Popular Posts

Friday, 29 April 2016

On Any Fundy - Documentary on the Fundy Adventure Rally

We are in the middle of spring, sort of. Well at least that's what the calendar says, despite the recent dusting of snow in certain parts of Canada. In Newfoundland a spring dusting is 30cm.

After taking the winter off, and removing myself from the two-wheeled motorized world, I'm once again fired up to get the documentary on Fundy Adventure Rally finished up. Of course I have been racking my brain to come up with some kind of storyline. I finally have something figured out, and have started work on it. Last fall I went through all the video from 2015, and identified what was good, and what was not. There were many minutes of footage that went in the "not" category. Luckily there are a few good nuggets.

I also had a scare when I thought all the 2014 footage was lost, but luckily I discovered it backed up on a flash drive. Whew.

I still have to get some additional footage, interviews, and extra scenery shots.

I'll pick away at the editing over the summer and my plan is have the first showing of "On Any Fundy" at this years rally.

This years FAR looks to be another good one. BMW will be returning again, along with Honda Canada which will be exciting. I'm guessing there will be quite a line up for the Africa Twin demo.

Clinton Smout will be returning as well to show us how to ride our bikes, and entertain us with his unique brand of humour. If you've never taken his course, make sure you sign up, well worth it.

My plans for the rally are up in the air. One, I have to get some vacation time, and two, I need a bike. I'm sure the ol' Goose would more than handle the A routes with some scrambler tires on it. But why do that to a beautiful bike. So I may just show up on Friday and Saturday, help Rob and Courtney with Rally things.  I might, and it's a big might get a small DS bike and ride the rally. I still want a Honda CRF250L, but right now the monetary situation is looking a little bleak.

Hell, I might even just drop a copy of the movie off at Adair's on the Thursday, and bugger off on a road trip for a few days instead and skip the 2016 edition. Nah..... it's too much fun, even if I don't ride it, just hanging around and helping out would be a blast. Plus I could probably scam a bike or two for a dirt ride.

My birthday is coming up in May, and that's also the buy a new bike month. Maybe my generous wife will surprise me. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

More Changes and Back to The Two-Wheeled Lifestyle

2016 had started off on the right foot. My triathlon training was going well, and I had high hopes for a good return to the sport. My swimming had bounced back really well, and so had my cycling. In fact I had come to enjoy riding more than anything else.

I had typed up a long bit about how my running was sucking, and how it was beating me up physically, but decided it was boring and suffice to say I have since given up running on the road and running long distances.

So I decided that instead of beating the shit out of myself and get injured pounding the pavement, that I would give up the Ironman dream and look to something else to keep me motivated. I already had an Ironman finish, was it a sign to look for something different.

I signed up for the Great Cycle Challenge. It's a cancer fundraiser where you set a mileage goal for the month of June, and people sponsor you. I set a fundraising goal of $1000 and 1000km. That's a lot of riding in a month. I even took a weeks vacation to ensure I get it done. To date I have raised $770 so far. My longest training ride was 93km, which felt pretty good. I have no trouble sitting on a bike for hours on end watching the world go by at 25-30kph.

If anyone would like to sponsor me and help kids fighting cancer click the link. Every little bit helps.

The Guzzi, the Guzzi, what about the Guzzi? Well..... I think it is all sorted out finally. After a lot of research, and seeing a video on youtube, the loud squealing noise was in fact a clutch adjustment issue. The slight whining noise from the gearbox.....appears to be a normal thing on some V7's. The dealer checked everything over, drained the gearbox oil and checked for metal bits, and supposedly the oil was clean. I also read that the V7's like to have the gearbox slightly overfilled, this also cuts down on the whine.

I have put a couple of hundred clicks on it so far and it seems good. Rode it home from the dealer that is an hour and half away. I still have 18 months of warranty, I hope I don't need it.

I go to East Rutherford, New Jersey for my annual flight simulator training at FlightSafety, because, really why would anyone voluntarily go to New Jersey.  It's a nice ride, I'll take two glorious days to get there via the backroads of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. After my week of boringly long ground school, and three days in the simulator where the instructors do they're best to try and kill you, I get to ride home again. Fun, fun, fun.

