The Motorcycle Diaries – Part Three

Part Three of The Motorcycle Diaries will take us from Jasper to Kamloops and then on to the lower mainland. If you’re just joining me you can find Part One here and Part Two here.

Jasper was beautiful! If you ever get a chance to drive (or even better, ride) through the Alberta National Parks – do it! We had taken a short walk around Jasper the night before but everything was already closed when we got there. We had a nice dinner at the fancy hotel restaurant but made a critical error in ordering an appetizer that was large and delicious and we ate all of it. I think both of us ate about half of our entrees due to the appetizer debacle. After a good sleep we set out for Kamloops in the morning. We stopped at the only souvenir store open in the morning for some Jasper stickers and fuelled up where we met a lady riding a Harley who was super hardcore. Long gray hair under a bandana and a leather wrap around her braid. She was obviously a very confident and competent rider because she passed several cars behind us before finally passing us and riding off alone into the beautiful day. I can only hope to be that cool when I grow up. We also saw a couple riding two up on a KLR650 with a significant amount of luggage and thanked the motorcycle gods that neither of us is interested in ever taking a trip together on one bike. The lady on the back waved at me wistfully and I could hear her thinking “oh gawd I wish I was riding my own bike on this trip.”

We stopped at Mt. Robson for some photos at the spectacular viewpoint. The weather was beautiful, there was no wind and I was listening to music and feeling really really good for the first time on the trip. We pulled in and I put my kickstand down to get off the bike. I wasn’t quite sure that it was down correctly so I looked down and made double sure it was secure. I stepped on my left peg to lift my right leg over my luggage and off the bike when I realized I was wrong and very wrong.  My kickstand folded and my bike started falling to the left. I hop-hopped off while I let out a little squeal and the bike dropped on its side. I wasn’t injured and Cameron and I picked up the bike without a problem but discovered the lock had broken on my pelican luggage case on the left side. The case itself was fine (thanks to Pelican’s amazing ruggedness) , and the bike was fine (CRASH BARS!!!!) but the lock was done. Cameron spent some time in this beautiful place zap strapping my case onto the rack and it was more secure when he was done than it is with the lock on it.

We read so many tips on things to bring on a long motorcycle trip before we left and almost every one of them said to bring extra zap straps because you never know when you might need them. Thankfully we took that advice and he had zap straps in his tool bag. We would have been royally screwed without them. If you go on a bike trip, BRING ZAP STRAPS. Or alternatively, don’t drop your bike. But seriously, bring zap straps.

It was hot enough at Mt. Robson that I decided it was time to ditch my jacket and ride in my jersey and armour for the first time on the trip. I have some amazing Icon ladies armour that I wear under my jacket. There are approximately one hundred options for mens armour and three for ladies armour. I ordered the Icon ladies armour earlier this year and I really love it. It’s only chest and back armour but it fits great and is really comfortable. Also, like the rest of my gear, it’s black and pink. I wore it over my black and pink Fox jersey with my black and pink Fox gloves and my black pink and white Fly Racing pants and felt pretty badass. My bike is black also so I make quite the black and pink spectacle flying down the road.

