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Discussion Starter #1
I've spent the last 10 months obsessing about taking 3 weeks to myself, something I've never done before, and riding West, seeing the Canada that I've never seen with my own eyes before.

With the support of an amazing wife, I did it. I got back last week, and have been just getting my thoughts together and ready to get it all down. I know how much I love reading about other people's trips, it's like fuel when I can't be on the road...so I thought I'd share it. It's going to be a bunch of posts, there was way too much to get down all in one post.

The idea started percolating last last year, and I knew that as much I love the Volusia, that I would need a little more to get across the country and back in one piece. The Vol could do it, no doubt, but when I saw that 03 Nomad discounted so heavily, brand new on the floor of the stealer's, I had to pull the trigger. Fret not, I kept the Volusia. She's too great a ride to let go.

I spent the winter on the Kawasaki Delphi board (great folks) figuring out what I had to do to perfect the ride. Risers, backrest, sissy bar, throttle lock, highway pegs, sissy bar bag (T-bag), tank bag, tool kit, portable air compressor, tire kit hmm let me think was there anything else? Oh, the GPS. One can't be traipsing across the country all la-dee-dah without a GPS!!! You all know what the buying frenzy is like with a new bike. It's a frickin' sickness...but we indulge, don't we? After all, even though I only saw 2 other Nomads in 12000 kms, I didn't want the slightest chance that my bike was just like anyone elses!!

People asked me why on earth would I do this trip all through Canada - going through the Northern US is apparently far better a ride than going all the way across Canada. Well, I wanted to see Canada, I wanted to lay my eyes on the rest of my country, and I can't very well do that from the US.

Why this trip in the first place? I'm a fierce patriot, been all over the East Coast (Cabot trail, anyone?) but I've never had a reason to go west. I'm from Toronto, and it's easy to get caught up in what's going on here and to forget that there's a whole rest of the nation. Given the chance, driving (better yet, riding) across the country is something that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. Seeing it all firsthand, with your own eyes, it brings it all alive and makes it real in a way that can't be done any other way.

So as the trip got closer and closer, I got more and more nervous. This was to be a solo trip, a chance for me really to get lost in my own head for an extended period of time, a chance for me to really miss those back home. Plus I had a close look at my trip on Google Maps, and was seeing for the first time exactly how much distance there was between my stops. It seemed like hundreds and hundreds of kilometers where there was just ... nothing.

I was also hearing from people about their experiences crossing Canada, and it was almost all the same.

1. Ontario is huge - it'll take days just to get out of the province.
1.1 There's nothing in Northern Ontario except moose and bears just waiting to spring out at you from the side of the road.
1.1.1 Moose and bears will kill you. Kill you dead.
2. There's nothing in Manitoba
3. Saskatchewan: see Manitoba
4. The Rockies are so incredible that words don't do them justice.
4.1 The problem with the Rockies is that you have to go through Alberta to get to them (easy, Albertans...that's a joke)
5. It rains a lot in British Columbia, but it's worth it.

I came up with a plan - a conservative 500 km/day would let me ride harder some days and easier others, and would let me have a couple of days off the bike at some point. I had some friends that live in Salt Spring Island in BC that I could spend some time with before turning around and heading home.

Next post...how the *&^% do I get all this &^%$ onto the ^%$#ing bike????
 

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Discussion Starter #3
pics

I have pics, but resizing them so the board will accept them looks to be a bit of a hassle. Is there an easy way to do it?
 

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Re: pics

oomis said:
I have pics, but resizing them so the board will accept them looks to be a bit of a hassle. Is there an easy way to do it?

Crate a blog baby. You can go to google and find blogs and just create one. They are free and have no limits on uploading pictures. Just post the link here and we will follow.

I did one for my Western Rally trip here http://westrallykyburz.blogspot.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Packing (should be here)

Didn't' realize that I had hit "New" instead of "Reply"...just to keep everything in one place...

Part of my obsessing for this trip was in making sure that I brought everything I need, and nothing I didn't. Some advice that was given to me that I found really valuable...

