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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Isle of Man TT Tribute Video

The Isle of Man is a small island located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. In May of each year thousands of bikers and spectators flock to this little island to see one of, if not the greatest motor sports race on the planet..........The Isle of Man TT. First run in 1907, it is a motorcycle race held in a time trial fashion pushing racers to beat the clock on what are normally public roads. A crash here doesn't mean a trip to hospital, it's a one way ticket to the pearly gates. This makes Nascar, Formula 1, and pretty much any race held on a track look like a joke.

The "Just G'iver" idea for the OLN show is about doing things on your bucket list. Well going to see the Isle of Man TT is one of my items, and to ride the course around the island. At a sedate, I'm married with two kids and not a road racer pace.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Another Sponsor

Some of you may know that I have been into stand up paddle boarding for quite a number of years now, and even had a side business selling boards up until last year. It is a lot of fun, and an awesome way to get in, and stay in shape. It works almost every muscle in your body, including your feet without the impact forces that running has. I'm getting old and running is starting to take it's toll on me.

Lee Brittain owner of JIMMY LEWIS CANADA, has been kind enough to sponsor us as well. If this little TV show idea goes ahead we hope to do some paddle surfing in Newfoundland and over on the west coast. Regardless we need to stay in shape for this bike trip. The better shape you are in, the easier it will be to muscle a bike around when you need to. So when Pete and I are not on our bikes, or busy with our families you'll see us out on the water, getting some exercise and having fun. Greg Hemmings is also a big paddler, so it might be the only time I get some brain storming time with that busy guy.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Pete - El Diablo Farkles...... WTF


I spent the better part of Sunday June 23 adding farkles to El Diablo. What are farkles you may ask. Well as far as I can ascertain farkles are after market add ons, or all the stuff that wasn't stock and should have been on a KLR.  I believe this is a very male affliction, I mean adding after markets. I imagine it is the evolutionary equivalent to a dog pissing on a tree. We add after markets on our toys to say its mine! 

If you google klr 650 mods ( mods which is short for modifications) you will see image after image of KLR's  fully festooned in farkles. Some are as benign as new grips (I did this today), to as complex as custom side cars ( the guy promised his wife a side car if she let him get a bike - dollars to donuts she rode in it twice before figuring out the family car is way more comfortable).

Any way the list of farkles I added to day are; gel grips (will improve my death grip on the bars), new foot pegs (toothy bastards that are less slippery than the stock rubber champs),longer shift leaver (will accommodate my kick ass Iicon size 11 riding boots) and finally a good chain cleaning, adjustment and lube (not technically a farkle but a necessity).

My next job will be to add my crash bars. I suspect this will happen next weekend, however I need to understand the install before undertaking this major farkle. 

As I sip a fine Chardonnay, oops I'm a biker now, Old Turkey. I dream of the day when I actually under stand how the transmission works.

Until next weekend. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The VStrom 1000 and Where is the Promo Vid

I was surfing through the internet early this morning, and came upon a great article(s) at Motorcycle USA on my bike, the Suzuki Vstrom 1000. http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/289/1656/Motorcycle-Article/Memorable-MC-Suzuki-DL-1000-V-Strom.aspx

I'd have to echo every statement Frank Melling has written about the bike. My one and really only gripe is the clutch chudder. At certain RPM and under hard acceleration there is some vibration caused by this. Apparently it is not an issue, won't damage the bike, or leave me stranded on the side of the road, but it is a slight annoyance. The solution is a new clutch basket........something I am not mechanically capable of doing on my own, and it's something that sounds like it will cost a lot of money..........something else I am lacking in at the moment. Damn I hope we get picked up by OLN so we can get some more sponsors.

Speaking of OLN, the promo video is complete and has been sent off. Now we wait to see if Pete and I are worthy of occupying a space on the small screen. If you are one of those people with a 50" LCD in your living room, then it's a big screen.

Unfortunately at this time I cannot share the promo video with you, it's secret squirrel stuff, and we don't want anyone stealing the idea. Once I am given the thumbs up we'll post it. I will say the incredibly talented editors at Hemmings House managed to make Pete and I look reasonably good.

