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Old 11-27-2012, 04:44 PM   #121
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It was 400 miles or so from Republic to Banff, so Bernie and I rolled the throttle and headed up rt 21 looking to cross into Grand Forks. After explaining why we were at the border again to a nice guard, she let us cross. 21 turns into rt 3, which meanders East-West (though sometimes more North-South) through the valleys of a mountain range better known as the Columbia Mountains.

The route was smooth and well traveled by truckers. Translation: Boring on a motorcycle. As I sang "follow the only road" to myself (Link) I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery, of which there was plenty.

We'd climb for a good time up into the mountains and cool off - the cooler air was so refreshing after the past few days.

Soon, though, we'd descend again and the heat would come back - never as bad as Washington though.

The landscape was vast and mostly unpopulated - logging was the main industry here and there was plenty of evidence to show it.

We dropped out of the mountains and crossed the Columbia river at Castlegar - where the Kootenay and Columbia rivers converge.

We spotted some weather in the distance as we climbed back up into the mountains. Still, the sun was out all around and any worry faded quickly.

Although the clouds started to get dark as the wind whipped up here and there as we gained significant altitude.

Several thousand feet up, snow on the mountains reminded me I was getting a bit chilly. Mountain goats were another reminder of our increasing altitude. A very good reminder indeed when they just about ran into me.
We both noticed wet cars coming down in the opposite direction - cresting the climb at just over a mile high, we stopped to gear up, the air chilly now.

We seemed to luck out by just missing every passing storm the whole way down to Creston. We got damp and cold from spray, but a few miles later we dropped into a broad valley - leaving the rain and the cold behind.

Driving through Creston I was tired of sitting and getting hungry. I saw a sign for the Kokanee Inn and a decision was made.

Stay tuned! Later, you'll meet the drunk guy on the bike in the background

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Old 11-27-2012, 04:44 PM   #122
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Sorry all, had to step out of town for work for a little while. Should be updating at least once every few days now :)
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:38 PM   #123
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I forget this guy's name, but he was quite a character. Judging by his hardhat, utility belt, and vest, he appeared to work for a utility company in town. He was loaded - on his lunch break. We tried ignore him while we ate - the food was great by the way - but he still managed to pepper us with awkward questions until the bartender cut him off and sent him packing. While we finished up he must have been in the liquor store, he appeared and frantically waved at us while we got suited up and under way.
A quick stop for gas and redbull, then we were back on rt 3 to Cranbrook by way of Moyie.

This was beautiful country and I really enjoyed the chance to relax in the pleasant weather. We settled into a nice groove and made miles disappear.

Around every corner we seemed to be just behind the storm system we encountered earlier as it moved North. That pleasant smell of recent rain lingered in the air and the Southbound lane was always wet while the North stayed dry.

Before long we dropped into the Rocky Mountain Trench. The Valley of a Thousand Peaks treated us to some incredible views of its striking landscape as we finally began to make headway North out of Cranbrook.

Rt 95 was long and fairly straight with little traffic. It might have been boring except for the incredible views and constant wildlife crossing the road. After passing a few cars I thought better of it and settled in behind one going at a good clip - we'd let him hit the bear instead of us. We spotted deer, moose, and bear crossing the road all in a short while on the road to Invermere.

All the while the Rockies were just to the East and my excitement to finally reach Banff was palpable.

Straight for miles

With no short supply of beauty

And stunning landscapes! It was getting on into the late afternoon...

But the sun was still mighty high

and so we kept on,

chasing that storm North.

I didn't mind being in its wake - the sky was incredible. We turned East at Radium Hot Springs and found ourselves at the gateway to Kootenay National Park.

And rode up into the Rockies.

The road curved nicely around red bluffs, two uphill lanes kept us moving at a good pace.

A quick stop

Still chasing that storm.

All clear behind us, nice weather in store.

Hell, nice weather in front of us too

A series of forest fires in 2003-4 left the mountains scarred badly. Evidence of avalanches was clear - sometimes having cleared a swath right across the road.

We were getting close now. After riding in the tail end of the storm for a bit as if on cue, the clouds blew North as we turned East.

