Saturday, December 10, 2016

Going to the Sun Ride: Day 1 - Nanaimo to Golden

Day 1: click to enlarge
I like to listen to music when I ride.  “There’s a killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad, take a long holiday”...”Oh take your time, don’t live too fast, troubles will come and they will pass”... “The cars do the usual dances, same old cruising the curbside crawl”...  “On a long and lonesome highway east of Omaha, You can listen to the engines moanin' out it's one old song, You can think about the woman or the girl you knew the night before...”  And that’s all well and good, but I’d forgotten to pack the damn iPhone.  Worse, it was my GPS with the entire route, way-points, side trips, stops, hotels, telephone numbers...Amazing, I had ridden to the ferry, with the empty ram-mount staring me in the face without cuing in.  It wasn’t until I tried to find my ear buds that the truth dawned on me.

My wife took it well: she’s a gem.  By some sheer stroke of luck, I had gone into BCAA the day before and got the free maps of BC, Alberta, Montana, Idaho and Washington.  They would prove to be invaluable as reverted back to good old-fashioned navigation with a tiny scaled map staring up at me through a tank bag with the route highlighted in yellow.  It’s amazing how much better a journey is when you have navigate by your wits, check out your surrounding and stop to chat about possible choices.

The route we were taking on this first day was not an epic, eye-watering curvaceous beauty.  There are so many better routes through BC than taking the Trans Canada, but for us it was a way to a means.  Riding via Vancouver, on the TC1, Coquihalla Highway, through Kamloops, Revelstoke to Golden is a nice ride, make no mistake.  If you’re not from BC, then the coastal scenery, giving way to Fraser Valley fields hemmed in by hills, giving way to mountains, semi-desert and emerging into the Rockies is nothing to be sniffed at.  But for us, it was old hat highway riding and to be done as quickly as possible.  The fun would start on Day 2 where we planned to wiggle through the Rockies, get to Drumhella and look at some ex-dinosaurs in the badlands.

Say what you will, she has a gorgeous rear three-quarter view.
We got to Kamloops before noon, fueled up the bike and ourselves at Costco, and pressed on.  It was hot, and the traffic was starting to get heavier.  Men in white vans were driving erratically, and with over 300km to go we knuckled down and frequently topped the ton passing streams of campers and what not. 

Riding into Revelstoke for an afternoon coffee break and leg-stretch was a revelation.  I hadn’t been through there since I was a teenager, and the place looked so much better than I remembered it.  What a fashionable little mountain town it has become.  Main Street was cornucopia of bikes, and once we lowered the tone (and likely the house values) by parking between Harleys and minty GS Beemers, we nipped into the only coffee shop that didn’t have a bike outside it: the Conversation Coffee House.  A nice place.  It was as we were coming out, that a couple of Harley Riders sprang up from across the road at Isabella’s and wanted to chat.  I almost put an exclamation mark on that last sentence, because if you ride in Nanaimo, you know that, ironically, HD riders have a self-anointed elevated status and will turn the other cheek in an effort not to wave let alone look in your direction.  These guys were American: shattering another stereotype.  They were knowledgeable and friendly.  They gave us a great tip for the next day’s ride and were blown away by our progress.  They wouldn’t be the first HD riders that would turn out to be a mere mortals and more than willing to overlook our Zuke status.

Riding the last 150km to Golden was a blast, but my butt was starting belabour the point that I had been sitting for 650km and it was time to stand up.  So, risking the possible “stunting” fine, I rode for some miles up on the pegs ala enduro.  We hadn’t seen a cop all day, and that proved the norm for the entire rest of the trip until Idaho...I'm not sure of what my wife thought about viewing the world via nutscape, but she didn't complain.

We rolled up at the Best Western in Golden fairly strung out from the road.  I did notice an older Harley touring bike and trailer with New York plates.  

Another stereotype smashed: he wasn’t just out for coffee.

Day 2: Golden, BC to Three Hills, AB via Drumhella and the Royal Tyrell Museum.

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