20 June 2002 We Rode 212 Miles on Day 1
Buy a bike, load it up, set course for Canada, go!
From Seattle in Washington State, US to Banff in British Columbia, Canada we rode our, new to us, Goldwing. In Banff we met friends Hauke and Petra, Frithelm and Edeltraut, who had flown with their bikes from Germany to make the tour. Join Jez and I in this 15 year look back on our adventure.
We were up at 0700 and ate breakfast at Dave’s Diner where for $13 I had a ham and cheese omelette and Jez had a plate of strawberry pancakes.
We checked out of the Motel to find our way to Lynwood Cycle Barn. Our first experience of the US, riding a Metrobus into downtown Seattle past huge, seriously huge, Boeing factories and their Museum of Flight with a Huey helicopter outside. In the heart of downtown Seattle I got talking with a Starbucks coffee barista, Alex, who is training to be a medic with Seattle Fire Department. The next person that I got talking with was a guy from NZ who was working all over the US on steel fabrication contracts for a guy based in California – he said he was an illegal but felt he could evade being caught as long as he kept a low profile.
Our next bus the 512 took us out to Lynwood Park and Ride where we were met by a member of Lynwood Cycle Barn who took us up to the dealership.
The Cycle Barn owes it’s success to a business that was started, yes you’ve guessed it, in a barn. Today it is a massive enterprise with two huge buildings, one devoted to new machines, the second holds their used stock. Harley Davidson, Honda and Triumph are some of the manufacturers that trust them with their account.
The staff there are supremely helpful and they helped us refine our choice of motorcycle. I wanted to buy a new Pan European 1300. That plan was scuttled when I discovered that the bike is so new it is not yet available. Jez said that he thought we should get a Goldwing. We settled on a used 1994 GL1500 Aspencade with only 6,160 recorded miles in eight years. Jez observed that if all three bikes were the same then any issues that arose had a much better chance of being managed by our group – good sense in that idea. I wanted to know that if we bought the Wing, that Jez wouldn’t be complaining about the ride. I should have had no cause for concern, the saddle is superbly upholstered and Jez was more than up for agreeing.
With a newly fitted luggage rack and a tank full of fuel we set off for Canada at 15.45.
Lynnwood Cycle Barn was located at 5711 188th St. SW Lynnwood, WA 98037-3170
It was a huge motorcycle dealership located in Lynnwood, WA selling Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, Yamaha, Polaris, Kymco, Vespa and Piaggio motorcycles. At its peak over 260 people were employed here by Jim Boltz.
The I5 towards Everett proved to be nightmarish with traffic, no surprise when you know that I5 is the major North – South Interstate connecting Canada – US – Mexico.
For mapping, we relied on the used Garmin that I had bought and jury rigged onto the bike. We made our first stop at Bellingham where we had a chance to eat a BK burger and reflect on the day so far. From Bellingham it is most likely that we followed the 539 towards Laurel. Taking the 546 signposted Canada. Day gave way to evening and then darkness as we pressed on towards Canada arriving at the border at Sumas.
Traffic eased substantially as we got closer to the border with Canada.
Crossed the border and connected with Trans-Canadian-Highway 1 motoring on through agricultural countryside towards Chilliwack and on heading to Hope, where we pulled over to refuel, a distance of perhaps 160 miles or so. When you stop people approach you and want to talk about their motorcycling experiences. It was in this manner that we met a guy and his wife who were driving a burgundy colour car transporter. ‘Like the bike’ he said. I struggled to understand him as his English was heavily accented with a French twang. They were accompanied by another guy in a burgundy pick up, perhaps his son.
The road up the Coquihalla Highway to the summit gave us a hopeful taste of things to come. As we wound up into higher and higher ground we saw signs warning of avalanche risks, injunctions to not feed wild animals, prohibitions on lighting wild fires and when to use snow chains.
On reaching Merritt I was more than ready for a strong black coffee. Jez exhibiting his ability to eat, demolished a MacD burger as we tried to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes whilst we listened to Ron Taylor, a septuagenarian Canadian who had a wealth of knowledge about geography, populations and WW1 history.
Our plan to drive to Calgary would not be realised today and so Jez proposed that we head to Kamloops and stay there over night.
En route Kamloops the hazards of the highway made themselves known. Grooved roads, perhaps the result of snow ploughs? Pot holes, freezing water wrecks roads all around the world. Large ‘road kill’ in our case this was a hazard I was fortunate to spot someway up the road. There were a number of vehicle lights that were not moving. My experience of approaching the scene of road traffic incidents at night had me slowing down in good time. A damaged 4×4 had clearly collided with the deer which was dead in the roadway. With more than enough people to hand to deal with the matter we passed by and on into the night.
At Kamloops Super 8 we met the manager, Darren from Scotland, they were full but he managed to refer us to Alpine Lodge where we happy to stop, stretch and unload the bike.
211 miles completed.
We get our heads down for the night after showering and watching exit the World Cup England 1 – 2 Brazil. That’s it. Seaman is in tears. England didn’t look good in the second half, a strangely subdued performance against ten men. Brazil deserved the result, and will meet either Senegal or Turkey in the semis.