Monday, November 9, 2015

I am alone

It is a beautiful fall day and I am alone. Sure, there are other vehicles on the road – lots of them – but mine is the only motorcycle I see. I feel sorry for those who have already put their bikes away for the winter. They don’t know what they’re missing, I think.

Trucks parked on the side of the rural roads with hunters patrolling the shoulders looking for evidence of game indicate deer season is upon us. Most carry rifles, some carry bows, but all are wearing blaze orange vests and caps over top of camouflage pants and jackets. I wonder, what is the point of wearing camo then? All look at me as if I’m nuts to be riding today. Some wave; most don’t.

No more bright reds and yellows in the forest. Now the trees are gray and barren, having sloughed off the last of their leaves during the wind storm a few days ago. It’s evident nature is hunkering down in preparation for winter.

Though it’s only 2 PM the bike and I cast a long shadow across the pavement. The sun, in a deep blue, cloudless sky, is already low on the southern horizon, providing light but little heat, a huge change from even a month ago. So it’s cool. The forecast was for 11 degrees, but it feels like it’s still in the single digits. No matter, I’m dressed for it and am reasonably comfortable. Besides, a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons will warm the blood in advance of the return trip home.

I don’t quite achieve a Zen state of riding – it’s not that kind of day – but for a couple of hours I am in my element. I think about the beauty of nature and how transient summer is at this latitude. I enjoy the sense of calm while riding a country road with no other vehicle in sight. I breath the crisp autumn air, with just a hint of decay as the fallen leaves begin their journey to ultimately become forest loam. I listen to, and feel, the sound of the big twin and remark, again, on how much better it runs in the cooler, dense, air. And I wonder if this is my last ride of the season.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Country living – the dump.

Country living has a lot going for it – the solitude, the beauty of raw nature, fishing off the dock, and the dump.

Not all dumps are treasure troves like this one:

Sometimes they are small town entertainment like the one where we used to go to shoot the rats and feed the bears.bear_02But, more recently, with the renew, reuse, recycle mantra in full swing they have become something more.

One of Jeff Foxworthy’s clues to the fact you might be a redneck is “If you come home from the dump with more than you left with.” Well, by that definition, your honour, I have to plead guilty, but with an explanation.

Faced with an instant lawn weed field after a major storm transformed our beautiful forest into so much kindling wood by a so-called macro-burst 3 years ago, I needed to find a way to tame it somehow. A scythe did the job for a while but I was keeping my eyes open for some machinery to make the job a bit easier.

Then one day I saw an old mower on the metal recycling heap at the dump. I went and checked it out. It didn’t run but it turned over okay and the compression seemed decent. The housing was cracked and a couple of wheels were broken but otherwise I thought it might do the job. So home it came with me.

The missus just rolled her eyes (a pretty common occurrence around here on dump day), but I cleaned it up, put in fresh gas, and it fired up on the 3rd pull. I replaced the broken wheels with 2 spare wheels I had in stock (found earlier, also at the dump) and I now have a working lawn mower to keep the weed field at bay. IMG_20150830_172802136Doesn’t get much better than free. Thanks Bill Mulvihill, whoever you are!

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.