The ride was getting really hot and occasionally we’d come down into a valley and the road would wind beside the North Thompson River and the cool air would waft over us for a while. It would feel great for a few minutes before the road would climb back into a mountain pass that heated up. For the first time on the trip we started to encounter multi-lane roads and traffic. As we came down into Kamloops the temperature climbed until it was almost unbearable. We keep going until we ended up outside Hotel 540 in downtown Kamloops. By this time both of us were very overheated as were our bikes. I’ve been having trouble with my kickstand during this trip. If the ground where I stop is perfectly flat or sloped to the left I can get my kickstand down and step on my left peg to get off and it’s all good. If the ground is even slightly sloped to the right however I cannot get off the bike without Cameron’s help. The kickstand is about an inch too long. The bike doesn’t lean over enough and is in constant danger of falling over to the right. It has a centre stand which is very stable on any type of ground but I cannot get off the bike with the kickstand up. I’m too short to do it without dropping it. I’ve been feeling very dependant on Cameron to help me on and off about 75% of the time because of this. We’ve looked up the problem and apparently it’s a very common problem on my bike that is constantly complained about. Many people have their kickstand shortened about an inch to fix the problem but we haven’t been able to get that done for me yet. This is relevant as we pulled into Kamloops because as we parked on the street in the sun outside the hotel Cameron hopped off his bike and literally dove for the shade against the building to get out of the baking hell sun. It was 36 degrees Celsius there. We had parked on the side of the road so it was sloping to the right and I was stuck on my bike. I couldn’t get off without dropping it and Cameron was standing in the shade against the building while I sat on my bike sweating my face off. I turned my bike off, lifted my shield, looked and him and muttered “help, help” in a pathetic pleading voice. He said “you’re on your own” and left me there to bake. Douche

I must have given him an especially good – angry wife – look because moments later he came back into the vampire slaying sun to help me off and put my bike on it’s centre stand. We recovered in the shade for a few minutes before making our way into the hotel. Turned out they had a shady undercover breezeway right in front of the doors that we could have turned into but missed in our hot-panic. We stumbled into the lobby sweaty, dirty and shabby looking and checked in. We’d reserved a king club suite the day before with our BCAA discount. We’ve been getting pretty good deals as we’re right in the shoulder season before the kids get out of school. We didn’t plan it that way but it has worked out very well timing wise. This hotel was quite fancy on the inside and we felt very out of place in our dirtiness. We got up to our room after parking our bikes in the –slightly less sweltering than outside – underground parking lot. Immediately after unloading our things we headed for the rooftop pool. It so happened that there was a wedding reception taking place in the conference room adjacent to the pool. The room was open to the pool deck and roped off with a thick fancy velvet rope. We gave zero shits and plunged our hot selves into the pool. Every table around the pool was occupied and the wedding reception was full of fancily dressed people waiting for the couple to arrive. The pool was empty and we jumped right in to cool off. We spend about 10 minutes in there feeling like heaven and then another 5 minutes feeling awkward with all the fancy people around us until we got out to go back to our room. We gave ourselves a token dry with the pool towels and walked towards the elevator back to our room. When we passed the entrance to the conference room the bridal couple was waiting to enter their reception behind the closed doors and we passed within a foot of the bride dripping our pool water and road dirt just behind the train of her beautiful dress. Cameron muttered “don’t do it!” And I replied “it’s too late!” and we laughed all the way back to our room. We may have had some heat stroke… There’s no way to know. Don’t worry, we didn’t really say that.

For two days I had been feeling like I brought too many clothes and wanted to mail some things home to myself when we got the opportunity. After we dried off from our pool shenanigans I looked up post offices in Kamloops. There was no way I was getting back on my bike in the desert of misery so I was hoping there was one within walking distance. It was Saturday evening so I wasn’t very hopeful but the internet told me there was one post office still open in Kamloops and it happened to be in the London Drugs not 200 meters from our hotel. We had 40 minutes until it closed so I packed up everything I didn’t need and we walked over to mail it all home which made me feel much better about my luggage space. This is also where I picked up my awesome tiny keyboard that I’m typing this on now. I’m glad I brought everything I did on my first motorbike trip because I really wasn’t sure what I’d need, but I’m also glad I was able to unload some excess clothing back home when I did. We sent one package home that was probably close to five pounds in weight and included a lot of my extra clothes and all of Cameron’s extras which amounted to one thermal shirt. Cameron looked out the window and saw a Senor Froggys restaurant which we had never heard of but is apparently a Mexican fast food chain restaurant. We didn’t want to go to a chain restaurant. I read on one adventure biker’s tip article that “if you go on a motorcycle tour and eat at a chain restaurant, you’ve failed.” Well we’ve failed with some iced capps at Timmies and some DQ ice cream but I was determined not to fail so spectacularly as to have Mexican fast food for the main meal of the day. We searched out the best Mexican restaurant in Kamloops (thank you Internet) and it was 350 meters from our hotel. We ate there and I had the best quesadilla of my life.

