Wednesday 31 August 2016

Lobo Loco: The Birds & The Bees Rally

You couldn't possibly hit them all,
so route selection is key.
It's a sleepy, summer, Saturday morning in Elmira.  The few locals that are already up are walking dogs and taking it slow, but the clock has just ticked over to 8am and we've begun our first long distance motorcycle rally.  We fill up, get a receipt showing our start time and place and text to the rally lead that we've started.  We rode over to Elmira to start because this is a target rich environment with over 1500 points on tap.

How did we get here?  My buddy Jeff met Wolfe Bonham, the creator of this rally, at Lawrence Hacking's Overland Adventure and they became friends on Facebook.  When Wolfe announced the rally on there Jeff asked if I wanted to give it a go and a rally team was born!  A week before the event you get a rally book pdf emailed to you with various locations in it.  You've only got eight hours to connect as many dots as you can and it would be impossible to hit all of them, so you've got to be crafty and find the best route from where you are to where the rally ends in Brantford.

The theme of this rally was birds and bees, so locations had some kind of connection to that idea and included everything from apiaries to bird statues.  Since neither of us enjoy urban riding on hot summer days, we plotted a route that would take us cross country and out to the shores of Huron before looping back around to Brantford.  Being new, we were afraid we'd bite off more than we could chew; we did anyway despite reducing our route goals half a dozen times.
The morning clipped along as we knocked out 1600 points in Elmira before 8:30am and were in Lucan by mid-morning.  Things started to go sideways when we had to navigate miles of sandy cottage roads before eventually getting to Kettle Point on Lake Huron.  Turning around from there at noon we were getting tired and the sun was relentless.  One of our key goals was to try and get to a bee beard happening at Clovermead Adventure Farm near Aylmer.  This only had a twenty minute window and was worth big bonus points.  We caught a few more locations before hopping on the 401 and pushing to Clovermead, making it (thanks to a very helpful gate keeper) in the nick of time.  Our cunning plan was to use the 401 as a pressure valve if we ran out of time, and it was already doing the job.

The bee beard was brilliant, as was Clovermead in general.  A rally like this shows you all sorts of local spots you’d otherwise have no idea about.  I was thinking about this as we got out to the bikes only to be told by Google maps that we were an hour away from the finish line with an hour to go!  Perhaps the bee beard was a trap!  We’d been tired but adrenaline kicked in again, the race to the finish was on!  We got back to the 401 and flew on down the 403 elated that we'd made the bee beard bonus but anxious about getting to the finish.  The traffic light coming off the highway felt like it was red for an hour!  We pulled into King's Buffet parking lot, already full of motorcycles of all shapes and sizes, at 3:56pm; that's tight!

Staggering into the dimness of the restaurant I felt sun-blind.  We drank lots of water while we wrote out a clean copy of our rally sheet that had to show times and odometer readings for each stop along with a photograph showing us and our rally flags in each location.  A rally volunteer then checked off each photo making sure that it fulfilled the criteria.  Most people hadn't eaten during the day so the all you can eat buffet went down well while we handed in scores and had our photos checked.

Our goal was to not embarrass ourselves at our first rally so we were hoping for a mid-pack result.  When the numbers finally came in we were 17th & 18th out of 34 finishers.  To top it off Jeff won most miles covered and I won the most bee related points trophy (thanks bee beard!).

The camaraderie of the riders is infectious at the end of an event like this.  There are no class distinctions between types of bikes and this rally had everything from big Harleys and the latest BMW adventure bikes to a 200cc Yamaha TW200 (which he took over the Burlington Skyway!).  Tales of daring do were shared and the overall feel was one of a celebration. Everyone there felt like they'd achieved something difficult and there was a real glow to the competitors, though that might have been sunburn.  

