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Montreal - Yukon - Baja California and back: mototherapy on a Guzzi V7

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by bustermc, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    I'm reposting this from another forum I'm on, so as to not pull people away from this site.

    Day 1, Wednesday July 31st

    Two of my best friends moved from Montreal to Whitehorse a couple of years ago, and ever since then I've wanted to head up there and visit them. After a few months of going back and forth about it, I finally took the plunge and left this morning. Secondary objectives for this trip were to help treat my anxiety / depression and to cover more states that I hadn't been to yet. My goal was to visit all 50 before I turned 40, but I think I'm going to fall just short of that mark.

    IMG_20190630_074616.jpg

    I left downtown Montreal around 9am this morning, the V7's saddlebags filled with rain gear and tools (flat repair kit, battery booster, cordless pump) and the dry-bag atop containing 7 days worth of clothes, my SLR (by far the heaviest piece of gear on the bike, amazingly), my laptop, and camping gear. The handlebars held my phone and USB ports.

    Against traffic but in tune with our perpetual road construction, I rode through Quebec's Laurentian mountains, past the iconic hangouts of my youth: St-Sauveur's water park where I'd spend summers as a teen, Mont Tremblant where I discovered how terrible I was at snowboarding, St-Adolphe-de-Howard, where I'd rent a cabin and a PWC and go zooming around the lake.
    IMG_20190721_202043.jpg
    The last long epic trip I'd done was 7 years ago, on a Victory Kingpin, from Saskatchewan across the midwest, Mexico, Gulf Coast, and then back up the Atlantic coast. By most metrics, that sort of bike is much more appropriate for this kind of trip... but the bike I have now is the V7, so it'll have to do. Today I learned the great and not-so-great things about using a V7 for such a trip: The gas tank, mileage and range are fantastic. The seat takes some getting used to, but you do get used to it. Even with the flyscreen, there is some wind. It vibrates more than other bikes. It's more than powerful enough on city streets and country roads, it'll buzz along happily all day at 75mph / 120kmh, but on the parts when I'm on the superslab, it's lacking a bit in power. Overtaking across a dotted yellow is a hairy proposition.
    IMG_20190731_114108.jpg
    I arrived at my first stop, Val-d'Or, after about 550km and 6 hours including stops. The bike averaged 4.7L/100km or about 50mpg, which is great considering I wasn't very easy on the throttle. I was couchsurfing tonight, and after meeting my couchsurfing host, Thomas, we went out to the local microbrewery (Le Prospecteurr), where I introduced him to the concept of a flight of beer, which he had never heard of before. After some interesting discussion on Quebec independence and language laws, we called it a night and I prepared my bags for the next day's ride to Kapuskasing, ON.
     
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  2. Raven

    Raven Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    You must have passed through Mont Laurier. It's one of my destinations when I do an extended afternoon ride from here. Have a great trip!
     
  3. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Day 2 - Thursday, August 1st, 2019
    [​IMG]
    My couchsurfing host, Thomas, had to leave for work around 7:30am this morning, and didn't have a way to lock the door from the outside, so that means I had to leave at 7:30am this morning as well. Actually, I just brought all my gear out at that time; I took my time lashing everything to the bike and saying bye to Thomas. This ride had me continuing on the 117 until Ontario and up the 11 to Kapuskasing.

    [​IMG]
    The flora, roads and altitude morphed slowly, respectively becoming more diverse, smoother and higher as I rolled into Ontario, but to my surprise all the signs remained bilingual. In fact, for the rest of my ride in Ontario, I'd see lots of signs promoting French schools and schoolboards. When I lived in Saskatchewan years ago, there was a small-but-vibrant "Fransaskois", but the significant prevalence of French-language throughout rural, Northern Ontario surprised me. The roads were fairly curvy and there were some nice sweepers coming down hills or around lakes that the Guzzi and I enjoyed.

    [​IMG]
    There was quite a bit of construction going on, with lanes being closed and impromptu construction stops / automated traffic lights handling shared lane duty. The waits were never too long and allowed for a bit of a stretch with the bike in neutral.

    I stopped for breakfast in Kirkland at Crabby Patty's Family Diner. It was a bit strange as it's more of a cafeteria feel and there was no music playing - I also think it's set up in a retirement home or something, which would explain the age difference between me and, well, everyone else there. Prices are cheap, the waitress is pretty, and the breakfast is solid.

    [​IMG]
    I arrived in Kapuskasing around 2pm, went to the local Tim Horton's, and got in touch with my host here. About a half-hour later he sent me his address, and I rode about 4 minutes to his place, after picking up a couple beers from the Beer Store for him. It was pretty cool to meet a dude from Mexico living all the way up here. He had some other guests staying over too, a coworker from Mexico and a girl from the Congo. We talked until he had to go to work around 8pm, had some awesome home-cooked Mexican food, and he introduced me to a real interesting Taco documentary on Netflix. He even had a bunch of cool spices, peppers and other ingredients and cooking implements he brought with him from Mexico. I went to bed pretty early that night after getting all my stuff ready for the next day.

    [​IMG]
    My host got back from work around 5am, which is around the same time I got up. A hot shower later, I got the bags back on the Guzzi and started on my way to MacLeod provincial park, where I'd be camping for the night.

