Green Laning

Public by-ways: It’s a thing in the UK, not so much here.

Green laning is a big thing where I’m from, but in Canada in 2015 most of the crown land around here has been sold off to pay off the debts of investment bankers.  With all the land hereabouts private it’s not easy to take an off-road bike on a trail.

“As a military training area, Salisbury Plain is a unique
environment that has to be shared by both military and
civilians alike” – ha! Can you imagine that in Canada?


I got the KLX to trail ride.  I’m not interested in ‘catching air’ or riding like an MX loonie.  If I’m getting to places most people don’t and practising my bike balance, I’m happy.  The point of the exercise is learning better bike control, being off road lets me do that.  If I have any interest beyond trail riding it’s in trials, which is also hyper-focused on bike control and balance.

Today I took the KLX out for an hour or so, looking for trails.  Dirt roads start less than a kilometre from our sub-division, so I went there first.  I went south on Sideroad 6 North for about 5kms before hanging a right, crossing back over the regional road and then cutting off onto Sideroad 14.  From there I found a nice cut along a hydro line.  Another five minute stint on pavement found me at another off road trail which took me back north of Elora.  I ended the trip following the Grand River looking for off-road opportunities (there weren’t any), though Pilkington Overlook was pretty.

Riding off road is an interesting process.  The massive suspension travel and knobbies on the KLX makes it amazingly sure-footed.  On the gravel roads I made a point of crossing back and forth over the centre line through the deep stuff, letting the bike wobble and find a track.  Even when I got onto the rougher stuff I still found the bike remarkably composed and had no trouble navigating ruts, mud puddles and deep grass.

I’m looking forward to getting deeper into the brush!

Just outside of Ponsonby

 

 

North off Side Road 14, a lovely little trail.

 

 

 

North of Sideroad 10 it’s blocked off due to an electrical transfer station

 

2 Line East leads to the Elora Gorge Park entrance – it’s a nice little bit of gravel

 

 

Pilkington Lookout

If anyone else lives north of Guelph and knows of any good spots to trail ride, please let me know!

I Am M: The M2-exit exam for a full M license

Then…

Here I am early on a Saturday morning back at Conestoga College for my M2-exit course.  It’s the last official step in my progression through Ontario’s graduated motorcycle licensing system.

I got my M1 in March of 2013 after writing a short test in a dingy Drivecentre office in Guelph.  Getting my M2 in April of 2013 was the next big step, and the last time I was sitting on a bike in Conestoga’s parking lot.  Back then they were little Yamaha 250s, this time I’m rolling in on my own version of the Millennium Falcon, a 999cc Concours I’ve rebuilt myself.  My motorcycling has evolved a lot in the past two and a half years.


It was a busy weekend at the college with two beginner courses with over 50 students getting started on the little bikes.  Our M2-exit course had only eight people in it, four guys and four girls, riding everything from the most ridiculous cruiser imaginable to perfectly serviceable 500cc sport bikes.


… and now. The M2-exit is as diverse in bikes
as it is in riders

Watching the Victory ride all over the don’t-cross-lines while trying to lean a 280mm rear tire was both tragic and kinda funny.  It also had trouble stopping in the box, but hey, it sure was stylish.

The people on the course were as wide ranging as you can imagine, from a Ninja-riding pretty, blonde environmental scientist in her 20s to a grizzled, cruiser riding truck driver in his 50s.  You really got to see the breadth of motorcycle culture in our M2-exit class.

The Friday night was your typical three hour theory talk with lots of diagrams, videos from the 70s and legal talk.  When we left we had to be back in the room ten hours later (and I had a 90 minute commute in there too).

What the bike-control sheet looks like

On Saturday I was there bright and early to secure one of the first two spots on the testing calendar so I could leave earlier.  Saturday morning was spent in stifling heat in the parking lot following lines and working on slow speed manoeuvring.  Every time we stopped everyone stripped off jackets, gloves and helmets and lay under a tree drenched in sweat.  It was good to practice slow speed and precision riding and it turned into an impromptu test of the Concours’ cooling system.

With temperatures on the wrong side of 40°C on the pavement, the fans kept kicking on and off when needed but the big bike stayed, at most, in the middle of the temperature gauge.  By mid-morning several of the cruisers were having trouble starting in the heat and the rear brake light fell off the brand new Victory mega-cruiser.  The 21 year old, $800 Connie hummed along like a champ though, always starting at the touch of a button.  Damn, I love that machine.