Everyone cheered and clapped as trophies went out for everything from the person who got most lost to the top scorers.  Riders were awarded for smallest bike, 2-up and most efficient route as well as a raft of other prizes.  The top riders scored almost double the points we did, showing real navigation and riding mojo.  Afterwards lots of handshakes and names were exchanged and a lot of new friends were made.  Revitalized after a big buffet dinner and all that good cheer, Jeff and I saddled up and waved to everyone as we  rode into a welcome evening rain.  I was only an hour away from home, but Jeff, after already riding almost 600kms, was going to put another 200kms on going to his cottage in Kincardine; that guy’s a machine!

Wolfe Bonham, the creator of this rally, is keen to put on more.  As he said in the introduction to the inaugural Birds & Bees Rally, if you're interested in doing more than just riding to a coffee shop and would like to discover new and interesting locations, long distance rallying might be just what you're looking for. I, for one, prefer to ride with purpose, and this certainly gives you one.  You can make this as hard or as easy as you'd like and the sense of satisfaction you get at the end is infectious.  We're already aiming for a possible October Hallowe'en themed ride that's in the works, maybe with a slightly shorter route this time.  Hope to see you there!

Think this sounds like a good time? Keep October 15th open, there is another!

The rally website:

Want to sign up for October?  It's HERE!

Photos From the Rally (anything with a rally flag in it was actually used for the rally)...
Our first stop 500 feet down the road from the gas station we filled up at.
By 4pm we were over 500kms covered, but we also went further than anyone else.

I had no idea this was on the way to Stratford.  I intend to go back and have lunch!

Ya gotta hit a lotta apiaries to win top bee keeper!

How to hold a rally flag down at a windy big bird on the Avon in Stratford - no swans out yet though, so no swan bonus :(

A welcome sign to a town starting with B!  100 points!  The grass was all trampled down around the sign, we weren't the first.

The closest I got to a bee beard.
Another spot I'd like to return to.  Some prime objects d'art for the garage in there!

The last stop before our final highway bombing run to the Brantford finish line.

One of only a couple of stops that were biological rather than rally targets.  Jeff's Super10 and my Tiger were flawless.

The difference between these patches and others you might see is that these patches denote
hardcore motorcycling skills over astonishing distances and times.

The good cheer was infectious after the rally.  It didn't matter what you rode, only that you rode it.

Wolfe Bonham, the author of the inaugural Lobo Loco Birds & Bees Long Distance Rally.

Jeff never says no to free gas!  We plotted the longest route, but we spent very little time looking at traffic lights.

Iron horses of many colours - you'll find everything from the RTW adventure bike to big cruisers and tiny nakeds on a long distance rally.

He's been everywhere man, he's been everywhere.

After riding hundreds of kilometres during the rally, everyone saddled up for the last ride home (or to a hotel - a number of riders travelled up from The States to participate, including one who did an 800 mile ride the day before to get there!).

From tiny Yamaha WT200s and KTM 390s to 1600+cc cruisers... there is no 'right bike' for a long distance rally.

We all rode off into the twilight as rain started to fall lightly between lightning strikes.  A suitably dramatic finish to an epic day.

We bit off more than we can chew, but still made it in with four whole minutes to spare!

It now has pride of place next to the wine rack, and has left me looking forward to future rallies.

The Inaugural Lobo Loco Birds & Bees Summer Rally Final Results
Jeff does more burn outs than me, so he got longest route.

We were aiming for mid-pack.  It doesn't get more mid-pack than 17/18 out of 34 finishers.

Monday 22 August 2016

Whimsical Tigers

On our recent cross-Ontario ride we were stopped a number of times by people who were curious about the Tiger.  This is an eye catching, obviously modern looking bike with a Triumph logo, it prompted questions.  If they see a new 'classic' Triumph, most of the general public think it's actually a classic.  They wouldn't recognize the difference between fuel injection and carburetors even if it's advertised on the bike, they just see an old machine.

Colourful Triumphs of yore.
The Naughties were neon!
The confusion of a new-looking Triumph (even though it's 13 years old), and what they thought a Triumph should be isn't too surprising, and I'm happy to fill them in on the triumphant return of the brand (it's a good story), but it makes me question the modern bike colours and styles.

