Showing posts sorted by relevance for query georgian bay. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query georgian bay. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Around The Bay: Part 3, highway riding

Espanola to Waubaushene, the long way around Georgian
Bay is just over 300kms of highway focus.
Circumnavigating Georgian Bay for the first time made me aware that I've never done this kind of mileage before.  I was wondering how I'd hold up on such a long ride.

Up on the Bruce Peninsula I faced strong headwinds that constantly knocked me about, and throughout the ride I faced temperatures from under ten to over thirty degrees Celsius.  None of that stressed me as much as the highway stint I did out of Espanola around Georgian Bay to Waubaushene.
Parked by French River, I prepare for the second leg of the long
highway ride south.

Just over three hundred kilometres of highway got started at about 9:30am.  Being on divided multi-lane highway on this bike for the first time was a novelty that wore off by Sudbury.  What faced me then was a long ride south with more traffic than I usually go looking for.

When I drive on the highway I strive for lane discipline.  I keep right except to pass and chastise myself if I fail to indicate a lane change, which almost never happens.  I'd consider myself a disciplined car driver and I prefer to make time and leave most of the confused/distracted types behind me.

In my first year of riding I had a moment when I was following a beige mini-van and realized I'm on a machine that could pass much more safely than I can in a heavier/slower/less manoeuvrable car (short of extremely exotic cars, any motorcycle is better at braking, accelerating and turning, and exotic motorcycles are better at that than exotic cars).  I passed the mini-van and put myself in empty road where I wasn't depending on the attention of button mashing smartphone zombies in cages.  The extremely defensive mindset of a competent motorbike rider who exploits the abilities of their vehicle to emphasize their own safety really appeals to me.  I've ridden that way since.

Out on the highway I was moving at speed, dealing with blustery winds and sore muscles from hundreds of miles travelled.  The gyroscopic nature of a bike's wheels means you don't have to worry about tipping over, but a bike still changes directions in a heartbeat.  At one point I stretched my neck by looking down at the tank and when I looked up I'd changed lanes, that'll get the adrenaline flowing.  Riding at highway speeds on a motorcycle demands constant vigilance.  You need to be looking far down the road and taking your eyes off the pavement for even a moment can produce some nasty surprises.  You're covering more than ninety feet per second at highway speeds.

It's taxing to be that focused for hours at a time on a machine that longs to change
direction.  When I pulled off the 400 in Waubaushene I was relieved to be off the highway but immediately got rewarded  by seeing my first Ninja H2 on the road at the intersection.  It's amazing how good something like highway riding feels when you stop doing it, but the moment you stop you immediately begin recharging your battery for the next time you're out there.  Doing difficult things well is one of the key rewards in riding, and getting myself from Espanola down to Midland by lunch time meant I could spend an easy afternoon tootling about along the white sand shores of Georgian Bay.

An added bonus from my highway stint?  The Concours typically gets about 38-40mpg in commuting/start stop riding, but that highway stint (which wasn't slow) got me my best ever mileage, 43mpg!  At that rate a fill-up gets you north of 230 miles if you're in top gear making progress.  And I don't think I've ever heard the big one litre four cylinder purr like it did as I punched a bug shaped hole through the air around Georgian Bay.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Stealing One From The Icy Teeth of Winter

The days are getting darker, damper and distinctly not rider friendly.  One day this week was into the double digits Celsius, so we jumped at the chance to do a big Max & Dad ride, maybe our last one of 2017.

That night it was going to bucket down with a cold, pre-winter rain storm, but the day promised sun and clouds and a chance to ride, so we took it.  We waited until the numbers got well above zero and then got the Tiger out of the garage and put on leathers and layers of fleece; this was going to be a cold one.

There is nothing more ragged and beautiful than a pre-winter sky over Georgian Bay.  We pushed north across the barren farm tundra that we live in.  Miles upon miles of mechanically tilled and industrially fertilized fields rolled by as we headed toward a first warm-up stop at Highland Grounds in Flesherton on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment.

