Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas greetings

Christmas Eve dawned officially at 7:44 this morning as the sun crept above the horizon on a clear, crisp, cloudless day. We watched the shadows ever-so-slowly slip down the tree line on the far side of the lake as the sun climbed higher and higher in the Eastern sky. It was going to be a beautiful day.
DSC_7778 web
Later, all bundled up against the –17C temperatures, I grabbed a camera and headed out to the mailbox to post a few straggling Christmas cards which, for some reason, go out later and later each year. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, right?
DSC_7781 web
Walking down our road I’m struck by the complete quiet. While lots of chickadees and nuthatches are at the feeders, they are silent but for the flutter of tiny wings not heard at a distance of more than a few feet. Crows circling above have also lost their voice. The snow and the forest absorb all other sounds but for the crunch of my boots and the swish of my snow pants.
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The imagery is spectacular. The sky is that shade of deep blue you only get in the winter, the contrast making the snow even more brilliant – a purer white cannot be imagined. My eyes involuntarily squint to reduce the brightness as I regret leaving my sunglasses at home. Branches bending under the weight of recent freezing rains and snows arch across the road. Visually appealing, some will probably have to be cut to give access to the snow removal people. And everywhere, tracks in the fresh snow standing testament to a pack of coyotes hunting overnight. I wonder how a photograph could ever come close to capturing the sense of this day and the awe it instils, but still I take several.
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The peacefulness seems appropriate for Christmas Eve and the solitude encourages some quiet reflection as I walk. It’s been a good year, and while I’m not a religious person I feel blessed in so many ways. I have a loving family, good friends, good health (now that the ribs are healed), a nice place to live, and even a Harley in the garage. There’s a fire in the fireplace, fresh bread in the oven, and our daughter is coming home tonight to spend a few days with us. Life is good.
And with that I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas. May you enjoy the day tomorrow with friends and family whether sitting on an Australian beach, gathered around a bonfire in the great frozen north, or lounging in the shade of an Arizona saguaro. Peace be with you and yours.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A few thoughts on (motorcycle) travel photography

I was checking out some of the latest mass-market cameras at Best Buy the other day. It had been quite a few years since I bought any new camera equipment (my Nikon D70, so that gives you an idea) and so I was quite amazed by the current offerings on sale and the progression in camera technology over those years.
As an old film guy I clearly remember considering the cost of film and developing before deciding whether to put a specific image on film or not. I also clearly remember shipping the canisters off for processing and waiting a couple of weeks for the pictures to be returned before deciding whether I had got “the shot” or not. (On one west coast trip I had 35 rolls to process when I got home!)
But that all changed with digital.  The technology now allows us to take as many pictures as we want at no cost, and with no waiting. We can see right away if the picture is any good, delete those that aren’t, and perhaps still have an opportunity to retake a better image. The sniper shot that was the hallmark of the serious amateur has become a Gatling gun.
Then some bright light decided that a good place to put a camera lens was in a telephone (I know, what could they have possibly been thinking?). Now anyone who has a cell phone is, by definition, a photographer as well.
And so cameras are now ubiquitous. The technology is on computer monitors, laptops, in tablets, on cell phones, and the list goes on. And the really cool thing about much of the new technology is its tight integration into our wider technological sphere. You can post pictures directly from your smart phone or tablet camera to Facebook or MySpace, send them via email, or store them in one of the cloud-based services. Your camera has become an integral part of your internet.
But for all that there was still a problem - device-based camera image quality could never match that of a purpose-built camera.
Until now.
COOLPIX S800cCOOLPIX-S800cThe Nikon Coolpix S800C is representative of the latest generation of ‘smart’ cameras. First and foremost a camera, design attention has been paid to image quality and usability as a camera. And then it has been loaded up with a nice screen and the Android operating system so it is also a smart device. Granted you’ll still need a phone, but for all the other features this little Nikon (or one like it – there are several competing products now or soon to be on the market) is well up the must have list for the semi-serious motorcycle photographer. Consider the benefits: small, pocket sized; no need to carry a tablet or laptop to share pictures with distant friends and family; you can check e-mail and browse the web through the built in Wi-Fi ; and play Angry Birds when waiting out a nasty thunder storm under a freeway overpass.
I expect it won’t be long before someone adds voice (cell phone capability or perhaps a Skype-type interface) to a smart camera but I don’t think it’s worth waiting for that; this little beauty has everything I need for a convenient, compact travel cam.
(No, I’m not employed by Nikon; I just like their gear.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Great gear!

