Post Mortem

Post Mortem

My trip to Western Canada was planned for a long time. In fact, the research began in September 2007 with the purchase (order in advance) of my 2008 BMW R1200GS Adventure.

The Internet is a source of unlimited information and sites as:

… helped me a great deal to prepare mentally as well as for the planning of necessary equipment to undertake a voyage to the Arctic Circle.

Here is my planned roadmap (PDF). You will find that the differences are mainly in the time allotted for each part of the trip. In fact, I realize that distances of 1200 km are very easy to do in this part of the world and that the places I had planned to stop to stop (visit and sleep) didn’t offer much to see, therefore,  this was an incentive to keep going and accumulate a few more miles each day.

Also, here are the PDF list of my planned route, my equipment and detailed modifications to the bike.

Looking back at the trip, I’m quite happy with the general planning but of course, many things would be different…

Here are the highlights of my preparation:

  1. GPS: mandatory! And the model chosen (Zumo 550) was perfect. Yes I know, some say that the good old maps are case but for my part, I have no time to lose to get lost! There are so many interesting things to see that I do not have one or two hours to lose to find an address or just a motel. It is a tool that existed in 2008. It is THE tool that I use at most;
  2. GPS Touratech lockable Support: Allows peace of mind when you leave the bike a few minutes and the strength needed to tackle the trails or roads in poor condition;
  3. Tires TKC80: saved my life coming back from of Inuvik and having them on the bike provided protection against possible punctures. In addition, they save me a fortune since buying them out west is unaffordable;
  4. Widder heated vest with sleeves: I cannot imagine a bike trip without this piece of equipment. It’s as simple as that! The advantage of the Widder was the strength of its connection and dimmer which allows precise adjustment of desired temperature;
  5. Electronic Suspension ASC: This option on the new 2008 GS provides real advantages when driving off-road and especially with a heavily loaded vehicle.
  6. Throttle Lock: While not a cruise control as such, this mechanism block  the accelerator handle and permits rest the arm from time to time. In addition, it allows you to manipulate things in the right hand (zipper, helmet, food …) which is a great advantage. I could not imagine such a journey without this piece of equipment!
  7. Tire change, mechanical basis: Having practiced changing tires and making a summary disassembly of the motorcycle safe before leaving and preparing to possible problems.

Weaknesses or things to improve

1. BMW Gloves: These leather gloves do the work in 95% of the time but do not offer enough protection against the cold and rain. I will try to find a waterproof shell to wear over them in case of inclement weather.
2. Sleeping bag: My sleeping bag (+7), although ultra compact, made the majority of my nights uncomfortable. Unfortunately, you need a  -7 type of sleeping bag in Canada, even in summer wich increases the luggage volume.
3. Luggage System: My strategy was simple: nothing should be unlocked on the bike except for a cheap cooler. I will review this strategy because it does not allow me to bring the equipment needed for camping in Canada.
4. Lighting: The lights of the GS series are not sufficient to drive comfortably at night, even with the fog lights that help. Frankly, it is unsafe. (HID on he way!)
5. The original seat of my BMW R1200 GS Adventure is firm, solid and comfortable for many situations, but is not designed for long days of driving and was certainly one of the most negative point of the trip. Despite the addition of an Airhawk 2 cushion, the pain was quick to appear and quite severe at times. Sargent seat please!

One quick word to complete this blog, I have to mention the invaluable help of the residents of Western Canada. People are generally very friendly, polite and helpful.

Despite the obvious difficulties of such a trip, I’m surprised to already feel the need to return.

Western Canada  is a majestic place. The scenery is breathtaking, especially in mountain areas. The sea is beautiful although a little cold (ok, polar cold!).

It should also be noted that distances between destinations or simply refueling points are uge, especially up north. It’s essential to carry a survival kit, ie, tent, sleeping bag, rations for 2 or 3 days, water filter, warm clothing even in summer. All this just seem cumbersome, but a mechanical failure or incident can have serious consequences if the minimum preparation isn’t done. Do not rely on others to help us because often there is simply no one else around!

I hope this travel blog will be of some use if you are planning such an adventure, or simply, if you are dreaming of one!

Feel free to contact me if you need more information. (marc.ouellet@gmail.com).

2008-08-21-Nettoyage-de-la-moto-12008-08-21-Nettoyage-de-la-moto-22008-08-21-Nettoyage-de-la-moto-3

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6 Responses to “Post Mortem”

  1. Thanks Marc, I am heading to Inuvik this July from northern Alberta. Maybe the rain will stay away.

    • If not, I would strongly suggest you stay away from it! Rain is a nightmare even for cars en the Dempster!

  2. great stuff Marc, I will be on my way up there this summer, but I will be satisfied with making it to tombstone park (I think). I really enjoyed reading about your trip this morn. I will be on a klr 650.. not quite a bmw but one wheel drive all the same . Thanks again….Steve…. farnorth@gmail.com

    • Any bike if fun! With the KLR, you will have to be careful with gaz though…!

      Enjoy, have fun and thanks for the comment!

  3. Thanks for the wonderful and honest trip report. I appreciated the parts where you said how difficult the Dempster Highway were. Some people are too macho to admit when they feel genuine despair and fear. I think those feelings are a real part of motorcycle travel. Have felt it many times.

    The BC part of your trip had many similarities to a trip I did a few years back. Here are some links to my trip. There are some parts where I was travelling solo from Toronto as well.

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.171965826496.126623.550891496&type=3&l=28c152711e

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.171968066496.126624.550891496&type=3&l=cb8ab01338

    Rob in Toronto

    • No, thanks to you for reading and taking the time to share your trips as well! Very interesting!

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