Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twitter & Motorcycles

I started using Twitter just over a year and a half ago after it was introduced by a colleague of mine. Initially, I joined Twitter as part of my personal learning network (PLN) to stay up to date with the latest trends and happenings in educational technology.

I still follow many people associated with educational technology, but there has been a transition in my Twitter use. It has expanded to cover my passion for motorcycling. Expanded so much that I now spend more time using Twitter to learn about motorcycles and communicate with like minded people.

It is so interesting to listen to others and their stories. One of the people I follow is @chesshirecat, she keeps an excellent online blog of her adventures.

Her blog, Chessie's Tales, Motorcycles and Rides, contains vivid descriptions of rides on her Harley mixed with digital photographs that let her share her journey with others. Chessie is the one who inspired me to start keeping a blog of my motorcycle adventures.

Another Twitter user that I enjoy following is @ironworksmag, from Iron Works Magazine. They keep a blog site called IWBlogger which is another must read.

I look forward to Fridays when they have “You be the Judge”. They post a pic of a custom motorcycle and you get to comment on it. I am by no means a custom bike builder, but I have rebuilt several stock bikes over the years, including the most recent Ninja 250 Project. I enjoy reading and adding comments even with my lack of experience with custom bikes.

@Dragonwheels is another must follow. His stories of the Welsh countryside make me want to go there. Craig maintains an excellent blog that covers the tours he provides for motorcycle enthusiasts. His Dragon Wheel Tours website contains all the info.

The images that he posts make me want to tour the area. I have only been to London, but someday I just have to tour with this guy! Make sure that you click on the Blog link!

Other interesting follows include @Fredmotorco and @harleymac1. @harleymac1 hosts an online talk show on Sunday evenings, I have connected several times and the discussions are always most interesting. @Fredmotorco is usually part of the talk show too! Visit @harleymac1's blog...Motorcycle Nation Podcast. Check out Fred Motor Company as well!

Closer geographically to where I live is @TWNE. @TWNE keeps an excellent blog of his journeys through the beautiful New England States, check it out Two Wheel New England.

Finally, I recently started following @viridari. His brief posts about his Triumph are fun to read and the guy is an incredible photographer! His blog, Visions From a Stained Mind contains some of his work, also check out his Flickr site...excellent B & W shots of rods and bikes!

Until next time, ride safe!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Driver's License...another adventure!

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

In a few weeks, my son will take the Canada Safety Council Motorcycle Training Course. Hopefully he will pass and at the same time get tested for his motorcycle license. He already has his license to drive a car.

In order to prepare for your motorcycle license you have to write and pass a written examination or what we call here a "Beginner's Permit". Well, today my son had to do the written exam.

This is kind of a funny story! My son had an appointment at the Motor Vehicle Branch to write his exam. He arrived and was ready! He paid his fees and then was given the exam. He told me that he struggled a bit as the questions were not what he expected and there was nothing on the exam about motorcycles. Well, my son passed the exam in to be marked and told the examiner that he did not know the answers. They marked the exam and he passed. At that point, they realized that they gave the poor kid the wrong exam! They gave him the exam for a commercial truck driver! He said that he was wondering what truck loads, etc. had to do with driving a motorcycle.

After a good laugh by all parties, they gave him the appropriate exam for a "Motorcycle Beginner's Permit"...he passed with flying colors! Next, the Motorcycle Training Course!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Short Saturday Drive...

Yesterday, I had a new back tire installed on the V-Star 1100 Classic. I decided to go with a Bridgestone tire again as I was very happy with the last one and the mileage (14,000 KM) that I got out of it. Today, I wanted to get the bike out and get a few kilometers on the new tire, so I did a short run along the beautiful Saint John River.

The weather was a bit cool (17C or 62F), but not uncomfortable. Also, there were many bikes out on the same route I was on; it is a very popular route with the locals as it is so scenic. If you ever make it up here, I will gladly take you on a tour of the river!

I stopped by an old farm house to take a few pics of the river and some of the surroundings. Notice the dandelions are in full bloom.