Iphone Radar screenNow this looks like a terrific little gizmo for the gadget minded among us who tend to mislay items like keys, jackets, etc. But I do have one question: What if the thing you misplace most often is your smart phone?
I haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning towards contributing just to be first in line when production starts.
Check it out at http://www.indiegogo.com/sticknfind.
h/t to Bikes in the Fast Lane for the lead.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It’s personal

As the snow was falling outside, I was up in the garage puttering around on the bikes. Simple stuff – changing oil, doing a general check-up. But mostly I was admiring the shiny bits, thinking about what still needs to be done, and dreaming about getting back on the road in a few months. (It may be a dreary December day but we know that winter too shall end one day.)
chromeThen, sitting back with a cigar in one hand and a drink in the other (benefits of having a heated garage), I thought about how we treat our vehicles. While there are some who view their bikes as just another mode of transportation that’s easier to park and cheap on gas I think for most of us it goes deeper than that. We develop a bond with the machine that is different than the relationships we have with our cars or trucks which, in stark contrast to the gleam on the bikes, are sitting outside covered in road salt and dirt – a description that will likely still apply in June.
You often hear variations of the expression “the best bike I ever owned was the one I just sold” and I think that’s true, for a while. The feeling of regret and wondering if you did the right thing or not can be strong and lasting – until you develop a new relationship with your new ride. And if that doesn’t happen, if the chemistry just isn’t right with the new ride, we immediately begin to look for a replacement, always in search of that connection that is so fundamental to being able to enjoy life on two wheels. And no sooner do we have the paperwork in hand than we get busy customising the machine,  overlaying our personality onto the bike and making it our own, creating something unique that we can fall in love with again and again and again.
We don’t usually treat our 4-wheeled vehicles that way. Certainly there are car and truck owners out there who take pride in their rides and customize them accordingly, but for the most part we view them as tools or utility vehicles that allow us to get from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss and a modicum of comfort. Sure we’d like to be driving Porsches or Lamborghini's or even Cadillac Escalades, but those are just not in the cards for most of us. So we settle for “okay”, balancing budget (car payments or mortgage?), utility (6 kids + 2 dogs ≠ Corvette), and personal bias (I’ll never buy a Chevy!) to come up with something practical. Then we wash it once a year (maybe), and drive it until the wheels fall off at which point we go looking for the next 4-wheeler to haul us and our assorted baggage around for the next 10 years.
So why do we treat motorcycles differently? I suspect the reasons are as varied as the riders out there, but I think the main factor is one of intent. For most of us our motorcycles are our toys, our hobbies, the icing on the cake of life as it were. And as with any hobby we invest extra attention (and $$$) on them to entertain and amuse ourselves. Nobody wants to ride a stock black Harley around, but throw on some extra chrome, a bit of bling, and a functional do-dad or two and it’s now “my” black Harley and, by definition, an extension of “me”. Which is, as I think about it, probably not unlike the way custom car and hot rod guys view their toys as well.
But that’s a whole other topic, so best to stop thinking and get back to polishing and being thankful this isn’t mine to keep clean.
chrome 2

Saturday, December 8, 2012

And here it comes……

No that’s not just a dirty camera lens – that’s snow, big, fluffy, wet snow drifting down.
2012-12-08 12.16.35
We’ve been fortunate this year to have a relatively mild fall and a late freeze, extending the riding season well into November and even, if you hadn’t already stored your bike for the winter, into the first week of December. But it looks like our bonus time is up, and just in time for Christmas.
Now I could quite happily live in a climate that was 80 degrees every day with evening lows of 70 or so, but such places are few and far between and seem to be mostly small islands that get wiped out every second or third hurricane season.  The only other options seem to be places that are either too hot to ride in the summer or too cold or wet to ride in the winter, and I’m more or less stuck in the latter. But if I have to endure a few months of less than ideal riding conditions I would rather it be snow than rain. I know, I know, you don’t have to shovel rain, but the endless gray skies would drive me insane.
Besides, you have to admit, it is pretty.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Just when you thought you knew yourself….

