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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

My Italian Mistress

In the wake of the Ashley Madison, discretion is out the window and your email address has been made public scandal, I figured that instead of having an affair, or getting a girlfriend, something sexy on two wheels would be more appropriate. I mean really, do I want another woman in my life? I have five now including the dogs that are spending almost every last cent that I own. Seriously, I love them all dearly and have a happy life. So why have all my funds going to divorce lawyers and a disgruntled wife, when it can go towards something that enhances my joy in this stressful world of ours.

So the only other "woman" in my life is my new Italian mistress the Guzzi, which I picked up yesterday.

I left my home in Rothesay and made the 170km trek to the Guzzi dealer just outside of Moncton, in the Town of Dieppe. It was my last ride on the Strom, and the ol' girl performed well as usual, cruising along effortlessly at 125kph. As much as I love the Guzzi, I will miss the Strom.

I had checked the forecast before I left and it was calling for sun and cloud. Well, the sun part was elusive and by the time I reached Sussex, 45mins away, heavy mist, rain showers and a wet highway greeted me. I "always" pack rain gear when I ride, I never leave home without it, it rests in my left pannier ready to don at the first sprinkle. Today it was home, protecting the garage floor from getting wet. I had emptied everything off the bike since it was being traded in.

The forecast was good........tells you how good our weather forecasting is. So I left home with my Icon jeans and my Olympia coat. Luckily the Strom is big enough to keep almost all the water off me, and other than my knees and arms I remained mostly dry. The ride home on a naked bike might be a different story.

Luckily the showers let up just before Moncton. The salesman, Danny Brun, at the dealer even called to see if I was still coming up because of the rain. Really.......it's gonna take more than some liquid sunshine to stop me from getting my new bike.

Once at the dealer, G. Bourque we got all the paperwork out of the way, and I even convinced them that throwing in a nice $50 Moto Guzzi T-shirt would be really nice gesture as well. $50 for a t-shirt. Damn. I thought this was Moto Guzzi, not Ducati.

It wasn't long before I was throwing my leg over my new V7 Stone. Ah the shaking and the rumble of that v-twin, and the sweet sounding exhaust note. It makes my heart skip a beat or two.

Most women, I mean my wife, just don't understand the bond, and love between a man and a special machine. It's a wonderful thing. I think my youngest daughter Katie gets it. The look she gets when she sees an old classic car or motorcycle is awesome. You can't teach that. Mind you, my wife can go pretty gaga over a nice pair of shoes, and that's just weird, all together.

While the Guzzi was warming up her two big cylinders, I said goodbye to Danny and geared up for the ride home. The dark clouds of earlier had give way to those less threatening white puffy ones that look like the cartoon clouds from the Simpson's, a sign that the ride home would be a dry one.

I rode off through main street Dieppe, the buttery smooth transmission and torquing engine putting a very big smile on my face. Glad I had a full tint visor on so I didn't look like a complete idiot, and to keep the bugs out of my teeth. Dieppe seamlessly runs into Moncton and I made my way across the city weaving my way around the late morning traffic. The bike is so light and flickable, it's just a joy to ride. The clutch pull is super light and easy, a welcome relief for my arthritic hands. The high humidity of summer not helping with that.

Before long Moncton was in the rearview mirror, not a bad place for it either, and I was cruising the backroad towards Salisbury at a leisurely 80kph. I thought I'd miss the big windscreen of the Strom, but to my surprise the clean undisturbed airflow of a naked bike was refreshing. No buffet, just smooth air, making you feel like your flying. I was back to pure motorcycling at its best.

Now, I may be biased on my impressions, because I did just throw down a bunch of cash on this bike, and no matter who you are you will always make up for or ignore the shortcomings of something new, that you own.

I do love the Guzzi, is it perfect? No. The rear suspension is stiff. Not Yamaha Bolt of HD 883 stiff, but it does give a "firm" ride over the bumps. I knew that from previous reviews. The suspension on the V7 Racer is better. A few hundred dollars for some better shocks maybe in order next year.

