Friday, August 31, 2007

The route we took

Click this link to see the route Jay plotted for last weekend's ride.

"We missed the hwy 57 leg on the way out but we did it on the way back," Jay wrote in a post on the Rides/Hookups section on "The only other difference is the Route from Barry’s Bay to Griffith. Due to the rain we shorted things up a little and Old Barry’s Bay road back to Cobermere and then hwy 515 to Brudenell and hwy 514 / 28 to Denbigh. This is where I took the shots of the bikes all lined up on the side of the road. We then shot up to Griffith where we pick the original route back up."

Ontario backroads ride: Aug. 25, 2007

Between getting ready to go to Eugene (I'm flying -- couldn't find anyone to ride there with me), dealing with some fallout in my personal life (yes, I have one, despite evidence to the contrary) and arranging for someone to tend to my minions of Bast while I'm in Oregon, I'm just now getting around to posting some of the pix I took from last weekend's ride to Ottawa with a group of sport bike riders I hooked up with on

I uploaded full versions of these photos so you can get a much larger and more detailed view by clicking on them.

There aren't very many photos of the roads we took. Since I was the slowest rider in the group and they had to wait up for me at all the turns, I didn't want to test their good will and slow things down even further by asking for photo stops.

I hooked up with these fellas after the ride leader, Jay, posted the ride in the Rides/Hookups section of It took me a while to work up the nerve to go on one of these rides. After getting Baby in late April, it's taken me all summer (and almost 8,000 kilometres) to start to feel somewhat confident on her.

I apologize that I don't remember everyone's name, just those who have communicated with me after the ride. I'll edit this entry to include names from anyone who gets in touch with me and gives me permission to do so. You can read some of their post-ride comments on the ride on the message board at:

Here's Jay, our ride leader, returning to our meet-up site at the Tim Hortons at Kennedy Commons in Scarborough after he filled up the gas tank on his ZX-12R -- or is it a 14R? (those are Kawasaki's 1200 and 1400cc four-cylinder bikes -- Baby's big sisters).

Here's some of the boys and their bikes (that's Ron, aka Fiji, and Bill, aka OBR44, on the far left) getting ready to leave Timmies. Two other fellas joined us later at Hauglands BBQ near Brooklin, ON.

Here's a link to the pix of the ride that Jay posted on Picasa:

This is one Jay took of Fiji (Ron, in front of Baby) and OBR44 (Bill, maneuvering her from behind) manhandling Baby (with Liz still on her) into a position that allowed me to get the kickstand down on an awkwardly canted gravel shoulder. Because she's been lowered, the cant of a surface sometimes makes it difficult to get a good enough angle to lean her on the kickstand without risking a tip-over.

The next two photos were taken at a stop where we decided where we were going to go for lunch. On the far left in the first one, in order from left to right, that's Bill (aka OBR44), Jay, and Ron (aka Fiji).

These next two are from our lunch stop.

And here's two pix of one of the few roadside stops that was long enough for me to take out my camera. I may have to buy a smaller camera. My Nikon Coolpix 995 is large enough that it's uncomfortable to tuck it inside my jacket, and it's awkward to have to zip open my tank bag every time I want to take a photo. I want to go on as many of these rides as I can before this year's riding season ends, so I need to work out a better way of taking photos on the fly. I'm looking into getting a helmet cam, but they're not cheap.

As those who know me are aware, I've been riding since I was old enough to have a licence, but on small to mid-sized cruisers -- starting with a 1970 Honda 125 and ranging from Honda's 450 Scrambler to a BMW R65.

But Baby's my first sport bike and it's felt like I had to learn how to ride all over again.

I got bit by the bug when, at my son's urging to try out sport bikes, I rented a Honda CBF600 and rode it from Paris to Brugge this past February. That's when this blog began.

Oddly enough, the thing that worried me most -- the difference in ergonomics (because you're leaning over the tank and your feet tuck a bit behind) hasn't really been an issue.

What's been hardest to get used to is the super-strong double-disc front brakes, the height (I have a 27-inch inseam and seat heights on most sport bikes start at 31.5 inches) and the high centre of gravity.

