Canada…The Beginnning…

I caused a stir as i rode a little to quickly into the border post. The officials who looked like they hadn’t seen much traffic that day gave me an ear full. I was hugely apologetic, i hadn’t read the situation correctly and thought i was to stop under the awning rather than the Stop sign…. I wont explain the logic.

After a few questions, I was cleared and stamped in. I wondered back to the bike and probably put my documents down on my pannier while I changed my maps over.

Canada ay, should be easy ay.
and i took off…

I had forgotten to turn my reserve fuel switch back… and WOW, only just made it to Pincher Creek on my 14 litre fuel tank without even realising it.

That night i camped on Oldman River on highway 22.

It was here that I realised that my passport wasn’t where it was supposed to be!! I panicked and searched everything with no result. It was too late to do anything about it so i went to bed…

As soon as my eyes opened and it was light, i was up..

The little bit of rain we had had after i went to bed had frozen everything. My tent fly was stiff and my seat looked painful. Will was a little angry as he had a case of the frozen frizz, I apologised and started the bike to let it warm.

I started to ride the 100km/60mile back to the border. I stopped at the police station in Pincher Creek but it was still closed. I continued to the border and asked the guards starting their shift for the day.

They gave me some coffee and said I looked hypothermic. This is perhaps an exaggeration, but i was COLD!!

They didn’t have my documents, so we searched my stuff again. I then combed the side of the road and the ditches for 10 miles. The thought was that i had left it on the back of the bike and it had blown off somewhere when i took off.

The search still produced nothing. I went back to town and asked at the gas station and then reported it to the police.

I hadn’t learnt a thing since Mexico, with my passport was my replacement bank card, license and bike registration papers…

I accept all criticism, it is just stupidity to loose something of such significance for the second time!!
It makes me sick!!!

With nothing else i could do, i continued to Banff.
I took highway 22 then went left up past Kananaskis.

This sign was different to most other animal warning signs. It told me that i would see some “Rocky Mountain Sheep” and then, around the corner, I did…

Not the best looking animal ive seen, but they did make me think of lamb…. roast lamb….

Unlike the “Rocky Mountain Sheep” sign, this sign was a blatant lie….
Despite three signs of the same thing, there were none of these type of animals…. anywhere…

It was awesome…

I made Banff after being hit by a few small showers and now sit in my friend from school´s room, Bryan Williams, typing my report.

As far as my documents are concerned, ive canceled my cards and can receive an emergency travel document in Vancouver, 11 hour ride away. The problem with this is that it is not accepted by the United States… aka Alaska. For a replacement passport it will take 10 days.

I need to have this trip finished by the 21st of July, new passport is not an option. I wont even go to Vancouver tomorrow, instead I will ride towards Alaska aiming for Dawson City.

I don’t have documents so will investigate any alternate option from there. I know there is the Dempster Highway into the Arctic circle within Canada, but this is not my preference….

San Francisco to Canada

I still cant seem to post a report without an incident!!

I left San Francisco for the Sierra mountain range and when i stopped at the lights on the way out of town, I looked down the left and right side of the bike to check everything was OK. To my disappointment, the seals i had just replaced between the water pump and engine to stop the weeping coolant had worked at stopping the coolant but it now weeped oil onto my right boot.. Not a significant amount and with spare oil, i continued..

As i climbed, I was cautious, fully aware I was sharing the road with others…

What a ride, I was completely taken back by the scenery and absolutely loving being on the road again!!

Route 108

I just kept climbing and climbing, finally wearing the chicken strips off the side of my tyres.

Eventually coming off the back of the range and into Nevada, only to see a gentle reminder of home.

I camped that night a few miles south of Carson City on an Indian Reservation, probably illegal but i didn’t have many options. It was a great little river spot and i kept hidden behind some bushes. I couldn’t wait to get into a can of cheeseburger macaroni i had stashed in my panniers.

Before i even set up the tent, i was heating it up on my beer can stove..

I discovered soon after that my spoon had been misplaced somewhere. Probably in the garage back in San Francisco.

I made a mental note to collect some plastic cutlery from a fast food chain in the morning but I didn’t let this hinder my enjoyment of a quality canned meal!!

In the morning I checked for some more replacement seals at the dealership in Carson city and when that was unsuccessful i headed east into the desert.

