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.


Lillooet overnighter

Although I’m a late developer when it comes to biking, being in the Pacific Northwest certainly helps to make up for missed years of road tripping.

I’ve struggled to get myself in to a road trip high for this short overnighter around to Lillooet loop. Maybe in the murky recesses of my wanderlust mind, an overnighter just isn’t a road trip. I’m only riding about 650 Km and not even leaving BC. Surely that’s just a day trip. Having said that, I do need reminding from time to time that BC is around eight times larger than England and there’s plenty of scope for far more adventurous rides than this. So, an extended day trip it may be, but its still in to new territory.

The few people that I’ve spoken to seem to ride the loop via Whistler. I’ve never asked why, and just to be different I thought I’d ride the route anti-clockwise – backwards. I’m not sure if that means that I get to hear voices in my head. I like to think not.

The start and finish to the trip would be on roads already well ridden so the first part of my journey wouldn’t be the most entertaining. Hope was my first pit stop and rather than hit Highway one, I sat myself on the scenic route and ambled along. There are still moment of jaw-dropping scenery, leaning around a long tree lined curve and ‘bam’ mountains. Glorious.

Hope has always been an edge of town stop off for me. This time I ventured further in and discovered that Hope has a really quaint downtown. A Central Park area fronted by the Main Street was positively buzzing, well at a BC buzzing pace which is rather more tranquil than the south east of England.

Coffee, a very good, Fair Trade coffee, was taken at the Blue Moose. A chance to sit back and people watch for a few minutes whilst filling a hole with a muffin.

Having gassed up it was on to the Trans Canada and in to the Fraser Canyon. I’d previously only driven the canyon as far as Hells Gate, so once past there I would be in uncharted territory.

One of the great things about riding a bike is the total involvement it brings. Every sense is engaged on every km ridden. The body feels the change in temperature as one passes along a shaded stretch of road. Every bump is more keenly felt. Even the smells, be they pollen or barbecue are instantly noticed when there’s nothing between you and the environment you’re traveling through.

The ride soon became mile after mile of river, trees and steep sided rock face. An occasional glimpse of mile long freight trains gave me a sense of scale. The trains were Hornby sized against the vast mountains. I was riding as a 00 gauge miniature.

My first ‘greasy spoon’. Time for a light lunch. I’d arrived at Boston Bar. I left Boston Bar not much else to say.

Decision time approached. At Lytton I could take the direct route to Lillooet or go for the extra 100 plus Km via Cache Creek. I’m on a bike. No decision. Next stop Cache Creek.

Temperatures were rising and I was feeling both the heat and the saddle a bit too much. Despite the spectacular backstop to my ride I needed a break. In fact, such was the despiration that once in Cache Creek, Dairy Queen was screaming at me to overdose on cold, high calorie ice cream.

Core temperature stabilized, Ducati refueled, time to find Highway 99. The map view of my last leg was promising. It looked curvy. And it was. Not seat of pants, pipes scrapping the blacktop curvy, more sweeping, and that was fine by me. It was my last 100 Km and it was possibly the best road of the day. The canyon is a great ride, however, the 99 had just the right mix of open road, great views and enough twisty bits to maintain interest.

After a very easy days ride, I descended in to Lillooet, which is, and I quote, “Guaranteed Rugged”. I guess it’s just as well I didn’t make the trip on the Vespa, I’d have been run out of town for overly diminishing the ruggedness. Day one, 414 Km. Not too shabby.

The final agreeable part to a good day was finding the motel room to be clean and have a hot shower. What else can a less than hardened biker ask for.

California road trip day 9

And that was it. Post road trip silence.

After a really relaxed final evening it was time to gear up for the final time on this road trip. Time to head home. The final leg from Olympia to the border was straightforward with just a couple of refueling stops.

The only issue we had was my comms headset failing. A couple of bent connection pins were found, but they couldn’t be straightened without breaking off. My fault entirely for over-enthusiastic fitting every day. We were down to one way comms, Elliot to me for the final few hours. It was now even more apparent the value inter-bike comms  bring to a long road trip. No small talk, no encouragement, no checking in. Just the occasional hand or head signal. It was a strange experience having been able to talk freely for the previous eight days, but we coped, simply just agreed who was lead, what certain signals meant and off we rode.

The big question would be how easy would it be getting back in to Canada? Easy for me, I was on my shiny new Canadian Passport, but what about Elliot? He had a UK passport and cancelled citizenship certificate. As it happened, the crossing was painless. Elliot’s explanation was satisfactory, he was back in the country and I quickly followed. 

One thing was on my mind, maintain concentration. How easy would it be to get within a few miles of home, let the brain switch off and pay for that lapse. Before heading away from Pacific Crossing, I reminded Elliot to keep focused until we arrived home. And so it was.