Why am I mentioning this?????? Well, I added a couple of accessories to the Goose. Most important one was the Dart Flyscreen. It's not the little one they sell, but the Merlin. I had heard good reviews for it, and it hasn't disappointed. On the highway it's a godsend. Takes all the wind blast from my chest and makes cruising at 100kph plus enjoyable. The airflow around my helmet is smooth, therefore no buffeting.

I also picked a new tank bag. It's a FirstGear Laguna GPS unit. I wasn't a fan of the GPS mount permanently installed on the bike, around town and for most of the riding I do I don't need a GPS. Plus on occasion I get to ride other bikes and need a GPS (Fundy Adventure Rally), so having a tank bag with a "mount" is ideal.

I installed a double USB power outlet on the handle bar, so I can charge the GPS, and my phone, and just about anything else. Works perfect. The tank bag has magnetic mounts so no straps to dull or scratch the paint on the Guzzi tank. It also comes with straps if I use it on bike with a plastic tank. Appears to be a nice well built bag.

The last time I rode to Joisey, I was on the mighty Vstrom. Now the one benefit to owning a Vstrom, is that it is so fugly that there really is never any fear of your bike being stolen. Unless the perpetrator is a Strom fan, and chances are they already have one.

The Guzzi is a beautiful bike and garners a lot of looks. The other day I was visiting a local sports store and when I walked out there was a guy admiring the Goose. That I don't mind, it's when admiration turns to wanton lust and criminal behaviour (not that that is prevalent in Jersey) and my lovely Guzzi disappearing in the back of blacked out panel van to an undisclosed location to have the serial number filed off so it can be shipped to the Middle East.

In an effort to deter such thievery, I bought a Grip-Lock.  It's a small deterrent that will help me sleep at night. I will probably get a nondescript cover to go over it as well. Maybe something with Honda written on it.

Other news.....well there maybe a big, and I mean big adventure in the works for 2017. It involves dirt, ADV, DS bikes and long trip. I have been invited to take part in the event, riding, filming, blogging, etc. Until it's all confirmed I'll leave you all guessing.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

2016 is Here and There has Been a Radical Change

2016 is here, I didn't ring it in much differently the any other year. Few too many pints of beer with family and friends. I didn't wake up with some kind of epiphany to change my life or anything like that. Actually it all kinda started back this fall when I bought a new bicycle.

So where am I going with this? Well sometimes to go forward in life you have to go back. For me it's going back just over fifteen years. On November 4th, 2000 I finished what was, and still is, one of the greatest athletic accomplishments of my life. Ironman Florida. The Ironman is a triathlon that consists of a 4.8km swim, 180km bike ride, and a full 42.2km marathon, and it has to be done in under 17hrs.

It was a long day, taking me 12hrs and 48mins to get to the finish line. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. The ultra marathon I did last year was tough, and the last 5km was painful, but I was undertrained and not prepared. The Ultra did reignite something in me, and I realized that I was at my happiest when training for a long distance event.

As most of you know, by reading this, my brain fires on all cylinders in the fall and winter, coming up with crazy stupid ideas revolved around motorbikes. That's all fine and dandy, but I get drove nuts thinking about things that will undoubtedly never happen. Take the Scooter Cannonball for example. It is an awesome idea, race, whatever, but other than a few days of planning, it's a long wait until July. A long wait through a depressingly long winter.

So in my search for the next "great idea, event or thing" related to two wheels and a motor I am actually setting myself up for a depressing winter with not much to do, but mope and whine about how long it is taking to get to the next riding season.

The other issue is, I turn 47 years old in May, then it's a short three years until the big 50. For some reason 50 bugs the ever loving shit out of me. To me 50 is the start of old. No offense to those of you over 50. For some people turning 30 or 40 is life altering, or has a big meaning, it wasn't for me, I really didn't give it too much thought. But 50 has me spooked.

So I decided that the year I turn 50, I plan on being in the best shape of my life, better than 31. The age I was during my Ironman. I don't plan on just beating my old Ironman time of 12hrs 48mins and 52sec, but I plan on destroying it.

November 4th 2000

So folks, I'm going to take the next three years to get there. Everything motorbike related is getting shelved, except for the Fundy Rally documentary, and helping out with the Cannonball 500/1000 for Dave Purdy. No big adventures or bike trips, other than my yearly ride to New York for training, and of course commuting. All my effort will be focused on my family, work and Ironman.

