Showing posts with label Forks of the Credit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Forks of the Credit. Show all posts

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Idiots In Cages Day

It was sunny this morning, so Max and I thought we'd try and squeeze in a ride over to The Fork of the Credit and back.  Once we got going it was cloudy and 5°C instead of the 7-8 partially sunny degrees we were promised.

So, with a windchill of -3 we got there shivering only to discover it was idiot-in-a-car day on The Forks.  They've removed the speed bumps so every bosozoku dingdong from the GTA rushed up in his Fast & Furious car to make a traffic jam.

Many of them seemed particularly confused by the hairpin, especially the mouth breathing fuckwit in the Ford Focus who came around the corner half in our lane.  Once again my assumption that anyone in a hopped up turd-mobile is next to useless saved us.  I wasn't riding the hairpin so much as sticking to the outside of my lane - as far from the Eminem clones who can't drive in their own lane as I could get.  Even on this cold day, driving a car still feels like a poor alternative to riding a motorcycle.

Just in case the twisty road wasn't difficult enough, there was also a car parked at the top of the switchback with a drone hovering right over the road.  As a qualified drone operator, it's this kind of stupidity that gives the hobby a bad reputation.  He could have easily set up and flown so he wasn't a potential hazard, but he didn't.  It's a shame.  Getting some aerial media of the road is a great idea, just do it with some sense.

We got back to Belfountain and ended up turning around and going the long way around back to Erin and Holtom's Bakery.  The big row of traffic blocking up the only road through the tiny village is yet another win for the the four wheeled crowd.  Between being unable to drive in their lanes, blocking up villages and otherwise being pests, our cold trip out to The Forks underlined car culture in all its glory.

Escaping up the back way on Mississauga Road away from Belfountain.
That might have been our last ride of 2018.  Since then winter has descended:

Friday, 11 November 2016

Southern Ontario's Motorcycle Watering Hole

A warm weekend had us out on two wheels yet again.  By this point in November it could as easily be a blizzard as it could a luke warm autumn day.  For no other reason than it'd be nice to have some fresh bakery bread, my son Max and I rode over to Erin.

The Forks of the Credit were as busy as ever with dozens of motorcyclists making use of what may very well be the last weekend of riding before winter finally shuts us all down.

Whenever you see that many people together with their bikes you can't help but recognize all the vastly different cultures that exist within the riding community.  The Harley crowd was there in droves, dabbing around the parking lot on their heavy bikes.  At one point a group (dare I say gang?) left at once, their potatoing the only thing louder than GnR's Paradise City rattling out of tiny bike speakers.

As conversation resumed after the cacophony left the old fella in a well used Roadcrafter sitting behind us said, 'that's all a bit much.'  It's a funny thing, but I have more respect for that beaten up, well used hundred thousand kilometre Aerostich suit wearing V-Strom rider and the words coming out of him than I do for all the noise and attitude.  One is about motorcycling, the other is about something else.

While having a coffee a couple of dozen bikes pulled in or rode past but we were the only Triumph, which might have been why people kept stopping to look the Tiger over.  At one point three Lamborghinis, two Ferraris, an Aston Martin and a Nissan Skyline drove up from the Forks; some kind of rich guy country drive?

We saddled up and went up and down the twisty bits, getting stuck behind a massive pickup truck with motor company stickers all over it on the way back.  I put away my frustration and just enjoyed the last of the Fall colours.  It was all very big and loud but I entertained myself by slowing to a near stop (no one was behind us) and then speeding up on the bends.  I guess being big and loud myself I don't need to compensate vehicularly.

A whole new batch of people had pulled in to Higher Ground's parking lot in Belfountain when we passed back by.  You can do a lot worse than just heading over to the Forks of the Credit on one of the last warm late Fall days.  You'll see everything from Ducati Monsters and race reps to some outlandish chops from the '90s; it's never boring.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Your Typical Sunday Ride Isn't My Typical Sunday Ride

a 260km amble around
theNiagara Escarpment
I cranked out some miles on the Tiger this weekend.  On Saturday it was a 160km round trip down to Ancaster for a conference, on Sunday I left with a buddy from work along with his wife and son on a big 260km loop out to the Niagara Escarpment and back.

