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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Running 67 kilometers..... The Deer Lake 67 Ultramarathon

It's the morning before the big ultramarathon for Pete and I. We both arrived in Deer Lake, Newfoundland yesterday. I drove in from St. John's via a camping night in Terra Nova, after spending a week with my family on holiday and Pete flew in, funny enough from St. John's after doing some business in the city.

Sixty seven kilometers, 67.55km. It's only 25.35km more than a marathon. The normal person would go, "what the fuck are ya thinking?" My brain and apparently the brains of the other 38 runners says "its only like a marathon and another half marathon to run" I saw quoted once "Any idiot can run a marathon, it takes a special idiot to run an ultramarathon" Well this idiot has run a couple of marathons and an Ironman triathlon, so I guess I'm special, in the, lets take the short bus to school kind of way.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Deer Lake was to drive down to the lake and have a look. It's been awhile since I actually stopped and walked down to the edge of the lake. We rode by it on our Labrador adventure this time last year. At the time I never thought we'd be back. Well....unfortunately the lake hasn't gotten any smaller. It's huge, and I realized then the challenge facing us tomorrow.

It was brick shitting time, all the doubts I'd been having on whether or not I had trained well enough for this came flooding back all at once. Yes, I wish I had trained more, done a couple of more long back to back runs, and did some strength training. I am fairly confident that I'll finish, just not as quickly as I would have liked to. There's a lot of Newfoundlanders in the race, duh....no shit, and growing up on the island, I know there are a lot of good runners here, and I suspect the finish times will be most impressive, like they were last year.

For those of you who do not run, and wonder how does anyone run 67km, or even a 100 miles, like they do in races like the Leadville 100 and Vermont 100. Except for the elite, genetically gifted athletes, most people don't run the whole thing. Almost all ultras take place off road, on trails. So it's really a combination of jogging, hiking, and walking, or wogging as I like to call it. You walk the uphills and jog the downhills and the flats. 

In 25hrs and 4mins from right now, Pete, myself and 36 others will be crossing the start line on, for some runners, what will be a 10hr adventure filled with emotional and physical highs and lows through a beautiful off road running course. Bring on the pain. Woohoo.

Hopefully I'll be recovered enough from this run to be able to walk next Friday, or at least ride a bike, since I'm going to CMG's Fundy Adventure Rally to film that. BMW has kindly given me an 800GS to ride for the 500km event so it would be nice to not have to have my legs screaming in soreness for the day long event, so I can enjoy the ride.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

What Happens When Yamaha Builds a Better Harley????

I received an email from the assistant editor of Canada Moto Guide the other day. Basically Zak said......"A Harley Davidson???? Really? In a joking tone of course because even though Zak is a DR650, small bike lovin' enthusiast, he does appreciate all facets of motorcycles. He did say he enjoyed his cross country trip on a Harley Switchback, all for the CMG readers of course. He even camped in a Walmart parking lot without the camper. He may well just be the first person to tent in a Walmart, that wasn't homeless.

Anyway, before this tangent gets too out of control, Zak said the best Harley 883 Iron built was in fact a Yamaha. Holy shit!!!! The blasphemy, how can a Japanese clone be a better Harley? The HD purists are up in arms, dew rags are being thrown to the ground in disgust. It's not possible.

Well I cannot say yay or nay on this, because I haven't ridden the new and improved 883 Iron by Yamaha. Zak had it as a long term test bike, and could be considered an expert in the field of Yamaha, Harley bobber clones. I only have my short 20min demo ride on the 883 to go by, and I did sit on a this so called clone at Atlantic Motoplex. It was a comfortable bike from what I remember for the 3 mins my arse was on the ultra suede seat. 

This better than Harley clone is of course the new Yamaha Bolt. Introduced this year to the motoring public, and according to Yamaha has now become the best selling metric cruiser. I assume "metric" means non-Harley, since everyone in the world is metric except for the good ol', behind the times, USA. Metric is so easy. Get with it America, and for the love of god go to Celcius, the whole Farenheit thing is confusing as hell. Water freezes at 0, boils at 100. Simple. At least Al Roker isn't giving the weather in degrees Calvin.