So for 2016, I need to get back in triathlon shape, time to get back to the pool, and hit the bike trainer. Everyday there is a workout or two to be done. It keeps me busy, my brain quiet and happy.

No full Ironman this year, I plan on competing in two half Ironman events to get warmed up, and then in 2017 Ironman Mont Tremblant, 2018 Ironman Muskoka, and 2019 Ironman Canada. Thus completing every official Ironman event in Canada. Lofty goals? Yup. Can it be done? Yup, barring any health issues or injury, I can do this. Will the plan change? Probably, but the end goal will remain the same.......toe the line at Ironman Canada as a 50 year old, in way better shape than I was at 31. Simple.

So there won't be a lot of updates on the blog from now on. Progress on the FAR documentary, and the Cannonball 500/1000. That's it.

Monday, 28 December 2015

2016.......What's In Store, and What the Hell Happened to My Guzzi?

2015 is almost over, three more days until the new year. The down time over the Christmas season has had me doing a lot of thinking about my plans for the this upcoming season.

First of all, I have to get to work on the Fundy Adventure Rally documentary. It won't be a long one, maybe 30mins. I have most of the video all categorized and filtered through. Holy crap there is a lot of bad, and boring helmet cam footage. 20mins of video gets you 20sec of something good.

I do have to shoot some interviews with the event organizers, and grand rally master 'Arris, plus get some "B" footage for certain things. Hopefully I'll have the storyline and the guts of the video all done, so I won't be doing too much editing come riding season.

Speaking of riding season, I set some lofty goals already. The Scooter Cannonball, well lets just say that stands a good chance of NOT happening. Between the logistics of it all, and the already sunk Canadian dollar, it could turn into a very costly event. The Canadian Scooter Cannonball is still on the table, but for 2017. I need more lead up time to put that together, and save up some cash for a scooter.

The Cannonball 500/1000. That is a go. I have been working with Dave Purdy, and so far we have one dealer onboard for the New Brunswick edition. I'll be harassing other dealers first thing in the new year. I think this is going to be a fun event, whether you ride a scooter or a full dressed Harley.
Stay tuned for confirmation, and when to register.

The saga of my Moto Guzzi. I haven't written about this yet. 

In October I dropped my V7 off at the dealer, G. Bourque, in Moncton for the 1000km break-in service. I had to trailer it up because of the required valve-check and of course the engine had to be cold. The service check also covers, fluid changes, checking cables, brakes, tires, etc, etc.

After bring the bike back home, I went for a ride. After about 5mins I noticed a slight whining noise coming from the bike. At first I thought it may have been my helmet, the Bell Bullitt tends to do that sometimes. Unfortunately, no it was coming from the bike. I turned around and headed for home, the noise getting more noticeable as I rode on. I checked the engine oil, and it was good, so my next worry was the gearbox. Now the gearbox oil is not addressed in the owners manual. It states, that it should only be checked, serviced and replaced by an authorized Guzzi dealer. Great. 

Of course this being a Saturday afternoon, and I was leaving the following morning for a week long work trip, it would have be dealt with later.

Upon return a week later I go to start up the Guzzi, and now it is making an ungodly screeching noise when idling in neutral. Pull the clutch lever in and the noise goes away. FUCK!!!
I call the dealer right away. Of course the service department is quick to say "it wasn't something we did" How the hell do you know that by not even looking at the bike. Well it wasn't something I did either. Perfectly working bikes goes in for routine service, and comes back with a gearbox issue. Who's fault was it? They didn't even reset the service message on the bike.

So I do some online research. Turns out some Guzzi service techs (I'll call them a tech for now, because they get about 3hs training on Guzzi's from what I have been told) sometimes under fill the gearbox oil. The Guzzi service literature is confusing, and some techs mix up final drive with gearbox. Guzzi calls the gearbox the transmission and the final drive the gearbox.

Not saying that is what happened, but from all accounts from others with this issue it is a very strong likelihood. 

Bike goes back on the trailer and back to G. Bourque. Which by the way is a 90min drive. I drop it off, and they tell me they suspect a bad bearing. Right.

I fully think that this will take weeks to fix, and they'll have to pull the transmission, and replace parts, etc. Wishful thinking on my part. A day later I get the call "bike is ready, clutch cable was out of adjustment" WTF. 

