Motorcycle Travel Blog Canada: The Start of the Americas

Welcome to Canada! Five years after leaving home to motorcycle round the world, we have finally made it to the Americas! 

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Motorcycle Travel Blog Canada

Ice snakes and glaciers

The little Honda CRF300Ls are in their element as we race up the gravel ladder. It’s the first time in weeks our bikes have had the chance to stretch their legs and chew dirt – and they’re making the most of it. Alissa’s cheeky smile pokes out the side of her helmet as she blips the gas and spits stones from her rear tyre to stop me from overtaking. We get on the pegs, wring the throttles and the single-cylinder motors purr in excitement. It’s as if we’re releasing these machines back into the wild and onto the terrain they were built for.

We make it to the last rung and finally reach the viewpoint over Salmon Glacier – the largest glacier in the world accessible by road.

We saw a photograph of the gargantuan ice snake curling its way down the mountain years ago and wanted to see it for ourselves ever since. It’s a special feeling, riding to an exotic place we thought only existed in magazines.

We take off our helmets for a closer look and immediately put them back on again. Starving mosquitos swarm our faces and hundreds land on our riding gear desperately trying to suck blood through our jackets. The gloves come off so we can take a few pictures and in those few moments our hands are covered in bites.

But it has taken weeks of riding very long – and very straight – roads to get here and we’re not about to let a few million mozzies drive us away. Two more bites, a neck slap, eight swear words later and fine – they win. We swing our bikes around to return to Hyder, Alaska and cross the border back into Canada.

Crossroads

Now we’ve got a big decision to make. We shipped our bikes from the UK to Vancouver, Canada. The plan was to ride north to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, USA and then to Tuktoyaktuk, Canada – the northernmost points of both countries.

But hundreds of overloaded adventure bikes passed us every day the further north we rode. Petrol stations brimmed full of riders either heading that way or returning, so the ‘end of the road’ quickly lost its magic. The road itself is long, straight and boring – especially on small bikes. We weren’t having fun and neither were our gravel hungry 300s. Today’s roads were what we wanted (minus the mozzies). It’s not about ticking boxes or sitting on a straight road for weeks on end, so the decision came easy. We’ll turn around, catch a boat to Vancouver Island and see if we can get lost there instead. Alaska can wait for another day.

Vancouver Island

The ferry chugged through the Inside Passage along the west coast of Canada for sixteen hours, stopping off at reserves and ports and winding around misty islands until it docked at Port Hardy at 1am. We rolled off into darkness and headed straight for the sleepy town of Port McNiel. We spent a week relaxing, riding around, strolling through old fishing villages, drinking wine and swapping stories with friends until the early hours and preparing our bikes and route for an off-road ride through Vancouver Island.

Lost is good

We’re lost and alone. Towering Western Red Cedar line the trails and branch out into the distance to cover the land like a thick green blanket. We chase endless tracks through the huge trees, over rickety wooden bridges and alongside frothing turquoise rivers. The gravel trails crest hills allowing us to stop and take in the island’s rugged beauty before digging our way back into the thick of its temperate rainforests.

Vancouver Island is the largest island on the Pacific Coast of North America… and it’s stunning. Days roll by and our wrists gain in confidence. Soon we’re flying over the rough stuff and having so much more fun than on the long straights we were on before. This was the right call.

Camping

We only stop to catch our breath and take photos as we work our way around the island. We pull into gorgeous little towns to resupply before heading back into the forests to set up camp amongst the fir trees.  

But it’s not easy and we’re very careful – especially with our food because of bears. Food, drink and anything that smells including toothpaste, deodorant and even petrol canisters etc. must be kept far away from the tent and hoisted up a tree. As night falls, our brains warn us that any little noise outside our tent is a bear. But we pretend we’re not scared – as we clutch our bear spray, pocket knife and blow-up pillows. The trick is not to drink tea before bed.

Trucks

The only other danger we’re constantly warned about are logging trucks. We’re told these lawless mavericks fly down the backroads at ridiculous speeds shoving unaware bikers off the trail. But that’s not been our experience. They slow down for us on the deep gravel sections with big smiles, wave us past when we can pick up speed and we pull over when we can to let them pass as their train of trees flows past smelling of gin and tonic. Everyone we meet in Canada is friendly, including the loggers, and even the bears kindly keep their distance.

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Candied salmon, beaches and bears

Our route takes us to beautiful Bamfield, a tiny coastal community in the Pacific Rim National Park. We find a campground run by First Nations people and pitch our tent by the water. The owner offers us some homemade candied salmon jerky (which we quickly convince him to sell us), we grab a few cold cans, lay on the warm golden sand and watch the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean.  