The next morning we set out for fuel and then the Coquihalla Highway. Kamloops is very hilly and there aren’t really any traffic lights on hills in Whitehorse so neither of us have much experience starting our bikes on hills. We stopped at a steep light and I was nervous to get my bike started on it. Luckily we’d gotten out early as we wanted to make it to the lower mainland as early as possible to beat the heat that day so there was no traffic behind us. I kept my back brake on with my right foot while I let the clutch out and got my bike started. I stalled once but got it started up right away and took off. Cameron was ok also on this light. The next light however was even steeper. Cameron was on my right in the lane and I was slightly behind him. He stalled and I was able to start this time. I told him on the Sena that I was going to pass him on the left and he told me “FUCK!!!!” My bike can be started any time as long as the clutch is pulled in (which is normal). Cameron’s bike can only be started when it is in neutral. The previous owner had disabled something so that it can’t be started unless it’s in neutral which is very annoying and a little dangerous as well. My bike also turns off automatically if you put it in gear with the kickstand down. His doesn’t, so when he stalled he couldn’t just pull the clutch in and get it started again. He had to put the brake on to keep it from rolling backwards and then get in neutral (which is finicky on his bike) and then start it and try again. He said he felt like that was pretty unsafe and it was lucky he wasn’t in traffic. I agreed and said it was a pretty good reason to get a new bike. He actually agreed with me…. The – will he get a new bike? Won’t he get a new bike – saga continues…

We had a beautiful – warm but not too hot – drive on the Coquihalla. There were three lanes and the speed limit was 120kph the entire way. I didn’t remember the speed limit being so high but it was great. There was no wind and occasionally when we passed a little valley I could feel a blast of cold air coming off the mountain or the smell of the forest and I listened to some rock music, sang my face off and loved it. This was my best day so far. I was getting more comfortable and the weather was great and I was going to see my mommy and daddy that day which can do a lot for a girl ;). I told Cameron that there was a 40% chance I would collapse in my mother’s arms in tears when we got there relieved to have made it so far with only minor incidents. We only made two stops during the 340km ride. Once at a rest stop and once in Chilliwack. We exited the highway for fuel and stopped at a red light in the left turn lane. It was about 30 degrees and we were baking. It was a big intersection in which each direction of traffic goes one at a time including the left turn lane. We just missed the light and we were first in line. The three other directions of traffic went and we sat there in full sun, sweating. When it was our turn the left turn light didn’t go. We weren’t heavy enough to trigger the sensor. We swore and sweated and I creeped up as close as I could get to Cameron and the semi truck behind me creeped up until he was almost kissing my back tire so the light would turn green on the next rotation. After what felt like an hour in the sun the light changed and we got a green. We fuelled up and had the aforementioned iced capps in the air conditioned restaurant before leaving for Port Moody.

This was the first time we encountered real traffic on the whole journey. I wasn’t scared of the traffic at all. I thought that was kind of ironic considering all my fears up to that point because traffic is really the most dangerous thing to a motorcyclist. I figured that I wasn’t scared because I can usually predict what stupid shit those derps will do. I’ve been driving in lower mainland traffic since I learned how to drive and spent ten years doing it until I moved to the Yukon where the drivers are far worse but definitely fewer and slower. While I have lots of experience in traffic, I have had very little or no experience riding on wet roads, in gravel, or downhill on a wet road in gravel and wind (my own personal hell). Traffic didn’t bother me at all.

We pulled into my parents house and I did not collapse in tears because I was too fucking hot to do so. While it wasn’t as hot as Kamloops I was still in a hot panic by the time Cameron helped me (yes I was stuck on a slope again) get off my bike. I ripped off all my layers of armour and clothes and crazy hot dirt boots and just stood in the shade in my shorts and tank top happy to be home.

