I never wonder where I’ll receive inspiration. When I’m on the back of our bike drinking it in, I want to share the scents I inhale, the images I see, and the electrifying beauty all around. I’m inspired by every turn of the wheels beneath us. An epic ride deserves an epic story.
The ideas of where to start and the roads to follow belong solely to my husband, Bernie. He worked tirelessly from September to March.
It begins with a paper map of the USA; emails to many Chambers of Commerce; researching ‘best motorcycle roads’ in each area, Google Images; telephone calls; and lots of highlighting. Once he chooses the entire route, including roads and sights, we chart our travel by kilometres per day. There was no single focus of this Ride. We both love the (old and new) West. We wanted to see parts of the USA we missed through on our last foray a few years ago. The distance – a projected 5,600 km; the duration – 17 days. The places included Kalispell and Helena, Montana; Cody and Jackson Hole in Wyoming; and Custer, South Dakota. Linking the ride would be visits to Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. Riding through Sturgis, Lead and Deadwood in South Dakota was the bonus.
While part of the fun is planning, nothing beats reality as we counted down to our departure. Living in the ‘burbs of Toronto, our best plan is shipping the bike to Calgary, flying to meet it and starting there. The bike is shipped two weeks prior fully packed except for helmets and boots. We pack our shiny black 2016 Limited paying strict attention to weight restrictions. Although ‘fair’ would be to share the load, Bernie’s allotment is far less than 50% (but he doesn’t need as much as I do!).
The day arrives, we fly, we land, we pick up the bike. A quick shop stop at Calgary Harley-Davidson – and we’re on the road – ready to start our adventure!
From Calgary to Banff, the TransCanada Hwy finds one on an ever-changing road delivering you to the doorstep of the Rockies. The highway begins to elevate and curve. We gulp the fresh air which is tastier by the moment. Each sweeping bend in the road presents a stunning new vista of the mountain range on either side of us. Riding through the heart of the Rockies, we immediately feel a connection to the earth and sky. It’s inexplicable, it’s primal and it’s part of us now. Just before reaching the B.C. border we cross over the Continental Divide. This is, geographically, where east separates from west; and great rivers decide to head to the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. It’s literally a ‘watershed’ moment and definitely a photo op!
We hook south down Hwy 93 towards Cranbrook, B.C. This short road is a tiny squiggle on the map, but it’s astoundingly beautiful. We pass through small towns and farmland. Wild goats feed by the roadside. The mountains withdraw to the distance and the scenery is filled with untamed green fields and trees. We whisk over bridges covering clear, blue streams and bed down in Cranbrook, B.C. anticipating the days to come. No longer is this just a plan with highlighted roads on a map. Now it’s real.
The next morning, we hop back onto Hwy 93. This is a direct route from Cranbrook to Kalispell, MT. The day greeted us with sunshine beaming down as we rode beneath a canopy of blue sky, mountains etching the horizons in every direction and fragrant clean air. Within moments of leaving the hotel we approach the US border and glide through. We’ve been to parts of Montana before and it’s worth a return trip. The sparkling rivers, streams and lakes complement the greenery alongside the roadway. The beauty of it all takes our breath away. We’re in no rush. I open my arms to feel the air rush over, beneath and through me. We become a part of the scenery, the link between road and sky. It’s a connection which is never severed.
Kalispell is the gateway to Glacier National Park West Entrance. This was a definitive and decisive destination by us.