Saturday, August 16, 2008

Where's Liz?

I apologize. I'm way behind on updating this blog. There's been so much going on and I've been so busy riding (among other things) that I've neglected it.

But I'm grounded this weekend and hope to start catching up.

It's been a busy riding season. After starting the season off by meeting hundreds of fellow bikers at the Spring Bling, I have:

1) Been to Elephant Lake three times with some old and new riding buddies
2) Discovered really cool roads in and north of Orangeville
3) Been introduced to Herald Road by Equus, a new intrepid riding buddy who's teaching me a lot of good stuff
4) Finally ridden the Forks of the Credit (three times now, the last time in the rain)
5) Been on several rides with my chapter of the Southern Cruisers (despite a month's worth of conflicting events and a weather system that seemed fated to rain on our ride every Wednesday), and enjoyed the hospitality of some of our members who were kind enough to host a barbecue for us all.
6) Been to half a dozen bike nights in both the north and southern parts of town
7) Helped host a number of bike nights at the Shopsy's downtown on Front Street with the Chic Riders
8) Had Baby washed by comely women in short kilts who did a marvelous job of protecting their assets while doing so to raise money for the Ride for Sight
9) Been on a ride to Collingwood with some really nice fellas from
10) Been to a Yamaha demo day, a Harley Davidson demo day (blogged that -- see Buell, Schmuel below) and a BMW Ladies Motorrad Day
11) Visited The Gut, an unfortunately named but beautiful waterfall that is one of Ontario's best-kept secrets

I've also:

12) Completed Level 1 of the FAST course at Shannonville race track
13) Participated in Vicki Gray's Motoress track day and saw Nina Wee perform poetry in motion there doing stunts on her fidy
14) Raised money for charity by getting sponsors for my participation in the Women Ride Out Against Rape ride and
15) Been named Street Team Leader for the GTA section of the Ontario chapter of the Chic Riders

And I've survived being hit by an idiot in a Pathfinder. The damage to Baby was relatively easy (albeit expensive) to fix.

The external bruising took a month to heal and internal contusions are still tender and can be felt as palpable lumps six weeks later. I took photos of the healing process and am including one small sample (see my hip, below). The attending in the ER said I must have great bones and was lucky my pelvis didn't crack. My hip armor didn't hurt, either. But haven't decided yet if I'm going to share the rest of the photos. Some of the most serious injury occurred on parts of my body I don't ordinarily share pictures of with strangers. But from the sample provided, you can imagine the rest.

I'm still not fully recovered. I'm still getting acupuncture and Shiatsu massage therapy for my neck and shoulder, which suffered soft tissue damage, although I'm mostly functional.

This was the first time in almost 20 years of riding that I've been hit by a car and I have lots to write about both the physical and psychological impact of that.

All of the links in the post above are to Facebook photo albums where I uploaded pictures of all those events.

Which brings me to a topic that cross-pollinates with my Media Gleaner blog, which has also been neglected for some time now.

I've chronicled almost all those events with photographs on Facebook instead of here. Not because Facebook is a better site for blogging, because it isn't. As part of the booming growth of social networking on the Web, it *IS*, however, an excellent way of sharing photos and quick information updates with people you're already connected to in some way.

Facebook has become the largest photo-sharing site in Canada, and possibly the world. Which is ironic, because the photo resolution on Facebook sucks. Unlike here on Blogger, where you can click through to a full-resolution version of a photograph, Facebook allows you to load only small versions of your photos and the resolution is pathetic.

BUT ... with only a few clicks, you can load up to 60 photographs at a time and walk away until it says it's done. Which is usually less than five minutes later.

Here on Blogger, you have to load one photograph at a time, wait for it to tell you it's ready to upload that one photo (which takes forever), click DONE when it tells you it's finished, and repeat that process for every photo. It takes about 45 seconds per photo. To upload 60 photos would take about 45 minutes, if you're lucky, instead of the (approximately) five minutes it takes on Facebook.

It's a painful, laborious process and way overdue for an updated interface that makes posting photographs simpler and faster.

Hello, Google. Anybody listening?

More on the rest coming. Promise.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Test ride demo days

Several demo days are already behind us, but I've gone online to Toronto area dealers' websites to look for upcoming demo days and called those who don't have them posted on their webites. Registration at all of 'em (except BMW) starts at 9 a.m. and rides start at 10 a.m. For the BMW Motorrad Days, you have to call and book your bike and time slot in advance and rides start at 9 a.m.

Most of the dealers have concession tables with food, and are donating the sales from the food to charities. BMW is requiring a $20 per ride donation to the March of Dimes.

