The Great White North - Retrospective

By: Kevin JohnsonNov 06, 2019

Looking back on the trip a few months after being home makes me realize what a phenomenal experience this was for us.  It was great reliving the trip while writing each day’s posts, but my focus was just on that, each individual day.  Reflecting on the adventure as a whole takes it to a whole new level of awesome.  At it’s most basic level it’s pretty cool thinking about how we took motorcycles all the way from Colorado up into British Columbia and back.  There are a handful of folks that do this sort of thing all the time and even take it beyond, going on longer trips, some across the world, etc.  But they’re the 1% of riders…a different 1%er of course.  Most people who ride don’t take their bikes past the edge of their stomping ground, much less out of state.

Then you look at this trip that we took and it’s just a pipe dream for most.  I was there once, I get it – sitting around with some buddies having a beer or something, chatting about “what if we did X, Y, and Z.”  Well eventually it’s time to stop dreaming and pull the trigger.  And that’s pretty much what we did last year with the Vegas trip we took.  5 days, 1,650 miles, and a plethora of character built and lessons learned.  More than all of that though it was the taste of the open road that hooked me.  Fast forward to this year where we did a shorter Black Hills trip, just shy of 1,000 miles total, which was an amazing appetizer to what was about to come: the Great White North 2019 trip.

I can remember my emotions the week leading up to our departure date, a crazy blend of excitement and nervousness all mixed into one internal gut-wrenching El Nino.  I spent a ton of time preparing everything I could think of.  What tools and parts might I need to have handy on the side of the road?  What extra clothing am I going to need for the different parts of the country we’re riding through?  In addition to the things I need, what can I eliminate that is extra “fluff” unnecessarily taking up space and weighing the bike down?  I probably went through my bags a half a dozen times trying to make sure everything was packed exactly for what I thought I would/could need and nothing more.  By the time I was all loaded up I had all of my four bags pretty full but still had a little room if there was something I found on the road that I couldn’t live without.

Being as prepared as I could helped ease my nerves some, but then there was the level of excitement that wouldn’t be remotely tamed until we were putting miles behind us.  And even while on the road there was a level of excitement that stuck with me the entire time, knowing that each day would be a new unpredictable sub-quest.  I’ll be interested to see if these feelings start to fade ever so slightly the more trips we go on or if they’ll continue on just as strong as our first ride.

Getting along more into the ride, what a fucking adventure!  I remember getting to Grand Junction that first day and thinking, “well, we’ve gone this far, no turning back now.”  Which is entirely false, that would have been a perfect point to turn back if the circumstances warranted: bike was seriously acting up, family emergency, etc.  But that mentality of never looking back stems from my stubbornness, despite it being pretty intimidating being only one day into a pretty big trip like this thinking about everything that lies ahead.  You don’t worry about it before you leave because the excitement is so overwhelming, but then you have some time to reflect once you’ve begun and it all sort of hits you.  Luckily all you have to do is go through the motions, day two comes, and then you’re in the clear…all of the anxiety quickly gets washed away because now you really are into the trip and looking back isn’t even a consideration.

It was really cool passing state lines, especially the further away from Colorado we got.  I’d never been up to this part of the country so not only was I checking places off the list, I was equally getting there the coolest (to me) way possible.  And being that far from home with my bike was surreal.  When we were sitting in our hotel room in Eugene, Oregon, talking about how we would not only be riding the west coast, but also going all the way to Canada was wild mind blowing – and we were here doing it!

I won’t get into the details of the days as it would be redundant writing, so we’ll fast forward through that, but the days that we got rained on were kind of hard.  Knowing we had to get up and trudge through the slop to get to our next destination due to time constraints was sort of annoying.  Being the planner that I am it was very comfortable having it all mapped out on paper, but when we were forced to ride through non-ideal situations it was a whole different story.  Not to say we weren’t prepared, but it might have been a little nicer to just sit tight and wait a extra day for the storms to pass.  I think in the future I’m going to try to do a combination of planning out stops and hotels and things but equally not constraining ourselves too much.

Living in Colorado is absolutely amazing.  The scenery is second to none, it has all four seasons, great outdoor activities, it (Denver) is big enough while not being too big, and it’s a good central location in the country.  The only sort of bad thing about it is realizing that if you’re going to travel like we are on two wheels, you’re going to have to pass through some pretty flat areas to get to where you want to go.  The interstates are god awful but sometimes they’re a necessary evil that I suppose we should feel fortunate we have access to.  This is never a problem while departing on a trip, but boy does it suck coming home.  It almost feels like the trip is over a day or two early and then you’re stuck rushing through the last bit since it’s less exciting.  Some of that stems from the urge to sleep in your own bed after being away for so long, but the scenery doesn’t lend any incentives to that mentality either.  Passing through Wyoming, while we could have made it way more exciting, it was more “let’s just make it a blur and get through it.”  This is absolutely the wrong attitude to have and I’ll work harder on making this not the case on future escapades.

Overall, this was an amazing journey, one I feel very fortunate to have been able to take.  And equally fortunate we didn’t run into any serious issues.  It’s great being in a place in life with my job, my finances, and my relationship that doing something like this is very attainable and doesn’t cause any unnecessary stress or hardships for me or those that depend on me.  I think it’s important to show humility and not take things for granted too much because we all know how quickly circumstances can change in this crazy ass world.

As I’ve alluded to throughout this entire post, I’ve fully gotten the itch and these rides are the only scratch…so stay tuned and find out where we’re going to head off to next!

Kevin Johnson
Kevin was destined to ride motorcycles from a young age since bikes are a family pastime.  Only recently did Kevin become an internet motorcycle influencer and change the lives of no one while blogging about his exploits, both on and off the road.  He is currently (and constantly) thinking about the next places two wheels might take him, much to the dismay of his wife, so stay tuned for what's to come!