Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Around and About

The count down has begun, only 3 more days and I am back to work. I have been fortunate lately to have time to spend hiking, riding and biking around and about home. It has made the last few days feel like I'm still on holiday and is there any better feeling? A couple of days ago I hiked at Charleston Lake then I had a couple hours to spare yesterday and managed to do a 200+ km ride on the VStar in perfect weather along a favorite local road to Perth Ontario. The traffic was heavy (last minute holiday sight see-ers) and I've photographed the ride so many times, I didn't stop except for gas and lunch. Today a friend convinced me to dust off the bicycle and I rode the two-wheeler (and survived) 17km along a stretch of newly opened trail between Orser Road and Harrowsmith Ontario. Around and about the home town - the new 200k holiday!
 Charleston Lake
Rock overhang along the sandstone hiking trail.
My other bike - gel seat, my ....
Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Tourist In My Own Town

I live in a beautiful town and sometimes a picture says much more than words could ever. Sunday I had the chance to be a tourist in my own town. From Brits in the Park to an art festival, a flea market on market square, City Hall across the basin and kite boarders racing in the Canadian Olympic Regatta Kingston (CORK), it was a spectacular, sunny, summer Sunday - in Kingston, Ontario.

'Brits in the Park' ...

A look at a couple (or three) Lovely Lotus ...

and a pretty MG ...

Art festival in the park ...

Kingston yacht club ...

City Hall from the basin ...

Ducks on a 'Doo' in Confederation Basin

Flea market on Market Square ...

Kite boarders competing in CORK (Lake Ontario)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Regular Maintenance - An Important Thing!

The star was due for an oil change and, according to the owner’s manual, new plugs so I dropped by the Performance Shed to set up the appointment for Friday. Of course Friday came and the red sunrise screamed “rain delay,” but I finally convinced myself the blue sky to the west was good news and geared up for the first ride since returning home. It felt a bit weird riding a bike that was over a hundred pounds lighter (not loaded down with gear) and I found myself having to adjust to the difference in weight and balance, not to mention seat position now that I didn’t have a tent/sleeping bag backrest behind me. The ride was short, but long enough to notice that something was a bit off with the star.

I arrived two hours late fully expecting to leave the star and pick her up Saturday but they were waiting, having juggled the work schedule. I’m not sure, but I think they may have been taking bets on what time I’d get there. Bruce, my mechanic, appeared and muttered something to which I replied, “What did you expect, I’m a diva. I don’t ride in the rain (anymore)” and he whisked her off to the shop behind the showroom.  The great folks at Performance Shed (Andrew, Bruce, Yogi) graciously agreed to being photographed for the blog so I dropped my gear on the couch and headed out back, camera in hand.

So the great thing about Bruce is that he's as much a teacher as a mechanic.  An hour in the shop and I felt like I’d enrolled in the Yamaha school of ’you could do it yourself princess’ mechanics. He really wanted me to understand the finer points of maintenance; oil types, oil levels, how the oil works with the engine, spark plugs, ethanol /gas ratios. Then I mentioned, “She’s running a bit rough, seems to be vibrating a bit.” At first he wasn’t concerned but like a doctor examining a patient, he ran his hands and eyes over the bike and quickly noticed something awry. The pipes were not parallel … there was way too much play in the top pipe and it was now actually resting, in part, on the bottom pipe. Turns out somewhere along the ride an exhaust bracket bolt had been lost. Of course it wasn’t one they had in stock but Andrew found one (on the original exhaust from his own bike that he’d replaced with aftermarket pipes.) Oil changed, new spark plugs and bracket re bolted while I waited. I’ve talked about the great service at Yamaha dealerships on the road; today I’m glad to have a chance to talk about the great service from the hometown boys (and girls) at The Performance Shed.

 Bike "doctor" Bruce checks the plug

   A little scarring from the mishap, luckily it really isn't noticeable now that she's back together

One final twist to tighten the last bolt and I'm ready to go 

I generally do a quick pre ride check. I make sure the lights and signals are working, the brake and clutch levers feel normal and the brakes hold. I glance at my trip meter (my gas gauge). I check the tire pressure and if I’ve got help I check the oil. I thought I was on top of things, but apparently I’ve got one more thing to add to my list. I obviously can’t look at every nut and bolt, but I might just gently wiggle the pipes, and possibly a few other things to make sure they are secure.