The seat. It's not bad, either my arse needs to get used to it, or it needs to break in a bit, but it's probably better than most stock seats I've been on. Unlike the Ducati Scrambler, the seat on the Stone, doesn't lock you into one position, so it's easy to move around and change up your seating position slightly. For the majority of my riding the stock seat will be fine. Long touring trips and I'll throw on the Airhawk seat cushion.

After my first few minutes on the bike, I was a little worried about legroom. Especially coming off the big Strom. My legs are a little more cramped up, which I thought would give me some issues, but to my surprise after two hours of riding I was perfectly fine.

Now, this is not an Interstate bike, yes you can do it, but why. I did jump on the four lane highway for a couple of stints, and at 110kph the little Guzzi chugged along effortlessly at just under 4000rpm. Wind blast was quite manageable, and I would easily be comfortable doing this for a couple of hours. Throw in some strong headwinds and that would change the situation. On the I95 with everyone doing 80mph, nah, that would not be so much fun, but then again the I95 isn't fun in a cage either.

The happy spot for me and this bike is cruising at 80-90kph on two lane highways, the Route 66's of the world.  The roads that beg to ridden and explored.

I know a lot of you are thinking, why not another adventure bike, or dual-purpose? Well, this is an adventure bike, it's the '50's through to the '80's version. The do it all standard bike we grew up with. It reminds me of the old CB550's and 750's I lusted after in high school but couldn't have. Maybe that's the allure of it. Simple, and sexy.

It's a plain Jane, standard bike with a touch, well more like a smack in the face, of Italian flair and sexiness.

Now if Ashley Madison was setting people up with two-wheeled love affairs the world would be a better place and divorce lawyers would be a lot poorer.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

24 Hour Mainer - Part Deux

I love the idea of camping, love tents, camping gear, however I have never been able to get a good nights sleep in a tent. My Little Guy trailer……..no problem. Maybe it was the four beer I had and the fact I woke up to pee at 2:30am. I guess in hindsight it wasn’t too bad, I did sleep from 9pm to 2:30am. I ended up reading for an hour before falling asleep again until 5am. The sun was now up, so I guess it’s time for me to be up. I unzipped the tent and low and behold it was foggy, really foggy.  

After a nice hot shower, and breaking camp I went in search of coffee. The sooner the better at this hour of the morning. Talk to anyone that knows me and I am not fit to be around until the first cup is gone. 

I headed west on Route 1 for the US’s version of Tim Horton’s, the Dunking of the Donut. America runs on Dunkin’, well so do I this morning. I chilled out in the donut shop for about an hour nursing a very big coffee and taking advantage of their wifi. Must update social media, and see which Kardashian is naked, in trouble, or transitioning to another gender.

Now that I was recaffeinated I headed for the famous Maine town of Bar Harbour and for a little cruise up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. This part of Maine is in stark contrast to the part I had rode through on the previous day. Busy traffic, wall to wall tourist traps, motels, and much nicer homes. For 8am, there was a lot of traffic in both directions. Busy, busy.

I stopped for a quick look at the Bar Harbour Airport, the ramp was packed with airplanes, a lot of smaller corporate jets, and a couple of big ones. I see the rich come here for the lobster too.

On the way to Acadia National Park, I catch glimpses of the sun thru the low overcast, maybe, just maybe, the top of Cadillac Mountain is out of the fog and in the sun. 

The ride up the mountain is fun, reminds me of a very small version of mountains the riders climb in the Tour de France. Starts out in the trees, and as you climb the trees turn to shrubs, and before long there are just rocks. The road snakes it’s way up the mountain, with a few switchbacks thrown in for fun. My pace was slow because of the thick fog. To make matters worst drivers coming down the mountain had no headlights on, so these dark objects would appear out of nowhere. Damn it people turn on your headlights in the fog. Not sure why U.S. cars don’t have day-time running lights yet. Maybe it interferes with they're rights or freedoms, like riding without a helmet. 

