I decided it was time for me to start doing a little solo riding. I couldn't rely on always having a friend available to go with me.....I have gotten used to having a security blanket ( a metaphor ) riding staggered behind me....
I called my Mom to make sure she was going to be home on the weekend. (This was still back in January) She is always glad when one of her kids comes for a visit.
I was planning on riding if the weather was ok....like if there was no frost or ice. The temperatures were still unseasonably warm so I was quite confident the roads would be good. I figured if it did have a sudden change while I was up the coast and it started to snow or get icy, I could leave the bike at my Mom's and take the bus home.
So, I set off in the dark on a Saturday morning ( yes, I am illegal again
), but it was highly unlikely I would get stopped on my way to the ferry at 6:30 on a Saturday morning, especially dressed the way I was and with my bag cargo netted to the pillion seat.
Even though it wasn't raining, I dressed for rain anyway. You cannot trust the weatherman...if they say clouds with sunny periods, it usually means "it's sunny somewhere in the world, just not where you are today".
Given my newness to riding and the wet roads and darkness of the morning, I must have been riding quite slow, because I got to the ferry with only a minute to spare. I paid for my passage and headed down to the designated bike area and waved directly on board. Apparently I was running late, because I was at the stern of the boat.
The ticket agent had radioed and said a motorcycle was on the way down so the ferry waited the minute until I got there. I was barely in the boat when it started moving.
Now, it is important to understand that the first ferry in the morning is also when the bigs trucks ( semi's and tractor trailers) are also making their runs for deliveries up the coast.
As I ride onto the deck at the stern of the boat, the deck worker points for me to go the front of the ship.
It would have meant squeezing between the rows of trucks to make my way to the front.
So, I risked having a ferry worker yell at me and I just pulled in behind a row of trucks and stopped.
I took off my helmet and shook my hair free before I went to get a ferry guy.
Shameless, I know.....
I walked over to the ferry guy and smiled sweetly....
"Excuse me", I say, "this is the first time I've been on a ferry on a motorcycle."
"And I'm a new rider".
He smiled back at me. "How can I help you"? he asked.
I pointed to the long skinny aisle between the rows of big trucks and asked " He didn't really mean for me to squeeze between the trucks to make my way to the front, did he"? "I'm not too sure I could do that".
He took a look up between the trucks and replied, " I'm not sure I would want to do that, either".
He said my bike was fine where it was. " I will show you how to park it".
He came over to my bike and explained I should park it at an angle and to leave it in gear. ( I knew that already, but, when someone wants to go the extra distance and be helpful....given that I was a helpless woman after all...
, I let them be helpful.
He explained about the wheel chocks and even went and got one for me. (Keep in mind I had told this was my first time ).
He told me I could come and find him when we docked and he would take care of the wheel stick for me. I smiled brightly and said thanks.
When we were docking, a few individuals came over to chat with me. It's amazing how having a bike makes people chatty. The ferry guy came over and took away the wheel stick, reminded me to be careful on the exit ramp and wished me a good trip. Wow! What a nice guy.
When I left home that morning, it was with some trepidation about going on my own up this highway. I believe I mentioned somewhere earlier about being nervous "the first time" I do something. So far this morning, I had managed to cross a few bridges, so to speak. As I left the ferry and made my way across the exit ramp, I started to feel a little less nervous.
It was daylight now, the skies were clear and the roads were dry. Bonus!
I decided today to go the North road route because the road was dry this time. I made my way through Gibsons and although there were no problems, I was still feeling a little "anxious".
Something changed. Suddenly I'm smiling. I'm near Robert's stick where the highway widens and it's a long sweeping curve and I'm here, in this moment....I'm really doing this....I'm riding this highway by myself and I'm enjoying being here. I'm excited about this journey. Wow! What a feeling.
It may be difficult for some people to understand why this moment was so special for me, so I will explain briefly. For most of my life, I have been told, "No, you cannot do that." Or, "No, you should not do that." Or, "No, that is not appropriate for a girl." Or, "No, a woman shouldn't do that."
No, no, no. When you hear that your whole life, you begin to believe you can do nothing. Well, darn it anyway, I was tired of trying to do what other people thought I should or should not do.......
So, here I was on "my very own motorcycle" riding up the Sunshine Coast Highway by myself and with a big smile on my face. It felt so-o-o-o-o good.
The good weather didn't last long. After Robert's stick there were wet roads and fog patches. By the time I got to Sechelt where I pulled in to the gas station to fuel the bike, the fog was quite thick.
I made a comment to a fellow who was fuelling his big SUV," I'm sure glad I'm not driving what you're driving".
He asked why and I said because I could not afford the fuel. Those SUV's are very thirsty vehicles.
He replied I sure wouldn't want to be riding what you're riding on a day like today.....(he didn't like the cold temperature)
He had just come down the road I was about to go up, so I asked him about the fog. He said as soon as you get out of Sechelt, it was clear.
I was relieved to hear that.
After fuelling I made my way through Sechelt....very carefully.....I felt very vulnerable because of the fog. At least I had my bright yellow raincoat on and my extra flashing lights on my arm bands and an extra flashing light on the back of my bag.....this early on a Saturday in January there would be almost zero other traffic on the highway, so, I figured I would be ok.
The fog stayed with me for most of the ride. Good thing I was familiar with the road.
