4 Days, 2522 km and 10 BMWs – The Great Schnitzel Run of 2015

2015 'Schnitzel Run'

Idaho rest stop on Day 2 of the 2015 ‘Schnitzel Run’.  (L-R: Phil, Rod, Brian, Robyn, Tim)

About ten years ago I had the bright idea that a ride with motorcycle friends on Canada’s Victoria Day holiday weekend in May would be a great way to kick off the riding season.  This would be the first big ride of the season, and I had a new 2004 BMW R1150RT that was begging to be tested for the bike’s intended purpose, long distance touring.

That inaugural ‘steak run’ (later to become known as the ‘Meat-seeking Missile Run’) ran from Edmonton, AB to Great Falls, MT, and it became a highly-anticipated event among my friends, especially during the depths of winter.

To add a new twist to this ride, we decided a few years ago to make Cranbrook, BC our destination with Frank’s Steak & Schnitzel Haus the restaurant destination.  And so our ‘Steak Run’ was rechristened the ‘Schnitzel Run.’

This year, twelve brave souls joined our ride, and for the first time, all the motorcycles (ten of them) were BMWs, representing a nice cross-section of the Bavarian company’s finest offerings:  3 R1200RTs (two ‘Wetheads, one ‘Hexhead’); 2 K1600s (one GT, one GTL); 2 R1200GSWs; 1 R1150GS; 1 R1200CL and 1 F800GT.

Day 1 – Edmonton, AB to Cranbrook, BC, 700 km

Prior to departure, our group of 12 experienced riders agreed that a flotilla of 10 motorcycles riding as a convoy down the highway was a bad idea.  We broke into two groups of five machines each, with departure from Blackjack’s Roadhouse, a 24/7 restaurant in Nisku, AB.

After a quick breakfast, our squadron of five bikes was the first ‘wave’ rolling at 7:00 AM sharp with the second ‘wave’ scheduled to leave at 7:30.

The ‘Troubles’

No motorcycle tour is memorable unless something extraordinary happens.  Previous years’ Schnitzel Run ‘incidents’ that we’ll never forget include 4 days of rain, speeding tickets (aka ‘Sportbike Permits), and various riders falling down at various speeds.

This year, it was my turn (again) to cause disruption.  Before breakfast I rolled into the gas station to top up the R1200RTW.  I inserted my Visa card and the pay-at-the-pump gave the ominous message, “Incorrect PIN”.  Gack.  I tried my MasterCard; the machine issued the same message, “Incorrect PIN.”

Luckily, I had cash.

The reason for my travails?  I had activated Visa and MasterCard renewal cards just the day before.  As the credit card companies require, I called their toll-free phone lines, talked to a real person and answered a series of security questions, and was then cheerily informed by both companies that my credit card renewal had been ‘activated’ and ready for use.  Apparently, that was not the case.

I called both companies and was told I’d have to visit bank branches in person to activate the cards.  Later in the morning, the banks quickly resolved the problem, so all’s well that ends well.

Day 1 - 2015 'Schnitzel Run'

Day 1 – 2015 ‘Schnitzel Run’

Day 1 from Edmonton is a ‘transit’ stage.  Riding on Alberta’s main highway, the QE2, is a mind-numbing exercise in patience and boredom.  For the Friday of a long weekend, traffic is sparse, perhaps not surprising given our 7 AM start.

We exit the 4-lane divided highway near Olds and continue south on the more scenic Highway 22, The Cowboy Trail with our first fuel stop near the picturesque foothills town of Cochrane.  It’s been cool and foggy for most of the morning, and finally, I decide to try my new Gerbings heated vest.

The Gerbings heated vest is new gear to me, purchased in the middle of winter.  It has an optional electronic rheostat and an optional BMW male adapter that lets me plug it directly into the RT’s right-side fairing 12v outlet.  The heat is marvelous and through the foothills, the RT’s onboard thermometer drops down to 4 C.

From Cochrane south, the ride becomes more interesting, through Bragg Creek, Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Longview (the back entrance to Kananaskis Country/Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.)

At Longview, we break for lunch at the Little New York Bistro, just down from the hamlet’s Esso gas station, a landmark and popular stop for motorcyclists venturing into K-Country.  The restaurant’s proprietor is surly on the day we visited.  He tells a woman with a child to go to another restaurant for some reason, and when I ask for our bill to be split, he says he can’t.  I ordered the Croque Monsieur sandwich ($12.50), and it’s a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with nice chunks of ham in it, but it’s not the real French thing which is supposed to have bread dipped in egg then grilled.  Still, it was satisfying.

From Longview, the ride south to the Crowsnest Highway 3 is one of the most scenic drives in Alberta.  It runs through southern Alberta’s cattle country with the foothills and Rocky Mountains to the right.

South of Longview, Highway 22’s 2-lane pavement stretches far into the distance.  Long vistas are filled with swaths of grassland and grazing cattle and no visible signs of habitation.  If there’s a place in Alberta where you feel the urge to ride at autobahn-level speed, this is it.

But our cadre of seasoned motorcyclists have the road savvy earned from years of road work and know better.  On a holiday weekend like this Victoria Day, the RCMP and Alberta Sheriffs will be out in full force, and we govern ourselves to a speed somewhat higher than the posted limit, but still under the threshold for flagging the attention of constabulary.

Our squadron of five riders pulls into Cranbrook in the afternoon with plenty of time for our 6:30 PM reservation at Frank’s Steak & Schnitzel Haus.  With no rush, we can shower up, change into civvies and relax for a couple of hours

After some 700 km on the road, dinner at Frank’s is a welcome luxury.  Proprietor Andreja (whose father Frank founded the restaurant) welcomes our ‘Dirty Dozen’ riders back to her establishment.  This is the seventh consecutive year our group has ridden to Cranbrook just for the Schnitzel at Frank’s, and she sends out plates of complementary sausage and sweet sauerkraut appetizer. This is one of my favourite restaurants anywhere.

Dining at Frank's Steak & Schnitzel Haus

It’s a schnitzel fest!

Dining at Frank's Steak & Schnitzel Haus

Dining at Frank’s Steak & Schnitzel Haus

Sausage and sweet sauerkraut appetizer

Sausage and sweet sauerkraut appetizer


Jaeger Schnitzel, half order!

Jaeger Schnitzel, half order!

My choice for tonight’s dining experience is the half-order Jaeger Schnitzel with spaetzle as the carb side dish and a nice serving of red sauerkraut.  It’s still a very large serving for one person.

After munching on the spicy sausage appetizer and polishing off my unreasonably large “half-order” schnitzel, I’m stuffed but still want to indulge.  I’ve over-eaten (as usual) but order up one apple strudel dessert (and 12 forks.)  When it arrives, the strudel gets passed around the table for everybody to have a taste.

Apple strudel, served with whipped cream AND ice cream

Apple strudel, served with whipped cream AND ice cream

I leave the restaurant fat and happy.

Tomorrow (Day 2) is a ‘riding’ day.

“Wheels up” at 0800h.  Destination – Orofino, ID.

End Part 1.




1 Comment

  1. Bighopper says:

    Rod took his HAT off!

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