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This is the first time submitting a 'ride tale'. I've enjoyed those posted by other members so I wanted to contribute. Hope it's worth the read...

Why did I forget my camera?
Yesterday I took my St4S for our inaugural 'long day ride'. I've been planning on visiting my family members that live on Vancouver Island for quite some time. The plan has been to take the ST4S on the ferry and spend the day riding between Nanaimo and Port Alberni where my father and sister live. The day broke with mixed weather - Vancouver was OK but it was pouring rain in Port Alberni (what else is new?). I brought gear for all possibilities - rain, cold, snow (still an outside possibility!). How nice it was to have all the space in my hard bags!

The ride to the ferry in Horseshoe Bay was uneventful. I really enjoyed paying $15 less for the bike as compared to taking my car, and as a bonus motorbikes are loaded first and are first to be offloaded. Next in order to offload are all the buses and big trucks, so the cars are stuck behind all the slow moving vehicles while the motorbikes disappear into the distance. The ferry docks in Nanaimo, so I went straight to my father's place. After spending a few hours with him it was time to hit the road. The road between Nanaimo and Port Alberni while nice isn't exactly top drawer motorcycle road. It is 85km total equally divided between 4 lane divided and 2 lane undivided highway. The rural portion is very scenic, but a little congested. West of Port Alberni, well that is a different story. After passing through the city center - all 6 blocks of it - one is in on their way to the famous West Coast of Vancouver Island. Unlike the morning the weather was about as good as it could be this time of year; clear, sunny, about 10 degrees with no wind.

About 120km west of Port Alberni are Ucluelet, Tofino and Long Beach which are world famous and for very good reason. In relatively small area one can enjoy a fishing village that has hardly changed in the last 40 years, a trendy (in a West Coast of Canada sort of way) touristy town and absolutely breathtaking natural scenery. But, that wasn't what I was after this day - today is about the riding!

After leaving Port Alberni the road more or less hugs Sproat Lake for about 20km. Nothing super tight here, just long flowing sweepers. I kept the speed 'prudent' since the RCMP use this sparsely travel road as a revenue generator. Great scenery - still quite a bit of snow at lake level with the mountains completely covered. Past Sproat Lake the road makes the short climb up Sutton Pass. The pass is only about 850 feet high but has a micro climate that gives it much more snow than the surrounding areas. It was surprising to find the road almost perfectly bare and dry. I had expected there to be quite a bit of sand and gravel on the road but it seems the recent rains have served the purpose of clearing them. West of Sutton Pass is where the fun really starts. Moderately twisty with a lot of elevation change. What a joy the ST4S is on these roads! I have the bars at their lowest setting and I find it to be the perfect position for all day comfort while being low enough to really feel in control. There were very few cars, most of which pulled over for me (rare) while I prudently used the 'motorcycle only' passing ares (the ones indicated by the double yellow lines) to get by a couple of cars.

I continued west for about 45 minutes until I reluctantly turned back towards Port Alberni. On the way out I was quite cautious in the corners while looking for sand, gravel, potholes, etc. All the while also noting any corners that I had to take cautiously on the way back. The return trip was a different story. I was now confident in the road conditions so the 'wick' was turned up - a lot. That return trip will be something I never forget. Why? Many factors: unexpectedly good weather, the first good ride of a new riding season, the first backroads ride on a fantastic new bike, breathtaking views, the list goes on.

Sadly, I did forget my camera so I have no images to share. Well, even if I did have my camera I might well have not been able to make myself stop long enough to take any shots. I was having too much fun.

The return trip did have one interesting moment. Just east of Port Alberni I came up behind a mini van travelling in the left (passing) lane. Not a 4 lane highway, but a long passing lane built in to the rural 2 lane highway. In this situation (either on the bike or in the car) I usually come up behind the vehicle in the left lane and wait for them to pullover as opposed to just continuing by them in the right lane. This time I didn't want to break my rhythm by pulling up behind and waiting, so I stayed in the right lane to pass. As I was approaching the mini van the road bent to the right and as so many people do the driver of the mini van cut the corner by drifting into the right lane and back to the left lane. No turn signal, no looking in the mirror, just mindlessly using the whole road. I didn't have to jump on the brakes to avoid being hit, just roll off the throttle and brush the brakes, but it did drive home a point. If the driver camped in the left lane does suddenly wake up to their responsibility of moving over to the right lane I have occupied the space they should be in. The reason I don't usually pass in the right lane is for that very reason. Lesson learned.

What a great day! Sorry about no pics.

NB In case you are wondering the gear I packed for snow was a crowbar to be able to pry my seat from you know where if I was caught in a snowstorm!
 

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Sorry, but to post a ride to Vancouver Island without pictures... Why post at all?
 

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RobertVP said:
Well, even if I did have my camera I might well have not been able to make myself stop long enough to take any shots. I was having too much fun.
Don't feel guilty, that is usually my situation as well. Thanks for the report. Did that mini-van have a Washington license plate? It sounds like a Seattle area I-5 driver.
I will make it up to Vancouver Island one of these days, as I have read several articles about the good riding up there.
 
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