Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beautiful Rides Close To Home

There are so many beautiful rides ... so close to home. It was such a glorious spring day I thought I'd go for one of those rides and test the new gadget.
Today's ride went along the Thousand Island Parkway with a stop at Ivy Lea to look at the boats. Then on to Brockville for a pitt stop at Timmy's (truly Canadian eh?). From there - North to Athen's, home of the murals, along to historic Lyndhurst, Seeley's Bay and across the Brass Point Bridge onto the Burnt Hills Road (talk about tails of dragons, there must be a hundred bends in 6 km).

184 km and still have a smile on my face.Tomorrow looks like another fine day for a ride. Remember May 1, wherever you are  is   ABCD  (A Blogger's Center Line Day).

On the gadget note: Blue tooth charge only lasted an hour and a half  (not very useful on a long haul) so it was back to the skull candy headphone. Humm I'm hoping the blue tooth lost most of it's charge sitting since March and will perform better once being charged again. Guess I'll have to make another test run tomorrow.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Home Again and the Heat's Turned On ...

Easter at our house isn't the same without the big three: ham, my Mom's scalloped potatoes and my favorite (perhaps the reason I ride alone) baked beans. Good food, great company … yesterday’s feast was topped only by finally getting the VStar back home again today. Yes, today was the day. Thanks to everyone who had their fingers crossed, the weather defied the weatherman. I had warm temperatures and clear skies for this year’s first ride. 
Toggle switch discretely
 (can you even see it?)
above instruments on
the tank.

It’s the day I’ve been anticipating, talking about for months but, when the time actually came I have to admit sheer anxiety took over. There I stood, face to face with 650ccs of Japanese technology (aka a motorcycle) that I hadn’t ridden in months. It looked so much larger and far more dangerous than I remembered. My gear weighed a ton and I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to get my short little leg over the seat let alone maneuver through city streets long enough to make it home alive. The traffic in town was, to say the least, horrendous (what is it about a holiday weekend?) I was as close to terrified as I could be. My hands were literally shaking. I couldn’t remember where the choke was, I couldn’t get it started … my confidence level was about to bottom out when the mechanic came out to help. Of course he gallantly explained the work he’d done, pointed out that he had installed the toggle switch for the heated grips backwards on purpose because high (left), low (right) made more sense to him (and for some strange reason it did to me too). I muttered under my breath that I didn’t like the first ride and he assured me that he and everybody felt the same way. I could have cooked an entire Easter feast in the time it took me to put on my jacket, put in the big ears, adjust my helmet, put on the gloves, reposition the mirrors, adjust the helmet again…from the parking lot to the street was the longest 50 foot ride I think I’ve ever taken.
By the time I got to the gas station 10 km away I was feeling comfortable and at home, back in the saddle again. I think a little fear and paranoia is a good thing – it makes you respect the machine you’re riding. It makes you think about what the rest of the world is going to throw at you, like the woman in the SUV who pulled out around another vehicle in front of me today - she couldn’t have possibly seen me, luckily, I was watching for her.
My 25 kilometer ride home took me 116 km. There was a tiny bit of a chill in the air by 3 so I flicked the perfectly positioned toggle switch for the heated grips and headed for home.
All cleaned and polished, dressed in stunning new saddle bags and wearing the latest in heated grips the VStar is home again ready for this year's adventure.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Come Hell or High Water ...

“Come hell or high water,” it means…it will happen regardless of obstacles. It was one of my mother’s sayings… and come hell or high water the VStar will be coming home on Monday – Ross called, it’s ready. The forecast for Monday is looking worse than today and right now it’s raining so hard there are rivulets racing down the driveway pooling into small lakes behind my house. There’s definitely high water and it’ll be hell trying to get the bike through the mud slicked, rugged and rutted terrain that used to be my driveway. Yesterday of course was the perfect day to ride with a temperature of 12 under a sunny sky. Even if I had been able to pick up the VStar yesterday the shop was closed. Motorcycle mechanics deserve a holiday every now and then too.

