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Best Birthday Gift Ever

Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly! Well, apparently my guardian angel can fly 120 km/hr because that is how fast I was going when I hit a pothole in Colombia that should have sent the bike crashing into the pavement. Somehow, through the grace of God, I managed to keep the bike upright and avoided what would have been a very painful crash. Th. e front tire was flat and the rim had a major crack in it and I was in the middle of nowhere

What followed next was quite the adventure and to avoid a rather long story can be read about here http://www.gregsadventure.com/index.php/2011/12/respect-for-potholes/  and part two of the adventure can be read about here http://www.gregsadventure.com/index.php/2012/01/the-road-to-machu-picchu-days-1-2-of-3/

Now fast forward several months and an entire continent later and I found myself back in Canada working in Sudbury Ontario and finally replaced the front rim. I decided to keep the rim as it had quite the story behind it with the intention of doing something special with it one day.  http://www.gregsadventure.com/index.php/2012/08/motorcycle-maintenance-and-some-zen/

Fast forward four years. A lot has happened, I organized a couple of Horizons Unlimited events, I completed three Iron Butt challenges, got married, continued to ride and even bought a second motorcycle, but had done nothing with the rim. In July of this year, on my 45th birthday my wife presented me with the most amazing birthday gift ever, she has the rim made into an end table.Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly! Well, apparently my guardian angel can fly 120 km/hr because that is how fast I was going when I hit a pothole in Colombia that should have sent the bike crashing into the pavement. Somehow, through the grace of God, I managed to keep the bike upright and avoided what would have been a very painful crash. The front tire was flat and the rim had a major crack in it and I was in the middle of nowhere.
What followed next was quite the adventure and to avoid a rather long story can be read about here http://www.gregsadventure.com/index.php/2011/12/respect-for-potholes/ and part two of the adventure can be read about here http://www.gregsadventure.com/index.php/2012/01/the-road-to-machu-picchu-days-1-2-of-3/
Now fast forward several months and an entire continent later and I found myself back in Canada working in Sudbury Ontario and finally replaced the front rim. I decided to keep the rim as it had quite the story behind it with the intention of doing something special with it one day. http://www.gregsadventure.com/index.php/2012/08/motorcycle-maintenance-and-some-zen/
Fast forward four years. A lot has happened, I organized a couple of Horizons Unlimited events, I completed three Iron Butt challenges, got married, continued to ride and even bought a second motorcycle, but had done nothing with the rim. In July of this year, on my 45th birthday my wife presented me with the most amazing birthday gift ever, she has the rim made into an end table.

table 2

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Adventure Travelers meeting

This year I am the host of the Horizons Unlimited Ontario adventures travelers meeting. Some of you may be new to Horizons Unlimited and are wondering what happens at one of the events. Let me try and explain.

Take 200 – 300 like-minded people, adventure seeking, riders of the road less traveled, motorcycle enthusiast’s from around the world, put them all in the same place (which this year happens to be on a beautiful lake in beautiful Bracebridge Ontario) for the purpose of inspiring, informing and connecting.

Ever thought of taking a motorcycle adventure, for a long weekend, a month, a year or several years, through one province, a state or two, cross a country or cross several boarders – then come get inspired. Listen to presentations from people who have already done it, across Russia, through Central and South America, across the ice, Trans Labrador highway, Pamir Highway, the USA and those with no agenda. Get informed on – What to pack on your adventure, camping tricks, fixing your flat tire, Visa and passport issues, security while traveling, how to pick up your bike, and riding tips.

Connect – you are not the only crazy one and you might even make new crazy friends.

We have maps for do-it-yourself rides around the area. If I can find a volunteer to help, we would like to organize some bike games/challenges. Demo rides – last year Honda brought a few of their bike to take on rides, they plan to come back this year. We have also reached out to other manufacturers. Have a look at new gear from Twisted Throttle. Enjoy evening campfires and sharing stories after a great meal.

Check out the event on the Horizons Unlimited website and Facebook,  links below.

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/ontario-2016

https://www.facebook.com/events/958202064272963/permalink/980474658712370/

 

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HU Ontario 2016

This year I am the host of the Horizons Unlimited Ontario Motorcycle traveller’s event. I had so much fun last year that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to step up and take on a larger role this year.

