The love of two wheels brings us together
It’s called the Sunshine Coast, though that seems quite a euphemism when you’re a transplant from Southern California. But granted, for British Columbia, this region of the rugged coastline, only accessible by ferry or float plane, does see a bit less precipitation than other areas of the rainforest-fringed province.
It’s also a hugely scenic riding area, and always fun to take your bike on the ferries. The last time I explored the area, I’d ridden up from California and was making a loop from Vancouver, jumping ferries up the Sunshine Coast to Gibsons, then across the Strait of Georgia on another ferry to Vancouver Island for a fast out-and-back on the steep and squirrelly Highway 4 to Tofino – a favourite ride. And I was testing one of my all-time favourite bikes, BMW’s K1600GT. When I pulled up for the first ferry ride in Horseshoe Bay, I was, as usual, directed to the front of the line of cars because my bike and I are so cool. Yeah, right. As always, bikes board the ferries first so they can be settled in the prow, which is a great perk, because that means we’re also first off when we get to port. After I passed the 50 or so waiting cars and trucks, I saw I was destined to be shipmates with a KLR650 and its rider.
Time to be Social
Now, admittedly, I can actually be a bit antisocial on these solo rides. At the time, the BMW was pretty new, and riding it anywhere meant being peppered with questions. So, when I parked next to the well-flogged KLR, I basically ran away. I didn’t make eye contact, and abruptly headed into the terminal for a pre-departure espresso. But while I was sipping that stuff, I warmed up to the idea of some biker chat. The KLR has always been another favourite of mine; I’ve owned one and tested many. So, by the time I head back to the bikes, I’m looking forward to swapping KLR adventure stories.
And that’s when I noticed the Harley that’s pulled up next to my bike. It had a furry seat cover, lots of shiny bangles, straight pipes and a tiny Pekingese-like pooch poking its head out from a plastic dog carrier that’s bungeed onto the pillion seat. All I could think is, wow.
A Joining of the Tribe
The Harley guy and the KLR guy were already chatting, and I walked right up and joined in. I mean, wouldn’t you? We are a tribe after all. Despite our preferences, it’s natural, almost impossible, not to feel connected to other people on two wheels, especially when you’re on the road.
After we talked about our bikes, we chatted about where we live. They both lived on the Sunshine Coast and were returning from road trips: Harley Guy to visit his family; KLR Guy to get away from his.
Once on the ship, we walked upstairs and gravitated toward the sandwich bar, still talking. Now it’s about Vancouver Island and where I should go. Now about motorcycles. A little politics. Dogs. Back to motorcycles. Before we knew it, we were back on the bikes and being directed off the ferry. And, of course, we were going to ride together. We were all headed in the same direction, up to Earl’s Cove and the next ferry jump. Again, it just seemed natural. I’m just glad I had earplugs for Harley Guy’s straight pipes.
On the next, smaller ferry, we sat at a table and drink coffee. We talked about families. Countries. More about motorcycles. It seemed as if we had known each other for a long time, yet we had just met. Three people who would have never exchanged a word, or even a glance, had it not been for the motorcycles and shared love of riding.
Harley Guy lived near the ferry dock in Saltery Bay, and we all waved frantically as he turned off. KLR Guy agreed to guide me to my hotel in Powell River, which was only a short distance from his home. We shook hands and said how fun it was to have met.
And it was. I smiled to myself a lot that evening, thinking how those two guys out of nowhere had made my ride that much more enjoyable. It’s a couple of years later now and I don’t remember their names, but I’ll never forget what our connection described.
Motorcycle travel is so special. You get to be alone, yet you’re always a part of a huge group. Yeah, sometimes with your actual friends, but other times may be just with a guy you share a lane with for 10 kilometres. The connection is remarkable, isn’t it? Something really worth riding about…