BT 2009, Hammy and Whitey's Big Trip for 2009.
I’ll start with little history and then get on to the ride report in a couple paragraphs, so if you want to get to the ride report, skip to below the BT 2009 title picture.
I’d had an old beater 1981 Honda CM 400 that I used around the city to get some riding experience and hone a few basic skills. Like the fact that just about every cage driver out there is an ignorant cell phone talking, coffee drinking, shaving/make-up applying idiot. Armed with experience and knowledge I bought a 2008 KLR. Great bike, I liked it. I bought panniers and a real skid plate and even crash bars for it. It was a sweet and also gnarly looking bike.
Then I took the KLR on what is by most accounts a short to medium length road trip (BT 2008). My main riding partner is Whitey Jr. who happens to ride a Wee-Strom. We did quite well together on the trip, but I had a nagging feeling that I just wanted something a little different in a bike. But I was pretty entrenched in my KLR with all the farkeling I had put into it. Along comes the company I work for and gives me an unexpected bonus with which I can afford to bite the bullet and sell the KLR and get a slightly more road oriented bike that is by most accounts simple, light, versatile and a good performer to boot. Good in the city and on the highway and capable of just about any road the Versys seems a great compliment / alternative to the Wee-Strom. I liked that it was lighter and didn’t know that the considerably shorter wheelbase would be such a good thing.
I bought my blue 2008 Versys in May and almost immediately ordered a bunch of farkles in anticipation of BT 2009. As the farkles started arriving by mail I was eager to find time to fit them to the bike. I found the time to fit the last pieces (the skid plate by Algard) just about a week before the trip.
Immediately after completing BT 2008 Whitey and I started planning BT 2009 with the idea that we would get ourselves to the west coast. It didn’t go much beyond that for months as we were busy with videos and ride reports for BT 2008. Then in January and February we decided we needed to plan our next big motorcycle trip to help pass the winter away. With the idea of getting to Tofino BC., we started planning. We came up with a trip plan that looked like this.
So with this in mind we started BT 2009.
After putting in most of a day at work, I left a little early to complete a few errands around town and hit the road for Edmonton. I got away a little late and had to press to make it to Edmonton before it got dark. Not that there is anything wrong with riding after dark, but given the choice I would rather ride the highway during daylight hours, especially during our long summer days north of the 49th parallel. Along the way I stopped to rest my backside and took a few pictures.
I have fairly compatible hobbies in motorcycling and photography, but I had to keep in mind that this was a motorcycle trip not a photography trip. So having fun with the motorcycle was priority 1 and I would take cool pictures when time allowed. I made it to Edmonton just after dark and rolled into Whitey’s back yard. We said our hello’s and got started on a bottle of rum. As it was pretty late and Whitey was due at work the next day we spared that soldier for another day.
Whitey had to put in a few hours at work. I am not sure how much he actually accomplished that day, but what the hell he was there and that is 80% right. I slept in a little and made my way over to his local Starbucks for a Café Americano and a quick read of the Globe and Mail. When it felt like time to get going I bid the soccer moms good-bye and headed downtown to meet Whitey. As luck would have it I rolled into the parking lots just as he was leaving the building. A couple of his co-workers had come out to bid him good bye and we made small talk for a few minutes before our itch to get motorcycling took over and we donned our lids and made our way out of the city to Wabamun AB. for some lunch. I had spent some of my younger days working at Wabamun and I was eager to take my bike out onto the pier for a few pictures.
After a short photo op on the pier we topped up our tanks and took a few photos in front of the giant Wabamun dragonfly that greets people heading into Wabamun.
After Wabamun we turned our wheels west and started eating up the Yellowhead. We rolled into Edson AB and with the clouds darkening to the west we stopped to don our rain gear. This proved a good idea as there was a deluge of rain between Edson and Hinton. Hinton is the last stop on the Yellowhead before the Japser National Park. We agreed to top up our tanks and provision ourselves with mix, beef jerky and pistachios for the evening’s camp. We still had not decided where we were going to camp, if it was the park or on the BC side. It turns out that I had inadvertently made that decision for us by forgetting my park pass at home. Since we are both a little cheap we drove through the park and into BC where we called it a day at the Mount Robson Park. The Robson Meadows Campground was a great place and the park attendant was a nice Australian girl that informed us of the province wide fire ban. No camp fires anywhere in the province she said. This was a serious blow to our evening’s plans of rum around the campfire. So we did without the fire and drank the rum anyway. We enjoyed our first boil in bag meals. I went for the Pad Thai and Whitey went with the Texas BBQ Chicken with Beans. I rated the Pad Thai thumbs up while Whitey gave his boil in bag a mediocre “meh” rating. Whitey had been nice enough to get some ice at the store across the highway and we made the best of the situation by trying out some lighting techniques I had been playing with recently while we polished off our first bottle of rum.
With a cup of coffee in the coffee press / jet boil to clear the cloud the rum left behind we took down camp, packed up the bikes and hit the road towards the interior of BC. After a gas and breakfast stop we decided on our first detour of the trip. The St. Mary’s Lookout Forest Service Road at Thunder River.
It was a steep windy trail with deep water bars that had Whitey dragging his Strom’s skid plate across the top of the water bars. He really put a beating on it. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour and that we didn’t want to trash our bikes on the first full day of the trip we decided to head back down the trail and soak our feet in the Thunder River. We chatted with some other tourists and had a beef jerky break before heading west again. I had managed to drop the bike when we were turning around but thanks to the SW-Motec crash bars I had no worries and we carried on without even a scratch on the paint.
Next up on the tour was a stretch of slab as we made our way towards 100 mile house. We detoured at Horse Lake to take a twistier section of the road. The horse lake road started off with a bit of a drag, construction, we were quickly past it though on onto fresh slab. What a treat. Whitey and I tore up the road figuratively speaking and made for 100 Mile House hot and sweaty from the heat wave but with ear to ear grins. We provisioned for the evening with a bottle of Appleton’s, mix, beef jerky and some spitz and pistachios. We took off north looking for a campground near a lake so we could go for a swim to cool off.
One of the camp grounds at the north end of Lac La Hache fit the bill and we pulled in to a shady spot with electricity. To make it even better, we found the store sold both ice and ice cream. We took advantage of both. In the heat we found the ice was melting faster than we could use it in drinks and we were forced to buy a second bag of ice as we had also decided to try out a 1.14 L bottle of rum rather than the standard 750 ml bottle. This turned out to be a bit of a stretch and the decision to return to the 750 ml bottle was unanimous.
Either way you look at it though we had ridden another day and drank another bottle of rum. We were buddies on the road together making decisions seemingly with one mind. It is rare in my experience to have life be so good.