A grizzled biker, all tattooed and leather clad, sat down at the local pub and ordered a pint.
A young woman came in and sat down next to him. She ordered a drink and trying to make conversation said to him, “Are you a real biker?”

He said, “Well I've been riding for most of my life. I’ve ridden Harleys and BSAs and Nortons… pretty much anything on two wheels. I used to race and held the motorcycle land speed record at one time. I’m a certified motorcycle mechanic and have worked in the business for 40 years and had my own shop for a while. I even taught the State motorcycle cops how to ride, so I guess I am a biker. And you, what about you?”

She said, “I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked women.”
The two sat sipping their drinks in silence.

A little while later, a young man came in and sat down on the other side of the old guy. He looked him up and down and asked: "Are you a real biker?"

To which the biker replied, “I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It’s that time of year again

Well it’s that time again where one’s thoughts change from tomorrow’s ride destination to next year’s ride changes. With 5 months or so of miserable (and impossible) riding conditions ahead of us we in “the north” (pretty much anything above the Mason-Dixon line) have to satisfy our motorcycling passions and amuse ourselves by some combination of heading south for the winter, day-dreaming, or modifying our bikes so they will be even more unique and amazing come the springtime.
And so last night found me with the 2012 versions of the Harley-Davidson and J&P Cycles catalogues and my latest bank statement studying all the upgrades and farkles that I could get with the modest amount of “mad money” I have available. Of course the danger with this sort of activity is that once you get started it pretty quickly spins out of control and it took but a few minutes before the list of “must have” appearance items and an equally long list of “must have” performance items had driven me deep into the red.
Now the truth is my bike is probably 99% where I want it to be but I would feel that I’d wasted a perfectly good winter if I didn’t take the opportunity to at least upgrade something! So further analysis is going to be required. Would I rather upgrade the air cleaner for better performance or swap out the tank console for better looks? Should I put on a True-Track system for better handling and cornering or spend the money on enhanced lighting for night time driving? So far I have no answers, only questions.
But with endless possibilities I can foresee many evenings of thumbing catalogues and on-line searching before I decide what to do which, in its own way, is as good a prescription for the winter riding blues as anything because, as William Inge said, “Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true.”

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dutchies –Just for Martha.

In my last post I mentioned stopping for a coffee and a dutchie. Well this triggered a comment from Martha of Living Among Tourists bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t find a picture of said treat. Well Martha, this is for you:
Dutchie
When the first Tim Horton’s opened in 1964 there were 2 items on the menu – apple fritters and dutchies. Both are still around and still popular with the sugar-fix set (of which I consider myself a lifetime member).
According to Wikipedia, the dutchie “is a square, yeast lifted doughnut containing raisins that is coated with a sugary glaze”. I’m not really sure it qualifies as a doughnut if it’s square and has no hole but regardless, that description is way too clinical; you need to taste one to get the full measure of 250 calories of mmmm-good.
So if you ever get to visit a Timmy’s (I understand there are a few in the US now, but they are on every Canadian streetcorner) be sure to try one of these delicious iconic treats with your double-double.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A bonus day!

lets_rideThe sun was hanging low in the Southern sky and the naked tree branches, shed of their leaves for a few weeks now, were bowing before the strong easterly winds. The mostly cloudy sky held a promise of rain, but perhaps not for a couple of hours yet. Meanwhile, below patches of blue, the temperature had risen to a November 12th record of  20 degrees C or 68F.
I had lots to do around home, but since a day like this doesn’t come around that often I decided, as the H-D marketing folks would say, “Screw it, let’s ride”.
I didn’t have anywhere special to go (although I was under instructions to pick up a litre of milk) so I just followed my nose.
No matter what my destination the first 6 km is a given. We’re on a dead-end road and that’s how far it is to the first turn.  It was also along that stretch of road that some of the worst damage from the July 23 storm occurred. With the leafy veil lifted I could now see further into the woods at the carnage. Much like the ‘98 ice storm we’ll be seeing the remnants of this one for decades to come.
By the time I hit that first decision point I had decided to head towards Burnstown, some 20 km northwest. But just before I got to the village I came to a side road that I had never been down before. No time like the present, eh? While an interesting diversion the road unfortunately just looped back to White Lake, which I had passed 10 km back, so I got to ride the Burnstown road twice.
At Burnstown I hung a right, heading north-east towards the Ottawa River with the intent to follow the river back into Arnprior where I knew there was a Tim Horton’s coffee and a dutchie waiting. I could also pick up some milk there. (See, You’ve forgotten about the milk already, haven’t you?). The winds had really picked up by this time and I was getting hit with strong crosswinds. Fortunately there was little traffic because I was being moved around a lot by sudden gusts coming from my right, trying to force me into the oncoming lane.
Made my way into Arnprior (the ‘Prior), stopped at the bank, the grocery store, and Timmies for my coffee and dutchie. By now it was starting to cool down as the sun was near setting and the promised cold front started to move in. Filled the tank for the winter and from there it was a straight shot home.
All told, 100 km on the bike, and 2 hours of riding, on a freakishly warm November 12. Can’t beat that.
Burnstown loop

