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Thread: San Francisco to Alaska, and back. July 2012.

  1. #65
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    Great write up. Still really enjoying reading this.

  2. #66
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    Saturday
    Checking my final drive in the morning showed a drop of oil on the floor beneath it. I suspect there wouldn't have been if I'd left it on the side stand instead of the centre stand.
    Chris warned us that we would be riding in the National Parks all day, on Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, and they took a dim view of speeding. Don't know what he could mean!
    The traffic made it dangerous too, as Mr or Mrs Tourist slammed the brakes on their SUV because they thought they saw a bear! Not that we would ever do that?



    Our first stop was at Athabasca Falls, a spectacular fissure in the rock through which millions of gallons of water flows. The noise and spray, even when not swollen with spring meltwater, is pretty impressive.





    How many chins?



    Next was the Athabasca Glacier, where after a short hike you can actually stand on the glacial ice. Half of us did, the other half headed to the complex opposite for a brew and a bite to eat, where we got stiffed for the most expensive sandwich of the whole trip. Table room was sparse, and we asked a couple if we could share theirs. When they said yes, in a South African accent, Gaz pumped them for insults he could say to Johno in Afrikaans.









    Slow moving mass and a glacier joke again? No, I thought not.





    We were due to pass the road up to Lake Louise, so I told Chris I'd like to go and have a look. I've been there on a ski holiday, and was keen to see what it was like in summer. He warned me that it would be very busy, and he wasn't wrong. The car parks were all full, the verges were all full, and what views there were, were full of people. I couldn't get past security at the Chateau to take a picture of the lake, and didn't fancy hiking round in bike gear, so I left it.



    From Lake Louise we joined Highway 1 into Banff, where we were staying that night, again I was keen to see the places I’d been in winter. The road up to Mt Norquay had been memorable on a coach, so after dropping off my gear at the hotel, I went for a ride. The signs said the road to the ski area was closed, but I followed a couple of cars up there. It was just as I remembered, except there was no snow. I also had a ride over to the Banff Springs Hotel for a look, but that meant riding through town. There were hundreds of Japanese tourists wandering about. Very strange.
    Supper in the sports bar of the hotel with a couple of beers was a pleasant way to wind down after a rather splendid day.
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  3. #67
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    Sunday.
    We started the day with a gentle ride down through the southern end of Banff National park, then onto Highway 40 and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park – Kanaskis Country. Short, snappy name huh? The Bighorn Highway continued South, until it came to the junction with Highway 541 where we stopped for a coffee. The 541 is tarmac, Highway 40 carries on as Range Road 54A, and is not.



    Gorgeous scenery, handsome chap, and good looking bike. Pick any one of the three....



    WTF?

    The camp site store we pulled in at had some strange cages hanging from the rafters outside. Turns out they were for catching and ringing Kingfishers for study, and the lady that was in charge of them showed how they worked. Right on queue a Kingfisher flitted around the roof for a few seconds before disappearing, probably scared off by the smell of ten lots of riding gear. Just before we left, the scream of a predatory raptor was heard overhead. Eerie, just like in the cowboy films!
    From here the group split, as half of us took the dirt road and the other half Tarmac. Chris had ridden the dirt road before, and gave us directions, while he led the rest around the Tarmac. We spaced out to avoid the clouds of dust being throw up by both ourselves and other vehicles. Most of the time the surface was good, allowing a decent speed, but some of the corners had stutter bumps all the way around them, making it interesting! This seemed to be a "wilderness" area for camping, campsites without electricity hook ups, patches of reasonably level ground but not surfaced. There were also quad trails running off the side of the road that I was itching to try, but not on my own. Gaz was too far back bringing up the rear of the group, so I contented myself with easy tracks that ran parallel to the road.





    Back on the Tarmac at Coleman, after nearly 70 miles of dirt. Chris had told us to look out for the site of a landslip at a place called Frank in 1903. When he said "landslip", I didn't realise he meant that half a mountain had fallen down! Another reminder of the devastating force of Mother Nature.
    A road sign shortly after it made me chuckle, for reasons that I won't go into. The off-road contingent regrouped in Pincher Creek, sat in the shade near the fuel station waiting for the Geoff, who had taken a wrong turn, and Gaz, who had waited for him. I saw another sign which reminded me of home, not that Denise has a Bistro, but seeing her name made me a little homesick.





