The push to Calgary, and the adventures therein

Writing on 7/4/15 evening
We left fairly early on 7/2/15 bound for Calgary. It was a fairly long ride, and we didn’t stop much, except on the BC-Alberta border for my required border crossing picture, and at Turtle mountain. The story on Turtle mountain and the frank slide are quite fascinating. Basically there was a mining town at the foot of an enormous mountain, and one day half the mountain simply decided to detach and crush the town. Most all of the debris from the rockslide still covers the landscape.
Along the way we stopped at Denny’s and Dale treated me out to lunch.

The next day we started hunting for a tire to replace the bald rear. I called a couple of shops, and they all wanted an arm and a leg for the tire, if they even had one in stock, and another small fortune to put it on for me. Dale drove me around town for awhile as we shopped around. I looked up the ADV tentspace map to see if there might be someone in town that could help me with installing the tire, as Dale doesn’t have a whole lot of tools. I got really lucky, the first pin I clicked on was a guy that, within his “description” box for his pin, mentioned having tire changing tools. He also had his phone number listed. I called him (Doug), told him the short on my story, and asked if I could bring some beers and use his tools. He obliged.

Dale was a little hesitant on the notion of bothering with the mission of buying the tire at one place, and then taking it to some other guy, and so forth. He lightly nudged me towards just paying the extra cash to get the tire installed at whatever shop. But I simply felt some otherworldly push to meet a random stranger. Maybe it was just me being cheap. But the truth is, even before ever having met him or having heard more than two sentences out of him, I had a foreboding feeling that I should go ahead and meet someone new. Hell, I even told Dale several times, “dude, if nothing else you might end up with a new riding buddy here in Calgary!”

I ended up paying something like $220 for the exact same dunlop d404 I bought in Gainesville for $130.

C’est la vie.

I put the tire around my waist, had Dale lead me to a liquor store to pick up a 12 pack, and we were off to Doug’s.

Doug turned out to be a lifesaver, but I’ll get to that later.
The dude has an amazing workshop filled to the brim with amazing toys (bikes & tools).
I took the rim off and handed it to Doug so he could use his tools on it. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a proper static balancing rig before. Within 30 minutes of getting there we had the new tire balanced and mounted. I picked Doug’s brain a bit regarding my continued hesitation issue. It’d been quite a problem on the journey from Grand Forks, particularly when Dale and I would pass people (wide open throttle). After we fiddled with the altitude adjustment for awhile as well as checking the plugs, he decided to point me towards getting slightly smaller jets, as it was evident that when the throttle was wide open there’d be some black smoke. Everything was already closed at that time, so I was to go get the jets first thing tomorrow. We kept chatting for awhile, and it turned out that Doug and his wife, Wanda, were going to be headed for a mountain pass the next day that Dale had wanted to take me to. We decided to schedule for Dale and I to fetch jets early in the morning, if possible, and then meet back up at Doug’s and go for the ride together. The idea being that I’d leave on my ironbutt ride in the evening on 7/4/15.
That following morning Dale and I spend a good couple hours riding all over town trying to find the damn jets. Despite there being no shortage of motorcycle shops in Calgary, not a single one had the jets I needed.
We showed up at Doug’s a little later in the morning than expected, and then we took off for our daytrip. We rode to Highwood pass. It was a neat scenic route. Supposedly it’s the highest navigable mountain pass in Canada.
Unfortunately, my electrical gremlins decided to rear their ugly heads once again. After stopping for a rest break atop the mountain pass, the shadow wouldn’t turn back on.
Fortunately Doug had brought a small battery pack able to jump start the bike, and we were off back to Doug’s. We hit a bunch of rain on the road back. Once the rain became hail, Doug, who was leading, turned us around to a reasonably sheltered spot so the crew could get their rain gear on. We made it to Doug’s without much more incident.

Once at Doug’s, we immediately started tearing into the shadow and began troubleshooting. We decided to tear out the tach, since it wasn’t working properly anymore and was a potential cause of trouble. Doug also found a ground wire that was loose, corroded, but most importantly, arcing and throwing off sparks. Once we addressed that problem the bike’s hesitation issue seemed to improve dramatically, but the charging issue persisted. It was quite puzzling to have had the bike work so well after the new reg was installed and all the way here, only to have the same problem resurface down the road. We realized the likely cause: the connection the regulator attaches to was considerably corroded. It is likely that the action of putting the new regulator in grinded enough corrosion out of the way for there to be a good contact for awhile. Doug took a small file to the inside of the corroded connection to improve it. After this the bike seemed to be charging much better.
So I guess I probably never needed a new regulator in the first place.

It’s funny to think about how this otherwise budget-busting breakdown happened less than 12 hours after meeting a guy with the knowledge, tools, and willingness to fix it for me. I would have been totally SOL if it wasn’t for Doug. And to think, we almost didn’t bother to go meet him. But something pushed me to do so.

I’m not a religious person. At most, I’m agnostic. But sometimes it’s really difficult to see such coincidental situations as anything other than fate.

Unless I’m to believe that there simply is that much goodness, that many good people, in the world.

It is something that every day on this trip I become more and more convinced of.

I’d like to take a moment here to thank Doug again for defeating my electrical gremlins.

While I’m on a thanking mode, I also want to thank Dale for putting up with me for almost a week now. He’s kept me fed, given me rides everywhere, and spent the last several days on one adventure after another with me.

I also wanted to mention it, just because it’s, well, cool:

Dale bought me a guardian bell. Y’know, the ones you can only receive as a gift that are supposed to keep mechanical and electrical gremlins away. I’ll be putting it on the shadow tomorrow.

That makes two good luck trinkets I’ve received on this trip. And I do feel lucky.

Spirits have been exceptionally high the last week. I feel I’ve been winning the ongoing positivity v.s. negativity battle that is always being fought in my subconscious.

I’ve been having a great time in Canada. It feels good to catch myself smiling rather than forcing a smile.

I’m way too tired to leave on the ironbutt ride today. The plan is to leave tomorrow evening. The logic being, for the 2000kms, I’m going to have to ride at night at some point no matter what. The most boring parts of Canada are going to be just east of Calgary. Moreover, there is considerably less wildlife on the road around there than later eastward. So leaving in the evening will be safer and provide for the most scenery.

As far as troubles go, there’s a good chance I’m going to run out of Canadian cash before I finish the ironbutt ride, forcing me to pay the absurd BoA foreign transaction fees on the credit card. If that turns out to be the worst of my troubles tomorrow, then I’d say I’ll have done pretty well.

2 thoughts on “The push to Calgary, and the adventures therein

  1. Hi Chris, you met my husband Jesse on July 7th, he was riding a red honda, I think you or he may have needed a “jump start?” He took your picture at a gas station and you two road together for about 300K. I think you guys were around Sault Ste.Marie Canada. Anyway I just wanted to say hi and have a safe trip. I need to look into getting one of those motorcycle Angels. Take care ! Suzanne Villa

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