Endings can sometimes be difficult but what I’ve learned is that experiences like The Big Ride live on. A transformation of sorts, moving from on state to another. The Big Ride feels like that for me. The mileage is behind me but it lives on within me and within many of you who rode vicariously through me. That’s one of the gifts from living the dream – it’s never really over!
The final day arrived earlier this week, Monday August 10, 2015, when I rode from Rochester, New York to Ottawa, Ontario where home is for me.
Here’s a short video of me expressing how I was feeling that morning, followed by another of the ride through the scenic green farmlands of northern New York State. I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day for the ride home. The sky was blue and a gentle breeze danced across the fields and played with the clouds high in the sky.
And of course a few photos for your viewing pleasure.
Pulling out on my last day of The Big Ride – homeward bound
In Closing, here are a few final words that I would like to share with you.
Thank you for riding along and most of all for supporting me on The Big Ride. It wouldn’t have been the same without you. I hope you enjoyed the journey. If you have a “big dream” that you haven’t been able to get off the ground, contact me – I can help you make it happen! After all, that’s why we’re on this journey called life – to live it to its fullest!
After riding the incredible roads in Utah it was difficult psychologically to head out onto the Great Plains knowing that it was the ride home. I don’t know about you, but sometime endings are challenging. It’s easy to “checkout” before actually getting to the end. I tried hard not to do this and took in as much of the Great Plains as I possible could. The time passed quickly and I was able to ride through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in only a few days.
I learned along the way that Kansas is the Sunflower State and not only are the fields adorned with beautiful yellow sunflowers, Black Eyed Susan’s grow wild long the roadsides. As well, Illinois is the home state of Abe Lincoln – I stayed in his home town of Springfield, Illinois as I crossed the Plains. The other thing I liked about the Great Plains is that it’s “cow country” and being somewhat of a carnivore…well you know what that means.
Here is a video of my ride, along with a few photos
From here it means a short ride through New York State to the border and back into Canada where The Big Ride will conclude…but I’ll save that for the next post. Until then keep smiling and enjoy the scenery – this moment will not pass by again!
One of the most spectacular sights I have experienced during my visit to Utah was Arches National Park located outside of the town of Moab. The park contains over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and various rock formations and covers about 76,000 acres. A hikers paradise for sure!
The national park is on top of an underground “evaporate” layer which is what causes the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins and monoliths which are the large upright blocks of stone. The salt bed is thousands of feet thick in places and was deposited there over 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. A number of layers of sandy sediments were deposited on top of the salt and then eroded away over millions of years. This has resulted in the arches being formed.
Here are some photos of the incredible formations and arches that I experienced in the park. The park is truly spectacular and a “must see” when you are visiting Utah. Add it to your list – I promise you will not regret the visit.
And for a smile of two:
In closing, my visit to the park was extraordinary and one that I would definitely like to do again. It has so much to offer those who love to hike and explore the geological wonders that have been created over hundreds of millions of years. That through alone is staggering.
I would like to leave you with a video of one of my favorite rides while in Utah which was along the Colorado river. The canyons in the morning light as the sun was rising were breathtakingly beautiful. I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.
The last leg of my journey will be a spirited ride across the Great Plains of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana as I make my way home. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been on the road for almost three months! It’s been an incredible experience and a trip of a lifetime!! I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m so grateful to be living my dream out loud. Most of all, I’m grateful to have shared it with you!
My visit to Utah was filled with a number of great sights to see and some pretty amazing roads to ride. If you checked out my last post you may have already viewed Part 1 of the video from Capitol Reef National Park. I’ve broken up the ride into three parts. Here’s Part 2 and Part 3 from what was a pretty awesome ride!
My time in Utah included a visit to Natural Bridges National Monument Park which has three natural arches all located within a couple miles of each other. The only other place in the world where such a marvel can be found is China.
The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu (the largest), which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed by erosion from water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods the streams wash against the rock walls and in time erodes the stone until the new stream bed then flows underneath the newly formed bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge’s opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the park.
Here are a few photos from my time in the park which happened to be the third “rain day” that I’ve had since leaving home on May 13, 2015 which is a marvel unto itself!
And here are a few more photos of my ride from Hanksville to Moab, Utah by way of the Scenic Byway (Highway 95) and Highway 191.
There was so much to see and do in Utah that I’ll have one more post from the area before moving on. Stay tuned for the final episode which will include some awesome photos from my visit to Arches National Park and a video from my ride along the Colorado River. Until then, go with the flow…it’s easier to paddle in that direction.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, when I was planning The Big Ride, Utah was very high on my list. So much so that I purchased a book on motorcycle touring of the State.
Any motorcyclist would agree that when you can combine a great technical ride that offers a few hills and challenging curves along with breathless vistas it’s a ride made in heaven!
