Hundreds of motorcycles pulled into the Vernon Lodge this week for the last stop in their more than 3,000-kilometre journey from Mexico.
The motorcyclists departed Mexico on Aug. 30 and pulled into the Vernon Lodge days later for the 44th annual Three Flags Classic Motorcycle Tour. It’s the first time the tour has ended in Vernon. This year’s event saw 230 riders start off in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, and hit two mandatory checkpoints in the U.S. along the way.
The fastest riders arrived just one day after starting the tour, with the last of the group coming in on Sept. 3.
“Everybody rides at their own pace,” Dannie Fox said. “You’ve got people who ride like there’s no tomorrow and people who like to smell the roses along the way.”
Fox enjoys doing a bit of both — and having participated in the tour for 41 years, he’s done a bit of everything on the bike.
An Arizona resident who spent the first 70 years of his life in California, Fox can’t leave Vernon without bringing home the Ogopogo.
“I’m hoping to pick up a souvenir for my grandkids, and I bought my daughter one of those when she was 10 years old on Three Flags and she still has it.”
Canada’s two-wheeled Ironman is Chris White of Gold River, who’s taken part in Three Flags 39 times. He doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“I’ve got four children and I’ve told them all, please don’t get married around Labour Day because I’ll be going,” White laughed.
Like Fox, its the camaraderie that keeps White coming back to the tour, and the friendships he’s made on the road are something he looks forward to all year.
“When you see each other once a year there’s just so much to share. I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” he said.
“We just love to ride, and when the weather’s good and the roads are great it just adds to it.”
White has big plans for his 40th birthday. Upon arriving to Vernon on Tuesday he got a call from his younger sister, who said she’s up for Three Flags 2020 — a surprise he didn’t expect “in a million years.”
Rodney Chew, vice chair of the Southern California Motorcycle Association, said more and more Canadians have been joining in recent years, and made up about half of the riders in this year’s tour.
“I believe this year there were more Canadians than Americans, and then we actually had some people from Nigeria and some Mexican riders.
“Vernon people have been really nice, and everything here has just been wonderful,” Chew said.