December 31, 2010

Mandatory visit

My best friend took me out for a shopping orgy in Duesseldorf, where I used to live and work for a few years. The city is a shopper's paradise. On the one hand it was time and money well spent, but on the other hand it was a rat race. Maybe I am becoming too Canadian because the noisy and impatient bordering on unfriendly crowds were soon to much for me. So, instead we went for a slippery stroll through the Altstadt and along the river Rhine.
Here I am posing in front of a Radschlaeger, which has long been a tradition in Duesseldorf where young folks are doing cartwheel acrobatics for fun and money. The statue can be found in front of the Uerige brewery, a must when in the city to have traditional German food with ALT beer (dark and yummy). Just don't go for the Haxen which is pork knuckles. That's on the menue for Japanese tourists only.

In a very North American way I am now taking a break at a certain coffee chain sporting a mermaid in their logo while reading a German motorcycle travel magazine.

As nice as visiting friends and family might be, more than ever I feel that Canada has become my new adopted home. I am already getting homesick, and crave the relative warmth of the We(s)t Coast. Or maybe I am just missing my two-wheeled companion...?

taken from the Uerige website

December 26, 2010

Smalltown, Germany

Vancouver - Seattle - Amsterdam - Cologne. Europe is still recovering from the kind of weather that we North Americans call 'Winter'. Is is not unheard of but quite rare that Germany is all covered under a white blanket. I remember when I was about ten years old, we had an actual white Christmas, but usually the region gets pretty much weather similar to the West Coast winter weather involving lots of rain.

Since Duesseldorf Int'l Airport was temporarily shut down our original flight got cancelled, but we were lucky enough and managed to catch a plane to Cologne. So, after 20 hours of combined air and road travel we arrived safe and sound in the small town we used to call home.
The town Leichlingen (try to pronounce this) has a steady population of around 27,000 and is located somewhat between Duesseldorf and Cologne along the river Wupper.


Despite two world wars the town core has been left relatively unscathed, and centuries old houses have been beautifully restored.

First mentioning of the town was in some church journal back in the year 973. The region usually has a micro climate similar to the Okanagan Valley, and is famous for its delicious strawberries and apples. In the past the area had been well known for their metal and textile production, but in nower days agriculture and orchards remain as the main industries.

I used to work for an IT service provider that had their regional headquarters in this mansion. My office was in the yellow building on the right. Fancy, eh?!?

The snow is somewhat limiting our excursions, but we hope to be able to visit all the family and friends that we haven't seen an a long while.

December 19, 2010

Last ride of the year

We currently have a lot of construction ongoing in the underground parking (where my bike lives) and poor Nella got buried under a pile of fine dust. She basically screamed at me: Clean me, feed me and get me a friggin' dust cover.

After giving her a well deserved sponge bath, we went out to get gas, and to acquire the most needed cover at the closest motorcycle dealer (Honey, I'm back in 5...). Of course it started raining, right after we left the garage. Wet stuff notwithstanding I suddenly found myself driving along the shore, knowing that this would be our final ride in 2010.
 Now that you mention it...
No Parking? Am I bovvered? (bothered) 
Rain, rain, rain. It's déjà vu all over again.
An hour later.... Honey, I'm home! 
Look, my gear is all clean now!

Distance: 34km (21mi)
Weather: Heavy rain 4C (40F)

Thank y'all for your repeat visits, and taking the time to leave comments, especially during my down time. I hope to see you on the road.
Be safe, and have a wonderful holiday season!

December 17, 2010

Bikeress' Lingerie

For those who always wanted to know what female motorcycle travelers look like without their protective clothing...
...this is not it. Sorry, guys.

Now, for you ladies: I have used ski underwear on long distance or cold rides, but they have seams in places where it can get very uncomfortable when sitting for a long time. After consulting the virtual crystal ball a.k.a. Google and several two-wheeler forums for specific motorcycle riding underwear, everything pointed in one direction: LD Comfort.
 
So, I made myself a generous early Christmas present, and bought two of those. The package arrived 15 days later with a handwritten 'enjoy your comfort' note and a smiley on the packing slip.

A few test rides later:
Comfy and warming, lightweight and seamless, wash easy and quick dry, and did I mention comfy? And one does not have to become an iron butt-er to appreciate this. For those ladies who want to go long distance in comfort, be it on cold or hot days, I can highly recommend this product. And to those guys who haven't actually tuned out halfway through this posting: yes, there is also manly man wear available.

No, I am not getting paid or sponsored for this. I am just in a sharing mood today, and curious, if the hit counter will set a new record due to the particular content ;-)

December 13, 2010

Bonnie's new rival

It's the new 2011 Kawasaki W800. Another bike that probably won't make it to Canada, ever... what a pity. Triumph beware, this lady will make for an interesting competition. Also, this retro bike reminds me of my good ole Yamaha SR500.
The limited choice of new or used bikes in the Canadian market is somewhat frustrating. Maybe I need to return to Europe every once in a while, at least to get a look and feel of those other wonderful models out there...

