Sunday, 1 October 2017

Journey complete - a bittersweet ending in Canada

Well there you have it, my trip has reached the end of its chapter, all the way from Chile to Canada; 59, 500km through 13 countries over 20 months.  Thats a long time to spend in the saddle.  Im having mixed feelings of course, looking back on all those incredible moments is quite overwhelming and difficult to assimilate.

Heres a few interesting stats from my trip:

13 countries, 59,500km, 20 months;
15 land border crossings and 1 sea border crossing;
3 crashes, 0 broken bones, 0 ambulance rides, 0 emergency room visits, 0 illnesses
4 times run out of fuel (including one empty gas station and 2 police rescues);
3 flat tyres;
1 runover dog and 2 bird impacts;
0 breakdowns;
1 police caution; 1 non-passable sit down road blockage; 0 hostile situations;
3 travel partners;
1 new language;

And more specifically bike/kit related;

250 tanks of gas;
16 oil changes, 4 new rear tires, 4 new front tyres, 3 chain and sprocket sets, 2 rear drum brake shoes, 3 sets of front brake pads, 2 handlebars, 3 air filters, 2 sets of mirrors, 2 sets of hand guards, 2 relays, 2 re-jet adjustments for altitude (Andes and Rockies), 1 windshield (lasted a week), 2 helmets, 4 pairs of goggles, 1 handlebar pogies, 5 seat pads and 1 seat remodel;
2 sets of riding gear, 3 sets of moto boots, 2 sets of luggage, 1 heated vest;
2 tents and pads, 1 hammock;
1 mobile phone;
0 skid plates;
0 new wheel bearings or valve adjustments;
0 heated grips;
0 GPS units;
0 emergency call out dvices;;
0 touratech parts;
0 sponsors.

The bike has gone into storage in Vancouver following a trip of 700km on the back of the ute from Quesnel, BC.

Im thinking of bringing it home to Australia next year and perhaps cruise down the east coast, but for now i'm going to sleep for a week, eat lentils and catch up on all the yoga i've put aside this summer.

And thanks for following; although I may look like I'm doing this completely alone, I genuinely don't feel like I am due to all the support I get through social media - which has always been there in the background right behind me from my family at home and my friends across the world.  For that, I am thankful, along with all the new friendships I've made along the way, from people Ive had a nice chat with to people who have bent over backwards to help me. YOU know who you are!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Feeling the cold on the Icefields Parkway, Canada

The last couple of days have been pretty brutal on the bike - with the temperature often hovering around 5 degrees C whenever I glance at the thermometer on my bike keys.

Today was no different, with a start of 3 degrees C leaving Canmore (thanks Jamie and Marnie for a room for the night; we would've frozen otherwise), and the bikes having been covered with frost, the day didn't reach much above 5 degrees C until we hit a balmy Jasper at 12 degrees C around 300km and several hours later.

Just to make you aware, I am wearing, from the feet up:
  • MotoX boots with fleece socks and winter weight merino wool socks,
  • Thermal weight leggings,
  • Moto riding trousers (with the waterproof liner inside),
  • Long sleeved merino thermal shirt X2,
  • Keis heated (plugs into the bike) vest,
  • Thin synthetic down jacket,
  • Thin mixed synthetic and down hooded jacket,
  • Moto jacket,
  • Windproof neck buff,
  • Hood up on jacket beneath my moto helmet,
  • Fleece liner gloves,
  • Synthetic down gloves (in the black fleece lined handlebar pogies you see in the photos there).
With all that kit on, plugged into my bike, I'd say I'm still not particularly comfortable.  But, as needs must and all. 

Oh and btw, with an average speed of 90kmh, at a temperature of 5 degrees C, the windchill factor calculates at us spending much of the day (plus previous and subsequent days) at -3 degrees C! 

What, I ask, the hell am I doing?  Trying to get to Quesnel is what... so I can hang my boots up!

It was beautiful though... and as Kevin calls it; 

'Type 2 fun'.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Winter Has Come

Well, as far as im concerned anyway. We all have varied levels of tolerance for the cold and mine is lets just say, not the highest, or most moderate for that matter.

The last few days ive seen the temperature in Whistler drop to 12degrees in the day and maybe 5deg at night. This makes me unhappy, considering my happy temp is 25+deg in the day, and not below 15deg at night.

So, let the winterization begin.

Im using my Keis heated vest now, ive carried the thing for the last 5 months since I landed in Mexico. Its fantastic - heat in all the right places, and fast too, super well fitted and comfy. The only issue is the control box which doesnt fit the pocket well, its really tight and uncomfortable in my (small sized) jacket pocket. I ditched it and went back to the standard connector cable instead. Its good, I just dont adjust the temp - its on or off (on high).

