The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

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Mark’s having a look at my dodgy back brake, which had been giving me issue since the start of the trip. Turns out when I reinstalled my rear wheel, I hadn’t seated the rear brake block correctly and it wasn’t in its bracket properly… Oops.

Welcome back. Sorry this is taking so long to post up. Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. Still a bit stiff from our ride out from Bamfield to Port Alberni, we stopped for some Subway (my go to for road food) before gassing up the bikes and deciding we’d hit up our friends Mark and Mya Turchyn just outside of Duncan for a place to crash or the night. But first we decided to visit Cathedral Grove, one of the last stands of older growth forest on the island. After all, it was only 23 minutes away according to the GPS and it was just after lunch.

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And it would have taken 23 minutes if it wasn’t for this guy in front of me. Look, I get it, enjoy your ride but FFS you’re on a highway, please, please, please, go the speed limit not 10kmh under.

 

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Yep, we hit the back end of this guy on a section of road that was very hard to pass on. Add to that because he was so under speed, there was a line of frustrated traffic behind Mark and I, which starts to become a bit risky as those in four wheels start to lose their patience. Add to that that at every slight twist, turn or corner in the road, this guy hit the binders. Which you can see in every shot my helmet caught of him. So please, to this dude, take a course and learn how to use your throttle and body position to put you into the corner safely and with confidence. Because riding like that is anything but.

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Brake light

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Brake light

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Brake light

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Finally a section I could get past him. Unfortunately, it took Mark a few more corners to achieve the same.

Cathedral Grove is a busy spot with traffic slowing to let people pull out and for pedestrians to cross the road.

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The nice thing about bikes are we don’t take up too much room.

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I know it doesn’t look it but this is a really big tree.

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Mark caught me eying up the shot. I used my Canon G-16 a lot because my 7D Mk2 was buried under a ton of gear on the back of the bike. Still, for a point and shoot it’s versatile, handy and allows me to shoot in RAW in full manual mode.

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I told you, it was a really big tree…

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I was waiting for the Face-hugger to pop out of this one.

 

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This shows how the Cedar has a wide but not deep root network.

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We hung out at Cathedral Grove for a few hours and got our fill of big trees (something Ontario is missing) and even though it’s a busy place it’s spread out enough, it doesn’t feel saturated with people, unless you’re looking for parking.

Back on the road, we powered down the island towards Duncan and our friends Mark and Mya, where we had a great time catching up and a good home cooked meal. Mark got to crash in the spare bedroom and I racked out on the floor of the den.

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Mark and I also tackled my rear brake and got that back in form so no more nasty clacking and clunking from my rear if I hit the rear brake. At this point, the weather was nice, sunny and warm but there were literally storm clouds on the horizon, with rain forecast for the coming days. At this point, we were slightly ahead of schedule days wise but I was looking forward to taking a couple of days off and resting up in Nanaimo to see Brad and his daughter Hope, who I hadn’t seen since she was a toddler. My leg was also not getting any better and the pain in my knee had also moved into my upper thigh and hip. Advil was becoming a steady diet for me. After a few hours on the bike I needed to stop and walk around just to ease things up.

Still, it was good to catch up with Mark and Mya as I hadn’t seen them since we’d visited when Mark was posted to Ottawa.

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Washing the much and dust of the last few days off of the bikes. If you look, you can see how dirty the water in the gutter is.

After a killer breakfast and a late start the next day, we headed back up the island to Nanaimo. I wanted to see Brad and Mark wanted to see some family so we were going to split up for the next day and meet back together in the evening. Kelly wasn’t due over until the Friday morning and seeing as he was coming into Nanaimo anyway, we decided to hang about and wait for him. Truthfully, I needed the break to try and get my leg back into a little bit of shape for any more of the big rides. I was also finding the pace of this trip a bit rough as I think because I ride solo for the most part, I enjoy the freedom this imparts. I can set my own pace which I’ll admit is slowing down a bit as I get older.

During last year’s trip, I had a good week and a bit before meeting up with Kelly in SLC and then we based ourselves out of Moab for the rest of the week with only a short jaunt over to Colorado Springs for the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb section of or ride. With Moab as the center, we could go out and do stuff with the bikes as lightly packed as we could make them, which really made a difference. On this trip, it was every stick of gear on the bike at all times, which doesn’t make for a light ride at all.

