August 29, 2010

Small roads, dirt roads and dead ends

I spent some hours exploring roads so less traveled that some of them didn't even require a paved surface. Not all of them were leading somewhere in particular, some ended in a gravel pit, some ended at a pond or lake, others simply returned to blacktop.
Silvermere Lake
I let the road take me where it wants.
Hayward Lake
The end of the road...
...but what a view from here.
Back on the blacktop.

August 28, 2010

Mission possible

I didn't do anything! My fellow traveler wanted to 'window-shop' for motorcycles, and we went to the two obvious places that had drawn his attention before: The beemer store and the Harley Davidson shop. His obvious choice was the R1200GS, and the bike fits him very well, it doesn't fit our budget yet though.
A lot of bling bling in the Harley Store, but none of the models was nearly as interesting as the 30 years anniversary GS before.
Supersize me: Only available at Harley Davidson: a 5XL T-Shirt, or is it a tent?

The good thing: my fellow traveler really wants to get back on a motorcycle, and soon. And where there's a will there's a way. Maybe I should get him this for his birthday to start with:

August 25, 2010

Riding Anniversary

End of August marks the first year of my revived hobby, or call it passion, of motorcycle riding. A year ago I was impatiently waiting for my mail-ordered gear to arrive, the bike already sitting in her new home… and then I was too nervous to actually get out on the road on the twenty years old but new to me Honda named Lady Hawk.

Eventually I overcame my anxiety, and began riding in the early mornings and late evenings with low traffic, often shadowed by my fellow traveler in the car, protecting me from Calgary cagers.

I lost my training wheels circling around in a community that was yet to be built; only the infrastructure with a nice and shiny blacktop was already set up, and finally I found myself ready for the open road.

Much too soon a new job and other obligations plus really crappy weather reduced my chances to discover the vicinity of Calgary on two wheels to zero. My Lady Hawk was put into hibernation, but the desire to get the right bike for touring plus reading blogs with two-wheeled content kept me going through the long dark winter hours.

After six months I was so fed up with the ‘white shit’ and the cold, that I decided that it was time to find a better and warmer place to live and ride, hence the move to the We(s)t Coast back in March, and moving on to another job.

I got my new bike, Nella the yellow beemer, in May and together we rode into the sunset.

The End.


No, the encounter with my perfect two-wheeler did not mark the end but rather the beginning of a wonderful friendship between (wo)man and machine, and so we keep on sharing many sunsets. I try to take her out every other evening as work and life allow, and go on longer round trips in the lower Mainland (300 to 400 km distance) on the weekends, rain or shine.

Thanks to a fellow rider, you might know him as bobskoot, I did not have to explore the area aimlessly. And it got better: in July we had the opportunity to travel south of the border, and went on a five days trip through Washington and Oregon.

After this my appetite for the grand tours has become insatiable. Nowadays my little escape routines are merely satisfying my needs for distances, but as such are valuable as preparation for the next epic journey. Maybe next year… vacation days and moneys are long spent, and fall and winter are closing in soon.

At least there will be many more days for riding through fall foliage, and maybe the occasional trip on a sunny winter day.

See you on the road, my fellow readers and riders. And let’s all keep the shiny side up!

The daily awe

A full tank of gas: 15$
An energy bar and a pop: 5$
A two hour ride in perfect conditions: priceless!
The ever present Mount Baker
Today's after work ride was really something. Clear blue skies and mild temperatures made for a true gossamer.
A short break at Alouette Lake
Moon over Alouette River
Dawn over Pitt Meadows

August 23, 2010

Farmville

Today the weather changed every five minutes. Rain, no rain, and then another shower. I waited for a dry window and went out for little spin in the Abbotsford area telling my fellow traveler that I was just gone for an hour (or so).
As usual I took the fast lane a.k.a. Trans-Canada Highway, before I switched to the lovely byways through endless fields of corn, berries, potatoes and cabbage.
Traffic was light. Even most farmers seem to have taken the Sunday off. 
The crops are growing high.
Behind those rolling hills are the US of A.
An experiment. Getting used to the new camera.
Those roads are the best, not every vehicle gets past that.
Symmetry of farming
After the rain, the sun is coming out again.
Almost four hours and 200km later I am home again.