As far as doing it myself, thanks Bruce, but it just isn’t gonna happen (besides, who would take the pictures?) Regular maintenance; it’s an important thing and I leave it to the pros.

 For the skoot fans, a little 'roadrunner' - I hear her owner really travels on this one
Just like kids in a candy shop, they all check out the new Raptor fresh from the box

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sometimes it's about family!

Sometimes life is about more than motorcycles .... sometimes it's about family. Tonight my family celebrated our mother's (grandmother/great grandmother's) 95th birthday. The food was atrocious but the gathering great. So, let me bore you with my family album....

The birthday girl (doesn't look a day over 85!)

4 Generations - The whole Fam damily ...
My brother, his son and grandsons,
 me, my sons (whoa, when did they get to be so much bigger than me), granddaughter
and the birthday girl.

and (a close up of, 'cause she's so cute) Miss Maddy (and Mom)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

28 Days On Two Wheels – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Really Long Post)

The crows are gathering in the mornings now, “cawing” out their fall vacation plans and telling me that my summer is coming to a close.  And as great as it is to just stretch and walk downstairs to the coffee, it’s also sad to see the Star sitting on the driveway under her cover, knowing that another adventure, another summer’s ride, is over. I thought, on this rainy day, it would be a great time to reflect on those 28 days on the road … the good, the bad and the ugly.

Home Again - Nanna's Ride / Maddy's Ride

28 days, four weeks, one month just me and my bike - no responsibilities, that’s what I call feeling like a kid again and that’s a good thing! Thoughts of work were pushed to the back of my mind. On the bike the only thing to think about was riding; watching the road, the traffic, the sights and sounds around me.  Travelling by motorcycle is not ‘going on a trip’ it is ‘being immersed in the journey’. You feel the hot air engulf you, smell the wet pavement ahead of you, hear the engine ‘s powerful rumble beneath you, see every blade of blowing grass beside you and every transforming cloud above you and sometimes even taste a few bugs along the way. The feeling of being surrounded by the open road, that’s a good thing.  Okay, there may have been a few worries about where the next meal was coming from, but in the end there was always a Wally Mart Superstore or Safeway to pick up something fresh to go and on the very few instances where there wasn’t, there was always the secret stash of almonds, apples and protein shakes that I had stowed away (not to mention that coveted can of baked beans I carried with me in case of emergencies) and that was a good thing.
My little Star ran like the star she is. So many people laughed and said, “You can’t do it on a 650.” But I did it (again) without a hitch and that’s a good thing.  I found the VStar completely comfortable and just the right fit for my 5’3 1/2” inch frame. It has just enough room to pack a tent and sleeping bag between me and the top bag which just happens to make the perfect, arm chair comfortable, back rest – just like riding on a lazy boy, and that’s a good thing when you plan on travelling over 10,000 kilometers.  The Star does lack a gas gauge and that’s a bad thing when the gas stations are few and far between, but I learned, after running out of gas, that having a reserve tank is a good thing … and I also learned when you’re travelling in the west, it’s best to never let an opportunity to fill up go by. The only ugly part was having a front tire that always worried me. When you only have two wheels, tire pressure is paramount and when the front tire loses two PSI per day, that’s a bad thing. The good thing was finding Snake River Yamaha, a terrific dealership in Meridian (near Boise) Idaho who did an oil change, realized the air filter was dirty and changed it, serviced the drive shaft and replaced the tube in the front tire all while I waited and for a reasonable cost.  The Star fits me and my riding style, I knew it the first time I sat on her and that was a great thing.