Deep down though, there was a small voice in my head that was expressing worry at what was coming up. I knew at least one section was going to be really technically difficult and that didn’t fill me with a warm fuzzy feeling.

 

Now to book news:

Devil’s Ante will be released the first week of September on Amazon and Createspace. Reliance will be released in audiobook format around the same time. I’m currently working on Augmented, a military SciFi novel I hope to finish in the Spring before I dive headfirst back into Sean Addison’s world in Devil’s Due.

You can check out all my books at my author page.

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Today I finally got to fly in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s PBY 5A Canso. I’ve been waiting for her to become available for flights for a few years now. I’ve always loved the PBY 5A and have dreamed about flying in one for years.

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Sitting by the port side blister. I’m holding the rail above me to keep from bouncing up off of my seat.

Weather delayed my flight a bit as a few rain cells moved through the area. It was pretty windy on the ground which promised some rougher air up above but I’d learned from my flight on the Lancaster and had popped a couple of Gravol prior to the flight. Though with the engines on the wing above the airframe, there’s no exhaust leaking back into the fuselage.

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Floats down. For a second I was hopeful we’d do a water landing…

First off the take off is something else. When they set those Twin Wasp Radials to full power, the sound of them goes right through you and the plane fairly leaps into the air. I was surprised to see the pilot and copilot’s controls are shock mounted so they bounce around a lot. I thought I had video but the CF card on my 7D mk2 pooched when I tried to upload the data. I thought I had the cards set for dual recoding but apparently I only had the CF card set to record video. I still have my head cam footage and as soon as I edit it, I’ll post it up.

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Facing forward, you really are well exposed in the Blisters.

The flight was not quite as rough as the ride in the Lanc but it was pretty bouncy. The aircraft feels pretty nimble as it seems to pivot around the center support under the wing. The pilot remarked later when we were on the ground that he really had to be on top of the rudder.0P8A2694

The flight might only have been 20 minutes but it was time well spent in a fantastic aircraft. My pilot had just flown back from Bejing. Yesterday he was piloting a 777 with fly by wire and CRT screens telling you everything you need to know. Today he stepped back in time to 1944, what a rush that must be for him as well.

I’m moving back the release of Devil’s Ante to September to fine tune some of the bits of the book before release. Thanks for your patience…

By this point in my trip log, you’re probably wondering why I’ve labelled this, “The art of forgetting.” Well as any of you who’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I’m originally from BC. The Fraser Valley to be exact. After my family emigrated to Canada we stayed in Vancouver for a year and then moved out to Abbotsford where I stayed until the end of 2001 when I moved across the country to Mississauga, where I’ve been ever since.

The weather patterns of the Lower Mainland of BC and the GTA are very different. Things tend to move in from the West off the coast and then get trapped against the mountains. You can get used to almost constant rain and BC rewards you with great beauty with its ready access to wilderness. Weather out here in the GTA tends to be always in a hurry to get somewhere else. So while it can be energetic, it doesn’t tend to hang around too long. Though up north along the top of Lake Superior, I once got caught up in a two day long thunderstorm.

The thing is, you forget how taxing BC weather can be. How hard you have to work on a wet track (as opposed to a dry sandy one) and how cold can seep into you and stay no matter how many layers you pile on. As I reflect on a number of my trips, I can safely say that some of my most challenging moments have happened in the mountains and of those, three of the most challenging happened in the mountains of BC.

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The next morning Mark and I grabbed an excellent breakfast at the cafe next door to the Motel, loaded up the bikes, paid our bill and headed out. In order to get to Port Alberni, we’d have to back track about 40km to get to the Y split we’d taken a picture at the day before. I was starting to have real problems with pain in my right leg, mainly my knee and thigh. I was popping Advil like Pez and had even resorted to using topical pain ointments to try and find some relief. Once I was moving, it wasn’t too bad but trying to get comfortable to sleep was a problem. Fatigue is not your friend on these type of excursions.DSC05435

We stopped at this lake on the way out. To be honest I didn’t even remember riding by it the previous day. It’s just past where we saw the Sikorsky helicopter.DSC05451

As you can see the gravel gets a lot deeper towards the edges of the road. You’ve got to be careful though as if you stay in the middle of the track, you can get creamed by oncoming traffic around the corners.DSC05476DSC0564719225995_10159040797130529_5670584190461047719_n

