Western Canadian Rain Festival - A LONG Trip Report

Drew Blanchard drewblanchard at gmavt.net
Wed Jul 4 07:34:56 PDT 2012


Thank you for the excellent story!  Taking the GPZ to Alaska has been on my
bucket list for a long, long time.  Getting there from the northeast just
adds to the challenge, but *someday* ….

The longest ride I've had so far this year pales in comparison.  My wife
and I both rode in the Ruff Ride a week ago - a fund raiser for the local
Human Society (she and I raised just under $1k) - then continued after the
official end of that event for a 350 mile day.  Made me realize I need to
send my stock saddle down to the folks at Sargent Cycle sooner rather than

Ordered new tires at the end of that day, too.  The folks at Ducati
Vermont/Cyclewise are just a few miles down the road from us, and I've
learned they're truly excellent and knowledgeable people.  I went with
their   tire recommendation.

Which brings up 2 questions for you:  what saddle do you use, and which
Dunlops (original Roadsmart or Roadsmart IIs) did you have?  Cyclewise
strongly recommended the Dunlops for me, too, but now I don't remember if
they're the original Roadsmarts or the newer version (tires haven't come in
yet).  I worry that I've now heard 2 people say the Roadsmarts are crap.


On Wed, Jul 4, 2012 at 2:01 AM, Charles Scappaticci <scapco at ecentral.com>wrote:

