A long ride: Vancouver to Halifax
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Thread: A long ride: Vancouver to Halifax

  1. #1
    I'm hungry... Array tackle_me_2's Avatar
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    May 2004
    BMW F800ST

    A long ride: Vancouver to Halifax

    I was going to ride there and back, but the way out helped me to realize that riding back in 7 days will NOT feel like vacation. So when I got to the east coast, I found a bike shop to crate the bike and ship it home, and I flew home yesterday.

    Day 1 (Jul 4) 600 km/360 miles (Vancouver BC to Spokane WA)

    The bike was already loaded from the night before.

    I took Hwy 20 and Skagit Hwy to Winthrop, which are some of my favorite roads through the Cascades.

    As usual, the weather was lovely until I hit the Cascade Mtn, then it rained, and then turned into sunshine.

    By the time I reached Winthrop, it was warm and sunny. By the time I got to Wilbur, I was cooking in my leathers, but was too chicken to take off my leathers. Through Electric City, my thermometer was showing 43 oC. I drank 4 litres of water that day.

    I ended in Spokane for the night and camped at KOA Spokane. I was exhausted from the heat, and felt too sick to eat. I later learned that was called "heat stroke".

    Day 2 680 km/408 miles (Spokane WA to Deer Lodge MT)

    I spent the first bit of the morning riding slabs, so I can get to Moscow to start riding Hwy 12 to Lolo Pass.

    I followed this site's route suggestion from Moscow to Lolo Pass. The road from Moscow->Troy->Kendrick->Orofino is SUPER tight twisties! I'm so glad I followed someone's route suggestion.

    I had the biggest silly grin when I saw the sign for "Winding Road Next 77 Miles".

    Hwy 12 is the kind of road to my liking. No stops, twisty (but not super tight), nice pavement, scenic. I think I had my silly grin the whole time on that 77 miles.

    I stopped at the visitor center for the washroom, only to have 5 people walk by and want to talk about my trip. I eventually had to tell the last person I was starting to do the pee-dance and really needed to be excused.

    A word about the Lolo Pass visitor center--man, the bathrooms there are nice!

    I spent the rest of the day on highways, and ended up at Deer Lodge KOA camp site. This site was one of the cheapest but best KOA's I stayed at (US$18), with highspeed internet access, and free local calls.

    Day 3 567 km/340 miles (Deer Lodge MT to Cody WY)

    In Montana, I was one of the slowest bikes on the road, and one of the few with a helmet on. But I LOVED riding in Montana, because it reminds me so much of cowboy movies, and the sky is so clear and beautiful.

    Hwy 287 is a better alternative than the big slabs. I saw quite a few different kinds of birds, and there was little traffic.

    The Old Faithful was one of my favorite things on this whole trip. It was well worth the wait, and the terrible traffic of the Yellowstone Park.

    The east entrance to the Yellowstone Park is 7 miles of gravel, with lots of stops for construction trucks. I stopped at Cody WY for the night, and decided that I must leave really early the next day to avoid the mid-afternoon heat.
    Last edited by tackle_me_2; 07-23-2006 at 08:29 AM.

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  3. #2
    I'm hungry... Array tackle_me_2's Avatar
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    May 2004
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    Day 4 740 km/444 miles (Cody WY to Spearfish SD)

    When I left Cody at 5:30 am, the air was warm and comfortable. I had planned on spending the day on big highways to make up for some mileage, and had expected a full day of boredom.

    Not long after take-off, I can see the sun shining through the clouds. I'm a big sucker for seeing sun rays shooting through clouds, so I had to stop and take a picture.

    Then I saw this sign and had to stop for another picture. Population: 10--the smallest population # I've ever seen.

    So far, I have not been bored. Then I was pleasantly surprised again when I rode on Hwy 14 through Big Horn National Forest!

    The roads were twisty, and very scenic. I saw some deer bouncing across the pavement, and some open range cows.

    From Big Horn, looking over the next town.

    Next to the Old Faithful, the Devil's Tower was my other favorite of this trip.

