How my motorcycle adventure changed me as an accounting professional

It’s been seven years since I left on a motorcycle journey across two continents and six years since I returned to the corporate world.  When I turned 40 I decided to take a sabbatical from the corporate world and explore North, Central and South America by motorcycle. I would be gone 11 months, visit 14 different countries and cover of 65,000 kilometers. The experience changed my life exponentially on both a personal and professional level.   Upon reflection, after an already intensely taxing 2018, I often reflect how my adventure changed me professionally.

  1. My journey made me more resilient

Things don’t always go as planned.  That is just a given in our personal and professional lives. How we respond to challenges often define our careers. My plan was relatively simple, keep riding south until I reached the most southern city in the world, Ushuaia Argentina. At one point protestors in southern Chile impeded that plan, at least temporarily. While standing on the dock, watching the cargo ship that dropped me, my plan and my motorcycle in Puerto Chacabuco sail away,   I was informed that the road going south was blocked by protestors and nobody was allowed to pass. I was stuck there for almost a week. The ATM’s were empty, food in the stores and restaurants was running low and there was no alternate way out. It was a difficult and stressful situation. Fortunately there was no shortage of Chilean wine and new friends, so I made the best of a “bad” situation.  In the accounting profession we all know that year-end, system implementation (and for me a recent acquisition) rarely go as planned, they can become difficult and stressful quickly. Have a plan but be prepared to tough things out for just a little longer and have confidence that things will work out.  I learned that I just needed to keep focused on the goals, work smart and stay positive and the worst would soon be behind me, and it was.

  1. Travelling made me a more confident person

I feel that I was a confident person before I left on my motorcycle adventure, but confidence brings more confidence in yourself and others. With this epic adventure behind me, I have the confidence in the new adventures that lie ahead.   I don’t doubt that I will not reach my goal of riding to the four corners of the Americas. Now back in the office, with new managers, new co-workers and new opportunities I display an aura that I am confident enough to get things done and done right.

  1. Roaming made more resourceful

I had to find a welder in the middle of the Peruvian Andes, and not just any welder but one that could seal my aluminum rim. Start early, ask the right questions, explain clearly, be patient and think outside the box – that’s how you get a rim welded in a small town high in the Andes. Who knew that welding rods were sold next to paint supplies and children’s shoes? How would I have known the best welder in town (probably the only welder) was the cousin of the shop keeper who opened 15 minutes before everyone else? As accountants we have endless resources that tell us where the debits and credits go, but there is no Handbook for business problems, you have to arrive early, clear your head and think strategically and not be afraid to look where nobody else is looking.

  1. I am fundamentally rejuvenated from this “vacation” in a way “normal” vacations can’t offer.

Seven days off work at a beach resort in the Caribbean just doesn’t offer enough, especially when you receive text messages and emails poolside.  Often, you come back from vacation frustrated to find that even the simple things have not been taken care of in your absence. I needed to reset, I like many, felt burnt out and knew that something had to change. For almost a whole year I had no alarm clock, no last minute requests for information and most importantly no deadlines. The motorcycle adventure taught me to recognize what is important and to deal with stress before it becomes unmanageable. As a result, I have become a more productive employees in these past years than I was before my adventure, mainly because I know when it’s time to rejuvenate and prevent undue stress.

  1. My epic adventure made me a better manager

Growth comes from challenge. Inspiration comes from many sources and different sources from different people. I feel that it is my role as a manager to help my staff grow and become inspired. I grew in so many ways as a result of my adventure and was inspired mostly by tales of exploration. I remember getting caught in a snow storm high in the Andes, I had never ridden in snow before and knew it would be a challenge. By lowering the tire pressure and keeping my speed down I managed to ride out of the storm without incident.  I challenge my co-workers to do difficult or new things on a regular basis, “is there a way we can improve this?” is a common question I like to ask. Set a goal to improve, celebrate the small goals with them and provide the tools necessary to get the job done. My co-workers have amazed me. I have been told that my motorcycle adventure was inspirational to some people, I try to remain humble and give encouraging feedback with the hopes of inspiring others.  It seems to be working.

Although it may not be possible or even desirable for you to take a trip like mine I would encourage everyone to challenge themselves beyond what they think they are capable of, push your limits, stay focused and get into a  positive headspace. You will be forever changed for the better.

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Fairweather Riders?

Preparing your Bike For a Rainy Trip

If you are fond of biking, then there is no need to stop because of the rain. You only need to make some tweaks, and your bike will be ready for you to enjoy the rainy weather!

Take note that to ride your bike in the rain, you don’t only have to change the clothing, but you also have to change your riding behavior.

Here are a few changes you can make to your bike so that you can safely ride your awesome vehicle even if it’s pouring from the sky.

Reduce the tire pressure

Tires are generally inflated to 9 or 10 bar, however, in the rain, the pressure should be reduced to 8 or 8.5 bar. By doing so you’ll notice that the tires remain quite hard; however, you, as a rider, will experience a boost in the traction and feel more secure as well.

