Celebrating Canada 150 on two wheels

Trans-Canada trek made by Larry’s River residents

By Lois Ann Dort    

LARRY’S RIVER – Bob Weber and Mary Delorey of Larry’s River are no strangers to the open road, so it’s not much of a surprise when they spend their summers on two wheels touring distant corners of the continent. It’s a freeing time; no schedules, no deadlines -- just the wind in your hair, so to speak. This year the couple, who have logged more than 300,000 kilometres together on a motorbike, decided to set themselves a schedule and be directed by a theme. In light of Canada’s 150th birthday, they set out to travel across Canada, hitting memorable stops on the road to Confederation and arrive in Victoria, B.C. for a grand Canada Day celebration.

Living in N.S. meant heading east before heading west on their grand tour, which they dubbed ‘Riding the Dream’, as the Trans-Canada Highway, the route they chose to follow across the country, was once the dream of the nation as much as the National railway was in the 1800s. So on June 10, two people, on one motorcycle, left Larry’s River and headed for Newfoundland.

The first leg of their trip was perhaps the most arduous. First, they could not take the ferry to St. John’s, it was not operating, so they had to add almost a thousand kilometres to their trek by driving from Port aux Basque, NFLD, where the ferry was running, to St. John’s, the most easterly terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway. And the driving wasn’t easy.

High winds turned what should have been an eight-hour cruise into a 12-hour battle with the elements. There was rain too. Weber admitted that this was the most challenging driving he faced throughout the entire trip. But you don’t make it through a great road trip without a positive outlook.

Weber said, “Every negative has a positive. You just have to keep your mind focused on that way of thinking.”

Positive thinking paid off as the pair entered the small community of Glovertown outside of St. John’s; cold, wet, and extremely tired. There they found the stereotypical Newfoundland hospitality in a lady named Judy who called them ‘my darlings’, offered them a lovely cottage with a box full of nibbles and drinks left by the previous tenants.

Delorey’s eyes lit up as she described the unexpected gift package. “Bailey’s, chips, cookies-- it didn’t take us long to relax.”

From Newfoundland they continue to Charlottetown and on into Quebec where they experienced a slight mishap; a saddle bag fell off the side of the bike. They don’t know how long they had been trailing the bag along behind them on the highway before a fellow motorist motioned for them to take notice. Luckily, being Canadians, they had the appropriate tools to fix the problem: duct tape, never leave home without it.

Although not an Earth-shattering event, the saddle bag episode left them depleted and discouraged. They visited with friends in Ottawa, recharged their batteries and decided to keep going.

In the morning, Delorey said, when they turn the key on the bike, it’s like the sound of music. She often starts the morning ride with a short rendition of On the Road Again; it’s part of her co-pilot duties, that and map reading, watching out for deer, keeping on eye on traffic and the state of the bike. Weber said, “There’s no passenger involved here...You have to work together.”

Through their journey, Weber and Delorey would typically ride eight hours a day with stops along the way. But every day was a day on the road. “You can’t pick your days on a bike,” said Weber.

Tour highlights included a visit to the Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay, Ont.; a stop in White River, Ont. to see Pooh Bear and making it to the Canada Day celebrations in Victoria just as planned.

There was also a sense of connectedness to the past as they travelled along the Trans-Canada, often intersecting with the railway that initially tied this nation together. Following the path of Terry Fox, Steve Fonyo and Rick Hansen was something that left a great impression on Weber. And there were the hundreds of stories they found along the way. “It was an extremely positive experience,” said Weber.

Delorey agreed, “You really pick up the beauty on the bike. The smell, the feel; that’s what makes it different from travelling in a car.”

The couple arrived back in Larry’s River on August 3. The return trip took them through the U.S. and was unscheduled; therefore a little more relaxing. Throughout the whole adventure there was never any problem with the bike, a 1992 BMW K 1100 LT, which had been rebuilt over the winter.

The bike now sits near the harbour in Larry’s River. Although Weber and Delorey haven’t washed it since they left, wanting a souvenir of every province in which they travelled, it looks none the worse for its recent 17,000 kilometre trek. What roads it will travel next summer are as yet undetermined-- but it will certainly get a good run.