Garmin Dan, well, he’s just the greatest thing since sliced bread and this year he worked without so much as a hiccup and that’s an excellent thing.  This year I upgraded his software and that seemed to cure all of the “black out” problems he suffered from last year. The bad thing was I forgot, at first, to set him on a course to avoid places I really didn’t want to ride through like CHICAGO! So I skipped a toll going through Chicago – I put my safety ahead of paying the meager toll. I should go on line and pay that toll - that would be the right thing! Dan, thank you for talking me through the traffic and for always knowing where to find a Wally Mart.
This year I remembered what my friend Ron once told me, “Over planning is a bad thing.” So, I pre booked my first KOA night (because I knew they had an issue with bears and I wanted to make sure I had a camping Kabin – me - bears not a good thing) and after that I estimated. I knew what direction I was headed and approximately how many kilometers I wanted to travel.  I’d aim for the campsite (I love KOA, they are so predictable – and they all have pools) and was never turned down. Camping with a tiny tent – that’s a good thing, there’s always room for one more. Not being pre booked meant I didn’t have to ride in the rain if I didn’t want to and I didn’t have to ride ‘til I was exhausted just because I had a reservation. When I checked in I’d let them know, one night, provided it’s not pissing rain in the morning. My motto this year was, ‘if I don’t have to ride in the rain – I won’t.’ Flexibility, being able to travel on my time, and giving myself a little extra time, that’s a wonderful thing. And you never know, you might just find the most fabulous, (non KOA) motorcycle friendly campground in the whole world, ‘cause you took a chance, right in Enterprise Oregon – who knew?
The Gears canvas saddle bags worked well, that’s good, but I have to say they do nothing to compliment the pretty bike and that’s ugly. They sag, even when fully loaded and the dual track zippers on the main bag can be annoying and sometimes even challenging to open and close. However the smaller zipper pockets were convenient for small things and things I needed to access quickly along the way and the mesh pockets at the front were a great place to hold my much needed water bottle and magnetic kickstand plate for soft dirt, gravel and cheap pavement parking. The Gears trunk is my favorite new’ish’ bag. It holds my computer and, with a little grunting, all the cosmetics a grandma needs to take with her …plus chargers, maps, cups and cutlery and a few other odds and ends and that’s good. The bad thing is that within two years it has faded from black to nearly white grey. I spoke to the Gears rep last January at the International Bike Show in Toronto and he told me they have since changed manufacturers but that doesn’t help me, and that’s a sad thing. It has also started to sag and lean to the side. I’m having a bit of a struggle keeping it tightly secured, straight, to the luggage rack. A good idea would be to design a metal bracket of some sort to support it now that I can’t live without it. None of the Gears bags is truly waterproof, that’s a bad thing, but something I expected and packed all of my belongings in dry bags that kept the stuff dry and also easy to carry into the tent or motel and in the end if not a good thing, it was at least a handy thing.
The top bag (my second most favorite piece of luggage) that I purchased in Maine nearly six years ago is hardly showing its age, still almost black and fairly waterproof. The ugly thing is the damage that the squirrels from Prince Edward Island did to the piping around the top zipper. It has plenty of outside pockets that keep flashlights, extra bungee cords, Leatherman, the odd tool (ha ha), zip ties, latex gloves, extension cord, first aid kit and the Imodium right where I can get at them in a hurry and that’s a really good thing. The main compartment is huge with a place for hiking boots, the quick change of clothes (for those on the street metamorphoses), food, extra riding gloves, crock sandals and anything else I can squeeze into the holes. And all of that got packed in without expanding the case upward. (As Sonja said, my little Star is a mule … but then she was packed for a month on the road, she had to be.)  She carried it with ease, if not with style and that’s a good thing!

