Victoria, B.C. | Shakedown Highway

Victoria is Ours

By : Jack Lewis, Photography by Shasta Willson

All alone on the coast near the mouth of the Jordan River perches a fish & chips stand. Three hours of energetic riding on coffee and a slice of toast meant that I gazed at that stand like a badly wintered cougar at a baby peccary. I may actually have whimpered into my helmet, but Derek and Pretty Wife were soldiering on for Port Renfrew and I hate to be the first guy to whine out loud.

There’s not much “there” there, other than a few delightful locals and a generous smattering of real estate offices. Apparently, there’s a hot market in Canadian vacation property, but we had secured financing only for lunch. Over mediocre sandwiches, we compared notes and realized that each of us had wanted to stop at the fish shack.

That’s the problem with riding in full-face helmets: They’re fine for peripheral vision, but murder on your ESP.

Our waitress, a paragon of 40ish figure-holding whose dirndl-supported smile easily compensated for her listless sammiches, warned us that the only gas in Port Renfrew came strained through the gritty filter of an old Shell truck parked at the fuel dock.

Forewarned is ungassed. We headed up Harris Creek Road for Lake Cowichan and a real gas station. Three minutes out of our lunch stop, my fuel light flashed yellow and I started short-shifting egregiously, apexing like a downhill bicyclist. Black Betty makes terrific torque off the bottom, but man does not live on torque alone. I require torque and ibuprofen.

Cabernet sauvignon doesn’t hurt, either.

With Derek packing for a moto-camping trip to the States the next day, we felt like overgrown exchange students. We shared a last dinner of wine-fueled geopolitical solutions, then rode up-island to Sidney the next morning. Filing through the ferry line, we found boat seats near a Triumph Speed Triple rider. He was starting a loop through the Methow Valley of Central Washington.

Conversations with Canadian motorcyclists make it easy to understand why we share the world’s longest unfortified border, but impossible to comprehend why it gets harder and harder to cross.

By : Jack Lewis
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