Roadside Waiting

A bit late posting this one – not sure where the time goes sometimes. This ride was about a month ago.

There is nothing quite like being stuck on the side of the road for over 5 hours, in the dark and waiting for help. It gets the brain working. I realized that I have become too complacent with certain things, too “busy” for other things and it was time to take a step back.

I really didn’t want to go to the PanAm baseball game, not sure why, I just didn’t feel like going. Sine I had been moping around the house all day I figured I would just get on with it, get out, meet my friend and have a night out. The game was out in Ajax which meant a bit of a ride for me, which always makes me feel better.

I didn’t feel great about paying $10 each for parking at the game, same price as the cars, and then not getting our choice of spot. We parked on the grass and as soon as I put the bike on the center stand it started to sink, then it fell over, ever so slowly. It fell over so slowly and so gently that had I been just a bit closer I could have prevented the fall. I wasn’t really concerned about damage and took the opportunity to show my friend the new technique I learned for picking up a fallen bike. I felt strong. I quickly looked over the bike and didn’t see any damage. I should have looked more closely. The parking guys pointed us to a spot we could park that had a firm surface. Riding the bike over to the new parking spot I did notice that the handle bars seemed bent a bit more than usual but otherwise the bike seemed fine. I should have taken the time to look more closely.

It was dark when we left the game, and I really didn’t give my bikes fall another thought. As I was pulling out of the parking lot I did notice that things didn’t feel right, the bike was sluggish. Once on the pavement this stopped and I was going at normal speeds. I got about 1 kilometer away from the venue my bike started to slow down, as if the brakes were being applied, I really couldn’t see anything as it was pitch black out and there were not street lights on the road I was on. I wanted to pull over and was looking for a safe spot. The next thing I felt was the bike coming to a stop, it was like someone grabbled a fist full of front brake. I was doing 70 km/hr at this point and it felt as if the rear tire lifted up off the ground. Smoke started pouring out from the front of the bike and I it took everything I had to steer the bike to the edge of the road.

My friend was leading the ride and didn’t notice that I wasn’t behind him, but I knew he would be back. Cars passed me, honked and honked, one guy felt in necessary to yell at me to move off the road, but nobody thought to ask if I was OK, or if I needed help. My friend eventually come back and we managed to move the bike off the road a bit further onto the shoulder, if the front brakes totally seized this was no easy task.

Now the decision as to what to do next. I could really see the damage and this was the first time I started feeling like I had been too complacent. I did not bring my tank bag on this ride, I almost always bring my tank bag, it contains my first aid kit, a flashlight, some food, a multi-tool and other necessities. No flashlight made it hard to check the damage, no multi-tool made it hard to fix anything. Why did I leave without my tank bag? I decided to call CAA and have the bike towed, there was no way I could do anything here at the side of the road. CAA said they would be about one hour.

It would be 5.5 hours before the CAA truck would show up. It wasn’t wasted time, I actually went into some sort of Zen state and thought about a lot of things, despite the fact that my friend kept growing more impatient and distracting with his pacing and wanting to harass CAA.  I need to make more time for the important things.

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HU 2015

It has been just over a month since the Horizon’s Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers meeting in Ontario which I helped organize. My role this year was much more involved and required a lot more of my time and energy than in previous years where I had only presented or helped find other presenters. I have been asked to be the host for 2016 event.

After some of the comments I had to have some discussion about keeping the event at the same venue or to find a new one. Horizons Unlimited is a very unique group for most venues and after much discussion it was decided that working with the OELC to improve was the event was the better option.

Here are the top ten things I learned from 2015 that will help the event improve in 2016 (in no particular order).

  1. We need more technical and “how to” seminars. Getting people to talk about their adventures and inspire others is a challenge and takes effort, but getting people to talk about – “How to” topics is very challenging. I need to find people to talk about repairs, tool kits, border crossings and those type of practical things. We did have some of these seminars, but there was a request for more.
  2. Daily meeting with the other organizers and volunteers is needed to make sure everyone is on the same page. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  3. Put more emphasis on food quality rather than quantity. This event is hosted at a kid’s camp and the food expectation for adults is different than kids, we now know what to expect from our HU guests and the venue.
  4. Co-ordinate and promote the bike games and ride outs. We dropped the ball on this one, we had bike games set up and someone willing to do them, two people actually but when one dropped out we cancelled the event before checking with the second person, again communication. The ride out are not lead by the HU, but I can give you the route and you ride it on your own.
  5. No matter how many signs I put up people will get lost.
  6. Get more vendors. This year we had 6 vendors, I need to start working on other vendors now for next year.
  7. Wednesday set-up day also has to be a clean-up day.
  8. Message delivery is as important as the message.
  9. The venue has a lot of hidden benefits that we need to let people know about. Yes you can go swimming, yes you can go fishing, the Casino is 7km away etc
  10. Have more fun. I spent the time running around checking on things following up and not enough time enjoying the event.

