a pitcher of beer, sharing our stories.

This is what I have always loved about staying in hostels. The inspiring people you meet and exciting stories you hear. They are houses of adventure addicts; people with independent souls on their own pilgrimage. It’s a place where encouragement can be found and bravery can be appreciated. There’s something so grounding about connecting with strangers on similar escapades and sharing time together, living in the moment.

The weather was calling for flurries overnight and scattered freezing rain with snow tomorrow. Although I was hoping for better weather to enjoy the Icefield’s Parkway, I wouldn’t mind staying in Lake Louise hostel one more night if the roads were bad. After riding 3200 miles in nine days, I was making great time. I was kind of hoping to get snowed in and have a zero day.

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ruffntuff screwed with this post 11-11-2012 at 07:15 AM
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Old 11-06-2012, 07:56 PM   #93
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Awesome read.
So sorry for your loss.....You can be sure Dan is very proud of you, seeing the adventure through in his memory.
So tru what the HD mechanic said: a brand of bike doesn't make one a biker, and you are proving to be braver and tougher than 90% of the fairweather riders that like to think they are "bikers".

More more more!
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:38 PM   #94
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Awesome, amazing, and one bad ass ride report!! Thanks for taking the time to write it. I just did a lot of the same route in Montana and Wyoming but no Ice and next June Alaska for me also looking forward to the rest of the story.
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:38 AM   #95
Blacknblue
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Wow.
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Old 11-07-2012, 12:43 PM   #96
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You put a lot of 'Adventurers" to shame! Damn cool RR.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:32 AM   #97
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Excelent RR. I always seem to ride in the same kind of weather your having. After a while you just seem to kind of enjoy it.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:21 AM   #98
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Nice Report

Reading these and other reports gives me the itch to go out and explore. I put up a good number of motorcycle miles each year, but I need a good adventure like yours.

Keep writing and thanks for sharing your adventor!!!
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:32 AM   #99
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Day 10: Lake Louise, AB - Prince George, BC

Day 10:
May 30, 2012
Lake Louise, AB – Prince George, BC: 398mi

“It was another epic day riding today. Words cannot serve justice to the extent of magnificence. Pictures cannot capture their magnitude. I continue to be humbled by this country. It’s intimidating standing so close to such great peaks covered in pure snow. Clouds loom around them like the weather could change at any moment. “ (Journal excerpt)

This was my second to coldest day on the trip. It was 29 degrees Fahrenheit. I was slightly disappointed to wake up with clear roads giving me no reason to stay another night in Lake Louise. However, once I saw the blue sky on the day I was going to ride the 140mi Icefield’s Parkway, I felt more motivated than ever to take advantage of the weather.

I ran through my morning routine quickly, knowing the weather could change at any moment. I put the bike on its centerstand, checked the chain, waxed the chain, checked the oil, topped off the oil, and then packed up the bike.

What I didn’t realize after packing up the bike on the centerstand, was that I had parked it on a slight incline. So here I was, humiliating myself, attempting to rock the bike off its centerstand unsuccessfully. Thankfully my Scottish friend was in the parking lot ready to leave on his own adventure when he saw my dilemma. He was kind enough to give me a boost and get the bike back to its kickstand. We both laughed and he said in his thick accent, “Should I foller ya to give yer a boost in the next town?”

After saying goodbye to my hostel friends I rode up to the alpine lake of Lake Louise which was breathtaking in its natural beauty however disappointingly overdeveloped. It was sad to see a massive castle-like resort saturated by tour buses and herds of people surrounding the shores of such a majestic place. I managed to get a few pictures away from the crowds and was anxious to get on the bike to be alone on the road again.



The morning started off cold and I struggled to stay warm even with my heated gloves. I wore layers so thick I could hardly turn my head or bend my arms. I’m pretty sure I was wearing everything I owned; underarmor, two fleece layers, a windbreaker, a rainlayer, plus a balaclava and fleece neck cover, all under my insulated armored gear. For my next adventure, I will be investing in all heated lightweight apparel.

