By: R. Bruce Thomas
Quick show of hands. How many have been out riding already this year? Spring came early and March had some very nice days, as did April, and here we are at the end of May. Well, let's call it the start of June since beginnings are usually better than endings.
Another quick show of hands. How many are tired of this global pandemic and are feeling cooped up and unable to plan the sort of motorcycle travels that we used to be able to?
Yeah, me too.
If you're tired of your usual local rides and you can't decide where to go, let's look at some options so that summer 2021 can be fun. Just remember that learning can sometimes be fun too.
With that in mind, let's start with learning some of Alberta's History. There are 96 roadside markers spread around the Province that provide some interesting insight into what made Alberta the place it is today. Rudyard Kipling is mentioned on one while Leo Tolstoy's influence is left off another. You can find some of these markers on Waymarking.com (search for Alberta history) or you can Search for 'Alberta History Markers' at poi-factory.com to get a .gpx file I created.
The Ride for Dad Prostate Cancer fundraiser is another terrific way to put on some miles and see and learn about Alberta. Sign up, send an email or two to family and friends, and raise money to help fight Prostate Cancer which can affect 1 in 7 Canadian men. On May 22 I did my 420 KM 2021 Ride For Dad which included stops in Mundare, Vegreville, Heisler, and Donalda. If you've never ridden along Hwy 53 near Donalda you'll be surprised to discover that Drumheller doesn't have the corner on the market for amazing Badlands Scenery. The Donalda Oil Lamp can also be found on bigthings.ca with a lot of other Big Things to go in search of in Alberta and across Canada.
AlbertaSouthwest.com is a web site with all kinds of info on, you guessed it, Southwest Alberta. There are Museums and Historic Sites, a self-drive tour app (not free), plus maps to locations where famous movies (Unforgiven, Legends of the Fall, Brokeback Mountain, Passchendaele, ...) were filmed, showcasing the scenery that we take for granted to the world. CountryDrive.ca and GoEastOfEdmonton.com are two other web sites with lots of info and ideas for riding destinations in Central Alberta and East of Edmonton, respectively.
At the bike shows (remember those?) Blue Circle Insurance handed out nicely laminated themed riding maps from 2013 to 2020. These eight maps contain well over 130 routes, destinations, and sights to see and will keep the average rider busy for years.
Sign up and complete some Cannonball Rides and have a chance to win a motorcycle while you tour Alberta in 250, 500, or 1,000 mile chunks. You'll have fun and will likely find yourself on some new roads or ones you've not visited in a long time.
If you've ever watched the CBC show Still Standing with Newfoundland Comedian Jonny Harris you will want to visit the locations in Alberta that Harris visited. If you haven't watched the show, check it out on CBC Gem and learn a lot about Canadians overcoming adversity.
If you're looking for something not quite so educational you'll want to check out GeoCaching which is billed as "the world's largest treasure hunt." Get some friends together and go searching for big or small things in locations you have to find to believe.
Finally, grab a map and see if you can find a town with your name or that of a friend. Ride to it and take a picture by the sign.
Don't forget to pack a lunch and some water or juice in addition to all of your essential riding gear should it start to rain. Call ahead if you hope to visit a restaurant, or attraction, to get their hours of operation and ensure they will be open. And most of all have fun and ride carefully as you explore Alberta in our Pandemic Summer Sequel.