Wednesday 24 June 2015

Reading The Trails

We loaded up our wee mini-van and spent 48 hours out in the woods near Bobcaygeon.  Into the back I packed some helmets and the tiny Yamaha.

The cottage we were at is an ideal base for off-roading.  It's at the end of a long gravel fire road deep in the woods, and it's surrounded by off road snowmobile trails.  You couldn't ask for a better place to practice the art of riding off road on two wheels.

I really need to get my mits on an off road bike so I can go on those trails with my boy on his bike.

While I was lamenting my lack of a dual sport I went out on one of the ATVs and rode some trails with an eye for how a bike might make its way through three foot deep puddles and up rocky washed out trails.  The ATV is like a tank, bashing its way through with brute force and massive wheels.  You've got no chance of falling off and you pretty much knock your way through on a hugely over-square, balanced machine.  A bike would be like a scalpel after using a butcher's cleaver.

The inherent lack of balance on a bike means pounding through those massive puddles would be a tricky proposition.  I can't wait to try it.  Since I started riding I've realized how many different ways there are to learn motorcycle dynamics, and off-roading will push those boundaries far more cheaply than track racing might.

I'm hoping to nail down an off road focused dual sport and some kit in the next couple of weeks and then I intend to spend a lot of time up on the trails around the cottage, falling off a lot and learning things I'd never get to learn on the road.

A lovely little Yamaha came up in Orangeville for sale.  I'm hoping it's still available.  It's a light weight, air cooled XT350, the grandchild of the venerable XT500.  It'd also look good with with my son's PW80.  Just two guys out on their Yamahas.

Here's hoping it's still waiting for me.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Open Face Lid Dreams

My most comfortable helmet is the cheapest one I've bought.  That Hawk open faced helmet from is a simple device with barely any padding in it, yet I can wear it for hours without any pressure points.  It's a flip down, open faced lid with a built in sun visor, but it solidified for me my preferred helmet type - the open faced, modern helmet.  You can get out of the wind with the full face visor, or just use the sun visor and enjoy an unencumbered view of the road.

With the open faced thing in mind, here are my latest helmet dreams, but they ain't cheap (or easy to find in some cases):


I've still got a huge crush on these French helmets that you can't get here.  I'm going to have to take a trip to the south of France just to pick one up.  The orange Desmo on the left has an A7 Corsair vibe to it that I dig.  It still looks like the perfect helmet: an open faced helmet that can transform into a fully safetied full face helmet when needed without having to carry around bits and pieces with you.

Price?  No idea, you can't buy them in North America and the former distributor hasn't been forthcoming with where to get the last ones in-country.  These guys have it for €469 ($649CA), but then there will be shipping and customs fees.  I'd be the only one I see on the road though.


Schuberth just came out with a new version of their open faced helmet.  Once again, these aren't everywhere, but they are a heck of a lot easier to find than the Roof.

Compared to the French jeux de vivre in the Roof, you get some pretty German meh when it comes to style, though I bet its engineered to within an inch of its life. 

Price?  $680 from a trusted source,

NEXX HELMETS: X40 Vultron (!)

Wired did an article on these many moons ago.  Also a modular helmet, but rather than the Roof's elegant hinge, you end up with a handful of bits when you want to go open face.

It still has a neo-tech look to it that I like, though their webpage is a bit of a pig (my laptop is in overdrive trying to make sense of it).

Price?  Good question, NEXX Canada doesn't appear to offer the X40 for sale.  You can find them for sale in the UK for £249.99 ($484CA), but you also facing those shipping and customs costs.

SHARK: Soyouz

An open faced helmet that comes with all the bits and pieces to make a closed lid if you so wish. It also lets you live your Clint Eastwood Firefox dream.

The Soyouz is also made by a much better known and distributed manufacturer than some of the dodgier off-shore helmets I seem drawn to.

Price?  $299 in Canadian dollars with free shipping and no customs surprises from motorcyclesuperstore, a trusted source who go over the top to make sure you're happy with your order.  If they go on sale, I might not be able to help myself.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Thoughts on Bump Starting a Motorcycle

It's been one of those days.  I have a 21 year old motorbike but the 10 week old battery in it failed and almost stranded me on my way to an exam.

I'm still not sure how the Concours found a way to start with next to no electricity but I'm mighty glad she's looking after me.  I ended up making it to work in plenty of time.

The other day the Connie wouldn't start, plunging me into despair.  Had I wrecked the electrics with my wash last week?  Had I wired something wrong?  It turns out no, I hadn't.  On the upside, it wouldn't start in my own driveway, which makes for cheaper towing costs.

