This past summer I had the pleasure of riding 52 days coast to coast across this wonderful country and there are many stories to tell and I’ll try to get to them sooner than later but this article is about rider comfort, protection and safety.
I had been planning this ride for the better part of two years and come 2018 I was off on my adventure, with all the planning done I figured I had all my bases covered with a great set of rain gear by *Scott, rain boot covers that are amazing at keeping my feet and pants cuffs dry, as well I have a heated jacket liner for if it gets cold, (a heated vest with sleeves) and heated gloves.
What I wasn’t prepared for was forty degree celsius heat! There was many places both in the maritimes as well as southern Ontario and the Prairies that heat became a real issue.
Riding into Regina during the mid-day heat it was a solid 40 degrees celsius out and I was bordering on heat stroke and had to find a place to cool off fast! Wetting down my bandana and laying it over my back and around my neck helped but I was down for a few hours in the park trying my best to stay in any shade I could find and consuming lots and lots of water with electrolyte tablets. The other environmental change I didn’t take into account was smoke from forest fires and there was lots, it started in Northern Ontario and continued into the prairies but in B.C. it was thick, I was coughing like I did when I smoked cigarettes 20 years ago.
After days of riding through extreme heat and smoke I’d had enough and obviously needed some more protective gear so after looking around online I picked up a *Vogmask which seem to be the best thing out there for protection from smoke, dust and other organic airborne particles, it’s rated a C99 and has a 1 way exhaust valve to prevent fogging of glasses or a visor, it’s a Canadian company so your hard earned dollars stay in Canada and no exchange rates plus I found the delivery to be fast. Find out more at www.vogmask.ca
The other two items I picked up are a cooling tee shirt and a cooling neck wrap, both of these have sections filled with polymer beads, you soak them in cold water for 2 minutes or more, lightly squeeze out the excess water and then wear them.
The action of evaporation causes heat transfer away from your body and helps to cool you down. The more air that passes over them the better they work so don't cover them up, the tee shirt needs a mesh jacket or one with air flow panels to work properly.
The tee shirt is made by a company called *Leatt, under COOLIT TEE unfortunately it seems that it’s been discontinued, Fort Nine as well as Revzilla were sold out but I found one at a bike dealership. I personally know someone who has used the same cooling tee shirt and she says it works wonders.
The other item is very inexpensive and can be found at Amazon for under $10 and that’s a polymer filled neck tie. The process is the same, soak it in cold water for a few minutes, gently squeeze out the excess then tie it around your neck, I found doing this with a plain cotton bandana worked pretty good but would dry out in 10 minutes, the polymer beads last about 2 hours for some lasting comfort. Cooling the blood flowing through the jugular vein can do wonders to help you feel cooler and start feeling right again plus it has a nifty flame pattern that also looks cool…go figure.
So it would seem that smoke from fires and hotter weather will be the norm for the future so why not have the right gear for it? We have rain gear and cold weather gear, it’s now time to carry smoke and heat protection too.
Ride safe, ride far.
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.
Hi there and welcome to ‘Wheelspin’
A new blog documenting rides, events and the motorcycling lifestyle.
For those of you that don’t know I’ll be embarking on a 6 week x-Canada ride starting at the end of June with stops at ‘Freedom Machine’ a vintage, custom and antique bike show in Durham Ontario, held at this really cool fake ghost town on private property with lots of space for camping. www.freedommachineshow.com
Also on the list,
Port Dover for Friday the 13th, Magnetic Hill in New Brunswick, Riding the Confederation Bridge into P.E.I. the Bay of Fundy and of course the one on everyones bucket list, The Cabot Trail and since I’m already on that side of the country, the CMC National Rally (Yes I’m already registered for the National) on my way back west.
The idea of this blog is to share information on things like road conditions, those must do rides, tips and tricks on camping, packing the bike, gear reviews, places to eat, where to find service or parts, places to avoid as well as documenting some good times, because as we all know… It’s not the destination it’s the ride.
A well traveled route that has some notoriety around here is the Duffy Loop as it’s known locally by the riding community, depending on which direction you travel it’s the #1 Trans Canada from Vancouver to Hope, up the Fraser Canyon to Cache Creek, then onto highway 99 south from Lillooet and down through Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and back into Vancouver. Another option riding out to Hope is highway #7 but this adds another hour, hour and a half to the total loop ride but is far more scenic and twisty.
Dr.Mucker, first officer from the 056 and myself did our 1st loop ride of 2018 last week, you can watch a video of that ride here
The last few years I’ve been averaging 3 loop rides a season as it’s one of my favourite local rides. Last year I stretched it out into an overnighter and more kilometres by adding the loop of highways 97C and 8 taking you through Logan Lake, Mamatte Lake and Lower Nicola, some of BC’s old copper mining country and into ranch lands before joining back up with the #1 Trans Canada at Spences Bridge back in the Fraser Canyon. Some stunning country and views along 97C. A few of us have the extended loop ride scheduled for next weekend, I’ll bring you up to speed on that here after the 15th of May.
A few other rides I’ve got down on my calendar in spray paint…
May 26th is the first flat track races of 2018 in these parts, Pemberton Raceway and a few of us from the 056 are going.
