Things got weird over these past couple years, there’s no questioning that. Borders have closed, travel has become restricted, living expenses have skyrocketed and, in a world that was on a fast-track to total connectedness through travel, things suddenly stopped. However, we persevered and travelled locally, finding new appreciation in the diverse landscape that our country offers. It reminded us that, even through local travel, the value and feelings we experience from a trip are still the same.
Having not gone on any big trips this year, I spent more time in the dirt, taking my 790 Adv R for short day trips, mostly on gravel. My most recent three-day trip was with Holly and Kyle, two good friends of mine. They purchased a Triumph Tiger 800XR and a Suzuki V-Strom 650 a few years back and have done a lot of touring since then. We decided we would leave Revelstoke, B.C., and meandered south through the wilderness on a web of logging roads and gravel roads until we hit Grand Forks.
As we hopped on the paved road to ride through Grand Forks, we were abruptly stopped by a cattle drive. As we rounded a corner, almost 100 cows were trotting toward us with no signs of slowing. We quickly pulled over and turned off the bikes to wait for the herd to pass. We were shocked to see cars trying to weave through the herd of cattle in hopes of getting in front of them and getting on with their drive.
As the last of the cattle passed us, one of the herders recommended we turn around and take a detour to get to Grand Forks, eloquently saying, “The road is crappy because of all the slippery cow shit.” After a good laugh and a nice detour, we rode through the small town and up to Paulson Pass to hop on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail that connects to Castlegar.
We rode the old trail slowly, climbing from the valley and cresting the side of the mountains and riding through blasted rock tunnels that for me
mimicked the entrance to Moria (for any Lord of The Rings fans). As we rode through the longest of the tunnels, we stopped and turned off our bikes, then nothing but a pinhole of light in the far distance could be seen. We were in total darkness; we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces, and the only way of knowing we were in the tunnel together was by the sounds of our disconnected voices. It was haunting and surreal.
It was easy to enjoy the relics of train stations and decrepit cabins that would’ve at one time housed railway personnel. We meandered along the rural trail into Castlegar. The next day we rode the twisties of the Kootenays and took in the brisk air and empty roads with open throttles. As we neared the ferry to get back to Revelstoke, we passed another motorcyclist that had slowed to take in the scenery. After we had passed, I noticed he had decided to join our group ride to the ferry — just one of the many incredibly unique moments that we motorcyclists often find ourselves in.
Once we had arrived at the ferry landing, we began conversing with the lone rider, a well-travelled veteran motorcyclist who spends his nice days touring by bike wherever he pleases. I recently read one of Costa Mouzouris’ old editorials from years back, aptly named “Two Degrees of Separation,” and it reminded me how small our community is, whether you’re on a bike or not. I’ve always said that if someone rides a motorcycle, I know I instantly have a connection with them. This was no different: we spent the ferry ride listening to the stories of his travels and telling him ours.
When I returned home, I felt the instant dread of getting off the bike in a familiar place. I love my home, but I felt so comfortable on the bike, and I wanted more. The feeling of being on a trip with your bike feeds the soul in a unique way that is hard to experience in any other form. Whether it’s a long or short trip, we’re able to let go of fear and anxiety and just ride, to observe towns and areas in a completely different sense than you would in a car: All senses on overdrive, fuelled by your wrist and imagination of where you could go.
In just three short days, my soul started singing the song I knew and loved so well. Our December world travel edition is my favourite issue to read and to get inspired by. I was reminded this summer that you don’t need to travel far to experience undeniable joy from a motorcycle trip — it’s all in your mindset.