November 29, 2009

The BMW that wasn't

One of the most daring motorcycle stunts in movie history is for sure Steve Mcqueen's escape on a motorcycle and stuntman Bud Ekins' famous jump over the fence in The Great Escape. I particularly like that movie, not only because of its famous cast, but also for its (M.A.S.H. like) humor, and the fact that the German military for once were not depicted as all stupid (if they only had been the horrible war might in fact have been much shorter...)
It was only today that I learned that the supposed German war bike wasn't a BMW but actually a Triumph TT Special 650. And how the heck did I come across this information? I spent too much time on the internet online browsing the Triumph Website, you-tubing for related vids, and googling for pics. I can't help it, I like those British Retro-bikes: the Scrambler, the Bonneville, the Thruxton, and the Speedmaster, too. They make my heart beat faster...

November 28, 2009

I wish I had: A self-assembling Bike

So, now that I am aware that motorcycles are capable of doing this, I wish my bike were at least a bit cooperative to take care of the basic stuff, such as self-cleaning, self-filling with gas, self-maintenance and self-assembling a few farkles for Winter-riding. Alas, no such thing...

And speaking of Winter... The white stuff is back. Darn!

November 23, 2009

Overcoming the Fear of the Cold

Since my riding gear is very basic (no heating equipment), I rather like to stay on the plus side of the temperatures (speaking of degrees Celsius here). I kept an eye on the thermometer this morning, but it wouldn't climb, and taking the wind chill factor into account it was minus 5C at best. By noon I decide to keep close to home, to be able to return quickly if the cold became to much for me to bear.
Today my jaunt (1.5h and approx. 40km in total) takes me to Glenmore Reservoir, a manmade reservoir which is fed by the Elbow River, and Calgary's primary drinking water source, plus local recreational area.
There are bike paths, hiking trails into the Weaselhead Flats, and here is where I canoe during the ice-free season, and cross-country ski in Wintertime.
The reservoir is already freezing over, and so was my face, despite the face mask. The rest of the gear was actually doing its job pretty well, especially the AlpineStar Ridge riding boots. 
After a little stroll and some camera stops, I headed back home looking forward to a long and hot shower...

November 21, 2009

All Work and No Play

In August I rejoined the biker community, and my riding statistics show about 1,000km on the SWing and approx. 600km on the Hawk. Well, it's not much really, but it's a start. To justify the low milage I must say that I had a lot of 'life stuff' coming in the way. Also, I had been a tad bit intimidated by the local traffic, which is killing you - literally! Then there was the lack of (mail ordered) gear, and that of a suitable riding partner, too.
In September I was (happily) preoccupied by family members visiting, but confined to driving them around in a cage, plus I started job hunting... finally.
October, too soon for the season, was mostly covered in snow. Nevertheless I've had some good interviews, that actually resulted in a couple of job offers.
In November I started working, and my new found occupation doesn't allow me to commute to work by bike. Since I will be facing clients I will have to comply with the given company dress code. But that's a fairly small sacrifice, because I am thankful getting back into the workforce, after several months on pogey.

My trusty Hawk will need a little TLC over the Winter, such as a safety check, a change of lubes, and a new rear tire. I would like to add a super bike handle bar and also nearer levers for more riding comfort, since my wrists get sore from hanging on those clip-on bars.

To my regret it is highly unlikely that I will be riding a lot in the first quarter of 2010, since I will be deported deployed to Manitoba on my first solo client assignment. On the plus side I will be able to save up the necessary bucks to buy a new bike some time next year.

November 20, 2009

November 18, 2009

Looking for Spring

An Albertan motorcyclist waiting for the new season to start. He doesn't want to miss the first day for the world.

November 15, 2009

Scout to Scoot: The Circle Route

Vancouver Island is Scooter's Paradise. Even this time of the year one can rent one of those nimble two-wheelers, something that I will definitely consider on my next sojourn. This rental place is in Oswego Street, close to the harbor.

It was quite windy when we began scouting the Circle Route, which leads west to Port Renfrew, and than over a (newly paved) logging road to Cowichan Lake, and via Duncan back to Victoria.

For a lunch break I highly recommend the clam chowder served at Point-No-Point Resort, where you can enjoy the scenery, and watch wildlife while waiting for your food.