About a week after I agreed to take the Host role I was informed by the venue that they could not host us for 2016. We were left scrambling and trying to find a new venue, so many roadblock – no camping allowed, no alcohol, not available etc, etc. Just when I was about ready to give up, we found Camp Tamarack in Bracebridge. It has everything we need, great meeting rooms, lots of camping, cabins, riding trails and great food. March your calendars June 9 to 12.

 

Check out all the details here http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/events/ontario-2016

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Another member of the family

Well this post is long overdue. I got another motorcycle last month, just in time to put it in winter storage!! I had been looking for a bike for my wife, something small, light and not too expensive, after all I have no idea how much she will want to ride. Also there is the pressure from the cagers, discouraging her from buying a motorcycle at all. The buying process was grinding to a halt.

Then, as he often does at the most unusual times, my brother came through for me. He had been transferred out to Saskatchewan and left his 1984 Honda shadow 500 behind here in Ontario, stored at the back of a friend’s garage. Such a shame. So it was agreed, for a small fee I would give the bike a new home and a new rider.

The first time I started the bike it backfired and scared anyone within 500 kilometres. Welcome Chitty Chitty Bang Bang !!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

First Ride

First Ride

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Border to Border – entering Mexico

With my 1,500 mile form signed it was no just a matter of crossing into Mexico and completing the Border to Border. I followed the signs, paid my told and entered Mexico, 3 minutes from the hotel, easy. Now I had to find someone to sign my witness form – not so easy.  None of the border / customs guards would sign the form, they made long winded excuses about it not being an official customs form. I asked locals, no response, they just ignored me.  I was not too worried about getting my iron butt Form signed as I had other ways of proving I was in Mexico, I had my SPOT device and Toll receipts so after 30 minutes of asking people to sign my from I headed back to the USA.

As soon as the border guard heard my answer to “how long were you in Mexico” he slapped a big yellow sicker across my windshield and told me to take my bike to secondary. I guess not a lot of people go to Mexico for “30 minutes”.  The border guards at Secondary Inspection were, lucky for me, motorcycle enthusiasts. We chatted about my ride, my bike the new Honda Africa Twin and of course the heat. It was 104F when I crossed into Mexico. One of the guards was nice enough to sign my Iron Butt form, so I was now officially done. Three Iron Butt rides in under 36 hours.

The only thing left to do now is ride home and fill out all the required paper work for the Iron butt Association.

iron butt

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BunBurner 1500

After a hot shower and sleeping for only about 5 hours I was back on the road again to complete the second challenge – 1,500 miles in 36 hours. I was tired, but ready for the ride. It was still very early and a bit chilly so making good miles was initially easy.

I got about 1 hour into my ride and realized I had forgot to lube my chain when I stopped yesterday. Not good. Over 1,000 miles at high speed and I did not lube the chain when I stopped. I’m sure the chain was hot and although I serviced it before I left for the trip a ride like this called for at least a chain lube. I stopped for gas after a few hours and decided to lube the chain, not that it would do much good but it was better than nothing.

I passed through Dallas / Fort Worth with ease in the early morning, well before the rush hour started. By the time I got to San Antonio the traffic was heavy and the sun was beating down. San Antonio was the first time I really hit traffic and had to stop because if it. I wasn’t stopped long and continued to crawl along and really didn’t lose any time. It was getting hotter and hotter the further south I rode and I was debating if I had enough time to stop and strip off a layer. I chose not to as I was more focused on reaching Mexico.

I turned at Moore Texas onto highway 57 and saw a sign that read Eagle Pass 99 miles. The last 99 miles would be one of the hardest ride of my life. It was a long, straight, boring, and hot ride through a vast expanse of nothingness. Every 5 minutes it was like someone opened a giant oven door and I was hit with the rising heat. I had to open my modular helmet just to let the heat escape. I was starting to feel sick and the last thing I needed was to throw-up or even worse pass out. Opening the helmet made all the difference.

I finally made it to Eagle Pass and pulled into the Comfort Inn, checked in, had my witness form signed. BunBurner completed !! Now all I need to do is cross the border.

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Iron Butt – SaddleSore 1000

I have been planning an Iron butt ride since I got back from my big adventure four years ago. For a variety of reasons it wasn’t working out, finally I made the decision that no matter what I was going to do it this year, and I did. Rather than just do the SaddleSore 1000, I decided to do three challenges in one ride, the SaddleSore 1000 (1,000 miles in under 24 hours), BunBurner 1500 (1,500 miles in under 36 hours) and Border to Border (Canada to Mexico) in under 36 hours.

