Lillooet overnighter. Day 2

A pleasantly firm bed, but a disturbed sleep. The joys of motel life.

Day two was to be a less arduous ride,about 100 Km less than day one. I was heading to Pemberton. When i set out I had no idea that the next 80 Km would be the best of the ride; pleasant surprise! The bends tightened and became more frequent. The road demanded more of the rider and on a bike, that means more fun. The flip side of the fun is needing to focus on the road far more which means taking in the amazing views became harder. The balance was to stop a few times to simply marvel at what I was journeying through. I can certainly see why this road gets bikers excited.

The decent in to Pemberton was slowed down by road works and following a tractor-trailer down steep inclines. The burning brake smell was not the fresh air I’d become accustomed to, and was another reminder of how a rider is so immersed in the journey.

A caffeine and calorie break in Pemberton and then on through Whistler to the final pit stop in Squamish.

I was now in familiar territory and as stunning as the ‘Sea to Sky’ from Squamish to Horseshow Bay is, I could feel myself switching out of scenery mode. Vancouver appeared and the traffic that had slowly been building up on the journey home became nose-to-tail. A short 280 Km ride. Welcome home.

The Duati had once again performed flawlessly and drawn the usual complementary comments. The bike is a GT, a Gran Turismo. Despite being physically compact, the Ducati makes for a great one person distance tourer. I’m almost certain that sport tourers and cruisers are more comfortable for really long days in the saddle, however, the GT1000 has, for me, an unbeatable combination of tourability and being drop dead gorgeous.

Road trip reflections. Once the engine goes silent and the helmet is removed, post road trip melancholy sets in. Although this was only a brief overnighter, I’d ridden through some phenomenal scenery, enjoyed the open road, the twisty road and had been at a standstill in heavy traffic. It seems to me that a road trip has all the elements that life brings. The point for me is that I can enjoy the open road, rise to the challenge and despite getting stuck and frustrated from time to time, keep going until I reach my destination. Life is a journey. Life is a road trip.


Washington road trip

After a number of training rides it’s time to go for the real thing.

I’d hatched a plan at the tail end of last year. Lesley wasn’t over interested in doing the motorbike thing for herself and the Ducati was too small to tour together. What to do? The inspirational idea was slow-tour or more accurately, scootour. I sold the concept of touring minor roads on Vespa’s. The catch was that we only had one scoot and to tour we needed a larger engine scoot that required a motorcycle license to ride unsupervised. Minor details, the Washington scootour was on.

A new scoot for Lesley was required and a local dealer, Vespa Metro delivered the goods. A returned GTS 300 Super in white at an unbeatable price. As good as this deal was, it left me with a problem. I was riding a GTS 250. How could the more experienced rider be on a less powerful scoot? Vancouver’s other Vespa dealer, Urban Wasp came to the rescue as they happened to have a few discounted GTS 300’s available. I eventually settled on an identical scoot to the one I had, just with the larger engine as that way I could transfer the colour-coded top box which would save $$$.

1208-Washington-01The scoots were purchased and kitted out. My Vespa had the side crash bars transferred along with the top box. I fitted the flyscreen from the 250 on to the white scoot, bought a matching top box  and sourced a cool smoked flyscreen for my black scoot. The Vespa’s were ready to roll.

Lesley passed her bike knowledge so could ride under supervision and, as the weather improved the training rides started. First locally on quiet roads, then on to busier, faster roads and eventually a couple of longer rides to Mission and Harrison Hot Springs. On the BC day weekend a final, longer ride to Bowen Island by ferry was fitted in.

After a number of training rides it’s time to go for the real thing.

Washington awaits. The tour will run down the coast as much as possible island hopping off Seattle and possibly on to the Olympic National Park.

Scootour 2012 is go.

California road trip day 6

The food was delicious and I wasn’t mistaken for an Aussie.

Todays target was literally a town called Eureka. It would be the final stop in California and, the way the weather forecasts were shaping up, possibly a final day of uninterrupted sunshine.

Elliot had mapped out another cross country route that maximized twists, turns and coastline.

The route turned out to be every bit as good as promised. It was another day of vineyards, orchards, forests and the Pacific Ocean, a truly wonderful experience.

What was very noticeable was that fatigue was creeping in. Apart from the short day to Monterey, the pace had been pretty relentless. The gaps between stretch stops were getting shorter which in turns extended the day as time we had to get back to Vancouver on the Sunday. Having said that, fatigue was soon forgotten by Elliot when there was a a stretch of bends ahead. Despite only having the bike for a couple of months, Elliot handled it really well. I was often left to make more sedate progress on the Ducati listening to Elliot calling the bends over the comms.