Jeff was two up on his new-to-him Goldwing and he son was on his dad's Super Ténéré.  We left Fergus following the Grand River and immediately came upon two cruisers burbling down the road next to each other.  Any questions I had about passing etiquette on other bikers were quickly put aside when Jeff dropped a gear and blew by the two of them without a second glance.   They (politely) went into single file so that we could catch the fleeing Goldwing without crossing a solid line.

Chasing the Noisy River into
Creemore is always a nice ride.
Elora to Creemore happened in a snap and the Tiger was becoming more and more familiar with each mile traveled.  Chasing the Noisy River into Creemore was well timed on empty roads and the Tiger and I had no trouble keeping up with the more experienced riders around me.

We stopped for lunch in Creemore and then helped a Harley rider try and jump start his dead, brand new bike (his typical Sunday ride, but I like my dependable, thirteen year old Triumph).  He eventually found a local who offered to jump start the bike from a truck.  After working up a sweat pushing a Harley up and down Main Street for a several minutes in our modern, textile body armor (while being watched by groups of leather clad bikers who I'm sure felt great kinship with the old fella whose bike wouldn't start, but not so much that they wanted to help), we headed south toward River Road.

In addition to being a windy road in a
place that doesn't have many, River
Road also has the benefit of taking
longer than five minutes to complete.
The River Road was a twisty delight.  Riding a bike is a fine thing, but the moment I'm off the crown of the tire I feel like I'm earning bonus points.  At my first training course towards the end of day two they set up cones and we were allowed to weave through them at speed and then ride a decreasing radius circle.  I stopped at one point and said to the instructor, "I could do this all day!"  The lean of a bike is nothing short of fighter-pilot magical (even Top Gear digs it).

River Road was a rollercoaster ride until we once again arrived on the tailpipe of a cruiser.  On any straight this guy would gun it, making a pass impractical (200km/hr passes, while possible, aren't wise on twisty country roads).  We spent the last bit taking the corners at floor board friendly speeds.

The action cam was clipped to a front
fairing for the twisty bits.
In Shelbourne there was a big, new sign advertising the Veteran's Highway pointing south, so rather than go over to the overcrowded Highway 10 I thought we should try it.  The moment we were past the last factory two hundred yards down the road the "Veteran's Highway" turned to dirt.  The Tiger seemed frisky and excited to be on the loose stuff, feeling very sure footed for such a big bike.  Behind me the Super10 was also rolicking in the gravel, but the two-up Goldwing?  When we stopped Jeff referred to it as an adventure two-up mobility scooter.  We turned left toward the highway at the first paved intersection.

The wave on River Road
Back at Highway 10 I once again suggested we push onto unknown roads in northern Mono Hills.  This road also quickly turned to gravel, but this time loose, twitchy gravel.  I'm bad at picking roads.  We ended up turning around and heading back to 10 before burning south and enjoying some time in Mono Hills and Hockley Valley.

We wrapped up the ride with a quick blast down the Forks of the Credit, which had the road closed into Belfountain, before heading back to Elora in lengthening shadows.

I got home sun and wind burned and wonderfully exhausted.  Can't wait to do it again!

Dropping into Hockley Valley.

That 'Lucifer Orange' paint just pops!

Working the corners of the Forks

Jeff making a three point turn on a Goldwing 2-up look easy.

Forks of the Credit: the road into Belfountain was closed, so a bevy of sports bikes were parked on the road.

The artful exhaust pipes on the Tiger.

Stopping for a break in Hockley Valley before heading down to the Forks of the Credit

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Autumn Colours

Thanksgiving Monday was warm, sunny and a perfect Fall ride.  I tried to connect two previous rides, but failed because it was a holiday weekend and the city had leaked out all over my quiet, country roads.

Just after lunch I headed north east to Horning's Mills and River Road, a favourite of mine.  The roads were clear and I had an enjoyable time getting off the middle of the tire, something I don't get to do as much as I'd like in southern Ontario.

Coming halfway back down River Road, I turned south to the top of Highway 10 and worked my way south in traffic to Mono Cliffs, where I road through the ridiculously crowded Mono Centre (lots of GTA cars trying to park at the park entrance) before cutting south on Airport Road and enjoying a clear run up Hockley Valley Road.

Things started to go really sideways in Orangeville.  I should have taken the hint and just headed home.  South on 10 turned into a parking lot at the lights on the highway, so I turned around and worked my way through town and down past Alton before heading south on Mississauga Road to Belfountain, where I hoped to grab a coffee and bike-watch.

