Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Bike That Almost Was...

Our riding season is just about done, the weather has turned and we have already had some snow and lots of very cold fall rain. For those who follow me on Twitter and those that follow my blog, you know that I currently have 3 bikes in my collection; a 2002 Kawasaki Ninja 500 (fun toy), 2002 Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic and a 1997 Kawasaki Ninja 250 (which my son 17 year old son rides). They can be seen to your right.

I have been actively searching for a new winter project but have yet to find one that really peaks my interest. I have been looking at sport bikes as I expect that my son will upgrade to the Ninja 500 in the spring and I will be left without a fun toy! Also, I am not really interested in cruisers as I have my V-Star and I really like it.

I have been really interested in Buell's and have been checking the web on a daily basis to see what I can find. The recent announcement by Harley Davidson to discontinue the Buell line of motorcycles came as a surprise to me and ever since, I have been more aggressively looking at Buells.

While searching the web on Friday evening I came across an advertisement for a New 2008 Buell 1125R, exactly like the one in the picture below.

The bike was listed as being brand new and was for sale at a Harley Dealership about 200km from where I live. I could not believe the advertised price of $5999.00 and immediately I was interested! I conversed with several of my Twitter pals and there was consensus that that this was an unbelievable deal! I have to admit, I was excited and the plan was to call the dealer first thing Saturday morning to see if the price was right and to see if the bike was still available.

Saturday morning arrived and I called the Harley Davidson dealer and spoke at length with a salesman about the bike. On the road for $7631.00 he said...okay, I was still interested. At that point, he said that he expected the bike to sell within the hour as there had been many inquiries about the 1125R because of the advertised price. I explained that I was 2 hours away and would like to see the bike. The only way the salesman said that he could accommodate me and guarantee that the Buell would still be there was to take a deposit on the bike over the phone. I have to be honest, I have never seen a 1125R, let alone driven and I was not willing to put down a deposit.

After I hung up the phone, I debated if I would jump in my truck, make the two hour drive and take the chance that the Buell 1125R would still be at the dealership. For several reasons, I decided against it. First, I am looking for a winter project...this would not be a winter project and second, I think I was having a knee-jerk reaction about Harley Davidson's decision to discontinue Buell..even though the price on the brand new 2008 1125R was unbelievable.

There will be other opportunities and it was fun talking about the possibility of this bike with my Twitter pals. I am left wondering what if I purchased that bike! It was fun reading the online reviews and thinking about the bike that almost was...

Til next time, ride safe!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cruising on A Fall Afternoon...

Our riding season here in New Brunswick is relatively short (late April-early October) so most riders try to make the most of it. The weather has started to turn and it is definitely Fall. We had our first frost last evening and this morning was very cool!

The weather forecast called for a sunny day with a high temperature of 15C/59F, so I decided that I would get out for a short cruise. I gathered all of my riding gear (full leathers) and got set for a ride.

It was about 7C/44F when I warmed up the V-Star 1100 Classic. I was not sure where I was going to go, so I just jumped on the bike and drove towards the city. I stopped for fuel and decided that I would take my favorite drive along the Saint John River to Lower Jemseg and then to Gagetown. I have probably done this ride 50 times and it never gets boring...there is always something new or beautiful to see. I have blogged about this ride on previous occasions .

The best thing abut today's ride was the traffic, it was non-existent! Therefore, I could cruise along at a nice leisurely pace. Even though it was cool, I enjoyed the scenery and had a very relaxing ride!

Along the way, I stopped in Lower Jemseg at The Grand Lake Marshes for a break. The Grand Lake Marshes is a Nature Preserve that has been set up by Ducks Unlimited.

I was hoping to get a view of an Osprey, but no luck. You can see the Osprey nest off in the distance.

The Lower Jemseg region is absolutely beautiful; it is farm country surrounded by the Saint John River Valley. If any or my Twitter friends have a chance to make it to NB, I will gladly take them on this tour! Here are pics of a farmer's field, the Marshes and the beautiful Saint John River!

The Grand Lake Marshes...

The beautiful Saint John River...

After the brief stop in Lower Jemseg, I proceeded to the Gagetown Ferry and crossed the Saint John River. The weather was starting to cool, so I decided to head for home. Overall, I put about 150KM on the bike and even with the cool weather, the ride was just what I needed...hard to describe, it is just a biker thing!

Hopefully, I will get another ride or two before it get's too cold!

Until next time, ride safe!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sailing the Miramichi River...

Click on pictures for a full screen view...

Sailing the Miramichi River is a term we use to describe canoeing or kayaking on the Miramichi River. Saturday was a perfect day for a sail and my wife and I had previously made plans to go to a friend's camp (Glen & Sandra's), meet up with a group and sail the river. It was an absolutely perfect day to be on the water. Our friend's camp is about an hour's drive from our place. We arrived around noon, had lunch and enjoyed the view from our friend's camp.

After lunch, we loaded the boats and proceeded to the river!

We drove to the far end of Porter Cove, put the boats in the water and started our 3.5 hour sail down the river.

The water was warm and the paddling was very easy as we let the current do most of the work. There were a couple of spots where the water was low and we had to get out of the boats to move them down the river. There are some beautiful camps along the river.