I wrote most of this blog about four days ago and have been so busy that I haven’t gotten around to editing and photoing and posting it. I’m getting pretty far behind now but I’m not too worried about it. I’m determined to get all of this trip blogged because it has been so amazing, and terrifying, and beautiful, and I guess… character building? I want to remember it all and even if only ten people ever read this I want to write it for Cameron and I to look back and remember how awesome it was, but at the same time I hope you also enjoy our stories of wonder and woe. So thank you for reading and see you soon!


Coming soon – Ferry shenanigans, Vancouver Island and Butchart Gardens, Saltspring Island, and more Ferry shenanigans.

The Motorcycle Diaries – Part Two

If you’re joining me for the first time let me bring you up to date. My blog is normally about my journey (or more accurately struggle) towards fitness and weight loss. For the next three weeks I’m taking a break from that to write about the 6000 km motorcycle trip my husband Cameron and I have taken from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Vancouver Island and back again. As I write this I am sitting on a sun deck on the Island with an epic view of the Pacific Ocean and Gulf Islands. It’s a beautiful warm day eight of our trip and I can’t believe we’ve finally made it here. It’s been such an interesting trip that I wanted to write about it but I didn’t bring my keyboard with me…. However since there are such things as stores in the south lands I went out and bought myself a fancy schmancy keyboard that folds up small enough to fit in my motorcycle bags so that I could bring my adventures to you! Even though we’re on day seven I have only managed to blog days one and two so far which you can find here. I will catch up eventually but for now, without further ado, let me bring you days three and four.

Day Three

The morning of day three we woke up in Fort Nelson planning on driving 453 kilometers to Dawson Creek. When we left our bikes the night before Cameron had locked the wheel on his bike. As he did that he told me that he thought locking the wheel once before may have drained the battery but “if I’m going to have a dead battery somewhere it might as well be when we’re in a town and no the middle of nowhere.” I had to agree.

When we got out to the bikes the next morning… possibly not early… surprise, surprise his battery was dead. Cameron was fairly angry about this. I was confused when he was angry because it seemed like he expected it the night before. Once I reminded him that this kind of thing was all part of the trip and also that he expected it to happen he realized that there was no point in being angry and it was all part of trip and he cheered up. We purchased a BCAA membership before the trip just in case we got a flat tire or ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere and we thought about calling, but then I realized that we should just ask the hotel if they could give him a jump (derp!). A young fellow helped us out and grabbed the hotel shuttle which he used to jump start Cameron’s bike. He saw our plates and told us all about how he had relatives in Whitehorse and had visited there and thought it was very pretty but it was “way too far from Vancouver” to live.

Another surprise we had that morning was a note from Peter along with a couple of empty bottles to help us out.

We thought that was pretty funny. After getting Cam’s bike started we headed out towards Dawson Creek. The riding this day was uneventful. I had been leading for the first two days with Cameron behind me so that he could watch me and give me riding tips on the Sena (our Bluetooth communication contraption). On day three however Cameron rode in front of me for the first time and it made a huge difference to me to have him in front. He could warn me of any big potholes or gravel or crazy road conditions and it made me feel much more comfortable than I expected it would. I was finally able to relax slightly and listen to some music and enjoy the riding. The road was good and the weather was decent and I didn’t have ten pounds of sticky rain gear on. I put on my Spotify “Air Punch” playlist and was boppin to the music while I rode.

