April 27, 2011

Liquid Sunshine

Here in the Pacific Northwest we get plenty of rain. If a motorcyclist were to wait for a sunny day without chances of precipitation, well... let's just say one would almost never ride.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. Besides, our Vespa's provide great protection from the wet stuff.
Hockey Night in Canada! The best time to ride! Empty roads guaranteed.
A mix of rain and sunshine, that's what they call it liquid sunshine out here.
And while others sit in front of their TV's we sit on a wet bench and enjoy special effects made by Mother Nature.
And we had the whole spectacle to ourselves.
Who cares that it was raining again all the way back home.

April 23, 2011

A good Friday

Only recently I became a member of a lady's only motorcycle group. The name says it all: Free Wheelin'. I went to their meeting, and was impressed by the huge number of members showing up (and on time!). It was well organized, with topics guided by an agenda, and it was truly better than any of the recent business meetings I had attended. I felt very welcome, liked their program and signed up.

After the meeting I had the chance to say hi to some of the ladies, and instantly connected with an(other) all-year-rounder. We exchanged contact information, which consequently and pleasantly lead to an email exchange for a Good Friday ride.
Yvonne is a hardcore dirt-bikeress turned street-rider. This is her on her fairly new Yamaha V-Star 950. 
Since she is a local she lead the way and took me on back roads that I haven't explored before (and probably wound have never considered going).
At one of our stops we were wondering which idiot came up with this motorcycle parking 'design'. It is obvious that the planner was not a rider (and probably otherwise challenged as well).
So we conveniently parked our bikes somewhere else, stretched our legs, and enjoyed the view.

We spent about six hours on the road, only interrupted by food intake (sorry no picture of the nevertheless tasty crab sandwich), and a little walk. Thanks, Yvonne for great company and conversation. It was a Good Friday, indeed.

Distance: 193km (120 mls)
Weather: sunny, balmy 14C (57F), calm

April 22, 2011

Va bene!

Very well! Today it's Paolo's turn to take me to work. It is a little nippy (5C, 41F), and there is still hoar frost on the roofs, but nothing on the ground.

Once again I am in my favourite lot in front of the office. Methinks it is probably just a matter of time when I get the first complaint about taking up one full parking spot, because we are five employees and only have four spots... first come, first serve ;-)
Our offices are not really equipped to accommodate two-wheeled commuters. The server room has to serve me as a changing room , and our unisex washroom becomes my personal powder room to make myself presentable to the public.
My workspace... since I don't have a locker to store my gear, my bookshelf has to suffice.

I took off early (for my that is 4PM) and roamed through the city. Traffic was dense because of a heavy accident, but eventually eased up in the outskirts, where I enjoyed the mild temperatures sitting by the river.

I noted a few little differences between Paolo and Bella, almost like they are indeed different characters. The GTS250 hums, while the GT200 has a throaty voice. The additional 50cc can be felt while accelerating.
I tiptoe on Bella, while I flatfoot on Paolo. The red one feels more nimble, but the plum bike seem to keep better balance.
It is really hard to determine which one is the better bike. The GTS250 certainly has the technical advantage through its additional cc's, fuel injection and upgraded lighting, and probably has the better braking system, too. However, I might have developed a little crush on Paolo.

April 20, 2011

Scooter Commuter

My daily commute is an ordeal: 32 (yes, thirty-two!) traffic lights within a distance of 17km (10mi). I probably spend in average about ten to fifteen minutes waiting in front of red lights every day, and I seem to get lots of them. Only once I dared to take the Beemer to work, but the repeat shifting up and down in creeping traffic didn't do me any good. By the end of the ride I was a nerve wreck, and my left hand was sore from grabbing the clutch too many times. Not the best condition to begin a work day.

Now, scootering to work? No problemo.
True April weather... that's hail! Fortunately it's warm enough, so the white stuff doesn't stick on the ground.
Later the day I had to run an errand at the shopping mall. Little Bella looked a bit lost between all those cages. She was the only two-wheeler in the lot.
I arrived at home quite relaxed. Never would have guessed that commuting could be so therapeutic. Let's do that again. Hasta la vista, baby!

