Thursday, 30 July 2015

Green Laning

Public by-ways: It's a thing in the
UK, not so much here.
Green laning is a big thing where I'm from, but in Canada in 2015 most of the crown land around here has been sold off to pay off the debts of investment bankers.  With all the land hereabouts private it's not easy to take an off-road bike on a trail.

"As a military training area, Salisbury Plain is a unique
environment that has to be shared by both military and
civilians alike" - ha! Can you imagine that in Canada?

I got the KLX to trail ride.  I'm not interested in 'catching air' or riding like an MX loonie.  If I'm getting to places most people don't and practising my bike balance, I'm happy.  The point of the exercise is learning better bike control, being off road lets me do that.  If I have any interest beyond trail riding it's in trials, which is also hyper-focused on bike control and balance.

Today I took the KLX out for an hour or so, looking for trails.  Dirt roads start less than a kilometre from our sub-division, so I went there first.  I went south on Sideroad 6 North for about 5kms before hanging a right, crossing back over the regional road and then cutting off onto Sideroad 14.  From there I found a nice cut along a hydro line.  Another five minute stint on pavement found me at another off road trail which took me back north of Elora.  I ended the trip following the Grand River looking for off-road opportunities (there weren't any), though Pilkington Overlook was pretty.

Riding off road is an interesting process.  The massive suspension travel and knobbies on the KLX makes it amazingly sure-footed.  On the gravel roads I made a point of crossing back and forth over the centre line through the deep stuff, letting the bike wobble and find a track.  Even when I got onto the rougher stuff I still found the bike remarkably composed and had no trouble navigating ruts, mud puddles and deep grass.

I'm looking forward to getting deeper into the brush!

Just outside of Ponsonby

North off Side Road 14, a lovely little trail.

North of Sideroad 10 it's blocked off due to an electrical transfer station

2 Line East leads to the Elora Gorge Park entrance - it's a nice little bit of gravel

Pilkington Lookout
If anyone else lives north of Guelph and knows of any good spots to trail ride, please let me know!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Indianapolis MotoGP: It's happening!

After roughing it out we've finalized plans to ride down to Indianapolis to see the practice day of the Indianapolis MotoGP race.  It'll be a chance to see a legend like Valentino Rossi in the flesh doing what he does.  It'll also be an opportunity to wander the paddock and watch everyone setting up their machines.  I'm aiming to come away with a Sam Lowes t-shirt and some Rossi paraphernalia.

We couldn't do the whole weekend due to other commitments, but hitting Indy on the Friday means it isn't as busy and costs almost nothing (twenty bucks to get in!).  We're going to ride down Wednesday and Thursday and then stay in a Hampton Inn by the track on the Thursday and Friday nights before heading back on Saturday.  We should be home Sunday afternoon.

Motorcycles on Meridian looks like a good time!
Since we're in town Thursday and Friday night we'll be looking for some bike related magic happening around the day at the track.  Downtown Indy's Motorcycles on Meridian is happening on Friday night and we'll be there.  I'm looking forward to a brief wallow in American motorbike culture before heading out on Saturday morning.

I'll watch the qualifying and the race when I'm home the week after, but I'll also know what these bikes sound and smell like, which is magic!

The 2014 Indy highlight reel

My son Max and I are all set to go on my '94 Kawasaki Concours, but it got me wondering about what I'd take out of the new batch of Kawasakis, so here's a list!

Old Concours New Concours

I have a '94 ZG1000 Concours.  The new ones are monsters by comparison, but it'd be interesting to ride a team-green bike down to the MotoGP race, even if they aren't involved any more.  The new Connie is a massive 1354cc machine.  It would be interesting to see what Kawasaki has done with my beloved Concours over the past twenty years.

What do you say Kawasaki Canada, got a new Concours you'd like ridden?

Ninja Redux

A small part of me misses my Ninja.  Riding two up down to Indianapolis means looking for a Ninja that can handle Max and I, fortunately Kawasaki makes just such a Ninja!

