Sunday, March 5, 2017

Oh, what's that I hear... is it Spring knocking on my garage door?

THIS time of year most of us snowbound motorcyclists begin pondering the return of spring, that joyful time of year when our much planned first ride is cancelled by a late May snow storm!  I remember just such an event during the mid 70's.  It was the May long weekend and then wife and I were on our way to Penticton in the lower Okanagan Valley on my new Yamaha XS 750 D.  I had rigged her up (the bike not the wife) with a Pacifico Shadow Royale frame mounted fairing and Samsonite luggage I'd bought and adapted as Quick Detach saddlebags.  I was after all, a machinist in those days...

We'd left McMurray in fair weather which gradually deteriorated the closer we got to Edmonton.  While still an hour from the city proper it began to snow, large wet flakes. By the time we reached Judy and Dennett's digs it was pretty much a blizzard!  A blizzard that blew for 3 days day and night. We had little choice but to sit it out.  The snow was a foot deep and that was on the vertical sides of the telephone pole in the alley!  On the ground it was much worse.

Finally on the 4th day we decided we would give it a go but instead of the Jasper Yellowhead route I would head all the way south to Calgary and from there to Coleman and the Crowsnest pass.  It wasn't as high as the Yellowhead nor the Rogers pass, and I felt we had a chance to follow the US/Canada border into the Okanagan.  Of course when we reached the Blairmore area, today the Municipality of Crowsnest, we took refuge at a Motel, the pass was closed!  I gotta tell ya, it wasn't looking good.  Our 2 week vacation already had a good chunk bitten from it just to get here!

Keeping vigil, checking highway reports I learned that the pass had been plowed the next morning and we set off gingerly heading west.  Them being the pre digital days, any photos from that period would be locked in an album someplace in a box, so you'll have to take my word for it. The only photo I can include is one with my XS 750, my Velorex sidecar mounted at that point to an XS 11 Special, my RD 350 L/C on the Cabot Trail with FM buddy, Tom Tabbert who had ridden his Elsie all the way across Canada!   

Yup, a 21 cubic inch two stroke pre-power valve tiny twin... from Fort Mac to the Island and return!  Take that you 900 pound  kitchen sink touring types!  

The final photo is my SRX 600, one of the very few that made it into private hands in Canada.

Ahem... I digress, as I am allowed to do on occasion.

We set out late from the motel very cautiously.  The highway was plowed, but there were many patches of hard snow and ice on the road surface.  The lake at the top of the pass was frozen solid and at a snail's pace we crossed over into British Columbia.  Once past the pass, the topography changes gradually into desert like terrain, wide open hills and dry grass with some snow covering.  Fortunately for us we left winter behind and although cold, (we wore ski wear in those days)

I can't tell you haw happy I was to begin the descent into the Okanagan Valley at Osoyoos. I may have bent down on my knees and kissed that warm pavement!

AS for spring knocking on my garage door... turns out to be wind blown ice, there's a three foot drift there right now!

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