There’s peace in “them” hills
by Dale Burgos
Back in February, my article “Gearing up for Riding Season” introduced you to my latest adventures – getting on a motorcycle after wanting one for decades. I’m happy to report that riding weather returned in late March and I’m back on the road!
The last couple of years have been challenging for us all, be it the global pandemic, natural disasters, or the increasing inflation costs. I am struggling and that is why I set out to focus on my mental health and finding ways to step away from the work life and find new ways to relax. Riding a motorcycle does that for me. Oh, and spending time with the family, of course. (That should be a given, however they may be reading this, so I probably should write it).
My latest two-wheel adventure is, in large part, thanks to my wife, Elizabeth, and a new riding buddy whom I have known for almost my whole time living in Nanaimo. You see, I knew he rode bikes, but I never thought to ask if he would want to join my motorcycle “gang.” Turns out, it only took Elizabeth to say, “You and Dale should go out for a ride sometime,” to set the momentum.
After the initial planning to head out for a short road trip in and around town, he texts the following:
“Have you ever tried offroad trail riding? I have an extra dirt bike you can use.”
As my eyes began to bulge out of my head in excitement, I replied as calmly as I could,
“Oh nice, I’ve always wanted to try, but have never gotten the chance.”
Stay calm, just stay cool.
“What about this Wednesday, it looks like it will be a nice day.”
I thought long and hard for about a millisecond, and replied, “Yes!”
Thinking back, I probably should have waited a bit longer. I probably came across as too eager.
The next few days was me scraping together offroad riding gear. Thankfully, I never throw anything away. I had a pair of pants that the kids wore years ago, an old helmet, riding boots and gloves. Being a packrat paid off! The only thing I needed was a chest protector.
At this point, thinking of all the safety gear required would stop the truly intelligent people from trying this out for the first time, but not me!
After gassing up the bikes, we head out on a rural road that took us onto one of the many logging roads here in B.C. The entrance to the trail was quite muddy and there was a lot of deep puddles to maneuver. I conquered the first leg of our trip. Then came a fallen tree that blocked our path. My friend easily jumped the stump with his bike, not so for me. The log was a little wet and my back wheel spun the bike out from under me. I fell to the ground next to a large puddle, dodged a good one I thought. That was #1.
Once back on the bike, we rode on trails evading large rocks and the odd branch. We were also riding along a gradual incline as we headed to the top of a small mountain. I don’t recall him mentioning anything about cliffsides…
As we rode on, we were on a trail with a lot of loose rocks. Balancing the clutch and throttle is a must. I was doing great! The trail was very accommodating, except for this one rock – he had it out for me. The loose boulder mixed with a sudden throttle caused me to lose balance. This time the bike fell on my leg when I hit the ground. Thankfully my riding boots kept me from getting a serious burn from the bike exhaust. My friend had to lift the bike off me. This was #2.
As the trip went on, I failed at climbing a small rock face and fell again in the same spot when we were coming back down. Those were falls three and four.
Not only were my hips and legs bruised, but so was my ego. Yet, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was having a blast!
The highlight of the trip was a cliffside stop that was overlooking the smaller mountains in behind Nanaimo. Nothing could have prepared me for the beautiful sunset and landscape that surrounded us.
My riding buddy said I did well overall with it being my first time. I felt better after he told me he fell a bunch of times on his first time.
Minus the sore body and sound of the motorcycle engine, I think I found some peace in “them”hills.
Dale manages the communications department for a school district in B.C.