I fill up on cheap gas in the town of Lytton, and psych myself for the upcoming day. I will ride northwest along the Fraser River Canyon’s Highway 12, then pivot southwest in Lillooet to join the twisting Highway 99.
I have seen the Fraser Canyon from a slow-moving train, the Rocky Mountaineer (read the story in my blog, “Is that a FOLDING bike?”).
This time I will see it on a slow-moving motorcycle. It’s as windy and revealing I expected, with patches of road-tearing rockfalls and off-cambre curves to keep it interesting.
I stop for lunch in the town of Lillooet, then cautiously ease my way onto 99—Duffey Lake Road. It’s a technical roadway designed for bikers on 1200cc bikes. I will be riding it on a fraction of the displacement, just 100cc.
Destination Highways describes the Duffey’s south-to-north route this way:
“The power of this challenging road is obvious from the moment you embark upon the long, corkscrew climb out of the Pemberton Valley. As you venture into the spectacular mountains of the Cayoosh Range, the barrage of curves is intense. They don’t let up when you pass along the dramatic shoreline of Duffey Lake, or even in the final section where you’ll be awestruck by the spectacular, winding canyon descent to the town of Lillooet…”
I am riding from the north. I get quickly distracted by Seton Lake…
I kick the bike into fourth gear, then third as the switch-back climb gets steeper. Now and then I kick it into second gear and steer the bike along the road shoulder—if there is one.
The bike seems to losing its courage. It won’t respond to my twists on the throttle, it won’t recover on the flats, and it is sounding throaty. It’s not the Little Engine That Could I-know-I-can whine that I’ve become accustomed to on this trip.
I’ve got 80 kilometers to go, and cars and trucks pile up behind me. When I’m not pulled over to let them pass, I’m propelling the bike into its deep, blind hairpins through sheer mental power.
Dropping into the Cayoosh Creek valley, I pass a few forestry camp sites. Worn as I am, it’s too early to stop and the air is cold and drafty. I cross Cayoosh Creek over and over again, and happily emerge at Duffey Lake, where I intend to camp at Duffey Lake Provincial Park…
However, there is no camping in the park. I stop again at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, but there is no camping there either.
“Hey!” Shouts one of a couple of young guys sitting next to dual-sport bikes in the Joffre parking lot, “Is that a Honda C90? Your bike is so cool!” I pull off my helmet, tell him it’s a Symba, and when he sees me he can barely contain himself.
“Did you just ride the DUFFEY LAKE ROAD on that THAT bike?!” he shouts. “And you’re a girl, on your own, on this C90, on the Duffey? THAT IS SO COOL!”
I feel pumped up, but I’m still worried about my bike’s performance, and the sun is getting low. I ask him about a place to camp, and he gives me directions to a nearby forestry site on Lillooet Lake.
As I pull out of the parking lot I can still hear him raving about the Honda C90 to his buddy…
(This is a Honda C90):