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Sportbike West is a motorcycle rally held in Oliver, British Columbia every year late in August. Anyone who rides a sportbike and lives in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Washington, Idaho, Montana, even Oregon or NorCal owes it to themselves to make the pilgrimage to this event in the Okanagan valley. Motorcycling Motorcycle Motor vehicle Vehicle Crowd


More than just a gathering of like-minded hooligans, squids, and wannabe racers, SBW has evolved into an entertaining and very memorable "event". This year was my second attendance of what will surely be many.

Of course as all masochist sport-touring junkies know, it ain't about the destination.

The plan was as follows: On Wednesday my dad was to ride down to my place in Calgary from ROcky Mountain House, where Ryan, Graham, and Tyler would be awaiting after heading down from Red Deer that afternoon. We would finish prepping the bikes and leave first thing Thursday morning, heading west on the Trans Canada Highway towards BC. We would look for a motel to crash in somewhere along the way and get to Oliver by Friday.

Dad made it in time for dinner, but the Red Deer trio started to run into the first of a series of problems that would be a headache for the rest of the weekend. Graham removed both wheels on his RC51 and brought them into a shop for some new Dunlops. WHen they returned to re-install the wheels on the bike, they found that they were missing a rear axle spacer on the brake side. That problem was eventually solved after a few trips to Home Depot to find enough washers that would fit for a temporary, if crude solution. On a test-ride, it was found that the RC's front brakes were pulsating very badly. It was eventually diagnosed as a bent rotor. They had made the common mistake of not coddling the wheel on the way to (or from) the tire shop, and the rotor was bent badly in transit. A replacement part would take some time to get, so Graham decided to just disconnect that particular caliper; in his mind nothing could stop him from making this voyage.

Do you believe in Karma? Fate? I don't but this trip almost makes me reconsider my position. Graham shouldn't have come.

The Red Deer boys (or "Boyz", as the decals on their bikes proclaim) decided that they would leave in the morning. Dad and I decided we would leave without them, take our time and meet somewhere in BC. We stayed up late in the garage modifying an old CD storage box to hold a camera. Motor vehicle Vehicle Helmet Motorcycle accessories Motorcycle
It made a great mount because it could be bungeed to the front or back of anyone's bike. We were looking forward to getting some great footage, and we did.

We left Calgary by about 9am and were in Banff by 10:00. My new Pilot Power tires felt great. I dropped a size in the back (to 180/55) and ran a bit lower pressure than I used to. The turn-in is quicker than it was with the 014 'Stones. The grip while leaned over is tenacious and inspires confidence (one thing that I am still rebuilding after a bell-ringing crash in April and alotta dollars spent fixxering my motorcycle). Graham, Tyler, and Ryan still hadn't left Red Deer so we pressed on westward to Radium Hot Springs. The roads start to get exciting east of Radium, where high-speed sweepers start to contract to medium-speed downhill s-bends. We stopped for lunch and a beer. The boys were still well behind so we took it easy and took a 1-hour detour up to Panorama Mountain Resort and back. I snowboard almost every year at Panorama and have always enjoyed the drive there. An old road winds up a steep canyon from Invermere Lake up to the resort itself. It's decent fun in a sporty car, and I've always longed to try it on a motorcycle. The pavement is a bit rough but we had a great time. I stayed a little ways ahead of dad on his ST1300, and we rode at a relaxed pace for the first half of the climb. Somewhere along the way, a punk in a TRD Celica GTS decided that he was bad-ass and passed us at wide-open throttle. This of course meant we had to take his ego down a couple pegs. He gave us a pretty good run for a while, able to maintain a lot more speed in the turns where a rough surface slowed us down. After a few minutes we got tired of him, passed him on a straight and beat him to the resort by about 10 minutes. Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Motor vehicle Motorcycling
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Back down the hill we went and got back on the main road heading towards Cranbrook, where we would finally meet up with the rest of our party. (after a 90 minute wait at Cranbrook Motorsports) The five of us gassed up, lubed our chains and continued on to Creston.

Just northwest of Creston is DH1. (Destination Highway number 1) This is considered to be the best motorcycling road in British Columbia. It starts just outside of Creston and winds alongside the Kootenay Resevoir up to the Balfour ferry crossing. It consists of 70+ Km of every different type of curve imaginable. The pavement is fairly new for about 75% of it, traffic is very light and cops are completely absent. There are a few surprises, such as (extreme) reducing radius turns, wooden bridges, wildlife, etc; a lot of people crash here. Of course that doesn't stop motorcyclists coming from all over to attack it's curves; think of it as Canada's "Dragon".

