Sunday, September 14, 2014

Riding season? What riding season?

Yesterday I put the bike away, probably for the last time this year. I realise it’s still mid-September but we’re going away for a few weeks and won’t be back until October. Given this year’s weather patterns, we may well have snow on the ground by then. (I’m joking, but only a little bit!)

I haven’t posted much this summer because I haven’t ridden. I don’t recall a year when I put fewer kilometres on the bike. Short jaunts only and no long 200+ kilometre day rides. The endless winter of 2013/14 meant the riding season started late in May, about 6 weeks later than normal. That was followed by another month when I was held prisoner by road construction for most of June (to be repeated next year apparently – sigh…). A cold, wet July didn’t improve things any and then we had an equally cold, wet August. And here we are now in September where the temperature yesterday morning was 5 degrees C - and it was raining, hard.

Everyone complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it, the saying goes. Well we’re doing something about it. We’re leaving town.

In a few hours we’ll be on our way across the pond, destination Paris where the weather forecasters are calling for sunny, mid-20 temperatures for most of the next week - 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the forecasts guesses are for the local weather here.

Unfortunately there won’t be two wheels involved on this trip but perhaps I’ll have a chance to share some photos along the way as we enjoy a belated summer in Europe.

Next year will be better.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Your mission,

should you choose to accept it… Actually there wasn’t a lot of “choosing” involved. The missus was away this weekend at a sister’s retreat and so wasn’t able to attend the Carp Fair’s annual Garlic Festival. My honey-do orders for Saturday were to go for a ride and come home with sufficient garlic to, augmenting what we have in our garden, get us a good way through the winter.

It was a beautiful day and I took the back roads where, even though it’s a long way from Oklahoma, “the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye”. Which made me wonder if an elephant’s eye really is 8 or 9 feet high. And another thing I just found out is that, at least in some parts of Europe, corn is a generic term for grain crops. So when a European refers to “corn”, it could be wheat, or rye in the fields. Perhaps European elephants are smaller, or have shorter legs.

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These were the thoughts that kept me occupied/amused as I headed to the fair. That and avoiding the potholes still not patched after the winter did its usual road damage. One that I did miss, hidden in the shadows of a large tree, was deep and sharp enough that I consider myself lucky not to have flattened my front tire. After that I paid more attention and made it to the fair without further incident.

I parked in a no parking zone (pretty lax parking controls on fair days as long as you don’t block a driveway) and went garlic hunting. IMG_20140809_101403723First I had to try the different varieties available. (I had orders for a specific type, but wanted to buy a few each of some different varieties just to try for a change.)

After much sampling (and heavy with garlic breath – phew) I made my purchases. I added a few ears of corn for dinner tonight, and I was done.

Mission accomplished.

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On the way home I came across the ultimate example of that much joked about Canadian penchant for politeness. I stopped at the Dairy Queen in Arnprior for an ice cream. It seems they had a problem with people stealing the decorative pebbles beside the patio (Why?). Instead of posting “Beware of Dog”, or “We shoot to kill” posters the owner took a most Canadian approach and asked nicely. And apparently it’s working. Go figure.

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All in all a great day, a nice ride, and I’ll be free from vampires for a few more hours yet.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Looney Tunes

It was one of those gorgeous evenings when the lake was calm, the temperature was just right, and the sun was dropping quickly in a pinkish western sky. So after dinner we decided to take the kayaks out to see if we could get a closer look at our resident loon family which had been waking us up the last few nights with their nocturnal serenading.

We were able to get within about 100’ or so before dad decided we were too close and got a little concerned. So he dove and came up behind us and proceeded to put on his ‘look at me, I’m hurt’ display to draw us away from his mate and the two chicks.

(Apologies for the video quality – I was bobbing about in a kayak filming at maximum zoom, with a float plane buzzing overhead.)

It was also about this time that the missus discovered she had a stowaway in her kayak. A small (24” or so) garter snake had, we assume, been quietly chasing insects in the kayak when we came along and disturbed his hunt with an unexpected boat ride. Needless to say the return trip was much quicker than the leisurely paddle out into the middle of the lake. And the snake wasn’t too happy either.

I think a very thorough inspection will be in order before our next trip.

But all’s well that ends well. We saw the loons and got some photos, the snake has a new story to tell the snakettes, we had a nice paddle – at least the first half, and once again we got to realize just how fortunate we are to live where we do.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My first (two-wheeled) love.

