Friday, September 4, 2015

They came, they saw….

… and - whoosh! - they were gone, continuing their whirlwind tour of Eastern Ontario.

I had the pleasure of being host and tour guide for Roland and Sonja while they spent a couple of days in the Nation’s Capitol as part of their Blogger to Blogger Tour 2015.

En route we first had to stop so they could dip their feet (figuratively) in the Mississippi River where it flows under the 5-span stone bridge in Pakenham. Mission accomplished, it was on to Ottawa for the rest of the day.

Clearly you can only scratch the surface of a city of 750,000 people in one day, but we gave it a shot. We visited all the obligatory sites – the Market, Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, and the National War Memorial where a couple of reservists proudly guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, this after a guard was brutally murdered there last fall. And we visited a wonderful, but little known, rock balancing artist, John Felice Ceprano (that genre is, apparently, a ‘thing’, with an international community of rock balancing artists that have conventions and competitions) and his work at Remic Rapids on the Ottawa River.


Of course the tour also included a great lunch at a new-to-me Vietnamese Restaurant in the Market and a post-tour beer at an also-new-to-me Bier Markt on the Sparks Street Mall. (link)

All in all a great day with great company.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Best Bar in America – a review

BBIA_DVD_20_NEWI don’t recall where I first came across this film, but it was somewhere online. As soon as I read the first sentence of the synopsis (“A whisky-fueled writing assignment takes one man on an epic motorcycle road trip through the bars and taverns across the American West.”) I knew I wanted to watch it. So I ordered it from their web site and a few days later a small package arrived.

An indie film released in 2013, The Best Bar in America tells the story of Sanders, a struggling writer, and his not-so-trusty 1960 BMW R60/2 sidecar outfit as they roll from bar to bar throughout the western US, ultimately ending up in Montana. The journey starts as an attempt to write a book documenting many of the supposedly 11,000+ bars and taverns in the west but, as road movies go, the trip becomes much more than that as Sanders meets various characters during his adventure.

It’s a short film and it flows along at a leisurely pace.  There are no star actors, no pyrotechnics or CGI, and only a couple of ‘chase’ scenes that are more humorous than anything. It’s just an endearing, relaxing ride for about 90 minutes. I recommend it as a worthy addition to any motorcycle road trip collection.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sound of silence

I was out for a short ride the other day and came up behind a couple riding a full dresser. Maintaining a respectful distance, and over the sound of my exhaust and theirs, as well as 80 kilometre wind noise I could still hear their stereo – not clearly, but enough to recognize the occasional song.

Now I like my tunes, but when I’m riding the only sounds I want to hear besides the reassuringly steady rhythm of a big twin are the ones in my head, ideas for blog posts, thoughts on future projects, what I’ll do with my big lottery winnings sure to come any day now, or general and random contemplations on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. And if I feel the need for music I’ll bring up something from the memory banks, perhaps Lindi Ortega’s Jimmy Dean, or Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. I won’t remember all the words, but I will remember the music and enough of the lyrics to carry me for miles, even if it does sometimes sound like a stuck record - red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme … click … red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme … click … red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme... like an ear-worm burrowing itself even deeper into your subconscious.

I have tried listening to music when I ride: the Electra-Glides we rented in Las Vegas for our trip 2 years ago (how time flies!) were all fully equipped. I played with the stereo for a while until I figured out how it all worked. Then I turned it off, and didn’t turn it back on for the duration of the trip. My brother, on the other hand, had his going full bore for the entire week. To each his own.

So enjoy your 8-channel stereo systems, your communication devices and Bluetooth connections, your iPods and amplifiers, if you can. All I want is silence and the space it gives me to simply think and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

There’s always someone to spoil the day

After a spectacular May we have had a pretty miserable June so far with lots of rain and very cool temperatures. So when this weekend was forecast to be sunny and hot (YES!!) the die was cast – Saturday was going to be a long ride day.

After a bit of a late start (10:30) I headed off for Calabogie and Highway 511 through Lanark to Perth where I stopped for lunch. Not surprisingly there were a lot of bikes on the road and I wasn’t lacking for comradeship at the Perth Tim Hortons while I ate.

I had planned on going north to Carleton Place and home from there, but a spur of the moment decision saw me heading west on Highway 7 towards Kaladar. I stopped there for gas and a chat with a couple of good ol’ boys heading to a tractor pull with 2 machines loaded on a flatbed, and then swung back north on Highway 41 towards Dacre and onwards to Renfrew.

Kaladar Loop

Up to that point the riding had been great. There was quite a lot of traffic but it had been moving well so it wasn’t a bother. But when I hit Highway 41 it was like everyone had gone home. Kilometre after kilometre passed without seeing another vehicle in either direction. It was great riding!

At a tad over 100 kph I wasn’t exactly doing the limit (80 kph on that stretch) so I was watching the mirrors conscientiously in case some cop was looking to pick up a few extra points towards his quota. Nothing until, seemingly out of nowhere, 2 bikes were on my tail. The first passed on my left across a double line at a very high speed, and as I was waiting for his buddy to do likewise, said buddy passed me on the right hand side, in the 4 feet or so separating me from the gravel shoulder catching me completely by surprise.

Now I am usually pretty cool about ride whatever you like as long as it’s two wheels. And I have no issue with exceeding the speed limit under the right conditions. But these guys who crouch over the tank like they’re Valentino Rossi on a Grand Prix track are leaving me with a bad taste for sports bikes in general and, by extension, their riders. Unfair, I know, but if I, as a motorcycle rider, detest these morons who put others at risk with their childish and irresponsible road behaviour, just think what the average cager thinks, and worse, what they say to the politicians considering further restrictions on our sport.