I had flurries off and on throughout the day. I took my time riding along the parkway to take pictures and video but I couldn’t help feel like I just wanted to ride. I began to feel more and more anxious to just make miles and not stop. I didn’t want to blow by gorgeous scenery without enjoying it, but what I found I enjoyed the most was being alone on the bike.





It was annoying me how many tour buses were on the parkway, although I can see why it is such an attraction. Every overlook, every vista, every lake and glacier seemed to have crowds of people and prevented me from stopping. Funny how much I enjoyed sharing my trip with strangers in the hostel, however when on the road, I didn’t want to be bothered. I didn’t want the attention or the questions or the looks. I just wanted to be left alone.





I loved passing the assortment of caution signs along the parkway. I saw Avalanche warning signs, Caribou, Moose, and Bighorn Sheep crossing signs. I did see a few elk and a couple black bear and a juvenile bull moose with a small rack. I wanted to stop for a hike somewhere to see more wildlife, but thought it too risky to leave the bike and all my gear unattended at a trailhead full of people.

When I got to Jasper I was sad to be at the end of the Icefield’s Parkway. In comfort, I kept thinking with the time I was making I could be in Alaska in 5-6 days. It was only going to get better and better I thought.



I filled up with gas, which was sparse and expensive on the Parkway. There were only a couple stations that were about 90 miles apart and $1.40/liter. They knew they could get the money in an area like that, where everyone needed it and had no other choice.

I checked the Milepost for gas ahead and it looked about the same the rest of the way to Prince George. The next station wasn’t for 90 miles so I hoped I could make it there and not have to unpack my extra fuel.

Sure enough when I got to that gas station it was closed. Thankfully I was carrying the RotoPax. It took me about twenty minutes to figure out how to work the lock on the cap to get the gas to flow. But once I got it done, I hit the road again.





When I got into Prince George I stopped at the information center and asked about local camping spots. Nothing really interested me but when they told me there was a hostel down the road I was sold.

When I pulled up to the hostel a large tough looking man with a bald head came out to greet me. He had kind eyes and was intrigued with all the gear on my bike. I asked if I could park on the street and he said it wouldn’t be a good idea.

He owned a Jacuzzi shop just below the hostel and had me push it in there next to his Harley. It was an interesting parking place for a bike.



He helped me unload the bike and bring my gear upstairs. It was a cute place. His own apartment converted into a hostel. There were four rooms and I got my own. It was a bit expensive at $50/night but I felt worth the experience.

After getting settled he told me if I wanted some free food there was a soup kitchen down the road he could take me to. Then he offered to take me to the grocery store if I needed any supplies. His generosity reminded me of a trail angel; one of those people on the Appalachian Trail that help out the thru-hikers, just because they can. It’s support from people like that that kept me going.

I had a hard time going to sleep that night. It was partially from excitement and partially because it was still light outside at 11:00pm. I looked at the Milepost. Looks like I will reach the Alaskan Highway tomorrow!
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ruffntuff screwed with this post 11-11-2012 at 07:15 AM
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:25 AM   #100
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ruffntuff -

I have immensely enjoyed reading about your journey. I can’t express enough how inspiring your courage is. Keep riding … and kicking ass!



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Old 11-12-2012, 06:03 PM   #101
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Radian caught my eye... Was my first street bike... But your journey, the meaning behind it, and the fact it is all new to you makes this a great read and has me subscribed.

Thanks for taking the time to share
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:20 PM   #102
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Excellent report. Thank you!
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:23 PM   #103
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ruffntuff,

I rode to Alaska this summer as well and enjoying your RR so far. I'm glad you where able to do this ride for your brother. I'm in for the rest of this one.
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:16 AM   #104
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I got to ride up to Alaska this summer as well. I can't imagine the courage needed to do this as your first long solo trip. I can't wait to see the rest.
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:00 AM   #105
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Awesome report... subscribed!

And if you're ever back up this way, there's tentspace (or a spare room) in PG at our place!

Looking forward to the rest of this story.
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