    [​IMG]
    I finally got my Spotify playlist setup properly so I could listen to some music while I was riding. I'll post three songs I enjoyed riding with that came up each day.

    Today's playlist:
     
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  4. Blaufeld

    Blaufeld Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    I found that Sons of Anarchy seasons1-7 playlist on Spotyfy is very "road-friendly"... :)
     
  5. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Day 2 - Friday, August 2nd, 2019
    [​IMG]

    As with most events in my life, any problems I've faced on this trip have been of my own making. The day before I left Montreal, I was staying at a friend's place reminiscing with some buddies about terrible 90s music. I had queued Quad City DJs - Ride the train as my contribution. However, I forgot to switch back to my regular riding playlist, so on my first day of riding the only song that I could play until I pulled over halfway through the ride was Ride the train. I lasted about 12 seconds into it until I just turned off my Bluetooth and listened to the sound of the Guzzi and the wind.
    [​IMG]

    Today's camping setup was a similar fiasco. After riding about 4 hours from Kapuskasing to Macleod Provincial Park, I paid for the campground - I had no idea that campsites have become almost as expensive as motel rooms - and proceeded to unpack my camping gear in a leisurely fashion. This fashion grew increasingly unleisurely as dark storm clouds moved in almost instantly and thunder cracked in the distance. I hadn't setup my one-man tent/bivouac in a couple years, so it took me longer than usual and it wasn't until I was [ostensibly] safe inside that I realized I had put on the rain cover inside out. This meant that the lining zipper used to shut the cover was facing inwards, which led to a constant drip of water as the torrential downpour got more and more intense. It wasn't too bad and I just put my water bottle underneath it, not unlike I had placed a bucket under a drip in my apartment ceiling a few weeks before. Fortunately, the rain didn't last too long and I was able to exit the tent and properly unpack my stuff off the Guzzi.
    [​IMG]


    When I did a similar trip a few years ago, I did a lot more camping as it was considerably cheaper than getting a bnb or hotel room, especially in the US. During those trips, pretty much every campsite I stayed at had families or couple in RVs or vans, or fellow riders, and when they'd see me or my bike, they'd invite me over to eat with them, or have a drink, or just hang out. Folks just seemed... genuinely curious about one another. I only have this one camping experience this year to go on, but everyone at the campsite just seemed busy, stressed, preoccupied and indifferent. Basically the opposite of how you'd expect folks to be out camping. Couples were fighting, parents were yelling at their kids, even the lone dog I saw just lied down in the dirt by the tree it was tied to, bored and sad as its family ate dinner in silence a few feet away. I love Canada, and I feel privileged to be riding across it in a cool little motorcycle, yet I can't help but feel that our reputation for being the friendliest people on Earth is becoming a little outdated.
    [​IMG]

    I rode into Geraldton that evening pretty hungry, in search of a decent bite to eat as I didn't want to subsist on another fistful of trail mix for the evening. At home I pretty much follow a vegetarian / pescetarian diet, but when I'm travelling, on the road or in a foreign country (or someone else's home), I'm a little more flexible. The only decent place I found that was open was a fried chicken KFC-type joint called Rotiss-a-fry. Maybe it's just that I haven't had this sort of food in years, but it was very, very, good, and just what the doctor ordered after a day of riding and frantically setting up a tent. They even had Diet Dr. Pepper, which was a rare treat. I spoke a little bit to the cute girl at the counter, who came to my table for a bit and answered some of my questions about the area, her First Nations stories, etc. She asked if she could take a picture with my bike and I happily obliged. I rode back to the campsite, stopping at the local Husky on the way to gas up. I was tailed by an RCMP SUV the whole way, but I imagine it was just a random check as they decided not to pull me over.

    [​IMG]

    I had set up my tent on a [mercifully] pretty flat / soft space of the campsite, and I have a good sleeping bag, but I still decided to take a sleeping pill tonight in case I was woken up halfway through the night by a thunderstorm. After checking over the bike's tires, brakes, etc, I fell asleep pretty quickly watching some downloaded TV on my laptop. The next morning, I got up feeling much better than I did the previous day, and went for a long walk by the campground's beach, getting in a quick swim and some photography before hopping back on the V7 and continuing on towards Thunder Bay.
    [​IMG]

    Today's playlist:
     
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  6. Didier

    Didier Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    :cool: bon voyage
     
  7. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Day 3 - Saturday, August 3rd, 2019
    [​IMG]

    The 11 is a real nice road all the way from Quebec to Thunder Bay. The temperatures had been steadily rising and the gas prices had been steadily dropping as I got closer to Thunder Bay. This late in the season, I crossed lots of motorcyclists going in the opposite direction; August is not the busiest time of year for long-distance motorcycling towards the prairies and BC. Fully-loaded Harleys, Goldwings, V-Stroms and GSs were as common as minivans on this stretch of road. There's something else I didn't expect - cars, trucks and SUVs completely pulling over to let motorcycles pass when there's a double yellow line. I don't really see the necessity of that as they're already going the speed limit and every few kilometers there's either a dotted passing line or a two-lane passing stretch, but I did follow a few sportbike riders who would tailgate cars and high-beam them to pass, so I guess that's a thing over here. Still, it bothered me a little - dude, you're not Eddie Lawson in the GP, just some Kyle scaring a grandmother in a Honda Odyssey. You can wait until it's safe and legal to pass.
    [​IMG]


