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This year I decided to try my hand at flat track racing and I signed up for the half day of instruction offered by www.goflattrack.com
Sunday June 10th was the day and Pemberton Speedway was the place, all I needed to do was show up, the school supplies everything from all of the safety equipment you need plus a Honda 450 motorcycle in flat track configuration. http://flattrackbc.com/racing-info/pemberton-speedway/
Since I’m leaving on my cross Canada trip in two weeks I thought a fully loaded trip to Pemberton would be a good test ride to see how the fit and handling was going to work out on my Vulcan with everything I planned to bring and decided to head up on Saturday and camp overnight and come home Sunday night after race school.
Saturday turned out to be very cold with rain showers but I wasn’t going to let that stop me and I managed to avoid the on and off rain up to Pemberton, often missing it by a few minutes in places judging by how wet the roads were. Arriving in the early afternoon at the speedway Saturday’s race class was getting underway so I went and found a place to set up my tent and have some lunch. Pretty soon the weather took a real turn for the worse with gusty winds and turning very cold raining off and on, blustery weather that had me taking shelter in my tent to read. The weather did clear enough around dinner time so I was able to cook up a quick camp meal before turning in early.
The weather was looking a bit more promising, the sun was trying to stay out and it was a bit warmer, after making breakfast and my 2nd coffee was kicking in I took a wander over to the track area to look around and taking the opportunity to walk the track and have a good look at it. It may seem flat and compacted when your in the stands but up close and personal is another thing, you start to see the ruts, the heaves and the bumps, I also noticed how turns 1 and 2 were slick with clay on the inside and dryer, looser dirt higher up, corners 3 and 4 were dry, well rutted down low and loose sandy soil higher up in the turn towards the wall. I was scheduled for the afternoon class so spent the morning packing up camp and doing some stretching and limbering up for what was soon to come.
After signing a waiver and paying for the course I was given knee and elbow pads, motocross pants and boots, a motocross jersey as well as a chest/back/shoulder pad combo and of course a full face helmet and goggles. I opted to use my own gloves. Once I was fitted up it was time to find a ‘hot shoe’ that fit the boot I had on, I say boot as you only need one for the left foot. A steel plate in the shape of a boot print with a small edge to hold your boot in and a steel strap to slide the toe under with what looks like a dog collar thru a ring at the heel that is tightened over the arch of the foot to hold it on…. and this is why everyone starts walking with a limp as soon as you get it strapped on, it’s kind of comical.
The class was taught by Aaron Hesmer, Canadian Speedway Champion and a guy who knows his stuff, we got the basics of sitting position and why, he covered the bikes and how they handle and what has been done to them that makes them flat trackers such as no front brakes and we were given the heads up on track safety. Once everyone had that down we could grab whatever bike we wanted and head out on the track to feel it all out. By my second lap I was pretty comfortable sliding around the corner with my left foot firmly planted on the ground and began to spin the rear wheel more letting the bike drift through the turns….for about 6 laps.
It’s amazing how quickly I tired, I had to come in for a rest and pretty soon so did everyone else.
After we all had a chance to catch our breath there was another class session while Aaron explained the finer points of flat tracking, one reason my arms were burning out so fast was due to the death grip I had on the bars and I had to keep reminding myself to loosen my grip, and it worked but this was just one small thing on the long list of things to think about all while going as fast as you can on a rough surface and very quickly you begin to see the scope of what it takes to be a professional racer. Fighting the bike around the track like I was is not the way to do it. And so the afternoon went, we would go out to try different skills and Aaron would coach us from the sidelines or from his bike on the track while we were able to pull off and on again as we needed. I didn’t take long to see how everyone was improving and letting the bikes open up a bit more on the straights and levels of confidence increasing in the corners.
All to soon I realized the afternoon was drawing to an end as were my physical limits so I stopped before I was going to hurt myself or someone else. Peeling off the motocross gear and getting back into my leathers I was soon back on the road home and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole way.
If you’ve ever thought of giving flat track racing a try or just want to brush up on your riding skills this is a great course to take, a ton of fun and Aaron is a great guy who explains the concepts of flat track in a way that’s easy to understand and in a casual setting, check the link at the top for dates and places.
**Next week I leave on a 6 week X-Canada trip… follow that on my instagram @Opus710WheelspinAdventures.
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So….could this be the big one?
For the last 4 years I have been attempting to narrow down my list of choices for a bike upgrade.
My first (and still currently only) bike was purchased new 9 years ago, and now has 45000km on the odometer. I have always maintained it was a good thing my first bike was acquired in my forties…ample time to ensure my system was flushed of unused (or overused) testosterone.
