Translab Diary T+00.04.11.26.00 Four Days Already?

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Wow, it’s been four days already.  Things started off a little grey this morning in Happy Valley and we bumped in to these guys on KLRs at the Timmies.  They’d come up from the coast and warned us that the Happy Valley to Port Hope Simpson stretch was, “Really rough.”  Over and above the Fire Lake section.

Well  good to know.

After some messing about to find a bank to get some cash (which is king out here BTW, though there are Interac machines in the bigger towns).  We headed out to the 510 interchange to head South on the Labrador Coastal Route.  I should explain that despite its name, you don’t actually see any of the coast until you hit Port Hope Simpson.  But The Labrador, Rocks and Trees and Rocks and Trees and Rocks and Trees and Water Route, really is too long to say.

Richard is ready to go.

Richard is ready to go.

Of course the first thing you cross is this huge iron bridge with large square grating on the deck.  It was the most terrifying part of my morning.  How terrifying?   Well I’ve got the camera set to take a picture every thirty seconds.

Coming up to the bridge.

Coming up to the bridge.

On the bridge

On the bridge

Still on the bridge, pants in full cack mode.

Still on the bridge, pants in full cack mode.

Just off the bridge and still shaking.

Just off the bridge and still shaking.

After the bridge we were on the reddish sand dirt gravel mix we’d come to know so well.  It was all pretty well groomed and having learned our lessons with the graders we know to stay on the line where the tire mark is for the most solid footing.

Get used to seeing these signs and slow the hell down or it's going to get soft fast.

Get used to seeing these signs and slow the hell down or it’s going to get soft fast.

The weird thing was the road was pretty good.  No real difference from what we’d hit before and even better in some ways.  Though to be honest, I prefer the red to the grey gravel as |I find they lay the grey a little deeper and looser.  You need to accept the fact the bike is going to move under you and always feel like it’s on the edge of a serious wipeout.   Relax your arms but keep a firm grip on the grips and drop down a gear lower so you’ve got the power but won’t be adding loads of throttle with your wrist and ease into it.  You can hit the 70Km speed limit no problem and go even faster if you’ve got the skill and confidence.

I felt a little bad because we bumped into Yves on another DL-650 and had a nice chat and I’d passed him once on the road and then he passed us as we were throwing on our rain gear because it was starting to drizzle and it was a bit cool.  I think he had a good ten minutes on us.  Now I like to ride this stuff up on the pegs at what we’ll call a good clip.  Richard likes to alternate.  To be honest I do too 480Km is a long time to be standing but for the most part, I’m not sitting down.  So by the time I caught up to Yves, I was clocking along pretty fast and he was in the dead center of the track.  He was maybe doing 60, I zorched by him at a fair bit more than that.  What can I say, it was a fun bit to ride on…  And still it wasn’t really all that rough.

Our first rest stop

Our first rest stop

My bike enjoying the rest stop.

My bike enjoying the rest stop.

Lots of traffic on this section and very dusty.

Lots of traffic on this section and very dusty.

260Km in and Richard had to fill up on gas.

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At our second rest stop about a hundred Km down the road I decided to top up my gas as well and Richard decided to change his shirt.

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I like how buff this wide angle makes me look.

I like how buff this wide angle makes me look.

After the rest area, the road gets kind of crappy.  Not in a rough sort of way (still don’t know what those KLR guys were talking about) but in a loose and shitty sort of way.  The gravel is deep and there’s no really good line to take.  The bike really moves around under you and there’s a lot of stuff hitting the skid pan with some alarming thwacks and thunks.  It was bad enough I was starting to get worried about my tires (no need it turned out).  You can even ride the edge of the track because it’s littered with fist sized rocks that can end your day badly.

 

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This did not stop Richard from getting up on the pegs.

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I did have another incident with a metal decked bridge earlier.  I was flying along and I saw the bridge.  Most bridges on the road are concrete but I saw the sign and then checked my speed hard on the rear brake.  Richard found it pretty funny.  This bridge however had an XX design on the decking so it didn’t grab my tires like the first one did.  Still another heart stopping moment.

This is the last bridge you cross before Port Hope Simpson and its metal deck is knobby friendly.

This is the last bridge you cross before Port Hope Simpson and its metal deck is knobby friendly.

Gassing up for tomorrow's ride in Port Hope Simpson.

