Monday, July 25, 2011

Going to the Sun Highway, Montana

It was to be our last full day in Montana and we were lucky that the Going to the Sun highway was finally opened, July 13, 2011. It was the second latest opening of the road in its history due to heavy snow fall . Dom has already posted his photos HERE so I'll try not to duplicate too many.

It was decided that due to the expected crowds that we would approach Logan Pass from the East so we had to get an early start and head towards St Mary


we decided to leave the cabin by 8am and Richard, Jan, Patrick and Miles would follow in our support vehicle with the picnic lunch


Martha decided to be the Monkey today . I think we planned on being there in 2 hours but there were a lot of construction stops


Dom with Martha in the lead, with Bluekat directly in front . We eventually made it to Two Medicine Lake


It's a tranquille scene with a mountain backdrop . Here you are able to rent a canoe, kyack or take a boat tour


After we had finished snapping photos we move on and Dom has found another spot for a photo opp


I think because we are all bloggers and photographers we stop a lot for photos. It seems to be taking a long time to get to St Mary's


Here's Bluekat posing in front of the mountain


Eventually we enter Glacier NP again at St Marys and ride over to the Rising Sun picnic area to have our lunch . I forgot to snap a photo until it was nearly too late. There is hardly anything left


There are several construction delays and one way alternating traffic as we climb up the mountain and reach Logan Pass


another delay on the mountain gives us a chance to stop and snap more photos


I think we are all getting used to the gravel. The road is in bad shape we have been on gravel for miles, all the way up and part way down


If it weren't for these construction delays we would not be able to stop and enjoy the view, nor be able to converse and stretch our legs. It was a warm day around the mid 80's °F . We all started out with liners but they were quickly removed as we were all sweltering in the heat


We had some excitement with the appearance of two mountain goats. They were so tame that they came right up to us


The goat came very close to Martha


Dom was glad he remembered to bring along his spray bottle. He was getting a lot of enjoyment spraying Bluekat to keep her cool


In the following video I am trying to give you a feeling of what it was like to ride some portions of the Going to the Sun Highway. It was gravel from the bottom of the road where we started to climb and construction crews were everywhere. We had to stop several times as they alternated traffic up and down. Excuse the vibrations, the road was very rough in spots and I changed my GoProHD mounting location from my handlebars and mounted it on the windshield frame using RAM mounts which I did not test before the trip.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Front tire is shot

Before our trip to Montana I ordered a set of Michelin Anakee2's with the intention of using the new tires on my vacation. The tires were ordered and arrived a couple of weeks before I left but after a cursory inspection, I thought that the tires that came with my bike would last. I purchased my V-strom new in 2009 and I thought that the tires were wearing quite well. I had nearly 13K kilometers on it when I had the bike last serviced and my mechanic also looked at the tread and it was thought that it would make the trip


I never gave the tires much thought and I did look at the rear tire a few times but never really paid any attention to the front tire. One morning while at the cabin in Martin City, MT I looked at Ron's tire and his lack of tread. He eventually purchased a new tire and had it installed in Kalispell but then I looked at my front tire more closely and noticed that it was cracking between the tread


The cracking was throughout the whole circumference and I also saw that I was down to the Wear Bar Indicators. Basically my front tire was shot and I was only half way during our riding vacation. We still had many miles to cover.


I was worried a bit but I thought it would get me home and just keep an eye on it and don't do anything crazy. I would just hate to have to purchase another tire while on the road when I had two new ones at home, just waiting.


Somehow I knew that I should have just stuck with Plan "A" which was to install them before the trip. The funds had already been spent and it would have been safer with the new tires. Yesterday when I got home I decided to bring my tires to my mechanic and set up an appointment to install the tires on the weekend. I got home, bunggied the tires to the bike and arrived there around 6:20pm


before you know it, Ted has pushed my bike onto the lift

(here is the old Bridgestone Trailwing)

Even though the rear tire has 18K kilometers on it, it probably could have lasted the rest of the season but I wanted to mount both new tires so that I have the same tread and same rolling resistance.