I reached the top, after passing some very energetic bikers along the way (note to self, come back again and pedal the road, looks like a good challenge, maybe even run it too) and the view from the top was breath taking. I could barely see across the parking lot. No sense hanging around here.

The summit of Cadillac Mountain

I descended back down the mountain, enjoying the road, and not having to worry about looking at the scenery, there was none. I headed in the town of Bar Harbour, taking my place in the long line of traffic, too much traffic for this hour in the morning. Geez, at this rate the town will be full to capacity by 10am.

Bar Harbour is a pretty little town, when you look up picturesque New England in the dictionary, this is what you see. However, it’s not your picturesque fishing village, unless the fisherman are all wealthy and dress like preppies and hippies. It's the home of Dockers, deck shoes and Tilley hats, with a mix of long grey hair,  beards and tie dyed shirts. Not too many hard working fisher types here. 

I head for the harbour itself, and pass countless cozy motels, B&B’s, art galleries, coffee shops and pubs.

The harbour is busy, full of boats, mostly sailboats, charter boats and the wealthy ones that flew in on their private jets to meet up with their luxury 100ft plus yachts. Oh and there’s a smattering of actual working boats filled with lobster pots. I imagine at this hour in the morning, they have been out and back and have unloaded their catch. 

Time is ticking away, and I have to get back to Canukistan to meet my family. I do a quick loop around the town and ride pass the seemingly endless road of tourist traps and lobster joints before once again joining US 1 northbound for the land of high-tax, expensive booze, and igloos. 

 Every lobster place had a boil going on, getting ready for the influx of hungry tourists later in the day, looking for a messy feed of the crustaceans.

I would have stuck around and maybe juggled some chainsaws, but my family was waiting on me. Plus it's difficult at best to ride a motorcycle with a missing limb or two.

Yes, my US friends once you cross that elusive border the land of Canada is covered in snow and we all live in igloos. No offence citizens of the US, but I have had some of you ask me the oddest, most non-common sense questions about living in Canada. The best one was………..”do you shovel the snow off your lawn before you cut the grass?” Yes really, this person was dead serious. 

Now you folk are worldly adventurers so you all know the difference, and that I am writing with a slightly sarcastic tone. I am a sarcastic arsehole most of the time anyway, so much so that my friends, all two of them, say I’m not just an arsehole……..I am the whole ass. 

Back to our regularly scheduled program. My original plan was to take US 1 all the way back to Calais, but the traffic was busy today, and it was taking the edge off my relaxed mojo pace. Looking at the backside of a big panel van for miles can do that. 

I decided to jump back Route 191 again, it was a nice road with little traffic and riding it from the opposite direction would make it different. Once again the further away I got from the coast, the better the weather got and sun started to peak out from the clouds.

The day before I had passed a small take-out place called Joshy’s, it was packed with cars and had a line-up of people at the order window. That’s a good sign. So when I came upon it again I pulled in. It was quiet, looking like they had just opened for the day. I ordered up my second coffee of the day and a tuna club sandwich. Damn good sandwich. I recommend you stop in if you find yourself in the area.

My belly was full and my brain was firing on all cylinders from the coffee, so I hit the road again. My family would be arriving in St. Andrew’s soon, and I didn’t want to keep them waiting. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and I have three of them, five if you count the dogs. With all these women in my life, I surprised my body still produces any testosterone at all anymore.

A few miles down the road and the clouds had parted completely and the sun was shining, it was a glorious day, with a slight tailwind pushing me along towards the motherland.

I arrived at the border to another line-up, big motorhomes and several cars. Luck was on my side today, and they fine folks at CBSA had just opened another lane, and I swooped in behind one other vehicle. 