SaddleSore 1000

I left my friends place at 4:15am on Sunday, September 20th. By leaving this early I would accomplish two things: 1. Avoid traffic and 2. Cross into Mexico during the daytime hours when it was safer. Getting up and on my way was not a problem as my adrenaline was pumping, I was finally doing it. My first stop was the 24hours gas station just around the corner and that where I had my first problem, the gas pump did not produce a receipt. I needed the receipt to prove my starting location and time. I ran inside and easily obtained the receipt but having the first stop not work proper got me nervous, was it a sign of things to come. I continued on and after another 15 minutes encountered my second problem, the bridge over the Welland Cannel was up, I couldn’t cross, turning around was not an option either as I really didn’t know another way around. There were some people waiting to walk across the bridge and fortunately for me they were wearing Harley jackets, so at least they might understand my situation and the need to get on my way. Just as they were explaining to me that there was really no other way around and I could wait as much as 30 minutes, the ship passes through, the bridge began to lower and I was soon on my way. I have crossed the Rainbow Bridge countless times in my life and even less than a month before this trip but on this day, of course I missed the turn and went at least 1km out of my way.

The border crossing was easy and uneventful and I was hoping that it represented the last of any hiccups. Leaving early was smart, by the time the sun started to come up I was already in Ohio. The sun was to my back and there was an amazing orange glow in my mirror from the sun’s reflection and a warmth on my back.

The next 12 hours were really just a blur, ride, stop for fuel, ride, and stop for fuel. The interstate is boring, there was no really distinction between states and nothing really changes. It wasn’t until I was in Arkansas that something interesting happened. The gas station attendant was very excited to see a motorcycle from Canada and couldn’t believe that I had left only earlier that day. He became very animated in this excitement about wanting to travel and was talking so fast I couldn’t really understand half of what he was saying. Some women at the pump next to me thought this was a great opportunity to expand their hair care product multi-level marketing business into Canada. I took a card from them and quickly got on my way. At least it was a break in the boredom of the interstate. About an hour later I stopped at a hotel in Texarkana Texas where I would sleep for 5 hours before continuing on to Mexico. I had rode a total of 1,200 miles and officially completed the Saddlesore ride.

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Planning for the Iron Butt

I’m not much of a planner. My profession demands that I plan my days, months, quarters and of course year-end, but outside of work I resist it as much as possible. My research into the Iron Butt tells me it requires a lot of planning and maybe that’s why it’s taken me over three years to finally decide on a date to leave on my first Iron Butt challenge. Not being one to do things in a small way I will actually be doing three challenges in one ride – 1,000 miles in 24 hours, 1,500 miles in 36 hours and border to border (Canada to Mexico) in 36 hours.

So far my planning has been as follows:

  1. Plan a route that accomplishes all three rides – thank you google maps
  2. Plan a place to sleep after first ride – thank you TripAdvisor
  3. Plan what time to leave so I am missing traffic and not crossing into Mexico in the middle of the night – thank you math
  4. Buy a new tank bag with the perfect place for my Gas receipts and other essentials – thank you Royal Distributing
  5. Plan fuel stops – thank you Gas Buddy phone app

Ok, I guess I’m ready to go !! I need witnesses at the end of each ride, I sure hope I meet some nice people.

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New Gear

It has been time for new riding gear for a while now. My pants no longer fit me as I’ve managed to keep weight off. My Tourmaster jacket is looking worn, very worn, but it should since it is five years old and I wore it every day on the big adventure through all kinds of weather. It’s comfortable and I like it, but I’m starting to look like a vagabond. My boots are no longer comfortable and considering they were re-stitched by a shoe maker in the mountains of Peru back in 2011 I can’t help but be impressed with how long they have held up. I can’t remember the name brand of these boots and the label has worn off years ago.

After reading a lot of reviews on riding gear I have come to only one conclusion, all of the companies have hired great marketing people and its time to actually try the stuff on and check it out for myself.

After much jacket on, jacket off, pants on, pants off I finally decided on the Klim Latitude jacket and pants. They fit well and I like the quality and features. A friend of mine owns Klim as well and loves his gear. For boots I went with the Forma Adventure boots, again very comfortable and offered considerably more protection than my pervious pair. The boots are a bit stiff and feeling the shifter was a bit more difficult than my well-worn no-name boots were, but I’ll wear then in soon enough.

 

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