That’s what riding in Utah was for me – a ride made in heaven. Here’s a sampling of what I lived while in Bryce Canyon National Park along with a video of the ride through Capitol Reef National Park.
Here is a video compilation of a few of the lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park, a haven for anyone who happens to enjoy hiking, cycling and rattlesnake watching. Yes I did see a Diamond Back Rattlesnake while in the park!
After leaving Bryce Canyon National Park on my way to Hanksville Utah where I stayed the night, I had the pleasure of riding through Capitol Reef National Park. This was a ride that I will never forget! The Canyon was amazing to ride. Here’s a video of only a small part of what can only be described as a ride Divine!
If you liked what you saw here keep an eye out for my next blog as I have more to share with you from my time in Utah. Until then play safe and enjoy the journey of life.
Throughout The Big Ride I’ve felt blessed to be living my dream and for being able to share it with you.
If you have been following my blog you know that I’ve been on the road now for two and a half months. I left Ottawa, where I live, on May 13, 2015 and I’ve ridden 20,000 kilometers so far – for my friends on the US side of the border that’s about 12,500 miles. I still have another month of travels ahead of me and will likely put on another 6 to 8,000 kilometers. This excludes when I left my bike enroute and drove 3000 kilometers in the rental car to visit my dad’s resting place in Northern BC – A wise decision given the forest fires at the time!
During The Big Ride I have seen and experienced some pretty spectacular and incredibly amazing things.
I’ve ridden roads with sweeping curves that were so sweet I felt completely at one with them and I’ve ridden others that were so steep and so high that I thought I was in the heavens; I’ve seen vistas with such beauty and grandeur that it literally took my breath away – nope it wasn’t the altitude 🙂 ; I’ve spoken with individuals along the way that had lost all sense of hope of being able to live their dreams and before I left them I saw a sparkle of optimism in their eyes; I’ve been inspired by others that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way who are also living their dreams; and I’ve been moved by the wonderment of Life, its magnificence and amazed at how everything works out when you let it; I’ve returned to where I was raised, reflected on where I’ve been in my life and the long winding roads have provided me the time to envision what I’d like the next chapter to look like; I’ve shared precious moments with family and rekindled friendships that will remain with me forever; and you likely won’t want to hear this but on three occasions on this trip I have felt the wings of the Angels brush by me.
When I started planning this trip over a year ago I purchased a motorcycle touring book on Utah. When I started reading the book it was so exciting I couldn’t put it down. It actually kept me up at night! Over the past few weeks it was looking doubtful that I would be able to include Utah on this ride. The weather in southern California was extremely hot and riding south in 40+ degrees celsius didn’t seem plausible. Instead I stayed north and when I got to Salt Lake City it was a critical “go no-go” decision point for me.
As it turned out the weather in Utah shifted and was more moderate so I decided to head south to make my way to Bryce Canyon National Park over a couple of days. I must say I was filled with excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead.
When I turned onto the highway that would take me the last few miles to Bryce Canyon, I found that I had to drive through Red Canyon – to be honest I hadn’t heard of it and the sign I passed looked like any other that I had seen along the way. When I turned the corner and the Red Canyon came into site I was literally swept away by its magnificence. A strange feeling swept over me and I knew in that moment that this was why I had taken The Big Ride. This was why I needed to ride the 26,000+ kilometers that will eventually complete this trip. I knew in that moment that despite still having a months travel ahead of me, this was what I had come to experience. This is what would make this incredibly amazing journey complete!
A feeling wonderment flooded over me. As I stood in awe on the side of the road looking up at the sheer beauty of the massive red peaks of stone that Nature had so wondrously sculpted over time, I could no longer contain the joyfulness within me as tears ran down my cheeks. I knew in that moment that it was okay for me to start heading home. Being in Utah allowed me to complete this part of the journey.
The following video is only a glimpse of what I’ve seen in southern Utah. I’ll be sharing more photos and video with you in the come days but here’s what I saw that morning as I rode through the Red Canyon. Enjoy!
Stay tuned for more awesome photos and videos from my ride in Utah. Next up will be Bryce Canyon. I’m betting that you will love it as much as I did!
My visit to British Columbia wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Vancouver Island where I lived for a decade before moving to Ottawa. If you have been to the Island you will be familiar with with eagles that soar high above the majestic Douglas Fir trees, the fresh scent of the cedar trees that lingers in the air and the sound of the sea as it washes against the shoreline. Regardless of the season, Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to visit and my return home to the west coast this summer was no exception.
