Dangerous Dakar

I know hyperbole sells papers, especially in the infamously hyperbolic British press, but with Dakar winners whining about how hard it is, the whole thing looks to be on the verge of imploding.  With all of this negative noise around it, it’s only a matter of time before some enterprising probably American lawyer attempts to shut the whole race down with a liability lawsuit.  I”m hoping the cavalier French organization running the Dakar are suitably prepared to deal with that.  It would be a crying shame to see the Dakar ended by such mediocrity.

These headlines popped up on Lyndon Posskitt’s Instragram feed.  In typical Lyndon fashion he was simply thankful for the attention, you’d be hard pressed to find a nicer guy.  That the headlines are so turned up to eleven as to be practically hysterical isn’t anything new.  When unprepared playboy racer Mark Thatcher got lost in the Sahara during the 1982 Paris to Dakar rally the British press lost their minds.  Rather than wonder why a spoiled rich kid who had forgotten about the race until the week before it began and then managed to navigate his driver almost two hundred kilometres off piste before crashing was in the mess he was in, they questioned this weird, dangerous foreign event.  Even the level headed BBC can’t help but describe it as a mental illness.

From  a more factual point of view, this Dakar had a 55% finishing rate.  I don’t know about the toughest Dakar in years, this year’s event had a better finishing rate than 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015 (all years the race ran in South America).

In the almost thirty years the Dakar ran in Africa, only five times did half or more of the competitors cross the finish line.  It took until the 1990s to get over half of the starters to the finish for the first time.

Tacking on to the end of Red Bull’s graph there, in 2015 there was a 51% finishing rate.  2016 was a 62% finishing rate and 2017 came in at an all time high 72%.  Perhaps the issue is that the race has been catering to the results orientated professional rally teams more and more.  With their money and vested interests trying to control the race and maximize participation and therefore advertising revenue, there is moneyed pressure to turn the Dakar into a glorified two week world rally stage.  The quick professionals are the biggest complainers.  If you’re looking for proof, those inflationary finishing percentages tell a tale.  Or perhaps it’s because in 2018 everybody thinks they deserve a medal for showing up.

If anything this year’s Dakar looked like the desert races of old with sand, dunes and savage navigation.  What you’re seeing here is Dakar sporting director Marc Coma‘s course design getting better and better.  If anyone could take the Dakar back to its roots, it’s the guy who was worried about navigation losing its importance in the first place.  

You can take all the press hyperbole fed by professional speed-racer whining with a grain of salt.  The Dakar is in good hands and it will remain what it is: the toughest motorsport event in the world.

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#edtech I.T. Management

Welcome to 2010, kindof…

We’re back in school again and it’s been a bit of a #edtech mess.  Over the summer our board upgraded to Windows 7 (so now we’re only one iteration behind the most current operating system).  In the process the entire network was rejigged to fit this new desktop O.S..

Because doing a massive O.S. install wasn’t enough, we also had a major hardware update, moving both models and manufacturers from several years old MDG Intel core two duos to Dell Intel i3s.  If you don’t know the nomenclature don’t sweat it, the long and the short is that our school technology is basically completely different from what we were running last year; and it isn’t working very well.

Managing I.T. is tricky at the best of times.  Managing it in an education environment is more so due to the privacy concerns and complexity of trying to serve people ranging in age from five to sixty five and in computer skill from caveman to cyborg.  To top it off they are all going after radically different uses from physical education to theoretical physics and from pre-university to kindegarten.  Pitching to the middle of this group causes frustration at either end, it’s not like running an office where everyone has similar backgrounds, ages and a common focus.

With that much difficulty it’s not surprising that our board I.T. seems to often lose sight of what their function is.  Supporting effective use of technology in learning shouldn’t be far from anyone’s mind, but it often feels like the reason for being there gets lost in the complexity.  On top of that, board I.T. often seems strongly coloured by business thinking, which it isn’t.  One of our networks is called UGDSBcorp.  I’m not sure at what point our public school board became a corporation, but the naming says a lot about the thinking.