A room with a View
The quality of the road is challenging at times, as there are potholes, cracks and tar snakes in the pavement, single lanes, slippery wooden bridges, patches of gravel and steep curves. And beware of the logging trucks, they are reckless drivers, knowing that their truck is stronger than your vehicle.
Well worth visiting is the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, French Beach, and later on Botanical Beach at Port Renfrew.

Beach at Port Renfrew

Kite Surfing, I wish I was twenty again.


 Oops! Pick-up's are not amphibious.

 Smoky Mountains

November 13, 2009

Where do Pumpkins go to die?

My parents reading Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales at bedtime belong to my most precious childhood memories (The Snow Queen, The little Mermaid, The red Shoes, The Emperor's new Clothes etc.).
One less popular, yet likewise capturing sad story is the fate of the Christmas tree.
While walking in the woods and thinking about I was wondering, ok, Andersen explained the fate of the poor fir tree, yet what doom awaits all those carved pumpkins after Halloween? Here's my oxygen overdose induced attempt to an explanation after a hike in the Mount Douglas Park.

Silently greet the gargoyle guarding the haunted forest.
Don't blink! Don't turn around!
Follow the mystic path in front of you.
Master the moss covered steps.
Be careful, the old stairs will be slippery and unstable.
Deep hidden in the woods you will find their secret cemetery.
Some seem to prefer solitude, others gather in groups.  
Here, forgotten from the world, they wither and die... in silence.
Apologies, I am in a weird mood today.

November 12, 2009

Color Flash in Victoria, BC

My fellow traveller has taken me to Vancouver Island for a prolonged weekend. Still the bleak trees of Alberta on my mind I am pleasantly surprised by the presence of fall foliage. The pics of my Sony certainly don't do it justice.

And the roads were indeed cleared of leaves. I wonder if its removal is the city's responsibility. If it were, they did a pretty good job keeping the streets safe, especially for us two-wheelers.

November 10, 2009

Bravo Breva

Back in Europe the Italian brand Moto Guzzi is legendary. But like Harleys those motorcycles were usually totally overpriced, unnecessarily heavy and high maintenance. If you wanted to do mileage, a rice burner or a Beemer would have been your natural choice, if you'd rather be a wrench monkey, fine, have at it, buy a Guzzi. Times have changed, and so has technology, and so it happened that the Breva V750, which I discovered at our local motorcycle dealer yesterday, caught my attention.
My initial response to this nimble middleweight street bike was, that everything felt right about it, the weight, the balance, pegs in a perfect position, and even for the vertically challenged there was no need for ergonomic adjustments. This bike fits me like a glove. It has a shaft drive, which I personally prefer over chain anyway. Give it a windshield, engine guards and panniers, and it becomes the perfect touring bike for a quite reasonable price that is. This will certainly give me more to think about over the winter.

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the (Berlin) Wall

My grandmother and my aunt lived inside the Berlin Wall, which surrounded the Western Part of Berlin. Visits were complicated, and my childhood impressions consist of scared parents (What if we get stopped, what if we have a breakdown...?), miles of concrete walls, barbed wires, tanks and armed guards. It was quite intimidating, and would always put a damper on family reunions.
The 9th of November 1989 marked the turning point: free travel had been (prematurely) announced for Eastern German Citizens.
At that time I lived in the Midwest Germany, only a couple of 100km away from the border, and had followed the previous weeks of civil unrest in the Eastern part in the Media. I remember that I was worried and scared for the people, that at one point the Russians and the Eastern German military would simply crack down the peaceful demonstrations, like the Chinese authorities did earlier the year with the student protests in Tiananmen.
Would Western Germany only have watched if that would have happened? How would the Allies have reacted? It felt very much like being on the brink of a third world war.
Thankfully history has proven wrong the war mongers, and a year later Germany became officially peacefully re-unified (unofficially it is actually a work in progress), and well received by the rest of the World (except maybe for Maggie Thatcher). It was followed by times of reorientation, satisfying each other's curiosity and an ongoing learning process, accompanied by an economic boom.
I have a great deal of respect for my fellow country(wo)men who stood up for their beliefs and their desire for freedom, while risking their freedom, health and lives. A day well worth remembering.

November 08, 2009

New Personal Record

One quick ride in the blue hour. So far this is the lowest temperature that I have ever been exposed to while riding. The snow is gone thanks to the Chinook winds in the last days, but will soon return.

Oh yeah, and that would be me with helmet hair, checking my pocket camera (a Sony Cybershot, small and sturdy, but with limited photo capabilities).

