The Last e-mail

Imagine you were writing an e-mail to someone, wondering if it would be the last e-mail you would ever send to them; what would you say? Not too long ago, I was sitting in front of the computer contemplating this very thought. It was late at night, on the eve of another great motorcycle adventure. I was always filled with a range of emotions on a night like that; excitement for the good times the ride could bring, but worried about paying the ultimate price for my enjoyment. However, this night was different; I felt a strong desire to say something important to friend before I left.

But what led up to this fateful night in 2005? To tell this story properly I would need to start back in 1999. I was working at a company called CityXpress, and met someone named Bog. Since we both shared a love of motorcycles, it was almost inevitable we would become good friends. However, it was his enthusiasm to ride, and his Monday morning water cooler stories of his weekend adventures, that enticed me to own another motorcycle after a 5 year hiatus.

Bog & I – Sportbike West 1999

Sportbike West 1999

Some people may wonder why anyone would ride a motorcycle. They see the news, and hear about another motorcycle rider getting killed, or hear about a friend’s relative getting seriously injured, and think motorcycle riders must be crazy. To be honest, some are, and eventually meet the fate that many predict; but a lot aren’t, and ride for many years, eventually dieing from old age or some other cause. There are also some riders who have crashed multiple times, and lived to tell the tale, while others who have only crashed once, and didn’t. Everyone has their own philosophy regarding fate, life, death, or simply the theory of “when your number’s up, your numbers up”. I also have mine as well.

For me, I prefer the theory of “risk management”. For everything you do, there is a risk; climbing stairs, crossing a street, driving a car, etc. In fact, it is commonly said that most accidents occur in the home. So what do you do about it? You hold the handrail going down stairs, look both ways before crossing the street, and drive defensively, etc. For riding a motorcycle, taking training courses, wearing good protective clothing, and riding at a safe speed for the road conditions and your abilities will help reduce your risks. This philosophy had served me well so far, and I was hoping the trend would continue.

After renting a motorcycle in 1999 to attend Sportbike West with Bog, I finally bought a bike again in 2000. Bog welcomed me into his motorcycle club called “Vancouver Riders Of Motorcycles” (VROM), and I began going on group rides with my new friends.  At the time, all I could think about was how much fun I was having riding again, and the possibility of having a motorcycle accident was the furthest thing from my mind. However, all that all changed in 2001 when I went to my first motorcycle related funeral for a fellow VROM rider named Ethan. I never could have imagined at that time it was just the first of several funerals I would be attending in the coming years, although not all of them were related to motorcycles.

In 2002, the VROM club was in its second year, and for me, those were not only the best times I ever had on a motorcycle, but some of the happiest times of my life. That was also the year I went on my first great motorcycle adventure. Our friend Marky organized the first VROM ride to Laguna Seca, to watch the motorcycle racing there. The only thing wrong with this great ride I was about to go on, was my beat up old 400 Ninja was in the shop being fixed.

I remember sitting at the Flying Swan talking to Julia about my dilemma. Julia was Bog’s girlfriend, and the most enthusiastic person I have ever met. I used to drop by the Swan at least once a week for lunch, and almost every time I saw her, she was so excited to tell me the latest news or next big event she was planning. I have no idea where she got her energy from. When she heard about my bike problems, she said “If you buy me a set of tires, I’ll let you borrow my F4i” (Honda CBR 600). I was floored by such a generous offer, but told her I couldn’t possibly accept, and my bike would probably be fixed anyway. However, the night before we were about to leave, my bike was still in the shop, and I was faced with the choice of borrowing Julia’s bike, or not going at all. Of course, Julia insisted I go, and said “This is going to be the trip of a lifetime, and you only live once”. I still remember hopping aboard Julia’s shiny red Honda CBR 600, thinking “This is the nicest bike I have ever been on. Julia’s right; this is going to be the best time of my life”.

My wife and I left a day earlier than the rest of the group, but met up with everyone in Grant’s Pass in Southern Oregon. That night we all went to a little Mexican restaurant to celebrate. Since we had only ridden on the highway up to that point, we were all excited to begin the best part of the ride the next morning. At the end of the evening, Julia’s insisted on paying for everyone’s meals and drinks, and no-one could talk her out of it. She was always so generous to her friends. The next morning, as a way for me to say thank you to Bog & Julia, I got up extra early and quickly washed their Hayabusas of the dirty road spray caused by the mixed weather riding of the day before. I’m not sure if they ever realized that.

Mexican Restaurant in Oregon

Vrom Group – California

VROM group, California

VROM group – San Francisco


Over the next few days, we rode on some of the twistiest roads I had ever seen in my life. It was also some of the most beautiful scenery I’d ever seen as well. We rode along the coast, and every good back country road we could find, all the way to Salinas California. It truly was the trip of a lifetime.

