A Journey With An Old Friend and His New Licence.
A BC experience with the Triumph Tiger, a Royal Enfeild Himalayan and a TrailTail Trailer.
With a late evening going over maps and weather forecasts, adapting to a change in plans was pretty much immediate. The original plan was to head northwest to the pacific coast. Taking what ever back roads we could to the oceanside town of Bellacoola. -10 degrees at night and heavy rain in the forecast sounded like a dump of snow on the high passes for sure. Ya…so that was a definite no. Curt asked me “Why not the Kettle Valley Railway Trail (KVR)?” And that became the beginning of the plan. Through the mountains, take as many back roads as we can and camp when we feel like stopping? Cold and a little rain but how about a hot springs at the end? Sure, done. The next morning I popped off my rim and swapped out my dead rear tire with the new Mitas EO-7, loaded up and we were off.
I can’t imagine what might have been going through my friends mind (or.. maybe I can). It’s the first day you have yourself packed, ready, your on your bike, and for almost a week thats all you have to think about. Destinations and time don’t even really mater. It starts with glorious scenery, and an empty winding road in front of you. That’s a, “living a dream you had”, kinda moment. Nice thoughts indeed. “Right on Curt! You made it happen!”
I was happy to be there with him. I think I enjoyed watching him ride more than paying attention to riding myself. Enviously I witnessed his experience, watching him lean around the corners and take in the straights.
I honestly had to stay entertained some how… he is a new rider after all, and well… it’s gonna be kinda slow right? My bike has almost 4 times the horse power and even with the trailer, restraint was on a high. It was fine though, especially since my experience with that very bike taught me that a chill pace can be a nice way to experience a ride, some times.
From the paved roads winding around the hills and dodging cows, we made it up to the beginning of the KVR.
Nestled next to the the now gravel trail, the tiny town of Brookmere was once developed in 1916 as a station for the previous rail line that once stretched through it. With an historic water tower still standing, steam trains would have once come to a sizzling stop next to the main road through town. The once industry driven passageway is now a mostly secluded, recreational off-road path through B.C. mountain ranges. Have I ever said B.C. is a killer back yard… probably at least once.
Taking the first stretch of the KVR you really connect to the reasons why you bought these types of bikes. Off the streets and on to the trails, I don’t see how any other type of bike could have ever been labeled as being able to give you real freedom. Nothing compares to the true freedom that a dual sport or Adventure (large dual sport) Bikes are capable of giving you. They can go anywhere. Until they can float this is as good as it gets. With a late start to the trail the sun was already starting to set. Taking the relatively short section we rode through the narrow valley. This particular section familiar to us, It was also a scenic shortcut across the mountains to Kelowna. We use to take it in our trucks together years ago and I would easily say the experience even better on a bike.
Arriving at the site of a old burnt bridge, the bypass route was steep and very narrow for the larger weighted down bikes. Stopped along the dirt farm road we assessed the failing light situation. Searching my Back Road Map Book (BRMB) phone GPS map we searched for camp locations nearby. Handy thing the app is, having multiple little tent icons pop up on the map showing you locations of any known camp areas.
Veering off the dirt road we traveled up the hillside aiming at a series of lakes on a map. Climbing and more climbing you could feel the temperature drop as the altitude increased and the sun went down. Stopping for a break on a bluff we caught the last of the sunset. Night riding from here on.
Good lighting in a situation like this can change you riding experience. I had upgraded my headlights and auxiliary lights with Cyclops equipment and on night like that I couldn’t have been more thankful. Bright as hell lights makes it good. Navigating the uneven terrain is relatively easy when you can see it. Searching for campsites down dark, slimy, rooted, hole filled roads when feeling fatigued is an extra tough challenge if you cant see well.
Surprised by what was under many large mystery puddles, anticipating the terrain and navigating the worst of it is what helps you keep the bike up right. With a dead end and a couple undesirable and swampy camp spots we found a pretty sweet spot next to the lake.
A perfectly clear night, very calm. The silence was only broken by the coyotes howling in the distance, and… my buddy ripping one in his tent. “Dang man… that was a good one” Glad were in separate tents, the dudes like a human instrument. 🙂
Waking up to a cool morning, frozen puddles and the KVR awaited… To be continued.