Merry Christmas and best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!
gotta tell ya, i got several odd looks and shaking heads...lol. honestly, i didn't find it that cold. i just put on my new gloves, my leather jacket, shortie, goggles and mask, that was it. the only thing that really got cold was the tips of my ears and even that wasn't too bad. of course, at 5C (41F), it's not like i was going to die of hypothermia out there.
i've got a line a place to store her now, but won't be able to get her there until after the holidays. it's large, close by, has heat and lighting. i won't have any problems getting the work done on her once she is there. it will be like my own personal garage. until then, i hope we don't have any huge snowstorms...
it looks pretty and all, but i don't like it. it's -10C (14F) and my poor baby is still out in it. she's covered and under the veranda where no rain or snow goes, but still...it kills me. i really need to find a place to store her.
i still haven't started using the full face helmet though. i wear my shortie, my goggles, a hoodie (under the shortie to cover my ears), and a leather face mask. there are only a couple of places that skin are exposed and in the 15 minute ride, it's not that bad. the full face would actually leave more skin exposed with no way of covering it.
the above title is most likely a caption from a cage driver's mind as i rode past him this morning. i was approaching an intersection and i noticed a car slowing down just ahead, getting ready for a left hand turn. as i passed by the car, i saw the driver shaking his head. that was the biggest compliment i could have gotten this morning. he recongnized that i was not willing to give up on this riding season quite yet, even though it's bloody freezing outside.
i thought it was just going to be another cold ride, but when i got outside i realized it was a bit windy. 28kph (17mph) winds to be exact. i was going to walk around the front of the building to see just how bad it was, but said screw it...i'm riding. i could feel the grass crunching under my feet the whole time i was outside. this also marks the first morning where Selene wouldn't stay going on the first start. the second start was fine, but i think this is her way of saying, "hey, shouldn't you be storing me sometime...like soon? oh, and that time you cleaned me? well, i'm dirty again, how about you get that bucket of warm water." demanding...sheesh.
i'm out of luck for storage areas though. the super of the building won't let me store her in the underground garage so my options are very limited. gotta find a place soon though.
so, i've put the gloves through their cold weather paces.
on saturday i was on a rather long term ride. we had to take the car in for it's annual inspection and we pretty much knew it wasn't going to pass, so i was the backup for transportation. that also meant that i was doing a lot of running around chasing joey while she tried to find a place to take the car in (not to mention me taking directions wrong and going to the opposite end of the city).
the temperatures hovered between 2 and 10 degrees celsius with light winds. i ended up being on bike from around 11am to 7pm (or so). mind you, this wasn't all straight riding, there were the occasional stops at stores and getting food (Wendy's spicy chicken burger with chili...mmm...warm).
before i say anything about the gloves, i'll say this: my hands are hardly ever warm. i have a problem with circulation and no matter what i do, i can't keep my hands warm when i'm outside (barring warm weather). back in my hometown i would spend a lot of time on ski-doo and there was nothing that would keep my hands warm. i tried every pair of winter gloves and nothing would work. i just gave in and suffered.
all that being said, i think the gloves worked pretty well. they did a fine job at keeping my hands from freezing for the entire day. after an hour or so, i did notice the tips of my fingers getting cold, but they weren't numb and they didn't get numb the whole day. this is a vast improvement over my winter gloves and my regular riding gloves.
the comfort is top notch as well. from the get-go they are very flexible and nothing pushes uncomfortably against your hands. i can easily grip the handle bars and reach the levers with no problems. they are a bulky glove though. if you are looking for something that you can easily pick a key out of your pocket...forget it. i can only do that if there is only one thing in my pocket...with luck. there is no way i can differentiate between objects in my pocket with three layers of material over my hands. that being said, i can use a key with no problems and i can zip up my jacket. I can't unbuckle my helmet though and it's kind of comical when i try.
review number three comes from this mornings ride to work. it takes me about 30 minutes to get to work with a quick stop at the local Java Moose outlet for my mocha-cino (yeah, i'm the big mean biker...lol). this mornings temperature was around -3 degrees celsius. in that cold my hands were numb in my regular gloves and with my winter gloves my fingers were numb. the new gloves performed great. i don't expect my hands to be toasty warm when i get to work, but i do expect to be able to use my hands and for them not to ache. these gloves did that for me. lets face it, in freezing temperatures, there isn't much that's going to keep you warm for extended periods of time. add to that the fact that i'm creating my own wind chill and i don't want it to look like my mom dressed me for a snowstorm.
so, in my books, the gloves were well worth the money spent. the last test i'll need to perform is a water proof test. that will most likely happen on my next few days off.
i have found a bike that i would quickly and willingly trade Selene for...shhh...don't tell her...
the Moto Guzzi 940 Custom.
this baby screams beauty and power. i can only imagine carving up the roads with this machine wailing away under me. brings a smile to face just thinking about it.
ok, as promised, here are my new gloves. :)
i picked these up at the local H-D dealership, the same place that i got Selene. they treat me well, so i'm always there bugging them. i was lucky to have a 50 dollar voucher for this purchase as the gloves were around 60 bucks. i picked up the gloves and an insulated leather face mask.
for the most part...i have no idea who makes these gloves. there were a bunch of tags on them, but nothing identifying the brand name. let's start off with the first tag.
Thinsulate: microfiber technology that provides warmth without bulk for greater comfort.
Hipora: a water proof liner that shuts out water, but allows moisture or warm steam from the body out.
Cordura: a light, but durable fabric that's resistant to tears and punctures.
