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
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
In a few days, according to the societal predisposition of my awesome country Canada, I will be classified as a Senior.
Now, there are variations on a theme as it pertains to what qualifies someone to enter this auspicious stage of life. Some Federal, Provincial and private entities bestow the title on those who have attained the silver-lined age of 55. (That would be me by the way). Others require an individual to be 60 or 65 years old. That then affords me a minimum of 5 to 10 years to potentially nurture an unqualified state of denial. I figure if it takes that long to wrestle with the reality of turning 55, then by the time I actually am permitted to graciously scale the misty heights of 60 or 65, then all arguments to the contrary will be null and void.
If truth be told, as much as I am looking forward to this stage of my life, my level of introspection on what has transpired thus far to get me to this point, has taken a quantifiable turn. I presume the older one gets, the more one takes stock of one’s life. It is natural to weigh in the balance what you thought of, desired, or planned for your life as a young man, with where you presently find yourself. Borrowing an analogy from the sporting world, what has been uppermost on my mind is the identification of my life’s Sweet Spot.
In simple terms, a sweet spot is a place where a combination of factors results in a maximum response for a given amount of effort. Now given that I fall on the side of being genetically masculine, my tendencies lean toward rating myself through performance or accomplishments. While these are not inherently bad indicators of a person’s worth, more importantly, they are not the most healthy of litmus tests to gauge one’s equilibrium and value. Our society intensively advocates and promotes the successful; the strong; the popular; the beautiful. Again traits and positions that are not in themselves improper, but when you are forced to measure yourself against such demanding, or in some cases, unforgiving standards, your inner man; your psyche; your spirit, becomes weighted down and diminished when unhealthy expectations prove impossible to live up to.
For me it has been difficult to identify if I even have a sweet spot, compared to even living out of one. To that end, I figured why not work backwards with what I know.
I am a husband of almost 27 years to a woman who I am learning daily has more value and love to offer than I have sufficiently acknowledged.
I am a father of the most awesome adult children a man could ask for.
I have now transcended from Fatherhood to Grandparent with the arrival of our first Grandson.
I have had the opportunity to taste the sweetness of a dream fulfilled in having the opportunity to pilot aircraft in the mountains of British Columbia and Northwestern USA.
I have been blessed with a rich ancestral heritage that spans not only generations, but continents, countries and islands around the world.
These are just a few things that aid in answering questions of significance on my part. I still fail and make mistakes at times, but I am reminded that growing older and having your once black follicles turn grey (those that remain anyway), is more a badge of honour, than a banner stigmatizing who you are as a person.
After all, wisdom and knowledge come through experience. Experience takes time and effort, and yes even self-doubt and failure are valuable commodities that are indispensable to the repository of knowledge one gains in a lifetime.
Proverbs: 20 vs:29 – The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendour of old men is their grey hair.
How it all began...
Circa A.D. 1979 / Canadian Olympic Track & Field Trials Winnipeg Manitoba
10.15 seconds. Personal Best Time - 100m sprint 20.9 seconds. Personal Best Time - 200m sprint 48 seconds. Personal Best Time - 400m sprint 63 seconds. Time taken to get back to a resting heart rate after running 3.5 km
Circa A.D. 2008 - Canadian National Shito Ryu Itosi Kai (Japanese) Karate Championships - 2nd Place
Back in the Post Ice Age era of 1979, I was 17 years old. Bolstered by a high metabolism and ridiculously low body fat, Track & Field was inherently one of the best ways I legally acquired a true high. In 2008 I chronologically gained 30 years; along with a few squatters of added poundage. In order to evict said squatters from my personal domicile, I decided to take up Shito Ryu Itosu Kai Karate with my then 17 year old daughter.
It’s funny, but when I was 17 years old, coordinated, concentrated, physical exertion seemed to come more naturally than when you are in your 40’s. That was proven when my daughter won the National title for her age and rank in her first ever Karate tournament. We had only been training for 12 weeks before our Sensei, in his dry, inimitable matter-of-fact style, informed us that we were to be competing in the Canadian National Karate Championships. This is not something normally told to people who have never even tried Karate before. Especially if you have witnessed the Mini-Me Bruce Lees going at it in your Dojo. I guess it was a testament to the training received that allowed us to comport ourselves well enough to rank well. But not without the requisite bruising, beatings (what happens when you do not block properly), and blood (skin breaks on contact even when pulling your kicks and punches).
That was eight years ago. Now it begins again. This time however I will not be competing against an opponent who is shorter than I, has reflexes faster than the speed of light, and who is less than half my age. No Siree. This time I am going to go up against someone even more daunting….Myself.
Circa A.D. 2016 - Learning how to beat my own body into submission - hopefully in a good way.
This year marks 8 years since I purchased my first motorcycle; the same year I started training in Karate. I did not realize it at the time, but that rigorous training regimen prepared me to handle a type of machine I had never utilized before. I have always half-jokenly stated I am glad I started riding motorcycles after most of my testosterone took an early sabbatical. If I had started riding motorcycles during my muscle-tuned, teen years of Track and Field, I may not have had the opportunity to be publicly upstaged by some pimply-faced Karate Kid wannabe.
So what exactly am I beginning again after all these years, that involves competing with myself? A healthy balance of mind and body, for a Road Trip!
Specifically a Cross-Canada motorcycle trip, slated for Summer 2017. I am giving myself one year to get my mind, soul and body in the best possible shape; not only to make the trip, but to enjoy it to the fullest extent possible. It is going to involve draft notices being sent out to unused muscles, compelling them to report for active duty; along with Cease & Desist orders served to other itinerant body parts that, well, are just not welcome anymore. Oh, and throughout this whole process, I will be documenting my efforts (or lack thereof) for public consumption on my Personal Blog - http://www.swedwards.com.
There will be great potential for whining; feeble excuses; moments of self-recrimination; heck, even flat out states of denial. In short, it is not going to be pretty. The process of physically preparing for this adventure is only one aspect of the plan. One element of incentive will be my research into acquiring a newer and larger motorcycle for the trip. I will be articulating that part of the equation along side my efforts at regaining balance, energy and strength to my mental, musculature and skeletal carbon-based unit.
So if you have any tips, or advice pertaining to long distance, trans-continental type motorcycling, (expectations; warnings; planning etc), please feel to share them. Just as in times past, before I had ever ridden a motorcycle or tried Karate, I am very eager to see what the outcome of this Bucket List endeavour will be.
I am not usually classified as a jealous man. Well...if truth be told, I am slightly envious of the West Coast BC chapters with their unquestionably scenic mountains. Having once resided there in a time when testosterone was both legal, and NOT politically incorrect, I know of which I speak.
There is now another contender for my 2-wheeled yearning: Europe. I have visited different parts of Europe in years past, but have never had the opportunity to actually ride motorcycles during my visits. Something I desperately hope to address while I still retain the capacity to balance on two wheels.
To that end, I will begin preparations to address a portion of that particular itch, by planning a cross country ride to British Columbia. To give credence to that goal, and to augment my incentive to actually make it happen, I plan on attending the 2017 CMC National Rally, scheduled to take place in the Coombs/Nanaimo area on Vancouver Island. I have convinced myself that it is actually preparation for riding throughout Europe.
Below is one reason why, instead of going to bed at a reasonably decent hour, I am staying up in the wee hours of the night researching (ok...binging) on YouTube videos made by European motorcyclists, who seem to have more leisure time (and by the looks of their bikes), apparently more liquid assets than I currently have.
I now have just over a year to plan, save, and acquire a larger, more comfortable long distance touring bike, to venture out west. Who is up for some transcontinental 2-wheelin'?
So, the seasonal cold weather threatens to hang around longer than your body's core temperature would like. Depending on where you reside in Canada, the evil Ninja twins, Win & Min (Winter and Motorcycle Insurance) conspire to settle in for their usual six-month, in-your-face mockery of all that is decent and warm.
Well, if I cannot ride my bike due to my seasonally challenged, geographic location north of the 49th parallel, then maybe I can offset some of the sub-zero doldrums by practicing how to rise above the weather; literally, figuratively and well....virtually.
Take a gander at the video clip below.
Disclaimer & Statement of Accountability: Any and all incorrectly described procedures or phraseology contained in this video, are my responsibility alone, and should not be construed as currently authentic in the real world. It has been a while since I actually flew as a Commercial pilot, (over 25 years), so rules and regulations have likely changed....not to mention any degradation in my actual knowledge, aptitude and skill level. Just sayin'.