Gassing up for tomorrow’s ride in Port Hope Simpson.

So we made it to Port Hope Simpson and are staying at the Alexis Hotel.  Not too expensive and the smallest room I’ve ever had (but the bed’s flat and that’s all that matters).  Tomorrow I’m heading for Mary’s Harbour and then on to Battle Harbour.

Lessons learned today?  The dust gets everywhere.  Big rigs coming towards you can be bastards.  Trucks passing you can also be bastards and spray you with shrapnel.  Guys towing boats… you guessed it – bastards and KLR guys seem to have a weird idea of what rough road is.

 

 

Translab Diary T+00.03.16.00.00 – Another Wet One

When I woke up this morning at 6am, I could hear that nasty sound of water running down a drain pipe.  We were staying at a lodge that had seen better days and paying handsomely for it.  How do you know you’re in a boom town?  You pay $30 for a $7 buffet and I’m being generous at $7.  In fact from Fire Lake to Fremont to Labrador City you get a sense of shit happening and money being made with a strong undercurrent of fuck the environment.  When you look at the horizon and every mountain you see is brown on its sides and has a flat top, shit ain’t right.  You can tell there’s a real roughneck population happening here as every pickup is souped up and brand new and if it isn’t a pick up it’s a muscle car, also fully loaded and not bought on payment.  But hey, who am I to judge, if you can stand the life long enough to make some bucks go for it.

Anyway, knowing it was going to be a wet day, I dressed accordingly and started to pack all of my stuff down from the fourth floor to the parking lot.  Richard and I had agreed to meet at the bikes around seven.  It takes me a good fifteen minutes to get the bike altogether as I’m packed for three weeks where Richard is packed for a little over a week.  He was a little late getting down as the previous night’s buffet had caught up with him.  Strangely for me, the fish pie did not tear my guts out, I guess I chose wisely or the gun of food poisoning had fallen on an empty chamber.

The worst part of a wet day is that as you add layers and then seal it all in tight under rubberised nylon, you start to get hot and it isn’t until you get moving that you can regulate the core temp a bit better.  As I knew I’d be ending the day with soaked gloves, I put on my trusty Joe Rocket Gauntlets.  They’re thin and unlined and they get wet in a heartbeat but they dry out fast and the heated grips keep them pretty comfortable.  My Klim Expeditions were still damp from two days ago and it makes them a bitch to get on.

We stopped and gassed up.  The leg to Churchill Falls would be okay range wise for Richard but the leg from CF to Happy Valley was at the extreme point of his range so we worked out that he’d swing out front when he started to get into a, “Bingo,” for fuel situation.  At the gas station, the attendant told us we’d face a 60Km dirt section just after Churchill Falls.  Richard had been told it was all pavement to Happy Valley from Lab City, so that was a bit of a surprise.  Not totally unwelcome but on a wet day, not great news to hear.

“Oh yah, it’ll be shit.”

Super.

So the tarmac from Lab City to Churchill Falls is miles and miles of miles and miles.  It’s hard to appreciate the natural beauty when you’re staring out of a rain spattered and fogged piece of curved  Perspex.  I did see a Fox though, he was huge, the size of a Coyote.  He trotted across the road and by the time I passed him he was behind a bush cleaning himself.  Weirdly enough the road kill is very sporadic here.  Though there was a sign saying the disposal of Caribou remains within fifty feet of the road way is illegal.  I guess you need the fifty one foot tape measure to make sure everything is okay.

The Lab City to Churchill Falls section just became and endurance test of, “Where’s the water going?” and, “Is it really that cold?” with a bit of, “I should have grabbed some breakfast,” thrown in for good measure.

Oh it was capped off by crossing a metal decked bridge over the original path of the Churchill River.  which felt like I was riding across ball bearings.  That simply sucked balls.

Adding more layers. It was cold enough the engine dropped a bar of temp.

Churchill Falls is a bit of a wasteland but it does have gas even though there’s only one pump working.  The rain had settled into a light drizzle so no worries about water in the fuel.

About a hundred Km out from Churchill Falls we hit the dirt section.  It wasn’t 60Km more like 75Km and while it looked like more of what we’d hit before the previous day,  this time it was wet and those potholes in the washboard were now full of water and you had no idea how deep they went.  I got up on the pegs and discovered right away that the previous day’s fun had come at a price.  My feet and legs were sore and my hands weren’t much better.  The bike was also a lot more mibile under me in the softened conditions.  The posted speed is 70, we were lucky to get up to 60.