Ted asks me how I want the tires balanced ? Weights, Dyna beads, or this new stuff he recommended call Ride-On


It coats the inside of your tire with stuff 6x stronger than steel and can seal punctures up to 1/4" in diameter LINK HERE

I don't usually post video that are not my own but this is from their website

Cool, now my tires have built in puncture resistance


Both tires are nearly installed


After my tires are done, I ask Ted to do an LOF: Lube, Oil, Filter and do a visual inspection of my bike to make sure everything is in order.

(New rear tire)

I have to take it easy for the first 50 miles to scuff them in


I rode to work the next morning (Today) and the tires seemed quieter and it is probably my imagination but seemed to roll with less rolling resistance. My bike is now ready for another adventure

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rattlesnake Pass, WA129 / OR 3

It was another boring, warm, sunny day. After the Spiral Highway we headed West crossed the bridge into Washington state and fuelled up in Clarkston. From there we followed WAl29 south


it starts out impressive, a few miles of switchbacks as you increase in elevation. Soon you are at the top and you transverse miles of flat farmland

(BlueKat with her photogenic Ninja)

We noticed a barn in the background and stopped for a photo break. The speed limit is 55 mph and we were tired of following a car which was creeping along at 30 mph. We had passed him several times and when we stopped this time, he passed us again . He was the snail and we, the hare. But slow and steady wins the race so he was now in front again .

I looked at Ron and asked him to give me a cool pose "man", and he countered right away as if by instinct he knew what a cool look looked like


I had heard so much about this road but so far it was just a straight ribbon of asphalt taking us to the outskirts of Hell's Canyon and miles out of our way, I mean, we could have taken another straight road to get to our temporary home down in John Day, OR . We knew that this was going to be our longest day

After about an hour of straight boring riding we started to notice the terrain changing and we were now approaching a canyon


There are not many places to pull over. Ron and Kari overshot the gravel shoulder and ended up at the 2nd curve ahead and waited for me


Soon I caught up with them. We decided early on that if anyone saw a photo opp then just stop and the group will wait at the next crossroads, or turn around.


the scenery was just stunning, and we were gloating at the sight of the road ahead


Notice that the roads also seem to be cambered especially for us


It was so nice to be able to stop and breathe in this view, but since we had a long ride ahead of us we had to get on our way


another click and we are off . . .


soon we cross into Oregon


We decide to minimize our stops as we were getting behind and had to cover some miles. This eventually turned into an 11-1/2 hour day arriving in John Day, OR just before 7:30pm, a mere half hour before the restaurant closed

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nearing the end

of a perfect week of riding . We had an opportunity to meet new friends (Dom & Martha), a chance to renew aquaintances with Kari & Ron and a chance to experience new roads with our motorcycles. Roads that we have heard about. Kari provided a list of what roads she wanted to ride and we modified our route to try and take them all in. For the most part we had the perfect weather, perhaps a bit warmer than we would have liked but we checked all the weather forecasts and with temps in the mid to high 80's we made sure we had our warm weather mesh gear with us. We were in Central Oregon down in the John Day area and our plan was to head up to the Columbia Gorge. Up until today we had been putting in 10 hour days, today was to be different, we decided to take it easy and we chose Hwy 19 and we found a gem of a road in Hwy 207, then we took Hwy 206 to Condon where we stopped for fuel and a refreshment break.

It was bound to happen, our luck ran out and the black clouds were right on our tail coming from the South. Soon we felt a few trickles of rain and Kari screamed over the radio to stop and put on our rain gear


We rode and we rode and the wind was quite gusty. Maybe that is why they have a lot of windmills in this area


We were riding at a good clip which felt that we were outrunning the storm and after around 20 miles the sun came out and it was getting very warm and sweaty under the non breatheable rain layer, so Kari shouted on the radio again to stop and remove layers


Soon we reached Biggs, OR for a fuel break and crossed the bridge to visit the War Memorial at Stonehenge


We could feel the wind picking up and it felt like rain was close


We could hear the sound of thunder, and later we would see lightning . We knew that the rain would be heavy so we had a quick discussion whether we would head directly to our home for the night or continue to Klickitat Canyon as was our plan

The problem we found was that on most of these twisty roads there are not many safe places to stop for photos, so we just rolled on. On the way down the road is very narrow with sharp corners slowing to 25 mph. On the bottom the twisties follow the river and eventually we come to a viewpoint


We didn't realize that they built a new bridge to access the parking lot on the other side. We parked on the side of the road above


On Sunday morning it was time for us to go our separate ways. We woke up to wet roads and rain.