When we went to get the Tiger, 11 year old Max's eyes bulged out of his head and I knew we had a winner.  Who makes a Lucifer orange tiger with stripes?  Triumph in 2003, that's who.  When they weren't churning out violently orange Tigers, they were putting out a wild assortment of colours.  Of course, this was before Ewan & Charlie jumped on their austere Bayerische Motoren Werkes R1200s and reset the aesthetic paradigm for adventure motorcycles.

Why so serious?
That muted blue is as close as you get
to colour on a new Tiger.  Other choices
include military green or grey.  A purposeful
look is what sells  adventure bikes  nowadays...

and don't forget to dress like a starship trooper!
Nowadays everything has to appear relentlessly purposeful and ridden by people who look like they've just landed on an alien planet.  Whimsy and fun are replaced by bikes that look like they come from Army surplus, and riders who just got decommissioned from the special forces.  No wonder people were eager to walk up and start a conversation with the guy and his son on their brilliantly orange Tiger that looks like it just popped out of Winnie the Pooh.  The public wants to be curious about motorcycles, but a lot of motorcyclists seem determined to make themselves as unapproachable as possible, and manufacturers have to cater to that attitude in order to sell.

Besides paint options there is also the issue of styling.  I find the compound curves and organic look of our 955i Tiger very engaging.  Whomever was designing Triumphs in the early Naughties did it pretty much exactly the same way I would have.  Since then Triumph, along with most other brands, have been chasing a more chiselled, hard edged look.  Lamborghini did a stealth fighter aesthetic after the Diablo with crisp, folded edges and it seems to have spread.  Between the muted colours, sharp edged styling and attitude driven rider styles, it's little wonder that our whimsical Tiger had people approaching us.

I realize manufacturers have got to build to the tastes of the day, but I'm hoping there are a group of motorcyclists out there who aren't so serious and miss those fantastic styles and colours.  If there are, there is hope that my whimsical Tiger won't be so exceptional in the future.

Even when they're blue, they're
mostly  black.
Black motorcycles are dead sexy. No, really. Researchers at the University of Kentucky (March, 2011) found that in 36% of crashes involving a driver’s failure to observe a motorcycle and then turning into its path involved black motorcycles.

Army green, ready to attack
those adventures!
Looks like whimsical colours can keep you alive!  It might be time to bring back peppermint green and neon puce!
As the years go by, the colours get more and more muted.

I like my Tigers Tigger-like...
Triumph has a great sense of humour, just not with adventure bikes (those are very serious).

Friday 19 August 2016

Emissions & Where We Hide Them

Ah, the wisdom of the internet...
This article on how motorcycles might be less green than you think was shared by Zero motorcycles online.  A number of people underneath the article posted responses that had little to do with the article and more to do with a general hatred of motorcycles.  The loud pipe crowd seems to raised the ire of the general public quiet effectively.  Thanks for that.

I'd heard about the Mythbuster motorcycle pollution test mentioned in the article previously, and had seen annoyed responses pointing out how unfair it was.  I felt obliged to put something up that wasn't just angry motorcycle ranting.

"The Mythbusters they refer to compared a 1990s family sedan to a 1990s Honda super bike. A fairer comparison would have been an 90's Corvette vs. the Honda super bike (vehicles with similar performance and intent), but then it wouldn't have been close. The other comparisons were equally unfair.  It seemed to be the result of what they had handy, and one of the mythbusters was a sports bike guy, so that's what they used.

If you think hybrids are the magic bullet you should look into how current battery technology is created and retired, it isn't pretty.  An accurate accounting of the e-waste from hybrid production and operation overshadows their minimal pollution output - you're basically showing a green face to what is a very polluting industrial process. That hybrid vehicles are utterly tedious and heavy because they carry redundant power trains is yet another problem; heavy things are never efficient.