    Since today was a short ride, I took some more time to stop and explore the little town that dot the 11 on the way to T-Bay. Lunch was at La Luna Cafe in Nipigon, a pretty little town just off the main road. There's a great tower you can climb to get some beautiful views of the surrounding valley and river. It felt good to get some healthy, fresh, veggie food after the deep-fried madness I allowed myself yesterday. Folks in these small towns are as friendly as you'd expect, and every time I stopped I had to plan a few extra minutes for folks who wanted to ask me about the bike and the trip. Most people interested in the Guzzi were either under 30 or over 60, either wanting to know what the hell it was or tell me about theirs from the 1970s.

    [​IMG]


    The first things I noticed upon reaching Thunder Bay were the many Hell's Angels vests on bikers, either standing around talking or riding slowly around town. That's something you won't see in Montreal, Sherbrooke or elsewhere in Quebec ever since the crackdown on organized biker gangs years ago, the most famous of which were the Rock Machine and the Hell's. With Thunder Bay being the homicide capital of Canada - take that with a grain of salt, as its homicide rate is still about 10x less than equivalent cities in the US - and drug dealers moving up from Toronto to prey on poor, disenfranchised, mostly First-Nations residents, some see the resurgence of the Hell's as a stalwart against this new influx of criminals, in the face of an ineffectual police force. Whatever it is, it can't be good for the people who live here. I also learned that unlike Bandidos in Texas, Hell's in T-Bay won't wave back at you, at least not if you dare to ride your dainty little Italian motorcycle next to their white-smoke-spewing earth-movers.
    [​IMG]

    Rolling past the cardboard boxes and discarded needles of Victoria Mall, I found my AirBnB (I could not find any Couchsurfing hosts in time) in a nice side street not too far from the mall geographically, but a world apart in terms of wealth and cleanliness. The Airbnb was a nice house run by an... interesting hippie lady. On the bright side, she had some awesome pets (including a super-affectionate pitbull) and a clean home full of character. On the less-than-bright side, there were two other renters there as well, who had been staying longer-term, and they didn't really seem to take to folks staying for just a night - especially out-of-towners on a fancy bike with a bunch of expensive electronics. It wasn't a super-friendly vibe, so I locked all my stuff in my room pretty quick and headed off to ride around the city. I get a lot of people asking me if I'd ever had issues with safety or cleanliness when using Couchsurfing, and my reply is always that I've had better experiences on Couchsurfing than on Airbnb. Folks who want people to stay with them because they're genuinely interested in meeting others are generally more fun, respectful and diverse than folks who are just looking to make a buck.
    [​IMG]

    The northeast part of the city, near Prince Arthur's landing up to the Trans-Canada, is a beautiful place to walk and ride around. After turning off my GPS, gassing up for the next day's ride, and just exploring the city a little, I parked near the marina and walked up and down the lakeside for a couple hours, grabbing a drink and people-watching along the water while enjoying some live music. I eventually rode over to Lot 66 and sat at the bar for some surprisingly good seafood and a cocktail. Eventually, some dude in a mid 2000s base-model Aston Martin - the type of car that you buy when you want to look rich to the uninformed masses, but don't actually have very much money - pulled up, parallel parking almost right up to the engine cover of my V7. Maybe I was in "his spot" or something. He was some probably some local small business owner or minor celebrity, charitably described as "difficult to look at", and the conventionally attractive waitresses waited their turns to greet him and let him basically grope them as he pleased. Ah, slices of life in small Canamerican towns. When I paid the cheque and left, he came to the window, ostensibly to ensure that I didn't ding his McSportscar when I got back on my bike. I didn't, although I may have hit the throttle a little harder than usual over the loose gravel as I sped away. It's the little things.

    [​IMG]

    Today's Playlist:
     
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  8. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Day 4 - Sunday, August 4th, 2019
    [​IMG]

    This is another beautiful stretch of road dotted with creeks, lakes and rivers. Every rest stop is a photo opportunity, of the sort you'd find on a brochure to attract foreign tourists to Canada. I had originally only planned to ride to Dryden, but ended up further, in Vermilion Bay. I would've kept going on towards Winnipeg already if the weather hadn't turned sour. There was quite a bit of construction going on, but the delays are usually short and the construction crews are somewhat friendlier (and more efficient) than those we're used to seeing in Quebec. There are a few areas where it's just an automated stoplight controlling the lane direction, but the others have crews manning a stop/slow sign, and seem to be happy to be there, engaging in conversation, smiling, waving at motorcyclists, and generally enjoying their job. There also seem to be far more women working in these crews than you'd find in Quebec.

