The Origins of Open Road MC

Gabe Khouth and I have been friends for almost three decades now. We met when we were actors with the same agent in the late 1980s as we both were auditioning for roles in the rapidly growing film and television industry in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I was fortunate enough to get to work with Gabe on the CBC-TV teen series Northwood. We would play friends going to the same high school. I remember with a smile how we got to play some fun comedic scenes together in a camping episode in the final episode of the series, filming in the wilderness of Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver.

Flash forward twenty-three years and we were still goofing around with a camera in the forest, this time at Alice Lake Provincial Park near Squamish, British Columbia while we made our Open Road MC segment about motocamping.

Gabe and I would both discover an interest in riding motorcycles later in our lives. Even though we rode different style bikes (my Kawasaki KLR650 and his Ducati Monster 696) we thought it would be an opportunity missed if we didn’t combine our on-screen abilities and our interest in motorbikes. So we created Open Road MC, a YouTube channel for anyone interested in riding motorbikes…and we make it clear it doesn’t matter what you ride, it’s that you ride in the first place that counts.

Gabe has moved on to be a series regular in the hit ABC-TV series Once Upon A Time and I’ve enjoyed seeing his success as an actor. I moved on from acting in 2005, working away at freelancing at CBC Radio before writing for a variety of magazines mainly about motorcycle travel in British Columbia, then writing my own books. Open Road MC is a chance for Gabe and I to be really creative on camera, explore different roads and avenues of motorcycling. From regional ride ideas, modifications, travel tips, bike reviews and event coverage, Gabe and I have covered quite a lot of ground over the last couple of years. We’re still coming up with ideas, getting together whenever our busy lives relent a bit for us to meet for a production meeting over a cup of coffee. Join us won’t you? And be sure to subscribe…

 

 

 

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A Sense of Place

I’m a stay-at-home dad.  Does that surprise you?

During the winter I’m more likely to be found at the helm of a Subaru Impreza Sport than a Kawasaki KLR650. The odds are I’ll be driving through Vancouver rush hour traffic getting my son Marc to Kindergarten or my eldest Michael to his high school. I’m very proud of my sons and how they’ve both adjusted to new schools this year. I’ll also be the one making meals for them at home and getting them to their after school activities.

I’ll be honest. It can be difficult. Facing traffic day after day can become a stressful routine. After dropping off the boys at school and my wife at work, I have a few hours to get to my work in my home office.

What I find sometimes is that I rush back to that home office and fail to look at where it is that I live. In bounding back to get to work, I usually don’t take any time to appreciate my surroundings. That’s a shame. What’s more of a shame is that, increasingly, I doubt I’m alone. I live in Vancouver, there’s natural beauty all around me.

I think I’m losing my sense of place.

You’d think as a travel writer and author I would do more to reconnect with the very places I claim to connect with. So I did something about it this morning. I stopped.

The above photo was taken at Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver. There is snow on the mountains, ice on the sand and the crisp air is electric. I took a walk. It was rejuvenating.

Sure, when I got home I got to work rewriting a press release and promoting my two books, but what I’ve got to remember, and I hope you will too, is to take a moment to reconnect with where you live. You may already do that daily and, if you do, I’m envious. But some of us need a reminder about that.  You don’t need to travel by motorcycle to do it either. Strive to understand where you live, how your community was created, to know the people around you. Don’t get caught in a bubble. I sometimes need to remind myself of that.

With my wife I’m planning to take my sons on more local trips when the weather warms up a bit. I’ve been reading about hikes to be taken on the Gulf Islands.

Now that’s something to look forward to.

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Nearly 40 on the 37: the video journals

 

Before I had a GoPro stuck on to my helmet, before I had a Sena 10c camera and communication system, I had a simple HD JVC video camera my wife Laura gave me as a present before I motorcycled off into the unknown on my Stewart-Cassiar Highway journey in August 2012.

That video camera became, next to my Kawasaki KLR650, my constant companion. In fact I remember, concerned with how the cold and damp might affect it, keeping it warm in my sleeping bag at night, like a chicken egg in a schoolboy’s project.

I would talk to it as well. I suppose it was marginally healthier than talking to myself.

Along the way I would record some interesting progressions in myself. Not only was my facial hair growing, so to was my understanding of my home province of British Columbia.  I’ve kept the recordings as separate video files for years, but decided recently to edit them together to see how the Nearly 40 on the 37 journey affected me.