Friday, November 9, 2012

A boy and his toys

Ever since I can remember I have had a fascination for all things mechanical. In that regard I was probably not unlike most small boys who are awed by anything that makes clanking or rumbling sounds and spews out great gobs of dirt and dust. But I also had an advantage. My father was the head mechanic for a lumber company and I would often get to “help” him in the garage if he was working in the evening or on a weekend. And when I was very, very lucky I would climb into the cab of one of these monsters (at least to a 10-year-old) and actually start it while Dad checked something or other “under the hood”. In hindsight I think that was likely a ruse, an excuse to give me a special thrill, which it invariably did. So I grew up with the smell and feel of engine oil and grease and it was with pride that I would come home with Dad, the sweet scent of degreasing hand cleaners preannouncing our arrival.

When I got older (all of 15) I began working summers for that lumber company and as gofer and jack-of-all-trades was often required to drive some of that equipment. And so, over the course of the next 4 or 5 summers I became somewhat proficient with tractors, skidders, bulldozers, trucks of all sizes, and other specialised machinery. It was a dream job for a teenager and served to cement my passion for heavy equipment.

Of course I, like many others, eventually grew up and pursued a career that didn’t give me the summers off to play silly-bugger with 10-ton trucks or tree skidders! For constructionmost of my working life the only thing I drove for work was a cheap, battered desk with a PC on top, but I would never miss a chance to be around machinery of some sort, even if it was just watching the latest round of road construction in front of the office or gazing out the window as the lot next door was transformed first into a 60-foot pit and then a 30-story office tower.

All of which is to explain why I periodically purchase Truck Trader, Heavy Equipment Trader or any one of the similar magazines available on the local bookseller’s magazine Case-590SM-3-Plusrack. Once on the table beside my chair these “wish books” get well thumbed as I dream and compare technical specs and prices while the spousal unit looks on bemused, somewhat worried about what may show up in the driveway one day.

But while there are times I could sure use some mechanical help on the property, the reality is I’ll never own a “2008 CASE 590SM PLUS III, 3011 hours, 4WD, 24” tooth bucket, 8’ front bucket, plumbed in front end” loader or a “09 KW T800, C15 CAT 475HP, 18spd trans” dump truck, but it sure is fun (and a lot cheaper) to dream - at least until that big lottery win comes through.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Is technology just another black hole?

Some time ago I blogged about digital imaging and what it might mean for the sharing of information about our lives with future generations. You can check out the blog post here, but basically I was saying that with the advent of digital photography we now store our photographic life stories on hard drives or other electronic storage devices that will not get passed on to future generations in the way the ubiquitous shoebox full of old family photos is now.
I was reminded of this the other day when listening to a radio discussion about the growing popularity of e-readers and the projected demise of the physical book as we know it. When that happens (and it’s already well on the way to becoming reality) what will become of the family Bible, passed on from generation to generation and carefully annotated with important dates and life events? And what about the collections of significant, or even rare, books so carefully built up over a lifetime that provide an insight into the person who valued the ideas communicated by the authors? They will simply no longer exist.
When you add letters (replaced by email) and postcards (replaced by texting, messaging, or tweeting) to the list it becomes apparent that we will be leaving less and less to our children and grandchildren by way of artefacts that can be used to understand our time and how we lived as individuals, couples, and families.
It’s not the same at the societal level. Technology has long since outstripped Gutenberg when it comes to the collection and sharing of information. Entire libraries, art collections, music collections are now online, stored forever in some great repository in the sky for us and future generations to study and enjoy. Those collections are maintained by corporations and trusts with the financial and technical wherewithal to do so. But they don’t include the technological equivalent of the family photo shoebox or letters traded between your parents during the war. Those and their equivalents will be lost forever to future generations, having been seized by the vortex only to disappear into the electronic black hole.
Perhaps for future generations the most highly anticipated and sought after bequest will be a master password that will open up the vault containing our electronic lives. (Everything but Facebook one would hope.)  But until then I’m afraid that the pickings will be quite slim for the next couple of generations. Too bad really.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Tsunami Harley