For Honda fans, if you're looking to test ride a Honda this season, it's not looking likely. A sales representative at Classic Honda Brampton told me they have no Honda demo days scheduled this year and he doesn't know of any other dealers who are holding any, either. No reason was given, but the suspicion is that Honda's had insurance woes over demo days.

Below are the demo days lined up so far for this season.

Sunday, May 18, 2008
Yamaha Demo Ride Day

Yamaha Motorsports (905-420-4172)
1698 Bayly Street
Pickering, ON

Thursday May 22, 2008
BMW Motorrad Test Ride Day

Budds' BMW Oakville
2454 South Service Road
Oakville, ON
Call 1-866-562-0893 or 289-291-5140 to book a bike and time slot.
Or email Todd Humber at
A $20 per ride charitable donation to March of Dimes required.

Friday May 23, 2008
BMW Motorrad Test Ride Day

Open Road BMW
87 Mulock Drive
Newmarket, ON
Call 905-895-8700 to book a bike and time slot.
A $20 per ride charitable donation to March of Dimes is required.

Saturday May 24, 2008
Yamaha Demo Day

Kahuna Powersports (905-264-3117)
4342 Steeles Avenue West
Vaughan, ON

Saturday May 24, 2008
BMW Motorrad Test Ride Day

BMW Toronto
11 Sunlight Park Road
Toronto, ON
Call 1-888-261-7744 to book a bike and time slot.
A $20 per ride charitable donation to March of Dimes is required.

Saturday May 24, 2008
HD Demo Ride

Harley Davidson Toronto (416-703-4647)
578 Front St W.
Toronto, ON

Sunday, May 25, 2008
BMW Motorrad Exclusively Female Test Ride Event

Starts from the Best Western Orangeville at Highway 10 and Highway 9
Contact info to reserve a bike and time is at:

Saturday June 14, 2008
Suzuki Demo Day

Suzuki of Brampton (888-618-0881)
181 Canam Crescent
Brampton, ON

Sunday July 13, 2008
HD Demo Ride 2008 models

Kitchener Harley-Davidson (1-866-803-6837)
2255 Kingsway Drive
Kitchener, ON

Saturday July 26, 2008
HD Demo Ride 2009 models

Mackie Harley Davidson (1-800-668-5828)
880 Champlain Ave.
Oshawa, ON

Sunday October 19, 2008
HD Demo Ride 2009 models

Kitchener Harley-Davidson (1-866-803-6837)
2255 Kingsway Drive
Kitchener, ON

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Buell, Schmuell

OK, rode all the way down to Clare's Cycle & Sports in Fenwick -- close to St. Catharines -- Sunday to test ride the Buell Lightning scg. And was not impressed. I was SOOOO hoping I'd like it cuz I love the way they've tucked the tank under the seat and put all the wiring into a transparent orange bulb where they tank would normally be -- it's like they took one page out of the iMAC book of design and one from BMW.

Although it was pleasant to be reminded of how hard a twin can vibrate when there's some muscle in the engine, can't say I was impressed. And not just because the shifter was set up for a much larger foot and I had to actually lift my foot off the peg to shove the toe kick up into 2nd or any of the higher gears.

The sitting position was almost upright but the pegs were still cafe style -- very strange. Awkward.

Nah. Was actually more impressed with the Harley Sportster 883 Low I rode while I was waiting for my shot at the Buell. Again, mostly for the monster vibes created by the muscle behind those twin pistons. I've been riding an in-line four for so long I'd almost forgotten how nice the brute force of a twin could feel.

The ride down there was COLD. The high was supposed to be something like 15 but it felt more like 5. But the stretch of Victoria Avenue from the QEW to Highway 20 where Clare's is was lined with blooming trees. Beautiful.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Spring Bling, Take 1

Just posting a few quick pix tonight from Saturday's Spring Bling. Will post more Monday or Tuesday, because I'm going to be on the road all day Sunday.

Spring Bling wouldn't be complete without representation from the Chic Riders. Here's the gals in a group photo. From left to right, it's Lori, Karen, Gina, Kristina me (in the back!) Cassie, Julie and Annette. In the second photo it's Kristina, Starlene, Lori, and Gina.

We had great representation, not just of Chic Riders but women in general at the Spring Bling.

Here is another shot of some of the Chic Riders.

And here's one of a group ride arriving en masse.

Essentially it was a great, big, honking poser meet to kick off the riding season. Everyone comes, parks, and admires each other's bikes. It's kinda insular, cliquish and, despite that, a lot of fun. I couldn't get more than 40-50 bikes in a single shot -- about half a block worth of parked bikes, shoehorned pretty tightly together. But estimated about 300 bikes.

