Reflections on a week on Canadian roads

First things first – the Canadian Rockies kick ass.

The scale, the granduer the light – these fellas beat the American Rockies that I have seen, hands down.  And the wildlife is astounding – to date we have seen (some pretty damn close) around 30 bears, plus Elk, Moose and Caribou.  And yesterday Dave saw a Lynx – darn near Lion size it was too.

We entered at Roosville and tracked along Radium Hot Springs, Banff, Jasper, Prince George and Smithers.  But while the scenery has been stunning the roads have been pretty mundane.  Technically brilliant – but emotionally devoid.  Long straights with little camber and entirely predictable surface.  Great for tour buses, but not great for twist happy bikers wanting to paint a two wheeled statement on the tarseal canvas.

Things got better after Smithers – we took the Cassiar Track – a less used B-road (or possibly C) that traverses the coastal mountain range and has less than 200 people living along its 1000k length.  Still a lot of straights but that hicksville feeling that makes you feel alive.  And some gravel and packed-dirt thrown in to make it interesting.

Oh yes, and a few bears as well.  But yesterday it was back on to the premium macadam of the Al-Can highway as we made our way to Whitehorse.  Again great scenery (and friendly locals) but somewhat monotonous.

On another front we are starting to get some feeling for just how huge Canada is.  Yesterday we crossed the 60th parallel – last night I hit the scratcher at 11pm and it was still broad daylight.  Similarly at 3am.  And we’ve still got 2000k further North to go before we hit Prudhoe.  Truly this is the land of the midnight sun.

Other observations on Canada include the cost of everything.  In British Columbia everything has two taxes – the State Tax and GST.  Throw in the North American requirement for tipping and everything ends up costing about 40% more than it should.  Plus food, gas and lodgings are considerably more pricey than their cousins south of the border.

Tomorrow we head up to Dawson City, home of the Klondyke Gold Rush.  Then we take the top of the world highway – a summer only shingle road that will take us into Alaska.

As a footnote we met a couple of bikers yesterday who had just done the Dalton Highway – this is the 500 mile gravel road that we will take to Prudhoe Bay.  They were mounted on a Pegaso and a V Srom – both looking the worse for wear.

Their Northern traverse took 12 hours and included a number of broken spokes and offs. Their Southern return took a numbing 30 hours and included various offs and flat tyres and a fair bit of exhaustion.  Has given us something to ponder as we make our way to Fairbanks.

Stay upright.  MOD

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