Bridges like this are a bit unnerving as the guard rail is only about a foot and a half high and it’s a bit of a long fall if you muff it. At least it isn’t a metal grating on the deck surface.DSC05441

And here is where my fatigue, pain and PTSD decided to join forces. For the most part I haven’t had any flashbacks in over ten years but I think it had to do with the shifting light on the track. Dark, light, dark, light that made my brain decided to see a pattern and give me something to make the pattern make sense. For a few seconds I was convinced there was a full sized black pick up truck parked across the road in front of me. I knew it hadn’t been there a second ago but it’s a hard fight between the lie your brain is telling you through your eyes and the logical part that says, “There’s nothing there.”

I’m up on the pegs and going at least 80kmh telling myself, “It’s not real.” over and over and holding my line. It was a long few seconds before my brain snapped back into gear. Still, not being able to trust your reality isn’t fun. I didn’t tell Mark. In fact I kept this moment to myself for the rest of the trip. Of course after this day, we never saw enough sun to make the changing light an issue again.DSC05443DSC05478

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At this point I think Mark had had enough of eating my dust. I was still recovering from my earlier hallucination so was pretty happy to let him lead for a bit.

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Taking breaks is critical, especially on these types of roads. We’re only twenty five km from Port Alberni but little do we know, it’s going to end up being the toughest part of the ride.

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We’d been following these guys for a bit and were happy to see them pull over to let us by. We didn’t realize they knew what was coming up.

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Almost instantly the gravel got a lot deeper and looser and the washboarding increased.

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Now I’m in the center of the track just to keep out of the deep stuff.

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But even that isn’t a guarantee.

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Now it’s deep in the center…

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Is that Tarmac… Blessed tarmac?

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This is the look of, “Can you believe that shit?”

I’ve ridden lots of places in Canada and the US and that last 10km to Port Alberni was some of the worst gravel I’ve ever been on. Hands down.

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The guys we’d passed earlier pulled in behind us and we had a brief chat about how crap the road was. Everybody we met on this trip was super friendly and always up for a bit of a chin wag.

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We made it to Port Alberni and grabbed some lunch at a local Subway, pretty much my go to for road food. You can see my runners strapped to my larger dry bag. They’d made it no problem and were almost dry from the day before. Mark is inspecting my rear brake which I’d been having problems with. Turns out I’d not installed it correctly when I put my wheel back on so it was banging about. I don’t use my rear brake much so we decided to fix it later in the day once we were at Mark and Mya’s in the Cowichan Valley later that afternoon.

But first we were going to visit some old growth forrest in Cathedral grove…

 

Just to keep you guys in the loop. The sequel to Devil’s Gambit is now finished and through all of its edits. Devil’s Ante will be released in the first week of August.

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Devil’s Gambit continues to sell well in its new audiobook format and we’ll be releasing Reliance also in audiobook in August as well. The audiobook for Devil’s Ante will be released in October… Just in time for Christmas.

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At the split on the way to Bamfield

I don’t have any shots coming out of Lake Cowichan but we were just down the road from the local Timmies so we got some hot tea in me and some coffee in Mark and after a quick about face, some gas in the bikes before tackling the gravel section that was going to take us to Bamfield proper.

The original plan was to hit Bamfield for lunch and then double back and head to Port Alberni. It’s always good to be optimistic but reality does have a habit of giving you a good smack if you push things too far.

We left under leaden skies with the promise of rain. By the time we were one third of the way up the side of the lake, that promise was delivered on. I’m not a fan of riding on gravel in the wet as you have a hard time judging your line and the depth of the pot holes, you’re trying to avoid. I think Mark gave up trying to keep to my line and chose his own after I made some pretty bad choices to get through some of the gnarlier sections.

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Trouble was it would dry out for a bit and then we’d be right back into the wet.

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On the drier sections it was a pretty good ride but on the wetter sections it tended towards being muddy and slippy.

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We’d foolishly left our rain layer off because it was just spattering but once the cold set in it was time to throw on some rain gear. We stopped by a grader parked by the side of the road to kit up.

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Eventually we outlasted the weather and things began to dry out again. The track was getting pretty heavy on the wash board and it was taking a toll on the bikes and on us physically. My right knee especially.