The goal was to reach a junction in the highways at Winnemucca where i was to meet fellow inmate Wheatwacker (Martin) on his return leg from Alaska. I had been staying at his place in San Francisco.

The headwind was intense and i only just made the next fuel stop in Orovada.

After refilling I called it quits for the day and set up camp in the community park. The wind was amazingly strong so i built a windbreak from a nearby park bench and the bike. It almost gave me an uninterrupted night of sleep.

Still heading north, the scenery changed like the accents of those i spoke to.

At midday, I decided to take the scenic route 55. It was the “July 4th” holiday weekend so i stopped in Napa to search for a spare rear tyre as everything was about to close. They are also much cheaper in the US.

The guys in the Honda shop sent me to Cycle-gear in Eagle where i grabbed a D606 and met Yoidaho in the car park, she told me about a bar at mile 161 or route 12.. I penned it on the map and set off.

Later that afternoon i was in McCall by the lake, the 55 was beautiful but full of traffic and people making the most of their long weekend. The lady in the gas station told me i should stick around for the evenings fireworks but when i explained how far i had to go and would probably camp out. She asked if i had my bear spray!!! “BEAR SPRAY….” “ahhh No… Do you sell it?” I asked. “Nope” she said, and i wont lie, she provoked a fear within me.

On the way out of town to join highway 95 again, the traffic was stopped for a car waiting to turn through the oncoming traffic. I employed Latin American lesson 101 and went around the outside of the cars in the slipway.

Unfortunately the local sheriff was first in line of the waiting cars. I was nervous as i watched him in my mirrors as he followed me up the road.

The speed limit was 25 mph and as i haven´t had a working tacko cable since Patagonia (no idea of speed or distance for about 40 000km¿) so I took a guess but didn’t want to portray my fear so overestimated by 10 mph.

Well yea, you guessed it!.. The lights and sirens went off and i very intelligently pulled off the road.

The guy was nice about it; no overtaking to the right, 10 mph to fast, then a few questions.. Where from? to where? and when? and then he ran a quick check before shaking my hand and wishing me luck.

Ill be honest, i did idolise the thought of being wanted in one state, but probably for the better i was let go to ride.

A moment or two later i entered…

and immediately thought that if only the cop had caught me here…. I could tell him whose BOSS in these parts!!

My bear fear certainly wasn’t aided by the increase in references to the beasts…

but again, i was loving the ride…

The ride up route 12 at the end of the day was exceptional!! The whole way along the river, putting on the full lean in the turns as i almost had the road to myself.

Insects….. thwap…….thwap…thwap,thap.p,p,p,p as i slapped my way through the occasional cloud of pests.

I made it to the bar at mile 161 that night, and good thing I did. I met Dennis and his Harley. We shared a beer and then the bar manager bought us another before telling me that i could camp for free behind the kiosk…

Denis planned to sleep by the fire that night but i found him in the morning, sleeping upright on the toilet in the heated campers bathroom. A true tough guy, apparently he had been up there for a few days.

In the morning after breakfast he guided me through to Missoula for a coffee where I met Isaac004 who was off to conquer the Great Dividing Road.

The socializing had put me behind time but eventually Dennis took me out to highway 93 and pointed me north.

Up and around Lake Flathead i went, joining a swarm of Harley’s doing a circuit. I put my feet up on the highway pegs and pretended i was one of them with my leaky exhaust making an equal racket.

It had been recommended by some Alberta boys to take the Chief Mountain border crossing in Glacier National Park. At first, i was really glad i did.

but as i climbed up the mountain pass with a string of other holiday weekend warriors, i got a little wet by passing showers. Like the idiot that i am, i had lost my jumper in San Francisco so was missing a layer. This with the increase in altitude, I really began to feel the cold.

Then it was just a joke!! I began to contemplate all survival techniques id committed to memory as a teenager!!

This was not one of them.

Then my bike began to gain power and my hands got some feeling back and pretty soon i was on the other side of the pass..

Thank you United States, it has been an absolute pleasure…

The US west Coast

With highway 1 on the radar, i left early that morning. As i dropped the altitude to the coast, it corresponded with an equal drop in temperature and visibility. There was a thick blanket of fog over the roadway so i pulled in for fuel and dabbled around in the hope it would lift.