    [​IMG]

    I stopped for lunch at the unfortunately named Robin's Burger Scoop on Main in Ignace. It was pretty busy, with both families on road trips and a few motorcyclists. I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised at how fresh the food was. I even ordered a kid's size ice cream cone - treat yo' self. I had the veggie wrap and some salad, which were both great (I figure the eponymous burgers are even better). The folks who worked there were very friendly too, despite how busy the place was. As crappy humans, though, we always find room to complain. The family sitting next to me had just gotten their food when the young mom flagged down an employee to complain that her daughter received an extra order of fries instead of a poutine and how she's definitely not paying for it. The employee quickly apologized and offered her the fries for free and to bring her a poutine on the house, but she kept going on about it and how annoyed she was, despite the employee resolving the issue immediately. "*****, eat your goddamn fries and shut the **** up" is what I said to her in my head. In the real world I just smiled, kept my head down, and carried on reading the local paper.

    [​IMG]

    In good spirits and with good weather ahead, I continued on towards Dryden. I didn't have a place booked for this evening so I'd roll into town and find somewhere to stay. I wasn't too worried about that as I'd marked a few decent motels along the way. There were some nice curves on the way and the V7 handled all of them as well as it could with 120lbs of gear high on its back and the stock suspension struggling to keep up. Some of the quicker turns unsettled the bike a little but never to the point of needing a change of undergarments. I'm really enjoying the bike on these roads and it just feels cool to be on something with a little more character and soul (yes, machines have souls) than the baggers, tourers and adventure bikes that dominate these roads. Sure, the V7 might be more at home commuting through traffic across the potholed streets of Montréal or exploring the craggy roads around the Italian lakes. So might I, for that matter. Yet I'm here now.

    [​IMG]

    The soccer mom at the burger joint brought me back to the reality that we - humans - are very different than we were just a short time ago. When you're swooping down a mountain curve with a cliff on one side and a beautiful lake on the other, listening to your transversally-mounted V-twin from the Old World, you don't have time to think about that. You're enjoying the feeling of lightness as you play with gravity and inertia - everything else takes a backseat to what you're experiencing. Folks will argue that people never change, that we've always had theft, jealousy, greed, murder, addiction, war, that we've always been ready to step on others to climb our ladder. As a techie, I thought that access to information would change that. That we'd become more sensitized to the plight of Others, that we'd be ready to change ourselves for the sake of changing the world. But we didn't. We've become lonelier. We're content in our literal and figurative cages, isolated from one another, mostly unaware of what anyone but our selves, friends and families are feeling, living and suffering. Motorcycling is a metaphor for breaking out of that isolation. As lonely as a solo trip across the 2nd largest country in the world is, you're more exposed to those around you and increasingly aware of everyone you're passing. Situational awareness becomes a form of social awareness.

    [​IMG]

    A little past Vermilion Bay, the sky very quickly turned from blue to a dark grey. I turned back and headed to the Northside Motel I had passed a little while back, where a daughter and mom team were busy cleaning the rooms. They said they'd have a room ready in an hour, so I rode down the street to Buster's BBQ / the 807 café. I just had another salad, which perhaps isn't the best menu item to have at a place called Buster's BBQ, but it was fine. I avoided the storm clouds tailing me as I rode back to the motel, checked in, pet the old dog at the front desk, and crashed onto the bed with my laptop. Not technically on vacation, I had some catching up to do at the office. In the real world.

    Today's playlist:
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
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  9. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Day 6th - Monday August 5th 2019 (yes, I miscounted day numbers. Or time travelled).

    [​IMG]

    I've been planning shorter riding days. When I did my last big ride from Saskatoon to Mexico City, I was 7 years younger, 30 lbs lighter and on a bike with almost three times as many CCs. I'm trying to stick to the country roads as much as possible but I'm also hoping to be in Whitehorse in a week or so, and sometimes that means choosing the road more travelled. It's not like I'm not getting some great riding in, and the T-Can and provincial roads out here can't really be compared to superslab, but I still get a little tinge of guilt telling me I should be on some unmarked fire road 2000m up replete with bears and coyotes and sharks, lest I not be considered a "real adventure biker".

    [​IMG]

    As diligent searching on a mobile app would have it, I managed to find some wonderful couchsurfing hosts in Winnipeg, and after the day-and-a-half I spent with them, it felt like winning the Couchsurfing lottery. Sometimes you meet folks and immediately know you'll probably grow into friends very quickly. I had a beautiful room in a house that rivals most AirBnBs I stayed at, my own bathroom, and a gorgeous back yard that looks over the Assiniboine River - which they convinced me was totally safe to swim in. It was perfectly fine, as it turns out. Most of my time in Winnipeg would be spent hanging out, eating, talking or exploring the city with my hosts. They were riders too, and I got to check out their sweet Goldwing. I'll always be impressed at how comfortable these mammoths are, and how all that weight just disappears once you're at speed. After dinner, we went to the forks and walked around, took some photos, had some ice cream, and jaywalked more than I cared to admit. I would've given me a ticket.

    [​IMG]

    More than once I caught myself feeling lucky that I had met this couple, appreciating how they stood out with their warmth, welcome and hospitality. I remember feeling that my surprise was a little unfortunate; that folks like these seemed to be the outliers in a sea of folks yelling at wait staff because they got their order wrong. We've grown entitled and used to having everything laid out perfectly for us, and when things go wrong, we don't know how to use that hurdle for growth, learning or anything other than throwing a tantrum. Moments like these, meeting folks like this retired couple who opened their home and their hearts to a complete stranger, are fewer and farther between in a sea of indifference, like the spikes of a heartbeat monitor connected to a slowly dying patient.