See you all at HU 2016.

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MOA event – Dry run for HU

I arrived at the MOA (Motorcycle Owners of America) event in Orillia a little later Friday night than I planned but still in enough time to grab a cold beer and have some delicious snacks. Once I got settled in it was time for the camp file and sharing some tall tales of motorcycle adventure.

I have been working hard on the Horizons Unlimited Ontario event which I am helping organize and the MOA event was the perfect dry run, as it was being held at the same location and following a similar format. We had presentations, riding skill competition, vendors followed by movie or campfires at night. The food was amazing, big breakfasts of bacon, eggs, French toast, burgers and salads for lunch and an amazing lasagna for dinner, all served family style and all you can eat, more than enough to go around.

I tried Yoga for the first time ever in my life. Yoga for motorcyclist taught by Diana Londono, it was harder than I thought but also a lot more fun and I felt much better afterwards. She is on the agenda twice at the HU meeting, check it out, I’m definitely going back. Miguel had the opportunity to practice his First Aid for motorcyclist demonstration and I heard a lot of positive feedback from everyone who attended. Once again I missed Lorry and Kelli Gombos presentation on “Central Asia and the Pamir Highway on a Vstrom”, that’s twice now, third times a charm maybe? Find out in June. No matter how much experience you have on a bike, you will always learn from Clinton Smout’s riding skills demo.

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First Aid Demo

This facility is amazing, the staff are wonderful, the cabins are great, the presentation rooms are comfortable and well equipped. If you are even thinking about motorcycle travel, come out to the HU Ontario meeting this June, it’s going to be bigger and better than this MOA event, and your hosts are one step ahead now. Sign up here http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/ontario-2015

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Camping

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Vendors

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Cabins

 

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Horizons Unlimited meeting in Orillia

It’s just over a month until the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Orillia. It has been quite exciting for me to be involved this year. It was my responsibility to help find and co-ordinate the presenters for the meeting and I’m happy to say we have a great line up of people.  People will be talking about trips across  the USA, South America, Russia, Turkey, Asia and even our own back yard here in Canada. Also lots of tech talk as well, First Aid, Tire changing, camping tips, packing tips, GPS tips just to name a few.

The location and facility are amazing this year. Right on the shores of Lake Couchiching, we have a modern facility with both camping and cabins available. Entertainment has been lined up for the evenings around the campfire. Registration is up over last year so it looks like it will be a busy event with lots of other riders to connect with.

If you are at all interested in motorcycle travel, come out to the Horizons Unlimited Ontario event. Sign up here.  http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/ontario-2015

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Dealing with PMS

PMS = Parked Motorcycle Syndrome

I regret putting my motorcycle away for the winter. My logic was sound at the time, snow storm had just hit and the bike needs new wheel bearings, repairs are best done in the winter anyway. The roads are clear, it hasn’t snowed in weeks, it’s been a little cold, but I have warm riding gear. I am going a little stir crazy not riding and get very jealous when I see people out riding.

So here are my top 5 methods for dealing with PMS.

  1. Switch my ringtone on my phone to “Motorcycle” and listen to the engine rev each time I get a text or phone call.
  2. Youtube “motorcycle fail” and laugh and laugh
  3. Send a thank you note to GoPro for making  #2 possible.
  4. Purchase advance tickets to upcoming motorcycle shows.
  5. Get involved in a motorcycle event. I am the Ontario Lead for presenters for the Horizons Unlimited event this June in Orillia. We have a pretty awesome lineup of presenters already, if you are interested in motorcycle travel this is the event to check out this summer http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/ontario-2015
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The honeymoon is over – NOT

I got married this October and besides the normal “congratulations” the next most common thing I heard was “are you selling your bike now?” Before I could say anything my wife responded “NO he is NOT”.  I married the right woman.  I also assume since my motorcycle was used in my proposal and there was a replica of my motorcycle on our wedding cake she had to of known it was here to stay.

We started off our honeymoon in Greece and I couldn’t help but notice the number of Honda Varadero’s on the streets of Athens. I was hoping to rent a bike while on our honeymoon but it really wasn’t a priority. We did some island hoping and when we landed in Mykonos to find most business shutting down for the winter we decided to explore the island – and what better way than on a motorcycle!