At the time of that purchase, I had the mindset of a 25 year old (more to do with my deluded state of fitness). In truth, back then, the state of muscle flexibility of my then mid-forties body was pretty good, but unbeknownst to me (read: ignored), the creep of time would not rest on its laurels. Today I am just shy of two months past my 56th birthday. My misguided interpretation of the physical state of my body has finally made an attempt to be in sync with my chronological age. Instead of 25 years, it is now realistically closer to 50. Oh, the indignity!
The ultimate goal is to acquire a long distance touring machine with ultimate comfort and range for two-up riding with luggage. My most immediate real-time source of motorcycle information and opinion has been the members of CMC. It is great to be a part of a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who literally cover the gamut of motorcycle makes and models. I love the fact that the owner of a sport-touring bike (for example, moi) can lead a group of riders on V-Twin cruisers on a Multi-Provincial 5-day tour. Yes…that actually happened; but more to the point I have survived the inevitable (and ongoing) looks of dumbfounded shock, along with no small amount of ribbing, to tell the tale.
It’s all in good fun of course. We live in a blessed country which affords us diverse levels of freedom of choice. So…what choice(s) have crossed my line of sight lately? Well, Honda has just thrown down the gauntlet with their new line of GoldWings. Seven models in total! Take a look at the specs, model info and images below. Remember due to the current exchange rate, add approximately $5000 CDN to the US-based prices shown.
One issue I had with the previous GoldWing was its weight. Even before you added an extra passenger and luggage, you were pushing up to the 1000lb threshold. This is not to imply the bike was not balanced or manageable, it was just a personal concern I had in hauling around such a behemoth. The new models for 2018 have shed 90lbs of weight. Prior to Honda’s recent reveal of their new models, I was looking at their competitor, BMW. Specifically the K1600GTL or the BMW K1600B Bagger. They were almost 200lbs lighter than the 2017 GoldWing models, but still had side and top case luggage capability. They also had a well tuned and powerful 160HP inline 6-cylinder engine competing with the GoldWing’s opposed 6 cylinder model.
In an effort to woo the very demographic I identified with 9 years ago at age 46, Honda seems to have put their flagship ride on a stringent fitness regimen along with what could be interpreted as a high-tech colon cleanse (lighter, more powerful and fuel-efficient engine; a more modern and distraction-free cockpit). At the same time they are hoping to retain and carry over existing GoldWing riders. Personally, I think the latter move may prove to be their biggest challenge. One case in point, the luggage capacity has been reduced to 110L, down from 150L. Some have also commented on the smaller fuel capacity, but according to Honda, the combination of reduced weight and a more fuel efficient engine supposedly gives the same range as the previous model.
I have never ridden a Honda GoldWing, so I cannot speak to most of what others have commented on, but the new 2018 GoldWing models certainly are the closest I have seen a manufacturer come to matching what the BMW’s have been doing so well for the past few years. It is also interesting to note that it is not just the traditional Sport Touring segment that is upping the ante on targeting a younger generation of riders. Just take a look at the new 2018 Yamaha Star Venture and what it has to offer to the Cruiser crowd. Indian Motorcycles are also updating their model lines to capture and retain new and old customers.
In any case, I am eager to see (and eventually demo) the new GoldWing. Whatever I decide on has to pass the CT-SIMOB (Continue To Sleep In My Own Bed) test with the Missus. Her comfort (comfortable heated seats / good back support / smooth ride among others) will be primary factors in any choice yet to be made. My only concern is that the new Honda GoldWing may end up costing more than the previously mentioned BMW’s. My….how times have changed.
So, what do any existing or potential GoldWing riders think about what Honda is doing with their flagship product?
Your comments are welcome.
2018 Honda GoldWing Specifications
- Lighter overall package results in improved handling and maneuverability
- More compact, lighter engine with four-valve head and Unicam valve train
- Available seven-speed DCT with Walking Mode forward/reverse
- Six-speed manual transmission
- Robotically welded aluminum twin-tube frame with revised plate thicknesses
- Radially mounted six-piston dual front braking calipers
- Double-wishbone front-suspension system
- Electrically controlled suspension
- Throttle-by-wire with multiple riding modes
- Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC)
- Hill Start Assist
- Smart Key
- Apple CarPlay
- LED lighting
- Updated design with 11.8 percent improved aerodynamic efficiency
- Electric windscreen adjustment
GOLD WING TOUR
The three 2018 Gold Wing Tour models—Gold Wing Tour, Gold Wing Tour DCT, and Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag—are the modern interpretation of the classic Gold Wing, the ultimate long-distance touring machine, but with highly improved performance capabilities. Each of these models features saddlebags and a top case, as well as a tall electrically adjustable windscreen, front and rear speakers, and electrically adjustable suspension.
