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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Style of Bike Doesn't Define the Adventure - Pete

You know ferry terminals are great places to watch motorcycles roll in. You get every manner of bike I described in my last blog post. Today I was pumped to see three scooters ride in. They all looked like Italian jobs, however I know very little about scooters. I was in line in the car with my wife and kids en route to a little Jimmy Lewis time on the south shore of Nova Scotia (that's surfing). I said to my wife, I have to chat with these Cats. I walked over and struck up a conversation with the trio. Their names are Justin, Dan (in the middle) and Alena. They were riding the loop from Halifax to Saint John and back via the Digby Ferry, a distance of over 700 km. I noticed they had Halifax Scooter Council signs on their rides. I hadn't heard of this group before but after hitting the google machine I discovered this is a group of scooter enthusiast in Halifax Nova Scotia and surroundings. The groups mandate is as follows:

The Halifax Scooter Council (HSC) is a group of scooter owner and enthusiasts located in Halifax, Nova Scotia and surrounding area. We meet up on the weekend for group rides, during the week at a local bar for drinks and scooter talk, and once a year for our amazing Rally In The Valley.     


Although Alena, Dan and Justin, were on the back end of a fairly long ride they looked fresh as daisies. In fact Justin mentioned the nice thing about scooters is the protection the front faring provides. He smiled and showed me his riding sandals. Safe travels.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Less than a Month to Go

Our departure time is getting closer, less than a month and counting. The waiting is killing me, and as the time draws nearer it only gets worst. I can't stop thinking about the trip, and I don't know what to do with myself. Work has been keeping me busy.....too busy, I have been flying my arse off through too many time zones in too many days, and my body feels tired and screwed up. 

I don't know if it is this trip, or a mid-life crisis that I'm going through, or my fustration with the way the world as a whole is headed, but I feel very restless, and in need of a change. A simpler way of life, and a new career. Most pilots would give their arm or leg for this job, well paid, flying really nice airplanes. I have become very fustrated with the job as of late, working for someone else on their schedule is growing old. I know working for yourself has it's ups and downs too, but maybe there's more satisfaction when it's your business. Shit I am rambling again. Sorry.

I spoke with Hemmings yesterday and he is getting fired up about our trip, and trying to think of the best way to go about producing it. Daily video blogs or vlogs as they say. Vlog??? That's just a weird word, I don't want to be known as a vlogger, shit, blogger is bad enough. Whatever is done, I am sure Hemmings is going to edit up something really nice.

Speaking of video, Pete bought himself a new camera this week, so now we can have dualing HD cameras. He picked up this nice little Sony

We also decided to get communication headsets for our helmets. On our Mount Carleton trip we found that everytime one of us, meaning me, would stop for some pictures, the other,  meaning Pete, wouldn't notice and continue on down the road. This leads to the "oh shit" moment when you finally notice that the other rider is no longer in your rearview mirror. Being on a two wheeled death machine, you automatically think, "did they make that last corner, did they get hit by a ......insert animal of your choice". No the asshole stopped for another picture and I didn't notice again.

So to alleviate these concerns we decided to pick up two of these 
Sena headsets with Bluetooth. Not only can we talk to each other, but listen to music on our ipads, and use our cellphones, if we desire. The only person I plan on calling with my phone is my wife and kids. Other than that I am going dark for 2 weeks. My Sena should be here next week, and I'm looking forward to trying it out.

My other concern is charging up all the camera, ipad, comm batteries while we are on the road. Not going to be easy staying at campsites. The ones with DC adapters I can plug into the bike one at a time while we are riding, hopefully some of the campsites will have power and an outlet.

What else......my skidplate is on order, won't be here for 2 weeks. Pete has his crashbars and skid plate installed, he's waiting on sideracks and saddlebags.
Oh ya, Pete's musician friend is composing an instrumental soundtrack for our video/s. How friggin' cool is that, can't wait to hear it.

