Parts on Order Makes me Stop & Consider

Over the Easter long weekend I’ve rebuilt four carbs and put them back together again.  Unfortunately they won’t go back on nicely thanks to two decade old rubber boots, so they’re on order.  It’s nice to have a forced day off.

If you’re ever rebuilding carbs on a ZG1000, and the airbox on it is more than ten years old, it’s a good idea to get some airbox ducts (that connect the airbox to the carbs).  Supple, soft rubber is important when connecting these up.  I tried for a frustrating couple of hours to get them to join properly.  This is especially difficult when the inner boots are rock hard, even when warmed up.  Steve suggests new carb boots to cut down on swearing, he ain’t kidding:


Sixty bucks and should be here by
Wednesday.

I contacted my local dealer and they can have boots here by Wednesday.  They’re charging less than they are going for on ebay or online retailers.  Score one for my local.  Sixty bucks means less swearing and an easy install.  Wayne, the Yoda-like parts guy at Two Wheel, says you’re lucky to get two decades out of a set as they harden over time and eventually split.

With the weather going sideways again, there won’t be much of a chance to ride any time soon.  Hopefully this means I can get this odyssey finished and the bike back on the road by the time the weather clears again.

The airbox ducts/boots that need replacing – the old ones are not only beaten up, but they’ve gone hard.
Even putting heat on them doesn’t soften them up.  Note the flat spots up by the airbox that show you which
way to turn the boots.
Heating up the airbox boots – but they’re too old!
A big empty where the airbox and carbs usually go





This ordeal has me rethinking things.  My wife suggested I unload everything except the old XS1100 and buy a regular motorbike that is more dependable.  When I started riding I got a dependable bike that just needed some cosmetic work.  It was so dependable it was tedious.  Since then I’ve gone back in time and enjoyed the world of carburetion and two decade old rubber, perhaps a bit more than I wanted to.

I genuinely enjoy mechanics, but never when there is a time demand on it.  I’ve already missed three riding opportunities because of the stuttering Concours, and this irks me.  The idea of wiping the slate clean and moving forward appeals.  I started riding late and moving through a number of bikes seems like a way to catch up on my lack of experience.  Maybe it is time to put sentiment down and move on.  I didn’t start riding to watch the few lovely days we have in a too-short riding season pass me by.

A Tiger?  In my garage?


The little Yamaha and the KLX are gone now, netting me about $3000.  As it happens, a 2003 Triumph Tiger is available just over an hour away for about that much.  Come the end of the week I might be able to say, “a tiger?  In my garage?  Must have escaped from a zoo!”



Drivetest: Everything That’s Wrong with Ontario

When I think back to the late ’80s (the last time I had to involve myself in driver testing), I recall reasonable wait times, full time employees invested in what they were doing and a general sense of competence.  I left with my driver’s license feeling like my time wasn’t wasted and the people there knew what they were doing.

The lost souls trapped in the beige, fluorescent lit hell that
is Ontario’s Drivetest Centre.  I got in trouble for taking
this picture, I hope you like it.

Since going back for my motorcycle license in 2013 I’ve had to attend Drivetest Centres several times and each one has been worse than the last.  The stone eyed ‘funployees’ of Drivetest struggle to handle massive wait times and angry citizens whose time doesn’t seem to matter at all.

While waiting for more than ninety minutes yesterday in an overcrowded holding area I looked up Drivetest and discovered a poster child for why Ontario is failing like it is.

Up until 2003 Driver training was handled by MoT employees.  These would have been unionized, government workers who make enough money to pay a mortgage and tended to stick around, meaning they have a vested interest in what they’re doing.  In 2003 Mike Harris (aka: ass-clown of the century) decided to privatize driver training in Ontario (because the mess they made giving away the 407 wasn’t enough).

In a matter of months hundreds of full time employees were laid off in the name of efficiency.  At the time the six week waiting list to get a license was considered proof of government incompetence and the private sector would come to our rescue!  The current backlog is over sixteen weeks.  Feeling that private efficiency yet?

