Moab 2017 – Preamble

Wow! First post in ages!! And it’s the start of a great series so stay tuned!

Since the middle of 2016, Rob, one of our Run to the Hills riding friends in Edmonton had been after a number of us to make it to Moab, UT in the spring of 2017 for a week of dirt bike riding.

There were a couple of problems with this for us. First, we didn’t have appropriate bikes – my VStrom and Louise’s Triumph Tiger were WAY too heavy for the kind of riding that was envisioned. Second, Louise is still hard at work in April and May and it’s difficult for her to get the time off. ¬†However, I knew it would be a fantastic adventure and something we might otherwise never get to do.

So we decided to go.

First up was setting the date. That took some time but eventually we settled on the first week of May. Then the logistics had to be worked on, like finding a place to stay while in Moab, deciding on when to leave, how long to take to get there, what trailer to use to haul the bikes we didn’t yet have. ¬†Scott found a Vacasa place to stay, we spent an evening on our chat list plotting a route and stops between Edmonton and Moab, and we made hotel reservations.

With these arrangements now made, we figured we’d better get a couple of bikes. In late January, our friend Rob happened upon a Yamaha XT250 in Whitecourt – good condition with low miles. He volunteered to take his trailer out, have a look and if all was good he’d buy it, haul it to Edmonton, and we’d pay him. Short story – Louise wound up the owner of a 2008 XT250.

In the middle of February, I was in Toronto on a business trip when another of our riding friends in Edmonton decided to sell his Suzuki DR650 and buy a VStrom 650. The price on the DR seemed good for the modifications that had been done and so I made the deal on the DR.

With the bikes purchased, we made arrangements with Dan, who has a large enclosed trailer, to go to Edmonton on March 18 and bring the bikes back.

Next up was getting my utility trailer into shape to haul the bikes down to Moab. The 10 year-old Snowbear utility trailer was getting pretty tired, especially the tires and wheel bearings. Louise and I changed out the bearings and put new wheels/tires on, then I added a trailer jack (finally), wheel chocks and tie-downs for the straps.

With the trailer fixed up and ready for the bikes, we loaded them on and figured out spacing and tie-down points.

With the scheduled departure date being April 28, time was starting to run out. Louise had to replace her helmet, so she picked up a Schuberth E1 for a heck of a good price, along with new off-road boots.

We still had to replace the tires on both bikes. The XT250 looked like it had the original tires from 2008 on it, and the tires on the DR650 were pretty worn out. On the DR650 I went with Dunlop D606’s front and back, and on the XT we went with Continental TKC-80’s front and back. Louise picked them up on the weekend before we left and we loaded up the bikes on the trailer and hauled them both to Dan’s place where the tire changing machine is.

Because this is Alberta, before we left, this happened:

Wednesday after the snow melted, I was at Dan’s for tire changing. The tires went off and on just fine on the XT and in short order we were done the first bike. Off the lift, and get the DR on the lift, pull the wheels – we had the process figured out. Until the rear tire, where when we put the new tire onto the wheel, we discovered that the tire was 18″ while the wheel was 17″. No wonder it went on so easy! Anyway it was easily swapped in the morning for the right tire and Dan and I got the new tire on and the wheel remounted on Thursday evening.

Louise had to work on Friday until 3pm, then I’d pick her up at the school and we’d leave for Helena directly from there. So Friday morning and early afternoon I got the Jeep and the trailer packed up and headed off to the school to collect Louise.

Check out the next post for the actual trip!


VStrom Tech Night – July 16, 2013

“Big Dan” hosted a Tech Night at his new place in the NW, so we rode on over to partake in the festivities. The major event was to be the replacement of Phil’s stator which had been giving him grief for a while. Dan and Phil enlisted Louise to participate in the wrenching and I think she enjoyed it.

Here are a few pictures from the evening …

Stator goes in the big hole there.

Phil with a stator – the stator is the non-rotating part of the bike’s alternator – the thing that provides power.

While Phil’s bike was on the lift undergoing major surgery the rest of us were out in the sun chatting while I tinkered with the new intercom system wiring on Louise’s VStrom. In the picture below, Trent’s new 2013 FJR1300, (the major new redesign of my bike), is on the left.

