Sunday, 18 May 2014


MAY 18, 2014

I am in pain today but it was worth it. Since I last posted I had had the opportunity for one extended motorcycle ride and that was only about 150 kms. The weather here has been that bad. All that changed for one glorious day yesterday as it got up to 24 degrees in some parts of the island. I took full advantage and my riding buddy Frank (furry G) Gogos and I headed Northeast to Bonavista in search of icebergs. By the end of the day we had travelled over 600 kms and had some great shots of said icebergs.

The pain part relates to a recent car accident I had. A young woman came through a stop sign and cut me off resulting in the front of my truck buckling the side of her SUV. My neck, shoulders and back haven't been the same since and I have been popping painkillers, muscle relaxers and using ice extensively. Next will be ongoing massage and physiotherapy. This is all such a nuisance but if I don't see to it, it makes general physical activity uncomfortably sore and things like extended motorcycle rides painful...but I endure!

Bonavista, for anyone not from the rock who happens to stumble 'cross the ramblings, is about 280 kms northeast of St. John's. It is believed to be John Cabot's landing point when he "discovered" the new found land in 1497. My riding buddy this day was Frank. We work well together as we both enjoy extended highway rides and a rapid pace...though some how he has been more fortunate than I in avoiding the long arm of the law as regards speeding tickets. Our first stop of the day was actually in Trinity. Again for any non-natives, Trinity is another historic Newfoundland community. I believe it lays claim to the location of the first established court in the new world. It is a beautiful place and the drive around the harbour to enter the town is one o f the most scenic in the province. Frank and I stopped in to see two great people, Kevin & Loretta Toope. They are friends and Kevin also shares his vast knowledge of the island's history through his walking tour of the town. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend this. 

Like many Newfoundland outports, Trinity had started to fade as our inshore cod fishery became more of an offshore fishery, and then was virtually destroyed by over fishing and mismanagement by the Canadian government. In the 90's however, Rising Tide Theatre came to town to create a theatrical re-enactment based on the rich 500 year old history of the area. The theatre grew and so to has the fortunes of the town. One wonderful aspect of Trinity is that it retains it's historic feel. The buildings are restored to a by-gone era and I always enjoy strolling it's lane ways and footpaths. The vibe of the place and the various plays put off by Rising Tide are another feature, in addition to Kev's tour, that make it a great place to visit.

Frank and I had a fine feed at Dock Marina restaurant, right on the water, and had planned to head back to St. John's. Frank was anxious to get back and see the first game of the NYR vs Montreal Stanley cup semi-finals. His support for Les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge is an area of discord between us, with me being a long suffering member of Leaf's Nation. Anyways we got talking to Kev & Loretta and Loretta's brother, Wilson, who told us of icebergs off Bonavista and along the shore. Plans changed, Frank missed the game (just as well given the case of whoop-ass NYR laid on Les Habs) and we headed for the bergs. Frank is an avid photographer and the following pictorial record is his fine handiwork. I like how the bergs and the bikes together give a sense of what this place is like. We're riding, a summer activity, but the reality that we are a little island in the north Atlantic, susceptible to many different climate elements, is brought home by the bergs in the background. By the way, the reality of our temperamental climate was made all to clear today as we reverted back to rain, fog and 4 degrees....sigh ;(    Anyways, yesterday the sun did shine and here's proof!

bergs and the coastline off of Cape Bonavista

Bikes with north Atlantic in background

iceberg alley

me and the bikes and a huge ocean

Frank's ride

Me & my 2000 Magna V4

Frank & his Harley

Close to the edge at Cape Bonavista

Cape Bonavista lighthouse

ice pans, growlers, as we call them here, in Bonavista.

There is still a fishery in Bonavista Harbour

So, that is the story of my first good road trip of the 2014 season. This weekend in Newfoundland, Canada for that matter, is the Victoria day weekend, in acknowledgement of the birthday of a former British monarch. (NL was Britain's first colony). Here on the rock we just call it May 24th, though it isn't always on that date...go figger! Anyways, now that it has come to pass we "hope" the weather will start to warm up on a more consistent basis, though today didn't bear that out. Still, it didn't snow and we have had May 24's where it has.

All the Best to anyone who happens by.