Back to the Strom. Like I have mentioned before, it is the best bike I have owned so far, and fits my needs to a T. It's physically big, so it is very comfortable for long periods of riding. Plenty of power, the bike hauls, but it is very manageable power, not sportbike crazy pull your arms out power.

I initially thought the ergos when standing on the pegs was odd, but I have since become accustom to it, and can ride for extended periods of time standing on the pegs comfortably.

Before Pete and I head out for Labrador I do need to invest in a metal skid plate and a center stand. I was going to get some soft-sided Wolfman panniers, but I think I'll save the cash and keep my GIVI luggage on.

If anyone out there is thinking about a good budget, and highway friendly adventure bike, I highly recommend checking out either the 650 or 1000 Vstrom's. Getting one fully equipped and modded for a long adventure will save you a lot of money over the higher end European bikes.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Father's Day Ride

What a beautiful weekend in New Brunswick, for the first time this year it finally felt like summer. The rain let up after what seemed like a month of monsoon weather.

Pete and I managed to sneek out today for a couple of hours to enjoy Father's Day on the bikes. We took off towards Hampton and ended up over on the Kingston Peninsula. Beautiful riding, on a nice mix of gravel and ashphalt roads. We ended up dropping in on some of Pete's family at their cottage.

I was feeling pretty grumpy, no actually really crusty, as my wife called it. Part of my fustration was changing a flat tire on the XR, which is a pain in the arse. Anyway the ride helped clear out the cobwebs and put me in a proper state of mind again.

Thanks to my wife and kids for getting me Glen Heggstad's book "Two Wheels Through Terror" for my Father's Day present.

Next big trip is a possible run back to Northern New Brunswick and up to Quebec City.

More Reasons for Doing this Trip

Before Pete and I left for our trip up to Mount Carleton we both received some bad news in the previous few weeks.

From Pete

You know things happen in your life that change who you are. When you get married when you watch your children being born and when you lose a friend. I recently lost an old friend whom I had known for 35 of my 45 years on this earth. His name was Henry Flood and was a guy who not only was a great human being but also a mentor.

I remember as a lanky 12 year old being asked by Henry if I wanted to row. He was a successful athlete in both cross country running and rowing, and he wanted me to join the training team for the 1985 Canada Summer Games. I was floored that this guy who we held in very high esteem as an athlete thought I could cut it as a rower. I, without hesitation, said yes. This was a turning point in my life, because through my involvement in rowing I learned the value of hard work, suffering through brutal training regimes, how to win and more importantly how to lose.

Through all my rowing years Henry was like the rabbit the grey hounds try to catch. He always put in more miles, trained harder and never gave us the chance to complain because whatever we did, he doubled it. And in spite of this super competitive drive he was a great guy, quick to smile and laugh. The first guy to ask about your family. He really gave a shit.

I was incredibly saddened, shocked and confused when his brother Chris call me one Sunday morning a few weeks ago and simple said, “Pete I have some really sad new”.” Henry is dead”.
“Henry died last night”.

I still find it hard to believe he is not around. I still expect to see him sauntering up to me at a local coffee shop with his cap on crooked and commenting on a recent sporting event and asking about my kids and wife.

If anything good comes from something that is very bad it is that it brought the old rowing gang together to remember a fantastic guy and what he taught us. It reminded us how lucky we are to have great wives and beautiful children, to have our health and our drive and determination that was partly the result of having known Henry.

I was moping about a few days after I received the news and my wife, Tina said. “You know, now you really have to do this trip”. With this statement I became aware she really  understood what Henry’s passing meant to me.

Last week, I received news that a one of our former helicopter pilots, Jacques Dupuy was killed in an air ambulance crash in Ontario. Jacques flew with us during the summer seasons, and a year ago had left to go to Ontario to fly medivac helicopters for a company called Ornge. Jacques always talked about moving on to big all weather capable helicopters.

It's funny how in life you meet people along the way that you make an instant connection with, someone who would make a good friend. However due to other circumstances it doesn't happen. Jacques was like that. He lived in Quebec, worked the summer seasons for us, and flew mostly out of one of our northern bases, so I never saw him a whole lot. The times we did bump into each other, he always had a smile on his face and we would spend time catching up on each others lives.