    [​IMG]

    It feels like there are more (and more visible) sights out here run by Parks Canada, my former employer. Montreal has the Lachine Canal, and some beautiful national parks not far from the city (which I frequent over the SEPAQ Quebec Provincial Parks quite a bit more because a) the motorcycle roads are insanely good and b) unlike their provincial counterpart, they allow dogs), but our counterpart to the NPS seems to be doing a better job of staying relevant here in English-speaking country. The Forks are a great example of a successful public-private partnership; if the area was run only by the feds it would quickly grow desolate and irrelevant, and if it were left up to private investors it would be a shopping mall with 3 Starbucks, a vape shop, an IMAX theatre and an access fee. Instead, you're left with this lovely, quirky, picturesque slice of downtown Winnipeg where you can sip a beer out by the water, get some locally-made ice cream or spend no money at all and just explore the art installations and riverside.

    [​IMG]

    The rest of my time here was spent at their home, listening to amazing (and hilarious) travel stories, learning about music history, reminiscing about dogs long gone, old motorcycles we used to ride, and hanging out with deer in the garden. Following a fantastic breakfast the next morning, I insisted that my host take the Guzzi out for a spin while I finished packing, as he'd been not-so-subtly eyeing it every time we walked by it. After not-much-arm-wringing at all, he acquiesced and said he'd just "take it around the block real quick". He returned 15 minutes after I was done packing, wearing a huge grin on his face, and I felt like I repaid a tiny part of the huge favor they'd done me by letting me into their home. "She's got some character", he said through a comically wide smile. Yeah, I think so too.

    [​IMG]

    Today's Playlist:
     
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  10. Didier

    Didier Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Nice pics...
     
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  11. Blaufeld

    Blaufeld Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Very, very beautiful report!
     
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  12. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Day 7 - Tuesday August 6th, 2019

    [​IMG]

    I've gotten traffic violations in the past. Not many, as I'm generally a pretty law-abiding citizen and my driving style is usually best described as "going to church with a tuna casserole on the passenger seat and a box full of easily-bruised puppies on the rear bench", and I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in many, many years. Ironically, my driving style is usually inversely proportional to the capabilities of the vehicle I'm driving; I rode my big bore custom Lloydz Victory Judge quasi-dragbike like a grandmother, but my non-turbo '93 Saab 900 would regularly go around corners at speeds it was assuredly not designed to. I've been pulled over out-of-province fairly regularly on "random" checks (tattooed brown guy in a lowered black ATS-V? yeah, it happens), but rarely ticket. The two times I *was* ticketed (once in a Hyundai and once in a rented Chrysler 300) were totally my fault, so I didn't even bother to dispute the officer's version of things, just paid for my ticket pretty much the day I got it.

    [​IMG]

    Today was different. Over the years, most - but not all - of my interactions with cops have been decidedly negative, which has left me with the difficult-to-change impression that most - but not all - cops have what we in Quebec would colloquially call "des faces à fesser dedans". Loosely translated, it implies that the sort of gal or bloke who goes into the profession today usually starts off with a chip on their shoulder, an us-vs-them mentality, and an inability to cope with the social issues of the jurisdiction they're serving since it's usually not where they're from. Policing used to be about relationship-building and connecting with your community, and that definitely isn't the case in most neighbourhoods I've seen or lived in. Or maybe it's always been this way and I've just been to a few too many G7 and WSF protests.

    The marked SUV was never stopped, it was behind me way before the speed limit changed from 100km/h to 80km/h on Manitoba Route 11. I easily recognized the RCMP push-bars and although I was already riding slowly and safely at the speed limit, I ramped it down another notch out of respect for the officer. The SUV zoomed past me (over a double yellow with no lights or siren), accelerated, hit the brakes, accelerated again, then turned on its siren. I figured the driver was either in pursuit of a chipmunk or drunk off his ass, so I gave him a wide berth as he pulled to the side of the road.

    [​IMG]

    He immediately got in back of me and it was clear that I was being pulled over. I got to the side, turned off / got off the bike, removed my helmet, turned off my GoPro and got my papers ready before he was even out of the car, my hands and face in full view. The driver's door opened, and Chad / Kyle / Brad walked almost crab-like towards me, his right hand resting shakily on his service firearm. Now listen, I get the whole "99% of traffic stops are routine but the cop has to be ready for that 1% that can turn deadly" spiel, but there's a judgment call to be made sometimes. Here I am, a motorcyclist with plates from 3 provinces away, on a small-displacement bike loaded down with what is obviously camping gear, clothing and water. I've done everything I can as a biker to make you feel safe and comfortable, but you're making sure I know your gun can come out any second. Terrible way to begin an interaction, Officer.

