27 July – Day 5
Whitehorse, Yukon to Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia
We hadn’t intended on travelling this far today – however we got going early, and there was literally nothing but a self service petrol station (ie no staff, no shop – just a pump where you paid directly by credit card) and an “RV park” for the gargantum motorhomes towing four wheel drives towing trailers towing quadbikes that we frequently overtake. Some of them are honestly as big as a State Transit (or Action!) bus… a long way from the humble caravan.
The road from Whitehorse to Liard was pretty good – “interesting riding” according to Adrian, with enough twists and turns and gravel patches to keep him entertained. From my perspective, the scenery was just beautiful. We’re almost sort of starting to enter the Rockies now, and landscape is breathtaking.
And… we’ve had our first bear sighting. First and second actually. Just munching on wildflowers by the side of the road, like a kangaroo would nibble on grass on the verge (usually just prior to, sadly, transitioning from roo to roadkill). The bears- black bears – were actually smaller than I expected… although that said, I was still happy to take my pics from on the bike, in an ‘engine on’ ready for going position. Not Adrian though, oh no – he wanted a much closer look as per the picture!! Through our intercom, he was getting “Adrian, get back on the bike. Adrian, get back on the bike. Adrian, get back on the bike” on repeat.
We arrived at Liard Hot Springs about 10 minutes before a massive thunderstorm hit – so it was very good timing on our part (or that of the weather). After the long day on the bike, and with the storm imminent, we splurged on a room in the lodge… and it was lovely! Nice hot showers with one of those adjustable and detachable shower heads and fluffy white towels. Very luxurious.
Liard isn’t so much a town as a hot spring with a lodge built about a 1km walk away. So other than the hot springs, there isn’t much to do in Liard. After the storm passed, we walked down to the springs… wow! So nice… and in the middle of nowhere.
Our stroll back to the lodge was interrupted by this yell of ‘Hey, Aussie!’ It turns out that an Irish couple and their friend, who are also travelling on BMW R1200 GSAs around Alaska and the US, had heard about us from the airbnb couple Adrian had stayed with on his first night in Anchorage. They’d stayed with the same couple the night after Adrian, and the couple had told them that a really tall Aussie guy was riding his bike to Patagonia with his girlfriend, who arrived in a couple of weeks.
It was the first time I’d spoken with another couple on the road – it was nice for some female biker company! We’ve met quite a few solo (though not necessarily single – the majority have left wives at home) male bikers so far this trip. Without exception, they have been interesting/friendly/lovely guys.
Also (almost) without exception – and I’m talking about maybe twice a day – the man-biker to man-biker exchange has gone something like this:
- Opening statement usually admiring the other’s bike and finding out where they’ve come from / where they’re heading to.
- Quick, admiring walk around each bike – focussing brieflyon any customisations.
- Slow, informative, educative, interested walk around each bike – looking at any customisations in closer detail while discussing the how/why of each customisation, alternative customisations considered and discounted and the experience-to-date with the chosen option.
- Side remark about Adrian’s height.
- Discussion about the bikes while standing near them, occasionally pointing out something on the bike. Could include different types of tyres, windshields, fuel qualities, seats, light protectors, where to get the bike serviced, previous motorbike trips etc.
- Discussion about the roads so far.
- Concluding remarks about the bike, and the giving of good wishes for the road ahead.
So yeah, although I’m really enjoying the biking, I’m not quite hard core enough to get into the bike chit chat – so this was great to have someone else to talk with while the men did their man biker chat thing!