Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nova Scotia, Part 2: The Digby Wharf Rat Rally

The Digby Wharf Rat Rally

We camped at a lovely spot by the river between Kingston and Digby. On our way to Digby, we stopped at a few historical spots, my favorite being Fort Anne. The most fought over terrain in Canadian history.

Our first stop in Digby was at the Honda test drive tent. Roel was keen to test ride the Honda CBR1000 Repsol, and since I’m still a new rider and don’t want to get on anything shinier than my own bike, I opted to ride koala. Amazing bike. Amazing power. Went up to 130kph in first gear. Not my cup of tea. I was thrilled when the test ride was over and I could unfold myself from my crouched position on the rear “seat.”

We’d never been to a motorcycle rally and weren’t sure if we were even going to stay in Digby for the night. But after spending a few hours downtown by the Wharf, watching an seemingly endless string of new bikes roll into town, we realized that this was a special weekend: the atmosphere was already awesome by early Friday afternoon, with 3 days left to go.

So we turned around and headed back out of town where we had seen a small sign advertising for free backyard camping. When we pulled up, there were already several tents pitched in Nicki and Kendall’s back yard, and there were about a dozen motorcycles in the driveway. They had outfitted their yard with a massive fireplace, a porta-loo, a wash basin and already had the bbq going. Nicki, Kendall and their three children (even their toddler Allie, it seemed) are passionate about motorcycling, and wanted to support the Wharf Rat Rally and its participants – they were amazing hosts for the weekend.

We set up our tent, had dinner, made use of the coin-op showers at the Town Center and went back to Main St. for a drink with Bill and Cindy, a couple from Halifax whom we had met at the Honda test ride tent. A drink turned into hours of conversation and wandering between the live bands downtown, and this lovely couple (along with their sweet little dog, Foxy – who rides along with Bill in a harness) sort of adopted us for the course of the next few days.

Back at Nicki and Kendall’s later that night, the karaoke machine was cranking and even more bikes and tents had arrived. We chatted into the wee hours with the other riders and gave another young biker there some advice on how to let go and travel while he had the opportunity.
Bonding over Bacon Bits

Bill whipped up an amazing breakfast on Saturday morning – omelets with bacon and toast – quite an upgrade from our usual cereal with powdered milk! We parked our bikes downtown, which was already packed with motorcycles of all sorts.  We had planned to catch the stunt show, but upon parking, Roel immediately had folks all around his bike, commenting on his massive box and interested in his map showing his route. 

Roel discussing his amazing journey around the world.

So, Cindy and I snuck away and caught the last few minutes of the stunt show. Quite an impressive array of tricks. As a new rider, I couldn’t quite fathom being able to do most of them, much less, willingly drop my bike several times a day!
The rest of the day was spent chatting with folks who were interested in our never-seen-before Hondas, Roel’s amazing journey and admiring the incredible array of bikes that had come from near and far to attend the Rally. There was a good number of “new” female riders, and I really enjoyed trading stories of embarrassing moments and triumphant moments with them. We even had two different TV stations interview us! 
Interview w/ CTV Atlantic

One of which actually played on the news that night, so when we were out and about later that evening, we actually had folks recognize us – fun to be a celebrity for a few days : ) Oh, and never mind that I had a silly American moment – for some reason I thought that maybe the province of Nova Scotia was smaller than Vermont – er, wrong! Oh well, I think the folks of Digby took my erroneous comment as the compliment it was meant to be. 
Interview #2

 We watched the ‘Parade of Lights’ with Bill and Cindy – a parade of the bikes that are decked out with LED lights. Very cool safety feature (ahem, Dad!). And then we headed back to Kendall and Nicki’s where the bonfire was lit and a couple dozen bikers and their families had gathered around and were singing along with a couple of guitarists. Awesome way to end the evening.
Nicki & Kendall's Backyard filled up nicely
It had rained on and off throughout the weekend, and unfortunately Sunday was pretty much a loss. It poured on and off throughout the day and most of the bikes had left by noon. After a pancake breakfast with Bill, Cindy and Foxy, we attended a unique local church service with them (yes! the dog attended church, too!). The service began with several songs, with the lyrics showing on a large screen at the front of the room so everyone could sing along. And then a bearded, leather wearing Harley rider reverend gave an interesting sermon about wisdom he had learned on the road. Before we left, another local biker reverend blessed our bikes.
Cindy, Bill & our pancake breakfast :)
All in all, it was an amazing weekend. On the way out of town, we stopped at the grocery store to stock up on a few items. A woman approached us in the produce section and said, “I recognize you two! Thanks so much for all you’ve done for Digby!” Even though we had been riding in the rain ever since, our spirits have been buoyed by the experiences we had and all of the lovely people we met. I never expected, as two Honda riders, to have so much fun and be so well received at a bike rally, but chrome or no chrome, we felt very welcome and had a fantastic time!

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