Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hedley Nickle Plate Mine

7 riders, 6 bikes, 3 days – was going to be the intro to our video of the weekend’s footage, very dramatic (courtesy of Joey). A long weekend in the Hedley/Keremeos area was the plan.

About a year ago, I had seen a picture posted online of a dirt road going up the side of a mountain with switchback upon switchback till the eye could see and finally reached an elevation of 6000ft and thought that this road couldn’t exist locally. Little did I know it was only about 350km east of Vancouver.

So the wheels were in motion, to get a group of friends together to do this spectacular ride. Joey on his Kawasaki KLR, Colleen (Joey’s girlfriend) on a rented Suzuki DR200, Harry on his Suzuki DR650, Danny & Rhiannin (an Australian couple that we met thru' Horizons and who had moved to Vancouver about a month earlier) rode my BMW 2-up and Angela and I on our DR650’s (yet another shakedown trip for our DR’s). It was an awe inspiring sight seeing 6 fully loaded dual sport bikes roll down the road.We had just come off a week of record breaking temperatures with highs off 34 °C (record breaking for Canadian standards) near the water and warmer temperatures inland, so knew we were in for a warm one. The original plan was to camp around the Keremeos area for both nights; so that we could leave our luggage behind when doing the road up to the mine. However as plans do change, we did a little side trip to Misseszoula Lake to visit Colleens parents as they have a “cabin” in other words a 4 bedroom, gorgeous home close to the lake. It was still light out, though getting late, when we were offered to spend the night, I was comfortable with camping on the lush green grass; however when we were offered to use the bedrooms, the group were sold on the idea of a night of comfort, with warm showers, BBQ’d hotdogs and “bollo golf” (a home made game where you throw a pair of golf balls with a piece of string tied between them onto 3 pieces of pipe attached at varying heights with connecting pipes. Three points if you land your balls on the highest pipe, two points on the middle pipe and one point for the lowest pipe and you can cancel your opponents throw by landing on the same pipe they did. The idea is to reach 21 points. So you can imagine where the conversation goes after a few beers and throwing golf balls around the yard. from top left: Joey, Kay & Dennis (our hosts) from left to right: Colleen, Danny, Rhiannin, Daryll, Angela, Harry

We headed out early on Sunday to tackle the dirt road up to the mine; not before stopping at the famous Doug’s (a well known beef jerky joint) for some, you guessed it, beef jerky. It was amazingly good and addictive and kept us going for the rest of the day. My dirt riding experience is still limited; however I had more experience than any of the other riders, so decided to hang back and be the sweep rider. Gave me a chance to stay out of their dust, and was able to stop and take some pics as well.

It was like the first picture I found, the road climbed immediately and we were on loose gravel that could buck you off if you went too fast or too slow. Care had to be taken around the switchbacks as they were sharp corners with loose gravel. It was exhilarating, mountain on one side, shear drop off on the other – no room for error. No bike trip is complete without the obligatory bike in photo shot to prove you were actually there.

We finally make it to the top where the terrain changes completely and the road is now hard packed and the surface is quicker to ride on and everyone picks up the pace, even the inexperienced riders. I knew that the dirt section led to a paved section, as further along past the mine area, a ski resort was developed. So now we are going down the other side of the mountain on paved twisties, what more could you have asked for. We hit Penticton for lunch and then split up late afternoon. Joey, Colleen and Harry had commitments and had to head back home on the Sunday evening, while the rest of us found a secluded campsite next to a river for the night and on Monday made a beeline for home.

As this was my first long trip on my DR, it performed really well. Comfortable seat, panniers did not seem too cumbersome, I quickly got used to have the Wolfman Ranier Tank Bag sit up on the tank and it didn’t affect me standing up at all. Ang’s. DR with the new Avon Gripsters did surprisingly well on dirt. The Gripsters are going to be our preferred choice of tires for the trip when available. I had also attached a Wolfman Denali Tank bag on her DR; however this impeded her seated and standing positions and have since taken it off.
All in all, it was an excellent weekend.
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