"Never stop dancing..."
The reason this old "hell and high water" saying came to mind, aside from today’s miserably poor weather, was that yesterday I spent most of the day on a little outing with my 93 year old mother. We went to her older sister’s birthday party. In all honesty, as amazing as the two of them are, both still living independently and going strong I was even more amazed when the table behind me filled with ‘the out of town’ cousins. The youngest at the table (of that generation - there were 8 in all) was a sprite 88 the oldest 98 … one was using a walker and was having a little problem with his sight but the conversation at their table would have rivaled, if not been more interesting than any group in the room. It was an exciting conversation of old times and fond memories of the birthday gal yes, but also of adventures lived, politics and today’s world issues. 91 year old Jack, I’m proud to say had only given up riding his motorcycle a few years ago (we chatted once about the cross Canada motorcycle tour he made in his 80s) and 98 year old Harold (actually from the generation before, being an uncle rather than cousin – I think) thought that having given up jogging two years ago was a terrible mistake and is planning to start running again. Harold’s advice will stick with me, “If you run, don’t stop … and never stop dancing!” Harold is a retired dentist, runner and former competitive sailboat racer. (Harold and his wife drove back to Ottawa, Harold at the wheel, in their lovely late model Pryus.)
Motorcycle Rider Jack (MD)

Monday’s weather is still looking ugly – Looks like it’ll be about 15 ° and a whole lot of rain away from being a comfortable ride home. It’s one thing to take your first, winter rusty ride under clear skies on dry pavement – it will be a whole other ride with cold rain and slick road conditions - I’ll be using even more caution. Hey, I think it stopped raining, no, just my imagination!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Call Me Wussy!

Right now,  as I speak (well not really because it is actually well past any self respecting mechanic's bedtime), but in the last day or so, hopefully today maybe even sometime, the VStar will have been deemed fit and ready to ride. The unfortunate thing is, this is Canada and it's ... well, let's just say, "It's not warm!" The weather has taken a turn toward the nasty. In the last couple days we've seen sheets of driving rain, pelting hail and blowing snow all topped off with nose-freezing temperatures - again! All thoughts of  JoeRocket  were sloughed aside when I sadly hauled the winter coat out once more.

Okay, call me wussy but I didn't like having to peel frost bitten and frozen fingers, one by one, from the glacial grips last October and with this spring looking just as cold I decided to have one more tiny accessory added to the VStar. I want heated grips. I know, I've been told by many, "They're easy to install yourself."  I even read a handy woman's guide to doing your own bike accessory stuff ... but the idea of doing surgery on my VStar sounded just as appealing to me as trying to take out my own appendix so it's being done at KTec and I was told, "Don't call before Wednesday." (In two hours it will be Wednesday, should I call?)
I bought the VStar from a terrific dealership (The Performance Shed, Harrowsmith, ON) and they did stellar work adding the windscreen, saddlebag brackets, back rest and luggage rack but the folks at KTec (Kingston) have looked after both my Suzuki's and even though I'm now a proud Yamaha owner, I am still a loyal customer. Last year they installed the 12 volt power socket and wired the Garmin mount on the VStar. The job was nothing less than "slick." I have high expectations and I know that this job will be just as complete. If you're ever touring through the Limestone City area and need any assistance I highly recommend either/both for motorcycle related work.

I'm afraid to even look at tomorrow's forecast - I really am a wussy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pass it on ...

ABCD - Will You Take Part?
Maybe you would like to join in with this.....

A Bloggers Centerline Day, or ABCD, will take place on Sunday 1st May 2011.

The plan is to inspire as many bloggers as possible to go outside and take a photograph of themselves on this day, wherever they are in the world. The photo can be creative, arty, contain more than one person, be in any type of location and can contain anything else you like. It must however contain the centerline of a road and at least part of you, the blogger.
There are 5 rules....
Rule 1 - the picture must be taken on 1st May 2011.
Rule 2 - the picture must be of yourself, and you must be a person that publishes a blog. You can include whatever else you like in the picture, including other people if you wish.
Rule 3 - the picture must include the centerline of a road.
Rule 4 – you should publish the picture on your blog on 1st May 2011, along with a few words about the picture and why you chose that location or pose.
Rule 5 - when you have posted the picture on your own blog, put a comment on and include in that comment the address of your own blog post containing your own picture.

Gary France will then pick his favourite photos and publish these as being the winners. There will be a prize of $100 awarded to the overall single winner, as chosen by Gary.
In order to get this event known as widely as possible, please copy and paste this posting onto your own blog, including the title. Please do that today!
As a reminder to yourself to take the photo and post it, put an entry into your diary for 1st May 2011.
Let’s see if we can get as any people to join in as possible.


Gotta love my mechanic ... the sign at the front says "M is for Mechanic not Magician."
I stopped by yesterday hoping that the VStar would be coming out of her winter hiding spot soon. Of course everybody in the city wants to get their bike out this week.

