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Balance: Beyond Two Wheels



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.


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1st of all, congratulations for your decision to step outside your 'comfort zone' and commit to a cross country tour! 8-)


I have travelled cross country many times, one year doing it twice, racking up a total of 41,000 km over the 3+ months of that one ride.

Are you riding solo, or with others from the 036? The more people in a group means longer stops for gas, meals etc and usually a 'locked in route'

I very rarely make reservations as that locks you in to a certain route and time frame, which I find 'restricting'. If pulling off the road for the night near a major city, grab a room/campsite on the far side of that city so rush hour traffic won't be much of an issue as you won't be riding into the city, but away from it.Also, grab a room by 7 pm at latest and a campsite (if you're camping) no later than 4:30 pm, as campsites tend to start filling up by 5 pm

A couple pieces of advice  ...  ditch your denims and go with nylon/synthetic camping pants/shirts/base layers as they pack down much smaller, wash out and dry quickly. Get a decent fleece pull over as it tends to get cool during long rides in the rain and in higher elevations that you'll encounter west of Calgary!

When you get your new ride, put in a couple of 600 km days to break your butt into it's seat. I find a 100% natural sheepskin pelt goes a long way in seating comfort, as this natural fibre keeps your butt cooler when hot out and warmer when cool out. Hopefully your new ride will have a range of at least 260 - 300 km per tank


I would budget a full 6 -7 days to comfortably ride from home, through Canada to Nanaimo Anything less that that and it becomes an endurance test, which is no joy and will put you off from long distance touring!!!






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Thanks for the great advice Ken.

I am not sure as yet if I will be going solo. I like the flexibility of not having to abide by schedules other than my own, which of course allows me to set my own pace. I had originally planned for 6 days to get from Ontario to the West Coast (Vancouver Island). I intend to stay in Canada the whole way. One other option being entertained, is whether to ship my bike out and ride back; or acquire the bike out west and ride back. I am not sure of the availability of time for a complete round trip. I am guessing a minimum of at least 3 weeks for a comfortable round trip pace.
The shipping consideration has more to do with time convenience. I would like to spend more time touring out West. Based on my initial research in to shipping options (Air Canada/ TFX International etc) the cost will almost equal the gas, food and lodging needed to transit from Ontario to BC. That is not counting my own airfare of course, should I choose not to make it a round robin trip. I am still deciding.
I have to admit, I had not considered not making reservations. But I see your point, should I decide I will not make it in time to a certain destination, or if I decide to stop in a different location. The clothing options you mentioned make sense as well. Given that this is planned for the Summer, I will be utilizing textiles for maximum airflow.
As far as the range for the bike being sourced, it has to match or beat what I have now: a Suzuki GSX 650F - 20L tank - 400km range. I have narrowed down my search to a BMW K1600 6CYL Touring Bike or a Honda GoldWing. I am leaning towards the BMW as it is almost 200lbs lighter and (amazingly) less expensive than a GoldWing.
Other (crazy) options are still on the table though. :)
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Sounds as if you are doing a great job planning.  And Ken, you are offering great suggestions.  Stafford, I have a couple of friends who have purchased a BMW and love it.  But one problem they have found is difficulty in getting local service.  Just a thought...might help you with your decision which bike to settle on.  I do like the idea of purchasing a bike out west and riding it home.  We looked into shipping our bikes out west, taking the train out and riding back.  The time wasn't right for us that time...some day.
I hope you continue posting your trip plans on the forum as personally I'm not much of one to chase down blogs and I really enjoy armchair travel.
Wish you all the best in your travels.

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Much appreciated Kate.

Yes, I too have heard about the lack of local service locations for BMW bikes. Something I am definitely taking into consideration. I will attempt to keep my planning updates accessible on the forum. At first, I was thinking my ramblings would just clutter things up. I will probably post major updates here and the lesser things on my own website site. In either case, I will likely post all related links in my Status Feed on the forum, for those who wish to track what I am doing..

You should plan for your pending cross country trip as well. Try not to put it off too long. :)

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I wasn't going to mention anything, but  ...   since Kate brought up the fact of lack of local BMW Service ....  I have a few moto friends that have/had BMWs and they are not as reliable as one may be led to believe and parts/service are very expensive!  :-o I don't want to sound like I'm Brand Bashing  .....    Just something to ponder!  :ugeek:


If you want to maximize your riding time out West, then the Air Canada option is certainly one to explore.

