As an adult, there are few scenarios in which you meet a handful of strangers and are irrevocably bonded with them in a few hours. In fact, I doubt even the most expensive team-building retreats garner results as effectively as a motorcycle adventure. Any rider knows that motorcycles are a great equalizer, capable of leveling the social & economic playing field for all of those partaking in two-wheel travel. Now to maximize that effect, throw in rugged unknown terrain, stunning landscapes, & fantastic conditions and you would have something close to what you can expect to experience on a tour with Mountain View Motorcycle Adventures. Being based just outside Vancouver they are easily accessible and close to Vancouver international airport. You can bring your own bike or rent a KTM 790 or 1090.
Before my trip with Mountain View Motorcycle Adventures, guided tours were not something that ever crossed my mind. I assumed that they were for riders that wanted to take pavement between touristy points of interest or mellow dirt roads punctuated with hotels. If I were going on a trip somewhere new, I would consult maps, ride reports, or reach out to locals if possible. This method usually yielded satisfactory results, but there were never any guarantees I wouldn’t ride right past the best of what that particular area had to offer. It wasn’t uncommon for me to return from a trip and get bombarded with messages explaining where I should have ridden or lambasting me for what I missed. In addition to guided tours not appearing on my radar, I hadn’t even considered British Columbia as a place that I needed to ride. Living in the Pacific Northwest only a few hours south of the border, I assumed it was an extension of what I had in my own backyard. I had also never been on a multi-day ride with a group of people I didn’t already know in one way or another, and I was pensive to see how we would coalesce under these circumstances. It turns out I had a lot to learn about guided tours, group dynamics, and B.C. alike.
It was a bright August morning with a nip of fall in the air as I rolled into Squamish, British Columbia. The daunting granite face of The Chief greeted me as I tried to get my bearings in this town that would serve as the staging point for a four-day, three-night tour with Mountain View Motorcycle Adventures. The surrounding beauty of this area left me open-mouthed before the ride even began. It quickly became evident that this was going to be a totally different experience than what I had envisioned, primarily because I had vastly underestimated British Colombia’s potential. Somehow in the lead up to this trip, I also neglected to acknowledge how luxurious a fully supported tour was going to be compared to my normal riding endeavors. Since I was usually central to organizing and leading rides, it was an apparent change of pace much like going on a vacation. I adapted to the pampered approach to adventure riding immediately, as my gear bag was loaded in the support vehicle and I was given a brief rundown on our planned route. Over lunch, I got the first opportunity to become acquainted with our two guides, support vehicle driver/cook, and four other riders. As a group, we developed a comical rapport immediately, and my concerns about the pack mentality evaporated.
Gear up, toss your bag in the truck, and ride; it was as simple as that and we were on our way. Under the guidance of MVMA mastermind Matt Sutherland, I had left my camping gear, logistical headaches, and concerns at home because apparently, I wasn’t going to need them where we were going. This was the first time I experienced a guided motorcycle tour of any kind, and I can honestly say I had no idea what I was missing. Strip away stress-inducing factors like route planning, luggage Tetris, & unknown terrain, and you’re only left with the satisfaction of riding. It reminded me of watching TV without commercials or the special treatment I imagine celebrity elicits. Matt & Aaron of MVMA went above and beyond to take care of all the background noise associated with a multi-day ride, and made sure we could appreciate the epic scenery and unrivaled riding beautiful British Colombia had to offer.
Our itinerary took us from Squamish to Whistler via the scenic Sea to Sky highway and then on to Pemberton, where we bid pavement adieu for the next three days. Once we hit the dirt, it was a blur of unimaginably vibrant turquoise lakes, burly riding, and awe-inspiring views. We stopped in Gold Bridge for fuel where the locals reminded us just how little there is in the way of civilization between them and Alaska. The first and last nights were spent at Tyax Lodge on Tyaughton Lake with one night of proper camping further north and far off the beaten path. The country felt wild, as in, pack your bear mace-wild and be ready for anything Mother Nature can throw at you. We spotted nearly as many black bears as we did deer, not to mention the Grizzly, wolf, and elk scat our guides pointed out to us along the way!
Without a doubt, the highlight of the trip was riding through pristine alpine meadows on a dreamy stretch of singletrack. Actually, it may have been the rustic two-track through a forest fire burn zone overlooking a lake straight out of a Bob Ross painting. Or maybe it was the gnarly old mining road that gained nearly 2,000 vertical feet in under three miles and took us into the alpine.
In stark contrast, I don’t have memories of searching for a campsite at dusk while dog tired, taking wrong turns and backtracking for a half-day because of decommissioned roads, or struggling with a fully loaded bike in technical terrain. I don’t even remember being exceptionally hungry, tired, or sore. The whole trip felt effortless, and that can all be accredited to the hard work of the team at MVMA.
Comfort had never really been a top priority for me when traveling on two wheels, and now I fear that this trip ruined me. Arriving at a campsite with an already blazing fire, cooler full of ice-cold refreshments and a pre-assembled tent is going to be hard to recover from. I mean, how do you go back to freeze-dried meals after a full steak dinner by the fire? Usually, my motorcycle excursions feel like marathons, leaving me physically and mentally drained. This was something I wholeheartedly accepted, business as usual until I went on this tour. Now that I’ve seen the other side though, I’m not sure if my trip logistics will ever be the same.
By the end of my time with MVMA, the epic landscapes were so frequent that I almost became complicit with their presence. Behind every bend in the trail, there was more raw, seemingly untouched land with no people around to spoil it. Every rocky hill climb, mud bog or technical track brought our group closer together. We all had different riding abilities and backgrounds but out there we were all equal and having the time of our lives.
Eventually, we made our way back to Pemberton by way of The High-line Trail with peg scraping pavement, ultimately guiding us back to Squamish. It felt like the last day of summer camp when everyone is going their separate ways as we loaded up and made promises to ride again soon. This tour changed my perception of guided rides and the kind of comfort attainable while still experiencing epic terrain in excellent places. Consider this a cautionary tale: once you’ve had an experience like the one offered by MVMA that lets you focus solely on the ride and none of the minutia, it might leave you questioning the foundation of every future adventure.
MVMA will be releasing a new list of tours in the coming months for the 2020 season with options of wilderness camping and enduro riding along with self guided trips.
They have their established tours but where they really shine is with their customized tours for groups based on budget, skill level and what kind of experience they are looking for on their adventure.
For more information on Mountain View Motorcycle Adventure tours and dates go to www.mvmadventures.com or check out their instagram @mvmadventures.