Rides & Destinations: Salmon Arm, British Columbia

Among the reasons to visit Salmon Arm, British Columbia, is a motorcycle museum named Dreamcycle, right on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Salmon Arm

The Dreamcycle museum in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

Photo by Robert Smith

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The Skinny
What:
Salmon Arm, nestled on the Shuswap Lake system, is a great base for exploring the Okanagan and Shuswap regions of Southern British Columbia. The Dreamcycle museum is about 20 miles away in Sorrento, B.C.
How to Get There:
From Vancouver, take BC 1, the Trans-Canada east, through the Fraser Canyon, or the Coquihalla Highway, BC 5 (faster but less interesting). From central Washington, take US 97 north to the Oroville border crossing and keep going north on BC 97 to Sicamous.
Best Kept Secret: BC 5A from Merritt to Kamloops: a blissful ribbon of twisty tarmac crossing Douglas Lake Ranch, one of the 10 largest ranches in North America. Check your fuel!
Avoid: BC 97C, the Coquihalla Connector. A concrete slab firing over the Thompson Plateau to 5,760 feet at Pennask Summit. It can snow here any time, even in July. Ask me how I know!
More Info: Dreamcycle is open Monday and Wednesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sprokkets is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Southern British Columbia is all about mountains and lakes, from the Coast Range to the Rockies. So it’s not surprising that it also has some of the best riding roads on the planet.

For example, on BC Highway 97 from the resort town of Sicamous on Shuswap Lake to Armstrong in the Okanagan Valley, you’ll find a breathless succession of fast sweeping turns as the highway swings along the lakeshore. From sleepy Armstrong, Salmon River Road dipsy-doodles around rolling wheat fields back to the Trans-Canada Highway in Salmon Arm. And if you continue 15 miles westbound on the Trans-Canada Highway, just before the lakeside hamlet of Sorrento is a smart new industrial building bearing the name Dreamcycle.

The middle of B.C.’s Shuswap Lake resort region is an unlikely place to find a motorcycle museum, but it’s here that you’ll find a new collection displaying important European, Japanese and American motorcycles from the 20th century, and owner Mark Lane has plans to make it far more significant.

About five years ago, Lane relocated to Sorrento from Alberta after selling his tree planting business. He planned to realize his lifelong vision with the proceeds. The first part of the dream — a calling, even — was to open a museum of motorcycling. “I see motorcycles as pieces of art, much like a painting,” Lane says. “I can sit and enjoy looking at them for hours. Each one is beautiful and unique in its own way.”

Lane has even bigger plans for the future. Currently, the Dreamcycle premises include a restoration shop where Lane turns crusty barn finds into exhibits for the museum. He will soon open up his shop so visitors can watch motorcycle restorations in progress. And best of all, he will encourage local schools to participate, so students can get firsthand experience working with shop tools while learning the art of motorcycle restoration.

Lane’s enthusiasm is contagious: He frequently tours people around the collection himself, adding his personal stories to the comprehensive printed details that accompany each exhibit. The Dreamcycle gift shop is also a treasure trove of books and memorabilia. For example, I found a rare English-language printing of Riccardo Crippa’s definitive book on the history of Moto Rumi. And if looking at motorcycles makes you hungry, Sprokkets Café in the same building makes delicious fresh baked goods and sandwiches — and a great cappuccino!

Dreamcycle’s timing was fortuitous, too. Probably the most comprehensive collection of classic and vintage motorcycles in western Canada is at Vancouver’s Deeley Harley-Davidson dealership. Former owner Trev Deeley accumulated hundreds of motorcycles from three generations of the family business going back to the 1910s. But after Trev’s passing a decade ago, the company decided to mothball its collection and focus on “themed” exhibitions featuring just a couple dozen bikes at a time. The rest of the 200-plus collection spends most of its time in a warehouse behind closed doors — a sad loss.

Dreamcycle has filled a void, and its location right on the Trans-Canada Highway means there’s plenty of passing traffic. A few days of motorcycling around the Okanagan-Shuswap region combined with a visit to Dreamcycle makes for a great destination. — Robert Smith