Leather. Gasoline. Oil. Grease. Rubber. Asphalt. Two Wheels.
Essential Ingredients necessary to separate oneself from the mundane. Elements that allow for a unique sensory experience that most mortals will never become familiar with. Hmm...too grandiose or poetic? Or not descriptive enough?
After only seven seasons in the saddle as a motorcyclist, it is safe to say that I have only begun to scratch the surface of appreciating the full essence of this two-wheeled genre. There are those who have told their stories (myself included) of the freedom gained through this pastime; but I have come to discover that some have an unusual definition of freedom. No matter the length of time that has passed since the inception of this mode of transportation, there is always something guaranteed to be new and I daresay, unexpected, that arises to challenge our basic concept of logic and reason. Recently there have been a couple of news items pertaining to motorcyclists that caught my attention. The first item was related to a CNN News broadcast proclaiming "the truth" about the outlaw motorcycle club world.
A quote from the CNN article about the episode states:
...outlaw motorcycle clubs are not what law enforcement says they are. Sure, some might find the culture distasteful. But that does not mean outlaw motorcycle clubs are criminals. They are brotherhoods centered around motorcycling that refuse to not stand their ground…"
Now, to me, that kind of logic begins to expose shaky foundations. I am a motorcyclist, but at the same time I am NOT an outlaw, so forgive me if I am missing something here. Exactly how does one qualify the position of being a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang, yet at the same time declassify yourself from being a criminal? Outlaw and Criminal are not diametrically opposing descriptors under normal circumstances.
If you take the position of mainstream thinking (which the documentary apparently attempts to deconstruct), if your group is “illegal” in the eyes of the law, you are therefore criminally negligent if you actively support, or willingly take part in the functioning of that group. Basically, one does not have to be charged with a criminal offence before technically being tagged as a criminal. For a completely unbiased judgement, I would have to at least see the documentary to draw any further pertinent conclusions.
The next motorcycle related news item comes from Russia, and it too stretches the boundaries of logic (at least in my mind). It has to do with the alleged trend (if you believe at least one Canadian and several British Newspapers) of some women in Russia who ride motorcycles nearly naked. I use the term “nearly” loosely because that is the exact term one newspaper headline used to describe the lack of attire of the respective female(s). The term thong was used, but a more precise and altogether truthful facsimile would be dental floss.
It is not my desire to promote abject nonsense, but if so-called reputable (or rather well-known) newspapers, see fit to publish this type of stuff, I then feel it is incumbent to point out some obvious elements that even a 4 year old would easily understand.
The man has full gear on while his passenger is clothed in only a helmet (why even bother) and high heels.
The inevitable projectile stream of bugs, road debris etc at speed would surely increase the level of discomfort to any extra exposed skin.
The ambient temperature, regardless of the season would elicit goosebumps in varying degrees of...well let's just say Russia is not known to be naturally tropical.
Falling off the bike, even from a standstill will be most unpleasant. Well, let's be blunt...it would suck royally for the clothing-challenged Pillion.
Now as idiotic and elementally challenged these women are who do this, the driver of the motorbike is a hundred times more irresponsible and stupid. Not only is he selfish; egotistic, and a patented douche bag for even permitting such activity, he is beyond any sense of moral responsibility and maturity and should be thrown into whatever Gulag is still in operation in Russia.
Most people (i.e. men) will see this type of behaviour and have a good laugh and wink; thinking it is amusing or even sexy. The sad truth is our innate fibre (societal, moral, common sense, etc) has been so trashed, we fail to realize we have become inured to things like this.
Logic. Reason. Moral Accountability. These are now part of the new endangered species.
US Fed Reports About MC Structure http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-why-the-feds-are-worried-about-these-biker-gangs-20150518-htmlstory.html
Wiki Reference - Mongols MC https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongols_Motorcycle_Club
Image Sources http://www.madpac.nl/entertainment/sons-anarchy-seizoen-6/ https://plus.google.com/+RebelGirl/posts/VkabEqxKWSs
East coast girls are stylishly hip. Southern girls apparently have weaponized bootys. Mid-Western girls seem to have an inherent valium-induced calming effect, while northern girls seem to be very effective at warming their male companions with nothing but their lips.
It goes without saying that American Pop Culture of the early to mid-sixties infused (some would say irrevocably established), the sexually charged, female-objectification that flourishes to this day. The seemingly unpretentious and fun-filled rallying anthem of that time was the iconic, Beach Boys hit title, California Girls. In defence of those who grew up in that transformative era, how current 21st century men view and treat the opposite sex has not improved. The argument can be made that there has actually been an exponential regression in respectful attitudes toward women.
A stereotype in its most basic form is made up of two entities; the initiator and the initiate. Derived from the Greek words στερεός (stereos), “firm, solid” and τύπος (typos), “impression; thereby creating a “firm impression”. To create an impression, something of substance, an initiating object or force, has to be applied to a receiving surface or receptor. The surface tension, molecular structure, maturity level or mental capacity of the receiver of said impression, will dictate the acceptance or longevity of the force applied. So how or why did this stereotypical assault on women begin?
This particular Eve archetype, is a woman who happens to ride motorcycles. But let me first step back in time and set the stage. Eve first came on the scene in the Garden of Eden. Now ongoing debate and postulation continues as to where the exact location of Eden is purported to have been. General consensus places it somewhere near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Regardless of where the exact location was, it is fair to say it was someplace in the Middle East.
When Eve first enters earth’s physical plane, she is naked. Not ‘nekkid’, which is how the North American urban culture has redacted a woman’s true physical attributes of beauty. The familiar narrative relates that Eve was tempted with an apple. Without going into any ecumenical or doctrinal posturing, one critical and defining issue about this event not only relates to what Eve did, but more importantly, what Adam failed to do. He too was naked, when he willingly partook of the fruit offered to him by Eve. Later when questioned about it by his Creator, Adam passed the buck. He lied in an effort to save his own literal and figurative skin. By not manning up, his failure had a greater impact than anything Eve did.
Eve’s motorcycle is loud. The rumbling exhaust note at idle hints of unbridled power waiting to be unleashed. I am in awe and fascination as I watch Eve control a machine with a questionably legal power-to-weight ratio at her disposal. When she revs her bike into higher RPM ranges, those in possession of Y chromosomes who happen to be in her vicinity, quickly determine how secure they feel; or not. Some men find women who ride motorcycles unattractive, butch-like, or too manly. That may have more to do with the natural levels of confidence these women wield, as compared to the layers of insecurity some men harbour. There are non-riding women who think that way as well. But this again reveals an innate misconception that I believe is a result of our cultural indoctrination as to how women are generally perceived. Some outside of the riding culture, tend to have a subconscious belief that a leather-bound female rider has more testosterone than the average man; or less oestrogen than the average woman. The Photoshopped portrayal of a pouty-lipped bikini-clad model on the cover of Maxim magazine degenerates and objectifies with no less offensiveness than some motorcycle magazines do. Just initiate a Google search with two simple words; “Motorcycle Magazines”, and you will get the essence of which I speak.
Regardless of whether she rides a motorcycle or not, I do not want to take away Eve’s right to be feminine or proud of her sexuality. While it is impractical to be on a motorcycle as a rider (or passenger) dressed as if you just came from a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot (Daytona Bike Rallies notwithstanding), a woman is no less feminine or appealing for not dressing in ridiculously expensive lingerie. While this may sound contradictory to some women, I as a man, am no fool. The female body is a beautiful work of Divine Art; and being like most men, I tend to be visually cued. But if the full extent of a woman’s qualification for being appreciated is limited to her having an ample bust or hypnotic derriere, then like Adam, we have missed the mark and abdicated our responsibility as men.
It is high time men change not only the tone, but the context of conversation Eve has been longing to have with us.
Article image source (complied): http://goo.gl/IoLvGU
Earlier this month, national and international journalists weighed in with their impressions on the appointment of Mark Saunders, Toronto’s new Jamaican-Canadian Chief of Police. Given the multi-layered complexity and scope of responsibility of such an important and far reaching senior public-facing position for Canada’s most diverse and populous city, it goes without saying that the principals, Toronto’s Mayor and the Toronto Police Services Board, responsible for reaching the final decision for the new Chief’s appointment, were required to so with soberness, foresight and unanimity.