And while I am at it, I am going to check out one of those... the 2011 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. Oh, you sexy thing.

December 11, 2010

Seattle Motorcycle Show

Calculating the subsequent hangover and lack of sleep following last Friday's Company X-mas party, we kept our trip down to the Seattle Motorcycle Show to a last minute decision. We woke up at around seven-ish, felt ok, and arrived at the Peace Arch border crossing around nine. Since we are permanent residents of Canada, but holding a German passport, we get 'special attention' from the US officials every three months for our visa-waiver, mugshots and fingerprints included. Meanwhile they must have over a dozen in their collection, but they never get tired of taking new ones.
We arrived in Seattle by noon, and it rained cats and dogs. That probably explained why only a few riders actually visited the venue on their bikes. What stroke me odd, was that there were no signs, no billboards or adds featuring this event or giving directions. Then we entered the tiny hall, and were thinking: Is that all? Where is the rest of it? There I thought that the Calgary show we visited last January was tiny, but it seemed that even the Stampede grounds featured more exhibitors and events than this sports arena (I mean a sports arena? Seriously? Come on!). And speaking of lack of exhibitors, where were BMW and Triumph?
 A rare sight on the grounds
If it is yellow it must be good.
The Suzuki Burgman 650 fits hubby like a glove.

Maybe it was the hangover but I was in a reasonable grumpy mood, that could only be enlightened by meeting Bob and Yvonne, and Stacey who volunteered at the Woman Ride booth. We chatted for awhile and parted ways to go explore some more. I had heard that Brad, Brandy and Rick where also around somewhere but we must have missed them. Unlike them lucky bunch we didn't have the luxury to stay overnight, so we live to meet them another time.

We headed home late afternoon. Traffic was heavy possibly due to Christmas shoppers, but we made it back to the comfort of our couch before 7PM. Getting back into Canada is almost as easy as traveling in Europe, and friendly as always. We just had to flash our permanent resident cards and were welcomed in without further ado. Gotta love this country.

Conclusion: Meeting friends made it worthwhile visiting the fair, but compared to other shows this event was not a memorable one.

December 05, 2010

A few hours of delight

Today I had a premiere: My first December ride ever (and riding pillion doesn't count). After what felt like countless days of rain I had almost forgotten how beautiful the We(s)t coast can be, when it's not.
Frozen evidence of the cold. Hence, slowly does it.
As it is warming up, I let Nella go a little faster but keep a close eye on the road.
The world is steaming everywhere.
Trees warming up by sun rays
One major advantage of being on the road this time of the day this time of the year: Not much traffic.
Still some of the white stuff where the sun doesn't shine.
It's me in there.
View North across Fraser River
The sun sets. It is getting colder by the minute.
The damp air is creeping under my collar.
Gotta go soon, the roads are freezing up again.
Turning on the heated grips.
Time for celebration, and I made it still in 2010:
5,000 km on Nella.

Distance: 160 km
Weather: Sunny, calm, 3C (37F)

November 28, 2010

Feelings?

Since Gary raised the question...


Well, Gary... it's a bike. A means of transportation. A thing. I mount it, I ride it, and I get somewhere eventually. Nothing more than that... ;-)

Upon arrival at the dealer I was all sweaty hands and accelerated heartbeat nervous. I hadn't been on two wheels for seven weeks, and I didn't know how my knee would take the riding. I spent some time chatting with Rusty, the service manager to overcome the I-am-not-yet-ready state. Rusty rode the bike out of the shop into the dealer parking lot, and when I heard the familiar throbbing noise of my little thumper, and saw how squeaky clean and brand new she looked, all sinful thoughts about getting another two-wheeler were blown away in an instant.

My confidence increased with the familiar feel of the ideal (for me) seating position and height. I adjusted the mirrors, and went off on the highway without further ado. Cold wind whipped me in the face, and I had to adjust my scarf to cover mouth and nose. My leg didn't complain with the foot sitting on a brand new peg. The ride home was smooth, and the knowledge of replaced chain, fluids and break pads made me feel utterly safe. I took a little detour to get out of traffic. The bike did well, and it was as if we were never separated. And when I finally parked Nella in the garage, it was almost like I brought back home a brand new bike. I am in love all over again.

My baby is back!

After 49 days in the shop. And she looks prettier than ever with all new front right turn indicator, right rear mirror, wind screen, front mudguard, right fork tube, right footrest, right hand protector, right fairing panel, engine guard, and related spare parts. And since Nella was so patient, she got the 30,000km inspection on top, a couple of thousand klicks ahead of time. 

I took her out for a quick spin, and she was purring like a cat, and happy to be out in the open again. The roads were wet but cleared of snow, and with relatively mild temperatures around the 5C (40F) mark, it was a good feeling to be on two wheels again. If weather is like this I really get to appreciate my First Gear Kilimanjaro jacket, the lined Frank Thomas leather pants, and those awesome Alpine Ridge boots.
We. Are. BAAAACK!