Hell, it took two weeks just to get used to her brakes. The day I rode her home after getting the lowering kit put in I damn near went ass over elbow over her handlebars several times. I found out that in most cases you really don't want to use more than two fingers on the front brakes.

The height was resolved by using a lowering kit on Baby, but that's not without issues. If she hadn't been lowered her suspension might not have bottomed out going over those train tracks two weeks ago and she wouldn't have shattered the left side of the belly pan on her lower left fairing. And even with her lowered, I still can't get my feet flat, which makes me tentative walking her forward or backward and at slow speeds.

The high centre of gravity makes me shyer about leaning than I used to be -- even after taking the Turn2 course. Baby's heavier than the twin-cylinder Suzuki SV650 I rode that day, and I'm nervous about hanging my ass off of her the way they taught me to. Last weekend, once it started raining and my visor started fogging up, it felt like I forgot everything they taught me -- and not just because my visor was fogged and I couldn't see very well, but I was nervous about leaning very far on wet pavement. I've been told I need to ride more in rain to gain confidence on this, which is one of the reasons I went on this ride despite the rainy forecast -- but need to practice when I won't be holding other people up.

It's been a very humbling experience. After the number of years I've been riding all of a sudden I'm a newbie and having to learn a whole different way of riding. The Turn2 course helped, but I need a lot more rides like this to internalize the body feel and make me more confident about leaning into the turns.

They were a gallant group of fellas, though, and I didn't hear anyone complain about me slowing the ride down. If anyone did, they were gentlemen and did so discreetly. I really appreciated the tips I was offered, particularly from Bill (aka OBR44), who was riding sweep behind me on the last leg heading to Ottawa and well-positioned to critique my riding. A veteran rider often volunteers to ride "sweep" on these rides to watch for folks who might have bike trouble or (as in my case) might get lost because they're slower than the rest of the group.

I clearly still have a lot to learn and these group rides probably aren't the best place to get moto-touring photos -- but I hope to become a better rider and work out a better system for grabbing pictures.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

BTW: I ate these guys' dust

Have to hit the road back to Toronto soon, but just wanted to note that I was way outta my league riding with these guys. I'll try to get the exact route from Jay later, but we rode north up the 35 past Peterborough and did Hwy 507 and Elephant Road, among other twisties. Beautiful roads, many technically challenging. I pushed myself as far as I was comfortable doing so ... but still ate these guys' dust. And I totally wussed out once it started raining. Visor kept fogging and water got inside the visor when I cracked it to dispel the fog and could barely see where I was going, so I slowed way down. This was my first test of my FroggTogg rain gear though, and I'm happy to report that they work very well for less than a quarter of the weight and size of most rain gear. Now if I can just solve the visor fogging/water problem and figure out a way to keep my gloves dry...

Backroad ride to Ottawa

I'm in Montreal now after riding to Ottawa with a group ride organized by a fella named Jay on and the fella who rode sweep half of the way there before going back to Toronto has already posted some pix. I'll post mine when I get back but here are his.

The first two are from our first gas stop:

This is Jay, who organized and led the ride:

Here's some shots Dave took from his position as sweeper behind the group. In the top photo that's Baby in the middle. In the bottom photo, she's on the far right.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pix of Baby's boo-boo

After viewing the damage in daylight I guess it could have been worse. Worst-case scenario: might need a new bottom right side fairing panel and right-side belly pan. But maybe it can be patched up. Here's a photo of the front of Baby's fairing belly pan -- the red lines outline the damage to her lower right fairing panel.

And here's a photo of the side of the right lower fairing panel with the damage outlined.

In this photo the outlined portion in the bottom of the frame is the right side of the rear of Baby's belly pan -- and what it's supposed to look like. The outline on the top is what's left of the rear of the left side of her belly pan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Was out riding with my chapter of the Southern Cruisers out around Uxbridge tonight and Baby bottomed out going over some incredibly bumpy train tracks and lost part of her bottom fairing. A piece of the part of the fairing that goes under her on the left side broke off and shattered into a gazillion pieces, some of which hit the fella on the bike behind me. That must have smarted, but fortunately we didn't have to perform first aid on him.

I *AM* going to have to perform first aid on Baby.

I going to go cry now. Will take pictures tomorrow and determine how bad the damage is. It's fiberglass, so maybe she can be patched and painted.