HARLEY-DAVIDSON MUSEUM TSUNAMI MOTORCYCLE
Photo source: PR Newswire.
Blogged about here and here, the 2004 Night Train that crossed the Pacific in a storage container after being washed away by the Japanese tsunami in 2010 now is on display at the HD museum.
It’s nice to see it has a home as a fitting memorial to the more than 15,000 Japanese who lost their lives, and the countless thousands of others who lost everything, in that terrible tragedy.

Serendipity

Now that I am finally back in fighting form I have been putting many, many hours into the clean-up of the property and repair of outbuildings damaged by the storm back in July. And for most of that time my bike has been sitting in the garage, tempting me every time I pass by. But for today the weather guy was calling for sunshine and warm (18C) temperatures, so I figured I had better take advantage as one never knows which ride will be that last one of the year once November approaches.
Despite the forecast the morning was quite cool (10C) and overcast but by noon a general lightening of the sky could  be seen, so I decided to bundle up and head into Arnprior for a haircut and a quick lunch en route. It’s only 30km each way but at least it would be a ride and I would actually accomplish something at the same time.
But when I hit the crossroads I turned right rather than left. I’m not sure why except that all of a sudden I had an urge for a Quiznos sandwich (Classic Italian on Italian herbs and spices bread – mm-mmm, good) for lunch and the nearest Quiznos is in Ottawa, 80km away. What the hell, the weather was improving and I wanted a longer ride anyway.
When I arrived and went into the restaurant the person in front of me in line turned out to be a friend and co-worker from about 15 years ago whom I had long since lost track of. And so instead of eating alone with a newspaper for company we shared a table and got caught up on all the news in our respective lives and careers since that time.
It was really great having the opportunity to get re-acquainted with Jim and it never would have happened but for that spur-of-the-moment decision to go right rather than left back at the crossroads. I’m not sure I believe the old adage that everything happens for a reason, but sometimes it sure does seem that way.
When I finally got home a few hours later, and after running some errands in the city (I was there anyway) I remembered the initial reason for the ride. I never did get a haircut so perhaps there’s still one more ride in the season for me.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Human motorcycles

Cruising the intertubes the other day I came across some remarkable work done for the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows.
We’ve all seen pictures of motorcycles that include the human body in the design:
Female-Body-Motorcycle-01
Female-Body-Motorcycle-03
But here’s the real thing.
The Progressive International Motorcycle Shows wanted something unique to advertise their shows, and they certainly got it with these images.

human-motorcycles-bodypaint-trina-merry-1
human-motorcycles-bodypaint-trina-merry-2
human-motorcycles-bodypaint-trina-merry-3
Click over to their web site and watch the video on how these were done. Very cool.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Colours

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.” Charles Dickens
The days are getting noticeably shorter and overnight temperatures flirt with the freezing point, causing gardeners to worry about their tomato plants and we northern motorcyclists to lament the closing days of the riding season. But every so often a spectacular fall day makes us realise how beautiful this time of year can be.
Yesterday was just such a day. I had some errands to run but the morning dawned damp and gray. However the weather forecast called for a sunny afternoon so I waited and was rewarded by the sun breaking out and the temperature rising into the mid-teens (60’ish F) by lunch time. 
While my actual errands only took a few minutes, going the long way round gave me a nice 3-hour ride, some of which I’ve distilled into this 90-second video to share the beauty of Mother Nature in all her fall finery, just before she goes to bed for her long winter’s nap.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I’m back!

