Monday, July 20, 2009

Solo Ride to Kelowna, BC

Well, I am back from my weekend in Kelowna, BC. While it was originally planned as a scooter ride to attend a scooter rally that's not the way things have turned out. During the past month I have been prepping my super scooter, my Kymco X500Ri. It had been serviced, oil change, new rear tire, fluids and brakes checked. My riding partner was also going to ride his Kymco X500Ri. Gary has a matching white one just like mine. We have a matched set. A few weeks ago Gary strained his arm doing something stupid. He visited the Doctor on Thursday and was advised NOT to ride his scooter as it would have created too much stress on his docile frame. As it turned out, many of the regulars who travel to Kelowna each year to attend this rally, decided not to go. As I was going solo I decided at the last minute to take my Suzuki SV650n. I purchased Ram-Mounts for my GPS and VideoCam recently and got everything set up

(Coldwater Road, Merritt, BC - a short break on the side of the road)

While I do not have a dedicated motorcyle GPS(not waterproof), they had secure mounts for my model. My video cam is mounted on the right handlebar so I can view the screen easier. I have it set up to turn on automatically when you open the LCD screen. It is not shielded by the windshield and gets the full brunt of the air flow and whatever debris comes its way. That is the reason that I purchased a waterproof model. I thought that it would take care of itself but some debris got stuck to the lens and shows up as a large spot on many of my videos. I know now to check the lens once in a while to keep it clean.

I am not used to putting in long hours in the saddle. Kelowna is normally a 4-1/2 hour ride from Vancouver using the Coquihalla highway through the mountains. We usually take the lower, more scenic slower route through Keremeos which adds another couple of hours or so, but as I could not leave work until mid afternoon, I had no other option but to stick to the super highway.

(Hwy 8: from Merritt to Spences Bridge, BC)

As I am riding along Hwy 8, I see the great devastation that the pine beetle has caused. All the mountains are RED with the sight of dying pine trees rendering the wood virtually useless. The government has started a spraying program but years too late.

I am not sure whether you have heard the news but there is a huge fire in the West Kelowna area (Westbank, BC). We were in Westbank in Bear Creek Park enjoying a couple of hours having a picnic lunch and beverage and did not realize that on the other side of the mountain behind us was a fire in the early stages of going out of control in the Glen Rosa area.

When we returned to Kelowna over the new WAC Bennett Bridge I noticed this huge smoke funnel

(Kelowna Waterfront, looking south towards Westbank, BC)

Little did I know at the time that this was going to create a problem returning to Vancouver as the fire was expanding due to the high winds and both highways (Hwy 97 & Hwy 97c) were going to be closed. This meant that there were no South and West routes out of Kelowna.

While there were still rally activities happening during Sunday, I decided to get an early start on the road. I had previously arranged to meet up with a friend from Green Lake and I was headed towards Spences Bridge. I hopped onto my bike at slightly after 9am and arrived home in Vancouver at slightly after 9pm, so I had spent 12 hours in the saddle. I tried to purchase some sort of throttle locker, or cruise control before I left but came up empty. My right arm is aching and I find that I require a better riding seat to promote better circulation in my legs.

There seemed to be a lot of riders transversing the country on bikes this time of year and a couple of cruisers arrived at our motel. I have stayed at this particular one before and I like the idea of parking in front of your own door, with a window to look out if you should hear funny noises

(Self portrait using the chrome bits on this Honda Cruiser)

The temperatures are very warm in the Okanagan area of British Columbia and I decided a while ago that I would always wear an armoured riding jacket, and if I was travelling on the highway at higher speeds I would also wear armoured riding pants. My jacket has leather uppers and the panels are removeable to reveal a full mesh jacket, and also has a removeable liner. For hot weather I have resorted to wearing only a T-shirt under the jacket and even in higher temperatures while moving it isn't too hot. Whenever I go into an air condition building (shopping, meals), I can quickly put on a regular shirt. My riding pants are JR Alter Ego which has a removable panel which allows air to enter . I have resorted to wearing shorts underneath so that when I get to my destination, or in this case meet up with my friends for a meal and chat, I can quickly remove my lowers . . .

(Spences Bridge, BC parked in front of the Packing House Cafe)

I would imagine that to the unsuspecting, anyone walking by would think that I had parked my bike and just left my clothes behind, boots and all. I also carry a pair of sandals that I can wear instead of my boots. (or I can purchase a pink pair of crocs like other riders in the Key West area) I find that boots are quite confining in hot weather and my socks are dripping in perspiration so I place them on my HOT muffler system and find that they are usually dry in a very short time.