    We followed The Cowboy Trail, Highway 6 to Waterton Park, in the Waterton Lakes NP, our destination for the night. What a fabulous spot! After sorting the rooms out, Chris announced that he was going up to Cameron Lake for a swim, if anyone was interested. Of course Johno was, and I grabbed my swimming gear as well. Cameron Lake was at the top of The Akimina Parkway, and according to the visitor centre blurb was purely meltwater. Named after a British Artillery Captain, it was crystal clear in a gorgeous setting, and on a hot day, irresistible! Diving in was just the right side of refreshing, but trying to swim with a GoPro in your hand is difficult!





    Another excellent day, 70 miles of dirt riding, fantastic scenery, a refreshing swim to wash the dust away, then great food in town that evening. Superb.
    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  4. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt Bilco View Post
    Unbelievably, there was a positive outcome eventually

    Don't worry old son, we'll see plenty next year and when everyone is taking pictures of canyons and mountains, you'll see me looking at the trucks..........sad I know
    glad to hear that it was sorted

    really looking forward to next year (long time off, but, time flies doesn't it?) and to getting to grips with that great scenery.

    great pictures there Mark and of course the write up is excellent.

  5. #69
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    Penultimate video.



    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  6. #70
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    Enjoying this
    still no deid

  7. #71
    Also Enjoying this
    0 te 60 in as long as it takes

  8. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by Norrie View Post
    Also Enjoying this
    Norrie, the 1150GSA that Mark mentions in his report is your old bike.
    Best bike of the whole bunch I'm sure you'll agree!
    It was a fantastic trip and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

    Mark, great report, brings back so many great memories.

    Alex

  9. #73
    Alex it was a beauty, often wondered did you still have it.
    0 te 60 in as long as it takes

  10. #74
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    Monday
    Shortly after leaving Waterton, we crossed the border back into America, and the state of Montana.



    Breakfast was at a cafe come gift shop on highway 89. I saw some "native Indian" jewellery, which looked perfect for Denise, whilst waiting for my omelette to arrive.
    Chris led us into Glacier National Park, yet another scenery overdose! The roads were very busy, so progress was slow, but at least we were able to enjoy the views.





    That is a big chunk of rock!



    I spy a good downhill line.....

    The temperature was climbing too, so in the single file roadworks shade was at a premium. Montana doesn't have helmet laws, so a number of our party went native. I couldn't bring myself to ride without mine on, and besides, where would I put it? Gaz found this to his cost, as the bungee holding his helmet to his bike snapped, and it bounced down the road at about 40mph! The GoPro mount stayed stuck on, but the camera itself took a bit of a knock.
    After the obligatory mikshake stop we rode further to a town called Hungry Horse (really!)on Highway 2, and the Timberwolf Resort campsite. Chris had booked log cabins for us, which were great. There were coin operated showers in the main building, and chemical toilets spread about the campsite. As there were also signs warning about bears, it was only going to be a night time emergency that would see me using them!





    Chris went to get some food for the evening meal, while Johno and I volunteered to head to the laundry down the road for ourselves, and anyone else that needed it. When we got back, the communal barbecue set into what looked like a bandstand in the centre of the camp was warming up. The steaks Chris had picked up were huge, and with many hands making light work of the cooking we had an excellent meal. A few beers, non alcoholic for Alex and Johno, and a decent wifi signal saw a few photos uploaded and blogs updated.



    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  11. #75
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    Tuesday
    Taking Highway 35 alongside the shores of Flathead Lakemade for a picturesque start to the day. There were plenty of roadside stall selling cherries, so Gaz had some for breakfast while I tucked into my usual omelette with all the trimmings. The cafe had an outside patio where we opted to sit, but the waitress accidentally knocked the sign above the table, showering Clive's food with dead flies and dried guano. He was less than impressed!
    Down Highway 93 to Missoula, then Chris suggested that we all make sure we had fuel at Lolo as there was no more for 100 miles. Seven of us then heard him say that we should take the next right onto Highway 12, Lolo Creek Road.



    Highway 12 leaves Montana and crosses into Idaho following the Lochsa River, becoming The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway through Clearwater National Forest. It is very high on my list of "Worlds best roads wot I have ridden". The bends are mainly long sweepers, but there is the odd tight one to keep you on your toes. Fairly early on, I saw a sign saying "Winding road for the next 99 miles". I was just thinking how great a picture that would be, when a deer jumped out of the bushes to my left and ran into my path. Avoiding action to go behind it would put me head-on with a pick up truck, so I was very pleased when the deer jumped again and disappeared. By the time I had remembered the sign, and my heartrate subsided, I was a few miles away.