Aviation can be a risky business, and I have known a couple of fellow pilots who have lost their lives in unfortunate accidents. Jacques death however affected me more than I thought it would. Maybe it is my age now, maybe knowing him better than the others was it. Hell, maybe it was thinking of my own demise and picturing my wife and kids alone.

Jacques was only 43, married and had two small children. A fundraising has been started to help out the families of the whole crew of Ornge flight 7793. Check out http://teespring.com/7793
Order up a t-shirt or hoodie to help out.

Like I said before, life is short, so get out there and live your dreams while you can.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Videos of the Trip and What did we Learn?

Pete and I had a great trip, as you can see from the previous posts. So what did I learn? Getting good video footage takes a lot of work and planning. Riding on two motorcycles where you are completely isolated from the other rider makes communicating to set up a shot, or even stop for shot very difficult. So I think we are going to need some kind of rider to rider communication system.

Pete needs a GoPro for his bike/helmet, and we both need small HD vid cameras. The more footage the better. Also extra batteries for the cameras. We had no way of charging our stuff at Mount Carleton, no electricity there.

We also need to pay more attention to filming dialogue when its windy, and try to postion the camera so the built in mic is out of the wind. 

According to my wife I also have to stop mumbling on camera and start speaking louder and clearer. I accept that. Remember my fear of public speaking and being on camera. Facing your fears.

Also we need to do more research into where we are going and to be more diligent in getting good footage and stopping more often to document where we have been. Plus, less photos, more video.

I'm gonna have to buy "Videography for Dummies" if there is such a thing. 

I'm sure Pete will chime in with any of his observations as well.

Here are the vids, hope you enjoy them

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Pete Breaks the Silence

Well after months of radio silence I should start doing my share of the work and put some input into the blog. As Terry has pointed out this project started over a year ago with a conversation while out road biking. Terry was telling me about the trans Labrador highway and his wish to ride it before they totally ruined it with asphalt. I was intrigued and quickly said ill get a bike and do it with you. Since that fateful ride I have purchased an 07 KLR 650 affectionately known as el diablo. Not sure why el diablo after all a 39 hp single is anything but a devil but I guess the red colour scheme lends to the name and as they point out on the KLR forums red is the fastest colour.

Back to the story. So after that fascinating preamble, Terry and I just completed our shakedown ride and camping trip this past week. I officially quadrupled my total lifetime motorcycle miles with out incident , so all is good it the word of crank shafts and clutches. I have to say Terry is a great ridding partner. His skill level, he has been riding since he was filling his pampers and the fact that the V Strom has buckets more HP than the diablo, he could have left me in Saint John. I am not sure if he was being patient or was so interested in his Spielberg calling that I benefitted from his reduced speed.

Anyway we had a really great ride with lots of stops to check out and photograph/video our beautiful Province. I had worked up in Perth/Plaster Rock area years ago selling an ED product(boner pills), yeah that one, but I had forgotten how beautiful the area is. We even had an offer from an old friend, Carter Kennedy to stop at his camp for a beer en route, unfortunately we didn't stop due to time constraints. I think Carter's camp is pictured on the blog.

When we arrived at Mt. Carleton campground it could have been a zombie apocalypse scenario. We passed a total of 1 car on out last hour of riding. The park had a whopping total of 5 human souls, 2 staff, us and 1 loan camper ( witness protection program anyone). Not real population dense for a 42,000 acre plus park in the middle of millions of acres of woods. Even the bunnies were lonely, as Terry found out while being stalked all night by a killer bunny.

When we finally arrived home I was a little road buzzy from the constant whine of el diablo and the wind noise ( forgot my ear plugs half the time). My shoulders were sore from death gripping the bars but I felt great and had a new found confidence that I can tackle the trans Labrador and I would be remiss if I didn't thank Kevin at Olympia Motor Sports for the awesome kit. The riding suits were exceptionally comfortable, dry and cool looking. At least I looked hard core.

The next challenge is the attach my new crash bars and skid plate from a vicious cycle. 