There was a brief respite from the pounding when we came across a semi paved part of the road. At the end of it we met up with a young guy riding a bike. We stopped for a brief chat and he expressed a hope the paved section would continue. About five minutes after we left him, we took a left turn up a steep hill on the road that went to Bamfield and the track degraded into much deeper and looser gravel. We heard later that he’d finally made it into town around 9pm.

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DSC05133As you can see, the road quality really degraded. At this point, both my mirrors had shaken themselves loose and were pretty much useless. I didn’t know it but I’d also lost the retaining bolt on my chain guard. Mark was having a hard time with his luggage breaking loose. I didn’t realize it at the time but my luggage was rubbing hard enough on my own frame to chew through the side of my 35L Bag. Impressive because it was also strapped down to my bike by a cargo net. Securing our gear was going to become an obsession on this trip among other things.DSC05044It also didn’t help you were constantly going around these guys as they crawled their way to the coast.DSC05090It was cool riding by this Skycrane and it’s crew though. Too bad they weren’t ready to fly yet as that would have been some neat shots.DSC04987DSC04984

The road down to Bamfield is fairly steep and the sides are deep sandy gravel. By the time we arrived in the town, I was done riding for the day. We had time, Port Alberni could wait.

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I guess there’s more than one place to sleep in Bamfield but this place is the first one you come across and it’s fine. I was so done, I didn’t even ask how much it was going to cost.

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The bike, parked and filthy. I’ve zip tied on the chain guard. Zip Ties, don’t leave home without them! And only use the black ones as the clear ones break down in sunlight.

We had one of the best meals of the trip here. The cook at the place next door to the motel really knew what he was doing. Now I’ll admit, we were pretty hungry but it was delicious.

Our riding for the day done, We decided to go for a hike out to a lighthouse mentioned on a local map. It was about three or four kilometers away. It would have been great if we hadn’t missed the right trail head and ended up on the West Coast Trail instead.

It was pretty boggy and because of all the rain really saturated in parts. We were a good few kilometers in when I went off a log and lost not one but both my shoes in the peaty murk. The one shoe I found right away but the other took a good twenty minutes of rooting around to locate it.

Mark was good enough to take a shot of me up to my knees, literally, “In the shit.”

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It was a long squelchy walk back to the motel and It took me a good thirty minutes in the shower to get the peat washed out of my runners. I gave up on the pants and wrapped them up in a plastic bag to be dealt with at a later date.

Dinner was pretty good and the local color was entertaining. Afterwards we walked down to the jetty and took some pictures.

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We didn’t know it yet but the next day was going to be one of the toughest of the trip.

 

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I’ll admit, we slept in but hey, we’re dealing with a three hour time change here.

If Utah and Colorado were all about the heat, Vancouver Island was going to be about water. As you can see in the picture above, the concrete is wet as are the bikes. Trouble is at this point it’s all holding off. So the choice was made to leave the rain gear off and risk it. The guy in the truck behind us owns the hotel and s an avid off roader. We spent a good thirty minutes going over our setup and getting his opinion on what we were going to be up against. He’d ridden in Baja and all over in many different parts of the US and Mexico that are tough places to ride. He was a good way to start our trip information wise and it’s always great to meet a fellow rider, especially one who’s in the same headspace you are.

The plan for the day was to take it easy and break ourselves in a bit. We were going to start along the coast going through Shirley and then cut across the island to Lake Cowichan. The rain showed up about forty minutes later and it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to go away at least as well as the West Coast of the Island was concerned. Lucky for us, we needed to stop for fuel. Gas stations are always a great place to add layers.DSC04280

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There was even a small brewery there. We didn’t stop to take a look. I wanted a break from work.

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Our first stop for the morning was Shirley Delicious a sort of Hippie run bakery / coffee shop up on the hill before you head into Shirley (though I’ll admit, I blinked and missed the actual town). It’s a cute little place and it was a welcome break from what I like to call ‘Harassment rain,’ Which is rain that’s too heavy you can’t get away with not wearing rain gear but not heavy enough your gear is cooled by the water flowing over it.

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One of many bridges we’d cross that day. I’m always happy for higher guard rails.

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The parking lot for Shirley Delicious is steep and the gravel is deep. This was actually some of the toughest terrain we’d tackle that day.

