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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Broiled in the Bronx

Adventure riders seek out the remote areas of the world, where terrain, isolation, weather and unpaved roads challenge riders and machines. Whether it is the Road of Bones in Siberia, the Trans Lab, and Dalton Highways, or some crazy arsed mountain road deep in the Himalayans.



Now for a small city boy from Newfoundland who has more or less spent most of his life in the maritimes in cities of less than 350,000 people, The Big Apple, or New York City as some call it is a major wake up call in terms of craziness. Of course being a pilot, I get to visit some big cities. I've been to NYC before, London, Chicago, Miami, San Fran, Berlin, etc. However a lot of the time someone else is driving, or it's a quick trip from the airport to the hotel. So my latest trip on the bike, which just so happens to be a "work" trip has turned into an adventure ride of another kind.





Each year I have recurrent flight training on the aircraft I fly. The Falcon 2000 simulator is now in New Jersey. So I asked the boss if he could schedule my training for late May to take advantage of warmer weather, so I could ride the bike the 1000 or so kilometres to get here. Piece of piss, two-day ride down, then take my time and explore the way home.

"Ya so where is the adventure in that so far?" you ask. Well fuck me, the trip was awesome as far as Portsmouth, NH, where I spent my first night. How hard can it be? Motor on the I95 all the way to Joisey. Easier said than done for someone whose idea of traffic is four cars on the highway.

When you are in a cage and someone else is driving, you kind of zone out and look at the scenery, as much scenery as you can see on the I95 at 75mph.  Put yourself on a bike and it all changes of course. Today was my first time riding in heavy traffic, in a bizarre way it was like riding on the TLH. Totally focused.

In Labrador the focus was on the road itself. The gravel. How it went from almost concrete to lose sand, or marble-like rocks that made your backend fishtail at 90kph. Oh, and in the back of your mind you realized that you were totally isolated, no cell coverage, and little traffic, if you went off the road, it maybe awhile before anyone finds you.

The I95 from Boston to NYC, total focus, not so much the roadbed itself, because like most American roads its SMOOTH. Focus is on cagers. The traffic is crazy. Posted speed limit is 65mph, most are doing 75 or 80. I actually figured it was safer in the fast lane doing 75 or 80. All kinds of crazy shit going on in the slow lanes. Way too many people trying to kill you. Too many people in their own world, talking, texting, eating, drinking, reaching for stuff in the passenger seat, I've seen it all.

So where does the broiled part come from? Well, I thought the I95 was an interstate, meaning fast, meaning multiple lanes, and it does, until it goes through the Bronx. Fuck me, how does traffic go from 70mph to a standstill in 500m? 18 miles from my hotel in New Jersey, traffic came to a standstill. I mean it took me an hour to go a mile. Oh and all that nice riding gear that keeps you comfortably warm at 75mph turns into a broiler at a standstill when its 20C surrounded by concrete, thousands of cars and huge transport trucks. Fuck it sucked.

Oh and slipping the clutch as I inched along like a snail stuck in molasses, my left hand was in agony, the joys of being arthritic.

So, for a guy from the maritimes, where I can get lost on a logging road fifteen minutes from my house, this was truly an adventure. Unfortunately it was an adventure I don't want to repeat anytime soon.

The return trip, will be an early Sunday morning departure from The Garden State, which is odd, because all I've seen is concrete. Then it's back roads and an easy three day ride home through the Adirondack Mountains. Time to enjoy the scenery.

Despite todays craziness I did get to stop into Twisted Throttle, the adventure bike outfitters. Very cool store, which even has a cafe. I hung out there for about an hour, and picked up a couple of goodies.



So outside of the hotel in Portsmouth, I came across this
Which more or less confirms what I knew all along about American drivers.....they're nuts.


Sunday, 3 May 2015

Spring is Here.....Finally and Oh What's That????? Another Twist in the New Bike Saga.

Let's be honest, the end of March may signal the arrival of spring in other parts of the world, but not in the Maritimes. It's still the dead of winter. It's May 2nd and the snow has finally gone and the ice is off the Kennebecasis Bay. Even though it's a balmy -3C this morning at 8am, today the sun is out and it's gonna hit.....wait for it....holy shit a whole plus 10C. Yes folks double digit temps.