That's all for tonight cuz I gotta get up EARLY Sunday to get to Fenwick for around 8. Clare's Cycle and Sports is holding a Harley demo day and I want to test a Buell Lightning -- and if you don't get an early spot in line there's no guarantee you'll get to test the bike you want. When I called they said a Buell was definitely going to be on the truck but they weren't sure which one. Hope it's a Lightning.

Anyway, it's an hour and a half to Fenwick -- it's right next to St. Catherine's on the other side of Lake Ontario. That means I have to leave here by 6:30 to get to Fenwick for 8.

I hear my pillow calling me.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

International Female Riders Day

OK, so mother nature pissed all over us yesterday on International Female Ride Day, spearheaded in Canada last year by Vicki Gray, a motorcycle racer, instructor and coach who has been riding since 1983. She also founded the RaceGirl MotorSport and Motoress websites to promote motorcycling among women.

Vicki's the blonde on the far right in the first photo, with Chic Riders Gina (far left) and Brandi (middle). She kicked off the day in Toronto Friday morning at Princes' Gate at Exhibition Place next to the Lakeshore. The pissy weather had an impact on how many women turned out for the kickoff, but it was followed by a short ride along the Lakeshore.

Ontario Chic Riders came into town to a dinner to celebrate the day from as far south as Hamilton, as far west as London, and as far west as Ajax. That's us in the group photo in Shopsy's at Yonge and Front -- which, incidentally, is where Chic Rider Bike Nights are gonna be every Wednesday all summer. Left to right, bottom row, are: Lori, Sarah, and Gina. Left to right, top row: Me, Karen, Melissa, Camille, Nina, Vicky, Sarah and Alexandra.

I'd promised Ontario Chic Rider prez Lori (far left, first seated row) that I'd swing by our meeting spot at the Goose & Firkin on Leslie north of York Mills to see if any of our members showed up to ride down together to our IFRD dinner.

But most of the gals would have to ride in from the outskirts. Just getting to the Firkin would have been a long, soggy ride for most of 'em, so I had a lonely wait. Everybody else ended up taking their cages (cars) downtown. And were glad they did, cuz when we left after dinner there was a major downpour going on.

The ride home? Damn. I climbed into my raingear and soldiered on home. I just LOOOOVE riding in the rain, especially in city traffic (NOT)!

My raingear kept me dry but the steam from the engine kept fogging my visor cuz traffic wasn't moving fast enough for the air to clear it. I had to lift the visor just to see where I was going, so the rain was stinging my face. Annoying, but the worst part of riding in the rain with an open visor is that I wear glasses. When glasses get wet, you get halos around all the lights. Which, as all of us who wear corrective lenses know, improves visibility (all sarcasm intended) SOOO much. Ack.

I coulda sworn I ordered that rainstorm for AFTER I got home. There musta been a mixup.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The making of a road captain

This is my friend, Wally. Last summer I joined a riding group called the Southern Cruisers on his recommendation. He belongs to the chapter in Brampton and I belong to the one in Toronto.

Every Southern Cruiser ride has a Road Captain, who rides in front and is responsible for setting the pace and leading the group through traffic. It also has what members of the SC call a Tail Gunner, who rides last and helps the Road Captain by doing things like changing lanes at the same time as the Road Captain so the rest of the group can change lanes safely in between the two of them.

Most riding groups have some version of both. Members of have a Ride Leader and a Sweeper, who brings up the rear and makes sure no one gets left behind.

This past Sunday, Wally took his Road Captain test with his Brampton chapter, and led his first SC ride.

Here is the group before the ride.

The last photo shows Wally discussing the ride route with Bill, the senior road captain who was along to observe. He still has to get input from the other road captains before Wally gets the green light to become a road captain. Fingers crossed!

Postscript: Wally totally aced the whole thing and has been leading rides for his chapter of the Southern Cruisers all summer. I borrow him sometimes, too. He's a great ride leader!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First all-day ride of the season!

My riding buddy Timothy had to go to Sturgess Cycle in Hamilton to pick up his new bike and the day was gorgeous, so I went with him. Here he is, with his new love.

And here he is, gearing up to ride!

We hit up Snake Road in Burlington first. But that's a very short ride -- you can do it end to end and back the same way in 20 minutes. Timothy wanted to get a good feel for his new baby.

After my disappointment checking out the condition of Southwood 13 yesterday, we figured most of the twisties up north would be in similar condition. Some of the fellas on the boards said Forks of the Credit Road near Caledon here in Ontario was still pretty sandy. Highway 507 isn't very technically challenging, but it slaloms nicely and gets a lot of traffic, so decided to head up there to see if it was any cleaner.

Here's a map of how to get to the 507 from the 401. The section from B to C is the part that is the 507. And here's a link to the complete Google map.