The Return Home

The things that go bump in the night.......or should I say, snap, crunch and rustle. That's what woke me up at 2:30 in the AM. Of course the mind begins to wander when it's in a rum induced fog, and you are in a tent for the first time in 20 years, Not to mention being in the middle of nowhere in a empty National Park. Bears, wolves, coyotes, do I dare make a move and wander outside for look? With my Swiss Army knife (it has sharp blade, and a plastic toothpick) and my flashlight I leave the protective sanctuary of my nylon tent and bravely venture outside to see what creature is so rudely interrupting my sleep.

With my heart beating out of my chest I shine the flashlight around ready to confront my worst nightmare armed with only a 3 inch Swiss crafted blade of steel. The beam of man made light illuminates the creatures of the night...............cute, fuzzy, man eating bunnies, I mean rabbits. I think one may have had rabies, so he was particularly dangerous.

I crawl back into my sleeping bag, reassured that I won't be eaten alive tonight, and fall back to sleep.

I wake up around 8am, headache from the rum, check. Tired and feeling like shit from a restless sleep, check. Yup, this is the camping I remember. First things first, get the pot boiling and get some coffee going. We start packing everything up under cloudy skies, the wind is light which is a good thing, but I think the rain is not too far off. Tropical storm Andrea is supposed to drench New Brunswick sometime today, hopefully later today.

We hit the road around 9am and decide to get some breakfast in Plaster Rock because neither Pete nor I felt like eating leftover Mr. Noodle and Vienna Sausages for breakfast.

A light mist has already started, and by the time we ride past the Mt. Carleton Park sign it has turned to light rain. Oh well, we will be warm and dry in our Olympia riding gear. The ride down the 385 was just as good as the day before, we passed one logging truck. Before long we pulled into Plaster Rock, time for breakfast, or so I thought.

The world's largest fiddlehead. For those of you that don't know, a fiddlehead is a plant that grows in the woods, and ditches alongside the road, and when boiled or steamed makes a mighty fine vegetable.

Back to breakfast, Pete says he knows of good place to go, so we pass three restaurants/diners enroute to a scenic place by the river. Ok, what kind of hotel/restaurant has plywood on the windows. A closed up one. Perth Andover is only 32kms away lets go there. 

Pete leads the way and takes us down the opposite side of the Tobique River from last evening. What an amazing ride, truly stunning scenery alongside the river.
 Some beautiful camps along the way.

 Another power hydro dam on the Tobique River

We arrived in Perth Andover around 11am, and both Pete and I were feeling like shit, tired, hungry and in desperate need of coffee and this place was like an oasis in the desert.

This place had one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. Staff and service were excellent. Highly recommend stopping in if you are in Perth Andover.

Leaving Perth Andover we continued south on 105 until we reached the Bath/Florencville area and headed east on the 107 for Juniper. Another incredible road, virtually free from traffic.

At the town of Stanley we changed over to Route 620 and continued south and about halfway to Fredericton we pulled into what was most likely an old weigh scale/truck inspection area. The two of us were starting to get the 10 mile stare going and needed a break before something bad happened. Pete was back on the phone again. Man it must be tough running your own business, you can never get away from it, always looking after customers, whether it's a heart catheter or a plastic testicle.

So while Pete was yapping on the phone, I got artsy with the camera, well as artsy as you can get when you're a little knackered.

After Pete finished up on the phone, and made another bit of money we continued on our way and never ran into any traffic until Fredericton again. It was bumper to bumper going through the north side, and it was starting to get warm too. I thought for sure we would have been in the rain all day after our wet start to the day up north. However after Plaster Rock the weather improved a lot, to the point I needed sunglasses. Not having any connection to outside world this morning there was no way to even see a forecast for the day which was weird, but nice at the same time.

Again Pete knew of good diner to eat at, just on the other side of Fredericton, well once again it never appeared, and we ended up crossing the Saint John River at Maugerville and picked up route 102 south for Gagetown. I guess it will be a stop at the Old Boot Pub for supper. Apparently the "good" diner was further past the bridge across the river.