We’re in a transitional time in information technology.  What used to be closed systems meant to connect employees internally are migrating to web based services that are meant to offer greater communication, efficiency and utility.  Clinging to the old way of delivering I.T. results in a lot of unnecessary overhead.  An example is our email.  We cling to Firstclass as an internal client but are also running UGcloud (google apps for education which includes gmail).  We’re told to check our email each day.  Which one?  Both?  I know which one I can connect to more consistently, and it isn’t the internal board one.

With the migration of apps and systems to the cloud it might be wise to push aside the intranet 1990s thinking and consider a resilient network that simply allows easy access to the internet.  Privacy can still be protected on secure web-servers.  If you can do your banking on them, you can certainly store student records on them.  But our board clings to intranet thinking, keeping the vast majority of functionality on local servers and increasing their management work load to such a degree that they can’t keep up with basic operations.

I’ve long held that students (and staff) don’t learn responsible use of technology if you hand them hobbled technology.  No one ever got on the tour de France with training wheels.  The internet they see at home or on their phones isn’t the training-wheels internet they see at school, and this isn’t helpful.  Instead of using the internet as a babysitter in class, teachers need to be in the middle of it, calling attention to misuse and showing best practices.  A school system with less fetters would aid this and make management easier for the people who are constantly short staffed and given too little time to keep it running.

Until we have internet and technology access that rivals the up-time of what we see outside of school we have an uphill struggle convincing reticent educators and poorly trained students to learn best practices, which is supposed to be the whole point.

Night Rider

We’ve already had a couple of frosts up here and there was another one on Thursday night when I had to get over to Erin, a 90km round trip from home.  It was a cool day, but sunny and the fall colours were coming on strong.  I make the monthly trip over to lodge in Erin from September to June, and try to ride whenever I can.  This might be my last time on two wheels for a while.
Waiting out the winter is never easy, and the coming snows tend to urge me onto two wheels even more as the darkness arrives.  The ride over was cool but spectacular: a blood red sunset across some astonishing trees.  I stopped in the hlls of south-west Erin at a horse farm and took a picture.

It was about 8°C (46°F) on the ride over.  The Tiger takes this in stride.  The only part of me that gets cold are my hands, and the hand guards and grip warmers had me covered.

I got back out at about 9:45pm.  The temperature was hovering just above freezing.  I had the fleece zipped up and the leathers on over top.  That combination does a remarkable job of retaining heat and stopping the wind from getting in.

I pulled out onto the empty, streetlighted road and headed into the darkness.  The moon was waxing gibbous and cast long shadows across the road.  Any exposed skin would have been instantly frozen, fortunately I didn’t have any.

I stopped in the dark and snapped that picture on the left.  Best I could do with a smartphone.  I want my next smartphone phone to be a camera with some smartphone on it rather than the other way around.

A single car drove by while I was stopped and asked if I was OK, which was nice.  Back on the bike I thundered through the frozen moonlight, weaving my way down empty country roads back home.

When I got in my hands were still working even though I’d only wornn normal leather gloves.  My core temperature was low, but it didn’t take long to warm back up.  Next time I’m out in that kind of weather I’ll try out the winter gloves.  I’ll keep going until the snow flies and the roads are salted.  At that point I’ll clean up the Tiger one last time and let it hibernate under a blanket until spring.

Some variations:



The Virtual Motorcycle

The sedendary gamerz don’t do well in VR – it demands some athleticism. Our highest scorer on Space Pirate Trainer is a black belt.

I teach computer and software engineering when I’m not motorbiking.  This year I’m also doing a Ministry of Education grant on virtual reality research with some other teachers in my school board and it has left me wondering about how immersive simulation might work with motorcycles.

We have an Oculus Rift and an HTC Vive in our lab at school, so we can look into software development on two of the largest immersive virtual reality platforms.  VR has split into a couple of different camps.  You’ve got the cheap viewmaster style of VR like Google Cardboard that uses your smartphone to produce quick and easy 3d visual experiences.  At the other end of the spectrum you’ve got the fully immersive systems like our Vive, Oculus and Sony’s PlaystationVR.  These systems are still pretty expensive, but they work surprisingly well for first generation devices – I often have students come out of them as though they are waking up surprised to find themselves back at school.  VR, whether it’s a simple smartphone enabled device or the fully immersive kind, has a great deal of emotional impact.

