Saturday 28 August 2010

Escaping Crab Fest

There’s this annual event in the Missus’ family at which all the female members get together to bitch about their husbands, each other, and anything else that’s pissing them off at the time, hence the title “Crab Fest”. So for those gourmands out there who thought this post was about seafood, sorry. Males are not invited, except for the spouse of the host (moi) who refuses to give up his bed for any other woman.

So as an uninvited-but-you’re-stuck-with-me guest, my main function was to stay the hell out of the way and keep the wine cellar stocked, both of which I was very happy to do, the first for obvious reasons and the second because I managed to slip a couple of bottles of J-D into the order and no one was any the wiser.

But today I did manage to escape for a nice long ride – about 300 kilometres, or 200 miles worth.

Came across these fine folks out for a patriotic ride not too far from home. Clever use of old mufflers and exhaust pipes, but I’m not sure why they have tails. Monkey riders perhaps?

Crossed over to the Quebec side of the river on the Quyon ferry.

Had a nice rest stop all to myself on a high point of land rising above the valley farms below. Unfortunately the surrounding forest prevented any good scenic views.

Came upon this covered bridge.  For those whose French isn’t up to par, the sign says it was built in 1898, is 497.3 feet in length, and is the longest covered bridge in the Province of Quebec. It doesn’t actually go anywhere, but I had to cross it anyway. Surprisingly, the wooden tracks were worse than any grated bridge I’ve ever been over for moving the front end around. And the trough in the middle of the two wheels tracks was about 8” deep – don’t want to go there.


I made the acquaintance of Bud and Betsy, a couple of roadside hay bale characters  suitably accoutred for the upcoming local fiddle competition. According to the old fellow who put them together, he dresses them up in appropriate finery for Halloween and Christmas as well. May be worth another trip in a month or so.

Last stop: Eganville, a small community on the Bonnechere River first settled almost 200 years ago as a lumber town. Now the centre of a tourist and cottage area.

So to paraphrase the MasterCard ads:
Ferry toll: $3.75
Gas: $12:35
200 mile trip on a beautiful summer day: Priceless.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Motorcycles I understand. Women not so much.

I was washing the bike the other day, giving her some of that TLC she needs every so often to keep her happy. The missus walked by and said, “You never treat me like that any more.”
So I turned and gave her a soaking with the pressure washer.

Now it seems she didn’t want to be treated “like that” after all, and I’m in trouble again.

pressure wash

Monday 16 August 2010

Summer getaway

Before heading down to Port Dover for the Friday the 13th celebrations, I spent a little time at a cottage on Doe Lake up the Huntsville area with my brother, fishing and doing some riding.
The fishing wasn’t so great (at least for me), but the riding was excellent.
My favourite road was Highway 518 which is  60 kilometres of twists, turns, hills, and valleys, and seemingly unknown to the rest of the motoring public. I would have thought it would be a sports bike magnet, but we didn’t see one other motorcycle the two times we rode it. All we had to watch out for was moose (didn’t see any, although there were plenty of warning signs) and various roadside attractions that would catch my eye. Here are a couple of my favourites.
Blue tricycle on 518. Just sitting on a rock in front of a home beside the road.
Some very nice rock art. Also on 518.
Tom Thomson bronze sculpture in Huntsville.
Lunch on the patio overlooking the canal in Huntsville.
(It wasn’t just beer… we did have some food as well.)
Taking a break beside one of the many lakes in the area.
It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Sunday 15 August 2010

Port Dover – Friday the 13th

Port Dover MapLocated on the north shore of Lake Erie, Port Dover Ontario is a sleepy village of about 6,000 permanent residents, except for Friday the 13th. On every Friday the 13th since 1981 bikers from across Canada and the US converge on Port Dover for a 1-day rally. This past Friday was the 50th consecutive rally and one of the most  successful with some estimates putting the attendance in the vicinity of 175,000 visitors and close to 100,000 bikes.
Intending to beat the crush we left Waterloo at 7 AM for the 2 hour ride there. It was a beautiful morning with temperatures in the low 20's (Celsius) and the morning fog still burning off the fields gave the ride a bit of an ethereal feel to it. After the requisite stop at Tim Horton's for a coffee, we rode into Port Dover at about 9:00, just 2 more bikes in a steady stream of motorcycles pouring into town.
Rather than spend the next hour riding around looking for a parking spot in the heart of downtown, we opted to support a local charity and pay for parking about a 15-minute walk from the centre of the action. But even at that early hour, on-street parking was filling up fast and so we had lots of bikes to look at on our walk into town.
I'll get to the pictures in a minute, but before I do I'd just like to say how refreshing it is to experience an event like this in a community that supports the rally and goes out of its way to welcome the visitors drawn to the event, either as riders, or as spectators. Sure there's a ton of money to be made so it may not be that altruistic of them, but even so it's nice to feel welcome. And in turn the vast majority of bikers return the favour, being respectful of the town, its citizens, and the authorities attempting to keep everyone safe in town and on the roads.
All in all, a great day.
112A steady stream of bikes rolling into town.
Some had real women on pillion, but this guy apparently made his own.
  Not sure how far he rode on the tractor saddle. 
Surprisingly few of these. But lots of everything else.
One of the coolest bikes was this 1936 (I think) Nimbus. The owner would start it up periodically so you could watch the exposed valves and valve springs clattering away. Very neat.
098And for the budget crowd there were even chopped electric bicycles.
062 Some incredible paint work on display. While not my personal style, the Spider Man crotch rocket was an amazing piece of custom work.
097   Every street heading into downtown looked like this – for a mile or more in some cases.
115Lots of people walking, gawking, and buying stuff… lots of stuff. Apparently they ran out of souvenir t-shirts by 2:30. Fortunately I had mine by then. :)
 118 121
And no Friday the 13th would be complete without “Thong Man”. No idea who he is, but he’s at every event in some sort of thong-based costume. This time it was as the Energizer Bunny, complete with pink bunny ears, a tail, and a little drum. Last November it was Santa. Simply more proof that it takes all kinds.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

