To Canada with love, and not enough skating

9/11/16 Whitehorse, YT to Dease Lake, BC

682.4 kilometers, 424 Miles ridden.

Morning started out slowly as I worked to get ready for departure. It was my first time repacking the bike and I shifted a few things around where they went to try to make for better access and balance.

No real breakfast, just computer work to get everything prepped and then an egg salad sandwich and a chocolate milk at my fuel stop.  Got on the road later than I intended but mostly a smooth start. 36F when I started out. Ran into some GPS issues that left me wondering if I was on the right route. Got directions from a hitch hiker and then figured a way around my GPS issue by rerouting to somewhere close to the border on the maps I had. It turns out my downloaded off-line GPS for my phone didn't have the Washington map loaded.

Stopped to top up on fuel after just 135 kilometers just to be safe.  Had a great scone and a peach iced tea while I sat and typed on my phone to start today’s journal.

Rode on through some beautiful country until I took a late breakfast for lunch of an omelet at the Continental Divide Hotel and Cafe.  Paid for internet to do some social media work and relax.  Cost me way too much money to be on the road today and I will have to curb that spending quick or this trip will be over before it starts.

Rode on from there till I got to the turn for Canada 37, which will shave 200 miles from my route and take me down some great twisty roads.  I fueled up again at the intersection and moved on down the road. It was 51F, the warmest I would see all day.

I shot lots of helmet camera footage since the ride was spectacular.  I also stopped to do a great set of shots on a mountain side during the golden hour and shot some coming and going video on the camera.  Was good to do my first bit of actual footage this trip.

Rode into some really great twisty roads and right into darkness.  I ended up taking off my sunglasses and looping them to the tab of the tank bag while I rode.  They seemed to be staying well until I ran into some signs for narrow twisty roads and decided to have some fun. Well, once I got to Dease Lake and tried to get gas I realized they were gone.  Good bye to my $15 sunglasses that I purchased several years ago.  Money well spent for some great smiles on that mountain road.

This would be my last stop for the night.  It was pushing 9 pm and darkness was setting in, but what really stopped me was that the gas pumps didn't have card readers and there was no way to get fuel to continue.  Went to the first hotel and the rate was high.  From there I called the other place in town, The Actic Divide Inn and Motel, to find that it was a few dollars cheaper but would still work out to about $96 dollars US for the night.  With temps below zero, no easily accessible camping I had to bite the bullet and get a room for the night. Getting off the bike it showed 38F but I could see frost forming on vehicles in the parking lot.

I was greeted by the lodge dog who was a total sweetheart and very mellow.
I actually took this photo in the morning but I am not sure he had moved....

The room had Wi-Fi so I was able to catch up and start working on transferring files.  Was able to video chat with Cat for a bit but was a bit distracted. Got everything set and cleared off of the cameras and my phone and worked out before showering and calling it a night at close to 01:15.

Notes:  Seems that the Spot connect goes through a full set of alkaline batteries each day it is in tracking mode. Not sure if this is the cold temps or the fact that I am not using the recommended lithium batteries.  Rear tire is losing about two pounds of pressure an hour.  I need to do a day of video editing in the next few days to get caught up.

9/12/16 Dease Lake, BC to Prince George, BC

1017.7 kilometers, 632.3 miles ridden

Woke up before my alarm due to sun through the window.  Actually got out of bed around 7:45 am, put my contacts in and headed down for a breakfast of oatmeal, toast with peanut butter, and a double strong cup of black tea.  Packed my bags and prepped to leave but checked to see that Prince George had the Rated PG Rollergirls practicing tonight.  Made contact with Dantastic, who I had just reffed with on Saturday, and got set to come to practice.  Dan was also kind enough to offer me a place to stay at his home for the night.

Turns out that staying in the same lodge was a visiting skater who had geared up on Saturday and worked as a tape worm on skates.  Was nice to chat with her as I finished loading the bike.

It had gotten cold enough over night that there was frost and ice on the bike when I went to load it.

The rear tire was fully flat and needed to be inflated using the small pump again.   This would turn into an every fuel stop affair all day as it would go from 32 psi to 15 in 200 km.  I have come to suspect that the fact that the wheel was out of round when delivered and mounted means that some of the spokes have had excessive movement and lost their seal.  I didn't think anything of the slight out of round when the mechanic balancing the tires showed me but since they both held perfect air when originally converted to tubeless, and the front still holds the same exact 32 psi that I topped it to the morning after mounting to the bike, while the rear has progressively lost more and more air the more I ride it, it seems the likely answer.  I will have to pull the rim and have it trued in Seattle or Tacoma and then reseal the rim.  Not sure how I will manage that for time but I don't really have a choice.

The rest of the day was just a fast slab push for mileage.  Stopped only to fuel the bike, air the rear tire, and do a personal fluid exchange of energy drink or tea in and out at each stop.  After breakfast, all I ate was a prosciutto sandwich on marble rye from one of my gas stops, a granola bar, and a handful of dried mango.  I didn't want to risk stopping for lunch as I really wanted to skate in Prince George.

A few sections of construction, waiting on pilot cars, and the slower speeds once off Canada 37 conspired to make me miss practice.  I arrived just as their practice ended and was able to follow Dan back to his home.  It showed 46F when I got there, but had been warm enough to forego plugging in my vest or running on the grip heaters for over half the ride.

Dan and his wife Sarah were incredibly hospitable and I can't thank them enough.

Tomorrow I make for Seattle.