The idea that some bike owners remove pollution gear for performance is no less true for four wheelers - except when the idiot on my street straight pipes his massive Dodge pickup you can actually see the hole he's making in the sky.  Meanwhile I'll keep getting 50+mpg out of my Triumph Tiger."

After that I started poking around to try and get a feel for just how magically ecological electric vehicles are.  It turns out lithium based batteries are nasty, both to create and to recycle:

"A Prius battery begins life in a dirty nickel mine in Sudbury, Ontario. This mine has caused enough damage to the surrounding area to be called a “dead zone.” There is no natural life of any sort for miles around. NASA used that area to test its Moon rovers because the area resembles its craggy surface. Acid rain from the toxins of the mine killed all the plant life in the area and washed away the hillsides. All of this sounds positively wonderful, but don’t worry, it gets better. These battery components are then shipped to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. After that, they make their way to China to be turned into nickel foam of sorts. Finally, the batteries make their way to Japan to be put into the cars, which are then shipped all around the world to happy Prius buyers who are anxious to drive their new hybrid."

"EVs that depend on coal for their electricity are actually 17 percent to 27 percent worse than diesel or gas engines. That is especially bad for the United States, because we derive close to 45 percent of our electricity from coal. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, that number is much closer to 100 percent."

"The initial production of the vehicle and the batteries together make up something like 40 percent of the total carbon footprint of an EV – nearly double that of an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle."

We live in a time of compromise, but thinking that you've somehow solved the entire vehicular pollution thing by leaping into a hybrid or EV sourced from parts delivered by oil driven transport from all over the world and powered by whichever lowest hydro bidder your miserly government is supporting this week is a bit much.  The harder choice in the short term is to live with less, which no one is willing to do (that's probably what's driving hybrid/battery e-vehicle evangelism - a chance to bypass that choice).

I suspect that hydrogen fuel cells driving electrical motors are where we'll go next in personal transportation (though why that's only happening as a college project in motorcycling is a bit vexing).  Fortunately, Honda is doing something on the four wheeled front.  A super light weight hydrogen celled electrical vehicle bypasses the battery production nightmare, but then we aren't moving toward light weight, minimalist vehicles.  Would you want to drive a thousand pound hydrogen vehicle next to a massive SUV?  That would be as dangerous as riding a motorcycle!

While that's happening, advancements in nuclear engineering will hopefully drive us out into the solar system.  The outer planets are a virtually unlimited store of non carbon based fusion energy, we just have to get there and collect the fuel (which is rare on Earth).  If we took half of what we spend on military budgets world wide each year, we'd have an unlimited source of clean energy on tap within my lifetime.  Instead we just keep doing what we've always done, stumbling forward in ignorance driven by greed instead of driving for real global advances in sustainable energy production.

Of course, none of that matters to personal transportation if we can't find a better way to store electricity locally.  Chemical batteries are an eighteenth Century solution to a twenty-first century problem.  We really need to start advancing hydrogen fuel cells, kinetic storage and other non-chemical battery technologies.  A near perfect scenario would be using d-He3 fusion to produce hydrogen with no carbon footprint.  The hydrogen then works as an electrical generator in a fuel cell as it fuses with oxygen producing pure water.

A truly zero emissions vehicle with an abundant and
powerful fuel supply?  I'm dreaming of that future.
I have no doubt that the internal combustion engine's days are numbered and that the future is electrical.  Companies like Zero Motorcycles and even EVs like the Nissan Leaf are doing their part to improve electrical engine efficiency, but depending on globally sourced, polluting chemical battery technologies isn't the future.  One day I'll hop on my hydrogen fuel celled Zero Tsunami (because it produces only water, get it?) and zip off down the road knowing that I'm riding a vehicle that is truly sustainable.

Arguing between gasoline power and hybrid/EVs that depend on extremely polluting chemical battery technologies and fossil fuel driven electricity generation is like arguing whether your coal fed steam powered train is less polluting than my wood burning steam powered train - neither solve the problem, and one seems more about hiding it than fixing it.

