And what a weekend it turned out to be! I'd booked Friday off thinking that I could get some decent riding in, then watch the practice and qualifying races on Friday afternoon, but my plan failed to survive contact with the enemy, me.
|Samuel Trepanier (14) leads Jordan Szoke after a pass in Lap 7|
I'd been prepping for the ride, and all I had left to do was pack my gear and get it onto the bike, so that all I would have to do on Friday morning was wake up when the alarm went off, shower, breakfast and get on the bike. All this was supposed to happen on Thursday after work, but I was so tired upon reaching home, that I lay down for a nap at 1830 and work again at 2330! I packed what I could and finally went to sleep again around 0130 in the morning, but the damage was done and I didn't get out the door until just after 1100.
|Day 1 - Charlottetown PE to Shubenacadie NS - 319km|
Oh well, roll with it. It was a beautiful day, and after a short lunch of halibut at Anna's Country Kitchen in Crapaud PE, I crossed the bridge over to the mainland following that conga line of transports and tourists, until I opted out onto NB 955 and headed off for Murray Corner, my little getaway from that boring straight NB 16 that heads straight into the Port Elgin Roundabout. I cut back over to 16 and found I'd beaten that long line of traffic, but as the roundabout is getting a much needed resurfacing, the traffic was backed up almost a kilometer from it, and I quickly darted left and shot down into Port Elgin and onto
NB 970 headed for Tidnish Bridge then on into Amherst, where I'd plotted a lovely little route that I'd completely forgotten to mark out on the map or add to the GPS, and as a bridge was out on NS 2, I let the detour and my GPS route me across Little Forks Road and on into Springhill where I stopped for a coffee break before getting back onto a blistering hot motorcycle seat.
I got a bit turned around here, and the locals must have smiled as I took a likely looking road trying to head towards the Economy River Wilderness Area but muffed it and ended up on the Trans Canada 104 south where I abandoned it in favour of NS 236, the Glooscap trail
along the shore of Chignecto Bay as it funnels out into the Bay of Fundy further west.
236 crosses the Shubenacadie River, and I was fortunate enough to view it at low tide.
|Looking North along the Shubenacadie River|
Just across the river, you follow the Five Mile River that empties out into the Shubie, before turning south onto NS 215, and again I was fortunate enough to be there at low tide.
|The Five Mile River|
NS 215 was a delight, and I found myself watching my speed for I had no desire to meet with wildlife or agricultural equipment mid corner. Once into Mill Village, I topped up with gas, then headed another eight kilometers to the Foodland in Stewiacke NS. I throw down the kickstand, get off the bike and head into the store where I grabbed a basket, and while wandering the store, I lean over to look at some potato chips and water starts gushing out of my camelbak and onto the grocery store floor! The Chinese knock off bite valve is missing! I turn off the valve and it stops leaking, but now I've got to retrace my steps to look for the truant blue bit of silicone, but to no avail. I gave up and resumed the mission of buying eight litres of water and some snacks, and a huge bag of grapes! I ended up paying $11 dollars for it at the checkout, and my wallet nearly died of shock, but I'd have fresh fruit for a couple of days! Back out into the parking lot, constantly scanning the ground looking for that POS bite valve, and nothing. Zip. I pulled out my spare stuff sack, loaded it up with the shopping, then strapped it on on top of the tent along with my newly filled MSR Dromedary water bladder, but I still had a four litre jug to go, and nowhere to put it, so I tied the handle onto the passenger grab bar, and wedged it on top of one of my panniers and slightly vowed not to do any wheelies until after I made it safely into my camping spot for the weekend. I got back onto the bike, let out the clutch only to spy that errant bite valve looking a little the worse for wear sitting in front of a car idling with a passenger waiting for someone in the store. I sheepishly grinned while reaching down from my lofty perch atop the Versys and reattached it to the Camelbak, and gingerly crossed the two speed bumps on my way out of the parking lot and back into Mill Village where I'd hook up with the entrance to AMP.
There are a couple of kilometers of gravel to traverse before you get to the racetrack, and fully loaded Versys flew down them, the Shinko 705s working well on the straights, but I still needed to slow down for the corners else I'd find the ditches uncomfortably close. I've got 5000km on the tires now, and they are just showing signs of wear. I'm probably going to have to replace them when I return from Ontario later next month, so I'd best sort out exactly what I want them replaced with, as I'd like something with a bit less vibration on asphalt, although I will really miss that extra hookup on the gravel.