We decide to take our last photos together

(Ron & Kari/BlueKat)

It was a sad morning. We had such a good time together and I didn't want it to end. We were also talking about a repeat trip next year to a different location . They had a short ride back to Corvallis area of about 3 hours. I was looking forward to a 7 hour ride back to Canada. I was originally thinking of taking NF25 but I was tired and just wanted to get home so my plan was to just take I-5 all the way. I have to thank Kari & Ron for coming with me to Stevenson which was one day out of their way. They could just as easily gone straight home from John Day but I appreciate their gesture and their company for another day


Ron offered to snap my photo too. By now the rain was getting stronger. No problem I thought. I put in my jacket liner and my pant liners, snapped my jacket tight at the collar and waved at them as I left the parking lot.

I continued west on Hwy 14 towards 205. The road is quite twisty but with the rain my visor was fogging up, I had to leave it slightly open and breathe out the side of my mouth. Soon I came to a road construction site where there was one lane traffic. I had to stop at the red light. I put my foot down and felt a mushy feeling in my boots. What a thing to find out now that I am over 600 kms from home that my boots aren't waterproof. I ponder the thought of stopping to let the water out but then I thought what use would this be as I can't be stopping every 15 minutes. I continue on and wiggle my toes in the water filled boots.

Then I am trying to think if I have any plastic bags to wear in the boots or should I stop and put on dry socks which would only get wet in minutes anyway. I decide to wait until I need to refuel. An hour and a half later at 9:30a I stop in Kelso . For a quick breakfast of sausage & eggs and a chance to


wring the water out of my socks. There seems to be more water in the right side.


Since my boots were wet anyway I decide to put on the wet socks and continue on my way. From Kelso I have enough fuel to make it all the way home, but since gas is cheaper on this side of the border I decide to gas up again in Bellingham

I leave Kelso around 10am and ride straight up I-5. The rain is on and off, but more on than off. At times it was torrential with rooster tails from the cars ahead making it hard to see the lines on the road. From Burlington to Bellingham it was like the heavens opened up. I was warm from the neck down but during the 4 hours I was getting hyperthermic from the cold and wet socks. I was wearing shorts under my riding pants but the cold was working their way up my legs. I decide to turn on my heated grips. With warm hands it made me feel warmer.

I needed to use the washroom but I held on for my gas break. Soon enough, 4 hours later I arrived at my Chevron on Sunset drive (Bellingham) and went directly to the kiosk and asked the girl for the keys to the washroom. She handed me


this bottle. I said "I don't think this bottle is large enough"

she gave me that embarrassed look and said that the keys were attached. The bottle was only the key ring. I wanted to take a photo of the bottle but she offered to pose for me

Standard procedure: 1) washroom, 2) refuel, 3)squeeze water out of my socks


In the meantime customers are coming and going and I am there removing my boots and squeezing the water out. I should have worn my Pink Crocs, at least they have holes to let the water out. Soon I am ready to continue my trek home .

Seven days on the road with great friends and I have arrived home safely .


I got to ride on some great roads and made new friendships along the way. Thank you to Dom, Martha & Richard for putting up with us at the Cabin in Martin City, MT and to Kari & Ron for their company for the past few days. I think being in a 100 year old rustic cabin with one washroom for 9 people has brought us a lot closer than you think. And the couch was really, really comfortable

Thank you to my V-strom for not missing a beat. For over 2,400 miles my V-strom averaged 54.6 MPG (US gallon) ie: 23.08 kms/litre. It is a great machine for touring, it is capable, smooth, reliable and gets nearly 300 miles on a tank