I bought a windproof neck warmer - $15 from Princess Auto here in Canada.

Handlebar pogeys! Yes they look super cool too! We had been looking for a pair in various moto shops that day and a chance encounter with two fellas called Alf ('the BMW guy') and Jep (the 'do you shave your legs?' guy) outside Honda in Kamloops saw Kevin and I accepting an invitation to change our newly purchased oil in his garage at home. This led to me asking if he knew where some pogeys could be obtained, to which he replied by grabbing a bag from the top of a tool chest and emptying out all 3 packets of Korean pogies he had in there! Thus, an exchange occurred,  agreeable to both parties and off Kevin and I rode with fresh oil changes and a set of fabulously warm fleece lined pogies each! Heres to strangers - woot!

Oh Alf, youre now 'the pogey pusher' guy - thanks again :)

Friday, 8 September 2017

Overlanding Camping Lesson 101

It takes approximately 4 hours out of each day to make and break camp.  Thats half a working day, then theres the 200 - 300km we ride each day.  Its pretty tiring to be honest, and obviously its easier to stay in a hotel, but at $100+ a night (in North America here), its just not feasible for the length of time we are both travelling.  So, we generally wild camp for free, or every now and again, we stay in a Forestry/ National Parks managed campsite when we either can't find anything for free or we have left it too late in the day to be looking for something for free!

We have been using the IOverlander app as a guide for free camp spots, although often (especially on the offroad trails out in the bush), we come upon something before we get to a particular destination we may have pinned for that day.

Theres a picture above of the two 250s loaded up.  We are both individually self sufficient for camping/ living off the bikes, although together, we are sharing (my) tools and tubes and (Kevin's) tent, (crappy) Exped mattress and pots.

Making camp consists of 1 - Putting up tent.  2 - Blowing up (the shitty - thin, susceptible to holes) Exped mattress Kevin has and also my (awesome, although bulky - but free - 80s) thermarest.  3 - Rolling out our 2x 4 season down bags and 2x 2 season sleeping bags (little bags on the bottom, big ones on top). BED MADE.

Then we pile a bunch of stuff in its rightful places in or around the tent in the vestibules (tent doorways).

Next is SHOWER TIME (see previous post on this) - boiling water for the dromedary takes FOREVER.  If we are lucky, we have warm water from a nearby gas station.  Also, we will have filled our (2  and 3 litre) platypus bags and 2 litre nalgene bottle for drinking/ cooking water at the gas station.  Sometimes theres (generally non potable though) water at a campsite OR Kevin pumps it (using the water filter) out of a nearby creek.  Getting water is as essential everyday as getting gas for the bikes.

DINNER TIME involves unpacking pans/ stoves/ pre-bought food and preparing something simple. Soup is a go-to, as is those (Tasty Bite) Indian packet meals.  I do like a picnic table for this task, but usually i'm sat on the ground on my tarp surrounding by our gear bomb of kit. 

WASHING UP involves, if i'm honest, just licking things. Ya really. Well, ok, maybe not a pan - its pretty hard to get your head in one of those (especially the new ones Kevin's just bought - see photos below).  A bit of rubbing and some water and thats it, all done. 

So lastly, we TIDY UP camp, leaving no stuff hanging about. Sometimes theres a bear cache (see below) but most often, not.  We will then put all our food in a bag and hang it in (usually) a tree a ways from our camp, hoping the squirrels don't destroy it. 

Actually last night, there was a bear, but it wasn't interested in our tasty bite indian meals, couscous, coffee and snickers' we usually store in the bag - more so the blackberries at the base of the tree we lifted it into (sorry bear, you're sharing your berries this morning!).


Ah the morning - not my favourite I admit.  However i'm out of the tent first to put the stove together and boil water for BREAKFAST (and maybe retrieve the bear bag from a tree), which consists of tea and coffee, then oatmeal, then more coffee. Thats a bit of water - about 2 litres all up, boiled on our little gas butane stove.  Kevin packs the sleeping bags and tent up whilst I do this.  I generally sort of help a bit with this too, but he's pretty anal about how small everything needs to be packed into its' respective stuff sack (or it wont go into the giant poop!), and honestly, I'm pretty crap at squishing things into stuff sacks. 

We WASH up pots and teeth, CLEAN up camp, PACK the gear bomb away into my 2 panniers and 2 holdalls and his giant poop (because it truly is a massive shit of a thing) and holdall. He then spends a good 10 minutes sweating whilst trying to get the giant poop and the holdall to sit correctly with each other on the bike. 

In the meantime, i've cleaned my dusty goggles, got my kit on and am sat there with the engine running staring at him through tinted lenses. 

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