I have also been playing around with the macro settings on my digital camera and took a few close ups of the dandelions. Most people think of dandelions as weeds, but a field full of dandelions is really a beautiful site! Click on the image for a full view

Not sure if I will get out on the motorcycle tomorrow as the weather forecast is calling for rain. Let’s hope is changes! Ride safe!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

High School Drag Races!

What a great motorcycle run today! The weather was perfect and the trip today was a 400km round trip to Miramichi City (Chatham) to watch the high school drag races!

I left home at 8:00am and was to meet up with my friend Steve. He lives about 50km from me, so we decided to meet at a post office located in the rural community of Nashwaak Village. Steve drives a 1984 Honda Shadow 750 and it is in great shape.

From there we ventured another 50km to the Village of Doaktown for a coffee fix; it was much needed as the weather was rather cool.
Then, it was off to Miramichi City and the community of Chatham...about 100km. I grew up in Chatham, so we stopped to visit with my Grandmother for a bit. My Grandmother is a great person, she is 87 and is very independent.

Next stop, the Miramichi Dragway and the high school drag races! I work as a school district supervisor, so I made sure that I visited all four drag teams from our school district and checked out each of their cars. There were a total of 21 cars entered in the competition and 9 of them were from four different high schools in my school district.

SHS had four cars in the race! Here are three of them...

DCHS has a fun car, it is a Ford Mustang with a 460 in it. Notice the driver of this car is a female student!

This Thunderbird from UMRHS ran very strong all day long!

The team from FHS had a rough go of things. On Wednesday, they blew a rod during a Dyno test. They purchased a new Chev 350 long block and worked for 3 straight days trying to get the car ready. They had all kind of issues and had to fabricate parts for motor mounts, put the transmission in a different case and a myriad of other issues. Today it was electrical problems. Unfortunately, the car was not ready for time trials so they were out of the competition. However, they still had the opportunity to run the car down the track!

The team from SSHS (another school district) had some rear end issues!

The JMA car (another school district) that won the high school competition in 2006 looked strong too!

The car from NSER (another school district) also ran well!

I had a great time at the races today and what impressed me the most was the dedication of the students and teachers with regards to building and racing these cars! We talk about providing enriching learning experiences for students, does not get any better than this! The kids were so into this!

There were also some Pro Stock Series cars and motorcycles running today and they were fun to watch! The bikes, all I can say is OMG...I never want to go that fast on a motorcycle!

And this machine hit a 150mph!

Overall, it was a great day! Unfortunately, Steve and I had to leave before the final races for the high school championship were run. We had a 2-hour + ride home and there are just too many "critters" (moose, deer, raccoons & porcupines) on the road after dark and it is just not worth the risk. Again, a great day!

A closing note, Steve and I stopped at the Harley Dealership in Chatham Head and they has a great sale on helmets. I found a Shark full face that was regularly priced at $399.00 on sale for $109.00 and I just had to buy it! You can see it sitting on the saddlebag of my bike.

Til next time...Ride Safe!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rant of the Day!

Photo courtesy of daveograve via Creative Commons

I don’t understand insurance brokers and motorcycle insurance! Last week, I called my insurance broker to put coverage on the 1997 Kawasaki 250 that I just finished rebuilding. They asked me several questions and said is it a Ninja 250? I responded, “Yes it is”. My broker said I will check and get back to you.

Today, my insurance broker called back and said that they refused to cover the bike because it was a “sport bike” and that it was “high risk”! I usually don’t get too upset, but I said, “Just a second, I have been driving bikes and insured for 30+ years and I have never had a claim”! I also stated very clearly that I did not understand how an insurance company would insure my 2002 V-Star 1100 Classic and refuse to carry a freakin’ 250cc motorcycle! I still don’t get it! They are going to lose my business after 25 years as a loyal customer!

Fortunately, there are several other insurance companies in town that will provide coverage; they are currently preparing quotes for me. That’s my rant of the day!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Reflecting on Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mom’s out there! It is a special day and take the time to visit or call your Mom and say thanks! While reflecting early this morning, I was thinking about growing up and the things my Mother made me do...often against my poor judgment! You might be asking where is this going with respect to motorcycling, well here is the short story...