After checking everything twice and thinking deeply about my coolant leak and overheating issues. It was time for me to keep moving, into the fog.

I was enjoying the ride but really feeling the cold. So i stopped again for eggs and coffee and to put a few more layers on… It seemed to have an effect on my body heat but not the fog.

Rather than post some pics of an occasional glimpse of a cliff through the haze or some amazing trees when the road went inland. Here is my favorite moment of the morning… I stopped the bike in a car park to see what everyone was staring at. To my excitement, there were sea lions everywhere. Some beach bumming, others paddling about and lots of pairs were wrestling…. or that’s what i thought they were doing. It was an awesome spectacle!!

That afternoon, an hour south of San Francisco, a Lighthouse to the west came into view. I was expecting it as Andy & Cheryl in Phoenix had told me they had found it on their earlier venture in these parts. It was apparently a Hostel, and as I had spent a lot of time in a Hostel recently (working in Panama), I had to check it out..

It was nice, beautiful, and would be a great escape from the city for a romantic weekend but i had to keep moving. I was hoping to push through to San Francisco and meet the KTM inmates up there. Wheatwacker (Martin) had sent me a shock in Panama and it was my turn to get a beer back.

When i went to start the bike, it failed… cranked and cranked for a while but nothing. Then i caught a glimpse of water spitting from a leak in my exhaust…. Hello!! I know this problem!!!

Back in Mexico when i had repaired the head gasket and not replaced it had come back to bite me in the arse… In my defense, there weren’t many options then.

I feel as if all my posts are about issues that have arisen and problems Im in…. You’ll have to take my word for it. There are a lot of good times, great people and beautiful moments as i wind my way through these landscapes.. but what sticks is when im whimpering to myself, trying to resolve another issue alone.

Fortunately, like in many crisis’s prior, there is help, i just need to find it. I sat in my helmet on the bike continuing to think about the issue. Then I was greeted by a passing lady with a pile of washing that said in a polite and friendly way ‘MOVE THE FRI’KIN BIKE’. My response to this was that “I would if I could.” Eventually I pushed the bike around the corner and wondered into the Hostel to see if i could use the internet.

This internet was the beginning, this was when i met ‘Sparrow’. The same lady that had told me to move the bike became a close friend in the hours that past. One of those unexplainable encounters that just happen but just work.

We managed to contact John (ktm owner) in San Francisco who i was meant to meet later that day. He rang Benton (ktm owner) who left work early and took Martins (ktm owner) truck to come and get me.

A few hours later after saying goodbye to Sparrow i was in San Francisco with a couch to sleep on and a beer in hand.

The part hunt was difficult. No dealers had it in stock so i had to order it online which clashed with the weekend for delivery.. It was becoming a little desperate, especially when my credit card failed because the fraud team thought a series of $10 withdrawals at gas station in the US was suspicions . This cost me another day, but i eventually had a new part that was to arrive three days later on Tuesday morning.

I pulled the bike apart and got organized…

A few days off gave me some time of leisure.

Martin was on a ride in the Yukon so John, Benton and I went for a few drinks… My tolerance for the stuff is low these days, coupled with the boys feeding me a glass of whiskey and pint of beer combos, I was piled into a taxi, not long after..

In the following days John very kindly lent me his VFR so I went for a ride with Benton… Even though the fog had not left the area. It was great to be on a different bike, luggage free and San Francisco!!!

I spent much of the time working on my bike, but hidden behind a few other bikes in the garage wan another KLR. It belonged to Martin, and this thing was WORKED. It wasn’t a 650 anymore, it was a 705, and any upgrade you could imagine, it had it.

Martin said if i could fix it, i could use it!! So I did! The carb was playing up, so after removing it a couple of times, replacing some parts and cleaning it. It roared into life, and naturally needed a test drive.

The fog was gone that day, so i set out for a better view of the place… and i sure got it!!

Tuesday came around before i knew it, as i set about work to repair my bike, one of the last things i did was open the package…

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH…. WRONG GASKET!!!!!!
Id ordered the base gasket, looks exactly the same but a little smaller.

Crap, crap, crap

I was on the phone instantly, calling around.. Desperate to get it ASAP. After calling all the dealers in LA and other areas i found one three hours away. Then John got home from work he suggests calling Sacremento, two hours away.. So i did, with no luck. Then, the first number John tries…. “Yea, we got one.”

