I recently attended a women's motorcycle event where the organizer, Sue Bossley of Adventure Pacific Motorcycle Tours and Events asked if I would do a short presentation about solo motorcycle touring. It was hard to keep it short because you know how I DO love to talk! I made a bunch of notes in preparation, but if I had said all that, they would have been listening to me all day, so I thought maybe I would just add them to my blog for future reference.
Here is my advice, tips and general blathering about long-distance solo motorcycle trips:
In the words of my beloved sister “Be amazing! Oops…..too late!
Love and safe riding!
Nothing annoys me more than someone saying “When you plan that much you are missing the whole point of being a rider!” No, you’re not missing the point at all. Riding is about freedom and individuality and enjoying yourself. Your style of riding and road-tripping is about YOU and your comfort level. No one else’s. Full stop. So if planning your journey gives you the level of comfort needed to enjoy the ride - bring it on!
Thinking About It:
Prepare yourself for adversity. Remember that the negativity comes from a place of care. Don’t be discouraged!
What if ALL of those things happen and you have to stop your trip or delay your next destination or end up in the middle of nowhere?! Well, you don’t have hero stories without adversity!
Consider the duration and location of your adventure. Adjust your packing list to the route and destination.
I would add to that list:
What a fabulous weekend! We took Friday off to use a certificate for a weekend at Ruby Lake Resort that I “won” in a silent auction fundraiser for Pacific Wild.
Since we had taken the day off, we also chose to do a long-coveted tour of swiwelàt (Princess Louisa Inlet). This is a conservation area where fjord meets ocean and is a stunning example of west coast nature and beauty. It is only accessible by boat or plane. Beautiful Chatterbox Falls tumbles dramatically over a huge rock face, dwarfed by the massive mountains surrounding it. We took the boat tour in with Sunshine Coast Tours. Our tour guide, Cliff, provided insight and stories, pulling in here and there to show us waterfalls, pictographs and industry along the fjords leading up to and into swiwelàt. There are many mountains and cliffs along the Jervis Inlet, historically used for indigenous rites of passage. Industry brought logging to the area and heli-logging still operates in permitted areas. I can highly recommend this tour! I also highly recommend that someone save the gorgeous little Yamaha motorbike wasting away at the Back Eddy Marina. Such a shame!
Another highlight of the day was meeting Maureen, Frank, Mark and Vivian. Maureen and Frank were visiting from Ireland and we got to chatting on the boat ride. We talked about how we would love to visit Ireland again and they would like to come back as their son Mark is now living in Vancouver. Getting off the boat at Chatterbox Falls and moseying up the trail, I said “We should house swap with them!” I mentioned it when we saw them again and Maureen said she had been thinking the very same thing! So we swapped deets with the promise to keep in touch. One thing led to another and before the end of the weekend, a deal had been struck for the summer of 2024!
The next event of the day was to check in at Ruby Lake Resort. My certificate was for a 2-night stay, 3-course dinner for 2 and paddle board or kayak rental. The property has a nature preserve and fun displays of quirky woodwork and art all over the place! We checked into our safari tent, which certainly qualified as “glamping” and relaxed a bit on it’s deck (yes, that’s right – a deck with our tent…) before going for dinner at the Grasshopper Pub. The Grasshopper always has good food and a view to die for.
Saturday dawned cool with the threat of rain, so we decided instead of paddleboards and kayaks, we would go do the hike to Skookumchuck Narrows for the ebb tide. This is another special spectacle of the area where the tide changes create incredible turbulence. The water comes through as fast as 17 knots when it is rampaging through, creating whirlpools on the ebb tide and standing waves on the flood tide. Kayakers who need their heads examined wait for these tides to ride the waves during the flood tide. The hike is about 8 kms round trip and relatively easy, though my out-of-shapeness found it quite enough, thank you!
