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Old 28 Jan 2007
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packing for the mountians of the great white north (with humor, please)

I'm posting this to relieve the mind-numbing mid-winter, I-am-not-riding-my-bike, blues, not because I really have anything serious to talk about.
The main "topic" if you will, is what to pack for the great white north (no serious word of authority here, folks), and the second is to lament about how few women riders grace the roads up here (of course this isn't a serious topic. It's just a chance for giving male-whining airtime).

Let me start with sleeping bags.
The first bitch is...............in the dead of summer, you actually need one. I found that a light one (squeeze to the size of a bread loaf) will work....if you are also willing to wear most of your clothing on the cooler nights. Point being, that in the mountains (like the deserts), the nights can get uncomforably cool.

And what shirt do you wear (assuming a fair distance travelled accross the mountains)? Since it is summer (let's assume), would several cotton T shirts suffice? Only if you find hypothermia a truly entertaining event. OK, then a bunch of "polar fleece" pullovers should fit the bill. They certianly will...if you prescribe to the: "I need to cut weight in a hurry, beleive sweating off several pound of water is the answer and I don't mind smelling like a skunk for the duration of my trip" school of thought.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I found travelling though the canadian rockies could give you temperatures that ranged from "I can't feel my face anymore and I hope that thing rattling around in my helmet isn't my ear" to "sure got hot quick...what's that smell....I think my hair just burst into flame". This could all happen within a 8 hour period.

Water, thankfully, is a simpler matter. There is lots of public access to clean treated water, and lots of easily filtered water comes from numerous mountain sources.
I carry three liters of water on my bike at all times and a 3 micron filter should handle the protoza and bacteria that are found in the rocky mountain water. The filter is handy alternative to screwing up, being thirsty and ending up spending time boiling water. Skip the above measures if you are a dance fan and wouldn't want to pass up the oppertunity to learn a new dance step (Beaver fever, the Aztec Two Step, also called the 48hr kick at the can).

Flashlights: Mountains are usually fabulous places to view stars. They appear stunningly bright. This doesn't help the fact that night comes on in the mountains with the speed of a falling brick. And black. You don't know black until you've seen a mountain night. Stumbling around in the mountains after dark is a recipe for disaster.
The new LED flashlights are fabulous. Most will give at least 24 hrs of life off a set of batteries. Far more time can now be spent with one of these, stumbling about, cursing and swearing at the tent you are trying to set up in the rain (many flashlights, like mini-magnalite and Pelican, are waterproof).

Things needed to protect yourself from the local wildlife. I actually pack both bug spray (deet) and have a head bug net for when I tramp about. On my last trip, I didn't find the bugs bad, but that could have been just good luck at that particular time. Netting and spray is standart stock for most of us, regardless of where we travel. Speaking of bugs, I do beleive that Manitoba hold the place of pride for buggy biters. This is the only place on earth where the damn things can get you, regardless of how little time you spend standing still. A stop light can prove to be your demise.
OH, ya, the big stuff - bears. I have read posts on different E-boards asking about carrying firearms for protection against bears in Canada. If you think bears are a real concern, wait till you see what the courts in Canada are going to do to you if you are caught with a unregistered firearm in Canada, let alone if you actually shoot a bear with one. The bear danger is nothing in comparison. You will wish you had stuck your bare little ass in the bear's face and invited the bear to chew it off.
I trust to bear spray, common sense, and proper storage of food in my camp site.

All for now - the post continues.

Last edited by narly; 28 Jan 2007 at 05:34.
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Old 28 Jan 2007
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on with the tale

Where was I? Oh, right; bear spray. In over 20 years of tramping and camping in the rocky mountains of Alberta, I have faithfully carried bear spray. I done so because people one hell of a lot more knowleable than me have proven (to my satisfaction, anyway) that under the majority of circumstances, it works. In over twenty 20 years, I have had to use the bear spray once.... and it wasn't on a bear. It was a pitbull that wouldn't take "no, you are not going to bit me" for an answer. Felt real bad for that dog. Never needed to use it on a bear. That's probably because my food was always secured away from my campsite, the campsite had no food scraps or other attractives about, and I don't ignore fresh bear sign.
A word about "better tried by 12 than carried by 6" and hand guns (just in care you ignored the first post). You can't believe the vitality of a wounded bear. And you can't, even in your wildest nighmares, imagine the ferocity of a wounded bear....And you, in a state of "crap your pants" panic, are going to manage a fatal (brain) shot, with a handgun, on a bear charging at you at better than 50 kilometer per hour, from 20 meter away. Good luck with that. Better you than me. Nuff said.