    I'll spare you the gory details. I wasn't speeding. He was caught off guard that I spoke English. He ignored all my questions. Handed me a ticket a few minutes later, and laughed and walked away when I asked him for his name and badge number. It was a targeted ticketing against an easy mark who was obviously on a cross-country motorcycle trip and wouldn't be able to show up in court to defend themselves. I soon pled not-guilty by mail anyways, and I don't care about the money but I ain't paying a dime in this case. Maybe it'll come back to bite me, but existence is illusory and we'll all be dead eventually. Plus I still have to make it to Yorkton on my speed-demon-public-danger 50hp Moto Guzzi V7 superbike.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, yeah. I also stayed at an AirBnB in a painstakingly-manufactured suburban part of Yorkton. Went for a run along the canal. Met my AirBnB host, who was both unexpectedly very attractive and, I was shocked to learn, over a decade older than me while effortlessly looking a decade younger than me. The age of modern cosmetics -what a time to be alive.

    I forgot all about the speeding ticket.

    No playlist today.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  13. Raven

    Raven Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    Back in the 70s quite a few friends of mine from here in Quebec we living and/or travelling in Western Canada. They all have stories of being hassled by police because of their Quebec plates. They also were run off the road many times by angry anti-Quebec rednecks in Alberta.
    I'm shocked that this mentality still exists today. Most of these type of people are too busy harassing our First Nations people to be bothered with Quebecers.
     
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  14. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Yeah I was actually warned about this by a few folks but didn't take it seriously. The vast majority of my time and encounters in the prairies was very positive. It just takes one bad apple though.
     
  15. crzrdave

    crzrdave Just got it firing!

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    I can relate. Back in 1974, we were returning from a cross country run back to New Hampshire when our group was pulled over on hwy. 80 in Indiana. We had 2 custom Honda 750s and an old primer Ford van. I was trailing at 65 mph in the fast lane and noticed a trooper on my butt so I moved into the slow lane. He sped past me and pulled to the front of our group. Before you know it, we had cruisers coming from everywhere. In all, after they searched the van, we were given tickets for speeding (65 in a 55) which we paid in La Porte. So much for stereotyping.
     
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  16. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Location:
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    Days 8-9, Wednesday August 7th 2019

    [​IMG]

    I used to live here. It feels like more than a lifetime ago; more like a dream I had a lifetime ago. I'd gotten engaged to an impossibly gorgeous Middle Eastern girl - think Kim Kardashian, except with a more bipedal body and her hotter sister's face - in Toronto just around the 2008 economic downtown, decided I needed to get a "real job" to prepare for our lives together, and got a position at Parks Canada, where I was quickly shipped off to Saskatoon. She convinced me to sell my beloved Triumph Bonneville T100 "because someone she knew died on a motorcycle back home". I spent the next two years flying back and forth between Saskatoon and Toronto, keeping a long-distance relationship afloat, somehow still managing to save up for the lavish wedding her parents insisted we have by living frugally (no mean feat in Saskatoon) and getting rid of most of my things. "Voluntary simplicity", the ascetics call it. A week before the wedding I learned that she had not been, let's say, completely honest with me during our engagement, and I'll leave it at that. I broke it off. The wedding had already been paid for, and there were no monetary gifts coming in from the now-fictitious guests. I lost most of my life savings up to that point; it turns out that accommodating your fiancee's parents every whim and desire was apparently *not* the best way to prepare your future. I tried explaining to them that hosting a 700-person wedding in an criminally-overpriced city like Toronto during high season was marginally more expensive than inviting the 700 people in your Northern Iraqi village to a pot-luck wedding in the desert, but I didn't speak Aramaic. Cue sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll phase.

    [​IMG]

    The first time I tried to kill myself I was sitting on the railing of the CPR bridge late one night, my legs dangling over the frozen, smoking waters. I slowly slid closer to the edge, and although this seemed like a pretty ***** way to go, a part of me argued that the combination of hitting the ice / water, and the shock from the cold, would make it all end pretty quickly. I heard a whimper next to me; Ryu's paws were getting cold from sitting still. Dammit, I totally forgot I took my dog with me on this walk. As broken a person as I was, I wasn't going to abandon my pup in the Saskatoon night in the dead of winter. I sighed loudly, unable to cry, and walked Ryu back home, his long tail clanging happily against the occasional lamppost. Later, I'd be smarter about it. I'd leave him at a coworkers place with the pretext that I was going away for a weekend; people tripped over themselves to dog-sit for me. Ryu's pretty endearing. I'd leave an envelope full of cash at the bottom of him food container for them to find, in the hopes that they'd keep him, take care of him and give him as good a life as he'd had thus far. Both times, though, it was a complete bust. The meds and liquor I consumed prior to placing my Sako rifle's barrel to my chest only served to make me quickly pass out before I could pull the trigger. The same liquor and drugs I'd later mix in the hopes of overdosing only made me violently ill, drifting in and out of consciousness, dripping sweat, vomiting and then sleeping on my hardwood for the next 21 hours. It also left me with a monster appetite, so I cooked up some scallops in white wine. Not only did I suck at getting married, I also suck at suicide. We'll just add that to the list, then. I can still ride the heck outta a motorcycle, at least.