After a short lunch we were back out, this time doing group rides.  One was simply a primer to riding in formation where we followed an instructor around while he very very obviously checked for dangers in places where we might be expected to check for dangers on our test.  It was very helpful in calming everyone down.

The second ride-out was a practice run with the instructional ear pieces in.  On the test you have a walkie-talkie with an earpiece that the instructor gives you directions through.  He then assesses how you perform these actions from a following car.    I was lucky enough to be the lead rider so I got to practice the instructions with a clear road in front of me.

Not pulling into the slow lane – my only error on the M2 exit exam. I didn’t because there was more room in front of me in the fast lane. You’ll find the follow-the-rules at all costs approach by the MoT to not necessarily follow the needs of defensive riding.

Riding out in a group made me wonder why people would ever want to do that in a city.  Every stop is turned into a stop times the number of riders in the group, especially if you’re further back.  I found riding around Kitchener in a group to be very tedious.

After all that we finally lined up for the road test.  While each rider went out, the rest were writing a knowledge test in the classroom with questions about rules of the road.  I got to go second.  It was about 45 minutes of riding in residential, industrial and regional roads followed by a brief stint on the highway.

It was all about shoulder checks, mirror checks and constantly (and obviously) scanning for dangers.  If you adapt to their system you’ll find it fairly easy to work with, but I found it too regimented.  Defensive driving should be fluid and agile, constantly adapting to varying situations.  Following a checklist means you’re not honouring the circumstances as they change (for example, always pulling into the slow lane when you have a better space bubble in the fast lane).

I was on my way home with a signed M2 exit pass sheet by 3:30pm.  I was hot, tired and sore (your wrists and fingers take a real beating after a day of slow speed manoeuvring and group town rides).  I’ll take using my mirrors more out of the testing, but beyond that I found the frantic meerkatting to be both exhausting and unsettling on the bike.  We were encouraged to spin our heads around constantly but this is both tiring and disorientating.  There is something to be said for a composed approach to riding a motorbike.

Having to ride conservatively within posted limits was also very difficult.  I’m willing to shoulder the responsibility for my own safety, but not if I must have distracted people in SUVs creeping past me (and into me) because I’m required to ride at five under the limit in the inside lane all the time.

I’m glad I took the exit course.  I got some good practice and a supported approach to the MoT test which isn’t always commonsensical, but I’m also really glad it’s over.  One more trip to the take-a-number, florescent lit, beige misery that is the Drivecentre office and I’m a fully licensed rider.

A Thin & Fragile Pretense

I’m still mulling my way through The World Beyond Your Head, by Matt Crawford.  It’s a slow go because I’m re-reading and thinking over what I’m looking at, often paragraph by paragraph.

On page 153-4 Crawford is talking about the way in which we depend on established values when transacting with each other.  He is talking about how he bills his motorcycle repairs, but I found a surprising correlation between this and my current views on grading:

P.153-54 The World Beyond Your Head by Matt Crawford

 

 
This could easily be re-written to describe my own battle with grading:
Consider the case of a teacher. In handing a final grade to a student, I make a claim for the value of what they know about what I have taught them, and put it to them in the most direct way possible (a grade). I have to steel myself for this moment; it feels like a confrontation.  (I hate grading, I feel it actively discourages learning by implying there is a definitive end)
 The point of having posted criteria, rubrics, due dates, class rules,  and the use of complex grading systems with byzantine weights and balances, is to create the impression of calculation, and to appeal to the authority of an institution with established rules. But this is a thin and fragile pretense observed by me and my student – in fact the grade I present is never a straightforward account of the skill of a student. It always involves a reflection in which I try to put myself in the shoes of the other and imagine what he might find reasonable.  (Freeing myself from the tyranny of grading programs is both professionally satisfying and existentially terrifying – what are we all doing here if not making numbers?!?)
This lack of straightforwardness in valuing learning is due to the fact that learning is subject to chance and mishap, as well as many diagnostic obscurities. Like medicine, teaching and learning are what Aristotle calls “stochastic” arts. Especially when working on complex skills at the high school level, in trying to teach one discipline (learning how to code), I may unearth problems in another (the student has little grasp of basic logic). How should I grade for work done to solve a problem beyond the realm of what I’m supposed to be teaching? Should I hand off this new problem to spec-ed, or simply blame previous grades and move on? (I do neither, I consider a student who is able to overcome previous failings to catch up to his peers to be superior to a student who is simply going through the motions because this is easy repetition for them)  This question has to be answered when I formulate a grade, and in doing so I find that I compose little justificatory narratives.