But it was doable.  Richard stayed back from me.  How he managed on his Tourance tires is beyond me, I was having a tough time on my knobbies.  The hard part came when we got to the first grader.  The fresh scraped layer looked flat but the line generated by the edge of the blade was this saturated slurry.  Turns out some of the fresh scraped stuff wasn’t much better.  Lucky for me I was in first gear and down on the bike when the back end just slid out to the right.  I chopped throttle and got my foot down and kept her up but it was a close and scary thing.   Panniers have a bad habit of breaking legs when you go down like that.  I probably said a bad word as well at the time.  I got back up on the pegs and took it slow.  When we got up to the grader I signaled Richard about my intention to cross the slurry line and that I’d be going straight over it, because any other angle would not end well and splashed through the slop onto the cleaner cut on the other side.  But still not trusting the surface, I crept along until we were back on the regular washboard.  As some of the softer stuff out to the edge of the road gave me better grip, I’d hover in the danger zone trying to find a better line that wasn’t going to shake my bike to bits.  Today was Richard’s turn to lose a bit of his bike.  He lost the retaining bolt on his chain guard.  At least it’s not a serious thing.

Like all things, the dirt section ended in glorious tarmac and other than the weather really kicking in it was a decent if not long ride to Happy Valley, where the wet turned off like a spigot the second we got into town.  Richard made it on one tank of gas from CF and set a new personal best.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there are too many revalations of family history to be had here so I’m going to press on the Mary’s Harbour tomorrow morning.  Not sure what the Wifi will be like out there so this might be the last post for a few days until I get back from Battle Harbour and head to Blanc Sablon for the ferry over to Newfoundland.

But you can follow The Rough Track to see where I’m at in the meantime.

Translab Diary T+00.02.15.22.00 – We’re in it now!

DSC00100You know for a guy having one of the best riding days of his life, you’d think I’d be smiling.

We’ll today I killed multiple birds with many stones.  I got the action cam charged up on the bike and then I used the timed interval function to cover the whole, not taking pictures when I’m having fun riding thing.  So here’s me at the Hotel Energie by Manic 5 about to start the first dirt portion of my ride.

But we’ll get to that in a second.

First things first, weather reports lie.  I get up this morning and wander out of my motel door to look up at the sky.  The forecast says showers.  There’s a few puffy clouds in what is essentially blue sky.  I load the bike and go.

I Baie Comeau about an hour later, I have breakfast shoot some video and find my chain lube at a Honda / Harley dealership (I know right?).  I stop at the gas station to top up the tank and grab some water and some baby wipes (just in case) and hit 389.

Now I’ve ridden some roads but this road is well… fantastic.  It’s Cape Breton times ten.  Which sounds like a, “Yeah right.” statement but seriously, times ten.

The pictures don’t do it justice.  Because I don’t have any, the Action Cam ran out of juice before I hit the section so I was charging it but honestly…  Awesome!

Then I got to Manic 5

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See, a photo of me taking a photo… yes of the bike… on holiday but you can see my finger, so technically its a shot of me with my bike.

For those of you that want to know, the dirt consists of a dense sand gravel mix which tends towards just sand or just gravel and it washboards like crazy which can make the steering thing a bit hit and miss if your sitting on the bike.  So get up on the pegs and use your knees.  More on that in a bit.

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This is the bridge across where the river used to be by the dam.  it is the last pavement you’re going to see for the next 200Km.

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The dirt section right after the bridge.  Road speed is 70Kmh but if you know what you’re doing you can hit 90Kmh for short stretches.  However there is a lot of construction going on on the Quebec side of things.

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Watch out for the dump truck drivers in the construction zones they’re not always looking at what’s going on around them.  I had one miss me by inches as I was being let through the zone and when I mean inches, I mean about two of them.  Also watch out for graders as they will suddenly appear in the dead center of all the road around a corner.  And yeah, the big trucks with very heavy loads have no problem thundering past you at speed.  But that’s all just part of the fun.

