Happy Trails Blog
When we are on Dual Sport ride or Adventure ride we have the opportunity to meet many people. There is something about meeting someone that has something to offer to you. In motorcycling we are always looking for a great ride that meets our needs and when someone takes you on a ride that keeps a constant smile on your face you know you have a winner. One day I had the pleasure to meet Tom. Continue reading
Heart of Idaho Adventure Motorcycle Ride
September 8-11 2016
Hopefully you have made reservations at Challis Hot Springs and you have your Adventure Motorcycle or your Dual Sport ready go.
The first stop you want to make in the Challis area is the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park information located near the intersection of Highways 93 & 75. Visit the museum and visitor center, for guided and self-guided tours of Yankee Fork dredge, Sunbeam Dam, Challis Bison Kill Site, travel the Custer Motorway Adventure road and explore ghost towns of Custer. They have plenty of printed of material about the area.
This 'Adventure Motorcycle Ride' is in the area of what is called the Boise Front and the Boise Back. The Boise Front consists of the foothills and the mountains that are on the edge of Boise. Rocky Canyon Road starts in the City limits of Boise and is one of several routes to the Boise Ridge. The Boise Ridge has four main peaks; at the south end is Lucky Peak at 5904 feet, Boise Peak at 6490 feet, Doe Point at 7057 feet and Shafer Butte is on the north end at 7572. Doe Point and Shafer Butte are part of the Bogus Basin ski area.Continue reading
This ride was 155 mile (my odometer showed 160.6) round trip from Boise, total time for the trip was 9:07 hours. This day trip would take us from the Boise Valley through the ‘Boise Basin” and Back.
The Boise Basin is just over the ridge and consists of the Gold Rush mining communities making up Boise County. The elevation ranges from 2750 feet in Boise to a high of 6050 feet at mile 44. You can see from the vertical profile in the chart below that the day consisted of a medley of valleys, basins and ridges.Continue reading
By Alexander Tolchinsky From Lethbridge I took Hwy 3 west to Hwy 22 north, before connecting with the TCH west into Banff National Park. The road was no longer straight, in fact a straightaway of more than a couple of miles would not come again for a very long time. As I climbed ever higher into the Rockies, my little 4-cylinder Honda made no complaints regarding altitude (I wish I could say the same of my KLR). With every passing mile the landscape became more arresting. By the time I reached Lakes Louise and Moraine in Banff National Park, I found it difficult to ride more than a quarter mile without wanting to stop and stare at the majestic granite peaks, turquoise and jade colored lakes and rivers, and ancient, quickly disappearing, glaciers. The silt from glaciers turns many of the rivers a milky jade color. No matter how many shades of green and blue you have seen, it is shocking to witness a river of milk. I spent the first night with a friend of a friend in Canmore and got a scary taste of a ski resort town out of season. I then continued north on Hwy 93 (Icefields Parkway) into Jasper National Park. The roads of the parks are very well preserved and twisty, lending them an irresistible draw to go fast but, just like the TCH around the Great Lakes, that is impossible to do without missing everything. So I continued north slowly, stopping often, until I found a cozy spot, opposite a glacier, for the night. As the wind howled from the slopes of the surrounding mountains, there was little my sleeping bag and tent could do to defend against the sub-zero cold which blew through the campsite. I shivered and couldn’t fall asleep – it was one of the coldest nights of my life. But my fortitude was rewarded when I met two other riders at that camp site – they are my good friends to this day. The following day brought more riding through this granite heaven which also helped make up for the sleepless night. I kept itching to go fast, I would lean on the throttle for a minute or so and just as my adrenaline would begin to surge, the road would open onto a valley and wildflower strewn field with a babbling branch of a river passing through, which would inevitably arrest my ride.Thankfully there was plenty more excellent riding to come. Once the Rockies start in western Alberta, the mountainscape doesn’t end until you hit water at the far end of British Columbia. The next day I went as far north as the town of Jasper before turning around and heading south on 93, and again west on the Trans Canada into British Columbia (BC). This is one of single best tracks of riding I’ve ever done. Between Hwy 93 where it meets Hwy 1 (TCH) and Kamloops, BC, you pass the heart of the Rockies, numerous national parks, and slowly descend into the foothills and valleys below. While in the Rockies the four lane tarmacs are of impeccable quality and the curves large enough that you can easily go 40-60mph on some, and an exhilarating 80mph on others. The road begs for you to scrape pegs, overloaded steed or not. The scenery is no less beautiful than on Hwy 93, but after so much temptation I could not help but open the throttle up full … 45mph speed limit – check. 