Life & Work Can Coexist

Story by Pepe Peterson// Photos by Chris Martinat
July 6 2021

Even when work gets you down, quitting time means riding time.

Please indulge me if you will and picture a sunny Friday afternoon. You’re nearing the end of your exhausting work week and counting down the painfully slow minutes until you can jump on your bike and not look back (for a couple of days anyway).

Your day just can’t end soon enough when you’re trying to escape from annoying coworkers, bosses and complaining customers.

Everything just feels right as soon as you fire up your weapon of choice, all snug in your riding gear, even if you’re not sure you have enough fuel. Whether you have a destination in mind or are just seeing where the open road leads you, you’re now at peace.

This is where my story deviates from that path.

When Life and Work Jell

I live in small-town Ontario. We build and operate trucks for the transportation industry. As you can probably imagine, tensions can run high when the fabrication department’s ideas don’t correlate with the mechanical department or the bean counter’s agenda. It can get interesting, to say it politely. Nonetheless, we all have one common denominator: a passion for motorcycles.

When the end of the day is upon us, we drop our tools, close our laptops and suit up for a group ride. It makes no difference to us if we’re riding around town, going off-roading or taking a vacation, whether Key West or British Columbia is the destination. Our work family is also our motorcycle family.
I must admit. All of us here at the shop are extremely fortunate to have an employer who is more like a good friend than a boss. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the biggest bike nut of the bunch.

A New Endeavour

My duties in the shop have me playing the fleet body man and painter. It was a nice treat for me when we had a BMW F650GS get torn up on one of our off-roading adventures (no, it wasn’t me). I decided to take a shot at doing the plastics repair myself. Everyone, including me, was quite impressed with the results. The rest as they say is history. Leith Coast Customs was born. The next thing I knew, I was painting bikes for everyone in the building.

Painting motorcycles has become one of my new passions (aside from riding them, of course). As soon as five o’clock rolls around, out come the bikes! I know that our mechanics and fabrication guys feel the same way. We really get a kick out of it all when it comes to repairs, upgrades and, as we call it in the shop, “adding unnecessary aftermarket parts.”

As for our motorcycle-obsessed employer. He’s on the verge of opening up a rental and adventure tours business. Hey, why not? We have the experience, the knowhow, and the facilities. It seems to be getting more and more popular each year, anyway.

New Riders Wanted

We are constantly striving to convert non-riders into full-blown, dedicated riders. We try to teach them everything we’ve learned. If we know of somebody who’s interested in learning, we’ll set up an “introduction to motorcycles” day in the parking lot on the weekend. Those people usually end up booking their motorcycle training course on the following Monday (we always encourage new people to take the MTO-approved courses).

Our enthusiasm for riding, repairing and experimenting with motorcycles has become the glue that keeps us together as friends, as a team and most importantly as a family.

We’ve gone as far as pulling over while our lead rider had gotten pinched for a speeding offence. The officer was waving the rest of the group off. “Not a chance! If you’re going to give him a ticket, we all get one,” we said. I often wonder if he still has cramps in his hand from writing all those tickets.
To this day, all the tickets are framed and hanging on our wall of fame at work, accompanied with a photo of us and one of Ontario’s finest on the roadside. They have a special place in our hearts.

As I write this, I cannot help but wonder how many other people have the same luxury that we enjoy. If you’re lucky enough to be one of these people, consider yourself truly blessed. That is an extremely rare thing to find in this world: the perfect balance of work, life and play.

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