Sunday, December 8, 2013

I wimped out

I heard that others rode this weekend...I couldn't bear it. The mercury was -7C and in Vancouver that feels colder with the humidity. I pictured my fingers in rigamortis and knew that I would not make it. Frozen snot I am sure...The trouble is my hands are small...really small and to find a glove that fits has been impossible. I make due with the ends flapping a bit... I can use pocket warmers...but it is my finger tips that turn to ice within moments of leaving our neighbourhood. I see the benefit of heated grips or hippo hands...and then I could say I braved real cold. In the meantime I await the warming so I can ride in December.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Riding in November? !!

I braved the cold (6 degrees Celsius/42 Fahrenheit) for a bone chilling ride...and not just a few k's either. Round trip about 45. The sun was out...who can resist? I have ridden 9 of the last 12 months....I will admit I was in the southern hemisphere for two of those months...and riding on the other side that I am used to..but today...today I am braving it all. Donning wool, tights, extra socks and liners to enjoy the sun again. The wind bites...movement is harder with layers...but with music in my ears I am off at the twist of my wrist shivering, albeit liberated at my liquid movements over the tarmac. Perhaps December??!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Although the mercury has dipped below zero there is still a flurry of cycle related conversations. Suggestions of bikes, tweaks, gear and rides abound. Plans for frozen snot rides..which will inevitably be foggy windshield, frozen finger and runny eyeball ride too. The thing is...riding last weekend with the aforementioned maladies was not bad. The sun was shining, my cheeks were ice packs but we slithered and zigzagged through traffic and caught currents of warm air to course through my veins and stop the chattering teeth. I have learned to warm my hands at a red light on the engine - to bask in the momentary slither of sunshine - and to appreciate the warmth of a semi that blocks the wind. I have also learned the feeling of being invigorated at the ice flowing through me...rejuvenating, shocking and causing me to pay attention. One day I will succumb to heated grip or vest. One day I will enjoy leather pants or a fairing that blocks it all. For now the badass part of me enjoys the hardcore, raw bite of the wind that reminds me I am no wuss.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The buzz in the garage

Last night the cold concrete filled with engines of various ccs was the connecting point for the guys. The laughter and stories were as thick as the man smells. A flick was playing amidst conversations of wrenching and life. Food, drinks and the buzz was on.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Daring Greatly

I have just finished a book the same title as my post. It is an intellectual rendition of research on vulnerability and courage. There isn't a biker that feels invulnerable to the elements, the cars, drivers, deer or a myriad of reasons that many would not ride. The purr or roar of the motor is a reminder of our exposure. It takes great courage, dare, bravado, to set out on two wheels, balancing precariously, leaning through corners when you would rather straighten up and slow down. I have had to justify the dare to many...and sometimes I am at a loss for they cannot understand. I like daring greatly.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

planning time

The grey sky and rain have rolled in suggesting an end to my riding season. Bike is washed and bedded down, though at the ready to fire up on the chance of a sunny, dry day. The cold of November nips your cheeks and invigorates. I warm my fingertips on the engine, periodically slowing down on my throttle hand...It is oft suggested I need heated grips, vest or gloves. I am like my man...scoffing at the luxury. We are in the season of planning now. 2013 having ridden in Australia and the Maritimes, our next adventure awaits our dreams. Suggestions are welcomed.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Anticipating chill I layered...and layered, squishing into my jacket. Glasses fogging from the bandana, I realize I need to expose my nose in order to prevent this. The tips of my fingers are cold and I feel encumbered by the bulk, yet we are off in search of the treasure of album covers and whatnots. We arrive at Neptoon and I am shedding all layers in realization that the sun that brought us out is there for warming as well. The chill of morning has been burned. Although an ordinary ride, I am gleaming at the thought that we are near to November and still on two wheels. Next, we weave and wend our way to the Far Out Coffee Outpost on Dundas. Best breakfast burrito and breakfast in Vancouver, in my thus far career as a breakfast critic. Fluffy eggs, spinach in a shell with house made salsa, sour cream and a deftly carved orange is the detail that is the mantra of the Far Out. The soup was AMAZING, .cinnamon laced squash and ginger..how could you possibly go wrong??? Many ways...but they don't!!! No salt or accoutrements needed, for a chef has ensured a pleasure for the palate, the diet and the belly.. Off again and we are at The Shop with the smell of leather, the smile of them all, and the sun shining on us. Seeing Stacey's new ride was a highlight. A Honda 70 scooter, beautiful vintage yellow..Andrew is clearly proud at the acquisition. And then, a visit to the West-end, to our Samee's new digs...quaint, detailed, completely her. So great to see her launched. It was a memorable day!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Morning Ride in October