60mph actual riding speed – check. Back and abs tight, slight forward lean, arms loose, hands tight, big breath in, slow exhale… go! Road curving right, position on far left of lane, the road falling away 1000 ft off the sheer face of the cliff, weight on left foot, leaning right into the turn, breathe, throttle back – 65mph. Leaning closer to the ground, right hand pushing the bar away, ass lifting off, adrenaline spiking, breathe, neck tight, head up – looking for the end of the curve – 70mph. Still can’t see the end of the curve, body off the bike entirely – getting closer and closer to the ground, breathe, leaning on the throttle – 75mph. Still no end in sight, heartbeat matching the trance in the eardrum – 100bpm … 110bpm … 120bpm, breathe, knee almost to the ground – 80mph. Face burning, the flush of adrenaline soaking me, beads of sweat running into my eyes, the sparks flying as the right peg scars the blacktop, I see the end of the turn, breathe, almost there, throttle back, on the far right of the lane, stone wall of the cliff barely a meter away – it too is soaked from the tiny waterfalls covering its face, breathe, throttle – 85mph. G-forces subsiding, slowly sliding back onto the seat, pushing the bar back to the right, heart growing lighter, snow covered peaks revealing beyond – draped with skirts of pine, the sun slowly disappearing beyond a mass of granite… road curving left, speed – check, breathe … By the time you reach Kamloops, BC you are essentially in a giant valley between the Rockies and Coastal ranges. It is flatter, but the roads continue to stick to natural rises and falls of the earth as well as the shores of rivers, so the excellent riding continues. So much of the eerie rivers, with islets and bits of fog, reminded me of the western part of Scotland: big, rocky hills on one side of the road, the shores of misty rivers and lakes on the other. Once you are down from the Rockies, and well into the Coastal range, the roads are lined with fruit stalls and dairies. You can pass one or two, but eventually their omni-presence becomes too enticing to not stop. The dairies are filled with local cheeses, milk, chocolate milk, and ice cream! The fruit stalls are also replete with the bounty of British Columbia, most notably – peaches. When in season, the right kind of peach can be the size of your face, but, unlike other fruit, the size only adds to the juiciness, sweetness and flavor. I have eaten many excellent meals in my life, but I still remember vividly the peach I had by the side of the road in BC… and now my mouth is watering. There are two ways out of Kamloops if you are heading for Vancouver: Big Hwy 5, which goes south and enters Vancouver from the east; and the longer, smaller and more breathtaking Hwy 99 (linked by Hwy 97 to Kamloops). You can guess which one I took. Hwy 99 enters the coastal range, and slowly meanders along the mountain passes, valleys, lakes, national parks and more fruit stalls. I want to say it is some of the best riding you can do in North America, but honestly, riding anywhere in BC is going to make you wish you were a motorcycle gypsy. There simply are no straightaways, it is a province of twisty roads and mountains, most of which are in excellent shape which allows you to take turns faster than what might be recommended. By the time I passed the world famous Squamish, Blackcomb and Whistler (you haven’t skied until you have skied there), I was right back on the western shores of Scotland as Hwy 99 began to skirt the Howe Sound, on the way south to Horseshoe Bay and Vancouver. It was some of the best riding I have ever done. There was, however, a slight detour, to avoid construction, which strained me and my Magna a little more than we liked. Waiting for a road to re-open, another biker, on a DR, pulled up next to me and said he knew a short-cut around the construction. Because I am generally impatient I agreed even though he said it would be a little off-road. “A little off-road” turned out to be a heavily rutted single track which soon brought my bike and me to our knees. The stranger having ridden ahead was of no help as I struggled to lift the heavily burdened beast back to a vertical position. The ruts and slick mud and grass did not help but, as often is the case when one is alone, I managed to get her back up. The rest of the ride was hairy, but I stayed up and eventually managed to get back to pavement. With Vancouver came traffic and the general annoyances of riding through a city. However, as every person you will ever meet will attest, it is simply too wonderful a city to stay angry. The people are great, the food is excellent, and the nature is unparalleled. My fondest memory of Vancouver is Stanley Park - a proper rain forest, which faces the waters of the Strait of Georgia. It was there, with new friends from Couch surfing, that I decided to tip back a bottle of vino and watch the sun set for 3 hours, while lying on the beach, surrounded by bikes, boats, someone blowing bubbles, and the slowly changing vista of colorful