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Diary 8

12 Aug.

Joe & Pat took me round the Banff area.
The hills here are huge.
Massive lumps of rock hurling themselves towards the sky.

In the afternoon I caught up with on-line stuff and had a nap.

That's quite a luxury. Even though I'm taking months off I've been doing stuff most days.
The chance to genuinely do nothing is just great.

I have to take the bike to Calgary for 9am tomorrow and that means leaving here before 8 when it will be around 5 degrees (41F). I'm really not looking forward to that.

13 Aug.

This morning was cold.
Two long sleeved T-shirts, a fleece, a leather jacket & the waterproofs on top to cut out the wind.
Cold but bearable.

The bike shop had told me that 'We're booked for weeks but Saturday is open - first come first served' so I planned to be there when they opened. 08:50 I was there and second in the queue.
Breakfast in a cafe down the road and then hung around till 15:00 when I got the bike back.

The mountains here, when you come from the East are magnificent.
The prairie ends and the mountains start.
The various peaks have obviously been named.
For example, just behind Joe & Pat's are the 'three nuns' except you can't call them that now. Now they're called the 'three sisters'. The hill at the end of this section is no longer called 'Chinamans peak' it's called 'Hauling' or probably 'Ha Ling' or something - this being the name of the Chinaman it's named after.
Place names are being changed because they're 'politically incorrect'.
This somehow offends me.
Places are usually named because that's how the locals of the time referred to it (except when folks here just stole a completely inappropriate name from somewhere in the UK). The names originally had a meaning to the people because of an event, or a person, or just some way that people could use shorthand to describe it.
Just down the road is 'Dead Man's Flat'. It's a bit of flat ground and I assume at some point in history some guy was found there dead. So the locals of the time would, in referring to the place, probably say 'You know the flat bit with the dead guy', which would become 'Dead man's flat bit' to 'Dead Man's Flat'.
Names like this give you some idea of history and meaning.
Changing 'Three Nuns" to "Three Sisters" looses the fact that there is a catholic connection. Now I have no idea whether the person who originally named them was catholic, or whether they hated Catholics but Catholicism must have played some part in their life. With the name "Three Sisters" that's almost totally gone.

We're losing history through political correctness.

Rant over - and by the way, the Italian restaurant tonight was wonderful.

Oh yea - another thing.
The mechanic who worked on my bike was commenting "It's 5 years old and covered in rust. You guys use slipperygrease (some stuff to help removal of bolts whose name I forget) where as here we use stickygrease (some stuff to help keep bolts tight whose name I forget). The bikes here of that age are all still shiney."
I explained that in the UK we have salt on the roads in the winter.
He pointed out that over here (Canada) when they have salt on the roads they also have four feet of snow and you leave the bike at home.

I tried to only change the back tyre - get another Pilot Road - but they pointed out that I in fact don't have Pilot Road but Pilot Power tyres which are an out and out sports tyre. And looking at the tread patterns on the Michelin web site I have to agree.
Unfortunately they didn't have a pair of Pilot roads and I don't want to run unmatched tyres so I'm back to 020s

Later update - I've spoken to Lauren at Fastline where I got the tyres.
I must have missunderstood which tyres she was talking about rather than the shop fitting the wrong tyres.
For the record - I'm not upset that I had Pilot Powers.

14 Aug.

Sunday - so I went to church.

I realise that this is not the usual Mac behaviour but Joe (My mothers cousin, whom I'm staying with) is a retired preacher and the local preacher is on holiday so Joe was taking the service.
I didn't recognise a single hymn.

Scott, one of Joe & Pat's kids, turned up for supper with wife and three boys (all under seven) so we had a quiet evening :)
Scott would fit right in with the family in Scotland.

15 Aug.

It's kinda strange - someone I know e-mailed me recently saying 'it sounds like your not having as much fun as you should'.
There were many reasons for this trip and fun was only one of them - I'm also wrestling with my demons.
Just taking the time and the space to dig them up and confront them.
I'm spending a lot of time alone - and there's not much that's more 'alone' than inside a crash helmet.

No - I'm not going to give you all the details of the particular demons that I'm playing tag with.
Might drop a few bits and pieces on some close friends - but the details are not for public consumption.

Anyway - enough of that crap. On with the monologue of roads and hills.

Out of Cranmore and north on Highway 1

Just north of Cranmore on that road is the pay station for the National Park.
Joe said "If your just driving through and not going to stop then take the right hand lane and you don't have to pay".
Now this does make sense.
The 'Trans Canadian Highway' happens to go through a National Park but if you're using the road to go beyond, rather than to visit the park then why should you pay to visit somewhere that will go past in a green blur.

If the weather had been kinder then I would have headed north from Lake Louise and gone up towards Jasper to see the 'Ice Fields' (and for that section of road you must have a park pass).
But the clouds were low and visibility was severely limited.
I wanted the warmer weather that was on the other side of the hills.