- Gold Wing Tour, Gold Wing Tour DCT: Candy Ardent Red, Pearl White, Pearl Hawkseye Blue
- Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag: Candy Ardent Red/Black
- Gold Wing Tour: $26,700 – $27,000
- Gold Wing Tour DCT: $27,700 – $28,200
- Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag: $31,500
- Availability: February 2018
Boasting a sporty character, the two Gold Wing models—Gold Wing and Gold Wing DCT—come with saddlebags but no top case or the accompanying rear audio speakers. The electric windscreen is shorter on these models, and preload adjustment is manual. HSTC, electric damping-adjust, center stand, and heated seats are not included.
- Colors: Candy Ardent Red, Matte Majestic Silver, Pearl Stallion Brown
- Gold Wing: $23,500 – $23,800
- Gold Wing DCT: $24,700 – $25,000
- Availability: February 2018
Today as I look out my window, I no longer see the green of the park or the flag fluttering in the breeze, but I see the mountains and the sea from my chair in the living room. The mountains have a "cloud halo" where the clouds ring the middle portion of the mountains. The sea is calm as the single freighter makes its way to the harbours in Seattle.
But today, I think the halo has a special meaning. You see, today we send one of our brothers home. He will take that one last ride and those clouds will be there to steady him as he travels and when he gets to those pearly gates, he will be greeted by his brother who left us several years go and his other brothers from across the land. It is not a time to morn, a time to cry or a time to be sad, rather a time to smile at all of the crazy things Recycle said and did. A time to remember that ear-to-ear grin when he was on his Red Steed. His wave to everyone on two wheels - yes, even scooters. A time to share that smile and remember times like when he looked into his empty beer bottle and swore there was someone drinking it because it emptied too soon, or when he bit into his hotdog and it shot out the other end like a cartoon clip. Ron was a man like no other, he is Recycle, CMC65092
If you would like to donate to Ron's Memorial Fund, please go to: http://cmc-victoria.com/donate.html Thank you.
Safe journey home brother Ron. We are going to miss you. RIP
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Well, hopefully spring is here for most of us. I have had my bike out twice, and it snowed the next day both times. I am going to risk it again today and go for a short ride with my friends.
Like most riders, I waited patiently for that first ride, and with the winter that seemed to drag on forever, I was beginning to feel a bit caged! The first ride out was tentative, as the roads were covered with sand and grit, but it felt SO AWESOME!
I read grizzz's Blob Post about enjoying the small things in life. I also read through the tributes to Tina (from 089) and although I didn't know her, the tributes really tell the story of a courageous lady. I had an idea.
There is a challenge on the Internet called the 100 Happy Days Challenge http://100happydays.com - challenges people to focus on things that make them happy, even for a little while.
As the site says - We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being.
71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason.These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?
If you are up to the challenge, you post a picture every day for 100 days of things that make you happy. You can change the privacy settings to whatever you want, or you can just keep the challenge to yourself.
My idea is this - is anyone interested in doing a CMC 100 Happy Day challenge? We could use the hashtag #100HappyDaysCMC or create a forum here for folks to post. What a great way to promote our love of riding, our friendship and the beauty of belonging to CMC!
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So on Thursday March27th “I was looking out my window” (cheers Grizz) and although the temperature was less than ideal the roads looked very dry. I must admit there was a large amount of sandy areas, and was very determined to avoid these. With that said I rolled my bike out of my garage and started it up. I let the bike warm up about 10 minutes or so, the bike itself was pleading it was ready, it responded with nice crisp throttle rolls.
I used the time while the bike was warming up to GEAR UP, I must admit I was a little nervous, not about getting hurt, but rather possibly dropping my bike and being upset at myself for being an idiot So for the first 20 minutes or so I just rode around a 2 block radius of my house, just getting the feel, The only bike I had ridden really was the little Honda CBR125 used at the Humber course. So my Honda Shadow 500 was a very new and different experience compared to the other. After I was comfortable with the handling and controls I ventured a little further from home, This is when I realized that @ 60 kph the wind is stronger than I had anticipated, so back home I went.
I thought to myself that was F U N ….. Hmmm. So I went upstairs and put on a pair of sweatpants on underneath my jeans. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting track pants & jeans are a good alternative to proper weather riding gear, but I just had to get a few more klicks in before putting my bike back in the garage.
Thinking about it some more I thought “Oh, I know, I have to go order a new set of contact lenses.” So I planned my route to try avoiding the higher traffic areas, It was going to be about 15 km each way One of my first observations upon arriving at the plaza was how BIG the parking spaces were, backing my bike into a spot I thought to myself “this bike is a lot easier to park than my SUV”. I took a much larger street for my ride home and @ 4 pm it was quite busy. Shortly after getting underway it began to SNOW!, luckily it was just some light flurries and was not enough to even change the colour of the road; I felt much better being on DRY roads. The ride home was very straight, but some good practice in heavier traffic. So all in all I put just over 50 kms for my first ride ever on public roads. It felt AWESOME getting that monkey off my back
Aces N Eights
Stay tuned for my next post:
My First Ride - Things I did well, and things I need to work on