All winter I have been planning on trading in the VStrom for a Yamaha Bolt. Well, after riding my strom again this spring, I find it increasingly difficult to part ways with the big ugly beast. It's comfortable, has bags of power, cruises the highway like a touring bike, and has a lot of luggage, and wind protection. Hell it's the Bigland bike. The ol' girl got me up to Labrador and back in one piece.



I have missed my little XR250R, and would like something like that, but street -legal. I hear it now, "here we go again, Burt has changed his mind for the umpteenth time." Yup, pretty much. Back to the CRF250L again? Nope. I'm thinking of going the WR250R route this time. 

One of the main reasons I did not ride the XR very much was, I had to transport it everywhere. I'm old now and convenience is everything in my life. If I can pull out of the garage and ride to the trail, hell ya I'm gonna use it. I also have the added benefit of connecting trails via roadway. Or if I'm running late, jump on the road and high tail it home.



Why the Yamaha this time. Well, since I have a very restrictive cash flow, the WR needs less mods than the CRF. Suspension is already good, and so is the motor. I'm really not that good of an off road rider so I really don't need anything too hardcore. Plus my friend Tim is the proud owner of MotoSport Plus the local Yamaha dealer. I feel like shit, because he had a 2014 Bolt put away in the garage for me to buy this spring, and now I'm changing my mind......again, or just going back to plan A.


As much as I wanted the Bolt, and to add a sidecar to it, plans have fallen in my lap that require a dual-sport. I cannot reveal too much at this time, but it may require another trip to the Rock, and possibly a trip on the Trans America Trail in 2017. Oh and there is also the Fundy Adventure Rally again this year, which I would like to compete in.

So with minimal amount of money I can get the WR set up for some light off road use. 
Right off the bat I see a need for hand guards, new pegs and folding shift and brake levers, folding mirrors and a small tank or tailbag. I have all the riding gear, so I am set in that department. Maybe a new helmet. I can always use a new helmet to add to the collection.

So what's the Minister of the Opposition (my lovely wife) think? Well she's giving me the "no more bikes, that was your last one" Well, I mean did she really believe that at the rip ol' age of 45, that was going to be my "last one". I mean come on. 
I'm sure I'll get the silent treatment for a week or so, then it will be the payback shopping trip, which so happens will be in NYC, because her and the kids are joining me there for the Victoria Day weekend.

What better present symbolizes my entrance into my "late" forties than a new dirt bike on my upcoming birthday.



Monday, 16 March 2015

It's Spring..........Somewhere

I'm afraid to say it, but I actually think spring may have finally arrived in New Brunswick. After a cold winter from hell, it's finally starting to warm up..........a little. The seven feet of snow still on the ground is slowly starting to melt, and my urge to go riding again is hitting an all time high. 



Ya it's been a long time since I posted anything, but having relentless snowstorm after snowstorm for the entire month of February, giving us a whopping 300cm of snow, it's really hard to feel motivated to write about motorcycles, and riding.

This year is gonna be an odd year for me, I'm selling the Vstrom, the big bike that got me through the Trans Labrador Highway and picking up my first cruiserish bike. A Yamaha Bolt or XV950. I guess it's more of a bobber style bike than a cruiser, and it has mid-pegs instead of the silly feet forward ergos the other cruisers have. 




Why a Bolt? Well a few reasons. One, I really like it, kinda like a Sportster, but with better ergos, brakes, suspension, and reason two, for me over $2K cheaper. My buddy Tim Hovey owns MotoSport Plus, the local Yamaha dealer and is giving me a sweet deal on a leftover 2014 model. Third reason, I can attach a sidecar to the Bolt for a fairly inexpensive price, compared to the over $9K quoted for the the Strom. Four, I want a smaller sized bike than the Strom. Something a little lighter with a lower seat. Hey, I'm getting old. Myy flexability is not what it used to be, trying to swing a leg over a big bike is getting harder and harder.

Well the Fundy Adventure Rally promo video is now complete, finished it up in February after a lot of collaboration with Rob and Courtney of Canada Moto Rallies. Here it is for all to see.


So what's new? Well, I have reignited my long lost passion for art. I used to do a lot of painting and sketching when I was younger, but over the years I stopped for some reason. I recently discovered the Wacom digital graphics tablet. It let's me draw and paint with a stylus on a screen. It's opened up a whole new artistic world for me, and I have been busy drawing and painting again. Slowly working on developing my own style, inspired by other graphic artists.





Of course being a motorcyclist, and surfer most of my work centers around those two loves.




