I love riding motorcycles. I love older bikes, newer bikes, smaller bikes, bigger bikes. Some trips are as short of going down the street to meet a friend for coffee, and some are as long as Vancouver to Halifax. Over the years, I have come to realize that riding a motorcycle is very much like living life. Here are some similarities I’ve noticed:
- Ride your own style
It’s fun when you get a group of friends together to go on a road trip. But everyone has a different riding style—some like to ride straight through a 12-hour day, some like to stop and smell the flower, some like to ride like they’re racing, and some like to go slow and enjoy the scenery.
- Sometimes you have to go alone
If you always have to wait to get a group together to go riding, you’ll miss out on good riding days and you’re leaving your fate in the hands of others. While having company is great, there are days you just have go out alone and have fun on your own.
- It’s the journey
- Take a break
Even in the most fast paced and exciting journey, there are stretches where things get a little mundane, or a little tiring. Taking a break is a good thing physically and mentally. Even a quick stop to get off the bike can re-energize a boring or discouraging stretch.
- Look up
The first thing I learned about riding a motorcycle is to fix my eyes on where I want to go, and the bike will follow. If I keep my eyes far ahead on the road, that’s where I will steer. But if I’m looking down on the pavement, I’ll end up crashing and hitting the pavement. So even when things are looking a little hairy, I always tell myself to keep my eyes far ahead and look up.
I used to ride the Duffy Lake loop with a friend often, but the last time we did that was at least 9 years ago. You start in Vancouver, head up to Whistler, continue further northeast to Lillooet, turn down southeast to Lynton, through Hope, and back to Vancouver. It takes all day to ride this loop, but it’s one of the best motorcycle roads in the province!
I was nervous about riding this loop by myself after such a long absence from riding. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going, just in case I changed my mind when I get to Whistler, I can still turn back and save face.
As it turned out, the day was great. The weather was perfect. I left Vancouver at 6:30 am, and watched the sun come up while riding up to Squamish. The coast is freaking gorgeous! A bee hit my knee while I was riding at speed, and gave me a sting through my jeans. Lovely.
The Duffy Lake road (that I remembered) was full of tar strips and potholes, but the province must have re-paved it at some point, because it was buttery smooth like a baby butt. Oh, it just made my heart sing.
It was about noon when I reached Lyntton. I found a shaded bench on the street to sit and eat my lunch. I shared the bench with Derrick who worked at the town’s museum. He gave me a lesson on the history of Lyntton. This is what I love about riding and traveling. I get to meet the most interesting people from everywhere!
Riding through the Fraser Canyon is probably one of my all-time favorite things to do in the world. 37 degrees Celsius was just a bit warm. Still, I am not complaining. Pairing curvy roads and the sun together is the ultimate high when it comes to riding.
The bike performed flawlessly. I wish I was brave enough to go a little faster. I’m obviously under-utilizing the bike’s capabilities, but I’m old and chicken-shit.
And who could resist getting a photo of the sign, “Jackass Mtn Summit”?
My interest in motorcycles started at such a young age, I couldn’t quite remember exactly what ignited it. All I remember is my mother’s warning: If you ever ride a motorcycle, we’ll dis-own you.
In 2004, I got my motorcycle licence. Luckily my family didn’t dis-own me. But I’m pretty sure my mother aged 17 years all of a sudden just knowing I’m out on a bike. I’ve done some pretty interesting rides, including the 1,000 mile in 24 hours “Iron Butt” ride, and riding all the way from Vancouver to Halifax. All this came to halt when I became pregnant with Joshua in 2009. I sold my BMW Dakar that spring, and that was the last time I rode a motorcycle.
The last couple of years have been busy in terms of having kids. Every summer I looked longingly at bikes driving past me, and dreamed of the day of riding again. For now, I have other priorities (i.e. Joshua and Savanna), so a bike is out of the question. But I figured we can go to the bike show so I can sit on a few bikes for fun, and I would love it if the kids would become interested in riding one day too.
Joshua couldn’t say “motorcycle” yet. He says “more-cycle”. So on Sunday we went to the more-cycle show at Tradex. During the whole drive to Abbosford, he was quite pumped about seeing more-cycles.
I had fun checking out the BMW F650 I love, and also sitting on the new Honda CB500. Cliff liked the new Honda CBR500. Joshua was very interested in pressing all the buttons on a bike, and flipping up the gas cap or key hole cover. It was a fun experience for him, and I hope he will ride a bike one day.
Since I’ve been pregnant, people often ask me what my cravings are. I actually haven’t had ANY food cravings during this pregnancy.
My “cravings”, aside from food, however, have been quite intense. You know what I really crave? I’m craving riding a motorcycle, or trekking in Tibet, or rolling down the sand dune in the dessert of Egypt. I’m craving something crazy, something exotic, or something my mom is going to have a heart attack over.
We knew before we had Joshua that life is going to change in a totally different direction once the little monkey (or in our case soon, two monkeys) arrives. The type of traveling I loved will not be available for a few years. I sold my motorcycle, knowing that I won’t have time to ride for a while. I certainly do not regret the decision to put these things on hold, and focus on raising my kids. All I’m saying, is that I have to admit, my heart has not stopped craving for the next adventure.
A few years ago, I read a book called A Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel written by Annie Griffiths Belt. This woman is my hero. She’s a photographer working for the National Geographic, had two kids, and took her kids on photo assignments with her all over the world. Her book wasn’t very long, but it influenced me in a serious way. She totally dispelled the myths that people don’t travel to exotic places with young kids. She found ways to make it work to take her kids on assignments. She’s the type of women who never follows tradition, and blazes her own path in life. It made me decide that if I ever had kids, I’m not going to use them as an excuse not to travel.
I know, for now at least, I can only savour the memories of past travels or experience of exotic places. I do really look forward to one day going somewhere really cool with the kids, and show them just how amazing it is to see the world outside of our little corner in North America.
Solo ride from Vancouver to Halifax:
In the Okavango Delta in Botswana:
Rock climbing in Joshua Tree:
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with Cliff:
Sand dune in Namibia:
A beach at Zanzibar:
Muncho Lake in Alaska:
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu:
On a safari in Tanzania:
In 2010, when I was 4 months pregnant with Joshua, I sold my beloved BMW Dakar. When the buyer rode the bike away, I stood there crying in the parking lot. Boy, I loved that bike!
So last winter, Cliff and I decided we will use the proceeds from the bike to buy a little boat. Boating would be something everyone in the family can enjoy, and we can take our friends and family out with us.
It took a little while to find a boat within our price range. I drove down to Seattle one day and brought this baby home:
Today was our first time taking the boat out. It wasn’t without many issues to work out, mainly due to our non-existent experience with boating. But once we got into the water, it was a total blast.
I was a little worried about how Joshua is going to react to being on the boat. But he actually kept his life jacket on the whole time. Although he refused to wear a hat, he did ok with the layer of sunscreen I smothered on him. He sat and smiled at the wind blowing on his face when we were driving. He was so exhausted after the ride that he fell asleep in the car before we even left the parking lot. After he woke up from his nap, he kept saying, “Boat? boat?” I think he really enjoyed it too.