Back to Moncton I go....again, towing the trailer. It's November now, and Moncton has had snow already, so no one has ridden the bike, except the 200m from the shop to the warehouse.

I start the bike up, everything sounds normal. Load the bike on the trailer and head for home.

It's late November now, so riding days are few and far between, so I am cautiously optimistic that the bike is fixed, however the Guzzi gurus on the forums, say no, the dealer is screwing you and covering up their mistake. 

It's December and we have been blessed with a good riding day. The salt has been washed away from the road, and it's a balmy plus five degrees. I get geared up, pull the Guzzi out of the garage, let her warm up, and off I go. Hey, everything sounds good, bike is running good. I'm a happy boy.

Six kilometres into the ride, what's that noise? Fuck, a whine, ever so slightly. Must be the helmet again. I wish it was the helmet. The whine is still there. JC, fuck, those bastards, I hate that dealership, bunch of crooks!

I put on a 100km that day, the whine was there the whole time. At idle everything sounds great, get moving, roll on some throttle and it rears it's ugly head. 

Clutch adjustment my ass, I think they under serviced the gearbox oil, and then when I brought it back they just topped it up and came up with a lame clutch excuse. 

So what do I do now. We are in the grips of winter, there is no way the service "techs" can even take the bike for an extended ride to even hear said whining gearbox. 

So now I wait until spring, which I hope comes early, to bring it back to Moncton for a 3rd time in hopes they can fix the damn thing before I head to New York in the middle of May. If they fix it right. So now I have a great motorcycle that I don't trust more than to ride around the block on.

It will be the last time the Guzzi ever sees that dealership for service, ever again.

Why am I so leary of G. Bourque, well my buddy has an MG Stelvio, and has had numerous issues with his. They continually over-serviced his bike with oil. Not to mention they had to pull his entire transmission this summer, leaving him without a bike for 3 weeks.

I love the Guzzi, think it is a great bike, but don't buy one from these yahoos, at least don't get it serviced there.

That leads me to thinking of getting a second bike again. A dual-sport/adv bike. Something I can take off road and to ride in the Fundy Adventure Rally.

A used CRF250L or maybe a CSC RX3 if the Canadian peso rebounds at all. $3495 US for a decked out mini adventure bike is pretty sweet. Ideally I'd like to make it a fly and ride. Head to California and pick it up, ride it home. Be an awesome adventure. 

Now to go out and shovel that white shit off my front porch.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Cannonball 500 / 1000

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on an event called the Cannonball 500 and 1000. It's a purely Canadian event designed for motorcyclists that like to ride and not hide. Basically it's a 500 mile (800ish km) and 1000 mile (1600ish km) rides being held in each province on the weekend of June 11-12.

Each province has a pre-determined route for the 500 and 1000 starting at a local dealer(s). There is no fee for the event, just register, show up, sign in and ride. Oh and be back within the cutoff time. You also have to stop in at other dealerships along the route to prove you rode the route. You have twelve hours to complete the 500, and 36hrs for the 1000.

Click on the photo for more info

Sadly, the maritimes were missing from this cross Canada event. So being the two-wheeled aficionado  that I am, I emailed the event organizer, Dave, Purdyman, Purdy and offered my assistance. He had some pretty good routes already made, I just helped tweak them a bit. The big need was finding dealers to be start/finish hosts throughout the provinces.

Right away I knew my friend Tim Hovey at Motosport Plus in Saint John would be up for this, and sure enough he signed on. Now to continue working on other dealers to get this going.

This is not only a great event for all kinds of riders (Harley, sport bikers, ADVriders, cruisers, scooterists) but also a great opportunity for the dealers involved. Look at all the riders you are getting coming through your doors. If I were a dealer, I'd jump on this right away. For the start, offer free coffee, donuts, muffins, etc, and for the finish, a BBQ, make it a party. Show everyone that your not just a store that sells bikes, but a part of a two-wheeled community.

Stay tuned for more on the Cannonball 500 and 1000 as we get more dealers on board.

Oh and yes the Scooter Cannonball Canadian style is in the works, for now at least.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Canuck Cannonball???

Yesterday I posted a link to my blog on the Halifax Scooter Council's Facebook page, wondering if there was any interest from other scooter owners on a Cannonball Run. One post tweaked my attention. "ship your scoots to Nanaimo and we'll start a Canadian one that ends in Halifax" 

Whoa!! That's an idea and a half. Why the hell not? I have a couple of contacts in the motorsport industry, and it would give me something to plan over the winter. So now my brain is working in overdrive on this.