It is interesting to note that some of the Board members at first, maintained different stances on who should be the next Chief of Police; which in and of itself was nothing unusual. In fact it indicates an environment where differing ideas are allowed to be expressed. Afterwards, those who were questioned, stated their final decision was unanimous. If there were any reservations, none were publicly forthcoming.
The full spectrum of expectations, realistic and otherwise, will now come to bear on Chief Saunders from many directions; most likely all at once. His first and foremost concern will be the police officers under his direct charge. It is an unfortunate, yet forgone conclusion that some elements of the public do not trust, or have any love lost for the new Chief’s police force. This belief has been established partly through the graphic and unfortunate incidents between police and suspects that have been shown via the media. This influential perspective has also been augmented by the recent troubling police visuals south of the border. But let us not for a moment lose sight of the fact that a percentage of those who see Toronto’s police as the enemy, are part of the darker elements of our society that substantiate the very need for the existence of our police.
One can only imagine what it must be like being a member of a police force; not only the Toronto Police, but the OPP, RCMP, or any of the many Municipal detachments across Canada. Whether as a veteran of many years or a freshly minted recruit, the difficulties inherent in carrying out their responsibilities will always be compounded by the perceptions and expectations of the very public they are required to serve. In Chief Saunders’ case, he will have to navigate and balance the crucial course of effectively equipping, rebuilding and maintaining morale among his staff, while at the same time addressing such issues as the very real stigma of profiling, engendered through the current policy of Carding. He will have to deal with what is seen by some in the public as itinerant unchecked police abuse of power, while ensuring his police force operates at peak efficiency through strict rules of engagement, which are in place to keep both the public or even any alleged perpetrator as safe as possible. At first blush, with so many vested parties holding him under a microscope, the tasks that lay ahead are unquestionably daunting.
Another challenge to Chief Saunders will be giving a continual account of himself to those who have oversight over him; the Mayor of Toronto, the Toronto Police Services Board and yes, to a certain extent, the public at large. Every action, decision, or word that comes from his mouth will be literally held for public record and scrutiny. But the Chief should be fully aware of that, as it comes with the position.
Chief Saunders has inherited some potentially divisive responsibilities, and his qualifications certainly are not being called into question, but fulfilling his mandate as Chief of Police should not be about leaving a legacy for himself. More so, elements such as enabling opportunities which allow for the building of new foundations of community-based trust and interaction between the public and Toronto Police. At the same time, and of no less equal importance, ensuring his members have complete training and support; not only to carry out their assigned duties, but also for when those duties take their toll on them, physically and emotionally.
There will always be detractors when it comes to senior level appointments that inherently have a direct impact on the public. Let us at a minimum give opportunity for those newly appointed to positions of public trust, time to bring about necessary change. Yes, we can help by being diligent of their actions, or inactions, but more importantly, by being active with mature, supportive engagement as well.
Ever since that Tower of Babel incident way back in history, we of the human race have been engaged in diverse forms of racial, religious and socio-economic one-upmanship. Some subtle, some overt.
The perennial question: why is race is such a lightning rod? In the USA, it has been debated ad-infinitum and unfortunately may not be answered for yet another generation. One would expect more mature, reasoned thinking and acceptance of this unavoidable and patently obvious fact; we are all interwoven with DNA strands that distinguish (all of) us as being from the same human race. Apparently some individuals beg to differ.
One notable case in point. Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in 2014. Her plan was to follow her family tradition in medicine and become a cardiologist. She also happens to be of East Indian descent. Interestingly there are those who have chosen to denigrate her based on culture, but somehow adroitly miss the substantive fact that she is highly intelligent and was born in the USA. One online writer (The Thinking Housewife) even stated that because of Ms. Davulri’s appreciation and promotion of diversity in the pageant, that must mean “…she is proud that she is not a white American.”
In a word….."Wow!"
In North America, certain "official" elements of authority, admit to profiling whole people groups, mainly because they “look the part”. All this in an inane attempt at fostering public security. This unfortunate response has been adopted by hate-filled, ideologically stunted individuals; arguably, those with less officious mindsets. They categorize people out of fear, and by doing so, culturally castigate them out of ignorance. This not only diminishes a person's humanity; it strips us all of human dignity.
Here in Canada, racial issues are no less real and can appear to be less in-your-face; at least in contrast to our neighbours south of the 49th parallel. Yes, I am aware many in Canada have been, and continue to be, on the receiving end of overt expressions of racism. While that may be an uncomfortable truth to digest, at times I wonder if subtler forms of racial intolerance are more insidious than those that usually motivate a person to go eyeball to eyeball with identifiable, intractable narrow-mindedness.
February has been set aside as Black History month. Ostensibly to celebrate and honour the achievements of those past and present who have an African ancestral line. While I applaud the intent of the accorded honour, there are those who wonder if it really accomplishes what it sets out to do. Some argue that it is just a method to assuage any latent colonial guilt of the majority who oversaw unfortunate things like the early African Slave Trade, or legal segregation, (schools, public transport etc). There will always be those who look with disdain, suspicion, or outright hostility on certain indigenous, cultural, or religious groups, without having one lick of understanding about who they are, or what their life is like.
This year will mark my 37th year in Canada after emigrating from Jamaica in the West Indies. I left a country where I was in the majority. Arriving in Canada, I attained minority status. I was still the same 16 year old who left Jamaica, wide-eyed and fascinated; eager to embrace a new culture, but a 3.5 hour flight adjusted my geolocation sufficiently to render me "different" in the eyes of some. Thankfully I had parents who had grounded me in the realities of life. I was taught that not everyone would accept, or in some cases even acknowledge me. Solely based on the fact that I did not have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to travel to destinations to acquire a tan, which would eventually fade 2 weeks after returning. But if truth be told, I have had way more good than bad happen while living in Canada.
While I am grateful for the country of my birth, proud and not ashamed of my heritage, Canada, of which I am a citizen, is my home. My French Canadian wife and I have taught our (now adult) children that character traits such as integrity, compassion, forgiveness, courage, among others, go a long way in defining who they are. External differences such as skin colour, hair type; the shape of your nose or lips, among other readily recognized physical features that differentiate the global populace, also affirms and promotes what I like to refer to as the “unique cohesiveness of diversity”.
I pray that February is not a once-a-year crutch for some to appease guilt; or others to foster guilt, by always throwing the racial horrors of the past into our faces. While I will always advocate the need to remember history, let us seriously try to learn from it; by not staying in the past, but embracing the future with all people groups, so that our next generation will take up the mantle of inclusiveness and acceptance with more understanding and awareness than their predecessors.
Arabian & Jewish Children - Image sourced from zazzle.com.
Images of Nina Davuluri sourced from her Twitter Page & PageantProfessors.com
Family image - mine
A few days ago, I was listening to a CBC television newscast showcasing a young Quebec filmmaker by the name of Xavier Dolan. This admittedly young, brash, yet gifted filmmaker, has been dubbed The Québécois L'Enfant Terrible. After all, where does a fresh-faced 25-year-old, get off winning the prestigious Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his just released film Mommy?
Decades-old, entrenched filmmakers of his genre, have continually looked down their noses at such young up and coming unorthodox filmmakers. Breaking stereotypes, and shattering molds, seems to be the new normal; as far as new, talented Quebec filmmakers are concerned anyway.
So what does this have to do with bikers? Well, in my opinion, everything.
A stereotype, once dissected and laid bare, usually verifies its own definition. A descriptive aberration of the oversimplification of a partial truth. The unfortunate and widely held mystique of the "biker" promotes the image of a 'rebel without a cause'; individuals with apparent dysfunctional, untrustworthy attitudes, borne out of seemingly rebellious natures, replete with a radical death wish predisposition. While there are unsavoury, immature individuals who utilize motorcycles, that does not necessarily translate into all participants of this two-wheeled genre being poster children for the Hells Angels. An unfortunate side effect of all this is that the culture becomes inundated with misinterpretation and preconceived notions from within and without.