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We’re not even three hours in and already I look like I’ve been dragged behind the bike.

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Everybody wants to know your story. This family had moved to the Island from Mississauga.

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So because I’m trying to manage this Diabetes thing, I’m having a Peppermint tea and Mark is having a Latte. Yes travel is hard…

So a few things here. Rain and temperature go hand in hand. Its either wet and humid where you can’t shift heat off of your body and you just stew in your own juices, wet and hot where the water hitting you is warm and you don’t care about if you’re wearing rain gear or not or it’s wet and cold. We were dealing with the last one. Even with extra layers on, my neck sock pulled up to my chin and my heated grips on. I was getting colder. Not all at once but just a steady drain on my body. The cold was going to be a steady companion for most of the trip. There never really was a point where I felt comfortably warm. Maybe the heat and humidity of Mississauga in the Summer has thinned out my blood over the last decade and a bit. I don’t know. All I do know is I was getting cooled down and that can lead you to make bad decisions.

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Still on the coast, we passed a lot of these clear cut sections of forrest.

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Logging is very active, you need to watch out for the loaded trucks coming out of the feeder roads.

The weather did decide to let up a bit and give us a break so we decided to ditch the rain gear for the time being.

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It was nice to be around real forrest for a change. This stuff is probably third growth.

Once we turned in from the coast, the weather cleared up a bit and we kept going up and up over the mountains that make the spine of the island up and around five thirty, we hit Lake Cowichan. The Lake Cowichan lodge was reasonably priced and had great wifi. Plus there were microwaves in the rooms so both Mark and I opted to just grab something we could reheat instead of hitting a restaurant. I know, terribly exciting stuff.  Still, I had concerns about the coming days. My knee wasn’t too happy with me, though a couple of Advil calmed it down a bit and while I was tired, I wrote it off to the flight of the previous day and the time change adjustment. Usually when you’re riding across the country, be it the US or Canada, you can adjust to the time change in one hour increments over a few days. Maybe this was the price you had to pay for the convenience of transporting your ride?

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A cold wet rainy afternoon at Long Beach, BC

It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything up on the blog and for that I apologize.

Things have been a bit hectic around here before, during and after my return from our trip out to the west coast. Some of which I’m happy to talk about and others (not so much) but we’ll get to that.

Every trip starts with the kernel of an idea and this year’s was no different. I saw the relatively cool conditions of the West Coast of BC and Vancouver Island as a great offset to last year’s trip through the heat and dust of Southern Colorado and Utah.

I’d be riding with good friends, Mark and eventually Kelly and we’d be stopping by to see other friends who now live on the island as well, and yes, all of that was great. But as I’ve said before, every trip reveals something about yourself to you in sharp and pretty unyielding contrast.

This trip wouldn’t be any different.

But then you’d expect nothing less, would you.

Things got off to a rocky start when Mark’s job of three decades went away ten days before we were set to leave. It was a bit of a blow to him (understatement of the year) but more importantly, we were shipping the bikes out on a truck his previous employer was providing. It took a few days but things came together and we were able to go with our original plan. Still, it was a rocky start.

We packed the bikes after riding through a pretty torrential rain storm. I had a feeling that rain was going to shadow the entire trip. It was BC we were going to after all. I wasn’t wrong.

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They’re all wrapped up and ready to go. The firs time my bike has crossed the country without me on it.

About two days prior to our flight out to BC my right knee started to hurt. I’ve messed it up a few times over the years so the odd twinge isn’t an unusual thing. However, this time it felt a bit different. The pain felt deeper and more than just stuff bumping edges. There wasn’t any real time to get it looked at so I did what I’ve always done and pushed it off as something to deal with when I got back from the trip.

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Waiting to board our flight at Pearson International Airport. I’m already working on my helmet hair look.

