Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Overdrive Chronicles - Day 4

It was time to leave Nelson. It was time to leave the plans behind and just ride.

Right from the start, it felt like a very different day. It had rained over night, the road were wet and it had cooled off. We checked out and started loading the bikes. The plan today was to head south a ways. And then west for a while.

Hey, I did say it was time to leave the plans behind, right?!

We rode south out of Nelson towards Salmo. It was still damp out and cool, I should have put my rain jacket on but thought it would warm up. We could see the clouds to the west and I was glad we were heading south before crossing over any passes.

The border crossing was relaxed and slow. We chatted with the border guard and she seemed to enjoy the time.

And then we were off in towards Tiger, WA. Unfortunately they were re-surfacing the roads and gravel from the chip seal was everywhere. So we took it easy and found our turn off. We turned onto Hwy 20 which was supposed to be very scenic. The road does a quick climb out of Tiger and the hairpins were the first chance we got to lean a little. And by lean a little I mean drag some knees.

People seemed to be quite happy to pull over where possible and let us pass, always much appreciated. I was getting colder and had to take a pit stop anyways, so we took a small break once we hit a straight stretch where it seemed safe to pull over and I dug out my rain jacket.

Note that the rubberduck is safely aboard and was enjoying the weather. No fear of getting wet there ;)

We descended into Colville and got some gas. Jerry ended up talking to a guy who had jars under the hood of his Toyota that apparently generated hydrogen and increased his fuel economy by 40 %. I thought the whole thing looked a bit iffy.

The duck didn't express an opinion.

Colville didn't seem like that much of a fun town and we were soon off again.

We were heading to Republic for some food and to decide where we were going to ride to next. Our buddy Don had good things to say about the roads around Republic in the past, of course some of them may have been gravel. In either case the highway got fun, the roads were good, we got some great passing in even though the pavement seemed a bit sketchy to me. I guess that's what happens when the chip seal wears down, it starts looking like tar strips with gravel in the middle.

Just as we cleared the pass it started to rain. Not a good sign.

Luckily the shower didn't last and we got into Republic without getting soaked. We spotted a little diner and were pulled in. We were starving!

The "Breakfast served all day" sign had me sold!

Note that the sky didn't exactly look friendly.

As we were chowing down on some excellent omlettes and drinking some not so excellent coffee, the sky opened up.

Good thing our bags are only mildly water resistant :)

Looks like day 4 will be a long one, so I'm going to split it into 2 parts.

End of part 1 :)

The Overdrive Chronicles - Intermission

So there are a couple of things that should have been part of the story, but for some reason, personally I blame the writer, they were left out.

First, it's the 'crazy squirrels'. Well, that's what Jerry calls them. I think they were chipmunks myself. In either case, these little guys would run out on the road and would stop and basically do donuts in the middle of the road between our tires, while we are screaming past. One literally did a figure 8 between my front and rear tires while I passed over top at over 100 km/h.

I basically aim right for them because they always move so I figure the safest thing to avoid them is aim where you see them. They won't be there once you get there :)

I'm happy to report that neither squirrels nor chipmunks lost their lives on Jerry and my little adventure. Though they may have been a touch scared ;)

Second, where the name came from. I really didn't know what to call our trip this year, but we ended up spending so much time cruising in 6ths gear somewhere just above the speed limit, I just figured it fit. It ended up with both of us getting crazy milage. On one stretch I got 200 km on 10 liters. Which on a literbike is really not bad. Jerry wasn't all that far behind.

Now that we've gotten the intermission out of the way, I'll get to work on the remaining parts. And I'll have updates on the rubberduck too ;)


Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Overdrive Chronicles - Part 3

Needless to say, we did not get up at 6 am and go ride. I think we may have gotten up at 8:30 am and slowly made our way to some breakfast. And even that was a bit of a challenge.

Luckily the bikes were still at the broken meter where we left them (I like broken meters!)


If you do go to Nelson, I recommend the Full Circle Cafe. Good service, good food and a fine looking espresso station

Dallas, the owner of the Mountain Hound, had recommended the place. He also pointed us to some roads that were a little off the beaten path, with good corners and little traffic ... and even less enforcement.

So around 11 am we headed out on the bikes for an easy ride. Unfortunately, all the roads Dallas had recommended were being worked on by road crews. They were laying tar snakes and covering them with sand. Obviously a great condition for 140+ HP bikes.

We made a look out to Rossland and Fernie, but I shot film there so no photos till I develop it :)

On the way back we stopped and I got a couple of digital shots upstream from the dam north of Castlegar.

It was getting windy and muggy, notice the trees in the background.

I do like these rock formations right next to the highway

After we got back we squidded down to the beach. Shorts, sandals, helmet and gloves. We spend about an hour there and I went for a bit of a swim in the lake. Damn chilly but refreshing. Eventually the wind whipped up so much sand that it became uncomfortable and we headed back to the hotel after picking up some gatorade and snacks.