Viewers expecting lofty shots of motorcycles winding their way through mountain passes will be disappointed. Although there are some shots of my companion Kawasaki KLR650, this video chronicles how the journey was changing me. The exhaustion. The longing for home.  The appreciation for the scope of British Columbia. The rugged territory and vastness of it overwhelmed me.

And you can see it in my face…entry by entry.

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Where to find my books over the holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a unique and humourous motorcycle travel book to crack open over the holidays, look no further. You can order one of my two books from my shop page.

 

 

Or if you happen to be out and about in B.C. over the month feel free to drop by the following bookstores for a browse and to find my two books:

Book Warehouse 632 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.

Book Warehouse 4118 Main Street, Vancouver, B.C.

Y’s Books  4307 Main Street, Vancouver, B.C.

Tanglewood Books 2306 W Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.

Hager Books 2176 W 41st Avenue, Vancouver, B.C.

People’s Co-op Bookstore  1391 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, B.C.

Bolen Books 111-1644 Hillside Avenue, Victoria, B.C.

Tanner’s Books  2436 Beacon Avenue, Sidney, B.C.

Otter Books  398 Baker Street, Nelson, B.C.

Happy Holidays!

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An Oddity Among Motorcyclists

I’ve believed from time to time that I’m an oddity among motorcyclists. I mean, who uses the motorcycle to get to historic destinations around his own region? Most motorcyclists I know like to take short rides to camp or to a cafe somewhere, then ride back home. I think the motorcycle is the ideal form of transport to get to know my province’s past. And by getting to know its past, I feel I get to know its character. That past includes European settlement history, it includes First Nations history, it includes natural history. It is not restricted to British Columbia since it was included in Confederation in 1871.

So I rattle and snake my Kawasaki KLR650 along roads usually out of Vancouver, not only to enjoy the ride (although that is a big part of it) but also to stop from time to time, and check out the small towns that I never have stopped in. As a kid, my parents would take me on camping holidays around British Columbia, and as I would stare out from the back seat of the car, I would wonder what the story was about the town I was just passing through. Hmmm, I would think, this place looks interesting. I wonder why it’s here. I wonder who lives here. Where does that road lead? What to people do here? The motorcycle puts you in contact with these places when you step off the bike…and I’m certainly not the only one to have said that.

I’m not the first rider (and writer) to be influenced by RTW motorcyclist Ted Simon. I’ll put a link to a Geek Media Ltd “Under The Visor” segment at the end of this post in which he explains his view of motorcycling, and I have to say I’m very much in agreement with him. I may just be a “regional cheese” (as I heard Adam Cohen put it in a recent interview) and not a crosser of continents, but I do believe the motorcycle allows you to be in touch with it all in a way that a car or SUV inhibits.

I digress! The ride vid on my own YouTube Channel which I’ve posted a link to above, takes the viewer through a particularly historic part of British Columbia: The Silvery Slocan. Much of the province cropped up as a result of the discovery of gold or silver. Towns would be created seemingly overnight (such as is the case of Sandon, which I write about in Zero Avenue to Peace Park, my second book) as the result of some silver-rich ore being discovered in the Kootenay region…and the rush was on.  Much of the communities we see along the Silvery Slocan route were created in a real hurry. But the road to get to them, especially in the beautiful Kootenays, can make for scenic and fascinating riding. Enjoy the ride vid above…and I’ll post that Ted Simon segment below.

 

 

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Many Adventures Written Down

 

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As I add to my WordPress site and pile on the articles I’ve written in my Writing page, I’ve come to realize just how many motorcycle adventures I’ve been on in the past three years.  I’ve since told myself I have to go on an adventure that I DON’T write about. But I can’t help it. And I’ve got two dozen or more magazine articles to show for it. I’ve only got up to adding the articles published until the end of 2014, but I’ll continue.

The above picture was taken in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park not long after arrival in June 2013. I seem to remember having set up my tent at this point and my friend Matt and I were about to take a hike into the beautiful Carmanah Valley to see the groves of ancient Sikta spruce and hemlock. It wasn’t an easy place to get to. Ironically, the only way to get to a place protected from logging companies, was to ride bumpy gravel logging roads maintained by those logging companies. The southwest part of Vancouver Island really is a magical place. I suppose it’s a good thing that it’s not easy to get to, otherwise everyone would be going there!

Check out my Writing page if you haven’t already. I’ll be sure to add 2015 and 2016 articles soon…

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