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Pretty typical washboard.  You just have to pick your line and stick to it.  As bad as it was, nothing broke or at least that’s what I thought…

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On sections like these you can really put the hammer down, just watch out for the center, it can be a bit soft.  Some of the construction zones are the worst road conditions with loose and deep sand.  Even wet, it’s a bitch.

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Got to remember to turn the Helmet away from the rear of the bike when I stop.  I’m just admiring the fine foliage on the bank, honest.

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I think this is the section where the guy almost clipped me.

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It’s a good idea to get gas wherever you can.  This is about an hour and a bit out from Manic 5.  It’s also where I met Richard from Oshawa on a DL-1000

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We decided to team up till we hit Happy Valley.  I made a crack to him at the time about shortening my discovery time of my body in a ditch.

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Now the road turns into nice tarmac just outside of that gas station and it stays that way until Fire Lake when it turns into dirt of the most sketchy variety.  Of course before that I discovered that I’d lost the bar end weight on my throttle side.  Of course my action cam by this time was dead but I’m pretty sure of the section I lost it in.  I pulled over to the soft shoulder and swapped the static side for the throttle side and tie wrapped the end of the static side to the end of the hand grip.  Cable ties, never leave home without them!  Things basically back in order, we took off again only to pull back over about five hundred feet down the road because I’d left my glasses tucked into the strap on my dry bag.  Lucky for me, they we still there and back on my head they went.

Now the bit about the section from Fire Lake to Fermont section.

The Fire Lake section comes up on you suddenly.  One minute you’re on pavement  then there’s a series of red arrows and the track fish hooks to the left and you’re back on the dirt only it’s even more sketchy than before, deep, loose, rutted and potholed.  You have no choice but to get up on the pegs and get your knees on the tank.  Now I’ve got a couple of advantages on my bike.  I put the Pivot Pegs on last year in preparation for this ride and what a difference they make.  The bike moves under you so much smoother.  You’re not constantly adjusting your foot position.  I also put the tank grips on about two months ago.  Really it was to hide some scratches but what a difference they made today.  I could plant my knees when I needed to to or bump her over if I had to miss a particularly big hole.  I could steer the bike into the line I wanted no matter how soft, rutted or shitty it was.  I think I did 80Km on the pegs and it was so much fun it felt weird to sit down again.

Today was one of the best days of riding in my life bar none.  Just fantastic riding and the weather never broke or if it did, it was just enough to wet down the dirt.  The Gods of Speed were with me and the bike never missed a beat.

Happy Valley tomorrow.

 

 

Translab Diary T+00.01.14.33.00 If it was easy everybody would do it.

No pictures today.  I’m still trying to work with the limitations of the netbook.  I’m guessing there will be an extensive reworking of this account when I’m back with my regular gear.  I did consider bringing my main laptop but the size would have been an issue and space was at a premium.

I left Trois Rivieres at seven this morning.  Things were already damp.  It had rained pretty much the whole night and a light drizzle was falling as I pulled the bike under the overhang to load up.  I plugged the action cam into the extra USB  power coupling  I’d installed under my seat and it started charging.  I used a longer connector run back to my top case to keep it padded and out of the way.  I even got some good video out of it today which I will string into a longer piece at the end of this trip.

So after the usual arguing with the GPS and if you look at the start of  my track this morning it’s decidedly circular, I got onto Aut 40 E and headed towards Quebec City.  The rain was steady but not too hard, so it was bearable.  The humidity was high so the rain gear was doing a good job of keeping me uncomfortably warm.  Of course that would change with altitude.

I’d let bit more air pressure out of the front and things really had settled down, I actually got the bike up to 110Kmh but seeing as by that time I could barely see out of the helmet I brought it back down to a more sensible bang on the speed limit.

Quebec does not disappoint for roads.  I only wish it was a dry day where I wasn’t just enduring the wet and later the cold.  If the sun had been out, this would have been one of the best rides of my life, equal to Cape Breton.  Because even what could see through the rain spattered haze of my visor was pretty effing spectacular.

But the were places in the Grands – Jardins National Park where you climbed the mountains into the low lying cloud and the limited sight picture dissolved into grey nothing that ended about ten feet in front of the bike and I did something I’ve never done before, I flicked on my hazard lights.  I had to do this twice.  On the second time I also noticed that I was pretty much bingo for fuel and no I had not filled the two spare tanks (oh they’re full now) and yes, I felt like a dick.  So I did what we all do in this situation, I started the fuel prayer.