We staggered into the coffee shop just past eleven.  The weather wasn't anywhere near where the Weather Network promised it would be.  Our low teens, sunny morning had turned into a six degree, overcast slog north along your typical, boring, straight Southern Ontario roads.  Fortunately, nothing cheers us up more than warming up in an independent coffee shop and then heading onto Escarpment twisties.  Highland Grounds was as good as I remembered and we left with warm grins after a vanilla milkshake, a cookie the size of a pizza and a big, piping hot coffee in a ceramic mug.  It was a lot of calories, but we'd shivered those off on the way up.

North past Lake Eugenia where I spend a lot of summers at a friend's cottage, we wound our way into Beaver Valley and the twisties and views we'd been looking for - so much so that we stopped at the scenic look out on our way into the valley.


    


Of course, as soon as we stopped an elderly couple pulled in behind us and the driver immediately wandered up to find out who made our Triumph.

"Triumph?" I replied, somewhat confused by his question.
"Where are they made then?" he asked.  He has (of course) owned old Meriden Triumphs from the pre-80's collapse of the Motor Company and had assumed they were long gone.  He had no idea John Bloor had saved the brand in the early 90s and it was now one of the biggest European motorcycle manufacturers.  He'd assumed it was an Asian built Triumph branded thing.  When I told him it was built in the UK at a state of the art factory in Hinckley he was gobsmacked.  I always enjoy telling the story of Triumph's phoenix like rise from the ashes.  We left him thinking about dropping by the factory next time he's back in the old country.

We hopped back on the trusty Tiger and headed on through Beaver Valley and out to the choppy shores of Georgian Bay where the sky looked torn and the waves smashed against the rocks, splashing us with spray.







We hung out on the lonely shore for a little while, watching the hyperthermic fisherman standing in the mouth of the Beaver River amidst the surf, casting into the grey water over and over.  Georgian Bay skies always look like they are about to shatter, even in the summer, but with a Canadian winter imminent they looked positively daunting.  Time for another warm up.

We rode back up the hill onto the main street of Thornbury and got ourselves another warm drink.  The goal was to strike south east across the Escarpment toward Creemore for lunch.  The sporadic sun had managed to get it up to about ten degrees, but it was only better compared to the frozen morning.  We headed south behind Blue Mountain and through the glacial remains of Singhampton before turning onto the positively serpentine Glen Huron road for a ride down the hill into Creemore.  Shaggy highland cattle watched us ride by, much to my passenger's delight.


A hot lunch of philly steak and poutine refueled us at The Old Mill House Pub in Creemore.  When we came back out mid afternoon the temperature was as good as it was going to get, eleven degrees.  With warm stomachs we saddled up for the ride home through the wind fields of Dufferin County, but not before walking down the street to the ever popular Creemore brewery for a photo op and some brown ale.

When it comes to the end of October in Ontario, Canada, you take what you can get, and I'm glad we did.  Soon enough the snow will fall, the roads will salt up and the Tiger will have to hibernate, dreaming of the far off spring.


All on bike photos courtesy of the very easy to operate Ricoh Theta 360 camera - with simple physical controls and an ergonomic shape that is easy to grip, it's my go-to 360 camera.  No worries about framing a shot or focusing, it takes a photo of everything!

Georgian Bay 2017 end of season ride #triumph #roofhelmet #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


Our last big ride of the year?  Perhaps - it was hot baths and fireplaces when we got home.

Leather, fleece and armoured trousers, and it was still a cold one.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Around Georgian Bay

Everyone's busy this weekend so, and to quote Freddie Mercury, I'm going to take a long ride on my motorbike.  Time for my first circumnavigation of a Great Lake, I'll start small with Georgian Bay.  From Elora I'll strike north to Tobermory.  There is a 1:30 ferry to Manitoulin Island, that's the only must get to (gotta get there an hour before departure, so 12:30pm in Tobermory).

I'm aiming for Little Current to overnight.  We stopped there last summer and it seems a lovely spot to spend the night, and The Hawberry Motel looks the part.   That'll put me 340kms and a two hour ferry ride into an 873km circumnavigation.

