Touring at The Canadian Rockies
Each spring at Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Holidays we clean out the cobwebs from our helmets and break in our new motorcycles with an early season trip. We're usually lucky with the weather although we have been snowed on once. Its our chance to get back onto the bikes with a small group and try out some new accommodation, activities and roads before hosting our regular guests. The following is an account of last years trip.
Joining us on our 1998 Pre-season ride were John, Ryan, Brett and Howard. John and Ryan originated from Ontario, Canada. Brett and Howard are mates from Australia although Howard is currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia. As a group, everybody was a good, solid rider.
Brett and Howard however, proved to be exceptional riders with a taste for big speed.
We left Whistler on Monday morning in the sunshine, headed North through the Coast Mountains, towards Ashcroft. The weather was warm and the forecast promised at least a few days of dry riding. After a 35km ride to Pemberton at a mere 10km/h over the speed limit to get warmed up and get used to the bikes, we pulled over beside Lillooet Lake to see if everyone was comfortable. Stopping for a look at the bikes and to take a break from her bicycle was a lovely young lady named Marg, who happens to be the manager of Black's English Pub in Whistler. We would be seeing Marg for a beer (or two) in eleven days after our 3500 kilometer journey.
Once underway again, Brett and Howard pulled out in front to set the pace for the rest of the trip: FAST! The Duffy Lake Road north of Whistler is famous for its scenery and tight curves. It has been named as one of Canada's most scenic routes. While John, Ryan and I were trying to take in some of the countryside, our new Australian friends concentrated on the twisties. It wasn't until the Seton Lake lookout that they stopped to enjoy the view. Luckily I had put a few kilometers on their brand new Tigers before I handed them the keys, by Seton the bikes were thoroughly broken in. By the end of the first day, everybody had tried the various bikes which included a T509 (high-mounted carbon can), Tigers, a Trophy and a Thunderbird.
The next morning we opted to leave the bikes parked for a couple hours and give one horsepower a try. A morning horseback ride at the Sundance Ranch reminded everyone that trying to control a four legged animal at 30kp/h can be just as thrilling (terrifying) as riding our bikes at many times that speed. That afternoon we headed through British Columbia's cattle country to Kelowna for a relaxing drink lakeside on the dock.
The next two days provided some of the trips twistiest roads and a couple short ferry rides. What was wonderful about the ferry rides, besides the scenery, was that motorcycles are loaded and leave first. As we traveled along the secondary roads that skirt the many lakes in the area, we had to keep our eyes peeled for wildlife crossing the road to take a drink. Again, the Australians were out in front and riding hard. Howard, now enjoying our cruiser, was determined to prove that the Thunderbird is just a sportbike without the fairing.
Our stop at the Fairmont Hotsprings Resort gave everyone a chance to soak. Unlike a typical hot tub that needs huge quantities of chemicals to keep the water clean, these hotsprings are constantly replacing their water from a fresh mountain source. You can sit in them for hours and not smell like a medical clinic. By this time, Johnny had become the unofficial cardio trainer, taking willing victims for a morning run. It was wonderful to soak outside in the hot pools after some morning exercise.
Our next stop provided a full rest day in Kananaskis. Ryan and I opted for a longer journey through the Crows Nest Pass into the Alberta foothills before heading north into the Rockies. Brett, Howard and Johnny took a shorter route to do some people watching in Banff.
That evening we all decided to shuttle into Banff for a little night life.
After a day to relax, bang some golf balls and hike around in Kananaskis, we headed north through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains towards Jasper. This country is breathtaking. The mountains and glaciers rise over six thousand feet above the roadway and deer, elk and bighorn sheep sightings are all but guaranteed. While capturing the view at the Columbia Icefields, a poor soul on a BMW R1100RT rode by. Howard, a conservative looking gentleman in his mid forties, exclaimed: "Look, a victim." We caught up within a few kilometers. Realizing what Brett and Howard were up to, the BMW picked up the pace. All the better, because our Australian guests (Doohan and Gobert) were looking for an excuse to prove the handling characteristics of their Tigers. While not officially sanctioned by Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Holidays, it was good fun to compare brands in the twisties.
From Jasper we rode south west toward the Cariboo region of British Columbia. This ride provided the only real rain of the whole trip and luckily it was only for an hour or so. Our next two nights were spent at the exceptional Echo Valley Ranch. Just outside Clinton, and well hidden, it is one of Western Canada's best kept secrets. Norn and Nan Dove, with the help of an outstanding staff, provide a ranch style retreat with all the amenities of a five star hotel. The cuisine was wonderful and the days activities which included horseback riding, mountain biking, swimming, hiking and some exhausting billiards provided us all with healthy appetites. John and Brett
Motorcycle Vacation Guide to Touring and Travel Taking in the mountains along Canada's coast.made a point of demonstrating how friendly motorcyclists are by offering rides to some of the female guests.
It was difficult to leave Echo Valley, but a sunny afternoon ride south through Marble Canyon made it all worthwhile. We stopped for a quick photo shoot along side the Fraser river before turning onto Highway 99 and the road home. This time we all took it easy and enjoyed the view on our way to Whistler. That evening at Black's Pub while enjoying a few pints and telling Marg a few excerpts from our trip, we learned that Howard might not be going back to work in Jakarta right away. Howard, a reluctant optimist, wasn't going to let a revolution ruin his holiday and decided to stay in Whistler for a few extra days before an impromptu trip with Brett to Las Vegas. Brett wasn't in a big hurry to get back to Oz, but he did have a new Yamaha R1 waiting for him at the dealership the he was looking forward to riding. Johnny was not looking forward to getting back to work, while Ryan on the other hand, had a couple of weeks set aside for some wind surfing.
All in all, we had a wonderful trip together. We had returned to Whistler safe and sound with great memories and some interesting tales to tell. We agreed that we would do our best to get together soon, this time for a little skiing in the winter time. Ryan and I are hoping that we might finally overtake the Australians on the snow.