The Ninja 1000 is a capable long distance sport touring bike with the emphasis on sport.  It would have no trouble getting Max and I down to the Speedway, and it would do it in MotoGP fashion.

Versys Variations

Last year I test road the old version of the Versys 1000 and really enjoyed it.  The new Versys is supposed to be better in every way.

My buddy Jeff (a Yamaha Super Ténéré rider coming down with us) would take to this bike like a duck to water.  If Kawasaki Canada were to set us up with a pair of these they might convert a Yamaha faithful!

We're more than ready to head south on my trusty Concours, but it'd be interesting to ride something green and new into the MotoGP at Indy and make the place a little greener.

T-minus one week until we're on our way south!

New Mobil 1, everything checked and cleaned up.  Connie is ready to do some miles down to Indy
There and back with minimal repetition

I Am M: The M2-exit exam for a full M license

Here I am early on a Saturday morning back at Conestoga College for my M2-exit course.  It's the last official step in my progression through Ontario's graduated motorcycle licensing system.

I got my M1 in March of 2013 after writing a short test in a dingy Drivecentre office in Guelph.  Getting my M2 in April of 2013 was the next big step, and the last time I was sitting on a bike in Conestoga's parking lot.  Back then they were little Yamaha 250s, this time I'm rolling in on my own version of the Millennium Falcon, a 999cc Concours I've rebuilt myself.  My motorcycling has evolved a lot in the past two and a half years.

It was a busy weekend at the college with two beginner courses with over 50 students getting started on the little bikes.  Our M2-exit course had only eight people in it, four guys and four girls, riding everything from the most ridiculous cruiser imaginable to perfectly serviceable 500cc sport bikes.

... and now. The M2-exit is as diverse in bikes
as it is in riders
Watching the Victory ride all over the don't-cross-lines while trying to lean a 280mm rear tire was both tragic and kinda funny.  It also had trouble stopping in the box, but hey, it sure was stylish.

The people on the course were as wide ranging as you can imagine, from a Ninja-riding pretty, blonde environmental scientist in her 20s to a grizzled, cruiser riding truck driver in his 50s.  You really got to see the breadth of motorcycle culture in our M2-exit class.

The Friday night was your typical three hour theory talk with lots of diagrams, videos from the 70s and legal talk.  When we left we had to be back in the room ten hours later (and I had a 90 minute commute in there too).

What the bike-control
sheet looks like
On Saturday I was there bright and early to secure one of the first two spots on the testing calendar so I could leave earlier.  Saturday morning was spent in stifling heat in the parking lot following lines and working on slow speed manoeuvring.  Every time we stopped everyone stripped off jackets, gloves and helmets and lay under a tree drenched in sweat.  It was good to practice slow speed and precision riding and it turned into an impromptu test of the Concours' cooling system.

With temperatures on the wrong side of 40°C on the pavement, the fans kept kicking on and off when needed but the big bike stayed, at most, in the middle of the temperature gauge.  By mid-morning several of the cruisers were having trouble starting in the heat and the rear brake light fell off the brand new Victory mega-cruiser.  The 21 year old, $800 Connie hummed along like a champ though, always starting at the touch of a button.  Damn, I love that machine.

After a short lunch we were back out, this time doing group rides.  One was simply a primer to riding in formation where we followed an instructor around while he very very obviously checked for dangers in places where we might be expected to check for dangers on our test.  It was very helpful in calming everyone down.

The second ride-out was a practice run with the instructional ear pieces in.  On the test you have a walkie-talkie with an earpiece that the instructor gives you directions through.  He then assesses how you perform these actions from a following car.    I was lucky enough to be the lead rider so I got to practice the instructions with a clear road in front of me.

