The Great Beater Challenge 2023: Day One, Part Two

On the first part of day one we had visited a hot spot movie location, an ailing bus, a two storey outhouse, the alleged world’s biggest piggy bank, managed to hit 88km/h, attended a car show as well as eaten a massive ice cream cone but the day was far from done. In the second half of the day, we enter a fruit growing area nestled between mountain ranges, climb a grueling mountain pass, visit an old haunt and race for our dinner.

There are still mountains of farms, vineyards, and fruit stands that dominate this region.

An old tractor was on display at a fruit farm where we looking for the ugliest fruit or vegetable as part of the challenge. The strangest looking would net their team some points and perhaps be used in the evening’s BBQ dinner. My sons found some good contenders in the “free bin” at this fruit and vegetable stand attached to the tractor’s farm. Edit – Ed Stembridge identified it as a Ferguson TO-20 (or -30).

In the town proper, we came across a 1992 Dodge Stealth and year-unknown Geo Tracker at the side of the road. They wanted an ambitious $11,500 for the Tracker. The Dodge Stealth was also for sale but I did not catch the asking price.

An old Ford pickup truck was spotted passing a pair of grain elevators.

As per tradition for most years my friend Rod and I stuck together along the route. He brought his son along with a green Honda Civic sporting an Acura EL rear end. Also as per tradition his car was equipped with mismatched rims and sizes on each axle.

Next, we tackled the grueling Creston Salmo pass which is a long, steep climb that tests the cooling system of any beater. We did this in the reverse direction with the Dodge Aries on the first challenge and it barely survived. This approach felt less steep and we had a miles better car. There was one potential failure point however as the Elantra had a replacement radiator a few months ago which sounds like good news. The less good news was that I could only find a radiator for an automatic car which meant I had to loop the lines to the transmission cooler the manual transmission variant did not have. I used the fuel line in a pinch as it was the correct diameter. The fuel line while not rated for high heat was still there as it had not failed yet and I would have to drain the radiator to swap it out. This section would be a good test for that bodge.

We managed to pass the Honda Civic CX on the uphill section. Unusual for us as we are usually (always) one of the slowest cars.

So this is what GBC speed feels like!

For our efforts, we were rewarded with a check engine light which luckily went away later in the day. With no code reader, the cause will forever remain a mystery but my money is on an O2 sensor or similar.

There is a rather nice lake at the top of the Creston Salmo pass. We had made it with no issues. Score one for laziness in not replacing the fuel lines carrying hot coolant (actually I did check shortly after the repair and those lines were on the colder side of the radiator so they never really got that hot).

There was a high-mileage Toyota Camry that arrived shortly after with a boiling-over radiator (not part of our group). My friend Rod came to their rescue by donating his spare coolant.

I also got an unexpected compliment from an unexpected source in the restroom.

The way down would be a test of any beater’s brakes. I had replaced the front brakes over the summer so I was not worried all that much. I just hoped not to warp the semi-new rotors.

The descent went smoothly and we did not have to use one of these runaway lanes.

We cast a rather unusual shadow with the time machine equipment on the back.

This year the route included Ymir which we made an unplanned stop at on the first year and it ended up being a highlight of the trip.

The Ymir Hotel was such a part of our good memories as it had been unexpectedly filled with character. The old building was choke full of antiques and artwork of all kinds. We were one of the later teams to arrive and were advised that the older gentleman who ran the place was not happy about the influx of visitors. Given that we settled for swapping stories, viewing the outside and a short walk around town.

Slightly disappointed that it was not the place we remembered we left Ymir to press on.

The sun was starting to set and so we had to get a move on to avoid missing the BBQ dinner and setting up our tent in the dark.

Next up was Nelson which I am told is one of the most interesting places to visit but I would not know as, just like last time in 2016, we rushed through it to get to our overnight destination. I would love to visit again. Or really for the first time.

Nelson has a large number of alternative culture residents and we did manage to catch sight of a very “Nelson-like” Volkswagen Westfalia van. Whatever your vehicle the claimed by a sticker 400,000 miles is quite an achievement.

The “Big Orange Bridge” or (BOB for short) was our route out of town and is quite spectacular. The bridge was opened in 1957 and has a length of 627.9 metres or 2,060 feet and gives an amazing view over the Kootenay River.

About this time it was getting rather late, we were getting hungry but had passed the last open food stores in Nelson. Surely we were too late for the promised BBQ at the campground. We contemplated that we would need to eat our breakfast for dinner instead which did not get positive reviews from my boys. We could have stopped at this boat turned restaurant if it had been open.

Luckily the BBQ had started very late making us just in time! We also managed to set up our tent with the last of the daylight fading after gobbling down our dinner. The whole group stayed in the common area of a motorcycle campground.

I would have liked to have seen more of the campground in the daylight as it appeared to be a characterful place but we had an early start the next morning to catch the first ferry of the day which seemed prudent as we were always one of the stragglers year after year. Tune in next time to see what day two brings.

The 2023 Great Beater Challenge Series

Back to the Future (and the Challenge) – Vehicle Prep

The Teams

Day One Part One

Day One Part Two

Day Two