Day 5 – Sea to Sky Highway and Beyond – Vancouver to Prince George, BC

Travel Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm
Low Temp: 16 Celcius (Vancouver)
High Temp: 34 Celcius (Lillooet)
Distance: 761 kilometres

The weather reports were positive for the day so I set off at 7:20 in the Vancouver rush hour traffic. To be honest, it was really quite easy to get out of the downtown core. The traffic is well planned and I zipped over to West Vancouver in only about 20 minutes. Not sure why my GPS always wants to route through side streets and make multiple turns through cities. Frequently, and this time, I just ignored it and followed the signs out successfully.

I met up with my riding mate David who will be joining me for the next 4 days on the trek to Hyder. He’s a down to earth guy and will be an enjoyable riding partner for what is going to be very long riding days just to get there.

We stopped in Squamish for a bite to eat at the Sunflower Bakery and Cafe. Wow! The food was absolutely delicious. Squamish is certainly a quaint little town that would warrant some exploration on a future journey.

The journey northward on highway 99 was smooth sailing. The repairs and changes the government have made on the highway for safety and drivability have made a huge difference. Odd that the speed limit is only 90km/h the whole way. Seems like it was designed for much quicker traffic movement.

There had been some concern about the safety and quality of the road near Pemberton. After a quick rest and fuel up in Pemberton we headed up the road towards the Duffy Lake Road. There had been recent reports of disastrous wrecks and motorcycle wipeouts on the road because of the ‘tar snakes’. Sounds like a mythical creature but it is just tar used to fill up cracks in the road to prevent further damage. On a motorcycle they can be very scary because the tar liquifies and becomes very very slick in the heat. While there were a few butt clenching moments it generally wasn’t as bad as advertised.

The views through the mountain pass and over to Lillooet are quite scenic and the ride gains considerable altitude. As we descended through the pass on the other side it began to get incredibly hot – time for a lunch break. Stopped at a little mom and pop in Lillooet which had marginal food and service.

When we started off again I was surprised to find that something odd was going on with my bike. It wouldn’t accelerate properly and made it tough to get into the ‘meat’ of the power band. Great – just like my trip in the US when my bike broke down. Needless to say there were a few expletives yelled and somewhat of a temper tantrum. Turns out the bike is rideable but is completely neutered for power. I can only get into the 3-4,000 RPM range which is about 30% lower than a normal cruising range. Gah!

At first I was concerned that things would get worse but… they didn’t. The bike kept running – no electrical issues, no smells of unburned gasoline, no mechanical noises. Plus the fuel economy was fine. We pushed ahead and hoped for the best. It’s very stressful to be that far out and realize that at any moment things may break down completely. Luckily for me they never did.

We forged on through the heat past the Mountain Houses. 70, 100, 120 Mile House and all the small towns along the way. Bike still running. Still using normal, or even less fuel than normal.

Both David and I are dealing with health issues so we are forced to stop every hour or so for a rest. This starts to add up over the course of the day and we realized that we would arrive at Prince George in the dark. Hour after hour, kilometre after kilometre, we gradually edged towards our destination for the day.

We made it to Prince George and got set up in our hotel – The Economy Inn. Pleasant, clean and reasonably priced. We went looking for food and a few drinks. Downtown Prince George is a ghost town at night. We found one restaurant that was open – Shooters and had a few pops and some chow before calling it a day.

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