Chris Milk, a music video director, gives you some deep, professional insights into immersive video;
it isn’t the next medium, it’s the last medium.


How could VR be used in the motorcycle industry?  If you want to see a new bike in 3D to get a sense of what it looks like in the flesh, looking at it on a 2D monitor won’t do a good job.  Google cardboard and a smartphone are all you need to see in 3D.  If that isn’t a cheap and obvious tool for dealers looking to advertise motorcycles, I don’t know what is – Jaguar is already doing it.  I suspect you’re going to start seeing simple VR viewing kits included in smartphone packages in the future as the advertising power of immersive medium becomes more apparent.

The immersive simulation served up in VR has real emotional impact on customers looking to make a decision.  You wouldn’t be limited to a bike model either.  Taking a 360° video of a walk through of your showroom would allow customers to virtually see many bikes in 3d along with having a sales presence at their beck and call with no threat of pressure.  Virtually checking out a showroom before you make the trip over there is going to be a key sales hook in the future.

Virtually experiencing the factory where your favorite manufacturer produces your dream machine?  Can you imagine the brand loyalty generated?  VR is an intensely personal experience – your fans would feel like they had been on a VIP tour after that.  This kind of intimacy in marketing has a powerful effect.

Beyond the 3d imaging offered by basic VR, fully immersive systems offer a level of experiential training that is otherwise cost prohibitive.  The thousand dollar headsets might seem expensive, but last year at the Skills Canada National Competition I was talking to a company that makes tree harvesting systems for the forestry industry.  These mechanized systems cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Up until the past couple of years a new operator had to learn by sitting in the real deal.  When they broke blades or damaged robotic arms it cost big money in both equipment and lost harvesting time.  At last year’s Skills Competition they had one of their new VR training systems – an operator’s chair surrounded by an accurate recreation of the physical controls hooked up to a VR headset.  Suddenly you’re in a forest grabbing trees with a million dollar tool and learning how to best operate the machine.  They could simulate failures and varying conditions as well.  These $10,000 a seat systems saved millions in their first year of use.  New operators could spend many hours learning the system before ever setting foot in the real thing, and poor operators could be selected out before ever doing any damage.

Riders seldom get a chance to ride a bike before they buy them.  VR could change all that.  A system of wireless sensors could be attached to any motorcycle in the showroom.  With the bike wheel locked onto a simple pitch/yaw/roll mechanism, you could experience the ergonomics of your specific machine without ever turning over the engine.  Specs could then be loaded into the VR simulator and then you go for a ride, virtually.  You would get a personalized, immersive audio and visual experience while feeling how you fit on the machine without using any gas or depreciating any new model.  This kind of experience is very engaging.  I suspect the sales rate after such a VRride would be exceptional – it would also be a draw to get customers into the showroom.

Specialized simulators for racing are another obvious training tool.  Riding and racing schools, teams and other specialists could offer VR as a first, less expensive step into everything from working out the basic controls of the machine for a beginner to Jorge Lorenzo trying various lines around a track while experiencing suspension and engine setting changes before doing it in the flesh.

Even the first generation immersive VR systems we have now would be capable of offering this level of training.  They’ve only been out for a year or so (we ordered our Vive last April), but the possibilities around this emerging technology make my glad I have early adopter experience with it.  A couple of students dropped by the lab the other day wanting to try it out (it generates buzz even in students not taking computer tech).  After half an hour trying out Tiltbrush, Google Earth and our new Oculus handsets one of the girls took the headset off with stars in her eyes and said, “wow!  This is the future!”

In five years it is entirely possible that tens of thousands of people will have a much more intimate idea of what it feels like to be Valentino Rossi on a perfectly tuned Yamaha M1.  Pretty cool, eh?

