October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en

The little monsters, vampires, ghosts, super heros and princesses in pink tricking or treating the city are an all present reminder what time of the year it is: scary time!

Browsing the net for a suitable motive for today's posting I came across Pamela Shanteau's website featuring a Jack-o-lantern/skull airbrush artwork on a Harley Davidson. Thanks to Pamela who allowed me to spice up my blog with her artwork!

Although not the biggest fan of this specific motorcycle brand, I have to admit that Harley's are probably the coolest motorcycles for airbrush, or can you imagine such an awesome picture on my Nella, and besides where the heck would I put it?
Look how far I am gone, I am thinking about Harley's now... Nella I miss you very dearly. Please come back soon...

October 28, 2010

I want my bike back!

Almost three weeks have passed. Today I contacted the dealer to get an update on the patient's status, only to hear that the appraisal hasn't been approved yet. Being the impatient and efficient German that comes with the breed, I called up the insurance. Five minutes later I got confirmation, the whole repair got approved. (I was afraid Nella could get written off...) Finally, the spare parts can be put on order! But since this is a 2004 model they might have to import some of the stuff from Germany. I'm afraid, the riding season is really over for me this year...

My leg is healing well, long walks and hikes have proven to be good physiotherapy for me. The skin is almost back to its normal pinkish colour, only a dent in the kneecap is a permanent reminder of the incident. I am ready to ride once Nella is.

Being sans bike leaves me straying around ogling at two-wheeled strangers.
A rare sight in this part of the world: A Husqvarna a.k.a. 'Husky', a Swedish bike gone Italian, and since 2007 with the BMW group.
A ragged looking Kawi KLR 650. It could certainly use some TLC.

I am not having any improper thoughts about other bikes... just looking, but not touching.

Not sure what this big American dude has in mind flirting with the svelte Italian chick.

October 24, 2010

Closed for season

While on a hike in the Grant Narrows I noticed an abandoned Honda Shadow in front of a store that had long shut down for the season.
This two-wheeler reminds me of a chained up watch dog, protecting the property, and patiently waiting for his owner to return.
With Nella still in the shop, and waiting for spare parts, the best I can do is watching other riders as they enjoy the last moments of fall. I can however, share their view.
The marshlands are a fascinating area, a bit eerie, and silent. Although close to the city limits you hear nothing but the wind in the trees.
Soon all trees will be stripped naked by the wind, and and nature will have to wait patiently - like the bike - for spring to return.

October 16, 2010

What a wonderful world

The landscape of the West coast never ceases to amaze me. A view from Radar Point (obviously ex-military, hence the unspectacular name), is well worth the hike.
 My personal therapy includes long walks at Long Beach.
 There is twisted plant life like these only a few meter high trees surviving in a boggy environment.
 But you also find raincoast giants here, such as this 800 year old tree.
Some places are accessible at low tide only, and you should always watch the tide.
  Beachcombing is a hobby of mine, and so I return to the beach several times during this awesome day.
 We are blessed with another beautiful sunset.
It can't get any better than this.

October 15, 2010

A postcard from the wild coast

With a couple of (forced upon) vacation days on hand, the bike in the shop, a bum knee that needs some physio therapy, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of all this, my fellow traveler surprised me just in time with a long weekend stay in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island.

For a 'fish head' like me (Fischkopp - an expression that Germans use for people born in the Northern part of the country) a walk on the wild (coast) side is food for body and soul.

No motorcycle related content, but I enjoyed the first day of our sojourn nevertheless.

  A surfer checking the surf
 Sunset at the We(s)t coast
 Into the wild
 Ucluelet Harbour after sunset
Tofino at the end of the rainbow

October 10, 2010

Back in the saddle

We had a rainfall warning in the Vancouver area this morning but it was only drizzling when I brought Nella to the Beemer Shop in Richmond, where the bike is going be appraised, and hopefully - after approval through the insurance - be repaired.
Here she got already friendly with a lovely orange F650GS of a newer generation.
My knee is still hurting but functioned just fine while riding the 35km to the dealer. I was a little nervous about remounting the bike the first time after the accident, and the weather and slippery roads didn't help much. Wet leaves were creating an additional road hazard, and it took me some time to regain confidence without thinking about the almost-wipe-out two weeks ago. It might take some time to get completely over it, but I'm sure I'm getting there.

Distance: 25 km
Weather: light rain, 9C (48F)

October 08, 2010

Hello from Sozhou - bobskoot's travels


We are now in Sozhou, China, the "City of Canals". This is a small city of only 6 million. There is a new industrial area here and the shopping mall includes WalMart and BestBuy.

Scooter is king here and no one follows any rules. It is free for all, riding the wrong way, or going through red lights, lane splitting. No one wears helmets and many have 3 passengers on them, also saw one with 3 passengers and a baby on the front handlebar.

There are very few actual motorcycles. I would say for every thousand scooters you may find a small 125cc Chinese motorcycle. Even the police only ride 250cc bikes. Scooters are mostly electric and perhaps less than 2% with actual gasoline engines.

Scooters have their own lanes, segregated from regular traffic and also their own signal lights.

While we are enjoying our marble washroom and walking on the marble floors in the lobby, just around the corner we find poverty and people trying to find ways to make ends meet. It would appear that they operate a small business in front and live in the back.