I found a likely looking spot, although one gentleman warned me that two V-Strom riders with tents would be arriving later on, and asked that I left them plenty of room, which wasn't a problem at all. There was the larger tent to my left, a trailer and van with Ontario plates to my right, and the wee go-kart track to my rear.
|Home away from Home...|
I had my tent up in about ten minutes as I was in no hurry, and the weather report I'd read early this morning had been calling for fair weather, so I thought I'd take my chances and just slip off the fly and sleep under the stars tonight... Nope, it started to drizzle a bit late Friday evening, so back onto the tent the fly went.
My Ontario neighbours were away, and it was obvious that they had a dog in the trailer, as it began to bark at a young Labrador retriever that was whining and anxious to be off the leash and at everyone and everything he saw. A really cute dog, that was just entering his "terrible twos". lol.
|The Wee-Stroms roll in|
|2016 Suzuki V-Strom with all the bells and whistles|
|The 2012, Only one bell and no whistles|
An attractive lady introduced herself as "Tosh" along with her 9 year old dog, Georgina, a part collie pit-bull mix that simply loved a good game of tug-o-war with a deflated basketball. Georgina and I got along famously, especially when she learned that I knew how to play the game, and had a couple of new tricks that seemed to keep her interested. I quickly got introduced to her husband Tom, and their son Seth, and I knew without asking that they couldn't be from Toronto as they were far too friendly. ;)
They invited me to walk the track with them, and I was quite happy to walk along and chat with them as we hoofed it round. Our lap time sucked, but Georgina beat us handily across the finish line to take the checkered flag. I was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct, and I think Seth might be in trouble when he went onto the dyno, having used too much fuel.
With all the elevation changes and tight corners, it was going to be an exciting race weekend.
Atlantic Motorsports Park track layout
|Pit lane as the sun sets over AMP|
I wound down the night sitting with my new friends playing tug-o-war with Georgina and chatting happily away, no doubt helped by the beer that my hosts offered.
|Day 2 - Atlantic Motorsports Park - 1858km|
Not really, but it seemed like it at the time. I found myself lying awake in my tent at 530 in the morning, and rolled out to find a fine mist falling from the sky, but it wasn't quite enough to be called rain, so I soldiered on and set out to make a cuppa tea, and some scrambled eggs for breakfast.
|This setup is brilliant for a quick Cuppa|
This is my first experience using the butane with tripod to Lindal valve adapter and I was super impressed how easy this is to use over an alcohol stove or even my faithful SVEA123r. In the light airs of this weekend it didn't need a windshield at all, and I was able to boil water for a nice hot cuppa in four minutes.
Fresh eggs on the menu for breakfast, so I'll try out a technique for using oil to create a nonstick surface for my MSR Stowaway 775ml pot and see if that YouTube dude knows his stuff.
|How to transport eggs on a Motorcyle|
It's not my idea, I got it from Mark Victor of BikerBits Australia who hauls fresh eggs around on his motorcycle. You simply wrap each egg in a bit of cling wrap so that even if they break, they won't leak on your gear. It works well, even after the few wheelies and gravel roads I did on the way here. Brilliant idea in fact.
|Scrambled eggs and bacon|
I brought the tablespoon of oil up to smoking temperature (it discoloured the pot), then began to cook my eggs over the burner, but the stove creates a micro hot spot, and I'd forgotten my gauze mat with the ceramic core at home. It's a cheap way of helping disperse the heat across the bottom of the pot, but this morning all I could do was use my spatula to move the eggs around to cook. The non-stick smoking oil trick worked, and the eggs were easy to clean out of the pot with some cold soapy water and a scrub with a sponge.
The weather isn't looking for hot for today. Rain and thundershowers with a high of 23 degrees.
|My tent is here. :)|
I tootled around on the bike for a bit, heading over the granstand to watch a bit of the practice, then I met up with Zac from Canada Moto Guide
and headed up to the pits to chat with the racers and get some pictures.
As it was now after ten, I thought I'd better head into Stewiacke NS and hit the beer store so I could reciprocate with my neighbours that night, and flew off to grab an eight pack of Strongbow Dry Cider. On my way out to Mill Village, I passed Zac on his way in, mounted on the loaner Honda CRF250 Rally bike, so U-turned and told him what I was up to, and said I'd meet up with him once I got back into camp.
|Jordon Szoke (1)|
|Jacob Black (707) and his crew (I'm envious)|
Zac introduced me to his boss, the owner of CMG, Jacob Black and #707 in the Amatuer Lightweight series on his Kawasaki Ninja 250. At this point the discussion was if the weather got worse, Jacob would not race as he doesn't have any rain tires this year, but if it got a bit better he felt comfortable enough on the series approved Dunlop street/track rubber. (Qualifier?)
|I love the custom graphics|
Little did I know that Warren Miller, whose Alaska journey I'd been following on Facebook was here running the Dyno... More on that later.