After 7 weeks and 3 days (but who’s counting?) I’m back, and it feels great!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Left Side Story

Just an incredible tale of perseverance and determination.
h/t to Road Captain USA for posting this.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The 7 AM challenge

Martha, over at Living Among Tourists, posed a challenge: “Show your town, or your sky, your 7 o'clock in the morning wherever you are.” Aside from the obvious challenge of having to drag one’s ass out of a warm bed on a Saturday morning (of a long weekend no less), finding a suitable subject (or subjects) and fiddling with a camera while still half asleep took some effort. But I did manage to get a couple of photos to share.
DSC_7652 for webThis is the view from my home office as the sun just starts to hit the treetops behind the house.
DSC_7655 for webThen I went around to the front of the house just in time to catch the full moon before it slipped behind the trees on the other side of the lake.
DSC_7659 for webAnd a last shot, just for Bob.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It sucks to be me

Allow me a moment of self-indulgence here. It’s been 5 weeks since my unfortunate incident involving toppled trees, a step ladder, a chainsaw, and the medical community (link here) and I’m feeling the strain.

I didn’t want to admit the docs knew what they were talking about when they said “a minimum of 4  to 6 weeks” for any kind of recovery and expected that I’d be back out there riding and golfing before the end of August. Well, since my seriously abused body hasn’t seen 21 in four decades that’s just not going to happen.

Profile PictureI tried to hit a few balls on Monday – bad idea – and set myself back a few days I think. And riding?  Well it seems there was extensive muscle damage as well and until that heals (which takes a long time for us old folks) I can barely get the bike off the side stand let alone hold it up if it started to tip at a stop. That would be another bad idea.

So I wait. And wait. And wait. And experience the kind of cabin fever that typically rears its ugly head in late February when the dark, cold days get to be too much and you begin to understand why they consume more vodka than water in Siberia. (Although I have recently discovered the joys of good bourbon, so that may not be such a bad thing.)

I know. The world is going to hell in a hand basket and I’m complaining about not being able to play golf? Well, as I said, just a moment of self indulgence and then I’ll get right back to fixing the rest of the world’s problems.

There. Now I feel better.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A custom I could live with

Most custom bikes these days leave me pretty cold, truth be told. The builders try to be outrageous simply to be outrageous. Lines are extreme and many of the components are, in my opinion, questionable. I mean how many spikes, imitation machine gun bullets, and skull-shaped tail lamps is too many? One, I’d suggest.
Then a bike like this comes along and leaves me drooling, even if I can’t explain exactly why.
 Thunderbike-PainTTless-001
Winner of the 2012 World Championship of Custom Bike Building, Thunderhead’s PainTTless is just an incredible example of fine engineering and attention to detail. The vaguely Steampunk look of nickel plating and bronze fittings, the simple beauty of the custom wheels, and the lack of paint distracting from the engineering details all make this bike a standout in my opinion. Nothing seems superfluous to function and not a single bolt seems out of place. It’s a nice, tight package that is certainly due the honour of being named champion.
While probably not a daily rider (one look at the seat will tell you that) I’d still be awfully proud to have PainTTless taking up a spot in my garage. (I know, dream on!)
Thunderbike-PainTTless-007
Thunderbike-PainTTless-009
Thunderbike-PainTTless-023
Thunderbike-PainTTless-024
So congratulations to all at Thunderbike; you’ve really created something remarkable and unique.
(All photos from Thunderbike web site.)
(h/t to Cyril Huze Post for bringing this bike to my attention.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Well it’s been a helluva week!

The week started out normally enough. I was playing golf with some friends a few miles east of here when we were called off the course due to electrical storms in the area. So not wanting to waste a perfectly good afternoon we headed over to the Ashton Brew Pub (their Harvest Brown is delicious!) for a pint or two. Then the storm hit – golf-ball sized hail and winds that shook the old mill building.
After an hour or so it subsided enough to get in the car and head home, to be met by a roadblock set up by the police, blocking the only access into our community. With power lines and trees down all over the road, no one was getting in (or out) for the next 3 hours. Reports were of major storm damage and possible tornado activity (very rare in these parts). Of course we were worried.

When we finally did get through, here’s what greeted us as we came up our roadway.

Storm for web (13)The fire department had been in and cut a path down our road as they were checking residents.

Storm for web (7)Under all those trees on the right is where we normally park our cars.

Storm for web (9) Garage took some abuse, but bikes and tools inside are all okay, although a bit wet from the rain coming in through the roof.

Storm for web (10)Deck furniture rearranged somewhat.

Storm for web (11)
Buried under those trees is what was our vegetable garden. So far I’ve salvaged 6 beans and 2 cucumbers. We might yet get a couple of hardy tomatoes.