I handed the nice lady my passport and answered the usual questions, “How long have been gone? Where do you live? Purchase anything? Have a good day” 

Since my profession as a pilot takes me back and forth across the border many times each month, I claim everything, the last thing I need is an issue with customs, so like a good Canadian citizen, I claimed the two remaining beer from last nights six-pack . Now, you can only bring back a certain amount of booze without having to pay duty and tax on it, only if you’ve been gone more than 48 hrs. Certain, by the book CBSA officers, you know the ones with sticks in their arses would have made me go inside and pay the duty and tax on those two cans of beer. So I was fully prepared to reach into my pannier and pull out the offending cans of beer, and say “confiscate them” and be on my way.

Luckily the nice lady had some of that, not so common sense, and just shrugged off the evil US alcohol and let me carry on. 

Thirty minutes later I was pulling up in front of the Algonquin Resort right behind my wife’s car. Good timing they had just arrived too. No fury from hell was hathed.

The Algonquin is a beautiful old hotel that was recently bought by the Bill Marriott clan and put through a huge renovation. The end result is gorgeous modern resort that has kept the old world charm of it’s former self.

We spent the rest of our time exploring the small quaint town of St. Andrew’s, which looks more New England than New England, and relaxing on the huge front porch of the hotel or chilling by the pool. 

Lobster is popular here too

Skip Tim Horton's and hit this place for a nice coffee and great atmosphere.

Great place for supper or lunch, awesome food, and nice patio

Main street.  St. Andrew's is like the Bar Harbour of New Brunswick

Apparently there are whales around here that are worth watching

I highly recommend anyone on the east coast to take a ride up here, awesome place and for my US friends you’re dollar goes a lot further now. 25-30% further. Oh, but bring your own beer, ours is way too expensive. Hell, I don’t even buy booze in this province anymore.

Thanks for riding along. Next up is the most awesome adventure rally on the Canadian East Coast, well the only ADV rally on the east coast. Canada Moto Rally’s Fundy Adventure Rally. Less than three weeks away. Your’s truly will be trading the Guzzi for a BMW adventure bike and will be hitting the trails and dirt roads for a 500km 12 hour adventure.

Friday, 21 August 2015

24 Hour Mainer - The First 12 Hours.

It’s quiet, just the distant sound of traffic on Route 1 and the wind blowing through the trees. The evening air has a nip to it as the southwest wind blows the fog in off the bay. Wait a minute, it sounds just like every other damn evening in Rothesay, except Route 1 is the Mackay Highway, and the bay is actually Drury Cove.

Shit, Maine is just like New Brunswick, except I’m only getting 70 cents on the dollar. I am hunkered down for the night at the Mountain View Campground in Sullivan, Maine. Nice little place that looks westerly towards Bar Harbour and Cadillac Mountain. Hence the name Mountain View. Although right now it’s “I Can Barely See the Beach Because of the Fog” campground. No worries, I’m from St. John’s Newfoundland, home of fog, and currently living in the foggiest place in mainland Canada. I feel right the frig at home.

I could have ridden the extra few kilometres to Bar Harbour, however campgrounds over there are horrendously priced. $26 for campsite here with a view of the water, or $80 for a tent site across the Bay. Ya, I’m perfectly happy here. Small place with clean washrooms, and showers, and a grassy place to pitch the tent. Oh and I can even go antiquing in the morning.

Last week the Missus and I decided to head to St. Andrews-by-the Sea, and spend a couple of nights at the fancy, shanchy Marriott Algonquin Resort. I booked two rooms for two nights and decided to make it a family trip. Those 80 nights a year staying in Marriott for work does have it’s advantages, and I put the whole thing on my Marriott points. Woohoo.

Yesterday I decided that it would be a good idea to leave a day earlier and head to Maine for a little bike/camping trip, and then meet the girls in St. Andrews the next day. Weather was supposed to good, and I wanted one last hurrah with ol’ Vstrom before she got replaced by my Italian mistress, Ms. Guzzi.