We crashed out for a while once we got back and I then I took my film camera for a bit of a walk. The wind was blowing and dark clouds were moving in. The forecast called for thundershowers overnight and tomorrow.

Eventually we ended up back at the Hume for some more fish and chips. It really is worth having it there!

Hey Jerry, how you feelin' today?

Note the difference in the sky from yesterday

And the difference in Jerry

It must have been the weather getting to him ... right?!


Corona in one hand, chocolate mouse in the other? Really Metz?

It was a short night ;)


Traveling south
A damn huge Dam
Racing the lightening

The Overdrive Chronicles - Part 2 cont.

The ride to New Denver was fairly uneventful, besides a Harley that streaked by. We took it easy and waited for the New Denver Kaslo stretch.

Turning east we started making our way up the hill and got past a mustang and some folks who were pulling their car out of a ditch in no time. From here it all got a bit furious.

I should say that I really love this road. It's the best road I've ever ridden. If it was four times as long that would be about the only thing that would make it better. Almost no driveways, light traffic, great sweepers and they repaved the part closest to Kaslo last year. If there are motorcycles in heaven, the roads must be something like this.

There is one 20 km/h hair pit where both Jerry and I had 'moments' last year, so that was one spot where I took it a bit easy. But every other stretch it was full bore. The twisties were smooth, no gravel, a few passes had to be made but they went by so fast that I hardly noticed. Jerry took a bit of extra time on the passes so a couple of times I slowed and made sure he was with me and all was well. All too soon we entered Kaslo and it was done.

It was all worth it. The commuting day, the long distance ride on sportbikes, all of it was made up for by getting to do the Needles run and the run to Kaslo. What a day!

We stopped for lunch as we were both pretty hungry at this point.

It was in the high 20's but for some reason Jerry ordered tea?!

I think the rubberduck enjoyed the ride on top of the luggage.

From here it was onto Nelson. The road in slows down to 'painful' speeds and we suffered a bit in the heat, it was about 33 degrees in Nelson and we couldn't wait to check into the Mountain Hound Inn.

A bit tired but ready to go out and find some rum!

The rubberduck didn't look like he was tired at all, but we left him behind at the hotel.

We wandered around for a bit and I shoot some film (I need to develop the black and white that I shot, it may be a week or so before I have any of them).

Eventually at 5 pm we ended up at the Hume Hotel. It wasn't too bad outside and we made sure we had plenty of liquids.

Beer for myself, rum and coke for Jerry.

For the first couple of hours we watched the helicopters get water from the lake to fight the forest fires.

The view from the patio

Jerry started collecting straws...

And our waitress kept bringing the drinks

She even posed with Jerry for a photo.

We talked to her and got her story. It's her's, so I won't repeat it all here. :)

Now if you're paying attention, you'll note that Jerry has more straws and the people in the background are changing... and it's getting darker.

Hey Mets, you getting drunk?

Now, sometime after this, some shooters arrived, courtesy of 'the house'. We were there a while and guess we were good fun :)

Eventually (like after 5 hours) even Jerry and I had drunk enough. So we wandered the 2 blocks back to the hotel and chatted with the girl at the front desk for a bit.

Notice all the extra straws.

I have no idea who took this photo or why, but apparently both the ATM and internet were out of order. I didn't think it mattered really...

That's all for day 2.


The beach
Getting ready for the trip south.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Overdrive Chronicles - Part 2

Day 2 - Monday. Always a key day for any trip to the Kooteneys. The commuting is done and the real riding starts.

The first day had me feeling a bit odd. We didn't get any tickets, but we sure didn't ride the way we used to either. Perhaps that's good. But I was curious how this trip was going to work out. Today should answer that.

We'd set the alarms early (6 am) and were packed, checked out and ready to ride by 7am. Well, we thought we were ready to ride. I took us on a little dead end loop of the side streets trying to navigate a 'shortcut' to a gas station and Jerry damn near dropped his bike at a red light. To the point where it hit me and he just caught it.

When we finally did get gas and took off I left the kick stand down ... and I'd checked to make sure it was up. Perhaps we should have had coffee and breakfast before we left.

Too late now, we were on to Westside road. I was particularly keen to get there early as last year we faced a whole lot of traffic when riding it at 8 am.

Well, the short story is that we still had traffic. We got a few good turns in, but soon found ourselves not only in traffic but in construction. So we pulled over to let the group of cars go ahead.

Jerry enjoying the view.

His comment: "F*ck, you sure don't want to run off the road here, that's one helluva drop!"

And a better look at the road. It really does feel like a rollercoaster at times!