After our hike, we toodled around the Madeira Park area before heading back to the resort for our dinner at La Trattoria Italiana. WOW! What a meal! Our appetizer of house made olive and tomato focaccia and insalata bocconcini was followed by the west coast special of snapper and black cod with seasonal veggies. As if that weren’t enough, we were forced to have desserts of mango ice cream and tiramisu. And then climb the hill back to our tent! Oof.
Despite the swank tent digs and showers at Rider’s Retreat and Ruby Lake Resort, and the fun I had a both, I have to admit I am still a hotel kinda girl. I’d probably book at cottage with the bathroom inside instead of up the road next time. 😊
All in all, it was a lovely little weekend getaway that made me think it might be time for a genuine holiday soon.
My plans to get away early to day were thwarted by a client calling half an hour before I left. Back in June-ish, they had booked some time. Between the two of us, we screwed it up because I didn’t block the time in my calendar as I normally do, and they didn’t send the invite as they normally do. Knowing the rest of my week is booked solid, I said we should just do it this morning as originally planned. So we did.
So Fury and I hit the road at 10:00 a.m. instead of 8:00 a.m. and were once again riding in the peak heat of the day. Still, we rode peaceably through the Similkameen where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a winery and saw some very pretty scenery. I’m coming to the conclusion that whoever engineered BC roads must have been a rider, because Highway 3 is yet another curvy temptation with stunning scenery. There was a bit of smoke in the air from the Keremeos fire, accentuated today by the fire fighters’ efforts to build a solid break to protect the Olalla Municipality. I was soon clear of it though and the rest of the ride was smokeless. Thank you, fire fighters everywhere, for the incredibly hard work you do in beastly conditions to protect our communities.
I’d headed out without breakfast, so by the time I hit Princeton, I fed Fury and then myself. My breakfast was at Billy’s Family Restaurant where I had the omelette of the day with hashbrowns and toast and coffee. I scarfed it down like my belly was rubbing on my backbone (it is demonstrably NOT doing so) and felt refreshed. I can genuinely recommend Billy’s. 😊 It was already very hot, so I dunked my t-shirt in the sink at the restaurant to get the cooling effect through my mesh jacket.
By the time I hit Manning Park, my shirt was completely dry and the temperature had once again risen to well over 30. So I pulled into the rest stop, switched my riding jeans for the mesh riding pants and dumped a full bottle of water over my head, startling the people in the car beside me and making them laugh. Opening the vents up on my helmet provided a nice little airflow over my head and the wet shirt continued to provide some AC. This was effective for another half an hour where I repeated the process in Hope. I stopped at the Hope Slide site, which I have never done in all the years of living in BC and riding that road. It’s not as impressive as the Frank Slide which buried a town, but it is still an outstanding display of nature’s power. While I was there, I had a nice chat with a gentleman from Ontario who has been on a riding trip in Canada for about a month now.
Carrying on to Chilliwack, hair and shirt dry once again, I pulled in to top up for gas and dumped another bottle of water over my head. Note that the practice of regularly dumping water over your head and shoving your helmet back on does not make for fabulous hairstyles...
Hwy 1 traffic was getting a little ridiculous, so I set google maps to “avoid motorways” and dawdled the slow but charming back roads of Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey and finally Tsawwassen to my final stop at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn where my client booked me for the two days of training. My digs are pretty swank! I don’t think I ever shed my clothes faster…..after I got into my room. Apparently it’s frowned upon to do it in the lobby….. Jumped in a cool shower and heaved a sigh of relief. My poor hair is loving the nice Bee Kind shampoo and conditioner here after days of helmet hair and cheap shampoo from the budget places I’m usually in. The Coast Tsawwassen has a guest laundry, which I sorely needed, so dumped out my bag to do it after dinner. Brown’s Social House is connected to the hotel and happens to be one of my favourite places, so I popped over there for dinner and then came back to find the laundry room all mine. My room has a wee balcony off it that faces the sunset and I spend some time rejuvenating my soul and smiling over my little bag of talismans. I am prepped to deliver tomorrow’s training and ready to hit the hay!
Thanks for sharing this latest little journey with me. Be well!