At the Drivecentre yesterday I heard one of the employees say that they have a lot of people away on vacation so they are short handed at the busiest time of the year.  Another came back after taking only 10 minutes for lunch.  While reveling in this Kafkaesque corporate efficiency I thought I’d look up who we pay millions to now for driver testing.

Privatization seems to feed into globalization.  Just as he sold off the 407 for a fraction of what it’s worth to a Spanish company, so Harris sold off driver training to another overseas firm, in this case Serco, a billion dollar a year multi-national out of the UK.  Their spiel on the Drivetest website is exactly the sort of MBA drivel that makes me sick in my mouth:   

Positive change and continuous improvement! All’s good in corporate speak fun-land! Based globally? That sounds tricky.


Ah, the countless possibilities.  Fortunately, thanks to Serco’s crap-tastic personnel management I had a lot of time to consider countless possibilities.  The Ontario Government is supposed to oversee the efficiency of this subcontract, but like most privatization they simply turn away from what IS the role of government and takes no responsibility for what has been and continues to be an out and out disaster.

You’d think it would be fairly easy to make licensing a zero-sum game.  You charge for licenses whatever it takes to cover the cost of licensing and you keep that money in Ontario instead of shipping off millions of dollars overseas.  You then offer bonuses based on accident rates of new drivers and the wait times in Drivetest Centres.  The lower the rates and better the wait times, the better the bonus.  Or… you could just give it all away to an off-shore concern that couldn’t give a damn about Ontario citizens, their safety, or their time, but sure knows a lot about business.

Meanwhile, we’re all sitting here wondering why Ontario is in the biggest financial mess in its history.  Efficiency doesn’t mean off-loading responsibility and doing things cheaply unless you’re in the private sector, then that can be your reason for being.  Efficiency and cheapness are not the same thing, though the private sector and conservatives often confuse the two.

Get your finger out Ontario.  Stop off-loading important government services to incompetent multi-nationals and keep our money in-province!  Fix this!

LINKS

The Dark Side of Privatization
Who we’re paying to administer Ontario Driver Training
Serco quality
We should farm everything out to these guys!
Actually, just do a google-news search of Serco and revel in the excellence

The real costs of privatizing hydro
Privatization: generally a really bad idea
The 407The 407 again, The 407, it never ends, The 407, WTF?

Commuting on a Motorcycle

It isn’t a giant commute – about a 15km round trip each day.  Our strangely summery autumn here in Ontario means I’m commuting on two wheels every day.  Over two weeks and ten commutes I’ve put over 150kms on the bike (I sometimes go the long way home).  What is commuting on a fourteen year old Triumph Tiger like?  Glorious.

In addition to actually looking forward to my commute each day, I (and the planet) are also enjoying the fact that I’m barely using any fossil fuel to do it.  In the past ten days I’ve used 6.88 litres (1.82 gallons) of gasoline to get to and from work; I’ve still got three quarters of a tank from my fill up two weeks ago.


The Tiger is currently getting better mileage than a Prius and didn’t make anything like the hole in the world that the Prius did in manufacture.  My 0-60 in under 4 seconds Tiger is very nature friendly.

Other than a light rain on the way home one day it’s been a dry time.  The bike has been fire-on-the-first-touch ready every day.  If I won’t get soaked on the way in I’ll take the bike (being at work with wet pants is no fun).  I could attach panniers and have rain gear with me (I’ve done that before on committed 2-wheeled commutes), but being only fifteen minutes from work means I and the Tiger travel light.  Riding home and getting wet means being uncomfortable for fifteen minutes, no big deal.


How long can I keep it up?  With the current forecast it looks like I’ll be car-less until well into October.  The most recent forecast suggests a drop into the teens in the upcoming weeks, but I’ll keep going until ice is a threat (I won’t do that again on purpose).  Warm, never ending autumns are a lovely thing.

Unlike driving to work in the car, when I commute on the bike I arrive oxygenated and alert; it’s difficult to cultivate the same level of alertness sitting in a box.  Showing up at work switched on and ready to go is a great way to start the day.  


