We got a real late start today. Randy found a Kawasaki dealer to change his oil and tighten some spokes, and I ask them to do a bit of work on the BMW. They agree, and I'm shocked. In Seattle if you take a BMW into your local Honda dealership they tell you to get lost. If you're lucky they may sell you some oil or a pair of riding gloves, but they certainly won't work on your bike. Ditto for taking a Kawasaki into a Yamaha dealership. Virtually none of the dealers will work on brands they don't sell. But we're 500 miles north of Vancouver, BC, the nearest large town and things start to change as you leave the major population centers.
People get nicer and economics get tighter. The counter girl tells me they will change the transmission fluid on the BMW as soon as they are done with Randy's bike. I express my appreciation, and she waves it off by saying "we always service the tourists first. They need to get on their way." The consideration is most gratifying, and I'm happy to get a qualified mechanic to look at one or two on-going issues with the BMW.
Adding to the genuine congeniality of the people, I believe that in Prince George you just can't make a living only selling and servicing Kawasaki. So you become a jack of all trades, and take in whatever revenue comes your way. And it appears you do so happily.
Carl, the mechanic, changes the transmission fluid and again adds gear fluid to the shaft drive on the BMW. I ask him to change out the fuel line that is leaking, and he instead decides to clamp it in a couple of places and assures me that will do the trick. I express my doubts several times, but Carl insists the clamping will work. Even in Prince George, mechanics have their limits and in the end do what they want to do, rather than what the customer wants done.
All the way to Chetwynd we run about 20 minutes behind Eric and Julia. Randy, Jan and I don't leave Prince George until almost 11 am and it turns out they pulled out just a bit before us. We had agreed to meet at McLeod Lake for lunch around 12:30 pm, if that was convenient, but we are about a half hour late, and several people tell us they have just left 20 minutes earlier. The waitress has told them since they had no fuel, that we would probably meet them at McKenzie Junction, another ten miles further down the road. She insists to us that we should hurry on and would likely catch them. But I understand the futility of chasing the two silver Triumphs from one restaurant to another across the expanse of northern British Columbia and we're not persuaded. It turns out we made the right choice as lunch is great.
The road is smooth and fairly straight as we proceed north through the mostly coniferous forest. We are able to maintain the 100 kph (roughly 62 mph) speed limit without a problem, and although the sidecar slows us down in the curves, Jan's riding ability is improving by the day, so our speeds are the best of the trip so far.
A hundred miles north of Prince George we hit construction. The five mile gravel detour is good practice for our coming ride up the all-gravel, 400 mile Dalton Highway. As we wait for the pilot car the flagger says "there were a couple of bikes just through, eh." "Would they be matching Triumphs I ask?" "Sure enough, eh, and just twenty minutes ago." Eric and Julia are just up ahead.
After a thirty minute ride across beautiful Pine Mountain Pass, at about 3,000 feet, we descend into the small town of Chetwynd and decide to take a break, so stop at a bright new A&W. (By the way, if you ever wondered where all your A&W's went, I'm happy to report they are alive and well in British Columbia. Every town up here of any size has a brand new A&W restaurant.) As we dismount and take off the gear, I notice the two Triumphs and sure enough, we are together again. It was a nice break and we're into Dawson Creek by 5:30 pm. We've come just less than 900 miles.
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