There’s no doubt that things have been a little different this year. As much as we enjoy our “alone time,” many of us still crave the sense of community that motorcycling gives us. Motorcyclists become a cohesive community in many ways, whether through events and rallies, group rides, online forums and weekly garage nights or rides with a few friends; even by a simple wave or nod to other motorcyclists passing by.
This year, with its outstanding motorcycle sales across Canada, our industry scope clearly is growing with many new motorcycle enthusiasts. Maintaining our community has become more important than ever, but this has also become harder than ever due to social distancing and bans on large gatherings. Recently, I was able to attend two events that offered access to our beloved motorcycle community again: Rally in the Rockies and the Wanduro Adventure Rally.
The Rally in the Rockies ride began at Calgary Harley-Davidson. The event ran throughout the week of Aug. 7 to 15 and offered scenic GPS routes for individual groups, Harley-Davidson demo rides, a poker run, a show ’n’ shine and a vendor area. The event brought riders from all over Western Canada together in a safe environment. People were respectful of others and wore masks while practising social distancing. I was happy to be surrounded by bikes and good motorcycle conversation in person again.
I was not only able to look at some incredible bikes by local builders and support local businesses and charities, I also rode my first Harley-Davidson. During Rally in the Rockies, I rode the Sportster 1200, a Fat Boy, a Road Glide and a LiveWire – and had an absolute blast. It was strange riding the LiveWire, but I loved it – it reminded me of Harley’s epic Buell days and shone a light on what we can expect from the electric motorcycle industry in the future. I also enjoyed the comfort and power of the Road Glide; it was equally incredible as the Sportster and Fat Boy were to ride. Being the person making the loud rumble of a Harley while riding down the road was surreal and empowering.
The Wanduro Adventure Rally ride began in Invermere, B.C., where riders met on Aug. 22 for two days of incredible riding through the gorgeous east Kootenays. Riders entered as teams in the pick-your-own-adventure waypoint challenge – some in it for the win; others just for fun.
All riders found fun and challenges, collecting waypoints and experiencing some of the wildest mountain scenery while riding on handpicked gravel roads and trails. There was a wide range of bikes, from street-legal dirt bikes to large multi-cylinder adventure bikes; teams created their day based on the amount of distance they wanted to cover and the difficulty they chose to take on. There were two classes for the event: the Ultimate Class and the Adventure Class, each with single and multi-cylinder categories. The Ultimate Class rode on some of the hardest routes, while the Adventure Class rode on more moderate routes suitable for all skill levels.
The incredible thing about the Wanduro Adventure Rally is that it was run entirely through a phone app. Riders would use two paper maps given to them along with the app and a score sheet to tally each waypoint. Aside from quick check-ins in the morning and evening, riders were kept apart and in their own teams for the duration of the event. The app guided you to a waypoint when you were within a certain distance, and you would collect your points and answers once there. Although the app did have a few glitches, I found it to be an innovative approach to running more efficient navigational rallies.
I entered as a solo and found myself paired with Pavel, a rider from Ontario on a Kawasaki Versys 300. I was on a BMW R1250GS; although large, it handles road, gravel, dirt and rocks with a refined attitude. Our route challenged both of our skills and endurance as we worked as a team to get through fast-current river crossings and steep rocky terrain.
Being able to attend these two events and seeing people together for the love of motorcycles again and experiencing innovative approaches to events was a relief. Without the motorcycle community, we would not have the same joy and passion for our sport. Although much of our community is online right now, I hope that in the future we all will able to meet up more often and ride together again.