The clearing clouds left us with a vista of the iconic sloping Eastern face of Mt. Rundle, a view I'd been imagining for days-

and then, we made it to the lively city of Banff.

It was 9 o'clock and still plenty light

We had the whole night ahead of us - but still had to find a place to stay.....

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Old 12-23-2012, 10:06 AM   #124
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After riding all over town, we finally found a place about 10 blocks away from downtown that had vacancy and was cheap enough. Still expensive, but all of Banff is expensive. It was nice to have a shower after such a long day - so we cleaned up and walked to town to get a little culture.

The following events are much better told in person (ask me sometime), but I think online a summary of the night's events will suffice.
We started at a bar that had a deal on good pizza and cheap Kokanee - for those not in the know, Kokanee is kind of a stronger and tastier Coors light. A great drinking beer. Here's that bar.

They had a balcony - which we went out on to scope out the action below. First, we witnessed a fist fight on the street that ended in people dragged into a taxi.
We met a very intoxicated honeymooning couple from Ireland who had an odd fascination with the whiteness of my teeth. They also had some odd relationship with a very drunk local lady who seemed to be paying their tab.

Said balcony

A clubber from across the street came up and decided to chat with us, after we watched him fighting with some girl a few minutes before. We chatted for a few minutes, then he decided "You guys have a great attitude. I'm going to go make up with my girlfriend. Thanks"

We decided to move on, and on the way had to get some cash from the ATM. We went inside, I took one look at the ATM and said "I hate the ones that take your card. Watch it eat my card right now." It ate my card. F**k

Devil ATM

Anyway, we went to a bar with live music which was a pretty good time. There was an old guy sitting by himself, so we took a seat at his table. We chatted a bit - he had a thick accent, Dutch - and learned he was friends with the performer and had come from Europe to visit him. This was a busy place, lots of young people from different places looking to pair up for the night. We heard last call and decided to move on.

Outside sitting on a bench we were approached by a young guy whose friends all went to bed early. He wasn't so inclined, he got some rye from his room and off we went to explore. We sipped whiskey a few feet from the railroad tracks as a train roared by. We wandered the back streets of Banff discussing who knows what.

Good Rye

Actually, I do remember him going off a bit about French Canadians.
"I had a frenchie working for me. He was just a yes man, couldn't form an opinion"
"I'd ask him, what color is the sky? And the guy would say 'oh, I don't know - what color do you think it is?'"
(yelling)"It's blue!! Sometimes white, sometimes gray, sometimes pink or yellow. But mostly F***ing blue!!!"


We had to walk him back to his hostel because he had no idea where he was at this point. He thanked us for not kidnapping him and remarked how glad he was there were still good people around, then laughing with a wave said "Well, Never see you again! Bye!"

We laughed all the way back and hit the sack.

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Old 12-23-2012, 10:37 AM   #125
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Day 12: Brappin' around Banff

Coffee was in order after sleeping in a bit the next morning.

Walking off the previous night, we took in the scenery of the town. The tourists and RV crowd was out now making the city pretty busy.

A beautiful town indeed.

It turned out to be a beautiful day, starting off a little late we hit the road to do some sightseeing.

We quickly jumped off the highway in favor of the more windy narrow secondary road heading North.

The road offered spectacular views, a pleasant pace, and some fun corners. It was nice to have the gear off the bike for a day - it felt much more nimble without the extra weight.

The Canadian Rockies have a varied range of mountains, some catstellated (like Castle Mountain below), Glaciers, Moraines, and the iconic overthrust Mt. Rundle.

Castle Mountain, 9075 ft

I wouldn't mind being the engineer on this train route. Beautiful.

Eventually, we made our way to Lake Lousie.

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Old 12-23-2012, 12:22 PM   #126
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Lake Louise was beautiful yet disappointing. Much like Yellowstone or the main loop of Yosemite, it's just a stop on the amusement park ride. Keep your hands and feet inside the RV at all times. The grand hotel and gravel paths had us wishing we had more time to explore off the beaten path. But it's a motorcycle trip and not a backpacking trip. The need for food and fuel superseded my desire to stay away from people.