Trent offered me a test spin on his new bike, which I eagerly took him up on! I was pretty curious as to what the real-world difference would be between the new design 2013 and my second generation 2009. First off, Trent’s bike doesn’t have the bar risers that mine does, so I couldn’t get a good sense how the ergonomics felt in comparison, but since the chassis and seat are unchanged from 2009, the risers ought to make sitting and reaching the handlebars the same. Second, it seems that the new FJR is quicker – the new engine computer and sport mapping does make a difference. With the engine in relaxed mode, it was noticeably more tame than my 2009. So the stock fixed mapping on the 2009 seems to be set between the sport mode and tame mode on the new FJR. Suspension seemed the same. The improved windscreen still needs to be a bit higher for me. Trent mentioned that he was happy with it since he’s a couple of inched shorter than I am. I didn’t take it far and I came back in a few minutes. The group was laughing because they could hear me accelerating briskly up on the main road.

I talked to Trent about a taller windscreen for the VStrom and he volunteered up the Givi he has on his VStrom for a test on the RTTH since he was taking his FJR.

We did some bench racing – that’s Trent, Richard, Dan and me, Phil’s back can be seen on the right of picture …

With Phil’s new stator installed and seemingly working fine, we all ate off the BBQ brisket he brought over for dinner – he’s an actual chef.

Dan and I took a run at mounting the really loud horn on Louise’s VStrom, but failed … again. In fact I broke the mount even more so that I can see no way now to properly mount the thing anywhere. I will buy Louise a new one and try not to screw up the mount again.

Good times these Tech Nights.

08 VStrom Tech – Electronics/Crash Bar Install

With the panniers mounted last weekend, this weekend’s work involved installing the ALTrider crash bars and bash plate, as well as installing the accessory fuse panel, wiring up the power for the GPS and the new PTT gear for the Sena headsets that we now use for communications.

Here’s the VStrom before I started the work. The panniers are one from last weekend, but the stock windscreen is still on and you can see the stock plastic plate underneath the engine – that would be replaced today with a heavy aluminum plate.

The first thing I installed was the Eastern Beaver PC8 fuse panel. It came with a prebuilt cable for power and the relay for powering the panel with the ignition key.

After running a power line up to the GPS mount under the windscreen bracket, I removed the windscreen and setup the mounting plate of for the Garmin ZUMO and the SPOT tracker.

Next up – crash bars and frame sliders from ALTrider. Louise has the same setup on her VStrom and they work great.

Left side installed, I’m working on the right side …

Louise must have got bored with taking pictures after this one …

… because there are no more pictures.

We got the frame sliders and bash plate installed by the end of the day – all that was needed was the taller windscreen and she was ready for RTTH!

08 VStrom Tech – Pannier Install

The VStrom group’s annual Run to the Hills (RTTH) trip was coming up soon and since I had pretty much all the parts for the Micatech panniers (side cases) on hand, I wanted to get them installed so I could take the VStrom on the trip.

First step was pulling the seat and top case rack off so that the SW-Motech side racks could be installed.

The various rack bits needed to be assembled and loosely tightened so things could be properly aligned.

With everything tightened and the case attachment bits on, this is what it all looks like …

And with the Micatech pannier mounted …

Now I have the same amazing carrying capacity as Louise does!

Almost ready for RTTH in a couple of weeks.

WeSTOC 2013 Day 1

June 22, 2013 – Well here it is – the first trip of the 2013 season! WeSTOC XVIII starts on June 25 in Sooke, BC, just west of Victoria on Vancouver Island. I’ve known the disorganizer of WeSTOC XVIII, Tim Graham, for some years, since first meeting him at the Calgary Motorcycle Show in 2006. He sells the StarCom bike communications system that my wife and I have used for years on our bikes.

WeSTOC – Western ST Owners Club – is a group of Honda ST1100/1300 owners who get together in June of every year somewhere in the west. In 2011, it was Nelson, BC and Tim invited me along even though I ride a Yamaha FJR. I had a great time in ’11 in Nelson so when Tim announced that he’d been awarded WeSTOC XVIII in Victoria and asked if I was in, I accepted right away!

The whole trip is going to be Saturday to the following Sunday – 9 days total. I’m taking 3 days to get to Victoria, then WeSTOC is Tue, Wed, Thu, departing on Friday. I’ll pick up Louise from the Victoria airport on Friday morning and ride 2-up back home with her.

Day 1’s route looked like this: Calgary to Castlegar, via Hwy 3

Route for Day 1 – 607 km

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for weeks ands weeks, but the recent weather and floods in Calgary threatened to derail leaving. That minor inconvenience pales into insignificance though, when compared to the impact that the flooding has had on many thousands of people in Canmore, High River, Calgary and other communities in the area. I’m thankful that neither my family nor property were affected, but I feel deep sympathy for those who’ve been flooded out.