With no morning radio I’m not as plugged in to the world, but that’s no bad thing either.  Instead of pondering the latest human generated catastrophe (aka: the news), I’m gulping down morning mist and beautiful sunrises; it puts you in an expansive state of mind.


Soon enough we’ll be into the long dark teatime of the soul (Canadian winter).  In the meantime I’m going to keep drinking from the commuting on a motorcycle fire hose.

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Triumph Tiger 955i Rear Brakes

I came home last weekend to a lot of noise from the rear brakes.  A closer look showed virtually no pad material left, so it was time for new pads.  I thought I had some at the ready, but it turns out they were for the Concours.  A quick online shopping trip to Fortnine got me sorted out.  Surprisingly, the rear pads are the same as the front pads – I think the Tiger is the only bike I’ve owned with the same pads front and back.


Everything went smoothly until I got to the caliper pin – it’s the bar the brake pad hangs on as it it presses into the disk.  The end of the pin was (rather bafflingly) a slot screw, which isn’t a very nice choice for something like a caliper pin which will get hot and cold over and over again for years between service.  Slot screws aren’t famous for great purchase and tend to strip easily, like this one was.


It was only after looking at the parts blowup that I realized the slot screw I was trying to remove was actually only a cover and the hex-head pin underneath was actually hidden away.  Once I realized I was only removing a cover, I applied some heat with a propane torch and got the thing loose.  I wouldn’t have tried that had it been the pin itself – too much thread resistance.


With the cover removed, the pin, with its easily grippable hex-head came out easily.  Once disassembled I soaked the retaining clips and calipre pin, both of which had years of dirt and rust on them.  The next morning I greased everything up and reassembled the caliper with shiny retaining clips and pin, along with the new brake pads.  I had to force the caliper piston back to make space for the new pads, but this was relatively straightforward with the rear brake fluid container cap removed.  The fluid back filled into the container as the piston pushed back with little resistance.


With the new pads on, I put the two body panels I’d removed for access back together and tightened it all up.  The caliper was still moving freely – not bad after seventy thousand kilometres on it.  Judging by the rough edges of the caliper pin cover, I wasn’t the first one in there.  Before I put it back I used a hack saw to deepen the groove.  Hopefully that’ll make it easier for getting into it next time, that and some judicious lubrication.


I took it for a few loops around the circle in front of our house and bedded in the pads.  After a minute or two they were biting so hard I could easily lock up the back wheel, so them’s working brakes.


A ride up and down the river to double check everything showed it all to be tight and dry and working perfectly.  No drag with the brakes off and quick response when I applied them.


That’s how to do your rear brakes on a Triumph Tiger 955i.  I’ve got the front pads on standby.  Hopefully what’s on there will last until the end of the season then I’ll do the fronts over the winter.  Should be a pretty similar job as the pads and calipers are identical.

The Tiger stops faster than that guy…


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For Whom The Bell Tolls

Once you’ve discovered riding a motorcycle, especially if you do it later in life as I have, you quickly come to realize that this isn’t something you’ll be able to do forever.  Motorcycling is physically and mentally demanding and you’d be crazy to do it without your faculties intact.  The thought of not being able to ride after discovering how freeing it is isn’t a comfortable one.  If you get so decrepit that you can’t do the things you love, what’s the point of being here?  Melissa Holbrook Pierson does a wonderful job of conveying that feeling in The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing.  If you’re looking for a pensive, profound motorcycle themed read, that one will do it for you.

***

The other day my buddy Jeff was finally able to make a deal for an old BMW R100RT that has been sitting in a shed in the woods for over a decade.  My son Max and I burned out of school on Friday afternoon and followed Jeff and his lovely wife up to their cottage on the shores of Lake Huron.