    Oh, and today marks my first killing of a bird while riding. A little bird flew right onto my headlight on the highway, producing a loud "thud", and fell to the side of the road.

    Day 5 500 km/300 miles (Spearfish SD to Pierre SD)

    I didn't make much mileage progress on this day for a few reasons. At the start of the day, I stopped on the side of the road to take some pictures of these dumb goats:

    The shoulder of the road was sloped, and of course I didn't notice that because I was looking at the goats. I went to put my feet down as the bike came to a stop, and I didn't reach the pavement on one side, so BOOM! down goes the bike. My foot was crushed under the bike as it fell on the pavement. Some other goat-watchers came to help me pick up the bike. I stayed around for 1/2 hr, looking for the broken plastic pieces in the grass, and taking some pain killers. I waited till the adrenaline subsided, and rode towards Mount Rushmore.

    I have heard a lot from the locals about Needles Highway, so of course I had to do it. As soon as I got on that highway, I regretted it. It was very tight twisties, but my foot was in so much pain that I couldn't enjoy the ride.

    Once I got to the spot where everyone stops to take pictures, I also stopped to take pictures. I didn't see all the sand and gravel on the ground when I stopped and put my feet down, hehe, guess what, BOOM! down I go AGAIN! This is the 2nd time in 1/2 hour! The back of my head knocked on the ground, my leg was stuck under the bike. There were enough tourists around that I didn't even have a chance to ask for help, my bike was already picked up off my leg and standing upright. This is the exact spot where I dropped the bike the 2nd time today.

    Looking back on Needles Hwy.

    I skipped Mount Rushmore, because I was already mad at myself and in pain. I still did Iron Mountain Hwy, but I was too mad to enjoy it. I counted at least 13 deer and a cub bouncing across the road in front of me, so I kept my speed down all through that mountain area.

    I spent the rest of the day on Hwy 14 to avoid the interstate hwy, enduring 45 oC temperature, and a throbbing sore foot.

    I gave up on camping tonight and found a cheap motel in Pierre. I figured I can use some air conditioning for a night, and ice the foot.
    Last edited by tackle_me_2; 07-23-2006 at 08:32 AM.

  4. #3
    I'm hungry... Array tackle_me_2's Avatar
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    Day 6 760 km/456 miles (Pierre SD to Rochester MN)

    I left Pierre at 5:30 am, in the hope to avoid the heat. It was 25 oC at 5:30 am!

    The sunrise was the only thing I took pictures of today.

    For the next few days, I took very little pictures, and took very little interesting roads.

    Day 7 674 km/404 miles (Rochester MN to Grand Rapids MI)

    Leaving Rochester at 6 am, I booted on the highway, trying to make the 1pm Manitowoc ferry over Lake Michigan. I got there in time, and found out I had to buy a set of tie-downs for the bike.

    I was glad to leave SD and and MN behind. There was not a lot to see, possibly because I spent so much time on the interstate highway. I wish I had some time to see Wisconsin, because it seemed a lot more green and pretty than SD and MN.

    Day 8 507 km/304 miles (Grand Rapids MI to London ON)

    The day was filled with frustrating interstate highway riding, heat, and no cooking fuel. My Primus stove requires the butane/propane mixture cannisters that are not found in regular sports equipment shops.

    I had run into some really great people, despite the frustration with everything else. Seems like everyone wants to tell me about their bikes, their trips, and they want to know why I'm riding alone, why going to the east coast, what I do for work, etc.

    I crossed back into Canada (Ontario) today. The customs officer find it amusing that I have taken time off work to ride alone across the country. He asked me why I'm doing this, why I think this is fun, why I chose to do this trip on a bike, etc.

    It rained all night, and I had a skunk visit me at 3 am. I swore to myself to never keep food in the tent again.

    Day 9 792 km/475 miles (London ON to New Lebanon NY)

    I shoved my wet tent into the saddle bags. I had a feeling that this will be a bad day of weather.