Schoeller-Keprotec: a kevlar containing material that has extreme tear resistance.
so...yeah...there is a lot in these gloves to keep you safe and comfortable. i still have no idea who makes them though. it's almost like all these companies got together and said, "hey! let's put ALL our products in one pair of gloves!"
i have to admit, the build of the gloves is nice. the sturdy look is complimented by double stitching everywhere. the wrist strap keeps the gloves snug and the gauntlet has enough room (due to the Velcro strap) to fit over the thick cuff of my leather jacket.
as you can see from the palm view, there is a lot going on. the double stitching applies here as well which is a blessing. if a motorcycle glove is going to give out on you, it's going to happen on the palm portion. i recently destroyed a brand new pair of winter gloves due to the constant twisting of the throttle. the one part on the palm that i love is a strip of leather that runs from the thumb to the index finger. it adds a lot of grip and pretty much gives me the ability to crank the throttle with just a thumb and a finger.
unfortunately (fortunately, actually) our cold snap has all but gone, so i haven't had much of a chance to test how warm they are. we have been having a ton of rain though, but i really don't feel like riding to work in the rain just to test out the gloves. i've got better water proof tests in mind, like wearing them in the shower...wait a minute...that's just weird...
so far, i have nothing but praise for the gloves, but like i said...i haven't had much of a chance to fully test them. they are very comfortable and not at all restricting when riding. the couple of times that i've been on the bike my hands have been sweating, so i'm taking that as a good sign.
i'll be riding for sometime yet, so i'll have plenty of time to give them a full workout. expect updates on them in the coming weeks.
ah...the information i've been looking for. ripped straight from the environment canada website, i bring you windchill calculation. now i'll know exactly how cold i get...i mean feel...
i'll be putting up a post on my new gloves sometime tomorrow.
If you know the temperature outside, you can estimate the wind speed by observing the movement of trees and flags, and then find the wind chill on the second chart.
Wind Speed WIND SPEED (km/h) WHAT TO LOOK FOR 10 Wind felt on face; leaves rustle; wind vanes begin to move. 20 Leaves & small twigs constantly moving; small flags extended. 30 Dust, leaves, & loose paper lifted; large flags flap; small tree branches move. 40 Small trees begin to sway; large flags extend and flap. 50 Larger tree branches moving; whistling heard in power lines; large flags extend and flap more wildly. 60 Whole trees moving; resistance felt in walking against wind; large flags extend fully and flap only at the end
Wind Chill Index Temperature (°C)
Wind Speed (km/h)
0 -5 -10 -15 -20 -25 -30 -35 -40 -45 10 -3 -9 -15 -21 -27 -33 -39 -45 -51 -57 20 -5 -12 -18 -24 -31 -37 -43 -49 -56 -62 30 -7 -13 -20 -26 -33 -39 -46 -52 -59 -65 40 -7 -14 -21 -27 -34 -41 -48 -54 -61 -68 50 -8 -15 -22 -29 -35 -42 -49 -56 -63 -70 60 -9 -16 -23 -30 -37 -43 -50 -57 -64 -71
Notes regarding wind chill
1. For a given combination of temperature and wind speed, the wind chill index corresponds roughly to the temperature that one would feel in a very light wind. For example, a temperature of -25°C and a wind speed of 20 km/h give a wind chill index of -37. This means that, with a wind of 20 km/h and a temperature of -25°C, one would feel as if it were -37°C in a very light wind.
2. Wind chill does not affect objects and does not lower the actual temperature. It only describe how a human being would feel in the wind at the ambient temperature.
3. The wind chill index does not take into account the effect of sunshine. Bright sunshine may reduce the effect of wind chill (make it feel warmer) by 6 to 10 units.
for those of you interested in video recording while riding, Archos has just the thing for you.
it records in MPEG-4 and is supposedly in DVD quality (meaning 640x480). it features a built in microphone and remote, the ability to do slow motion and can capture without an extra light source. looks like you will have to mix it up with their 604 media player as well though. the player is already out and runs around 350 USD. the camera should be released this winter for approximately 150 USD.
it's a little on the pricey side, but the media player has a lot of nice features, including a 30GB hard drive. oh and you can get a wireless version of the 604 as well.
in honour of those that have served our country and still do
alright, i need to invest in a new pair of gloves. especially if i'm going to keep riding for as long as i can. this mornings commute was more then a little chilly and by the time i got to work i couldn't feel my hands. see, that can cause a problem as i really really need my hands in order to pilot my bike.
i have to say though, it certainly was an invigorating ride. it also kept me on my toes. with the below freezing temperatures, a lot of the water left on the roads was frozen. nothing too drastic, but definitely something you want to avoid when on two wheels.
it was good to see that i wasn't alone though. i saw three other bikes on my morning ride and they all looked as chilly as i did. nice to know there are a few other hardy souls out there.
stay safe, stay warm... ;)
there is something to be said for the cooler temperatures in the morning. at least it wakes me up for work.
this morning was a balmy 4 degrees celsius (39.2F) with a windchill of -2 degrees celsius (28.4F). so yeah, i was a little chilly...lol. it will soon be time to switch back to the full face helmet. as it stands, i have to wear a mask with my shorty on. it's ok though, i look like a bad ass with my rising sun bandana covering my face...lol.