So the rest of 2015 for me will be going back to my real loves, motorbikes, surfing and windsurfing, so my adventures and trips will be focused around those three things.

Videos......well, I still want to make one about the "biker rally" so I hope to take part in either Atlanticade or the the Wharf Rat, to see what these cruiser, beer, tattoofests are all about. I am also hoping to finally make a SUP/Surf film over the summer. Welll at least get a lot of footage to put something together over the winter. Nova Scotia, and or Maine surf trip.



Oh and a gear review will be coming down the pipe soon. Welll as soon as I get to ride again. I picked up a new Bell full face helmet, Icon jeans and FirstGear heated glove liners. I can't wait to try it all out.


Hopefully the next entry will have me on a new bike and the start of new season underway.

Cheers


Friday, 9 January 2015

2015 and Beyond

Hey folks, it's been awhile. Happy new year to everyone, hope the Christmas season was good to everyone.

2015 is upon us and so is old man winter. We had a great fall, even managed to ride right into December. Unfortunately that has changed, with the appearance of Jack Frost. 

I'm sure by now everyone, except those living in coastal BC, have tucked their bikes in the back of garage as battery tenders trickle away, eagerly awaiting spring weather and a new riding season.




I have spent the last couple of weeks finishing up the Fundy Adventure Rally (FAR) promo vid. It's almost done. Then I'll be getting to work on the Deer Lake 67 ultra marathon video. So that should keep me preoccupied over the cold, snowy, dark, and miserable months of January and February.


I'm also writing a book, or at least attempting to. I am not revealing anything about it, other than the main character rides a bike, and is on a journey of freedom and discovery.

Plans for this coming season? Well, as usual, my head is full of ideas and I cannot stay focused on anything for too long. ADD maybe? Typically most of my ideas and future projects never make it past a piece of paper, or even fail to make it onto paper. 

Off course my vacation schedule also plays havoc on some of my plans. For instance, Pete is returning to his roots this year and will be rowing a lot more. He was once a Canada Games rower, and was probably the only guy to row across the Bay of Fundy in a single scull. Nuts, right? Well, now he wants to something called the Blackburn Challenge. It's an open ocean race in Massachusetts that is over 20 miles long. Nuts again.





Being the video/editing nut that I am, I figured this would make a great documentary, and since I wasn't competing, could focus all my efforts into filming it, and Pete could concentrate on rowing. Let's hope I can get the time off.



Of course there is the great Honda Rally Build. That might be shelved this year due to financial constraints, I cannot afford two bikes at this time, and I don't think I can live with a 250 alone. Next year maybe. My wife renovated our kitchen and my bank account this month!



I have for a long time wanted a Sportster type bike. Small, simple and something I can easily attach a sidecar to for the dogs.

So, if you follow the blog at all I am looking at getting a Yamaha Bolt. My buddy Tim owns the local Yamaha dealership, and has a nice 2014 leftover that would suit me just fine.




 Now that brings me to my next possible project for the year. Biker rallies??? WTF? you say. Yes, I going to a traditional, cruiserfest, assless chap, dew rag wearing, burnout pit rally. Don't worry, I will not dressing up as a pirate, but I do have a nice collection of black t-shirts, so I can blend in nicely. Not sure I can pull off the dew rag, nor do I ever want to wear chaps. If I spend the rest of the winter doing squats, I maybe able to pull off leather pants.


I have ridden sport bikes, dirt bikes,  adv bikes, and scooters all my life, but have never experienced this, loved by many, hated by some, type of motorcycling. In fact the only rally I have been to is the Fundy Adventure Rally. 'Arris forgot to have the burnout pit, or wet t-shirt contest (that however would have been ugly, and emotionally scarring)

There just so happens to be a couple of such rallies in the Maritimes. Atlanticade is probably one of the biggest, and they just announced that the rally is moving back to Moncton from PEI. That's a quick one hour ride. It is also taking place during Ribfest. Another bonus for the beer bellied biker. Maybe those dewrags come in handy for wiping BBQ sauce off your face?



The other rally is across the Bay from me in Digby, Nova Scotia. It's called the Wharf Rat Rally. It features such events as arm wrestling, and the best tattoo competition. Time to get inked up, and work on that arm sleeve. From what I can tell, the Wharf Rat seems to be a more hardcore rally, more in line with the grand daddy of them all..........

Sturgis is in South Dakota, and is a hell of long ride from here. Of course if I was a true blogger/vlogger/film maker I would make the trek. Alas I only have so much time off, and will have to make sacrifices.

