Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Motorcycle Trip in 1977 to See Star Wars

A few days ago, I was kind of bored. My doctor says I can't ride my motorcycle for another three weeks, so I went out and bought the "Star Wars Trilogy" on DVD. Watching the first Star Wars movie brings back memories of a motorcycle trip I made in 1977.

I was reading my dad's copy of the May 30 1977 issue of Time magazine shortly after it arrived in the mail, and I badly wanted to see the new movie called "Star Wars" featured in this issue. The only problem was, the closest English speaking movie theatre that I knew of was in Montreal, 700 km away. So I waited until my summer vacation.


On Wednesday, June 29, I had just finished grading the Literature and Composition exams (I was a high school teacher). My wife and I were going to see the movie by riding to Montreal and back in three days on my Yamaha 250. My motorcycle was 5 years old, but it was ready for the trip with a new blue paint job, new Koni shocks, and new fairing. It had rolled up 38,500 miles (62,000 km) since I bought it, mainly driving out west a couple of times. We loaded it down with our tent and sleeping bags again and started out for Montreal and a movie. And come to think of it, I don't remember checking to see that the movie was still actually playing.

"The Lost Motorcyclist's" first mechanical problem came later in the morning, when the right baffle ejected itself from the muffler. I found it laying in the road about a hundred metres back, but could not find the missing bolt. So I used the cotter pin from the front axle nut to hold the baffle in.

Weather was the big story of the day. We had sunshine, fog, warm and cold air, rain and lots of wind. We finally found a campsite 35 km from Montreal and set up our tent for the night.

Early the next morning, we drove to the Longueil Metro parking lot, parked the bike, and took the subway to downtown, where the big movie theatres were located. We found out that Star Wars was playing at a theatre at the Hotel Bonaventure, starting a little after 12 o'clock noon. So we killed some time shopping at English book stores, which was another reason to travel to Montreal. At the first showing, not all the seats were full, but there was a huge line-up when we got out. We immediately started back to the motorcycle, planning to get as far from Montreal as possible that afternoon, as rain was in the forecast. We made it all the way to St Jean Port Jolie before we had to stop and set up our tent for the night.

Next morning, we made it to Rimouski by 10 AM, where we found out the ferry was leaving at 11 AM. Because the ferry terminal was still 100 km further, it seemed that without a hyperspace jump, we would need to maintain a 100 kph average through traffic to get there. I was actually 2 minutes ahead of schedule with only 40 km to go, when we came up behind a police car moving at the speed limit. This mind boggling delay continued for 20 km until the cruiser pulled off the road and I was free to maintain my forward momentum again. I reached the ramp to the ferry at the stroke of 11, ran in to buy the tickets, and drove on to the ferry.

Every motorcycle trip I made, I did some innovating. Looking back on this trip, I find it hard to believe that this was the first motorcycle trip where I used ear plugs. Now I can't ride without them. It was also my first trip carrying something that became another essential item: a credit card!

In those days we didn't have DVDs or even VCRs. Watching that movie again today on DVD, I can still remember why it was worth the 700 km drive to Montreal.


  1. I wonder how many folks these days would load up a 250 with their sweetie and their camping gear and head out on the highway ... doncha need at least a 650 for that!? ... LOL!

    Yes ... life before VHS, or DVD, or Netflix ... my oldest kid (six at the time) dragged me to the cinema to see that dratted film at least a dozen times.

  2. Oh, man ... I feel for you. Two and a half more weeks of convalescence :-(

    We're just back from a good ride, great cycle weather out there, as has been for the past week or so.

    Roll on August, eh? By which time your nether regions will have recovered enough to get out there on two wheels again ;-)

    Hang in there, guy!