We stopped for lunch at the Buckinghorse River Café which was tiny but had good food and when we left there was a Cloud Of Doom on the horizon. It wasn’t exactly clear if the road was heading towards the doom cloud or just around it. We chanced it and stayed rain gear free and thus able to do up my own boots for a while. We decided that if it started raining on us in earnest we’d stop to get me into my Michelin Man rain suit. The whole day we skirted just around the edge of the Cloud Of Doom and although we occasionally encountered wet roads we were lucky enough to only get slightly drizzled on for a moment or two before we were back to the dry. I hadn’t much experience on wet roads though so I was very nervous on them. Every time we got to a wet section my brain said “YOU ARE RIDING ON ICE KIRSTIN, SLOW DOWN!” My brain was wrong however (for the second time ever) it was not slippery at all. Cameron put great tires on my bike and it was totally fine… I just had to get over my ridiculousness. I’m still a little nervous on the wet but nothing like that first day.

All in all day three was decent. I was still struggling quite a bit with fear but I was able to get some music on and sing in my helmet and say to myself one hundred times “you’re ok Kirsti, you’re ok” and I was ok. When we got into Dawson Creek we went to a car wash and Cameron washed off our dirty hobo bikes before heading to the hotel.

The hotel is where I met Jean, my motorcycle riding – pep talking – angel. I went outside to grab something from the top case of my bike and he was out there unpacking his Triumph. He’d just gotten in and was wearing an amazing leather vest with “Veteran” on the back and many beautiful patches on the front. Jean is a Canadian Veteran who was with NATO during his military career. He left his home in Montreal in November of last year and has been touring North America since then. He was in the last three weeks of his trip when we met him. His goal was to get a photo at the Alaska Highway sign in Dawson Creek and he was about to head home. We got to talking (as you do to other bikers when you’re on your bike) and I told him we had also taken a photo at the sign which we had passed many times in cars but never stopped at.

I told him about my fears and how much I had been struggling on the first few days of our trip. He told me that I didn’t need to be scared all the time and that many people, in fact most people would never do anything like this in their life. Maybe I’ll crash, maybe I won’t… But if I spend the whole trip worrying that something crappy will happen I won’t enjoy the good times we will have. In general in life I’m not a worrier so I don’t know why I couldn’t let it go and relax with this trip. Jean really helped me put it in perspective and realize that this may be a once in a lifetime experience for me. I’m hoping that I’ll get to do it again when I have more experience, but I may not. I didn’t want to ruin it by being scared all the time. So I cut that shit out. Do I still have moments of fear? Yep, sure do. But I stopped being scared 90% of the time as I was before. There’s no point. That’s not fun. After I met Jean things changed for me, and after he met us he decided he couldn’t finish his trip without hitting the Yukon and Alaska. So he went up to Watson Lake and got photos at the signpost forest and then rode down the Cassiar and went to Hyder, Alaska before heading back east. So to Jean, if you read this, please know that you changed my trip for the better and meeting you made me less scared all the time… I’m so glad you kept going north because you met us and I hope we were able to change your trip for the better as well. I will never ever forget meeting you and what a difference you made for me. Thank you!

Day Four

Cameron had been having trouble with his turn signals on his bike. The left signal had stopped working. When he tried to fix the left signal the right signal stopped working. Cam has been wanting a new bike for a while. He put a lot of work into his old KLR repainting it and fixing it up and it looks great, but riding is what he loves to do and he rides every day possible at home so I keep telling him that if he wants a new bike he should get it. Cameron, however, needs a reason to buy something new. I told him broken turn signals seemed like a pretty good reason… Then he fixed them. When we filled up with fuel that day he thought my newer bike probably had better fuel economy than his old one so we compared when we filled up. 10.3 litres for him… 10.3 litres for me. Yet another excuse gone. Oh well, maybe I can push it over some time and break something that will convince him to buy a new bike, we’ll have to wait and see.

After another chat with Jean at our hotel’s continental breakfast he rode off into the morning. Five minutes later as we were packing our bikes he rode back into the parking lot and added us to Facebook! I’m so glad he came back and did that. Soon after we left for Jasper.

