Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's Labour Day Weekend and the last hours of summer vacation are quickly slipping away. While I still had time I headed to Nepean to visit friends and walked to see the new sight in the neighbourhood ... the long awaited Strandherd-Armstrong bridge.
The entire Capital area is very pedestrian friendly and I found a lovely walking trail under the bridge following the River. Unexpectedly I spotted this fellow just scootin' the trail (toting a bucket for fish.)
It still looks like summer but in my heart I know it's over.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Inevitable ...

The passage of time is inevitable ... as are the seasons.
There it was. The first tree on my lake to succumb to fall; it was inevitable!
Another season has gone by.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not A Cloud In The Sky ... And The Toughest 2 Minutes In Sports

Sunday morning arrived ... not a cloud in the sky. It was just too nice to stay at home so I headed north on the Star. This trip took me through Smiths Falls, North Gower, Kars, Osgoode, Greely, 20 km of construction and a few disagreements with Garmin Dan but I finally arrived at Place D'Orleans shopping centre - the back way. Why? To watch my son and the South Frontenac Combat Challenge Team compete in day two of the Scott Fire Fit Challenge.
Riding the trails might have been my toughest 6 hours in sports, but the Combat Challenge is definitely the, "Toughest 2 minutes in sports." 371 km round trip ... and that's my kid dragging Rescue Randy across the finish line. (Some of you might recognize Randy, his other cousin Randy spent some time skulking around in my shed with the Star.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Scenes From The City

 Orillia, a city on the shore of Lake Simcoe.
Scenes from the city...
street art ...
 Lunch ... 'kitchen sink turkey burger with portabello mushroom'
 at Brewery Bay.
 A walk along the waterfront.
 The boardwalk.
 The sky was angry, but it didn't rain.
 And back by 8 to Carriage Ridge for my special pizza on the que.
Time to head back to reality.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Day After the Day After ... Or, My Last Day as a Princess

It is day four of my mini vacation and my last day as a princess. My muscles are recovering nicely from my off road adventure with the help of a tanker truck load of analgesic rub. I don't usually get the opportunity to stay in such luxury digs as I have this time (yeah for, and thanks to, friends with benefits.)
Yesterday the area suffered from what Environment Canada called torrential downpours (with a short-lived tornado warning.) It was an inside day including a movie in near by Barrie and a bit of a walkabout in the Georgian Mall. The Star stayed parked. She looked lonely in the mist. I was, however, very glad to be inside the 'Caravan.' (Sorry Star!)

This morning found the resort shrouded in fog. I decided to take a look around and experiment a little with the panoramic setting on the camera before the rain began to fall again.
I caught a glimpse of Clinton and Co. riding in for another day at SMART (they operate Tuesdays and Thursdays only during the week.)
The training track looked eerie under the blanket of fog.
The trainers headed out on ATVs to check the trail conditions after yesterday's rain. I can't imagine what so much more rain will have done to the already flooded valleys on the mountain trails.
A view from the back side of the ski hill, on the gentle side of the road!
The mountain bike paths further along the ski hills looked like killers, this was one of the easy sections.
P.S. The day I took the off road training there were three actors from the TV show, Sons Of Anarchy, learning to ride motorcycles for an upcoming scene they're to be in. Just remember, they learned it here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Off Road Adventure or Yee Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Way More Than My Money's Worth!