Shit, off topic again. Yamaha Bolt, right. So what's better about it. Well according to most reviewers on the bike, the motor, brakes and suspension are better, and some say the bike feels bigger, yet is 50lbs (must be an American reviewer) lighter. The Harley folk complain the seam on the tank is hideous, and its a clone. Not much to complain about.  Oh and the frame doesn't hug the engine as nice as the 883 does. Ugly gaps. Afterall there must be some flaws. Lord knows the Harley's have theirs. Now I'm not bashing Harley, they have been making some nice bikes for a lotta of years. The Sporty's in particular. But really until now there has been no direct competition, and competition is good. I mean would HD have improved the brakes and added an optional ABS on the Sporty's if it wasn't for the Bolt? Who knows. But its a bonus for us the consumer, whether you buy an Yamaha or an HD.

Question is....can I still be an Eddie Vedder, old '90's grunge rocker with a Bolt? According to the Yamaha Bolt video, I can at least be an aging hipster. Break out the flannel shirts honey.

I like motorcycles, all of them, ask my wife who gives me shit for wanting a new bike every year. I guess I just haven't found the right one yet. "It's my last one, I promise" has been said repeatedly in this house. Except when I say that I have my fingers crossed behind my back. Most marriages involve a few white lies or exaggerated truths.

So instead of rushing right out and buying an 883 Iron after a 20min demo ride I decided to take Zak's comment and run with it. Plus my darling wife gave me the look, you know the "its gonna cost you later" look if I trade in my bike now. So I am gonna research the Bolt a little more and see if I can get a demo on one. Plus, my friend Tim Hovey just happened to buy Maclean's Powersport, the local Yamaha and Suzuki dealer. He is in the process of having the name changed and overhauling the place. I think he'll do really well with the dealership and bring it to a whole new level. I'd like to help him out in anyway possible, which means purchasing all my new bikes from him. So we will see where this leads.

Once again this year I'll be attending the AIMExpo in Orlando. A very big bike show. They sent me an email asking me to confirm whether or not I'll be attending again this year. Just so happens my flight training is the week after, so I'll be going down early to partake again. I plan on demoing a Bolt this time. Cruising the flat boring roads under a burning Florida sun. Woohoo.

Next update will be during the Deer Lake 67 ultra marathon, followed by the Fundy Adventure Ride shortly afterwards. If I can still walk, or at least stand on the pegs.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Crossing

 I saw this posted on CMG's website this morning. Who needs a big GS adventure bike to have fun and explore. Go with one of the original adv bikes......A Royal Enfield. Great video, all shot on GoPro. Nice work fellas

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Hardly Ableson

Ok, the majority of people that read this blog are most likely adventure riders, actually the majority of riders that read this blog are Pete and I.

Lately..... since I was 19 years old, I have wanted a.....wait for it......a Harley Davidson. "WTF" you say. "The TLH, Vstrom riding adventure guy wants a Harley, how can that be?" Truth be told, I have had a love, hate relationship with the iconic American brand for 26 years. Love to have one, but thought they rode like shit, broke down a lot, and I really did not want to dress like a pirate to have to fit in. The other issue was, the only bikes in the Harley line-up that I liked were the Sportsters.

A little bit of Harley rider logic, or at least from what I have gathered from my years of research. Some, not all Harley riders ( mostly the doctors or lawyers by day, and SOA prospects on the weekend, the ones that can't ride in the rain, or get my bike dirty types) consider all other bikes inferior to HD. This is the same group that then slam any HD riders on Vrods (liquid cooled engine i.e. modern engine) because they are not "real" Harleys. Sportsters......well those are chick bikes, even though more women ride Dynas. They also call them half-a-Harley, or piglets. If your lazy boy on wheels called an Ultra Classic Limited is a HOG, then the Sporty is a piglet. If there isn't 1800cc's in the frame, it's too small. For the love of Christ when did an almost 900cc motorcycle become small. That was huge in my day.

