Even if we love our work, the demands of everyday life can get a person feeling much like a corralled horse. When this happens to Roger Rhodes, the solution is simple: get on his motorcycle and ride.
Rhodes is the host of Country 105 FM’s The Odd Squad in Calgary, Alberta—a position that has him out of bed long before the crack of dawn, but that’s OK since ending his work day just after 9 a.m. leaves more time for riding.
“It’s therapy,” he said. “I know that sounds cliché but it really is. It takes you away from everything. Every time I come back from a ride, I pull into the garage, exhale and feel really good. You feel like you’ve washed all your sins away and it’s just the best feeling.”
Born and raised in Calgary, Rhodes, 51, grew up in a motorcycle family, but it wasn’t until he was in his 40s that he made the transition from dirt to street.
“I grew up building hot rods and muscle cars and riding dirt bikes, and I felt like I was missing something,” he said. “So I made the commitment to take a safety course and that was the best thing I ever did.”
The fear of handling a heavier bike went away almost immediately. In the ensuing years, Rhodes went from a Harley Sportster Iron 883 to a Dyna Super Glide Custom to his current Road King, which, in the summertime, is his daily ride to and from work.
Partial to Harleys, but never brand loyal, Rhodes is a friend to anyone who rides. He’s a bit of a lone wolf, though, relishing the freedom in answering to no one but the open road. — photo courtesy Roger Rhodes
A place where the steel horses run free
Living in Okotoks, Rhodes is right next to the Cowboy Trail (Highway 22). A mecca for motorcyclists, this 700-kilometre route starts in Cardston and stretches north to Mayerthorpe, tracing the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains through ranching country and aspen parkland. Perhaps the most scenic stretch is from Okotoks to Crowsnest Pass, where a stop at the Saloon in Longview is highly recommended.
“From there, a lot of people take Highway 40 through Kananaskis, and that is like the Holy Grail ride,” Rhodes said. “It’s only open seasonally, but it’s just gorgeous. And basically it’s the connector from the Longview area to the Trans-Canada. It goes right through the lodge at Kananaskis, Nakiska and those ski hills.”
Checking off his Bike-It List
In January 2017, Rhodes—who is always on the lookout for new routes to try—started The Bike-It List—a Facebook group page where anyone can join to share their favourite rides.
“I haven’t been on a whole lot of long-distance rides, except for what I’m planning this summer,” he said. “That’s why I started the Bike-It List because I wanted to share ideas with people who are into travelling and vacationing with their motorcycle.”
While on a December 2016 vacation in Maui, Rhodes rented a Harley Heritage Softtail and rode from Lahaina to the Maui Winery in Kula. “Amazing twisties and great views,” he said. — photo courtesy Roger Rhodes
The Okanagan and the Kootenays are on his radar for summer 2017, but Rhodes has another, more adventurous item on his Bike-It List.
“One day I want to do a trip through Africa,” he said. “There’s a friend of mine and she did it a couple of years ago and it’s like an African photo safari, but you’re on BMW Adventure bikes and you have a guide. Just seeing the photos, it looks spectacular. That’s what I really want to do, because there’s no place you can’t go on a motorbike.”
And there’s no better way to revive the spirit of mortal man than riding two wheels with an open throttle into the wind.