You know you’re tired when you try to use your credit card to open the hotel door instead of the pass key and it takes a moment to process why it didn’t work. I feel like I danced too much and yelled too much into the karaoke mic and rode too long in the 34 degree heat today.
Because I didn’t get my blog posted this morning, today you get two days worth of nonsense and shenanigans.
It was surprisingly chilly overnight in our tents, but if you didn’t have to get up for a wee, it was warm enough once snuggled into my blankets. Breakfast was scheduled from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. yesterday, followed by a group ride in the area. With my earplugs in, I slept like a stone and my get up and go got up and went. Woke up just in time to grab some breakfast before it was cleared away, then took my time having a coffee and washing up.
Heading out well after the main group of riders, I took Hwy 6 to 31A and on to Kaslo. There is a reason this road is worshipped by riders. Good pavement, endless curves, low traffic (except for bikes) and some of the loveliest scenery in Canada. And I should know because I have seen a very great deal of Canada.
Fury and I made the most of having the road largely to ourselves and we made our way to Kaslo where we took a break. As expected, some others attending the event were there and we all had lunch. I am doing my best to remember names, at least for this weekend. I’m likely to forget when I don’t see everyone for a long time again, but so far, doing ok. Kaslo’s Saturday market was on so I wandered through that and got my picture of the war memorial. Heading back, I took the little detour to New Denver to visit the Nikkei Memorial for the Japanese that were interned there during the second world war. Another sad chapter in Canada’s history. Many who were interned were born here. Properties stripped and never given back. Apology and recompense far too long in its delivery, with many never being compensated for their loss. Even while their own family members were fighting in the same war.
Silverton is only a few more kilometers down the road, so I headed over there and stopped at the historical sites of old equipment, buildings and stories of the development of the silver-lead deposits in the Slocan valley.
A forest fire is burning high in the mountains near Kaslo, which is always a scary sight. It’s not too bad and hopefully it will stay that way. Anyone who has lived in the interior of BC has learned that there is no such thing as a “minor” forest fire.
Took 31A back and there was hardly any traffic to be seen, so Fury and I cruised along, sweeping through the curves with glee. It must be a perfect riding day because I was the first to arrive back at Rider’s Retreat. There was time to relax before an excellent dinner and evening of making new friends, laughing, singing karaoke and the inevitable dancing, of which I am overly fond.
Despite there being many in her circle who have done more adventurous things,(including the group of women that travelled all the way from the UK to be here), Sue offered me the honour of doing a presentation about solo motorcycle touring. Her thoughts were to communicate the inspiration for my journey through Canada, tips for packing and managing the mental game to keep going. I thought about a lot of things and landed on making a few bullet point reminders and just telling the story. I tossed in some of the things I had learned and some of the funny stories that didn’t make the blog. Everyone very obligingly laughed at my jokes, some tears were shed for losing my Tracey, and many said they felt inspired. I am humbled to have had any effect on this marvelous group of women and grateful for the opportunity to share. I never once got the feeling they were just listening to me because I was followed by door prizes! 😊
We didn’t waste any time getting down to karaoke and dancing ourselves silly. A good deal of laughing and telling of stories went on. I have two new talismans added to my Tracey pouch. Evelyn gave me a pin that commemorates this wee Scottish/Canadian adventure and Janet gave me a little fairy to watch over me. Janet is involved with the Isle of Man TT which starts(?) at Fairy Bridge on the Isle of Man. It is unlucky not to greet the fairies, so I have my own little fairy which offers me their protection when I travel. As I said during my little talk, people will be kind if you let them, and people will love if you let them. The energy and camaraderie of 54 people, many of whom knew nothing of each other the day before, was indeed heartwarming.
