We’re ready to leave Lyon for Paris, where we’ll be taking the plane with our motorcycles to Calgary, Canada. Well kind of ready… The things to fit on the motorcycles are piling up and there hardly seems to be any space for them. I’m done packing before my dad is. As Chaton, yes, I’ve named her “kitten”, isn’t totally broken in yet, I’m not able to drive as fast. Not that I could be holding up with my father’s motorcycle anyways. We decide that I should ride ahead, he’ll catch up with me. And just like that, I’m off on this incredible, 8-months long journey from North to South America.
The drive up to Paris leads us through the French countryside, through small towns and villages, along fields and rivers. Today is an especially long ride: 500 km. But it’s also the perfect way to test the distance I can cover with one full tank of gasoline. This will be useful to know once we reach Central or South America, where we might have to cover larger distances without access to a petrol station. End result: roughly 450 km.
We’ve decided to do an average of 200-250 km a day during this trip, to still be able to stop and discover places along the way. Today will be an exception, as we must be in Paris by tomorrow to drop off the motorcycles at the airport. A little anecdote for the way: today, I’ll be riding as many km as I have since I got this motorcycle.
Time to wave Chaton and Titine, my dad’s motorcycle, goodbye, as we drop them off at the airport. They’ll be travelling by plane, all the way to Calgary, as part of a summer deal Air Canada makes each year for bikers.
Our arrival in Canada is bumpy. There was a mistake in the hotel booking, my dad’s fuel canister is missing and I’m pretty sure my kickstand is bent. But we’ve made it to Canada and the bikes are officially riding on Canadian soil! Our stop in Calgary is brief, just enough to discover a little bit of the city, before heading North to Grande Prairie, AB. There, we’ll be meeting my host family, with whom I did a school exchange many years ago.
On our journey to Grande Prairie, we cross Banff and Jasper National Parks. My dad and I lose sight of each other on our way between the two parks. Not so dramatic, there’s only one road! What’s a bit more worrisome is my kickstand. As I stop on the roadside for a picture, I see Chaton slowly tipping over. And I know, if she falls, I won’t get her up again. In the end, I make it to Jasper safe and sound, but sore and tired of the non-stop journey.
Jasper is the opportunity to meet up with my long-time friend, Kassi. She’s the daughter of the host family I stayed with a couple of years ago during a school exchange. Kassi is the perfect guide for us to discover Jasper, Medecine Lake and famous Maligne Lake.
The next day, we’re off again to Grande Prairie to meet up with her parents, Dan and Lauri. Our first rain meets us along the way to Grande Prairie. I’m drenched within 50 km as I haven’t got any proper rain gear yet. On top of this comes the mud of the road works, which doesn’t make the ride any easier. But at least now I know that I’ve made the right choice. The BX 125 X is the perfect motorcycle to face those tough conditions!
We’ve decided that we’ll leave my Brixton with Dan and Lauri, while we head up with my dad’s bike for a month in Alaska. As much as I would have loved to ride up with her; the distances to cover each day are too large, our time window too short. We have less than a month to do the round-trip. And I know that I wouldn’t enjoy the long straight lines up the Alaskan Highway, driving only 90 km/h.
You can read more about her adventure in Alaska here: https://wheelsonroadholes.com/travel-diary/heading-up-from-grande-prairie-to-yukon/
Part 1: Finding the right bike
Part 2: Canada and Jasper National Park
Part 3: The Icefields Parkway
Part 4: The Okanagan Valley
Part 5: Vancouver and the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Part 6: US 101, Washington and Oregon
Part 7: Idaho & Montana, the Lewis & Clark Highway to Denver
Part 8: Denver
Part 9: Kansas City