As a 15 year old kid growing up in Victoria B.C. my cousin Randy would take me out for rides on the back of his 1970 Honda CB750. It was so much fun! Every time he scraped the foot pegs going around corners the smile on my face would grow. Falling in love with motorcycling and with Honda just couldn’t have been easier. I’d be phoning Randy all the time to go for a ride. I had the motorcycling bug and just couldn’t get enough, so before I even had a driving licence I decided that someday I’d own a Honda CB750, just like my cousin Randy!
After graduating from high school in 1973 my first job was working in the cafeteria on the BC Ferry run between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. By July I had saved enough money to get my first motorcycle. Other than a very few times riding on a dirt bike I had never really driven a motorcycle on the street before so my first Honda was a gold coloured 1973 CB175. Now most of my life lessons have been learned the hard way and motorcycling was no exception. I drove the heck out of my 175 and crashed … more than once. Each time being very glad I was starting on a small motorcycle.
In the fall of 1973 I was on call with the BC Ferry job and wasn’t getting much work. Paying the bills was getting tougher to do so I went to Ucluelet looking for work as my best friend Harold had a place for me to stay. The Ucluelet opportunities were limited to either fishing or logging. Fishing was slow and I ended up with a job working for Millstream Timber and became a logger. As a city boy it took a long time to get into the swing of logging, but the money was good and quitting just isn’t in my nature. In May of 1974 I bought my brand new CB750 from Jack Francks at Coquitlam Honda. My cousin Randy grew up in Port Moody and one of his best friends, Linn, was Jack’s mechanic so that’s where Randy bought his motorcycles. It was only natural that Jack would be my guy and that I should get a pretty good “family” priced deal.
And that’s how it all started for me. After almost getting killed in a logging accident in Woss in 1975, I applied to BCIT to get into Forestry. Logging was a good business, but I preferred a job that was a little safer and thought a diploma might help. They accepted me to start in September 1975 so what did I do? Of course I went for another ride. This time I circumnavigated North America on my 750. I left in early July and went down the west coast to San Diego, crossed the southern states with stops in New Orleans, Houston, and Vicksburg just to name a few. Eventually we (the bike & I) made it to Key West, Florida and the southern most tip of the USA before heading north towards PEI in Canada. This adventure was a real eye opener for this 19 year old city kid that hadn’t been anywhere before. I’ll never forget leaving Ontario and doing a rough calculation of the cost to drive back home. I barely had enough money to pay for the gas it would take to get back and nothing else. Driving none stop until it was impossible to go any further I ended up sleeping under a freeway overpass in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After 6 hours sleep I carried on. “Me bad” and along the way there was the “dine and dash” episode and a bit of “free” oil along the way, but I did get back to my aunt’s house in Port Moody safely after another night of none stop driving. That total trip was seven weeks, 14000 miles and all for only $700.
I was now a “biker” through and through and in 3.5 years we covered 75000 miles together. Somewhere along the way I named the bike “Mr. Earl” after hearing the song called Speedo. Going fast was fun for me and adrenaline is my favourite natural drug so at the time it was a fitting name for my motorcycle. I started scuba diving in the fall of 1977 and needed a way to carry the air tanks around and bought my first car. The timing of the car was good as my new job took me far enough North that it snowed every winter and the roads were a nightmare for motorcycles.
While living in Vancouver and attending BCIT we used to meet every Sunday morning for breakfast and then go for a motorcycle ride somewhere for lunch. Back in those days the USA border crossing was painless and we quite often went south, would have a nice lunch somewhere and then cruise back to Vancouver. This group ended up as a club called the BC Road Riders (BCRR) which in 1976 was approached by the Southern California Motorcycling Association (SCMA) to co-sponsor a new rally that went from Mexico to Canada on motorcycles. This rally was called the Three Flags Classic and ran on the Labour Day long weekend. Being still in college in 1976 I didn’t have the money for such a rally and did not attend. For its first four years the Three Flags went from Tijuana, Mexico to Vancouver, BC. The new job in 1977 only gave me one week of vacation that year and I had to pass again. The next couple of years involved buying a home, competing in logger’s sports shows and getting set up for marriage and a family but in 1980 the perfect opportunity came. In 1980 The Three Flags Classic was going south for the first time and my wife, Joanne, and I got married on Valentine’s day that year so the plan was to participate in our first Three Flags and have our honeymoon at the same time while only needing to burn one week of vacation time. In those days the rally always started late on the Friday night, therefore I could work Thursday, cruise to Vancouver during the day Friday, do the rally and then come home from Ensenada during the following week. It was an incredible experience and we made some great friends on that trip. Three hundred bikers all getting together to start the rally, traveling on the same roads for close to 1800 miles over a four day weekend ride and then all getting together again for a big banquet at the end is one of the things I have come to really enjoy. So much fun in fact that I’ve ridden every single Three Flags Classic since then! You can say what you want about “THE RIDE” and true bikers really do love to ride but whether it’s a day, week, month or years, if you don’t get an opportunity to sit with friends and share the adventures you’re only half way there. And as a side note, Joanne has not done any more rallies since our “honeymoon” but she loves me and knows how much I love to ride so there’s not too much of a fuss when I leave every year.
