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.

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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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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

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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.

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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
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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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