Here we are in the kayak...

Three and half hours later, we arrived at the McNamee/Priceville Footbridge. This is the third generation of the bridge as it had been destroyed twice over the years.

At the bridge we pulled the boats out of the water and figured out that Richard had left his car keys back at the starting point of our river trip...problem, we were 10km from the car keys! It was a minor problem as people around this part of the country are very friendly and accommodating! Glen (owner of the camp) said, we will walk across the bridge and find someone to drive us to the vehicles and retrieve the keys...that is exactly what we did. Here are a few pictures from the bridge.

We made our way back to the boats, loaded them and returned to Glen & Sandra's camp for dinner. We enjoyed good company and an excellent feed of salmon, new potatoes, fresh corn and apple pie. What a great way to end the day! About 10:00pm, we gave our thanks, bid farewell and hit the road for home. Another great summer day in New Brunswick!

Until next time, ride and sail safe!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Bridges of Sunbury County!

Yesterday, I was out for a short cruise on the VStar 1100 Classic. I ended up just outside the city and was looking for a covered bridge that I had been to once before. I traveled on many different back country roads, but could not for the life of me remember where the bridge was. It was very hot, so I gave up and returned home.

The fact that I could not remember the location of the covered bridge bothered me, so when I got home, I went online and found the location of the bridge. I was very close to it yesterday...within 1km. I also discovered 3 other covered bridges in close proximity to the one I was looking for yesterday. They were all located in Sunbury County, New Brunswick. So, I planned my Sunday ride, get up early in the morning and travel to the four "Covered Bridges of Sunbury County".

My travel route is shown below, with the bridges being located at points B, C, D & E:

View Larger Map

My first destination was Rusagonis, about a 35km distance from my house. The weather was perfect and there was virtually no traffic, so I could travel at my own speed. One of the things you have to be cautious of around here when traveling on back roads are critters. Along the way to the first bridge, I came across a few deer in a farmers field.

First stop was the Patrick Owens Bridges in Rusagonis. The bridge was built in 1909 and the bridge has 2 spans at 35.2m (115' 6"). The bridge crosses the Rusagonis River. This was the largest of the four bridges that I visited.

The next bridge, the Smyth Bridge was 30km away and located at Mill Settlement. It was a much smaller covered bridge than the Patrick Owens Bridge. The Smyth Bridge spans a length of 41.5m or 136' 0½". It was built in 1912 and crosses the South Oromocto River.

Next stop was the Hoyt Station Bridge, only 6km from the Smyth Bridge. Built in 1936, this bridge crosses Back Creek. It spans a length 28.8m or 94' 4".

The fourth and final bridge was the Bell Bridge located in Juvenile Settlement, it was approximately 12km from the Hoyt Station Bridge. To get to the bridge, you travel through some beautiful farm country! The roads were a blast to drive!

The Bell Bridge was built in 1931 and crosses the South Oromocto River. It spans a length 37.6m or 123' 4".

All four bridges are maintained by our provincial government and they really are gems that are hidden within the Province of New Brunswick. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting each of the bridges and was left thinking, what was life like in these settlements where the bridges are located in the 1909-1936 era?

After visiting Bell Bridge, I started the journey home. I saddled up and headed toward route 101 to Welsford and then route 7 back to Fredericton. I was only on the bike a few minutes when I was hit by a small bird, it scared the crap out of me! The bird hit me right in the face, but fortunately for me I was wearing my Shark full face helmet. The shield, which was open at the time and the side of my helmet took most of the hit. The bird ended up on my lap, I brushed it off and stopped to check out my helmet. There was no damage to me or the helmet, just the bird!

Even with the bird incident, it was still a fun ride! Until next time, ride safe and watch out for birds!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 5 - July 25th The "Voyage" Home!

Saturday, July 25th - We were up very early on Saturday morning as we had 8:00am reservation for the ferry...but we had to be on site by 7:00am. We are very fortunate that we had two nice days to tour the Îles de la Madeleine! Unfortunately, but not to our surprise, it was raining...the positive, we only had about a 7 minute ride to the ferry terminal. I wrapped my pack in plastic and loaded in on the V-Star.

Once at the ferry terminal, we had a short wait and then we were loaded on the boat. As mentioned in my day 1 post, the advantage of being on a motorcycle is that you are the first ones loaded and the first ones off the boat! Prior to loading the boat, I looked out at the water and it looked very rough!

Once you are loaded on the boat, the crew uses a large block of wood to wedge your motorcycle in place. I am not sure what they would do for a sport bike with a lower cowling??? You can see very clearly the wedge under Martin's Suzuki...

In no time, the ferry was off and we were out to sea. As I anticipated, it was rough. There was a small boat that left the harbour around the same time we did. The two pictures below clearly demonstrate what we were in for!

About half an hour into the cruise, we passed by Entry Island. As mentioned in my Day 4 post, this is a small Anglophone community where fishing and farming are the major industries.

Since this was the last view of land we would have for 3 hours, I decided that I would take advantage of the photo opportunity.

You can clearly see some livestock in this picture.

