The Iron Butt Association is an association of long distance motorcycle riders. They have all sorts of sanctioned rides. The entry level ride is called SaddleSore 1000 (riding 1000 miles or 1667 kilometres in 24 hours). They also have crazy stuff like CC50 (coast to coast in 50 hours), CCC100 (coast to coast and back in 100 hours), etc. The whole point is to ride long distance in a given time limit to challenge yourself.
Years ago, when I was young and stupid, I did the SaddleSore (1667 km in 24 hours) ride. I went from Vancouver, up Highway 97 to Prince George, and to Calgary. At the end of it, I swore to myself to never do such such a thing again.
I guess now I’m just old and stupid, because I just did it again.
At 2:30 am on Saturday morning, I was half asleep and stumbled around getting my stuff together, and left the house at 3 am.
The stars were out and it was warm. Surprisingly at 3 am there was quite a bit of traffic in the city. I headed towards Hope. For the better part of that stretch, I felt pretty good with my heated vest on and turned on my heated grips. Yeah, I am a whimp. I think I might need a heated seat and heated boots next. By the time I got to Hope, the temperature dropped to 8 Celsius.
Turning north at Hope, I went up the Coquihalla Highway in pitch darkness. I figured that as long as the temperature stays around 2 or 3 Celsius, I will be fine. I had my heated vest, a fleece layer and my riding jacket on. As I climbed the Coquihallla, the thermometer on my bike kept dropping. 5c degrees, 3c degrees, 1c degree, zero!
As I continued on, the thermometer was showing -1c, -3c. I was swearing at no one in particular. I felt the cold air rushing up my helmet and freezing my face. My nose was a drippy mess and my eyes watered. The lowest point was -4c. I yelled “Minus 4? Are you f****** kidding me? I’m freeeezing!!” I’m sure nobody heard me.
I can see ice crystals form on my helmet shield. F@$*!*$&#!
This freezing cold temperature lasted all the way between Hope and Kamloops. Even when the sun finally came up, the temperature stayed in the negatives. Going north past Kamloops, it finally warmed up to +3 or 4c. But by this time I had been riding in freezing temperature for so long that I continue to shiver. It didn’t warm up to 10c until almost noon.
Aside from feeling like a popsicle for a good chunk of the ride, I was enjoying it. I have never been on Highway 5 north of Merritt before. I took it all the way up and connected to Highway 16 to Prince George. It is a beautiful road with little traffic. Especially between Valemount and Prince George, I barely saw any cars. The pavement is in very good condition, and the view of the mountains and water gorgeous. It is very representative of the beautiful province we live in. I love BC, and I’m so proud to call BC home. I love seeing parts of the province I haven’t seen before.
It was 2 pm when I finally arrived in Prince George. I turned southwest to take Highway 97. I finally felt warm enough at this point to stop shivering. I stopped in Hixon for gas and continued on.
I was feeling very sleepy, so I stopped in Quesnel for a quick coffee. When I left Quesnel, I was riding behind a V-strom. He was riding at a very similar pace, so I ended up riding with him for 3 hours. We stopped in 100 Mile House for gas and chatted briefly. He had just spent a week riding from Spokane to the Yukon, and he was on his way home. We rode a bit more and then parted ways in Cache Creek. Good luck, mister V-strom. I hope you got home safely!
When I entered the Fraser Canyon at Cache Creek, the sun was setting. Everything was casted a beautiful pink hue. But the light quickly faded, leaving pitch blackness for me to ride in. There are no street lights in the canyon. There are hundreds of turns, and I have terrible night vision. I was going painfully slow, and it felt like eternity before I got to Hope.
It was 11 pm by the time I arrived back home. I slept very well that night.
So, note to self:
1. Do not take the Coquihalla at night, even in the summer. I will freeze and hate the world.
2. The connection from Highway 16 to Highway 97 in Prince George does not have a gas station. If I last filled up in Valemount, I was lucky to get to Hixon for the next gas stop.
3. Going through the Fraser canyon in the dark is a bad idea. Don’t ever do that again.