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Old 03-21-2014, 05:31 AM   #1
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Toronto-Calgary-Vancouver-L.A.-Toronto in May

Hello All,

I am taking a one-month, 11 000 km trip to California and back in May and would appreciate input on my route and itinerary.

First off, a little about me as a rider. I ride an FZ6R which has been set up as a mini sport tourer, with hard luggage, laminar lip, risers and custom seat. I'm not a great sport rider, and don't even get close to dragging a knee in curves, nor do I even try. Honestly, I should be riding a cruiser, but I got the FZ6R for the versatility. So when I tour, I don't actively seek out the curviest road. However, I do like back roads for their scenery, charm and lack of traffic.

I will be stealth camping as much as possible, until I pick up the wife part way through the trip.

Here are the basics of the trip:

- STAGE ONE: TORONTO TO CALGARY
- mainly ride U.S. Route 2 along northern border of U.S.
- Is this a nice route? Too boring? Too busy? Any better routes?
- hang out in Calgary for a few days with a friend

- STAGE TWO: CALGARY TO VANCOUVER
- ride to Vancouver in one day along Trans-Canada Highway
- I know, I know, how can I skip all the great bike roads in
Southern B.C. Well, I want to get to Vancouver in one day,
and I've done all those roads before
- hang out in Vancouver with my sister for a few days
- wife flies in from Toronto
- run the Vancouver Marathon on May 4th
- leave with wife as passenger on May 5th

- STAGE THREE: VANCOUVER TO L.A.
- drive down the coast stopping in:
- Seattle (skipping Portland--no time!)
- Redwood Nat'l Park
- Sonoma
- Yosemite
- San Francisco for a few days
- Cambria & San Simeon
- wife flies out of L.A. back to Toronto
- won't spend any actual time exploring L.A.

- STAGE FOUR: L.A. TO TORONTO
- head north on 395, skipping Vegas
- mainly ride Route 50
- leave Route 50 somewhere around Cincinnati


So I have many questions concerning my route. Here are some important ones:

- Is Route 2 a good route for heading west from Toronto to Calgary? Is it just boring, straight roads with little to see? Is there a better route, like Route 12?

- Should I add a half day to my trip and ride through Glacier Nat'l Park?

- Instead of riding up 395 in California and catching Route 50 around Reno, I could ride a more direct route and head up 15 through Vegas and catch Route 50 in Utah. The reason I have my route heading north is so I can ride "The Loneliest Highway in America," or Route 50 through Nevada. Is it pointless to ride this desolate stretch of 50? I was hoping it would be desolate in a cool, surreal and emotionally moving way.

- by getting off Route 50 around Cincinnati, am I missing the best parts of 50 to the east (mountains, etc.)?

- I've always wanted to do Route 66, and the ride east would be the perfect opportunity. But in another thread in Trip Planning, http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=947703, a few people suggest that Route 66 is more of a memory than an actual worthwhile route, with not much too see, and frustration when trying to find the actual road. So I took that to heart and chose Route 50 as a "real" road that's hopefully not overdeveloped nor dull. I'm hoping Route 50 provides an authentic "American experience." I'd be willing to switch back to riding Route 66 if it's really worth it.


Thanks for any and all input!
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:44 AM   #2
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Tentative Route Maps

Here are the tentative maps for my trip....

Stage One: Toronto to Calgary (via Route 2)


Stage Two: Calgary to Vancouver (via Trans Canada Highway)


Stage Three: Vancouver to L.A. (via Route 1)


Stage Four: L.A. to Toronto (via Route 50)
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:23 PM   #3
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Calgary to Vancouver in one day in early May could be a hard day of riding. I think you could encounter some winter like weather in the higher elevations. I would expect to have to ride from Hope to Vancouver in the dark, it gets pretty busy on that stretch of highway. I would plan for two days, take the long way around the cocahaula(sp?) and enjoy yourself.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:01 AM   #4
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Don't miss national glacier park.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:13 AM   #5
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You'll enjoy highway 50 through CO. Plan a trip up Independence Pass.
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keener View Post
Don't miss national glacier park.
Glacier Park is awesome

US 2 is good all the way once you get Stanley North Dakota going west to about Glasgow Montana if your staying in hotels can be hit miss because the new oil boom going on there.