These attitudes are also pervasive within the subculture itself. If you ride a cruiser you may not necessarily look on with favour, those who do not ride that type of motorcycle. Or if you do not subscribe to the "Sons of Anarchy" mentality, even in pretense (which has its own inherent and dangerous traps) then you are catalogued and classified as an outsider; or a biker 'wannabe'. If you missed the irony in that last statement, that would be akin to you not seeing a screaming naked person running in circles around you as you tried to order coffee in a Tim Hortons check out line. Just saying :). I know of which I speak, because I have been on the receiving end of that kind of short-sighted thinking several times over.
Let's be honest, we all unfortunately maintain some level of prejudice or bias based upon our preconceived notions of how things should or should not be, along with our likes and dislikes. These preconceptions have come about through our upbringing, our environment, and from things that have made an impact on us, whether for good or for ill. What we do about that type of thinking and how we comport ourselves (as individuals first; bikers second) moving forward, is the question we should be asking ourselves.
With that said, I have a confession to make.
When dealing with idiotic twits (are there any other kinds?), there have been times when I have said to myself, why bother? Why wrestle with those whose thought processes are intractable, narrow-minded, or self-serving? Why acknowledge them? Why give them the time of day? Then I am reminded that I too am a part of this whole global culture. I make up a part of the human race. No matter what or how I think, I cannot extract myself from the people of this planet. Yes, I will disagree with some of their ideas, or ways of doing things, but I am a part of the whole. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact I believe it has great intrinsic value. It means I not only have the opportunity, but the right to offer something of value back to the community. Why should I be robbed of the opportunity to promote something good or worthwhile, because of someone else's insecurities?
The Canadian Motorcycle Cruisers Social Riding Club effectively stretches between Canada's east and west coasts. It consists of individuals in different provinces and cities with different types of motorcycles from different walks of life with different ways of thinking. Some look as if they eat nails for breakfast and dress the part accordingly, but in truth are the most gentle, kind, grandparents, doctors, teachers, pharmacists, mechanics, electricians among others, you could ever meet; while others look as if they have just stepped off the covers of GQ or Cosmopolitan magazines, but may not seem immediately warm and friendly. The point is if you judge a book by its cover, you risk losing the opportunity of discovering the value of the content within. The CMC has an underlying and refreshingly realistic mandate; you may not be able to make friends with everyone, but at a minimum show respect to everyone and hopefully you should expect the same in return. Essentially we are a microcosm of humanity who just happen to have a thing for motorcycles.
My association with the CMC began in July 2008, with a small chapter, in a small town, in a rural county in Southwest Ontario. Through that initial association I volunteered to become one of the maintainers and official coordinator of our national online forum. So I've had some time to witness the evolution of our riding club as it has progressed over the years I have been a part of it. Attitudes change, people come and go and yes, there been times when I thought about not being a part of CMC. The encouraging thing is that you're allowed to think that way. You're not mandated to be here permanently. You're free to come and go. If it is not enjoyable anymore you are not constrained to stay. You prioritize what is of value for you. Your family comes first. Your health comes first. Your job comes first. Your lifestyle comes first.
Something that was of great assistance in helping me during a period when I was feeling a bit disillusioned about my role or value in CMC, (only as far as I was concerned), was when I met George. George is one of the friendliest, most unassuming, jovial, characters you will ever meet. George unfortunately had to have one of his legs amputated a few years ago, but that is not stopped him from participating in rides and meet ups as a new member in our local chapter. George's best friend and confidant, also joined our chapter recently and the two are inseparable. You see George rides in his friend's sidecar which his friend built just for him.
Also George happens to be an English Bulldog. Seriously.
I cannot quite put my finger on it but, Sir George and his friend/master brought something unique and special to our meetings and rides. Yes he is quite the 'Babe Magnet', (George that is) but beyond that, both of them have engendered a new sense of cohesiveness to our small chapter. They, as well as recent new members to our chapter, have demolished myths and reestablished a fresh camaraderie among the chapter members. It's little things like this that help when we need to reevaluate our own lives, not just as bikers, but individuals who have to face life with it's inherent struggles on a daily basis.
We may ride motorcycles and maybe even look as if we just stepped off of some 14th-century Viking ship with body parts studded with metal, or wear strange helmets reminiscent of some post apocalyptic era, but beneath the leather and iron-mongering, we all have dreams and desires for our lives just like anyone else.
Image Source - Reddit - https://www.reddit.com/r/motorcycles/comments/2x27xj/bought_a_gopro_this_week_never_going_back/
In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow...I am havin' a thought. The thought being I have a hankerin' to upgrade my ride.
I know the process involved will take some time and extended research, so I figured I would start with the keepers of intimate knowledge on the subject - The CMC Family!
While I am still quite open to other choices, I have narrowed it down to 3. All look different. All ride differently. Certainly all are built differently; and most assuredly all come with different price tags.
My initial selection involves new bikes. Some of you will be gearing up to let me know that buying new is not necessarily the way to go. Yes, I hear what you are about to say, and to be honest, I am in agreement with most of the salient reasons you have yet to voice. But I consider these choices part Bucket/Wish List. Also part reality check; which time and again tends to smack you upside the head if you go off with unrealistic expectations. Do not get me wrong; it’s not as if I would never get a used bike, it’s just that these are the ones that seem to have my attention at the present time.
There are valid reasons, but first, a bit of a preamble.
I currently own a 2008 Suzuki GSX650F which was purchased new. It also happens to be the first, and so far, only bike I have ever owned. Prior to that I only ever rode on a Honda 750 Shadow that a very trusting friend allowed me to practice on before taking the M2 exit course back then.
So why did I choose this particular bike as my first bike? At the time I used The 4 C’s of Practicality (at least to me). Cost. Confidence. Comfort. Choice.
This turned out to be financially manageable (ie under $8000) for a new bike of this CC class. Yes a second hand bike would seem the most ideal for a brand new rider; especially if you were going to “outgrow” it to move on and upwards to another model. But I did a fair amount of research into this particular model and it has proven to be very reliable, as I am entering my 7th riding season with it.
Some would say that is crazy talk. Confidence for a new rider on what for all intents and purposes is a Sport Bike? Let’s back up a tad. Up to the point of me purchasing this particular bike, my experience level was mainly on the aforementioned Honda 750 Shadow. A user friendly, no surprises choice. The thing is I was slightly unnerved as a new rider in the way it turned. This mainly had to do with my height and length of legs. I felt compressed on the bike. No fault of the bike to be sure, but having since ridden the Suzuki, my confidence level has increased exponentially, to the point that I have ridden other cruisers and larger CC bikes without issues. I was able to acquire invaluable reference points on the handling and turning of the different types of bikes.
Very few could argue that most bikes can match the comfort level of a Honda Goldwing 1800. Where then do I get the audacity to even remotely intimate that a Sport Touring bike is comfortable? My view is that your comfort level should not only be limited to the plush quotient of the component supporting your heinie. The aforementioned confidence level again comes into play. The more confident you are on your bike, the more comfortable you will be in all aspects of its use. Yes, after a certain age, the nooks, crannies and associated body joints, do begin to protest; especially if your posture and poise do not allow for a relaxed, pain-free ride. At some point you begin to reassess where the perfect balance of comfort begins and where it ends. This then leads to:
I tend to go back and forth with this one. Sometimes I think I should have placed this first on the list, but all of the aforementioned seem to encompass your choice of ride. Does the styling of the bike evoke any form of excitement or wanderlust? Does the mystique or iconic nature of a particular brand call your name and dispel some of life's mundane trappings? Whatever grabs you about a particular bike can reveal on a deep level, that which stirs your soul; and that in turn can be quite telling about you as an individual.
This grand adventure not only encompasses the opportunity to heed the call of the open road on two (or for some, three) wheels; it also is coupled with the decision processes involved when making an informed (or emotional) choice about the style of ride to acquire.
So this brings me to my current choices in no particular order. Ok maybe a little bit of ordering The plan is to upgrade my ride to a long distance touring bike. No particular timeframe is set to have this completed, but the baser instinctual side of me would of course like it for next week. Common sense, economic prudence and the Missus have partnered to ensure I do not go off the rails! So here are a few mitigating factors that hopefully will validate my reasoning:
My Needs vs Her Needs
The next ride is not just about me. It has to encompass my better half with a high degree of comfort and safety. That includes not only the seat/backrest, but any inherent safety feature or component that translates into increased confidence, not only for me but for her. This could optionally include adjustable suspension, traction control or ABS brakes.
