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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Broiled in the Bronx

Adventure riders seek out the remote areas of the world, where terrain, isolation, weather and unpaved roads challenge riders and machines. Whether it is the Road of Bones in Siberia, the Trans Lab, and Dalton Highways, or some crazy arsed mountain road deep in the Himalayans.

Now for a small city boy from Newfoundland who has more or less spent most of his life in the maritimes in cities of less than 350,000 people, The Big Apple, or New York City as some call it is a major wake up call in terms of craziness. Of course being a pilot, I get to visit some big cities. I've been to NYC before, London, Chicago, Miami, San Fran, Berlin, etc. However a lot of the time someone else is driving, or it's a quick trip from the airport to the hotel. So my latest trip on the bike, which just so happens to be a "work" trip has turned into an adventure ride of another kind.

Each year I have recurrent flight training on the aircraft I fly. The Falcon 2000 simulator is now in New Jersey. So I asked the boss if he could schedule my training for late May to take advantage of warmer weather, so I could ride the bike the 1000 or so kilometres to get here. Piece of piss, two-day ride down, then take my time and explore the way home.

"Ya so where is the adventure in that so far?" you ask. Well fuck me, the trip was awesome as far as Portsmouth, NH, where I spent my first night. How hard can it be? Motor on the I95 all the way to Joisey. Easier said than done for someone whose idea of traffic is four cars on the highway.

When you are in a cage and someone else is driving, you kind of zone out and look at the scenery, as much scenery as you can see on the I95 at 75mph.  Put yourself on a bike and it all changes of course. Today was my first time riding in heavy traffic, in a bizarre way it was like riding on the TLH. Totally focused.

In Labrador the focus was on the road itself. The gravel. How it went from almost concrete to lose sand, or marble-like rocks that made your backend fishtail at 90kph. Oh, and in the back of your mind you realized that you were totally isolated, no cell coverage, and little traffic, if you went off the road, it maybe awhile before anyone finds you.

The I95 from Boston to NYC, total focus, not so much the roadbed itself, because like most American roads its SMOOTH. Focus is on cagers. The traffic is crazy. Posted speed limit is 65mph, most are doing 75 or 80. I actually figured it was safer in the fast lane doing 75 or 80. All kinds of crazy shit going on in the slow lanes. Way too many people trying to kill you. Too many people in their own world, talking, texting, eating, drinking, reaching for stuff in the passenger seat, I've seen it all.

So where does the broiled part come from? Well, I thought the I95 was an interstate, meaning fast, meaning multiple lanes, and it does, until it goes through the Bronx. Fuck me, how does traffic go from 70mph to a standstill in 500m? 18 miles from my hotel in New Jersey, traffic came to a standstill. I mean it took me an hour to go a mile. Oh and all that nice riding gear that keeps you comfortably warm at 75mph turns into a broiler at a standstill when its 20C surrounded by concrete, thousands of cars and huge transport trucks. Fuck it sucked.

Oh and slipping the clutch as I inched along like a snail stuck in molasses, my left hand was in agony, the joys of being arthritic.

So, for a guy from the maritimes, where I can get lost on a logging road fifteen minutes from my house, this was truly an adventure. Unfortunately it was an adventure I don't want to repeat anytime soon.

The return trip, will be an early Sunday morning departure from The Garden State, which is odd, because all I've seen is concrete. Then it's back roads and an easy three day ride home through the Adirondack Mountains. Time to enjoy the scenery.

Despite todays craziness I did get to stop into Twisted Throttle, the adventure bike outfitters. Very cool store, which even has a cafe. I hung out there for about an hour, and picked up a couple of goodies.

So outside of the hotel in Portsmouth, I came across this
Which more or less confirms what I knew all along about American drivers.....they're nuts.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Spring is Here.....Finally and Oh What's That????? Another Twist in the New Bike Saga.

Let's be honest, the end of March may signal the arrival of spring in other parts of the world, but not in the Maritimes. It's still the dead of winter. It's May 2nd and the snow has finally gone and the ice is off the Kennebecasis Bay. Even though it's a balmy -3C this morning at 8am, today the sun is out and it's gonna hit.....wait for it....holy shit a whole plus 10C. Yes folks double digit temps.

All winter I have been planning on trading in the VStrom for a Yamaha Bolt. Well, after riding my strom again this spring, I find it increasingly difficult to part ways with the big ugly beast. It's comfortable, has bags of power, cruises the highway like a touring bike, and has a lot of luggage, and wind protection. Hell it's the Bigland bike. The ol' girl got me up to Labrador and back in one piece.

I have missed my little XR250R, and would like something like that, but street -legal. I hear it now, "here we go again, Burt has changed his mind for the umpteenth time." Yup, pretty much. Back to the CRF250L again? Nope. I'm thinking of going the WR250R route this time. 

One of the main reasons I did not ride the XR very much was, I had to transport it everywhere. I'm old now and convenience is everything in my life. If I can pull out of the garage and ride to the trail, hell ya I'm gonna use it. I also have the added benefit of connecting trails via roadway. Or if I'm running late, jump on the road and high tail it home.

Why the Yamaha this time. Well, since I have a very restrictive cash flow, the WR needs less mods than the CRF. Suspension is already good, and so is the motor. I'm really not that good of an off road rider so I really don't need anything too hardcore. Plus my friend Tim is the proud owner of MotoSport Plus the local Yamaha dealer. I feel like shit, because he had a 2014 Bolt put away in the garage for me to buy this spring, and now I'm changing my mind......again, or just going back to plan A.

As much as I wanted the Bolt, and to add a sidecar to it, plans have fallen in my lap that require a dual-sport. I cannot reveal too much at this time, but it may require another trip to the Rock, and possibly a trip on the Trans America Trail in 2017. Oh and there is also the Fundy Adventure Rally again this year, which I would like to compete in.

So with minimal amount of money I can get the WR set up for some light off road use. 
Right off the bat I see a need for hand guards, new pegs and folding shift and brake levers, folding mirrors and a small tank or tailbag. I have all the riding gear, so I am set in that department. Maybe a new helmet. I can always use a new helmet to add to the collection.

So what's the Minister of the Opposition (my lovely wife) think? Well she's giving me the "no more bikes, that was your last one" Well, I mean did she really believe that at the rip ol' age of 45, that was going to be my "last one". I mean come on. 
I'm sure I'll get the silent treatment for a week or so, then it will be the payback shopping trip, which so happens will be in NYC, because her and the kids are joining me there for the Victoria Day weekend.

What better present symbolizes my entrance into my "late" forties than a new dirt bike on my upcoming birthday.