You never need as much as you think you do. For three weeks, the only clothing I brought was 3 t-shirts, 1 tank top, 1 long-sleeved shirt, 2 pairs of jeans, a pair of long johns, 4 pairs of underwear and 4 pairs of socks and a pair of shorts. I ended up kinda stinky at times, but whatever...

The reality is that in good weather, you need one change of clothes for being on the bike and one change for off the bike. Being on the bike, unless it's brutally hot or wet, isn't that taxing, and I found it pretty easy to wear the same clothes more than once.

I bought a T-Bag for the trip, and it worked out great. It was only one bag to unload from the bike and to load back up at the beginning of the day. The saddlebags contained the toolkit, raingear, my tent, sleeping bag, portable air compressor, tire repair kit and kitchen sink. Everything that I needed to carry with me but didn't need to bring into the hotel every day.

The one thing I debated was bringing a spare container of fuel. Canada's a biiiiig country, and (as I was to discover) there's a whole lot of nuthin' inbetween not so much. I wasn't getting great fuel mileage, about 250 kms to a 5 gallon tank, and I just wasn't feeling that confident about some of the stretches. I did a test packing to make sure that everything I wanted to bring would fit in a way that I was confident about, and there was just no room for the jerry can, so I left it behind. I just didn't want to carry a potentially explosive package for 12000 kms, just in case. It just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
 

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Can't wait to read more - keep the installments coming. And can't wait to see pics, too.

Cricket
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Day 1

The bike was loaded up and ready to go on Friday night, so all I had to do on Saturday morning was to turn the key and go...

The plan for my first day was to head north from Toronto to the Bruce Peninsula to catch a ferry to Manitoulin Island. This route was recommended to me as a way to avoid the insane traffic that goes north from Toronto into cottage country, and seriously, cottage traffic is madness.

The crappy thing about being a motorcyclist in Toronto (don't get me wrong, I wouldn't live anywhere else) is that it takes minimum an hour to get out of the city to hit any kind of decent riding. And 6 am on a Saturday morning turned out to be no different. With an 11 am ferry to catch and the 401 reduced from 8 lanes to 2 because of ... well, who cares why, I started to stress, because this is not how I wanted things to start out....

But I know there's nothing I can do about it except settle into the bike and go with it. EVERY route out of the city is going to be screwed, and any time I spend looking for another way to beat traffic is just going to be wasted time.

Wasted time...huh...it wouldn't take long for the concept of "wasted time" to really become meaningless to me. I just didn't know it yet.

Manitoulin Island is (apparently) the world's largest freshwater island (it's in Lake Ontario) and the only freshwater island with an inland lake and islands in the inland lake.

I managed to get to the ferry, called the Che-Chemong, just in time. They waved the bikers on first, and I scrambled to get my bike tied down. I've always been paranoid about it tipping over in the boat - I know, ridiculous, but nonetheless.... I snapped a quick picture of the bikes all together in the hull of the boat and headed upstairs to a beautiful, beautiful day on the deck.

3 seagulls were chasing the boat, alternately diving into the water or chasing each other around, and I spent 45 minutes just lost in them. Have you ever done that? Just get lost in a daydream that's happening right before your eyes? I find that it happens more easily to me when I'm on the bike. Well, not ON the bike...on account of the losing concentration and crashing and dying and all...

My back is hurting, and I can only get about an hour at a time out of it. It's something I'm worried about, because if it cacks out on me mid-trip, I'm screwed. So I'm listening to my body really carefully.

In Espanola, after the ferry unloads, I make a call to a friend of a friend to see if they're around. He's not, so I leave a message telling him I'm pushing on and on I push.

The night finds me in a campground close to Thessalon, ON, on Brownlee Lake, about 75 kms east of Sault Ste. Marie. The tent goes up and I head into the water, which is BEAUTIFUL. There are no bugs to speak of, and there's a warm breeze that's making the pines sing.

The campsite's owned and run by a German couple, and they make homecooked dinners onsite. I can smell it wafting up and hot damn, am I hungry. They end up doing me a beef stew over egg noodles, something I did NOT expect from a $16 campsite...

