A rider from Thunder Bay discovers a whole new world and culture on the road – and loves it

Call of the road

A rider from Thunder Bay discovers a whole new world and culture on the road – and she loves it

By Robin Bowles

It never occurred to me that in my 40s, a new passion would involve being comfortably seated on the back of a 2014 Harley-Davidson® Street Glide® travelling to destinations near and far. Yet, this is exactly what happened one spring, when I met the love of my life, an avid motorcycle enthusiast.

If you had asked my friends to describe me, “adventurous” and “risk-taker” are not adjectives they would have used. “Cautious,” “sensible” and “afraid of her own shadow” were more likely descriptors for the person I was before I met Phil Isenor.

We met on a chilly April day, although it was not too cold for Phil to pull up on his Harley®. After an enjoyable visit, we parted ways with plans to meet for supper the following night. I learned later that it was imperative that I enjoy being on the motorcycle, as that is where Phil spent much of his time in the summer. I passed the test with flying colours. Our first ride was like an IV drip, trickling the love of motorcycling into my blood.

Two months after that first exhilarating ride, my partner and I packed a ridiculously small bag (packing for a motorcycle trip is an art!) and headed out for a two-week adventure to South Dakota.

It soon became delightfully obvious that I was born to ride. We spent endless hours on the road and I quickly learned to be as diligently aware of everything happening around us as my partner, a welcome second set of eyes. At the same time, I was embracing the sights and sounds that envelop your being when you are on a motorcycle.

During that first trip, we spent time in Sturgis and Deadwood. Riding the Needles Highway in the Black Hills was my true initiation into the world of riding, with switchbacks and tight turns (that scraped the muffler once or twice), pigtail bridges and tunnels. I was hooked on the thrill of the ride.

Our summer motorcycle adventure has become a tradition that neither of us is willing to forgo, even after we purchased a camp. Our rides have become increasingly longer in our search for the best roads in the United States.

For our third annual ride, we headed west to Colorado. While my partner would happily fly by the seat of his pants, I am a planner, afraid to miss those roads that were made for bikers. With a combination of spontaneity and methodical research, we always manage to find amazing places and incredible roads. We rode the Million Dollar Highway and the Mount Evans Scenic Byway – the highest paved road in North America –and had many other exciting asphalt adventures. Riding the Rockies was an experience unlike any other. As we climbed to heights where the mountains kissed the clouds and snowbanks hugged the roads, I truly appreciated the grandeur of this world we live in.

Having come this far, we knew we had to tackle the Beartooth Pass. We headed north, through Colorado and Wyoming into Yellowstone and up to Montana via the Beartooth Highway. We have ridden many of the top motorcycle roads in the United States, but the Beartooth Pass was my personal favourite.

We went to Las Vegas earlier this year, and of course, we had to rent a Harley. The weather was a bit sketchy, but we took a day trip to California to ride in Death Valley. Temperatures rose from 11 C to a balmy 26 C in the valley. This is what happens when riding becomes a part of you. If the opportunity to ride exists, you take it, without hesitation.

This summer, our fourth annual trek, the lure of the highway is too great a force to reckon with, so we are heading east to explore the Adirondacks and the Catskills.

I have since gotten my own motorcycle licence and own a small starter bike. Riding is a part of me now. I recently read an anonymous quote: “Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul.” I must say, I agree.