A neighbour five minutes down the road had purchased this BMW back in 1999 and had ridden it until 2005.  On a cool September day eleven years ago he rode back to Kincardine from a conference in Peterborough and parked the bike, it hasn’t run since.  Jeff discovered the bike a year ago while over there at a garage sale, but the old fellow didn’t want to part with it.  There was hope that he’d eventually get it out, clean it up and feel the wind in his beard again.  Jeff gently persisted, letting him know that if he ever did decide to sell it he had a buyer.

While over there getting the bike out of a shed hundreds of yards back in thick trees the owner told me, “I came to the realization that I’m not riding any bike, let alone this bike.  When that happened I finally decided to let it go.”  He’s still physically active even though that activity has landed him with metal pins where his bones used to be.  Struggling against old age is a pointless exercise, but I was right there with him – I’ll be him in thirty years if I’m here at all.  The real tragedy is that he’s as sharp as a whip; the mind is willing but the flesh is weak.

We were both enjoying the stories he was telling of how he went down to North Carolina to pick up the bike, and what it was like to bring it back across the border in the pre-internet age.  This guy had always wanted a BMW but when he was younger he couldn’t afford it; this was his dream machine but it has been sitting in a shed as the seasons spin by outside, alone but for the sound of creeping rust.  It turns out this Bimmer was Jeff’s dream machine as a young man as well, but you can’t buy a $3500 bike when you’re making six bucks an hour.  You can when you’re older and it’s under a decade of grime though.

We were both so excited going over there to get this bike out of the woods, but Jeff had said the owner was having a hard time doing it and our excitement quickly turned to ambivalence and then reflection as we heard the story of how it ended up parked under the trees.  While we struggled with conflicting feelings we were at least confident in the fact that we could bring this old machine back to the world.  Machines can sometimes offer this kind of immortality.

If you never take any risks and lead a sedentary life of caution, being old is just another day like any of the others in your tedious, careful life.  It makes me wonder what you hold up as your accomplishments if fear drives most of your decisions; I bet it’s nothing good.  However, if you get out there and take risks and live, perhaps the memories of that life well lived, the chances you’ve taken and the adventures you’ve had, will make easing into old age less onerous, and perhaps even rewarding.  To me motorcycles are a symbol of that belief in embracing risk.  I hope anyone who has ever looked at me with a disapproving frown when it comes to riding is very comfortable in their old age; I imagine it looks like any other day in their beige lives.

Knowing me I’m going to be very bad at old age if I get there at all, but I’m trying to take care of that now, on two wheels.

 

 If you’re looking at another clear eyed examination of death and our society’s inability to deal with it, check out:  https://temkblog.blogspot.com/2020/06/a-psychologicalmetaphysical-one-two.html

Dakar Dreams

I just finished this year’s Dakar and it always starts the itch.  As a bucket list item it’s well beyond my ken, but I still sometimes think about it.  The cost is in 1%er territory and a school teacher from Ontario isn’t likely to find support from advertisers that would allow him to compete.  But hey, what’s mid-life for if not your last chance to do the impossible?  The other day a buddy said, “you don’t want to be sitting around when you’re old wondering what you might have done.”  Even an attempt at a Dakar would be special.  Finishing one would be a crown jewel in a life well lived.


In an interview during Charlie Boorman‘s Race to Dakar, one of the competitors says he does it because it’s two weeks of singularly focusing on one thing, which he found relaxing.  Simon Pavey, Charlie’s teammate, said he does it just so he doesn’t have to do dishes for two weeks.  I get the angle.  Being able to singularly focus on something is a luxury few of us can afford.  Life is a series of compromises and multiple demands on our time.


I’ve been watching The Dakar long enough to not harbor any illusions about winning it or even placing well, but I would certainly hope to finish.  Having a Dakar finishers medal puts you in a very small circle of excellence, and toughness.  The people who know what it is would have mad respect when they saw it.


