The Canadian Rockies offer unspoilt beauty… oh, and bears. Lots of them!
Canada offers fresh beauty; this is where you need to be for the greatest riding week of your life and have a real adventure in the Rockies, on open roads, with epic backdrops and more wildlife than you can shake a broken twig at.
Its raw, untainted nature is one of Canada’s most mesmerising features. And there is no better way to experience it than on a motorcycle.
I swapped some money for a 2010 BMW R1200GS in Vancouver, stashed a map in my pocket, waterproof throwovers, shorts, T-shirt, towel and a toothbrush in a pannier and set-off for Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Rockies. Easy as that. Now here I am, at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere, 500 miles from Vancouver, talking to a trucker about bears and cafés.
The track carves through the forest and runs parallel with an endless river. I start to race alongside the water as it slaps the rocks and weaves its way through the woodland. I stand tall on the pegs, flick the GS to Enduro mode and pick up the pace. The big BMW makes light work of the trail as it purrs alongside the frosty blue water. Frothy white foam bubbles over rocks and the surface sparkles like a thousand camera flashes. It’s captivating and I ride alongside it for hours, chasing the rapids, glancing at the eagles.
It doesn’t feel real. The road network cuts through places I shouldn’t really be. It’s too natural, too idyllic.
I keep a steady throttle and raise my left hand, the clouds are so close it feels like I can tickle their bellies. It’s now day five and I’m at the start of the Icefields Parkway, one of Canada’s greatest national treasures. The 144mile stretch of road links Banff to Jasper and cuts straight through the Rockies, taking in some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.
The Icefields Parkway is where everyone says I’ll see the bears, I’ve been looking forward to it since Gatwick and I’m only 19 miles in.
I thought the bears would be hard to spot, but casually strolling just four metres from the highway is a black bear with two cubs in tow.
As I begin the ride back to Vancouver, the terrain changes every 100 miles as the road wriggles through the Rockies into monumental national parks, up and over snow-capped passes, into ranch towns, through 42°C deserts and through canyons and gorges. The Sea to Sky Highway from Whistler to Vancouver is a crafted ribbon of tarmac that flows along the coast, wrapping around the mountains. Every section seems to be shaped especially for bikes as they run adjacent to crystal waterfalls, turquoise lakes and more natural beauty than you can imagine.
‘I’ve been looking forward to seeing bears since we left Gatwick’