> HI All,
> I got back Sunday night from my trip to Alaska.  The old Geeper made it
> with flying colors and has still never let me down on a long trip.  I can't
> say the same for the shitty Dunlop Roadsmart tires I had on it though.
> I am a planner by nature, so I carefully planned everything I would take,
> the routes I wanted to ride and all of the distances.  The GPZ has been a
> little neglected lately, so I rebuilt the front forks with new fluid and
> seals, had the original OEM Race-Tech modified shock rebuilt for it's easy
> adjust-ability, replaced the chain, sprockets, battery, and serviced the
> air cleaner, changed the oil, replaced the rear brake pads and did a
> thorough once over on all the bolts.  I even mocked up the Givi bags,
> sleeping bag, tens, and Ventura rack and pack to be sure it would all fit.
> I also decided to tow to Chuck Driscolls house in Helena Montana because I
> despise riding through eastern or southern Wyoming, so I changed the oil in
> my daughters Explorer and replaced the decking on my motorcycle trailer and
> repacked the bearings while I was at it.  Expecting lots of rain, (I wasn't
> disappointed) I purchased some nice clothing from REI,to wear under my
> riding jacket and pants.
> I left from work at noon Friday the 22nd planning on making Hyder Alaska in
> 3 1/2 days.  I slept miserably in the Explorer at a truck stop in Billings
> Montana that night and made it to Chucks place around 11:00 on Saturday.
> After unloading the GPZ and loading all the gear onto the bike, I got
> dressed in my riding gear and then reached for my helmet.  Which was
> hanging on the handlebars of my KX250 in the garage. F**k!!!  I rode to
> Cycles of Helena and purchased a $159 HJC helmet for the trip which proved
> to be nice and watertight and had good aerodynamics, it was just the two
> hands it took to open the visor all trip, occasionally causing the left
> hinge of visor to come off at inopportune times, that bothered me.
> I had a good ride to the Canadian border where I was once again greeted by
> a cute young Canadian woman.  Three times across the border here and always
> some hot young thing to wait on me.  Where do you Canadians grow these
> gals?  LOL!!  Within a few miles as I approached Lethbridge, I felt the
> first of many raindrops I would encounter this trip.  I abandoned my plans
> to ride the Kananaski's road to Canmore and made for Calgary, riding in
> heavy rain.  I don't know what was going on in Calgary, but the Holiday Inn
> Express tried to extort $180 for a single night in a hotel.  Shouldn't the
> room come with a hooker for that price??  I said "no thanks" and headed out
> the door where I ran into two gentlemen on Harleys why were pretty much
> soaked to the bone.  I explained the pricing there so we all headed down
> the road to a Travelodge where we were only gouged for $119 for the night.
> After unloading our gear, Dwayne, Bob, and I headed next door for some
> Vietnamese food which was pretty good for about four hours at which time it
> ceased to be good anymore, LOL!!  Bob is 73 and was on his 19th trip across
> the US.  Dwayne is 67 and has traveled extensively on bikes as well.  They
> were heading for Anchorage, Denali, and beyond on a six week ride from
> Michigan.  The next morning, we were greeted by more rain which didn't stop
> until we were north of Lake Louise where we stopped for lunch.  We rode wet
> roads all the way into Jasper where we booked a couple of camping spots in
> the Canadian Forest Service campground.  The next morning we said our
> goodbyes as they were headed farther north to Dawsons Creek and I headed
> more westerly towards Prince George.  They had just gotten the road open
> after three different areas had washouts and I was lucky they had finished
> the repairs overnight. Here I got my first good weather and had a nice ride
> the next couple of hundred miles.  At a gas station I met and chatted with
> a guy on a gold Honda Varadero who was headed west as well.  I took off
> again, but was starting to get nervous as my front tire was wearing very
> prematurely and not looking good.  These tires weren't new, but did not
> have all that many miles on them so I had thought them good for the trip.
> Obviously not.  I knew it wouldn't make it the rest of the trip, so I
> stopped at the Harley dealer there as it was Monday and the
> Kawasaki/Yamaha/Honda dealer wasn't open.  He suggested the Suzuki dealer
> so i rode there and the only tire they had that would fit was a Pirelli
> Angel.  So three hours, $300 and a large jar of Vaseline later I was back
> on the road and made it to Burns Lake just in time for it to open up and
> rain again.  I found a cheap hotel and got some rest on a comfortable bed.
> The next morning, I was greeted by a lot of ugly low level clouds that
> meant lots of rain ahead, so I put on all my rain gear and headed to Hyder
> on my wobbly, new front tire. For some reason, this tire vibrated and
> bounced above 80mph (or 130kph for the rest of you) and would go into an
> ugly wobble at just about any speed if I took my hands off the bars even
> for a second.  I fought this headache the rest of the trip and believe it
> was a combination of not being mounted quite right (It is worn noticeably
> more on one side than the other) and just not meant for a heavily loaded
> 600 lb sport touring bike.
>  I stopped in Smithers to ask the Honda dealer if he had any rain gear as
> I'd ripped the butt out of mine and was surprised that they didn't carry
> them.  Smithers is a nice ski/resort town with some nice shops and the kid
> at the Honda dealer suggested Valhalla outfitters so I stopped in and
> bought an $80 pair of really nice rain pants, then stopped at the Harley
> dealer for a couple of souvenir t-shirts before heading on my way.  It was
> about 275 miles to Hyder, so I knew I could make it even in the rain so I
> kept riding and made it past the wet wooden bridges, cold glaciers, and
> rain and arrived in Stewart BC about 4:00.  A quick loop around town and I
> headed across the border into Hyder, AK.  I'd been holding the left side of
> my visor on the last twenty miles in the rain so I stopped at a nice little
> gift shop and got out of the rain.  I talked to the lady owner and fixed my
> visor while waiting a bit to see if it would stop raining, but no such
> luck, so I bought some chocolate fudge and some earrings for my daughter
> and headed back into Stewart.  The road into Hyder is a dead end,