BC Highways has been very mindful of motorcyclists on their magnificent winding roads and has been so generous as to place yellow warning speed signs before every curve. A good rule for an intermediate rider is that you can safely double the posted warning speeds. Experienced (a/o insane) riders will take them at more than double. I don't. Roads marked 60, 70, and 80 Km/H are great sweepers. Those marked 40 and 50 are usually 90' (or tighter) peg-scrapers, and those marked 20 and 30 are slow-the-fuck-down hairpins.

Where Graham crashed the curve wasn't marked 30, 40, 50 Km/H. It wasn't marked at all because it was barely a curve, and we weren't travelling more than about 60K. BC Highways had recently performed "seal-coating", whereby they lay down heavy oil and coat it with chipped pavement. What the hell happened to their keen awareness of motorcyclists? Finger Hand Thumb Thoroughfare
I was only a few bike lengths behind Graham when he went into a violent wobble and highsided. I somehow managed to ride over a patch where the gravel wasn't as thick, and luckily for me, didn't have an incident. It was awful watching him go down. Of course, he was wearing full leathers and protective gear, and didn't suffer any hard injuries. Just lots of bruising and swelling. The RC was mostly ok, but slammed down pretty hard, ruining the left side plastics, Jardine pipe and denting the tank. It would have been rideable if not for a busted clutch fluid resevoir and bent shift linkage. Some locals were kind enough to truck the wreck to the ferry, where a tow truck met us on the other side to haul his bike to Nelson, where we would spend the night. Motor vehicle Vehicle Auto part Car Engine
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It was a long day.
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Next morning (Friday) we walked across the street to a powersports dealer who was able to find some parts from a wrecker. They wouldn't be able to get the needed pieces until Saturday evening, so Graham would spend the next 2 nights at the motel and meet us for the ride back home. He missed the rally and spoiled his weekend, but was still very fortunate to have not totalled his ride or injured himself.
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So the 4 of us that remained backtracked a bit to head north towards HWY 31a from Kaslo to New Denver, another very satisfying Destination Highway. We found a beautiful hairpin turn about halfway and stopped to take some video. Ryan weighs about 100 pounds and rides a 2005 R1. He's an experienced and very skilled rider, and he used this opportunity to get some shots of himself dragging his knee. As skilled as he is, he makes the mistake of riding at the absolute limit EVERYWHERE. Vehicle Motorcycle Road Asphalt Infrastructure
He would pay for this mistake later that weekend. As we hung around this very entertaining curve, 3 riders from Edmonton (also enroute to the rally) pulled over and joined us for some thrills on the hairpin. There was a (fast) european kid on a VTR, a guy on a gixxer, and his very, um, buxom French girlfriend on an old ZX6R who took every possible opportunity to shrug off the top half of her 2-piece leathers and display her fabulous tanktop-clad rack. Her gixxer riding boyfriend wanted to show off and made a very wobbly pass around the bend. On the way back, he got about halfway through it and decided to panic and lock up his brakes, skidding off the road, off the very short runoff and down a 6 foot deep ditch. Road racing Asphalt Vehicle Motorcycle Motorcycle racing
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I captured most of it on video. We pushed his Gixxer back on to to the road and other than some cosmetic damage it was miraculously unscathed. I think he felt like an asshole. His chesty cherie was not impressed with him. I would find out later, through a second-hand source, that he ended up totalling that gizzer the next day. I guess he attempted to pass his (fast) girlfriend on the outside of a fast turn and lowsided. :rotfl: He wasn't hurt.

We carried on through New Denver to the Needles Ferry, where on the opposite side of the lake awaits DH2, also known as the Monashee Run, AKA BC Hwy 6. It is an AWESOME traffic-free (it only ever has as much westbound traffic as the ferry can carry) 90 minute roller-coaster series of every damn kind of turn on pretty decent surfaces. It helped that the weather was perfect. We stopped halfway at a quaint little cafe in the middle of the bush. Road trip Asphalt Road Natural landscape Tree
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I had the Monashee Burger and homemade potato salad. They didn't accept VISA because they have no phone lines. We continued west to Vernon, south to Kelowna, took the old highway down to ROck Creek near the US border, got back on highway 3, west to Osoyoos, then north again up to Oliver, the site of the rally. Our route was the longest possible way we could have taken, but we toured the best roads, and we weren't in a hurry.

We were late getting to Oliver and checking in to the motel. Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Motor vehicle Motorcycling
There were sportbikes everywhere. We unpacked and walked 3 blocks to the Southwind Motel, the rally site. We watched some of the dyno shootout, had a few beers and headed back to the room to crash. Dad stayed later, made about a dozen new female friends, drank about a dozen beers, (that's like 40 American beers) staggered back to the motel around 2am and stayed up drinking and telling lies with our neighbors until 4am. He didn't do much riding the next day.