After we all arrived in Salinas, my wife and I went out to eat with Bog and Julia. I decided to treat them to supper as a way to say thank you for helping me make the trip. After the meal, Bog ordered a large strawberry sundae, and I can still remember him smiling like a big kid as he dug in to the delicious treat. Even though Bog was one of the older VROM riders, he was very much young at heart. Unfortunately, that was also our last evening with the group, since time and money prevented us from staying to watch the racing.

Oregon Coast

Sportbike West 2002

Early the next morning, we left for the scenic ride home. We rode east to Yosemite, then north west to Eureka California, and finally north along the Oregon Coast. Although this was the longest group trip my wife and I had ever been on, we had gone on several smaller trips with the VROM riders. There were several trips to the Okanagon area over long weekends, and many other rides that were just a single day; sometimes a very long day.

Although the riding was really fun, it was the social aspect that I always enjoyed the most.  Since I grew up working in a family run store that was open seven days a week until ten o-clock at night, it meant for many years, I had no social life at all.  I remember watching movies like “Stand by me” or “St. Elmo’s Fire” with wistful envy, wishing that I had a group of friends to share good times with, rather than just one or two here and there. It wasn’t until I became friends with Bog and Julia that I finally had a lot of friends I could share adventures and happy memories with. It was one of the rare times in my life, that I stopped living like a social hermit, and began going to parties and having fun.

Bog and Julia loved the social aspect too, and there was always something happening; backyard barbecues, birthday parties, Halloween parties, Christmas parties, New Years parties, Motorcycle Mondays, and more. And no matter what event it was, Julia always made sure there was lots of food, and also insisted I take some home with me (she probably thought I wasn’t eating enough). Living so close to the Flying Swan was great because it meant I hardly missed many parties. However, in 2004 all of that changed.

Julia’s Birthday Party – Behind Flying Swan. I’m on the far left.

Winning a prize during Motorcycle Monday at the Flying Swan

Flying Swan. Fireman’s Charity Ride. I’m leaning on the lamp post.

Keiko, Me, Julia, Bog

Living downtown had its advantages, like being close to work and the Flying Swan, but my wife was sick of being crammed into our 580 square foot condo, and wanted to move into something bigger. While having a bigger home meant we could finally have a garage to park the bikes, it also meant being an hour drive from downtown. Another factor was the much bigger mortgage, which meant less money for everything else, including riding. It also meant no money for other luxuries, like eating out for lunch, which sadly meant my regular visits to the Swan for lunch were forced to come to an end. It seemed like the happy life I had enjoyed with my VROM friends was slowly dwindling away. I couldn’t have imagined at that time that the worst was yet to come.

In July of 2004, my friend Bog was killed while riding to Lytton. Not only was he one of the greatest riders I have ever known, he was like a father figure to many of the younger riders, offering advice, and always looking out for them on a ride. He enjoyed riding more than anyone I have ever met. Over the past few years, he had ridden enough kilometers to circle the globe several times, carving thousands of corners. In all that time, he only ever crashed on a corner once; and that was all it took to end his life.

Bog’s Funeral Procession. I’m on the right.

Celebration of Bog

Me at Bog’s Funeral

Bog News report


It was a terrible blow not only to Julia, but to the entire motorcycle community. Bog had spent years bringing riders of all kinds of bikes and models together. In his eyes, it didn’t matter what type of bike you rode, just as long as you rode. The procession ride to the cemetery, was one of the largest motorcycle processions the city had ever seen, with around 500 motorcycles attending. It was touching to see every type of motorcycle there, from scooters to Harleys. Bog would have been so proud to see his vision realized.

Of course, everyone wanted to help out in any way they could, and since my trade was in graphic design, I was asked to create the memorial brochure and card for the funeral. I was also honored to be chosen as one of the pall bearers.

There is rarely a good time to die, but I felt that fate had been particularly cruel in this case. Bog was supposed to be heading to Laguna Seca in just two more weeks. He was really looking forward to riding to California again, and had spent months carefully planning all the roads he wanted to ride on. For Bog, it was going to be the trip of lifetime. To be robbed of that ride made the pain even harder for me to accept. Why now?

There was also something else that bothered me. A couple weeks earlier I had dropped by the Flying Swan. I clearly remember standing in the doorway about to leave, and feeling the sudden urge to mention to Bog & Julia just how much their friendship to meant me, but in the end, I felt too shy to say anything, and left. A couple weeks later, the tears welled up in my eyes as I wrote in Bog’s memorial guest book “I never got to tell you how much your friendship meant to me”.