Grease the bike

If your weather app tells you that it is going to rain then you should add waterproof grease to the derailleur pulleys and chains. Doing this will make sure that the water doesn’t penetrate the links and bearings. It also prevents wet roads from rubbing against the drivetrain like sandpaper.

Re-lube the parts

After a rainy day, you need to ensure that you re-grease the chain, derailleur pulleys, and the headset.

Wash your bike carefully

After you spend a day in the rain and mud, you will be tempted to clean up your bike with a professional, high-powered washer. However, remember that you should not aim the high-powered hose to moving parts such as the derailleurs, headset, or other surfaces with bearings.

If you don’t wash it carefully then you might strip the lube away. Wipe the water and dust off from the bike’s frame. Also, remove the water from the bike’s chain and put a little lubricant to avoid rust.

A few other tips

  • Firstly, add reflectors and lights to the bike as that will make it easier for others to see you.
  • Don’t forget that braking isn’t too effective during the rain. So, when you are driving in such weather make sure that you take a bit more time while braking. This means that you should slow down your bike first and then brake earlier than you normally would while riding in dry weather.
  • You need to be aware of brick, painted, and wood surfaces because they get slippery when they are wet. You should also try to ride straight so that you avoid slipping.
  • Try to avoid puddles as much as you can. Evaluating the depth of the puddles is hard. Also, puddles might have different kinds of stuff in them that can harm your tires such as nails and glass.

Keep these precautions in mind the next time you decide to ride your bike when it’s raining for a safer and better experience!

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Why Horizons Unlimited

I am very excited to be hosting the 7th Annual Horizons Unlimited Ontario event on May 24-27 2018. This is the second year I am Hosting the event but have been involved in the event since the very first one as both a presenter and member of the organization crew. One of my non-motorcycle friends was asking me about the event and when he found out that I did all this work on a volunteer basis as me why I did it. Here is what I told him.

Short answer – without Horizons Unlimited I never would have had my motorcycle adventure in 2011-2012. www.gregsadventure.com would not exist. I feel a sense of pride in inspiring others.

Longer answer

January 2nd 2010 as I stood along the wall of the temple of Ankor Wat in Cambodia I looked out across the field and into the parking lot where I saw the two Honda 250cc Baja motorcycles that my brother and I rented. Right then and there I made the decision that I would take a time off work and travel to exotic places my motorcycle. I had no idea how this would be accomplished, what was involved or what needed to be done, I only knew that I was going to do it.

Back in Canada I Googled “motorcycle adventure travel” and the first thing that came up was “Long Way Round” by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman so I immediately ran out and bought the book. I finished the book rather quickly and when I put it down I was very disheartened and discouraged, I thought I needed to be a Jedi to ride a motorcycle any further than my own backyard. Fortunate for me there were a few other books listed as references in Long Way Round and I purchased a couple more books on the topic of motorcycle travel. One of those books mentioned Horizons Unlimited and I jumped on their website, there was a flood of information.  Under the events page I found upcoming event in North Carolina and immediately signed up.  Most people who I had mentioned my desire to ride around the world to though I was crazy and having a mid-life crisis and was in need of help. AT HU North Carolina I met people just like me who had done amazing motorcycle bike trips, and none of them we Jedi’s! Shortly after returning from HU North Carolina the final parts of my pan were put into motion, including handing in my letter of resignation.

With Horizons Unlimited I never would have had my motorcycle adventure in 2011-2012. www.gregsadventure.com would not exist. Sharing my story with others at HU Ontario and inspiring others to seek their dreams has become a new passion for me.  Check out the website http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/

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Don’t Equate Your Motorcycle Adventure with No Safety Gear

Adventure bikes are meant for adventures. Featuring engine guards, long travel suspension, and big fuel tanks, the adventure motorbike is built with off-road, remote environments in mind.

While the bike is ready to go on water crossings, high deserts, snow, gravel, and dirt, the rider should also be ready to tackle all the different landscapes. Riding an adventure motorcycle doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep yourself safe!

For this reason, riders must be equipped with the following safety gear when going on an adventure.

  • Jacket

Riders going on an adventure must consider the riding jacket as their best companion. It is the biggest gear piece you will put on, and it will be the one piece that will help you the most during a road rash. Not only does such a riding jacket protect the body from various elements, but it is also a storage space for various personal items.

While the jacket must be able to protect you, it should also fit you well and be comfortable. It should also provide sufficient ventilation and feature various compartments for your wallet, phones, etc.

The jacket must be waterproof too. A majority of the jackets claim to be waterproof, however, only very few of them are truly waterproof when you test them against the elements. So, go for a reliable brand.

