Run to the Hills 2013 – Day 1

Friday, 19 July 2013 – RTTH13 Day 1

The Run to the Hills trip is our local VStrom themed camping trip, held in late July. It’s VStrom themed because most if not all the folks who’ve done the RTTH know each other through the VStrom Riders International web forum. So, the riders on the RTTH come from all over the province – Edmonton, Calgary, Grand Prairie – and occasionally there’s some from farther afield like Saskatchewan and BC.

Most RTTH rallies have us hanging out at one campsite base and the riding encompasses day rides that end back at the campsite. RTTH13 was intended to be a rolling rally, in that every night we’d be camping somewhere new. The plan was to start in Calgary, go through Edmonton where we’d pick up the Edmontonians, them go north to Slave Lake and Red Earth Creek, then west to the Peace River area where we’d connect up with folks from Grand Prairie. From there the plan was to go to Dawson Creek in BC before heading back south to home via Jasper, Ice Field Parkway, Banff and back to Calgary.

That was the plan anyway. Circumstances and weather messed with the overall plan, but Day 1 went pretty much according to plan. Leave Calgary, take Highway 2A as much as possible (staying off the superslab QEII Highway as much as possible) to St. Albert, on the NW edge of Edmonton.

First we met up with most of the Calgary crew at Dan’s place in the far NW. Once we were all together, we took rural roads to Airdrie to meet up with a friend of Dan’s. We’d arranged to meet the SuperStore gas station on the north side of Airdrie.

Once we got everything ready to go, we all headed out to the Dickson Stevenson Road north so we could connect to the Highway 2A not far from Crossfield. The 2A runs parallel to the main highway until Bowden where the current highway alignment is the same as the old 2A. There we had to ride main highway and put up with all the traffic madness and big pickups roaring along at 140+ km/h.

It was nice to get to Red Deer and get the hell off the main highway. We stopped at the Donut Mill on Gasoline Alley for some food. Then all congregated at a nearby gas station to tank up. The weather has been threatening rain for a while and as we finished fueling, an intense downpour swept through. The rain was going sideways!

Although Dan got us a bit off the trail trying to find the start of the 2A north of Red Deer, and we wound up on a gravel road for a while! Louise wasn’t too happy, but it was all good and we found the pavement soon enough.

North of Ponoka, we all stopped for a quick water break and since it had already dumped on us earlier and the with the skies still looking dark ahead, some of the riders chose now to put their rain gear on. Well those who had rain gear did anyway – more on this later!

I don’t know what Louise was looking for here – gum maybe? Lip gloss? Just not sure.

We carried on riding the 2A to Leduc where the 2A merges back onto the main highway into Edmonton. It was on the stretch of ramp to the highway where Trent and his wife Bev (riding 2-up on his FJR) had one of their dry-bags fall off when the straps holding it to the side case let go. It bounced down the highway in front of us and we managed to alert Trent before he got to much further down the road. After collecting it, he got it all strapped down again and we caught up to the rest of the guys a little ways up on the highway.

The plan was to stop at Scott’s place in South Edmonton for a bit. Scott and his best friend Mark usually would have come with us on a trip like this, but they had other plans, but they were waiting for us for a visit before they left themselves. We all pulled up in the alley behind his garage.

I managed a pretty promotional shot of the 08 VStrom showing all the big farkles and the packing.

I really like this picture and this is the one I always use when showing a picture of the bike to folks.

After visiting for a little while it started to get dark so we all mounted up and headed back out to the traffic. From here we managed to take all the minor roads in Edmonton, including the infamous Groat Road, on our way to St. Albert. The hotel we were staying at is the Sleep Inn Motel on St.Albert’s main street.

The Sleep Inn Motel is rather … um … old fashioned – from the staff and the office, to the rooms and furniture and decor. It all just screamed 1970s. But it was relatively comfortable and it seemed the bikes would be safe enough, plus the Socrates Restaurant was in the same parking lot, which would be handy for breakfast tomorrow.

Our room was just there on the left …

Once we were all showered and unpacked, we gathered up all the loose change to buy cokes from the pop machine, ordered some pizza’s and congregated in Dan and Kay’s room for rum&cokes and pizza before we all headed to bed.

A great day, except for dealing with the traffic. Looking forward to tomorrow!

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