Work work work, and more work. Plugging along week in and week out, looking forward to my annual Three Flags vacation and two weeks on the road. One week before and one week after Three Flags. As my time into the job grew, so did my vacation time and because I was “management” the vacations were always paid time off. This allowed me to get in a few more rides along the way. As a kid in school I first heard about the autobahns in Germany where you could drive as fast as you wanted without getting a ticket. As time went on I heard about this rally called the Iron Butt. You only had to drive 11000 miles in eleven days! This had great appeal to me but I knew it would take a bunch of time and money, which I couldn’t do while keeping my Three Flags trips going. There were some other rides that I did get to do along the way. The Utah 1088 and the California 24 hour rallies a couple of times, as well as “Bite the Bullet” in 1993 and the Alberta 2000 twice. And I can’t forget going to the Hyderseek Rendezvous in Hyder, Alaska in 2006. This was where many of the long distance riders would come to Hyder, “just for the halibut” on the 3rd or 4thweekend in May. This was also where I first met Ron Ayres, sponsor of the Rendezvous, and got my first chance to talk to riders actually finishing the Iron Butt Association’s “48 States Plus” ride. To be a successful finisher you have to get acceptable documentation from all 49 states in ten days! To myself I thought, if they can do it so can I, so I started planning to do it myself the following year. The “48 States Plus” certificate is now hanging on my office wall at home. In 8 days and 14.5 hours I covered 8811 miles and without a ticket or an incident.
It’s now been forty years of riding motorcycles and can’t see myself ever get tired of it! Especially when it’s a road I’ve never ridden before with lots of corners and virtually no other traffic. Along the way I’ve owned many Hondas but did switch to Yamaha in 2005 when I bought my first FJR. In 2008 I got my second FJR after a small “mishap” in Minnesota with the first one.
Now all along the way of work work working I had a plan. The plan was to retire as soon as possible and ride as much as possible before this life is over. As they say “Life is too short to wait to live” and I believe that with all my heart. As far as I’m concerned, when I die it’s over, finished, compost, period! But while I’m here and able to do it I’d like to ride as much as I possibly can.
I’d never been to Europe before so my son, George, and I did an Ayres Adventure motorcycle tour from Munich, Germany to Trondheim, Norway in June 2011. This was so much fun! George and I rode BMW’s for the first time and I got the autobahn experience I’d always wanted. Now that’s off my bucket list. The next big trip for me was right after retiring. Thirty-five years was enough of work and at only 57 years old I thought I’d get in a few MORE RIDES while I was still healthy enough to enjoy them. In November 2012 I was off to South America for T.J. Watt Kids Jersey the whole month, this time without George, but on another Ayres Adventure tour for the first two weeks. The feature was going to Machu Picchu in Peru which is something I’ve always wanted to see first hand. After finishing up the tour in Chile I was able to rent the motorcycle for two more weeks and I headed over the mountains into Argentina. I met so many bikers while traveling by myself and they were all very wonderful, friendly people.
One thing is for sure, motorcyclists have always been some of the friendliest people that I’ve ever met and I’ve met many hundreds of them. We talk the same language and have the greatest stories. No matter where you meet them there is a special connection. Very similar to T.J. Watt Jersey family, in so many ways, which is probably why I love almost all of them.
So now that I’ve said all of that, over the remainder of my life, or for as long as I can, (whichever comes first) I’m going to ride as much as I am able and while doing so will try to add stories and pictures as I go. Some will be new and some will be old as I get caught up. Hopefully you’ll enjoy something in here, but if not ……