Time: 13.5 hrs
Location: Cranbrook, BC
So last night I was treated to one of Montana’s mountain thunderstorms. I thought it was a freight train going by at first until I heard the roof creaking above me. I looked out my window and water was absolutely lashing the ground outside in big rolling gusts of wind and water. I had to go out and move the bike off of the center stand and on to its kickstand because I thought it might be blown over, so violent was the storm.
The next morning was clear and bright and I made good time Northwards. The plan was to hit the highways that ran along the Rockies on the US side of the border and they do the same for Canada, picking up the Crowsnest pass and Highway 3 into Cranbrook.
Weather was going to be a big factor in today, though I didn’t really understand just how much. I’ve been dodging rain and thundershowers all of this trip. Today was the first time I hit rain proper. And for a bit, it looked like I could make my way West and North between the storm cells. I was even treated to brief sunny periods as I worked my way through the majesty of the Rocky mountains. If there’s one thing the US gets, it’s roads and even on their two lane blacktop, you can go 70 mph in Montana and unlike West Virginia, the corners are meant to be taken at speed. So that was fun. There were some traffic delays but nothing too bad.
The wheels finally came off in the Crowsnest Pass.
Wind was also an issue today. It was strong and consistent with a Westerly bent. Which was fine, I spent a good deal of time, fighting it as a head wind. Which isn’t too bad for steering but sure does shoot your gas economy to shit. But the Pass was something else entirely. The wind just came at you from the angle it could do the most damage and it came like a freight train. I’m pretty good at riding loose in the wind so steering inputs are kept to a minimum but this is the first time I’ve had a bike just picked up and moved with me on it. Not too bad except it kept trying to move me into traffic.
At one point I went by a guy on a big yellow Goldwing went by me coming the other way. I think we looked equally terrified to each other. Then the rain really kicked in and my world dissolved into large moving grey shapes on the road broken only by the shifting hurricane force gusts slamming through the pass. The temperature plummeted and I had to switch on the grip heaters and the ride became a test of endurance. I was half way to Creston before the rain and wind broke and the Sun came out again. Though by this time I was thoroughly chilled to the bone and pre hypothermic. Not to mention I’d burned up all of my Adrenaline coming through the pass. I knew I was in trouble because I couldn’t reconcile the difference between 130 Km and 130 Meters on the GPS. Creston came as a bit of a surprise, because time had stopped having much sense to me and I’d passed over the mountain to pacific timeline, which made things even more confusing for my already addled state. It was a good thing I’d programmed in an actual hotel to my GPS as I’d have had a hard time figuring out where to stay.
After a quick meal of soup with a side of fries, I headed back to the room. Too tired for a shower (which might have made a difference) I passed out on the bed and didn’t wake up until five am the next day.
It was one of the best and worst day’s riding ever.