Not pulling left - my only error on the
M2 exit exam. I didn't because there
was more room in front of me in that
lane. You'll find the follow-the-rules
at all costs approach by the MoT to
not necessarily follow the needs of
defensive riding.
Riding out in a group made me wonder why people would ever want to do that in a city.  Every stop is turned into a stop times the number of riders in the group, especially if you're further back.  I found riding around Kitchener in a group to be very tedious.

After all that we finally lined up for the road test.  While each rider went out, the rest were writing a knowledge test in the classroom with questions about rules of the road.  I got to go second.  It was about 45 minutes of riding in residential, industrial and regional roads followed by a brief stint on the highway.

It was all about shoulder checks, mirror checks and constantly (and obviously) scanning for dangers.  If you adapt to their system you'll find it fairly easy to work with, but I found it too regimented.  Defensive driving should be fluid and agile, constantly adapting to varying situations.  Following a checklist means you're not honouring the circumstances as they change (for example, always pulling into the slow lane when you have a better space bubble in the fast lane).

I was on my way home with a signed M2 exit pass sheet by 3:30pm.  I was hot, tired and sore (your wrists and fingers take a real beating after a day of slow speed manoeuvring and group town rides).  I'll take using my mirrors more out of the testing, but beyond that I found the frantic meerkatting to be both exhausting and unsettling on the bike.  We were encouraged to spin our heads around constantly but this is both tiring and disorientating.  There is something to be said for a composed approach to riding a motorbike.

Having to ride conservatively within posted limits was also very difficult.  I'm willing to shoulder the responsibility for my own safety, but not if I must have distracted people in SUVs creeping past me (and into me) because I'm required to ride at five under the limit in the inside lane all the time.

I'm glad I took the exit course.  I got some good practice and a supported approach to the MoT test which isn't always commonsensical, but I'm also really glad it's over.  One more trip to the take-a-number, florescent lit, beige misery that is the Drivecentre office and I'm a fully licensed rider.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Baffling Dual Sport Helmet Part 2

I've already taken a run at the design of dual sport helmets, but I've since seen a couple of other things that make me wonder why people cling to the MX derived big-bill look.  That giant visor seems intent on injuring you in an off, and I'm not willing to have my head pulled off just to look like an MX racer.

Online you quickly find a lot of conflicting advice about dual sport helmets along with some good insight:  

"All the street comfort in the world won't please you when you get to a dusty trail, you're hot, and your lid is a cramped, dust-filled mess and you're breathing hard and hot into your chin bar."

Ventilation seems to be at the heart of the big-chin bar in dual sport helmets, but you pay a price in aerodynamics.  The chin-bar I get, but I'm still baffled by the visor.

Arai recently came out with a new version of their street helmet and they go to great pains explaining how a smoother shell is less likely to catch on obstructions if you come off at speed.  Of course, there are a hell of a lot more obstructions if you come off at speed off road, but that doesn't seem to factor into dual sport helmet thinking.

Sure, visors keep the sun out of your eyes, but
 a good pair of goggles does a better job, so why
risk safety for mediocre sun protection?  You can
remove the visor and make your dual sport helmet
safe, though you won't look like a motocross star.
What do massive visors do?  They create a huge projection aimed in the direction you're going that begs to pull your head off in a crash at anything over walking speeds.

Back in the day when goggles didn't have the benefit of modern reactive lenses and toughness perhaps a giant bill was all you had to keep the sun out of your eyes, but this was, at best, a partial measure.  It resulted in you experiencing huge swings in brightness from sun in your eyes to shade over and over again.

We're well into the 21st Century now and lens technology has come a long way.  You hardly need a giant beak to keep the sun from blinding you any more, and a reactive lens offers you the benefit of less eye strain between shadows and blinding sunlight.

I got a free pair of cool looking steam-punk goggles with a helmet this year and was virtually blind in them when trying to ride in the sun, they were a disaster.  A careful shopping trip later I had a pair of goggles that allow me to ride in direct sunlight with zero distortion, no squint and excellent viewing in the shade as well, they even work well at night.  When wearing these goggles a bill is only a dangerous projection, it serves no function.