Originally shared by Zero Motorcycles
Are motorcycles greener than cars? They are if you ride a Zero! Interesting discussion. Your thoughts?

Arguing on the internet, I should know better...

I'm beginning to think that a few years ago a very smart MBA type walked into auto manufacturers and said the whole environmental thing can be resolved by moving the burning of fossil fuels out of sight of the general public.

The issue with climate change is that it's obvious to consumers that they are responsible! Every time they put gas in the car they're burning it. Simply move the carbon production out of sight and everything is good again, and you get a brave new legion of e-vehicle evangelists who will fight tooth and nail to ignore any evidence of this shift.

That your intermediate step is itself very environmentally damaging is easy to ignore. State that the batteries used in electric vehicles are very recyclable and everyone (especially your believers) will happily state that this is what is happening. Don't demand laws that require recycling, don't have any oversight over what happens to batteries when they're done.

With carbon emissions and the pollution from the new systems that hide it happily out of sight, the general public can get their pride on riding around in hybrid and electric vehicles and never once see the damage they are doing first hand. Problem solved!

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Finding Mountains

Way back in the late 70's we were new immigrants living in Montreal. We got a handle on our new land by camping, a lot. One of the most memorable trips we took was down into the Adirondacks in the spring, where we camped in the mountains. It was the first time I saw a rainbow trout; North American animals are so exotic!

I'd love to spend some time on two wheels somewhere nearby and mountainous, and the Adirondacks have a fond child-hood glow to them. I can access the back side of the Appalachians below the Adirondacks just a day's ride south east of me.

Below are some variations on trips I might take in the future.

Two Nights with a loop (minimal luggage/lighter bike)

290kms mountain loop:
Night 2:  back to Microtel, Mansfield  

Across the Halliburton Highlands

411kms across the Highlands
After a few days of R&R recovering from our ride out to the 1000 Islands and seeing the sights, it was time to pack up and prepare for our return home.  The plan was to travel through the Halliburton Highlands, where it is claimed that Ontario's best roads reside.

The Tiger morphed from light weight, single rider mode to two-up, full luggage touring mode in about ten minutes.  The rear suspension was tightened up for the extra weight and we were ready to go.

The plan was to cut north west from the Thousand Islands and get onto the twisties as soon as possible.  It worked well.  We soon found ourselves leaning into corners more than we were upright (a rarity in Ontario).  When I'm in corners like that i don't stiffen up in the saddle and I can ride for hours without fatigue.

Regional Road 15 got interesting almost immediately, weaving around lakes and pieces of the Canadian Shield peaking through the earth.  As we travelled north those rock outcroppings became the norm rather than the exception and the roads only got better.  38 up to Highway 7 was a lovely ride with constant bends and big elevation changes as we bounced in and out of river valleys that had cut their way through the rock.  If this road was a sign of things to come, then the riding the highlands was going to be special.

We stopped at Fall River Restaurant on  Highway 7 because I figured it would be the last place with a busy enough road to warrant an open business, except it didn't.  This turned into a theme on this ride:  don't depend on the tourist trade to keep a business open, instead look to a stable community to keep a business open.

The lady from the post office came out and told us only the post office is open, the general store, ice cream and restaurant are all closed and only open on the weekend.  There wasn't even a toilet available.  Three vehicles pulled in looking for a stop while we were there, but were turned away.  We drank our own water and stretched in the empty parking lot before hoping on the bike and continuing up the winding country road 38.

In Elphin the plan was to turn with the 38 and continue west, and even though Elphin is a tiny place with only one major turn, we missed it.  This spoke to another thing we learned on this ride; you'll see signs for corners and bumps everywhere even though these things are self evident, but navigational signs are small, missing or incorrect.  I guess most people follow a screen telling them what to do nowadays, but for the rest of us, some accurate navigational signage would be appreciated.

When I saw a second sign for regional road 12 which we weren't supposed to be on, I pulled over at the Mississippi River (when I take a wrong turn, I don't mess around!).  It was a beautiful, shady spot and we had a good stretch and watched the kingfishers getting their breakfast before saddling up again and u-turning back to Elphin.

