I don’t think that any summer is complete without a road trip and this is especially true of riding. Any time spent riding is definitely time well spent; but if you can take advantage of an opportunity to spend two or three consecutive days riding…well, you’d be a fool not to.
Sometimes actually getting out of town is the hardest part. I had some boots ordered (the last bit of gear I needed) and they were scheduled to come in on Friday-the day of the trip-and I didn’t even know if they would fit properly. Of course, Murphy’s Law being what it is, I ended up having to stay late at the university, then there was an accident that turned my commute into a parking lot and so I was almost ninety minutes behind and I hadn’t even sat on my bike. I did manage to pick up my riding boots before the shop closed…they were a little snug, but that wouldn’t be a problem, would it? And when I got to our rendezvous I saw seven guys on their bikes waiting for me. Of course, I hated feeling like I was the guy holding everyone up; but, at last, we were all present and long since ready to ride.
For me, this trip was quintessentially MotoVida: eight guys on different kinds of bikes with the widest possible gaps in riding experience and perhaps even wider gaps in life experience between them. But, once we were riding those differences didn’t seem to matter very much. Although on second thought, maybe it’s those differences that really make the road worth riding. Nevertheless, being the late newbie, I was given a particular honor: The Vest.
Some groups have flags or mascots or iconic artifacts. We had a vest. I don’t know where Brent found this thing. Perhaps its mythical origins have been lost in the mists of time and are remembered only in dreams or by ghosts of riders past. Perhaps he just found it on the ground in the middle of a storage lot. At any rate, this genuine leather (or pleather?) vest is emblazoned with an eagle (of course) surrounded by yellow (not gold) lightning bolts and bordered by the immortal words: “FREEDOM RIDERS-HURRICANE, UTAH.“ Yes, this unique piece of attire adorns the back of any rider who does something…stupid. And I had the very great honor of christening it on our trip and was undoubtedly the envy of every other rider we saw that night.
Still, getting out of town remained the hardest part. Friday night Okanagan highway traffic in August is a bit tedious, and I must admit my heart sank a little when I imagined two more days of crawling through this kind of traffic like so much molasses in January; however, once we got off the highway things got better. A lot better. Brent took us on an enticing back road to Ososyoos where there were hardly any cars. Being a cautious sort of rider I found myself behind everyone else, which actually didn’t matter. No one was interested in racing, we were all too busy riding and in those moments all that really matters is the asphalt. The August evening had cooled off, all of my responsibilities were behind and the open road was in front. We all met up at crossroads and so we leapfrogged our way to Ososyoos. Not a bad way to start a weekend.
Every time I go riding I seem to come back full of magical moments, and this evening was no exception. I think some of Okanagan’s best-kept secrets are on that route. I lost count of the picture perfect houses, well-tended farms and orchards, and manicured lawns that were so far off the beaten path that most of the time only their owners, or wayward motorcyclists, could see them. The pride and care that went into their livelihood and, by extension, their lives, was obvious and inspiring.
I think my favorite bit was riding into Osoyoos. The sun was setting and the stars were just starting to bloom in the violet sky while in the west over the low hills, full and bright and warm, the moon rose. I didn’t know they made full moons that big. What else could we do but follow the silver trail into Osoyoos where the moon’s magical light led us to the pub and cold beer.
We were a strange group on the road as well as in the pub I think. As mismatched as our bikes and the uneven chairs we were sitting on; but that is one of things that makes life on two wheels beautiful. After all, the pub food was…food (probably), the entertainment was…entertaining (I think he deserved the vest by the end of the night), the floor may have been sticky and the men’s room was assuredly not flip-flop friendly, but there is nowhere else I would have rather been.
Few things are better than finding yourself full of laughter while in the company of good people with the sole responsibility of riding ahead of you. Not a bad way to start a weekend.