Winnipeg

When Greg, who had helped with getting my bike to Winnipeg on his trailer, dropped me and my bike off at the BMW dealer on Wednesday 2nd July I was full of hope that it would only take a couple of days to get the bike patched up. Greg knew the guys at the garage, as he helps out when they have group test rides. The guys that I spoke to seemed really positive about getting the bike fixed and the fact that I was willing to pay cash if the insurance was going to hold things up seemed to indicate the urgency of my predicament to them.

That afternoon I met Daryl at the BMW garage. He had very kindly offered to house me for a few days until his wife, Angelika, returned from Germany. In the meantime I had my work cut out trying to find one of the parts that was needed for my bike. The garage could order it but it was out of stock Canada so would have to come from Germany… that could take 10 days to two weeks! In the end I tracked the part down in the USA through the BMW dealer in Seattle, the only problem is that they’re not allowed to ship parts outside the USA. Thankfully this is something the Canadians are constantly dealing with and there are a couple of parcel drop businesses just across the border in North Dakota that I got the part sent to and Daryl took me down there on Monday to collect. For the rest of the items being repaired I could only wait to see what the garage and the insurance company would say.

I was half expecting the insurance company to not pay out as it was obviously my fault and when filling out the claim forms I probably put far more information than was needed making it clear that it was a miscalculation on my part. However, I thought it would be best to be completely honest with them so that I couldn’t be accused of trying to commit insurance fraud. With the forms filled in the bike at the garage and the brand lever assembly part on its way from the USA there was nothing to do but sit back and relax.

During this time of waiting Daryl, my host for a few days was an absolute star. He warned me that I’d only be able to stay with him a few nights but even so he put me on the insurance for one of his bikes, a Kawazaki KLR650 (he also has another KLR650 with a sidecar and a Honda Goldwing with a sidecar), so I could have a bit of freedom whilst my bike was being repaired. The first ride we took was out to the west of Winnipeg, along the Assiniboine River. Whilst I was in Winnipeg the local news was full of reports of a flood surge that was coming down the river following massive rain storms in western Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It would take several days to reach Winnipeg but the river was already close to breaching it’s banks in several places. On that first ride we met some Mennonite (or Hutterite – I keep getting them confused) farmers who already had over 1000 acres under water along the river and the water was only going to rise more!

On other rides, Daryl took me south of Winnipeg and north of Winnipeg to see some of the massive flood defences that have been built around the city following the last time the city was flooded. They’ve basically built a massive dyke wall around the south and a channel around the east of the city that can be used to divert water from the Red River. Whilst I was there the channel was being used to reduce pressure on the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in the middle of the city. Further west, at Portage Le Prairie, there is a similar channel to take water from the Assiniboine directly to Lake Manitoba. This was running at maximum capacity and there was uncertainty whether it was enough or if farming land would have to be deliberately flooded to save the city!

When Daryl’s wife returned I was expecting to be along around to see if anyone else had a spare room or looking for a cheap motel. However, despite difficult recent events for her in Germany she was more than happy for me to stay with them until my bike is fixed. I was grateful for Daryl to take me in for a couple of nights but in the end I stayed with them for 10 nights, for which I am eternally grateful. Other travelers have told me of the generosity of people they’ve met along the way but here I was experiencing it first hand! This wonderful couple had taken in a complete stranger, housed me, feed me, gave me a motorcycle to use, guided me around the city and, to top it all off Daryl drove me down to the USA and back once my brake lever arrived. They did all this simply because I was traveling h through there country and put out a call for help. I’ve got a very big debt that I need to pay forward to someone one day!

On Sunday 6th July, Greg had organised a lunch and ride out for all the ADV riders in Winnipeg and the surrounding area. It was great to put faces to the names id been seeing on the forum. Although it was a little confusing as everyone on the forum uses pseudonyms online. The ride was down to the Pembina Hills – yes, they do have some hills in Manitoba! This was a great ride for a couple of hours and and the KLR was much lighter and more nimble than my R1200GSA… But overall I prefer my bike. The day was finished with a BBQ at another ADVers house (sorry, I forgot your name!) and an ice cream on the way home.

All the time that I was enjoying the hospitality of Daryl and Angelika I was also getting frustrated with the lack of progress with me bike. I had done everything I could to speed it along but it took the garage several days to even get a parts list together and send it to the appraiser, he then had to send it to the insurance company and they then had to send an approval to work on the bike to the garage. The garage didn’t want to order the parts until they’d got approval from the insurance company. Daryl kept asking how I was keeping so calm about it each time we went to the garage to check on progress. I explained that I’m not that sort of person. I’m well aware that getting angry and shouting at the people isn’t going to get the bike fixed any quicker and if anything might slow it down.

On Thursday 10th July I finally got the call I’d been waiting for. The bike was fixed and ready to be collected. We didn’t waste any time on getting over there. Apart from having to pay the upfront cost of the repairs (the insurance would send me a cheque later) I was mightily pleased to have my bike back. Only other adventure motorcyclists that have been through similar situations will know what it’s like to be without your bike for a couple of weeks and then the sheer joy when it is finally returned to you.

The night of the 10th/11th July was my last night with Daryl and Angelika. I had mixed emotions about leaving the next day. I was pleased to finally be getting back on the road, after all that’s why I was in Canada, but I was also sad to be leaving Daryl and Angelika. Over the days if spent with them they’d become really good friends and we’d had a great time together. In some ways my crash was a blessing in disguise. If it wasn’t for the accident I would never have met Daryl, Angelika and ask the other ADV riders in Winnipeg.

Still, I had to get back on the road. After all, Ingrid was flying into Calgary in just six days time and if be in trouble if I wasn’t there to meet her! I still had a lot more of the TCAT to ride. Unfortunately, with the time lost waiting for the bike to be fixed I would have to miss out some of the route.


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