Heat, weather, traffic and construction are just a few things to consider when planning a motorcycle trip.
In summer 2021, the residents of Western Canada experienced the “heat dome,” a cone of extreme hot weather that blanketed most of B.C., Alberta, and parts of Saskatchewan over a few weeks in July. My husband and I didn’t passively suffer through the heat by staying indoors and hydrating; we took a weeklong motorcycle riding trip through some of the hottest parts of the B.C. Interior and the Alberta Rockies. We had fun and enjoyed every moment. When our concerned family and friends called or texted us, worrying about our well-being and questioning our sanity, our response was that the proof is in the planning.
We did not plan to ride during the heat dome. The trip was conceived earlier in the spring, with the expectation that the first week of July would be decent riding weather. With the Canada-U.S. border closed for recreational travel, the obvious choice was to stay local, to revisit some well-travelled roads and discover new ones in our own backyard. Since we wanted a leisurely ride, to enjoy the scenery and partake in other activities like sitting by a lake or having a cold beverage on a patio, we planned for average daily riding distances around 400 km or less. This plan provided time to sleep in, consume copious amounts of coffee in the mornings, spend the rest of the day riding and arrive at our destination in time for pre-dinner drinks.
On the day of our departure, the mid-day temperature in the B.C. interior was 40-plus C and was expected to climb higher over the following week. We have ridden in extremely high temperatures before and were well aware of the dangers of riding in heat: the fatigue, plus the overall discomfort that makes you miserable regardless of how much water you drink or cooling gear you wear.
The Need to be Flexible
The thought of cancelling the trip crossed our minds; however, with vacation leave pre-approved, hotels booked and both of us feeling the need to get away on two wheels, our desire to ride prevailed. To make our ride tolerable, we had to modify our plan and shift our riding times. This meant no sleeping in, no long breakfast, and no activities in the middle of the day. Our riding had to start at 7 a.m. or earlier to ensure that we were in an air-conditioned hotel or with a cold beverage by the pool by 2 p.m.
This shift was easy to make, as our planned distances were under 400 km a day, our hotels were lined up, and…