I don't want to call it a race, because racing scooters and small motorcycles, ultra-long distance and on public roads don't go hand in hand when trying to entice sponsors. So if I do this, it could be a rally style with set distances everyday, or it's the first one to the finish line any route you want. While obeying speed limits.....of course.

Ferries are a pain in the ass, and just slow everything down, so I figured why not start and end at two lovely parks. One on the Atlantic, one on the Pacific. Point Pleasant in Halifax to Stanley Park in Vancouver.

I know, I know, you folks on The Rock, left out AGAIN. When I was living there I would get pissed off too, about events being billed as "Across Canada" and have them terminate in Nova Scotia, or god forbid....Ontario. I would love to go all the way to Cape Spear, or at least start there, but it adds an extra two to three days and an expensive ferry ride. This journey is gonna be long enough. If any of you from god's country want to ride this, I encourage you to start at Cape Spear and ride to the start in  Halifax. You will be given extra points and have bragging rights.

If this goes ahead, what kind of bikes are eligible? Well, I'm thinking scooters from 150cc and up, including the maxi-scoots, and motorcycles up to 500cc. I mean doing this on your lazy boy on wheels Goldwing or Ultra Classic is luxury, and it has to be a painful challenge.

Sponsors. Well, sponsors are going to be the hard part, and the most important, not only to help fund this, but to attract riders as well. In no particular order, off the top of head:

Major OEM, Honda, Suzuki, BMW, Yamaha, Kymco
Hotel Chain, Holiday Inn, Best Western
Rider Apparel, Joe Rocket, Olympia
Parts, Parts Canada, Kimpex
Local Dealers
Media, Cycle Canada, Canada Moto Guide (I know a guy)
Satellite tracking, Find Me Spot
Rental Car Agency, Discount, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, maybe an RV rental

Or we go completely grassroots and have no sponsors.

Then there is insurance and the legal side of hosting an event like this, of which I know very little about.

Rules. The original Cannonball had one rule.....there are no rules. I think there will be rules, just not many of them.

Where this goes, I have no idea. It maybe as simple as a dozen or so riders showing up in Halifax and and the first one to Vancouver wins.

Stay tuned for more as this either unfolds, or folds up.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Search Begins....

So now that I have a rough Cannonball Run plan in place it's time to start looking for a suitable steed to ride on.

The Real Scooter Cannonball, which is the race I am gunning for, has a 150cc minimum, although the race was won in 2013 by a 70cc scoot. Regardless, a 150 would be the minimum in my mind to race on. At least a 150 is capable of short stints on the interstate if need be.

The other rally, The Scooter Cannonball has a maximum 250cc displacement. Ideally if I were to do both events, a 200cc would be the one.

Nostalgically speaking, a Honda Elite 150, similar to the 125 I had as a kid would be awesome.

These are fairly rare, especially in good condition, and Honda has discontinued making parts for them. That makes it more of a challenge, and finding parts on Ebay a new sport. The upside, it's a Honda and the damn things are stone reliable, and one can be had for $500-$1000. For about $1500 you can get an operational bike and a parts bike.

But is a 30 year old bike up to the challenge of a balls to wall, all out race for 5700km? It sure would be fun to see, and I would like the opportunity to tear into a old machine and learn how to fix it, which pays back in spades when on the road.

The other option is more expensive and less maintenance and labour intensive. Find a used Honda PCX150. They are relatively new, reliable, and more than up to the task. Downside.......$2500 used, close to $4000 new, and to be honest, they lack any real character.

Although in my experience over the years, "character" means I break down, shake, rattle, roll, and have a lot of weird quirky things going on......and that's OK.

Then there is the ever popular Vespa. When you look up scooter in the dictionary, there it is.....the Vespa. Now don't get me wrong the Vespa is awesome. High end, and expensive. Expensive to buy and expensive to fix. The built quality is excellent, and they scream I am a cool scooterist. 

Even a used one with high mileage is on the pricey side and fetch over two grand. Mind you I'd probably skip the Louis Vuitton optional seat like this one.

So it all boils down to what can I get a deal on, and how much do I have to put into it to make it half-decently reliable.