Chris Hovard’s Triumph stands out at the Harley Owners Group Show-n-Shine in Port McNeill.

Rider takes in North Island on world tour

U.K. man takes in McNeill Harley show on round-the-world trip.

PORT McNEILL—Parked amongst the polished chrome and shiny cowlings of a lineup of dozens of Harley-Davidsons Saturday at Marketplace IGA, Chris Hovard’s motorcycle stood out from the crowd.

Then again, it’s unlikely Hovard has ever been accused of blending into the background.

In the midst of a round-the-world trip that began with a camper van in Australia last September, Hovarth found himself on North Vancouver Island with time on his hands and a bike between his legs as the Vancouver Island Harley Owners Group hosted a Show-n-Shine event at the local market.

Never mind that his dusty, road-worked, UK-built Triumph Tiger didn’t exactly blend in with the crowd. The Weymouth, England, handyman was right in the thick of lobbying visitors for votes as best-in-show as the Island club took over the market’s lot for the afternoon.

“I was waiting for the ferry to Prince Rupert, and saw the sign that said the bikers were going to be here,” said Hovard, a 56-year-old handyman and diving enthusiast. “I thought I’d drop by.”

Hovard has dropped in on plenty since departing the UK last autumn for his round-the-world tour. Starting with a camper van in Australia, he toured 22,000 kilometres in that country — “I covered 400 kilometres of the outback one day and didn’t see anything, not a bug, not a beast, not a person,” he said — before trading it in for another van and touring 10,000 more kilometres in New Zealand.

Before leaving New Zealand, he snuck in some diving in Truk Lagoon, then swapped the second van for the Triumph and crated it for shipping to Los Angeles, where he enjoyed an extended conversation with U.S. customs agents before hitting the road for Death Valley, the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the Pacific Coast Highway on his way to the West Coast of Canada.

“I’m just driving around, collecting as many stickers as I can,” the garrulous, bearded Brit said from behind a pair of dark sunglasses on an unseasonably sunny day in Port McNeill.

Hovard, who recently earned part of his income helping construct the sailing venue for the 2012 Summer Olympics, was on his way to Prince Rupert, from which he planned to continue his trip across the prairies and Eastern reaches of Canada before flying back to England from Nova Scotia sometime in June.

A widower of eight years, he said the current trip is something he and his late wife discussed before her death.

“I’ve been riding for more than 40 years,” he said. “I figured, if I don’t do it now, I’ll be too old. It’s been the trip of a lifetime.”

A diving enthusiast, Hovard began the trip in Australia in a van loaded with diving gear, and spent plenty of time in that country’s legendary waters. But, while his Triumph was loaded with camping gear and spare fuel tanks as it sat parked among the sparkling Harleys Saturday in Port McNeill, he admitted he had sold the diving equipment along with the van before departing Australia.

Asked if he had heard about the world-class diving off Vancouver Island, he offered a knowing smile and admitted he rented equipment to dive the waters near Courtenay before rolling north.

Since trading the last van for the bike, he’s not entirely sure how many kilometres he’s traveled. Since the cycle’s odometer is broken, he’s been using a pocket-sized bicycle odometer that indicated he’s clocked an additional 5,000 miles (approx. 8,000 kilometres).

While a UK citizen, Hovard admits he may have a closer connection than many to Vancouver Island. His parents emigrated to Canada and landed in Duncan in the 1950s, and remained three years before returning to England. He was born less than a year later.

“I guess I’d have to sit down and work out the math, but it’s possible I was conceived on Vancouver Island,” he said.

 

Just Posted

Male, 32, robbed and stabbed in Port Hardy

One of the male suspects, 33, now has a warrant for his arrest on counts of robbery and assault.

UPDATE: Conservation officers euthanize cougar recently spotted in Port Hardy

Jonathan Paquin, local conservation officer, confirms the cougar spotted today was euthanized.

Port McNeill’s ‘T’ Intersection upgrades are wrapping up, but residents dissatisfied

The estimated $1.57 million contract for highway upgrades will finish by October.

North Island Mall revitalizes as new stores open

Dirom wants to “create a vibrant new space in the community by working together” with new business.

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

‘She’s charging. Oh God’: Mama grizzly runs at B.C. man armed with shotgun

People online were quick to question – and defend – a man’s decision to shoot a grizzly bear charging him on a Bella Coola front yard

Island Health encourages sexual assault survivors to #TrustYourself

New social media campaign urges survivors of sexual assault to seek medical care

Canada announces $20M fund for women entrepreneurs

New federal program will provide up to $100,000 for female business owners to grow their operations

Vancouver Island man claims falling ice smashed his truck windshield

Man discovered volleyball-sized chunk ice on his truck Saturday, near Nanaimo, B.C.

B.C. veteran combats PTSD in the ring and on the farm

Cam Tetrault is a valuable contributor at Quesnel’s Two Rivers Boxing Club

B.C. vegan butcher to appear on Dragons’ Den

Victoria’s Very Good Butchers will star in Nov. 29 episode

Fast ferries from B.C. spotted in Egypt

Controversial aluminum BC Ferries vessels ’big white elephants covered in dust,’ eyewitness says

Canadian troops, families take shelter in hotel after Florida hurricane

Most of the Canadians were evacuated from the military base before Hurricane Michael

B.C. jury trial hears police-sting audio of man accused of killing girl, 12

Garry Handlen has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Monica Jack on May 6, 1978.

Most Read