The bucket list

Wayne Hamm shares the first of several articles about his cross—Canada motorcycle journey

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Man in front of terry Fox memorial

Visiting the Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay, Ontario, was a must-do for Wayne Hamm. — Photo courtesy Wayne Hamm

Earlier this summer, Wayne Hamm shared his intention to cross Canada by motorcycle. He has finished his journey safe and sound, and is now sharing the evolution of his trip with RidersWest. Over the next couple of months, RidersWest will be publishing a series of stories about Hamm’s trip. This is the first of his recaps.

If you haven't watched the movie The Bucket List, it is a must-see. It is a list of things to do before one kicks the bucket. It says to witness something majestic, and after my journey, I know I am a changed man and more appreciative of this beautiful country.  As my adventure evolved, I jotted down many descriptors and thoughts. Therapeutic, relaxed, frustrated, respectful, emotional, reflective, awestruck, isolated, stressed, rugged, robust, spectacular—these were just a few of the things I felt. There was constant sensory overload.

I took my 76-year-old stepfather on the bike after he expressed his regret for not doing something like this when he was younger. He is from Newfoundland and hadn't experienced the province's beauty. Seeing the excitement in his eyes between Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island was moving, to say the least.

The allure of the open road

If you have ridden a motorcycle for any distance on any highway, you will understand the comments below. If you have not, this is some of what to expect. On leaving the city, there was a feeling of freedom and excitement with the wind and sun in my face as I manoeuvered my motorcycle. The smells of freshly cut grass and hay with the sweet smell of canola and other crops were everywhere. Sometimes, you can actually smell the dirt—even the smell of manure doesn't seem as offensive. Old collector cars that passed me by during a cross-country rally left a distinctive, less stringent smell. There also was that clean, refreshing smell I often experienced—the smell of rain. The odour and taste of the salt air coming off the Atlantic Ocean is unforgettable. Falling victim to bird droppings, insects and errant substances from cattle haulers as they pass, is to be expected.

The bond between riders

The camaraderie was unexpected and unsolicited. For the most part, regardless of the type of motorcycle you ride, bikers will wave to each other on the highway. We are all sharing, in one form or another, the excitement of the open road. Some adults and many children in their cars wave as they pass, as do some truckers on isolated stretches of highway. As a show of appreciation and respect, I often waved to the police officers patrolling our highways. I waved to the farmers in their machinery working the fields and I waved to the flag people tending construction areas. Many waved back. On two different occasions—once in northern Ontario and once on the Prairies—I passed lumbering freight trains travelling close to the highway and waved, using what I thought to be a time-tested gesture: hoisting my arm in the air, as if pulling down on an air horn. It was uplifting; despite seeming so alone on the highway, I was acknowledged when the train crews sounded their air horns.

Unexpected intrigue

A fellow in Carleton Place, Ontario, approached me and was intrigued with my adventure. I didn't want to be rude but after many minutes, I said I had to get going. He told me I was a free spirit and wished me a safe trip, shaking my hand and saying he wished he could do what I was doing. I met antique car buffs crossing the country at the Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay, where we shared our experiences. A stranger came to me while I was lunching at a picnic table in Quebec. He was inquisitive and spent many minutes sharing his collection of jokes. While sitting waiting for a pilot vehicle at a highway construction zone, I had a great conversation with the flag man.

Seeing others’ intrigue is surprising and will totally catch you off guard, so be prepared. You will be approached by people during fuel stops, lunch breaks and ferry crossings. Some are interested in your motorcycle, but many want to—or wish they were able to—do what you are doing.

Check back on the RidersWest website over the next few weeks to read about Hamm’s adventures in the Prairie provinces, Ontario and Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Wayne Hamm's trip was sponsored by Riverside Honda


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