Thanks to some quality engineering by Motormaster I was the proud owner of a 10 week old Eliminator battery that had a bad cell.  Want to hear the sound of frustration (and Concours magic?), here it is:

I'm still not sure how the Connie got going again with almost no electricity, but she pulled it off and got me to work.  I had the auto-tech teacher handy in case my bump start failed, so here's how it went:  I duck walked the Concours to the slight downhill out of the parking lot and got it going down the hill as quickly as I could.  I had it in second gear with the clutch in.  Dumping the clutch I got a couple of big chugs and then the bike stopped.

I've had a lot of experience bump starting cars.  I was the proud owner of a series of Chrysler and Ford products in the 1980s, many of which seemed determined not to start.  I've bump started everything from Chrysler Lasers to Ford Escorts and Mercury Capris (all manual shift, I've never owned an automatic).  If it's got four wheels, I can probably get it going.

Made in Vietnam this year or made in Japan 21 years ago?
I'll take the 21 year old Japanese bits, thanks.
There is something you need to know about bump starting a bike if you've only ever done it in a car.  When you get a car rolling you don't need a lot of speed because you've got so much momentum thanks to the weight of the vehicle.  With the bike you need to get more speed going because you've got much less weight.  My first motorbike bump start didn't because I didn't recognize the difference in mass.  Get your bike going faster than you do with a car before you drop the clutch.

Of course, no one bump starts anything any more because it would damage the on-board computers, so this is an academic discussion.

After a jump from the auto-shop at school I was rolling again.  I got home, took out the battery and brought it over to my local Canadian Tire where it failed the tester in less than thirty seconds with a bad cell.  Twenty minutes later (there was a lot of paperwork) I walked out with a new replacement.  It's since been filled and charged.  Hopefully the new battery can keep up with the 21 year old parts around it this time.

What does a new battery do?  Well, the bike starts the moment you touch the starter.  It feels more awake.  I imagine the plugs were putting out some pretty weak spark at idle on a dying battery.  While riding the bike seems to lug less at low rpms and feels sharper.  The lights glow brighter too.

The parts desk at Canadian Tire said they've never had an Eliminator fail like this before.  If it's a one off I'll shrug and take it as bad luck.  If I'm swapping it out again under warranty then I won't be buying another one.  There was no real cost because it died in my driveway, but had it died on the far side of Georgian Bay it would have been much more expensive.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Perfect Moments

Lexus has this ad about being in the perfect moment:

Other than the narrative (I find that I'm lost in moments like this, not narrating them in my head), I like the idea. I was editing footage from riding last week and had trouble finding a frame where I didn't have a perfect moment look on my face:

Even pausing during the high speed sections of that video shows a series of very content micro-expressions.  You might find a perfect moment once in every blue moon in your Lexus, but I find them almost constantly when out on the bike.  I'm starting to get the idea behind the 'you never see a bike in a therapist's parking lot' saying.

The real question is: what is it about riding a motorcycle that causes this kind of continuous immersion in the perfect moment? (redundant perhaps, every moment is perfect isn't it?)

When I ride well I find myself immersed in what I'm doing I lose myself in it.  It's only when conscious thought arises that my corners aren't carved perfectly and my gears are wrong.  Some of this has to do with the fact that I'm still relatively new to motorbiking and very conscious of improving my process, but the majority has to do with the immersive nature of riding a motorcycle.

I even look happy parking the bike at work!
Being in the wind means you are enveloped by the world you're passing through.  Your senses are alive to sounds, smells and the panorama around you.  You aren't seeing the world through a letterbox wind shield and smelling recirculated A/C.  The sensual nature of riding, the wind tugging at your clothes, the sun on your back, goes a long way to making you the ride rather than you doing a ride.

If the sensual side of it isn't enough (and it's often overwhelming, ask any biker who has felt the temperature drop and smelt the ozone as they've ridden into a thunderstorm), there is always the mechanical intimacy of riding a motorcycle to make you forget concious thought and become one with the moment.

Unlike the hand on the wheel, one foot on the gas approach to driving, the motorcyclist is changing gears with their left toe, rear braking with their right, operating the clutch and indicators (and sometimes horn, lights and choke) with their left hand and twisting the throttle and applying the front brakes with the right.  On top of that they are using both arms to counter-steer into corners and their whole bodies to manage those turns.  Motorcycling is a viable and complex form of exercise for both the mind and body.

So what we have here is a mode of transport that is physically taxing, mentally demanding and sensual.  On top of all that, if you do it badly it can very quickly become fatal.  You very quickly want to be able to fall into the zone when riding.  Peak performance and awareness it fosters isn't nice to have but a necessity when operating a motorbike.  Fortunately, getting to that state is fantastically rewarding.  There are a lot of ways to get there but seat time seems to be the magic ingredient.