For me, being on the Island was about taking the time to reconnect with old friends and former colleagues. It was wonderful being back, enjoying walks on the beach, time spent at the Nanaimo Harbour and walking on the seawall, enjoying good food at some of my favourite restaurants and most of all sharing time with friends new and old. The challenge of course was trying to fit it all. My good friend Sue graciously allowed me to stay with her, using her place as my home-base during my visit. Thank you Sue for your wonderful hospitality!
I also got in some great riding, including a day out on the road with Barry Switnicki. Barry is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and a senior trainer and mentor coach with Ericksons International, the college where I acquired my coach training. Barry was one of my “distant” mentor coaches and although I had connected with him by telephone on a number of occasions I had not met him in person. Barry lives in Nanaimo where he has a thriving coaching business, Pacific Change Mentors, and he enjoys motorcycling! Barry suggested we connect for a motorcycle ride when I got to the Island, an offer I just couldn’t refuse – Barry, thank you for the awesome day out on the road!
The ride took us through Cathedral Grove – a majestic stand of old growth trees, located west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4. If you’ve not visited Vancouver Island or taken the time to walk through Cathedral Grove, it’s a must do!
The forest is composed mostly of mature Douglas fir trees and ancient western red cedar. The trees are 300 to 400 years old, but some go as far back as 800 years. These older trees stand like giants with some reaching 250 feet high and trunks that measure over 30 feet in circumference. The grove of trees is one of the last stands of old growth on the Island and are survivors of a forest fire that ravaged the area some 350 years ago. The Park is protected from logging and has a wooden walkway through parts of the forest allowing visitors to experience its majesty!
Here are a few photos from my visit to the Island, along with with a short video of the ride.
A few photos from the Ladysmith area
My trip included a ride up Island to Qualicum beach where the sandy shoreline called my name 🙂
When out riding with Barry Switnicki we stopped in at the Coombs Market which is located on Highway 4 just west of Qualicum Beach.
And what visit would be complete without a stop at the Fanny Bay Inn where I had fresh oysters for lunch,
And a few other photos from my visit to the Island.
From here I was Victoria bound where I spent an incredible day enjoying the sights of this historic city prior to boarding the ferry for the State of Washington. Stay tuned for my post that will include a few photos from the area. Until then, enjoy the moment…there will never be another like it!
In the past two months I have had the opportunity to ride in some pretty amazing places. Building the Duffey Lake Road into my itinerary allowed me to do it yet again and this time in my own backyard. While living in British Columbia I had taken this road in the early 1990’s but had forgotten how spectacular it was. This is not a road for new motorcycle riders and I would not recommend it to just anyone but if you are an experienced rider and happen to live in the area or plan on being in the area, I would encourage you to check it out. If you’re not a motorcyclist it would be a pretty darned good ride in a car as well. This really is one amazing ride and I’d bet that when you’re done you’ll agree with me!
If you aren’t familiar with the road, Highway 99 connects central British Columbia with the southern part of the province and is made up of a number of sections including the “Sea to Sky Highway” which is the southern section from Horseshoe Bay (where the ferry to Nanaimo is located) to Pemberton. The highway travels along the coast of Howe Sound to Squamish and on to Whistler. From there it goes to Pemberton where the Sea-to-Sky Highway ends and Duffey Lake Road begins. This section goes on for almost 100 winding kilometres in very steep mountains where it connects with Lillooet. In my view it is the most breathtaking section! Not only is it very challenging with the speed limit dropping as low as 30 km per hour due to the tight curves, it twists through some of the most pristine countryside you will ever see. The highway runs through the Duffey Lake Provincial Park, alongside numerous lakes, streams and waterfalls. From there the road connects Lillooet with central British Columbia near Cache Creek just south of Clinton.
Here is a video of my what I experienced on the ride. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
In addition to the video, here are a few photos from my ride from Clinton, BC to Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry over to Nanaimo to spend a few days connecting with friends in Nanaimo and the surrounding area.
These photos are from the Duffey Lake Road section of the Highway between Lillooet, BC to Pemberton, BC.
The following pictures are from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Squamish, BC
To close this blog, here are a few photos taken while in Horseshoe Bay as I headed over to Vancouver Island to reconnect with friends. I spent ten years on the Island before moving to Ottawa so in many respects it felt as if I was “homeward bound”.
While on Vancouver Island I had the opportunity to do some great riding. When I have the video ready for posting I’ll share it with you! Until then, live life out load and laugh a lot!
As my trip unfolds it seems to me that the sights are getting better and better. While enroute to Yellowstone Park I took a day to ride Beartooth Highway which runs along the Wyoming and Montana border. The first known crossing of the Beartooth mountains was in August 1872. A General in the Civil War, along with 120 of this men followed the advice of an old hunter who recommended taking the route while returning from an inspection of Yellowstone Park. In 1936 when the road opened, it essentially followed the General’s first route over the pass.