Fortunately damage to the house was limited to a broken window and some siding damage, but the garage didn’t fare so well with 2 trees on (and in) it. The bikes were okay though. (Whew!)

The next day, about 1/2 hour into what promises to be a months-long clean-up  I managed to do something stupid and fell, about 6 feet, landing on my back on a log. An ambulance trip into town followed (a first for me) along with a day spent in emergency while they determined that the only(!) problem I had was that I had broken 5 ribs (another first).

XRaysI know, I can’t make any sense of these things either, but I am assured that there are 5 fractures in there somewhere.

So now I’m sitting here listening to the generator going (probably won’t have power back on before the weekend), using my cell phone for internet access (even longer before we get wireless back), looking at a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks before I can ride again, at least a month before I can golf again, and having to pay someone else to clean up the mess because I did something dumb.
And to top it all off, the insurance company is giving me grief over some of the claim.
Can we please go back to Monday and start over?

P.S. The storm hit hard over a very large area and many homes and outbuildings were totally destroyed. And even though it had all the makings of a true disaster there was no loss of life, and no injuries reported. So while I chew pain killers by the handful and look out over a sea of destruction I have to think of how much worse it could have been and how truly lucky all of us were.

Monday, July 16, 2012

PD13

PD13Last week I took a bit of a holiday and rode to Waterloo, ON to visit family and take in the Friday the 13th celebrations at Port Dover. Total mileage was about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) there and back and, thanks to the blisteringly hot dry summer we’re enjoying, done without ever having to pull out the rain suit, although some thunderstorms came perilously close.
Port Dover route
So on Friday the 13th we (me, two of my brothers, and two friends) met bright and early at Tim Horton’s to ride to Port Dover together. When we arrived at about 9:30 the temperatures were already in the 30-degree range (86F) and still climbing. Fortunately we carried some water with us and there was plenty on sale at streetside.
We spent a few hours strolling (actually more like shuffling the crowds were so heavy) the streets, checking out the bikes, visiting the various vendor booths, and buying tee-shirts (As I keep explaining to the spousal unit, one can never have too many Friday the 13th tee-shirts.)
Get Your Official Shirts
By 2:30 we’d had enough of the heat and the crowds, and with a BBQ to go to in Kitchener that evening decided to call it a day and head home. But even as we left Port Dover we met a steady stream of bikers still arriving most of whom, I expect, were planning to partake of the evening’s festivities (i.e. warming bar stools). And in anticipation of that exact eventuality, the OPP were busy setting up RIDE stops along the route as we rode by. (Incidentally, the OPP were out in force for this event and did a great job of managing and directing traffic flows in and around Port Dover. I heard of no heavy-handedness, as is sometimes reported, by the police, so kudos to them for a job well done.)
It’s always difficult to get an accurate measure of crowd size, but published reports placed it at about 140,000 people and about 100,000 bikes converging on this small lakeshore town. Having said that though, I thought there were more bikes and people this year than the last time I went when the estimate was 175,000 attendees. But who’s going to quibble over +/-35,000 of one’s closest biking buddies – best to just say there were a helluva lot of people and a helluva lot of bikes in a very small area. 
I had my GoPro recording much of the ride in and out of town, but it will take me some time to edit the hour or so of video down to something manageable. In the meantime, here are a few snaps I took while wandering the streets ogling all the fine equipment on display.
Here’s a sign we’d like to see more often:

Every street and side street had bikes parked along both sides and sometimes down the middle. And more were arriving every minute, all day long:
Web DSCN4815 Web DSCN4816
This year there seemed to be a lot of really fine tank art (here are some of my favourites):
        
There were some outstanding (and unique bizarre) customizations:
 Web DSCN4770 Web DSCN4809 
And people who wanted to be noticed, including the Horny Tattooed Guy, Zebra Woman, and Thong Man, back for his 23th successive Friday the 13th Rally:
  Web DSCN4799
If you want to go out in style, there were even a couple of options for you to consider:
 
Since this was the 3rd Friday the 13th in 2012, and they were each exactly 13 weeks apart, some were trying to determine whether that was an omen of some sort. Perhaps it was because we had a fine day of riding and people (and motorcycle) watching along with many, many other like-minded individuals. And you can’t beat that.
Now we just have to wait 14 months for the next one (September 13, 2013).