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  1. #1
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Sydney, AUSTRALIA

    The Motorcycling Holiday of a Lifetime

    Hi all,

    My wife and I are in the final stages of planning what we are hoping will be the motorcycling holiday of a lifetime.

    I'm hoping the members of this forum may be able to provide an injection of local knowledge, experience, or just tips - such as places worth stopping at, what's bike friendly and quirky, places to avoid, MUST DO roads, or just interesting local knowledge stuff that we could never hope to find on our own.

    In May/June 2014 we will be living out our dream of riding our bikes around the US and Canada. 35 days and 11,200 km (7,000 miles) through 2 countries, 9 states/provinces, 35 overnight stays in cities/towns and countless little pit stops and characterful moments.

    We live in Sydney Australia and when we were thinking of motorcycling heaven it was difficult to go past the US and Canada. We are shipping our bikes to the US from Australia by sea. Much nicer to ride our own bikes and it will cost less in total than hiring for that period. It's not easy logistically but it's not that difficult either and as I say, we like riding our bikes, set up the way we like them.

    The key to this trip is not the destinations so much as the journey. We love technical riding, hate highway stuff (but sometimes it gets you from A to B), love meeting people at quirky places, but not interested in sightseeing unless you can see it from the seat of your BMW (at least on this trip). It's all about the experience of riding.

    We are armed with 2012 Model BMW's - an R1200R and an F800R, Rider to Rider Intercom (Interphone F5), a GPS (Garmin Zumo 350), a Helmet Camera (Drift Ghost HD), a laptop (Apple Macbook Pro), just enough clothes and gear to get us through the trip, and boundless enthusiasm.
    We are staying almost exclusively at Best Western Motels (balance between price, comfort and suitability for rooms with parking out front) and have Roadside Assistance via the MOA but hope we never need it.

    We chose a round trip route that would give us variety, challenging roads (where possible), overnight stays in cities and towns that looked interesting or just matched our day stage limits and enough of those stages to get us back to the start point in the required number of days. The extremes are Long Beach CA to the south, almost to Billings MT to the east, Jasper AB to the north, Tofino BC to the West and hug the West Coast most of the way back down to Long Beach. A short day may be 300 km and a long day 500 km. Between 3 and 6 hours of bum on bike time each day with two or three layover days if needed (but also as a buffer if required). Some stops were a case of, "that's as far as we can go today" and others were, "really want to stop here". We started by mapping out a rough route, added some "must ride this road" sections and then played connect the dots.
    This has been three years in the planning with a couple of false starts - life conspiring against us. We chose late May through to the end of June so that it was not full on summer but not too cold either. Had originally looked to include Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon and up through Grand Canyon and Salt Lake City but decided to keep it a little more west and cooler. Some parts of the trip may still be marginal for snow (Beartooth Pass WY and around Crater Lake CA) and we miss out on Going To The Sun Road in Montana by a couple of weeks.

    So, we start in Long Beach CA. and end in Long Beach CA. 35 days later.
    I've broken the trip down into day stages but also have the route mapped out in Google Maps broken into seven chunks (Google limits the number of way points in any one long route). I've included the links to each of the seven stages below - I hope the links work.

    So please feel free to tell me what you think, good or bad, and as I say, any local knowledge is more than welcome - even if it's just a tip on where to eat or get a good coffee.

    Stage 1 - Los Angeles (Long Beach), CALIFORNIA to Susanville, CALIFORNIA
    Distance: 1,851 km
    Link Stage 1

    Stage 2 - Susanville, CALIFORNIA to Idaho Falls, IDAHO
    Distance: 1,472 km
    Link Stage 2

    Stage 3 - Idaho Falls, IDAHO to Canmore, ALBERTA (CANADA)
    Distance: 1,860 km
    Link Stage 3

    Stage 4 - Canmore, ALBERTA (CANADA) to Anacortes, WA (USA)
    Distance: 1,808 km
    Link Stage 4

    Stage 5 - Anacortes, WA to Madras, OR
    Distance: 1,518 km
    Link Stage 5

    Stage 6 - Madras, OREGON to Mill Valley, CALIFORNIA
    Distance: 1,614 km
    Link Stage 6

    Stage 7 - Mill Valley, CALIFORNIA to Los Angeles (Long Beach), CALIFORNIA
    Distance: 919 km
    Link Stage 7

    Then it's a 14 hour flight back to Sydney Australia.
    Mark Hubble
    2015 - R1200GS Black Storm Metallic
    Sydney, AUSTRALIA

  2. #2
    Registered User AKsuited's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Southern Tier of New York
    Looks to be a great trip. Good luck in your travels. You may want a sticker on the inside of your windshield "Keep Right." It probably wouldn't hurt to have a list of BMW dealers along or near your route, or the Anonymous book with you. Here's a website, if you don't already have it, for the Beartooth Highway: You can check the weather on that site before you arrive. I hope you enjoy your trip to the US and Canada. I didn't get to the Beartooth this past season, but hope to do so this coming season.

    My fleet: 2015 R1200GS, 2017 Toyota Prius Prime (plug-in hybrid)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Just ahead of a flat line
    Look for Butler Maps

    We used the Rocky Mountain Collection. It is specialized for motorcycles and shows detail areas and ratings for different sections.

  4. #4
    Registered User womanridge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    I stayed at a real nice motel in 2010 in Canmore. It was a Travel Lodge and had a great high end restaurant within walking distance. Quality menu. The motel was a step above many chain motels and more on the Holiday Inn quality level. You're not far from Banff and Lake Louise when you get to Canmore.
    Have a great ride. BC is amazing.
    Karen Jacobs
    2012 R 1200 RT
    MOA-133005, RA32109, IBA #37923

  5. #5
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Calgary, Alberta

    Here are a couple of tips:

    Stage 3: Stay on 89 when you pass through Great Falls - this is a wonderful ride through the Foothills east of the Rockies. Also, Kananaskis Highway (40) was heavily damaged in last summer's floods, but has now been repaired, and will re-open June 15 (the south part is closed winters). There is a short gravel section where they've put a temporary route through a day use area. You can get updates here:

    Stage 4: Turn east at Nakusp, and take 6 and 31A (the Glory Road) to Kaslo. From there, follow 31 and 3A to Nelson and then 6 north and west to the ferry at Fauquier. This loop is one of the best rides in Canada, so you won't want to miss it. I would treat this as a destination ride, like the Great Ocean Road.

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  6. #6
    Registered User Mark H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Sydney, AUSTRALIA

    This is exactly the local knowledge I was hoping to get. Thanks so much.

    Hwy 40 was something we were looking forward to but unfortunately we will pass through there a week early. So unless they finish ahead of schedule we will have to bypass 40 and go most of the way up 22.
    To be honest, I'm getting more and more annoyed that we will miss Hwy 40. You are the 5th person to mention this road and 22 looks like a poor substitute.

    For the run north of Great Falls - are you saying that 89, 17 and then 6 up to Pincher Creek is a better ride than going around to the west and up over Crows Nest Past on Hwy 3? It was very difficult to get a sense of the best route through here. We had originally headed in this direction to pick up Going to the Sun Road - but that will be closed by snow.

    Thanks for the tip on the loop around Kaslo and Nelson. I had part of this on an earlier plan but substituted it for the run across Hwy 1 to Ravelstoke on the way back from Jasper. This loop adds a lot to that stage so I may need to include an overnight stay in Nelson (or somewhere near there).
    Can you recommend a nice town in that area?

    Thanks again.
    Mark Hubble
    2015 - R1200GS Black Storm Metallic
    Sydney, AUSTRALIA

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