Time Was


Time was when the temperature finally crept above the zero mark that I’d be out and riding around town. The first ride of spring (yes, and sometimes late winter when I lived in the GTA) was an eagerly awaited event that meant that once again I could clear my head and start planning various exploratory trips.

Then I got into the motorcycle journalism business and it became a challenge to be the first journalist to get a Canadian test ride in. I still remember very clearly riding a Ducati past snow-filled banks around Orangeville in southern Ontario. “First Canadian Test of the new Ducati” was on the front cover of the next OMG.

Then things started to get really interesting as I found my winters getting increasingly broken up with trips to exotic locales to participate in new product launches. It was as if winter no longer existed.

The usual shedding of the rust in spring was no more as I hit the Canadian roads pretty well in polished steel mode, having spent the winter on Californian roads, Georgian race tracks and the occasional South African excursion.rob_head_side.jpg

Yes, life was good. A melange of new motorcycles, glorious roads and nothing but the occasional deadline to have to bend my sweet bachelor life around. Glory years.

Fast forward to the spring of 2010. My days of debauchery in Toronto and Montreal seem an eternity ago. I now live in Sackville, New Brunswick, I actually own a house (well, the bank does, but it’s in my name) as well as a car and … two kids.

It’s about as far away from my old life as can be. I’m too far away to grab a test bike on a whim, so the battered and abused KLR is now my main ride. I’m too busy to go on launches, so I now pay Costa to do them for me. But I still have the deadlines, only they now seem to be all the time as opposed to occasional.

I think this winter has been the first one where I didn’t find myself in some sunny climate, a new bike or two to ride and a smile on my face. I guess at least it was mercifully short (by Canadian standards), but the recent warm weather that blew across the east like God had just opened his oven door (replete with the smell of baking cookies) was the insult to my injury.

I found myself behind the wheel of my new cage watching bike after bike go by as we trekked to the Nova Scotia coast to stay with my better half’s godparents — two screaming kids strapped in the back.

“So this is what hell is like?” I pondered to myself as my Waifer Thin slipped in a kid’s music CD to try and abate the screaming. It didn’t, but it now added a torturous soundtrack that would dig into my subconscious and emerge in quadraphonic splendour at 3 am the next morning.

No, this is what hell is like.

“Oh look, someone on a KLR,” bleats my Trouble and Strife in a desperate attempt to try and crack a smile from daddy’s clenched face. I just wanted to pull over, put the kids in a soundproof box at the side of the highway (mental note — send idea to the Nova Scotia department of transport), flag down a motorcycle and ride off to wherever the road might take me.

But this is what I signed up to and despite being burnt by God’s oven, never seemingly having a clear head, cursing motorcyclists when I’m stuck in a car and knowing all the words to Sesame Street’s ‘Count with Me,’ it’s not all bad.

There’s (some) truth to what people tell you about the beauties of parenthood, and I won’t make this a cringe-worthy piece by repeating them. I just have to remember where I was three years ago — just turned 40 and nothing to my name save for an abused KLR650 and an Internet magazine (albeit a great one of course!).

My old life had ground to a halt and I was on the verge of becoming a sad old git. No matter how much I thought a carefree life could sustain me to the grave, it wasn’t so anymore. It was time to turn off the trail and join the highway where the rest of the world drives.

I like my house, I really like Sackville and the east coast and I love my family. All I need is a little more time for a few more rides, a winter motorcycle vacation now and then, and the installation of soundproof boxes along Canada’s highways.

Life is rather different now, but it’s still pretty good, all in all — and a little bit more motorcycling time could make it just about bearable :).



  1. I’m sure that most of us have been where you are now and where you once were. I know I have and it is all just a bit of the old sweet & sour. Seems you can’t have one without the other and oddly they enhance one another. Someday I will be more than happy to have nothing other than a KLR. I will be in a space where it will be more than enough to put a big silly grin on my face. Thanks for the thoughtful prod.

  2. Hang in there ‘Arris, it gets better!
    The Wiggles soon give way to DragonForce and Thomas the Tank Engine becomes GameBoy. The CX500 that inexpensively got me through the little kid years is being replaced by a Kawi Concours. Just think, in 15 years or so I’ll have my kids through college and can consider buying an actual new motorcycle!

  3. Ah … life is a constant series of adjustments.

    When you get over this bit, you then get to consider the ramifications of age and mortality.

    Ain’t life sweet … and lest we forget, short …

    I had no idea you were such a whiner ‘arris :grin

  4. Sounds like a movie trailer of my life. I just entered my forties and my wife and I are finally getting down to helping reproduce the labour force. We’ve got a two-‘fer due in June. I had been thinking that my appreciation of twins (internal combustion-type) would be permanently replaced by the acquisition of twins (internal digestion-type.) Then two riding friends with newborns sent me this link: Between the three of us, we’re going to try to figure out a way to do both.

  5. A fine club we belong to eh…
    I ride to work to get my fix and watch all the bikes go by on weekends. During the week it’s kinda like years ago when there were fewer bikes on the road.
    One thing to look forward to is giving the young’uns rides. My oldest (of 4) are 8 and 9 and love riding Daddy’s bike.

  6. Well said (love the rhyming slang!).

    There is light at the end of the tunnel (I know) but you will out there on the Frog and Toad before you know it.

  7. You’re not alone! There are a bunch of riders, myself included, that have sacrificed riding time for family time. I actually went 8 years without a motorcycle in my life! THAT was hard. Now that the kids are getting older (11 and 13) I am planning much more time on the road riding. They want to spend more time with their friends and I need the time alone. It’s gonna be a glorious summer!

    Play safe!

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