A ride along the river after breakfast in Steveston...and then...
...a stop to inhale the beauty of fall.

Monday, October 21, 2013

in a fog...

or really..the fog. How could I possibly miss a meeting of Manster buddies though? The moto meet meant braving the cloak of invisibility at 15 meters. Most important was connecting with a group I consider one of the finest. Our love of motorcycles, windy roads and project bikes connect us. We have other similarities - kids, music, knowing what kombucha is, abhorrence for pretension yet with a tolerance for our insecurities. Appreciation for the art of curves and pipes on two wheels gives us the reason to meet and I am happy to be part of it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

night moves

There is something to the fluid movement to avoid braking on a bike. It isn't exactly the mantra of riding school - shoulder check, signal, check again, move... Instead it resembles point, glance and weave. I trust him mostly, though I sometimes cannot help but squeeze with anticipation at my perception of a narrow miss. I imagine the sway as water cuts a swath to escape...sometimes jagged, mostly gentle esses blazing a path and yet in harmony with the surroundings. Next we are heading west on East 1st when the city is painted in breathtaking lights. I have not seen this view before...the beauty of twinkly lights on velvet have the appearance of an artist's hand carefully planning the splash of purple on Science World and the neon of signs. I am reminded of a conversation the hour before of missing so much in a car...or the realization of how big and beautiful the world is when we are not confined to a narrow view through a windshield. We are part of the picture. I intake cold air in awe of my city.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Distinguished Gentlemen's Ride 2013

A beautiful group converged at Sunset Beach after whirring through the downtown core, around the West End and on through Stanley Park. The goal was snaking through the city, dressed in finery, to the amusement of many. Onlookers smiled and rushed to take pictures as ties flapped in the breeze. It was such fun to be part of the melee. Thanks to my fellow riders who kept it safe and fun for us all!

Friday, September 20, 2013

...and the journey begins....

in Nova Scotia. We arrive exhausted from the cross country flight and find ourselves transported to a simpler time of stop signs, bucolic settings amidst breathtaking beauty. Our introduction to Truro, Old Barns and Maitland did not disappoint. Truro being the commercial hub, and the others dotting the landscape with farms, a church and cemeteries. Truro is famous for its tidal bore, which is is a phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay's current. It is also the reddest, muddy swirl. People ride the bore - and swear the experience is worth the washing up. We will try this next time! Old Barns was named for the barns that were left to rot after the English burned the houses of the French in the area. The barns that were left became the moniker of the area. We learned this on the ride from Halifax, barely an hour away. History has steeped long here. Lore and tale are shared enveloping me in a quest of history. Verdant hills, etched faces and a place that does not need om to relax...it is the om I need..majesty displayed in the macrocosm. Yoga pants unnecessary.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cabot Trail..

after my last post...you might not want words. You might be dreaming of the tarmac that hugs the coast and in your minds' eye can see rolling waves and horizon. The most amazing church that is nestled at the side of the road
Scenes like this transformed my thoughts on church. The importance in the community was obvious. The reverence for the hub of community. Although pristine it was not intimidating but welcoming...much like the smooth waves of tarmac that stretched mostly carless before us. Bendy, windy, tight esses hugging cliffs that fall to the sea reminded me of our vulnerability and blessing. With my iPod playing a symphonic tune to the rhythm of the road I drank in it all...
Amazing...Thank you Cabot Trail.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cabot Trail

...how can I possibly add words to this??