WTF!!! Why couldnt I have done that…. Days ago?¿?

I took off on the VFR at 7am the following morning, I was there five minutes before they opened and back in San Francisco before i had breakfast.

I commenced work and by mid afternoon i started her up to flush the cooling system. Its one of those moments where you cross your fingers and hope its not going to crunch to a halt or spit a bolt into the ceiling.

It started fine, but after 10 minutes it began to weep water from a weep hole in the pump. A quick Google search told me that i was in for new seals in the water pump…. Its never going to end!!

Fortunately the dealer had these in stock and i finally finished the bike around 10pm last night.

Committed to this ride report, i worked into the night
and have now slept, had bacon and eggs and about to pack my clean cloths into the panniers and head east across the Sierra Mountains.

In the desert ill hopefully meet Martin as he returns from his trip in the Yukon and then I will go north, to Canada.

I estimate to have to ride 400km (240 miles) a day to complete what i set out to do…

The U. S of A.

I sit now in San Francisco, slowly coming to terms with my current situation. My bike is downstairs, stripped back to the head gasket but what bothers me far, FAR more is that i have just been given my computer back after it spending two days in the repair shop…

All my photos from Mexico city to now have been lost!!!

Despite some video which is far to complicated to present at this stage. I am left with the few condensed versions i uploaded earlier for this ride report.

Anyways,
After crossing the border in Nogales i found accommodation for the evening for about $40 US or $400 peso in the first world!!!! At the time I wasn’t really bothered to pay this. I was just super pleased to have made it this far.

Revived after my sleep, i had Coffee with Cathy a fellow inmate in Tucson the following morning before limping through to Phoenix where i met Andy and Cheryl. In the following day or two we found some sweet tyres, changed out my sprockets and chain as well as found a replacement overflow bottle for my cooling system that has long been in need.

Always busy, i missed the opportunity to catch up with others in the area but with Andy I was exposed to me to what is still quite bizarre in my book, “Biscuits and Gravy” and a cheeseburger pizza!! The hospitality shown to me during this time is something that i will be forever grateful for.

Road testing Andy’s future adventurer.

Before leaving Phoenix I was introduced by Andy to Joe, who was working late in his machine shop. He told me a story of once meeting a group of four German girls who had stopped to grab some gas for a car they had bought. Joe had seen a Malibu Barbie strapped “spread eagle” to the bonnet with her blond lucks pushed backwards from the miles she had spent sitting upright through the wind.

He asked what she was doing there, and the girls told him that they were driving across the country to take Barbie home… to Malibu… It was then he presented me with my now good friend ‘Will’, a little black figurine that rides shotgun on my handlebars as we ride across the country. He was supposed to be returned back to the “hood” in LA but once he had a taste of adventure he whispered that he is in for the long haul.

Look out Alaska!! Here comes Will & Adam!!

Will not being the best navigator, we missed our turn for the twistys to the Grand Canyon and had to settle for the interstate 17 but Will acted like he had been there before.

I was just happy to be there..

After riding through the park we made our way out and around the north rim, stopping close to dark for our sleep. The area was truly amazing!!

Do i need anything else??

The next evening I/We pulled into Vegas where I caught up with Tiernan from ride-report.com, we had met in Panama on his venture with Matt on their DR 400’s. They have a great ride report on ADV somewhere.

It was nice, I enjoyed an American barbecue (no shrimps, massive steaks cooked with a wood-chip flavor). I then donated my $5 to Nevada state through a machine under flickering lights. We also relaxed by the pool in desert heat. I was particularly amazed at how quickly my hair dried.

Mental note… carry more water out ‘ere.

From Vegas i headed south/west on the 15 before cutting across the country to the coast on 58. I finally hit my first twisty section after Bakersfield as the scenery changed from desert to farmland.

When i saw a sign for a state park, i turned in to look for a spot to camp for the night. It was here that i met Travis and his ‘cousin’ loading their dirt bikes up on to their trucks at the end of their day.
My thought was that these boys would have the hot tip on an A1 camp spot in the region but Travis knew better… back to his place for tacos and beer and as i trailed him in the truck for the next 30miles, for the first time in a very long time I was cold!