April 17, 2011

Let's go for a ride!

... says Mr M after breakfast, and we are up and ready for the road by 10AM. Sunday morning traffic is light, although we travel on some major roads. To get to our destination we need to pass over Pitt River Bridge to Pitt Meadows, and as expected the Vespa's do a little dance in the cross winds. No fun, but we can cope. In the meadows the wind suddenly dies and we meander peacefully along the dykes towards Pitt Lake.
The bikes are so photogenic, and so easy to maneuver that we often turn around, stop, pose the bikes and take pictures, or just admire the beauty of the Italian design.
This lane is definitely going to be shortlisted for the center line challenge, since traffic is manageable (no car in the last 5 minutes).
At Pitt Lake we are greeted with a quick shower, but it doesn't last long enough to get us wet.
The road is in bad shape, with loose gravel, potholes and leftovers from farm vehicles, not an easy commute for a beginner rider, but Mr M manages well, and he wants more (YAY!)

And then there were two

Meet, Paolo. He's a wee bit smaller in cc's than Bella, hence the name: Paolo, the little one.
The lady-ridden 2006 Vespa Granturismo 200 has 5,000k on the clock, and a few battle scars, but otherwise been kept in shipshape through regular maintenance at the other neighbourhood dealer.
Due to the cosmetic damage obtained by a reckless driver backing into the two-wheeler, kicking it over and fleeing the scene, the bike was very reasonably priced, and bonus: it came with a Givi top case (not cheap!).
Paolo was supposed to be hubby's training wheels but now it rather looks like I am getting it as a commuter (and winter) bike.

Traditionally the first ride (with any bike so far) would take us out to Buntzen Lake.
Alas, the lake is barricaded. BC Hydro is obviously still conducting repairs to the turbines of the hydro power station, leading to unusually high and dangerous water levels, flooding the beach and parts of the forest. This is as close as we get.
Next stop: Belcarra Regional Park, where we stroll along the shore and enjoy the view.
And every so often we think, it can't get better than this. Life is good!

Now with the stable growing my fellow traveler rented a second parking spot. And through my crystal ball I can see the potential to fill up the lot in the not so far away future.

April 16, 2011

An Italian Affair

Ciao, Bella!

Hello, beautiful! are the first words that come to mind when looking at this svelte Italian lady. The original plan had foreseen to pick up the 2008 Vespa GTS 250 from the friendly neighbourhood dealer the day before. But then THIS happened:
So all we could do is wait another day...

Finally taking Bella home: Since I was the chosen one to ride her home during rush hour, I took the bike on a little detour, something that always seem to happen naturally when on a two-wheeler. Bella and I bonded instantly.
 Pose: inspired by bobskoot
 Nowhere station
 and the train never leaves...

Later the day it was finally hubby's turn. It was already getting dark, but we wanted the traffic to die before he hits the road. I followed him in the car protecting his (and Bella's) backside.
This is a quick shot taken through the windshield with deer on the side of the road watching him ride by.
And off he goes. Guess what: He's loving it!

April 13, 2011

Sunset Ride

Nella needed fresh air, meaning her tire pressure was really low. This is when I discovered that she actually could need a good wash because my hands got all dirty in the process. But hey, what are quick wipes for (for me, not for the bike).
It's spring, babe! Let's go out for a ride. 

A brief but sweet evening ride takes me to Whitecliff Park, one of my favourite spots to watch the sun go down. A windy road leads down to the park passing multi-million dollar homes, and it could be fun if it weren't for the cagers creeping downhill.
Howe Sound before sundown
Following the rocky path into the bay.
The steps are uneven and slippery, a challenge for riding boots.
It is low tide and one can actually walk over to Whytecliff Rock without getting wet feet.
Me, enjoying the view.
Meanwhile I have added another 1,000km on Nella, the total now adding up to 6,000km, next month we will have our first anniversary, so I would say that's not a bad mileage for a recreational rider like myself.