If you have time Headwaters of Mississippi is just south of Solway Minnesota

Done route this many times I always like it
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Old 03-22-2014, 01:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Irish Rover View Post
Calgary to Vancouver in one day in early May could be a hard day of riding. I think you could encounter some winter like weather in the higher elevations. I would expect to have to ride from Hope to Vancouver in the dark, it gets pretty busy on that stretch of highway. I would plan for two days, take the long way around the cocahaula(sp?) and enjoy yourself.
Irish, you've got a very good point. I was trying to maximize my time with my good friend in Calgary and my sister and my nieces in Vancouver, hence the single travel day to get to Vancouver. I will re-think that plan and maybe try to make it less rushed and more enjoyable. Thanks for the suggestion!

I think the late-April weather that I will be riding Stage One in will be brutally cold at night, and probably the day. Not looking forward to that. But just so long as there is no ice on the roads, I should be ok.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Proveick View Post
You'll enjoy highway 50 through CO. Plan a trip up Independence Pass.
Proveick, Independence Pass looks crazy awesome! But I'm thinking it might be a gamble to try it in late-May. I would have to check ahead of time if it's clear of ice and snow (and freezing cold).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strawdog View Post
Glacier Park is awesome

US 2 is good all the way once you get Stanley North Dakota going west to about Glasgow Montana if your staying in hotels can be hit miss because the new oil boom going on there.

If you have time Headwaters of Mississippi is just south of Solway Minnesota

Done route this many times I always like it
I was thinking about passing through Glacier Nat'l Park. If I just drive through without real stops, which route would be best to see a nice sampling of it? Don't know if I have enough time to do a giant loop.

Re: Mississippi Headwaters.... Damn. Lack of time will be a recurring theme on this trip. In Stage One & Two, I won't have time to really do the tourist thing properly, which is a shame. I only have time to pass through places that are pretty much on my main route. Maybe I can plan my camping stops around interesting places, though. In Stage Four, riding home from L.A. to Toronto, I should have a little more time to explore.

Good to hear that Route 2 is a good one. I randomly picked it, hoping it would be an interesting and not too "Interstate-y" ride.
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:29 PM   #8
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I would echo Irish's comments on the Calgary to Vancouver in one day. Here's a quick picture taken on the same day in late April (couple years ago)





One on the summit of Highway 5 between Merritt and Hope, the other on highway 1 of the Fraser Canyon. Snow photo doesn't show the freezing hands, -1 C and turning around to go back, not fun. If you're traveling in May, you could see snow, rain, or 25 C and sun, but at elevation you never know.

I would recommend doing two days, stay in Kamloops, something like this, not sure of Banff in May, but definitely Merritt to Hope you are at very high elevation and often snow or winter conditions late into the spring. And if you want to do all in one day, I would still do the longer route I have listed, unless the weather is perfect, Hope to Merritt not fun at all.

ripngrip screwed with this post 03-22-2014 at 09:44 PM
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ripngrip View Post
I would echo Irish's comments on the Calgary to Vancouver in one day. Here's a quick picture taken on the same day in late April (couple years ago)

One on the summit of Highway 5 between Merritt and Hope, the other on highway 1 of the Fraser Canyon. Snow photo doesn't show the freezing hands, -1 C and turning around to go back, not fun. If you're traveling in May, you could see snow, rain, or 25 C and sun, but at elevation you never know.

I would recommend doing two days, stay in Kamloops, something like this, not sure of Banff in May, but definitely Merritt to Hope you are at very high elevation and often snow or winter conditions late into the spring. And if you want to do all in one day, I would still do the longer route I have listed, unless the weather is perfect, Hope to Merritt not fun at all.
Ripngrip: Egads, that snowy road looks like my worst nightmare (other than roasting to death in the southern U.S. in my Firstgear Kenya riding jacket).

So you're saying avoid Hwy 5 between Hope and Merritt and I'll avoid the worst of the elevation and possible winter weather? That sounds like a sound plan.

And doing the leg in two days is looking more likely by the minute.

