September 13, 2003 GMT
My Boots Are Made For Walking

Three weeks on Vancouver Island, not exactly what I had planned, more like three days. I have learnt two valuable lessons from it. Foremost, european model only bikes are a pain in the ass to get bits for and there are plenty of fantastic people out there ready to rescue a motorcyclist in distress like I was.

Standing outside the closed bikeshop with that ball in the pit of your stomach feeling was not the relaxing sunday ride I had planned. I kept looking at passing cars hoping one of them might take pity on us and help out. Hey presto, up drives this guy in a campervan who had already seen us pushing the bike to the shop. Did we want to leave the bike at his house and have him run it to a bike shop in the morning, do bears crap in the woods? Drew, a Harley rider had been through the breakdown in a strange place routine himself and knew how it felt. We ended up staying with Drew and Sandra. We were watered, fed and watched stars in their hot tub at night. We stayed with Drew and Sandra until we tied our boot laces tight and headed back to Vancouver as footpassengers to have a look at the city and for Jess to catch her flight back to England.

Of course we stayed in the cheapest hostel in town. It was cheap for a reason. Wandering around in the evening left Jess in a state of fear and me wondering where all the straight, sane people go. We were in the Eastside of town well know for its proliferation of hookers and drug dealers/addicts. Eventually we discovered the good parts of the city and enjoyed wandering about and hanging on the beach.


Of course no visit to the city would be complete without retail therapy, so we went to Moutain Equipment Co Op, the size of a football field, full of outdoor toys.
After a teary goodbye at the airport I headed back to Vancouver Island to get my bike. It had been fantastic sharing the last 6 weeks with Jess but alas she had to go earn some travel tokens to allow her to return to South America next March.
Bike not ready, no surprise. The list of damage now reads, dropped valve seat, bent valve, buggered piston with rebore needed. 1 more week of waiting.
Unsure how to use the time but again answer supplied. A weekend in a rainforest cabin, fishing and crabbing with Drew, Sandra and their son Brant. The sun shone, the beer flowed from dawn till way past dusk and a good time was had by all.
I had to come to see the Island and no wheels just meant a different way of travelling. I hitched to Victoria and spent a couple of days sunning myself, doing the tourist thing and reading.

Another visit to the bike shop and another problem. The piston sleeve had a crack in it. More money and what turned out to be nearly another two weeks of delays. I knew a gathering of Overland Bikers was meeting some 450 kms away on the weekend and set about trying to find a lift to that. Thanks to this website Timo replied to my postings and on thursday we set off for Revelstoke. Well I suppose you are thinking that these overland bikers are the bearded BMW riding types. Yes there were lots of BMWs and yes lots of people did have beards but the weekend was excellent. Lots of really interesting folk doing some big trips all over the world. A great opportunity to drink beer and talk bull about bikes.
I returned to Vancouver Island and spent the 5 more days waiting for the bike to be fixed. Thanks to Timo and Julie I had a place to stay and managed to relax and nearly forget about the bike and the ever increasing bill it was going to cost me. The day arrived and I parted with $1,400 Canadian and got my scruffy bike back in working order. Steve, the sometimes slightly stoned mechanic had I hoped fettled it to mechanical perfection ready for the next 25,00 miles the dommie would have to endure.


A quick one day blast to the Pacific Ocean was all it took to convice me I could finally leave for the states. One last night at Timos and I boarded the Victoria ferry bound for a cloudy Olympic Peninsular. Back to the country where drivers use their brakes, not steering wheels to go around corners and where every house has a flag or "proud to be american" banner in their windows! I certainly enjoyed Canada and will be back some time in the future.

Posted by Peter Slarke at September 13, 2003 02:05 AM GMT

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