 

When a student receives a grade, I usually go over the reasons with them in detail, and I often find myself delaying the presentation of the grade, because I fear that my valuation isn’t justified (I can never have all the facts needed to be completely accurate). But all my fretting about the grade has to get condensed into a simplistic number for the sake of systemic learning on an established schedule (our education system is predicated on the receiving of numbers that are so abstract as to be virtually meaningless). Whatever conversation may ensue, in the end the grade achieves a valuation that is determinate: a certain amount of educational value exchanges hands. As the student leaves the class for the last time, I want to feel that they feel they have gotten a square deal in terms of me not using grades as either a gift or a punishment; I want to come away feeling justified in the claim I made for what I think they know and can do.   (but many teachers don’t – empathy and grading can be safely made mutually exclusive thanks to the absolute truth of mathematicsthe more complex the calculation, the truer the grade it produces must be)

Sometimes Indiscretion is the Better Part of Valour

It was a good week of riding.  On Saturday, Sunday and Thursday I covered over six hundred kilometres around Southern Ontario.

Saturday had us dancing around in front of the coming storm.  The horizon south of us was ominous to say the least.  We dodged and weaved but eventually rode into the curtain of rain only to have one of the old Kawasakis in the group (and I mean old, it was almost as old as I am) run rough when it got wet.  Fortunately we had already been to three local microbreweries and had loaded up on craft beers, so we were all set for a rainy evening indoors in Owen Sound.

Neustadt Brewery, where you find a variety of craft beers not available for general distribution.  The bikes ranged from a modern GSX-R to forty year old Kawasakis, a modern Super Tenere, my Connie and a Triumph Scrambler.
Maclean’s in Hanover, with impending doom on the horizon.
We rode into the rain and then away from it as quickly as possible – but it was coming again in 30 minutes!  In the meantime the cranky old Kawi worked enough to get us home.
Not so happy in the rain (though the other 40 year old Kawi was flawless and my Connie ran like a Swiss watch).
Scrambler pipes in the rain.

After watching Canada’s girls’ team get kicked out of the world cup (but England won so I was still happy), we watched some Isle of Man TT, talked bikes and drank local brews.  The next morning the torrential rain continued.  After some hot coffee I hit the road to test my rain gear like never before, and get to the family cottage in Bobcaygeon where my wife and son were worrying about me.

I was the warm and dry centre of the universe making a Tim-on-a-Concours sized hole in the rain.  Since Jeff had told me to move the petcock from “Pri” to “On” (Pri doesn’t mean the primary tank, it means prime, as in giving the engine lots of extra gas to start after being off for a long while), the Concours had developed a new smoothness with no more lumpy low RPM or gas burning backfires when I came off throttle.  With the Connie running better than ever I was ready for a challenge.

The south shore of Georgian Bay in Midland.

I tried to stop at Blue Mountain for breakfast where my son and I had gone ten weeks earlier on our first ride of the year, but it was a zoo.  I eventually found a Tim Hortons and had some hot tea and breakfast.  Pushing on from Collingwood I kept hoping I’d ride out of it, but it only came on heavier.

Riding in the rain is nice, everything smells fantastic and the colours are super saturated.  It gets less magical when you’re doing it in heavy traffic.  Drivers see you even less than they normally do and you’re dealing with spray and slick pavement as well.  Many moons ago a friend of mine (an ER nurse) invented the Trotter Precipitation Index, which theorized that driver IQ is inversely proportional to the amount of precipitation falling (drivers get dumber the more it rains).  I’ve generally observed this to be true, but it takes on terrifying new dimensions on a motorbike.

The slog in traffic from Collingwood to Orillia was tense and the rain had finally found a way into my rain gear, soaking my crotch.  Nothing makes you crankier than a wet crotch.

I’d been on the road about three hours when I got to Orillia.  I was on my way (still in heavy traffic) across the causeway on the north end of Lake Simcoe when everything stopped due to an accident.  The road was closed, it was pelting down with rain and so dark street lights were kicking on.  I pulled off into The Point restaurant and was saved with excellent service, hot coffee and home made soup.  I looked so bedraggled that the waitress didn’t even charge me, but I left a big tip.

An hour later my core temperature was back up and I was uncramped and ready to take another run at this underwater ride.  The traffic had finally cleared and the road was reopened so I crossed the causeway and headed south around the east side of Simcoe.  No sooner had I saddled up than it began pelting down again.  My warmed up dampness became cold and rain soaked in short order, but I was closing in on my goal.