I had the luxury of being able to go slow.....there was nobody else on the road. Eventually someone else caught up to me, so, I pulled over and let them go by. With the wet road and fog, I didn't need the extra stress of someone behind me pressuring me to go faster.
Eventually I made it safe and sound to my Mom's where she had a pot of fresh coffee just starting to brew and breakfast on the go.
The next day, she was heading out early on a bus trip to Powell River and I was volunteering to help with a function at the legion. She went out on her bus trip with some worry in her head because the weather was so bad. It was raining again. I knew she would not enjoy her day if she was thinking about me riding my bike home in the rain, so, I created another "white lie".
I called the Powell River number where the bus trip was headed and I left a message for my Mom. "Can you please tell -----------that it stopped raining and I have made it home safe and sound". Even though at that point I hadn't even left her house yet, I knew it would ease her mind.
I left earlier than I normally would have to go to the ferry. It was raining, so I knew I would have to go slow on those tight turns. It seemd like the longer I was on the road, the harder it rained. I'm not sure when I have seen it rain that hard.
It's occasions like this why we pack raingear everywhere we go.
Just like, Visa....never leave home without it
I was glad I had treated my visor with Sea Drops ( got it from a dive shop). The rain was pelting so hard it was hurting my face and splattering my glasses so I could not see. I put the visor down to cover my face and the Sea Drops made the water sheet off the visor instead of making it impossible to see. I had to keep the visor open a stick, though, so it wouldn't fog up. ( I have since purchased a visor liner that prevents fogging up.....works great)
It was slow, uneventful ride to the ferry, but, eventually I got there. Unlike the ferry guy from the morning before, the ferry guy here was obviously in a crummy mood. I asked him a simple question and he responded very beligerently and rudely. Then he sent me down to where the big trucks were lined up for loading. WTF?
Ok, so I head down there and get at the front of the row he has told me. And I wait.
When it is time for boarding, he now lets on the trucks first. WTF?
This is not the way it's supposed to be done. Bikes always go on first, but, here I am sitting here waiting while all the big trucks make their way on first. I am finally allowed to go on....behind all the big trucks and getting to breath in all their lovely deisel fumes all the way.
I was directed along the side and told to make my way to the front. Well, when I got there I could not get to the front. The tucks were pulled up so far, I wasn't sure if I could squeeze through, so I stayed back a bit. I had to search for a wheel stick. There were none around and the ferry guys were not at all helpful.....unlike the previous day.....
"Hey, guys, you get well paid for your job....if you don't like the rain, then get an inside job......"
I went to the chief steward's office and made a polite enquiry about why I was directed the way I was. They gave me an official complaint form to fill out....so, I took 2.....the guy the day before should get kudos.....
The deck officer was in the steward's office and he was somewhat perplexed as to why the lot guy had done what he had done.....The deck officer said he would assess the situation when we docked.
When we docked, the deck officer came to find me and took a look at the situation. He figured if I could move my bike right to the curb, I should be able to clear the big truck...."I'll get you off first", he said.
Finally we docked and true to his word, the deck officer let me get off the boat first.
Darn! It was still raining cats and dogs. I made my way to a gas station on Lonsdale ( at this point I still don't know how far I can go on a tank, so, I stop to fuel at 200k).
I phoned my friend, dr_bar, because we had made a previous arrangement to meet at his local coffee shop when I came home.
"Where are you?" he asked.
"I'm in North Van".
"I guess all you want to do right now is go home to a hot shower, heh?"
"No", I replied, "What I would like is a bowl of soup and a cup of tea".
"You still want to come to Coquitlam?"
"Sure", I say, "I'm dressed for the rain and I'm not cold, so I may as well carry on to Coquitlam and have soup over there".
"OK, how long do you think it will take you te get here?"
"Oh, about another 30 minutes should get me there.....see you shortly."
When I arrived at the coffee shop, a lot of the usual customers were there.
"Are you nuts?" was the comment at my arrival.
"What can I say, the forecast when I left home was for dry weather."
I didn't stay long....just long enough to have some lunch....because all of a sudden I was starting to feel chilly. It was probably from the condensation that had been inside my raincoat and now that I was without all my outer layers, the dampness was making me cold.
When I went home, I took my bike directly to the carwash area inside the garage. I unloaded my gear from there and left the bike to cool down. It was going to need a good cleaning after the riding I did that weekend.
Somebody who lives in the building looked over and asked, "You're not going to park it there, are you?" (some people are so stupid)
"No", I replied, "My bike is covered with mud and it needs to be washed". (I have my own parking space....why would she think I'm parking it in the carwash area
I carried my gear in and dumped everything in the bath tub.....my official rain room....( hey, in a 1 bedroom condo, everything does double duty. LOL)
I collected my "washing" odds and ends and headed back out to the bike. After hosing it down, I sprayed it with the bike cleaner I had bought. It was a big job to get it cleaned this time. After I got it cleaned and dried, I sprayed and polished with some protectant....one must protect their investment.....and stood back to admire the gleaming vision before me. Wow! Just an hour ago it was covered in mud and road grime.....it looked showroom new now. OK, enough admiring my hard work....I was suddenly very tired, so I parked the bike, collected my wash stuff and went in to have my long awaited hot shower.
I had met the challenges of the weather and road conditions head on and passed with flying colours. It felt like such a huge accomplishment to me.
Aahhhhhhh, life is good sometimes.