For those of us who live year-round in a climate that experiences four distinct seasons, the leaves on the trees changing colour often signals the end of the road for riding on two wheels. With the right preparation and precautions, there is still much riding to be enjoyed.
Back in another lifetime, I was dating a woman who was curious but very reluctant to be a passenger on my bike. After outfitting her in proper riding gear and taking her on a few short rides around the neighbourhood, I somehow managed to convince her that joining me on a fall ride up to Tobermory would be a good idea. I arranged a 2011 BMW K1300 GT for the excursion to the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula so that she would feel more secure and comfortable than on the back of the Honda Shadow that I owned at the time.
Coordinating our schedules for the end of October, the weather did not cooperate for our departure. Pulling up to her house in a heavy downpour, the air was cool and the visibility heavily restricted. Nevertheless, she was a great sport and we rode straight to the hotel in Kincardine, our destination for the first evening.
Shivering and mentally exhausted, we peeled off our wet gear and made a beeline for the Jacuzzi with the bottle of Scotch I’d packed. Still wondering what was supposed to be fun about the experience, I assured her that the forecast was improving. Thankfully for both of us, it did. Over the next few days, the temperature rose, and the sun emerged.
Making the decision to take a much-needed holiday, we were happy to leave our laptops and the city behind. We spent the week exploring small towns to escape our hectic and hurried pace of life. Crisscrossing the peninsula, we opted to stay in quaint independent hotels or bed & breakfasts (AirBnB didn’t exist then). Taking in sights like Flowerpot Island and Bruce Peninsula National Park in Tobermory, we took in the fall colours while visiting numerous lighthouses and made our way south through Lion’s Head and then Wiarton where we met the albino weather prognosticator (groundhog), Wiarton Willie.
The BMW K1300GT turned out to be a perfect companion. Headed hand grips for me and seats for both of us were welcome indulgences when the mercury dipped into the single digits. The thankfully waterproof saddlebags and top case also allowed more than enough room to accommodate our needs for a few days away. Electronic systems like ASC, three adjustable Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA II) modes, traction control and ABS also helped instill confidence over the course of the trip.
Riding in the rain with a new passenger required me to be considerate for her safety and it demanded that she put her utmost trust and faith in my abilities and judgement. We ultimately had our differences and parted company years later, but at the time I think the experience made us stronger as a couple.
The highs of the trip were accentuated because we experienced some adventure and hardship along the way. Looking back, we didn’t reminisce about how cold or wet we got. We fondly remembered the time we spent in the Jacuzzi or lying in front of a fireplace as our clothes dried. Restricted to our helmets for the day, we had plenty to talk about in the evenings and never once turned on a television.
Had we taken a car on this journey, we would likely have both been constantly checking our phones for text messages or work emails. Had we gotten to our destinations without any kind of discomfort, we would have missed out on all the best parts.