Lots of outstanding riding in all of BC and Banff/Jasper National Parks of western AB. (feel free to PM me for routes/sights to see out there, as I lived out there for over 13 yrs)

The prairies have a much more sublime beauty all their own

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Thanks Ken.

I have been weighing out the pros & cons of the quality of access to specific brand name service centres for the different bikes in North America. Canada is even more of a concern given its size versus population ratio. It will definitely be a deciding variable in my final decision.

I do want to spend the majority of my time touring the western Provinces; B.C & Alberta in particular. The plan is to coincide my excursion with the 2017 CMC National Rally scheduled to be hosted on Vancouver Island B.C. Transit options are as follows:

1. Purchase the bike in Ontario - Ship it out West - Fly myself to BC - Ride back East.
2. Purchase the bike in Ontario - Ride out West - Ship the bike back East - Fly back East
3. Fly out West - Purchase the bike in B.C. Ride it back East
4. Full round trip by riding out West and back East

So far my preferential order of priority is as follows:

Choice #3 
Pros - no shipping costs / more time for touring out West
Cons - missed opportunity for a round trip / airfare may be more than shipping costs /  max 2 week vacation 

Choice #1 
Pros - more time for touring out West
Cons - missed opportunity for a round trip / airfare may be more than shipping costs / max 2 week vacation 

Choice #2 
Pros - more time for touring out West
Cons - airfare may be more than shipping costs / max 2 week vacation

Choice #4
Pros - full on Canadian cross country riding adventure 
Cons - Costs for food / accommodation / fuel / possible time restrictions - I will need more than 2 weeks

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while i have not *ridden* across the country, a number of years ago (ok, more like close to 20!) i drove from toronto to seattle with my cousin who was relocating, in an easy 6 days.  YMMV as each of us has a different tolerance for distance each day. yesterday i rode about 600km over 14 hours including stops and i would not have been able to do the same again today - but i am out of practice, having only got my own bike again after several years without, this past september.

when i was younger, i recall a long weekend where i rode to calgary (1000km from vancouver) on the saturday, did a hike with my brother and his wife on the sunday in kananaskis regional park, and rode home on the monday.. with no ill effects when i showed up on time at work on the tuesday!

we live in a BIG country...

each province has many different areas to explore - there is NO way to do them all in one trip!

while #1 #2 and #3 sound awesome, they really don't allow the time needed to make it work reasonably. factor in first service, then add the addition on #3 of 'importing' the bike to your home province.. do you want that hassle?

for choice #4, what is your orientation? what kind of adventure are you thinking? simply riding the areas gives you a taste, but never will allow you to experience the areas fully. (though leaving room for further adventures!)

most larger cities have decent support for all the major brands of bikes, so that is less a concern than it used to be. basically you are looking at consumables: oil and filter, air filter, tires, chain (if so equipped - what kinds of bikes are you thinking about?).  of those, the only one to really be relevant is the oil and filter, and any decent shop will be able to do those, even if your machine is not their house brand.

i know this isn't an "answer" but hopefully it gets the conversation started!



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damn, so much for clicking on the post on the main page.. i missed the rest of the conversation this weekend!

i have to agree with Dusty Boots on the reliability of brand BMW.. they aren't what they used to be. they are still good bikes, but each generation, they get lighter and more powerful.. that means more stress and less metal to handle it.. they DO break.. and when they do, they are VERY expensive to fix.

sheepskins for the seat are awesome.. though some stock seats are much better than others. case in point, the seat on my 2002 VStrom is just amazing, especially given that it is stock, and that old. the rest of my body was tired and a bit sore after yesterday's 600km.. but not my butt. and my girlfriend was VERY happy with the pillion.

while you will be doing the trip in summer, consider for a bike you will own for quite some time, the amount and quality of light that the headlamp(s) put out.. most bikes are rather poor in this department, again some are MUCH better than others.. my VStrom, the FJ1300, the Wing.. are among the best i have seen - the BMW lights are good, but in my opinion suffer from fashion-itis.. they could be better if they weren't trying so hard to be different.



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