One Thousand Reasons To Ride

I've owned a Ducati Sport Classic GT 1000 since 2008. It's been a cafe cruiser, it's been to California and back. It's a bike that always attracts compliments and is a joy to ride.

I wanted to capture a few details of the bike without it being washed and shiny. The bike is ridden, it gets grubby. It's how it's supposed to be. Come what may, the Ducati always gives me one thousand reasons to ride.

Nice ride, shame about the hot pants

It’s really about how we choose to react.

A couple of Sundays ago the sun was shining. It was a beautiful, late summer day. The kind of day two-wheel enthusiasts lap up, and, being one of those two-wheel types (self-propelled or motorized) I decided that being out on my Ducati would be a great way for to relax. However, I didn’t get the ride I expected.

Rather than settle for a local coffee shop ride I thought I’d go for lunch in Port Townsend, Washington, a 340 Km return trip. As the forecast was good I didn’t pack rain gear, however, I did add a fleece, a lower base layer and warmer gloves as I wasn’t sure what time I’d be returning. It was a good decision.

Port Townsend lies on the north-eastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula and I’d previously visited this gorgeous artsy community a couple of years ago. Rather than ride down past Seattle and back up the peninsula, I could head to Whidbey Island and take a short ferry to my destination. The ride was everything I hoped for, light traffic and effortless cruising. I arrived in Port Townsend and headed to the wonderful Better Living Through Coffee, a local, organic, fair trade coffee-house. Highly recommended.

This is where my self-coaching began.

Feeling rather at one with myself I headed back to the Ducati. Horror. When removing the ignition key I’d not noticed that I’d taken the lock to the rear parking light position. The lamp was glowing dimly. My old battery was likely too flat to start the bike, and that was the case; not even a click or whir. I was south of the border at 4pm with a non-starter of a Ducati.

First learning. Forward planning. Although I can be more of a ‘spur of the moment’ person, a little forward planning certainly helps. I had BCAA membership and within an hour was back on the road. How many times have you been too spontaneous and been tripped up?

Second learning. Don’t ignore the obvious signs. I knew my battery was old and the bike had failed to start a few weeks prior. The battery needed replacing and I didn’t do it. How often do you ignore clear warning signs and continue without considering the consequences of your actions?

Third and most significant learning. I couldn’t take the Port Townsend to Whidbey Island ferry back as the battery needed to be charged enough to start the bike again, and that meant riding for around thirty minutes. I had to head south and think about rounding the Puget Sound, coming back through via Tacoma. As I hit the road I considered my state of mind and realised that even though I couldn’t change the circumstances I found myself in, I could choose how to react. My choices were feeling hard done by, being a victim or rising to the challenge and enjoying the ride. I chose the latter. My head cleared and I planned on the fly, taking the Bainbridge ferry to Seattle and reducing my ride time significantly. When faced with difficult circumstances, you can still choose how to react and your choice will shape your response.

Rather than being relaxing my ride turned in to more of a challenge, even more so when I ended up with overflowing petrol drenching my lap whilst refuelling. Leaping off the bike hoping the fuel wasn’t running down a very hot engine and realizing that, well, let’s say that my ‘lap’ area was stinging, one of those moments that, being a Brit, I could only laugh at. I must have looked very odd waddling back to the bike after I’d washed down and stuffed copious amounts of toilet roll between me and the base layer as well as the base layer and my jeans. Quite the posing pouch!

I finally arrived home some thirteen hours after leaving, having ridden around 550Km. Despite everything, I enjoyed the ride, and I learned a little more about me. Never too old to learn.

How have you risen to the challenge and enjoyed the ride that is life?

Lillooet overnighter. Day 2

A pleasantly firm bed, but a disturbed sleep. The joys of motel life.

Day two was to be a less arduous ride,about 100 Km less than day one. I was heading to Pemberton. When i set out I had no idea that the next 80 Km would be the best of the ride; pleasant surprise! The bends tightened and became more frequent. The road demanded more of the rider and on a bike, that means more fun. The flip side of the fun is needing to focus on the road far more which means taking in the amazing views became harder. The balance was to stop a few times to simply marvel at what I was journeying through. I can certainly see why this road gets bikers excited.

The decent in to Pemberton was slowed down by road works and following a tractor-trailer down steep inclines. The burning brake smell was not the fresh air I’d become accustomed to, and was another reminder of how a rider is so immersed in the journey.

A caffeine and calorie break in Pemberton and then on through Whistler to the final pit stop in Squamish.

I was now in familiar territory and as stunning as the ‘Sea to Sky’ from Squamish to Horseshow Bay is, I could feel myself switching out of scenery mode. Vancouver appeared and the traffic that had slowly been building up on the journey home became nose-to-tail. A short 280 Km ride. Welcome home.

The Duati had once again performed flawlessly and drawn the usual complementary comments. The bike is a GT, a Gran Turismo. Despite being physically compact, the Ducati makes for a great one person distance tourer. I’m almost certain that sport tourers and cruisers are more comfortable for really long days in the saddle, however, the GT1000 has, for me, an unbeatable combination of tourability and being drop dead gorgeous.

Road trip reflections. Once the engine goes silent and the helmet is removed, post road trip melancholy sets in. Although this was only a brief overnighter, I’d ridden through some phenomenal scenery, enjoyed the open road, the twisty road and had been at a standstill in heavy traffic. It seems to me that a road trip has all the elements that life brings. The point for me is that I can enjoy the open road, rise to the challenge and despite getting stuck and frustrated from time to time, keep going until I reach my destination. Life is a journey. Life is a road trip.