    I decided to stay on the interstate all day so I can make the distance. Then I realized that the highway was going to cost me $16 in tolls. Oh well. I was a bit surprised that NY charges the most toll, yet has the worse pavement on the I-90.

    I can't say I appreciate the air quality in Ontario. I was glad to leave Ontario and cross into NY. However, today was one of the worse downpour of rain I've ever ridden in.

    My Tourmaster winter gloves (with rain cover) were soaking wet, and there was water swishing around in my boots within the first 30 minutes of riding. My rain suit did ok, except I had to stop and duct-tape up a rip on the thigh area.

    This went on for 9.5 hours, and I was miserable. I was NOT going to camp tonight, so I settled for the first motel I saw off the highway.

    I set up my tent in the motel room to dry it, and stuck some newspaper down my soaking wet boots.

  5. #4
    I'm hungry... Array tackle_me_2's Avatar
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    Day 10 885 km/530 miles (New Lebanon NY to Medway ME)

    It's still raining when I woke up. Sigh. Put on the damp boots and wet gloves, and try to be excited about riding in New England today.

    I went through Green Mountain in the rain. It was grey and yucky. The pavement was bumpy and lacked maintenance. Being from BC, I couldn't consider Green Mountain a real "mountain".

    Going through White Mountain was a lot more enjoyable, as the sky cleared up and it was a real mountain (with some real elevation).

    The pavement through White Mountain was still mostly bumpy and broken. However, there was a few kilometers that were nicely paved. I took Kancamagus Pass as suggested by locals.

    Day 11 695 km/417 miles (Medway ME to Antigonish NS)

    Again, it was going to be all highway riding today. I only have one more day before I had to be in Halifax. I figured the more highway I ride today, the better chance I can make Cape Breton (Cabot Trail) and still be in Halifax on time.

    I set up camp in Antigonish, and laid out my maps for plan for Cape Breton. I needed to make 750 km (about 450 miles) the next day in order to fit Cabot Trail in my day. Since I had to be in Halifax by 6 pm the next day, I would have to start riding around 5 or 6 am. I felt stressed and frustrated.

    So, I decided to NOT ride the Cabot Trail (yes, I know I've sinned). I've been riding non-stop for 11 days alone, and I was feeling pretty tired.

    The next day, I slept in, ate a big breakfast, rode a short and leisurely 265 km/160 miles into Halifax, and ended the riding part of my trip. The following day, I found a local shop to crate my bike and ship it back to Vancouver.

    After the ride

    I spent the following week in a rental car with my husband, touring NS, PEI and NB. The Maritimes is BEAUTIFUL!

    Being in a car is so different! I don't get to smell the rain or freshly cut grass. Motion is hard to detect. Atmosphere is controlled by air conditioning. There is no riding gear to deal with.

    It's definitely a memorable ride. I am sad I have no ridden through Canada, so I have decided that I still have to do that one day. If there's anything I can change about this ride, is to get more time to do it, or to have company on the trip.

  6. #5
    Yup, bin' on a holiday... Array SkipTkt's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    1 Honda, 1 Suzuki, 1 Yamaha.
    Congrats! Brilliant... I envy you.
    It's not the number of breaths you take but the moments that leave you breathless.

  7. #6
    Registered User Array
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    Jun 2005
    05 Ducati Multistrada
    Very nice. Who shipped your bike and how much did it cost you?

  8. #7
    Registered User Array kamen rider's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Area 604
    Thank you for going through the trouble to put this presentation together to share it, Angela! The writing and especially the photos are very well done.

    Did you have to do any kind of bike maintenance during the long trip?

  9. #8
    This is what this site needs more of. Best post I've read in ages, awsome pictures. I'm riding to Edmonton and going to ride around the interior in Sept but your trip puts mine to shame,,,lol

  10. #9
    Registered User Array Silent Scream's Avatar
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    May 2005
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    Wow, that's quite the experience. I would love to do this one day and head out to Toronto. I'm sure it would beat flying! And I'd love to see the look on my sisters face when her baby sister shows up on a bike.
    In the whole wide world, there's no magic place... so you might as well rise. Put on your bravest face.