    [​IMG]

    The thing about us pesky humans, though, is that we're not just our bodies. We're multidimensional. Which means there are other, non-physical aspects of ourselves we can "kill" when the difficulty of living overtakes the means to cope with it. I took a sabbatical from work, sold more of my stuff, and scrapped together enough money for a decent motorcycle to travel on. I test rode a Suzuki M109r, a Harley Nightster, a Harley Street Rod, and a Victory Kingpin with aftermarket pipes. Settling on the Kingpin, I quickly strapped some camping gear and basic supplies and left. That was meant to be a whole other trip report. Self-effacement by motorcycle, it was.

    [​IMG]

    Fast forward 7 years later - almost to the day - and I'm riding into Saskatoon, still intimately familiar with where all the landmarks are. The Guzzi rode itself to my old office on 22nd st, I took my helmet off, and immediately saw one of my old coworkers walking back from her lunch break. "Hi Nicole!", I surprised her - 7 years later. She was literally crying tears of joy to see me, and took me up to my old office to see the few coworkers still left that I used to work with. I spent some time catching up then hopped back on the bike to buzz around town and photograph all the spots that meant something to me. My old apartment. Kinsmen Park. Midtown. Circle Drive. Idylwyld. The golf course. The casino where I developed a gambling addiction after my breakup. They were all just places now, neither good nor bad, just locations for my Guzzi to enable me to revisit a version of myself from a different time and space.

    [​IMG]

    I ended up staying with another of my former coworkers and close friends, who had helped me a lot through some tough times. Her and her family had moved from Saskatoon to a gorgeous acreage 30 minutes outside of town, replete with dogs, cats, and other critters. However, one thing I *did not* count on was the fact that said acreage was down 35km of terrible, dusty, loose gravel and rocks road, frequented by quarry lorries and inebriated pick-up truck drivers.

    [​IMG]

    The Guzzi was not happy, and the rear tire spent most of its time trying to correct itself with traction control turned up to 11. The bike itself struggled but it's all down to the tires; if I was riding a V7 rough with those MT60 tires, it would have been fine. But the Pirelli Sport Demons are mediocre as is on good pavement; they're absolutely useless on bad roads. The bike felt like it wanted to go into a low-speed tank slapper more than once but I finally made it to their place, and spent a great next couple days there. I didn't want to ride back on that road until I left, so I traded two wheels for four and borrowed one of their many cars. I caught up on work at one of the many new cafes in the city and had dinner with my old boss and a few other folks I used to work with. Couple days later I was back on that old dirt road heading to Edmonton. The Guzzi and I were content to finally reach pavement. I was leaving Saskatoon yet again, but this time, on better terms.

    [​IMG]

    Today's Playlist
     
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  17. Blaufeld

    Blaufeld Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Sad to hear about your past troubles.
    I stop by this forum mainly for your travel story - keep on!
     
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  18. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Quebec
    Day 10 - Friday August 9th, 2019 - Edmonton, AB
    [​IMG]

    The billboards slowly morphed from Monsanto and Farm Equipment manufacturers to Opioid addiction hotlines and car dealerships. There aren't many opportunities for fun motorcycles roads riding into Edmonton, especially coming from the East. I could've dipped into Elk Island National Park for a bit, but I'd been there roughly 47 times already. Instead I just rode into the city centre to pick up some toiletries from Shopper's Drug Mart. Now there are a few cities I've visited that have decent population sizes but oddly barren city centres; Edmonton, along with Memphis, Phoenix and a few other city centres are eerily quiet at night, with festivals and special occasions being the exceptions. Downtown Edmonton is basically a big shopping mall criss-crossed with wide, barren avenues.

    [​IMG]

    I lucked out again and stayed with a super-friendly couchsurfing host, Tai, a Postdoc from Vietnam who was working on some crazy high-tech petroleum chemistry stuff that's way above my paygrade to understand. Tai lived in a retirement home that opened up a few units on each floor to non-retirees. I was told that the purpose of this was to "liven up" the place with younger faces and give the retirees some variety and fresh people to talk to. I believe that it had the opposite effect; when the elevator door opened and the elderly lady saw a small Asian dude and a bearded tattooed brown guy smiling at her, she clutched her purse a bit tighter and moved into a far corner of the elevator. Most of our other interactions with the residents were along those same lines, except for the asthmatic couple smoking outside when I pulled up, who waved and wished me a safe ride.

    [​IMG]

    Tai made some fantastic Vietnamese food with ingredients he'd got in Vancouver - definitely not vegetarian, but I didn't ask. It was all delicious. We hung out on Whyte avenue most of the evening and visited some cool spots, including a neat biker cafe whose name I'm forgetting. There were a couple Guzzis there. Whyte was far more bustling than the downtown core, owning to the amount of students nearby and the quality of the bars and restaurants in the area.

    [​IMG]

    Universities are part of the stoppers that keep places like Alberta from falling apart when global economic winds shift directions, in addition to allowing a motorcyclist some decent eye-candy while riding through campus... Despite the changes in oil prices and the devastating effects they've had on Alberta's economy, students still need to go to school. They also need to eat, take public transport, drink beer, buy things and go to events. A good university isn't just an academic centre, but an economic one in a city like Edmonton or Calgary. When the oil companies packed up and left, people like Tai still came here from around the world to pay tuition, spend money and keep the gears running.

