Sep 2008

Off the road for a rebuild

moi and henk
Henk made it to Vancouver and back to Christina Lake - four easy-going, delightful days on southern BC roads. I took my time, gliding slowly at 80km/hr over the Hope-Princeton pass and through the sunny Okanagan, both to baby the leaking engine in the heat and to savour the last few days on the road.

Getting in to Vancouver is worse than getting out of L.A. and I ended up riding the shoulder (a common practise in California, but not legal - for good reason - in Canada) around miles of parked traffic in the lower mainland from Mission to the Port Mann Bridge over the Fraser River. People in cars waiting it out like good Canadian citizens resented me, but in the 40-degree heat which feels ramped up to 50 or higher on the asphalt in leathers, it was a matter of escaping heat stroke or dehydration, and I was prepared to tell that to an RCMP officer had I been pulled over.

On the way back, just west of Bromley Rock on Highway 3, a big beautiful black bear scrambled out of the ditch and across the road thirty feet in front of me. I geared down, gently braking, and watched in awe as it disappeared up the hill on the south side, an unexpected highlight.

When I rolled back in to Kevin's garage, where Henk will undergo bypass surgery, reconstruction and rehabilitation this winter, I was not ready to let go. I wasn't ready to let go of Henk or the Great Northern Odyssey or my solitude.

The solo ride with Henk has become more than an annual motorcycle adventure; it's taken on a life of its own, as passions will. From external exercise to internal inquiry to personal mythology, the road, the machine, the solitude have shaped me. The journey is always a revelation, whether or not I follow the same route. It's a profound check in with my own personal truths; a strong confirmation of my reality; therapy which serves to lessen the grip of, in Einstein's words, "mass suggestion" that takes hold like a vice living in the city.

In native and shamanic beliefs, the wisdom of the bear is about introspection, healing, solitude, transformation and dreams.

Each time Henk and I have taken to the road, we've had a surprise bear encounter. I can't assume it's random; instead I take it as a blessing - a sacred vision awakening me over and over again, reminding me of my true nature.

My true nature is not anti-social; it's pro-solitude.

I do this for myself, yes, but every time I ride, I also feel a part of something bigger, as though I've been given the privilege and the responsibility to keep dreams alive.