The ride through Grande Prairie and towards Grande Cache can be summed up with one word. Wind. The first time I rode this bike it had been windy in Whitehorse and that was a little scary, but the wind on day four made that wind seem as powerful as a 90 year old blowing out birthday candles. This was bold, italic and underlined wind! I fought with fear for a while and was pretty tense. Eventually I was able to remind myself of what Jean said and relaxed quite a bit. Unsurprisingly it was much better when I relaxed and learned to lean into it. The wind generally came from the right side and was able to blow Cameron and I two feet across the road on occasion. If we stayed in the right hand lane position this was ok and I didn’t get blown into the oncoming lane or feel like I was going to fall over anymore after relaxing. Of course riding to the right was a problem when I suddenly got a gust from the left and it blew me onto the shoulder of the road. The shoulder was nice and wide and there were no semi trucks coming at me from there so that was alright. The first time I got a little jolt of adrenaline as I was blown towards the rumble strip. My brain told me that if I hit the rumble strip it would be pretty much ice and my bike would just shoot out from under me. As usual when I thought the road was ice, I was wrong. The rumble strip is just rumbly, like it’s supposed to be. It says “hey idiot! Wake up! You’re going off the road.” Not “I am ice, say goodbye to all your skin.” Well now I know.

The scenery was pretty much what you’d expect from somewhere called Grande Prairie. Once we got into Grade Cache it changed for the better. The road was twisty and mountainous and beautiful. One thing I’ve noticed most about riding a motorcycle as opposed to being in a car is the smells of the journey. You can smell everything and there are more pleasant ones than you’d think. On my bike I have smelled fragrant trees and plants, a forest fire that was burning just two weeks ago, brakes burning on semi trucks going downhill, fresh cut grass in fields, cattle farms and fresh rain on the road. In Dawson Creek we were sitting at a red light and I smelled a very strong vanilla smell. I looked to my right and there was a 17ish year old girl in an old beater car with at least 6 vanillaroma tree car fresheners on her rear view mirror. Cameron was ahead of me and I was telling him about it when the light turned green and she passed him. He smelled it too and even when she was 200 meters ahead of us we could smell the vanilla wafting out of her open window. I said that I bet she smells like vanilla all the time. Cameron said “yep, but at least she doesn’t smell like weed.” I laughed pretty hard.

The drive continued to be windy but beautiful all the way into Jasper. We arrived at the hotel at the same time as a big convoy of cruiser bikes with the men driving and the women on the back. People that ride cruisers don’t ever give the bike wave to us lowly adventure bike riders but they always seem to talk to us when we meet up at a gas station or rest stop and are usually super nice… Just too cool to wave I suppose. These guys had ridden up together from Edmonton for the weekend and asked us questions about our ride when they saw our Yukon plates. We had a good chat and then went to our hotel room which was the coolest hotel room we’ve seen. It was two levels with a living room, kitchenette, bathroom and balcony on the first floor. It had a real wood burning fireplace and a comfy place to sit which we proceeded to fill with our luggage. It’s amazing how much stuff you can pack in some seemingly small bike cases and we constantly amaze ourselves when we unpack and spread out with how much stuff we have. The second floor of the room was a loft bedroom with a queen bed and a half wall overlooking the bottom floor. We sat on the balcony for a while before going to for dinner and collapsing into exhaustion sleep once again.

The next day was on to Kamloops which was a baking hot hell hole that you will read about in episode three. Will our Yukon bodies survive the heat? Will Cameron get a new bike? Will I manage to go the whole trip without dropping my bike? Stay tuned to find out!!


My current view… Not to shabby.

The Motorcycle Diaries – Part 1

Days One and Two

In a twist from my regular (or not so regular) updates about my health and fitness, for the next three weeks my blog will be taken over by The Motorcycle Diaries. Cameron and I are on a motorcycle trip from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory to Vancouver Island and back again. We are currently at the end of day five. I was going to write about the first five days all together but so many interesting things have happened already that it would be an impossibly long blog post that no one would be able to read. I’m going to break it up into two days at a time until we have a few normal days and I can catch up… If normal never happens (very possible) then I’ll catch up after I get home. I didn’t plan on writing about this trip but it’s been so intersting that I really wanted to. Of course I didn’t bring my keyboard with me and trying to type it all on the iPad was impossible, so today I went and bought a fancy keyboard that folds up to a tiny size to fit in my bags and now I’m off to the blog races.

