We selected, as our first victims, Luke and Kate. Long time family friends of mine. In all fairness they did actually invite us, which kind of sets them apart from the usual candidate profile.
Fellow Englishfolk, they recently emigrated to a town not far East of Vancouver BC, and are now living in a super little house in a splendidly rural area.
We spent a few days walking around the woods that surround their home, and checking the slightly daunting weather reports for the higher elevation region up towards Lillooet.
The trip from Langley to Lillooet was an extremely wet affair. Cold and wet.
Char demonstrated how to perform a U turn on steep gravel, and fell off like any profesional motorcyclist would. It made me proud.
Nine years ago, my Father and I rode across some of Canada together, on a journey that I think I can safely say was pretty important to both of us. We stayed at a motel called the 'Three Pines' in Lillooet, and Charlotte and I stayed in the same place when we visited.
Charlotte and I decided on a loop around the Cascasdes, that took us up Fraser Canyon to Lillooet, and then down Duffy Lake Pass. The morning of our departure from Lillooet we checked the road condition website and found an altogether more interesting collection of images on the roadcams.
I decided we should soldier on and see what adventure the day would hold. Char put a brave face on it and supressed her inner fear.
We had an absolute blast, needless to say it was bastard cold. We rode until we had no feeling in our hands, then stopped and thawed them over the fantastic Coleman stove. It may be the same for everyone, but I find when I get really cold I feel a constant phantom urge to urinate, whilst also feeling a strange desire to cry. I'm sure it's something to do with me being a real man.
Charlotte did extremely well indeed. She'll never accept the compliment with grace or dignity, but she is in fact a very good motorcycle rider. We rode on through the increasingly heavy snow as the road climbed and landscape became more beautiful with every mile.
Char's first off was an interesting kind of interjection to this scene of serenity and calm. I was leading and constantly checking my mirror to see that she was alright. I happened to glance in the mirror an instant after she fell, and faced the alarming little reflection of a Charlotte and a Honda spinning around on the road and into a ditch.
You can't really do anything quickly when riding a bike in the snow, but I came to a stop as fast as I could and ran back to help. She was fine, shaken up but fine. Mirror smashed, and clutch lever snapped and bent.
The little noggin on the clutch lever that operates the micro-switch had sheered off, and as her neutral sensor doesn't work, this meant the bike wouldn't start. Not sure why I'm including this, it's dull. The upshot if that I cleverly used the scissors on my penknife to complete the circuit and start the bike. (That's why I included it, self glorification).
Cars stopped to ask wtf we were doing. We fell off a bit more. The road got steeper, which made riding a lot lot harder. You have to break or you'll get faster and faster, but the slightest braking causes you to skid and accelerate. For the steepest mile or so, I rode my bike down a bit, then walked up and rode Char's down, relaying the bikes down the mountain as Char walked it.
When we finally got down to Whistler the ordeal had shook us with such ferocity, we carried out the sin of eating at McDonalds. Something I resolve never to repeat.
We were dripping wet and cold. After eating the highly questionable meal and warming up a bit, we returned to the bikes to find this note pinned under the luggage on Char's bike:
"If you guys are stranded & need a place to stay tonight, we got room by our fireplace- you're welcome. Give us a shout."
Which of course we did, and were put up for not one night, but two, by the fantastic kind young couple Todd and Christina. They were also long distance overland motorcyclists, with a good deal more experience than I've had.
The way in which they travelled fascinated me. They were the antidote to the over-prepared, risk-conscious, planning-obsessed bike travellers that dominate this niche interest. I include myself in this category of shame.
They rode on very small dirtbikes, carried a huge amout of stuff, including, to my horror; a petrol stove and a propane canister type hob cooker, and a cast iron frying pan! Compare this to the threads you find on ADV and HU:
"I was wondering if the titanium knife/fork/spoon set is lighter than the rosewood chopstick set offered by alpkit.com, can anyone please help?"
I was massively impressed; they'd done it just the way they wanted to, and sod the folks that advise otherwise. They would be ridiculed at the overland meetings I go to, but they've done more than 99% of motorcyclists have, and done so with complete self-confidence and without concern at how it 'should be done'. Big respect to you both, and thanks very much indeed for helping us out.