It wasn't to be.  Traffic was backed up all the way in to Belfountain, and then it started to back up heading onto the Forks of the Credit as a clan of about thirty Indians (of the eastern variety) started to walk in a large clump down the middle of the road, enjoying the fall colours in equally colourful saris.

At this point I u-turned, abandoned any ideas about trying to access the Forks or Belfountain and headed home, tragically, without coffee.

It was a beautiful ride and reminded me of one very important fact: whatever you do, do not go any where near Caledon when Fall colours are on display!

River Road and then a diagonal cut up to Noisy River would have landed me in Creemore (safely out of reach of most day trippers from the GTA) for a nice coffee before the ride home.  Now I know.

Here are the colours!

I'm all about the bike, but if you're going to take a car, a freakin' 427 Cobra would be the one!

The ride through Horning's Mills & River Road

The mile eater!  I sometimes forget I'm on a Concours and find myself dropping a knee

Monday, 21 September 2015

Revised Seat Geometry=Happiness

After installing a new seat cover (with some modifications), I took the Connie out for a ride.  The change in geometry is a compromise, but I think it's one I prefer.  In raising the seat height I'm causing more forward lean, but I'm also easing knee flex.

The gel cushion and extra padding on the new seat cover raises the seat a couple of inches.  I notice the forward lean a bit more, but the bike already has bar risers, so I'm not laying on the tank or anything.  The 6° knee angle relaxing is dynamite though.  I'd gladly take a bit more lean to ease the knee cramping.

The extra height above the windshield is negligible as I'm already looking over it by quite a bit.  With the extra height the bike feels like it fits me better.  A shorter rider would find a taller, wider seat difficult to manage, but I still have no trouble getting feet flat on the ground and riding is a much more comfortable proposition.

The seat itself is also much firmer.  Instead of squishy foam I'm sitting on thicker vinyl backed by higher density form over the gel pad.  The Corbin seat I was thinking about looks very low profile, so it would probably have bent my knees even more.  I think I've made a cheaper option actually work better for me.

A ride to the Forks of the Credit on a sunny, cool Sunday tested the new setup.

Your typical weekend in the parking lot at Higher Ground in Belfountain - everything from a
1947 sidecar outfit to Ducati Monsters to the latest Yamaha R1, and everything in between
Panniers make handy coffee holders
(I used them for a bakery pick-up in Erin)
Back home, the new seat's looking the business

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Niagara Escarpment

I've been chased off the road by lousy weather, so the dream trips begin again (it's a form of therapy).

The Niagara Escarpment
Since moving to Southern Ontario when I was nine, I've had a fascination with the Niagara Escarpment.  There are a couple of parks (Rockwood & Rattlesnake Point) that featured prominently with my younger years; I learned to rock climb at Rattlesnake Point.

When I got my driver's license and couldn't handle the tedium of arrow straight Ontario roads any more I'd drive up to Belfountain (where I got married years later) and drive the Forks of the Credit.  When I got my motorcycle license, one of the first long trips I ever took was to a conference in Ancaster where I was introduced to Sulphur Springs Road, one of the first times I got that feeling of flying while riding.

Southern Ontario is surrounded by interesting geology, but the only
thing that breaks up the monotony around here is the Escarpment
Last year I took a ride out to Horning's Mills, one of the prettiest places I've ever wanted to live and road River Road down through Mono Hills (somewhere else I've looked at houses).  All of these places happen to trace the spine of the escarpment.  

Geological scars have always fascinated me, I think the energy coming out of the ground in these places is palpable; the Escarpment is one of those places.

I usually design trips that go long or take me to exotic place, but this one is a close to home and very doable trip.  The Escarpment enters Ontario just below Niagara Falls at the Queenston Heights (where I attended my wife's cousin's wedding).  Starting there, I'd trace the Escarpment through Niagara wine country and past my wife's alma mater (Brock University).  A logical first stop would be on the turn around Hamilton in Ancaster.  Day One would be only about 100kms, with lots of stops and turns up and down the Escarpment.  Passing through the rows of grapes, we may end up testing the carrying capacity of our rides.
Day 2 would mark the swing north, starting with Sulphur Springs road and winding through Rattlesnake Point and The Forks of the Credit before parking it up for the night at The Millcroft Inn in Alton.  This one's about 120kms as the crow flies, but includes a lot of switchbacks again.  Pulling in early at the Millcroft spa is never a bad idea anyway.

