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.


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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

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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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Ride with my Wife and Lego Man

With over 114,000km on my bike I am surprised at how little of that time has been 2 up riding. Probably not the thing to be thinking about as I embark on a weekend road trip with my wife and another couple. We go over the rules, when to lean and when not to, where and when to hang on, talking or the lack there of and before I know it we are 2up and pulling out into traffic. The first couple of turns feel a bit odd, but I soon find my comfort zone and next thing I know we are doing two up at 100km/hr on the DVP, exiting the city.

Our weekend plan included a ride around Rice Lake and ending in Port Hope for the night where we would take in a local theatre performance and then some back roads home the next morning. Since we got off to a late start we decided to reverse the order. It just happens to be one of the hottest weekends of the year and we stop after only about 75km for a cold drink and a stretch.  I’m not used to stopping so soon but it was probable a good idea. It gave me a chance to check on my wife (Liz) and make sure she was enjoying herself and had no issues. I also forgot that my friend is a new rider and has very few kilometers under the helmet, and taking a passenger is even more stressing for him I’m sure.

Liz is a champ, leaning when she is supposed to lean, not squirming a lot in her seat and generally seems to be enjoying herself. She got her motorcycle license a few months ago so she knows how this whole motorcycle riding thing works, I just need to get her a bike now.

I can tell my friend wants to lead the ride, he’s being passive aggressive about it, wants to show me a beach so he can lead the way. I’ve seen this beach many times before but tell him I haven’t, so he can take the lead without any discussion. I really don’t care who leads the ride, I can adjust my riding style. It’s actually kind of nice not leading anymore as I really start to enjoy the time with my wife. We’re not talking, just occasionally pointing at different things of interest and enjoying being close. It not like a car where the center console divides us, the radio adds mindless noise or the need to not have dead air space results in chatter and not conversation. On a motorcycle we sit close, always touching, I can feel her every move and know that she is getting a bit uncomfortable from the heat. The ride ends soon enough at the Waddell Hotel in Port Hope. The four of us have a great meal, a few drinks then off to enjoy the local live theater. Looking around I notice we are the youngest in the place, definitely a retirement community. Overall a great day.

We start out again early the next day with the plan to circle Rice Lake. I let him lead again and watch him ride. He reminds me of a Lego figurine, bending only at the elbows and knees in a sitting position, so rigid and stiff. They are both wearing open face helmets and no gloves, I get the “wind in your face” feeling but the last time we went riding he had a full faced helmet. If I was Wolverine from X-Men I would wear any gear, but unfortunately I have no super powers. I asked him about the change when we stopped and he said it was because he felt confined, I think it’s so he can hear his wife talk to him. Someone once told me that when I person gets a skin graft that doctors use the flesh from circumcisions. I have never verified this but the idea of being covered in foreskin makes me happy I have a full-face helmet. If Lego man crashes he and his wife are going to needs skin grafts. I should send him a link to helmet audio systems. They make me nervous. He would be a much better rider if he would relax and just ride, he needs more seat time to build his confidence and lives in the perfect area to easily get in some decent rides.

Liz is a lot more relaxed today, still hot but relaxed. We enjoy the ride around beautiful Rice Lake, stopping for ice cream and to check out the lift locks. It’s a beautiful area and an enjoyable ride. I’ve stopped worrying about Lego man and just focused on my own ride. I adjust my mirror so I can see Liz’s face (her eyes anyway, the rest is covered by the full-faced helmet) She catches me checking on her and smiles. It’s nice just sitting together, enjoying the same thing at the same time and not having to discuss it, the scenery and experience speak for themselves. There is lots to talk about, lots to say but it’s just not necessary. We did a total of 381 kilometers that weekend, the longest ride I’ve had a pillion for and Liz’s longest ride on a motorcycle, next time I think she will have her own bike.

I’m planning an Iron Butt ride for late September and will be posting about that soon as well. Please check back.

lego man 2 upimage42 bikes

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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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