Evolution of a seasoned rider

A bike enthusiast shares some of his thoughts on motorcycle touring, and the way his experiences have changed him


Robert Kolenc with friends

Robert Kolenc enjoys seeing the sights with his friends. — Photo courtesy of Robert Kolenc

Robert Kolenc is a master of the motorcycle tour, having ventured all over the country and even travelled overseas to sample the roads in Europe. We have spoken with Kolenc about some of the memorable trips he has taken up north, as he experienced mind-blowing scenery and open road thrills.

“For my money, driving the Dempster Highway from Dawson City to just past the Arctic Circle (Fort McPherson) will reward you with some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet,” he said. “And if you go in the winter, you can ride the ice road along the Arctic Ocean to Tuktoyaktuk—which for me was a peak life experience.”

Growing along the way

Beyond specific destinations, Kolenc also shared some of the wisdom he has acquired from his journeys. He has clearly evolved as a rider and as a person.

“It used to be all about the daily mileage and bragging rights about how far and fast I went,” he said. “Now it’s all about savouring the beauty of nature and enjoying the locals. I have a lot more fun than I used to.”

Kolenc now takes the time to stop and eat at local diners rather than more impersonal chain restaurants. He will pull over at the side of the road in order to savour a particularly beautiful view.

“If I only put 400 kilometres under my belt instead of 800, I consider that a victory instead of a failure,” he said. “I mean, a great soak in Liard (River) Hot Springs is worth not making it to Watson Lake that evening.”

An enthusiastic collector

Thanks to an understanding wife, the bike-addicted Kolenc has been able to fill the garage with a few innovative machines. One interesting model is his BMW GS Adventure, which he refers to as an all-purpose, “Swiss Army knife” kind of bike. His favourite, however, is his Russian army sidecar bike, the Ural Gear Up.

“It gives me the most grins per kilometre of any bike I have ever ridden,” he said. “You can put a kid and a puppy in the sidecar and take them to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream. Or you can ride it on the ice roads on the Arctic Ocean in the winter like I did a year ago. And wherever you go, people smile and wave at you. There's something about a sidecar bike that just puts a grin on everyone’s face—and I like that!”

Words to live by

When it comes to motorcycling, Kolenc has some fantastic advice. He suggests that riders take time to enjoy the moment, to anticipate inconveniences as part of the experience and to let the locals guide you to the most worthwhile stops along the way. His riding philosophy is one to be admired.

“Don't put off your dreams until ‘one day’,” he said. “One day doesn't always come. Start your adventure now!”

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