I was 15 years old and wanted to make the transition to street bikes and had saved enough money to purchase a street bike. My Mother was not totally keen on the idea, but I persisted. She set a condition...I had to take the Canada Safety Council Motorcycle Training Course. Being a 15 year old, I figured I did not need any freakin’ course to teach me how to drive a motorcycle...remember being 15 and indestructible! Well, to make a long story short, Mom won out as most Moms’ do and I took the course. It turned out to be one of the best things that I have ever done! I learned more than I could imagine and ended up spending several years after that assisting with the Canada Safety Council Motorcycle Training Course!

My 16 year old son is getting ready to make the transition to street bikes and you guessed it, he is taking the Motorcycle Training Course! The moral of this short story is that Moms’ really do know what’s best, so thanks Mom!

Speaking of safety, I follow @ironworksmag on Twitter and they recently had a blog posting at their IWblogger site called “Tips For Car, Bus and Truck Drivers For Motorcycle Safety”...check it out and share the message!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Beast!

Saturday…weather is not bad, but this cold has the best of me. I spent most of the morning being lazy with the hope of feeling better. As afternoon rolled around, I was getting a little antsy (is that a word), so I decided I should do some work on the old beast…my 1986 Honda TRX 350.

This is a great machine which I purchased second hand in 1988. It is not the most comfortable ATV to drive, however it is real workhorse! Over the last 21 years it has been put through everything, from plowing snow to mud bogs! The only thing that I have had to do to it is replace the battery (a couple of times), fuel filter, brakes and rebuild the starter & fuel pump. I should mention that I do take good care of my stuff with regular maintenance.

I pulled the TRX 350 out of my storage shed, installed & hooked up the battery and the old machine fired right up. I only had the chance to give the machine a quick cleanup last fall, so I decided I would do some minor maintenance and cleanup the bike. The bike is 23 years old and I have had a lot of fun with it, I am surprised that it still looks this good!

I think I will get in touch with a few of my ATV friends and plan a trip out to the old camp. The camp is a great spot, it belongs to my wife's cousin and is located back in the woods about 45 minutes from here. Fortunately for me, I get to use it. Here is a pic of the TX 350 in the back of my truck with the camp in the background. Notice my friend's German Shepard, "Princess" standing guard over the bikes!

Hopefully, the weather cooperates tomorrow and I feel well enough to get out for a run on the motorcycle! Until next time...

Friday, May 8, 2009

New Wheels...4 that is!

Well Friday is finally here and I am not sure what the weekend will bring. The weather forecast isn’t great, but hopefully the sun will come out so I can at least get a short motorcycle run in. I have also picked up another cold and feel terrible…this is the fourth cold that I have had this winter!

Pretty exciting place around here today! My wife and kids are very excited as we just purchased a new Honda Civic. This is a real change for me as I usually purchase GM or Ford vehicles. We were looking for a smaller car that would be good on fuel as there are four of us driving now. We tried out the following vehicles: Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, Dodge Caliber, Ford Fusion and the Honda Civic. We really liked the Ford Fusion, but it was the most expensive of the bunch, the Toyotas were good too. In the end it came down to the Dodge Caliber SXT and the Honda Civic DX-G. They were priced quite close after all of the deals and haggling...the Honda ended up being a bit cheaper. We also liked the drive of the Honda and the greater visibility compared to the Dodge. A pretty good financing rate was the deciding factor too!

Here is the new car!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cruise #2 - Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Well we had another good bike run on Sunday, yet it was a bit shorter than the previous weekend…by about 300 KM. The weeks ride took us through the beautiful Saint John River Valley. This is not my pic, but it gives you an idea of the beauty!

Photo credit - iskanderbenamor via Creative Commons

If you ever get up here, I will gladly take you on this cruise...approximately 200 KM! We started in Fredericton and followed the route shown in the two maps below.