  11. #10
    Posing with conviction Array heisenberg9's Avatar
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    Dec 2003
    anyone I can lean against
    Very nice. Reminds me of why a lot of us ride.

    So... your husband flew out to meet you for the cage tour?

  12. #11
    West Koots, I'm here.... Array flyfishinwoman's Avatar
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    a few toys
    Wonderful presentation Angela. I'm glad that you made it without any major incidents. Isn't it funny when people (especially customs border ones) query you as to why you are going on the trip, on your bike, alone? I had that happen to me, and trying to explain it to an obviously non-rider, is kinda hard to do because they'll never really understand why we do these trips.

    I'm happy for you that you got a chance to tour the maritimes. That is on my list of things to do, and would like to do it on a bike.

    Good on ya girl, you have done what alot of us have only dreamed about!!
    Back in BC, yay!!!
    2010 Yamaha Vstar 950
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  13. #12
    Registered User Array GerMan's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Port Coquitlam
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazycanuck
    This is what this site needs more of. Best post I've read in ages, awsome pictures. I'm riding to Edmonton and going to ride around the interior in Sept but your trip puts mine to shame,,,lol

    I second that.
    Posts like these are the extreme opposite of the senseless "Friday Night, DAF" threads. Very enjoyable to read and look at. Thank you.
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

  14. #13
    Moderator Array jeckyll's Avatar
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    Apr 2004
    Kawasaki Land Rover and a liter-twin
    What a great thread. Thank you for taking the time to put it together!

    I agree that these thread make the board worth reading. It reminds me of some of Brent's (GSP) posts of his road trips.

    The one thing I would ask are: What would you do different? What did you take that you didn't need, what did you miss having, besides someone to share the ride with? And finally what advice would you have for someone else who's going on a long road trip?


  15. #14
    I'm hungry... Array tackle_me_2's Avatar
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    May 2004
    BMW F800ST
    Thanks for your comments.

    Crating and shipping the bike back was $910, and I'll have to pay more when it arrives at Pac Yam (they will charge for unloading and uncrating). So I'd say it'll be about $1,100 or $1,200 when I'm done. The shop that shipped it is a local (Halifax) Harley shop called Privateers.

    The total mileage was about 7,000km (and lots of highway), so I didn't bother with an oil change. I had a small can of Maxima chain wax, so I would give the chains a spray once a day, and clean the chain as needed (maybe every other day).

    The cool thing about the trip, is the people factor. Everywhere I stopped, people would just come by and talk about my trip, talk about their own bikes and trips, bikes their family owned, their cousin's aunt's son went on a trip like this, etc. I've had fellow campers/riders offer me beer, food, electricity connection for my laptop, park admission tickets, stickers, maps, and advice. I have received so much kindness and concern from complete strangers, it was pretty amazing.

    Jackyll, if I were to do this again, I will definitely allow more time. I felt pressed for time, and rode more interstate highways than I wanted because I had to make the mileage. I ended up doing anywhere between 8 to 12 hours on the road each day, and often felt quite tired at the end of the day. That's why I decided to fly home.

    I used most things I brought, except my tools and tire patch kit. Those weren't "needed", but I had to have them with me. They didn't take up much space anyway. I only brought 3 sets of clothes (all running/cycling cool-max material stuff), and did laundry every 3 days.

    Long road trips are great. I loved how it gave me lots of time to think and to blank out. I would suggest anyone doing a trip like this to just be prepared for the weather and have back-up plans. Rain gear, winter gloves, heated vest all got used on this trip. I punctured a friend's old tire and practiced using my repair kit a few times. I still went and got BCAA membership, just in case. Lastly, when riding started to feel like a chore, I shipped the bike home.

  16. #15
    Registered User Array counter_strike's Avatar
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    May 2003
    R6 and VFR

    long trip

    Thumbs up. Way up for doing it solo.

    One day when i am brave enough, i will do it.

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