The reality of Lake Louse

Lake Lousie was beautiful. I'm glad we went.

After a little hike we were glad to be rid of the crowds and back on the road.

I enjoyed the day of casual riding. It was nice not to have to make miles, to push push push until we ran out of daylight. For the first time since the beginning of the trip, I relaxed.

And as I relaxed, I began to take in the scale of the ride. A few days ago I was in California. We had covered a vast expanse of country

What a privilege it was to have this experience

We came across a number of stopped cars watching a baby brown bear cross the road. After he was clear we rode around the cars and took off, not wanting to wait around for mamma bear.

I was humbled by the vast expanse of the rockies

We came across this little guy

Well, not that little. We headed back to Banff

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Old 12-23-2012, 12:38 PM   #127
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I felt similar. I preferred the ride to and from Banff and Lake Louise to be superior to the destinations.
Why be born again when you can just grow up?
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Old 12-24-2012, 08:34 AM   #128
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In and around Banff there are some great spots to explore. A little touristy, but certainly worth the little ride around to check out all the spots.

We even found a little rough track just outside of town which looped around the golf course in the shadow of Mt. Rundle.

Amazing views all around

Hell of a place to live. I'd wait tables just to live here for a year.

This night was a bit calmer, we had a good time out on the town and tucked in early for a long day in the saddle. We were Montana bound tomorrow!
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Old 12-24-2012, 09:36 AM   #129
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Day 13: We Ride the Divide

Lube the chain. Check the tension. Tire pressure - little low, grab the hand pump.

We were up and out early in the morning headed Southeast to Canmore on the only road.

No complaints about this stretch of highway. Canmore was just down the road and we took the exit, drove through the small town and up into the Smith Dorrien / Spray Trail.

A wide badly rutted gravel road rose up between Mt. Rundle and Ha Ling Peak. Going was slow from the ruts and extreme dust at slow speeds.

Once we cleared the initial climb the road smoothed out and I picked up the pace. We could move right along on the well packed gravel cruising comfortably at 60 or so on the straights.

The road was beautiful - snowcapped peaks loomed over us with beautiful lakes at the base. There was only one problem - the dust.

The dust was insane. If I dared get too close to the car in front of me I couldn't see 100 feet. I kept my high beams on in hopes of being seen - a car passed in the other direction without the lights on and I could barely see them. Waiting back for it to settle did little good, another car would just come by.

The road surface varied and occasionally there would be a break in the dust. If we wanted to pass, we'd have to do it then.

Incredible beauty at the road side

Luckily we were able to pass a few cars and speed off in front. Bernie found if he rode close enough and staggered, the dust wouldn't billow up too high.

Once we cleared the dust I really took in the scenery. The road was in good shape so I didn't have to focus too much on staying upright.

South we went, deeper into the Kootenays

The dirt ended for a bit when we jumped onto rt 40 for a bit.

Rt 40 was a great ride. Set in a wide valley, it had a nice surface with some good corners to carve and great views.

We made good time here too, there was very little traffic.

Nothing to slow us down except these guys

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Old 12-24-2012, 10:00 AM   #130
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Just a great ride

so I snapped lots of photos

We reached 2200m elevation

Love this one

Stopped for a bit to take it all in

A quick stop for fuel and food at the last outpost - then we hit the dirt. And the dust.

Blue sky, white clouds, and green flora all contrast sharply

making for some beautiful shots

What an incredible road. A beautiful day and a comfortable temperature didn't hurt either.

we met some friends too

The gravel was in great shape. No mud, no ruts - just fun.

Then, we turned again.

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Old 12-24-2012, 12:32 PM   #131
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Great RR. Thanks!!
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:07 PM   #132
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Much of the day and nearly two-hundred miles had passed when we turned off the main road and headed West. We were making good time, having kept our speed up around 70 in the easy dirt sections.

West we went, slower now winding through the trees.

Rounding a corner with a good head of steam, I look up and see a large herd of cattle blocking the road. I skidded to a stop, Bernie right behind me. The road was totally blocked.

