Monday, 30 August 2010


As Tracy is now in charge of the 2012 London Olympics (long story) we thought it would be a good idea to come to Whistler to see how the Canadians do it. Apparently we were a little late as for some reason they held it during the winter.

Whistler has developed the worlds longest unsupported cable car (called the Peak2Peak. It stretches over 2 miles from one mountain and another. Whilst on it we say a bear and cub wandering below us. 
Seeing those bears reminded me that I must put my food up a tree at the campsite!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Jasper and the icefields parkway

After three great days in Banff we moved up the Icefield parkway in the middle of the Rockies to (hopefully) spend three great days in Jasper, over Tracy's birthday weekend (She can't just have a birthDAY like anyone else, it has to be a whole weekend!)It didn't quite work out as well as I'd planned. First Jasper was a lot colder than Banff (possibly something to do with all those glaciers along the icefileds parkway) and the sun was blotted out for the whole time becasue of a forest fire.  It was really rather spooky, the sun was blotted out and there was a faint smell of burning in the air.

Can't see through the smog

As I write this there are 265 forest fires burning in British Columbia. Just think about that for a moment. There are 265 individual forst fires happening NOW across BC. Occasionally in the news on TV in the Uk we hear about a forest fire in North America. Usually if it is threatening a rich community or well know area, but 265 - 

 If this wasn't bad enough, then it was also surprisingly cold.

Tracy - birthday morning
Still, a few hours later and she cheered up a bit.

Icefields Parkway Road. The clue is in the title. Yes it was cold. This awesome road connects Banff to Jasper in the heart of the Rockies. We rode it northwards in good weather and has stunning scenery to look at, but no wildlife.  Halfway along we stpooed at the main glacier which used to come up to the road. It's now over a kilometre away.

This glacier is retreating at 10 metres a year!

The return trip three days later was still animal free but this time the weather had changed. It was about 5 degrees C and raining. With my marriage under threat I agreed to find a hotel for the night and not force Tracy to camp in an already wet tent. Luckily we found a (expensive) lodge near Lake Louise, that had a rooftop hottub. Slightly weird to be sat in a hottub in near freezing weather but Tracy was happy, which, she tells me, is the main thing. It also meant we could dry out all of our clothes in the bedroom and charge up the netbook.

Lake Louse - photos don't really do it justice. This was a spectacular place

Time to leave the Rockies and head for Vancouver and the coast. And time for a few photos of me on my bike on some excellent roads...

Motorbike heaven

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Nevil - thanks.

New engine oil bottle on right pannier.
I met Nevil in Alaska, then again in Canada and he has been a real help. Tonight I popped around his house and we fixed a few things on the bike. So, for those of you who want to see, here are a few pictures of what we did.
We added a drink holder to the left pannier
Nevil - fitting a screen for the hopelessly exposed oil radiator     

Lots of wasp damage
Nearly fitted

New cool looking cover.



Just a quick update as I have easy web access here in Banff and tomorrow we're off to Jasper to camp for three days. Yes, I said WE. Somehow Tracy managed to find me and she has joined me for the next three weeks.

We've spend two good (and very hot) days in Banff, walking around the local trails and riding a little as well. Tomorrow we've got to try to fit Tracy and all our gear onto the bike, but I'm sure we'll manage it somehow. Tracy has been to Canada a few times, in her youth, and says it feels weird to be back somewhere she came to 30 odd years ago. This was all said whilst stuffing a Canadain donut into her mouth (Apparantly she likes Canadian donuts)

We haven't spotted any bears yet but did see a HUGE Elk yesterday. Unfortunatley I didn't have the camera.

Ochre springs in Kootenay NP

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Phase one complete

Canada – so far, fantastic roads, great people wonderful food and good company. I've been riding with Paul, Patrick and Nevil for about a week now and we've all ended up at a big Adventure Motorcycle meeting in Nakusp. It was always my intention to come to this meeting which is organised by the excellent HorizonsUnlimited website. I went to their UK meeting in Derby in June and arranged to go to this one and do a presentation on my trip so far.