things are going great though. Selene is handling the chilly weather fantastically and we were actually able to go for a nice long ride a few days ago. speaking of that ride, i saw a wonderful site while puttering through the streets of a local residential district. i was behind a school bus and having to stop whenever it did. after one of the many stops, i noticed a motorcycle getting ready to come out onto the main street. instantly i noticed that it wasn't very steady and i thought, "new rider." sure enough, the bike pulled shakily onto the street and the feet came unsteadily up to the pegs. i avoided doing the wave, so as not to make her pull a hand off the bars, and just gave her a nod. well, didn't she take her hand off anyway and give me a big old wave along with a huge smile! i gotta tell ya, that made my day. she looked so happy to be out on her bike.
plans are already in the works to get my old kawasaki road worthy and ready for joey next year. on the list: tires, chain, sprockets, paint and general engine work. she hasn't been running for some time and i'm sure it's going to quite a job to get it her working like she used to. still, it will be a great site to see joey doing her first unsteady start. it will be even better to have her riding ahead of me. oh, she will be taking a safety course. no worries there. it's pricey up here though. looking at around 3-4 hundred dollars. oh well, small price for good instruction.
i'm not going to go into a lot of detail here. it was a great run on a great day. beautiful weather, a bunch of bikes (just shy of 200) and a lot of riding. the stops were short enough for everyone to get refreshed and the rides were short enough to avoid getting saddle sore.
it started in saint john, went to hampton, then it was through the back roads to fredericton, off to the barbeque and then back to saint john. once back in saint john, it was off to a local bar for the final prize draws. i really don't agree with ending an event like this at a bar, but then again, i don't drink and drive...not even a sip. at least you could get food there.
we both won prizes at the end. the first prize we got was a H-D brand motorcycle cleaning kit. it came with a bunch of sample bottles. the second prize was a H-D brand roll up blanket/ground cover. at least that's what we think it is. it rolls up nice and snug, has grommet holes at each corner and a carry handle. i can't even find the damn thing the H-D web site...lol. anyway, the prizes were an added bonus to an already fun day.
anyway, that's only a small sampling of the pictures that me and joey took (joey took all the good looking ones...hehe). the real story is told with the slideshow. it took me most of the morning to make sure that everything was in a close to exact chronological order, so please enjoy the...
this mornings ride was 6 degrees C (42.8F). i'm still a little chilled and also found out that my morning coffee shop doesn't open until later on the weekends. i really wish i had my coffee right now...brrr.
i got the rest of joey's pics from the last big ride we went on. i'll be getting a small post ready with a few of the photos as soon as i organize my flickr page...again. she got some really nice pics, it's too bad the people doing the processing didn't know what they were doing.
so...that time is almost upon us again. the temperatures will drop, white stuff will fall and we will gleefully pick out what accessories we want for xmas. i'm not looking forward to putting Selene away, the freedom and joy she has brought into my life has been remarkable.
anyway, i've paid my price for not storing a motorcycle properly by turning my Kawasaki into a restoration project. I don't intend to let that happen to Selene, so my web searches have brought me to this:
that really covers all the bases for me, seeing that i'm a list kinda guy. i'm hoping to get at least another month worth of riding before i have to put her away and that should give me enough time to pick up the things needed. i already have a jack that needs a slight modification so that it can be used for storage. once she is stored, i can look forward to doing some of the maintenance that needs to be done as well. that mean there will be parts of Selene all over the apartment...hehe.
speaking of which...joey wouldn't let me bring Selene into the apartment, even though i had an entire plan on how to do it. something about getting evicted...psssh.
edit: note to self, don't type when half asleep. it don't make no sense...
i seriously couldn't be happier to hear this.
it was four degrees celsius out there when i came to work. that's around 39 degrees fahrenheit. yeah, it's getting kind of chilly. none of our days are forecasted for above 20 degrees celsius this week and i can see my morning commutes getting colder. i don't mind the cold. when i'm on bike, it's the farthest thing from my mind. it's the winter that bothers me. the colourless skies and colourless ground. everything so muted and dead looking.
people say that fall is their favorite time of the year, but all i can think about is the impending doom just a few months away. i like the colours of fall and the brisk mornings are kind of nice, but it's still the death knell for summer. the most beautiful and lively part of the year. so bright...so alive.
i've always had problems with winter. i don't deal with cold very well and i really really hate being cooped up inside with fake (read: electric) heat.
the last part to all this and the part that ties it to my motorcycle blog is the fact that i'll soon have to put Selene away. riding through the winter here is not an option. the over night temperatures would kill a battery in heart beat and i have no garage to store her in. it will have to be in the underground garage (pending owner approval) or a storage shed at a local lot. my only solace will be the fact that i have work planned for her over the winter and i'll be ordering new accessories as well.
i do hope i handle this winter better then i did last winter...
after all that writing and typing, i decided to take a little break from the blog. it drained me to continually write that long about our trip and i didn't want to see the blog afterwards...lol.
a few things have happened.
our car (98 dodge neon) gave out on us. it blew out a spark plug and stripped the cylinder block. for the time that it was out of commission (about a week) we only had the bike. we haven't had a string of weather that good all summer. it never rained once the whole time and we had some really beautiful runs on the bike.
friday we went out to pick up the car and go shopping in preparation for the eldridge's harley davidson 1st annual poker run. i picked up a few odds and ends for Selene which included a new headlight and a cheapy set of saddlebags.
this thing should be standard on all motorcycles. it's not a brighter light, it's a whiter light and it illuminates the road so much better then the OEM headlight...the difference is unbelievable. the installation was pretty simple, even though the MOM doesn't even give you a clue of how to do it. i was pretty much guessing at what things to unscrew to take out the headlight. you would think that seeing the manual tells you how to change your oil, it would also tell you how to change out a burnt out light. nope.