Nova Scotia

...is amazing to ride!!! It has twists, esses and windy bits that thrill a rider...and so much more. A lack of stop lights, stop signs, few other vehicles and logical speed limits has every rider smiling..But again..there's more. The church steeples would announce the town and remembrance of the past was unavoidable as the headstones of yesteryear were the proclamation of our forefathers and the sacrifice of the homesteaders, immigrants and sailors. I cannot begin to count the number of cemeteries we saw on our journey. At some we wandered through noting dates and ages...sometimes generations of families were etched in the landscape. The homage to the past was part of our journey. Swathing through bucolic settings of gentle slopes and tidy barns something eludes me as to what the difference is....Traffic aside, a farm is a farm. After hours of riding I see an atypical farm - equipment in the fields, some strewn in the yard along with skeleton cars and rusted swing sets. I realize that it was the exception...where a typical acreage was neat and tidy, mown grass, prim and proper. The pride in their possession shone through. Many of these were over a hundred years old and yet they still looked habitable and quaint. After this revelation - it was obvious. Financial challenges meant things are not easily replaceable - but maintaining things can still be done. A great message to a disposable generation. Moving from farm to coast we now enter fishing villages along the way. They are old and ripe with personality..but again a sense of pride shows through the scrubbed hulls and brightly painted fish shacks. The roads aren't steep, nor really twisty, but their character is something to behold. A gentle sway, the church spires and the crashing waves all conspire to draw you in like a deep inhale of breath. You cannot help but relax and drink it in. Within a few days I kept repeating that my "memory card" was full..for just when I would exhale a breath at an astounding - church, graveyard, bird, town...... I would come upon another. The eye candy was almost too sweet at once. We hadn't even done the Cabot Trail yet..! More to come on that one!

Grapenut Ice Cream, McLobster, Scallops and Chips...

What are things you get in Nova Scotia. I enjoyed all three...even the surrendering to The Mc chain... What you won't get is hustle bustle...there is no time for that. The clerks talk...and talk to customers unconcerned with line-ups. Customer service is not about churning people through the till apparently. What you won't get is a myriad of choice. Typically it was white or brown...multigrain was offered only once - and that was at an upscale B&B. Organic was not labelled, but I didn't see large chicken factories....most farms were family owned and run. A few salad dressings were the choices from the 70's of Thousand Island, French and Italian. No one seemed to care they were missing out on Mandarin Orange & Ginger; Mango Chipotle or Fig Balsamic. Also, you won't find many stoplights on backroads - stop signs either. We rolled along curvy, smooth roads with spires peaking in the distance announcing a town. Around the church would usually be the markers of pioneers and homesteaders of yesteryear of several generations. Walking amongst the settlers resting place we saw many were new arrivals, young, vulnerable to a land in need of clearing. Generations of families told a story of heartache at the many young as well as resilience at the aged markers telling stories of sea survival. This was a place that honour their decedents, keeping them forefront. It changed my mind on burial...headstones...graveyards. What I had perceived as unnecessary, morbid and expensive became a place of reverence, history and stories. Thank you Nova Scotia.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

ruts

I don't like them...I try to get out of them...even at Triangle Road...a place where minibikes and knobby tires rule. Mud ruts keep you in place and puddles have rocks and dips that either keep you there or knock you over. Despite the fact I have experience with gears and two wheels, I was a newbie trying to negotiate the loam and rocks. Squishy mud, bendy trails...this is new on many levels. Around a curve, through a puddle, up, down, around...back tire going left then right...too much gas...then not enough. My brain tries to catch up to the rhythm. My arms look for reprieve. I am in a rut..but not the kind that pulls you under...it is the kind that keeps you moving forward. As my last hurrah I bravely consent to riding down and then up - what feels and seems like a huge feat. I am unsure - nervous - scared and yet as I take off that brain of mine has not yet engaged to what I need to do at the end...and in a moment of panic I realize brakes are not applied and I am instead heading toward a sludgy puddle...and that is what happens. The bike sails forward with me over the handlebars, into the pond...laughing...relief...A few scrapes..a bruise...but out of the rut.

breakdowns...