Typical rally participants. Could I pull off wearing pasties?

Something you won't see at the FAR.

Hell, I may even go to both, to fully experience the cruiser lifestyle. I'm gonna film and try to interview as many people as possible, and make a funny, and satirical look at the cruiser bike rally from an outsiders prospective.

My big motorcycle trip of the year will be a ride to New Jersey for my annual training on one of our airplanes. The simulator is located in Teteboro, so instead of flying, I decided to ride since it will be in late May. I may also take a week vacation afterwards and head further west to Kentucky.

Berea, Kentucky is where my grandfather went to school back in 1929, at you guessed it....Berea College. So I have always wanted to visit the place. It should be an interesting trip.

That's it for now, once the FAR video is complete and gets the blessing from 'Arris, I'll post it up here.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Freeze Your Nuts Off Ride 2014


Last year I organized the Freeze Your Nuts Off Ride. It is the last group ride of the year before most people store their bikes for the season. This year I just never had the time, so Tom Vihvelin stepped up and took the reins. The weather gods cursed us this year and the ride was postponed twice, and finally went ahead last Sunday in freezing temps. I unfortunately had to work and missed the ride. To make matters worst we received a dusting of snow and ice the morning of the ride, but luckily it melted early enough for the three brave souls to get out.

Here is Tom's account of the day

FYNOR 2014 Ride Report (November 23, 2014)

Only three brave (foolish?) riders turned up for FYNOR 2014.  We had unexpected icing conditions overnight that was cause for concern this morning and resulted in us delaying our departure by an hour.  However by 11 AM the ice had melted and nobody experienced any loss of traction despite moments of trepidation when crossing shiny, dark spots on the side roads.

Our hats are off to Steve M. who drove his Yamaha Super Tenere all the way from Shediac just to ride FYNOR 2014!  I think Steve must have hit the road around 7:30 AM to get here in time.  The weather was even worse in Shediac this morning.

Total trip distance for Peter and me was 331 kms but I figure Steve put on almost 700 kms since he rode down and back home to Shediac


We departed the Irving in Saint John at 11 AM and followed the coastal route, enjoying the scenic fishing villages along the way and watching the big breakers that were crashing on the rocks with spray almost reaching the road. We stopped and had some delicious cherry cheesecake and coffee in Pennfield and then headed north up the 785.  This was new territory for all of us and it’s a great road.  No problem doing 110 kph on this road.

At the intersection of 785 and 101 we went north all the way up to New Maryland and then jumped on the TCH to the Gagetown exit where we said bye to Steve.  By this time the sun was getting low on the horizon and the temperature was dipping so we tucked in and tried to make time on the old river road through Gagetown all the way to Grand Bay-Westfield.  This got tricky however as many parts of the road were very wet and with the temperature falling, we had to be extra careful.  By the time we made it all the way through to Grand Bay-Westfield we decided to race the sundown home and jumped onto route 7 for a quick, dry-road run back home.  We got back around 4:15 PM.

All in all it was a great ride with what turned out to be pretty good weather considering that it is late November.  Despite temperatures that hovered at +2 to +4 all day (with a temporary spike to +8) nobody got cold thanks to dressing in multiple layers.  Peter and I both felt and looked like the Michelin Man with all our layers.  Steve with his electric suit was a much slimmer looking rider.
 
With sun and blue skies for most of the day coupled with scenery that ranged from ocean vistas to picturesque farmlands and the serene waters of the Saint John River it was a fitting way to end this year’s riding season.

I have attached a few photos and here is link to our route if anyone wants to take a gander at it.  https://goo.gl/maps/9rHCR

The only question that remains is; “Who will step up and organize next year’s FYNOR?”

Cheers,
Tom





The Maritime Off Road Adventure Ride Documentary or Whatever Editor 'Arris is Gonna Call It

A few weeks ago Canada Moto Guide's mighty editor-at-large (he is six foot four) sent me a link to this video with an idea of doing something similar. It's a great video so I encourage you to watch it. It's endorsed by the ever famous Austin Vince of Mondo Enduro.




What first started out as a Moncton to Montreal route, soon changed to a loop style route throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The routing will be big bike rideable, and we will basically start in either Moncton or Saint John, head towards St. Stephen area and then north towards Edmundston before turning east for Bathurst or Miramichi then into Nova Scotia and down towards Digby and Yarmouth, and riding the ferry back to Saint John.

