Nice ride, shame about the hot pants

It’s really about how we choose to react.

A couple of Sundays ago the sun was shining. It was a beautiful, late summer day. The kind of day two-wheel enthusiasts lap up, and, being one of those two-wheel types (self-propelled or motorized) I decided that being out on my Ducati would be a great way for to relax. However, I didn’t get the ride I expected.

Rather than settle for a local coffee shop ride I thought I’d go for lunch in Port Townsend, Washington, a 340 Km return trip. As the forecast was good I didn’t pack rain gear, however, I did add a fleece, a lower base layer and warmer gloves as I wasn’t sure what time I’d be returning. It was a good decision.

Port Townsend lies on the north-eastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula and I’d previously visited this gorgeous artsy community a couple of years ago. Rather than ride down past Seattle and back up the peninsula, I could head to Whidbey Island and take a short ferry to my destination. The ride was everything I hoped for, light traffic and effortless cruising. I arrived in Port Townsend and headed to the wonderful Better Living Through Coffee, a local, organic, fair trade coffee-house. Highly recommended.

This is where my self-coaching began.

Feeling rather at one with myself I headed back to the Ducati. Horror. When removing the ignition key I’d not noticed that I’d taken the lock to the rear parking light position. The lamp was glowing dimly. My old battery was likely too flat to start the bike, and that was the case; not even a click or whir. I was south of the border at 4pm with a non-starter of a Ducati.

First learning. Forward planning. Although I can be more of a ‘spur of the moment’ person, a little forward planning certainly helps. I had BCAA membership and within an hour was back on the road. How many times have you been too spontaneous and been tripped up?

Second learning. Don’t ignore the obvious signs. I knew my battery was old and the bike had failed to start a few weeks prior. The battery needed replacing and I didn’t do it. How often do you ignore clear warning signs and continue without considering the consequences of your actions?

Third and most significant learning. I couldn’t take the Port Townsend to Whidbey Island ferry back as the battery needed to be charged enough to start the bike again, and that meant riding for around thirty minutes. I had to head south and think about rounding the Puget Sound, coming back through via Tacoma. As I hit the road I considered my state of mind and realised that even though I couldn’t change the circumstances I found myself in, I could choose how to react. My choices were feeling hard done by, being a victim or rising to the challenge and enjoying the ride. I chose the latter. My head cleared and I planned on the fly, taking the Bainbridge ferry to Seattle and reducing my ride time significantly. When faced with difficult circumstances, you can still choose how to react and your choice will shape your response.

Rather than being relaxing my ride turned in to more of a challenge, even more so when I ended up with overflowing petrol drenching my lap whilst refuelling. Leaping off the bike hoping the fuel wasn’t running down a very hot engine and realizing that, well, let’s say that my ‘lap’ area was stinging, one of those moments that, being a Brit, I could only laugh at. I must have looked very odd waddling back to the bike after I’d washed down and stuffed copious amounts of toilet roll between me and the base layer as well as the base layer and my jeans. Quite the posing pouch!

I finally arrived home some thirteen hours after leaving, having ridden around 550Km. Despite everything, I enjoyed the ride, and I learned a little more about me. Never too old to learn.

How have you risen to the challenge and enjoyed the ride that is life?

Lillooet overnighter. Day 2

A pleasantly firm bed, but a disturbed sleep. The joys of motel life.

Day two was to be a less arduous ride,about 100 Km less than day one. I was heading to Pemberton. When i set out I had no idea that the next 80 Km would be the best of the ride; pleasant surprise! The bends tightened and became more frequent. The road demanded more of the rider and on a bike, that means more fun. The flip side of the fun is needing to focus on the road far more which means taking in the amazing views became harder. The balance was to stop a few times to simply marvel at what I was journeying through. I can certainly see why this road gets bikers excited.

The decent in to Pemberton was slowed down by road works and following a tractor-trailer down steep inclines. The burning brake smell was not the fresh air I’d become accustomed to, and was another reminder of how a rider is so immersed in the journey.

A caffeine and calorie break in Pemberton and then on through Whistler to the final pit stop in Squamish.

I was now in familiar territory and as stunning as the ‘Sea to Sky’ from Squamish to Horseshow Bay is, I could feel myself switching out of scenery mode. Vancouver appeared and the traffic that had slowly been building up on the journey home became nose-to-tail. A short 280 Km ride. Welcome home.

The Duati had once again performed flawlessly and drawn the usual complementary comments. The bike is a GT, a Gran Turismo. Despite being physically compact, the Ducati makes for a great one person distance tourer. I’m almost certain that sport tourers and cruisers are more comfortable for really long days in the saddle, however, the GT1000 has, for me, an unbeatable combination of tourability and being drop dead gorgeous.

Road trip reflections. Once the engine goes silent and the helmet is removed, post road trip melancholy sets in. Although this was only a brief overnighter, I’d ridden through some phenomenal scenery, enjoyed the open road, the twisty road and had been at a standstill in heavy traffic. It seems to me that a road trip has all the elements that life brings. The point for me is that I can enjoy the open road, rise to the challenge and despite getting stuck and frustrated from time to time, keep going until I reach my destination. Life is a journey. Life is a road trip.