In a cruel twist, this morning I got the bike out for the short commute to work.  The rain had stopped and the smell of water soaked plants filled the humid air, but my up-until-now bullet proof old Concours wouldn't start, it had a dead battery!  Maybe I left the ignition on?  Maybe some water got into things?  Maybe something broke?  Suddenly that string of contented moments I was looking forward to became a morose push back into the garage after changing out of my gear.  My commute turned from fifteen minutes of bliss to the tedium of driving.  The bike is a wonderful form of therapy, except for when it doesn't work.

Monday 15 June 2015

Two Wheel's Mega-Edifice

Two Wheel always had a Bartertown/Beyond the Thunderdome/
post-apocalyptic kind of feel to it, but it's all gone now!
My son Max and I went for one of those perfect rides today.  We headed down to Guelph in sunny, room temperature air with no wind.  It was glorious.

After a few stops and lunch we headed back north and swung into Two Wheel Motorsport's new digs.  The building looks impressive from the outside but the insides are something else!  Two Wheel used to have a kind of organic, bigger than where it was situated/post apocalyptic vibe to it, the new place is enormous, modern and shows off their stock like a bike show.

With walls of glass and an open concept, if you've never been to Two Wheel before, it's worth a trip north of Guelph on 6 - you can't miss riding past this motorcycle Mecca now.

Shock & Awe when you walk in the front door of the new building!
Not only can you actually sit on the bikes now (they used to be piled on top of each other so you couldn't get a leg over),
but there is so much space the stock on hand feels more like a bike show than a dealer!
They even had examples of modern art on display!

I could happily walk in to Two Wheel Motorsport and drop fifty grand.  My local dealer has gone pro.  I can't wait to see how they evolve into their new space.

The only downside was having to dual sport my way across the unpaved parking lot on a Concours with a passenger.  Hopefully the drive will be paved soon and then this place will become a beacon for bikers all over the area.  It's worth a ride over to see what they've done.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Dinosaurs & Motorcycles

The only thing cooler than hunting with velociraptors on a
motorbike is hunting with velociraptors on motorbikes!
I don't know how Triumph manages it, but they got a Scrambler into most of the scenes that involve chasing dinosaurs in the new Jurassic World flick. We just got back from it today and it's a good time, especially if you've seen the original.

You see Chris Pratt fiddling with the bullet proof fuel injected Scrambler in an early scene, then he breaks it out for the big hunt half way through the film.  The kids in the film point out, "your boyfriend is pretty bad ass!" - well of course he is, he's riding a classically styled form before function bike!

My hair never looked that good,
even when I had some.

So just in case David Beckham riding into the unknown (except for the people who live there - they know about it) on a Triumph Scrambler wasn't enough, you've now got hunting dinosaurs WITH DINOSAURS!

The former might have pegged the hipster meter, but the later turns it up to eleven!

Needless to say, the interwebs couldn't resist, and it didn't take long to get a parody out of it:

I didn't realize I was sitting on a
movie star at the Toronto Bike
Show this year!
The Triumph Scrambler seems to have this magical ability to look like a capable off road bike while weighing over five hundred pounds (handy perhaps if you're riding with dinosaurs).

I'm still looking for my basic dual purpose machine, but I can't say that Triumph's cunning placements don't have be jonesing for a Scrambler, at least until I've had to pick it up out of the dirt a couple of times and discovered that the retro look is also very breakable, then I'd be begging for the two hundred (!) pound lighter and more robust Suzuki I've been longing for, though it wouldn't be nearly so nostalgic and hipster chic.  

I've always gone for function over appearance in my motorbiking, but Chris Pratt on a Scrambler isn't making it easy.

Around The Bay: Part 5, motorcycle media from the trip

The story told in a photo is told as much by the viewer as it is
by the photographer, and it's non-linear.
Since I was solo on the circumnavigation of Georgian Bay I brought along some gear to capture the moment.  I prefer photography.  I think a good photo is an entire world you can get lost in, and unlike video it isn't forcing you to follow along frame by frame.  In a photo you're free to wander with your eyes in a non-linear way.

Having said all that, I brought along some video gear to try out on this trip.  I'd love a GoPro, but since they cost almost as much as my bike did, I got a cheap Chinese knock-off instead (and a cheap knockoff it is!)  The Foscam AC1080 takes fantastic video (full 1080p) and decent photos (up to 12 megapixels), and at only about $140 taxes in, it's less than 1/3 the price of a GoPro.  Where it falls apart is in the fit and finish.  In a week of what I'd describe as gentle use for an 'action camera' the buttons never lined up right with the unit inside the waterproof case (I ended up having to remove the camera to start and stop it), the case itself was so rickety it would just blow over in the wind (the GoPro has a ratchet in the stand that locks in position, the Foscam is just a plastic screw), and the case itself snapped at the base after only a few uses.  It also gets uncomfortably hot when it recharges.  I have some concerns about the physical capabilities of this 'action' camera.