November 07, 2009

Premeditated Acts for Riding

Exhibit A: Collecting bike shots...
While flipping through some pics from last year's vacation in the Maritimes, I found a bike shot from Halifax. A classic Kawi, maybe a Z900 from the mid 70s (?). Unfortunately the owner wasn't around to be 'interviewed', and since my fellow traveler became increasingly embarrassed over my drooling all over the bike, we eventually had to leave. What a sweet babe!

Exhibit B: Gasoline Talk with other riders...
And here's my handsome fellow traveler checking out our friend's likewise handsome BMW F800. This photo has been taken last June in California. It was this particular friend who re-ignited my passion for two-wheelers.
Exhibit C: Start shopping for a bike...

November 06, 2009

Roman Holidays

I shouldn't have done it... I was in a nostalgic mood and watched said romantic 50's movie with Audrey Hepburn, featuring the actress riding the busy streets of Rome on a Vespa. Needless to say that I had to look up the Vespa Canada Website to check out current models, only to find out that now, I need to have a closer look at this model:
The GTV 250 comes with an esthetic Retro look with leather split seats. Its 250cc engine should do well in city commuting. A nice Plaything to have, once my fellow traveller gets back into the seat of 'his' Silverwing. Now I just need to explain to him, why we need a second parking spot....

So many two-wheelers, and only one butt to ride with...

November 04, 2009

From Beggar to Chooser

I had expressed my wishes for a new bike, and it looks like Santa got me an early Christmas present. After seven months of unemployment, after writing tons of applications with little to no feedback, I had two job interviews in the last couple of days which just resulted in two employment offers!!! Hence I herewith declare that recession is officially over for me. On acceptance, I will be working in two weeks from now, and can hopefully start up saving up enough dough to pay off a brand new two-wheeler next year. I AM BAAACK!

November 03, 2009

Glutton for Inconvenience?

In my heydays of touring across Western Europe I was not only one female biker in a group of testosterone driven male riders, I was also the only one hopping along on a little 500cc thumper with a small tank, while everybody around me rode a big machine. Often I felt quite exotic with my kick starter, too. My gear was mostly oversized guy stuff.  I didn't have a heated vest or gloves, and I was often saddle sore, cold and dead tired at the end of a riding day. (Nothing that couldn't be fixed by good food and a glas of wine.)

So why the heck all the 'suffering'?
I guess 'cause it is fun! I am neither a rebel nor in need of emancipation, I cannot offer any socio-cultural or economic reason, I don't ride out of symbolism or to oppose authorities. Maybe it is the exposure to the elements, and the satisfaction that I can DO IT. Motorcycling has always been more than just some means of transportation. Like sailing or canoeing it is an aesthetic form of movement, isn't it?

Musings aside, this is the best explanation I have to offer:

November 01, 2009

Anxiety Attack

I am craving for a quick ride on my Hawk. The streets are dry, the weather is fair, and temperatures are warming up to plus degrees. I am putting on my face mask, helmet and gloves, ready to roll, when I suddenly experience trouble breathing, and a dizziness coming up, so bad that I had to I get off the bike and to remove my full face Shoei.

A fit of claustrophobia? Frak! I remembered that this had happened to me before, and that's why in the past I always carried a 3/4 helmet as a spare. Hence, I will have to buy one for next season.

My favorite choice would probably be the ARAI SZ RAM III.
Pros: pleasant design, light, comfy, has good padding, and a large visor for eye protection.
Cons: less safe than a full-face, increased wind noise, expensive.

Now I am going to put my Hawk back in storage. I guess, I am done with riding this year. Wow, that was scary. :-(

Watch the Shadows!

Finally the Chinook Wind kicked in and delivered half decent temperatures for the first time this October, but also produced some nasty cross winds in its wake, ripping last remainders of leafs from the trees, and trying to force our vehicle off the road.

Counter-steering the car was difficult enough, and I can only imagine how challenging it would have been to keep a two-wheeler under control. I couldn't help reading the road as if riding on a motorcycle. The lanes were clear of snow, but wet leaves and gravel from the sand trucks were all over the place. The potholes were full with water, and the texas gates were wet and slippery. In treed areas the shadow would prevent the snow from melting and irregular pattern of icy patches could be found.

We went hiking for a couple of hours in an area that will soon be closed for the season, and enjoyed the blue sky and the fresh mountain air, before we returned to the warmth of our reliable four-wheeler.