I was watching the Dakar Rally this year when this happened:

You have to wonder what it felt like when his face bounced off the road and tore that visor half off.  Arai's logic with their new R75 makes a lot of sense after seeing that, yet everyone on a dual sport or adventure bike wants to look like Charlie & Ewan, and so big billed dual sport helmets keep happening.

I'd love to see a leading helmet company like Arai offer the same kind of minimal projection/safety and aerodynamic benefit they talk about in the R75 in a well ventilated, dual sport ready lid, but form seems to come before function in the image conscious world of adventure motorcycling.

Duckbills everywhere...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The End of Rain Crotch

What came of me almost losing my mind while riding underwater a few weeks ago?  I finally got to test my rain gear from Royal Distributing.  It did the business in light rain, but after a couple of hours in steady downpours they leaked through the waist leaving me with a nasty case of wet crotch and a foul attitude.

The key to happiness seems to be a zip up coverall rain suit.  No seams means no leaks.  Failing that, a pair of pants with a bib would prevent rain from working its way into the front of the jacket.  I'm bound to want something not sold here, so I immediately found a rain-suit that I'd like that isn't available for sale in Canada.

The Kawasaki rain-suit is sold in Europe and Asia, but not North America.  Sigh.  Fortunately, a German bike accessory company has it for sale on ebay and is willing to ship to Canada.

I've put in a request for sizing and shipping information, we'll see what comes of it.  In the meantime I found some waterproof bib-rainpants at the local TSC for $85.  Since the Kawi-rain suit is only $40 more, I'm going to hold out and see if I can nab one, but the cost of importing it might make that impractical.  Why doesn't Kawasaki offer this suit everywhere?  It does rain in Canada.

If you're ever looking for stuff tough enough to bike with TSC offers an interesting alternative.  TSC sells farm-ready work-wear, so everything is super tough.  It doesn't come with fancy bike related logos on it but it'll do the business.  A set of work boots that cover the ankle would be half the price of bike boots.  Leather work gloves (they have very nice mechanic's ones) are double reinforced at 1/3 the price of 'bike' gloves.  Jeans and jackets can be found with double stitching and thick material for a fraction of the cost of bike specific gear.  Likewise, their rain gear is classed to industrial levels of water resistance and durability at much less than branded bike wear.  If you're looking to bike on a budget TSC might be the ticket.

In the meantime I'll keep the Royal Distributing rain suit handy and hope it isn't too torrential while I wait for a reply from zee Germans.

Neck to ankles - that should keep it out.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Indianapolis MotoGP: There & Back in 5 Days

Indianapolis MotoGP:  August 07, 08 09

THE GOALa taste of motogp on a road trip with minimal freeway miles and a five day timeline.

TARGET:  Friday, August 07: practice day
Practice day runs from 9am to 3:50pm

August 7, 2015
PRICE: $20.00

Not good for gate admission. Good for August 7, 2015. Limited to one (1) per Reserved Seat.
PRICE: $125.00


Motorcycles Only. One Lap. Controlled Speed. Limited to one (1) per Reserved Seat.
PRICE: $40.00

But the Paddock Pass or track lap don't seem to be available if you only buy Friday tickets.  I'll have to dig in further.

In any case, twenty bucks US to get into Friday's practice is pretty accessible, and we might be able to find our way into paddock passes once we're there.

Other events (bike shows and many other satellite events going on in Indianapolis that weekend):


Wednesday, August 5:  head toward Michigan and strike south.
Thursday, August 6th:  we're in the hotel outside of Indianapolis
Friday, August 7th:  a day at Indy, an evening in town at MotoGP related events
Saturday, August 8th: begin the ride home
Sunday, August 9th:  return home

The MAP shows about 850kms and a 10 hour travel time (trying to stay off interstates - it can be much faster but more tedious on them).

Broken into two days each way, the trip should offer plenty of time for stops.