The first few are of small family operated restaurants and they have to wash the dishes on the sidewalk; one plastic container with soap, and one with plain water to rinse. They also cook outside on portable gas ranges. One has to wonder how much business they get.

We are in a different city every day this week and will end up back in Shanghai on the weekend for an extended day before returning home on Sunday.

Traffic is very heavy. Shanghai has a population of approx 23 million and here is a photo of typical traffic jam. The roads are very good and efficient.

Gas costs 6.74 Yuan per litre. (a Yuan/RMB is approx .163c in CDN funds)

I hope Nella gets fixed soon and also that you get better too. So many scooters here and I was just thinking how nice it would have been to be riding around on 2 wheels too.

On our return we will be in the air for many hours. With jet lag and time difference (15 hours ahead of Vancouver) I have also taken Monday off, so if it is nice and I am feeling good, I will go for a ride. Can't wait.


October 07, 2010

On bobskoot’s behalf – A message from the Middle Kingdom

Bob’s having trouble with the internet service, so for everybody who is curiously waiting for a life sign, here are some of Bob’s first impressions from China.


Things are not working right here. Also I cannot access blogger. I think I am being censored by China's watchdog policy of no free speech.

We did not realize that we were visiting during the National Nationwide Holidays where the whole country shuts down and many make their pilgrimage to Tiananmen Square to visit Chairman Mao's grave. Thousands of people everywhere, long waits at all the tourist sites and few washrooms.

We could hardly ever touch the Great Wall, lots of pushing and shoving and one of the group could have gotten pick pocketed, he lost his wallet.

We decided to climb up the other side of the mountain where there were less people; lots of contrast here with old and new, and rich and poor; lots of beggars in the streets and all the slums are covered with high fences so we can't see over, but being in a high bus we couldn't help but notice.

The last photo is the main shopping area of Shanghai, West Nanking Road. You can't believe the people and all the stores. If you didn't see the Chinese characters on the neon signs you could be in New York City.

If this works I may be able to send a few photos when I can. We are staying in a different city each night for the next 8 days.

I just checked, I cannot log into YouTube either.

I think this is the way for China to control pictures and information from the outside world. I was afraid this was going to happen from the information I got before we left home.

I will have much to say about my opinions after being here for a few days. I have video of beggars in the street pestering our bus tour. They are waiting for us to get off the bus and just follow us everywhere. It is hard to say no when a blind man comes up lead by his wife and begging for money to buy food. I almost broke down and gave them some money, but we were told NOT to. One of the other ladies gave some $$ to one and she was pestered by others.

We went to a shopping mall and every six feet when you get to the next stall the girls handling the stalls are calling out to you and offering their goods for sale and trying to barter. I could have gotten a Columbia running shoe for 20 Yuen (RMB) which is around $16.00 CDN without even bargaining. I think these are originals stolen by factory workers. After all everything is made here.

After a short while we couldn't stand it anymore and had to leave the mall, then when we get outside the know we are not locals so again we are bombarded with street hawkers mostly with fake Rolex watches. You could even buy fake Gucci handbags and select the purse model from an actual Gucci catalogue.


October 03, 2010

Spyder Sense

Being confined to indoors is intolerable for my wandering mind, and I get grumpy. My fellow traveler knows that all too well and hence, took me window shopping at some motorcycle dealers, like Barnes, a H-D shop and Holeshot, a Jamaha/Suzuki/KTM/Kawa dealer in Langley, and GVP in Surrey.

At the latter we discovered this quirky thing that didn't quite look like a motorcycle, and not like a real trike either with those two front wheels, more designed like a ski-doo or sea-doo on three wheels, namely a Can-Am Spyder Roadster made by Bombardier. So, this happens when an airplane manufacturer creates a motorcycle. I wonder how an airplane made by Harley Davidson would look like... yeah, lame... I know.

Needless to say that this whatchamacallit is extremely comfy, and has lots of storage screaming for long distance rides. Should I ever get to the point that I won't be able to safely handle two-wheelers anymore, this weird thing would be my future ride. I find that the three-wheeler becomes my hubby, not that he is getting old, but the foot break, the semi automatic transmission, and the fact that it can't top over are serious advantages for somebody who has next to zero riding experience.

With my grumpyness (does this word even exist?) being cured we spent the afternoon in Fort Langley, and enjoyed the sun and the mild temperatures.

An older fellow playing Johnny Cash tunes.
 I noticed this thing in the left corner. It made me think: If pigs could fly, I would have a stable full of two-wheelers.
 Bikes in front of a historic store front, always a pic magnet.
 More bike porn
 So many bikes... and Nella not amongst them... oh, oh, ole grumpy's coming back out again.
 A fence made out of stuff that people would usually throw away. Interesting!
 A mural telling stories about Fort Langley's history and fortune:
Indians, colonization, railroad, mountain views and river, gold rush
 All along the watch tower...
 Little shops in a picturesque back alley
 Cranberry products galore
 Food intake at the 1827 coffee bar and lounge
 The local diner... a travel back in time
 That's one Ford! Back when America built sexy cars...
 And a sexy car needs a likewise licence plate (captured for Mr R)
 Can't get enough!
 A movie prop from the fictional town of Webster Falls
 Relaxing at Fraser River
 No doubt, fall is all around.
 I love the looks of an empty winding by-way.
Trees changing colours.

It was a good day for a road trip... and with a little woefulness in mind I say, it could have been a good day for a ride, too.