It's funny, I have been following the adventure riding world for a number of years now, reading just about every cool ride report there is on AdvRider.com, and I think I have become a little "desensitized" to what an adventure is. I have read so many ride reports on the TLH, that I think what Pete and I are doing is really no big deal. Especially after reading about people going to South America and around the world. Pete on the other hand is new to all this, and the reaction from his other friends, and people he works with is quite something. They are all excited about it, like it's a trip of a lifetime, the proverbial mid-life crisis ride. I guess it is to a certain extent.

I figure this trip will do one of two things for me, either calm the the restless emotions I having as of late, or stur them even more. The so called "mid-life crisis" has taken hold of me in a bad way. My friend Scotty and I discussed this one day, and he pointed out that I kind of screwed myself in the "mid-life crisis" department. He said, you already did an Ironman triathlon, two marathons, etc, it's hard to top that. Shit.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Strange Way to Meet an Old Friend

The internet is a weird and wonderful thing. It has made our lives easier in ways, and complicated it in other ways. My life as a pilot is much easier because of it, flight planning, weather forecasting and setting up customs has made my life much easier. Keeping track of what my 12 year old daughter does on the internet is another story.

So where am I going with this.......www.advrider.com. Wonderful website, filled with all kinds of adventure ride reports, and endless information on bikes, gear, places to see, etc. Last month I am reading a ride report about a couple that rode from British Columbia to South America. Accompanying them on part of their journey were their friends Matt and Robin. So as I am scrolling through the pictures a familiar face appears. Shit, I know that guy, it's Matt, my simulator partner from my days at Westjet. We met when I joined in July of 2004, and basically spent 6 weeks together training on the Boeing 737, and then we teamed up again 6 months later for our recurrent training. Matt is a great guy and we got along really well. After I left Westjet a year later, I lost touch with Matt. So I sent a message to the author of the ride report with my email address and asked her to pass it along to him. A week later an email from Matt shows up in my inbox. Is that a small world or what?



Pictures are from the above linked website. Matt and Robin in Utah

Matt is the guy on the left

This week I was lucky enough to get a work trip out to Vancouver. I sent Matt a text and we were able to meet up for supper at The Flying Beaver. It's a restaurant out by the airport, located on the water right above Harbour Air's floatplane operation. The beaver refers to the famous Canadian floatplane the DeHavilland Beaver, not the furry dam building beaver, or the other beaver you're thinking about.
View from the The Flying Beaver. Not Beavers, but Turbo Otters.

 I finally was able to meet Matt's lovely wife Robin, any girl that loves to ride her 800GS and windsurf is pretty cool in my books, Matt's a lucky guy. It was really good to catch up and hear about their riding adventures. I can't believe it's been 7 years. They both want to do some riding on the east coast, so hopefully one of these days we can all schedule some time to ride together.

Men and They're Motorcycles and a Little Name Dropping - Pete

On a recent trip to Quebec City I had a thought about motorcycles. They really are an extension of ones self image. I saw a bunch of Harley's and Harley guys and girls. One thing that struck me was they seemed to shun any safety gear. In fact one guy I passed had shorts and flip flops on. From a distance it looked like he was wearing leather but as I closed the distance I realized it was his very tanned skin. As my buddy Art would say "skin like your mothers purse". 

The next group would be the touring bike guys. They usually come as a set. The guy driving and his better half. She typically looks extremely comfortable on the back with out a care in the world. This is either a testament to her unquestioning faith in big daddy or some type of sedation. Having ridden on the back of my friend Doug's Ninja years ago, I am sure there must be pharmaceutical agents on board.

The crotch rocket guys (90% are guys) are segmented in two groups. The guys with the very new very sweet looking race bred bikes, with matching kick ass racing gear. This not only affords the dude unreal protection but looks cool as hell. The second segment has an older model crotch rocket with some sort of leather jacket. Not as slick looking but certainly better than shorts and the flip flops.