Ok, a little bit about the new bike situation. I love the Guzzi, love it. But the ol’ Strom has been good to me, and has gotten me thru the Labrador, and various other trips and adventures. So, yes I do feel a pang of guilt and remorse getting rid of her. I know it’s just a machine, and it’s not supposed to have feelings, but damn it the Strom feels sad to be leaving, and I feel sad for letting her go. She worked awesome today. Ok it might just be me feeling sentimental, or it could be the cheap American beer starting to work. Damn you emotions towards inanimate objects.

Finally settled on the white V7 Stone

I headed out at noon today, it was overcast, with a temp near 22C, but it was really humid, making it feel much warmer. I had previously mapped out my route on Garmin Basecamp mainly because I wanted to stick to the backroads once in Maine, and not waste time searching for a good route, since I basically had just over 24 hours, of which 10-12 hours would be camping out.

I slabbed it down to Calais on Route 1 which took me about an hour, I was in chill mode today, and only did 110-120kph. It was nice to not have to keep pace, or follow the pace of someone else. It was literally pure freedom. I can get used to this travelling solo.

Before long I was at the U.S. border crossing. The sun was out in full force down here and it was hot, over 30C for sure, and of course in true Terry Burt style I got in the slowest of two lanes at customs. Of course the guy I had was inspecting the trunk of “every” car in the line. Really, do you see the guy on the bike melting in the sun. I half expected him to ask me if I was nervous because of the sweat dripping off my face. But he didn’t. “where ya going?, who do work for?, how long you staying?, where you coming back thru? any alcohol or tobacco (really does anyone actually bring super expensive smokes and booze to the states?) when was the last time you crossed? and finally, have a good trip” Woohoo.

I stopped at the usual Irving Big Stop, just before Highway 9 that takes you to Banger (yes I spelled that wrong on purpose) Pee break was needed and I need a lot of water. I then backtracked slightly and picked up Route 191 southbound for the US Route 1. 191 is a great road, very light traffic, scenic and enough twists and turns to keep you occupied. It came recommended by my friend Tim Hovey of Moto Sport Plus. Thanks Timmy.

US Route 1 is nice, it passes thru Machias, Jonesport and various other little towns, the speed limit varies but never exceeds 55mph, which is perfect cruising speed. Made for a very relaxed pace.

Maine is an interesting state, especially up here, it is home of the double wide trailer and the delapitated shack. You pass a lot of these with a sprinkling of Sotherby’s real estate signs. Odd. I have seen more junked cars, RV’s, buses, and trucks in peoples yards to last me a lifetime. I now know where all this stuff goes to die. Maine. I like Maine, for the most part the people are nice, down to earth, and they have funny accents. Like Newfoundland.

Once off of Route 191 and back on US 1 the temperature dropped to a more comfortable level and the fog flirted with the coast.

Before long I ended up at my destination for the night, the Mountain View Campground. I blew by it on the road, I honestly wasn't expecting an antiques shop as the check-in for the campground. Lucky for me it turned out to be a pretty nice place. I was more than happy with my accommodations for the night.

I pitched my tent, no ya dirty bastards, the real tent, the one I’m sleeping in, got all my shit squared away and headed for supper. The Galley-By-The Bridge was recommended to me by the nice lady in the antique/check-in place. She said they had great lobster for a good price. 

Well it did not disappoint. I must have been early, since the place was empty, and yes that did make me feel a little nervous, empty restaurants are never a good thing. I’m thinking I was a little early at 5:10pm. Maybe I can get a seniors discount. Or as my old work colleague would say…..the Mexican rate. Get it SeƱor rate!. Bah ha ha.

Anyway, the cute young lass recommend the lobster roll, “Dad caught it today, and Mom cooked them”. Well, hit me over the head with a wet lobster pot, lobster roll it is, and make it the jumbo one. That and a cold beer made my evening, it was delicious. 

I paid the bill, thanked the pretty young thang, gave her a good tip, and went in search of a 6-pack of cold beer to end the evening off at the campsite while I type away to you fuckers.

Tomorrow, Ba Habah, the ride back and fancy resorts.