Cameron and I left Whitehorse on May 31st for a three week trip on his 2000 KLR650 and my 2012 KLR650. Cameron has been riding for about four years but this is year one for me. I got my licence just over a month ago and we thought it would be a great idea at the time to set out together for warmer climates and different roads. I understand already why they call it “adventure motorcycling” and we haven’t even left a main road yet. Even so, it’s been an adventure!

We left on my first day off after a night shift. I went home and slept for about four hours and then got up and got ready to go. The schedule for our first day was to go from Whitehorse to Watson Lake, about 440 kilometres. We left Whitehorse at 2:00 PM after packing everything up and making a couple of stops in town. I have been nervous about this trip for a few weeks. My KLR650 is much bigger than the bike I learned on and love, a Yamaha XT225. I’ve been excited about the trip as well, not just nervous… But mostly nervous.

We had pretty good weather the first day and the riding was going well until the road got quite potholey. I was doing a good job of avoiding them but all of a sudden there were potholes across the entire road and one right in front of me was unavoidable. It was deep and terrifying. I was staring my death in the face. My whole body tensed up, I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. Then I remembered that Cameron said I need to relax. So right before I hit the pothole I made sure I had a good grip on the handlebars and relaxed the rest of my body. I thought my front tire was going in that pothole, stopping dead, and I was going to keep going over the handlebars. I was ready for the end, but the KLR just said “meh” and went right through it with a big bump. Cameron was following behind me and he hit the pothole on his KLR which also said “meh” and tanked on through it. Thank you draft horse of adventure bikes!

We ate lunch in Teslin. I wasn’t very hungry so I just asked for a side of fries… Then they told me the soup of the day was beef barley so I said I’d have that. This is what I got.

It’s pretty much a bucket of soup and ALL of their french fries. We laughed pretty hard. I ate about ¾ of the soup and when I finished with the fries it still looked like an entire platter that could feed a family of four.. We’re still laughing about it actually. Hilarious.

The first night we stayed in Watson Lake thanks to the hospitality of Jon and Jenna who were away in Texas on their own bike trip but generously let us stay in their house anyway. Thank you both and we’re looking forward to riding with you later this summer… Or boating… That would also be fun to the max. We stopped at the grocery store and got a frozen pizza which Cam attached to the back of his bike in the plastic grocery bag. We filled our pockets with drink and headed to Jon and Jenna’s. I rode behind him to make sure we didn’t lose the pizza. It survivied. We were exhausted. More exhausted than I thought you could be from sitting on a bike all day. We had to stop every 100km or less due to extreme arse pain. Riding is very physical and without these last many months of training I wouldn’t have lasted more than two days. That’s not a “might not have lasted” it’s a “definitely would not have lasted”. This is most likely the hardest thing I have ever done both mentally and physically. You’ll have to stick with The Motorcycle Diaries to find out why in full but as I’ve been reminded, the hard things are usually the things worth doing.

Think of a trip you could do where you were terrified about 70% of the time. I have much less terror now, but the first three days pretty much went like this –> fear, stress, fear, terror, adrenaline, fear, ooh this is nice, arse pain, terror, adrenaline, stress, nicotine, lunch, fear, adrenaline, stress, arse pain, adrenaline, nicotine, nicotine, fear, terror, adrenaline, stress, nicotine, fear, arse pain, end of the day!! Booze, exhaustion sleep. Don’t worry, it’ll get better when we get to day four but no less interesting.