here is a shot of the saddlebags on Selene.
they aren't the best things ever and i only paid 80 bucks for them, but they really paid off on the poker run. it was nice to have a place to put everything we needed for the day and not have a backpack strapped to the back of the bike. they will do until i get the hardbags for next summer. here is a shot of the national cycle hard bags i want.
they come in gloss black, so i wouldn't even need to get them painted. they also match Selene's lines perfectly.
the ride was on saturday and went from 11am to around 9pm. we had a police escort all the way out of the city. it was a site to see around 200 bikes going straight through the city with all traffic blocked so that none of us would get separated. there were various stops along the way to get the next card in our hand with long rides in between. it was mostly back roads as well, the only times we hit the highway was to bridge over to the next back road. there were a couple of nitwits in the pack that didn't seem to have an idea of how to keep the pack together, so i opted to stay up close to the front where the more seasoned riders were.
the ride itself ended at the free barbeque. from there it was a free for all to meet at one of the watering holes in saint john. there were prize draws and the winning hand was figured out, which happened to be four aces! there was no beating that.
me and joey won a harley davidson roll up mat/blanket and a harley davidson motorcycle cleaning kit. the kit was worth 15 bucks and the mat was worth 20 bucks, so we made back our money that night...hehe.
as always, there are more pics on my flickr page. joey's aren't processed yet, but will be soon. she has some shots of the ride itself.
to put things in perspective, we left on august 17th around 8am and landed at the Best Western hotel around 9pm. that was a full day of riding including all the little stops for gas and butt breaks. we weren't exactly in a rush to get where we had to go, but we didn't lolly around too much either. each day (on the way there and on the way back) was pretty much like that. get up as early as possible and ride as far as we could.
the butt breaks were absolutely needed and happened anywhere between 50-75km. with a stock seat it was going to take a while to build up a resistance to how much it can actually hurt. in comparison, on the way back our breaks were more around the 100km mark.
the packing was pretty minimal due to the lack of storage room on the Sabre. mind you, that suitcase is deceptively big.
inside was all our clothes wrapped in plastic bags to stay dry. the clothes consisted of one change for each day we were away. that equaled four changes with only one change of jeans. if necessary we would find a laundry place. the front compartment (and the easiest one to access) held the rain suits, toiletries, tire repair can, and other miscellaneous things. the top of the bag had our shorties strapped to it because i wasn't going to wear a full faced helmet in the weather that we were forecasted for once we got there.
joey had one bag strapped to her that held her Canon Rebel Ti and my Canon digital camera. there really wasn't room in the suitcase for them and she wanted easy access to her camera at least.
the bike itself had nothing else done to it for comfort. we had stock foot pegs, stock seat, no tank bag, no saddle bags and no wind shield. the only true comfort thing i installed was a throttle lock and i couldn't be happier that i did. before we make another trip like this, i vow there will be a windshield and a new seat at the very least. i'm going to try for saddle bags too, but that might be pushing it.
i apologize for the delay on this post, but there have been some issues...mainly with a particular cage we own. needless to say the bike has become the main transportation for the time being. anyway, on with the post...
the alarm worked this time, but we really didn't want to get out of bed. it was warm and cozy...everything that being on the road wouldn't be. but it was the last day we would be on the road...we would soon be in our own bed.
i look out the window and my spirits drop. it's just as bad as it was the night before. thankfully everything we had to wear was dry and warm, so at least we would be comfortable for the first part of the day.
we got everything together and i backed the bike right up the door to make loading easier and dryer. i would have backed it right in the room, but i couldn't get the rear tire over the step.
with new bags in our boots and bags over the suit case, we hopped on the bike and went for gas.
the main plan was to find rubber gloves. we needed something to cover our hands and prevent them from getting wet. we couldn't find anything at the gas station so we had to continue our hunt else where.
a while down the road joey spotted a town with a wal-mart and a canadian tire. couldn't ask for better places to get rubber gloves. i'm not a big fan of wal-mart, so we pulled into canadian tire. keep in mind that everyone there spoke french and we didn't. let's just say it took a while to find some gloves.
joey got a large pair of red garden gloves. not the prettiest things, but they would keep her warm and dry. i couldn't find a damn thing to fit over my riding gloves. they are thick to begin with and with the gauntlet style...nothing was going over top. i opted for the thin rubber gloves to go inside. at least my hands would stay dry.
it was cold, miserable and the highway was trying at the best of times. we were using transport trucks for occasional shelter from the wacky cross winds.
hunger pains started to set in, so it was time to get something to eat. we had been riding for about an hour or so since getting the gloves. i grabbed the next turn off that had a sign with a fork.
still dripping wet, we walked into the restaurant and got led to a seat. i didn't get all my gear off, just my rain coat, gloves and helmet. i was too damn cold to take off my leather.
the breakfast was big, warm and quite filling. i couldn't have asked for more except, maybe, a good cup of tea ;p
as we sat there chatting and warming up, we were watching all the other bikers out there. i was surprised at the number of them running on such a cold and ugly day, but then again...when you ride, it's the riding that matters, not the weather.
we realized, after a while, that this place seemed oddly familiar. a glance out the window revealed why. apparently, we were just up the street from the hotel we stayed at at the beginning of our trip. at least now i know there is a good restaurant and hotel right next to each other...hehe.