Overnight on the way down somewhere on the southern end of the Detroit/Ann Arbour area.

Find a hotel in the north end of Indianapolis for the overnight on Thursday night and Friday night, then strike back north again Saturday morning.

Hampton Inn Indianapolis Northwest - Park 100

5860 West 73rd Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46278, USA +1-317-290-6000 
~ $300 for two nights - north of the Speedway (better)

This isn't that hard to arrange - practice and qualifying are super cheap if cost is an issue, and the whole thing happens over the weekend, minimizing time off work.  If you're in Southern Ontario it's a straight shot down to Indy to see a legend like Valentino Rossi fight for a championship in his 36th year (!)

You should go.

Is Ontario Anti-Motorcycle?

Motorcycle insurance in Ontario has always thrown me for a loop.  To emphasize that strangeness the Toronto Star recently printed a searing indictment of Ontario's motorcycle insurance policies.   In it a rider who has been out west (California and B.C.) comes back to Ontario to experience the disastrous way Ontario does things.  He suddenly finds his $2-300 a year insurance rates multiply by ten to well over two thousand dollars a year, for the same bike!

In breaking down Ontario insurance he discovers some discrepencies that appear to be practically criminal:

"My motorcycle was assessed as if it was new — $20,000. But if I have a crash and the 12-year-old bike is destroyed, will I receive $20,000? Of course not. The payout would be more like $4,000 or $5,000. For the insurance companies in Ontario, this must the gift that keeps on giving."

So, you're insured on a new bike no matter what, but you're only paid as little as possible on the back end.  That's the kind of quality fairness that exemplifies Ontario's approach to insuring motorcycles.

When I called in to see what a second bike would cost to insure I was told that another bike would essentially double my insurance.  I pointed out that I could only ride one at a time and having two would mean both would have fewer kilometres than a single bike.  They just smiled and said that's the way it is.  If you read that Toronto Star article you have to be asking yourself, "why is this the way it is?"

Last year we went out to B.C. and discovered that my wife could easily rent a scooter with a G license and go for a ride around Victoria.  We had a fantastic time and she came closer to considering two wheels as a mode of transport, but not in Ontario.

To ride a scooter in Ontario you need to take courses and work your way through the graduated motorcycle license.  Ontario is determined to keep people off two wheels even if it is a much more efficient way of getting around.

The block is systemic, from insurance practices that are out of sync with the rest of North America (and the planet) to governmental regulations that are more focused on milking citizens for license money than they are on offering access to an environmentally friendly, efficient and exciting way to get around.  Ontario couldn't help but become more efficient with more people hoping on scooters and motorbikes to get where they're going, but that isn't the vision.  Ontario isn't about environmental consideration, efficiency or excitement.

Free parking, but Ontario makes riding
so difficult to access that it's empty.
How un-bike focused is Toronto?  On my recent trip down there I could use HOV lanes and park for free downtown, but the bike parking area was virtually empty.

After reading that Star article I'm thinking that Ontario is anti-motorcycle.  The government supports an insurance industry out of whack with the rest of the world and throws as many blocks as it can at riding.  Ontario may be the most over licensed and expensive place to insure a bike in the world.

Below I looked up costs randomly in the US and the UK and Ontario is way out of whack with the the results.  If I lived five hundred kilometres south of here in urban Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (instead of in rural Ontario), I'd be paying about $295 Canadian for my insurance this year (that's with equivalent policy).  I currently pay almost $900 a year on a twenty year old bike that I bought for eight hundred bucks.  A second bike in PA would cost me an additional hundred bucks, so I'd be paying about $400 a year for both.  In Ontario I'm paying three times that.

When I first started riding I considered a new bike for safety reasons.  When I requested a quote on a new Suzuki Gladius (a 650cc, mid sized, standard motorbike), I was quoted at about $3000, but most insurers just refused to offer coverage - this on a guy in his forties, married with auto and home insurance and a family.  Had I been in England I could have quickly been insured with equivalent coverage AND road support and bike transport in a breakdown for about $950 Canadian in my first year of riding.

