Day Three

"Everybody Complains About the Weather But Nobody Does Anything About It"

Saturday May 27, 2000

Nelson B.C. - Kelowna B.C.

4:21 driving time - 240 miles

by Gizmo

We got an early start from Nelson this morning.  It was hard to tell from the sky what to expect from the weather.  We were hopeful that we would have a clear day, but it turned out that we were in rain for most of the day.  

This is the first time I've ridden a motorcycle in Canada.  There is a noticeable difference in the two-lane back roads that we favor - they tend to be wider, with big sweeping curves, which of course is lots of fun for motorcycles.  The ride coming out of Nelson was gorgeous, but we encountered rain almost right away.

We stopped for breakfast at the Hungry Wolf Cafe.  Proprietor Colin Mackintosh sat with us while we ate throughout breakfast and talked motorcycles.  It sounds like he's owned as many motorcycles as Mark owns, only he owned them one at a time.  His current bike is a 81 Honda 900 Custom.  (Colin, like most people we meet on the road does email - Welcome Colin.)

The Hungry Wolf Cafe on Rt 6 Mark and Colin confer on a route

In spite of the rain throughout the day, there were some spectacular vistas along the way.  Rt. 6 runs along the east side of Slocan Lake.  There was very little traffic along the way today.  Perhaps Memorial Day is not a holiday in Canada.  Speaking of holidays, there are all sorts of confusing cultural contradictions creeping into my consciousness.  I like to think of these outings as Virtual Vacations for you, the reader, but to a Canadian, a 'vacation' is something Americans take.  Canadians take holidays.   What sort of alliterative opportunity is there with 'holidays'?  Perhaps some kind reader will help me out with this challenge.  There are other differences.  For example, Canadians are far less pretentious about their bread than Americans.  In Canada, bread comes in two flavors - white or brown.  When we inquired why not 'wheat' instead of 'brown', we were told by a waitress that it would be too confusing for the cook, since 'White' and 'Wheat' both start with 'W', and waitresses like to write one letter signifying your selection of bread whenever possible.  So in Canada, you can have W or B.  

For most of the day, we were in and out of rain.  Riding in the rain isn't a lot of fun - you have to worry about slick road surfaces, splashing water from vehicles passing from the opposite direction, and of course visibility through the windshield.  However, I did stay warm and dry thanks to the aerodynamic design of the K1200, and the miracle of electric clothing.  In spite of the fact that the temperature was in the lower 50's, I was very comfortable. 


R1100S rear view

K1200LT rear view

Equipment Review:  BMW R1100S OEM Tank Bag

Rating:  *** out of *****

Tank bags are wonderful things for motorcycle touring.  Even Gizmo, with luggage nooks galore on his LT, wishes he had one.  They put all the things you want to get to during the ride within easy reach and you can remove the bag and take it with you when you go into a restaurant.  A partial list of things in my tank bag:  camera, maps, tour books, diary, pens, map highlighter, TP, ear plugs, extra gloves, wind scarf, mini-tripod, sunscreen, chapstick, comb, baseball cap, flashlight, compass, binoculars, checkbook, vitamins, reading glasses, tire gauge, passport, water bottle, and cellphone.  (Essentially, tank bags allow even the most macho motorcyclists - such as us -  to carry gigantic purses.)

BMW makes a tank bag especially for my bike.  The "tank" is an odd shape which would make the fitting of  a generic tank bag difficult.  Furthermore, the actual gas tank is made of aluminum covered by plastic body panels, so my magnetic mount tank bags won't adhere.  These factors convinced me to get the BMW tank bag, despite the typical BMW pricing (high).

So how does it work?  It does most things exceptionally well, but it is not without flaws.  The neatest feature is a zip-in/zip-out expander section that allows the bag to be sized to the contents.  It also fits well, seems reasonably weatherproof (although I cover it during deluges), and is beautifully made.

The flaw in the design is that it is too narrow.  This narrowness makes it unstable from side-to-side so when you are riding on rough roads or stiff crosswinds, it tends to shift around too much.  (Having the tank bag bump your arm while you're heeled over in a 90-mph corner is no fun.)  The narrowness also compromises using it as a map case.  To get a map to fit, you end up folding it so that only a narrow section is visible.  (I guess BMW just intended the map case to be used for going north and south.)  And why doesn't any maker of tank bags make the map case a standard size so that exactly two (or maybe even three?) folds of the map will fit into the case.  

I think it is a conspiracy between the tank bag folks and the map makers.  By making them incompatible, they know we'll bend, fold, and generally mutilate our maps and have to buy more.  You know about these conspiracies - something like the conspiracy between the hot dog bun folks (10 to a pack) and the hot dog folks (12 to a pack).  (Or is it the other way around?)  In any event, I'll take my next tank bag wide enough to hold two panels of a standard map, please.


I thought I would elaborate on the rear profiles of our bikes.  You'll notice that Mark's bike (on the left) has two detachable hard cases which flip open.  My bike (on the right) has the same arrangment, but the hard cases are integral to the body.  My bike has the an additional top case which large enough to store helmets and gloves.  Mark's bike is clearly a sport bike, which must be what the 'S' refers to.  My bike is a Luxury Touring bike, which I believe is the origin of 'LT', although mail from reader Mike Paull suggests that 'LT' stands for 'Light Truck'.  Harrumph.

And speaking of mail, several of you responded to the alarming news that I had switched mounts.  Dave Gross says "...Nice not riding the farm machinery, huh, greg?".  And reader Ted Jennings offers "Well it took you long enough, Greg. I always thought that you were one of the more intelligent of Mark's friends....but had long since given up on you!!! You are redeemed!! I hope you got rid of that pile of bolts called a Harley and will never warm your butt on one again.Keep those cards and letters coming.

At Faquier we crossed the Lower Arrow Lake on a state ferry.  We were the last two vehicles to be loaded onto the ferry.  (Whizmo, fresh from a recent trip to Europe, went around all the other vehicles in line and pulled right onto the ferry.  I followed.)  It was a short ride across the lake, maybe ten minutes.  The ferry was mostly RVs so we got to practice our "eat my dust" RV passing techniques right after docking.  I think we made it around the 15 or 20 RVs in about three turns.  (Motorcycles, especially torquey BMWs, are passing animals.)  We generally try and pass in the standard "car calibrated" passing zones, but we have resorted to passing in no-passing zones on a few occasions where it was safe.

No phone lines?  Argh!

We stopped for lunch at the Spruce Grove Cafe about 60 miles out of Kelowna, our final destination.  A sign on the door made it clear that our plastic was not welcome as payment.   After lunch, I asked the cook/waitress/hostess/owner (and diesel generator mechanic) if she really was without phone lines.  "Yup.  No phone, no power."  She told us that they had a generator in back for power.  She seemed delighted with the fact that she was so isolated.  I don't think I'd last long without some bandwidth. 


Finally a sun break

Finally, by the time we approached our destination, the sun stayed with us long enough to get us to the hotel.  Tomorrow, we will arrive in Whistler to join with the tour group from Rocky Mountain Tours.  The route we're covering today and tomorrow will be the last two days of the Rocky Mountain tour, except we will be leaving the tour early to head back to Seattle.  We wanted to cover the whole route, so we put the end first.  This is probably confusing, so I'm sure Mark will do a much better job of explaining it. 


-- Gizmo, over and out