I woke at a reasonable hour today and breakfast was already being served. Washing up was a quick job and there was some last minute visiting and well-wishing done as people gradually suited up to return home. I packed up Night Fury for today’s ride to Osoyoos and we were on the road around 9:30 a.m. Between Nakusp and Castlegar was a dream – virtually no traffic. The fabled roads of the Kootenays continued to deliver with curves winding through mountains and lakes, eventually giving way to the ranchland of the communities along Hwy 3. Temperatures rose swiftly once out of the mountains and the last 2.5 hours of the trip were like riding through a blast furnace. I was so focussed on the ride that I didn't notice I'd been stung by a bee through my right hand glove! We took lots of breaks and though the trip is only a total of about 4.5 hours, the exhaustion of the day settled as I parked Night Fury. My muscles stood up and took notice of last night's shenanigans and I stumbled up the hotel stairs to dump my gear in the room and step into a cool shower before going in search of food.
This rambling story is the last of today’s tasks before closing my eyes in hopes of getting an earlier start tomorrow. A couple of days of training to deliver in Vancouver this week before finally heading for home.
Ride safely, my friends, as you go in search of your adventures!
Arrived in Nakusp mid-afternoon after a brief break for banana bread and coffee at the Cherryville Roadhouse. Banana bread was awesome! It had pecans (because raisins don’t belong in anything). While there, I met Pam and her friends who were also heading to Nakusp for the Throttle West event this weekend. Highway 6 from Vernon to the Needles ferry in Farquier is another treat and lucky for me, all the traffic was headed in the other direction! So Fury and I sailed along, leaning into the curves and feeling a peace with the world. The scenery along that highway is also pretty special, ranging from ranchland to mountains to lakes.
I just missed the ferry, which gave me time to take some photos there. The Needles ferry is a short back-and-forth cable ferry across the arrow lakes and connects the Okanagan to the Kootenays via Hwy 6. It’s a very interesting and scenic ride. Hwy 6 continues to deliver on the Nakusp side and the short ride to Rider’s Retreat was a pleasure.
Riders’s Retreat is the brainchild of Rebecca, who used to work for the Leland Hotel in Nakusp. She was routinely being a good Samaritan by letting riders camp in her yard and home when they would arrive in Nakusp to find no hotel availability. Eventually, she created Rider’s Retreat – a motorcycle campground with everything you could want. Tents already set up with cushy air mattresses in them. An onsite toilet and shower, motorcycle only parking, cookshack, gazebo for hanging out, and plenty of shade. One could hardly ask for more and I’m a hardened non-camper! Add to that the friendly greeting and camaraderie and she’s got a winner.
Throttle West is an event created and organized by Sue Bossley of Adventure Pacific Motorcycle Tours and Events. I’m preparing this story in anticipation of another potential 70 riders arriving in the next while. Over the weekend, we are looking forward to supper this evening, a band, door prizes over the weekend, a group ride, karaoke, and general shenanigans!
Well, it’s been some time since Night Fury and I have been on the road in any serious way. We left home on Monday, July 25th, headed for Kelowna. Saphi and Scamp are also along for the adventure, and of course, Tracey's crystal and other talismans accompany us as well. We got away late, which wasn’t a bad thing as it split the trip into 2 days and I’m out of shape for road-tripping. This also meant I had time for the most scenic route.
The ride from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton was lovely with little traffic. It was 37 degrees by the time I arrived in Pemberton, so it was time to stop for a break and fill up with gas. The road between Pemberton and Lillooet is a rider’s dream with never ending curves and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately for the first third of it, Fury and I got stuck behind a camper van that had never seen a curve before in its life and we plodded along at 30 for far too long. Eventually hit a stretch and got by the van, leaving the rest of the piled up cars to deal with it as they might. Now being able to seriously stretch our legs, Fury and I carved our way through those curves and revelled in them. The temperature shifts through the mountains were remarkable and often welcome, dropping 15 degrees in some areas and giving us a break from the oppressive heat.
