Friday, August 18, 2006

If It's Tuesday it must be the Cassiar

What’s this? A dual day report? Yes, because we are pressed for time and the rally marches on.

So does car #3, the Morris Minor from New Mexico. They disappeared early on day one, in the town of Hope BC. I apologize for not mentioning them early but the departure early in the event pushed them off my blog radar. However, they caught up to the Alcan in Whitehorse late last night (Thursday) and are ready to press on. We’ll do a full report on their tribulations later.

Day two started from Quesnel, with a long gravel section called the Blackwater Road. Cutting the corner to Vanderhoof, we missed the metropolis of Prince George and drove about 110 miles on fun gravel roads. Most of the traffic encountered was of the bovine kind and the route varied from wide and smooth to narrow, twisty and grin-inducing.

There were plenty of checkpoint workers, so we cruised ahead to the second TSD near Fraser Lake. Colin Stenhouse experienced a serious engine failure and had to put his bike on the trailer with planned work later in Dease Lake or Whitehorse.

The third TSD began outside Hazelton and got off to an unsmooth start with rally traffic delayed by a funeral at ‘Ksan village. Nearly one hundred local cars got out in front of the first competitors and caused a ten minute pause to the beginning of the longest gravel competitive section – nearly fifty miles ranging from fast and smooth to fast and VERY bumpy. At the end of the section we hung back to wait for news of bike #26, who disappeared between our checkpoint and that of Jerry Hines and family. He eventually realized that he missed an important turn, and met up with the cycle support duo of Rob Dunn and Nick Marcuse in the Big Black Excursion, assisted by scoring master Marvin Crippen.

They were about 30 minutes behind us but ended up getting delayed with #26 had mechanical problems at the Hyder junction of the Cassiar.

That location also allowed us to meet up with Mama Bear and her two cubs. You can say howdy to them at the photo page.

The Cassiar is an alternate route, closer to the coast than the Alaska highway but less traveled. Reported as completely paved, there were significant gravel sections that made fast trekking interesting. Watching a group of motorcycles play chicken with a juvenile black bear was a treat. For us, anyway – I don’t think the riders were laughing about it at the time.

The staff that got to Dease Lake ahead of us kept the kitchen at the motel open and we rolled in a little after ten pm to find an impressive selection of meal options and friendly staff happy to get us fed and rehydrated.


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