Considering the blocks to access on basic scooters and the insurance madness, Ontario isn't maybe anti-motorcycle, it's systemically anti-motorcycle.

Inside Motorcycles had a good article on the benefits of integrating motorcycles and scooters into a coherent traffic plan.
It would be nice if Ontario followed the research and encouraged more people onto two wheels.
My buddy in Japan got back to me - he pays $161 a year in motorcycle insurance... in Japan, one of the most expensive places to live in the world!


Just to torture myself I got a quote from Progressive as if I lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - my stats, my bike.  The cost for basic insurance was $75 a year.  To get Ontario equivalent insurance it went up to $226 a year.

Are you feeling the love yet?

£467 works out to about  $950 Canadian
Think it's expensive to live in the U.K.?  Not if you're insuring a motorbike.  MCN's site has a listing of new motorbike insurance costs (on the right).  A new Gladius in Ontario will cost you well north of three grand to insure new if you're a new rider and assuming you can find someone to insure you at all.  The quote on the right is full insurance with more bells and whistles than the Ontario minimum including road side assistance and bike return in case of a breakdown.

What is the average cost of motorcycle insurance?

"Drivers above the age of 25 with a good driving record usually qualify for good prices. Combine those factors with liability only coverage and a touring bike and you are looking at $200 to $500 a year"  - Ha!  Not in Ontario

"You can reduce your rate further by purchasing motorcycle insurance through your auto insurance carrier, owning a home, having good credit, and taking a motorcycle safety course." - I have all those things (auto, house, good record, good credit, a safety course) and my auto insurer wouldn't touch me. They said to come back after I'd been riding for a few years.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Seat of my Pants

It's a piece of art, but I can't justify spending over $500cdn on
a seat for a bike that cost $800.
Nice eh?  That's the dream seat for the Concours.  The old one has split and is so tired it's about as comfortable as a park bench.  This Corbin seat is the four hundred dollar (US) answer to that question.

The Corbin Seat Configurator is fun to play with even if you can't justify the cost.  You can create some really disco designs.  It lets you select variations in pattern, colour and material for the seat, sides, welt and stitching.  If you like motorbike seats you'll be distracted by this for hours.

I wish I could swing that Corbin seat but I just can't justify a $500 seat on an $800 motorcycle, though I wish I could.

It ain't no Corbin super model, but it'll do the job
A more sensible alternative was found on ebay.  This seat cover would replace the tired old one.  It also comes with padding built in which should shore up the tired seat - though once I've taken it apart I might just replace the padding anyway.

The maker is a retired automotive upholster who runs an ebay store with good ratings where he makes custom seats for a wide variety of bikes.   At less than forty bucks Canadian (though the shipping doubles the price), this will (hopefully) resolve the seat cover and comfort issues for under $100 Canadian.

I've already done a half assed job sewing up the old seat (it's impossible to do properly without taking the cover off because the stitching is all on the inside).  When the new cover comes in I should be able to stretch it on in no time.

I still wish I could've managed that Corbin though, it's a piece of art.  Maybe next time.


Friday, 17 July 2015

Into The Heart of Darkness

I've spent a lot of time on back roads and regional highways but have seldom ventured onto major freeways.  I'm not a fan of driving in cities, I find people to be quite idiotic and when you put a lot of them together it reaches a critical mass.  Put those same distracted idiots in giant metal boxes while you're out in the wind and the maths just don't work out, so I don't do it if I can help it.

Rather than cater to this avoidance I went right into the heart of darkness yesterday: downtown Toronto.  A Grand Lodge meeting at the Royal York had me making the 240km round trip predominantly on major freeways.