To get there you need to take on the almost religious piety of a professional athlete.  I’d give myself two years to get the experience and fitness levels I’d need to give it an honest try.  I know I wouldn’t stop unless circumstances stopped me (I’m perverse like that), so it would simply be a matter of preparing as well as I could for it.  I turn 48 this spring, so I’d be doing a Dakar in 2019, the year I turn 50.  My goal would be to complete a Dakar and document as much of it as I could in the process.  From the beginning to the end I’d be making notes that would eventually turn into a book:  Mad Dogs & Englishmen: A Middle Aged Man’s Dakar.

A Zero electrically driven Dakar Rally bike?  Yes please!

Maybe by then there would be an electric motorcycle that could manage the stages with quick battery swaps at the stops.  Maybe I should be asking Zero if they’d like to consider a Dakar run.  Being the first electric bike to finish a Dakar would be something.  Electric cars are getting there now.


Finding sponsorship with companies I already have a relationship with would be a nice way to make this attempt a more personal one.  Everybody runs KTMs, Hondas and Yamahas, but I’d love to ride a rally prepped Kawasaki, Triumph or maybe a CCM; all companies who have had an impact on my motorcycling career.  Getting some degree of factory and dealer support in that would be fantastic.


A lot of riders gopro their experiences from within the Dakar itself, but I think it would be cool to get some next level media out of the event.  Running a 360 degree camera would be a goal.  Having a small, agile, media production crew along who could capture drone footage and support the 360 footage from inside the race could eventually lead to an immersive video of the event that gives some idea of how it feels to be in the Dakar; an everyman’s view of the race.  Dreamracer does a good job of this.  I’d try to emulate that approach with newer technology.  Since not a lot of Canadians participate in the rally, I might be able to drum up local support that other rally riders could not.


Deep winter, mid-life dreams about doing something impossible… all I’d need is an opportunity.

LINKS



Where to find your rally kit:  Rebel X SportsNeduro

Sample Dakar budget, another sample budget


A 2017 Dakar how-to video series by Manuel Lucchese

What Dakar riders wear article



Dakar advice on putting together an entry:


Before setting off in an active search for sponsors, it is important to define your project clearly by

answering the following questions:


Why am I taking part in the Dakar?
What are my motivations?
What are my objectives?
What are my assets in achieving those objectives?
What sort of crew do I want to set up?
What resources do I need to achieve this?
It is important to detail the various cost items in order to have a clear idea of your expenses (Vehicle preparation – Registration – Trip – Visas and passports – assistance vehicle(s) – mechanics registrations…) After this stage, you must have answers to the following four questions:


What is my budget?
How should I present it to my potential partners/sponsors?
What are my available funds?
How much should I ask for from my potential sponsors?
Your potential sponsors must be targeted : better to count on your relational, personal, professional or regional fabric rather than “major sponsors” who may be less inclined to support you. Make a list of your potential partners and characterise them:


What do they do?
Why would they be likely to help me?
What specific arguments should I put forward?
What funds do they have available?
Which companies should I see as a priority?
“Do not make mistakes in what you say or who you target”. There is no point in talking about your potential sporting achievements if you are taking part in your first Dakar! Your aim is to finish, not to be placed! So, assess what you say and in particular your media exposure: amateurs will be the subject of one-off reports, they are frequently mentioned in the local and regional media but do not promise the TV news or a daily sports newspaper!


Prepare a personalised dossier to present your project. This presentation must be clear, concise, persuasive and imaginative; it must make them dream of the rally but also convince them of your personal qualities.


You need to highlight your special features, your motivation :


What is original about your entry?
Why are you passionate about motor sports (and cross country rallies in particular)?
What previous experience do you have?
Consider presenting your sporting profile: draw inspiration from statistics on Dakar 2015. Put yourself into the rally: in terms of age, type of vehicle, number of entries, status (professional or amateur). Stress your nationality and your region! Identify potential media spin-off: media statistics can help you identify press, radio or even TV spin-off in your region.


Regional media are frequently looking for a potted history of amateur competitors; so do not hesitate to contact them and suggest an interview, your potential sponsors will only be more impressed!