Arriving in Lillooet around 7, with the heat climbing to 38, it was time for another break. Took a good long one, having a snack and lots of water. Met Mervyn and Tracy and their friends from Manitoba that had done a big trip out to the coast and were on their way back. We had a great little chat and it was so fun to meet people out on the road again. I was so busy enjoying their company that I forgot to take a picture! This little encounter refreshed me and Fury and I continued on to Cache Creek where we would stop for the night. What a dream to be travelling the road between Lillooet and Cache Creek with practically zero traffic. More curves and good pavement, though we kept our speed down with it now being peak deer time.
Left Cache Creek early the next morning. In true Alyson style, I took the wrong road leaving town and instead of it being 71 kms to Kamloops, it was 171. A better mistake was never made, though. Again, stunning scenery, sweeping curves and almost zero traffic! By the time we hit Kamloops, the temperatures were again climbing swiftly and Fury was humming along like she does, so we topped up with gas and kept riding. Got stopped at Salmon Arm with construction and sweltered in the line for awhile before we could scoot off down the side roads and take the back road into Vernon. Then on to Kelowna, arriving too early to check into the hotel. This meant I could stop at Kelowna Powersports and see about getting Fury’s left signal light fixed. Struck gold in that they had time to look at it and could get me in to have it fixed while I was still in town! So I left Fury there and my friend came and took me to the hotel where I waited in the blissfully cool lobby for check-in.
I had planned to deliver my training days in Kelowna and Penticton and then do a big ride over the long weekend up through Valemount, Tumbler Ridge, Grand Prairie, Icefields and back down to Nakusp. That plan was swiftly revised with temperatures of 38-40 degrees in the various areas and my realization that I can’t do 600 kms a day right now. So I hung out with my friends Blair and Mary for 3 days and got spoiled rotten. Fed 3 times a day, dips in their pool, toured around town in an air conditioned vehicle, my own bedroom in their air conditioned house. Being too hot to do much outside, we went for a bit of a walk and then toured fancy homes in the area. I even got to dip my toe in a pool that wasn't built yet. :)
Not wanting to wear out my welcome, I moved on to Jason and Yuki’s on Sunday and stayed 2 nights with them. Spoiled rotten again! Food and touring and cherries and peaches. Jason introduced me to wine slushies....sooo good....and I don't even like wine. It will take some time to adjust back to plebian life. I also felt validated that I'm not a complete reprobate because ALL of the pets liked me - even Jason and Yuki's ragdoll cat who is afraid of everyone came out and let me love him up.
The plan was then to go to Nakusp on Tuesday where I would have some meetings with clients and deliver more training before my motorcycle event this weekend. Between Vernon and the Farquier ferry, I stopped for a break and went to look up my hotel reservation confirmation. Didn’t have one. Called the hotel – no reservation. Not sure who screwed up. Probably me as I was juggling a number of balls before I left home. Other hotels were outrageous, and availability was poor, so I searched around and found a reasonable at the Bulldog Hotel in Silver Star. So I re-scheduled with my clients for the on-site meetings and Fury and I turned around to head back. The road from Vernon to Silver Star is short, but lovely and the temperatures have settled down to something civilized. I can recommend the Bulldog Hotel. Spacious room, bed is amazing, lots of pillows (which is close to my heart), great shower, friendly people. It is off-season here, of course, with skiing giving way to mountain biking, so it is reasonably quiet. I was able to catch up with my longtime friend Rodger who is at least partially responsible for my motorbike addiction. Blair and Jason can take some responsibility for that as well.
This morning Fury and I hit the road again. Temperatures are so civilized (9 degrees) in Silver Star, that we have waited a bit before heading out as my mesh gear isn't quite up to temps quite that cool. We are headed for Nakusp where we will join a bunch of other fabulous individuals for the Throttle West Moto Campout event this weekend at Rider’s Retreat. Yes, I’m camping. Sort of. You’ll see when I get there. 😊
Enjoy the few pictures I have indulged in over the last week. Not as many as usual as I have just been enjoying the ride and letting my mind rest. Have a great weekend everyone!
Hi. My name is Alyson. In 2018, I started this blog as I completed a 27,000 km motorcycle trip through every province and territory of Canada.