The Japanese cruiser guys are a mixed bag. From jeans and work gloves to pseudo Harley wear. I am not a cruiser guy so I really don't study this species closely.

The classic British bike crew are usually fairly affluent (have to be to keep them running) they usually are kitted up in very stylish British bike wear and always sport goggles.

The final group to which I belong is the adventure bike squad. We all believe we are Les Stroud. In fact I sent Survivor Man a picture of El Diablo with a Survivor Man sticker on the faring. I was pumped when Les's assistant informed me the picture was posted on Les's face book page. Now all I need is a Facebook page. 

We adventure types like to  wear full face helmets, gloves, Olympia Motosport riding jackets and pants and boots that look like something from a Michael Jackson video circa Thriller. We are a hardy lot that can camp any where, drink beer with the natives (right Dwight) and eat Vienna sausages out of the can ( Terry informs me it ain't a party in Newfoundland with out these mini hotdogs). We like to adorn our rides with aluminum boxes for luggage that easily un clips from the luggage rack. This is of course to protect the gear inside from bandits and wayward bears (never to make it more convenient when checking into a hotel because we shun this comfort unless its too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry or we ran out of ice or...  you get it).

Sent from my iPad

Friday, 19 July 2013

Promo Vid

I asked Hemmings today if we can finally make our promo video made public, and he gave me the green light. So, if you are a really cool TV producer and are reading this, here's your chance to make Pete and I semi-reality show TV stars, so we can quit our real jobs and do what we love.

Seriously though, all I ever wanted to do was just ride my bike over Labrador, have some fun and create some good memories. Making the promo was fun and an education in what it takes to make a short video.

Password is adventure.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Seeing Kedgi Off on Another Adventure

Our friend Dwight aka "Kedgi" as he is known on AdvRider.com is off on another adventure. Short one this time, only out to Lake Superior and home again to Shediac. If you remember from previous posts he spent the winter riding all the way to Buenos Aires, in South America. Dwight and his friend Tom are also coming along with Pete and I on part of our trip. I think they'll be meeting up with us when we head into Labrador.

Today I met up with Dwight and rode with him to U.S. border in St. Stephen, along with his friend Tom. It was a nice day to go for ride, and my first opportunity to ride with the both of them.

Dwight met me just off the highway near my house and we proceeded across the city in morning traffic to Tom's house on the west side. It was a spectacular morning, no wind, 20C, and sunny skies. I knew it was gonna be a hot one, when I had to start opening the vents on my jacket at 0730.

Self portrait waiting for the white KTM

Dwight's good friend Tom has a beautiful place on the west side of Saint John, nestled in the trees overlooking the Bay of Fundy. Of course the only thing I was really focused on was the beautiful old BMW belonging to his friend Jimmy.

Jimmy is the fella with the hat in the background. Really nice guy, and I had wished I had more time to talk to him. He used to race motorcycles, and apparently has about 35 bikes at his house. 

Dwight's new KTM 990, and Tom's KLR with my Vstrom lurking off to the side.

Dwight, Tom and myself load up after 30mins and hit the road for St. Stephen, with a pit stop at the St. George Timmies. Traffic is fairly light on this side of the harbour and we slab it on the highway for the next 35mins. 

Breakfast and another coffee is long overdue, so the stop at Timmies is quite welcome at this point. It also gave us a good chance to have a chat and get to know each other better. Tom is nice guy, quiet and I get the sense that he is a very smart and resourceful guy, and as the day goes on I learn that he is quite a good mechanic and used to work for Kawasaki.

We continue the ride for another 45kms down to the US border, and bid our farewells to Dwight and wish him luck on his new journey. He is running on fumes at this point and hoping to make the Irving gas station down the road on the US side, and not have to use his CAA/AAA card.

Tom and I turn around and head into the town of St. Stephen and plan to take the Coastal Route back towards Saint John. We get through town only to find out there are detours putting us back on the highway due to multiple bridge repairs. So we slab it again as far as Pennfield and then finally make our way back to the Coastal Route. 