Back on the 38 again, we wound around lakes before finding the 509 I turned left toward Ompah, but it turns out that should have been a right (turning signs around is fun!).  When we arrived back at Highway 7 I just shook my head and made a right turn, figuring I could angle north again on either Kaladar or Madoc.  By now the heat was back and moving at speed down Highway 7 was a nice way to cool off.  This was the prettiest part of 7, with few towns and no reduced speeds, so everyone was clipping along nicely.  We stopped in Kaladar for gas even though we didn't really need it and got sports drinks.  By the time we got to Madoc it was wicked hot and we sought air conditioning in the only open restaurant we'd seen so far - a McDonalds.  I was beginning to despair for local food in the Highlands.

Coe Hill Cafe - cool ceiling, good
bakery and coffee.
After a much needed cool down and hydration we hopped back on the bike and hiked up highway 62 to Coe Hill, which is where we learned that you'll find local businesses, but only in small towns where people live year round.  The cottage crowd and travellers are too fickle and passing to support a business up here.

The ride up 62 had us stopping at various bridges for up to five minutes at a time due to construction, so we got into Coe Hill ready to get out of the sun for a few minutes again.  Fortunately, the Coe Hill Cafe was open and got us sorted out even though we were looking a bit ragged.  It's amazing what a good cup of coffee in a cool shady place can do to get you back on your feet.

I missed the poor signage for Lower Faraday Road (the reason we'd come this way in the first place), and then missed another turn thirty seconds later.  I cannot over state how random the road signage is up this way.  I really wish the MoT would take the money put into redundant cornering signage and apply it to identifying the roads themselves.

They show a couple of sports bikes riding down Lower Faraday on the website, but the section they're showing is the last mile up to Ontario 28.  While this road is indeed twisty, much of the surface is atrocious with big pot holes and gravel everywhere from the many driveways that feed onto it.  You'd find it frustrating trying to explore any section of this road on a sports bike.

Even with the big shocks on the Tiger it was a rough, perilous ride.  You couldn't push any corners because of the debris, quality of the road and traffic.  Lower Faraday has no centre line for much of it and every vehicle coming the other way was the largest possible pickup truck you've ever seen moving well above the speed limit in the middle of the road, and this was on a Tuesday afternoon.  We road out of our way to see this 'ten best' road, and it wasn't.

We headed in to Bancroft after the disappointing Faraday experience and stopped at the information tourism building.  They have an excellent little mineral exhibit showing the various mining that goes on in the area, as well as being a cooling centre.  Half an hour in the air conditioning with cold water and some cool rocks got us ready to ride again.

Some of the best roads of the day were ahead of us.  We took 62 north out of Bancroft and then cut across toward Highland Grove.  This roller-coaster of a road was well marked, clean and had a consistent surface.  Corners varied from tight switchbacks to long sweepers with big elevation changes, what a joy!  We followed the 648 around to the 118, passing Old Ridge Authentic BBQ (closed) where I'd hoped to have dinner.

The bike looks fine, we were
We quickly discovered that the 118 is no boring connecting road, with beautiful scenery and engaging corners all the way in to Haliburton.  Even though it was heading towards evening the air temperature was still well in the thirties and humidity was high.  We'd done over 400kms entirely on twisty back roads and were wiped.  We limped in to Pinestone Resort just south of Haliburton and parked it up.

The Pinestone offered a quiet room with good beds for a reasonable price.  We went for a swim (salt water indoor and outdoor pools) and then had an excellent dinner at Stone 21, the onsite restaurant.  By the end of the evening we were back on our feet again.

I had us up early the next morning, hoping to beat the heat.  I'd looked up good local breakfasts and found The Millpond Restaurant in Carnarvon, right on our way to Bracebridge.  It was a short hop over there on very windy, but rough backroad for an excellent breakfast.  Great price, great food, great service.  If you're anywhere around Haliburton, give the Millpond a go, you won't be disappointed.