“Come on baby,give me  thirty more K and I’ll give you a big ole drink of gas.”  I also had to pee, really bad but at least stress will shut that reflex down.  We did make it and it was close.  The urge to pee came back as I was pumping the gas into my girl’s tank and of course the gas station washroom was out of order (something that has been a running theme with me in Quebec over the years).  However there was a travel center next door whose facilities I could utilize.  There was also a ton of riders in the parking lot filtering in and out of the building.  Language barrier aside, we all had that same, “Can you believe this shit?” look  on our faces.  I could have stopped to eat, I was hungry but delaying with food would just make the ride longer – you know what I mean.

By this point I was starting to get saturated and the gloves were hard to get on and to alleviate the misery a bit I’d turned the grip heaters on.  There hasn’t been a Summer trip yet where I haven’t had to use them.  They were and still are a solid investment in my comfort.

Now while 175 was a crazy roller coaster, it was nothing like what was going to hit me on 172.  With glimpses of the coast every now and then you shoot up into the mountain and then back down to water level all the while swinging through a series of mountain lakes.  There were times where it all felt very Japanese painting with wisps of cloud clinging to the lake surface and sides and then you dive down through a valley and realize just how high up that lake really was.

And as much fun as I was having, the weather was getting worse and the temperature was dropping.  When I left Trois Rivieres, it was reading 80F on my thermometer, now it was hanging around 58F which is cool but when you add rain to that, my gear was no longer keeping the heat in as the wet layers underneath were bleeding heat off of my body.

And this is where the hamster in mt head fell off of his wheel.  Te smart thing would be to stop, eat and throw on more layers but I was literally in the heart of the storm.  In my mind, keeping on the track was the right option and I pushed on for another hour.  It was the brief second of nodding off in my helmet that woke me up to the real need to stop and take the break.  I finally found a restaurant in Les Escoumins.  Some fish chowder, a club sandwich and another tank of gas later.  I got back on track for Baie Comeau.

Trouble is, the break for food and warmth, had allowed the storm I’d ridden through to not only catch up but to get past me and even though I’d thrown on more layers to keep the cold at bay, the temperature was dropping and the rain was getting hard to work through, so I called it a day and pulled into a Comfort Inn in Forrestville.  As I was unloading the bike, the sky really opened up So I think I made the right choice.

I’m an hour and a half from Baie Comeau.  The weather looks like crap for tomorrow as well.  I’ll probably brave it and head there tomorrow and see what my options are.  Monday might be a wash too but that is why I built extra days into this trip, just in case but the stretch from Baie Comeau to Labrador city is a long one and I want to do it in one go.  I’ll camp if I have to but I’d rather camp in drier condition as misery leads to fatigue.

Well I’m really in it now.

Hope my gear is dry by morning.

 

T+00.00.15.03.00 The Clock Is Running

BIKEThe Bike at Sharbot Lake Ontario, sometime before lunch.  As usual, the bike is having a great time while I’m nowhere to be found.  The truth is I didn’t feel like unpacking the tripod, so you get the Iphone picture instead.  Yes, I am ashamed.

As with any trip things were forgotten.  Chain lube for one.  I’ll try to pick some up tomorrow.  Good thing Quebec is bike mad or that might be difficult.  And I forgot the charger for my Iphone.  Which isn’t a big deal but it looks like my Sony Action Cam, won’t charge off of my computer.  I need a USB with at least 1.5A.  I can probably use  the USB on the bike to charge it.  I’ll try it and see tomorrow.  I just have to make sure the camera is properly cushioned.

I also learned that too much tire pressure in my front knobby is a bad thing.  Almost went into a tank slapper about ten minutes from home.  I reduced speed until things settled down.  Couldn’t get the bike above 90Kmh which made the ride through the GTA… interesting.

I drained out some air by Peterborough and things settled down for a bit until the tire warmed up and things got tight again.  It took a bit of experimentation but I thin a little bit more out of the tire tomorrow and things will be fine, as I had her up over a hundred by the end of the day.

I rode up the North side of Lac Saint Pierre today and it’s really pretty in this part of Quebec.  Nice bike roads too and other than the sketchy front end, the bike handled like a champ.  Other than a little bit of drizzle when I made my way through Scarborough, it was a dry day, though I threw the rain gear on just by Peterborough just in case which of course scared the rain away to leave me sweating.

