Bikes on the Water

September 28, 2010

Words by // Photography by Nita Breibish

I’m going to admit it – I’d been looking forward to this day the entire trip. Even before the trip actually. There were a couple of things that were really exciting to me. Firstly we were going to travel by ferry from Balfour to Kootenay Bay and secondly we were going to ride the 3a from Kootenay Bay to Creston which would be about an hour of the most awe-inspiring road there was in BC. We were stoked. We pulled out of Nelson in light rain and rocked our way back and fourth up the 3a toward the docks – about a half hours ride. As we turned into the waiting area it immediately struck me how quiet it was. The one car in line told me we’d just missed the ferry which wasn’t going to be so bad since Balfour has a tiny diner and a pub to rest at. We grabbed coffee and sat by the beach listening to the screeches of a nearby osprey, and watched the geese skim along the surface of the lake.

In no time the lot was three lanes deep with cars and the MV Osprey was pulling what seemed to be a handbrake turn into the docks. Moments later we were parked at the front of the ferry – first in line to exit on the other side. If you ever have the chance to take the Balfour ferry I’d highly recommend it. It’s a free 35 minute ride that crosses Kootenay Lake and well worth it. The sights are beautiful from the water and the break is a nice one with a little coffee shop on board. Something about being on the ferry made it all seem more adventurous which was lovely.

Once we reached the other side, the gateman gave us a wink and sent us on our way – with the RV’s blocking up the traffic behind us we literally had the entire hour of twists and turns to ourselves. There wasn’t a single vehicle to impede the pleasure of winding our way along the east side of the lake toward it’s southern tip. Through the headset I just kept hearing “wow” and “amazing” as Nita gleefully took every turn in. As she does. The beauty of this particular part of the ride wasn’t lost on either of us.

Kootenay Lake, faded from our right and the southern tip had been reached just as we crested a steep slope that signalled the beginning of Creston – a lovely little town who’s spring flowers make it a wonderful sight to see. We stopped for a quick bite then headed further east on our road toward Fernie. It seems that many towns have a through-road with anything interesting hidden just a ways off of it – much like 16th Avenue in Calgary. I’ve heard that Cranbrook suffers this as a beautiful main street is obscured by the ugliness of it’s highway strip. After stopping for gas, having to chat to a drug-addled woman and an intensely drunk man, we decided that the fruit of Cranbrook could be left for others to discover. Many moments travelling by bike are filled meeting people you’d never talk to and there’s a sense of being open to those meetings that makes it so wonderful. Then there are occasional days when you’d be happy to count the miles passing under your tires without meeting a soul. This day was one of those days – the joy was in the riding.

Climbing the last pass before Fernie the sun was fading and we began to see the eyes of deer and mountain sheep peering from behind the concrete barriers along the cliff-side of the highway. As we rounded a corner Nita mentioned a sheep and suddenly we saw a car completely smashed from an impact. The man driving the car was leaning on what was left of his hood and texting which was a relief but we knew that we’d entered into that time where the wildlife enjoyed a good stroll on the tarmac. With a little over 40km to go we forged ahead with a little more caution.

In no time we were safe and sound in Fernie, enjoying a drink in the lobby and watching the people go by.

View the Gallery


I’m a Canadian writer, adventure motorcyclist and world traveller of British and Libyan descent. I’ve spent the past two and a half years travelling the globe by motorcycle as one-half of We Love Motogeo, following a route that makes little sense to anyone else, while supporting our non-profit organization, the Lost for Good Project. I’ve been chased by all manner of animal, detained as a spy in North Africa and waited out a hurricane in the bowels of a ferry. While I’m no spy (honestly), I am a lover of decent coffee and great yarns sewn around a campfire.

Go top