> essentially you cannot go past Hyder so the US does not bother to maintain
> a border station there, but for some unknown reason Canada does.  Out of
> this beat up trailer, marches this young Canadian border patrolman wanting
> to see my passport and wanting to know what I was doing in Canada.
> "Getting Wet" was not the correct answer,  so I had to come up with a
> better one and then went on my way to get some gas and see if I wanted to
> spend the night there.  I had no desire to camp in a swamp since everything
> was wet and I didn't find much in the way of hotels, so I decided to see if
> I could make my way back east and find something.  I gassed up at a station
> that seemed to sell just about anything one would need to fix a truck or
> boat, and headed back about 150 miles to New Hazelton where I found a warm
> motel room and was able to park the GPZ under an overhang to get it out of
> the pouring rain.  The next morning started out looking pretty ugly and it
> rained off and on for several hours, but became much nicer as I rode back
> into Prince George.  I found a nice campground there, set up my tent, went
> out for Chinese food and relaxed.
> Next morning I loaded up, stopped by McDonalds and headed back east towards
> Jasper.  While riding through Price George, I pulled up next to the gent on
> the Honda Varadaro I'd met a few days before.  We traded pleasantries and
> he turned off as I went on.  I made it into Jasper about three o'clock
> after a nice sunny ride.  This same stretch of highway was about the only
> sunny ride I had in Canada.  I did a little souvenir shopping and had an
> excellent buffalo burger at Jasper pizza before heading out to get a
> camping spot at the same campgrounds I had stopped at previously.  As I
> rode through town, I again came upon the gent with the Varadero and pulled
> over to talk.  He was looking for the campground as well after he ate some
> dinner so I told him where it was and headed out.  I got my spot, right
> next to where I'd stayed previously when along came the guy on the Varadero
> and he was just camping a few spaces away from me.  We chatted for a couple
> of hours and shared part of a bottle of Vodka he had brought along.  He was
> from Saskatchewan and had ridden out to Prince Rupert in heavy rain, spent
> the day walking around in the rain, then headed back like I did.  He was a
> pleasant fellow and I enjoyed his company.  Next morning I bid him farewell
> and headed through Jasper Park then turned west down Kootenay Park as my
> intention was to ride down the west side of the Rockies.  I was starting to
> get rather worried at this point about my rear tire as it was wearing
> faster all the time though in the end it held up long enough to get me back
> to Helena.  I rode south down the mountains and spent the night in
> Kallispell Montana before riding the rest of the way to Helena.  I stopped
> in to Helena Cycle to bitch about the visor on the helmet, so they looked
> at it and replaced the hinging mechanism so it worked fine.  Of course, I
> was only to wear it another 15 minutes the whole trip!!!
> I got the Explorer from Chucks place and loaded the GPZ and all my gear in
> it and turned the key to start it.  All I got were some clicks....  I knew
> the battery was about ready to be replaced and I'd ran it dead listening to
> the stereo and having the door all open, I just didn't know it was this
> close.  Fortunately, Chuck was on his way with jumper cables (Thank you
> again Chuck!) and soon I was off on my way to Yellowstone.  My original
> intention was to unload the GPZ and ride the park, but between my rear tire
> and the crowds, I decided not to.  I spent the night in a hotel/RV park in
> West Yellowstone, sleeping in the Explorer, before entering the park the
> next morning.  I had a nice leisurely drive, took some pictures and watch
> Old Faithful go off before heading to the Tetons where I'd planned to
> camp.  It was soon obvious that the holiday crowds had pretty much filled
> up everything so I decided to try for Lander Wyoming for the night.  The
> closer I got the more I realized it was going to be too hot there to sleep
> so I decided to cut it all short and headed back to Denver, getting home
> around 11:30 at night.
> The total trip was about 4,500 miles, 1,600 by car and 2,900 on the bike,
> averaging over 400 miles per day on the GPZ.  The rain gear and clothing
> I'd taken turned out to be spot on as I was never wet, other than my hands,
> and never overly cold.  I love my Oxford heated grips, REI mattress pad and
> zero degree rated Coleman sleeping bag.  I rarely sleep well on trips, but
> I did on this one.  I unloaded everything on Monday and then spent the
> better part of Tuesday washing, waxing and cleaning the GPZ and swapping
> the shitty tires for the Dunlop Qualifiers on my other rims.  The old gal
> still cleans up pretty well though she's showing the battle scars of
> seventeen years of trips, crashes and just general wear.  I've been looking
> at the Concours 14's but money is an issue and then I look at the GPZ again
> and think, how soon can I go again?  We're both ready.
> I've attached a picture of the road into Hyder, it was a soggy place!
> Charles S.
> 95 GPZ1100
> -------------- next part --------------
> A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
> Name: Hyder Alaska.jpg
> Type: image/jpeg
> Size: 454695 bytes
> Desc: not available
> Url :
> http://micapeak.com/pipermail/gpzlist/attachments/20120704/84b57919/attachment.jpg
> ______________________________________________________________________
> This is from the GPZList mailing list. GPZList at micapeak.com
> http://micapeak.com/mailman/listinfo/gpzlist
> You subscribed to this mailing list. Therefore, you solicited all
> mail that you receive from this list. Therefore, ANY mail that you
> receive from this list is, by definition, NOT Spam, and if you report
> it as such, you are violating the micapeak.com terms of service.
> To unsubscribe, you may send email to gpzlist-unsubscribe at micapeak.com
> ______________________________________________________________________
> Unsubscribe or choose new options at
> http://micapeak.com/mailman/options/gpzlist/drewblanchard%40gmavt.net
> You are subscribed at the email address drewblanchard at gmavt.net
> ______________________________________________________________________

More information about the GPZList mailing list