Tomorrow I head for Baie Comeau, 530Kms away.  We’ll see how the weather is.  If it’s fair, I’ll probably push on.  If it’s crap, I’ll call her a day and dry out in the hotel and see what Monday brings.  So far other than a few technical glitches, this has been a great day of riding.

The Rough Track for today.  You’ll have to scroll through the list to see the full track as it’ll only list 50 way points.

Talk to you guys tomorrow.

 

Translab Diary T-02:08:37:00

Yesterday, I loaded up the left side pannier with the dried food, gas stove, butane fuel and few other should have tools (as the tool you need is always the tool you don’t have) and then I stuffed my sleeping bag in there.  It was a tight fit.

“Good,” I thought.  You don’t want stuff rattling around.  I’d put my tripod, and tent across the passenger seat with my Dry bags that have my clothes and such and strap the whole smash down.  I put the lid on the box and happy with myself I went inside.

At 4am this morning, the deepest part of  my brain, explained to me in great detail why this wasn’t a good idea.  Where was I going to put my Netbook, charging gear and my lucky jacket (yes it’s lucky that’s all you need to know).  The sleeping bag was going to have to move and the obvious place was back on the passenger seat.

And then I looked at the forecast…  It’s shall we say a bit wettish for the next little bit.  Now I don’t mind the rain but I hate crawling into a damp sleeping bag and when it rains out here, it can be pretty strong.

The good news is this problem has been solved by the boating and kayaking crowd.   Dry bags are a must have if you’re going to be out in the thick of it for any extended period of time.  I’ve got a couple of 10L bags I picked up at Hiker’s Haven three years ago for $10 each.  They’ve got more than a few miles on them and they’re still going strong and have kept my gear dry through some biblical level of rains.  They are however long and skinny.   So on the way home from the current project I’m working on for the day job, I stopped in at Sail to see what they had to offer and this was the result.

You can’t tell but there’s a Tent, a Sleeping Bag and a Camera Tripod in there and it also makes a really nice backrest.  The Straps on top of my Panniers will hold my other two dry bags full of my clothes and such.  If I get hit on the highway, it’ll be carnage and flaming underwear for hundreds of feet.  The top box will hold my camera gear.

A little wider shot to show you how it all works together.

From left to right we have my heated grips controller, then my Thermometer and GPS and then my long camera mount and the Spot unit.  You can follow my progress on Spot here.  It’s called the Rough Track, which is funny, because it’s the name they gave it, not me.

A closer look at the Spot unit.

And there you have it.  I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.  Now I’m just counting out the week to that 6am Saturday roll out.  I doubt I’ll have much access to the Internet, so posts will be sporadic but I’ll give you all the full story when I get back.

Edited to make me look good, of course.

Translab Diary T-05.19.30.00

Shot this today on the 7D.  I’m using my 10-20mm Lens so the image is a little deformed but I wanted most if not all of the bike in the shot.  This time next week, I’ll be on the road.  I picked up a Sony Action Cam today (over the GoPro) so I’m planning on doing a longer video of the whole thing when I’m safely home.  But I think these short Vlogs aren’t a bad idea either, just to give you the flavour of what I’m feeling.  Any trip has its emotional ups and downs and this one will be no different.  I’m hoping to uncover a little bit of what my Grandfather was about from the place he was born and lived before he left to try and keep the world a better place.

Other than that, it’s just me, my bike and the kindness of strangers.

Rained Out

The forecast was pretty bleak this morning but I decided to risk it with the boy and head out to Gopher Dunes Dirt Track in the hopes that the weather would be clear by the time we got there.  No such luck.  What started as a light drizzle turned into a downpour within minutes and for once I was not prepared for it.  I did manage to fashion a temporary rain cover for the camera out of a Henry’s bag so the 7D was safe but the Colin and I were getting soaked.

Still, water and sand makes for some good shots as the youngsters fight their way through it and though I only got off eighty five exposures (to my usual two thousand) I still got some good work in.  You can see in the later shots how hard the rain is coming down.

First shot of the day, I’m shooting ISO 500 at F6.3. Shutter is 1/250. At this point the rain is a light drizzle so nothing is showing up in the image.

I knew I’d get some good action in the corners.

