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Thread: The Motorcycling Holiday of a Lifetime

  1. #1
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    The Motorcycling Holiday of a Lifetime

    Hi all,

    My wife and I are in the final stages of planning what we are hoping will be the motorcycling holiday of a lifetime.

    I'm hoping the members of this forum may be able to provide an injection of local knowledge, experience, or just tips - such as places worth stopping at, what's bike friendly and quirky, places to avoid, MUST DO roads, or just interesting local knowledge stuff that we could never hope to find on our own.

    In May/June 2014 we will be living out our dream of riding our bikes around the US and Canada. 35 days and 11,200 km (7,000 miles) through 2 countries, 9 states/provinces, 35 overnight stays in cities/towns and countless little pit stops and characterful moments.

    We live in Sydney Australia and when we were thinking of motorcycling heaven it was difficult to go past the US and Canada. We are shipping our bikes to the US from Australia by sea. Much nicer to ride our own bikes and it will cost less in total than hiring for that period. It's not easy logistically but it's not that difficult either and as I say, we like riding our bikes, set up the way we like them.

    The key to this trip is not the destinations so much as the journey. We love technical riding, hate highway stuff (but sometimes it gets you from A to B), love meeting people at quirky places, but not interested in sightseeing unless you can see it from the seat of your BMW (at least on this trip). It's all about the experience of riding.

    We are armed with 2012 Model BMW's - an R1200R and an F800R, Rider to Rider Intercom (Interphone F5), a GPS (Garmin Zumo 350), a Helmet Camera (Drift Ghost HD), a laptop (Apple Macbook Pro), just enough clothes and gear to get us through the trip, and boundless enthusiasm.
    We are staying almost exclusively at Best Western Motels (balance between price, comfort and suitability for rooms with parking out front) and have Roadside Assistance via the MOA but hope we never need it.

    We chose a round trip route that would give us variety, challenging roads (where possible), overnight stays in cities and towns that looked interesting or just matched our day stage limits and enough of those stages to get us back to the start point in the required number of days. The extremes are Long Beach CA to the south, almost to Billings MT to the east, Jasper AB to the north, Tofino BC to the West and hug the West Coast most of the way back down to Long Beach. A short day may be 300 km and a long day 500 km. Between 3 and 6 hours of bum on bike time each day with two or three layover days if needed (but also as a buffer if required). Some stops were a case of, "that's as far as we can go today" and others were, "really want to stop here". We started by mapping out a rough route, added some "must ride this road" sections and then played connect the dots.
    This has been three years in the planning with a couple of false starts - life conspiring against us. We chose late May through to the end of June so that it was not full on summer but not too cold either. Had originally looked to include Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon and up through Grand Canyon and Salt Lake City but decided to keep it a little more west and cooler. Some parts of the trip may still be marginal for snow (Beartooth Pass WY and around Crater Lake CA) and we miss out on Going To The Sun Road in Montana by a couple of weeks.

    So, we start in Long Beach CA. and end in Long Beach CA. 35 days later.
    I've broken the trip down into day stages but also have the route mapped out in Google Maps broken into seven chunks (Google limits the number of way points in any one long route). I've included the links to each of the seven stages below - I hope the links work.

    So please feel free to tell me what you think, good or bad, and as I say, any local knowledge is more than welcome - even if it's just a tip on where to eat or get a good coffee.

    Stage 1 - Los Angeles (Long Beach), CALIFORNIA to Susanville, CALIFORNIA
    Distance: 1,851 km
    Link Stage 1

    Stage 2 - Susanville, CALIFORNIA to Idaho Falls, IDAHO
    Distance: 1,472 km
    Link Stage 2

    Stage 3 - Idaho Falls, IDAHO to Canmore, ALBERTA (CANADA)
    Distance: 1,860 km
    Link Stage 3

    Stage 4 - Canmore, ALBERTA (CANADA) to Anacortes, WA (USA)
    Distance: 1,808 km
    Link Stage 4

    Stage 5 - Anacortes, WA to Madras, OR
    Distance: 1,518 km
    Link Stage 5

    Stage 6 - Madras, OREGON to Mill Valley, CALIFORNIA
    Distance: 1,614 km
    Link Stage 6

    Stage 7 - Mill Valley, CALIFORNIA to Los Angeles (Long Beach), CALIFORNIA
    Distance: 919 km
    Link Stage 7


    Then it's a 14 hour flight back to Sydney Australia.
    Regards

    Mark H
    2012 - R1200R White Aluminium Metallic

  2. #2
    Registered User AKsuited's Avatar
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    Looks to be a great trip. Good luck in your travels. You may want a sticker on the inside of your windshield "Keep Right." It probably wouldn't hurt to have a list of BMW dealers along or near your route, or the Anonymous book with you. Here's a website, if you don't already have it, for the Beartooth Highway: http://beartoothhighway.com/ You can check the weather on that site before you arrive. I hope you enjoy your trip to the US and Canada. I didn't get to the Beartooth this past season, but hope to do so this coming season.