The day dawned with the promise of sunshine and fair weather. I was up at 6 knowing I had to be at the S.M.A.R.T. Adventures Rider Training area at 8:30. My lunch packed, my 'official photographer' and I headed to the dirt lot, thoughts of "What the hell am I doing here?" still flashing in and out of my mind.
First things first, fill out the waiver. The statements on the waiver alone were strong enough to almost make me change my mind before the adventure began. They are a very friendly, open and inviting group of people at SMART and Clinton Smout was on deck to greet everyone as we arrived, assuring us all we were going to have fun. His love of adventure riding and his dedication to teaching riders of all levels to ride off road well and safely was clear and evident. Both Clinton's sons are also certified instructors.
Next, gearing up. SMART provides all of the gear needed for riding...
and helpful instructors for the newbies who can't figure out how to fasten the darn boots.
Before hitting the dirt there was a short classroom lesson about the basics of dirt riding, the possible dangers and the safety record. Clinton's lesson included a graphic demonstration comparing old bones and young bones and used past accidents as very good examples of what not to do if you want to avoid an ambulance ride.
In the end he offered a gentle escape route to anyone who wanted to change their minds, no face or cash lost. I darn near took it! (Clearly there was fear in my eyes.)
All riders were fitted with a bike (SMART is sponsored by Yamaha,) this one felt right to me ... the instructions kept coming... and there we were, the only three gals, ready to go with two instructors.
Not yet, do not start your engines ladies. "First, we'll push you just to make sure you can find the REAR brake." The break and shifter are quite different and much smaller on this Yamaha compared to the Star and a bit more work to find with the big boots on. After sufficient pushes, enough to satisfy our instructors that all three of us could stop it was time to try some sand...
and a gentle little mogul.
Let's step back to the last post. Remember I looked at this little dirt track with fear. Hey, it wasn't so bad after all. You can really feel the rear tire slide around in the soft sand but with a few loops, knobby tires and such a light bike - I was gaining confidence. "Great, now we're going to the real course." What? This wasn't it? There's dirt, hills, mud. What more do we want? (If I had known the night before what lay ahead, I probably wouldn't have gotten out of bed!) "Follow me ladies ..."
Crossing the 3 Line Road we head toward the "Farm," "The motocross track" and to the "Trails." (The photos stop here since it isn't safe to have unexpected pedestrians, cameras in hand walking along the trails but check out this link to Google Maps for a satellite look. From the satellite image you can see the farm loops and the motocross track. What you can't see are the actual mountainside trails looping up and down for many kilometers through the deep forest.
Our first trail lesson, standing up. Yahoo ... never expected I'd be standing up riding a bike, doing moguls having a ball.  Of course there has to be that first crash. Before we started the stand up circuit the rider behind me let the clutch out (abruptly) with the bike in gear. Her bike leapt forward taking mine out, ripping the chain off her bike. (Lesson learned, stay behind that rider.) She felt terrible and it really coloured the rest of her experience ... I actually had to thank her. My biggest fear had been going down; check, I survived.
Next trail lesson: the log. The SMART training scaffolds your skills, building on each skill. Having sufficiently mastered stand up riding, now came using that skill in a real experience. Ride over an 8" log across the trail (many times.) Apparently logs are no problem but short turns at the bottom of the mud hill can be and along with that first turn came my first nap in the mud. And still I'm thinking, hey this is no big deal. Easy peasy right? Then I hear the words, "Ok ladies we're ready for some real riding!" What, this hasn't been it? It's 11:30, aren't we heading back for lunch?
Yee Haaaaaaaaaaaaa, this ride gave me way more than my money's worth and way more than I had expected. An hour of slinging dirt bikes through logged out, washed out, mud hole packed, rock infested, tree root covered up and down hair pin trails all enshrouded under a tree canopy so dense that Google's satellites can't find them and always prepared for an emergency stop (remember the rider I vowed to stay behind!) Mud was flying from front tires, back tires and every stop was a sideways stop. What an adrenalin trip. The sweep following behind me was always encouraging, "Nice stop (again)," and my personal favorite ... "magnificent save, thought I was going to have to go searching in the bushes for you after that last one." (Actually, I was just as surprised as you were buddy!) That one was the talk of the club house when we got back, and I couldn't describe it to you if I wanted to other than a nano second of sheer maddness, slinging a bike sideways one way, back the other, rear end up an embankment, mud flying, heart pounding, hanging on, focusing ahead, out of the corner.
Then came the lunch stop, where we were all given the opportunity to bail on the second part of the day (with no loss of face or cash again.) And when it was time for part two, I was the last gal standing. My instructors were off to take over a large half day group of newbies and I had a personal trainer for another hour and a half of off road trail riding. She knew I was getting a bit tired. It's dam hard work controlling the bike 99% with clutch and throttle, standing up most of the time! After two more (shall I say, impressive) mud slinging corners and one more little nap in the mud on an easy corner (isn't that always the way!) We stopped for a bit of break then headed over to the motocross track for some easy riding to end the day.
Yee Haaaaaaaaaaaa again! Here I am at the end of the day ripping up some sand on that training track that looked so scary the day before. Will I be ripping up the trails again soon? Not likely since I can barely stand up or sit down today (what a workout for your upper legs, holy crap! Maybe I shouldn't have gone for the hike and the swim after the trail riding adventure, 'nother lesson learned!) Will I have more confidence riding the Star through construction? Most likely. And best of all - nothing broken, very little bruised ...
and only one minor flesh wound.
Thanks Clinton and your crew for an excellent day.
Thanks Ron for taking the photos. Next time bring the GoPro. Who knew you had a GoPro and would leave it at home?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting There