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Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride: Social Connections Challenge

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is something I’ve wanted to participate in for a while now, though I never seem to have ‘the right kind of bike’, which is frustrating.  Fortunately I can grow a bad moustache as well as anyone else, so I’ve Movembered multiple times.

The DGR started in 2012 and has become a world wide event collecting millions in donations focused on men’s health.  One of the main focuses of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is suicide.  Men are much more likely to do it and the DGR is now finding ways to support men socially so that they don’t feel like this is a solution.  I’ve got family history with suicide and greatly appreciate the work this Australian charitable organization do around men’s health, and particularly their focus on suicide prevention.  You can submit an idea up until July 6th, 2020.

I’m three of those things, so being mindful of suicide
is a wise approach.

As I was reading over this initiative I immediately thought of the various motorcycling cooperatives I’ve seen online where people get together and work on motorcycles, sharing tools and expertise.  The teacher in me likes the idea that this kind of mentoring could happen in a generational setting where both older men with knowledge and skills to share, could mentor new would-be riders who want to develop technical skills as they get into motorcycling.

Here’s the goal for this project:

DGR continues by saying:  We know that:

  • The cultivation of healthy close relationships can increase individual resilience and act as a protective factor against suicide
  • Friends and family can be a significant source of social, emotional and financial support, and can buffer against the impact of external stressors
  • Traditional methods for engaging men about their health are often not effective and deter men from taking action for better health outcomes.
  • Programs designed specifically by and for men and reach them where they naturally gather are more successful.

O U R   S O L U T I O N  –  A N   I N N O V A T I V E F U N D I N G   O P P O R T U N I T Y :

Movember and DGR are proud to challenge the creative and forward-thinking people of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US to rethink the box and deliver innovative, concepts that lead to game-changing solutions targeting social connectedness, life satisfaction and mental wellbeing of motorcycle riders. For this initiative, we have prioritised middle-aged men who ride motorcycles and are dealing with key life challenges, and young riders in need of mentorship.

The focus goes on to explain exactly what they’re looking for, so while I love the idea of a motorcycling cooperative franchise idea that would prompt shared garages all over the place rather than just in high hipster content urban locations, it might not be as scalable and on target for this project, but I’m going to pitch it anyway.

Here are the look-fors if you’re thinking about submitting an idea (and if you’ve got one, you should):

The Inspiration Statement should describe the following:
  • Your inspiration for this Challenge

  • Who your target group would include
  • Your proposed solution to help male motorcyclists within your target group build relationships to increase their level of social connection, life satisfaction and well-being in an innovative and disruptive way
  • A brief description of your vision for the project beyond the pilot period
  • Project lead (and potential partners if known at this stage)
  • Project title

Inspiration:  I’m a technology teacher in our local high school.  This pathway began for me with my dad, who was a machinist and mechanic in the UK before we emigrated to Canada in 1977. We weren’t well off, so if I wanted a car I had to know how to keep it going, and he always spent the time to do that work with me.  One day I asked him how he knew what to do as we repaired a head gasket on my car, and he said something that has stayed with me since, “if a person designed and built it, I can figure out how to repair it.”  His mentor-ship led me to my career as a vocational skills teacher.  I’ve since watched generations of students develop their hands-on skills in technical trades.  I tried to start a high school motorcycling club a few years ago and got laughed out of the meeting.  Schools won’t touch motorcycling, but there are other ways to introduce riding that benefit from the credibility and mentoring a teacher can provide.

Target Group:  cooperative education students (many of these are higher risk kids who lack male mentors), recent graduates who are usually forgotten by the system, young men in the community who may know the teacher from when they were in school, and middle-aged men who might even be parents of students; teachers connect through generations in their communities.

Proposed Solution:  MOTR Garages vertically connect men across generations.  Social isolaton can become particularly acute as men retire.  By recognizing and leveraging the skills and networks of retired teachers, this project provides a platform for older men to share their experience and expertise with younger men interested in motorcycling.  By giving older men purpose and an opportunity to share their experience, this project will offer a social space that many men lack.  Motorcycle mechanics offer men an opportunity to socially connect without off-putting social expectations.  While interested in the idea of biking, many younger men have no idea how to get into it. Through a shared motorcycle workspace, MOTR Garages provide a place for men to gather and learn around a shared love of riding.

