Hardly any snow in the hills. Weather not too cold.
If somebody wanted to ring up Vernon’s Dave Rhodes, fire up the motorcycles and go for a spin on the local trails, Rhodes would enthusiastically say yes, such is his love and passion for being on two wheels in the open air.
Motorcycles have played a huge role for a vast majority of Rhodes’ 81 years on the planet, whether in his career as competitor, distributor or sales rep.
In November, in front of more than 300 people at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre, Rhodes was one of eight people inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
“It was quite the surprise,” said Rhodes of the Hall call.
“My life has been about trials, the industry, racing cross-country, but putting back into the sport is what I enjoy. I love to help other people enjoy the same passion I have for motorcycles.”
A native of North Wales, Rhodes was 15 when a friend showed up at his home with a new motorcycle. Rhodes was instantly hooked and became a keen trials enthusiast (Trials riding is a sport that takes skill and balance while riding through sections comprised of logs, creeks, hills and slippery terrain without putting your feet down) and accomplished water.
Working as a printing apprentice, Rhodes, his wife and first-born child made the move to Calgary in March 1965, greeted with – 20-degree weather, and took a job as a photo engraver. In Calgary, Rhodes discovered Walt Healy Motorcycles and the Calgary Motorcycle Club. Healy had long been an Indian motorcycle icon and the Calgary club dabbled in road rides, hill climbs and scramble events.
In 1973, Rhodes jumped at the chance to join the motorcycle industry, becoming district manager in Calgary for the Yamaha Factory, which had opened a Canadian division in Vancouver. Rhodes’ territory was Western Canada.
During his time in Alberta, Rhodes organized and competed in trials events, and laid out 40 sections over a 70-mile loop as clerk of course for the first world championship trials in Bragg Creek, near Calgary.
Once Yamaha introduced its IT Enduro bike, the trials world went into the background for Rhode, who went full-on promoting, riding and competing. He was riding 100-mile-plus cross-country courses in Alberta and excelled in the discipline. He finished sixth out of 172 in the 1976 Moose Mountain Cross Country race in Alberta.
Rhodes and his family left Alberta in 1981 and arrived in Vernon. He left Yamaha in 1984, and, in 1987, Rhodes started OUTLaw Accessories, which he still operates (and is known as Outlaw Dave to friends, family and clients). Rhodes also initiated the Kelowna Trials Club and brought trials racing to the Okanagan.
Rhodes received a call from Don Clark of Mountain Motorcycles in Coquitlam, who wanted OUTLaw to market bikes, parts and accessories from the Okanagan through Western Canada. For three decades, the partnership has supported, encouraged, trained and sponsored observed trials and trial riders.
Asked what it is about getting on a motorcycle that excites him, Rhodes replied: “it’s hard to say.”
“I used to ride a motorcycle as my sole mode of transport, then on the weekends I’d be a competitor,” he said. “After the war in the U.K., there was a different way of life. But there was something about being on a motorcycle. The fresh air, the independence and the thrill of riding a motorcycle. I still have that passion.”
No longer a competitor, Rhodes is still an avid rider and heads out to a variety of spots up and down the valley on his trials bike with a few of the younger riders he mentors.