This is not Plan B

I’ve seen a quote attributed to actor Will Smith that’s essentially states that if you have a Plan B you’re contemplating failure and that in itself is failure. So, to demonstrate my sense of purpose and mental fortitude, this is not Plan B.

Given the weather forecast of thunder showers in the area I’m heading to it makes perfect sense to delay the ride for 24 hours. Today will be a quick trip south of the border and a chance to test drive the Nexus Card.

My first longer ride if the season took me to Sedro-Wooley, WA. One of those places that you normally ride through or bypass without a second thought as you head for the Cascades. Today Sedro-Wooley claimed its 15 minutes as my turn around point on a ride to check out the scootability of the minor roads as the Vespa may enjoy a long weekend away in Winthrop. One absolute hoot was passing through Acme. Yes, Acme. The beep, beep was loud and clear in my head as I rode through town, fortunately no Wile E Coyote spotted.

The Home Town Cafe, a real mom ‘n pop throwback provided a fair BLT for lunch and it was back on the bike heading north. Rather than stick on I5 to the Peace Arch I decided to peel off and head back to Sumas. After all, this was a Sunday afternoon ride, a leisurely jaunt in the beautiful Pacific Northwest sun. A little too much sun as it happened. The border line up at Sumas started started well before the quick-crossing Nexus lane so I was forced in to an extra few minutes wait astride an air cooled, nicely simmering Ducati. Once I reached my Nexus, all was well. Straight to the Border Guard, nothing to declare other than a full stomach and that was it. Canada.

By the end of the ride I’d covered about the same distance as I will on each day the Lillooet loop ride, so today wad an excellent warm up.

Road trip readiness

With the postponement of the Rockies road trip, an easy overnighter around the Lillooet loop has become the ride of the summer. Although nothing like last years adventure with memories that are deeply etched, the ride will still be in to new territory. I’m looking forward to riding through the Fraser canyon and thinking back to Charlie Boormans Canada ride, Lillooet, through Pemberton and down to Whilster has the potential to be spectacular.

Sunday morning is the off and the weather forecast will dictate clockwise or anti clockwise.

Late Saturday night and the weather for the last part of day 1 still seems unsettled. Having ridden in torrential rain for two plus hours last year I’m sure I can handle showers!

Although not as excited as last year, I’m sure once I get riding the freedom smile will appear.

Time to complete the Lillooet loop.

Music Therapy Ride

Being part of a massive bike convoy, now that’s cool.

I’d promised myself that I’d take part in the Music Therapy Ride, a once a year charity motorcycle ride for the Canadian Music Therapy Trust. I guess there are a couple of questions, what’s music therapy and why do the ride.

The Canadian Music Therapy Trusts mission includes the following, maintain, and improve the mental, physical, and emotional health of Canadians and I think that captures things pretty well, improving lives through music. The wiki entry explains the details.

Why take part in the ride? Well, I love being on two-wheels and love music. What better way to combine two passions and do some good.

In past years the route has been from Vancouver to Whistler. The 2012 route changed things up as the Whistler Gran Fondo was scheduled for the same weekend, and Harrison Hot Springs would be the destination. As the start of September neared, the anticipation rose. It would be my first experience of this kind of event, and the great thing was that Lesley would be riding with me on her Vespa, ‘Audrey‘.

The ride was sold out and I had no idea what that meant until arriving at the start point, Fraser Downs Racetrack, for breakfast. Bikes of all sizes, well actually mostly cruisers, were being parked up. There must have been at least 60 plus bikes in front of me and  there was plenty of space behind for more. After breakfast the true scale of the ride became apparent. Bikes everywhere. This would be one memorable ride.

How to get so many bikes from A to B in safety? The Vancouver Police Department motorcycle drill team, that’s how. A full police escort, motorcade style ride. No stopping for lights or turns, our escort ensured all junctions were clear, what better way to ride.

We eventually found out there was some 160 bikes (including four Vespa’s, so Lesley was not lonely). It was the biggest ride to date. Being part of a massive bike convoy, now that’s cool.

The noise of so many bikes starting was truly something to behold. A lot of cruiser riders mod their rides with new tail pipes that are amazingly noisy. Riders argue that it’s a safety device as car drivers can hear you coming. Personally I’m not convinced. A great engine note has something about it, but noise for noise sake just says ‘macho’ to me.

So, on a gloriously hot September Saturday, 160 bikes hit the road. Lesley and I were around half way from the front runners and I estimated that it would take over am minute for all the bikes to pass a fixed point. Just stop to think about that.

Count to sixty and imagine pairs of motorcycles passing the entire time. Amazing.

It’s pretty much impossible to convey the high, the emotions, the ear-to-ear grin that I experienced. Even better, I could share my feelings with Lesley as we were using the Sena comms system. I think we both got more out of the ride by being able to chat about what we’d just seen/felt as we rode.

The Km and time disappeared and after a pit stop at a Fire Hall just outside Mission, it was all too soon over. Harrison Hot Springs, the end of the ride, but not the end of the event. Lunch and an auction were next on the agenda.  There were many music related items to bid on, a really moving thank you from a music therapist and a cool acoustic set from a couple of members of 54-40.

The ride raised $60,000, was so well organized and full of friendly bikers. It was a totally amazing experience and has to be on the ‘must do’ list for riders in the area. Look out for the 2013 ride, it’ll be a blast.