After a restful night at The Millcroft we head north past my wife's childhood home in Mono Hills and up to Horning's Mills before tracing River Road and heading north to the bottom of Georgian Bay.  Blue Mountain looks like a nice place to stop.  This is another 120km day, but with a lot of room for exploration and switchbacks.

Day four has us tracing the shore of Georgian Bay for 150kms on increasingly quieter roads as we head away from the noise of the Golden Horseshoe.  We'd aim for Wiarton to stop for the night before tackling The Bruce Peninsula on the final day.

It's tricky following the Escarpment up the Bruce Peninsula, road access is spotty at best.  If we try to hit every bit of coast we're looking at over 200kms of riding.  Many roads don't appear to join up on the map but might in real life, it'll be an exploratory day of trying to find the wild edge of the Bruce.

The trip ends in lovely Tobermory.  If we left on a Monday we'd be in Tobermory by Friday night.  The goal wouldn't be miles covered, but rather how much of the Escarpment could we ride.  Relatively known roads like Forks of the Credit might get company from some Escarpment roads that only locals know of (like River Road out of Horning's Mills).
The Niagara Escarpment Run
Without any highways or long distance hauling, this begs for a light touch as far as gear
goes.  The bikes would be minimally laden.  In a perfect world I'd do this with my wife and two friends from Ottawa.  Considering the nature of the trip, I'd be tempted to try and do this zero emission.  The Zero DS with the power tank would easily cover the mileage requirements every day and be able to charge overnight at each stop.
It would even be able to handle the ride from Tobermory home at the end of the trip in one gulp.

The Bruce Trail runs along the Escarpment, which itself is a world biosphere reserve.  Being able to ride the escarpment without a whiff of CO2 not only honours the biosphere, but also points to a future of environmentally gentler motorbiking.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Forks of the Credit

What does the double hair pin at Forks of the Credit look like on a sunny Sunday in May?
... and I missed the first ten that went by right to left!

It's a sunny Sunday afternoon on May 25th and I've got an afternoon on the Ninja.  Rather than do a pointless local loop I aim at The Forks and head east.  It's a nice ride on relatively interesting roads across Wellington County, Hillsburgh and Erin to Belfountain.  When I get there I realize that I've just walked into a mecca of bike culture in Southern Ontario.

The parking lot of the local ice cream and coffee shop is covered in motorcycles of all description, from Harleys to Ducatis and everything in between.  I hang a left and head onto seven of the best kilometres in Ontario.  On the ride down I've timed it perfectly, no one is in front of me and I lean the bike more than I ever have before.  Suddenly timely gear changes are vital to balancing the bike and the tires get some wear on the sides.  

I've been coming up to The Forks since I got my driver's license in the 1980s, but this is the first time I've done it on two wheels (except for once in an Escort GT, but that wasn't intentional).  On my way back I get stuck behind a guy in a Prius (a Prius?  Really?) and decide to pull over at the hairpin to get some media.  An OPP cruiser slows as he sees me on the side of the road but I give him a wave and when he realizes I'm taking pictures and not hurt he gives me a wave back and continues on his way.

Forks of the Credit, from
Belfountain to Highway 10
That train of bikes in the opening video was actually ten bikes longer, I'd already put the phone away when they started and didn't get it out and recording until halfway through the two wheeled parade.

Watching the cars lumber around the hairpin is a stark contrast to the bikes as they weave through the 180° hairpin.  At one point I thought one of the cars was going to have to back up to make it.

Back in Belfountain (where I got married sixteen years ago), I have a cup'o'tea and wander around looking at the bikes.  There is a constant stream of people coming and going, all ages, genders and interests.  The leather clad Harley guys are there, adventure types in their Aerostich, the sport bike crowd in their leathers, the touring riders on their Goldwings with pillions in tow, and even some cafe racers in their vintage gear.  It's a cross section of Ontario motorbiking culture.

That's me on the right.
After my wander I do The Forks once more, this time I'm clear both ways.  I pass back through Belfountain and a whole new flock of bikes have flown in.  My blood is pumping now and I get home fifteen minutes faster than I got here.