the usual gas and butt breaks occurred along the way, but one really nice thing happened once we got near quebec. the weather cleared. not only did it clear, but it got really warm. it was so nice to feel warmth through my jacket again. the exchange of bugs for rain was also nice...well, not nice per say, but a welcome change. ;)
for the most part, the rest of the day was uneventful. i found that i was starting to get tired and had some issues with my concentration, though. i was thinking about pulling over for a break when the unthinkable happened. i usually watch my mirrors intently to make sure that nothing is sneaking up behind me or beside me. either i wasn't watching, someone was hiding in my blind spot or someone was moving real fast. i pulled into the passing lane to pass a car ahead of me and found a mini-van so close to me that i could touch it.
my heart jumped and so did joey. i heard her say my name over the bike and the wind noise. i quickly pulled the bike back into the proper lane while my heart frantically tried to pop out of my chest. minutes later we pulled into a rest stop and joey asked me what happened back there. i just didn't see him, i wasn't paying attention, i didn't belong on the road. i walked away from the bike and called my parents to do my usual check in. with no answer i told joey i was going to take a nap and laid down on a picnic table.
my phone woke me up and i sat up to see joey asleep face down in her arms. it was mom and we spoke for a bit. i didn't mention the near death experience and probably never will. i felt much better and very awake though, it's amazing what a 20 minute cat nap can do for you.
we took our time getting back to the bike and decided to put away the rain suits. i opted to keep my wet pants on to help protect me from the bugs and road debris. it was turning out to be a beautiful day and i only hoped that it would stick with us for the rest of the trip home.
at a gas stop is where we found out about our little hitch hiker from montreal. i was checking the bike over while joey was getting a drink and saw something shiny on the back tire. my heart dropped as i realized it was a nail stuck into the tire. the angle that it was stuck in made me realize that it would have entered the tire while backing up. the only place i could have picked it up was the wrong turn in montreal.
i had a decision to make; would i leave it in or pull it out and use the tire repair can that my uncle so generously donated to our trip. i gave it a little push and found that it had indeed gone all the way through. if i used the repair can i would have to go straight to a tire place to get a new tire. if i left it in, i risked losing the back tire during the trip. it was sitting between the treads on an odd angle at the upper curve of the tire. it would not make contact with the road as long as we were on the highway and there was no loss of pressure. i took a chance, i left it in.
one of our gas stops kind of took us by surprise. we pulled off the highway and noticed a number of old style buildings on a rise just past the gas station. joey got out her camera after we filled up and a detour was made.
we found ourselves in la pocatière, a small town with a big old school. joey kept snapping pics as i rode along slowly. we couldn't go too deep into the town because of how time we had lost, but it was a very nice detour.
as we left, joey kept the camera out and managed to fire off some shots while on the highway. to give you an idea of how comfortable she had gotten with being on the back, she even changed her roll of film when she ran out. that's my biker mama...hehe.
finally we made it to riviere du loup, the turning point in the trip. this is were we would bid farewell to our old friend highway 20 and move on to the 185 (also know as the TCH 2). it was now approximately an hour and a half from the quebec/new brunswick border.
when hunger set in, we stopped off for a bite to eat, but time was running short. it wasn't going to take long for shadows to start getting long and we still had around five more hours to go. with long shadows comes cold bubbles; places where the cold from the woods on the side of the highway creep onto the highway itself. you've felt them...it's all nice and cozy warm and all of a sudden it's practically winter for a few minutes as you pass through it.
mind you, even with time being short, we still couldn't resist stopping off to pick up a hat. hehe.
the next four hours on the road was pretty uneventful. it was dark, it was cold and our biggest worry was a big black moose wandering in front of our path. the road we needed to take has flashing signs warning you to be watchful. gotta tell ya, it's hard being watchful when you are stiff from the cold.
we warmed up at a gas stop in waasis, new brunswick. this would be our last stop before we made the last straight shot into saint john. joey sat back a took some pics while i clean the bug graveyard off my visor. as you can see, Selene was one filthy girl. 99km left to go, one hour before we could hit our own bed.
this is where i started using a rabbit driver. i would hover at least two car lengths behind pretty much any vehicle i could find with hopes that they would meet a moose before me. i know, i know...that's kind of harsh, but hey...they definitely had more armor then us.
ok, by this time, we were freezing. it's pretty sad that you think about getting another hotel even though you are only an hour away from home. some of those spots looked really really warm as we zipped by.
we stuck with it though and were more then happy when the signs for Saint John started to show up. driving into the city was an odd experience, kind of surreal. it was around midnight and everything was dark and empty. adding to that was me hearing something akin to singing, but i couldn't make it out. i passed it off as just background noise, but it turned out to be something else. apparently, joey was getting a little tired on the back of the bike, so she was yelling and singing back there. what i had mistaken as me going nuts was actually her going nuts...lol.
home...at last. we tore everything off the bike and dragged our asses into the apartment. we just tossed everything on the floor and couldn't be happier to get out of the riding gear. showers were in order and so was the bed.
and that was that!
total distance: 3363.2 km (2089 miles)
we had done it. something that had been a dream was now true. we had officially done a long distance trip on a motorcycle and made it back in one piece. oh...and the tire survived the entire trip...including a trip to the shop to get it repaired. needless to say, they were surprised that it made it that far.
