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Old 20 Jan 2011
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Riding in the great white north in winter?

Hey folks, back on the road again as of February after a 1 year hiatus. Excited as ever but also have a certain feeling of trepidation. I'm going to be arriving in Canada around the end of Feb and going to meet my long lost lover in Edmonton where she has been lovingly looked after by my uncle.

Long story short (too late) I need to get down south asap and with no choice but to ride the bike I am hoping someone can recommend a route that towards the US border in the east and that they can reassure me that 2 layers of thermal underwear, summer riding jeans and jacket (with thermal and rain inserts) will be enough to keep me warm.

Saw some advice about turning large water bottles into wind protectors for the hands, think I might be doing that too.
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Old 20 Jan 2011
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Hey Hornet,

Heading to Edmonton in February? Now that's a sign of true love

As you know doubt know, it's still winter at that time of year. The conditions may be snowy/icy or just plain cold and clear.

If snowy/icy, you can wait for the weather to change, truck your bike south to warmer climes, or spend money on gear like studs for your tires. They are pretty easy to install if that is the adventure you are looking for.

If it's cold and the roads are clear, then you have a few alternatives and are mostly limited by only your ability to suffer.

Not sure of your exact destination, but basically the further south you go before you cross the continent the average temps should rise and hence tend to be more bearable.

Heading straight east from Edmonton on Highway#16 is furthest north, probably not a good idea. Heading down to Calgary and then east on Highway #1 is better, you'd be surprised how much more mild Calgary can be if a chinook blows through town. You can work the south factor even more by heading straight south to Montana and taking the I94 east or even more south yet to the I90 east.

It's certainly doable. If it snows, you have to be flexibile to wait for it to improve. Heated gear also helps, a lot. Handguards are a must. There are some great suggestions on winter riding out there so a quick read of that will help you with your planning.

Happy riding.
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Old 20 Jan 2011
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Cheers mountain man.

I've apparently been away from travel too long and lost my bearings. I meant to say heading to the west coast. My fear is the Rockies being high and cold....

shipping the bike or a trailer is only an option if some kind soul can do it for free as my budget is flatter than roadkill. And anyway, great men are born from suffering? Right?..

Cheers for the tips anyway, I think there is a bit of a biker community down in Calgary and I've got an old friend that way I will call in on so at least one warm shower along the way.

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Old 20 Jan 2011
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Ridin in winter this year would get you all the suffering you wanted. I'd suggest you put out a note to the Edmonton and Calgary HU Communities to see it anyone is trailering south anytime soon.

Edmonton's had more snow this year than has been the case for many years. Good news is that it's a dry snow and cold (has been in the -20c range for the past couple of weeks - now about -2c).

Roads across the Rockies - Hwy #1 and Hwy #3 have been closed at times over the past week due to avalanche hazard. I think they are open now. Once you get to Vancouver, you can probably get south along the coast, mostly getting just wet (and cold).

Glen Turple (Red Deer) rides his 3 wheel Gold Wing all year round. He's over 80 too! It's fun to see the reaction of car drivers as they stare through their frosted windshields when they see Glen bundled up in his snowmobile suit, heated seat, vest, gloves, socks and helmet ride by. He usually goes to California every year on his bike.

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Old 20 Jan 2011
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There is a crazy Quebequois who rode his F650 clear across the entire country in the dead of winter. So it's doable.

We are in a "La Nina" year and so far part of BC have gotten above average amounts of snowfall. This would be even more pronounced in the mountain passes. I don't have the link but you can google "BC highway cams" and you should be able to see what some of the roads are like in real time.

I can assure you that you WILL have temperatures below freezing until you come down from the mountains near Hope. From there it'll most likely be rain ...lots of it. Temperatures in Edmonton can be minus 20 or even colder at that time of year.

I realize you mentioned a tight budget. But you may want to consider a one way U-Haul rental (don't tell them you're putting a bike in the back, they don't like that) unless you enjoy riding 1200km's in sub zero temperatures. It really all depends on how much risk, discomfort you're willing to put up with ...also how much time/patience you have in waiting out bad conditions. I used to be a Greyhound bus driver in BC and I've seen roads covered in snow and ice for days on end. The Coquihalla between Kamloops and Hope being one of the worst.