Just beyond Banff I picked up Highway 1A.
I did wonder, if someone had asked me where I was going - If I'd said "Highway 1A" they would probably have thought I was riding Highway 1 and was Canadian.
(Folks from the UK will not understand that one but the Canadians will)

Wandering up the less travelled 1A I occasionally got glimpses of the mountain tops (when the cloud were being helpful) and every side valley I managed to glance up showed another half dozen individual and severe peaks lying behind the monoliths I was riding through.
The youth of the Canadian Rockies means that they have suffered a mere fraction of the weathering of the mountain ranges that I'm used to in Europe. These beasts are rugged and rude. Nasty in their peaks. I can imagine the most seasoned mountain climbers looking at this lot and thinking "You must be F*&^ing kidding, these aren't mountains they're a nightmare"

So there was me, riding through these monoliths on the alternative road when I see, at the side of the road, a van with the logo of the Canadian national cross country ski team.
Now excuse me but doesn't bits of Canada have snow all year round?
And the bits up north, with the snow, are the very bits that you're going to need cross country skis coz it's a long way between bar's up there.
No - they were wearing 'road skis' and were practising on Alternate 1.
Now Alternate 1 is mostly 2 lane (that means normal road, traffic both ways with a line up the middle)
Alternate 1 does occasionally split so you have a 1 vehicle lane winding through the trees with another 1 vehicle lane the opposite direction over there somewhere.
If I'd met the cross country team on one of these single lane sections I would have been able to squeeze past (They were taking up most of the road) but we caught up with them when I had a van in front of me and the van didn't have space to go past.
I accept that a national team has to practice but following them up hill was painful.

After that section I dispatched the van & opened the bike up - which is where I came across the 'Do you have a park pass' checkpoint. Having been singled out as an offender and directed to go see the official she told me 'The computers down - on you go'. Computers huh - just can't trust them.

Over the mountains into BC and another time zone.

In Cranbrook I ran into a couple of folks on BMW GS650s who are spending a year touring N & S America.
Haven't been able to find their web site - yet.

As I'm sitting here writing this I notice that the clock in the room is an hour different from the PC time.
I've checked the map and I'm reassured that today I passed into 'Pacific' time out of 'Mountain' time.
Just realised that BC may not use 'Summer time' or 'daylight saving' or whatever you want to call it.
Might have to be careful that I don't miss the free breakfast.
It's a tough life.

16 Aug.

I had a plan this morning.
Wander south across the border into Idaho and explore the Rockies.

At about lunchtime I stopped just short of the border at a duty-free shop to see if they had any of my brand of cigarettes (they didn't) but parked outside the shop was a VFR and a CBR6.
I got talking to the guys riding them and they said "You have ridden the roads round Nelson haven't you"
"Where's Nelson?"
"Turn round now, go back up into Canada and explore that area - some of the best bike roads in the country"

I have no time pressure here, and a VFR rider from Leeds (UK) who lives over here tells me "Go ride those roads" I'll take the advice - and I'm very glad that I did - Thanks Steve & Paul.

Rt 3A up the side of Kootenay Lake is lovely.
It really reminds me of the roads round Loch Tay.
A long body of water with a windy road on one side and hills on the other - except that here everything is bigger.
The lake is bigger, the mountains are bigger, the road is wider and the RVs are bigger and slower.

The main road goes half way up the East side of the lake then there's a free ferry across to the other side.
As I was approaching the ferry I got my first chance, ever, to do one of the traditional 'Biker Dances'
I've seen other people do it but never before has it been my time.
The dance, if you've never seen it goes as follows.
The biker slows down, unzips the leathers a bit and pulls down the neck of their T-shirt.
Then then smile and zip up the leathers.
Moments later they start beating their chest with their left hand while braking hard and slapping the bike down through the gears without using the clutch. During the 'slapping' phase they are frantically looking for somewhere safe to stop.
The next few steps can vary depending on whether there is somewhere safe to stop - in my case a shop parking lot.
Stop immediately, leap off the bike and start throwing clothing off.
This is perhaps the only time you will ever see a biker taking a T-shirt off while still wearing a helmet.
The dance comes to a conclusion when the bee/wasp that has been stinging you repeatedly as it goes down your shirt is discovered, dead, inside your shirt.
I have in the past watched someone else perform this exact dance and then I found it amusing.
Paul - I'm sorry I laughed.

The shop that I stopped outside sold a thing that lots of people use here.
It's called 'afterbite' or 'overbite' or something.
It's a lip balm type stick that you rub on the bite as soon as you get it and it helps stop the big swelling from occurring.
The destructions say "You will notice a stinging sensation - this lets you know it's working" Well I'm sorry - I thought the stinging sensation was from the bloody sting!

I like ferries.
I know I'm on holiday when I take a ferry.
On the Kootenay Lake ferry I met a guy from Bournemouth who lives over here now and he was asking loads of questions about the bike, the GPS, the trip, my route and loads of other stuff.
In the UK I wouldn't have considered him rude but having been over here for a while I found him to be a real pain in the ass.
The constant badgering - "So if someone stole your GPs would it be useful to them over here" What the hell kind of question is that !

Anyway - In Nelson for the night.

Going to post this now - the frequency of my posts has more to do with how much I have written rater than 'every 10 days'

Diary 10