We let the cars get a pretty good gap and made some fine time. But things were still quite tame by our standards. There was one small issue on a pass where Jerry felt I didn't leave him enough room to get in, but I did comment that I wasn't responsible for his room when I needed to set up for a tight 30 km/h corner. Either way, I made sure we set a steady pace after to get away from the folks who may be a bit bothered by it all ;)

I had looked up the address for the BCAA in Vernon as I wanted to pick up a BC map just in case. We had time and stopped for breakfast first... and then decided to forget about the map, we had the Destination Highways book after all.

Apparently the hot girls in Vernon like Tim Hortons as there was a steady supply that came past us to get their morning coffee. Not a bad thing really :)

Sorry, no photos of the hot girls.

Now we got a bit more serious about the riding. Out to Lumby and we gassed up and then onto Needles. Traffic was light, the twisties beckoned. Jerry had mentioned that he needed more room after the double yellow passes so room he got. Lots of it. To the point where I lost sight of him a number of times and had to slow a bit till he got around traffic. The pace was 'enthusiastic' though I still tried to ensure I rolled off again in the straight stretches. Still, not too much knee dragging.

Then a bit of good news / bad news. Good news, they are repaving 20 km of the road. Bad news, they weren't done when we got there. So we were nice and steady through the construction zone. But once it ended we got to the front of the line of cars in a real hurry.

And there it was. Mid corner. A large patch of sand, maybe 1/2 inch high. Spread across almost the entire lane. I was leaned and giving her hell and there was an RV oncoming. A quick correction and HARD turn after getting past the sand and I'd made it. Damn it pays to leave just enough in reserve. Jerry made it as well. We blitzed a guy on a Harley 2 up and all too soon the fun was over and we were stopped at the ferry. However, we were close to some forest fires and it got really thick in parts. I kept looking for fire fighters.

As we sat at the ferry waiting, the couple on the Harley pulled up.

"Holy Shit, you guys were flying!" They didn't mind, they enjoyed the show apparently. They are from Alberta and he used to ride sportbikes, though there was more talk about wheelieing than cornering.

Nice folks.

Some shots from the ferry, note the smoke from the fires both to the north and south of us.

That's not the glare from the top of Jerry's head, it really is thick smoke!

And to the south

Last year I was late getting my stuff together as the ferry docks fast and I still almost was late this year. But we got off there first. A huge line up of cars trucks and campers waited on the other side. I got worried that some highway ahead was closed due to the fires. But it was just folks leaving from the Nakusp music festival.

There are some fun twisties at close to the ferry and we ran through there pretty quick. Then we settled at about 20 over. Nice and sedate.

We thought. It turns out that as we closed on a car in the distance, you guessed it, it was an undercover! He flashed the lights for 1/2 a second when we were still a ways back. Obviously we took the hint and slowed right to the speed limit.

Not two corners later a guy on a big beemer comes around the corner and it's LIGHTS and action. The cop actually blocked the highway and for just a second Jerry and I both thought he wanted all three of us. But he let us pass and we took our time into Nakusp.

Day #2. Warning #2. And we hadn't gotten to the really good part yet. Man.

Here we are filling up.

Hey Jerry, what are you looking at?

Here was have the "Shit that was close" grins:

Part 2 to be continued...

The Overdrive Chronicles - Part 1

a.k.a. Jerry and Bjorn's 2008 sportbike trip.

This trip has become a central focus of my summers. Year 1 we did a 3 day run around Mt. St. Helen, last year it was 5 days through the Kooteney's and this year ... well, you'll have to stay tuned :)

We didn't spend too much time planning the early parts of this trip, we both wanted to head back to Nelson and spend a few days there. The roads heading in were some of the best in BC and there was no way we would stay away this year.

For those of you who don't know, there's Jerry on the 954 following me on the ZX9R.

Jerry had gotten the 954 back together after having a moment on the track shortly after that picture was taken. Both he and the bike suffered some bumps and bruises. Luckily both were ready to ride in time.

We were both going stir crazy Saturday before the trip, so I decided to head over there so we could watch a bit of UFC and drink some beer to take our mind of the fact that we had to wait to leave till the morning. I decided to grab all my gear so that we could leave from his house early in the morning instead of meeting up along the highway.

By 7 am we had the bikes loaded and ready to go.

Jerry had just gotten some new Corsa 3's while I was still on the Michelin Pilot Powers that I'd done the previous years trip on. While they were worn, I thought they'd make the trip.

We rode out to Hwy 1 but stopped for a bit of breakfast. This year I had a goal of taking one picture minimum at every stop so that there would be a much higher percentage of photos.

Breakfast of champions?

By the time we'd gotten to Langley we'd already seen the first (of many) cops.

Next we had our least favorite stretch up Hwy 1 to Hope. Nothing but boring slab. And it got a bit cold too in the early morning shadow of the mountains. Sure enough I missed the exit to Hope 'downtown' but luckily there was another.