I did my talk on Thursday night to around 100-150 bikers. A little daunting as I still consider myself a complete novice to adventure biking. But it went down well and I got a few laughs by making fun of Harleys and Texans. ( I said I was travelling with a Texan and when he bought a litre of engine oil I asked him if he wanted help finding a beech to pour it on. - that went down well)

It feels like phase one of the trip is coming to an end. Three weeks and 4500 miles down and now phase two, the bit where Tracy turns up, is about to start. I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, 9 August 2010


Check out the claws on this Grizzly

The last three days have been awesome. It all started with a forest fire. Because of a fire in BC (British Columbia) just south of Watson Lake we had to get piloted through in a convoy. 25 motorbikes and dozens and dozens of camper vans. I met up with Patrick (Irish - Africa twin) Paul (USA - Kawasaki KLR 650) and Stuart (USA - BMW F800). We headed off down some dirt track for 70 miles to a place called Telegraph Creek. An excellent road full of swish backs and deep gorges and great views. We then hooked up with Nevil (Brit, BMW 1200 GS Adv.)Then we moved on to Stewart when there are BEARS. On the road we saw two bears and then at Hyder (just passed Stewart) there is a bear viewing stream. Salmon spawn in the stream and the bears come down to feast. It's not quite the pictures you get with a BBC Wildlife documentary - no little waterfall where the bears just stand with there mouths open, but nonetheless I saw a black bear and a big female Grizzly fishing. (See pictures - and when I have time to load it a video).  Internet access is a little limited here but by the weekend I should be closer to civilisation.

Better get back on the road. Totem poles today...
Black bear

Friday, 6 August 2010

Thompson's Eagle Claw Motorcycle park

Those of you who know me, and that's most of you, will appreaciate this... 

My last night in Alaska wa spent in Tok at the Thompson's Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park. Famous in adverture motorcycle circles, the Thompsons run this "off the grid" campsite for overland bikers (manily Americans on Harleys). There is no electricity or running water but for $10 a night what do you want. I arrived and set up and then sat down with the Thompsons and the two other campers for the evening. We were fed blueberry cake and the conversation revolved around hunting. Mr. Thompson went into soemd etail about how to skin a Moose properly and both Mike (from Ohio) and Dan (from Minnesota) occasionally added some detail. I did extremely well to keep up with it all. I think they thought I didn't know much simply because I was British.

Later they took a look at my bike and Dan INSISTED on cleaning the windshield! It was covered in squashed flies and was rather dirty but he insisted on getting out his special cleaning kit and giving it a good clean. He was using a citrus based orange substance which I  was sure was going to be very attractive to the local bear population!  I slept very close to my anti-bear pepper spray that night (More on bears in my next blog)

Polishing up the Union Flag!

Mike and Dan were great company that evening. I've yet to meet someone who hasn't been friendly and interesting. Still Tracy's coming out next week...

"Blame Canada Blame Canada"

I couldn't think of any other song with Canada in it, so this is what I sang as I crossed the border. And what a border it was. It took 30 seconds and I didn't even get off the bike. Oh how I will miss that when I'm in Central America and it takes half a day and Trcay gets into a heated argument with an offical about something.

So - Canada. "First time caller" as they say and so far so good. Alaska was fast food and "Cawfeeeee". Canada started with crepes and Tea. How civilized. I'm currently in Whitehorse, capital of The Yukon. The Yukon is twice the size of the UK and has a TOTAL population of 30,000 (more than half of whom live in Whitehorse). That's just astounding. This land is SO BIG. And silent. The thing that really gets me is stopping the bike and listening to to the silence. There is very little traffic on the road and it's easy to pull up at a rest stop, look out at miles and miles and rolling hills and hear absolutely nothing.
Drying stuff out

I really enjoyed Alaska, great for riding a bike. In 10 days I covered 2500 miles and after the initial rain in Anchorage the weather has been good. I hit a few dirt tracks building up my off road confidence, and stopped at the Crazy Dog kennels where John and Zoya rescue and look after sled dogs. They have over 60 which they train up and race. They were really friendly people and John (who is quite famous in the sled dog racing world - he's won the Yukon Quest twice) took me on a two hour personal tour of the set up. What I don't know about Sled dog racing now....

Sled dog rescue centre in Alaska

I then decided to head down a 60 mile cul-de-sac to a place called McCarthy. It was the centre of the copper mine industry 100 years ago the place has hardly changed. After riding 60 miles down this road you have to cross two bridges by foot to get to the place. It only had one street and the lovingly restored hotels (both brothels in it's hay day) made the place look like a film set for a Western. The only thing that spoiled the trip was the $22 for the campsite PLUS $10 more if you wanted a shower!

60 miles of this to McCarthy and then back again

Glen Highway in Alaska - Perfect biking road

Me and Tracy in 20 years!

Recreation Vehicles (RVs) plus car. Camping the American way!

Canada have the wonderful Municipal campgrounds - for £8 a night (no showers)

 Heading for a motorbike rally next week in Nakusp and then Tracy arrives. As I head into Northern BC in a few days I don't expect much internet activity. It's sparse out there.  Oh, and in case you hadn't worked it out, if you click on the google map at the top of the blog I'm trying to keep an up to date pictoral trail of my route.