Getting there starts with the first mile, but before the first mile there are things a gal has to do....
Check the tire pressure.
Pack ...
Somehow it seems that 5 days at a resort requires so much more stuff than a month on the road. This called for a ...
I'm thankful for friends with time on their hands and a minivan.
It was a perfect day for a 376.4 km ride, Star and Caravan together.
 And as the sun set, I gazed at the dirt that lies ahead of me ... tomorrow.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pay Attention ...

Some years ago I crashed a friend’s vacation at a lovely resort north of Toronto. I was wallowing in self-pity for one reason or another (everyone’s entitled, every once in a while) … can’t remember exactly what it was that time, but what I do remember is hiking through the trails around the resort and having to stop as a group of riders buzzed by me on dirt bikes, crossing the main road only to disappear into the woods again on the other side. Came home to find out it was the S.M.A.R.T. rider training program and I jokingly said, “I should do that!” I’ve run into demos put on by the S.M.A.R.T. rider training program several times since then and each time, I’ve come home and said, “I should try that.”
Fast forward … as a birthday present a friend gave me a book: The Total Motorcycling Manual; 291 Essential Skills. I’ve mentioned this friend before (CEO and chief instructor for the Canadian Motorcycle Safety Council) and I know I didn’t get that title correct so I’m not even going to attempt the other credentials he has … let’s just say he knows his shit about riding so I read the book.
I loved the organization of the book, it is colour coordinated, I’ve spent my life getting organized by colour (red is gear, blue is riding, and orange is repair) and it is easily read by numbers (it starts at 1 and ends with tip 291.) It’s a serious book for motorcyclists but an easy read interjected with some off side humour.  There were a lot of sections that just screamed ‘common sense’ folks, some that said … ‘that’s why I carry a CAA card’ and then others that made me think ...Fast forward again to tip #82 (Become a better rider in 12 steps.) Okay, so they cheated and squeezed 12 tips into one: #1 PAY ATTENTION (common sense)  #2 RIDE A DIRT BIKE: ”Nothing teaches you about traction and body positioning like a dirt bike. You’ll also learn what to do when you encounter water or sand on paved roads.” (Really, have you been paying attention?) ... and the list goes on, but I stopped at #2. If you know me, you know I hate dirt...
...and if you really have been paying attention you may have made the connection between where I started and where I’m headed.
Tomorrow, I'm off on another adventure.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Could Have ... But Instead

Time for an oil change and 60 thousand K service so I dropped the Star off at the Performance Shed today. I could have taken this route ... (31.2 km)

But instead, I took this route. Gotta love "The long way 'round." (145 km)

PS: I am not in love with Google Maps!!!
R.I.P. Robin Williams

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dog Days Of Summer

Kingston's annual Sheep Dog Trials bring new meaning to the dog days of summer ...

with agility dogs ...
 and their young trainers ...

 local gourmet food trucks ...
 awaiting accolades ...
 neighborhood dogs ...
 of course sheep...
 macaws? ...
 wagon rides ...
hot dog day sun and lots of spectators ...