The next morning, we find all our neighbouring campers huddled together excitedly chatting about how a bear just waltzed through our campsite while we were brushing our teeth – perhaps sweet salmon wasn’t such a good idea.

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Icefields Parkway

It’s hard to leave this wonderous island behind, but we have unfinished business in the Rockies. So, we catch a few more ferries and slowly potter down the Sunshine Coast until we land back in Vancouver. We flew here nine years ago, rented a BMW GS and headed for the Icefields Parkway. Those two weeks were one of the best rides of our lives, so we couldn’t leave without saying hello to an old friend first…

Adventure Motorcycle Travel in Canada Ice Fields Parkway

Over 100 glaciers, icefields, deep green forests, bright blue lakes and neck achingly tall mountains fill Canada’s Rocky Mountains range. We roll north to Mount Robson – the highest mountain in the Rockies, before heading east for Jasper and Banff, taking time to wonder around ski towns, sip hot chocolates, hike to secluded lakes, clamber up waterfalls and raft rivers.

Third time lucky

Unfortunately, the main stretches of road are busier than before, and nearby forest fires haze the skies and blur some of the mountain ranges. We don’t see anywhere near the same amount of wildlife either. Last time we ran into moose, black and even brown bears. But it’s still a jaw wide open ride so we’ll just have to come back and do it again.

We could stay in Canada forever. We covered 4,000 miles through British Columbia and didn’t even scratch the surface of the country. It’s humungous, beautiful, filled with some of the friendliest people on earth and home to some of the world’s most raw, unfiltered and stunning nature. It’s the ride of a lifetime and a must for any biker. 

But this is just the start of our big adventure through the Americas. It’s going to take us a few years to get down to the southern tip of Argentina, so we had better get a move on. We love Canada, but it’s time to point our wheels south and head for the USA…

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

With thanks to…

Thank you to everyone in Canada who we met, spent time with and especially those who let us stay at their place and showed us incredible kindness and hospitality.

A special thanks to:

Twelve years ago, I rode my Yamaha XT (the same one) from the UK to Iraq and back. While in Turkey, I met Miles and we hit it off – because he’s an absolute dude. He was heading to Croatia to see his brother, Fraser, so I offered him a lift! We rode through Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Kosovo and spent weeks hanging out in Dubrovnik at Fraser’s place.

Alissa and I flew to Canada nine years ago for Miles and Christine’s wedding. We’ve since been on holiday with them to the Caribbean and even met up while we were riding in Japan when they were on their travels. It was very kind of them to give us a place to stay while in Vancouver and we loved hanging out with them and their awesome son, Arlo.

Fraser is Miles’s brother and probably the coolest guy in Canada. We travelled together in Croatia and Slovenia a long time ago and the last time we were in Canada, Fraser took us on a sailing trip (he runs his own boat and marine servicing company). Fraser even came to the UK to be our officiant at our wedding! He lives in Powell River with the lovely Claudia and we had a brilliant time hanging out with them and their friends experiencing the Powell River lifestyle. 

We wanted to say a special thank you to Phil, who kindly got in touch with us and said we could stay at his place in Port McNiel on Vancouver Island. He made us feel super welcome, helped us fix up our bikes and we had a brilliant time hanging out with him. We ended up staying nearly a week and had an absolute blast!

Three friends from the UK flew out to Vancouver, rented a car and drove the Icefields Parkway with us. We had an amazing time travelling with these guys and a lot of laughs. 

Since we arrived in Canada we tried out the Bunk a Biker network. It’s an awesome website that helps travelling motorcyclists connect with amazing hosts who may have a bed for you to stay in for a night. It’s been incredible and we’ve stayed with some really lovely people. Thank you so much Aryn, Larry, Elaine and Richard and Cheryl for opening up your homes to us, the laughs, memories and for being such cool people. And a big thank you to Ace for all your help and being awesome! 

Read more on motorcycle travel in Canada

Thanks for checking out our Motorcycle Travel Blog for Canada. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more related articles on riding in Canada that we recommend you read next. 

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If you enjoyed this Canada motorcycle travel blog or have any questions, please post your comments below. We’d love to hear from you. 

 

2 thoughts on “Motorcycle Travel Blog Canada: The Start of the Americas”

    • Hi Dave,
      It was very straight forward and easy to send our bike from the UK to Canada. We used Moto Freight, I recommend you get in touch with Kathy who runs it and she’ll explain costings an procedures. Kathy has written an article on this website on shipping here: The Ultimate Guide to Motorcycle Shipping and you can find her in our recommended UK Shipping Companies page here.
      We’re actually in the process of writing a guide on shipping to Canada, i’ll comment back on here once it’s live.
      Cheers and best of luck,
      Andy

      Reply

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