sky, water, islands, hills, and container ships the size of cities lighting up in the growing darkness. I spent the next few days taking in the food, the positivity and the expense, before hopping a ferry to Vancouver Island to complete my trek across Canada. From Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo: the ferry slides across the calm, teeming with whales, waters of the strait. I spent a few pleasant hours gazing at the tranquility of islands, fishermen, sail boats and dolphins. On Vancouver Island I hopped on Hwy 19 heading north before taking Hwy 4 west. Hwy 4 is a wonderfully curvy road which passes a number of lakes – each more enticing than the other. It was hard not to stop, pitch a tent and find a fishing pole with which to lounge away days and days on the shore. But I continued forward, taking care not to slip on the ever present moistness of the road. BC is many things, dry it is not. After traversing the Island, Hwy 4 turns back north and becomes the Pacific Rim Highway, which ends at the Western Terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway in Tofino. It was a cold ride along the shore, but that did not detract from the stark beauty of pine forest set against a steel gray sky, with the tumultuous crash of waves ever present on the rocky coast. I went into Tofino to find the end of the TCH, then found a nice place to camp with some friends I had made in Jasper a couple of weeks back. We enjoyed some of nature’s stimulants and contemplated the risk of being mauled by the prowling wild cat somewhere in our park. The following day we spent walking along the beach, climbing rocks, and listening to the song of the sea. It is one of those activities which I find never gets old – watching and listening to the ocean. The rhythm is soothing and almost regular. The crash of waves reminds you of the immense force contained in the ocean, the sight of the endless horizon frees dreams of sailing on the open sea, the smell of salt, the great sensation of being surrounded by water with no land in sight – freedom. I was not prepared for the constant cold and wet, so the following day I headed back south to Victoria and the ferry to Anacortes in Washington. I repeated the ride of a few days before, but continued south into Sydney (just north of Victoria). I again found kind people who gave me a roof and a delicious meal – friends of someone with whom I stayed in Winnipeg. It is true that the more you travel, the smaller the world becomes, the more interlinked your life becomes with humanity as a whole, and the more likely are you to find help the further you go. The next day I set off to the terminal at Sydney to catch the ferry to Anacortes. I spent a few hours writing in the beauty which is the crossing into Washington, past countless islands, yachts, schooners and whales. It was the perfect end to the unforgettable 4000 mile crossing of the world’s second largest country. Without pause I can easily say that this is a place to which I wish to return. The roads are impeccable, the natural wonders are the stuff of dreams … and I still have dreams of that peach. Trail Dust is a publication of happy-trail.com
Part 1 of 3 By Alexander TolchinskiCrossing the world’s second biggest country felt like a daunting task: more than 4000 miles through at least 6 climate zones, the inevitable rain, wind, and snow, and incredible stretches of solitude. This was certainly no “easing into” my journey around the world. But I had to start somewhere, so off to the Great White North I went with the hopes that succeeding would mean a great beginning rather than an end. From Eastport, Maine, the eastern-most point of the United States, I, and my '99 Honda Magna VF-750, caught a ferry to Deer Island, New Brunswick, Canada. It was getting late, and as usual I was planning on catching the last ferry out. I pulled up to the dock just in time to witness the boat pushing back from the dock! I crossed a time zone, a half-hour difference, without knowing it. I had but a moment to be distraught before I witnessed something I never thought happened in the “Screw you, the doors are closed, you cannot get on the plane which is still sitting 30 ft. away” society we live in – the ferry started coming back - for me! I was only a few days into my journey and had yet to learn the magic of the road, and the kindness people have for travelers. The ride was quick and surprisingly painless. This was my first time putting a motorcycle on a boat, and I imagined every wave knocking it over. But the boat was steady and the steel horse didn’t even tremble. By the time we arrived on the island, dusk was upon us in earnest so I made my way to the closest campground. I pitched my tent facing the water and the sun setting over the bay. The time passed easily with whales, porpoises, jumping fish, and whirlpools. It was a stark northern beauty softened by the colorful warmth of the setting sun. It is exactly the kind of place one would come to to write in peace and breathe the crisp, clean, inspiring air of the north. But I was still new at long-term travel and felt eager to get back on the road. Sadly, I could not make myself stay for more than a day.