Distance: 101 km
Weather: Sun and clouds, calm, 13C (55.4F)

April 12, 2011

ABCD - Will You Take Part?

Gary came up with a great idea, and I hope that lots of moto-bloggers will have the opportunity to take part in the the first WWW centerline challenge on the 1st of May.

Maybe you would like to join in with this.....

A Bloggers Centerline Day, or ABCD, will take place on Sunday 1st May 2011.

The plan is to inspire as many bloggers as possible to go outside and take a photograph of themselves on this day, wherever they are in the world. The photo can be creative, arty, contain more than one person, be in any type of location and can contain anything else you like. It must however contain the centerline of a road and at least part of you, the blogger.

There are 5 rules....

Rule 1 - the picture must be taken on 1st May 2011.

Rule 2 - the picture must be of yourself, and you must be a person that publishes a blog. You can include whatever else you like in the picture, including other people if you wish.

Rule 3 - the picture must include the centerline of a road.

Rule 4 – you should publish the picture on your blog on 1st May 2011, along with a few words about the picture and why you chose that location or pose.

Rule 5 - when you have posted the picture on your own blog, put a comment on http://garysusatour.blogspot.com/2011/04/abcd-will-you-take-part.html and include in that comment the address of your own blog post containing your own picture. 

Gary France will then pick his favourite photos and publish these as being the winners. There will be a prize of $100 awarded to the overall single winner, as chosen by Gary.

In order to get this event known as widely as possible, please copy and paste this posting onto your own blog, including the title. Please do that today!

As a reminder to yourself to take the photo and post it, put an entry into your diary for 1st May 2011.

Let’s see if we can get as any people to join in as possible.

April 10, 2011

Maui waterfalls and vegetation

A must-see in central Maui, just West of Wailuku: In the Iao Valley State park. Only a 5 minute walk from the parking lot you get an awesome view on the Iao Needle, a 2,250 foot high peak dominating the valley, surrounded by lush green. Quite often it is raining or at least embedded in clouds but we were lucky.
You need a thousand words for green to describe the vegetation of Maui. It simply reminds me of the bushes of New Zealand.
Bananas growing wild.
And pineapples too... I wonder where that name comes from since it neither grows on pines nor looks, or tastes like an apple. In German we call them Ananas.

I am a collector of waterfalls, and Maui has an abundance of those to offer. Here are some of my favourites hiking to Waimoku Falls in the Kipahulu Forest reserve.
The two miles hike leads over rugged terrain and can be slippery at times, but is well worth it. Just make sure you have better shoes than flip-flops. A mighty Banyan tree in the middle of the path.
The river is cascading down while we are going up.
Over stone steps and a boardwalk we enter a vast bamboo forest. Its stems create eerie hollow sounds in the wind.
Arriving at Waimoku Falls. It is huge and we are in awe!

Maui's vegetation is as versatile as its beaches. We bathe in the lush greens of the rain forest,
and discover rare Rainbow Eucalyptus,
while only a few miles away we are greeted by a field of cacti.
And high up on the Haleakala crater we could find these beautiful Silverswords, a rare plant only found on Maui, and only growing at the height 2,000 to 3,000 meters.

Unfortunately revisiting the island of Maui didn't help but only increased my wanderlust, or for lack of better (English) terms the German expression Fernweh, which is indeed the opposite of Heimweh (=homesickness). Not sure how it would translate best but the word stands for the aching for far away places, the travel bug, the feeling you get when you read travel guides, plan your next trip, or listen to people telling tales from the road.

I have never experienced home-sickness. As pathetic as it sounds, but when I am traveling, home is where my heart is, and where I can lay my head down. But hell, did I suffer from 'far-sickness', and still do.

Plans for a motorcycle trip (and meeting some fellow bloggers) are in the make, and I hope to explore the West coast some more, maybe this time with hubby tagging along.
View on Kihei as seen from our vacation home