Saturday, October 14, 2017

Perseverance pays off

A while back I posted (here) about a hazardous road situation I was trying to get corrected. Well, it took some escalation, a few conversations, and several more emails but finally the county took corrective action, albeit in a sort of using-a-sledgehammer-to-kill-a-fly way.

All I wanted was to have some signage erected to warn that the pavement ends and the road becomes gravel after the intersection. The intent was that would slow riders enough so that when they hit the gravel they would be able to do so under control.

The county’s first effort was a dismal failure, but their second attempt will have the desired effect, even if it is, in my opinion, overkill.

IMG_0359

Hopefully pulling errant motorcyclists out of the ditch at this intersection will now be a thing of the past. And all I have to do is contend with all my rural neighbours who are now pissed at me because there’s yet another stop sign to deal with on their drive home. But they’re not likely to stop anyway, so I’m not too worried.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A short’ish ride and a mystery

After a summer that never really got established we’ve had a late season run of spectacular weather. But we also know it won’t continue indefinitely. So when the tasks I needed to do today (winter prep the tractor) were done I took a long way ‘round ride into Arnprior for a few maintenance items and a Timmy’s coffee. As you can see from the map it wasn’t the most direct route, but 140 km of country road on a sunny warm day is never a bad thing.

Dunrobin loop

While I was out and about I came across this apparently abandoned house. I couldn’t get close as it was off the road a ways but it’s unfinished appearance got me thinking about shattered dreams. Why was it unfinished? Did someone die? Did a marriage break up? A bankruptcy? The possibilities are many and the speculation lends an aura of mystery to the building.

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But when I got home I looked more closely at the photo. There are some signs of activity around the place with a truck out back and curtains in some windows. The weeds growing on the roof look like they might be intentional, as in a sod roof. The edge of the roof looks like it consists of weathered boards to hold back soil and the heavy log rafters are there to support the weight.  On closer inspection the walls seem to be plaster or perhaps concrete spread between vertical risers of some sort. Plus, the real giveaway, a truly abandoned building in these parts wouldn’t have a single window intact and graffiti would be scrawled on every flat surface.

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So what do we have here, a derelict building or a back-to-the-earth type, environmentally conscious, nouveau construction technique, residence? (If the latter I’d love to know how they got a building permit.)

And another clue – Google’s satellite image (undated) of the area shows no building in that location.  But if it has a grass roof would it look any different from the surrounding fields?

Hmmmmm…..

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sad of heart

I am saddened beyond words at the senseless violence that occurred in Las Vegas yesterday. The dead will feel pain no longer but their families and loved ones will have to bear the burden of this terrible crime for the rest of their lives. Likewise the wounded, their friends and families, the first responders, the medical staffs at dozens of hospitals, and other concert goers just out for a fun night of entertainment will all be dealing with the demons of Sunday night for years to come.

And for this to happen in Las Vegas, “America’s playground”, where thousands of visitors were peacefully enjoying an outdoors concert, makes it even more troubling. People go there to have fun, not to be indiscriminately slaughtered by some madman with a grudge and a few thousand rounds of ammo.

We may never know what set Stephen Paddock off on his murderous rampage, but one sad fact is that while he was possibly the most successful mass murderer in modern US history he has plenty of company. 9 out of every 10 days, somewhere in the US, there’s a mass shooting (defined as having 4 or more victims). That’s more than 1500 events in the past 5 years.

That such a great country, populated by intelligent, caring people, can foster an environment where so many think the answer to everything is to pick up a gun and start shooting, frankly baffles the rest of the civilized world. And for politicians, even in the blood-soaked shadow of such a horror, to seriously consider a further loosening of already weak gun laws, is unfathomable to any person of sound mind. And yet it happens again… and again…. and again…

There’s a saying that a doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient, but in this case, for this particular sickness, only America can and must treat itself. And for all my friends and family members in the US I can only hope they finally recognize the cancer within and take the political actions necessary to start the recovery.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Possibilities…

We are currently enjoying one of the nicest stretches of weather since last summer (and I’m referring to 2016 here). It’s been a week of temperatures in the high 20s with no rain. Perfect weather for riding.

And today was no exception.