August 20, 2010

Urban Getaway

Always a good place to be for sunset is Stanley Park in the heart of Vancouver downtown. It is an oasis for city slickers. A forty minutes trip on the highway, riding in temperatures in the mid twenties (C) make for a pleasure ride. The park is laid out as a 'drive through' so that people don't even have to get out of their cages to enjoy the view. I wanted a little more of it and stopped at all the view points. There were joggers, skaters and cyclists all over the place, and it seemed that traffic rules as well as common sense did not apply to them. So one had to drive very carefully...

View from Prospect Point to Lion's Gate Bridge
No free parking, not even for bikes, not that I cared...
Downtown View
The famous Totem Poles
Lighthouse at Brockton Point
A pink limousine
Welcome to Vancouver: A nuclear weapons free zone
After sunset at Science World
Back home. Nice, eh !?!

It is good to be back to 'normal' temperatures for a change. It is not fun to ride in the high thirties C (100 F), not even in a mesh jacket and Kevlar jeans.

August 13, 2010

Just another day

I have made it a habit riding 'naked' lately, meaning without the Pelican cases. It is amazing how nimble Nella feels and how easy she is to manage on gravel, yet the top case still carries my toolbox, rain gear, and some simple bare necessities (a disk lock, a water bottle, a second pair of gloves, a pair of glasses, and my yellow crocs).
A month has gone by and the sales guy from Cycle Barn never called back. So I gave up on waiting for the Olympia jacket and procured a Scorpion Exo Nip/Tuck mesh jacket instead. Since yellow wasn't an option, it had to be black. Although armored in all the right places the jacket is only half the weight of my Firstgear Kilimanjaro. A windbreaker in-liner protects in cooler weather, and served me well during today's evening ride. The jacket runs a little small, so I had to go one size up, but thanks to the adjustable cords I could customize it to fit my 'form'. So far it's a great jacket, and very reasonable priced.
Adopting Gary France's habit to take a picture on the road every 1,000 traveled units (and since I am metric it will be every 1,000 km) I am celebrating 4,000 km with Nella on Dewdney Trunk Road, Pitt Meadows, BC.

August 11, 2010

After the rain

The rain cleared the air and made for some beautiful light at Pitt Lake.
The roads were empty except for the occasional school bus full of seasonal workers for the blueberry harvest. The area is popular for its 'organic' fruit, and I am wondering what 'un-organic' berries might look and taste like.
Pitt Lake is serene and lovely as usual. I never get tired of the view. This picture was taken from a wee bit shaky wildlife watch tower.
Pitt River reflections. Glad I could go out for a spin and watch the sunset. Some days are really special.
The deer warning signs were obviously put up for a reason. These ladies just crossed the street in front of me. I was traveling slow, and aware this encounter might happen, came to a safe stop, and could even grab the camera for a quick photo.

August 06, 2010

Pink air

I went out for my therapeutic evening ride to watch the sunset. The soot of the forest fires in interior BC however caused a smokey haze in our area, and spoiled the view and the air quality quite a bit.
Made for some pretty sunset though.
 I can't believe that I am saying this: Please let it rain, and soon.

August 02, 2010

Scootin' da Foothills

Since my fellow traveler still can't ride due to health reasons I took his long neglected bike for a spin today. It started on the first push of the button.
I picked a nice and easy ride through the rolling foothills of Calgary's hinterland, just about right for a touring scooter like the Silverwing. The weather was ok, cloudy and not too hot.
I stopped in Bragg Creek for the usual tourist picture. Traffic was light, and I was surprised that there were almost no bikes on the road. Actually there were so few that every two-wheeler got their greeting returned. And even bad-ass rugged leather-clad Harley Davidson riders were not too cool to wave back at a lady on a scooter.
Close to Millarville I drove into a black wall of clouds. Occasional lightning made me a tad bit nervous, but a firm pull on the throttle emerged me out of the danger zone. The acceleration was fantastic. Nine months of decommissioning couldn't harm the bike at all.
Another photo stop at Okotoks, before I headed back to Calgary.
You gotta love the prairies in summer!