Safe journeys all
sorry, no details on the jacuzzi thing... ;p
we awoke to another gloomy looking day, but at least it hadn't rained.
off we went to get another free breakfast and secure a table for the group of us.
it took a while for everyone to get down to the dining room. some of us went to bed much later then others and had a few more pitchers then others...lol.
there was the usual chatting and discussion of another ride. we couldn't go because we had to start packing up and getting ready to leave.
farewells were said and everyone promised to make a post when they got home safe. me and joey would obviously be the last posters.
the ride back was going to be a bit different. instead of going back through the states, we were going to brave toronto traffic and do a short little tour.
i have to say that paul and line were the best. they were our guides and they tried to make things interesting on what would be a long and sometimes boring ride. always seeing their teddy bear on the back of their bike made us smile as well.
once in toronto, paul had a wonderful idea to take us to a local market that he used to frequent while living there. unfortunately the market was closed and we ended up heading to a starbucks to relax.
some chatting about where to go next, a drink and a pee break later, we were on the road again. joey managed to snap a few pictures while we were puttering around. we were both wearing full faced helmets and it was impossible to look out the viewfinder of her camera. she was relying on the autofocus which she later found out was turned off. so, some of the pictures were a tad blurry. on the other hand, the ones taken while off the bike were quite nice.
with toronto now well behind us, we were eating up highway on our cruise east. this lead to our first close encounter with a highway traveler in a mini-van. we were in the passing lane behind paul and line, clipping along at a good pace when suddenly a mini-van pulled in front of us. it was a close call, but my brakes won out and we avoided what would have been quite a mess. i look up and see the driver looking to his right several times before pulling back into the right lane. i pulled up next to him and glared while he mouthed silent apologies behind his window. i shook my head and cruised past him.
i learned later that paul had seen me disappear and he slowed down so the driver would get the message to get the hell out of the way. joey also told me that kids in the back of the van apparently saw us and were hitting the driver to get him to pull back to the right. it was a close call, but we survived and the adrenaline was put to good use. ;)
we took our usual breaks along the way with one of those being a stop at quiznos subs for a great toasted sub sandwich. couple that with a ridiculously thick chocolate shake from an onsite dairy and you've got one heck of a meal. i think the shake was meatier then the sandwich!
the day was still very overcast and we were all very thankful that the weather was holding up. that took a slight change with a break at a local rest stop. this would also be the last stop that we would have with paul and line. it started to mist so we figured we may as well suit up instead of getting caught while on the highway.
while getting our rain gear together a woman parked in a mini-van next to us asked if her daughter could see the teddy bear on the back of paul's bike. apparently the little one had been crying for it for quite some time. paul gladly obliged and the woman took her little daughter out and she gave the teddy bear a kiss. quite adorable... :)
we gassed up and headed on our way.
a short time later, paul and line departed our company as they took the off-ramp for their destination. we all waved and honked horns and as i watched them turn off, my heart sunk. that was it, we were on our own again and headed for home. that seemed to be the defining moment in the trip, that one point where you know that the vacation is over. i was glad to have joey with me to share in this experience and in many ways i think it helped repair a dangerous rift that had formed between us.
it seems that paul and line were also our good luck charm...shortly after they left, it started to rain.
it's ok though, we were suited and ready for it. at the beginning of the day i also put plastic bags in my boots just to be safe.
by now, it was starting to get dark and i knew we were way behind schedule. we needed to get past montreal in order to make the last leg of our trip feasible. that meant driving through montreal's highway system in the dark and rain. it wasn't something i really wanted to do and it definitely wasn't something i wanted to put joey through, but it had to be done and we both knew it. i like riding at night, i find it relaxing, but riding at night, in the rain with wacky car drivers was not my cup of tea.
we pushed on.
i'm not going to lie or sugar coat it, this was a dangerous choice, but i never once got a bad feeling about it. i've never had an issue with riding in the rain, but now i had my wife with me. i had two lives in my hands and we were in another province with a first language that we didn't speak. the two saving graces were that it was sunday and we had highway 20 east on our side. traffic was minimal, so it was easy to keep an eye on the signs and the rain was more of a mist, but everything was soaked.
my visor kept steaming up, so i would click open the shield a bit so that it would clear up. unfortunately that led to water getting on the inside which meant that i could no longer keep my visor clean. that meant even more reduced visibility which lead to me missing something.
i noticed one of our exits too late and shot past it. we had no choice but to pull over. trying to find another route in montreal can take hours when it's day light, let alone dark and wet. there was only one thing to do. joey got off the back of the bike and walked back to the turn off, slowly guiding me in the process. i didn't want to turn the bike around and face the oncoming traffic. the last thing i needed to do was confuse some poor motorist into thinking a vehicle was coming at him. i'm guessing that this is the point that we picked up our little hitch-hiker. i'll go into more detail about him in the next post.
we finally made it back to the turn off and joey mounted the bike again. i took stock of everything and asked joey if she was doing ok. she was cold, as was i, but doing well. the suits kept us very dry, but the gloves had gone well past their usual repellent nature. my hands were cold, very cold and i could only imagine that joey's were the same. the only plus she had was the ability to keep her hands out of the wind. mine had to stay in the wind...you know, me being the driver and all. ;)
off we went again.
we were probably a little over half way through montreal now and as much as we wanted to stop, we couldn't. my reduced visibility almost caused another missed turn, but joey caught it before i shot past it.
i was starting to see familiar sights and knew that we were finally getting out of the city. the traffic was a little more dense and care had to be taken in order to keep a safe distance between me and the much larger vehicles in front of us.
the last remnants of montreal passed by us and we were once again on straight highway. it was time to start looking for somewhere to stay.
out of the corner of my eye i caught a red light. a big beautiful sign that said motel. i pointed at it and joey gave me the signature thumbs up. the next exit was ours.
we pulled in under the car port and joey, dripping wet, went inside. the woman behind the counter gave her a towel and good news. they had rooms available at a good price. at that point i honestly didn't care as long as there was a bed and a shower.