To ensure that you are on the safe side, you must cover the jacket as well as other protective gear with waterproof spray. Adventure jackets are available in a number of options so, you must pick out one which has comfortable armor in the shoulder and elbow area. Moreover, having a spine protector in one is recommended.

  • Gloves

Having a standard lightweight riding glove is ideal for traveling many miles on smooth and even terrain, but, it is also a good idea to have another pair with you so that you can switch the pair if the situation demands (they become damaged, etc).

If you will be traveling in cold weather then you must opt for heated or cold-weather gloves. Meanwhile, if you plan to travel during hot conditions then ventilated gloves are the right option.

Other Safety Gear

Some other safety gear you should consider having with you on your motorcycle adventure, which we can talk more about in future posts:

  • A visor to protect your eyes.
  • A scarf to protect your face from dust if such a need occurs.
  • An emergency tool kit.
  • Don’t forget a water bottle even if you think you won’t need one and will just visit some pub along the way.
  • A small first aid kit.
  • You can also go for knee and elbow pads if you want.

The point is that you can do a lot to help ensure your safety during a motorcycling adventure. Don’t equate safety to decreasing your ‘cool’ factor. There’s nothing cool about risking your life.

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1,736km through Northern Ontario

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130,000 km

I reached 130,000km on the Varadero this past weekend.  More details on the ride to follow.

 

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Soft Saddlebags vs. Hard Saddlebags

In the world of motorcycling, several arguments never seem to end. One of the more interesting ones is about saddlebags for your bike. Some riders swear by soft bags, while others will only use hard ones no matter what. It’s not exactly clear why each side is so ardent in their beliefs, but to an outside observer, it can make choosing more difficult. So, if you’re trying to decide which motorcycle travel luggage you should get, here are some points to help you make the decision.

Hard Saddlebags

These are usually made of aluminum or some other lightweight metal, and they are semi-permanently affixed to your bike through a mounting system. That means that once you install them you better like them, as they aren’t coming off easily. That’s not to say it’s hard to remove this motorcycle gear, but it’s not as easy as soft bags.

Advantages

  • Durable and rugged
  • Can be locked for security
  • Usable for different vehicles
  • Customizable
  • Keeps contents better protected

Disadvantages

  • Weigh more
  • Can be a safety issue in the event of a collision or spin out
  • More expensive
  • Lids don’t fit securely after a crash

Soft Saddlebags

Again, it’s not clear why these motorcycle parts have such fervent followers, given the fact that storage is relatively the same with both types. But, soft bags have the advantage of being more lightweight and portable, as well as adding a bit of old-school aesthetic to your ride. If you get vintage-style saddlebags, it can upgrade your appearance immediately.

Advantages

  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to transfer
  • Waterproof
  • Less bulky
  • Won’t hurt as bad in a crash

Disadvantages

  • Harder to secure
  • Won’t protect fragile items as well
  • Less stable overall

Hopefully, this breakdown will help you decide which type of luggage carrier is best for you and your ride. In the end, there is no right answer, only the one that you prefer.

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APEXROADS

I was talking with a friend of mine last night about planning a trip this summer, something we can do in just a few days. He is a new rider, but has taken to the motorcycle like a duck to water so he won’t have any issues with keeping up. I was recently point to a new website for finding and navigating new motorcycle roads called www.apexroads.com and thought I would check it out.  I think it would be a great way for me to plan some trips this summer and discover some new places. I like that it has Canadian as well as US content.

I wanted to see how good this website was so I started with some areas that I knew, mainly my cottage near Big Chute Ontario and planned trips from there. This web site looks very promising. It listed roads that I knew and a few that I didn’t.  I was a little disappointed to find that Whites Falls Road was not listed as this is a great road to ride, lots of turns with great scenery, but I guess I’ll keep this road to myself.  It would be nice to have a section where people can put suggested routes or comments on the roads, I’m not sure how APEXROADS chooses their roads, but nothing is better than comments from actual riders.

It has a lot of potential and it great to see people dedicating time and effort to the motorcycle community. Check out their website and keep checking back, I Have a feeling it’s going to just get better and better. I’ll know more once Jack Frost finally leaves –  I need to get my bike out of winter storage!

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Top 100 Motorcycle Website and Blogs

I once again feel very honoured to be mentioned in the motorcycle community.

Top 100 Motorcycle Websites And Blogs For Motorcycle Riders

 

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Smart Turn Systems – Self Canceling Signals

http://www.safer-turn.com/

I could see this as a product I would use. I consider myself a safe and cautious rider, but I am embarrassed to admit to the number to times I have looked down only to find that my signal light is still on and I haven’t made a turn for a really long time. I remember my brother had a self-cancelling signal system in his transport tuck, it seemed standard for that industry so why not other vehicles.

I’m thinking of ordering one of these and checking it out. It’s not too expensive and the on-line manual makes it seem easy to install.  Check out their web-site, I would be interested in your thoughts.

Maybe I can get one for the HU event in September.

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