Lillooet overnighter

Although I’m a late developer when it comes to biking, being in the Pacific Northwest certainly helps to make up for missed years of road tripping.

I’ve struggled to get myself in to a road trip high for this short overnighter around to Lillooet loop. Maybe in the murky recesses of my wanderlust mind, an overnighter just isn’t a road trip. I’m only riding about 650 Km and not even leaving BC. Surely that’s just a day trip. Having said that, I do need reminding from time to time that BC is around eight times larger than England and there’s plenty of scope for far more adventurous rides than this. So, an extended day trip it may be, but its still in to new territory.

The few people that I’ve spoken to seem to ride the loop via Whistler. I’ve never asked why, and just to be different I thought I’d ride the route anti-clockwise – backwards. I’m not sure if that means that I get to hear voices in my head. I like to think not.

The start and finish to the trip would be on roads already well ridden so the first part of my journey wouldn’t be the most entertaining. Hope was my first pit stop and rather than hit Highway one, I sat myself on the scenic route and ambled along. There are still moment of jaw-dropping scenery, leaning around a long tree lined curve and ‘bam’ mountains. Glorious.

Hope has always been an edge of town stop off for me. This time I ventured further in and discovered that Hope has a really quaint downtown. A Central Park area fronted by the Main Street was positively buzzing, well at a BC buzzing pace which is rather more tranquil than the south east of England.

Coffee, a very good, Fair Trade coffee, was taken at the Blue Moose. A chance to sit back and people watch for a few minutes whilst filling a hole with a muffin.

Having gassed up it was on to the Trans Canada and in to the Fraser Canyon. I’d previously only driven the canyon as far as Hells Gate, so once past there I would be in uncharted territory.

One of the great things about riding a bike is the total involvement it brings. Every sense is engaged on every km ridden. The body feels the change in temperature as one passes along a shaded stretch of road. Every bump is more keenly felt. Even the smells, be they pollen or barbecue are instantly noticed when there’s nothing between you and the environment you’re traveling through.

The ride soon became mile after mile of river, trees and steep sided rock face. An occasional glimpse of mile long freight trains gave me a sense of scale. The trains were Hornby sized against the vast mountains. I was riding as a 00 gauge miniature.

My first ‘greasy spoon’. Time for a light lunch. I’d arrived at Boston Bar. I left Boston Bar not much else to say.

Decision time approached. At Lytton I could take the direct route to Lillooet or go for the extra 100 plus Km via Cache Creek. I’m on a bike. No decision. Next stop Cache Creek.

Temperatures were rising and I was feeling both the heat and the saddle a bit too much. Despite the spectacular backstop to my ride I needed a break. In fact, such was the despiration that once in Cache Creek, Dairy Queen was screaming at me to overdose on cold, high calorie ice cream.

Core temperature stabilized, Ducati refueled, time to find Highway 99. The map view of my last leg was promising. It looked curvy. And it was. Not seat of pants, pipes scrapping the blacktop curvy, more sweeping, and that was fine by me. It was my last 100 Km and it was possibly the best road of the day. The canyon is a great ride, however, the 99 had just the right mix of open road, great views and enough twisty bits to maintain interest.

After a very easy days ride, I descended in to Lillooet, which is, and I quote, “Guaranteed Rugged”. I guess it’s just as well I didn’t make the trip on the Vespa, I’d have been run out of town for overly diminishing the ruggedness. Day one, 414 Km. Not too shabby.

The final agreeable part to a good day was finding the motel room to be clean and have a hot shower. What else can a less than hardened biker ask for.

This is not Plan B

I’ve seen a quote attributed to actor Will Smith that’s essentially states that if you have a Plan B you’re contemplating failure and that in itself is failure. So, to demonstrate my sense of purpose and mental fortitude, this is not Plan B.

Given the weather forecast of thunder showers in the area I’m heading to it makes perfect sense to delay the ride for 24 hours. Today will be a quick trip south of the border and a chance to test drive the Nexus Card.

My first longer ride if the season took me to Sedro-Wooley, WA. One of those places that you normally ride through or bypass without a second thought as you head for the Cascades. Today Sedro-Wooley claimed its 15 minutes as my turn around point on a ride to check out the scootability of the minor roads as the Vespa may enjoy a long weekend away in Winthrop. One absolute hoot was passing through Acme. Yes, Acme. The beep, beep was loud and clear in my head as I rode through town, fortunately no Wile E Coyote spotted.

The Home Town Cafe, a real mom ‘n pop throwback provided a fair BLT for lunch and it was back on the bike heading north. Rather than stick on I5 to the Peace Arch I decided to peel off and head back to Sumas. After all, this was a Sunday afternoon ride, a leisurely jaunt in the beautiful Pacific Northwest sun. A little too much sun as it happened. The border line up at Sumas started started well before the quick-crossing Nexus lane so I was forced in to an extra few minutes wait astride an air cooled, nicely simmering Ducati. Once I reached my Nexus, all was well. Straight to the Border Guard, nothing to declare other than a full stomach and that was it. Canada.

By the end of the ride I’d covered about the same distance as I will on each day the Lillooet loop ride, so today wad an excellent warm up.