Bog’s Memorial Ride

The following year was very tough financially, and I hardly went on a single ride all spring, except for one. There was a special ride going to place a monument at the spot where Bog was killed. Even though I had a very important math exam coming up, there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity to honor my friend. I left early and met up with the group in Pemberton. From there I followed behind Julia to Lilloet and beyond.

Along the way, I noticed a large rock in the middle of the road. I remembered that a few minutes before Bog was killed, he pulled over on the side of the road, and removed a large rock off the highway. He said to his fellow rider that someone might come along and hit that, and he wanted to make sure the road safe for the rest of the riders who were following. In the spirit of Bog’s gesture, I did the same thing.

After the group arrived at the spot, we put up the memorial, and took time to reflect on the good times we had shared. We also took a couple pictures and said a prayer. It was quite an emotional time for many of us. For the rest of the ride home, I followed behind Julia. She always rode at a pace I found comfortable, not too fast and not too slow. It was just like old times.

A few weeks later, I dropped by the Flying Swan for lunch, and talked to Julia about a dilemma I was having.  The racing at Laguna Seca was approaching, and this was the first year for the premier Moto GP class to race there. My wife had bought tickets the year before, but that was before we ran into financial difficulties. Realistically we couldn’t afford to go, and I was seriously considering doing the sensible thing and selling the tickets. However, my wife was insisting we should still make the trip. I asked Julia for her opinion on the matter. Of course Julia suggested I should listen to my wife and go. She said “Life is too short to miss an opportunity like that”. I should have known Julia was going to say something that.

I can still recall dropping by the Flying Swan a couple days before the trip, and thanking Julia for convincing me to go. It felt so good having something to look forward to, since my life was in such a tailspin at that time. Julia also had a lot to look forward to as well, following the devastating events of the previous year. She had become engaged to Robert, a long time friend and fellow rider, and they were going to be getting married in a couple of weeks. She also mentioned that she was really looking forward to going to Europe on their honeymoon, and renting a couple of motorcycles to do some touring on. With a beaming smile, she said “It’s going to cost a lot of money, but who cares; I’m having too much fun right now”. It was really nice to see Julia filled with her contagious happiness and excitement again.

So here I was in the summer of 2005, sitting in front of the computer late at night, contemplating the long ride to Laguna Seca. I should have been going to bed because I had to get up early, but for some reason, I felt a compelling urge to write an email to Julia. I thought if something were to happen to me on this trip, at least I would have finally told her how much her friendship meant to me. This is what I wrote:

Hello Julia.

In a few more hours, I will be on my way to California again. I can’t help but remember the last trip I had. It was one of the best times of my life, and I owe it to you. I will be forever grateful to you for lending me your bike and making the trip possible. I know I haven’t been dropping by as often as I’d like, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care anymore. My heart is always with the VROM crowd, and you are in the forefront. I look forward to dropping by the Swan when I get back, and we can exchange stories of how our holidays were.


The next morning my wife and I set off for California. When we arrived in Grant’s Pass, we went to the same little Mexican restaurant that we celebrated our first great VROM ride in. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed, but I peered through the window and remembered how happy all of us were at that time.

Yosemite National Park

Getting ready for Parade Lap – Laguna Seca

Getting Rossi’s autograph

Laguna Seca

Laguna Seca

Over the next few days we rode on some of the same roads we went on last time, and some new ones as well. It was the highlight of the year. When we arrived in Monterey, I bumped into Valentino Rossi (five time world champion), who was asking me for directions to get to the race track (no wonder he was late getting there). I thought to myself “What a story that’s going to make”.

Unlike the last time we went to Laguna Seca, we stayed to watch the racing, and it was quite a spectacle. It truly was worth going to. I couldn’t wait to drop by the Flying Swan wearing my new colourful Rossi shirt, and telling Julia all about the trip.

Although the scenic ride down was pretty fun, the ride home didn’t go as well as planned. I had endure two long grueling days of riding my wife’s bike, with no front brake. It felt like a minor miracle that we actually made it back safely. Even though I was glad we made it back home, it was a bittersweet moment for me, because now I would have to sell my beloved motorcycle to pay for the trip. I tried to convince myself that I would get another bike in the near future, but somehow, I felt that this was probably the end of my last great motorcycle adventure.

After parking the bikes and taking off my leathers, I decided to listen to the answering machine to see who had called while we were away. Unfortunately, one of the messages was confusing and somewhat troubling. A lady whose name was Amber asked if I could make a memorial brochure and card for Julia, similar to the one I created for Bog. My initial confusion began to turn to dread as the words began swirling around in my mind. I thought to myself, “Oh no, please god no, don’t be what I’m thinking.

