|Even though John has given up motorcycles for bicycles, he can't help checking them out. Here he is, surveying a Suzuki in the parking lot of the Galileo Coffee Company at Britannia Beach on his birthday Tuesday. Behind him is his pickup truck.|
|The well-loaded motorcycle awaits its owner; John has tracked him down for a chat under the red umbrellas.|
|John starts off the conversation by asking about the kind of shocks on the Suzuki; he knows they aren't original.|
|Motorcyclists love to chat. The owner, Murray, and John deep in conversation.|
|Murray insists that John have a seat on his bike.|
John gave up dirt-bike racing 10 years ago, when falls “started hurting too much.” But after his years of racing, plus commuting to work on a street bike, it’s a rare motorcycle he can pass without casting a connoisseur’s eye over it.
So it’s no surprise that after his birthday lunch at our favourite coffee shop at Britannia Beach on Tuesday, he heads straight for the motorcycle that has parked near our truck in the interim. After surveying it for a few minutes, he turns to the man in motorcycle gear drinking his coffee nearby, and asks: “That’s not the original shock, is it?” The owner blinks; you can see the wheels turning. “Do you know about Suzukis?” he asks. A couple of exchanges later and they’re off – launched into a blizzard of insider motorcycle talk: Suzukis, Hondas, shocks, engines, gas tanks, maintenance, prices, biking experiences good and bad. At one point, John’s new friend insists he sit on the bike to see how it feels (heavy).
Turns out Murray is a motorcycle mechanic with a penchant for decommissioned forestry roads around the Stawamus Chief in the Squamish area. He rides roads that have hollowed out and turned into dry creekbeds, with rocks the size of boulders. Heading from Squamish to Indian Arm, he’s been stopped twice this spring by snow.
The thing about Murray, a smallish, neat man likely in his late 40s or early 50s, is that he rides alone. Even though bikes fall over, and ones loaded like his, with extra gear and gas, can weigh about 400 pounds. He admits it’s dangerous. He’s already had to lift the bike himself once, “even though one person really can’t do that. I hurt myself.” But he likes to choose his own paths, “and what if the other person doesn’t want to go that way?” Or wants to back out when the boulders get really big? “Yeah,” says John, his eyes lighting up, “just when it starts getting fun!”
As the conversation draws to a close, we get around to the fact that it’s John’s birthday. “May I ask,” says Murray, who has a cultivated, almost European air, “how old you are?” When John says he’s 72, the younger man beams. “That’s great,” he says. “You’re giving me something to look forward to!”
|John dismounting. Luckily, the bike doesn't fall over. It would take two of them to pick it up.|
|Murray shows John pictures of the old forestry road where he likes to ride; it's full of boulders.|