I take way too many pictures of the bikes on the racetrack with my little boy scout camera, and when compared against the pros, I just haven't bothered to post them, so here are some videos of the holeshots off the grid going into turn 2 on the track.
|No surprise here. Jordon Szoke (1) takes the Pro Superbike|
|It's a huge crowd |
We sat through rain for most of the early races, but by the feature race the track was developing a dry line and most riders had changed from rains they had run in practice back to normal tires now.
|Jacob Black (707) trying to find the passing line on the inside.|
The highlight of all the racing I saw on the weekend was the Amateur Lightweight Sportbike series
. It had the largest grid and the most action. I watched riders bumping as if there was a grudge match out there! It was exciting, and having a new friend riding in the race gave me a stake, so with Zac cheering Jacob on beside me, I jumped in with both feet and looking for the rider with the red speed hump on white, counting bikes behind him and hoping he would close the gap, or get past traffic.
|My cheap chair is showing some signs of wear and TEAR!!!|
|Durn it. I need to lose weight or win the lottery and buy a better chair. |
|Toys for Big Boys Honda CRF 250 Rally|
Zac arrived on a loaner from Toys For Big Boys
in Salisbury NB, which he claims offers superior wind protection to the CRF 250. It's a sweet looking ride.
It was time for Zac to head back to Halifax, and I was tired and decided I'd just lay my head down for a wee nap... Yep, 2330 and I'm wide awake now, listening to the light rain burst hit the tent then move on, the fireworks and revelers over at the campfire to my right, those V-Strom boys know how to party. I was quite content to read and fell asleep again, the plans of getting drunk on cider with the neighbours now a thing of the past...
|Day 3 - Shubenacadie NS to Charlottetown PE - 284km|
I woke early yet again to the call of nature on Sunday morning, to find a light drizzle and wet grass greeting me as I tried to level my stiff body out of the tent and into the weak morning light. 0530 is way too early for this, and I fully expected to crawl back onto my air mattress and return to sleep, but it wouldn't come easily and I decided the thing to do would be to get a cuppa tea brewing straight off. I'm glad I did, for there was a wet fog mixed with light drizzle, and forecast was looking sorta miserable for the day. I even thought of leaving at noon etc. What a wuss!
Hard boiled eggs this morning with McDonald's salt and pepper to make it go down. After making tea, I just didn't want to get involved in a large wash up. The eggs burned my fingers as I shelled them, but they were so tasty going down with a wee dash of salt and pepper. Mmmmm. The tea... Two cups of it made with fresh milk I had bought on Friday evening, as it hadn't gone off at all. If the temp had hit the 28 and 29 they had called for earlier in the week, it would have been a bottle of cottage cheese by Sunday morning.
|Good lord! Is that the sun?!|
I decided it was time to start getting my gear together and pack it back up on the bike, so as I began to get it ready to go away, I thought I would show you just what you can fit into a sturdy stainless steel pot that has a locking lid:
(Top left to lower right)
- Dish Soap - soap impregnated cloth cut into squares (Palmolive brand)
- Fire Starter - petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls
- Pot stand - sized specifically to the trangia made out of bbq skewers
- Lixada Mini stick stove and trangia pot stand
- Wash/dry rag
- Folding spork
- bic lighter
- bail handle & hook - made from bbq skewers for hanging pot over a campfire
- Alcohol fuel - two ounces in a Nalgene bottle.
- Trangia clone alcohol burner "Go Hike" brand
- Tomato can "Simmer ring" for confined trangia potstands where the standard trangia ring just can't be opened due to confined space.
There is room for a cup-o-soup packet or similar. All stuffed into a 775ml pot. The trouble with this set up is once you bring the pot out to cook, it all has to come out, and none of it can go back in until the pot is clean and dry. Hmmm. Make sure you have a stuff sack for all that, well, ...stuff?
|All this fits into the MSR Stowaway 775ml pot|
|Yep, all aboard|
No sooner did I start to take my tent down, then it began to rain harder, but I managed to get it all down and into the canoe bag before it really started to come down. I mean puddles forming on the ground rain.
|Drat. Rain. Wet. |
I had my rain jacket on, and had to swap my baseball cap for my desert storm bush hat. My wallet and cellphone went into a plastic baggie, and my riding gear was underneath Tom and Tosh's trailer on a dry bit, out of the rain, but I was wandering in sandals looking for some shelter that I could claim until the clouds had passed over or rained themselves out. Over at the Pro Cycle booth, they had a couple of Hondas chained together and a convenient canopy that I was to claim my own for a while. My hands were so wet that I could barely type a reply to Zac when he messaged me to tell me that he was on his way, and would I like him to bring me anything.
|See that dark green patch in the north? It's rolling over us.|
I heard a motor... Who is the world would be out riding in weather like this?!
