Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 12 - Icefields Parkway

Today was the Icefields Parkway. Lot of climbing from the campground so I was putting along at about 70 kmph. For most of the way to the Icefield Centre, where this photo was taken, the roads were pretty empty with a car passing my maybe every 15 minutes. On the Banff side, the traffic was much heavier and they had these 60 kmph zones in the middle of nowhere with no rhyme or reason. Needless to say, I was passed often. This is the Athabasca Glacier and is part of the Columbia Icefield. Meltoff from the icefield feeds the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Compared to older photos, you can really see how much the glacier has retreated in a relatively short time.

This is the view to the south towards Mt. Athabasca also taken from the Icefield Centre. I expected there to be a regular visitors center but the building seems to cater to bus loads of tourists with restaurants and multiple glacier tour ($$$) options. At the time I was there, the place was overrun by about a dozen bus loads of Japanese tourists all bundled up in the jackets, wool hats and scarfs. BTW, it wasn't that cold. At the Icefield Centre, I felt compelled to lock up my riding gear and helmet for the first time on the trip. The closest parking space was well out of sight.

By early afternoon, I found a campsite at Mosquito Creek right next to the water. The sound of rushing water should drown out any other noise such as from those that insist on sharing their music with the world. Based on the number of bikes (hundreds) on the road today, this must be a popular place to ride. Especially on a beautiful weekend like this. The temperature never really went higher than maybe 80°F while riding. Absolutely wonderful.

I'm not sure about the claim "Most Beautiful Road in the World" but it's definitely worth going through if you have the opportunity. I guess I don't understand those that just want to blast through as fast as possible. Maybe they work here…


Day 11 - Jasper Natl Park (Saturday)

Due to all of the mosquitos at the McBride campground, I decided to go ahead and try my luck at finding a campsite within Jasper Natl Park. It looked grim when I paid my $20 entry fee as there was a posted list of campgrounds and all of them were labled as full. The gate attendant pointed out that the only ones listed are the ones that take reservations. All of the other campgrounds are first come first served. I turned into Honeymoon Lake campground which is about half way between Jasper and the Icefield Centre.

As I had figured, the roads are packed with tourists but I lucked out at finding a campsite as two cyclists were just heading out. BTW, lots of cyclists on the road. The Icefield Parkway must be one of those "must do" things for cyclists. So far, it isn't too impressive except for the view of Mount Robson from the entrance to the provincial park. Lots of RVs driving through the campground so I'm glad that I stopped when I did. There's just enough of a breeze and clouds to make it a very pleasant afternoon.

It was very warm while riding with temperatures in the mid-80s to low 90s (°F). Now it's shorts and one of those "tech" shirts under the RC. It is still warm but no different than on my last trip. I'm glad that the RC isn't a dark color. Another rider at the campground last night reminded me of the importance of drinking enough water. I must admit that I hadn't given it much thought. He also told me about a moto-campground in BC called Toad something. I may have to go look for that over the next week. He was from Calgary and was just riding to Hyder and back over a long weekend. At Ural speed, that would be a long trip. On his Wee-Strom, 4 days.

The Icefield Parkway makes the claim of "The Most Beautiful Road in the World". That's quite the claim. I look forward to seeing the glaciers tomorrow.

This won't get posted until I get back to someplace with wi-fi so I may lump in multiple days in one post.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 10 - McBride, BC

A relatively short day today. I am about 100 km from Jasper Natl Park and since the weekend here, I decided not to try and find a campsite within the park today or tomorrow. I stopped in McBride for gas, went through the local visitors center and wandered through the local market. I needed to get some groceries, do laundry, etc. so I may stay here for the next couple of nights. Very quiet location between two mountain ranges.

This has been a very relaxing trip though I was concerned about the integrity of the rig while on the Cassiar. Maybe it was the remoteness that contributed to my concern.

RickS, the Ural rider in Fairbanks whom I bought this rig from, wisely suggested that I move the thermocouples for the CHT (cylinder head temperature) from one side to the other as these gauges aren't known to be very reliable. I had swapped them before but only for a short time as I didn't want to bother re-running the cables and tying everything down. Last night, I did just that and, lo and behold, on todays ride it was now claiming that the right cylinder was running really hot. The left cylinder was registering "expected" temperatures and nothing wierd like it was showing before. By "expected", up to 400°F while cruising at 55 mph and climbing to 425°F when climbing grades. Both plugs were a nice shade of darkish tan indicating that the mixture was not too lean. So thank you RickS for having me check the validity of the tool.

So I'm not going to worry about the mixture again. The gas mileage has dropped a bit probably due to the higher speeds along the Yellowhead Hwy and riding through the rain. GPS corrected gas mileage is still above 31 mpg. I'm not complaining about that. And I haven't had to check the valves again. The valve clatter on both sides are sounding the same. The higher speeds does mean that oil consumption is a bit higher but not excessive. So far I've added about 0.7 quart since leaving Fairbanks.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 9 - Prince George (Thursday)

Well, not what things looked like at all today. Rain was forecast for most of the day so as it hadn't rained yet when I woke up, I quickly packed up the tent while it was still dry. It started to rain just as I finished packing up the rig while enjoying a cup of coffee. Highway 16 running east to Prince George was a very busy road. I must've pulled over a few dozen times to let other vehicles pass easily.

Shortly after the Peterbuilt RV passed me (occuants all waving and honking their horn), two deer jumped across the road and one ran into the side of the front wheel of the Ural. No problem with the rig though the deer didn't survive the encounter. The rig swerved to the right but no problem recovering. I guess it's built pretty sturdy. At the time, I was going about 55 mph.

BTW, the first picture was taken on the Cassiar not on the Yellowhead Hwy. I don't think I really took any photos today and the only "highlight", besides the deer encounter, was my light Tim Horton lunch. Here is a shot of my campsite now that the sun is out and it's starting to feel hot...