Distance: 40km
Weather: light rain, calm, 6C (43F)

November 22, 2010

Below zero

Old man winter has arrived, still ok for hiking, not so much for biking. In the shadows the roads were covered with surface hoar.
In higher elevations the snow started sticking around, but we needed a boost of vitamin D, and went out for a hike at Buntzen Lake anyway.
We followed the trail for about an hour until we heard a deep growling coming out of the bush scaring the living daylight out of us. Given our instant primal reaction, we were pretty sure it must have been a bad tempered animal of the furry kind (bear?). Thanks to hubby who kept his cool we resisted however the urge to just start running, but moved back out of the danger zone as quickly as possible.
Nevertheless we enjoyed a wonderful sunny weekend, and also revisited one of my favourite places: Pitt Lake. Not much snow on the ground, but the mountains look like sugar coated.
Empty cranberry fields, surrounded by puddles of melt water.
We were privileged to watch Mr and Mrs Bald Eagle.
Mrs Eagle is a little shy.
With views like this, winter doesn't always suck.

November 19, 2010

Go figure!

Snowfall warning in effect!

It is the first day of wet precipitation with big fat flurries thrown in the mix. It is also the first winter for my young colleague from the Northern Kiwi Island. But why he was beside himself with joy is beyond my comprehension. He doesn’t even ski! If it had been enough of the white stuff on the ground the team would have probably spent the rest of the day watching him building snowmen or making snow angels… from inside with a hot cuppa java, and the heat cranked up.

But coming to the point of my story… Guess who called me today? The shop! OF COURSE, my Nella is ready for pick-up on the very first day that you shouldn’t be on the road on two wheels.

Well, since the bike is already in their (good) hands, and inspection is due in less than 2,000 klicks, I decided to get over with it now, and got offered a 20% discount on the parts. Also, they provide free storage for the bike as long as the weather doesn’t allow a pick-up.

I am considerably excited. Nella will come back soon as good as new or even better!

Picture taken after 11PM on my way home:
(sorry for the bad quality)

November 18, 2010

Random ramblings

Getting all the wrong ideas for the right reasons. Or the other way round? Whatever... Don't mind the guys, of course I am talking about the new Triumph 800 / 800 XC. Any similarity with the BMW F650 is of course purely coincidental and unintended. But since I have a weak spot for the Triumph family I have to say I really, REALLY like it.

The weather at the We(s)t Coast is indeed WET. Big letters. Note to self: Need to buy rain coat (my winter coat is good in cold but fails under wet conditions).

Bad weather is good for making plans, to be more precise: travel plans. 
Germany - visiting family is always great, you instantly recall why you left (Mom, JUST KIDDING!!!)
New Zealand - the annual pilgrimage to headquarters - strictly business of course (PAAARTY!)
Maui - A week of sand and surf, cocktails and handsome... hubby. (YES!)

It is great to have something to look forward to. Life is good!

November 13, 2010

A Short History of Motorcycles (mine, that is...)


Taking up Geoff's challenge to find embarrassing motorcycle pictures I dug into my piles of old photos and memorabilia of my past... and came up with... nothing. Since childhood days there are not too many pictures of me. In fact I fiercely hated having my picture taken. Hence I can only contribute a picture of little me.

For photos with motorcycle related content it is pretty much the same. There is almost no visible evidence that I or my two-wheelers ever existed. I hold a motorcycle driver's license for almost twenty years, but alas, I didn't do a good job documenting this during the pre-digital era.

Other than Geoff, I had the good fortune of being born too late, and therefore the fashion of the 70's left me unscathed. My school uniform consisted of jeans, parka and sneakers. The attire hasn't changed much since, so instead of pictures taken in different decades, just imagine several younger me's dressed in exactly these.

I apologize to Geoff that I won't be able to return a few good chuckles on my account.

However, here is a complete list of my two-wheeled companions. You might notice, that at no time I have settled on a specific brand, model or style. See for yourself:

The first bunch: 1992 - 1998
1992-1993 '92 YAMAHA Virago 250
The beginning of my riding career
1993-1993 '89 SUZUKI DR600
No pic available, only briefly owned
1993-1994 '91 YAMAHA SR500
My beloved thumper
1994-1996 '88 HONDA XBR500
Where the heck is my ATGATT?
1995-1998 '95 VESPA ET4 125
My commuter vehicle, alas no picture of it
1996-1998 '85 BMW R80
My "Rubbercow"

***

Two-wheelers revisited: 2009 to current
2009-2010 '89 HONDA NT650 Hawk GT
My Ladyhawk
2009-2010 '05 HONDA FJS 600
Silver winging
2010-2011 '04 BMW F650GS
My (Citro)Nella, photo courtesy bobskoot
2011-2012 '06 VESPA GT200
Paolo, the little one 
2011-current '08 HARLEY DAVIDSON Sportster 883
Roving on Rover 
2013-current '13 VESPA GTS300 Supersport
Allons-y Alonzo