Sunday morning I'm on the winding road up to Espanola and then over to Sudbury before the long ride south.  It might seem like a stretch but the ride south includes some time on the 400, so I'll get to see how the Concours manages highway riding while making some time down the other side of the bay.  Once I get back south of the Bay I'll cut over to the coast and follow it around before heading south out of Wasaga Beach for the final push home.

This ride is the longest I've yet done, and it also includes a ferry ride.  I'm pretty revved up about it!  Friday night will be the pre-flight checks then on the road Saturday morning.  My buddy Jeff has said he'll do the first leg with me up to Tobermory, so I'll also get to do some miles in formation.  Another box checked.

Here are the posts from the trip:
Part 1: To the North
Part 2: An informed ride
Part 3: Highway Miles
Part 4: The Kit
Part 5: Media from the Trip


The Concours is sorted and doing regular duty commuting me to work, time to stretch her legs...

LINKS

The Ferry

The Hawberry Motel

The Map

The Trip Itself

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Launching an Odyssey & Circumnavigating Huron

Jeff, the motorcycle Jedi, is crossing Canada with his lovely wife on a Honda Goldwing.  They leave shortly and we get to tag along on the first day!  We'll accompany them to Massey, Ontario and over to The Sault the next morning.  They then continue up over Superior on their pan-Canadian odyssey while we cut south over the border into Northern Michigan and hug the shore of Lake Huron before popping back into Southern Ontario in Sarnia.



While Jeff and MA are heading west for days on end, we'll be wandering through Hemmingway's Michigan before arriving back home.  This'll give me my second great lake circumnavigation (or maybe my first real great lake because Georgian Bay is a bay).


https://goo.gl/maps/UTLra6j7ZEL2

Daily Schedule:
day 1- The Mohawk Inn, Massey ON
day 2- The Breakers Resort, St Ignace, MI
day 3- Bay Valley Resort & Conf Ctr, Bay City
day 4- Home

Mileages:
Elora to Massey, ON:       496kms
Massey to St Ignace, MI:   296kms
St Ignace to Bay City, MI: 381kms
Bay City to Elora, ON:     395kms

http://explorersedge.ca/

Riding the twisty roads of Northern Ontario

The quiet shores of Huron in Northern Michigan...



Saturday, 13 June 2015

Around the Bay: Part 4, the kit

900 kms in a day and a half led me to some consideration of the kit involved in this trip:

THE BIKE

First up would be the bike, in this case a Connie I picked up in a field late last summer for eight hundred bucks.

After a winter of repairs, it safetied in April and I've since put on almost two thousand miles with nary a complaint.  It starts at the touch of a button and feels much more substantial than the 650 Ninja I had before.  It also continues to surprise me with its athleticism.


As a long distance bike its comfortable seat and upright riding position (greatly aided by risers on the handle bars installed by the previous owner) make long rides very doable.  It'll manage about 40mpg in regular use and gets up into the mid-forties on the highway at a brisk pace, giving you well over 200 miles to a tank.

I miss the lightness of the Ninja (the Conours weighs over two hundred pounds more than the Ninja did), especially when I do something stupid like ride the Concours into deep sand, but it handles two up riding with ease and still wants to play on winding roads.  As a compromise it's a great piece of engineering that still has soul.  

RIDING GEAR

The Helmet

I picked up a Bell Revolver Evo Warp (!) helmet during the winter.  I tried it on my first trip of the year and it was AGONIZINGLY PAINFUL!  Since then I've had at the inside of it, removing the snap buttons from the padding around the temples.  Without the hard buttons pressing through the padding into the sides of my head like a torture device this helmet has suddenly become very wearable for long trips.  It managed the Georgian Bay run with no pain, though it is heavy and noisy wind-wise.  It looks a treat though.