...they happen. Old bikes succumb to problems, as do old bones. After a motomeet in July, the man seemed to be running at 1/2 speed on the '59 Pan. He motioned me, but ever curious as he puttered to a stop he told me to ride ahead. He was confident to push his bike a few km to a gas station. Speeding away tossing my imaginary cape behind me, I was off like a vengeance, expecting a call of rescue. I had no more than crossed the Alex Fraser bridge and yielded to the 72nd turn when my engine not only quit, but would not start again. Perched precariously between cars passing me on the right and curiously watching me on the left, I tried in vain to turn the engine over. A flash of blue and red made me the center of attention and when the SUV parked on a diagonal and yelled to get my bike off the highway. Adrenalin took over and I ran the bike across and up 72nd to safety. "Looks electrical" the cop said. "When you tried to turn it over the light was not on"...hmmm.. The man not answering his cell - probably because he was pushing the bike. I urge the cops to leave. I am fine I say...though not confident that I really can get home. It ended well. The bike started a few minutes later and I was able to bolt nervously away and then had to wait for the man to arrive. 'Twas one of those nights...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I Know Nothing...

and I admit this....only after many kms do I realize and acknowledge that I still have so much to learn. Gripping handlebars, squinting in the sun, I am cognizant of my vulnerability. Sure...I wax bravado and pass cars..I bolster confidence for corner beyond corner..but ever aware I know nothing. I am tired and invigorated. My arms ache...clutch, shift, throttle, repeat...amidst the unleash of freedom I feel. A mix of songs in my head and I try to dance my bike to the music. Ebbing, flowing curving with the road. I know nothing..

another amazing journey..

from home to Port Renfrew - and then to Chemanus. Rolling hills, sweeping curves, a few jolts on the ride up to Jordan River. I am reminded that my 250 is maxed out at 100k's. Clutch, corner, throttle, gun repeat for miles and miles. Rolling waves peek through trees and the wind gusts enough to remind me we are as far west in Canada as possible. In a few weeks we will be on the east coast - as far east as possible. I will love the contrast, though believe the topography has similarities. The sea ebbs and cuts a swathe creating craggy shoreline amidst calm bays. Bliss....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rolling with friends..

Our friends were brave enough to ride their rented scooters with us through Vancouver today. I felt like the parent, riding behind, praying for their safety as I saw wobbles, feet down at corners and a few near misses within moments of leaving Quebec Street. I remember reiterating to "look where you want to go"...as emphatically as I could. I told her..don't look at the curb or other cars...look and your bike will follow. Less than 10 minutes in and we round a sharp corner at Nanaimo and McGill and I see her narrowly miss the cement abutment and head straight for the curb on the other side of the road...It would have been instant calamity if any other vehicle was nearby. My heart was in my throat beating loudly - reminding me we are alive and safe. I was pulled over, amazed that such a busy corner was clear... She bravely carried on...perhaps out of naivete. At the next corner she slowed..a slight wobble - right foot trying to skate...but she was fine. The ride was awesome...through Gastown, Stanley Park, Granville Island... I felt like the big sister - making sure no one would hurt her. I would ride up beside cars that might not hear or see her...I made sure to dominate lanes and give her room to move over when we needed to change. The man lead and I lagged...a reflection of us.
The music scramble was not typical...for some reason Norah Jones and an unknown artist of a genre I think is screaming cats with terribly syrupy lyrics are on my iPod. The night was perfect despite my hesitancy at a chill. The river was like glass and as I chased the GB coiling down River Road I imagined longer rides in unknown lands. Familiarity is good, but adventure happens in the unknown. I play the balancing game at stop signs and lights and I am proud that I did not have to put feet down. There were little wobbles - but no feet. Following the painted Motorcycho on his jacket, part of me wants to get one to match. Now I actually don't like that look...matching helmets, jackets, etc. I don't care if others do it...it just does not suit me...but his jacket painted by our son is special. It has a look I can't describe but know it embodies nostalgia for me. Back to the ride..that although is a typical route, still evokes enthusiasm for me. I wonder how I will be behind him in Nova Scotia....will I ache to get behind the bars? Will I be bored of looking to the right instead of straight in front - or will I be enchanted by the verdant hills and rolling waves? I am sure we will fall in love with it all...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