(Hoodoos, just south of Spences Bridge, BC along Hwy 8)

I have more to say, but not tonight. It was my first solo ride in very hot weather, and I endured 12 hours on my bike (Suzuki: SV650n) . My muscles are still recovering.

I leave you with this short video taken with my video-cam on Saturday afternoon while riding my SV650 on Westside Road just south of Bear Creek Park



  1. nice report bobskoot, hwy 8 has colorado-like scenery....

  2. Charlie6:
    Actually, I'm thinking that Colorado has BC-like scenery, but I think you have more photogenic mountainous areas.


  3. Bob ... I was hoping to hear how things went @ Kelowna. I think Brian was a bit disappointed that I bailed out but I need to save my specific "day off" requests for the extremely important things of life. Really enjoyed reading your blog about this trip. Keep looking up & pressing forwward! Best regards ... Robert, the Reverend.

  4. As usual, the pictures are great. Except the picture of your clothes on the bike and you running around without them!

    I have got to break down and do the video thing. It seems to be the rage among bloggers these days.

  5. I was wondering if you needed to organize a bake sale to pay for your buddy's medical expenses? Oh wait...Canada...socialism...It looks rather like Key West what with those bikers in sandals.

  6. Movies don't play very well on my phone, so had to see it on my office computer and kept forgetting to watch it. But now I have and enjoyed the movie very much. Looks like an absolutely wonderful ride. I thought you were going to pass that car.
    The reflection picture is pretty cool, too.
    Glad he trip was nice and hope you weren't too rushed to get there. I always hate to be rushed on a trip like that. Much more fun to get off the beaten path and take your time.

  7. Dear Bobskoot:

    You never cease to amaze me!

    First of all, there is something very peculiar about two guys going off to a scooter rally on matching white scooters, dressed as Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, with matching Gordon Lightfoot lunchboxes... Even if it is Canada!

    But I'm glad you still got to go to the event astride your other bike. The hours that you spent in the saddle -- riding around forest fires -- represent a serious investment in time. Your ass must have been killing you!

    Would it have been less taxing on you physically had you made this run on a scooter? I'm assuming the motorcycle was a lot faster. How much longer would the trip have taken by scooter?

    Bob, I am also impressed by the amount of farkle you've got on the handlebars. The video camera is very cool. Can you please give us details as to its type and cost. I thought it gave a very stable picture for a handlebar mount too.

    And at some point in the future, I'd like to discuss how you go aboit adding video to a blog.

    I'm sorry that you ended up riding solo to and from the rally, and that you missed so many of your friends there. But there is always next year.

    Have you heard about the upcoming Key West Rally?

    Fondest regards,
    Jack "reep" Toad
    Twisted Roads


  8. Robert, the Reverend:

    It's always nice to get away and see "old" friends and to ride unfamiliar roads. Missed you, there is always next year


    I was trying to ride more safely. It's not easy handling the camera with your left hand and snapping pictures with the screen upside down. Because of the detour I was trying to minimize my picture stops so decided to shoot more rolling video. For a while as I caught up to other "groups", I turned on the video-cam, so I managed to obtain some riding sequences

    Mr Conchscooter:

    Up here, serious riders wear full gear. I have a convertible mesh jacket and riding pants with a removable panel. With temps in the high 80s or low 90s I just do what others do, just wear a T-shirt under the mesh jacket, and shorts under the riding pants, and of course something more comfortable to wear instead of riding boots.


    I don't usually ride that fast but the traffic was light and the lanes were wide. I was practicing my Apex timing and angles which change depending whether the corner is blind, or whether you are able to see through the whole corner. I turn earlier on "blind" corners to allow more distance from the centre line.

    If I feel it unsafe, I do not pass. I came up on that car very fast but rolled back on the throttle as soon as I saw them. The SV has excellent compression braking. There is no need to use the brakes as you can feel the drag on the rear wheel.

    Mr Jack:

    I already posted some comments on "your" blog. I am usually a conservative rider, but with the bike I found myself constantly in the "ticket" zone. For sure the scooter is more comfortable, larger seat, more options to change your leg positions but with the scoot I would have held closer to the speed limit.

    The scooter is around 100 lbs heavier than the SV so the ride is very stable, and also has more weather protection due to the fairing and floor boards. There is also more underseat storage for my electronic stuff. with the scoot I could have taken my Netbook.