Rebecca Waring

Rebecca Waring is from the Okanagan in Canada. Starting from her very first XR100 to her current KTM 990 Adventure, she is an adventure rider through and through! She shares some of her thoughts, experiences and stories with us here. 

Rashmi Tambe
Editor, Global Women Who Ride

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Name: Rebecca Waring
Age: 36
Country: Canada (Lower Mainland,  Okanagan)
Years Riding: 5
Height: 6’1″
Inseam: 34″
Current motorcycle(s): 2010 KTM 990 Adventure R
Kms per year: 25,000 KM last year

 

Please introduce yourself.
I grew up in Victoria, spent some time living Saskatchewan & Alberta, and have been back in BC for about the last five years.  I have three kids, ages three to fourteen. My introduction to motorcycling was while camping and on borrowed bikes.  I’m looking forward to all three of my kids them getting a chance to experience motorcycling on trails the same way I did when I was younger.

I work as a manager at a large engineering company – my job involves responsibility for a variety of institutional and industrial projects at any given time, as well as helping to strengthen internal management processes.  My career has made me detail focused and given me insight into how large and small processes function, which helps take a lot of the intimidation factor out of tackling motorcycle maintenance and repair projects.

Since I got back into motorcycling in the past year, it has definitely dominated my free time, which I understand is not an uncommon tendency. I think that is because, while it’s a hobby, it’s also my stress relief.  Riding quickly or on challenging trails requires enough focus that it just sweeps everything else out of my head.  It’s a temporary escape from a brain full of commitments, obligations and decisions and I get to be completely in the moment and relaxed in a way that takes many people the first full week of their annual vacation and plenty of margaritas to reach.  As a bonus, you can see natural places that aren’t easily accessible and cover an amazing amount of ground while still experiencing your surroundings with an intimacy that you just don’t get in the insulated shell of a car.

What is your first ever memory involving motorcycles?
I remember having a neighbor’s friend give my siblings and me a turn taking a ride on the back of his bike while our very reluctant mother looked on. I think that I was maybe 10-11 years old. I remember it being a large Honda dual sport and of course that borrowed helmet was way too big and I had to keep pushing it up to see anything. We cruised around small neighbourhood roads and took a winding road up a popular hill that had a view of the city.

It was at the point that we left the parking lot, where all of the mere mortals had to leave their cars to continue on foot, and continued on up dirt and rocks to the lookout that I realized that I had to have some sort of dirt bike!

What bike did you first start on and why?
A Honda XR100 dirt bike. It was what I could afford with the money I saved after my parents unwisely told thirteen-year-old me that I could have a motorcycle if I bought one with my own money, thinking that would put the issue to rest. It was big and red like the one that I had got a ride on a few years earlier.

Tell us more about your current motorcycle.
My current bike is a KTM 990 Adventure. It’s great and I don’t think I’ll ever need a different one until I wear it out completely. It has capabilities far exceeding my riding skills offroad and makes me smile on the pavement as well. Every time I ride it aggressively offroad, I’m able to push myself a bit further and I love the challenge of riding it in the same places that I go with my mountain bike or that would’ve taken my XR100 into.

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What other motorcycles have you ridden in the past?
My KLR650 was a great bike in many ways, but it felt underpowered and bland. I felt that I had reached the limit of the bike before my skills were challenged enough.

Do you have a favorite motorcycle accessory that you’d like to introduce your fellow riders to?
My heated vest and grips. Below freezing temps plus 120 km/h wind chill and these are a necessity!!

Do you have a motorcycling achievement that you take pride in?
I enjoy mastering new skills – getting over the fear of endo-ing and figuring out the technique of getting my bike up and over logs was pretty great. Same with learning to ride my KLR in sand in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. Thankfully, mountain biking skills cross over to dirt riding pretty well.

What’s your favorite motorcycling story to tell?
On the first ride I took down the Fraser Canyon from Kelowna to Vancouver I parked my bike too close to the gas pump in Hope and it tipped over, breaking my mirror and pinning my leg against the gas pump. Not graceful. Thankfully, there were lots of spectators around to help pick my bike up off me (and enjoy the spectacle).

What was the last awesome ride you went on?
My brother recently bought a used Suzuki DR650 after exploring motocross for a few years and we went riding and camping on Vancouver Island in mid-December with another rider we found through advrider who was crazy enough to want to go for a winter motorcycle camping trip with us.

We were spared rain, for the most part, but in our quest to traverse the Island from East to West found very icy gravel roads that were very tricky to ride on. After dumping our bikes over and over again and practicing recovery of 90 degree fishtails, we eventually gave up, turned around and made our way to some great singletrack then a nice campsite where we had a roaring fire and nursed our bruises.