    This is not the sign you are looking for.....

    The temperature had climbed again, and my gauge reached 39 degrees, so all vents open and plenty of iced water in my camelback. Johno found a spot to dive in, and I was very tempted to join him!





    Can you see him?



    There he is. His bike is half a mile upstream though....



    Pulling in at Lowell for a milkshake, we worked out that Little Mark had gone the wrong way, and suspected that Clive was way ahead of us.
    I offered to ride back for an hour to look for Mark, which would take me as far as my fuel would allow before returning to Lowell. Chris saw through this straight away.
    "You just want to ride this road again." He said, laughing.



    This sign makes me chuckle every time I see it.



    After 45 minutes of hooning back the way we'd been, and seeing nothing only Harleys, I pulled in to water the bushes. As I walked back to the bike, I heard more engines and looked eagerly up the road. Another bunch of Harleys, but Little Mark was bringing up the rear! I waved to him to carry on while I grabbed my lid, then set off after him. It took a good few minutes to make up the ground, but then armed with foreknowledge of the road I wound it on and invited Little Mark to follow. He tagged on behind and we flew in formation back to
    Lowell, where my tank was in dire need of refilling. We exchanged stories of how the day had gone, he miss-hearing the directions and riding 80 miles the wrong way before realising and retracing his steps. He was also pretty sure that Clive was in front of him at that point, not us.
    Before we left Lowell, I mentioned the 99 miles sign, and the hope that there would be one at the other end that I could photograph. Little Mark also asked that we
    could back it down a bit, as he was knackered after the extra miles! Sure enough, there was a sign at the end, and I got the shot I wanted.



    Much awesomeness!




    A little further on I pulled out to pass a dark green pick up, Mark duly following. I had clocked the driver spotting us in his mirrors, and had waited for a clear space before gunning it. Imagine my surprise when blue lights started flashing in my mirrors? Not again!
    Indicating that I had seen the lights, I rode on further as there was nowhere safe to stop, eventually pulling into a side street. As we got off the bikes I apologised to Little Mark for not spotting the epaulettes on the driver's shoulder.
    "No worries" he said, "leave this to me!"
    The officer addressed me first though, asking if I knew why he'd pulled us up. I meekly suggested that it could be because we were a little over the speed limit?
    "You were going very fast!" He said, wagging a finger at me sternly. I could see Mark wriggling his way out of his jacket, complaining that he was very hot. I wondered what he was doing, but when the officer saw Mark's t-shirt, his attitude changed completely and became very friendly. When Mark explained what a bad day he'd had, and that he'd lost his wallet as well, I thought we were about to get a police escort to the hotel! I can't remember exactly what the t shirt was, but
    it certainly made the difference between a ticket and a caution!
    We cruised the rest of the way to Lewiston, meeting up with the rest of the lads at the hotel, but still no Clive as yet.
    Chris suggested we visit a micro brewery near the hotel where we could get some local beers, and order in pizza. This sounded a good plan, and after changing
    and meeting up in the lobby, Clive walked in! He had done a marathon day, most of it in the wrong direction, and a lot of it at high speed. He was definitely ready for a beer!
    Walking into the micro brewery, the barman asked if we were the English bikers, and told us that the first round had been paid for by the Instructor/Rider coach of the Virginia Rider Training Program. He had met some of the early arrivals at the hotel, and knew we were coming here for a drink. Very decent of him!
    The pizzas went down well, as did the beers, and when we wandered back to the Hotel each bike had an Iron-butt medal sat in the filler cap recess, again courtesy of the Virginia Rider Training Program.
    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  12. #76
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    99 miles of twisties

  13. #77
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    Very GOOD ride report sir you have a talent for detail
    still no deid

  14. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by boatman View Post
    you have a talent for detail
    Why thank you kind sir.
    Don't know what it is, I'm crap with people's names, but I can remember bits of road, sections of track, places, faces etc. Helps I've got a notebook, hundreds of photos and a shit load of video!
    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  15. #79
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    Great writing and a great read, I want a Little Mark T shirt

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    Incidentally The Dalton Highway was on The World's Most Dangerous Roads yesterday. I've seen it before but have videoed it to watch it again. I shall enjoy it all the more having read this excellent RR.

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