June 1st, we took off for the West Coast. The flight to Vancouver was uneventful though because I couldn’t figure out how to order food on the flight across, I was a bit goofy by the time we landed. A quick stop to get some chow in the airport got my blood sugar back up and we set out on transit to the William F White depot in Burnaby on the train from the airport. Three trains and an hour later we arrived in Burnaby, five minutes later we were at Whites. I should mention, it was pissing down rain when we arrived in Vancouver but both Mark and I are BC boys so it wasn’t a surprise, though knowing we’d be riding through Vancouver traffic in the wet, didn’t fill me with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Still, the guys at Whites were glad to see Mark and our bikes had made it across the country in fine shape. Mark and I got them off of their skids and went about getting kitted up for our ride to the ferry. Since we’d left, there’d been a new bypass installed on the other side of the Patullo bridge that tied hwy 17 right to the road to Tswassen. The Patullo has never been one one of my favorite bridges. So I was not looking forward to riding across it. The Translab is one thing Vancouver traffic is another. Still, it went fairly smoothly with only a few idiots doing stupid stuff in front of us. What you consider a light day in traffic in Toronto. The rain looked like it was done so I opted to keep my rain gear off. We made a quick stop at Bass Pro to pick up a couple of things I’d forgotten to pack on the bike and then we were off to the ferry.

The nice thing about a motorcycle is you’re never stuck for getting on a boat. They might whine and moan about you and keep you in the naughty room but there’s always room on a ferry to put a motorcycle.

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Front of the line on BC Ferries to Vancouver Island.

We spent the night in Victoria and had dinner with Mark’s stepmother. The next day we’d start the trip in earnest.

Devil’s Gambit in audiobook format is now available at these direct links:

Downpour

Audiobooks.com

Nook Audiobooks

Playster

Tunein

Scribd

And if you’re a library subscriber, it’s available at:

Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, Follet, 3M/Bibliotheca, Mackin, Odilo and 3Leaf Group.

Please check it out. I’m sure you’ll find it worth a listen.

The book should be up on Audible,  Amazon and iBooks by next week. I’ll post the links once I’ve got them.

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It’s been a long time coming but my first thriller Devil’s Gambit makes it’s way to audiobook next week. As soon as I have the links to the distribution, I will be posting them up but staking out the book’s Amazon page would probably not be a bad idea.

Findaway Voices have done as cracking job with the book production and distribution and I can’t say enough good things about what the narrator Edward James Beesley has brought to the reading and in fact the entire soundscape of the book.

In the meantime, to whet your whistle, here’s a sample of the book for you to check out.

For the next big motorcycle trip I’ll be heading back to my original province of BC. Where I and some others will be having a go at the Vancouver Island Grand Loop.  A roughly 50/50 split of dirt road and paved highway around Vancouver Island.

My Panniers took a real beating on my trip out to Moab, UT this past summer and to be honest, the extra weight was an issue on certain part I tackled. Enough so that on the Schaefer Trail / Potash road day, I rode with just the top box and was glad I did.

I made the decision to go with a soft bag system around the beginning of the year and then put a month or so of study and reading reviews before settling on the Dryspec D78 Modular Packing System. Which consists of one 38L Dry Bag and two 20L Dry Bags which all mount to the tail of the bike.

It’ll mean some reconfiguration of my current load out but nothing too serious. The Strom gets loaded on a truck headed for BC on the 23rd.

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The first step was removing my top box and its mounting plate. I also took the time to mount the new Rotopax 1 Gal. Fuel Cells on the backing plates I fabbed up last week. This is a much narrower configuration than with the hard cases. You can see my old tall screen against the wall.

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Then I mounted the 38L Bag. I tried a cross mounted position to start but wasn’t that happy with it and opted to go with the lengthwise mounting option. The strap based mounting system is easy to work with once you get your head around it and is easy to remove. Something that will be nice once I’m on the trip proper.

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And this is the final configuration. I’ve mounted the side bags high because I’ll be strapping my 10L Dry Bags that I’ve had for years to the frame between the Fuel Cell and the 20L bags or I may strap them across the back of my passenger seat because they do make a nice back rest. My other 50L Dry bag which holds my Tent, Camera Tripod and Sleeping bag, I’ll be strapping across the top of the 38L bag. At least that’s the plan we’ll see how it works out as I dial this new configuration in.

This trip is going to be a lot different than my excursion through Colorado and Utah. Weather is going to play a major factor. Where last year was dry, this trip could well be extremely wet. Which creates its own issues on some of the roads we’ll be riding. Considering the mix of off road skills in our group, things could be challenging.

That of course, is half the fun.

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Photobombed by a friend riding through my shot. Lucky for me I was able to adjust focus enough to get him.

