Sharing the gift of travel 

Whistler couple captures a motorcycle odyssey across Africa in slideshow


What: The Journey II: A Motorcycle Odyssey Across Africa

When: Saturday, Aug. 1, 8:30 p.m.

Where: GLC

Cost: $15

Todd Lawson and Christina Tottle don't look like your typical team of avid motorcyclists - they're not dressed in leather chaps or Harley T-shirts. In fact, when they aren't out on the road, they're more at home behind the lens of a camera and inside a yoga studio, respectively.

A former golf professional, Lawson is originally from Stony Plain, Alberta, and has a background in journalism and photography. He moved to Whistler back in 2002, and has lived in the community on and off since then, using this as his home base for his extensive travels.

Tottle moved to Whistler from Winnipeg in 1999. The pair were introduced through a mutual friend here in Whistler, and actually met for the first time at Alta Lake Station House.

"I bought my first bike and got into the world of motorcycles in South Africa," Lawson explained. "My brother was racing motorbikes in Cambodia... and we met in South Africa, in Cape Town, in 1999."

His brother, Sean, suggested taking a quick, spur of the moment trip, and that's all it took - Todd was hooked.

"The world of motorcycle travel is like no other," he said. "There's freedom that you experience on an unprecedented scales, it opens your eyes, every day you feel like a kid."

But shortly after Todd's eyes were opened to motorcycling, Sean suddenly passed away.

"We were on the road, we were traveling on our motorcycles and he got diagnosed with cerebral malaria and he passed away in four days," Todd recalled.

There are four different strains of malaria, and while it is a treatable condition, there is no cure or inoculation for it. They had chalked Sean's flu-like symptoms up to a bug, and hadn't thought much of it.

"It's treatable if you catch it in time," Lawson said, pausing. "We didn't catch it in time..."

Five years later, Todd decided to fulfill one of Sean's dreams, to ride across South America on a motorcycle. Tottle decided to come along, even though she'd never ridden before.

"Since I met Todd, we're now ridden 38 countries," Tottle said.

"Over 67,000 kilometres," Lawson chimed in.

The pair tries to camp as much as possible during their journeys, so they can immerse themselves in the great outdoors.

"You're with all the elements, so the sounds, the feelings, the weather, the cold, the hot: you're there," Tottle said, smiling broadly.


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