Friday morning Louise and I went to the embankment overlooking Deerfoot Trail, (the main north/south freeway in Calgary) and the entrance to the Inglewood golf course. Here’s a couple of pictures …

There was a golf course there between Deerfoot and the river …

Deerfoot Trail near Inglewood Golf Course

On Friday, it wasn’t sure that I’d be leaving, or if I did leave, what route I’d be taking. Checking the news and weather reports for Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass area, revealed that high streamflows along a couple of rivers had undercut the edge of the roadway near Sparwood and Fernie. It wasn’t clear if it would get worse or not. Road closures outside the city on Friday morning included Highway 2 south and all the bridges over the Bow south of Calgary.

So with it looking like the route south was out, I was looking at going north to Red Deer, also experiencing flooding on Friday, then head west on Highway 11 to the Ice Fields Parkway, then go to Jasper and though the Yellowhead Pass.

By Friday night though, things in the south through the Crowsnest Pass hadn’t got worse and for the most part improved, so I got packed up. Saturday morning I packed up the bike and hit the road by 10am.

Since I filled the gas tank on Wednesday, I didn’t have to stop for gas until Sparwood, where I tried the new A&W Teen Guacamole burger – it was pretty good actually! There was a diner that Louise and I stopped at a few times near the World’s Biggest Truck, but it’s been closed or moved.

All the rivers a long the way were running very fast and very high, here are a few pics of various rivers along the way …

Stream running high out of Chain Lakes Resovoir, Hwys 22 and 533.

Another stream on Hwy 22

River along side Hwy 3 in BC

Hwy 3 just east of Sparwood, river has washed out the edge of the roadway

Another washout on Hwy 3, just west of Fernie

Traffic was surprisingly light on the highway. I thought for sure with the TransCanada being closed at Canmore that there’d be tons of truck traffic, but there were long stretches where I was the only one on the road.

I stopped for a stretch and some trail mix on the western outskirts of Cranbrook and had a little buddy come around for some bits of cashew nut. Probably wasn’t good for him, but they were only little pieces.

Rodent looking for handouts …

Then it started to rain, so I took a pic of the bike and headed out again.

Cranbrook Visitors Centre

Before I got to Creston, I had a rather unique bear sighting. I was following a car ahead, and as we came around a corner I spotted a large dog sized black lump hanging over the concrete barrier at the side of the road. As I zoomed past, I glanced over and saw that it was a black bear cub hanging over the barrier watching the car and motorbike go by! He was still there when I glanced back in the rearview mirror. I hope he didn’t decide to try cross the road.

I stopped in Creston for gas and spotted a herd of bikes at station, so I pulled in, thinking maybe to chat a bit. To my surprise, one of the riders was Trent Koenigbaur, co-owner of Walt Healey Motorcycles – the dealership that we’ve bought all our bikes from. He and his brother Sheldon, also there, were taking part in a charity ride over the weekend from Calgary to Creston and back. We yakked for a few minutes, then I headed out again.

By just after 5pm local time I arrived in Castlegar and rode around looking for a new more rustic (cheaper) place to stay than the Sandman Inn where we usually stay and I found the Flamingo Motel. It turned out to be a great little place, the owners Debra and Frank, were super nice, and the room, while pretty small, was very clean and comfortable. While checking in with Debra, it turns out that she used to live in Calgary, in Erin Woods, on the other side of the elementary school from us! Small world! I chatted with Frank for a bit, had a quick shower, then went to the local pub for dinner and a beer. On the way back, I got a triple venti Latte from the Starbucks in the Safeway across the street AND found a couple of muffins waiting for me in the room!

The Flamingo Motel, great little place, great owners!

Unit #6

While drinking my Latte, I watched the flood news in Calgary on TV for a bit, then chatted with Louise. I’m planning to make it to Winthrop or Concrete WA tomorrow night.

Happy New Year!

2013Auld lang syne and all that!!

It’s a new year and so we say so long to the year that was 2012. 2012 was a year of big changes, great trips, significant milestones in our lives and loss.

Loss – We lost both Molly (15) and Gidget (14) this year. Losing Molly was hard to take, but we saw it coming for so long and she’d had number of near-crippling episodes with her back. Losing Gidget was extremely hard, much harder than Molly or Sassy. Gidget was Louise’s favourite by far and Gidget was for sure Louise’s dog. It still hurts and we’re going to miss her for a long long time.

