Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crossing Canada. And getting the band back together

For those with breath bated, I made it from Vancouver to North Bay. It was a wonderful ride.

I left Kitsilano (sporting a moustache, no less) early on Friday morning, headed east through the Fraser Valley, and then up to Hope. I wanted the purest ride possible, so I took the Trans-Canada through the Fraser Canyon, rather than the faster highway to Kelowna. Soon it was a desert from a western movie, Cache Creek, and then temperatures high enough to make the air warm at speed. I would stop in Kamloops and then Salmon Arm, and would then ride in one hit to Banff. This confirmed both the range of the RT and the relative comfort. I spent Friday night in Calgary with my friend Eliana (but missed Davie!), and left early after a nice breakfast.

It was a long haul across eastern Alberta and across Saskatchewan. I ended the second day in Virden. But as long as the haul was, it wasn't boring and it was certainly beautiful. The Prairies are a wonder.

I was tired on the third day and slept in. This meant that I had to race to Thunder Bay to meet my Dad. Once again demonstrating what it really means to ride, he went from North Bay to Thunder Bay, some 1200 kms, and arrived in Thunder Bay in time to take a shower, watch the news, and call me an hour out of Thunder Bay wondering what was keeping me. We had great ribs for dinner, enjoyed cold beer, and then hit the sheets.

Day four was spent riding to Goulais River, north of the Soo. We stayed with my friend Jennifer and her great kids (but missed her husband and my great friend, Darren, who was out of town). A statement as true as the ride was long: the road along Lake Superior from Thunder Bay to Terrace Bay and then beyond is more stunning than the Cabot Trail and as much fun to ride.

We spent day five making the familiar ride across HW17 to North Bay, arriving in time for a nice dinner, and then another day with family and friends before leaving the bike and heading to Toronto for a conference. I've been without the BMW since then. All in all, it was a 4400 kms of great fun and constant reminders of what a great privilege it is to live in such an expansive and breathtaking country, to experience the small kindness of strangers, and to lay down each night a lucky man.

I am, for the time being, without a bike here in Vancouver. But fear not, for tomorrow I fly overnight to North Bay where I'll meet Sam, my Dad, and Trevor. We'll each mount our respective bikes and make the run to the top of James Bay and back (though Sam will turn around at KM381 to head to a wedding). It will, I am sure, be a ride a fair bit swifter than our first run up on the KLRs.

Finally, the only pictures from the trip, all taken by Michelle on departure.

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