A little girl... I am such a wuss.
|Sadie stopping by to make sure Dad brought enough gas for the weekend|
|Sadie enjoying riding in the rain|
|Noah consults with her Crew Chief Shaun...|
|Yet another. I hope she doesn't run out of gas!|
Their father Shaun has three hard core girls that ignore the elements to go out riding while he huddles underneath an umbrella and I drip water underneath a canopy. Shaun bought an enclosed trailer and renovated the interior so he and his family could camp out and haul along a few dirt bikes. He's riding an XT250 and said he expects he's going to need to upgrade if he wants to keep Sadie in view.
The rain finally tapered off, and now it began to warm up, so I returned to my bike, and found a sense of loss now that my home away from home was gone, and nothing tied me to this place but for my bike and the gear still sitting nice and dry under the neighbours trailer. Interesting.
Zac had arrived, had wandered off, so I decided to head up into the pits to see the riders and their bikes, for I believed the rain would delay the practice sessions, and indeed, might have many riders without rain tires withdraw from practice and possibly the race! I could have closed my eyes and followed the smell of frying bacon in that heavy morning air, the competitors and families just having finished their breakfast. *sigh*
There had been one sound of a racer, possibly two that took advantage of the morning practice session in the rain, and I found Toni Sharpless
(393) with rain tires fitted to her bike. I said hello to her crew chief and husband, Jamie, and seeing Ontario plates on the trailer was told the standard lie we all say to those with geographical knowledge of Ontario, "North of Toronto". I called him on it, and told him I was born and raised in Richmond Hill Ontario, to which he replied Newmarket. I owned a house in the "Patch" for ten years, so I asked him if he'd ever spotted me on my faded red KLR riding around town. lol. Toni has a column in the magazine "Inside Motorcycles" (I admit being impressed at the moment, until just now when I was trying to find a link to one of her articles or bio, and found that she is an inductee into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame! Wow! Too bad she is married. Happily, I wonder? :P )
|Toni Sharpless (393) Newmarket Ontario|
Anyhow, Toni was thinking of keeping nice and dry until she saw little Sadie scooting around on her dirt bike, and she said to me "If that little girl is out there having fun in this, so am I." Later on I watched Toni give her a sticker and a smile. I love being a spectator at events like this. There are so many wonderful little stories that go on all around you, racers helping fellow competitors with parts, for they know it may be them needing a sprocket or a set of brake pads next round in Ontario or Quebec. Dad's donning their leathers while Mum is clears up breakfast and makes sure the kids aren't up to no good. It's that camaraderie that you sense as you see little vignettes play out. On friend of mine crashed rather badly at Mosport one year and had to be sent to the hospital for an extended stay, but he didn't need to worry about his gear or paddock set up, as it had all been loaded up and returned to his home town by his friends.
|Should I stay or should I go now? |
|The heavyweights of the Amateur Lightweight Sport Bike series |
|There she goes again!|
|Rain tires it is... Or maybe not?|
|Tomas Casas (1 Pro Sportbike) Yamaha R6|
|They are repairing his track suit with safety wire. Gotta love it.|
|Something here isn't the same... |
|Hmmm. Should I ride the blue one, or the blue one today?|
|Static balancer FTW|
|Toni is scraping the tread off of her tire so she can go faster... :P|
I saw this, and thought of the movie scene where Burt Monroe is carving tread off of a motorcycle tire so it wouldn't delaminate at high speeds. "The World's Fastest Indian", and if you didn't shed a tear when they told him he couldn't race, then you are nobody I want to know. ;)
Toni wants to go faster too.
|Oh, please let me take this around the track... And across it... |
|Ducati Multistrada, the first I'd ever seen. |
|And this is why I can't afford to ride the Ducati Multistrada|
|There are all kinds of dogs here at the races. |
I love all the dogs that come out for the camping. It seems that many motorcycle enthusiasts love dogs as much as I do. (Is that possible? Perhaps almost as much as I do)
|They tore down my house and turned it into a parking lot!|
Elevenses is just going to be a nice hot cuppa with the last of the milk.