The perfect helmet? Full face when
you need it, open when you don't.
I'm still looking for the perfect lid.  I enjoy the view and lack of claustrophobia in an open faced helmet, and the better ones seem to offer good wind protection too.  Weather-wise, a full face lid is usually quieter and keeps you warmer when needed.  What would be ideal is a helmet that converts from one to the other.

Jo Sinnott wears just such a helmet in Wild Camping, but those Roof Helmets are impossible to find on this side of the world.

The Jacket

I picked up a Teknic Motorcycle jacket at the North American Motorcycle Show in January from Two Wheel Motorsport.  My first jacket was a discount deal, the first thing that looked like it would do the job.

This Teknic jacket is next level in every way.  It breaths well in warm weather and keeps me remarkably warm when it isn't.  It was able to handle the twenty degree swing in temperatures on this trip with ease.  It's a bit disco, but I like it, and with my initials on it, I couldn't say no.

Too bad Teknic seems to have gone under.

The Gloves

I brought a long a pair of colder weather gloves but never used them.  Between the Concours' wind protection and the multiple talents of the gloves I brought, I never used them.

These leather mits from Leatherup.ca have far exceded any expectations.  They breath well, are warm in the cold and feel both sturdy and protective.  Other than some tired velcro on the wrists that still work, these gloves have been flawless.  I need a red pair to go with the new colour scheme.

The Boots

Another second generation purchase, these Alpinestars MX-1 boots were a second season buy to replace the discount boots I purchased to attend riding school.  Like the gloves, they manage a wide range of temperatures, especially on the well equipped Concours.

Unlike the cheap boots, I sometimes forget to change out of these when I get to work, they're that comfortable.  They did the whole Georgian Bay trip flawlessly.  The only time I'd worry about them is in rain, which I didn't face - they are vented.

The Pants

I brought along a pair of motorbike-specific jeans, but never used them (I intend to pack much lighter next time around).  The Macna pants I got last year but got too fat to fit into fit much better now, and I never took them off.

They look a bit spacey, but I like that.  They breath like shorts and still manage to provide excellent wind protection and remarkable warmth behind the Concours' fairing.  Best pants ever?  Maybe!  The armoured jeans stayed in the panier all weekend wasting space.  These Macna pants are one of the few pieces of kit I can offer no improvements on, they are ace!

The Luggage

The Concours comes equipped with a pair of panniers from the factory which I used for tools and tech on one side and rain gear and clothes on the other.  I generally never had to go into either.

When I first got the bike I got a Givi Blade B47 tail box.  In general use it stays on the back and is used to hold helmets and bits and pieces when I commute to work.  Like my previous Givi it has performed flawlessly.

New for this trip I picked up an Oxford X30 magnetic tank bag for less than half price thanks to Royal Distributing's tent sale in the spring.  What a fine piece of luggage this bag is!  On the ferry to Manitoulin I consolidated the book and camera bags I brought along into it and put them away in the panniers never to appear again (I plan to pack much more lightly next time around).

The Oxford worked as a backpack, camera bag and laptop case.  Fully expanded it carried all of those things and more with room to spare.  It was also nice to lay on when bombing down the highway when I wanted to get a couple of minutes out of the wind.  I'd highly recommend it.

***

Good kit can make all the difference, and what I had for this trip did the job so well I didn't need any of the backup I'd brought along.  After you've done a few trips I imagine you refine the kit until you've narrowed it down to just what you need and nothing more.

I'm still looking for the helmet I fall in love with.  I must have an oddly shaped head, but I live in hope.  I'm going to have to commit to a top tier helmet, but not until I'm sure it fits, and it can do everything I need it to.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Around The Bay: Part 2, an Informed ride

Putting on the miles and building muscle memory.
A couple of recent articles informed my circumnavigation of Georgian Bay.

Bike magazine's resident lawyer had a great piece on the dangers of the over educated novice rider.  He made the poignant observation that people who haven't had a lot of seat time but have over-thought riding to the nth degree often have much nastier crashes than less trained but more experienced riders.  Sometimes the best thing to do is instinctively grab as much brake as you can instead of overthinking an impending disaster.  Perhaps riding is more of an art than a science, informed by experience, not training.


