Get out and ride: A long road to the Rocky Mountains - Part 2
By: Web Editor
We stopped at the top of the mountain looking over at Osoyoos to take in the views and again they didn’t disappoint us.
Story and pics: Paula Maxwell
Day 6 – distance to travel 232km
Before we headed to the US border our guide Brandon took us to see the Red Rock Canyon, which again was quite spectacular and well worth the trip to see it. We then headed south to the Port of Chief Mountain border crossing; we had been advised to have our passports and driving licences on hand as the guards would not be impressed if we had to fiddle about finding them. After paying $6 and having a photograph and fingerprints taken they let us through to the good old USA. The guards had found it quite confusing that mum, dad and I had all been born in New York (which is actually in Lincolnshire, England) and now I lived in Boston about nine miles away from New York but after explaining that I didn’t live in Massachusetts they let me through.
The next road would be my most challenging on a bike and made the Duffey Lake Road feel like the A1. We were on the side of a mountain riding on the right going south, this road had no guard rails and lots of tight twists, turns, patches of gravel, rocks, potholes and also memorial crosses down the side of it just to put me off even more! At one point my arms were actually shaking and I didn’t venture out of second gear for quite a long stretch.
We travelled through quite a few typical American towns in the middle of nowhere with all the Harleys parked outside the bars. As we were in Montana helmets didn’t have to be worn and all of the riders we saw (apart from in our group) weren’t wearing them, they just had their jeans, T-shirts, boots and bandanas on, which made us look very overdressed.
We reached the Duck Inn in Whitefish at about 6pm. This hotel was again gorgeous and set on a riverside. For dinner we had take away and had the biggest pizzas I have ever seen, which I suppose is typically American.
Day 8 – Day off in Whitefish
Today we had a day off but Brandon wanted to take us to a very picturesque town that he knew of called Big Fork. He was right, it was beautiful and we stayed there for a couple of hours looking round and then playing pool in the bar. A few of us then wanted to go back to the hotel as it was the European Cup Final and we wanted to watch Spain thrash Germany. The temperature today was in the high 30s, so quite a difference from a few days ago.
Day 9 – Distance to travel 445km
Today was a long ride so we left the hotel at 8.30am. We rode along the Koocanusa Lake and stopped at the Libby Dam for a rest. We then rode through Idaho and then back into Canada (it felt good to be back). We had gone back through the time zone so were eight hours behind the UK again. The temperature today was 39 degrees and we definitely knew it with all our biking gear on. We stopped at a town called Creston for our lunch and Brandon had booked a table outside for us so we grabbed all the umbrellas to take shade.
The next road we took was again a challenging one and is ranked as one of the best motorcycle roads in British Columbia with awesome twisties, incredible views and it doesn’t see a high volume of traffic. We headed to the free Kootenay Bay Ferry as this would knock a few hundred kilometres off our journey; it took us across to Balfour about 40km away from Nelson, our next stop.
Day 10 – Day off in Nelson
Nelson is one of British Columbia’s historic small towns. We had asked Brandon to organise a helicopter trip for us over the Kokanee glacier. It was my first experience of going in a helicopter and I was so excited. The views of Nelson with the lakes and mountains all around were stunning. We went over the lake where Pierre Trudeau’s son (former Canadian prime minister) was unfortunately killed as an avalanche had pushed him into the lake and his body has never been found. We also flew over the mountain featured on the Coors Beer label.
In the afternoon Brandon advised us not to miss the rideout as it had some of the best motorcycle roads around and he wasn’t wrong. Again there were straights with lots of twists and turns, it was a biker’s dream.
Day 11 – Distance to travel 260km
Today we were travellng to the Osoyoos Valley, Canada’s only desert. One of our rest stops was at Grand Forks, which is known for its rich Russian culture. We stopped at the top of the mountain looking over at Osoyoos to take in the views and again they didn’t disappoint us. The temperature today was again in the high 30s and would get hotter obviously when we got down in the valley. The road down had plenty of switchbacks but by now I was taking them all in my stride.
We were staying at a hotel in the middle of lots of vineyards, called the Spirit Ridge Resort and owned by a tribe of Indians. Apart from a winery tour there were lots of activities here and Brandon would organise anything we asked for.
Day 12 – Day off in Osoyoos
We had a day off from riding today as by 7am the temperature was in the mid 30s. Instead dad and another couple from the UK played golf while I carried his bag like a good daughter should. Later that day mum and I went shopping and dad had a go at waterskiing. It was a really relaxing day, just what we needed as we had a lot of miles to travel tomorrow.
Day 13 – Distance to travel 500km
Unfortunately this was our last day of the trip and it was the longest. We set off at 9am on our way back to Whistler. The first road was great with lots of long sweepers, beautiful scenery and limited traffic, all a biker could ask for really. We stopped for lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in a small place called Spences Bridge, we went out on to a balcony to eat and saw humming birds and an osprey’s nest with the male and female on it. After lunch we were warned that the next few kilometres were quite challenging as there were several tight twists and turns and that there would definitely be rocks on the road. Jarvis had said that in previous years riders had dropped their bikes on this bit of road. They were right and I was pleased we had been warned.
Eventually we came back onto the Duffey Lake Road heading into Whistler. The road seemed worse going back with more potholes, gravel and quite a few more single lane wooden bridges to go over; perhaps this was because I was quite tired at this point as it had been a long day. Unfortunately we had about 10 minutes of rain on the last part of the journey but as this was only the second time throughout the whole trip we counted ourselves lucky.
We arrived at the Summit Lodge Hotel again about 7pm but we still had the energy to get ready and go out for our last meal of the trip and to say our goodbyes and swap email addresses and phone numbers.
The whole experience had definitely been worth waiting for and from my first email enquiring about the holiday everybody involved with Rocky Mountains Motorcycle Holidays had been extremely professional and helpful and nothing had been too much trouble to sort out. On all the information received from the RMMH it stated Luxury Motorcycle Holidays and from the first morning everything was taken care of for us, our luggage was picked up and dropped off outside our hotel rooms, helmet visors cleaned every time we took our helmets off, bikes cleaned and checked every night and drinks and snacks at rest stops throughout each day’s journey provided. There was nothing we had to do apart from enjoy the ride on the bikes and take in all the fantastic views, oh and maybe just watch out for the wildlife en route as the deer, cows, goats, black bears and moose did not stop for anyone when crossing the roads!
Everyone in the group was impressed with Brandon and his team and we couldn’t thank them enough for making it a holiday and experience of a lifetime.
• Missed Part 1 ? Read it here
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