yin/yang

I like routine...most weeks ebb and flow with familiarity. I wake at the same time and tuck in the same way. My man is flexible. He swirls around activities of the band, motorcycle meets, events in the city. Today he is waking up in Edmonton, I'm sure on little sleep and mostly adrenalin. He will have tiptoed around bodies to get out and find some coffee. He will rally them together to hit the road for Calgary. After the show they will be at Tubbydog at 3:00 in the morning - or 4:00...and he will awaken first and be on his quest for coffee and then motivate everyone to hit the road for the long drive home. It will feel twice as long returning with their tiredness. There is nothing attractive in their adventure and yet he will be content. My day started with his alarm going off just after 5:00 waking up the little dog. She was full of vigour and out she went sniffing and exploring. That did not satisfy her - she needed water - food - and treats. This roused the other dog and my day began. It is the weekend so it is mostly ad hoc typical activities. I am content with this.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cooool

....the more you try to be it...the less you are... That is my observation from decades. I have no idea what cool is. I know this. Norman though...he does and he doesn't care about cool. He confuses me. He is comfortable playing kissy face with our mite of a dog, talking in baby voice and relishing in her... He orders fluffy drinks that have whipped cream at Starbucks... and he is utterly comfortable riding the turquoise GX. I know it is not cool. Yet, arms embraced around him as we test it on the highway, the definition of cool is trying to be filled in. The lack of hubris is admirable. Admirable because he is the nerdiest, cool person I know. Back at home base he declares the new handlebars cool. Once again, I defer to the man, for I have not a clue.

scents and scentsibilities

Gliding through the valley in the warmth of the rising sun the smell of fresh cut grass evokes memories of entering my grandpa's garage. A smell so distinguishable from all others. Next a waft of sweet peas is mixed with the churning of cow dung as we make esses down the country roads. The funk of the river is barely noticeable over the pristine moment of peace with the movement of water. My mind catalogues the aroma of the landscape and I am traveling through time...oil and gas from a nearby lawnmower and I am in our garage watching my man tinker. Bacon drifts briefly by my nose, replaced by pine and cherry blossoms exploding in flower and I am transported to yesteryears when our cherry tree was in bloom and united with our cooking for this same bouquet. They say the sense of smell is one of our strongest memories. I believe this now as I feel in hyperdrive of recollection. Rubber, warm pavement, hay bombard me. Skunk cabbage or skunk swirl acridly by causing me to take notice of that moment. Sweet emanations are upon me again, a mixture of seedlings, tulips, and magnolia. My cheeks are sore from smiling..the experience so pleasing, that although I am looking up at majestic ranges, I am imagining the smell of the clean, clear air and potions that are created along that route.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

dirt

yep..that's what I was doing...learning to feel comfortable with bumpy, soft, squishy, muddy, dirty, wet, unwieldy terrain. Bumping, scraping, tipping, shaking...exhausting, exciting and daring at the same time. The challenge of a chicane in sand, a puddle over my ankles or a hill that required a thought of "throttle, throttle, throttle"...was my Tuesday. I love the road...shifting, twisting, leaning the bike at 60 or even 50 degrees emotes bravado and amazement at the science of motion. Sand, gravel, peat, dirt and mud require more muscle and courage. Being tossed around and shaken like a martini left my arms weak and rubbery...so was it any surprise that as I mustered bravery for the end, rose to the challenge - mastering both down and upward slopes and took a dip in the pond to cool off? That's my story...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Life Behind Bars

I recently gave that speech...about life behind bars - shocking everyone in the room. When they finally realized I meant handlebars they seemed less at dis-ease.... I related curves and esses and fluency of the ocean, and yet I was thrilled with the thought they wondered. I have never regretted life behind bars. It has stretched me in ways beyond my imagination. I have always loved yoga - good thing!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Enduring