Real live Canadian cowboys! We enjoyed watching them herd the cattle, deftly riding through the woods on either side of the road driving the cattle to another pen a few miles up the road. One rider doubled back to chat with us.

"We'll be on the road for a couple more... miles."

How did he know we were American? Guess it's easy to tell.

"You can head up this quad trail here, good view from the top."
"Should be a fun little climb"

I could tell he was a rider by the way he looked over the motorcycles.

"We'll probably be... half an hour or so before you can pass"

I thanked him and we turned round to find the trail. Looked like the only option for now.

It was definitely a quad trail. Rocky loose and steep with some mud thrown in for fun. Everything started off easy but proved to be quite a challenge when it got steep. I tried to keep my momentum and pick a good line.

I stopped to make sure Bernie was following and snap a few photos.

Tough trail on these big bikes with street pressure and a full load. I was feeling the heat and altitude now, my armor feeling like a sauna. Bernie caught up and I pushed on.

Then I made my mistake.

One bad line and that was it, I was stuck. Everything I tried just dug the hole deeper.

Bernie in mid sentence: "These bikes just aren't meant for this!"

Bernie just laid his bike over in the grass and walked up. I dropped mine in the trail and walked away. I love the photo above, I can still hear Bernie lecturing me about the trail being too much for the bike.

We left them both there laid over in the middle of the trail and continued on foot. Didn't come all the way up here for nothing. Neither of us much felt like digging mine out of the mud either.

Well, not much of a view.

We hiked back down and with a lot of cursing and sweat got the front wheel of the pig out of the slop and pointing the easy direction.

I picked my way down, Bernie got his bike upright and we began the descent.

I stopped to wait, turned around to look for Bernie and all I could see were two tires in the air...
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:01 PM   #133
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Bernie was trying to negotiate a deep washout right in the middle of the trail. Off camber and slick, once the thing started to go there was nothing to be done. Luckily he jumped clear and let the bike go down into the washout, thankfully not trapping him.

"Get up here before all the oil drains into the head!"

I dropped my bike in the trail (again) and ran up fast as I could. We were both exhausted from the elevation, heat, and getting my bike unstuck just a minute ago. We heaved it up and got it running.

I followed him down, back out onto the main road where we regrouped and made sure nothing was damaged.

Just our pride.

Back on the trail we passed by the cowboys again and chatted with the one who recommended the trail.

"How'd ya like that one?"

"Little tough, bikes are pretty heavy"

"Well, enjoy your ride."

"Thanks again!"

And we were off.

The road appeared to be used less and less the further we went. The GPS track went through but I was still a bit nervous - I know how forest roads are. The map is not the territory, and they can be blocked, flooded, bridges out all without appearing on the map.

But it was beautiful, and we rode on.

I felt even more remote now. Grass growing in the road showed there was not much use, but the surface was good in most places. The occasional set of potholes and muddy sections slowed us down, but not much.

A bridge was out, but quads had passed in high numbers and this was no tricky obstacle to negotiate.

We cleared that section and immediately the road became better. Surprising, but promising.

Beauty all around

Some sections had been logged recently, others stands awaiting their harvest. A working farm.

A few turns later, things started to get tricky. Muddy doubletrack and slow going - this was quad territory.

The mud proved tricky with the street tires. They're great tires and will get you through just about anything - but the front just does not inspire confidence in the mud.

I had to keep the speed down as the mud would sneak up on us. Get moving too quick and you don't have a chance of slowing down in time. Hold on tight and hope for the best.

Then things got rough.

Tough baby-head descents. Loose rocks. Keep it in first and aim for smooth sections to grab some front brake.

The twin Brembo's are great on the street, a bit touchy in the rough.

Whatever, just ride and enjoy the hell out of it!

Then the ol girl had enough. Time for a nap :)

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Old 12-24-2012, 04:25 PM   #134
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Great RR so far.
Being from so cal this ride is definately in my future. Thanks for the inspiration.
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:56 AM   #135
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Mud, street tires...ugh.
Why be born again when you can just grow up?
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