Trip Report - Northwest Hwy 16
Seven months of evil winter is finally over. Friends of mine may be loading up the sleds to hit fresh snow in the mountains, but it is my time to play as well. The shells on leaf buds on the trees here cracked open just a couple of days ago, to give you an idea of how far behind the lower mainland the season is here.
Today was the very first warm day of the year where I live. Even so, setting off at 9:30am was still pretty 'fresh', and heated grips and a vest are not optional - especially on a naked bike. For those of you who don't get up this way much, let me spell out the situation here. From about 100 Mile House all the way through Prince George and to Smithers from there, the highway is largely boring and quite a chore to ride. There are a few nice sections of curvy road around Quesnel, some corners near Burns Lake here and there, but all in all it is quite a tedious haul the whole way up...
Until you get to Smithers. From there the road starts to tease you with a warm-up leading down to Trout Creek, and then after Moricetown you start to follow the river pretty well the rest of the way on. The highway just snakes back and forth in long, graceful sweepers usually dropping down towards the river or around a cliff face. Plenty of passing opportunities in between, so traffic is rarely a pest. This was the first real trip on my new bike, and a perfect stretch of road to get sea legs back after a long and torturous winter with my Rex sitting right in front of me here in the front room.
Because it was still technically the long weekend, I was kinda paranoid about officers of the law out on the open road. The good news is that the RCMP here in the Northwest is generally pretty easy going, and if you meet each other around a corner and you are doing 10-20 over in the middle of nowhere they will usually simply nod as you gingerly let off on the gas. If you insist on pushing your luck at warp speeds that is the usual game of course, and there is always the odd asshole dealing out tickets for doing 105 in a 90 zone. I don't have my X50 hooked up yet but even though I was riding quite 'spiritedly' at times I never felt the urge to be paranoid. Besides, with the sun scorching down and those kinds of roads - what court would possibly convict me?!
The highway stays curvy all the way to Prince Rupert, and in general it is in very good shape. There are a couple of spots along the river here and there that are patched up a little, with some exposed holes eroded along your line but nothing you won't spot in time.
From Terrace you have all sorts of options, looping the Old Lakelse Road around to the Kitimat Highway offers some technical corners and the run up to the lava beds and beyond is the dirty little secret of the North with a section of corners that could host an AMA event.
In the summer running from Smithers to Terrace is the perfect ride - from about 11am on you are riding right into the sun the whole way without it being in your eyes. You just kinda 'fall' down the river and peel through the sweepers at whatever speed you like. Any way you play it you get kinda hypnotized by the serpentine winding and it is a good place to get your Zen on. There is a green belt past Hazelton where it is always strangely warm and the leaves have been out for six weeks already. Just gorgeous, the scenery of the mountains in the area looked like postcards from the Alps today - just stark snow all the way to treeline and razor sharp peaks clawing at the sky.
Oh, and as a test ground it couldn't be more perfect for the Rex. My custom Ivan's stage III kit with full Akra makes for a sick monster that lunches on anything in her path. Cranking the fun handle in 3rd gear through a long sweeper is just absolutely fucking sick... You had better have your shit sorted out before doing so - it is kinda like strapping yourself to an ICBM missile. Gotta get her sniffed on a dyno somewhere, I think I am close to having it dialed in.
Some of the best stuff I have read on this website. Beautiful country up
Originally Posted by KaiBosh
there, used spend a lot of time fishing in the Smithers/Terrace area.
Sir, your prose style suggests you've spent the winter reading more than bike mags, and this simply will not do. Please include more 'awesomes' and 'amazings' in your descriptions so the rest of us with lesser literary means won't feel so self-conscious.
IMHO your Kawi model is one of the best looking bikes on the road.
I don't think I could go back to naked though.
Thanks for the review.