2014 ‘Schnitzel Run’ – Part 1, Edmonton to Cranbrook

Rain, rain, and more rain

Rain, rain, and more rain.  Waiting in the 4 km queue to return to Canada at the Roosville border crossing on Monday of the Victoria Day long weekend

Edmonton Black Gold Beemers Motorcycle Club’s Annual ‘Schnitzel Run’ 

It’s the first big motorcycle tour of the 2014 riding season, and it is cold.  Bloody cold.  And it rained cats and dogs.  Or it poured rain.  Or it pelted rain.  Or it just rained.  Every single day.

It’s the Edmonton Black Gold Beemers Motorcycle Club’s fourth annual ‘Schnitzel Run’ to Frank’s Steak and Schnitzel House in Cranbrook, B.C., one of my favourite restaurants on the planet.  Canada’s Victoria Day weekend in May is a national statutory holiday, and in the prairies, it’s normally the first weekend where there’s a reasonable assurance of sufficiently warm weather for a major tour on motorcycles.

Still, the weather can be ‘iffy’ in May, and this year was certainly challenging.

4 degrees Celsius.  You’re going to ride in this temperature?

 The air temperature is a frigid 4 degrees Celsius for our 8:00 AM departure from Edmonton on Friday morning.  That doesn’t seem to dissuade the ten brave souls, all members of Edmonton’s Black Gold Beemers Motorcycle Club, from showing up for the planned five day ride that will take them into B.C., Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

The Black Gold Beemers motorcycle club has a legendary reputation as a club that loves to ride. These motorcyclists wouldn’t think twice about a 450 km ride after Saturday breakfast as merely a pleasant, short, jaunt.

Four degrees Celsius means full cold weather gear – heated vests, fleece liners and balaclavas, and for the lucky ones that have them, heated grips and heated saddles switched to ‘Max.’

We break into two riding groups, with a platoon of six riders leaving first and the second wave departing shortly thereafter.

Robyn (R1200RT) leads off the first wave  and takes us onto the QE2, making a beeline due South.  Our pack is comprised of Denis (new 2014 R1200RT), his wife Louise (new 2014 F800GT), Walker (R1200GS), Dave (R1150GSA),  and me on my Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX.

It’s cold but the prospect of the first major motorcycle tour of the year somehow warms my psyche, and the Stelvio’s heated grips do their job.

Alberta’s QE2 like most divided 4-lane highways, is no fun; this is merely a ‘transit stage.’  Robyn leads us off the QE2 over to Hwy 22 (The Cowboy Trail) and at about the 3-hour mark, we fuel up near Cochrane.  Then we split west of Cochrane on Highway 1A through the Stoney Nakoda Nation Indian Reserve for lunch at Canmore on the edge of Banff National Park.

The Wood Restaurant and Lounge, Canmore, AB

The Wood Restaurant and Lounge, Canmore, AB

Beef brisket sandwich with tomato soup

The Wood Restaurant Beef brisket sandwich with tomato soup

Hwy 1A takes us to Canmore and lunch  The air temperature in this mountain town has ‘warmed’ to 7 degrees Celsius, and honestly, it feels warm compared to the biting 4 degrees we’d been riding in.  Our group of six invades The Wood Restaurant, where we quickly strip off our gear and soak up the warmth of the dining room.

The Wood’s service is a bit slow, but we don’t care.  We grasp our coffee mugs with two hands to get warm, and cheerily chat about the cold.  (Talking about the weather is a favourite national pastime for Canadians.)  I order the Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich with tomato soup ($16) and when it arrives, it’s very large and stuffed with lots of crispy pulled beef.  The sandwich is superb and I’d definitely recommend it to BBQ beef lovers.

Robyn orders the Salmon Buger ($18) and he’s says its among the best he’s had.

Salmon burger

The Wood Restaurant Salmon burger

Everybody seems happy with their lunch and we depart, warmed, replenished and ready for the next stage through Banff to Radium.

By time we roll into Radium, B.C., known for its natural hot springs, the air temperature reaches a ‘blistering’ 13 degrees Celsius.  Radium is on the ‘warm side’ of the Canadian Rockies, and the warmer air is welcome.

Our gang arrives at our destination for the day, Cranbrook, B.C. at around 5:30 PM with little time to spare before our 6:00 PM reservation at Frank’s Steak and Schnitzel House.

The group of four riders who had departed after our group of six had arrived just minutes ahead of us.  Led by Shon (Buell Ulysses), Bjorn (Honda Varadero 1000), Ray (K1200LT) and Charlie (K1200GT) somehow missed us on the road while we were lunching in Canmore.

At Frank’s Restaurant, our party of ten settle in relish our ‘prize’ – schnitzel.  Restaurant owner Andreja brings our table two plates of German sausage  with sauerkraut ‘on the house’, a token of appreciation for club’s fourth annual trek to her establishment.  The sausage is made in house and the sauerkraut has a wonderfully mild, non-vinegary flavour.

The schnitzel I order is Champignon served with bernaise sauce, pork (one has the choice of pork or chicken schnitzel), half order ($22); the full order ($26) is very large and the fellows who’ve been foolhardy enough to ask for it have never eaten the whole thing.  As usual, the schnitzel is outstanding, and everybody ’round the table is happy, but groaning slightly, and holding their overfilled tummies.

The fourth annual Schnitzel Run to Cranbrook has been another BGB club ride success.  As we leave the restaurant, it’s spitting rain and we all hope tomorrow brings us warmer weather and a dry day.

As it will turn out, that will be wishful thinking.

Next:  2014 ‘Schnitzel Run’, Part 2 – Cranbrook, B.C. to Walla Wall, Washington.

4 Comments

  1. Richard says:

    umbrella, talk about really prepared.

  2. Bighopper says:

    Nice ‘Brollie’

  3. Garry Kramer says:

    And a good time had by all.

  4. Dave Graham says:

    I see what you mean about the full order of schnitzel. I did finish it and an apple strudel, by the way, but walked back to my motel very slowly.

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