The day heats up and the weather is getting muggier by the minute. The rain gear gets draped over the windshield to dry, while my tea steeps.
|What can I say? A nice hot cuppa is a moment worth capturing and preserving for all time. :P |
|Shaun's family is now sitting up in the stands, and Sadie finally parks her bike to watch the races start. |
|The peanut gallery|
Been there, done that, crashed in that corner. I really enjoyed chatting with Dale Murray and his gang on the stands that afternoon. I had a finicky Chinese speaker that also worked as an FM radio for the event broadcast, but I'd neglected to charge it last night, and they all encouraged me to get it working again as the polite Chinese lady told me "low battewree". Okay this happened later in the day, but the ribbing I got was almost enough to make me want to change seats, but not really. Great conversation among motorcycle lover is always a draw for me.
John in the center started racing in the VRRA when he was 64, and had to give it up when he hit 71. It gives me hope that I can get a team together and give it a go... Would you be interested in sponsoring me?
|But can't see stop so I can sniff is butt just a little bit?|
Unfortunately where there is racing there are also mishaps...
|Jordon does it again|
It was a bit of a show watching Zac prepare for his ride back home... His Aerostitch suit takes a bit of finagling to climb into.
My stuff was ready to go, and I had about a three hour ride ahead of me to get back to the Island, and as it was now about four o'clock, I threw my gear on and got onto the gravel road to find myself behind a bunch of bikes with Zac up there second from the lead.
Can you make out the cars up ahead? That'll slow you down every time. Thankfully there was nothing pulling a trailer yet, as I think we had beat them out of AMP.
|These roads are a bit of fun. |
Just at Mill Village Zac made a left onto the access road bound for the 104 and I headed North on Highway 2 bound for Truro, and got into a pattern of passing cars here and there, all the way into Truro itself where i got a bit confused and had to ask my GPS for directions as I wanted to take NS 311 up to Tatamagouche. The 311 is a real joy, twisty enough to engage, but with enough passing opportunities so that getting caught behind two or three cars isn't the end of the world. I caught up to a couple of cruisers with PEI license plates on their way back to the island, but the sight of oncoming cars with the wiper blades working had them pull off to don their rain gear, while I decided to brave a little wet and continued up the road, to find that I would be skirting a rain front my entire ride up the 311, my entire ride home in fact, and the wee spritz just outside of Truro was only enough to make me wipe my visor clear once before I rode out from underneath it and back into the sunshine.
|NS 311 Looking North|
I hooked up with NS 6 in Tatamagouche, the Sunrise Trail, and shot up it to Tidnish Bridge which put onto NB 970 for a brief time before arriving back into Port Elgin and the home run for the island.
|The Cape George bit is the really fun part|
Quite a few island riders will take the bridge across, run the Sunrise Trail
into Pictou and take the Wood Islands Ferry back to the island. It's a fun day trip.
There was plenty of traffic leaving the island, but heading to it I pretty much had the road to myself until the bridge itself where I followed a mini van part way before heading into the Esso with 275km on the tank and one bar of fuel remaining.
|Boss Boss! The Bridge! The Bridge! |
|Confederation Bridge Selfie! |
I stopped for a coffee and a break at the Borden-Carelton Esso, and met up with John riding a 2018 BMW S1000RR which sort of surprised me, as he's an older gentleman, and told me he loved the first one so much, that he bought this as a replacement for the one he bought in 2013. He'd been day tripping out to Shubie, and had got caught in torrential rain just in Truro and said he had been soaked, head to foot, then dried out the rest of the day. I think we left the races at the same time, but he cut some corners or used that 180hp to thrash and trash me. :)
|Another gift from the mainland that I'm trying to beat back to Charlottetown. |
As I rode East along the Trans Canada towards Charlottetown and home, I saw some nasty rain streamers out over the Northhumberland Strait that I was pretty anxious to beat into town, as I had no desire to do my rain gear again, this close to home, and I was fortunate enough to leave all that rain behind me as I pulled into the parking garage to drop the kickstand and begin unpacking the bike.
|I think I've got this beat...|
|The camera didn't let in enough light, but it highlights the system I was trying to beat|
Not too shabby, about 640km round trip. I'd left about 1600 and had everything unloaded at about 1930 that evening, and apart from getting dripping wet Sunday morning, I had a great weekend and made a number of new friends.
|640km this weekend.|
The odometer shows just over 78,800km and I'll be adding another 4,000km to it in the first couple of weeks of August as I head back to Onterrible to visit family and friends, and take in CSBK Round 5 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
. Look for me camped between turn 2 and 3 on the inside. Cheers!