A perfect day

Sunday was one of those perfect days that comes along every so often. It started with an early round of golf. Conditions were excellent – sunny, cool’ish temperatures, and no wind – and I scored well, dropping the handicap another few notches. By 1:00 I was home looking for something do do in the afternoon.
Now to be clear I had lots to do. The honey-do list is as long as my arm and then some, but it was too nice a day to waste doing chores. I needed something frivolous.
A road trip was the perfect answer. Monday the spousal unit and I were scheduled to play a new course and I wasn’t too sure just where it was, so it seemed a recce was in order to get the lay of the land.  Besides I was still trying to get some road time to play with my GoPro camera – a handy little device that has so far managed to avoid being controlled by me in any meaningful (i.e. useful) way. (I plan to do a review as soon as I figure out how to use it. The user interface designer must have been on drugs.)
Although the village of Dwyer Hill had long been subsumed by the ever-expanding city boundaries, the Dwyer Hill Road still exists and cuts through farming country to the south-west of Ottawa. A two-lane road, it’s often the quickest way to get to where you’re going (in this case North Grenville), while avoiding the superslab and city traffic. And it’s much more scenic.
After hanging a left at Burritt’s Rapids and following the Rideau Canal for a few miles (even more scenic), I found my destination, exactly 100 kilometers (60 miles) from home. Mission accomplished.
But it was still early and the sun was still shining so I thought I’d pay the missus a visit at work in the city. She works in one of those large booksellers (like Barnes and Noble) and my stack of unread books had dropped below the 1-foot level so it needed replenishing. Besides there’s a Starbuck’s in the store and I had a craving for a iced latte.
After a quick detour into the city to satisfy mind and body it was time to head home – the long way – with a stop at Scoop’s in Pakenham for a pralines and cream ice cream, a swing through Arnprior to talk to my favourite computer store guy (who was planning to take a Bombardier Spyder down to Montreal on the weekend – must check with him to see how that went), and then a meandering swing through the village of White Lake (population: a handful).
All told it was about 250 kilometres (150 miles) of riding under perfect conditions. And except for the fact that my GoPro was still winning the battle of wits (which is why there are no accompanying pictures or videos), a great day.
mapquest jul 31

Sunday 1 August 2010


My friend Bob is one of those guys that we all know. He bumbles his way through life in a state of blissful ignorance. Floating along like a cork on the current, just going with the flow, he somehow always avoids being dashed up on the rocky shoreline. A good friend but infuriatingly blasé about life and stuff in general.

Well Bob saw the movie “Bucket List” a while back (a very good flick by the way) and decided that life really was too short and so he needed his own bucket list to make sure he accomplished all of his goals before it was too late. The fact that he probably has 40 good years still in front of him never seemed to enter his mind.

Along with the expected bucket list entries like skydiving, bungee jumping, visiting a nude beach, and winning the lottery (well that’s on everyone’s list) Bob’s list included buying a motorcycle and learning how to ride.  Of course that precipitated a whole series of conversations about what type, and how big, and new or used, and so on – the kinds of things you’d expect from a newbie. Meantime he’s looking around on the used market -- eBay, Craig’s List, Kijiji -- for whatever he can find that’s a) running; and b) cheap because he knew there was no way he’d be able to afford everything on his list, unless the lottery win came through. 

On Thursday I got the call.

“Hi, it’s Bob.”

“Hey Bob, what’s up?”

“I found the bike it’s an old Royal Enfield but it’s been completely restored and a good runner this guy’s wife is selling it her husband just died and she’s getting rid of his stuff.” Bob’s so excited this comes out like a stream of consciousness, punctuation optional.

“Is it a good price?”

“I think so it’s well within my budget and she even agreed to throw in his GPS since he won’t be needing it any more.” And he laughs. Then adds, “I’m going to look at it tomorrow and probably buy it.”

So I told him a few things to check carefully and wished him good luck before hanging up.

Today he came by with his new bike, GPS included.