It's unseasonably hot. Yes it's July, but we never get multiple 30+C days here. At slow speeds it's uncomfortably hot on the bike. My windshield is adjusted too high and I am not getting enough airflow. Not usually a problem in these parts. Otherwise the ride is nice, and with the new four lane open, the secondary roads are quiet.

Riding through the twists and turns of Mace's Bay I realize Tom is nowhere in sight behind me. The road looked like it was just freshly chip sealed and there was a lot of loose stuff in the center and on the sides of the road, so the first thing that I though was......... he went down. I was like oh shit. So I pull a quick 180 and slowly head back in the opposite direction scanning the sides of the road for an upside down KLR.  Turns out Tom was trying to wave at me to stop and I never saw him. He was parked in the driveway of a friend of his, Mike McKinley. Turns out it was an awesome place to stop. Mike is a lover of old Japanese bikes, especially the 2-stroke ones, and has restored quite a few. 

Mike's garage. Inside it has a beautiful Honda XL100, which I fell in love with.

Mike is going to set up a museum with his most prized motorcycles. One of which is a 1974 Honda Z50, which is something true to my heart. I learned to ride on a 1972 model. He also has some Rokon 2- wheeled drive bikes. These things look like they just came out of cold war Russia, but are in fact made in the USA. Go figure. Mike is a big friendly guy that talks a mile a minute, and is just ripe for his own biker/reality show.  

Mike website is www.classicjapcycles.com

Before long I had realized that it was almost 1pm, and it was time to beat a hasty retreat for home.

A picture of Tom and I thanks to Dwight.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Trip Planning Part Deux

Why do I feel stressed, anxious and little nervous about this upcoming trip? Maybe because it's the biggest, and longest motorcycle trip I've ever been on? Could it be the fact we will be riding on very long gravel road through a sparsely settled region that has taken the lives of other riders? Am I being a little over dramatic, maybe, but it still weighs on my mind. It's not like we are going to a foreign country where we can't speak the language (ya I can't speak Newfie, however my french sucks), and have to worry about banditos, and crooked federales. I could be over thinking the whole damn thing.

Maybe I am concerned about leaving my family behind for two weeks......actually there is no maybe, I am. Not that I worry about them coping, my wife is more than capable of handling just about anything that crops up, except for when the internet goes down, or there's a problem with the wireless. Usually I am concerned that she is going to do some kind of reno to the house. The woman has skills with power tools. I once came home to new baseboards she installed on the main level of our house, and I won't even get into the giant hole in the kitchen wall. It's just hard being away from the ones you love for extended periods of time. I know because work takes me away from them all the time.

The one thing I am looking forward to is being away from my Blackberry and anything work related for two weeks. Being a pilot and the 24/7 on call that it brings with it, I am always attached to the damn  Blackberry. This summer in particular I am growing very old of it, and I am beginning to hate my job.

Anyway, back to the planning. Last evening I sat down and did up a list, and tentative schedule of things I want to do on this trip. I most likely will not do this trip again, not in the near future anyway so I have some must do items.

As far as scheduling goes, the only thing we must make is our ferry to Newfoundland at 2345 on August 25th, and to be home 14 days later.

Must do's

Ride part of the Railway Trail

Spend some time in Gros Morne, boat ride up Western Brook Pond. Maybe camp at the Blow Me Down's as well, and do some hiking in that area.

Visit the St. Anthony area.  St. Anthony and Raleigh are where my family are from. My sister and I are the first and probably last generation of Burt's to be born and raised in "town" St. John's. I haven't been back to the area in a very long time and want to get a lot of video and pictures. L'Anse Aux Meadows, well it's the Vikings and they beat Cabot and Columbus to the new world by a few hundred years.