we paid for the room and i brought the bike around back to our door.
the room was a decent size. two beds, full sized bathroom, tv and...a heater! that thing may as well have been placed there by the gods. we brought the pack inside and stripped out of the riding gear to find that we were completely dry except for our hands. joey's jacket was damp, but none of the water had gone through. i took the gloves into the bathroom and proceeded to wring as much water out of them as possible. everything that was wet was stacked on top of the heater and i cranked it to full.
nothing inside the suitcase had gotten wet either. dare i say that we had packed perfectly? ;) funny thing though, the shorty helmets that we brought along were bungie netted to the top of the suitcase. they took the brunt of the weather, but they never got wet.
i pulled out my cell phone while joey was in the shower and hit the internet. i couldn't have been happier to have put an internet package on my phone. the weather didn't look very promising for the following day, but it had a low percentage of rain. i checked my email and hopped in the shower once joey was out.
feeling refreshed, i set an alarm on my cell phone as i plugged it in for charging. it didn't take long for us to drift off.
to be concluded...
and on to a reasonably early morning. we were all pretty lazy on that saturday and very much ready for the free breakfast being offered by the hotel. it was nice to see that it wasn't a continental breakfast, but a full breakfast with eggs, toast, bacon, and hash browns. yum. it very much hit the spot.
everyone gathered around and chatted and discussed what was going on that day. apparently we were going to meet up with some other people at a local diner called The Flying Saucer. after that it was a meet up for the actual ride that was planned for that day.
the day didn't look like it wanted to agree with us though. it was very overcast and obvious that it rained over night.
we were hopeful though. and if that didn't work, we could sacrifice joe to get sunny weather. he made the mistake of saying that we were going to have good weather for the weekend and jinxed us.
off we all went to The Flying Saucer.
it was an odd place, to say the least. shaped like a flying saucer (no kidding) and deceptively small. everyone chatted outside for a bit and then moved inside. the chatting continued and some drink and food orders were made. apparently the food left a lot to be desired. i had a shake, joey had the fries. "how can they screw up fries." she said. well, she found out.
and down came the rain.
we tried waiting it out, but it really didn't look like one of those days where the rain was going to pass. needless to say, none of us were prepared for rain. everyone that had rain gear had left it at the hotel, including me and joey.
the rain made the ride back seem extra long and my pants got drenched. joey didn't make out too bad, seeing that she was mostly protected from the rain by me.
everyone got changed, took out their rain gear and gathered around on the veranda of the hotel. we were all half geared and watching the Tim Horton's parking lot across the street. if anyone else showed up, that's where they would be.
the only person that showed up was brian, which was a good thing because he was leading the ride.
we waited until well past the ride start time and finally said the hell with it. we finished gearing up and hit the road.
it was a light rain. just enough to soak you if you weren't prepared for it. my gloves held out well, as did my rain suit. my boots, on the other hand, have zippers on the sides that aren't very water proof. needless to say my feet got soaked. joey held out quite well and never even got wet. her new Teknic jacket faired great through the whole trip. the jacket also kept her camera dry between shots. ;)
we made a quick stop at a park with a giant floral clock. lisa, leo and joe had no rain suits and thus were very very wet. everyone else seemed to be fairing rather well. it should be noted that joey was the only passenger that came for the wet ride. it also should be noted that she was the only one excited about riding in the rain. this wouldn't be the last amount of rain we saw on this trip...(insert foreboding music)
as we were milling about, someone in the group pointed out my pipes. it seemed that joey had touched her left leg on the side of my muffler. yellow Canadian Tire rain pants + extremely hot muffler = melted plastic. it never melted through her pants, but it left a lovely brown oval mark on my top pipe. jokes were made and suggestions were passed around. minutes later, joe realized that he had burnt his own pants on his pipes. he immediately blamed joey and laughter ensued.
while we were standing around getting more wet, a young Asian man came up to us and asked to take our picture. we gathered around and smiled as he captured us in all our wet glory.
off we went again, making our way down one of the more scenic streets. there were plans to go to a place on that street for a sit down, but we all decided that Tim Horton's would be better.
Tim's was cold...freezing! raining outside and air conditioning inside. brrrr! we stayed for a while, trading stories and trying to warm up with coffee. i had the worst tea ever and didn't even finish it. that was one of many bad tea experiences i had on that trip. truth be told, i never got a good cup of tea until we finally got back to New Brunswick and i made one myself.
when we finally left, the rain started to hold up. for the last leg of our ride joey was able to whip out the camera and take a number of pictures.
on the way back, i had to stop at Canadian Tire to pick up a pair of shoes and jo wanted to get a pair of the now famous Canadian Tire wet pants. both joey and willie had a pair and jo thought they were a steal and would be great for rides in the rain (dryness + extreme visibility). too bad he was already wet...hehe.
back to the hotel we went.
everyone dried off and got ready for the next food-fest. it was off to Mick & Angelo's. seeing that most of us would be having a drink or two, the bikes were left behind and everyone hoofed it up the street to the restaurant. it was a crazy little place and extremely busy. we got a table out on the patio underneath a very dark and threatening sky. mother nature was very kind to us though and didn't spill a drop of rain on our night.
there was lots of talking, picture taking and great food, but we knew the festivities were slowly coming to an end. this would be the last night with everyone as we were leaving the next day with paul and line. one of our number had left earlier in the day and by the end of supper we had three more hit the road, including joe.
the rest of us grabbed a cab and headed back to the karaoke bar!
