Forget your fancy gadgets, deluxe tents and expensive camping spots, Chilliwack's Philip Funnell knows how to see the world on a motorcycle.
First, find an old reliable machine that you can fix with your own two hands. Build a small trailer you can sleep in. It helps if you're just five feet, five inches tall like Funnell. Insulate it. You want it to be warm. As a bonus, the aerodynamic pod will make your bike look a little like a 1950s-era space ship. Trust the first man to ride a motorcycle to the Arctic Ocean (the ice roads required he do so in the winter): Hit the road. Don't go fast; you will see fewer sights, spot fewer deer and for what? A chance at a bad crash. Ride for hours, alone. Use a map-a real map that you can mark up with a pen. Trust the guy whose 1986 book on safe motorcycling now sells for $136 online.
If you need to stop along the way, decide if you've got time to chat or need money. If you do, park your bike in front of the store. When you return to your bike, hawk your books to the several people standing around your motorcycle. If you don't have time, park your motorcycle out of sight. Trust the 2010 inductee into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
When you're done riding, hide. This rule applies in the third world, where you don't want to be kidnapped or worse. It also applies in Canada and the United States, where you don't want to have to pay for a camping spot or be hurried along. Trust the guy who first circumnavigated the globe on a motorcycle 52 years ago.
An adventure touring motorcyclist before it was cool, Funnell has spent the past two weeks biking across North America on yet another crosscontinent voyage. This one saw the 77-year-old travel through the only five American states he hadn't been to before ending in Maryland on Saturday, where he sold his extremely modified BMW and pod to a vintage museum.
Funnell immigrated to Canada in the 1960s, and built a career out of motorcycles. He owned his own Vancouver dealership and imported Soviet bikes.
The experience wasn't to his liking.
"Dealing with Quebec and dealing with Transport Canada and dealing with the Russians and dealing with the mafia, it was all so difficult," he remembered.
Funnell experienced other troubles. On his round-the-world journeys, he said he was "robbed and taken prisoner and all sorts of stuff."
The sale of his BMW dealership went awry and when he got a job at another motorcycle shot, a serious fall nearly killed him.
But he never lost his love of touring motorcycles and the open road.
"It's me to be that way," he said. Funnell-who moved to Chilliwack after living for several years in Agassiz-now uses a small cane to walk, but he has no plans to stop riding. (He says his wife has long since "accepted" his need to ride.) Funnell isn't rich, but he doesn't need to be. The bike he rode to Maryland gets 55 miles to the gallon-and one of the reasons he's gave it up is because the modified Yamaha he has to replace it will get even better mileage. His belief in hiding away saves him money, and his wife has filled his pod with enough food. And those books.
His old bike will remain in Maryland, but when Funnell returns to Chilliwack, he'll get right to work on the third version of his pod trailer, which he hopes will be warmer and sleeker than the earlier models.
"Now I shall make Mach 3," he said. "It will be much the same and a whole lot better."
It better be better; he may be 77, but Funnell is no snowbird who heads south at the first sign of bad weather.
Thirty years after he made his admittedly foolhardy run north to Tuktoyaktuk against the wishes of the Canadian government, Funnell at least wants the option to return to the Arctic, should the urge seize him.
"It will be super insulated; I'll be able to use the ice roads again-if anyone wants to ride a solo motorcycle on ice roads," he said.
He says it with a note of whimsy in his English accent, but one can't help but get the sense that Funnell isn't building a super-insulated pod to make summer riding more comfortable.
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