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Red Deer biker surpasses one million miles


Sometime last week on his way into work, Glenn Turple hit one million miles on the back of a motorcycle.

There was no fanfare. No champagne corks popped. No confetti.

But the 85-year-old behind Red Deer’s well-known Turple Brothers motorcycle dealership admits it was a satisfying achievement.

“Oh yeah. It’s just the thought of doing it,” he said, in an office at Turple Brothers, where he still works four days and one night each week.

Turple hopped on his first bike as an 18-year-old farm boy in Olds. It was a 350 Panther. It came in a crate from England, was put together in Saskatchewan, and was sent out to Olds by train.

On that farm, he and younger brother Rex, started selling motorcycles as a sideline in 1949. They moved to Red Deer in 1956, a “booming city of 13,000,” he recalls. The dealership started in an old 1901 house and grew, expanding 17 times before they opened their present 46,000-square-foot outlet in Gasoline Alley in 2000.

Turple has ridden dozens of motorcycles over the years and logged tens of thousands of kilometres a year.

He can still effortlessly rhyme off some of his journeys from more than 60 years ago. In 1950, he rode to Los Angeles. The following year it was Boston, New York and New Hampshire and 13 other states in a journey of 6,600 miles (10,560 km).

It was not uncommon for him to log more than 25,000 miles (40,000 km) a year.

As recently as two years ago, he logged 9,000 km in three weeks on a trip that took him through Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama.

He began carefully recording his miles early on. It was common for motorcycle club members to do that, with bragging rights going to the one with the most miles in a year.

So his records for his bikes are pretty good. The only guess work he has had to do involves distances on bikes he borrowed or used through the shop.

In all that riding, he’s never had a serious accident.

“I did pretty good that way. I’ve never broken a bone in my life.”

He’s made a few small concessions to age. He converted his Honda Gold Wing, which he rides to work almost every day, into a trike in 2004, although he still rides two-wheelers on occasion.

Winter has never slowed him down. He simply pulls on a heated suit and takes the 18-km route he mapped out to work.

The lure of motorcycling has remained the same his whole life, he said. It’s a chance to get out in the fresh air and experience a journey

“I grew up on a farm with horses and tractors. I just like to get out and go.”

Hitting the road was also a release when he was younger and the brothers were working endless hours to turn their business into a success.

“When I was working really hard, working long hours, just getting on the bike and getting in the open air was a form of relaxation for me.”

How long will he keep riding?

“I’ll ride as long as I’m physically able to,” he said with a smile.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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