June 27, 2012

Espresso Night

The spousal unit thought it was about time to start socializing with the crowds, and joined a casual rider's community. Meet-ups and rides are posted on the forum, and so we rode downtown after work to a place we are quite familiar with, our most favourite Vespa dealer.

Barista Robert (the Reverend2U) took care of the coffee, and after introductions we hit the road with Buck on his Fly leading the way through the congested downtown streets. Four scooters ahead, and Sunny on his nifty Ducati (he also rides an MP3), and Benny on his sporty CBR (also a scooter owner), both following gently. Six riders in the maze of Vancouver, and no one got lost in traffic. We find, that's an excellent score for being leader of the pack for the very first time.
The Stanley Park loop was lovely as usual. We stopped to enjoy the vistas, and I made the posse pose for a picture.
From left to right: Sunny, Buck, Roland, Robert and Benny.

The scooterists have a motto that we can relate to very much: Ride to eat. Our final destination was the Canadian Bistro Beaver and Mullet. The signature Mac'n'Cheese is a must.
We had a great evening, and chatted a lot about previous and future scooter rides, food experience and restaurants worth visiting. We hope it is the first of many meet-ups with this crowd.

 Looks like California, doesn't it?

June 24, 2012

I don't like Shopping, but...

Bonjour, Tristesse!
Just another (not so bright) day at the Canadian Pacific We(s)t Coast. Summer Solstice came and went, and did only bring... warmer rain. On the plus side, I spent the time wisely, shopping around for some needful things.

As much as I despise going to the mall, as much do I love browsing for motorcycle and hiking gear. I am a really weird woman.

With our motorcycle trip just a few weeks ahead of us, and limited willingness or budget to invest in a (Harley Davidson) luggage rack and specific Sportster bags, I reviewed several universal luggage options, for fit on any motorcycle, not just on the Sporty, and settled for the KRIEGA US20+10 tail DryBag, as complementary luggage to my tank bag.
Installation was easy: Take seat off, align straps under seat, put seat on, hook the straps attached to the drybag into the strap loops, tighten straps, done. Installation time: about 2 minutes give or take. And no luggage rack necessary.
Waterproof, sturdy, and fits any bike.

I am not into gadgets, as a matter of fact I might be the very last member in our entire family (worldwide) who has only recently upgraded to an iPhone (because the company threw one at me). But now that I have this thing I might as well have it occasionally on display while riding, and use it as a GPS. However, I also wanted to have the opportunity to mount my camera on the bike, as well as my Garmin Nuvi.
So I picked the allrounder X-Grip holder made by RAM.
And the Sony Cybershot fits perfectly, too.

While these first two items were easy to select, and to decide upon, the final investment took me several months of intense investigation: A modular full face helmet.

For those who don't know me that well, occasionally I get claustrophobic under a full face helmet, hence swapped my Shoei RF-1000 against a Nolan N-43 3/4 helmet two years ago. I use the Nolan every day on my commute to work.

Traveling longer distance and higher speeds however find me pondering about safety, and consequently the use of a full face helmet. A modular helmet is the only option for me, in case I need to catch air during a fit.

High on my list was the Schuberth C3W, as it is specifically designed for the ladies but the price tag put me off. Meanwhile the new N104 by Nolan became available, and having been satisfied with the 3/4 helmet I decided to give this model a go.
It is a modular helmet with easy to use flip-up mechanism, which I can work fast, in case of a claustrophobic attack. Size S fits well for me, and the cheek pads are tight but not bothersome. What I like the most is the outstanding peripheral vision, the sun visor, and its weight, at 1,580g only 180g more than the 3/4 helmet. Oh, and besides it's only half the price of the Schuberth helmet.

So, all set for our big trip then, I guess...

June 17, 2012

A Busy Week (In a Good Way)

Like every week, there was some work part involved but that didn't change the fun part. This month's ride to eat meeting of my ladies' club was at Mission Spring Pub.
The greatest challenge was actually finding something edible for me on the menu. I settled on a small veggie pizza with mushrooms, alas it was not guaranteed gluten-free.
Here's Alyson with her new BMW S1000RR, she just had the bike on the track, and there is no such thing as chicken strips on her tires, I can tell you.
Meanwhile I tested Whitey, the Burgman, and was quite pleased with the results. Less vibrations than anticipated, and that thing does easily do a 100 km/h (or more, pssst, don't tell my hubby).