Range & Carrying Capacity
This is for 2-Up long distance riding with luggage. The bike has to accommodate my 6 foot frame with good centre of gravity and retain sufficient storage capacity with good fuel capacity and efficiency (minimum 380km between fill ups)
Easy Access to Dealer or 3rd Party Maintenance
I may have flown planes and even studied how to fix them (way back when) but I do not lay any claim to being a motorcycle mechanic. I am looking for as maintenance free (eg shaft drive) a bike as is possible. When I do need regular or emergency maintenance, there needs to be a very good chain of bike dealers or mechanics readily accessible, regardless of where I find myself in North America. I can take care of the oil changes and other minor things myself.
The Chosen Few (Thus Far)
Taking a verse from Sesame Street and totally mangling it: All of these things is not like the other; yet one of these things definitely belong....to me! Just click on the thumbnails below to get a larger image. Yes, I fully expect jaws to be a flapping once you take in the selections below, but seriously folks, I would value your cogent observations, suggestions and recommendations.
Nervously, I watched him stride with grim intent towards me; a huge holstered firearm fastened to his right hip and a look of pure disgust and indignation written on his face. As he came up to me, any preconceived notions of me owning personal space was totally obliterated!
24 hours earlier….
Excitement started to build once I found out I would be introduced to cross-border flight procedures. My flight instructor at the university I attended at the time, was going to take a couple of his students from Langley, British Columbia into Washington State, in order to teach not only advanced flight navigation, but the differences between U.S. & Canadian flight and ground operations. The main intent was to acquire the skills and knowledge required to safely traverse from Canadian to U.S. Airspace and land there; ostensibly without initiating a cross-border war.
We had flown many times into U.S. Airspace, but had never before landed an aircraft on U.S. soil, since we always returned to a Canadian airport. So we began to prepare for the upcoming flight. This was back in the days when passports were optional, so a federally issued commercial pilots licence sufficed.
Preparing for any flight requires a significant level of commitment and attention to detail. Planning a flight into what was effectively a foreign country, even more so. You had to let them know you were coming at a minimum 24-48 hours in advance; in what type of aircraft; along with a complete passenger manifest. All aircraft airworthiness logs and of course your pilot’s licence had to be up to date. On top of that, you had to compile a flight plan detailing your proposed route, and that was dictated by a thorough review and dissemination of meteorological data along your intended route of flight.
After all that, you had to file your flight plan in advance in order to get it into the Air Traffic Control system. Then on the actual day of the flight, you are required to complete a full pre-flight inspection of your aircraft, checking for leaks, anomalies, or other things that could physically impede or affect your aircraft, on the ground or in flight.
So on that day when all pre-flight forms, transmissions, checks and the weather cooperated to actually allow me to fling myself skyward, we ventured south into the U.S. and hopped throughout the San Juan islands into airports with exotic names such as Anacortes, Samish, Guemes, Sandovi and Fidalgo. Names that sounded more at home in Puerto Rico than the State of Washington. We then looped back into Canada via Victoria to clear Canadian customs before heading back to home base in Langley in the Lower Mainland.
24 hours later….
With the previous day’s flight still fresh in my mind, as part of my training, I was required to complete the same flight solo. I was permitted one passenger who was not a pilot. So I asked one of my friends and she agreed to go along for the day’s adventure. With flight prep out of the way and round trip flight plan already filed I once again headed south.
Things started to get interesting after being handed off to Washington’s Air Traffic Control. My initial visual flight planned altitude was for 5500ft, but given the penchant for inclement weather to rapidly form on the west coast, while enroute I was forced to request a lower altitude below the 3000 foot cloud deck that I swear was not there a minute before. Our first destination was Bellingham International to clear customs. We were vectored toward the airport and once given clearance we landed and taxied to the area where itinerant pilots clear customs.
Because of the requirement to file a flight plan and set up customs notification ahead of time, a U.S Customs Agent will normally be aware of any foreign private aircraft arriving at a U.S. airport. So when I parked in the designated spot, I did not expect a long wait. After 15 minutes we started to get antsy. 35 minutes after putting the parking brakes on, worry began to set in. When 50 minutes ticked over, I decided to venture forth from the aircraft to the Customs building approximately 100 metres from the plane.
I had not taken two steps toward the Customs building when an agent emerged and started towards my plane. Nervously, I watched him stride with grim intent towards me; a huge holstered firearm fastened to his right hip and a look of pure disgust and indignation written on his face. As he came up to me, any preconceived notions of me owning personal space was totally obliterated!
To say this guy was angry would be the ultimate understatement; and initially somewhat puzzling. He wasted no time in getting all up in my face; then proceeded to climb up one side of me and then down the other; excavating and then demolishing any sense of well-being that I may have had. After he shouted at me for what seemed like 10 minutes, he asked to see my flight documents as well as my passenger’s. Unfortunately, I also made the mistake of forgetting to ensure that my passenger’s birthdate was filled in the proper place on the form. This then provided another opportunity for the agent to initiate a rain dance; possibly in the hopes that it hid his power-tripping insecurities.
Here is the deal. Back then, pilots of arriving private aircraft were required to remain in the aircraft. The Customs Agent comes out to meet them. Given that I had landed an hour earlier and had not been met by anyone, I assumed that Customs had not received notification of my arrival for whatever reason. Yes, I knew the rules stated I should not have left the aircraft, but hey, what happened, happened.
Now for the real kicker. This was the same Customs Agent that had cleared my aircraft not less than 24 hours earlier, along with my flight instructor, myself and two other students. He most certainly knew who I was. He was well aware of the fact that I was a student in training. He most certainly know the aircraft registration. Needless to say, his demeanour was polar opposite from the previous day
I was 24 years old at the time, and I was no fool. It did not take much to ascertain that he had an issue with anyone with a naturally deep tan being allowed to operate an aircraft, much less having the audacity of landing it in his back yard. It would not be the last time that I encountered such a scenario.
Well after being thoroughly put through an emotional wringer, I still had several stops to make throughout the State, before safely returning my passenger to Canadian airspace. When we finally landed in Victoria to clear Canadian customs, having been sufficiently chastened, I was determined to stay put; no matter how long the agent took. But as I taxied up to my designated parking spot, I noticed someone leaning out of the terminal building’s doorway leading to the Customs area. He was waving me to come inside.
I am now thinking, fool me once….but he persisted and after shutting down the aircraft, both my friend and I stepped out of the plane fully expecting to be shot on sight. When we did get inside and produced our documents, we got this:
A Customs Agent in a T-shirt and not so much as a pea shooter in sight!
Customs Agent: "Howzit goin’ eh?”
Me: “Fine.” I lied
Customs Agent: "Been hoppin’ the islands again?"
Me: Yes sir.
Customs Agent: "Anything to declare?"
Me: (Thinking: Yes…there be whack jobs south of the border) "Ah..no sir."
Customs Agent: "Alrighty then…have yer’selves a safe flight back to the mainland!"
Oh how I love Canada!
So, here in Ontario, we are just 5 degrees away from breaching the 0C temperature threshold. It has been what, 4 to 5 weeks since we were above that level? While I will say most anything to massage my state of denial, it’s way past the time when a man’s (or woman’s) heart turns to that old standby…envisioning being on the open road on two wheels.
There are only so many winter-encased bike shows (approximately 2 per year in Toronto & Ottawa) wherein you can fawn and drool over machines that stir the soul. Even more sad is after carting home bags full of new bike brochures from dealers along with pamphlets from motorcycle tour companies, after the bike show ends, you rush home and lock yourself in a dark room, watching videos on YouTube about the bikes you just sat on, less than 2 hours prior; like some deviant outcast of society.
I am embarrassed to say that I seem to be developing a love-hate relationship with the purveyors of online motorcycle video reviews; those who post video exposés of their seemingly always-new motorcycles. These individuals always seem to live and ride in such exotic places as Tahiti or Hawaii; or at a minimum, someplace with an annual mean temperature that would allow for palm trees to grow in Canada on a year-round basis. I assuage my guilt by blaming Winter.
Another thing; where on earth do they find the time and means to go galavanting on 4 week Adventure Rides, touring Europe, or blasting along some Amazonian trail seemingly at will? You would need to be either independently wealthy, or single, or devoid of offspring. Most likely all of the above. I have a mortgage and have to pay bills. In order to accommodate these pseudo-involuntary wallet-leeching endeavours, I have to work! Ahh...if truth be told, I am submitting (slightly) to envy. I even have friends and associates who actually tour the world's continents on their motorcycles for a living. (Ok, maybe I am more than slighty envious)
I am thankful about one thing though...the current ride is paid off. So, until Summer tells Spring to grow a pair and dethrone Winter’s insolence, I will have to live (and ride) vicariously through YouTube.