And I wasn’t wrong.

Shooting long

Here’s the rain starting to fall. I’m too engrossed in getting the shots to realize I’m getting soaked.

Setting up for the hard corner.

A nice rooster tail. At least in a wet race, you know who is out front as they’re not covered in crap.

Second place coming into the turn.

This’ll be the last race I can make until the end of August.  Hopefully the next one will be drier but I’m going to invest in a rain cover for the camera, just in case.  Hope you enjoyed the shots.

 

Translab Diary , T-13.14.23.00

I was supposed to do the Lawrence Hacking’s Overland Adventure Rally today but instead I got to reap the results of being called in to work last Saturday.  Because I had to work, I didn’t get my tires changed and taking a good look at the state of my front.  I’m not going to trust that on gravel.

Even my rear was getting a bit squiffy.

I had heard through the club that Carrier Group Center in Hamilton had picked up Dual Sport Plus’ product lines (and I’m guessing the remainder of the store stock) and were going to be moving in to servicing the Adventure Bike scene on top of their usual trail and dirt bike business.  I fired off an email trying to get a service appointment for a tire change, last week.  Nothing came of it.  Which I find pretty irritating.  Don’t post up a contact email if you’re simply not going to bother answering it.

I decided to try Rosey Toes.  A local motorcycle mechanic shop that’s been servicing the Toronto scene for a very long time, who I’d heard about through the GTAM forum and local scene.  I was warned Ted was a bit crusty but I happen to like crusty as it means no bullshit.  Ted has no email and no computer.  You go to him, you pay cash.

So after running some short errands with the wife, I headed over to the Rosey Toes shop.  The address is in North York, which I always think is much further North that it really is.  Where I’m thinking it’s halfway to Barrie, it’s actually just to the East of Pearson and North of the 401 in a semi industrial area.  I’ve got a couple of clients in that area so I nearly slapped my forehead when I realized how close it was.

It’s a real honest to God old school shop.  Everybody wanting stuff done to their bikes hangs around outside.  Regulars get first dibs on the work or if it’s not super serious, they get rescheduled later in the week.  There’s an ebb and flow to joint that isn’t going to work for people with some place else to be that day.  You park your ass, relax and talk bikes with the other customers and wait your turn.  Ted will put you to work too if the rims you’re getting new rubber on aren’t clean enough.

I had to laugh as a young squid pulled up on a rashed up street fighter.  If I had to guess I’d say it was an 84 GSXR.  He told Ted he had an issue with his chain.  Ted and one of the other mechanics went over the bike.  They re-tensioned the chain and changed the kid’s oil (after asking him if he wanted that done and then they informed him he’d been riding with ten pounds pressure in the front and twenty pounds in the rear.  But to be fair they were educating a young rider who obviously didn’t know any better and they did it in the same way other mechanics educated me when I knew fuck all.  The kid rode away happier and a little smarter and one day I hope he’ll realize the discomfort of a bit of gear is better than a skin graft.

Anyway, after a couple of hours my bike was rolled in and the tires changed and it cost me $80.  I would have paid more at the Carrier Center and I’m sure it would have been more of a sterile experience.

One other thing, these guys are into old bikes.  There’s plenty hanging around and I saw more than few bits of old iron roll up during my stay from an R-75 BMW to an 85 Nighthawk in really good condition that was getting safety certified.

Yeah I had fun…

Here’s the new rubber.

There’s a slight oscillation on the front end at 100+ Kmh but I think it’s related to the fact there’s no center block on the tire, just a groove and the tire wanders back and forth on the edges of the knobs.  It dies down when you’re under the 100 Kmh mark.  It doesn’t help that the Toronto roads are beat to shit by the level of traffic so you’re surfing wavy concrete and asphalt everywhere.  I’m not considering going super fast on any part of the Translab, though it does surprise me how much slower I was instantly on these tires.  It could be I’m wary of the knobbies as I haven’t been on a DOT rated knobby for over twelve years and you have to adjust your brain for the new contact patch.  These Karoo 2s are really just for this trip, I’ll be swapping them off when I get back.  There was a guy with a R-1200 GS getting a set of Karoo 3s put on, they look like a much road friendlier pattern, I may try a set of them.

The rubber is now done, all that left is an oil change and cleaning my air filter.

D Day approaches.