I got up early and signed up for an 8:30 demo ride. Land vehicle Vehicle Motor vehicle Motorcycle Automotive tire
BMW Motorrad Canada was onsite with 11 demo bikes and I was first in line to try the K1200S, a motorcycle I have had a bit of a chubby for since I first heard about it. This was not a typical boring corporate demo pussy cruise; the guides led us down a windy little backroad at a fairly brisk pace. I had an extended Chain-like moment of motorcycle self-doubt. I loved the big K-bike. The electronically adjustable suspension was perfect for my riding style in the "sport" setting. Even at this firmest of 3 settings, the K soaked up midcorner bumps like a sponge; bumps that would have bucked me off the seat on my CBR1000RR. The telelever front end really does eliminate brake dive; rather than dive the whole motorcycle just sort of squats ever so slightly, and the big ABS brakes stop the it with zeal. It handled very smoothly and surprisingly quickly given it's weight and long wheelbase. I thought it changed directions with similar effort to my Honda, which is to say very little. The shaft drive didn't have a noticeable "jacking" effect, and the airbox makes a glorious induction growl, sounding not unlike a ZX-10R. My moment of Chain-ness came when I started to ask myself why I ride a CBR1000. My riding is all on the street, mostly on tours like this one. I like to ride fast, but certainly nowhere near the capabilities of my RR. I don't race, why do I ride a race-replica? I love my 'Blade but I enjoyed the hell out of that Beemer and could definitely see myself trading up to one in 2 or 3 years. After that, maybe a 'motard. :evilaugh: As I am typing this on late Monday night, my throttle hand is still experiencing pins and needles. The Blade buzzes. (especially so since I swapped the bar-end weights for delrin sliders) The K doesn't buzz at all.

After returning from the 1-hour demo, Ryan, Tyler and I headed back to Osoyoos to ride DH17. Ryan was with me here last year, and we spent hours upon hours running up and down this brilliant piece of pavement. It traverses back and forth across the mountainside, dropping one into (or climbing one out of) the beautiful Okanagan Valley. There are some great sweepers, a couple of hairpin switchbacks, and a few 90 degree (120Kph max) banked turns. Ryan crashed on one of the sweepers.

I let Ryan get well ahead of me near the bottom so that he wouldn't have any pretensions of me racing with him. I'll ride my own pace thank you. Tyler is a novice rider and stayed well behind the both of us. I came around one right-hander marked 80Km/h (warning speed) and saw a motorcycle-sized fire in the ditch. I knew it was Ryan. I was partially correct. I pulled over. There was an RV and a truck at the side of the road, the owners desperately trying to contain the grass fire. The forests in this area are notoriously tinder-dry, and deadly wildfires spread viciously quick. The weather is always hot. Parts of Kelowna were destroyed a few years ago from one such fire. Ryan was among those stomping and throwing sand on the blaze. Relieved that he seemed ok, I joined in the firefighting effort. The RV'er produced a small fire extinguisher and thank god was able to contain the fire before it got bad. About 150 square feet of grass burned within about 2 minutes. It was dry. Once the adrenaline subsided, I assessed the situation and was confused to see that Ryan's R1 was about 50 feet away from the blaze, laying upside-down crumpled in the ditch. Here's what happened: Ryan came into the turn at about 200Km/h, knee down, at the extreme limit of traction; well, I guess a little beyond the extreme limit of traction. He started to lowside, recovered it, wobbled, crossed the oncoming lane, tried to scrub off some speed, and rode it out through 50 feet of deep, rough, stumpy, rocky ditch before the bike finally chucked him off. Most people probably would have lowsided and fallen off at the first loss of grip. We pushed the R1 back onto the road and it started right up. I guess sparks from where he went off the pavement lit up the grass. One of the left-side engine mounts was tweaked where the frame slider was mounted, and the entire front fairing was hanging on by wires. He limped it back to town and parked it at the rally with a sign on it pleading for help. Motor vehicle Vehicle Automotive tire Automotive exterior Automotive lighting
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Shaken a bit by the trifecta of wrecks in the last 30 or so hours, I didn't ride any more on Saturday. I wheeled my Honda over to the RMR suspensions tent and paid them $40 dollars to set up my suspension. They went through a consultative process, asking me about my riding style, weight, etc. They ended up taking a whole bunch of compression out of the rear, took a little compression out of the forks, and added a bit of front rebound. The sag was already near-perfect. I hung around the rally site, drank beer and watched the dyno shootout, freestyle motorcross demo, Freestyle motocross Motocross Stunt performer Extreme sport Vehicle
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(amazing) and street stunt demo. (gay:gay:) After witnessing the extreme talent, skill, and sheer COJONES of the jumpers and trials rider, a bunch of lame wheelies, stoppies and burnouts simply weren't impressive. I could put a 60 tooth sprocket and let the air out of my back tire and do the exact same shit with a bit of practice. I don't think the street stunting scene will last much longer, simply because it isn't very exciting to watch anymore.