Project vision:  Create a pathway for retired teachers to retain their links in the community and continue to share their experience and expertise with new generations of riders.  Schools won’t support a high risk activity like motorcycling, but many teachers ride and have developed mentoring and teaching skills that would facilitate the technical confidence many younger men lack.  Working through cooperative education in education and directly with men in the community, many of whom may be former students, MOTR Garages creates a space that values generational experience and sharing in a society intent on diminishing this connection between men.

Project leads:  retired educators with mechanical experience and a love of motorcycling; you’d be surprised at how many teachers ride.

Project title:  Mentoring Old-Hacks Tenacious Rookies  (MOTR Garage)


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Blended Learning and Relevant Classrooms

I’m feeling the synchronicity of two educational situations at the moment. I’m presenting this on Monday next at our Board’s learning fair, and I just went in for an interview for a curriculum leader position in technology/elearning.

The topic of the learning fair is ‘student engagement’ but I think this is the answer to the wrong question. Engagement implies trying to tailor your teaching to make it palatable for students. Engagement is what you get when you look at the bigger picture and become relevant, it isn’t a goal in itself.
I was asked today in the interview what the future is for blended learning. In this case, blended learning implies a hybrid of elearning/in-class learning and technology. I don’t think there is a future in it, I believe it is the future, at least if we want to get an increasingly irrelevant (due to the pace of change) school system to recognize the scope of the changes happening in the world around us, and make a meaningful attempt to prepare our students for the deluge ahead.
Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google had a rather profound quote, I use it in the prezi:
“Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. I spend most of my time assuming the world is not ready for the technology revolution that will be happening to them soon,”
If the world isn’t ready, education is even less so.
In the interview I described students’ out-of-school life as a torrent of data, like standing under Niagara Falls; it’s a stimulating, multi-directional, multi-disciplinary stream of information on many topics delivered in many different formats in rapid succession. We then get them into a class room and dribble information at them, out of a teacher’s mouth, out of a text book, all of it stale, uni-directional and non-interactive; then we wonder how to engage them.
In the meantime I’m seeing students mismanage and drop information and connections they should be making because they can’t manage the information being streamed at them. They don’t know how to make most effective use of their technology, often using smart phones in the dumbest possible ways. They don’t know how to effectively vet and prioritize data and find ways to make useful, actionable connections from it.
We certainly don’t teach effective data management and analysis in our in-class information dribble of chalk boards, rows of desks and one-person-speak-at-a-time last century classes.
Blended learning, where teachers make use of the sea of data swirling around us and teach students to swim, not sink is the first step towards a relevant education system that actually prepares students for what they are likely to face. But preparing them for the data storm requires that we use the technology being developed to manage it, and the friction is great from a conservative educational standpoint.
When I was a kid, I was big into Astronomy. I memorized the nine planets, and even the big moons. Since August 2011, we’ve discovered almost 600 planets (even including Pluto’s demotion) and average about twelve new discoveries a week. The whole time I was growing up, there were only nine planets, we’re on the verge of discovering multitudes. Astronomy is just one of EVERY FIELD OF STUDY that is facing this data onslaught.
Information isn’t the limited, simple, permanent, sacred collection of knowledge it was once perceived to be. We have to stop teaching to the book and start teaching to the evolving datasphere.

Sabbatical Rides: North America

The idea of a year’s sabbatical has come up a few times recently.  I’m ten years away from my retirement date.  My job has a four out of five option where my salary is stretched over five years while I’m only paid for four.  It means a slightly smaller paycheque, but then a paid year off at the end of it.

My wife has ideas of going back to school in that year off, but I’m disinclined to take a year off teaching in school to go to school.  What I’d really like to do is the EPIC MOTORCYCLING TRIP with the intent of writing and producing art and photography out of it.  When people do this they typically line up the RTW (’round the world) ride and then spend a lot of time in poor countries making unintentionally Western-superiority statements about how hardy they are and how backwards non-Europeans are.   I’m reluctant to follow that pattern.