The road is very impressive with its series of steep zigzags and switchbacks that continue upwards to almost 11,000 feet and includes some of the most dramatic landscapes. It was also very “cool” to see snow along the route at the higher elevations! Christmas in June anyone? 🙂
Because of the high altitude, snowstorms can occur even in the middle of the summer. The pass is known for exceptionally strong winds and severe thunderstorms. I was chased around by a few threatening clouds during the ride but managed to hang on to my bike and avoided getting wet.
Here is a video of the days ride across the Beartooth mountains along with a number of photos taken while enjoying the ride.
My next post will be with Yogi Bear in Yellowstone Park!
I had mentioned in a previous blog that after leaving Rapid City, South Dakota, I rode through Spearfish Canyon. It seems that route was just the beginning of more spectacular things to come. Yay for me!
Before I tell you about all of the other great riding I’ve been doing, here is the video I promised of my ride through Spearfish Canyon on my way to Sheridan, Wyoming:
What followed ended up being pretty spectacular. The ride from Sheridan to Cody took me through the Big Horn National Forest. It sounds like it would be a bunch of trees but that wasn’t the case. The road took me to the top of a couple of very spectacular mountain ranges including through an amazing canyon. The vistas were breathtakingly beautiful. So much so that I ran my GoPro camera dry before the end of the day and missed filming some of the most spectacular views. What an amazing ride that was. The magnificence of the incredibly awesome red canyon walls on this ride will stay with me forever.
Here’s are a few photos followed by a short clip of what can only be described as a spectacular ride:
From here it kept getting better and better!
After a great day of riding I finished up the day by taking in a dinner show at the Cody Cattle Company followed by the local rodeo. Yes you read that right. It’s been a few years since I last attended anything like it, but I must say it sure was a lot of fun! Here are a few photos from my evening out on the town…or should I say in the corral.
Then I was off to the rodeo to watch a few cowboys and cowgirls strut their stuff.
Here are few additional photos of things that caught my eye.
From here I’m heading to Yellowstone Park to look for Yogi Bear! Stay tuned 🙂
As I was leaving Colorado I felt somewhat melancholy after the awesome motorcycle riding I had experienced while visiting there. My ride to South Dakota took me through a small part of Wyoming with an overnight stop in Lusk, which at first glace looked like a one horse town. As it turned out, it was a cute horse.
I stayed at the Best Western in Lusk, Wyoming which had a very interesting western theme in their outdoor entertainment area. Building on this theme, the hotel offered its guests a “chuck wagon” breakfast served by staff members dressed in western attire. Not only was it a fun way to start the day, the omelette made to order was very tasty!
When I made my way to South Dakota I was “wowed” by what I found. The Black Hills offered some of the best motorcycling roads that I’ve come across and the roads through the parks, such as Custer State Park were out of this world! One of the roads in particular, Needles Eye, was engineered using “pigtail” turns. When you see a sign like this you know you’re in for some mean twists!
Here is video of my experience while riding the Needles Eye
In addition to some great riding, a visit to Mount Rushmore was equally as wowing in a different way! What an incredible undertaking it must have been to carve such a masterpiece out of the face of the mountain.
While riding outside of Rapid City, I had the good fortune of meeting up with a couple of riders, Robbie and Al who were from the area. While chatting, they mentioned that they were heading off to ride the “Canyon”. You know that peaked my interest so on the way out, I added the Spearfish Canyon into my route. Robbie, thank you for putting me on to this amazing route. Wow, what a great way to start the day!
Here are a few photos from the ride….video to follow.
As promised, here is the second video of the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado. It was part of my first days’ ride in Colorado. As you can see in the video, the road has a few challenging turns with a few potential hazards with its steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and few guardrails.
One of the many challenging roads in Colorado is the Million Dollar Highway and forms part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.
My first day in Colorado took me on this route from Durango, through Silverton and Ouray. Much of the route, especially between Silverton and Ouray runs through a gorge which is challenging and potentially hazardous to drive. It consists of steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and a lack of guardrails. It also uses a number of hairpin curves to gain elevation. In most places the lanes are narrow with much of it cut into the sides of mountains. Although the route was challenging, it was not nearly as technical as some of the awesome roads that followed. I have hours and hours of video so it will take a couple of days to put together a few clips to share with you.
Here is the first of the series that I will be sharing with you. The video hardly does it justice but will give you an idea of he amazing experience I had while riding the “Million Dollar Highway”.
Here are a few photos to share with you as well.
While on the road I also ran into some folks from Orange Texas who were also enjoying the ride.
Stay tuned for the next segment of The Million Dollar Highway…and some of the amazing Colorado Rocky Mountain Mama Roads that follow!