Oh the shame of it all!
Grizzz brought up a very important topic in one of his recent Blog posts - New Blood - http://www.cmcnational.ca/index.php?/blog/10/entry-29-new-blood/ - pertaining to the issue of waning membership in the CMC.
I would like to submit a few thoughts of my own on his insightful piece.
I am sure it is the general perception (in and out of the CMC), that I ride a “Crotch Rocket”. Maybe I am just slightly oversensitive, as I tend to lean towards the politically correct left, by refuting the aforementioned notion in saying that I ride a "Sport Touring" bike. My ride does not force me into a position that looks as if I am humping it in order to make it go faster. Granted, the lines of my bike at first glance, (ok, and maybe the second), may convince one otherwise, but my handlebars are positioned upright; thereby saving me the indignity of looking as if I am taking a high velocity crap.
Tongue-in-cheekiness aside, (my true Crotch Rocket friends know I jest), one of our stated Club mandates, vociferously argues that ALL makes and models of bikes are welcome; and I will continually and ardently defend that CMC position. But we are all a product of our environment and the associated influences in said environs will lend itself to how we make choices in life. Whether we like to admit it or not, individual style preference does (and should) matter to us on some level.
So back to the underlying question raised by Grizzz. How do we attract new and younger riders? Well, for myself, prior to joining CMC, I had never owned a motorcycle. I was not particularly “young” when I first got my bike after joining CMC, and that was 6 years ago. I am now 52. But what attracted me was not the prevalent types of bikes (Cruisers) that were in attendance, but the people that rode them. They shared their passion not only for riding, but the community that it fostered. They did not care that I never owned a bike or what type I would eventually get; but were willing to welcome me into their family anyway.
So then, are we willing to get (and yes even feel) awkward by stepping outside of our comfort zones in attempting to demonstrate inclusiveness to those types who we think may not fit with the CMC? Yes, even the reckless, inconsiderate individuals who give a bad name to all riders? In my estimation, they are the ones who most need “mature” experienced riders to set an example; first by totally freaking them out by actually talking with them, rather than down to them; and then offering the hand of friendship through invitation to come and see what we are all about. All of this in the hope that they may learn from our combined experience and in turn, give something positive back to the motorcycling community.
Not all will respond, but never forget, all of us at one time were inexperienced and had lower maturity levels. We all have latent preconceived notions that are overdue for a Spring cleaning. That truth alone dictates that we need to strive for a continual blood transfusion to eradicate "old blood" thought processes.
Those who know me well, are all too aware of the fact that I have a thing for all things aeronautical.
In times past and in another era when I was flush with testosterone, and with little guidance as to what to do with such a virulent chemical coursing through my veins, I somehow convinced the Government of Canada to legally certify me to slip the surly bonds of earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings. The fact that I was officially sanctioned to strap on thousands of pounds of metal, rubber and aviation gasoline at will and then bodaciously launch said contraption skyward in defiance of gravity, still amazes me today.
It all started at conception. Mine that is. Well, that is how I have come to romanticize it. Apparently I entered life's centre stage during a time when my mother worked in the Air Traffic Control system in Jamaica. That in itself I find more than interesting, as I too ended up working in the Canadian Air Traffic Control system in my later years. I have no idea if it had anything to do with latent avgas fumes, or if the principles of jet propulsion, suck - squeeze - bang - blow (intake - compression - ignition - exhaust) had anything to do with it.
I have had some interesting adventures during my initial flight training days; some thrilling and some scary. My training took place on the west coast of Canada all throughout the mountains of British Columbia. There is nothing like waking up to a bright sunlit morning, heading down to the local airport to preflight your aircraft for a jaunt up the coast, or a hop over the channel to land on the beach in Tofino on Vancouver Island’s Pacific-facing coast.…something that will probably get me arrested should I attempt that now. I have adjusted somewhat, my adventurous spirit to now accommodate motorcycles. While I may not find myself airborne as much as I once did, (an admittedly life-limiting move if hanging on to a motorcycle), I nonetheless still relish the opportunity of being out in nature’s element. Some of my riding compatriots favour headgear that allows for the steady pitter-patter of insects against their grinning facade. Me? I am allergic to all forms of pain-inducing stimuli and therefore tenaciously hide behind a full-face helmet.
Riding a motorcycle for me is akin to controlling an aircraft in many ways. One aspect of these two modes of transportation that always registers with me is the freedom I experience. On the one hand, one provides the opportunity to actually take a machine and manipulate all associated parts working in concert to enable it to leave terra firma and then facilitate its return to earth. Hopefully with the ability to walk away with a smile. Or in the colloquial vernacular of anyone living west of Manitoba, a sh*t eatin’ grin!
On a motorcycle, the same hormonal responses are initialized. To a non-rider, anyone who voluntarily straddles a piece of equipment with sufficient power to weight ratio to threaten dislocation of arms from shoulders, needs to have their cerebrum analyzed. But there is an element that is too often missed with that sort of thinking. The assumption is made that those who ride are reckless thrill seekers without a modicum of sense about what they are doing. There is another name for that. Profiling.
A motorcyclist needs to be acutely aware of his or her surroundings, at all times, given that we are more exposed than those sheltered in 4-wheeled vehicles. The freedom of being able to control this type of vehicle while absorbing the enjoyable sensory perceptions of the environment at any given moment, requires our level of responsibility to be directly proportional to the power band at our disposal. It is not something to be trifled with. So, whether I am intercepting high altitude jet airways over Wyoming's Crazy Woman navigational beacon, or navigating twisty mountain roads at ground level through Spuzzum British Columbia, the focus is always freedom and fun tempered (nay, mandated) by safety.
The passion of freedom that battles life’s drudgery, never fades on a motorcycle.
As a warmup to the premier of the Why We Ride Film scheduled for Feb 8th in Uxbridge ON, here are a few clips to get your juices flowing and to shove you even further into a state of denial concerning our beautiful country's current frigid weather.
They were not taken from the film, but they represent three widely recognized motorcycling styles - Cruiser - Sport - Adventure. They were selected for their professional quality and they showcase top tier motorcycles in their respective sub-genres. None are meant to advocate one style of riding, or type of bike over another.
Off Road Adventure / Laos
Cruiser Lifestyle / Daytona - Parts 1, 2 & 3
Sport Fever / Isle of Man TT
Reminder & Disclaimer
Remember, CMC’s mandate welcomes all types of motorcycles, however riding safety is of primary importance, and the guidelines for membership and participation in this club include the adherence to all Canadian Federal & Provincial Highway Traffic Acts and associated rules of the road.
Also note that the above video clips are not the property of CMC, but have been collated from various YouTube sources. As such, please be aware of the following:
The CMC does not necessarily advocate the demonstrated use of the vehicles contained in the videos, or necessarily promote the views, opinions and attitudes of the individuals portrayed.
Please also be aware that certain demonstrations depicted in the video clips were completed under controlled conditions by professionally trained riders; and some conditions were, well....just plain nuts! All the more reason not to attempt some of what the clips show at home...or anywhere else for that matter.
I am often amazed at the quality of rendered custom motorcycle artwork showcased by talented artists. I also find it equally intriguing that the majority of representative themes created, for the most part tend toward the dark or macabre. Dead Heads, skeletons, and copious amounts of unusual creatures from the underworld, all seem to have principal sway in their portfolios. Granted while these depictions are usually extremely detailed and in a lot of cases, quite lifelike, I have often wondered about the influential sources of inspiration for designing them in the first place.
I do not mean to disparage the obvious talents of the aforementioned creative individuals, but the ingrained societal stereotypes that are attributed to motorcyclists and their rides, only get more entrenched when an unsuspecting, non-riding person, comes face to face with something that could easily have followed Meatloaf's iconic Bat Out of Hell. Conversely, any self-respecting bat-loving biker would probably argue that creating a Tinkerbell-themed airbrush rendering, does not lend itself to showcasing a bad-ass looking bike. I guess the fear may be that it would take away from any real or perceived mystique.