 The Old Boot Pub is a great spot, whether you stop in by bike or boat, the marina is around back. The water was still really high in the river and the docks had not been put in yet. 

Unfortunately we didn't take too many pictures, actually any pictures from Gagetown to home, camera batteries were dying, and memory cards were getting full. We continued down the 102 to Evandale, then crossed on the ferry to the 124 riding northeast around the Belleisle Bay. We then rode on the 850 southwest bound which was an incredibly scenic road along the water, to connect to 845 where we got our last ferry crossing the Kennebecasis to Gondola Point and then the short ride back home.

Overall, it was an excellent trip, one of my best. Pete gained a lot of riding experience, some gravel road too. I don't think we ever rode outside of his comfort zone. I saw an amazing part of the province I had only seen from the air, and now have a whole new appreciation for the beauty of this province. The unfortunate part is that it was only a two day trip, another day up north would have been awesome. 

I wanted to hit more gravel roads, however neither one of our bikes have good skidplates, and a worry of mine was picking up a rock at speed and doing some damage. I got one good hit on the little bit of gravel we did do, and it smashed a piece of the factory plastic skidplate off.

Looking forward to the next trip already.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Mount Carleton and Northern New Brunswick Ride Day 1

The rain is beating against the window, buckets of it are falling out of the sky as the first  "named" tropical storm of the year, the bitch Andrea, is upon us. Yes I said window, because I am home and not somewhere up north enjoying another night in a tent, where my phone cannot find a cell tower, and no one can reach me. Pete and I decided to cut our trip short by a day because of Andrea's wrath (hell hath no fury like a woman scorned). I don't mind riding in the rain, but not heavy rain and strong winds, with an inexperienced rider to boot. So we are back.

We had an awesome trip, one of the best ones I have done so far, and I have returned with an all new appreciation for the Province of New Brunswick. It is an adventure/dual sport rider's dream place. I read so many ride reports on Advrider.com of folks from the US or other parts of Canada that seem to blow through this province to get to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland missing some amazing places to ride. The central and northern parts of the province seemed to get overlooked in any tourist promotion. As most of you know I was born and raised in Newfoundland, so I have had my fair share of coastal living, and picturesque views. So I guess that's why Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia was a let down to me. The Bay of Fundy.........except for the big tides is some of the dirtiest, muddiest looking water I've ever seen. The beaches in Shediac are nice, but nothing special. That's my opinion anyway, and don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't come and visit these places, but make sure you take in the central and northern parts too.

Anyway back to our regularly scheduled program.

After a late breakfast and getting the kiddies off to school (trying to help out the wives before heading off), Pete and I finally hit the road. Battling the morning traffic and head for the Hemming House Pictures office in uptown (which to me is downtown) Saint John to get a couple of extra cameras for the trip. I was expecting some cool HD, professional movie making cameras........No way, its a Kodak (are they even still in business) Sport HD camera, and a Fuji film XP. I'm thinking, we are nowhere near worthy enough to be trusted with the big fancy expensive cameras. Plus we wouldn't know how to use the damn things anyway.
Home of Hemmings House Pictures, conveniently located above the Java Moose Coffee Shop

Thanks for the cameras dude.

Ok, let's get moving

Cameras all loaded up, we finally get moving and weave our way through the morning traffic and make it to Route 1 eastbound for Hampton, the only four lane highway of the trip. We would then leave the slab behind us, and it was back roads for the rest of the trip. The biggest speed limit was 80kph from here on in.

Eastbound outta Dodge

Route 100 before Hampton
The weather this morning was beautiful, bright sunny skies and just enough of a nip in the air to keep the jacket liners in our Olympia X-Moto(shameless plug) gear on. The light wind was at our backs and life is good.

Just before Norton, we take route 855 and connect to the 695 to Cambridge Narrows. The great thing about these back roads on a Thursday morning..........little to no traffic, and it was to remain this way for the next two days.

Cambridge Narrows

 We continued on the 695 until Jemseg and then northwest bound on the 105 for Fredericton. This is a fantastic road that runs right along the Saint John river. I remember driving this back before they opened the new 4 lane highway and had always wanted to ride it on a bike.

