Ride North – Week 3

An overdue update! We finally hit the roads in what can be legitimately considered wilderness, so our updates will be somewhat irregular and Wallpaper-A-Week backers will have to be a bit more patient… our apologies! I am writing this from what is technically Alaska: Skagway!

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I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we have to detail how we ended up in the Yukon. We left off in Vancouver last time…

Vancouver treated us well. When we rode into town, we originally planned to stay with a Couchsurfing host, but as it was Canada Day the hosts we were planning to meet up with were off getting drunk somewhere on Granville Island, a small island in the middle of the city. We headed there, somewhat tired and very much thirsty after riding for hours without water and as we got off our bikes in the middle of thick (more drunk than not) crowds in Canada’s red and white colors we immediately got treated to Canadian friendliness. We struck up a conversation with a mother and son and Stuart talked with some other locals.

My eye was caught by a group of girls that were regrouping to get on a big boozey dance-ship to celebrate the occasion and we started talking to them. The girl I talked to, Andrea, warmly invited us along to join her birthday party on Vancouver’s nude beach the next day and gave us a bunch of tips on places to visit to boot!

We were rather beat, so while failing to get in touch with our Couchsurfing hosts we turned to AirBNB and got some well deserved rest.

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The next day we enjoyed downtown Vancouver (Gastown!) hanging out with our new friends (no photos at the nude beach, sadly – but we can recommend it!) and edited photos. The night wasn’t quite over yet for me, as I stayed up past editing photos, charging devices and at around 4 AM – when Vancouver was at its most deserted – I rode out to the shooting locations of TRON: Legacy.

Sam Flynn, the protagonist in the film, rides a Ducati Sport 1000 – the sporty version of my GT1000. Naturally, being in its natural habitat I had to shoot my bike in a few of these spots, including the famous ‘container home’ scene. Thanks to Allen Pike I found the location. Fun ride!

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We spent about six days in Vancouver total, our lodging being split between kind strangers and a bit of AirBNB, as well as a one night of dubious-legality camping on Mount Seymour just off a mountain bike trail. Stuart put some new tires on his KLR and we planned the trip ahead. It was hard to say goodbye, but fortunately we had the best sendoff imaginable: our friend Andrea invites us to join her and her friends in the annual bicycle rave.

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Yep, a not-quite-legal bike rave.

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There were thousands of bikes with glowsticks, costumes and speakers blaring beats that people could move to. It was a fantastic sight and we had an absolute blast.

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We finally went to sleep around 4 AM, loaded up the bikes the next day and set off on the Sea to Sky highway, an incredible ride from Vancouver to Whistler and the interior of British Columbia.

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This ride takes you from Vancouver’s mountains and ocean views up into the mountains, where we stopped at Pemberton to set up camp for the night and recoup a bit from our intense bicycle raving. We found a gorgeous spot on a ridge just up a dirt road (yup, the GT1000 is seeing some serious dirt roads for the first time!).

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The next day we headed out and saw the complete extent of scenery shifts the Sea to Sky highway is so famous for. You go from ice-capped mountains and ocean views to a beautiful desert riddled with canyons, to rolling hills and chaparral to eventually open fields of pine forest near 100 Mile House.

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Riding from there to the North was a bit less engaging and scenic; the road up North there is fairly straight, with a pretty but rather constant blur of swamp and pine trees. We passed some time putting on some music on our headsets (the microphone on mine had broken, anyway) and dancing on the bikes a little to the amusement – and at times, horror – of oncoming traffic.

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We set up camp right outside of 100 Mile House in a meadow.

Now we were really making miles. Between towns, signal was completely gone, and the towns became far less common. Long stretches of road were interspersed with tiny stretches of buildings. Roads became a bit less epic and scenic, and we relaxed on the bikes and enjoyed stretches with some music, conversation or Radiolab podcast episodes played through our helmets.

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It was still beautiful out, though.

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We made it to Smithers, where we enjoyed some good beers and found free camping after riding the bikes down a beautiful dirt road…

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And eventually into a cow pasture…

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We got boo’ed off by a herd of cows that weren’t too happy with us and we found another spot for us to pitch a tent and make a small fire. We made simple dinner, processed some footage and photos and headed out early in the morning before anyone could find us, ensuring the spot was left better than we found it.

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We rode for our first bit of Alaska… we’d get on the Stewart – Cassiar highway to Stewart, BC, which is right next to Hyder, Alaska, a ‘novelty’ town that just happens to be on an isolated bit of land that is technically Alaska.

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We made it! We turned back after enjoying some talks with the locals and shooting photos.

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After which we turned onto our first proper stretch of deserted road: the Stewart – Cassiar highway, which will connect us with the Alaskan Highway in the Yukon.

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More on that next week!

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We sent out the wallpaper a week with a lot of effort just now — it’s a beautiful one of our Smithers campsite. Let me know if you’d like to be on this mailing list for lossless, high-res wallpapers!


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