|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.