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Old 20 Jan 2011
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The Rockies in February

Hello from Edmonton;

I would be very suprised if you made the ride through the rockies in february without spending at least as much as it would cost to ship your bike to Vancouver. You are talking around 1100 kilometers from the time you leave Edmonton before you hit comfortable riding temperatures. This means 1, 2 or possibly 3 nights in hotels given what you are planning on wearing and could turn into a whole lot more as we tend to get a fair bit of snow in February.

Sorry I can't be a ray of sunshine however I've been riding motorcycles in Alberta and the Edmonton area for over 40 years and am just offering my observations.

I think the advise to put a call out to the Edmonton HU community is a sound choice. You never know who is going where or when. I will be driving down to Calgary in the latter half of March and could put your bike in the back of my truck if that helps at all however by the end of march you could probably ride your bike through the Rockies.


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Old 21 Jan 2011
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Originally Posted by Hornet600 View Post

I've apparently been away from travel too long and lost my bearings. I meant to say heading to the west coast. My fear is the Rockies being high and cold....

Ah, I see, it's west you want to go. As the experienced winterfolk have all suggested, that makes the trip all the less realistic.

The passes across the mountains at that time of year are all high and usually full of snow. On Highway #1, Rogers Pass and the Coquihalla are both around 1,300 metres. On Highway #3, Kootenay Pass is 1,700 and Paulson 1,450 metres. If you want to go on a backcountry ski trip, your timing and route would be perfect! For a motorcycle trip, not so much.

Most likely the roads will be snow and/or ice, in particular on the passes. Realistically you should have studs to ride in normal winter condtions. There's other unique things to consider as well. If it gets too cold, that's also a problem as a typical motorcyle helmet visor will frost up. I took a small ride up to Inuvik a couple of Aprils ago and the motorcyle helmet visor frosted up at minus 5 or so. I had to switch to a snowmobile helmet with a heated visor which worked well all the way down to -28C. Small things like hands, feet legs and arms worked less well.

So the options are delay until warmer weather or trailer as suggested. You might luck out and hit a warm spell that could allow you to make a break for it, but normal weather patterns are against you.

Only other suggestion that I could make for trailering, is to try the snowmobile clubs. There are plenty of Albertans trailering their sleds to the mountains locales like Revelstoke and you might luck out and find someone with a space. Once there, you just have to try to tempt fate again and find someone who came up from the south.

Anyways, best of luck and interested to hear how it all works out.
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Old 21 Jan 2011
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Alright guys, taking the advice on board!

One way or another though this has to be done so I am going to hope for a warm spell. The 700 bucks for a u-haul truck seems over the top to me and I suspect would still involve a couple of motel stops along the way so that is almost certainly out.

So emailing left right and centre to try and find a trailer or a truck going in my direction. I seen another possible option, there seems to be a fairly big road south of Calgary heading to the US border. Highway 2 changing to HW4 and then cross into the states? Figure I could swing west when I hit salt lake city.

Grabbing and straws now...
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Old 22 Jan 2011
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Hello from Helena Montana. The local road heading west or south has much snow in feb. Lot's of cold also. Like dangerous cold. I once was caught by impassable roads and bought a junker car, stuffed my bike in it and drove home. You say you don't have money to spend but you are headed to the west coast? Just living and traveling will cost plenty. If you rent a truck to get to the west coast of canada you can sleep in the truck and carry your own cheap food.
My choice would be to lash together a cheap homemade sidecar and try to hit some friendly folks for a warm place to sleep like the HU communities or couch surfing. If you do come south from calgary we are located about 200 miles south. We normaly have sub zero F temps in feb. Stop by if you pass thru Helena.
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Old 22 Jan 2011
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A little more data:The Rockies in Colorado keep piling up the snow through March, April and often, May. If I were trying to get to the West coast, I would go south to I-40 and check the weather in Flagstaff, AZ. If it was snowy there I'd keep going south to I-10 and cross through Phoenix. In my opinion, any other routes through Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho or Montana would be hit or miss- ok if you could afford to sit in a motel for several days while the roads cleared.

Good luck............shu
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Old 28 Jan 2011
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Edmonton to the West Coast in February?

People are suggesting going south. With that I agree. I have seen snow in Kicking Horse pass (Highway 1 in B.C.) at the end of May. However, you may make your way west-taking it easy, and when you get to Hope, B.C., the roads could well be clear for you.
Vancouver can get snow, but is normally snow free. From there, you can take I5 south as far as you would want to go.
Best of luck.
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