We pulled up outside the garage having travelled some 2400 miles, 3800 Km over nine days. And that was it. Post road trip silence. Engines off, helmets off, gloves off, brain off.

Both the Ducati and the Suzuki had performed impeccably. This road trip was twice the distance of my 2010 trip and Elliot had never ridden further than Squamish and back. It was a vey special experience that we’d shared. I’m pretty sure a lot of fathers dream of adventures like this. A motorcycle road trip on the west coast of north America with one of my sons. A very special experience, although it won’t be unique in that my other son is talking about where he’d like to ride to in the future. 

So, father and son still talking, bodies and bikes intact. I’d call that a success.

I’ve already indicated that another trip is likely with my other son at some point. Whether there’s another solo roadtrip or maybe another with Elliot before that, well, I wouldn’t bet against it. There’s something about being on the road, just moving on from place to place. Maybe there’s some past nomadic tendency buried deep in the consciousness that surfaces when one tackles these trips. Maybe it’s my way of shedding the 9-5 existence just for a brief moment, to appreciate the freedom that being on the road can offer. Having said that, my nomadic escape still requires a hot shower and decent bed.


California road trip day 8

We were wet. We were very wet. We were very wet indeed.

Day eight and rain was forecast from Eugene to Portland, and the forecast was correct. Our end point for the day was Olympia, Washington. We had around 300 miles to cover and it was all Freeway. Not an exciting prospect.

We had a plan. Oregon, the home of zero sales tax. Elliot was looking for a small, bike portable tent and I was looking for an iPad. Finding somewhere to sell me the electronics proved to be far harder than getting a tent. Roseburg, nope. Eugene, nope. Hmmm, at this rate I’d run out of Oregon. Elliot was fine, he’d picked up his tent and tarp. The goods were firmly bungied to his bike and we set out from Eugene towards Portland. The weather was closing in fast and we tok the opportunity to stop under a Freeway bridge to don the waterproofs. Good timing too, as within 5 minutes we entered rain that lasted for   a good couple of hours. Portland was my final chance to pick up the hens teeth version of the iPad I was looking for and finally BestBuy delivered the goods.

Coffee break as the rain was finally easing off. We were wet. We were very wet. We were very wet indeed. I’m pretty certain a sizeable puddle formed beneath our draining gear, this was possibly wetter than day one.

We’d booked through again and for the final night we scored big time. The hotel was terrific. Fantastic food, jazz in the restaurant and a gorgeous view out of the window. If there was a way to close out the trip, this was most definitely it.The positive was that we’d toughed it out. No more rain to dampen us, it was now an easy ride to Olympia.

Tax free purchases, check. Dry kit, check. Well fed and watered, check. Day eight, check. Ducati and Suzuki performing well, check.

Hopefully the border crossing on our final day wouldn’t prove difficult.

California road trip day 7

The ride across the mountains on the Redwood Highway was wonderful.

This would possibly be the final day of riding in the sun. The thought of heading back in to the rain, plus the tiredness that comes from a fairly demanding schedule had started to create the odd moments of tension, be it short of patience or just not caring about the route to be taken. Even so, father and son were still speaking and still determined to get the most from the end of this road trip.

The route for day seven would see us continue up the coast to Crescent City then over the mountains and back on to I5 to Roseburg, a city I’d passed through in 2010 on my first North American road trip. Another full day.

From time to time the coast road wandered in land and over mountains.
At these points the sun disappeared and it was time for the warm gloves as mist closed in around us and temperatures dropped. The permanent sunshine of the Bay area seemed somewhat distant.

Time to cross the final mountain range, to say farewell California, hello Oregon. And what a crossing, more twisty roads including a few interesting lefthanders with sheer drops left unguarded. Even Elliot didn’t push too hard around those curves. The ride across the mountains on the Redwood Highway was wonderful.

Five days previously we’d taken a lunch stop in Grants Pass to watch England slide out of Euro 2012 and Grants Pass would once again provide rest and refueling for two weary riders. It was back to I5. Boring but fast  It was at the tail end of the days ride that Elliot noticed my rear lamp wasn’t working. Once parked up at the next anonymous but comfortable motel a blown bulb was diagnosed, replacement bought and fitted. It was the only bike issue of the trip so far which considering the distances travelled wasnt too shabby.

Elliot dipped in to Urban Spoon and came up with another local eatery. This evening would be a BBQ meat meal at Charley’s with countless sauces. Another success too. We’d not eaten poorly at all, no daily burger for these bikers.

The road trip was drawing to a close. The final stretch was known, Freeway all the way so probably nothing much to write about. However, the thing with road trips is one never knows. Day eight beckoned.