    [​IMG]

    A few years back, I visited Dubai and then Singapore back-to-back. It struck me how rich both cities were, but also how differently that wealth came across. Dubai seemed to be content to rest on its laurels, a bit of a faded glory, with supercars covered in dust parked haphazardly along the roads, almost like the ultra-rich folks who lived there knew that everything that brought them their wealth would eventually fade away, but that it didn't really matter because they were already set. Singapore, early on, had diversified into biotech and IT much quicker than the UAE, and was/is better positioned to build sustainable wealth into the future. The work ethic didn't allow for things like pride or patriotism - just elbow grease and forward thinking. I feel the same way about Alberta and Quebec. Alberta had the opportunity to diversify into clean energy but didn't, and now the province is playing catch-up, whereas Quebec leapfrogged the whole issue and has always invested massively in clean energy and future tech - even though it, like Singapore, has its own set of dystopian vagueries. At any rate, both the Guzzi and my wallet appreciated the clean, cheap gas we were getting in Alberta, which was about 75% or so less than it was at the pumps in Quebec.

    [​IMG]

    After some drinks with Tai, more delicious Vietnamese food and him soundly destroying me in a game of 7 Wonders, I called it a night. The next morning, I headed to Alberta Cycle Motorsports, the local Guzzi dealer in Edmonton, just to ask some questions and do a quick once-over on the bike. They were fantastic. Everything was still perfect on the bike 6,000km in - even the air pressure in the tires hadn't changed. I also saw the beautiful V85TT for the first time, which is probably the bike I should be doing this trip on, but it's a bit too tall for me. It's still the first adventure / touring bike that looks like something I'd want to actually ride, maybe with the exception of the MV Agusta Tursimo Veloce... but given my pisspoor wrenching skills and zero dealer network, I'm told I'd be even more crazy to ride an MV to the Yukon than a Guzzi.

    [​IMG]

    Hmm... maybe next year...

    [​IMG]

    Today's playlist:
     
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  19. bustermc

    bustermc Just got it firing!

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    Day 11 - Saturday August 10th, 2019 - Grande Prairie, AB
    [​IMG]

    More straight roads, more flat prairieland.

    I wish we'd stop and look at ourselves for a second or two. Everything, everywhere is on Google Maps. Restaurants, hotels, lakes, national parks, trails, strip clubs. If something isn't on Google Maps, it probably doesn't exist, and if it is but doesn't have good reviews, it's probably not worth visiting in the first place, right? People are dumb. "This lake is beautiful. Water very reflective. I especially appreciated the bird sounds and calming breeze in the morning. But parking was tight, the trail had too much gravel and the hike was a little too hard on my joints. 3 stars / 5".

    [​IMG]

    Each successive generation grows more jaded and blase about how accessible and easy-to-find everything - including incredibly subjective experiences - has become. My grand-parents claimed that nothing would ever beat the moon landing. My parents said we'd never see another event like the Berlin wall coming down. Caught between Gen X and Millenialism, I feel like we're the most accurate in calling it a day regarding novelty. I look for a good bar / restaurant / motel on Google Maps, and either feel vindicated about my decision by how good it is or decide that most people are idiotic prokaryotes and can't tell good service from getting kneed in the face by a drunk Lindsay Lohan. South Park has a fantastic episode on this.

    [​IMG]

    I tend to use reviews pretty often to find recommend food / lodging / activities in cities or places I'm not familiar with. I kind of take it for granted that if a place has 4.5+ stars, I'll enjoy the best food / views / experience / babes / whatever. That's just not the case, and I've figured out why. I'm just not like most people, and I just don't like most people. Heck, I'm riding across the continent on a small-displacement Italian street bike with only a vague idea of why, when and how. For better or worse, there aren't handfuls of folks doing the exact same thing.

    [​IMG]

    The weather was getting chilly and I couldn't find anyone on couchsurfing, so I splurged and got a fine hotel room at the Quality Inn - look out, we got a big spender over here! Not saving for retirement does have its perks. It was a nice room with a fireplace and a kitchenette, and I was happy to have a big soft bed all to myself and a comfy couch to catch up on work from. I then headed out to Better than Fred's - a bar with 4.5 stars on Google Maps, so I'm sure to have a great time there, right? - for some food. After answering a bunch of questions about the V7 to curious passerby when I parked outside, I had a great salad and some good beer, accompanied by drunk teenagers stumbling around my bike, and a surly barmaid who made sure that I felt as unwelcome as possible by serving the 4-5 people who came after me before finally coming around to take my order. I was clean-shaved so I think she thought I was First Nations, which would not be the first time I'd been mistaken for one. One she asked for ID and saw my province / name, she was suddenly the sweetest gal in the world, full of "you betchas!" and "sure thing, love!".

    [​IMG]

    2 stars out of 5, would not return.

    Today's Playlist:
     
  20. Raven

    Raven Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    My daughter had an Iranian friend who was living in New Mexico for a while. He pretended to be Mexican. He was treated much better this way. It was preferable to be Mexican than from one of "those" countries.
     
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