OPINION: This Too Shall Pass

You can enjoy the Cabot Trail on any sort of bike, although the southernmost stretch through the middle of the island has been bumpy in recent years (Margaree Forks to Nyanza stretch). Last time CMG was through here, there was considerable road construction going on, though; maybe it's fixed now?

As Mark mentioned a couple of weeks ago, CMG is slowing down for a bit. This Coronavirus pandemic has seemingly affected every facet of the economy and significantly impacted our daily lives. Everyone is taking a hit – whether it’s equity or investments of the one percent, or fear of not being able to make rent for those who live month-to-month. Manufacturers have postponed media launches, press fleets aren’t accessible and the public has been told to stay home for all but essential travel. It also means that our gracious overlords have been forced to suspend freelance and contractor budgets until all of this passes. And it will pass.

While most of us are confined to our homes with only our smart phones, live streaming services and the vast world wide web at our fingertips to keep us entertained and informed, it doesn’t take much reflection to see how good we really have it. Many countries make do with far less, and people have had to endure far greater hardships throughout history. Being a devout fan of British Invasion music from the 1960s, many rockstar autobiographies tell a tale of being born in England during WWII – a bleak time of bombing raids and strict rationing. Then there was the Spanish Flu, the Bubonic Plague, I could go on.

We simply need to adapt to the new (temporary) normal. If I’m irritable when I’m not riding, I’m insufferable when I don’t have an upcoming trip on the calendar to plan. Rather than looking forward since none of us can accurately predict what’s ahead, this pandemic has allowed us time to look back. It’s an opportunity to hit the pause button and reflect on good times with great friends. Spectacular roads, beautiful landscapes and nights you may not recall with people you’ll never forget.

Some friends are unfortunately no longer with us. I recently came across an image from my first Honda press trip in 2010 when I met Editor ‘Arris in person for the first time. We were riding around the Cabot Trail and had pulled over to a scenic overlook to shoot some pictures. While still holding my camera in one hand, I was attempting to maneuver the Honda VFR 1200FA I was riding for a better angle. In doing so, I inadvertently dropped the brand new bike on its right side, badly scuffing the hard saddlebag and damaging my pride in front of my industry colleagues. Rob immediately alleviated my anxiety and made me feel better. “This may be the first time you’ve damaged a press bike, but if you do this job for any amount of time it won’t be your last,” He joked with his big Cheshire grin before adding, “Heck, I once binned two Honda’s at a track event in the same day and I still got invited on this trip, didn’t I?” He had a way of putting everyone around him at ease.

August 2010 (from left) Steve Thorton, Didier Constant, Editor ‘Arris, Dustin and Bertrand Gahel.

There was another time when I spent two weeks exploring Vancouver Island with my friend Grant aboard a couple Harley-Davidson’s. We took the small ferry to Quadra Island and were riding along a narrow road through a densely forested area on our way to dinner when seemingly out of nowhere a deer bounded out of the forest directly into my path. Without thinking, I instinctively swerved while simultaneously bringing in the front brake and clutch, merely brushing up against the massive animal as I passed rather than crashing directly into it. My eyes were probably as wide as saucers when we got to the restaurant and it took about an hour for my blood pressure to return to normal. It’s something neither of us will forget.

Dustin leaning on a Harley-Davidson Street Glide prior to getting closely acquainted with a deer.

Another time, my friend Dan and I spent a week riding through the Rockies. It may have been July, but anyone who has travelled that part of the world knows that you can experience any of the four seasons any time of year. Sometimes all of them in the same day! After seven straight days of torrential rain (and a bit of snow), we were preparing to embark on our last segment to return the bikes and transfer to the airport. We were still waterlogged from the day before and everything we had with us was wet. Prior to our departure, we scoured the hotel for garbage bags which we put over our feet and donned as makeshift diapers to keep the water out of our nether regions. The weather was miserable, but we managed to keep each other’s spirits up and still laugh about it to this day.

Dan and Dustin took in the view of Lake Minnewanka during one of the brief moments of their trip when it wasn’t raining.

Taking some time to look back will no doubt have you reminiscing about brighter days (even if it was raining). Reach out to the friends you shared those memories with. Social media may create pervasive feelings of insecurity and what the kids call FOMO (fear of missing out), but it also keeps a record of our memories to be enjoyed and easily shared. It could be as simple as firing over a text to share a funny picture or a memory. We could all use a smile.

Until we can get out riding again in full force, keep a stiff upper lip. We’ll get through this together.


  1. Then I awake and look around me / at four grey walls that surround me / and I realize that, yes, I was only dreaming / for there’s a guard and a sad old padre….

    • What a coincidence! Last week I went to the doctor. He asked what was wrong. I said: “Do you know that tune ‘The Green Green Grass of Home’? I can’t get it out of my head.

      “What do you mean”, asked the quack?

      “Well, I wake up and there is the song, in my head. At work, the tune plays in my mind all day long. Eating dinner or watching evening television the song is omnipresent. When I go to sleep, I even dream about the Green Green Grass of Home. What is wrong, Doc?”

      He said: “Sounds like you have Tom Jones Syndrome.”

      “Is that common”, asked I?

      IT’S NOT UNUSUAL …………


  2. I remember that 2010 trip fondly. Riding with Rob over the Cabot. I also remember you dropping the Honda, but Rob was right; it won’t be the last time and I’ve probably got you beat on embarrassing falls off motorcycles that weren’t moving at the time. I think we’re all glad that you’re still part of the Canadian moto-journalism scene — it’s better off for it. Carry on and freak out.

    • Thanks Steve! I recall someone running out of fuel. We had to leave the bike and ride back two-up. Honda was not impressed.

  3. My mother was a teenager in England when the war broke out. Young men going off to die, bombs coming down at night, no gas, no food unless you had a food stamp and that was extremely limited, no smartphones, no internet, no Netflix and they made do for almost six years. What we are going through now is a breeze compared to that.
    It’s a shame that VFR in the picture was a failure and Honda didn’t use that amazing engine in a more diversified range of bikes. A new sport tourer would be just what I want.

    • That VFR worked well for me, I still have mine (the manual version), 8 years later. The 172hp V4 is an absolute gem, but so is the rest of the bike – I’ve owned and ridden just about anything on the market and it’s my opinion the “expert” reviewers got this one way wrong.

      And they did put that motor in other bikes, but completely neutered it.

  4. My OCD has gotten the best of me. Second paragraph should be “Many countries make do with far less”. Make due is no longer the accepted version of this saying. On another note, I believe I remember that July as I live in Calgary. My girls and I went to Jasper and took “The Skeena” to Prince Rupert and back. When we drove the ice fields parkway back it was snowing hard around the Columbia Icefields. Even the roads were getting sketchy until we got down lower. We also met a British couple in Jasper that were doing a bucket list trip. They said the rain was worse here than winter in the UK. They were cold, wet and not impressed with Canada. I got them a bear claw and a coffee!! A few minutes of warm and dry. Honestly the Icefields parkway is pretty but there are zero corners, much better in a car. For riding, go to BC. Better weather, much better roads. I don’t ride in Alberta anymore, boring roads and Sheriffs everywhere, we have become a police state. I store 2 bikes in Nelson, drive down with my bicycle and enjoy BC roads. A friend got a ticket on a 4 lane divided highway on a sunny warm day, 111 in a 100 zone!! I am not kidding. At least I had fun for my tickets!! LOL

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