Casey Boyle of Kelowna explains to a group of riders the modifications he made to his bike. Boyle's was one of many presentations and workshops to take place at the Nakusp and District Arena over the weekend.

Expanding horizons

Horizons Unlimited visited Nakusp over the Aug. 26 weekend for their annual traveller's meeting.

Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world descended on Nakusp over the Aug. 26 weekend to take part in the annual Horizons Unlimited Traveller’s Meeting at the Nakusp and District Arena.

Horizons Unlimited was started by Grant and Susan Johnson in 1987 when they took a trip around the world on their motorcycle.

In 1997, while still on their trip, it was suggested the couple start a website detailing their adventures. There was plenty of material available, as they had been emailing family and friends about their journey from the start.

After going away on a trip to Antarctica, they came home to find emails from many people wanting to know where they went, and how they did things.

Almost a decade later, the pair are still travelling around the world, hosting traveller meetings in places like Spain, Montenegro, the U.K., Germany, and France.

This is the fifth year one of the meetings has taken place in Nakusp.

“We’ve been to lots of different locations, but never really found the right place, that had all the things in one place,” said Susan. “It has to be a place that’s welcoming. We have people who want to camp, we have people who want to stay in a hotel or a bed and breakfast, and we do presentations and workshops, and things. Nakusp just ticked off all the boxes for us.”

Over the weekend, riders had the chance to attend the various workshops and seminars offered at the meeting, which included bear safety, GPS, first aid, writing and publishing your travels, and vlogging.

Something new to the meeting this year were demo bikes from Honda. About 190 people in total signed up for a test drive to the Nakusp Hot Springs and back.

Going on the demo run, you feel closer to your surroundings. You’re more aware of the space around you, which in turn makes you more aware of how vulnerable motorcyclists are on the road. Unlike with a car, there is nothing between the rider and any potential dangers.

Coming to the meeting, it doesn’t matter if a person is a new rider or a seasoned one. Like the skill level, the age range of those in attendance also varied. From 18-80, everyone was welcome.

There is one rule riders have to obey if they’re going to come to a meeting: Don’t be a jerk.

“We make it clear to people on our website that it’s not a bike rally, and it’s not a beer bash, and you’re not going to be just riding around and drinking,” said Susan. “It’s a traveller’s meeting. If what you’re looking for is a party, it’s not us.”

Indeed, the meeting was quiet. Apart from the rumble of engines as riders came and went from the arena parking lot, a person probably wouldn’t have known something like this was happening in town.

Two of the riders at this year’s meeting were Mike Brooks and Tina Wagner, from Victoria.

While Brooks has been riding motorcycles since he was nine, Wagner is just learning how to ride.

The pair came to the meeting because of their interest in travelling by motorcycle, and potentially plan on doing large trips in the future.

One thing the pair enjoyed was hearing about the experiences of different riders, and gleaning information from their presentations.

“One guy that presented, he only got his license to ride a day before the event last year,” said Wagner. “He presented this year about where he’d gone in that year. To me, that’s encouraging, because if I’m taking the course, look where I can potentially be.”

Another thing the pair appreciated was the fact that the meeting took place in a small town, something the Johnsons think is important.

“We like to be able to put the money back into the local community,” said Grant. “People need gas, they need food, camping, and all the rest of it, and that’s good for Nakusp, and that works well for us.”

After every meeting, the Johnsons ask for feedback about the event from riders. They have never heard anything bad about Nakusp.

“I think this is our best venue worldwide,” Grant concluded. “The community has been amazingly welcoming.”