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Opinion: Friends, and the winter ahead

Opinion: Friends, and the winter ahead
Written by Publishing Team

Sit in line on the way to Twillingate. Long day trips with friends in Newfoundland were a highlight of the summer. Photo: Zach Korylik

At the start of the 2021 riding season, no one really knew what to expect, given that the next shutdown was always around the corner. But, now that the year is over, I have to say: It’s been a good year to be on two wheels. I’ve been back in Newfoundland to revisit some remote riding destinations I haven’t seen in a decade. I saw some corners of New Brunswick I hadn’t been to before, even some back roads close to home that I hadn’t done yet.

It was a much different riding year. Everywhere you go, you had to wear a mask when you got off the bike. It’s hard to make new friends this way.

It’s good that I have a lot of really great friends, then, in the end, my favorite memories of the year will not be the places I’ve visited, but the people I’ve been with, and the richer experiences I’ve had as a result.

I headed to the belly of the beast… eh phrase. This trip to Newfoundland took some planning to make it work for everyone, but the combined fun made it worthwhile. Photo: Zach Korylik

Before I started working with CMG, I mostly rode with my cousin Glen. We spent our late teens and early twenties on PEI riding and hauling together. For both of us, our bikes were often our only personal means of transportation.

As we grew up and started having families, things changed. We bought cars or trucks, so we relied less on our bikes for practical purposes, and more for fun—and we had less time for fun, because we had families. I started working with the Arris Editor, and he became my motorcycle tour partner. I’ve been running more miles than ever but have been spending an entire summer and only been out a few times with my local riding buddies. A couple circled the delicious Route 845 in New Brunswick, perhaps a few evenings into town along the back road, and that was it. I was too busy with my motorcycle work to be able to ride with my friends.

That changed in 2020. With nowhere else to go, I’ve been riding locally again, with Glenn, along with Matt, Evan and Scott. These trips were all shorter, but with this season over, we’re starting to plan: If 2021 comes with fewer travel restrictions, where do we go? We all decided on Newfoundland, with a weekend in Northern New Brunswick as a racket. We can’t rely on public policy to allow travel, but we can count on each other to make trips, if rules allow.

The presence of a much younger guy (Evan) made our trip through North an interesting note. He couldn’t make it to Newfoundland (he was busy getting married that summer), but I hope he comes with him next time. Photo: Zach Korylik
Matt driving his V-Strom through the outskirts of Mount Carleton Provincial Park. At the other, older end of our riding range, it was still pretty good all summer. Well, except for the time he fell asleep during a roadside break in Gros Morne National Park. Fortunately, no guards signed him up for snoozing on the road without paying the park fee. Photo: Zach Korylik

Both of these trips were successful. The trip north saw a mixture of good and bad weather, good and bad roads. The real highlight was when our group managed to dodge the ticket, when a kind RCMP took pity on us.

The trip to Newfoundland was a real draw for the guys, as none of them had taken such a long ride before, and none had ever ridden The Rock (I hope I can share some of that story with you at CMG this winter).

But in the end, the best part of all the motorcycle fun was that we did it together. We all had to make changes to our plans to accommodate each other; We all love different foods, even different ways. But we pulled it together, and months later, any thoughts of minor travel frustrations had faded. All that remains are the memories of the wonderful fun they had, and the sharing of wonderful adventures with friends.

Glenn cruises through the Tablelands in Newfoundland. I fell in love with this scene when I passed by on my own, but being able to share it with friends made my second visit even more enjoyable. Photo: Zach Korylik
Glenn, Scott and Matt (LR) prepare for our day trip, after camping in a field in rural Newfoundland. When you travel with friends, camping is even better; You can split up chores like cooking and firewood, and at the end of the day swap stories about precarious road conditions, a gust of wind that almost blew your bike off, or the weird waitress who refused to order eggs. Photo: Zach Korylik

Will the Canadian riders be able to gather next winter to plan next year’s adventures? While writing this, we just saw news that the Toronto Supershow has been postponed again, with the original January dates cancelled. Motorcycle shows in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Quebec City have been cancelled. Sure, we haven’t seen any grumbling about MMIC’s mid-winter shows in Montreal and Toronto, but who knows what government regulations will allow by February? (Now all these offers have been canceled — Ed.).

Whether these shows run or not, it’s going to be hard for us to spend time with our motorcycle friends this winter, to work on bikes together or plan rides for next season. Lockdown is governed by tight boundaries and other isolation factors that will reduce our ability to spend time with other people. But, If you can do it (This may not be possible for many), I urge you to spend some time with your riding buddies. It will help you stay healthy and happy mentally. Who do you know? May that trip you’re planning be filled with unforgettable fun, or it could help forge a friendship that will last a lifetime. Or, like my trips last season, it might be both.

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