Most interesting day of the trip without question. Most enjoyable, possibly, in a strange way. Up at 6, packed by 6:45 and at breakfast for 7:00. Basic, very basic, breakfast. Amounted to a couple of types of cereal and white or brown toast. Very light breakfast all round then. Expecting to get something on the road later. The little Indian bloke did boil us a kettle for hot water for tea though.
Out onto the 3B north noticing that the road we took from Trail to Rossland last night was our old friend the 22 which heads south to the US border. Suddenly, on joining the 3B, the choice of Rossland in the itinerary suddenly makes sense. Yet another fantasticly empty winding road back up to the Crowsnest. It's obvious looking at the stands of trees lining the route that a lot of logging goes on around here. Another road I didn't want to end but the 26 km to the 3 was too quickly gone even though I was loitering at the speed limit. Just as with the 6 yesterday, didn't see another vehicle on it.
Rejoined the Crowsnest for the third time on the trip. We pretty much follow it now until Hope tomorrow when we'll head north of the Fraser River for the final run into Vancouver. Once again the road is completely empty and so we cracked along at 10 kph over the limit.
Pulled into a layby overlooking Christina Lake for a couple of shots. Getting bored with the beauty of British Columbia, not. Can see why the lake is surrounded by cabins, some of them quite palatial.
We had a stop in Grand Forks. Already 100 km done since leaving Rossland. End of the holiday is screaming up on us. Jogas coffee shop in Grand Forks does do a fine brew and their cinnamon swirls are delicious as well. Not that we need them, but it'd be rude, wouldn't it. One of the best coffees I've had in Canada, Certainly much better than anything Timmies has ever produced. It was also big, hot and didn't want to end.
As ever the 3 out of Grand Forks was nice and wide and wining and also very windy with some very strong gusts to contend with. Also runs very close the US border, less than 200 m at one point. Passed through yet another Western stage set that is Greenwood. Boardwalks and timber frontings. How do they still exist out here, and still lived in?
Stopped again at Midway for a comfort break, but what is Midway midway between? At the petrol station we had to ask for the keys to the amenities and they came on big his'n'hers cut down broom handles. Petrol station also looked like a focal point for some of the older locals with chairs tables and coffee. Was like something out of the movies.
The road really got windy and windy once we were out of Midway. Yet another great road and empty. Switchback after switchback. Another road to really savour on a bike. Stopped at a another lay by on the switchbacks above Osoyoos. Stunning, there's that word again, views down into the town and over the lake. Had to go slowly down the hills into Osoyoos, some corners slowing down to 20 kph. Such great fun though.
We pulled up in the high street of Osoyoos just outside the CIBC branch and by the bench. We'd get to know them well as here is were today's story really starts.
We walked down to the beach. Rather a strange place to find a sandy beach thought I. An inland lake. Weather was again glorious and so there were an awful lot of people sunbathing and playing beach games. In hindsight, such a wonderful thing, I should've gone and got the bike and parked up behind the pub. Ho hum. Live and learn.
Then strolled back up to the bike planning the next stop in Princeton for lunch and fuel. As our next stop at Manning Park is in the middle of nowhere we didn't want to be left with virtually empty tank in the middle of nowhere.
Suited and booted I put the key in the ignition, waited for the bike to go through it's checks and pressed the start button. Nothing. Turned the ignition off, turned it on again, pressed the start button, again nothing. Checked all the electrics including battery connections, even the heated seats, and everything was working. Checked it wasn't in first. Checked the emergency cut-off switch wasn't on. You could hear the bike clicking and whirring into life as the it performed it's pre-ignition checks but pressing the start button there was an ominous nothingness.
Tried again. Nothing.
We should be in Vancouver tomorrow night.
I know that RTs and GTs are known to have switchgear problems. The switchgear are connected to a single potted circuit board and both sides have issues. If any single function goes and you have to replace the entire pcb. My own GT is due to go in and get the left hand switchgear unit changed when I get back as the horn doesn't work. However, the ESA, the Info and cruise control buttons all work beautifully. So my assumption is that the starter switchgear function on the RT has frazzled in today's heat.
With a heavy heart phoned Cycle BC. What was this going to mean? Recovery in a truck to Vancouver? Recovery by truck to some other location in BC and make our own way back to Vancouver? And today is Sunday. Are we stranded in Osyoos for the rest of the day, tomorrow, longer? We'll see.
Finally spoke to Mike at Cycle BC 11:40. He said he'd contact BMW Emergency Services and get back to me soonest. He called me back about 45 minutes later to say BMW were sending someone from Kelowna who would probably be with us in about 2 hours. Not to bad.
So we have time to go and have lunch then. Jojo's Cafe I think. We both had a tuna sandwich and a slice of apple cake. Best of all was that they had mint lemonade and we just had to have two glasses each.