No motorcycles were available but there were 50cc scooters for only 15 Euro a day, and since they wanted only a driver’s license as collateral I figured why not! It felt strange riding this small scooter but I knew it was going to be fun. Once out of site of the rental company I cranked the throttle and reached a top speed on 52 km/hr !! Wow so exciting (lol), and I couldn’t help but wonder how fast this thing would go two up. I would find out soon enough.

With no back rest Liz hung on to me quite tightly, especially when I took the scooter off road! This thing was not meant for going off road but honestly, it looked like a regular road! We ended up at a remote lake, then a beach where all the homes were shut down for the winter, no tourists, it was very quiet. We continued around the island stopping frequently to take pictures and enjoy the amazing Greek food and hospitality. We ended up circling the entire island of Mykonos and finished off watching the sunset while parked on somebody’s private helicopter landing pad (it’s nice to travel slightly off season), nobody was home.

Liz even took the little scooter for a spin and had a lot of fun, now she wants to get her motorcycle license. She’s going to have to wait until spring now that we are back in Canada.

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Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake

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Horizons Unlimited and Podcast

This past September I participated in the Ontario Horizons Unlimited motorcycle travelers meeting. These meetings are a great way to get real information about motorcycle travel from real people who have actually done from amazing trips by motorcycle.

The meeting will be held earlier in the summer this year with the hope of getting more participants and presenters. Keep checking back here for information but also check out the Horizons Unlimited web site here http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/

Not only was I able to attend some great seminars but I also presented a piece with my friend Bill on the Pros and Cons on Solo vs. Group travel you can check out the podcast here http://www.adventureriderradio.com/

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off the beaten path – Northen Ontario – part 2 of 2

So this is long overdue but here is Part 2 of my Northern Ontario trip.

Now where was I – Oh yea – sleeping with my hunting knife, worrying about bears. I should have been worrying about checking my air mattress as it seems to have a slow leak. It’s not long before I am sleeping right on the ground; fortunately I am tired enough that I drift off to sleep.

Surprisingly I am not that stiff in the morning and am able to break camp quickly and get back on the road. A few kilometers away from the “campground” a coyote runs out across the road only about 100 feet in front of me.  No matter how often I see wildlife it never fails to impress me. I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.

I spent the next several hours just riding around exploring the various gravel roads and trails that I come across, getting “lost” without ever losing my way.

I think I will spend a lot more time exploring my own back yard next summer.

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off the beaten path – Northern Ontario – Part 1

 

It has been awhile. Awhile since I blogged or had any real rides to blog about. Since I got back from my trip over two years ago I have been finding it hard to find roads that interest me, or maybe more accurately time to find roads that interest me.

I looked at my calendar and found that I had a free weekend. Totally free, no place I had to be and no obligations. Now I just needed a road to ride. Years ago I used to go hunting with my Dad and brother just North West of Sudbury and I remembered the road being difficult and how beautiful it was in the fall. I had never been there in the summer. The road was 500km away and I had only a weekend, it was going to be an early start.

I strapped my tent, some food, camping supplies, and a few other miscellaneous items on my bike and headed north. The first 500km were uneventful, just highway riding and my mind was still on the issues of the past week. Once I hit the gravel road I had a flash back of Alaska, more accurately the haul road to Prudhoe Bay. In the first 10km I felt the bike wobble, just like I did on the haul road, but this time rather than my heart ending up in my throat, I just corrected and continued on. My mind was flooded with memories of Alaska.

I was no more than 30km on the gravel road when I black bear ran across the road in front of me. Exciting!! No time to get the camera out, he was gone into the forest. I should get a Go-Pro. I always seem to be torn as to when I should ride, and when to stop and take pictures of the ride.

After about 80 kilometers I see a sign that says Ritchie Falls Resort. Resort?? Who builds a resort up here, so far away from everything and on such bad road? I needed to check this out. Another 10km down an even worse road, and another bear spotting, I come to what is really a fishing and hunting camp, on a beautiful lake. I find out it has actually been there since 1948, I am also told that there is a “campground” another 5km down the road. I check it out and find 3 trailers and decide that after seeing two bears that this might be a good place to camp for the night, I have rode over 600km today and am a bit tired. I also hope that the dog in the trailer next to me might bark should a bear come around. I pitch my tent, cook my dinner and eventually get in my sleeping bag with my hunting knife right beside me.

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Its never to early !!

It is never too early to start planning your next motorcycle adventure.

This was a great event. I have already signed up for 2014 http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/ontario-2014

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