The Foscam takes nice stills too, when it takes them.
The other shaky part of the Foscam is its operation.  You can start it up and it'll stop again for no apparent reason (though this might have to do with convoluted options buried in menus).

You might think the GoPro lacking in options, but it has very streamlined operation and always gets what you're filming (which is vital in action video), and it does it without an LCD or menu options buried three deep.

The Foscam also saves in a .mov file format which Sony Vegas seems determined not to render properly.  If you can get past all that frustration you can get some very nice video out of the Foscam:
... and you can find you've got nothing because it shut off just when you were about to do a one time thing:
A quick video of the boarding of the Chicheemaun ferry in Tobermory - why did I take it from the Olympus Camera around my neck?  Because the Foscam shut off for no apparent reason just as we were about to board.  But hey, when it works it makes nice pictures.

The go-to camera was my trusty Olympus Pen.  This is the best camera I've ever owned - a micro SLR with swappable lenses and full manual control.  It also takes video in a pinch.  This camera punches well above its weight.  If I were to pony up for something better, it would be an Olympus OM-D that takes the same size lenses, and then go on a lens hunt for some macro and telephoto madness.

Also on this trip I brought along a Samsung S5, which takes nice pics and decent video.  Smartphone cameras have gotten so good that I don't think about point and shoot cameras any more, they are redundant.  My only regret is not picking up the bonkers Nokia Lumia 1020 with it's massive camera built in, but then Telus didn't have it.

I'm not really through with the Foscam yet.  Once I've got it worked out, hopefully I can still use it to get some quality video off the bike.  The other day we were out for a ride so I decided to focus on getting some audio instead.  Yes, riding a bike really is as fun as this sounds.  I'm going to look into making some finer audio recordings to catch the sound of riding, it's a different angle on motorbike media.

Over the summer I plan to look into more advanced 3d modelling and micro-photography as well as maybe some drone work.  I'm looking forward to pushing the limits with motorbike media creation.


Google Album: photos from the trip
Google made a story: Google Photos auto-arranged pictures from the trip into scrapbook.

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:


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.  


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 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.

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.

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.


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!)

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Around The Bay: Part 1, to the north

Around the Bay in a day and a bit
860kms plus another 50 across the bay
I'm back after a day and a half marathon around Georgian Bay.  Just over 900kms including 50 on a ferry, and I'm beat!

I left at about 8am on Saturday morning and struck north west toward the Bruce Peninsula.  The farms were pretty in the morning sun but soon got pretty repetitive.  I find Southern Ontario quite tedious with few curves through never ending farm deserts, I was looking forward to getting up onto The Bruce and feeling like I wasn't local any more.
It was a cool, sunny morning and I stopped for coffee and a fill up at the Shell in Hanover.  Putting on a sweater I continued north when suddenly my otherwise rock-solid 21 year old Kawasaki Concours started hesitating at part throttle.  It was annoying but not trip destroying.  I immediately began to suspect that Hanover gasoline.

Soon enough I pulled into Wiarton, the gateway to the Bruce, and got myself a warm sausage roll and a very nice (not gas station) coffee at Luscious Bakery & Cafe on the main street; it's a great place to stop before riding onto the windy Bruce Peninsula.

Parked in Wiarton, the Luscious Cafe & Bakery is worth a stop!

Thursday 4 June 2015

I like 'em rough and ready

The Concours, not nearly so precious
with its kintsugi gold filled cracks...
Another idyllic night ride home this evening.  On the way in I saw an older Honda on the side of the road with a for-sale sign on it, so I made a point of stopping on the way home in the dark to have a look.

It's a 1974 Honda XL175.  It looks like the owner is asking almost two thousand dollars for it, which seems a bit precious.  I suppose this is officially a classic now, and with nostalgic Boomers wrestling with Hipsters to snap them up, a couple of grand may very well be possible.  It has less than three thousand miles on it and looks like it's been well loved.  

I think I'll save my money for something a bit less 'just so'.  I'm not interested in getting a dual sport bike so I can rub it with a diaper.  Having said that, Mars Orange sure is a striking colour!

For a 1974 (41 year old!) motorbike, it's obviously led a charmed life.
If you're suddenly in love, you can find it here

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...


The Ferry

The Hawberry Motel

The Map

The Trip Itself