Rain gear and the West coast. They call it "rain forest" for a reason. I have had good luck with my "Joe Rocket" textile 3 jacket. In down pours, where I felt like I just might drown in my helmet, it managed to keep me dry. I don't know if this is the exception or the rule. The pants that go with it aren't bad, but I do seem to collect some damp spots. I really don't know if these are leaks (butt) or if it is condensation.
(If anyone else has had some experience and knowledge on this line, I love to hear it.)

The big bitch about women riders.....there are too few of them. Don't get me wrong about this. This is not a "let's make this an activity where we can pick up women" thing. I am married and in my mid-fifties. Just because my wife does not travel with me (ride), doesn't mean I'm interested in some "action" on the side. I am not. I just find that on a long trip, I am missing this female segment in life. Maybe its just me having been married for so long and being used to having that part played in my life, but I find extended time with just the "guys" is lacking something. On trips where there were some women along, I noticed a better balance to everthing. The "guys" weren't out "looking" for women. They were much more at ease with the trip. Like I said, it could just be me. It could just be I've been married for a long time. It does raise interesting questions though. How many of you would actually enjoy the trip more if more women were involved in adventure touring?

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Old 30 Jan 2007
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My wife and I rode 2-up across the GWN (twice) last summer. We took 3 months and covered over 27000 km.

I've created a packing list on my site that worked wonderfully for us. (follow the link below this reply). We managed to camp about 25% of the time. And yes...it gets cool at night everywhere in Canada, especially at Lat 50 degrees and higher (which is most of Canada). We had to pack carefully because we packed for 2 on one bike.

To keep the bulk down (compact tent and sleeping bags) we layered up at night. Still chilly, but far from frostbite! The days can be quite hot, so we packed for a wide range of temps. The coldest area we experienced was in the rockies, at 2000m elevation. This was during the day in mid July. Again..layers.

Adventure travelling with a woman? Yes...I'd do it again, and we are. We had a blast and are planning another 2-up trip to Central America.

BTW...we left the bear spray at home...too bulky

Last edited by tor1150r; 30 Jan 2007 at 01:58.
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Old 30 Jan 2007
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Hey Knarly,
Man, you're mixed up. You should be down in Mexico or Central America with the rest of the entire Canadian population. a Mexico!

Last edited by mollydog; 26 Mar 2009 at 03:04.
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Old 1 Feb 2007
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Considering the weather today, think I'll head south

You got that right, Patrick.
The weather here today is every reason to head south. The straight temperature isn't that bad, it's the wind chill factor - about 40 below.
Now, if only my boss would understand.....
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Old 18 Mar 2007
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Talking Bears

Hey, it's winter in the GWN.. Laughed about the bear thing. Actually I seem to be reading more about the worries of bears in different articles, generally written by people that don't have a clue about bears. Bears are just really powerful shoppers. If they smell something that tickles their fancy well, guess what. No Visa card required for them. If you're daft enough to take yummies into your tent then be prepared for a less than cultured guest.

You're absolutely right about shooting the damn things. Handguns...oh my. Best thing to do is take the bullets out of it and throw the damn thing at the bear, might (big might) scare it off. My buddy next door had a bear problem, a bear that just decided to move in. I'll call my bud, Elmer, as in Fuud... Anyhow, after buddy bear trashed Elmers truck over an empty bag of potato chips and spent weeks spreading garbage or anything remotely edible around Elmer finally hit the point of saying that Buddy Bear must go. Actually it was a bit of a consensus by everyone, especially the ones with little kids about (we live in the sticks here) that it was time to dispatch said bear.

Elmer is used to seeing Buddy Bear almost every night. Elmer decides to have a splash in his outdoor hot tub so he takes what any sane person would take to a hot tub - a Remington 12 ga pump with a slug barrel. Elmer's laying in the hot tub contemplating his navel when Buddy Bear saunters past. Now I must admit, Elmer's a damn fine shot, so BOOM! Buddy Bear takes one where it counts but still manages a good sixty yard flat out run. A 12 ga slug is about an once and a quarter, at supersonic speed. Handguns. Oy. About the only neat thing about a hand gun is the noise they make. At least it will direct help to what's left of the owner's remains...

Hurry up spring.
Ride Safe...Stu
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Old 18 Mar 2007
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How about a Willy Warmer?. I still have a couple of handmade jobs from the 80's, although they seem a little baggy now.
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