May 27th I’m a registered rider in the 'Ride To Live' charity ride to raise awareness and money to fight prostate cancer. There’s a BBQ, a poker run (I love poker runs) and entertainment, looks like I might be a tad sore for that one but that never stopped me before. to learn more www.ridetolive.ca
Come early June I’m registered for flat track school hosted by Go Flat Track and I’m looking forward to writing about that experience. If you check their website they have links to some good video, note that it’s not recorded at Pemberton, I think it’s in Ontario somewhere. www.goflattrack.com
That covers the start of the 2018 riding season, I have a few other rides and events to see when I get back but I think I’ll leave that for later.
**A Final Note on the Duffy: We saw some fresh slides in the chutes along the highway as well there is rock and debris coming down right now, please check road conditions and ride it with extreme caution. The road had been swept of winter gravel and was in pretty good shape overall. We didn’t do the Cache Creek run we did the shortened Lytton to Lillooet route, highway #12.
Check www.drivebc.com for all BC road travel updates and camera views.
3 days after our ride Cache Creek was flooding.
This past weekend out here on the wild west coast was the annual Ride to Live that raises funds and awareness for prostate cancer in BC.
In past years I have been on the Telus Ride for Dad but my first time on this ride however both events have the same goal. I pre-registered for this ride online over a month in advance and once I got a few donations there was no backing out, I was in for the whole 9 yards.The ride was scheduled to start at 10am from Trev Deeley’s HD dealership just off the Trans Canada highway on Boundary rd with a police escort to the first stop in Coquitlam. My plan was to arrive at Trev’s by 9am, full tank, coffee in hand giving me lots of time to pick up my riders pack consisting of a ride flag and map, poker hand card, ride pin, lunch ticket, drop the donations I collected off and still get some video footage.
Sunday morning it was looking to be a beautiful day, I got to Trev’s at 8:50, a full 10 minutes ahead of my schedule and pulling up behind the last bike in line found myself in the shade of a few trees that lined the boulevard. Thinking myself pretty lucky and not to far from the front of the line I went inside and worked my way through the store to where registration was set up only then did I discover I was closer to the back of the line than I thought, not that I really cared that much, the shade was still a major bonus.
Once we finally got under way just 2 blocks from Trev’s heading south we have to pass over a controlled railway crossing with 2 sets of tracks, two cops with bikes were parked on the tracks and just then a train was coming, one of the cops started waving his arms at the train but once the bells started ringing and the rail arms came down they were smart enough to clear off the tracks, making it over I shared a laugh with the rider beside me at the officers effort to stop that train and a few riders did get cut off from the group. Climbing the hill there was no stopping at the red light as we turned east onto the Trans Canada and motorcycle police had the whole highway blocked at the onramp we were merging from.
Now from here I’m not sure what the actual plan was (I missed the riders meeting) but we had the highway to ourselves and never got over 50kmh, I’m guessing the lead cops were hoping the cut off riders at the train tracks would catch up. It was weird looking in my mirrors and seeing 2 police motorcycles about 6 bikes back, lights flashing and solid cars across all lanes of highway behind them, all crawling along at 50kmh. I had a flash of what OJ must have felt like in the white Ford Bronco. Sadly I found out later I had a corrupted SD card in my gopro so I don’t have any ride footage but I did manage to get some video on my camcorder at a few stops, you can watch that video here
At maybe half way to the first stop we did get up to the 80kmh speed limit taking the centre lane while cars speed by on the left and right of us, I knew then we had lost our police tail gunners but with what seemed like 800 bikes in front of me I couldn't tell who was in the lead the odd time I did get a glimpse that far ahead.
The first stop was Lee Valley Tools in Coquitlam on United blvd just off the Trans Canada highway in the shadow of the Port Mann bridge, pulling into the parking area well marked with orange cones and even more volunteers in orange shirts we were directed to the rear of the building were we merged into 3 lines, circling around the far side where volunteers took your poker card and punched the number you indicated. These were the more traditional poker run hands, you have a sealed envelope with numbers 1-52 all around the edges, inside is a card with a card a suite under each hole, you pick a number, get it punched and move on, much quicker set up than stopping to draw cards, we didn’t even have to get off our bikes. Moving back around the front of the building volunteers were handing out water and telling you to either park or get out of the way, there’s a lot of bikes behind you. The next 2 stops and final destination we were left to ride our own rides and I did some pre-ride planning that had me glimpsing riders at cross streets all the way to our next stop at Garibaldi Secondary School and once again there was no shortage of volunteers to get us all looked after in quick time with the dry grad students raising money selling drinks and cookies.
Stop 3 was Mission Raceway Park and like the first two stops it too went off without a hitch and riders were each given 2 passes for any races in the 2018 season, nice of them.
From here it was on to the final stop at the University of Fraser Valley to hand in your card and where you got to see what cards you drew, I had a pair of two’s, worth less than squat. I made my way to the food tent and had the choice of a beef, chicken or fish burger that came with an apple, chips and a water. A few bike dealers were on hand and some accessories distributors, there was also some live entertainment. I didn’t stay to long as 4:30am Monday comes really fast once Sunday afternoon kicks in.
I did raise $370 for a worthy cause and had a great time doing it, saw some old friends too, I never have been very lucky at poker runs but I’ll keep trying, it’s the ride and sometimes the cause, not the cards you draw.
For more of my ride photos see my Instagram account at opus710adventures