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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Men and Motorcycles

Testosterone abounded last weekend when I joined Big Bear on a Dual Sport motorcycle ride (except not on the ride part) up the Fraser Canyon in Spences Bridge. 180 riders, only about 8 of them women, prepared to spend Saturday on a pre-set route through the hot, dry hills.

We camped looking over the Fraser River, lined with railroad tracks on either side. The trains barrelled through regularly, sometimes in both directions at the same time. It was a loud night, and our tent did nothing to keep out the noise.

It’s amazing how a bunch of middle-aged, greying, ordinary men can be transformed with a little equipment, a helmet, and a bike. With a loud engine. Wow. In moments, they become mysterious, indomitable road warriors. By 9am on Saturday, there wasn’t a man to be seen at the campground.

I spent the long day with another wife in the hot, hot campground. It wasn’t very pretty there, and it was too hot to do very much. I did take a walk around the town of Spences Bridge. Past the old broken down houses, the abandoned motel, the former RCMP detachment, and the closed school. It’s sad to see a waning community. The railroads pulled out of the town long ago, the new highway was built on another route, the children were bussed to other communities to go to school, and the kids who went for post-secondary education didn’t return.

On Sunday, on the way back home, we stopped at Hell’s Gate, a turbulent, narrow section of the Fraser River. This whole area is very historic, being the gold rush route to the Cariboo in the 1800’s. I tried to imagine the gold hunters picking their way along the river cliffs as they pursued their dreams. I found out, too, that for a time, it was also the site of battles between natives and whites; at one point, the bodies of 29 headless men were discovered in the river. Nowadays, it’s a favourite for white water rafting.

It was fun to take a road trip together, but I was sure happy to sleep in a bed on Sunday night – with no train noise!

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