Western Canadian Rain Festival - A LONG Trip Report

M & J Mason masonjs at nrtco.net
Thu Jul 5 07:30:40 PDT 2012

Sounds like you had a great trip.  I lived in BC in the early 1970's.  Never 
made it to Stewart.  The first time I had to deliver a load of books but was 
stopped at Terrace as the Deese Lake highway was washed out and an old 
Hudson Bay Company Cube van was not up to the task.  I continued on to 
Prince Rupert (The Halibut Capital of the World) and sent the books by ship. 
The 2nd time I was to start a job there but 3 days before I was to go I got 
an acceptance letter from the University of BC so I decided to go back to 
$300.00 for a tire and installation you must have had a sore butt after 
that.  If you're going to need tire work next time try to be in Beckley WV. 
I had my own tire but they removed the wheel, installed and balanced the new 
tire , replaced the wheel for $26.50 US$ and a couple of Cuban cigars which 
was bargain.  I had to retension the chain as the gorilla at the Kawi dealer 
with his matched pair of 14" adjustable metric wrenches had it like a guitar 
If you didn't like the price of a single at the Holiday Inn Express in 
Calgary then don't try the Comfort Inn in Truro Nova Scotia.  It was $167.00 
+ tax of 15% for a total of $192.05.  The next night I stayed in the Bates 
Motel in Gorham NH for $45.00 for a double.  Mind you I did have to use my 
Leatherman tool to turn the shower taps off and on.


 On 4 juil. 2012, at 08:01, 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
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