Another (dry) evening involved taking out Bella and Paolo for a change. We saw a black bear crossing the road but none of us was quick enough to pull out the camera.
Although we are already in mid June, temperatures are still in the low teens, and it rains a fair bit. The meteorologists are talking about this month being the coldest June since weather statistics started.
Well, at least the evening cleared up, and we had a glimpse of sunshine.

Another day we had the opportunity to meet with our friend Cliff, who was in the market for a new bike. He found a sweet deal on an already well equipped V-Strom.
Having obtained his motorcycle endorsement in Great Britain we don't have to worry about his riding skills. If you survive on England's roads you'll survive anywhere.
Friday afternoon we gathered our rides, a maxi scooter, a cruiser and a dual sport tourer, and went out for a ride around the block, which ended up being about 150 km and two hours on the road. We found that it went well despite the weird melange of bikes.

Rain, rain, rain. Every friggin' day of the week, intercepted by a few hours of dry spells. Today was no different, except the dry part didn't happen.
However, the least one could do is returning to the walking exercise, and get some mileage under our feet.
You know what they are saying, there is no such thing as bad weather, only wrong clothing.
Fine, sure, whatever. 

To reward our effort we went to my favourite grocery store afterwards. Organic, gluten-free and simply good healthy food for dinner. (I just wonder at which point the cookies and gummy bears made it into the bag.)

June 12, 2012

My Daily Commute to Work

Martha over at Living Among Tourists called for a challenge: "... photograph your usual ride, the one that illustrates the path most taken..."

Here are few snapshots from my dreadful daily commute through the suburbs of Vancouver. There are not many spots to pull over, but the route is nothing to write home about anyway.

11 kilometers distance, from door to door involving 6 right turns and 2 left turns in that order, rarely done under 20 minutes thanks to 19 traffic lights and countless idiot cagers.
 It starts in the parkade. 
Today, an Asian lady in a big sedan is violating my right of way. 
"Sorry, I didn't see you."
Well, I am sure that she noticed the distinct gesture I gave her.
 On the first 3 kilometers, a total of 9 traffic lights can easily take up 10 minutes of my riding time.
 Lining up with the four wheelers at yet another red light.
 The final stretch to work.
 Paolo parked in his designated parking spot at work.
Since I am a nice coworker I offer to share.
 My favourite view on my way home.
Alas, today the mountain range is obscured by clouds.
The final stretch home. I can smell the ocean.

June 11, 2012

What happens on Facebook...

... can get anywhere. Some content might even make it to the front page of a newspaper.

In my case, one of my pics must have gotten used without my knowing or doing to promote a photo contest sponsored by my neighbourhood H-D dealership.
I am not even sure if I ever made this picture available for grabs in said social media, so when I discovered the ad I felt somewhat between miffed and flattered. Well, I guess the flattered part won. Besides, I really appreciate the excellent job their service department is doing, hence the publication permission will be herewith granted ex post, wherever this particular picture was snagged from.

Here is the original, taken last summer on my first solo trip doing the Lillooet loop, which I am planning to repeat this summer, hopefully with the spousal unit in tow.
PS: I have sent the H-D dealership an email...

Soup

An early morning exercise led us to Mt. Seymour where we the bikes did some mountain climbing. We could hardly see through the fog soup. On the plus side we did not encounter any traffic.
There was no view to admire, and the temperatures of only 8C (46F) produced an instant craving for warm beverages, so we turned around.
One of our favourite north Van joints is the Bean around the world Cafe. We found a parking spot directly in front of the building.
While Roland enjoyed an excellent coffee, I got to sip my soy chai latte, and nibbled on a gluten free vegan cookie. 
After riding through the wet white soup we were warming up nicely in the morning sun.

Roland is getting better with every mile on the 'big' bike, and the painful stretch of Highway #1 was no issue at all (much more stressful on a Vespa I tell you).

Meanwhile I get used again to the additional weight coming with the bucket seat, sissy bar and windshield, the Sporty's touring equipment for our road trip next month.