The only traffic we hit was riding along the 105 through the north side of Fredericton. The fruit smoothie I had earlier this morning was wearing off fast, and I was getting a bit of hunger on, it was close to 2pm now. Once we popped out of the Freddie traffic and got back up to speed we continued along the 105 to the 104 junction. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon the Barnhouse Pub. It was a sight for sore eyes, or rumbling stomachs. 

The Barnhouse Pub is a nice little place, food was good, I had the tuna melt, which was a little pricey, but hey, Pete picked up the bill. So we enjoyed a nice lunch under the soothing melodies of country music and the French open tennis on the TV. Weird combination I know. I figured they would have Nascar or monster truck racing on. Maybe the waitress though we were the tennis playing, wine sipping type. 

Full stomachs and all happy again we jumped on the 104 and headed north to my little corner of the world. They just spelled it wrong.........Burtt's Corner. I have to go back and change all the signs. What really pisses me off, is I never even got a picture of my land.

Our next stop was Crabbe Mountain ski hill. I never even realized we were going to go by it until I saw the signs. My wife Kim learned to ski here and I've heard a lot about it, so why not stop in and have a look. Unlike most ski hills, where you park at the base of the hill, at this one you park at the top, which is weird. 

Looking down from the top, wonder where that dirt road goes?

looking back up the hill

Pete marking his territory

I'm guessing the area we walk into was the old part of the hill, because it looked like some old Soviet era, abandoned ski hill. 

We continued north on the 104, and at Cloverdale we turned left onto the 575 for Hartland, home of the world's largest covered bridge, and my wife's BFF Shelley Searles. The covered bridge thing is popular in New Brunswick, never heard of the damn things until I moved here. I needed gas too so it was good place to stop.

New bridge, which apparently is under constant construction. Maybe they should have stuck with just the old one. Sometimes the old stuff is better than new.

Old Covered bridge

Leaving Hartland we were back on the 105 again, and rode alongside the Saint John River. The new four lane highway is on the other side of the river, so traffic is very light, and it was a really relaxing scenic cruise. I love these new four lane highways built everywhere, because it leaves all these nice secondary roads free from traffic.

Next stop was Florenceville, the home of McCain's. The french fry and frozen food empire. I flew Wallace McCain around once, he was a very nice man, who unfortunately passed away a number of years ago. It's a small town, but very well kept and beautiful. Looks like a nice place to live. I know the guys at the McCain's flight department, but we never had time to stop for a visit. 
Another covered bridge, or at least partially covered.

Pete tried to get some video of me riding through the bridge, but as luck would have it I got stuck behind a big SUV and the shot didn't turn out that well.

A little further north on the 105 we stopped at the Beechwood dam, and hydro electrical plant. 

Pete shooting some video

Reaching Perth Andover we turned right onto the 109 towards Plaster Rock where we stopped into Ark's Convenience for some food before heading to Mt. Carleton. Supper was to consist of Mr. Noodle, Vienna Sausages (no self respecting Newfie, or Newfoundlander goes camping without a tin of Vienna sausages), bottle of rum, a couple tins of Coke, and a bottle of instant coffee for the morning. It was gonna be ugly without coffee in the am.

It's about 80kms along route 385 to Mt. Carleton. The first half of the road is littered with camps and cottages, the last half is nothing, nadda, zip, nar' ting, except logging roads. You truly get the feeling of being nowhere. It was awesome. I think we passed one car in 45mins.

The lonely road

We never made reservations at the camp site, figured who'd be camping up here on a Thursday in early June. The nice french lady at the park office of course asks us if we had a reservation. "No, did we need one? Is the campsite full?" Her reply "I'll have to check the computer, everything is done on the computer now" So this goes back and forth a few times, "Can we get two sites together, maybe something by the water, etc, etc" Meanwhile she's typing away on the computer. Finally........no problem, you two are the only ones here. What! you needed a computer to tell you that? So we managed to get two primitive campsites (no running water, or toilets) and we were on our way. 

Big Nictau Lake

Rummers, fire, all is good.

Stay tuned for the return home.

End of a great day of riding, 430kms in total.