Dad stayed out late again and didn't actually make it back this time until about 6am. The next day we rode home all in 1 shot. About 11 hours on the road, taking the quickest route possible, and hooking up with Graham again in Creston. I got a speeding ticket, dad almost fell asleep (needing to pull over and take a nap in the shade) and as of this morning Ryan was still in Oliver looking for a ride. I didn't crash.

I could go into more detail and type more about the ride back but it was pretty uneventful and my girlfriend is sitting here waiting for me to take her home. Which would you rather do?

Anyone want to come with me next year?

Lots more pics here:

http://www.fireblades.org/gallery/browseimages.php?c=724&userid=
 

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Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

what a horseshit trip...

there was some overpowering force that really didn't want me to go to the rally...

i thought at first that i "wasn't supposed to go" because i ended up crashing, but all the crash did was delay me just enough so i could make it to the rally... maybe there was something else, like impending death waiting for me in that small okanagan town... ooOOooOoooOOoOoOOooOooo

but ya... shitty trip
 

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Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

Thanks, Phobe, enjoyed the story and photos. Sounds like you had a good time, your dad had a better one, and your friends had problems :evilaugh: .
 

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Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

sonofarex said:
what a horseshit trip...

there was some overpowering force that really didn't want me to go to the rally...

i thought at first that i "wasn't supposed to go" because i ended up crashing, but all the crash did was delay me just enough so i could make it to the rally... maybe there was something else, like impending death waiting for me in that small okanagan town... ooOOooOoooOOoOoOOooOooo

but ya... shitty trip
How did the leathers hold up in your crash?
 

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Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

Nice write up phobe. Good to see no one was seriously injured. That's one of those weekends you'd rather forget ever happened. Sounds like a nice trip otherwise. Great pics as usual...now post up some footage of that Gixxer guy wadding his bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

There are pics of him with the leathers post-crash. They rashed a bit but didn't wear through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

oldfogey said:
Thanks, Phobe, enjoyed the story and photos. Sounds like you had a good time, your dad had a better one, and your friends had problems :evilaugh: .
Glad you liked it, surprised you read it! I didn't expect anyone to get all the way through but I did enjoy writing it.

My old man works nightshift in Fort McMoney year-round. This is the first vacation he's had and he made sure it was worthwhile. :rotfl:

I went out looking for him on Sunday morning after he didn't return "home" and found him at 29 year-old Christina's hotel room. He rides the shit out of that ST and it takes a well-ridden sportbike to keep pace with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

BDA116 said:
I tried to read that, but I don't understand long drawn out Canadian.
Damn Yanks and their short attention spans. Why don't you go watch MTV or something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

ReaperAZ said:
Nice write up phobe. Good to see no one was seriously injured. That's one of those weekends you'd rather forget ever happened. Sounds like a nice trip otherwise. Great pics as usual...now post up some footage of that Gixxer guy wadding his bike.
My dad has the video footage I'll have to get him to email it to me. It's all unedited too.
 

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Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

phobiaphobe said:
Damn Yanks and their short attention spans. Why don't you go watch MTV or something.
I just don't speak or read that wierd Canadian laguage. :rasp:


Did the multiple wrecks at least knock enough sense into the boyz to learn how to spell? The first five hundred times someone created a "boyz" or "ryderz" group it might have been a cool way to spell it. Now it is just fukking annoying, and rather enjoyable seeing a bike with an idiot sticker laying on it's side.
 

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Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

phobiaphobe said:
.........I went out looking for him on Sunday morning after he didn't return "home" and found him at 29 year-old Christina's hotel room..
Gettin' some strange, or just being a peeping tom?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

BDA116 said:
Gettin' some strange, or just being a peeping tom?
She had invited us into her room to share a few beers earlier the night before so that was the first place I checked. She had a courtyard room, and I didn't peep but my dad actually saw me skulking around and hollered at me.

The official story is that she had an extra bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

BDA116 said:
... The first five hundred times someone created a "boyz" or "ryderz" group it might have been a cool way to spell it. Now it is just fukking annoying....
It's funny you should say that, because their group is called "Red Deer BOyz" and the guy that started it calls himself "Ryder Dave".


:rotfl:
 

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Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

phobiaphobe said:
It's funny you should say that, because their group is called "Red Deer BOyz" and the guy that started it calls himself "Ryder Dave".


:rotfl:
you'll notice that i don't have any of the "red durr boyyzzzz" stickers on my bike because i feel the same way about it as you... i'm friends with (most) of them, and they're good guys, but they're all 18-19 albertans who don't have much opportunity to get any "real" riding in so they move in the direction of the STUNNAAAAAZZZZZ
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Re: Ride report and pics... Sportbike West 2005

That's the problem with living in the prairies. They should just get Ski-Doos or something.

I like BDA's name for them: "idiot stickers" :rotfl:
 
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