We recently spent a summer driving most of the way across North America and back again.  I had a number of moments when I saw North America for what it is:  a place that has almost no human history in it.  At the Canadian Museum of Human Rights I started thinking about how native aboriginal people are to North America (there were lots of displays on how poorly Europeans integrated with the first immigrants to this place).  A few days later at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller I discovered that most of North America’s mega-fauna disappeared right after humans first arrived; we’re an environmental scurge no matter where we go.  It got me thinking about how North America must have looked before we got here and unbalanced it all.

The Americas were blissfully free of human beings for all bit a trivially small, recent moment in time.  They separated from the massive Pangea landmass between two hundred and a hundred and seventy million years ago, long before anything remotely human walked the earth.  For millenia upon millenia North and South America were unique ecosystems with animals not found anywhere else, all of it safe from the human migration out of Africa two to three million years ago.  Earliest estimates now have humans crossing the northern ice bridge during an ice age about fifteen thousand years ago.  That means that, conservatively, humans (aboriginal and later settlers) have claimed North America as theirs for less than 0.0086% of its existence.

One of the few mega-fauna left after the humans got here.
It’s hard not to see a tragic species memory in those eyes.

This framed much of that trip for me.  I kept trying to see the lands we were travelling through without the recent influx of foreign species.  Humans appeared and immediately started filling this place with invasive species from where they came from.  This became especially evident when I was looking into the eyes of a truly native species in Yellowstone Park.

This human free view of the Americas is something we tend to ignore as we’re all so busy justifying the pieces of it we divide up between ourselves.  Most of North America’s history had nothing to do with us.  There are other parts of the world that have had humans living in them for hundreds of thousands of years, but those places aren’t here.

This sabbatical ride would be to circumnavigate North America and try to see the place itself without its invasive and destructive recent history.

The trick would be to time this ride with the weather.  I’d be off work beginning in July and then have until the end of the following August.  Heading east to Cape Spear (North America’s easternmost point) would mean avoiding the early winters that hit Newfoundland.  Spending a summer at home would be a nice way to start the sabbatical, then, as my wife heads off to school, I hit the road.  We could arrange meetups when she’s off school through the fall.

I’d start in Newfoundland in September and then head down the East Coast to Key West before riding around the Gulf of Mexico to Cancun and then crossing the continent at its narrowest point before making my way up the West Coast.  I’d try to time my pause for the holiday break, servicing and then parking up the bike in storage for a few months in California.

I’d fly back out and release the bike from storage in the late spring and aim to be taking the long road to the Arctic Ocean as the days become infinite over the Tundra.  Ideally I’d be back home by mid-July.

From tropical rain forests to mountains, plains and tundra, this ride would show the staggering range of geography to be found in North America.  At well over thirty-three thousand kilometres, this would also be an epic ride in terms of distance (RTW rides are typically 20-30,000kms).

The only downside would be the cost of travel in the USA and Canada, but there are ways to manage that without breaking the bank.  With the idea of getting to know the North America under the human migration, wild camping as often as possible would be a nice way to get closer to the land and to meet the people from all over Turtle Island who now call it home.

Taking my old Tiger on a North American circumnavigation
would be brilliant!  This old thing would be long distance
ready with only a few upgrades.

With a dearth of freeway travel on this trip, it would be about a lot of coastal roads and staying to the edge of the continent.  With potentially rough roads in the far south and north of the trip, something that is capable both on and off road would be ideal.  It wouldn’t need to be a high speed touring cable unit, but it would have to carry the gear for at least occasional wild camping.  There are a number of mid-sized adventure bikes that would fit this need, though I’d be just at tempted to take my current Tiger.  Perhaps I could customize it as a sabre-toothed Tiger in relation to the America’s apex predator (made extinct when humans showed up).