Just as we were putting out the second glass of mint lemonade Mike called me to say that BMW recovery van was at the bike. Damn that was quick. He also said that the recovery bloke couldn't call UK numbers so Mike was acting as relay. However, Mike also said not to let BMW take the bike!?
Now my experience BMW Emergency Services in the UK is pretty good, but then I was the named owner of the vehicle. Mike said as Cycle BC was the owner of the bike BMW Emergency Services wouldn't help us as we were only renting the bike from the registered owner. The nearest BMW shop is in Kelowna. The bike would be taken their and we could go with it. However, the shop is closed on Sundays and they couldn't confirm that they could look at the bike tomorrow let alone guarantee they could fix it. If it needed a new switchgear that could take a week to get the part. He then said it seemed pointless to him to let BMW take the bike. He really wasn't very happy that BMW would not help us.
Mike then said something that really concerned me - he asked when are our flights. Oops. He suggested sending someone out from their base in Vancouver to recover the bike themselves and provide us with a replacement to get us on the road and back to Vancouver on schedule. However, Vancouver is 6-7 hours away on a good run. It's now 13:24 and say 6 hours, they'd be with us at 19:30. Then, say 30 minutes to unload the replacement and load this bike, hopefully away by 20:00. and then another two and a half hours to Manning Park won't be getting there until gone 22:30. Well it is an adventure. Wonder what bike we'll get as a replacement.
Walked back up to the BMW recovery van at the bike. Bloke had already been told he was picking it up but got my signature anyway so that he could be paid for his time. Then he asked to check the battery and it's connections. What? Nothing wrong with the battery. It's the switchgear that's gone and in particular the starter button. All other electrics are fine. He insisted on checking again anyway. Sigh. Yes and he confirmed nothing wrong with the batteries or electrics it must be the switchgear. He also repeated what Mike had said regarding the shop in Kelowna being closed today and unable to guarantee when they might have the bike on the road. We called Manning Park where we stay tonight and let them know we wouldn't be there until after 22:00 and they said it was fine.
So we now have 6-7 hours to kill in Osoyoos in the dying hours of a hot Sunday afternoon. At least the sun is shining. As I wrote up these notes we were siting down by the beach again in the shade watching the sun worshipers and trying not to be arrested as perverts. I do have to ask what makes some people think that they can get away with how little they wear with the bodies they have? Frightening.
While waiting I did stroll back to the bike every hour just to check whether I could restart it and each time the same: bike checks and whirs and clicks ok, starter button nothing. Very frustrating only a day out from Vancouver, but how much worse might it have been in Fernie or Rossland thought I.
Had a chat with a young Quebecois backpacker named Jean. He is looking for a summer job as so many Canadian students do. Around Osoyoos it's summer fruit picking that everyone is drawn to. Although it is officially a desert region (in Canada, right) the rivers through the Rockies to water some fertile areas in the south such as this. Lots of orchards around Osoyoos. Jean asked whether we knew of any campsites in the area. I said that we weren't local but if the bike wasn't replaced soon we'd be looking for a campsite ourselves tonight.
I do have to say that I have been universally impressed with the Canadian students that we've met on this holiday. The get up and go and the sheer positivity has been extremely heartwarming to see. If only British youth had such energy.
Just to rub my nose in it on a glorious Sunday afternoon there are hundreds of bikers on the road through Osoyoos this afternoon. Very depressing.
We will hang around the beach until 17:00 and then go and grab some dinner. Getting bored already of sitting around doing nothing but at least it gives a chance for me to write this all up. I'll bet there's still a tale to tell for today.
Well it was a long and boring wait for the boys from Cycle BC. Sat by the beach feeling like pervs with all the semi-naked people on it until 16:20. Some very strange sights not least the 'bye-law enforcement' officer wandering around telling people not to do things. There was also an interesting scam by a young girl of about 12 'doing people's nails to get money to give to poor people'. Yeah right. Feeding her older sister's habit more like. Strange group of Quebecois youths trying to be big as well. Lots of bikers puled in and out of the car park and I even saw a Rocket.
Couldn't sit here any longer and so went to the pub for dinner and to kill a couple more hours. Went up to the bar and ordered two orange an waters in an attempt to re-hydrate. Girl behind the bar looked at me as though I was speaking Swahili. That's two pint glasses, fill each half with orange juice and top up with water. Seemed an easy enough instruction to follow. She came back with a pint of water and a pint of orange juice. Sigh. At this point another waitress with the strangest hazel-green eyes stepped in and said she'd sort it out if I'd like to take my seat. She followed shortly with the correct drinks.
Wifey ordered the chef's salad and I ordered a beef drip po'boys. Salad was enormous and the po'boys very drippy with the gravy. Followed up with sorbet and tea we managed to eke out the time until 18:00.