Off the highway for some gas and a 'pitstop'. Time to put on the rain jacket to keep the cold air out of the perforated leathers.

I'd washed the 9R the day before. Here she is all shiny :D

From Hope we started the climb into Manning park. It got chilly but it was a gorgeous morning. Coming around one corner we saw a 3 point mule deer buck standing right by the side of the highway. It just shows that you never know when the deer are going to be out.

I was reminded of the story our buddy Steve told me of spending time with a rider who'd had a brutal crash along one of the twisty stretches. It's odd when this pops in your head, but I'm pretty sure that it happened last year just hours after Jerry and I passed by there on our way out to Kooteneys.

We set an easy pace, getting into it a bit in the twisties but keeping it nice and sane. And then we entered the warmth of the Princeton. It got to the point where I had to pull open the raincoat to let some air in. Now it felt like we were really on the road. We'd crossed the first set of mountains and the scenery changed from wet green lush forests to fir forests with their distinct smell in the dry heat of the semi-desert.

The third Chevron of the morning ;)

It was about 27 degrees (Centigrade of course) and I spent some quality time standing in the shade while Jerry talked on the phone to his family. I had a chance to look at my tire in the sun and it sure didn't look like it had all that much tread left. Jerry had a good laugh that it was finally my turn to have the "I wonder if this will really make it to the end" syndrome. Normally that's his domain. No turning back now though, it's time to head on.

We were back on the bikes and heading for Osoyoos. A guy on a Buell went past us and I started using him as a rabbit for a bit, but Jerry was hanging back fairly far so I backed off. No sense anyways, the real fun wasn't going to be starting till tomorrow, today was a commuting day for us.

In Keremeos I broke my rule and we got gas and I didn't get a picture at the stop. But it was a touch hot and I never even took my helmet off. Just outside, yup, one more cop! But I take it easy around these parts as I got a ticket here in 2004 for ... well, lets say that he was very kind and it turned out to be very minor compared to what it could have been.

We warned a bunch of sportbikers of the cop ahead, though I have a feeling they already knew from how nice and slow they were going.

Slurpee's it was once we got into Osoyoos!

I'm not sure what the temperature was at this point, but it wasn't the 35 degrees we had last year. Maybe 30 :D We had some fruit with the slurpees. Life is all about balance, no?! I doused my shirt in some water (I'd taken a 1 liter bottle along for this purpose after riding in 42 degrees last year it's better to be prepared!).

A guy from Alberta stopped on a fully farkled KLR and we chatted. I told him no KLR should look as clean as his did. ;)

After a 1/2 hour or so we jumped back on the bikes and headed up to 'Anarchist'. Last year we had some horrible tar snakes here and the bikes got damn squirrly at 1xx km/h. The strips seemed smaller this year and we were prepared. It was almost fun trying to find the line with the least strips. And one more cop! Luckily we were still in commuting mode.

Then the turn up Hwy 33 in Rock Ridge. The road up the Kettle river valley is beautiful. There was hardly any traffic so we rolled into it a bit more through the corners. I guess we didn't quite back off enough in the straight stretches because in one of the straights a white oncoming car turned out to be an unmarked cop. Bloody Hell!

I hit the brakes and he waved in his windshield in the easy to understand "slow the HELL down" gesture. But, no lights, no tickets, no problem :)

Too close for comfort. Warning #1.

Not too long after I realized the hydration packs were working like a charm. Maybe too well. So we stopped in a bit of a shadowy spot for some 'relief'.

Jerry laughing about our 'close encounter of the cop kind'.

By 3:00 we were in Kelowna.

Turns out the Accent inn is leaving little rubber ducks in every room now. This little rubber duck decided that the laundry is an excellent duck pond. Who am I to argue?!

I also decided to adopt the little fella and take him from the dark bathroom in room 229 on the road trip of his little rubberduck life. Now we had a 3rd companion. If he managed to stay on the bike. I tried to get another one from the front desk and the girl there mentioned to come back after 8, but when I did there were too many people lined up. So only one rubber duck.

We were hungry and thirsty so over to Kelsey's we went (the fact that we got a 10% discount for staying at the hotel helped).

I took a photo of Jerry for his online dating profile...

... or maybe that wasn't it. Who can recall?!

Trip appropriate shirt

We were back in the hotel to watch the AMA superbike race on TV. Good timing on our part. Not that we really needed the inspiration for the ride ahead. We were plenty ready to wear the tires right to the edge.

"Hey Jerry, you tired or something?"

"#@&( %^^"

As you can see from the photo, that's pretty much it for day one. A good day, but, as they say, 'the best is yet to come'.


How do you like your mid corner gravel while at full lean?!
Flashing lights -- F**K!!!
The best highway in BC, now repaved and smoother and faster than before.
Ditches and the people who end up in them.
Nelson, cute brunettes and way too much alcohol.