Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Trans-Labrador Highway

Unlike Peter, who feels regret at not having seen something beautiful sooner, I'm feeling exhilaration at the prospect of presently seeing a beautiful place for a second time. Chris and I leave tomorrow morning; departure time 4am. You can follow our progress through the wilderness here. Thanks to Scott Blaylock for loaning his Spot device.

Peter: where is that sat phone that we signed out and were never able to return in 2007?

Days 3, 4, and 5

A very quick update, with more to follow tomorrow. I am now in San Luis, having crossed into Mexico today at Brownsville. I entered MX much farther south than planned, and a day later. Yesterday was spent getting tires changed out and riding down to Brownsville.

All I shall say about Mexico for now is that crossing the mountains into the interior was some of the best riding of my life, and I have not yet felt unsafe. I've only felt that familiar regret for not having seen something beautiful sooner.

Today I leave for Puebla. More to come.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Days 1 & 2

After two days, I am in Little Rock, staying at the most simple of motels.

Saturday morning, Sam and I left Kensington Market in a light rain. I was in a bit of a fog, having had friends in for dinner the night before. A good hour on the road solves all problems. We weren't long to the border, after which we headed across the north end of Detroit before turning south for Toledo (home of one of America's great art galleries, you should know) and Dayton (the home of the Wright Brothers).

We ended the day just over the border in eastern Kentucky, where the Ohio river separates Kentucky from Indiana. We had wanted to stay at Big Bone Lick Park, a place famous for the finding of mammoth bones in the 19th century, brought there centuries earlier by the salt lick. They were full, so we paid for a site on a large lawn, by the river. It was a splendid place, with a light overcast and the sun setting behind the hills across the river. I retired to bed after losing a game of two handed Euchre.

The camp site was also downhill, so when the sky opened up at 5 am, things turned rather ugly. Talking from one tent to the other, Sam suggested we get up and ride, not least because we were exposed to the lightning. I was unpersuaded, until 7 am, when water began pooling ion our tents. I dressed completely in the tent and set to packing up. There was no point in bagging the wet tent, so I strapped it to the bike.

We escaped the site as quickly as possible, and had breakfast by the highway. Sam left for Ottawa (a mere 1250 kms!) and I left for Little Rock. I feared a complete day of rain, but truth to tell things dried up pretty quickly, save one bit of hard thunder showers.

Rather than ride through Memphis, I rode across the top of Kentucky, dipping into Tennessee before crossing the Mississippi into Missouri, and then into Arkansas.

Riding American highways on a Sunday is a great pleasure. There are wonderful divided highways winding across all these states, often with reasonably high speed limits. If you are willing to ride a touch over the limit, you can make fine time.

The ride down the Mississippi delta was hot, terribly so, reminding me what the big challenge of this ride will be. But I will take it over the rain.

This morning I leave for College Station, where I hope to get my tires changed out before leaving for Mexico Tuesday morning. It promises to be a long hot ride to get through northern Mexico in a day.

Keep looking ahead.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The more things change...

Three years ago, I flew into Africa after a nice conference in Manchester, where I chatted with Peter John. This week and last, I spent time at a conference in Dublin whrere i chatted with Peter and worked with two colleagues in Oxford.

After the 2008 conference, I headed straight into Egypt. Sam and I struggled to free our bikes, and then took off for Cape Town, via Nairobi, among many other places. Now, another week after thinking about political science, I am hopping on a bike to Mexico, then Central America, then Columbia and Ecuador, finishing in Lima, Peru. I'll ride the rest of the way to Cape Horn in December.

I am on a different bike this time. No more KLR 650s for me, but also no more supersport FJR1300. It will be lots of work to maintain 120 kmh on average, but still possible to hit 150 kmh when the road calls. I bought a new to me 2008 Vstrom yesterday. I am looking forward to stretching it out on the highway.

Keep looking ahead.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

First rides: Peter's departure & Lab Hwy

The official start of the trip to the Cabo is only four days away; Peter and I will leave Toronto on Saturday morning headed for Kentucky. He will continue on alone for several weeks, putting the bike into storage in Lima until Dec 1. At that point, he'll re-connect with Nathan and me and we'll ride together to the end of the road. I don't see anything that could go wrong with that plan!

Peter has promised daily updates on his progress and he's even taking a camera this time (thanks, Yvette!!).

I'm looking forward to first long weekend of riding, but I'm a little nervous about how comfortable the Strom will be after a day of interstate riding.

The following weekend (over Canada Day) Christian Girouard and I will do a four-day loop from Ottawa to Port-aux-Basques, NL to Blanc Sablon, QC to Labrador City, NL to Ottawa. 5000kms of riding in four days. No problem.
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Friday, 10 June 2011

Nathan's bike and some early season rides

Now that spring (and summer) are here, I've been getting out as much as possible and now more and more as things warm up.

A few nights ago, I ran up to Twin Lakes for the evening (actually didn't get home til 1:30 - still moderately light out. Saw a grizzly sow and her three young. Mum reared up and hissed and swatted the earth and air as I rode by. I felt a lot more exposed on a bike then I normally do when I see bears in a car. A bit of fishing (no luck that night, water was a bit high) and some grilled cheese on the fire... mmm.

Mid may I went down to Atlin for the weekend to camp out and explore - took this photo looking south over the still frozen lake.

In prep for the trip, I've done a few mods including wiring in a GPS, some heated grips and a 12V outlet which should come in handy for charging up electronics.

Oh yeah - and the bike? An '08 KLR 650 - low mileage, bought 2nd hand summer of 2009.