I pulled out of the stop-start traffic on the local through road and headed toward Beaverton and some dirt bike boots I saw on Kijiji, but missed a turn in the torrential rain and ended up 10 miles down the road I needed to take to the cottage before I realized I’d missed it.  I couldn’t bring myself to turn around so I pushed on toward the finish line.

The air temperature was only about 15°C and I was soaked again.  Just when it looked like I had this thing in hand, and with no warning, the road was suddenly gone, replaced with deeply rutted mud and gravel.  The old guy ahead of me in his new SUV was worried about getting it dirty and kept stopping (!) in the mud while he tried to figure out where to drive next.  Ever tried riding a loaded Concours in ankle deep mud and ruts?  It isn’t easy to keep upright, especially when you have to keep stopping and starting.

My Zen beginning to this trip was ebbing away.  I was cold, sore, and tired, and I’d missed my turn and a chance to pick up some lovely Alpinestars dirtbike boots for a song.  Now I was hanging on for dear life, trying to keep the big bike upright in this strange, slippery, grey mud.  To top it off I was stuck in traffic that had been inflicted with the TP Index.

I might have stopped but there was nowhere to do it.  Cars (but mostly SUVs) were splashing around in both directions, and I was covered in mud.  There were no shoulders to speak of.  At this point I started to get angry.  Alright, fuck this, I’m getting where I’m going instead of doubting myself.  Standing on the pegs I aimed the Concours around the deepest ruts (courtesy of yahoos in cars spinning out in the start-stop traffic) and picked my way through. When you take doubt out of your riding the bike responds to your determination with a sure footedness that I found encouraging.  Ten agonizing, slow and muddy kilometres later I emerged onto tarmac once again.

As I rolled into Fenelon Falls I grabbed the brakes for a stop sign and nothing happened.  The gravel they’d laid down in the construction was full of limestone dust and that grey paste had gotten into everything, especially my front brakes.  I got it stopped and pulled over for a pee in the rain.  By this point I was ready to pick up the bike on my back and carry it the rest of the way, some squishy brakes weren’t going to slow me down (literally or figuratively).

I saddled up again and rode through Fenelon Falls which was backed up with cottage traffic.  Passing the mall some yahoo in a Mercedes SUV thought he’d suddenly pull out to get into the line of traffic inching along the other way.  I hit the brakes, skidding the back tire in the never-ending rain, he saw me at the last moment and stopped.  Had he hit me I’d have jumped through his windshield and beaten the shit out of him, I was pretty wound up at this point.  He got a fine what-the-hell-dude gesture but didn’t want to make eye contact with the guy he almost hit so he could sit in a line of traffic.

I was finally out of Fenelon and on my way to Bobcaygeon.  The bike was running on empty, but I was ok with that, I still had miles of gravel fire roads before I got into the cottage and lighter would be more manageable.  I ignored the gas station in Bobcaygeon and pushed on to the cottage road with the odometer showing 236 miles since the last fill up.

The cottage road was slippery, but not like that damned construction, and it was graded properly.  I was making my way down this roller coaster of a road when the bike started to chug.  I was monkeying with the choke to keep it going when I remembered how low I was on gas.  A quick twist of the petcock to Reserve (which got me all the way back out four days later to fill up at 248 miles on the odo) made everything happy again and I road the final couple of miles without incident.

The cottage road – sort of like a rally stage.  The Concours was sure footed on the wet gravel.

It was still hosing down when I pulled into the cottage garage and took off my helmet with shaking hands.  Should I have stopped?  Hells no!  I was looking for a challenge and the weather, traffic and horrible roads had provided one.  Doing a difficult thing well is its own reward, and this epic submarine riding trek becomes another unforgettable experience that I can add to my riding résumé.

Still the most comfortable (and cheapest) helmet I own.  Hours in the rain it kept me dry, was virtually fog free (I waxed the visor before leaving – water beaded off), and comfortable.
Jeff’s heated gloves, waterproof for
the first couple of hours, then
soaked, but warm!
Parked in Fenelon Falls with dodgy brakes and a ‘screw-it I’m getting there’ attitude
Mud covered but parked in the cottage garage.

The next day (sure, whatever) the sun came out and everything was steaming.
It took the jacket and gloves two days to dry out.

From Tim’s Motorcycle Diaries

Open Face Lid Dreams

My most comfortable helmet is the cheapest one I’ve bought.  That Hawk open faced helmet from Leatherup.ca 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):

ROOF HELMETS: Desmo

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:  M1

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, canadasmotorcycle.ca


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.

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.

LINKS

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

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.

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!

 

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