At the risk of sounding too philosophical, the fabric of passion that is motorcycling, can in some small part, weave itself into the canvas of life. Tastes will differ, since all of us have our preferences. Whether you ride a cruiser or a sport bike; wear chaps or a full leather body suit, our individual differences and choices, can either enhance or detract from (your own, or any) person's perceptual experience as it pertains to this chosen two-wheeled culture.
For me, I enjoy diversity. While I may not share your particular preference or predilection for a certain style of bike or riding attire, I thoroughly enjoy the fact that I get to engage with you, and learn about something that gives you a sense of motivating identity. If it were up to me (meaning if I could afford it), I would have a cruiser for the laid back riding style; a sport bike for aggressively leaning into curves, and a dual purpose/adventure bike, for those days when I feel like taking the road less travelled.
The thing is, the older I get, the more I am learning to appreciate the differences that give meaning to life's adventure. Especially those things that challenge established preconceived notions and the perpetual creep of the status quo.
December 31st - The last day of 2013, signalling the end of another year. Some of us have just had their electricity turned back on after almost a full week of weather related outages in the GTA and Southern Ontario region.
It sucks being cold. I am not just saying this because I hail from a tropical island (ok, maybe a little), but having chosen to live in Canada, it is incumbent on me not to give into complaining. After all, Canada is a fantastic place to live and get connected on all sorts of levels!
Our country offers freedoms and opportunities that all of us have taken for granted at one time or another. But I want to focus on one aspect of Canadian priviledge that we seldom seem to consider.
Just being Canadian.
Sure, many have tried to qualify and quantify what it means to be Canadian, but have we taken the time to realize that it's the sum of the parts of who we are; where we live; what we do; that make up the whole of our identity?
I had mentioned in a previous post that the CMC is a microcosm of Canada; sort of a two-wheeled diorama of leather-clad individuals, that somehow lends itself to defining who we are collectively and individually. These are just my impressions of course, and in no way should be construed as representing the majority of the collective CMC thinking.
Here are a just few elements of individuality that makes CMC so unique; and I daresay, so Canadian:
Shoe’s (Glenn) trucking photos of his cross-border travels. Canadiana at its finest.
CenCom’s (Mary) faithful birthday greetings. CMC’s Loving Grandma for sure
Trixie’s (Amanda) courageous discourse on Aspergers Syndrome and how it affects her family. Also her penchant for jumping on the Choo Shoe train with stops at Louboutin, Vuitton and Blahnik
Baby Jack’s (Jacqui) skillful care and passionate commitment to our environment and food sources.
Grizzz (Mike) - one of CMC’s west coast Regional Officers who single-mindedly juggles work and home life, while at the same time demonstrating unique cheerleading characteristics of leadership on the forum.
Fireden (Dennis) - our National Officer who brings balance to the force of personalities that make up the living CMC organism.
Irma - our Membership Coordinator who is the first contact and introduction to CMC for all new members. She would probably say otherwise, but look up CMC in the dictionary and you will see a picture of Irma.
Ron’s (Morissette) excellent representation via video and radio on what CMC is all about.
There are many more like those mentioned above. All of you, yes even those with differing opinions, share in the common values that make us CMC Members. Whether we ride or just have a passion for motorcycles; what is important are the people who make up our Trans-Canadian community.
My prayer for 2014 is that we learn from our mistakes; we become stronger in spite of our differences and we demonstrate what it means to unconditionally accept each other; yes, with imperfections, idiosyncrasies and all.
Isn't that what family is all about?
Well I have somehow deluded myself into thinking that I can write a novel. Time will tell I guess.
Below is an excerpt from a chapter in my manuscript (historical fiction no less - whatever was I thinking?) that I have been plodding along with for over a year. Have a read, but go easy on the newbie writer!
He stood a short distance from the cross where a young man hung dying. He did not know his name, but knew that he had been found guilty of treason and therefore was summarily sentenced to death. It was all too easy to be charged with treason in Roman occupied territory. Ridiculously easy; and Judea was no less so than in Rome itself.
As First Javelin Designate, Darius Vitus Tacitus was the Chief Centurion under the banner of Caesar Agustus’ 1st Imperial Calvary; arguably the most battle hardened Legion in all of the Roman Empire. Initially Darius thought the deployment of an entire compliment of 6000 seasoned troops to this backwoods piece of land was overkill; but time spent here had proven otherwise. Almost three years ago, he had received orders from Rome to march from Caesarea, their headquarters on the Mediterranean coast, to Judea; ostensibly to maintain law and order, due to rampant insurrections within the Judean borders.
The additional responsibility for carrying out the decrees of punishment for convicted criminals also rested with his detachment. It was unpleasant business; not that he was in any way squeamish. He had risen through the ranks of the Legionnaires as a lowly foot soldier, surviving countless brutal and bloody campaigns on diverse fronts to get to his current position as an Imperial Roman Officer. No, the distaste he felt was borne out of the fact that he was trained as a warrior. His skills were wasted as an executioner. Where was the honour in that? He had lost count a long time ago of how many crucifixions he had overseen. Since being assigned to the Garrison at Jerusalem these past three years, Pontius Pilate had kept them busy by greasing his unchecked lust for power and dominance with the blood of these people.
He had just given permission for the convicted man’s family, consisting of an older woman, and one young man, to stand close by for his last moments. He looked up at the man on the cross, more of a boy than a man, thought Darius, and felt a mixture of sorrow, and no small amount of anger. Sorrow at the loss of another wasted young life. Anger because for the life of him, he could not see how he could make a lasting difference in this wretched land. A land whose people, against all reason, he had grudgingly begun to love.
As he gazed up at the dying boy, Darius came to a decision. Later in retrospect, he would likely consider his action rash, but watching the grieving family members suffering while a loved one died in such a horrible manner before them, prompted him to act. He walked over to the man and woman, gesturing for them to follow him a few paces beyond the hearing of the guards he had stationed around the cross.
They followed him tentatively. The look of misery etched on their faces, compounded by the constant undercurrent of fear most of the local population had for the occupying Romans. He easily read the questioning suspicion on their faces as he turned to face them.
“I know you will not like what I am about to say,” Darius said bluntly, getting straight to the point. He was not one to quibble. “But I feel compelled to at least offer an option to you. The boy may die shortly, or linger for hours. I know it will soon be the start of your people’s Sabbath, but I would rather not order his legs broken to hasten his death. You do not want to witness what he will go through if it comes to that.”
He paused, and continued in a softer tone;
“If you wish, I can offer him a quick end to his suffering, but I would prefer you not be a witness to that either.”
Their haunted expressions spoke volumes and he did not think their faces could become any more stricken. He looked up and noticed his men furtively watching him from where they stood. Why am I doing this? This may not have been one of my better ideas.
“You are a Roman soldier,” responded the old woman with tears streaming down her face. “What prompted you to suggest such a thing to us? What profit is there in this for you?”
Darius blinked in surprise at the old woman’s quiet directness. Truthfully, he was not altogether sure himself what moved him to make such an offer. He had seen numerous scenarios of families watching loved ones executed. Looking into her face, he uncharacteristically felt only heightened respect for her; even more unexpectedly, he thought he felt the same, from her in return; albeit in a limited fashion. He glanced at the younger man beside her; who although obviously nervous, summoned enough fire in his eyes to radiate hatred at him. Despite the circumstances, Darius appreciated the man’s courage. He had known very few with the fortitude to attempt to stare down a Roman Centurion. Looking back at the old woman, he saw no such acrimony in her expression; just unbearable heartache.
“I am a soldier, yes, but my offer was not for any ulterior gain, although I understand why you would feel that way. I have no way of proving this to you, and in as much as I am able to, my goal was to lessen the boy's suffering and in doing so, hopefully offer some semblance of the same for yourselves.”
The old woman’s eye’s grew wide at this last remark. The younger man momentarily exchanged a look with her; his body posture still emanating suspicion.
Darius, was not only a veteran of military campaigns; he had also been forced to become adept at navigating the tortuous roads of political intrigues and nuances that went along with his position as a high ranking Roman officer. He had caught the brief look between them, and recognized unspoken communication when he saw it. The countenance of the woman subtly changed and in spite of the tears, her eyes took on an even more intense shine.
“Are you of the Way?” she asked simply.