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Congratulations to our Fab team for producing a remarkable product at an even more remarkable price. We're talking about HTP4-1-2M, the new Happy Trails SL Rack for the KLR650 (all years) priced at only $99.99. This rack provides protection for the expensive plastic side panels when running all manner of soft luggage. It is perfectly designed for the Happy Trails Mojave Luggage and works equally well with the Ortlieb Quick Release System, the Wolfman Dry Saddle Bags and the Wolfman Rolie Bags using the "other" straps. The new SL rack is shown on the E model and the A model below.Trail Dust is a publication of happy-trail.com
by John Ogden Jr North of the Border - Alaska Part Two North of the Border - Alaska Part Three Today is the first day of the adventure. We will cross the Canadian border, but not before a little adventure. First thing this morning I got the bike packed and added a set of tires I planned on changing around Watson Lake. It must have been just a few pounds more than I needed because once I moved the bike the kick stand broke on me. Oops, now what? I picked the bike up and got it started when the normal morning thing happened: a biker walked over wanting to talk about the Sportster. I put on my best face and tried to sound normal—I’m not a morning person and after dropping my bike it only got worse. He finally left and I was able to ride off to meet Rich at the fairgrounds, where I leaned the bike against a pole and relayed the bad morning blues. We weren’t sure what to do, and I thought if nothing else, I would just ride the bike and find a prop at every stop until we found a welder. Being Sunday I knew it wouldn’t happen today. During service that morning I talked to Eric and he had the level-headed approach of just finding the maintenance dept. Wow ! Why didn’t I think of that? The maintenance shop had everything we needed to rebuild the kick stand. It’s ironic how much thought and engineering went into the suspension, handle bar layout, swing arm design and fuel cell placement, but it was the kick stand that could use a bit more Viagra.
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At work in the maintenance shop That kickstand needed Viagra
Our next piece of adventure was getting into Canada. About 13 years ago I was denied entry, because of a DWI I got in 1996, so I was yellow tagged and had to go in the main office. They asked about the reason I was denied entry; I told them and they asked if there was anything else I was arrested for. “Of course not.” So after about 15 minutes the dude came back and wasn’t real happy, so to interrogation I go. I have a bit of a jaded past, some history with violence among other things. I had forgotten about that stuff, but the records hadn’t and he had a list. Funny thing is the DWI had gone off my record. The more questions he asked the more frustrated he got; he could not believe I didn’t know the dates of anything that happened. I finally told him those years were a blur as I really wasn’t sober more than a few hours a week, and that I’d had a salvation moment in ‘98 when my life changed and now I was a different guy. So back behind the curtain he went. I was there for 1.5 hrs and after a lot of prayer he allowed me through and made some notes on my record to help me in the future, but warned that I would have to go in and discuss my entry every time I crossed into Canada. We’ll see how it goes when I cross back in from Alaska.
Entering British Columbia B.C. Visitor Center
The scenery is intoxicating, all the way along Canada. I am blessed to be here and after the long wait it seems surreal to be here in the Canadian Cascades. The ride has more beauty than can really be taken in and we ride until after dark, finally stopping in Cache Creek at 10:30pm and finding the 49 dollar special, which turned out to be a nice, clean big room. Score!
The scenery is intoxicating Taking coffee breaks where we can Heading to Cache Creek The $49 Special in Cache Creek
Richard's clutch starts to slip some. We hope it’ll stay together but begin to wonder if we should find a shop and have a new one put in or at least this one looked at. The idea of stripping it down at a camp site has also crossed our minds. The bike is low mileage so it may just be varnished plates; not sure what’s up with it but just for good measure we buy some motorcycle specific oil. He had been running 20w50 castor oil, which I used to run in all my bikes before switching to Mobil one. Hope this fixes the issue… or at least helps I have read many times that we have to stop at Tim Horton’s and eat. My uncle’s name is Tim Horton as well so I figure we’ll get this out of the way early. I’m not much on chain food and if I have to do it, better now while we are still close to modern towns.