...that is what a rider does in winter. Waiting for the mercury to rise enough that visors are not completely fogged...Hoping for warmth enough that fingers do not remain stuck in a grip. Enduring the pall of darkness with the expectation of light. On my early morning commute I reminisced of sunset chases through the farmlands, sun creeping to the horizon, the cold enveloping but not succumbing me. The memory of early morning rides with dewy seats and hope of breakfast with tea to warm me. I endure the winter with hope of spring.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

tiptoes

If you know me, you know that I lack in the vertical department. I stretch to make 155 centimeters. The problem is I am one of those people who likes to be grounded. Grounding for me means both feet planted firmly. I feel a sense of unease when I am groping in a chasm for solid footing. Thus, riding Andrew's Suzuki just reaching the tar by tiptoes, was the source of my anxiety. The first five minutes I was convinced it was impossible. Completely out of my comfort zone. The clutch and brakes were more responsive than my dog at the sound of his leash. I was paranoid of braking and flipping over the bars. I was fearful I would be on a hill and not able to put my feet down. Fortunately, a hill in Melbourne is rare. This allayed my nerves a little. Next was the worry of the tram tracks....the trams...the hook turns and round-abouts that turn left, and to which aussies seem the have different protocol than us. The arguments against me riding were growing...and yet I earnestly want to ride....I just could not quell the fear of tiptoes. The groundednesss I seek, is also the reason I was able to get on the bike in the first place. The logic that I know how to ride, understand the dynamics and gravity of riding through curves, clutching and motion assuaged and overrode the cons. To miss the wind in my face, the open sky and adrenalin of the ride bolstered my courage and my resolve to master my fear and his bike. Tiptoes are not so bad. They stretch you, sometimes to see things obstructed by both feet planted.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mustering up the gumption - not only to ride through unknown territory, where 'roos and wallabies dart onto roadways, but also riding a bike 30 years newer than mine. This means responsive brakes, clutch and gears. This means twice my butt slipped at a stop that was only from 20 km to 0..... Did I mention I must look right but ride left? Did I mention that the temperature is almost 40 degrees celsius (104 Farenheit)...and I should mention we do not where we are going evidenced by the stops and starts to consult the iPad and roadsigns. I am getting more comfortable with the bike and with trying to read the guy in front to know he is about to pull left. I attempt to help the navigation...sort of. I would have to get glasses on, lose the shades and squint in the sun...so I trust the guy I have been following for more than 3 decades. We find Kangaroo Round and breakfast in a quaint local cafe where the owner has a hard time with the directions as she has not been out of the valley. After thinking she helped us steer clear of the non-stop twists I can see the glint in his eyes when she says how treacherous it is. We are off to find this road....and we do!! It is as ideal as any road we have been on. Narrow, twists, serene and constant swaying back and forth. It is invigorating and exhausting, wanting to take in every moment, every tree, bird and kangaroo. There are few words that can adequately describe the energy and peace that is generated in the movement of left, right, following curves, gear up, gear down. Now, lest you think I am a wimp...I rarely complain..I can be tired, cold, hungry, frustrated, hot, sweaty or have a headache. I can hardly remember a time that stopped a ride short including fingers almost frozen solid. I also know that to find the most amazing roads, you may need to tolerate some bumps, or straightaways filled with traffic. We happened upon a gravel road for the next leg and at this point, over 170kms in, more than 7 hours of riding. I complained....actually...I got nervous too. "Did you know this was gravel?" I yell through the motors and bumps. He nods no and I am trying to find any way out of here. We are somewhere on the way to Warburton on a gravel road more like a lane that is lined with gum trees and birds singing. At least 15kms in I wobble and the bike is down. It was a blur. I had a raspberry down my arm, hip, leg....my ego was bruised and I knew I had to pull it together and get to where we were going. The heat engulfed me..my arms was stinging and bleeding and I could feel the cuts oozing down my side. The bike was mostly fine except the right mirror....I was grateful there was no more damage. I barely hobbled in to our destination, by this time knowing I am in shock and that I am bruised and sore. I take solace in the fact that lots of great roads are hard to find and are part of the journey. Being on the mountain is a great experience, and you can't just stand and stay there or the beauty will be become ordinary. Gravel roads lead to esses....