First day of  HOV with one person per box, and you wonder why
Toronto has traffic problems. The HOV lanes for the Pan Am
Games disappear when the games go, so Torontonians can
go back to their selfish, unecological ways .
Why take the bike?  Well, the Pan Am Games are on so they've finally gotten some sense and instituted HOV lanes (it took the Pan Am Games to make Toronto accessible to the rest of the province - go figure).  Fortunately for the selfish, environmentally oblivious Toronto commuters, the HOV lanes go away again when the games are over and Toronto is once again an hour further away for the rest of us.

Motorcycles are always high occupancy.  They are a highly efficient way of moving people compared to cars which is why they are so popular in places with less money than sense.  When things started to inevitably slow down (at eleven o'clock in the morning), the HOV lanes never did.  I've never gotten into Toronto so easily.  In under 90 minutes I was parked on Front Street.

Why else take the bike?  Parking a car in Toronto will punch you in the nose and take your lunch money.  Around the Royal York it's particularly expensive, often about $40-50 for a day, unless you're on a bike!  About 500 feet down the road from the Royal York there is free (!) parking for motorcycles.  

Free parking for two wheelers right on Front Street - you can see the Royal York off to the left.  I purchased a $23
club sandwich (!) with the money I saved not having to pay for parking.
What was the ride down like?  Well, the country bit was lovely.  It was about 20°C, sunny and not at all humid, a perfect day for a ride.  The 401 through Milton is alright, but when you get to Mississauga is starts to get silly and then goes bonkers around the airport.  In training they give you helpful advice like always ride on the inside or outside lane so you can take a blocking position, but that quickly becomes academic on the 401.

With lanes constantly appearing and disappearing and suddenly expanding out to 12 lanes you're playing a fool's game looking for a specific lane.  Spending your attention on what lane to ride in probably means you're not paying as much attention as much as you should to the vehicles whipping around you at 120+km/hr.  You can't keep a space bubble because the traffic is too thick and follows too closely, and you can't lane split in Ontario to get out of tight spots.  If you ride defensively (and you shouldn't if you don't), you'll find your ability to manage threats stressed on the four hundred series highways leading into Toronto.

The only incident was a guy in a Mazda who decided to lane change (no indicator, you see them less than 50% of the time) into me.  He had been twitch lane changing repeatedly so he was marked as a jackass on my radar.  When he turned into me I was easily able to avoid him, and then give him some stink eye and a head shake.  He hadn't seen me (he hadn't shoulder checked or indicated either, and he had his phone on his lap).  You always get a sheepish response from people when they make a mistake that might have cost you your life.

That much traffic is a real test of your rider-radar.  It's a constantly evolving, high speed situation, so you're always fluidly responding to variations, trying to make space, identifying idiots and giving yourself every chance of getting where you're going.  If you're prone to tunnel vision or lazy traffic responses when you ride, don't ride past the airport in Toronto.

The Concours hanging out with two
cute Italians on Front Street
From up in the saddle you have an clear view of occupants in cars.  I'd say about one in five has a smartphone on their laps and half of them are dividing at least some of their attention with it.  Ontario's distracted driving laws have driven phone use in cars underground.  There should be more OPP officers on bikes out on the highway, they'd make a mint, as well as raising the awareness of motorcycles in the minds of drivers.  Why are there no undercover police bikes?

Bike parking on Front, right there!
The ride in and out was pretty much flawless thanks to the government prioritizing access to Toronto for the Games.  I guess the rest of Ontario's citizens don't rate better access to our capital.

Once the games are over and things go back to the usual I'll be avoiding Toronto once again.

Permanent HOV lanes, the ability to safely filter in traffic and any other law that emphasizes the efficiency and agility of the motorcycle would make the Greater Toronto Area much more palatable to riders, but as it stands the mentality of Toronto commuters and the laws the government creates to support them make it a no-fly zone for me.

The Concours flirting with some Vespas. Parking for free in Toronto? Priceless!
Union Station in Toronto decked out for the Pan Am Games.
The Royal York - the grand dame of Toronto hotels, very nice indeed.
$23 club sandwich, it was good, but twenty three bucks!