Riding tens of thousands of kilometres in a relatively short period of time means some challenging logistics, especially if I want to spend breaks with my significant other.  The ride out to Cape Spear on the easternmost coast is a thirty-two hundred kilometre all-Canadian opening to the trip.  All told, the ride out to Newfoundland and then back to the US border to head south down the Eastern Seaboard is nearly five thousand kilometres.  Breaking the trip into pieces is how I’ve blocked out the timing of it.

Canada East:  Elora to Cape Spear, Newfoundland and back to St. John, New Brunswick.  Mid-September.  About five thousand kilometres.  With potentially interesting weather (this year the east coast of Canada has been hammered by the remains of hurricanes) even this opening section might be challenging.  With ferries involved, doing an average of 400kms a day seems like an eminently doable thing that would also give me reasonable stopping time so I’m not always rushing past moments of insight.  Five thousand kilometres at four hundred a day works out to twelve days on the road.  Giving myself a fortnight to do that would mean being able to spend a bit of extra time where necessary (hopefully on Newfoundland).

The East Coast:  New Brunswick to Key West.  End of September/early October.  This four thousand kilometre jaunt down the East Coast would be happening in the fall, while dodging hurricanes.  Sticking to the coast would be occasionally tricky in a road system designed to put you onto an interstate, but I’d stubbornly cling to it.  Four thousand kilometres at four hundred a day average is ten days riding south.  I could easily compress that by doing it on freeways, but that’s not the point.  Being on back roads gives me a better chance of seeing the place for what it is instead of just seeing the travel industry.  I’d be aiming to get to Key West still fairly early in October and then start my circumnavigation of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico:  Key West, Florida to Cancun, Mexico.  From early October for the month.  The Gulf coast means I’m travelling through some culturally unique places.  New Orleans has long been a desired destination, and Texas is often described as a country in and of itself.  Crossing into Mexico puts this trip well into an adventure mind-set as I’d have to find my way through a unique culture in a language I’m not familiar with.  The fifty-three hundred kilometres of this leg of the trip should take roughly two weeks, but with borders and other hold ups it would probably be better to settle on an end of October arrival in Cancun (giving me 5-6 days of padding in there to let things run at Mexican speed).

Pacific Mexico:  Cancun through Baja to San Diego, California.  This six thousand kilometre leg up the west coast of Mexico and the Baja Peninsula will eventually lead me back to the USA.  If I’m beginning this leg in early November, it should take me fifteen days at my 400/day average to make my way north.  Giving myself the month means extra days, hopefully with a reading week meetup with Alanna somewhere in Mexico for a few days off together in the warm.  Even with that relaxed schedule I should be able to make my way to San Diego, service the bike and put it into storage for a few months before making my way home for the holidays.  A handy winter break means I could collate my photos and notes from part one of the trip.  

West Coast to the Arctic Ocean:  San Diego to Tuktoyaktuk.  This seven thousand kilometre ride to the northern edge of North America would take 18 days, but with multiple ferries, borders and coastal barriers I’d pad some extra time in there.  I’d be aiming for a late June/early July (midsummer, midnight sun) arrival in Tuktoyaktuk on Canada’s Arctic coast.  A month back from that would mean flying back into San Diego around the beginning of June and then riding north for many weeks.

From Vancouver Island on north this would be a rough and tumble ride with hundreds of kilometres of gravel roads.  The bike would need to be sorted and ready to take on that kind of abuse.

The Long Way Home:  Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories to Elora, Ontario.  It’s nearly seven thousand kilometres diagonally across Canada back home again to finish this trip.  That’s another 18 days at 400kms/day.

I’d try to be home by mid-July and enjoy some downtime before getting ready to go back into the classroom.  The first nine hundred kilometres of this trip would be long days on permafrost and gravel, but from the Dawson Highway south it would be back on tarmac and I would be able to make better time.  There is no over land passage that traces the northern coast of Canada through the tundra, so a diagonal slash south and east would be the final leg of this trip.

Wrapping my head around this continent on which I live would not only give me great material for writing, but it would also let me tick off a bucket list item:  complete a truly epic motorcycle journey before I’m too old to manage it.

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