For some people, the next 4 hours on the ferry were not very pleasant! I was okay, but barf bags were in heavy demand and the boat staff were very busy dealing with people who were sea sick. Luc, Susan & Martin handled the crossing pretty well too, however, Luc & Martin did not move around too much!

We arrived in Souris, PEI around 1:00pm, unloaded, fueled up and hit the road! It was not raining, but the skies looked like they could explode at any moment! My rain suit did not hold up on the trip to the Îles de la Madeleine, so we stopped in Charlottetown and I purchased a new rain suit. By the time we reached Borden, PEI and the Confederation Bridge, the sun was shining. We drove pretty hard as we wanted to make it home before dark! We did make a stop for supper and fuel and then proceeded home. About 60km from Fredericton, Luc & I split from Martin & Susan as we live on different sides of the river. I was looking forward to seeing my wife and kids!

Overall, this is one of the best motorcycle trips I have ever been on and I would highly recommend it to my fellow motorcyclists! Also, Luc, Martin and Susan are great traveling partners! The 1200km journey and the 5 day trip to the Îles de la Madeleine receives a 5 star rating from me!

Til next time, ride safe!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 4 - July 24th The Tour of Îles de la Madeleine Continues

Friday, July 24th - We woke early to a beautiful sunny morning...the plan for the day was to visit sites of interest on the Islands. Luc and I started the morning with an early morning walk. Again, we were in awe of the landscape and coastline. These pictures were taken about 500m from our rented cottage!

We explored the coastline and came across several sea caves that had been formed by the tides.

After about an hour of exploring, Luc and I returned to the cottage to meet up with Martin and Susan. The plan was to tour the other side of Cap aux Meules Island. We loaded our gear, jumped on the bikes and headed towards a lighthouse at Cap du Phare. I was leading the group and little did I know that I drove by the lighthouse without seeing it. We stopped in the village of L'Étang-du-Nord and Susan told me that we missed the lighthouse. I looked off in the distance and she was right.

Prior to travelling back to the lighthouse at Cap du Phare, I took this picture of a house that views the Atlantic Ocean. Very interesting architecture!

We jumped on our bikes and back tracked to Cap du Phare so that we could check out the lighthouse and take a few pictures.

After touring the lighthouse area, we jumped on the bikes and traveled back to the village of L'Étang-du-Nord. The scenery, like everything else we saw on the islands was spectacular. Here is a shot of the wharf and the surrounding landscape. Notice the shipwreck off in the distance. We asked a local about the shipwreck and he explained that the ship was from Halifax, Nova Scotia and was blown off course during a storm. The ship broke in half!

We stopped for a coffee and enjoyed the view. There was a real cool kite shop in L'Étang-du-Nord and it was fun to watch people learning how to fly and control a kite.

We also took time to check out this sculpture which was dedicated to the fisherman of the Islands.

Since they were trying to pull something out of the water, we figured that we would lend a helping hand! Apparently, this type of photo opportunity is quite popular with tourists!

From there, we took an alternate route to the Village of Cap aux Meules and had lunch. During our lunch, we set out our plan for the afternoon. Martin and Susan wanted to spend some time at the beach and Luc and I wanted to continue touring. We decided to split up and meet back at the cottage for supper.

There is a microbrewery on Cap aux Meules Island that Luc and I really wanted to check out. We parted ways with Susan and Martin and headed off to the À l'abri de la Tempête Microbrasserie. At the microbrewery, we met a young lady and employee named Isabelle. She took the two of us on a personal tour of the microbrewery...a very small but unique operation. One of the beers that they make is made entirely from products on the Islands, now that's cool! After the tour, we had the opportunity for some small samples of the beer they manufacture, it was all good!

After the microbrewery, Luc and I took a look at the map and decided that we would go to another lighthouse located on Havre aux Maisons Island at Cap Alright. It was not a long ride, but we were taken again to another spectacular view (I know, I keep repeating myself)! In the distance you can see Entry Island, it is a small Anglophone community about 10KM from the interconnected islands. I really wanted to go there, but there was just not enough time to catch a boat and go is a full day trip!

I also took this picture of one of the cliffs near the lighthouse...Luc called it a postcard type of picture!

A few more interesting homes at Cap Alright...

After spending some time at the lighthouse, Luc and I saddled up and traveled to another wharf. We had one last place that we wanted to visit and it was a lookout point that we had scouted out earlier in the Village of Cap aux Meules. We climbed the long set of stairs to the top of the lookout point and here is the view that we had.

Notice the bridge off in the distance, this connects Cap aux Meules Island to Havre aux Maisons Island.

This was our last stop of the day before heading back to the cottage. What a great second day touring the Îles de la Madeleine! We met up with Martin and Susan and decided that we would have a BBQ for supper! Luc's friend Sarah and her friend Marc-Andre joined us! A great two days touring the Islands; my main focus was on the geography and the landscape. If I ever make it back here, I will spend some time focusing on the history and architecture of the area.

We had an early morning boat to catch, so we enjoyed each others company at the cottage, had a few beer and packed our gear.

But wait, the adventure is not over are the day 5 teasers. Get your barf bags ready!

To be continued...