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Wednesday, 26 November 2014 07:00

Edmonton - Jasper - Clearwater

columnist Eoin KennyCLEARWATER, B.C. ­­-- ­­­­­­The first two day's rides are over and I’m about to hit the showers at the comfortable Ace Western Motel. I’ve put 735 kilometers (417, Edmonton-Jasper; 328, Jasper-Clearwater) on The Bike-A-Lounger since leaving the Alberta Legislature (where we had to sneak pictures from­ a back lawn because the ever-more-paranoid government and their officious provincial police force refused to allow us access to the Ledge grounds. So much for it being a place of the people!!)

Edmonton-Jasper-ClearwaterIt was great to see my friends Larry and Sylvia there with Mindy to see me off.  We could barely make out the Ledge newly restored dome because of the trees. Or it may have been camouflage netting – we just don’t know.
With Stompin’ Tom’s ethereal I Am the Wind provding the soundtrack as I rolled away, I was once again reminded how lucky I am to have such an understanding wife.   I’ll miss Mindy and summer in Festival City being away for such an extended break – the longest in our 21 years together. But I’ll also be having new experiences. Well, Mindy has a good circle of fiends. And she has Motek, our decidedly not-shorthair calico cat, to keep her company! Earn your Whiskas, you hairy beast!!
 
 
Edmonton-Jasper-ClearwaterOnce I left Edmonton’s potholes behind, I made good time, stopping at Niton Junction for a burger, Edson for gas and the Obed Summit because it’s there. At 1,169 meters, Obed is the highest point on the Yellowhead highway which connects all four western Canadian provinces.
Five and a half hours into the ride and I was having a beer at the Athabasca, aka The Atha B -- an old-time hotel in Jasper, a tourist town and railway stop on the eastern fringe of the Rocky Mountains. It’s just early enough not to be jammed with en vacance Europeans, Asians and Americans on whom the locals depend for their year-round livelihoods.
 
 
 
I spent the night with one of those locals, Pete Bridge, an ex-pat from my hometown of Cobourg> In addition to being the manager of the Jasper Arena, Pete’s a world-class maker of ice for hockey. The Vancouver Olympics featured some of his work as did the NHL’s outdoor game between the LA Kings and the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium. He’s also something of an expert on Hot Wheels, the small-scale toy cars. But that’s a story for another day.
 
It’s beautiful riding in the Rockies. I am constantly reminded of my first taste of them on my honeymoon in 1996. Said then and saying now, there’s a wow around every curve in the road! And the BMW loves to eat those curves. And the straights. It’s all I can do keep within sight of the speed limit. I just want to fly through some of those long S-bends.
 
Edmonton-Jasper-ClearwaterIt was about 8C when I left Jasper this morning. It got to about 12 before dropping in rhythm with the rise in the road. It may be spring time in the Rockies, but there’s still lots of snow in the shady bits and ice is just breaking up on some of the alpine lakes.
I made brief use of the Beemer’s heated seat and handlebars, but once  I got into British Columbia (province No. 2; time zone No. 2) and dropped into the North Thompson valley, the mercury started to soar. By the time I got to Avola, home of the Log Inn Pub, a quintessential biker bush bar, complete with crusty bartender-cook-waiter, it was clipping 20C.
It was 26.5C by the time I arrived here. I gotta get out of these insulated motorcycle pants before I keel over. Time to take that shower and go explore Clearwater.
On to Lilloet in the morning!

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