I realize that I didn't bring anything to do except my journal to write in. No books, no music, just me and my thoughts. That's an awfully long time to not have distractions...
 

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Re: Day 1

oomis said:
Manitoulin Island is (apparently) the world's largest freshwater island (it's in Lake Ontario) and the only freshwater island with an inland lake and islands in the inland lake.

er....

It is actually between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. :wink:

But I am going to enjoy reading about the trip.

And yeah, 401 traffic sucks, 24 hours a day. It is the only highway that I have been stuck in traffic, at a dead stop, at 3am.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
He made it out of the campground...

Grrr....stupid life, getting in the way of things...


The meal that I had at the campground tasted amazing. I'm sure a lot of you can relate, but this was really my first experience with the phenomenon where food somehow tastes so much more amazing after a long day on the road. I had heard others talk about it and it was one of the things I was looking forward to finding out for myself.

A braised red wine stew with egg noodles, a garden salad, a microbrew and homemade strudel with ice cream. Say no more.

The campground is about 75 km east of Sault Ste. Marie, so the next day the plan was to get up early and have coffee and breakfast in the Sault and to make my way from there. One of the pieces of advice I was given was that it's best to get miles in as early as possible, so I had a plan to get up at 6 am every morning and to ride for a couple of hours before stopping somewhere to have breakfast. I am no morning person, but I was up at 6, had my camp broken and was on the road by 6:40 am.

Just in time, too, because as I was pulling out from the campsite the rain started. An even, methodical drizzle, nothing I can't handle. I have good raingear....

It's been weeks since this area's had rain, so everyone in the area is ecstatic about it. A local at a gas station told me that there are some big hydro-electric projects going on north of the Sault, and that they've had to stop because of the risk of forest fires.

In the Sault, I'm at the Tim Horton's and I ask some old-timers if they have heard the weather forecast. It leads to a conversation about the bike, where I'm going, etc. I tell them my plan to ride through Northern Ontario, north of Lake Superior, and they trade looks between themselves like I'm nuts.

Now, I've heard a lot about the ride north of Superior, and so I've prepared myself as best I can. They proceed to warn me to get fuel every chance I get, because you never know where the next open gas station will be. This is compounded by the fact that my bike takes premium, and so even if they're open, I don't know if they're going to have high-test stuff.

They also tell me to watch out for the moose.

Now, I've never actually seen a moose, I was born and raised in Toronto, 4.5 million people in the GTA. I'm not a country-boy, not really the outdoors type. Again, I've heard the moose bit, but something in their eyes, the way they looked at each other really hit home. And 30 minutes later, when I saw a moose carcass on the side of the road, surrounded by broken glass and plastic, I sat up and started paying more attention to the "beware of moose" signs on the side of the road. The thing was huge - there was no way I would have survived an impact. They wander up onto the road and the demolish cars - some of the moose actually walk away from the collisions.

It ended up being a weird, unsettled day. From rain, to looking like it's going to rain any moment, to crazy fog, to beautiful. For most of the day it was really hot, which made dressing very difficult. I don't feel comfortable not wearing my jacket, and it was swelteringly muggy under the raingear. Because the weather was so unsettled, the raingear kept going on and off...

I stop for the day in a place called Schreiber. I had seen a sign for a room for a place called the Barrel Inn, $37 a night. My hopes were not high, but I wanted to keep my hotel budget under $50 a night, so away I went.

The place was awesome, a quiet, clean little room, with an outdoor hot tub and a sauna. Can't ask for much more than that after a long day.

Dinner was in Terrace Bay, about 15 minutes away, and at 6 pm on a beautiful sunny Sunday evening, I hit a spot check for drunk drivers. It was a little surreal, but when I thought about it a little bit later, it made sense. They held the spotcheck at the only time when they knew they wouldn't catch anyone, I think. There's nothing else to do up there...
 

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I know that area.

I flew over it in May, when I flew out to the rockies. I remember looking down and thinking of what a challenge it would be to ride along that road.
 
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