Present your arguments to justify sponsorship:


To give out a good image of the company at local, regional or national level thanks to media spin-off. The company’s name (and/or one of its brands) is associated with your entry and the adventure of the rally.
To change or strengthen the company’s image internally. To advertise the company’s main values, the directors can use event sponsorship to motivate employees and/or associate the company with values such as courage, surpassing oneself, competition, human adventure,… which characterise the Dakar.
To build a relationship with their suppliers/customers. Sponsorship may be a way for one of your suppliers/customers to build strong links before or after the conclusion of a partnership.
To involve your sponsors indirectly in the adventure. The Dakar is a mythical trial in which everyone who is interested in motor or extreme sports will want to take part one day… These fans, potential sponsors, will be all the more inclined to help you in this challenge if they can live the adventure by proxy.
To enable the partner company to enjoy tax relief. Depending on the country, sponsorship offers tax breaks. Consider putting forward a small sales pitch to demonstrate these tax breaks according to the legislation in your country.


Highlight the benefits of financial support or support in kind :


Visibility of their brand/company name on your vehicle, your clothing, your helmet, your Leatt-Brace, your trunk, your assistance vehicles…
A free trip on a rest day or on arrival: for the most generous sponsors, a day at the rally is a weighty argument for those who want to taste the atmosphere of the Dakar!
Event organisation: exhibiting the vehicle before or after the rally, or a photo exhibition…
Finally, do not forget to…
Keep them up to date with your exploits during/after the rally (sell IRITRACK!)
Give them a DVD collection of Dakar articles, or a detailed press review, or a photo album to thank them.

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Motorbike Magazine Mania

Since I’m in riding withdrawal I’ve been continuing my overdose on motorcycle media.

In one of the many magazines I’ve been picking up I came across the Overland Adventure Rally, which happens to be only about half an hour away from where I live.  I won’t be participating on a Ninja, but I’m working on that.

The magazine picks have been many and varied.  On the Canadian side I have picked up Inside Motorcycles and Canadian Biker.

IM is very race focused so I’ve been trying to use it to get a grip on what racing is offered/popular in Canada.  I stumbled across the last MotoGP race of the year on SPEED and gave it a watch.  Utter madness!  But more entertaining than any F1 race I watched this season.


I’m still partial to British bike magazines and pick them up when I come across them.  Motorcycle Sport & Leisure is written from older perspective but the mag holds up the quality end of British magazines.  Few ads, lots of articles on a wide range of subjects, well written too.

BIKE magazine is a big one in the UK and I can see why.  The writing is top notch, I was laughing out loud as I read one piece on all the ways an author has fallen off a motorcycle.   I’d pick up Adventure Bike Rider again, but it was hard to find even when I was in the UK this summer.  These hard to find British magazines may drive me to reading on a tablet just so I can get at them.

Cycle Canada is the only bike magazine I’ve gotten a subscription to so far, no regrets there.


A Little Natural Sunlight

With snow and cold all week it’s been a garage door closed situation, but the sun came out on the last day of the break and that full spectrum light likes to point out details for the camera.  A little industrial art courtesy of Triumph and Kawasaki.


Old bikes tell stories:

 

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Snow Garage

The snow’s flying.  I like watching Waiting out the Winter for some inspiration at this time of year:



WAITING OUT WINTER from Andrew David Watson on Vimeo.

I did my own less cool and moody version of it here:



I’m beginning to see why I’m sore after doing a few hours in the garage.  I’m all over the place!  The Tiger has new oil and filter and has been cleaned and coated and is now living under a blanket until the weather comes back to us.  The battery’s in the basement on a smart charger.



In the process of cleaning up I noticed a missing rubber on the bottom of the seat.  Gotta figure out how to get that, the cracked rubbers on the mirrors and the rubber thing that covers the rear brake wiring.  






The Tiger’s going on fourteen years old.  Fourteen years in Canada means wild swings in temperature.  The rubbers need renewing.  There’s a winter project.