June 10, 2012

Voice of Reason

With hubby away on a business trip I took the opportunity to continue my quest for a naked road bike. I always fancied the cafe racer style, so a Guzzi V7 Classic would be a natural choice. The bike does come with a shaft drive, and is still fairly lightweight. All in all quite the charmer.
All the right reasons point towards the BMW F800R, it has all the stuff I want, but reasoning and motorcycling never seem to go that well together (and let's not getting into a discussion about how dangerous is it is anyway... etc.). I like the bike, really... just not enough to make a purchase.
Now we're talking! The downtown dealership offered me a test ride on a Street Triple R. He didn't have to ask me twice. I took it out for a spin, and I was in heaven (or close to it). I rode slow speed maneuvers and tight corners, experimented with the brakes (good stuff!), and took it on the highway.
The inner hooligan was wide awake and wanted more. Yep, still my favourite bike!

But on the fence with an actual purchase, I found myself looking for something different, the naked, streetfighter-wannabe-style two-wheeler, with a reasonable price tag for a change. A rebuilt 2004 SV650 in flat black, refurbished, new tires, new brakes, re-approved and better than new (or so the workshop manager said) came to my attention.

Honestly, the bike is far away from pretty, but it strikes a chord. Talk about nimble and lightweight, and the perfect seating position. I can even see myself stunting on this bike (and hope that my spousal unit never reads this...). Throw on some heated grips, a windshield and a power plug, and I get myself an awesome touring bike (proven by Chris on his epic ride). And reasoning must have just left the building...

Speaking of touring, meanwhile my Sporty has been to the dealership for its 8,000 km regular maintenance. I arrived at 9am to drop it off and went for a frugal breakfast at Starbucks, knowing that the bike would be ready around noon.

There is always something going on at the dealership. This time it was a gathering of the local Harley Davidson chapter.
With lots of time at hand, I also checked out the the nearby Kawayamasuzu dealer, where I often shop for gear. However, although their offerings are plenty and well priced, I found nothing screaming at me to take it home. I got bored and walked back to the Harley store. Bad idea. Suddenly I had highway pegs in my hand, cash changed hands, and got the shop to mount them.

As usual the dealership lived up to their promises. At noon I saw the Sporty taken out for a quick road check.
Before handing it over to the satisfied client the bike gets a good clean-up, better than I could (or would) ever do it.
I got back Rover in showroom condition, and was very pleased with the overall customer service and attention, as well as with the fit of the new highway pegs.
With the confidence that my little cruiser is now in ship-shape for our summer trip, I hit the road to test out the pegs, and all I have to ask myself... why didn't I come to think of it sooner?
What a nice and simple feature for increased comfort. 
Good stuff!

The voice of reason is back: The Sportster will make the trip to Oregon. There's no doubt about it.

June 03, 2012

And the Winner is...

Actually we have several winners:
1. A 2011 Suzuki Burgman AN 400 ABS, which found a new loving home. The spousal unit named it 'Whitey Weissman', after a character from The Naked Gun. In the German dubbed version the African American witness in the middle of the picture goes by that name. This wordplay is obviously not found in the original version.
2. The spousal unit, who got himself a two-wheeled upgrade with potential touring capabilities. Meanwhile our parking lot gets a little crammed (I am waiting for the day that we receive notice on violation of several parking bylaws...).
3. Me! I got a new riding buddy for real road trips. We took the Burgy out on its maiden voyage the same evening. Roland is absolutely comfy with the riding position and handling, the only shortcoming being the wind buffeting caused by the current windshield.
The Burgman was babied by the previous owner and is in shipshape. The bike has about 5,600km on the clock, and came with backrest, heated grips, hand guards and power outlet. It has lots of storage (62 L) under the seat. If you shout in the hole you might actually get an echo.
The Sportster's cruising style goes perfectly well with the Maxi scooter. We will definitely have to plan for some day trips.
A short hail shower didn't bother us at all (well as a matter of fact it didn't bother Roland at all with all the fairing and weather protection...).
What a wonderful day! After one year on a 250cc Vespa, Roland is taking it to the next level. I am so proud of him!