This view provides greater detail:

The weather was a bit cool and the sky was overcast. My traveling partner for the day was my friend Luc and his VTX 1300. Our first stop was at 30KM as we were both in need of an early morning coffee. There were lots of bikes out and it seemed that most of them had the same idea as us, coffee. After filling up on java, we took a back route to make a quick visit with our friend Marty AKA: “Bulldog” and his wife Sue! We tried to convince him to join us, but we were unsuccessful in our bid…his daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks and he had things to do!

From there, Luc decided we should follow the old Trans Canada highway along the Saint John River...Route 102. It is very scenic and I should have taken some pics...but I didn't. The plan was to stop in Longs Creek for lunch. We arrived and the restaurant was full! At that point I suggested another place about 20km up the road...little did I know it had went out of business!

Well, the only alternative was to head another 25 KM to Nackawic...a small mill town to see if we could find some food. The town of Nackawic is really quire beautiful and is the home of the world's largest axe!

Photo credit - Chris Campbell via Creative Commons

Luc and I stopped by a pub in Nackawic only to find out they did not have a menu, only snacks. We were both pretty hungry so snacks would not make the grade! We asked for suggestions and they recommended the local golf course. Off, we ventured to the local golf course for a meal. We were the only customers, yet there were lots of golfers on the course! We each ordered a meal and a beer. The food was good as was the service!

After our feed, we decided that we would follow Route 105 along the Saint John River...about a 70 KM ride. It is scenic and goes through farm country. Luc and I had a great laugh as we got stuck behind a tractor hauling a full load of manure! The road is rough and has lots of twists and turns,so we stayed behind the load of manure for awhile...long enough that the smell really cleaned out my sinuses!

The cruise home was good, but I was really starting to get chilled...getting wimpy in my old age! All in all, it was a great day cruising! Any cruise on the bike is better than no cruise at all!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Ninja 250 Project Comes Alive!

The weather forecast for today was not great, showers and cloudy, so I opted to put the finishing touches on “The Ninja 250 Project”. It has been a never ending project, but today was the day. For those who are not familiar, "The Ninja 250 Project" is a bike that I purchased with a bad engine. The plan was to rebuild it and give it to my 16 year old son as a starter bike. I got my first road bike when I was 16…a brand new 1977 Honda CJ360T.

I started early this morning and the first thing on the agenda was to add electrolyte to the new battery and put it on the charger. After that, all was left to due was to install the side covers and the upper and lower fairing. The upper fairing was a bit more work then I thought it would be. When I removed it from the bike, it came off in one piece. To re-install, I had to disassemble the upper fairing and separate the headlight/bracket and the instrumentation cluster from the fairing. Once this was done, the headlight bracket and instrumentation cluster mounted easily, 2 bolts and 1 nut. See the three views below.

Next, the fairing had to be installed. This too was a relatively easy task as the fairing fit into place quite easily. It took me a bit of time to remember where I had put the mounting hardware, but after about 5 minutes of searching I found it and installed the upper fairing.

The lower fairing was next and it only took minutes to connect!

All that was left to do over that was to re-check all bolts, etc., install the battery and the seat. I moved the bike outside, re-checked all fluids, turned on the ignition, set the choke and pushed the start button and...well look at the video clip below!

I am pleased with the end result as this has been an off and on project for the last 17 months. A complete chronology of the project can be found here. My son is away with his youth group and won't arrive home until late this evening. How excited do you think he will be tomorrow when he sees the bike and we push the start button? Heck, I am excited! After this, I grabbed my helmet and took the Ninja 250 for a little rip around the neighbourhood…it was a blast! What a fun little bike!

Now, I need to find another bike project...any suggestions?

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Battery Day!

Okay, Friday is finally here! It is currently rainy and cold outside, but it’s supposed to clear up for the weekend! Looking like sun and 18C on Sunday...looking like another good biking day! Yesterday, the battery that I ordered for the “Ninja 250 Project” came in. Plan is to charge it after work and install on Saturday morning.

For those of you unfamiliar with the “Ninja 250 Project”, it is a bike that I have been redoing for 16 year old my son! It is really quite a story...complete details of the rebuild are here. Also, I need to install the lower and upper fairing, side covers and seat this runs and is ready for a road test.