Thanks for all the advice, Ripngrip and others!
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:29 AM   #10
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If I did do the southern BC route (along Highway 3), through Castlegar, Osoyoos, etc., would the conditions be milder?
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Irish Rover View Post
Calgary to Vancouver in one day in early May could be a hard day of riding. I think you could encounter some winter like weather in the higher elevations. I would expect to have to ride from Hope to Vancouver in the dark, it gets pretty busy on that stretch of highway. I would plan for two days, take the long way around the cocahaula(sp?) and enjoy yourself.
Back in the day the Calgary BMW club would have a race to Van. Every year one or two got killed. Oh my, to be back in the '80's. Used to do some crazy sh@t back then.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:45 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superzoom View Post
If I did do the southern BC route (along Highway 3), through Castlegar, Osoyoos, etc., would the conditions be milder?
Yes, the route is longer and the conditions likely milder for 90% of it, but the problem is the stretch between Princeton and Hope on highway 3, through Manning Park is even higher elevation than the pass between Hope and Merritt on highway 5, so you can also see really different/bad weather there as well. I don't have a picture, but one year tried to go to Osoyoos early May, left 20C in Vancouver, headed to 25C in Osoyoos, turned around at Manning Park due to the snow.

I would stick to the route that you planned originally, but watch the weather, check the BC Road reports for highway 5 www.drivebc.ca
and the webcams for the highways

Check the site the morning you leave, and then again in Kamloops before you're going to go on highway 5, if it looks ok, if it's warm (if no rain or snow, just remember the weather will drop at least 10C through the high mountain passes) you're ok. But if you're unsure, continue on down highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon to Vancouver. Warmer and less changes in the weather.

Either way it should be a fun ride, and if you are looking for scenery over curves, both are nice.
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Old 03-23-2014, 01:09 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Proveick View Post
Back in the day the Calgary BMW club would have a race to Van. Every year one or two got killed. Oh my, to be back in the '80's. Used to do some crazy sh@t back then.
Sounds wack, and I for one am glad most motorcyclists (i.e.: me) have gone "soft"! You didn't happen to be one of these crazy racers, were you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ripngrip View Post
Yes, the route is longer and the conditions likely milder for 90% of it, but the problem is the stretch between Princeton and Hope on highway 3, through Manning Park is even higher elevation than the pass between Hope and Merritt on highway 5, so you can also see really different/bad weather there as well. I don't have a picture, but one year tried to go to Osoyoos early May, left 20C in Vancouver, headed to 25C in Osoyoos, turned around at Manning Park due to the snow.

I would stick to the route that you planned originally, but watch the weather, check the BC Road reports for highway 5 www.drivebc.ca
and the webcams for the highways

Check the site the morning you leave, and then again in Kamloops before you're going to go on highway 5, if it looks ok, if it's warm (if no rain or snow, just remember the weather will drop at least 10C through the high mountain passes) you're ok. But if you're unsure, continue on down highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon to Vancouver. Warmer and less changes in the weather.

Either way it should be a fun ride, and if you are looking for scenery over curves, both are nice.
Ripngrip, that is really useful information, and I appreciate it! I will do exactly as you suggest. Thanks!
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Old 03-23-2014, 03:47 PM   #14
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I can only comment on the Calgary- Vancouver leg, done it many times.
It's a full 12 hours. Leaving Calgary early will put you in to prime animal time in Banff National Park so watch out. You'll also travel in to the setting sun in the Fraser Valley approaching Vancouver so visibility will be an issue. The #1/#5 route is pretty and the fastest way to Vancouver, just not really fun to ride.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:15 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by squiffynimrod View Post
I can only comment on the Calgary- Vancouver leg, done it many times.
It's a full 12 hours. Leaving Calgary early will put you in to prime animal time in Banff National Park so watch out. You'll also travel in to the setting sun in the Fraser Valley approaching Vancouver so visibility will be an issue. The #1/#5 route is pretty and the fastest way to Vancouver, just not really fun to ride.
Squiffynimrod, thanks for the input. I will be vigilant in the early morning. I hit a deer in Alberta and totalled a Sportster a few years back!

Yeah, I just hate riding into a setting sun. Right now I've added a sun visor to my helmet: a piece of black duct tape across the outside of the visor. Works great! For some reason, I hate wearing shades with a helmet. Eventually I'll get a helmet with a pair of flip-down built-in shades.
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