The most perfect 100kms of the trip.
Outside afterwards the hydro line-men who were there for breakfast were curious about the bike.  For the fifth time this trip I explained the resurrection of Triumph and how they are building new bikes.  The general public seems to recognize the brand as historical, but our post-modern/art-deco Tiger raises a lot of questions.

It was only just past 9am at this point, we were well fed, well rested and it was a perfect 20°C under a cloudless sky.  We pulled on to an empty 118 and rode the weaving, smooth pavement in bliss.  No sweat, no traffic, beautiful scenery, this was the moment we'd been searching for.

We passed through Bracebridge and got into Port Carling about 10:30am.  Traffic had picked up once we were into the Muskokas, so we pulled over at the information/tourism place for a stretch and a heads up on where to get a coffee.  Stopping at the info/tourism spots on this trip was never a disappointment.

 Port Carling is a pretty little place.  We were told it was a short walk to the Camp Muskoka Coffeehouse which helps support a camp that teaches leadership to students.  The coffee was excellent and the walk into town offered a good stretch.

Back up at the info-stop we bumped into a fellow from Barbados who was puzzled at our very modern looking Triumph.  He said there are lots of old Triumphs on the island, but they're very expensive.  Once again I told the phoenix like story of Hinckley Triumph and how they are building some of the most modern bikes on the planet.  He had no idea, but thought there would be a huge market for a modern, small Triumph (they have cc limits in Barbados).  Perhaps he'll contact Hinckley and see about the 250cc little Triumph that hasn't happened yet.

We saddled up and left the shade of the info stop.  The sun was blistering now, but we were nearing the end of our Highlands road ride.  We quickly got to Bala, but I missed the poorly marked turn out to the 400 (surprise, surprise).  No worries, we just stayed on the 169 down the Gravenhurst.  A couple of ten minute stops at bridge construction had us both sweating heavily by the time we got into Gravenhurst.  I'd only ever seen the highway side of Gravenhurst, so I was surprised that it took us 15 minutes of traffic lights to get through it.

Ahhh.... air conditioning!
Once clear I hopped on 11 South and made time.  We pushed through the heat and steady but fast moving traffic all the way past Barrie before stopping at an ONroute for gas, lunch and a cool down.  I'd been getting over 49mpg solo without luggage.  The astonishing Tiger was still getting 47.2mpg two up with luggage.  We'd done over 430kms since our last fill up the day before in Madoc.

I used every trick in the book to cool off, soaking my head and arms to let the water evaporate and drinking a lot of fluids.  We took our time before stepping back out into the oven.  It was over 40°C with humidity when we finally left.

We bombed down the 400 and turned toward Orangeville on Highway 9, which was chockablock with traffic on a Wednesday afternoon.  Aggressive drivers on the highway were lane changing without indicating around typically poor Canadian lane discipline (you're supposed to pass on the left).  We got cut off a couple of times, once badly enough to prompt a salute from me.  On Highway 9 with eighteen wheelers spitting hot gravel at us and cars sitting at green lights while staring at their smartphones, I was at the end of my patience.  We finally got around Orangeville only to almost get hit by a car passing a line of traffic coming right at us on the Fergus Road.  This was as far from the 118 on a cool, quiet morning as we could possibly get.

We rolled in to Elora mid-afternoon.  Once parked I pulled out the laser temperature tester from the garage.  The driveway was over 50°C.  A cold shower and feet up on the couch ended our 750+km ride through the Haliburton Highlands.  The last leg back into Southern Ontario was the most dangerous part of the whole trip, and made me wish those sublime Ontario Highland roads weren't so far away on the other side of these overcrowded, frustrating and tedious Southern Ontario roads.

The whole shebang - including the boring straight bits at the end.
Top of the tower in 1000 Islands
Canadian rider...

Riding through the Canadian Shield... literally!

The beginning of the big bake-off to get home