9/13/16 Prince George, BC to Shoreline, WA

580.9 Miles ridden.

Got up around 7:15 and had a great breakfast with Dan and his family.  I dallied a bit and talked with Sarah over tea before heading out. It was really nice to just have some genuine conversation and enjoy the company.  Audio books and pod casts are not a replacement for human contact on the long days in the saddle.

Had a touch of temper at the pumps when fueling to leave. Was unneeded and I think it was a facet of my increased anxiety.  It will take me a while to get used to the almost random nature of the ride and my complete control over what I do, but complete lack of control over my environment. I am also taking note of how much more I am feeling the emotions than before. It seems like my prior coping mechanism of locking away the pain and anger was also locking away the joy, humor, and love I felt. My decision to believe I had to hide my "weakness" of PTSD, depression, and anxiety had meant I was really living a shell of my life for these past years just to fight down my anger, frustration and grief. Actually dealing with my problems is very hard, but I hope by doing so I will regain my ability to live fully. 

Note the pump filling the rear tire
The rear tire is losing air faster as time passes, so much so that I had to stop road side to fill it instead of waiting for a fuel stop.

Lunch consisted of a fried egg and cheese sandwich with a Rockstar while stopped for fuel. Gas station lunches are beginning to become common, though I am trying to find the healthiest options when I do. 

I stopped for fuel at Cache Creek, BC and had only 6 psi in the rear!  Fueled the bike, aired up the rear time, and checked and lubed the chain.  Used the bathroom, ate my last granola bar, and drank some water before pushing on again.

The ride was no longer through the fun twisty mountain roads, but was just a slab slog for distance again.  I had to stop several times to fill the rear tire with air which was a welcome addition as my knees were beginning to feel the pain of a slightly cramped riding position and the atrophy of not using them enough. 

It was a complete surprise to me that I was giddy when I made it into the USA again. It was far more joyous than I had expected and I was positively bubbling as I recorded helmet cam footage.  Once in the US I was able to call Cat to catch up, and then my Mom who was glad to hear I was safely back in the country.

Got to Heather and Tracy's after only slightly getting lost but then got to go to a great dinner with Tracy at Elliot Bay Brewing where I had a great hummus tray and an Elk burger that was amazing with a local pear cider to wash it down. I was also excited to hear about some great news from the two of them, but that is theirs to share with the world.


Shoreline, WA to Lacey, WA

??? miles ridden. Yup, I brained to write it down.

Got up and showered right away so I could get out the door for the press event.  Was hard leaving after just one night and not being sure if I was coming back to see Tracey and Heather.  I feel odd just crashing there on a run through but that appears to be what it might be due to scheduling.

Out the door and off to Tacoma on the I5.  First time ever riding in this type of traffic.  Holy crap, I had the same tension and hyper alertness I did running those first few missions in Iraq!  Traffic hold ups made it a slow trip and my clutch hand was beginning to cramp when I finally got off the highway.

Got to Rally Point 6 a good bit early and spoke with a nice reporter from the local paper who had actually embedded with the 172 SBCT, my unit, in Mosul and stayed on FOB Courage at the same time that I did. We talked at length about the 172nd in Iraq.

This was my first public press event and it was not highly attended, but was very good to spend some real time with the Soldiers Project and Rally Point 6 folks talking about my experiences. Since this was my first time at a Rally Point 6 facility they gave us a tour and showed how amazing their organization is.  In a nut shell, they are a grant and donation funded group of social workers for the military and veterans.  They are doing the job the VA should be doing by helping active, transitioning, and separated veterans gain access to needed benefits in many different areas both with access to civilian services and navigating the VA system.  

Leaving the event, I went to a nearby Auto Zone to purchase Slime tire sealant to hopefully fix the leaks in the rear, and an extra USB cable. Materials in hand I went to a gas station for fuel and to slime both tires in the parking lot.  While the front hadn't leaked any air since conversion I figured better safe than sorry.   

Continuing my tasks to fill time till Bex was off work, I went to Cycle Gear. It was my first of many visits to the chain of stores this trip and allowed me to pick up a motorcycle cover for the bike to help keep interest down when I wasn't around, and a Dynaplug kit to make plugging the tires easier and faster, plus the kit is lighter and takes up much less room than my current one.  The store was nicely stocked and the staff seemed knowledgeable and were very friendly.   

I used google maps "places locals eat" to find a great little place called Burger Seoul. For a late breakfast/lunch I had a "Bulgogiger with cheese" and garlic fries. The burger was made of bulgogi and was incredibly tasty and I would go back to Washington just for one!  The fries were pretty good to but nothing compared to that burger.


I then went to another motorcycle shop to try and find a USB type socket to replace my 12v automotive socket already on the bike and to look for highway pegs.  Like Cycle Gear, this shop didn't have good options for either.  I will have to find a USB socket or find another way to charge my gear as the USB plug vibrates out of the 12v socket anytime I ride north of 45 mph.  

I made a call to a wheel shop specializing in spoked wheels and got yet another "Why would you convert to tubeless" conversation where the other party had no intention of listening to me or my reasons but to just tell me how wrong I was.  With time running short I headed to Bex's place through a mess of standstill traffic.  Once there I off loaded the bike and went to dinner with Bex and Keiky before practice.  We had Thai at a place by their rink and I had Thai mango fried rice.  Wasn't as good as the pineapple fried rice from home, but you rarely win at the foodies twice in a day.

Practice with JLBM Betties was interesting and also gratifying to get to do some coaching at the end. The league was clearly in a growth phase and practice seemed to suffer from a lack of understanding why things are done.  

Went for a beer afterward with Bex Keiky and another JLBM skater before coming back to Bex's apartment to shower, do laundry, and call it a night.

I am super dehydrated and really need to make myself drink much more water while riding.


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