paul, line and lisa did a rousing version of "Love Shack" by the B-52's of which i have three videos. me and joey did some minor shopping for our little one. we didn't have much room, so we couldn't pick up too much.
there is a Harley Davidson shop next to the karaoke bar and we ventured inside. i don't think i have ever seen so many H-D branded items in my life! it was funny watching people get on the full sized Fat Boy they have on display there. i kept thinking, "heh, we rode to Niagara Falls on our bike."
it was an early night for some of us, with the call of a morning departure ringing in our heads. we hopped another cab and headed back to the hotel.
besides, me and joey had an appointment with a heart shaped jacuzzi.
to be continued...
as was mentioned in the last post, we woke up late. none of the alarms went off and we started the day a good hour or so later then we really needed to. oh well, can't say we aren't used to being late...hehe.
out we went and packed up the bike. it was another gorgeous day and i couldn't wait to get on the road. i considered this to be the most challenging day. we would have to ride through Montreal and make sure that we stayed on highway 20. getting lost in Montreal was not on my list of things to do that day. we had it happen while driving the car and it wasn't a pleasant experience.
the hotel was offering breakfast, but due to the fact that we were already behind schedule (and the fact that i can't eat right after i wake up) we hit the road. once we both started to get hungry we would stop for something to eat.
getting out of the town was a heck of a lot easier then expected. once we were out on the main drag we could see a sign for the highway and the direction to Montreal. within minutes we were on the highway and well on our way to Montreal.
we made a quick stop at a Mike's Restaurant for breakfast. they have a great breakfast selection for a decent price, but i find the rest of the menu a little lacking on the servings and abundant on the price.
it was pretty easy to stay on highway 20. after Montreal, highway 20 turned into the 401 which is the highway that leads to the border crossing and our first meet up with people from HS.net. the only worry that i had was navigating the maze know as Montreal.
we stopped at a Shell gas station a little ways into Montreal, got some gas and sat down to figure out where we needed to go. a very friendly woman, who was just getting into her car, asked if we needed some assistance. we asked her for advice on staying on highway 20 so that we could connect to the 401. she really couldn't have laid it out any simpler for us; stay left until you see signs for Toronto. after that, Montreal was a breeze. i was actually enjoying weaving through traffic and watching for the signs. in no time at all we were seeing signs for Toronto and the 401. my new hero was highway 20. there couldn't be an easier way to get through Montreal and avoid the worst of it's traffic.
with the complicated part of the trip behind us, all we had to do was make our 12 noon meet time at the border. we were cutting it close as it was.
things were working out pretty easy and i thought the signs were pretty much guiding us to where we needed to go. we saw the first sign for a border crossing and i knew that wasn't the one. i figured it would be the next one for sure. we grabbed the exit for the next border crossing and pulled into the parking lot for the duty free shop. no sign of a yellow Honda Shadow though, it seemed like we made it with time to spare.
we started taking our gear off and sucking back water. it was quite warm and we were happy to get a breeze. i asked one of the locals (on a whim) if this was the border crossing near Lansdowne, Ontario. nope. it's about a half hour down the road. on went the gear and off we went again.
that set us back a little bit and we were a little late , but at the duty free shop was the yellow Honda Shadow.
we pulled in and got out of our gear once again.
paul comes up to us, "Black Shadow Sabre, New Brunswick plates...must be jason!"
introductions go around and we have met our first people from the forums, paul and line. great couple and i would easily ride with them again.
we sat around for a while chatting, having a drink and generally relaxing. it was nice to take a long break from the saddle and soak up the beautiful day in good company.
after changing up some currency, we headed out to the border crossing and waited...and waited...and waited some more. damn it was hot! joey was dying on the back and my leather was sticking to me like glue. i couldn't have been happier for an easy border crossing.
the crosswinds going through New York state were nuts and it was a fight every time the sides of the highway opened up. when we stopped for gas i realized that i was going to have trouble figuring out my gas use and the amount of money that we spent. the switch over to gallons and american currency was going to throw things off. honestly, i still haven't sat down to calculate it. ;)
we made a few short stops on the way, but were once again pressed for time. we had to meet up with another HS.netter in Rochester and still get to Niagara Falls before 8pm.
we pretty much had smooth sailing all the way to the meeting point. we did, however, push through some of the darkest clouds i've seen. we had a few drops of rain, but managed to get to the other side before it got bad. looking in the review mirrors revealed a really nasty looking sky. a thunder storm for sure.
we stopped at a Chili's restaurant for some drinks while paul gave joe a call and told him that we arrived.
introductions and stories swapped (joe couldn't believe that we had traveled so far on a stock bike) and we were on the road again.
joe led us the rest of the way to Niagara Falls, or at least to the border. after that, we sorta got lost...hehe. joey knew the way to the hotel, but it was from another bridge, not the one that joe had led us across. with a couple of turns we managed to get a spot where joey could direct us into town and to the hotel. navigating from the back seat, no less.
we stowed our gear once we got our rooms and called a taxi. it was time to meet the rest of the group.
the maniacal taxi driver got us to Boston Pizza in one piece and it only took a minute for joe to track everyone down.
lots of talking and food and then it was off to visit the falls and then the local karaoke bar! the karaoke bar is a huge out door deck. it has monitors that are out by the street and all over the bar so that everyone can see you on stage (no i didn't get up, yes i'm a chicken ;p). both paul and line got up to do songs and the rest of us made general fools of ourselves. i'm not much of a drinker, so i had my usual one cooler and then switched to Coke.
it was a long night after a long day of driving, but i didn't feel tired until we hit the bed at around three in the morning.
to be continued...