With trembling hands, I went on to the VROM website, and sadly, my worst fears were confirmed. Julia had lost her life in a motorcycle accident near Hope. I was utterly devastated by the news. I hadn’t even gotten over the death of Bog yet, and to suddenly lose Julia too was almost unbearable. At that moment, I felt like a part of my soul had died; the part that had lain dormant for most of my life but had finally awoken, allowing me to seize the desire to live life to its fullest. Because of Bog and Julia, I had bonded with a group of friends that I had enjoyed some of the happiest times of my life with. Now, I felt that an unforgettable era in my life had come to an end.

As I sat in front of the computer, numb and heartbroken from the news, I eventually decided to check my e-mail. It was at that moment my heart skipped a beat; there was an e-mail from Julia. My thoughts raced back to the night before I left, and the e-mail I had written to Julia. As I opened up the e-mail, the tears began to flow as I read the last words she would ever say to me…


Have a fantastic trip. There’s nothing I won’t do for you and Keiko. Bog and I truly loved you both. Have a great time and remember I’d be going if I could.


Thoughts and images flashed through my mind, as I sat there. Shock and disbelief was slowly turning to pain and sorrow, then, one memory seemed to come into focus that began to change how I was feeling. It was the vivid recollection of Bog’s Funeral, when I wrote “I never got the chance to tell you how much your friendship meant to me”. It was during that moment, I realized that the urge for me to write an e-mail to Julia on the eve of my trip, had prevented me from that terrible sense of regret I felt at Bog’s funeral. What was meant as a possible last e-mail to Julia really was, but in a strange twist of fate, it was Julia that passed away, not me. That realization that I had been able to thank Julia, and let her know know how much I cared, was like an invisible hand of comfort being placed on my shoulder, and for a brief moment, I felt a small sense of peace.

There’s an old saying that states “Time heals all wounds”. While this may be true, some wounds leave deeper scars than others. It’s been several years now since Bog & Julia passed away, but it feels like just a few months ago.  I can still picture their smiling faces, and hear their voices in my mind as vividly as ever. I hope that never changes.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to drop by the Flying Swan for lunch. Walking inside was almost like walking backing in time; nothing had changed. Toy motorcycles still hung from the ceiling, pictures of VROMies on their weekend rides still hung in the hallway, and the large painted murals of Bog on his Hayabusa,  and Julia on her F4i still adorned the walls. Julia’s brother and son were there, and it was great to see them again. We talked about old times, and what was new in our lives. I also took some time to take a closer look at the wall of photos. It was very nostalgic for me seeing some of the faces of people I hadn’t seen in a while, and even spotting the occasional photo I took, or someone took of me. I’m so glad that nothing has changed at the Flying Swan, and I have those precious memories to cherish.

Looking back at my time with Bog and Julia, I feel that I gained more than just treasured memories, I learned a valuable lesson. It is better to share your heart with someone while you can, because the only pain that hurts more than losing a friend or loved one, is losing them with unspoken words trapped in your heart.







Bog’s memorial brochure

Julia’s memorial brochure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Julia – Memorial brochure

Julia beside her Hayabusa


Bog and Julia – ART course

Bog and Julia


In 2003, My wife and I went Sportbike West with VROM. I was trying out our new digital camera with the movie feature. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the quality setting was set to e-mail mode, and the videos were so tiny. I almost deleted them, but I’m glad I didn’t.

SBW 2003

SBW 2003

SBW 2003

SBW 2003

SBW 2003


3 Responses to “The Last e-mail”

  • Dean:

    Awsome job bro!!

  • cheriblu:

    Your story was just beautiful. It took me back to our Bog and Julia days. We shared a lot of wonderful stories and tragic events with the lost of both. Yes it still feels like yesterday that it happened. I continue just one small weekly rides for the Hot Chicks, in honor of our beautiful Julia. I still shed tears when I look into my rear view mirror and see a large following of girls riding with me. Then I blow a kiss to the sky, and say “See I am keep your tradition going on” I truly missed our Julia and Bog. They have opened up the whole motorcycle community, We continue many traditions that they have started. Thank you Dale for sharing this eloquently written account of you experiences with our Queen and King of the motorcycle world, Julia and Bog. I was in tears many times. Especially Julia returning your responds. Hug Hugs Hugs my dear Dale.
    Let’s meet up sometime soon at the Swan for lunch! 🙂

  • Dean:

    I just read the entire story to Donna and showed her all the pictures. It felt good to share it with her. Great writing bro. I hope you can one day share again rides with the group you grew to love even though Bog and Julia are no longer with there. I’m sure they would smile from wherever they are.

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