Whenever Rob Harris and I met up, his greeting was like a villain in a 007 movie, “Aaah, Mistah Bond.”
Steve Bond: Rob and I went back a long way. He gave me my start in the motorcycle writing biz back in the 1990s with the Ontario Motorcycle Guide, which opened the door to getting press bikes and eventually being the main motorcycle reviewer for the Toronto Star for 14 years. I owe him a lot.
There were adventures and misadventures along the way. During CMG’s Fat Bastard Tour in 1998, after I wadded up a Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad, Rob was my ambulance driver. We were in the wilds near Ompah, Ontario with no cellphones so the boys loaded me onto the pillion of Harris’ Road King for the two-hour ride to the Napanee Hospital. Every time I moved, Rob looked around in wild-eyed terror because he thought I was on the verge of passing out. Nope, just trying to get as comfortable as I could with a broken left arm, hand and wrist, broken right leg and foot and dislocated right ankle.
Rob and I teamed up on many press launches and enjoyed some fabulous rides. I recall two-lane roads through the countryside south of Munich, Germany, blasting CBR1000s along the twisty road on the north shore of Lake Mead in the Nevada desert, CMG fall tours in Pennsylvania and side by side passes for the camera orbiting the banking at the Homestead, Florida NASCAR oval at 150 mph. We did a lot of riding together.
Rob’s vegetarianism was a constant source of ammunition for me. “Nothing with an anus,” was his criteria. How about fish? Chicken? Lobster? “Nothing with an anus.” Once at dinner somewhere, I accosted him. “Hey Rob, I’ve poked around this scallop for five minutes and still haven’t found an anus – you want one?” He mumbled something about there definitely being a large anus there but it probably wasn’t in the scallop.
Our last ride together was at the Honda Africa Twin event in Victoria BC at the end of March, 2016. We did secondary roads, some single-track and were on a single lane dirt road in a scenic canyon somewhere south of Duncan, waiting for some of the other journos to get their photos done. We’d taken our helmets off and were standing side by side, enjoying the sunshine and ogling the snow-capped peaks in the distance when Rob said, “Not hard to take, is it?”
Nope, but what IS hard to take is that we’ll never ride together again.
Goodbye brother. See you somewhere down the road.