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

Aftershock soccer tournament takes over Port Hardy fields

Around the clock matches were played in divisions ranging from tots to U18.

Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre’s 2018-2019 graduating class

The Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre is located on the Tsulquate reserve in the North Island.

Skin deep: A look inside the ink behind Beacon Tattoo

Patrick Berube, owner of Beacon Tattoo, spends most of his Tuesdays at… Continue reading

Second recreational cannabis shop opens its doors in Port Hardy

Pacificanna owner Darren Saunders was excited to finally see his family-run business open up shop.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: A lone crow landing beside an eagle

“I saw an eagle just sitting there, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t be there long as I got closer”

PHOTO: Image of drowned father, daughter at U.S. border underlines migrants’ perils

Journalist Julia Le Duc took searing photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and daughter Valeria

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Most Read