Strolled back up to the bike. Put the key in the ignition, all the usual bike checks whirs and cliks ok, pressed the start button and VROOOM. WTF! Turned it all off again and went through the drill. Pressed the start button, VROOOM! I did not believe it. What the hell was happening? Must have tried to start it a dozen times during the afternoon but not once did it give any sign of jumping into life. I did not believe it. Much cooler than when we first stopped so I wonder whether there is a heat related problem in the switchgear?
Phoned Cycle BC and let Mike know that the bike seemed to be working but my concern was that if it had been playing up all afternoon I couldn't hand on heart say that I now trusted it. Mike said that the boys were less than an hour away we'd swap bikes anyway. They had a GS on board for me. He asked if I was OK with the height of a GS and whether I'd ridden one before. I said yes and yes having ridden the new water-cooled one a few weeks ago when the GT was in for it's service.
Waited by the bike watching dorks cruise up and down the by now deserted high street. Amazed by the number of really huge pickups cruising up and down. I really do want one. If I had one and parked it on our street in Andover I'd block the road. There was also an unmarked RCMP 4x4 pulling people over. Sneaky buggers the world over.
The boys turned up at just after 19:00 and unloaded the GS with a little help. A lot more help required, including Wifey's, to get the RT onto the back of their pick up but was done first time and with minimal fuss. Impressed that they came out on a Sunday afternoon/evening to help us. A 14 hour round trip not my idea of fun I have to be honest and they got us out of a rather huge hole. Can only say good things about the boys at Cycle BC.
Transferred all the bags across between bikes and the top box. The only thing that wouldn't fit onto the GS were Wifey's waterproof trousers. She asked the boys if they'd take them back for her. She'd only used them twice on` he bike so far and forecast was for clear skies tonight and sun tomorrow so wouldn't be needing them again. Or so she thought.
So back on the road on a GS riding into a westering sun through the orchards of southern BC by 20:00. There are lots of roadside fruit and veg, I hesitate to call them stands as that conjures up the strawberry stands you see in the UK during the summer. The stands of southern BC are more like mini marts. Quite large. Also more RMSP patrol cars than I've seen on teh whole of the rest of the trip. I stuck absolutely rigidly to the limit for the rest of the day although as with most of the roads over the last week the Crowsnest is empty and more and more of it is 4-lane.
Now there are several reasons I chose an RT over a GS for this trip:
- Larger fuel tank
- More fairing
- More comfortable
- More luggage space
And on this evening's ride all four would tell. Firstly I have to say that I find the GS a better bike to ride. It's far more responsive and handles much better than the RT. RT is truly awful in corners with it's little waggle on the front wheel. But on a trip such as this the RT wins for comfort.
The smaller fuel tank and increase drag meant that we had to fill up in Princeton only 100 km out of Osyoos, the boys having left us with a full tank.
As the sun went down it really started to get cold. The lack of fairing giving me the full blast of 100 kph on my body. And I was also getting tired now. Over two weeks constant movement and over a week of that on a bike is starting to tell. We pulled over at another stunning bend in a river and pulled on some warmer gear. I put my under pullley, waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers on to reduce the wind blast. Wifey did similar but didn't have her waterproof trousers. I did offer her mine but she said I needed them more as I was deflecting a lot of the wind from her. As we were pulling the clothes on yet another RCMP patrol car rolled past. Must be a speeding problem on this road.
As ever the views were stunning. Coming out of Princeton the road followed the top of a ridgeline and the views down into the valleys on either side were among the most spectacular of the journey.
I have to admit that the last 48 km of the day from Princeton to Manning Park were the longest of the trip and just seemed to go on forever. The sun went down completely so that we were riding in the dark. The cold was seeping through the gloves even though I had the heated grips on. At one point we thought we were there but a sign brought us to the realisation we had 14 km left. That was hard when you are tired, cold and desperate for hot food and a drink.
We finally pulled up at Manning Park 22:15. Knackered. Freezing. Starving. Parched. Having said we were hungry it was just as well that we ate at Osyoos as the restaurant here closed at 19:00. But there was worse news for me than that. Throughout the trials and tribulations of the day I had my heart set on a nice cold beer. I hadn't had a drink since Fernie and was now gagging for a pint. However: NO BAR! Had a little go at reception pointing out that we'd phoned ahead that we'd be late. Problem being the place went into administration and has recently changed ownership and so not all the staff have been replaced so not everything up and running as it should be yet. Helps me lots not.
Had a hot bath and a cup of tea in the room with the heating turned right up and fell into bed. Been a long day. Wifey saw lots of deer and elk on the last push including Bambi's dad up on a ridge. Also saw a sign on a turn off towards the US border that said that it was open 9 am to 5 pm. That made me smile.