Do you ride for pleasure? … or survival?

For most of us, it’s not one or the other. It depends on the day.

I have a friend who sets his own work schedule. For him, hot sun on black leathers is an irresistible seduction.

He generally has a particular hedonistic goal in mind: either pure speed on his sport bike or the challenge of playtime on the rough dirt roads and trails around Whitehorse. That’s pleasure riding.

For me, tied to a schedule not of my own making, I’ll struggle through meetings, problems and paperwork to my moment of release. Mentally drained, I bolt from my desk, get on my gear and ride in just about any direction.

Often, I’m 20 kilometres out before I even start to think about a plan or a purpose. That is survival riding.

I remember on a particularly bad day, I escaped a little early and rode all the way to Teslin and back. I’m not telling you how long it took, but it’s generally a four-or-so-hour ride. It, and Haines Junction, should really be reserved for serious times of need.

A more reasonable evening ride is to boot out to Carcross and back … or maybe do the Carcross-Tagish loop.

Travelling between the mountains on the way out and along the water of Marsh Lake on the way back is inspiring and soothing in sequence. You can even get a latte in Tagish if you are not too late.

The trip that started me riding was to Braeburn for dinner. A friend invited me to ride out there on the back of his bike. Arriving an hour and a half later, I was hooked.

As soon as I got home, I was sewing a Harley-Davidson logo on my long johns and trying to figure out how to learn to ride and what kind of bike I could afford. I bought my Suzuki 350 DR and learned to ride the next spring.

Some days, all it takes to unwind is one or two loops of the Miles Canyon Road. The turns, the lake and a stop to gaze off the suspension bridge do the trick.

You know, Whitehorse has the best assortment of coffee shops, book stores and ice cream stops around. You’d need the better part of two weeks to check out all of them.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter if you ride for pleasure or survival, the destinations are the same … as long as you ride.