The father north we go the more “eh” gets used as a transition of thought, some more than others. It is not as common as I had assumed or I am just in the wrong part of Canada. This doesn’t stop Rich from talking with everyone and everything we come across. He makes friends everywhere we go. I am sure there are several stop signs he is on a first name basis with. He is getting familiar with some of the KLR quirks as well, for instant the KLR doesn’t get good mileage, gas or oil, when pushed hard. He consistently uses about a gallon more fuel than I do and about a quart more oil.
Rich consistently uses about a gallon more fuel than I do and about a quart more oil. We get stopped for road construction and this guy comes over to Richard. Yep, you guessed it, instant buds. "You sure have a small motor?" As we get deeper in to our trip the animals begin to come out in sight... ... and we feel like the adventure is beginning I think fishing must be enjoyed here And there's easy to understand signage A picturesque old church along the way More natural beauty
We stop for the night in New Hazelton at a Robbers Roost Motel. The place is run by a nice duchess… well, she’s Dutch anyway. :) We meet a group of international riders who met on some forum and decided to rent bikes and do some adventure riding together. Good group of people.
We are now 20 miles before the Cassiar Highway Highway 37
Today starts the Cassiar Highway. This road used to be all paved and is the alternate route to the Alcan. Out intentions are to do both routes. This road sets us off on a nice ride with the opportunity to see more wildlife, and marks the beginning of the bears. We must see a dozen of them on this route. Good thing we’re packing bear spay as these bears are vicious. Massive animals of prey just waiting to tear us limb from limb. Just look at the size of that thing he must stand 8ft tall.
The bears were huge :) Click to enlarge and you'll see the bear More breathtaking natural beauty These wooden bridges can be slick when wet
We are on a bit of a time table, neither of us have much vacation time and both have obligations back home. So we have more things we want to do than time to do them. We have prioritized so we can make the big points we want to make. Problem is that this early in the trip we do not know how much spare time we have to do side trips. We come up to the intersection and see a sign that points to Hyder, Ak. We haven’t talked about this stop, so at the intersection I ask Rich if he wants to do it. He shrugs and asks what I think. Well, we will never be this close again, I say, and with that we make the run to Hyder. I am glad we did too, this is a great road. The clouds are hanging low and cover the mountain peaks, giving the mystical appearance to the wilderness. I feel like a kid at Disneyland, the place is so surreal with the way the mist and clouds blanket around us. Rich agrees this is a must-do ride.
We decide to head to Hyder Mystical wilderness with a lone motorcycle We agreed this is a must-do ride Arriving in Hyder
This is the first border crossing into Alaska. It is a small quaint town with dirt roads and few buildings. It has a very rustic feel to it with friendly people and a few visitors. This is a place I would like to come back to and spend a few days just disconnecting from life. We decide to stop and take in a coffee and just soak in some of the atmosphere. The Glacier Inn is just the place, too. The lady working is serving tables and taking care of her kid, a real family feeling. The walls are lined with over 20,000 dollar bills.
This is the first border crossing into Alaska A quaint town with dirt roads The Glacier Inn ... ... a friendly, family place Riding alongside a wilderness stream My bike tracks true on the grated bridge Momma bear has just helped her cub climb a tree More roadside beauty
On the way in there is no border guard, but on the way back in to Canada there is a check station. Why, I’m not sure, but you get the normal run of questions and then pass through. There seems to be some strange attraction in these parts to grated bridges. My bike tracks straight and true over them, but the thought of what would happen if you crashed is not a comforting one. It doesn’t take long before the bears start coming out again and this time it’s a momma bear. I apologize for not getting the camera out quicker, but when I drove up she was just getting her cub to climb the tree, must have been the Harley exhaust note. The road is mostly paved and I would say about 10-15 miles are still gravel, but in great shape. So far this trip would be easy to do on any bike that you choose. It would be fun, safe and rewarding. The night finds us camping at Watson Lake. Home of the Sign forest, where a homesick military put a sign from his home town up and it caught on.
The roads are mostly paved ... ... or gravel in good shape You could take this trip on any bike A fun, safe and rewarding ride for anyone Bears have become a common sight Welcome to the Yukon Sign Forest begun by a homesick military - he put a sign from his home town, and it caught on Camping at Watson Lake, nearby the Sign Forest
Part Two: Stories of tire changes,GPS, rain, peanut butter and heading to the Arctic Circle Trail Dust is a publication of happy-trail.com
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