Yesterday was an open house at Twisted Throttle out in New Dundee. I’ve gone for the last few years because our club’s president has close ties to the ownership out there and we always held one club meeting at this event. As these guys cater to the Adventure Bike community it was good for them and us and as . everybody knows, it’s hard for anybody on a bike to go to a place that sells things for bikes to not leave with something. I got off lightly yesterday as I only picked up a pair of earplugs ($41.95 CDN) I was looking at. We won’t talk about the luggage system or the new Rotopax fuel cells I bought online from these guys the month prior ($699.00 CDN).

It’s a fun event and this year they had test rides for BMW and Honda at the event. I’ll admit Honda’s CBX 500 is appealing to me especially with the Rally Adventure package as it’s moving towards my ideal bike size for adventure touring but I’d prefer it in a V-Twin over an inline twin but I realize that’s splitting hairs. Anyway, I didn’t opt for any of the test rides for a couple of reasons. One, I’m not ready to buy a new bike yet and two, I’m still not a fan of group rides with guys I don’t know and especially not keen on rides with guys I don’t know on bikes they’ve never ridden before. Just my personal biases. None of the rides had any issues that day and as you see in the pics, we’re all mostly old farts anyway.

Still, any day you can stand around and bullshit about bikes with other motorcycle freaks is a good day and I decided on using my Lensbaby Twist 60 to capture some of it for a few reasons.

  1. I’ve always loved how rich the colour capture is of Lensbaby optics and the twist 60 is no different. Images really pop.
  2. This lens has great bokeh and a large central focus.
  3. Its 60mm focal length gives me almost 100mm of equivalent focal length on my 7Dmk2 so I can shoot the more personal shots and be far enough back from my subjects to keep things natural.
  4. It’s a tricky lens to use as it’s manual and I like tricky.
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The comparison shot: Taken with my Sigma 17-70mm at 17mm / F2.8 Not a bad shot but it’s pretty standard and far from exciting. Now I’ll admit, I’m shooting wide so there’s not too much drama to be had in the shot.

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Now here’s a similar shot with the Twist 60. To me it feels a bit warmer and the edge focus adds a bit of energy into what is essentially a static shot.

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Same goes for this shot too. The one thing you’ll find with the Twist 60 is you’ll have to play around with your shutter speed and ISO to get the right exposure. I find it tends to shoot one to one and a half stops under. For the record, the bike I’m interested in is the front left one.

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Get close, then get closer…

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Here’s where that lovely background swirl really starts to focus your eye to the image.

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This is the sort of thing that to me shows what riding bikes is all about. At least from a community standpoint. We all have different happy places.

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My friend Tim wanted a shot of him with the Africa Twin he was going to ride a little later.

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A 73 Laverda (with a 74 fairing) and its proud owner. Another reason I love going to these things as you never know what bikes are going to turn up.

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What I like about this Triumph is the addition of anachronistic pieces to what is essentially a modern motorcycle.

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And here’s my Strom minus the panniers and leaned out with a new windshield. The four holes in the plates on the box mounts will be taking the new mounting spots for the smaller 1 Gallon Rotopax fuel cells I plan to bring on the upcoming trip to Vancouver Island in June. The ride to the event let me see how the bike felt with the new rubber and windshield and fine tune a few small things.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this and I really can’t say enough good things about the Twist 60 as a lens. Even its price point is pretty good.

Now a bit about the books (you didn’t think I wouldn’t bring them up did you?). Devils Gambit, the audio book has finished primary recording and is currently under review. It should be available on all audio book sales platforms in about a month. I’m very excited to see how it sells as the narrator and I are bringing something a little different to the table in the listening experience as far as audiobooks go. I’ll be posting up a few samples in the coming weeks.

Devil’s Ante, the sequel to Devil’s Gambit is in the final edit stage prior to going out to my Beta readers today. If you’d like to be on my Beta reader list email me or message me on this blog and I’ll add you to the list. Please include the format you’d like to receive the book in.

The Big Backyard which will be my follow up motorcycle travel book to Two Wheeled Maniac  will be available early Fall. As I’m now working in Vellum for my ebook layout and publishing needs, it’ll have a lot more photography included than the first book and will focus on the big and small trips I’ve taken since the last book and a few of the things life throws at you along the way.

As always, you can check out my books at my Author page

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