Being the lazy sods that we are, there is no way that we are going to even try and map that out on our own, so we are going to enlist the help of local riders along the way to guide us through their favourite trails, dirt roads, etc, taking pavement as little as possible. Similar to the video above, except the only one with an English accent will be 'Arris, and myself quoting Monty Python skits the odd time or two.

The best part.........we are going to film this for another Bigland documentary, so you will have another two-wheeled adventure to watch over next years cold, snowy, dreadful winter.

Right now the tentative plan is ride this in July sometime, I have to work out dates that coincide with my vacation ( I get an extra week this year, woohoo) and juggle family vacation time. We can't leave it too late in the year as it will start to interfere with Fundy Adventure Rally, which 'Arris becomes quite busy with.

Not sure what 'Arris will be riding, maybe a long-term test bike, or the ol' KLR, I'll be on the rally build CRF250L, this being the first big test for that bike.

If anyone wants to help out in routing us through the Maritimes, or would like to show us around their local riding area, give us a place to sleep, provide us with food, beer, gas, etc drop me a note, and we'll make sure you make it into the video and be guaranteed your fifteen seconds of fame. Or is that fifteen minutes? Whatever, I'll flash your mug across the screen.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Ural I Want is a Triumphant Hack



Well except for the people living on the west coast, most Canadian riders have their bikes put away for the winter. So not many of you are riding anymore. I never really store my bike, any opportunity to ride over the winter I will take. Like today, high of 0C, and the rain has washed the salt off the road again, so I'll warm up the bike, plug in the heated jacket and head out for a spin. Extended forecast calls for 10C on Tuesday. Woohoo. El Nino, where have you been the last couple of years? Good to have you back my ol' friend.

Sidecars.......yes I want one, a Ural would be very nice. A 2015 Gear-Up would be the ideal choice, however I have come to the realization that good used ones are hard to find, and a new one is just not in the cards financially at the moment. $21K tax in! Ouch.

Yesterday, I began searching for a retro-style bike that I can have a sidecar attached to for a reasonable amount of money. The ol' Vstrom was $9000, because a subframe had to be fabricated.
I love the Harley Sportster Iron 883, and the Yamaha Bolt, but those are street bikes only, so they really don't fit the bill. I need to simplify my life not complicate it more with multiple bikes. (Ok that last part is a lie, I'd really have a garage full of bikes if I could) Then I came across this picture and I had my ah ha moment.


A Triumph Scrambler. A very cool bike, almost too cool for me, because this guy rode one and he is the King of Cool.




"What about the Ducati Scrambler you lusted about?" You ask. Well, I do love the Duc, and if it wasn't for my sidecar obsession I'd definitely be leaning towards the Italian side. The problem with the Duc is, the engine is not cradled in a frame like the Triumph, which makes installing a hack (sidecar) impossible without fabricating a subframe, like my current situation with the Strom. 



The one bonus I do see over the Ural in this situation besides price, is.......the sidecar on the Scrambler can easily be removed. Only four attachment bolts. So if I was going off on the CMG/Bigland Off Road Maritime Discovery Route documentary ride I could disconnect the hack and go. Going to ride with the dogs for the weekend, install and I have some K9 company.

How could you not want to take these two beauties for a ride? Retro cool bike, two cute dogs in a sidecar, I'll beating the women away with a stick.


See how the Scrambler attracts them, even without the dogs.



The other thing I really like about the Scrambler is the customization that is possible. Some builders are making some pretty kickass bikes. Why make a CRF250L, or WR250R, rally/ADV build when you could do the same with a Scrambler. Steve MacQueen raced one back in the day.

That's not the King of Cool, unless he is back from the dead on a modern Scrambler.


From this

to

this




or this



I'm thinking, new exhaust, tires, seat, suspension, skid plate, foot pegs, GPS mounting bracket, some other odds and ends, maybe a custom paint job, viola........Fundy Adventure Rally bike. A British rally weapon. For sure CMG editor 'Arris, the man from Yorkshire, would fully agree. I'll change my name to Nigel, start drinking tea, and develop an uncanny British accent from the Liverpool area. Bloody nice.

You all have to agree, it would not be something you'd normally see being turned into a modern day rally bike?

Oh ya, just remembered, I was supposed to write about the CMG/Bigland off road Maritime trip. So sorry, it will have to wait til next time now.