The ‘Twisties’

Most of me loves the twisties. There is a small part of me that is disappointed with the fact that I don’t always do them justice. I get the feeling I am just going too slow.

We are talking about curves, corners, bends … you know, “twisties”.

Leaving Monterey, just south of San Francisco on the coast highway, there is a sign that gets motorcycle riders excited. It’s one of those yellow triangles with a black wiggly line in it and the words “Next 75 Miles”.

The Big Sur coast is one of those epic rides full of curves that motorcyclists dream of.

Our day was cool with an ocean fog obscuring the long views. The curves were the kind that put a grin on your face no matter what the weather, no matter how fast or slow you are going.

I am grinning just remembering.

I realized, riding along the California coast, that I have ridden some of the most-legendary twisties in the west.

Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park was one of them. The park is just across the southern Alberta border and I was on the homeward leg of a six-week ride east.

The road had just opened the week before, and at the summit there were snow cuts, six-feet high, flanking both sides of the road.

The views were amazing. Mountain peaks on one side of the highway vied for attention with deep ravines on the other with decades-old stone guardrails outweighing any natural fear of going over the edge.

Not up to me, there was no chance to even think about pushing the turns there. The motorhome and camper crowd was hugging the bottom side of the speed limit.

It felt painfully slow, but that, I know now, was a gift.

On the western side of the pass, the road levelled out following the southern shore of Lake McDonald.

A family, Dad at the wheel and Mom giving directions, was on the search for a parking spot. Oblivious, they cut right across the road in front of me.

I veered off as far as I could without myself running into any pedestrians or parked cars, and avoided a full collision. They still managed to swipe me, ripping one of the panniers off my Shadow.

Thankfully, our slow speeds and my artful dodging meant the damage was minimal, repairable with duct tape and a bit of cord. My nerves took a little longer. An hour sitting amongst washed rocks, staring out at the lake and giving thanks, did the trick.

Driving my new BMW home from Vancouver a couple of years ago, I took the opportunity to ride the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Pemberton, then on to Lillooet.

The 39 kilometres between Whistler and Mount Currie is loaded with hairpins with posted speed limits of 20 kilometres per hour. Add to that the beautiful Pemberton Valley and the new pavement on the coast and it is heaven on wheels. (Note to self: Keep the speed down until after the Olympics.)

Don’t worry, I’m not forgetting the local turns.

The Skagway road is always good, and it’s fun to traverse four ecological zones in one day while taking corners. I like the fact that there is a good variety on that road – long, sweeping curves on this side of the summit and tight, tricky ones on the Skagway side.

Then there was the day I test drove the Buell 1000 Sportbike.

The ride was along the Miles Canyon Road. Looking down at the gauges while flipping around the curves, I was upset because I thought the dealership had adjusted the speedometer to make us think we were going faster than we really were.

They hadn’t. That was one day where I finally did some justice to the twisties, without even realizing it..

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