    Harry
    2003 R1150RT - Silver

  3. #3
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    Look for Butler Maps http://www.butlermaps.com/Motorcycle-Road-Maps/

    We used the Rocky Mountain Collection. It is specialized for motorcycles and shows detail areas and ratings for different sections.

  4. #4
    Registered User womanridge's Avatar
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    I stayed at a real nice motel in 2010 in Canmore. It was a Travel Lodge and had a great high end restaurant within walking distance. Quality menu. The motel was a step above many chain motels and more on the Holiday Inn quality level. You're not far from Banff and Lake Louise when you get to Canmore.
    Have a great ride. BC is amazing.
    Karen Jacobs
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    MOA-133005, RA32109, IBA #37923

  5. #5
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Mark;

    Here are a couple of tips:

    Stage 3: Stay on 89 when you pass through Great Falls - this is a wonderful ride through the Foothills east of the Rockies. Also, Kananaskis Highway (40) was heavily damaged in last summer's floods, but has now been repaired, and will re-open June 15 (the south part is closed winters). There is a short gravel section where they've put a temporary route through a day use area. You can get updates here:

    http://www.albertaparks.ca/kananaski...highways).aspx

    Stage 4: Turn east at Nakusp, and take 6 and 31A (the Glory Road) to Kaslo. From there, follow 31 and 3A to Nelson and then 6 north and west to the ferry at Fauquier. This loop is one of the best rides in Canada, so you won't want to miss it. I would treat this as a destination ride, like the Great Ocean Road.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  6. #6
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    Rinty,

    This is exactly the local knowledge I was hoping to get. Thanks so much.

    Hwy 40 was something we were looking forward to but unfortunately we will pass through there a week early. So unless they finish ahead of schedule we will have to bypass 40 and go most of the way up 22.
    To be honest, I'm getting more and more annoyed that we will miss Hwy 40. You are the 5th person to mention this road and 22 looks like a poor substitute.

    For the run north of Great Falls - are you saying that 89, 17 and then 6 up to Pincher Creek is a better ride than going around to the west and up over Crows Nest Past on Hwy 3? It was very difficult to get a sense of the best route through here. We had originally headed in this direction to pick up Going to the Sun Road - but that will be closed by snow.

    Thanks for the tip on the loop around Kaslo and Nelson. I had part of this on an earlier plan but substituted it for the run across Hwy 1 to Ravelstoke on the way back from Jasper. This loop adds a lot to that stage so I may need to include an overnight stay in Nelson (or somewhere near there).
    Can you recommend a nice town in that area?

    Thanks again.
    Regards

    Mark H
    2012 - R1200R White Aluminium Metallic

  7. #7
    Registered User natrab's Avatar
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    Looks like an epic adventure! Just a warning when you're in my part of town, the SF Peninsula. I see you plan on going up Tunitas Creek road from Highway 1 after you pass through Half Moon Bay. Be aware that that is a very small twisty road that is favored by bicyclists (this whole area is world famous riding for anything on two wheels). Usually when riding it on a moto it's preferred to go downhill from Highway 35 so you don't end up coming head to head with a road cyclist flying down the hill. I've ridden it many times, but don't ever recall going up it from the coast (or having any desire to). If you want to ride that road in particular, you could go up Highway 92 from Half Moon Bay and take Skyline (35), then go down Tunitas Creek Rd.

    The route most of us locals do is after going down Tunitas Creek, we go south on 1, left Stage Rd which is a small one before La Honda Rd (84). If you miss it you can just go left at La Honda Rd and then right back onto Stage Rd again. It is a fun little road that will hit Pescadero Creek Rd. I'd recommend taking that to 84 and back up to Skyline, where the famous Alice's Restaurant is. It's not the best place to eat in the area, but it's got history. Skyline south from there is gorgeous and is my commute ride to work 4 days a week.

    Here's a map of what I'd suggest: http://goo.gl/maps/7J0Oy

    Or if you still want to ride Tunitas Creek: http://goo.gl/maps/ol0VV

    From there, you plan to go down Highway 9 and 236 is excellent. 236 takes you through a nice redwood grove.

    Good stops are the San Gregorio General Store (right at Stage Rd and La Honda Rd - has coffee, nice atmosphere, often some live music during the day) and Duarte's Tavern (at Stage Rd and Pescadero - known for serving abalone and good meals).

    Hope that helps. If you happen to come through on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday I will probably be free and could join you for some of the ride if you like.
    Nate R
    2013 R1200RT 90th - "Tyr" - Purchased 12/13/2013 brand new!
    2007 R1200S - "Sexy Beast"
    2006 R1200RT "Wōden" - 84k - Retired and sold

  8. #8
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    Nate,

    This is invaluable stuff - personally I don't have much time for "peddle pushers". Don't get me wrong, I respect their right to be out on two wheels but in Australia they can tend be very arrogant and will often ride two or even three wide on a narrow twisty road and not be in a hurry to move over when they hear a motorcycle coming up from behind.
    I've never had the experience of one coming headlong down a hill at me and would like to avoid that experience for as long as possible.