The new Rocket Alter Ego 11 three in one high viz jacket lived up to my expectations. (By the way it’s really a four in one, but I only took 3 of the in ones with me). I found it to be considerably cooler than the older, all black model. I expect that had something to do with the lighter, more reflective lime green colour.  The bad thing was, it is longer than my old Alter Ego jacket and did not actually zipper to my rocket pants, which wasn’t a problem as it didn’t seem to ‘ride up’ as the bomber style jacket did. The rain liner worked well, keeping me dry on the very few occasions when I was caught in ugly weather and it added an extra wind break for the really cold mountain morning ride out of Enterprise Oregon, and that was a good thing. That morning was the one time I wished I had taken the quilted liner with me as well, but the good thing was the cold was short lived and I was back in the warmth before I had much time to complain.
 A great discovery for this trip was a new product recommended by my dermatologist. It is a sunscreen, especially designed for the face called Colore Science, sunforgettable. This product is a dry blend of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which provides SPF 30 in an easy to apply, self- brush container. It worked perfectly under the helmet and didn’t rub off or drip stinging goo into my eyes. I’ve seen too many riders with sunburned and blistered faces. It was a really good thing under scorching skies.
The best thing, as always, was meeting so many new people (and surprisingly, so many familiar faces) along the way. Being able to meet the real Bobskoot, Trobairitz, Troubadour, Erik, Richard, Sonja and Roland, knowing they are not just cyborgs – that was a great thing. Realizing that I need a lot more practice (and confidence) riding on the tight twisties to keep up with them, well that gives me a new goal, and having a goal – that’s a good thing.
Being home - that's a comfortable thing...but knowing I made it to Hell and back, well, that's a special thing.
The good, the bad and the ugly, really I just made up that headline to get your attention - this trip, 99% good, even if Bobskoot doesn’t understand what a pasture is.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hot Day - Hot Cars

For a bit of a change: Hot day, hot cars ... plenty of pretty cars and lots of reflections at the annual Westport Show and Shine Antique Car show.

Friday, August 3, 2012

It's Over ... But It Really Won't Hit Me Until Tomorrow

Aboard the Wolfe Island Ferry
Oh, Canada, I'm back (or, to quote my Mom, "Thank God you're back alive").
It was a short but lovely ride parallelling Lake Ontario from Oswego to Cape Vincent. Cape Vincent has become my favorite, no line ups, U.S. exit and from there it's only a 10 minute ferry ride to Wolfe Island and Canadian soil. There were a group of Harley riders from Quebec on the ferry. I was glad they got off the boat first, I couldn't tell if my VStar engine was running over their pipes (I won't even mention the tank tops and half helmet attire that was popular with the group).
The Harley riders, I think the trailer says it all.
I attempted to meet up with number two son who was working on the Island. He told me it was a kilometer down a gravel road .... I've really got to get that boy to check the odometer when he's travelling. After two kilometers down a road that felt like I was riding on marbles he was no where in sight. I did find a suitable place, with dry grass to turn around, texted him about meeting tomorrow and headed back to take the ferry to the main land.
I arrived home around noon and was met at the door by all things furry. They said their hellos and then proceeded to ignore me as they went back to their afternoon naps. Number one son had looked after the place well, the flowers were even still alive despite there having been no rain and temps in the high 30/low 40C range since I left. Best of all was a big hug from Miss Maddy (my granddaughter and most beautiful girl in the world)
and dinner with friends at the Creek. It's Friday and all is the same as I left it 28 days and 10,426.9 kilometers ago. It's over but it really won't hit me until tomorrow.
Just another Friday night at the creek!
Jo, Norbert, Me, Barb and Ken.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

548.9 km Closer To Home

Lake Erie through the trees

How do you know you're close to home? If you're Canadian it's when you find a Tims ... and when you run into somebody who knows a member of your family at a gas station. (Mike - Buddy says hello!)

Ohio, Pennsylvania, lots of traffic and now, almost home, I've found a jewel in New York state. Oswego New York. Oswego is a small port city on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. I thought coming around the lakes I would miss the hills, but not so. Oswego is a miniature San Fransisco with houses built on the sides of sloping hills, just not quite as extreme. It has a large harbor, light house, several kilometers of riverside pedestrian walkways as well as a canal with lift locks and the bonus today, at Canal Commons, I found an outdoor market with food vendors, vintners, artisans and farmers all selling their wares. When I first arrived I was sorry I'd prebooked this stop so close to home but after a 3 k walk-about town I'm glad I did.

My Trip To Oswego N.Y. (via Oregon)
 The Lighthouse
 Boats in the harbor
 Coast Guard
 River side
Canal and river, side by side
 Riverside pedestrian walkway
 Bridge spanning the river and canal
Canal Commons Market