Once over in the Big Land, the Labrador, I'll be back in my old stomping grounds from the early '90's when I flew small bush planes here before there was a road to Goose Bay. Unfortunately having flown here, I never did get the opportunity to tour around on the ground. So a visit to Red Bay is in order to see the historic whaling station, Point Amour lighthouse. Pinware River where my father had one of his first engineering jobs surveying the new road. Interesting story of him swimming across the river, which I'll explain later.

Happy Valley Goose Bay was my home for a year and a half, and I spent many more years flying in and out of Goose. I haven't been back in close to 10 years so I am really anxious to see what has changed. I'd like to go down to North West River, Muskrat Falls, and hopefully convince my cousin Greg Baikie to take us for a little run in a helicopter.

In Churchill Falls a tour of the giant hydro facility is in order, likewise maybe a tour of the iron ore mines in Lab City.

I want to camp in Gagnon, the former mining town in Quebec that is part of Route 389 to Baie Comeau, it is now gone and is a nothing but a ghost town.

The more I think about it, the trip has become less about the bike, and more about a rediscovery of my past, to try and stir my memory and mix the new images with the old ones in my past before they are lost forever.

One month and thirteen days to go.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Route for Newfoundland and Labrador

View Larger Map

So here is what this years trip looks like, and we will be traveling in a counter-clockwise direction. One reason for this is the Marine Atlantic ferry to Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland from North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The trip from Rothesay to North Sydney is mostly 4 lane highway, and not a lot to see, so it will be a straight easy run, so it was easy booking a departure time. Going the other way was a gamble on timing the ferry schedule, delays on the TLH could make us miss our sailing. date.

The other ferries along the way are not as critical with reservations.

The total trip mileage is about 4100kms, and we have given ourselves a comfortable 14 days to do it. That gives us time to smell the roses and see some sights along the way. The more difficult part is going  to be from just before the big E on the map to almost the H. Which is basically almost half the trip. A lot of gravel road and construction areas where they are paving the "freedom road"

We leave in the less than two months. JC. For some reason I am really starting to feel anxious and little nervous about the whole thing.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Big Land Adventure T-shirts

Pete and I had some t-shirts done up to give out to the people that have helped us out in this little project. If anyone is interested in purchasing one, drop us a note.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Bad News and Good News

Yesterday was one filled with some bad news, which for Pete and I was a relief of sorts and some good news too.

Greg Hemmings met with OLN last Thursday, and the network has decided to "pass" on our concept for a show. Apparently we have faces for radio, and no one wants to see two middle aged guys trying to relive lost moments of their youth riding around on motorcycles. Actually they said to Greg "they want over the top characters in crazy situations". Well that is not really what I had in mind for a show, I'm not jumping off a bridge in a pink tutu attached to some giant rubberband to hopefully garner viewership ratings. This isn't Jackass.

Maybe we can put something more "mature" together for the Travel Channel. Pete and Terry travel through Europe on a two wheeled wine tasting tour, or the history of the Irish pub by motorcycle.

Good news, the trip to The Rock and the Labrador is a still a go, Pete and I made our ferry reservations on Marine Atlantic, from North Sydney to Port aux Basques.

Other good news, Greg is going to put together a web series of our trip for Olympia Motosports to thank them for the awesome riding gear they sent us.

One more thing, since Big Land Adventure Ride Films doesn't have to be strictly two wheeled based, I'm thinking of doing a documentary on my other love.....stand up paddleboarding/surfing. A small 15-30min video on our little group of paddlers in Saint John, and the lengths we will go to ride waves in a places where we just don't get real good surf. Hey Hemmings......you listening to this, I hear indie short film award for this one.

The last thing.......I'm trading my XR250R, my much loved, but under used dirt bike for this...

an Aprilla SR50 scooter. A 2-stroke, 80kph Italian fun machine. It's like the Ducati of scooters. Plus since it is only 50cc, my wife Kim can ride it as well. So stay tuned for my adventures on this. Mad Bastard Rally anyone......?