Milestones – Both Louise and I had our 50th Birthdays this year. Neither of us feel like we’re 50, and everyone that meets us has a hard time believing that we’re 45 never mind 50! Good genes I guess.

Big Changes – I changed jobs again, not by choice, but I’m now slaving away for Metafore managing the pre-sales and consulting practice for Western Canada. Louise traded in the Commander for a new 2013 Wrangler and Robert bought a new Chevy Sonic.

Trips – Wow! Big Trips! Louise went to Vegas for a week, first time in Vegas for her. Then she went on a solo adventure on her bike to Sarnia, ON and back – a week down and a week back! See Louise’s Solo to Sarnia blog entries for the details. While she was gone on that trip I went on a long-weekend Run-to-the-Hills ride with the local VStrom crew down in Waterton Lakes area – see the Run-to-the-Hills 2012 blog entries for details and pictures. A week after Louise got back from her big solo trip, we left together on our 2012 Nakusp HU trip where we saw more of the Grande Prairie General Hospital than we wanted to.

2013 looks like it’ll be a good year – maybe more stable than the last two. We’re healthy (except for Louise’s ankle, but that’ll heal), Robert’s healthy, the dogs, Ryker and Izzy are healthy. We’ve got some trips lined up – WeSTOC on Vancouver Island, a trip to Phoenix for the AirCombat Adventure, our annual big trip and Louise might go on another big solo adventure.

So stay tuned!

Goodbye Gidget

Once upon a time we had a fantastic little dog we called Gidget. She was as close to a rescue dog as you can get from a pet store – Louise bought her in 1998, partly because Gidget had the “eyes”, and partly because a shopper in the pet store mentioned that Gidget was so ugly no one would take her home.



Gidget turned out to be a real Mom’s dog – she doted after Louise and would go into panic attacks when Louise left the house, even to just go next door! When Louise came back from a 2 minute absence or a 1 week absence, Gidget’s reaction every time was as if Louise had been gone for months!

Gidget and Louise in a common position

Gidget and Louise in a common position

I worked from home for years while I was at Arrow/MOCA and at Apple. Gidget would come downstairs to sleep in a dog bed in my office and it got to the point where in the morning whenever I made a move in the direction of the stairs, she’d jump up and run down to the office ahead of me!

Gidget in bed in my office

Gidget in bed in my office

She’d been having respiratory problems for some time in the past few years and it finally caught up with her on Dec 22. We had to take her to the CARE Emergency Animal Hospital and she never came home – we had to put her to sleep on Sunday Dec 23. She was just over 14 years old.

It’s been really tough on all us, especially Louise who had become very attached to Gidget – it’s taken me a week to be able to write this and it’s still pretty raw. It definitely put a damper on Christmas this year.

Gidget will be missed terribly.

Goodbye Gidget

Goodbye Gidget

Robert Captures Sonic

06 November 2012 – Robert’s old Hyundai was on it’s last legs and probably wasn’t going to survive the winter, so he too was on the prowl for a new ride.

Rather than Jeeps though, he was looking for small compact cars, like the Chevy Sonic, Mazda 2, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and the Honda Fit. From the start he was leaning to the Sonic, in part because it’s the name of a comic book character whose major characteristics include speed and an attitude. I’m pretty sure GMC did not have the comic character in mind when they named the car the Sonic.

Anyway, after looking at a variety of cars, we came back to CMP for the Sonic. The young sales guy there clicked with Robert and came up with a heck of a deal on a blue, standard transmission 2012 Sonic.

Here he is picking it up.

Then he had to learn how to drive a standard transmission!

So Long Commander – Hello! Wranger!

24 October 2012 – On Saturday the 20th, Louise, Robert and I went to Varsity Chrysler to have a look at Jeeps. The 2007 Jeep Commander was starting to show signs of it’s age and we were thinking to get some value out of it before spending more money on it.

Besides, Louise always had wanted a Jeep. Since she was like 6 years old, Louise had in her bucket-list getting a motorcycle and getting a Jeep. We’d had motorcycles since 2005, and while the Commander was a Jeep, it was actually a Dodge Durango with Jeep skin.

The Wrangler is actually a Jeep, looks like a Jeep should look like, runs like a Jeep should and in the standard transmission version, has 4-wheel drive like a Jeep should.

So we made the deal on Saturday and earlier today Louise picked up the new 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited with standard transmission, but otherwise loaded with AC, heated seats, Sirius Radio and removable roof panels.

That’s the face of happy!

Ready to drive!