I am an Everyman

I’ve got to point something out.

I’m a stay-at-home dad. I’m a loving husband to my wife, Laura. I look after my wonderful thirteen-year-old son Michael who was diagnosed with autism when he was six. I also look after my precocious six-year-old son Marc who is actively involved in tee ball, musical theatre and loves riding his bike. I coach his tee ball team on Tuesday evenings. I’ve struggled with anxiety, sometimes depression, throughout my life. I’m an introvert. I stand at five foot eight. Sometimes getting back on a motorcycle after a time not riding scares me.

Needless to say, I’m not the stereotypical image of a heroic adventurer.

I am an Everyman.

Actually, it wasn’t me who first described me that way. It was John Campbell, the editor of Canadian Biker Magazine, when he was writing an endorsement for my second book Zero Avenue to Peace Park

His writing is framed by the iron of tireless research and underscored by the musical notes of a relentless motorcycle as Zero Avenue to Peace Park, the Journey of an Everyman, brings new life to the dusty streets and forgotten people of long ago.

I’m grateful for John’s words, which are now on the cover and early pages of my second book. He gave me an objective look at myself. Sometimes when riding into the unknown I feel pumped up, almost believing my own publicity as it were. I need to remember who I am.

I’m that kid who looked out from the back seat of his parent’s Ford LTD while travelling to another campground, an old and weathered tent trailer being towed behind. The Okanagan, mid-Vancouver Island, the Kootenays. That kid looked out from that back seat, observing, wondering all sorts of things. What lay at the end of that secondary road? What was the story behind that collapsing farmhouse being reclaimed by nature? Why was a totem pole raised on that spot?

I’ve been underestimated at times. Not so long ago I asked a particular company if I could use their topographical maps in my second book. Interest turned to indifference after one look at me and my beat up KLR650. Granted I may not be the most shiny and buff of adventurers.

But what I’ve done on that KLR650 may surprise you. It may have surprised that map company too if they’d not judged a book by its cover.

I’ve ridden down deep gravel roads to forestry towns, taken muddy single tracks to former gold mining communities, pushed myself to the extremities of the province’s rugged north, as my motorcycle shook and squeaked under the punishment, me at times scared, exhausted and feeling out of my league.

But underlying it all, was the desire of that kid, looking out from the back seat of that Ford LTD, to explore beyond what he knew, to get to know his home province of British Columbia better. That’s what I do. That desire still drives me.

Recently I watch the film Eddie The Eagle. I haven’t been that taken with a film in a long time. It was the story of an underdog that may not have come in first, but wanted to prove himself, have his moment, prove deniers wrong. I’ve come to think of myself as an underdog. Eddie certainly had his moment, overcoming his fears.

When I get on a motorcycle, I sometimes get anxious. Once I’m riding I feel great. Usually I feel better when riding further out of town when I can ride along with as little traffic as possible.

John Campbell published my first magazine article in Canadian Biker about my two-week two-wheeled journey into northern British Columbia along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. He suggested that a trip like that would create memories that would last a lifetime and would be the envy of many who ride motorcycles. That was in 2012. I’m still going.

Grant Johnson, who, along with his wife Susan Johnson, created the overland adventurer forum Horizons Unlimited, once encouraged me to present my talk Riding Across Historic British Columbia. I was having my doubts about presenting with a group of cross-continent overland motorcyclists at their travellers meeting in Nakusp, British Columbia. Grant told me that many motorcycle adventurers were people like me, with a desire to explore their region. He wrote Horizons Unlimited needed people like me, the Everyman, to tell their stories and inspire others to explore.

Are you an adventuring Everyman… or Everywoman?

Then you have a story to tell too.

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A Watched Pot Never Boils

The flu is no fun, believe me.

Back at it.

One thing that happens when you stop looking at your inbox is things start to happen in your absence. There are some new things to report.

I’ve tried my hand at book reviewing. B.C. photographer Chris Harris makes me look like a novice when it comes to exploring historic British Columbia. His book British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast: a photographer’s journey was a privilege to review. Thanks to Alan Twigg, publisher of BC BookWorld and Richard Mackie, editor of The Ormsby Report, for sending me his book to review.

Here’s a look at the review:

http://bcbooklook.com/2017/02/24/94-draft-noah-has-nothing-on-chris-harris-ark/

Thanks to Motorcycle Mojo for publishing “The Coast to Kootenay Connection” in their March 2017 issue. The photo above is the one I took in Midway to start work on gathering material and notes for the article. Here’s the link to the online version…

http://www.motorcyclemojo.com/2017/02/kettle-valley-railway/

Also, I’ve just heard some exciting news about where I can develop Riding Across Historic British Columbia. I’ll let you know as that develops. Of course, I’ll be returning to Horizons Unlimited CanWest in Nakusp to give a presentation with some updates from the past year, some of which have yet to come. I’ll be riding up to the Likely and Quesnel Lake area in July with the Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club to see what so many have recommended to me. Barkerville is one of those historic places in B.C. that is long overdue for me to experience. I can’t wait to see it.

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When is a story not a story?

 

I had asked a veteran of the Vancouver motorcycle scene for an interview. So far, so good.

The experienced gentleman got back to me and was willing to do the interview and be part of the story. I got approval to do the story from the magazine I’d pitched it to. Yes! But the motorcycle manufacturer that this gentleman has worked for asked for something unprecedented in the time I’ve been writing freelance stories for motorcycling magazines. They wanted approval of the final product, control over the story I was going to write, final say on whether it was published or not. So far, so bad.

So, let me get this straight. I would have to go and do an interview, one I was very much looking forward to as I would hear this gentleman’s stories relating to me the history of motorcycling in British Columbia, but I might be wasting my time as the motorcycle manufacturer he has worked for could turn it down after I’d written it. If that were to happen the story, indeed the interview that coined it, would never have happened. Oh yes, I almost forgot…and I wouldn’t get paid.

So I had to turn the respected expert down for the interview. Neither he nor I had been trusted. It was very disappointing.

When I was at CBC Radio occasionally I would have to turn interviews down for the same reason, from people who wanted the publicity, but didn’t seem to give me the benefit of the doubt and wanted control over what I was going to write. To those people I respectfully must say: I am not a division of your corporate communications department.

I’m a freelance writer trying to get a story accepted by a magazine. The magazines I’m pitching stories to generally don’t go for the former employer of an interview subject getting editorial control. Just sayin’.

So it’s back to the drawing board on Monday.

If any freelance writers out there have experienced this, let me know in comments. I’d be curious as to how you fared.

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Many Adventures Written Down

 

carmanah1

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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