Once a year the Ottawa chapter of the CVMG (Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group) holds a one-day rally in Oxford Mills, a small village about an hour south of Ottawa. There’s a lovely small tree-shaded park where owners can park their treasures, and themselves, to enjoy a few hours of showing off and gabbing with fellow vintage bike owners and anyone else who expresses an interest.

It had been many years since I’d attended this rally, and in fact the last time I was there I actually won a trophy for a cafe racer Norton Commando I owned at the time. But I digress.

At any rate Saturday turned out to be a gorgeous day for a nice ride over to Oxford Mills, so we saddled up and went to pay a visit.

CoverEnjoying the shade.

A nice AJS, a couple of BSAs, a Norton, and even a Harley on display.

Would have like to have heard this twin-engined Triumph’s bark.

A beautiful Vincent Rapide the owner rode to the rally.

A very nice Ducati 750. Not sure of the year, early 70s I think.

1953 Norton B52 in very nice condition.

Original and unrestored Norton. Don’t know year.

German WWII BMW sidecar outfit, complete with machine gun, rifle, hand grenades, etc. A very nice unit. The owner rode it to the show.

A row of Indians. (Or would that be a ‘tribe’?)

1947 Indian Roadmaster

1948 Indian Chief. Probably the nicest restoration I’ve ever seen. It was immaculate.

And now for my first (two-wheeled) love. Back in the late 60s friends who had motorcycles typically rode a 250cc Honda Dream, or maybe a 450 cc Black Bomber. There were some small Suzukis around at the time as well, and the tough guys were on Harley-Davidson Electra Glides. But then another friend showed up with with what I considered at the time to be a ‘real’ motorcycle, a brand new BSA 650cc A65 Lightning. Everything from the bright red paint to the chrome-sided tank to the tank badges that seemed a foot deep called to me. It truly was love lust at first sight. I never got to drive it but did get to ride pillion once or twice, and even as a passenger that big twin thumping along was music to my ears.

Since that time many, many motorcycles have passed through my hands (sadly no BSAs) but my knees still go a little bit weak when I see a beautifully restored A65 like this, one of the nicest looking motorcycles ever to cross the pond in my opinion.

Getting a chance to see this Lightning and relive some of those memories was worth the ride and price of admission alone.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thank you William of Ockham

William of Ockham was a 13th century philosopher who, among other things, is best known for what is now referred to as Occam’s Razor: “All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.”

As the technology we use gets more and more complicated we assume that the solution to our current problem(s) must, of necessity, be equally complex and complicated.

And so it was when I began having starter problems on the Harley a couple of weeks ago. A press on the start button was met with silence. Nothing. Nada. Like the kill switch was off. The idiot lights all glowed happily but, as the expression goes, no one was home. Turning the ignition switch on and off a few times eventually got it started but I was worried that eventually I’d get stranded. Which I did, fortunately in my own garage, when it wouldn’t start at all.

Like most modern vehicles the ignition system is burdened with checks and crosschecks, any one of which will interfere with starting – kill switch off, low oil pressure, fuel pump malfunction, key fob missing (security system), etc. However a diagnostics check showed nothing untoward so I headed to the internet forums for advice on how to proceed. And it got kind of crazy after that: “Replace your kill switch”, “Replace your ignition switch”,  “Cut these two wires and solder them together to make sure your kill switch is working”, “Check this”, “Replace that”, “Your whizbang isn’t”, “Test your starter motor by… “. You get the drift. I was overwhelmed with recommendations but had little confidence anyone knew what they were talking about. (The internet is like that.)

fobMeanwhile I had gone back to first principles following Occam’s Razor. Of course I didn’t think of it in those terms but as I narrowed it down to what I considered a range of likely problems there was only one solution that didn’t involve tools – replacing the battery in the key fob. I had previously tried my spare key fob but it wouldn’t start with that one either, so I initially dismissed that as the problem. (Both batteries dead? Nah, never happen. Besides, that’s too easy.) But still… could be… maybe.

Bottom line? A couple of small batteries later and the bike is starting fine. No wrenching involved. Nothing cut/soldered/replaced or otherwise tampered with. And William of Ockham is once again proven a very wise man indeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day – Eh?

To my Canadian blogging friends from coast to coast, Happy Canada Day. Enjoy the day and if you’re celebrating on two wheels like this guy, don’t let the flags flap in your face.

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