It was almost pristine. Here's a pic I took of Baby while I was waiting for Tim to ide by so I could get action shots of him on his new baby. There was some sand on the side of the road, but the road itself was quite clean. We were able to push the speed limit a little bit. Fast enough to get some nice leans on the sweeping curves.

Here are some nice shots of Timothy putting his new ZX-6R through her paces.

You gotta admit the lad has excellent taste in his choice of colour. (grin)

We looked *GOOD* riding together. I'm not prejudiced at all! (laughing)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Southbeach 13

I was hoping to go on a couple of group rides this weekend up to Southwood 13 north of Orillia. If you click on the Google map on the right you'll get a better look at the road.

But it was so full of sand during that glorious week-long thaw in January, I decided I better go scout it out before taking anyone up there.

Good thing I did.


That's what I'm calling it now. As you can see in the pix on the right, there is so much sand it might as well be one long, curvy beach.

Never got out of 2nd gear the whole time -- and was in 1st for much of the time because the asphalt was so broken it was like riding on gravel.

Even where there isn't sand, the winter heave has wreaked havoc with the asphalt and turned it into gravel-sized chunks. The road is almost impassable on a bike.

I rode it as far as I could -- almost to the end -- but couldn't go more than a kilometre past the last railway crossing because the road was flooded. Forgot to take my camera out to get a pic of the flood, but on the way back (knew there wasn't anyone behind me) stopped a few times to chronicle the sad state of one of my very favourite twisties.

Forget about riding Southwood for more than a month. It needs major repairs and several heavy rains before it's safe. Normally, it's 30 to 45 minutes from one end of Southwood to the other. Today, it took an hour and 15 minutes each way.

Baby's got new shoes -- and the riding season is open!

Two weeks ago I went and picked up Baby from Brampton, where she was taking her winter nap in the garage at my friend Wally's house. It was barely above freezing, so I wore my heated gloves and Gerbings heated liners (they all daisy chain and plug into a harness I connected to the battery) under my leathers. Had an appointment at Riders Choice in Mississauga to get new tires and a chain put on her. Bought them as part of a special deal they offered at the bike show in January, and part of the deal was that the installation was free.

Even inner-city roads and highways were still pretty messy that weekend. Some of the turns -- especially on highway ramps -- were pretty hairy because they were still full of gravel and sand. But the ride to the shop was mostly uneventful, if you don't count the ditzy woman in the Toyolla Coronary who decided to pass me on the inside of the "on" ramp to the 410 South off Sandalwood. Almost ran me into the guard rail. I don't think she was *TRYING* to run me into the guard rail. I just don't think she cared if she did.

My friend Leslie, who had given me a lift to Brampton, was following me in her car. I could almost hear her cursing -- she's very protective when I'm on Baby. Thought for a minute she might try to chase after the ditz, so I started flashing peace signs.

But idiots are everywhere in the GTA. If I let myself get upset every time someone pulls a boneheaded move like that I'd be constantly exhausted. So I concentrated on getting to Mississauga in one piece and enjoying the rest of the ride.

Baby's old tires were touring tires, which aren't particularly suited for the kind of riding I like to do. The kind of riding I'm trying to learn to do. But at the beginning of last summer I thought I was going to be riding to Oregon and didn't want to have to change tires before I got back. So I had touring tires put on her.

But then I couldn't find anyone to ride to Oregon with me, and still had touring tires. Regretted it many times over the course of last summer. Even on the ride down to North Carolina and Tennessee. Yes, that was touring -- but could have used sticky tires when I was on the Tail of the Dragon.

LOOOOOOVE my new tires. Metzeler M3s: compound tires that are hard in the middle and soft on the sides. Really sticky. They fight me when I try to turn the bars when Baby's at a stop.

It rained a lot that first week, so we didn't get out much -- just when the rain stopped for a little while. Didn't go far, because the rain came in spits and spurts. and never knew when it was going to start pouring again. But didn't really mind -- we needed the rain to wash away all the sand, and, in some places, ice that was still on the roads.

And I'd just landed a whack of work (interesting stuff on the hydrologic system and how Canadians use water), so didn't have much time to ride last week, anyway.

So this past Sunday -- my birthday -- was the first day I got out on Baby for more than a few minutes at a time. Rode her to a Chic Riders meeting at the Goose & Firkin on Leslie St. north of Lawrence. This was my second meeting with them. I signed up at a meeting in March. I think I'm going to like riding with these folks. They seem to be a really together group of women. It wasn't cold enough on Sunday to wear the Gerbings, but it *WAS* still cold enough that only two other women showed up on their bikes. So we didn't go for a group ride afterward.