Day two took us from Watson Lake to Fort Nelson. This was the day of The Incident. The morning started out with alright weather. It was cloudy but didn’t look like it was going to rain imminently. We had breakfast at Bee Jay’s. This is a place that looks Iike it’s been closed for 20 years but actually serves really good breakfast. We hit the road late morning and had a few hard packed gravel sections in construction zones that I was nervous about but had no problem with. Then we hit a very loose gravel section and I have never ridden in anything like this before. I was doing ok until this happened:

Cameron was yelling “slow” at me in the Sena (our Bluetooth communication thing of awesomeness). This confused me because I was pretty sure the right thing to do was speed up a little and that was what I was doing. I managed to wrestle the front wheel straight and keep the bike up which is a major miracle. Peter, who saw the video later that night, said I “James Paterson’d the wheel straight. I thought that description was funny and exactly right. I James Paterson’d the shit outta those handlebars, and James Paterson was the one who trained me to be able to do that, mentally and physically. Thanks buddy 😉

The Incident stayed with me for the rest of the day and every time there were construction signs or gravel patches I was pretty terrified. Cameron said I was silly to worry about something that didn’t happen (i.e. a crash) because I did well and stayed up. He was completely right, but I was still pretty terrified. We made it to Fort Nelson with no further incident. We got a good photo at Summit Lake and Nothern Rockies Lodge at Muncho Lake and some great GoPro videos that Cam will edit and post later on YouTube. I’ll add the link when he does. We also discovered I look hilarious in my rain gear and cannot do up my boots by myself when I have it all on. As Cameron was fastening my boots I asked him if he felt like he was taking a child on a motorcycle trip… He said it felt exactly like that. I had to agree. He gets one million man points for patience and a good sense of humour on this trip so far.

In Fort Nelson we stopped to fuel up and a very nice lady in a van parked at the gas station left her spot to drive over and chat to us. On a bike trip, everyone wants to talk to you. It’s really neat compared to traveling in a car. You meet some cool people. In episode two I will talk about one of the coolest people I have ever met (on day three) who told me not to be so scared all the time… And then I wasn’t. So back to the gas station… This lady drove over and asked where we were from and where we were going and we chatted for a bit. Then she said “ya know, if you’re on a budget and need a place to stay I work at the men’s shelter and we can definitely give you a bed and a meal.” We were a little stunned for a second and then I smiled and thanked her very much for the kind offer but we’d probably go with the hotel tonight. She seemed a little dissapointed. We looked at our bikes and ourselves and realized how dirty they both were. Cameron said our bikes must look like hobo bikes. I had bug splatters all over my jacket. We proceeded to find the nicest hotel in Fort Nelson and stayed there.

We had dinner at Dan’s Pub. They had just reopened days before our visit with new owners and they brought us the most delicious shots in the world on the house for opening week. They called them “crispy crunch” and they tasted like boozy chocolate heaven. When we were eating dinner we heard from Peter who was headed in the opposite direction towards home with a new Van and had just pulled into town. He joined us at dinner and this time Cameron had made the mistake of ordering too much food this time with a double order of wings. Luckily Peter was able to help him out. He checked into the same hotel as us and we had a great time hanging out after dinner and have a few drinks together. We showed Peter the video and he told me I James Paterson’d it. Finally I started feeling better about my near crash.

The first two days were over and I had almost crashed twice, cried in my helmet twice, wondered what the fuck I was doing in the middle of nowhere on a motorcycle that I’d just learned how to ride uncountable times and enjoyed myself for about two minutes total. But I was determined to do it. Cameron had been amazing. Patient and helpful and understanding. Even though he’s wanted to do a bike trip for years he offered to turn around or fly me home or anything I needed. That was amazing but I was determined to see it through or crash trying. I always quit the hard shit and I refused to quit this. I’m so glad I pushed on because as I said, it got better, much much better. But you’ll have to keep reading to find out how and when. Stay tuned for Episode Two in the next few days. Until then…

Keep the shiny side up…

P.S. I’ve finally finished this post and it’s late and I haven’t proof read it 1000 times like I normal do (and still make mistakes) but I care not and am going to bed now! So sorry about the goofs… I’m sure you know what I mean.

Day three preview.