Sea to Sky – Oh My

I had a nice, but short visit with my nephew, Ryan, and his wife Bianca. They are both expats working in the animation industry which is flourishing in Vancouver. The next morning Iskirted around the city center to avoid Lord Stanley Park, and the certain traffic jam on my way the Sea to Sky highway. 

As the name infers, the road climbs from the ocean to the high peaks of the Whistler/Blackcomb area. It is really hard to focus on the road with the stunning scenery around every curve. My destination was Whistler and the legendary mountain biking it holds. I found that whistler is a crazy busy tourist attraction. I found solitude at a campground twelve miles north and circled back to the village for a ride. I’d heard that the trail rating of BC trails is considerably softer than back home. I’m here to tell you that is an understatement. I’m very comfortable on blues and even blacks at home. Here, the blues gave me all I could handle. In my defense, the Fargo isn’t a true mountain bike, but no excuses. I only biffed once, but dabbed a lot. Trust me, I didn’t venture out onto the downhill course. There were hundreds of armor-clad, full face helmeted bombers flying down the snowboarding hill, jumping and skidding. Yikes!

The Fargo looking good.

As you probably know, Whistler was the host for several of the Winter Olympics events and the rings are all that remain.

I went back to my campsite and hiked to the waterfall.

The next morning I headed easterly from Pembrooke. The mountains here rose up, and they were massive! It was interesting how BC changed from giant mountains to Montana-like hills to northern Minnesota-like swampy lake areas. My next biking adventure was in Revelstroke, a smaller, more down-to-earth version of Whistler. The trails were equally as challenging but I was smarter now on choosing trails. I only fell off my bike a dozen times… and hiked more than a few sections. I won’t be scared at home anymore. Maybe that is a bad thing.

My plan was to head northeast towards Jasper to ride the Icefields Parkway. A local had suggested that I should head up to Clearwater as there is a waterfall there not to be missed. That is where the trouble started….

I checked into a campground, set up my tent and headed three miles to Clearwater to seek out Mexican food. Leaving the campground, my motorcycle started making a clunking sound when I accelerated. Oh-oh. I stopped, put it up on the center-stand, rotated the wheels and have it a once-over but couldn’t find the problem. I stopped at the only gas station in town and asked if there was a mechanic who knew anything about motorcycles. You have to appreciate that this town is probably a couple hundred population… The kid behind the counter looked at me like I was speaking Swahili. A lady overheard me and said the only mechanic in town was in the car outside, her husband. This was the first of my chance encounters with generous Canadians. Quentin quickly deduced that my drive belt had missing teeth. My bike was dead in the water. Crap.

Quentin loaned me his phone (AT&T service was non-existent) to call the BMW insurance provider I had fortuitously signed up with to get help. They said I could get towed up to 100 miles. The only motorcycle dealer of any kind within range was a Harley Davidson dealer in Kamloops. Harleys have belts so I elected to get towed there. There was indeed a towing company in town (Quentin’s son works there). Kevin showed up with a big truck, loaded my bike on, strapped it down and headed south.  By now it was 10:30pm. We got to Kamloops around midnight, dropped the bike by the service door and went to find a hotel. Turns out, it was a big weekend in Kamloops, Ribfest and some big auto show. no rooms anywhere. I ended up sleeping in an unattended trailer in the H-D parking lot. Actually not that bad, if you don’t get arrested.

As soon as the manager showed up in the morning I explained my situation. He was less than positive. When the mechanics rolled in, I went through my story again. While they went inside to look at YouTube videos on how to install a belt, not reassuring. And, they don’t have a belt that matches BMW. The nearest BMW authorized dealer… Kelowna, another 200 kilometers south, or 120 miles. The good news, they have one belt. To expand my options, I walked next door to another motorsports dealer to see if they had options. There I met my Angel, Jacqui. She said it was a slow day because all their mechanics were at the auto show and she thought she’d help a stranger in need. She made several calls, and decided the only option was to go get the belt and have an unfamiliar mechanic out out on, or get the bike to Kelowna. She even offered her car to me so I could go get it! I guess I look honest, or pathetic. In the end, she found me a Budget truck to rent, got me a ride to get it and sold me some straps to hold it down. Back at the HD dealer with the truck, I got help from another dude who just showed up at the dealership and hung out all morning. He helped me load and strap down the bike. I’m certain it never would have made the trip without his help. I drove as fast as I could to Kelowna as it was Saturday and the mechanic was going home at 3:30. I got there at 2:00, the belt was installed by 3:00 and, after dropping off the truck, riding my bicycle back to the dealer, I was rolling again by 5:00, just 24 hours after the disaster started. Quite a day… and, quite a testament to the generosity of Canadians. I won’t feel bad if Trump wins and I have to move there.

My Angel, tats and piercings…

The downside to the story is that I am now over 200 miles south of egret I wanted to be and the Parkway was looking less likely.
Next installment… Chasing the Sun.

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