After another full day in the saddle (I can’t even remember where the lunch stop was) we arrived at Eureka around what passed for rush hour. Fortunately the traffic was heading out of town so we didn’t have to focus on cars, just motel spotting. Once again hotwire turned up trumps and the small private motel was comfortable and included the all implant hot shower. But where to eat?

Elliot once again found a local restaurant, Bless My Soul, true southern US fare on the north west coast. It turned out to be another inspired choice.  The food was delicious and I wasn’t mistaken for an Aussie.  There can still be the tendency for folks on the west coast who haven’t been exposed to too many accents to assume that the English speaking visitor must hail from Australia as its ‘close’.

As with a lot of places stopped at, there was no real time to get to experience the area. Although Eureka gave the impression of experiencing better days there were some interesting buildings and it’s the built environment that I somewhat miss living on this continent. Without much in the way of visible human history, finding the occasional building that makes one stop and take a second glance doesn’t happen too frequently.

Six days down and a big decision was made. The original intent of the trip was to ride back up the Oregon coast. Having ridden two-thirds of that coast in 2010 I knew it would be a great ride, but only if the weather was right. As it happened, the forecasts were not encouraging. So, we decided to maximize the dry and would head back inland over the mountains and back to the I5. That way we would get one extra dry day, and after the dousing on day one, the thought of two days of rain didn’t appeal.

California road trip

There was a time when I thought it might not happen. But come the weekend, California here I come.

After my 2010 road trip in to Oregon I desperately wanted to extend the bike road trip and take the Ducati to California. San Francisco was set as the destination and the plan started to come alive. Initially the road trip for 2012 was to be another solo ride, however my son invested in a Suzuki SV 650 and asked to come along. This would now be a father son adventure.

Preparation has not been without its hiccups and who’d have thought that finally getting Canadian citizenship would prove to be the issue. Put simply we’ve been subjected to Federal bureaucracy gone bad.

My sons citizenship certificate had an incorrect date of birth and that has made getting a passport somewhat challenging. Going south is easy, with dual citizenship we can enter the US on a UK passport. Getting back in to Canada, well, maybe a little more complex. After two passport office visits, MP’s office intervention, visits to Citizenship, we’ve arrived at a place where the trip is on despite the lack of a Canadian passport for my son. Smooth roads and sun beckon, San Francisco beckons time to saddle up and ride.

Again, this is what the relocation is about. The chance to experience the kind of ride that I could only dream about in the UK. The cool thing is having invested in Bluetooth bike to bike comms that interfaces with my phone I can even fire up some serious cruising music to enjoy. There are times when classic Tom Petty makes total sense. Music for highways.

There was a time when I thought it might not happen. But come the weekend, California here I come.

I intend to post each day on this trip and am looking forward to capturing the thoughts and feelings that only a challenge like a long road trip can generate. Boy I love being on the West Coast.


Steveston cycle ride

Steveston is a quaint village in the south west corner of Richmond that has some great cycling along the sea front; and cycling was the order of the day.

What to do on a searingly hot Sunday morning? Air conditioned mall? Nope. Relax by one of the numerous lakes around here? Nope. A 3 hour round trip on the dykes to the west and south of Steveston? Check!

Steveston as a settlement has been around since the late 1870’s and became renowned in the area for its Salmon canning. There’s still an historic cannery in the village, but it seems that today the big earner is tourism and, in particular, whale watching tours from the likes of Seabreeze Adventures.

However, this trip was more about 2 wheels and sight seeing rather than getting in to the local history. Steveston is around a 45 minute drive from PoCo, so bikes were thrown in to the back of the car as I certainly wouldn’t be riding there, as much as I love cycling. Rather than head downtown Lesley and I decided to park a few Km away near the west dyke recreational route.

Which reminds me, these British Columbians adore getting outside whenever the sun shines.  Walk, cycle, skate, board, whatever it takes to get mobile, BC’ers will do it. It makes it virtually impossible to live a couch potato existence here as one is just shamed in to activity.

Our route took us along the west dyke and in to the village proper. The views are, just like most views here, pretty spectacular,.With the mountainous northern vista’s to the beautiful blues of the Gulf of Georgia to the west and south, the scenery is the complete stress buster.
Arriving in the village, the relaxed pace changed to serious speed as we’d happened across the inaugural Steveston Sockeye Spin.   A multi-lap 900m circuit around the downtown area provided some additional entertainment before the ice cream stop beckoned – it was after all, very hot work watching the real cyclists.

Our ride continued along the south dyke until we decided to loop back and take a quick wander around the street market. The market is very much a farmers and artisans affair and I’ve never seen so many local organic coffees on offer in one place.

I can thoroughly recommend the ride, it can be as vigorous or as relaxed as one wants to make it as the route is flat, very flat and even though we didn’t tackle the complete dyke circuit, it was smashing morning out. I’m certain that we’ll be back to finish of the missing sections of dyke another day.