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Motorcycle Things: Winter ’17 Wishlist

A motorcycle wish list circa 2017:



Jon Campbell on Google+ shared updated colours on the Aerostich line of motorcycle clothing.  I’ve always loved the look of Aerostich kit.  Unfortunately, a Roadcrafter suit costs more than most of the motorcycles I’ve purchased.  


One of these days I’ll get the coin together and spring for an Aerostich one piece suit.  By all accounts it’ll be the last time I need to.  


They have lots of custom options so I should be able to find a long in the body, regular inseam that fits me properly.  With colour choices aplenty, making an original looking suit that fits is an ongoing pastime.


***


Keeping with the orange kit theme, I’m also wishing for a go with the updated Desmo RO32 transformable helmet.  Quieter, more comfortable and more spacious, it’s my go-to Desmo helmet evolved.  Short of buying one from overseas untried, I’m stuck.  If we end up in France this summer, a trip to Roof might be in the cards through.


***

With the Tiger’s winter maintenance done, I’m hoping to return focus to the Concours ZG1000 Fury streetfighter I’ve got half finished.  


On the to-do list is getting a rear light and indicators.  I’d ordered them through Amazon but the dodgy Chinese company that makes them never evidently sent it, though they charged me for it.  The Amazon marketplace seems to be increasingly filled with overseas companies that have a very slow delivery time, assuming they ship at all.


It’d be nice to get this running smoothly by the summer for some blistering solo rides where I finally get to find out what those new Michelin tires feel like.  In a perfect world I’d enjoy the summer on it, ride it to the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Toronto next September where someone offers to buy it for what it cost me to make it.  I could then role that over into next winter’s project.


***

A couple of road trips this summer would be nice.  I’ve had a trip around Lake Superior in mind for a while now.  It’s about 2000kms around from Manitoulin Island and back again, and another couple of hundred kilometres and a ferry ride home.


Launching from Little Current at the north end of Manitoulin, I’d go the Ontario side first just to avoid the misery that is the border crossing into Michigan at The Sault.  After sitting at that for almost two hours last year, I’ll go backwards around Superior just to avoid it.  Doing 350km/days on average, we’d get around Superior in about six days.  If we wanted a day off, we could push for a couple of days to get a day of rest.  A day up to Manitoulin and a day back at the end means eight days on the road.


A trip down the Appalachians to see the full solar eclipse this summer is also on the short list.  Doing this one for ten days means we’d have a couple of days to explore areas on the way down and on the way back instead of making miles every day.


From just over the border in New York state all the way down to Tennessee, this is motorcycle nirvana with mile after mile of twisting mountain roads.


***

Racer5 is running their introduction to track riding again this year.  A May long weekend getting familiar with the racing dynamics of a motorcycle would be pretty wicked.  By the end of the course I’d be qualified to race.  The next step would be getting myself into the VRRA for some vintage racing.

***

I never get bored of imagining throwing a few grand down on some motorcycle racing gear.  My two pairs of Alpinestar boots have been excellent, so I’d probably base a lot of the racing gear on what they offer.  I’d read reviews of the Handroid Knox racing gloves and they sound totally next level.  An Arai helmet has always been a long term, top end motorcycle helmet wishlist item, and they have a nice Isle of Man special out this year.


***

A track-day specialist bike would also be nice to have tucked away, only to be trailered to the track for hard work.   This ’99 CBR600 F4 is well cared for and going for about three grand.   I’d strip it down to bare essentials and put a carbon single seat cowling on the back.  After wearing out the tires on it, I’d go to racing tires and continue to evolve the bike into a track specialist.


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Guy Martin did a race in his Ford Transit van last year where he averaged well over 100mph for an extended length of time.  I wouldn’t spend much time in one the other side of 100mph, but having a van would sure be handy.  From transporting my own bikes out of the snow for a cheap ride in the winter, to taking the race bike to the track, having a bike transport system would be mega.  With taxes, a new one nicely spec-ed out is just north of fifty thousand of your finest Canadian dollars.


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Some top shelf gear, getting race ready and having the custom Kawasaki on the road… if I came into cash in 2017, that’s what I’d be spending it on.

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