Now that I have the little Kawasaki more or less sorted I’ve been casting about for my next project to keep me occupied over the winter and one of these for sale in the local Kijiji caught my eye, an ‘84 VT500 Interceptor.

Honda_VF500F

I admired them back in the day so I thought, “better late than never”. The bike for sale didn’t look this clean in the ad but it was supposedly complete and running, came with a spare donor cycle, and was price negotiable. So I decided to go have a look and combine that with a nice ride on a hot, sunny, September day.

All was going well until Richmond where I ran smack into a parade that totally blocked my route. The oh-so-helpful police officer that was directing traffic gave me, another biker, and a lady in an SUV, instructions on how to get around the parade. Which put us in a working gravel pit. I guess he really didn’t know the town that well. After a few other false starts and u-turns on dead-end streets we all decided to just wait it out, which we did.

After 15 minutes or so I was back on the road and soon at my destination.

The owner was a young’ish lad who bought the bike with the intention of putting it on the road but became a bit overwhelmed with the amount of work it would take, to say nothing of the $$ required. He was right to be concerned. It doesn’t appear to need any major surgery but will require lots of TLC – certainly more than I’m willing to put in.  And with the engine and 4 carbs all shoe-horned into an impossibly small space in the frame, they are notoriously tough to work on. So I think I'm going to pass on this one but will keep looking for something simpler.

But then, while having a quick lunch at a nearby Tim Horton’s, one of these showed up.

GT750

It has been a long time since I last saw a Water Buffalo (Suzuki GT 750) and this one was pristine. 39 years old and it looked like it came straight off the showroom floor. Not a scratch on it. The owner claims he bought it like this a few years back and all he did was clean it up. It’s all original – paint, exhaust, etc., everything but the tires. He didn’t want to sell it; said it was his favourite to ride. Bummer.

After a pleasant parking lot chat it was back on the road again, taking a slightly longer route home. And four-and-a-half hours and 230 kilometres after heading out this morning I was having a refreshing swim in the lake to cap off a great day.

Manotick loop


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

There is no solution…

… so simple that the bureaucrats can’t screw it up.

This is a Google Maps satellite image of an intersection near our house.

Bellamy intersection gravel

The through road, coming from the bottom and exiting top left, is posted at 80 kilometres per hour. At the red line, at the apex of a curve, the surface changes, without warning, from newly-paved to loose gravel.

Two months ago the missus and I pulled a rider and his motorcycle out of the ditch on the far side of the intersection. He lost control when he hit the gravel at speed. He was a bit banged up – cuts and bruises – but otherwise okay. His bike was rideable after we bent a few things back into place. He was lucky and was able to ride home.

Three weeks ago, two other riders collided in that same spot when they both went down after hitting the gravel unexpectedly. Both were injured, one seriously enough that he had to be medevaced by helicopter to an Ottawa hospital.

CaptureAfter the first accident I contacted the township of Mississippi Mills, in which jurisdiction this intersection falls, suggesting that this, or a similar, sign be posted giving riders advance notice that the pavement is about to end. Their response? Mississippi Mills is only responsible for the road beginning where the gravel starts and so they couldn’t post such a sign because the location where the sign should go (marked by an “X” on the above photo) was on a county road.

When the second accident happened I contacted the county – Lanark Highlands – to see about getting a pavement ends sign put up. I spoke to the Superintendent of Public Works who advised that they were aware of the situation and it would be remedied in a few days.

Here’s their solution. At the spot marked with the “X” on the aerial photo they put up this sign.

IMG_0228

An astute observer will note that the diagram bears no resemblance whatsoever to the actual geometry of the curve; it’s a simple curve, not an “S” bend, and the intersecting road is off to the right, not the left. The 20 km/h is an advisory only, ignored by every road user in the province except big rig truckers with tippy loads. They also put a stop sign on the gravel road side of the intersection, which serves no useful purpose whatsoever as the problem occurs with riders transitioning from pavement to gravel at speed, not vice versa. But worse than all that, there is still no warning about a surface change, which is all I asked for in the first place.

I have tried to point out the errors and request, again, a simple pavement ends sign, but I now appear to be on the shit list as I get no response to emails or phone calls to the county. However I will continue to escalate and hopefully this will be fixed before someone dies because of simple bureaucratic ineptitude. Stay tuned....