Corporate badass's

yes, girls do ride Sporty's

I have never seen such a passionate and hateful group of riders anywhere. Now the dressing up like a bad ass pirate, Hells Angel wannabe. I get it, you have to look the part to be accepted into the group. No different than the ADV guys, in our head to toe matching riding suits, looking like a stromtrooper (notice that little slip), I mean stormtrooper, or Power Ranger. The sport bike riders looking like they just got off the MotoGP track, in head to toe leathers, with knee pucks that haven't had a scratch.

Please shoot me if I ever show up anywhere dressed like this, that includes Halloween parties.

The current trend is the hipster look, lots of flannel, Doc Martins or Vans, Bell retro helmets, groovy glasses (do bifocals count) because I'm all over that. Can a 45 year old be a hipster? Am I too young to be an old hippy. Wait, I got it.......I'm an old grunge rocker from the '90's. YES, THAT's IT. I have found my look. Dave Grohl, Eddie Vetter, and Terry Burt.

Eddie likes dogs and Airstream trailers.....he is a god

Anyway, I've gotten a bit off topic. Where is this going? Well....this week I went in search of Sportster 883 Iron. One of the 3 bikes in Harley's line-up that I really love. The others being a Sportster 48 and 72. Unlike the adventure bikes I lusted for in the past that were priced at the top of the scale $25K GS Adventure. The Sporty's are Harley's most affordable bikes. $10K for an 883 Iron, which pales in comparison to some that are close to $50K. This maybe the first time that I wanted something cheap. Whoa.

So I headed up the local HD dealer to just have a look and see what was on the showroom. They had one of each, an 883 Iron, a 48 and a 72. The 883 has a, you guessed it, 883cc V-twin, air cooled fuel-injected motor. the 48 and 72 are 1200cc. It's practically the same engine, and for a few hundred bucks the 883 can be brought up to 1250cc.

The demo bike

Low and behold they have an 883 demo available, damn thing only has 22km on it, and it's a beautiful flat black colour. Harley calls it "black denim". For a tough biker image, it's a lame colour name. Geez, why didn't they just call it "gay biker bar black" instead. After signing a waiver that basically says, "you break it, you buy it" I was on my way. This is only my second Harley riding experience. I took my friend's (Scotty Goggles) Street Glide for a ride once. Hated it. It was too big, too stretched out, hated having my feet up in front of me, and it didn't want to corner. Every time I'd lean it into a corner, it wanted to stand back up again. It wasn't for me.

I knew right away the Sporty was for me. The unmistakable Harley sound coming from the dual pipes. Not obnoxious and loud (I hate loud pipes, and I don't think they save lives,  they just piss off neighbours) The mid pegs were familiar, and the bike was nice and nimble, effortless to ride. It is top heavy though. Power....well there is no lack of it, nice low and midrange, plenty for my 170lb frame, and for the riding I like to do. The suspension....well it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, there is some, I hit one big bump that was spine jarring, but for the most part it wasn't too bad.

Brakes... I was expecting crap brakes, because that is all I have heard. However in 2014 Harley upgraded the brakes, and they now have a good bite, they certainly were no worst than the ones on the Vstrom.

Handling...well it doesn't corner like a Vstrom, I scrapped the peg feelers a couple of times. The bike has a heavy, yet nimble feel to it, if that makes any sense. As long as you don't get too aggressive in the corners, or carry too much speed it's fine.

Ergos...I found the bike very comfortable for the 20mins I was riding it, I have short legs for being 6ft tall, my pant legs are 32". Plus I am not very heavy. I think for any long trips a set of highway pegs to change position and stretch out a bit maybe in order and a windshield for the highway.

Controls, very nice, except for the self cancelling turn signals, not too sure about them yet. Clutch and brake levers were nice and big, and felt good, handlebar position was nice. The new speedo, is easy to read, and now comes with selectable digital tach and gear position indicator, as well as km to go til empty.

Overall, loved it. This is gonna sound real corny, but I felt like a real badass on that bike. Like an extra on SOA. The sound of the V-twin, the vibrations, it's a raw basic bike, that looks killer. Maybe at 45 I'm now truly going through my mid-life crisis.

Plus the chicks really dig the Harley's. Which is important. When was the last time you saw two chicks straddling a Vstrom like this.