She's penciled in for next Tuesday. He says, "call Wednesday." I can only hope it'll be Thursday.

Wonder if I'll have forgotten how to ride? I wonder, did she miss me? I'm already planning the careful route home, it takes a bit to get back in the saddle and be safe again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It Happened Overnight

A miracle seemed to happen to my lake overnight. In one fell sweep of a thunderstorm the lake that clung to winter on Friday has opened to a new season today.

It may look as though the shore is still dressed in the drab colors of fall but the sounds and the smells have changed.

The quiet chill of winter has been replaced by the "conk-la-ree" song of the red winged black bird and the quiet lap of the water on the shore. There's a hint of summer on the wind.                                                                                                                                                         
Where not long ago the coyotes walked across the frozen lake today three snapping turtles are enjoying a swim (look closely).

Gotta love Ontario - Gotta love Spring! Can't wait to get out and RIDE ONTARIO.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nothing To Do Of Motorcycles ... except longing

Really, I've nothing new to post except that I was happy to hear the guttural rumblings of mother natures first thunderstorm of the season today. With the temperature hovering around plus10 it's just comforting to know that what ever falls, it won't have to be shovelled. As a motorcycle rider I'm usually not happy to see the rain unless life has decided that it is not a day for a ride. Of course today was not a day to ride - I still have not got the VStar out of storage. (I'm a little ashamed of myself.) Life has had far too many other plans for me lately and I'm desperately trying to catch up. I'm envious of the many riders I heard roaring past today - maybe next weekend.
One thing I have had the chance to do lately is check out a new website featuring the art of my friend and fellow biker Ron Peter. Over the past few years I've had the good fortune to enjoy and be inspired by many of Ron's bike trips through his photographs. He has now decided to show the world what talent he has as a painter. Yeah, Ron! Well done! Am looking forward to our next ride to "the County."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

There's A Lot Riding On It ...

Today had me believing that spring might come after all. It wasn’t raining and it wasn’t snowing though the sky had the look - it could do either. The temperature was somewhere between 2 and 15 depending on the relationship of sun to thermometer. I was hoping for the high end but got the low end. Still it was a perfect afternoon to get out for a walk. It was almost the kind of day that could convince this sissy girl it’s time to get her VStar out of storage.

This is Canada and it’s no accident that our flag has a maple leaf on it – this is the land of the maple tree and it is "sugaring" time (no, everyone in the neighborhood isn't running out to remove their unwanted hair growth, they're making maple syrup). Walking by a local sugar shack I was taken by the sweet, smoky smell of an outdoor fire seasoned with just a hint of maple. I remembered my fall walks and how smoke from a wood fire gave me a feeling of comfort and homeyness and now, nearly the same experience, gave me the feeling of wanderlust. Maybe it was endorphins from the exercise or maybe it was memories of campfires and adventure from last summer that came flooding back,I don't know.

I came back from my walk with a feeling that it is time to start planning the next bike journey, not that it hasn’t been on my mind for months. I actually had a dream that I just couldn’t get the bike packed and had to keep taking everything off to start over and over. This year I am hoping to ride more than double the distance of last, one of my longest tours and certainly my longest solo trip. I’m thinking my planning needs to be better than ever….so where do I start?

Not really me!
Next to the actual route I’ll be taking, one of my top priorities will be the tires that I’ll be riding on. I’ve already got over 10,000 km on this set and am concerned that it might be pushing it to expect them to last for over 30,000 km safely, especially carrying a full load. On that note in both the January and April editions of Cycle World; Service by Paul Dean (an ask the expert section) questions were posed about tire inflation and over inflating tires to carry a heavier load…You’ve got to check out the cartoon illustration by Cademartori (April), I’m sure he’s seen me on the road – just kidding, I really try to pack lighter than that. Paul’s answer to both was clear – don’t over inflate and don’t overload. He has me thinking a lot more about my tires, the gross vehicle weight rating and my packing. I’ve always tried to check the tire pressure regularly and keep them inflated to the specified psi front and rear but never realized there was also a recommended total weight load for the tires not to mention a gross vehicle weight rating for the bike – of course it does make perfect sense. (Now me and all my gear aren’t going to equal the weight of Mr. April alone but it’s pretty obvious I should check my specific tires and my bike to see what the limits are.) This year I’ll be weighing the bags along with me and all the gear plus the six pair of undies I plan to pack before I leave instead of when I get home and in my search for new tires I’ll be reading sidewalls looking for the maximum load.
So what else should I be thinking about….