The Way? “I am afraid I am not familiar with that term.” Darius replied with a puzzled expression.
The old woman looked searchingly at the Centurion’s face for few moments longer. Darius was about to ask her to explain what she meant, when one of his sub-lieutenants started walking toward them. He turned to face the approaching soldier and immediately surmised the reason why. He looked beyond the soldier to the boy on the cross and noted that he was now too weak and in too much pain to push up on his nailed feet to facilitate breathing properly. It will not be long now.
Part of him was relieved that he did not have to carry out what he had offered the family. Dying by crucifixion is as much about suffocation as it was about pain, blood loss and trauma. Surely his method would have spared the boy the lingering, excruciating pain. He was not particularly proud of the fact that Rome had always been creative in the production and implementation of instruments of torture and death. He wondered if things would be so different if soldiers made the rules instead of politicians.
He heard the woman’s sharp intake of breath behind him and turned to see the young man supporting her. She had collapsed into his arms when she caught sight of the boy’s condition on the cross. There was not really anything left for him to say, so he turned to the soldier who had by now stopped in front of him with salute.
“Commander, the criminal should be expiring soon,” reported the soldier in a clipped tone.
Knowing that the boy’s family could hear him clearly, the sub-lieutenant demonstrated no hint of remorse in his voice. Darius shook his head slightly.
The old woman behind him began to sob uncontrollably. Darius turned again and glanced at the duo in time to see the eyes of the young man lock onto his with a slightly puzzled look, but still projecting wariness. He turned back to the soldier and said to him;
“Prepare your men and ensure he is dead before you take him down; but whatever you do, do not break his legs!”.
The soldier seemed surprised at this last remark.
“But… ?” the soldier began with uncertainty.
“That is an order sub-lieutenant! I am not accustomed to repeating myself; and when you take the body down, handle it with respect when you hand it over to the family. Is that understood?”
“Yes Commander!” responded the soldier standing rigidly at attention.
“Good! I am leaving you in charge of the take down and clean up. You and your men report back to me at the Garrison when you are finished.” I have had enough senseless bloodletting for one day.
Darius turned, not waiting for a response, confident his orders would be carried out to the letter. He started in the direction of his tethered horse when he heard a faint, hoarse whisper from the old woman;
That momentarily brought him up short in mid-stride, but he did not turn towards her. He continued walking again, thinking about the twenty years of slogging through foreign fields of battle which he had survived through hard training, cunning and no small measure of good fortune. In all that time he had never been as unsure of himself as now.
What was it about this place that pulls a man inside out? What makes this patch of arid land so different? I am hated for who and what I am. By Diana, I probably would hate me as well if I were a subjugated people. Yet I am falling in love with this hellish place and Caesar help me, I am starting to care for the people as well! What is going on? I must be going soft, or getting old...or both!
He reached his horse, grabbed the reins and climbed into the saddle and took one last look at the scene before him. The man and woman were now at the foot of the cross and his sub-lieutenant and another soldier were already up on ladders leaning against the cross, preparing to remove the retraining ropes and the nails from the boys hands and feet. By normal standards the boy had passed on quickly. It had been just over four hours. These things sometimes took too long for his taste.
I hope you found peace with whoever your God is lad. Peace seems to be in short supply for those of us that remain alive in this desolate place.
Darius looked away and let his horse have the reins. His horse, also intimately familiar with blood and death through war, seemed just as eager to leave this place behind.
What do we most lend our strength to? To what cause do we bear arms. Are we so bound by the current mores of a society that attempts to define us on terms we have not voluntarily acquiesced to?
Some would say we have choice in all things; others would beg to differ. At what point does one decide to stand for or against something? Or someone? What standard of forbearance has to be breached, before we say enough! I protest! I have to do something about this; even if it means your demise over mine.
War. Battles. Conflict. The trifecta of dynamic global tension. It has ever been thus since the dawn of time. From Cain and Able, all the way down through time to Saddam Hussein & George Bush; Osama Bin Laden and Barack Obama. Today it is terrorism vs western ideology. Or is it?
Ideas once given a voice and a receptive ear, become ideologies. We sometimes forget that these are a result of hearts that have been radically affected in some dramatic way; whether for good or ill.
Nov 11th is the day that Canada pauses to remember. Remember what exactly? Most Commonwealth countries (and some that are not) will pause on that day to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their countries during a time of war. Why would any individual take it upon his or herself to voluntarily leave hearth and home to travel to a place that in all likelihood not only despises them, but is fully bent on ensuring their allotted time on earth is shortened as expeditiously as possible? Courage? Honour? Commitment? Duty? Yes, but I am sure there is more to it.
There are those who argue that all wars are wrong. These are logical, intelligent, reasoned individuals, who have every right to their opinions. I would counter with this; while all wars leave deep scars (some visible, most not); separate loved ones, (physically, emotionally and some permanently); create global economic crises and divide countries, not all are wrong. A previous article headline in the Nov 10th 2011 Globe & Mail by columnist Judith Timson, was titled: I wear a poppy for its victims, but don't support war.
Let's be honest here; yes, war is messy, vicious, and quite easily brings to the forefront some of humanity's baser predilections, but there are times when it is necessary and therefore should be supported. There are those who are quite vociferous about how Canada is wasting the best of its youth and by extension its future, by sending soldiers to engage in what many construe as unnecessary. I say the sacrifices that have been made since World War I and prior, risk becoming null and void with that stream of thinking. It is true that many of those precious lives lost in past conflicts, could have (should have) been avoided; but the greater overarching view of history shows that we have a long way yet to go before wars are eradicated altogether, much less man's penchant for it.
I am not a soldier. I have never been to war. I know that I cannot even begin to comprehend what kind of terrible toll is thrust upon our young men and women serving in far flung locales. I am quite certain that what they experience is far outside even their highly trained, disciplined and equipped comfort zones. Certainly light years beyond mine. Yet they serve willingly. It is an honour to even live in the same country that birthed these individuals, whose sacrifice affords me the privileges I enjoy. I am not for one moment romanticizing or encouraging war; but there is a time and a place where it is required. Oh how I wish it could be otherwise.
We are a Global Village. Like it or not, you share Terra Firma with fundamentalists of all stripes; corrupt dictators, drug addicts, self-serving politicians (please note that not all politicians have given up on their higher ideals of actually serving their constituents), just to name a few. The fact that they are conflicts simmering at any given time, about to erupt into some sort of conflagration is almost inevitable.
Lest we lose all hope, we have also had individuals of moral fortitude, who in the face of conflict, have stood tall, even risking and in some cases succumbing to death because of that risk. Here are a few such individuals, in no particular order and irrespective of their individual belief systems, who have left a lasting impact on our world. Martin Luther King; Mother Theresa; Benazir Bhutto; Abraham Lincoln; Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
As you take part in the humanitarian, economic and social privileges accessible to us today, regardless of your viewpoint on war, why not take a risk. Remember those who risked all for us over the past decades. Most of these freedoms have been borne through the crucible of conflict; both domestic and global.
I do not think it is mere coincidence that we are embarking on a new venture with a new platform around the same time of our 7th Anniversary.
We have grown not only in numbers, but in positive exposure and credibility. Our community-focused mandate is reflected in our continued involvement with many charitable organizations such as the Children's Wish Foundation. But beyond that, we have become nationally recognized as a group of individuals who exemplify compassion and a genuine willingness to make a difference to the disenfranchised across our country.
This forum is your home. This is where you will be regenerated as you participate in the give and take of social interaction with CMC members all across the country. Each region has its own flavour and distinctiveness and that has transformed our riding club into a representative microcosm of Canada. No where else in Canadian mortorcycling, is there such a diverse group of individuals who have come together, not just for the fun of riding, but building community.
Some of you will recall my original post 5 years ago, (see attached) on my experience in meeting for the first time, the “black leather crowd” that was CMC, and how in a matter of minutes, all preconceived notions were dispelled through the act of a hug from a leather-clad female stranger. I was safe because my wife was also with me, and she received the same from an equally leather-bound male stranger. The point is, we are different, but one notable and defining characteristic of our club is that we celebrate those differences with compassion, inclusiveness and respect.
Irma, Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed taking the last three months to prepare this online platform for all of you. Please use it to the fullest. We did not set it up to compete with other social media sites; you are free to use those. We worked hard at setting this forum up to compete for your hearts; the hearts that make up CMC.