And to the idiot with the IQ just slightly above the total number of cylinders between his legs who passed me, there’s a special award waiting just for you. It’s called the Darwin Award. Look it up.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Problems do not exist in isolation

There are many ‘laws’ that affect  our daily lives. Some, such as the earth circling the sun, are immutable laws of nature. Others are simply truisms, or maxims, like Murphy’s Law. Now I believe I have discovered another: Problems do not exist in isolation; when one is solved another immediately presents itself to fill the void. Perhaps I’ll call it Dave’s Law.

Original problem: GoPro camera running out of juice, resulting in lost video opportunities.

Original solution: With a hat tip to Richard for the idea, install a USB power supply and plug the camera in to that. Worked great! Except…

Next problem: With the GoPro camera on an unlimited power supply, the remote control ran out of juice, resulting in lost video opportunities.

Next solution: Get a USB splitter cable and plug the remote into one of the outlets and the camera into the other. Now I have unlimited power to both and no more dead batteries.

Today's problem: With unlimited power to the camera and remote I can now video to my heart’s content. Until, that is, the SD card fills up, ersulting in lost video opportuinities.

Today’s solution: Get a larger SD card.

Tomorrow’s problem: Who knows, but you can be sure there will be something. Dave’s Law says so.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A day at the auction

One thing I’ve learned since owning a tractor is that everything tractor related is hellish expensive. Actually it’s a bit like owning a Harley come to think of it.

At any rate I need want to get a scraper blade to keep our roadway graded and in decent condition. I could buy new but both cars need new tires, and there are a couple of bike related things I want to get, and … well you get the picture.


So I’ve been watching the local auctions, and when the local M&R Feeds hosted its annual consignment auction of farm equipment this past weekend, I had to pay a visit hoping to find a deal.

The selection of goods for sale wasn’t quite as varied, nor as unique, as last year (link) but there was a 7’ blade being offered up. Not as heavy duty as I was looking for, it had also seen some serious wear and tear, including at least one spot that had been welded back together. (Even the fresh coat of paint couldn’t hide that.) Not perfect by any means but if I could get it for the price I thought it was worth it just might do. After all it’s not like I’m contracting road work to the county; it’s just to grade my driveway a couple of times a year.

While waiting for that lot to come up I wandered the rest of the auction looking for anything else of interest. I found quite a bit, but collecting old tractors is a new hobby that I just don’t need.  And while some of the old, horse-drawn implements would have made great garden ornaments, I couldn’t compete with one guy who was paying top dollar for anything old and rusty, all to be shipped (apparently) to a museum down around Salt Lake City.

People watching is always interesting at these events. Being close to the city we get city folk coming out to see what’s going on. You can usually tell them by the fact they’re wearing sandals, shorts, and tee-shirts with Def Leppard World Tour emblazoned on the back,  and are carrying a Nalgene water bottle. The local farmers on the other hand are the ones wearing steel-toed boots, an open shirt or vest over a plain white or grey tee-shirt, are 2 months past due for a haircut, 3 days past their last shave, and probably have an extra large coffee dwarfed in a hand that’s the size of a catcher’s mitt. The museum buyer was somewhere in the middle.

I did briefly consider an old road grader (forgot to take a picture, but it looked like this one) instead of buying a scraper blade, but figured the spousal unit might consider that a bit of overkill. So even though it would be a neat machine to own I didn’t stick around to see how much it went for, which is probably just as well because if it went cheap I’d just be upset.


Anyone who has been to an auction will attest that it’s hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere, and I’m no different. I found myself bidding on a few items that would have been neat to own if I could get them for a song, but either the museum guy or one of the Def Leppard tee-shirt sporting city types quickly bid the prices up far beyond what they were worth to me, and in at least one case more than the same item could be purchased in one of the many local antique shops.  Oh well...

Finally, after hanging around for a couple of hours, it was time for the lot containing the scraper blade I had my eyes on. The auctioneer started at $500. No takers. $400. No takers. $300. $200. $100. Still no takers. This is encouraging I thought, and so I bid $50. My soon-to-become nemesis (turns out there were only 2 of us interested) went to $75. $100. $125. $150. Back and forth it went in $25 increments until I bid $350 and he countered with $375. Back to me: $400? I thought the blade was worth about $350, and certainly no more than $400. If I bid $400 would he have gone to $425? Maybe, but we’ll never know because I pulled out. That was the end of my day at the auction.

Though I came home empty handed it was still a fun day and I’ll be back again next year. Even if I don’t have something specific in mind I know I’ll find something of interest, and maybe even win a bidding war or two as I’m batting .000 so far and am due for a turnaround.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Misty Green

With so many builders out there and so many styles it’s inevitable that some bikes, while beautiful in the eyes of the builder/owner, trigger my gag reflex. And then there are many, many that do nothing at all for me – take it or leave it, could not care less. But then every so often a bike surfaces that, to my eye at least, is so stunning I’m left drooling on my keyboard and wondering if I could afford it if I sold my left arm. (Just kidding about that last bit – how would I clutch?)

Enter Misty Green.

Misty Green

The heart of Misty Green is a 1968 Norton Commando 750cc engine (I’ve had a love affair with the Norton marque forever as some of you may know), and the front end is off a Honda CB550 (Had one of those too; it’s really calling out to me now!) But what I really love about the bike is it’s such a beautifully crafted version of the 60’s and 70’s cafe racers.

I won’t prattle on any more but will simply stare longingly at this photo for a while longer as you hop over to Fuller Moto for more fantastic images and a description of the build.