GMP 9 – Where have I been?

In truth, I’d forgotten that I even had a motorcycle blog. Things have been a little topsy-turvy in my life lately and I haven’t been able to ride as much as I’ve wanted to – no long trips at least. I’ve been commuting to work and then doing short trips within the Okanagan but nothing more so far in 2017. Perhaps that will change, perhaps not. But I’ll be around more soon…

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GMP 8

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My old ’04 Suzuki GS500 near the runway at the Oliver airport as an old war plane lands. (2013)

At the Car Wash…

20140803-223953.jpgGrowing up, I lived on farm. I remember washing the family car a grand total of never while we lived there. We moved to the city when I was 14 and I regularly saw people in their driveways spraying, sudsing, and waxing their car presumably to make it look shiny and again. Although the idea of making a 20 year old car look new again was lost on me.

But for some reason I wanted to try this car washing thing. So one day, our family’s unsuspecting brown ’85 Toyota Carola station wagon got a wax and pollish. Notice I did not say “shine” but “pollish”. Because it did not shine. Not even close. Dull lustre perhaps. It was probably what we would now call “matt” finish, which has been a recent trend in motorcycles (and guitars too). It seems that I didn’t really know that I had to actually buff the wax to a shine rather than just leave it on, which required far less time and way less energy. It rained the next day anyways and was mostly gone, although I do remember seeing wax in the corners and ridges around the doors for years after that.

Washing the motorcycle has become a chore that is not bothersome or boring in any way. I’ve done it a few times now and have been getting better at it the more I do it. My 6 year old daughter even washed her little pedal bike with me once and had a great time.

I start out by removing the panniers (I wash them separately) and then stuff a little wad of shop towel into the tail pipe to limit any water going into the can. Then I hose down the whole bike – blasting the wheels, chain guard, fairing, wind screen, lights, and mirrors. I don’t dwell on the brakes, chain, or seat that much. Then it’s into the suds bucket with warm water and a marine-grade gel detergent that has worked really well for me so far. It’s good on multiple finishes and is good on the grease too.

I live in an extremely dry climate. When we first moved here 7 years ago, I once took a load of laundry outside to hang up to dry and started a load in the drier at the same time to see which dried faster. The drier lost. So washing the motorcycle is really not a long chore at all. I know some people wash their bikes and then take it for a short ride to dry it off but so far everything dries out pretty fast right there. By the time I get to work on scrubbing the back of the bike, the front is nearly dry. And that’s still what happens when I wash it in the shade. I should probably work it in sections (scrub – rinse, scrub – rinse) and maybe I will try that next time.

Once the scrubbing is done, I’ll rinse it next and then get out the shammy to dry off the water spots. The dry climate is quick but the hard water will leave spots if I’m not careful. I’ll pay special attention to the fairing, wind screen, dash, and mirrors at this point. I love clean mirrors and they were a big selling feature for me with this bike because they don’t vibrate at all. Really. IT’S AWESOME! The only time I’ve seen them get a little twitchy was in a strong head wind going into Vancouver and it was only the left mirror.

I usually bring out the panniers and scrub, rinse, and shammy them down carefully. I won’t remount them to the bike until both are dry. No reason really except that it’s easier to lube the chain with them off.

Once the bike is dry, I’ll get out the metal polish and work it into some of the shiny bits until they gleam. By that time, even the ground under the bike has dried off and I’ll roll it back into the garage where I’ll lube the chain and apply and protectant (Formula 304) to the seat. The panniers get remounted and then it’s usually off to mow the lawn or do something other more chore-like chore.

The value of a clean bike is deeper than that however and maybe I’ll explore that a bit more in the future.

First Road Trip – Done

So I made it back from the wilds of the west coast in one piece and in considerably good weather for this time of year. The elevation changes made it a little bit colder at times but it was generally a thoroughly enjoyable ride the whole way. Traffic was light and I never met any stop and go while in the city. Perhaps I just got lucky this time.

I was much more relaxed heading home and I had a little more opportunity to just enjoy the ride. The weight of the reason for the trip in the first place had been lifted so maybe I was just in a better mindset but I think it had more to do with just getting used to the pace. Long trips on a bike are different than long trips in a car. When my iPod headphones shifted the wrong way in my ears or I couldn’t get my gloved hands to find the volume control buttons, I couldn’t just fix it as I drove like I could have in a car – I had to find a safe place to pull over. Because the weather was better, there were more bugs out enjoying it and they always seemed to go splat right in my line of sight on my visor.

Once I got into the rhythm of the occasional stopping to stretch, drink some water, walk around, and get set to ride again, everything became much easier. I even had a great chat about bikes with a guy at Manning Park who parked his pickup truck next to me on his bathroom stop. Motorcycles seem to inspire conversations with people that I might otherwise never speak to and I’m starting to really enjoy that aspect of it.

So if you’re going to be riding Route 3 from the Okanagan to Vancouver (or the other direction) here’s a few tips.
– Manning Park is a great place to stop for a longer break.
– There is a Subway in both Princeton and Hope for a lighter style of lunch that is easy on the stomach for long rides. (In keeping with the eating light while riding advice that I’d read a lot about…)
– High mountain roads can be a lot cooler than you think they are.
– Expect the unexpected. I was lucky on this trip but I’ve done it enough in cars to know that plain weird shit happens on those mountain highways that you just can’t ever expect to happen and it’s best to be prepared.

Hope everyone rides safe this summer and enjoy the mountains!

~Luke

After a day of riding

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Long trips on a bike give me time to reflect.

No, wait, they don’t.

20140610-180839.jpgBecause I have to pay attention to what’s going on around me all the time. There is no time for reflecting. It’s all about being aware of what’s around you and experiencing it all. Like when I climbed through the mountains leaving Princeton towards Manning Park and I experienced a good drop in temperature. Thankfully there was a conveniently located mountain resort lodge that sold souvenirs and supplies like long sleeve t-shirts that work well under cheap textile riding jackets.

So here’s what I learned about the first part of my journey, when I was looking at all the life. There were plants and birds and rocks and things…. wait, I’ve heard that somewhere before…

20140610-180649.jpgThings I learned while riding 440 km’s to Vancouver from the Okanagan:
1 – MP3 players are good.
2 – My new bike is pretty bitchin’ in the mountain roads. Lots of power, easy to handle, fun to drive.
3 – Highways that are boring to drive on in a car are even more boring (and more dangerous) on a motorcycle.
4 – There are truckers out there who really want to drive motorcycles because they drive their trucks like that. Even double trailers loaded with lumber.
5 – Motorcycles always know how to pose and smile when you take pictures of them in front of beautiful scenery. Weird, but true.

I’d also read on blogs and in magazine articles that eating light while riding is better than having huge meals. I would just like to take this opportunity to agree with that hole-heartedly. Best advice I’ve had so far.

More riding for me tomorrow. I’m back on the bike for the ride home. Quick trip but a good excuse to see how the new bike performs on Rout 3. If you haven’t done it, it’s a great ride. If you live in a place that doesn’t have mountains and valleys like this, then you’ll just have to come visit sometime. Or wait until a continental subduction zone is created along a fault line in the ocean that’s nearest you and just wait for those mountains to rise up. That works too. Either way, safe riding!

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Let’s Get Loaded

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Loading the bike up for a trip for the first time is a learning experience for sure. For instance, today, when I loaded my bike for a test ride to see how it handles with a load, I learned that I should really push the bike out of the garage first before loading it up. That would probably make it much easier to get it out of the garage. Now I know.
I’ll be doing my first long ride this week to Vancouver and back and will be blogging about it at some point.
See you on the road!
~Luke