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Do you do maintenance and repairs on your bike? 
I worry about getting stuck when riding in remote places, so I like to be able to feel confident that I can solve most issues that would crop up. I try to do most maintenance including oil changes and so on. I do all my modifications and add any accessories myself. I plan on stripping my bike down even more this spring, as I had done previously with my KLR, so I understand it more.

Do you have a favorite story related to working on your bike?
When we were down South on our trip last year, Natasha’s counter sprocket needed to be replaced. We picked up a spare and thought we had everything that we needed to change it. When the time came, we were in a small town in Eastern California and it turned out that the nut used on her bike was a different size than stock, so none of our tools fit. We approached a firewood splitting operation that was running in a big yard near our campground and asked if they had a 30 mm socket. Nope, but the boss thought that he was willing to help and ran across town to get one.

He came back 45 minutes later after having tried his house, his neighbor’s house and his Dad’s workshop – no luck. The closest he had was a 31 mm, with such a big fitting on the back that he didn’t have a manual attachment for it, only an enormous air-powered impact wrench. We played with the socket and managed to line it with metal strapping so it seemed like it wouldn’t strip the nut while the boss began attaching air hoses and trying to start the gas compressor he used to power the wrench. Oh no – no gas in the compressor; an employee was dispatched down the road to fetch some.

When all was in place, the socket worked and sprocket replacement only took a few minutes. We offered to pay the boss for the gas and the help and he wouldn’t hear of it, saying that he rode as well and to pay it forward. What a great culture! We bought some firewood from them and stopped on the way to camp to get some beer to go with our fire. The liquor store was also the corner store, grocery store, restaurant and gas station. Learning that the boss stopped every morning and had the same meal for breakfast, we took the opportunity to buy him the next few as a small token of our appreciation then puttered away with our bikes truly overloaded.

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What do you think would attract more girls and women into motorcycling?
It would be nice to see the manufacturers promoting it more in their advertising. There seems to be a growing number women riders and you would think that they would want to expand the market. Also, get rid of the motorcycle Barbie style gear.

 

RIDING IN CANADA

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If someone from another country were to visit your area, what ride would you love to show off to them?
There is a route that heads West from Westside Road adjacent to Okanagan Lake near Kelowna and climbs up a steep forest service road. It winds around a deep canyon with a creek in it, amongst giant cedar trees and as it makes it way up towards a high plateau you can catch the occasional glimpse of Okanagan Lake, which seems like a giant oasis in the desert environment of the Okanagan at 135km long and over 1200 feet deep in spots.

As you reach the top, you exit the coastal forest of the canyon and find yourself in a high alpine area dominated by pine, larch and fir. There are several beautiful remote lakes and countless streams.

As you continue West and lose elevation, the deciduous trees start to outnumber the evergreens and there are more frequent meadows and flats. Eventually, the gravel becomes fast and undulates with the rolling ranchlands surrounding you,  reaching the horizon in all directions. This is historic Douglas Ranch, over 500,000 acres all told and British Columbia`s largest working ranch.

Still descending, you eventually reach Hwy 5A, a blissfully curvy asphalt ribbon, no matter which way you chose to turn.

Do motorcyclists have any special rights in your part of the world? 
Free parking downtown – the catch is that you could walk there as fast you could ride through downtown during rush hour.

How does the topography of the place you live affect the kind of motorcycling you choose to do?
There are many mountains and lakes where I ride, which makes for amazing riding and scenery. I mainly enjoy two types of rides locally – long, scenic loops on gravel with a bit of secondary highway or tighter/steeper singletrack, and abandoned gravel roads for a chance to work on riding skills.

Is it challenging to ride in the area you live in? 
There is a very wide range of riding everywhere in BC. It can be pretty muddy or icy in the lower mainland in the winter.

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Is it safe to ride at night where you live? 
Yes, fairly. The lower mainland around Vancouver is quite safe. When riding in BC’s interior, I avoid riding at night at highway speeds due to all of the wildlife. I know of several people that have been killed or badly hurt from hitting deer.

Do you have access to high quality motorcycling gear in your part of the world? 
Yes, though Canadian retail prices are consistently 25-30% higher than prices in the United States, 20 minutes away. To get competitive pricing, most Canadian riders either order from across the border or establish a relationship with their local dealer and get preferred pricing.

Are there any motorcycling related political issues that you feel strongly about? 
As a person who uses public land for hiking, bicycling and motorcycling, I am pretty passionate about respecting the rights of all land users without the discrimination that seems prevalent against motorized users. Also, lane splitting might be nice. Don’t get me started on speed limits!

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