Strange times. When we finished up last riding season no one could have predicted that the world would be in the clutches of a pandemic. But here we are in the middle of a new riding season with a new set of social norms. Now we meet up at our usual spots and physically distance. Some of us wear masks. All of us have noticed the somewhat reduced traffic. And for those of us going on Forest Service Roads (FSR) we have seen a LOT of other motorcyclists (and ATV riders). It has been an interesting summer so far.
NMBL and I have been doing a lot of day rides this season. We’re both on new bikes so we’re taking some time to get the feel for them while we also practice riding the FSR’s. But it’s not that we don’t want to go for week long tours. We do. We’re just seeing that there are a lot of communities with small populations and limited health care resources asking that people don’t stop. Keep on driving… or riding in our case. While we did do a 10 day trip a couple of weeks ago most of it was us staying with family. Only two days were spent camping.
We’ve made a new friend who is now a solid riding buddy, Jay. He’s also a shutter-bug (awesome photographer) so you’ll see a few of his pics here. We met him at the Squamish Starbucks (Squam-bucks) where bikers from around the Lower Mainland gather to chat, show off their rides, and fuel up before heading out for the rest of the day. Jay was planning to go along the Squamish River FSR as we were and since riding alone is not as fun as a group ride we all went together. A great day of riding has turned into many great day rides.
This year is the first time NMBL has ridden down any significant stretch of dirt road. We started off with short excursions with lots of stops. 7km up and back, 10km up and back, practicing standing on the pegs, how to distribute weight over the bike, stopping and discussing. Our first few rides (pre-Jay) were very tentative and taken on with the simple idea of safety in mind. When NMBL was feeling that she had had enough we turned around and went back out. After meeting Jay we did more FSR riding with longer stretches, all the while with NMBL building her confidence.
When we finally went on our trip we did do a dirt road ride in the North Okanagan. The Trinity Valley Road goes from Enderby to Lumby on the east side of Silver Star Mountain. It’s a great dirt road in spectacular shape as it’s graded regularly. About two thirds of the way along we stopped for some water and a snack. While we were standing at our bikes NMBL mentioned that if someone had told her three months ago that she’d be bombing down a dirt road at 60-70km/hr she’d have said they were nuts. It just goes to show what a bit of practice can do.
We’ve also had the pleasure of riding the Duffey Lake Road between Pemberton and Lillooet twice on our 10 day trip, once in each direction. Jay and I also did the full loop one Saturday, about a 10 hour day. If you haven’t ridden the Duffey it should be on your list. It’s one of the finest rides in North America through absolutely spectacular scenery. The road features tight switchbacks and a climb to about 1200m into subalpine forests. You can see the transition from coastal rain forest to semi-arid scrub and pine as you progress through the ride. Be prepared though… in June you can range from less than 10C to over 25C from the summit on down into Lillooet. Be ready for some serious weather changes.
As we prepare to do more rides we are always aware of how we’re impacting those around us during the Covid-19 pandemic. Things are uncertain. We don’t know how this is all going to fall out. So get out and enjoy your rides. And remember, in the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry: be calm, be kind, be safe.