As a teacher I found this critical assessment of instruction over experience to be both interesting and probably accurate.  There is a lot of anxiety over motorcycle riding from the general public  I was determined to get some saddle time and learn the hard way rather than in theory.  The over-focus on training and gear tries to mitigate this fear, and it helps to a degree, but if fear is what drives you, I'd suggest that motorcycling isn't what you should be doing.

The second piece was Neil Graham's editorial in this month's Cycle Canada.  Neil is getting back to form after an agonizing winter back injury.  After everyone else had moved on Neil stayed out on track until it became kind of boring and he relaxed into the ride.  In his case it was track riding on the edge, but it still spoke to the teaching of muscle memory, something that became evident in the previous Bike piece as well.

On my way out of Southern Ontario I was intentionally trying to untense muscles, especially the ones I subconsciously tense when I'm riding.  Yoga probably helps with this, but I was able to sense and untense muscles in my legs and backside while riding.  Being loose and heavy on the bike allowed me to ride further without fatigue.  It also allowed me to respond to issues quickly and lightly.  Being able to free your mind from the demands of your body and put yourself into a state of relaxation also opens up a state of heightened awareness.

Riding into my driveway on Sunday afternoon I was exhausted but elated and felt like I was coming out of some deep meditation.  My mind was full of the 900 kms I'd seen, smelled and felt, and the soreness became something that I'd worked through; the second wind was a real endorphin rush.  After the three hundred plus kilometre stretch down the backside of Georgian Bay I suddenly found myself operating beyond the soreness of the long ride.  Coming off the very demanding highway ride to quiet back roads probably helped too.

If you're able to find a state of intense focus while performing a strenuous mental and physical activity like riding a motorcycle, you tend to be able to find that state much more easily when you're not on the bike and things are easier.  Being able to focus and perform while under duress makes entering that state of intense awareness in other circumstances that much easier.

I guess I found that moment beyond the thinking and training where I relaxed into the saddle and became the ride.  If long distance riding can do that, I suspect I'm eventually going to want to do the deed and get my iron butt.


Links

People who think they are invincible, then suddenly realize they aren't and quit
Is the person who ignores danger with delusions of invincibility brave, or stupid?
The kind of intelligent insight you expect from Quora
An insightful examination of what motorcycling is.
An idiotic infographic that focuses on the people who choose to ride more than riding
See the top link - deluded thrill seekers are a part of the motorcycle community, the stupid part.
Another idiotic infographic that focuses on obvious truth (doing dangerous things is dangerous!), but so is obesity, smoking and getting older
The safest thing to do is exercise in a rubber box, never take any risks in anything and kill yourself before you get old (getting old is going to kill you!)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Dipping a Toe in Georgian Bay

The plan:







The execution:


Why you going looking for the Niagara Escarpment: it's the only place where you're not riding on the crown of your tire all the time in Southern Ontario.


A bit windy, but otherwise perfect weather.  24°C in Elora down to 18°C on Georgian Bay in Thornbury; comfortable without ever being sweaty.  The 360° shots are from a Ricoh Theta 360° Camera, the rest are taken from my Samsung S5 smartphone.  Videos are at the bottom.

Getting ready for liftoff.






The wind fields of Shelburne


The look on my face when I'm about to ride up River Road out of Hornings Mills.




A thumbs up from Max, he likes the twisties.


A pheasant and baby!  But you can't see it due to poor resolution and lens distortion.  The Theta is an interesting idea,
but even with giant, unwieldy files, it still has poor image quality.


Thornbury Harbour


Thornbury


Big sky on the never ending farm field ride home.












Another Tiger double take.  There is another!



Smartphone pics:





Creemore for lunch at The Old Mill House Pub (never had a bad meal there)


The new adventurers (a Kawasaki Versys & Suzuki V-Strom), along with the Tiger
that has always been (mine's 13 years older - made back before Ewan & Charlie did that thing)








A map of the good bits:  https://goo.gl/maps/zpdGaSLMuy82