Pictures from The Forks of the Credit on May 25th, 2014.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Perfect Fall Ride

Other riders I know are talking about putting their bikes away already, I just can't bring myself to do it.  Riding in the cool autumn air as the leaves turn around you?  How on earth can you put a bike away with that going on outside?

Today I was off work for a periodontist torture session, so when the day broke sunny and cool I jumped out for a ride before the terror was to begin.  Rather than ride the barren agricultural desert of Centre Wellington again I made a point of aiming for some of my favorite geography.

The route!  Elora, up the Grand River to Shelburne, a short jog up to Horning's Mills and then down one of my
favorite roads to Mansfield, south on Airport Road to the Forks of the Credit, through Erin and over to Guelph
The road north east out of Fergus through Belfountain is nicely winding as it follows the Grand River.  The twists continued through Grand Valley where the road drops right down next to the river.  North to Shelbourne takes you through a science fiction landscape of massive windmills.  The blast down 89 into Shelbourne had me looking at the fuel light so I pulled in for gas and then stopped for a coffee.

I'm bad at looking after myself when I get going, I tend to push on rather than take the time to stay warm and charged up.  After a quick coffee I saddled up again and pushed on up 124 to Horning's Mills.  Located in a river valley north of Shelbourne, Horning's Mills has the feel of a place that time forgot.

Nothing says Shelburne like an old
Buick LeSabre!
I have a theory that when the geography rises up around you and blocks you off, all the the psychic static from those anxious, frustrated people in the GTA is deflected away; River Road out of Horning's Mills feels wonderfully isolated and far from the world.

We're probably still a week or two away from the fall colours, but the ride was gorgeous. It was getting on toward noon and the sun had finally warmed everything up.  In keeping with my look after yourself on a ride theme I brought a fleece sweater that I put on coming out of Fergus and three pairs of gloves, to try and find the perfect set for the cold air.  I ended up switching to the winter leather gloves after the warm up coffee and was glad for them.

With the first colours in the trees, crisp, cool air and a road that was very un-Ontario like in its bendiness, the warm and eager Ninja thrummed down the road with an urgency that washed away every care.

River Road between Horning's Mills and Mansfield
The ride south on Airport Road, usually a quick road with big elevation changes, was horrible.  There was some kind of grey hair convention going on, and combined with the construction, the ride was a disaster.  Rather than trying to pass every pensioner in a beige Camry in Ontario, I ducked right through Mono Cliffs and over to Highway 10.  While not as geographically exciting, Highway 10 did offer two lanes, and even though trucks were determined to drive side by each in them, I was able to flit through Orangeville and south to the last bit of interesting road on my trek.

The Forks of the Credit is a short bit of winding road that follows the young Credit River as it flows out of the Niagara Escarpment.  Once again construction ground things to a halt, but the crazy 180° hairpin and constantly twisting pavement reminded me of how a road can talk to you, especially through two wheels.

Forks of the Credit
By this point I was getting pressed for time to get back to Guelph for my torture session so I opened up the Ninja and hit Highway 24 through Erin and south to Highway 7 past Rockwood before ducking in to Guelph just south of the University for a quick lunch and then the blood letting.

The ride did a couple of things for me.  Taking longer trips I'm finding the Ninja remarkably easy to sit on for extended periods.  The seat is comfortable, the handlebars fall to hand and the bike is a joy to ride, it really wants to go.  What's getting me are the pegs.  Being as swept back and high as they are, my knees don't enjoy being folded up like that for long periods.  I find myself standing up on the pegs and resting my legs on the front frame sliders just to try and work out the kinks.  That 14° lean angle I could live with, but the 74° bend in the knees just isn't working for me.  Being long in the torso I also get a chest full of wind even with a larger, aftermarket windshield on the Ninja.

Having said that I covered about 230kms in between four and five hours with a few stops here and there, so it's not a show stopper.  There are other bikes that would fit me better, but I'd miss the Ninja's friskiness and eagerness to connect and become a single entity.  I'm afraid that something that would fit me better would be heavy and dull by comparison.

If you're thinking about putting your bike away, wait until the end is nigh and the snow is about to fly.  You never know when that perfect autumn day is going to suddenly appear in front of you and give you a ride that you can keep in the back of your head all winter long.  Yesterday's ride, complete with sore knees, wind burn and cold hands was a revelation.