    So to that end I think we'll skip Tunitas Creek Road and take your advice on the alternate route.
    We were not precious about that particular road, it just seemed like a nice twisty link to get from the coast to Skyline.

    With our schedule the way it is now - we will be in this area on Tuesday and Wednesday possibly - but I'll see how things develop.

    Thanks again for the tips and I'll check out the other locations in more detail over the weekend.
    Regards

    Mark H
    2012 - R1200R White Aluminium Metallic

  9. #9
    Registered User natrab's Avatar
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    Tunitas creek is nothing special. Pescadero Rd and La Honda going up are very fun fast twisties whereas Tunitas is more of paved goat trail. The Skyline summit south of 84 is a can't-miss gorgeous ride with a couple of scenic view pulloffs where you can see completely across the bay.

    The cyclists around here can be pretty arrogant too. This area is used as a training grounds for a lot of professional teams so they get pretty serious. Thankfully their routes and the moto routes don't conflict too much once you know where they are.
    Nate R
    2013 R1200RT 90th - "Tyr" - Purchased 12/13/2013 brand new!
    2007 R1200S - "Sexy Beast"
    2006 R1200RT "Wōden" - 84k - Retired and sold

  10. #10
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Mark:

    The system has now dumped 2 long replies I have made to your post #6, which took hours to prepare, and which has never happened to me before. I'll keep trying, but this time I will do the reply in short segments, or do them up in Word, and then move them in here. But I'm taking a break now.

    Stay tuned!
    Last edited by RINTY; 11-20-2013 at 01:24 AM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  11. #11
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
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    Don't you hate it when the IT lets you down
    Regards

    Mark H
    2012 - R1200R White Aluminium Metallic

  12. #12
    172526
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    Quote Originally Posted by RINTY View Post
    Mark:

    The system has now dumped 2 long replies I have made to your post #6, which took hours to prepare, and which has never happened to me before. I'll keep trying, but this time I will do the reply in short segments, or do them up in Word, and then move them in here. But I'm taking a break now.
    That sucks, had it happen a couple times so I create longer replies external and don't delete until i see them posted.

  13. #13
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    It's at least good to know that it's not just me. Kurt had warned me that all might not be well on the site. Usually, VBulletin is pretty easy to work with. I may have some time this morning to re do the posts; I have them practically memorized by now.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  14. #14
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Rinty, etal -

    It appears that the current limit on any post is 32767 characters...I don't see anything when typing that indicates how many characters you have left. I have noticed from time to time that the word "Auto-Saved" shows up while I'm posting something. I've never figured out how to make use of that and recover if necessary.

    You might consider, on a post that you anticipate might be long, doing it offline and then paste it in...if it is rejected, you can always recover that way.
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  15. #15
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    I'm getting more and more annoyed that we will miss Hwy 40
    Mark:

    You can ride the north 2/3 of 40 from the Trans Canada Highway, south to Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, and then backtrack.It does not close. The Smith Dorrien Highway connects to Canmore, but it's gravel, and the north 15 km are rough. I would keep an eye on the opening date for the south part of 40, because it could change (you never know, with the Kananaskis Country administrators) and may happen that you are delayed a week. Here is the link to the highway status board:

    http://www.albertaparks.ca/kananaski...highways).aspx

    To be clear, the flood damage in the south half has been repaired, and the south half is actually open right now.

    ...are you saying that 89, 17, and 6 is a better ride...
    My earlier post was not clear, but if you take 2, 93, and 3 loop to the junction with Hwy 22, you will have a long boring section between Eureka and that junction, as well as congestion and slow traffic between Crowsnest town, and the junction. By taking this route you do get to enjoy the Marias Pass, and the town of Whitefish, which has great nightlife, i.e. the Great Northern Bar.
    If you take 89, 17, and 6 to Pincher, you will ride one of the best sections of recently re-paved twisties around, between Kiowa and St. Mary, and you can also visit Waterton Townsite, which is a great place. Also, by diverting a few km west of Browning to East Glacier, you can ride the Looking Glass Highway (49) to Kiowa, which is fantastic. So I would recommend this over the Crows Nest Pass route. Here is a link to the Chief Mountain Border Crossing, which has variable open times:

    http://www.watertonpark.com/maps/tchief.htm

    Finally, you never know when Going to the Sun is going to open, (it depends on how much snow they get each winter) so here is the link to its status board, and I suggest you keep an eye on it:

    http://home.nps.gov/applications/gla...roadstatus.cfm

    A final note: don't stop in Browning. It's in the Blackfoot Reserve, and some of the locals don't like fancy motorcycles. It's safe to ride through it.

    ...can you recommend a nice town in that area
    Nakusp, New Denver, Kaslo, and Nelson are all good, but we always stay at the Leland Hotel in Nakusp. It’s basic, but clean, inexpensive, and has a great bar and patio deck on site. It is the oldest hotel in B.C. Nelson has great night life (there are two hotels, with fun bars/restaurants next to the river) and there is lots of accommodation.

    I'll paste some pics in here for you later, but in a separate post, so this one doesn't vapourize.
    Last edited by RINTY; 11-21-2013 at 03:23 PM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

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