See You Out There...Ride On!

Monday, 5 May 2014


May 7th,  2014:

I awoke to snow this morning...snow and a stiff neck. The snow is due to 'ol mother nature, the stiff neck is courtesy of a young and inexperienced driver who cut me off on my drive home from work yesterday afternoon. 

I have been working on this post sporadically over the past few days. It's just a few thoughts on some significant life events a a bit of my story on how I became HighwayMan.

As this spring stumbles into summer several milestones are on the horizon. Most immediate of these is the pending end of the school year (my 27th) taking me one year closer to retirement and the end of my professional career. On a personal level, today I took my youngest out for her first driving lesson. By the end of the summer she will be ready to take her driver's license test...which will bring with it a whole new bunch of worries.

As the temps nudge upward, I have gotten a few motorcycle rides in. 2014 is my 8th season as a rider and very early in the season I will surpass 100,000 kms under my arse. I'm pretty proud of that milestone, though I'm not gettin' a big head over it. I  know lots of riders who have ridden that much and more in the same period. I also know many who have ridden less. For me riding is such a big part of my life/identity/long-term plans that the 100,000 kms is pretty huge. I think back to the day in June 2007 when my cousin, Brian, came by the house on the '85 Kawasaki 750 that he'd just bought for $1200.00. I had always wanted a motorcycle and when Brian came by something clicked. I had ridden as a kid (borrowing friends dirt bikes or riding on back with buddies) but never owned one. Then life came along and before I knew it I was 42 and...

Anyways, back to Brian; I said too him "man, if I can get a bike for $1200.00, I'm havin' one." Long story short, two weeks later I was the very proud owner of an ice metallic blue, brand spankin' new 2007 Honda Shadow 750 V-twin. With its raked out forks, 21" front wheel and low-rider seat it was cooool!!! I put 4500 kms on it my first year riding and over 16,000 kms in my second. I was, and am, hooked.

A file copy, but exactly like my first bike. It called my name from the showroom floor.

I've owned two bikes since the Shadow, which I sold again after two years and 21,000 kms. It was a great bike but I soon became a highway rider and it was nothing for me to head out for coffee and travel 600-700 kms  before I made it back home. The V-twin 750 wasn't made for that kind of highway riding. I needed something with more oomph! My second bike, purchased in December 2009, was a 2000 750 Honda Magna V-4. Those two extra cylinders made all the difference. It had 18,000 kms on it. It has provided me many hours/miles of therapy and pure peace & contentment. It has also resulted in my meeting and having extended conversation with several RCMP officers in our fine province. That bike does accelerate VERY quickly!  I have personalised it in several different ways:                                           
All black as it was when I bought it
Customised paint & also with custom made leather seat. The copper color is the paint code, called burnt orange, from a '69 Plymouth GTX that my brother owned.

I created the tank logo, combining several old Honda logos I found online

Amongst my riding friends I am known as HighwayMan, for my penchant for long highway trips. I found the logo online and had the side cover decal made up. Barb wire pinstripes by Neil Butler at "Signs First"

HighwayMan logo embossed in seat backrest

Me trying to look far more badass then I have any hope of ever being. Note the dual headlights I had installed and also custom made leather tool kit behind me.

Cleaned up and ready for the open road.

The Magna is 14 years old now and has 90,000 Kms on it. One of the big and unexpected positives of my motorcycle experience is that it has become a shared passion with my wife. Sherry is not a rider but a happy passenger. We both love riding so much that our retirement plans are centred around it. When the time comes we'll sell the homestead out from under the young'uns, buy the RV and, with bike in tow, we'll ride wherever the sun shines...I hear Arizona is quite nice! With this in mind, and given the advancing age & mileage on the Magna, we decided to purchase something more suited to long haul two-up riding. I found a reasonable deal on a 2008 Honda ST 1300 V-4 with only 10,000 kms on it. It has all the amenities of a tourer i.e. tour pack/rack, side bags, larger seat and a few cushy add-ons like heated grips and butt-warmer for NL fall and spring riding. It also goes like a scalded cat... not going to help my situation vis a vis getting to know RCMP officers :(

The ST with the North Atlantic behind us at Cape Spear, the eastern most tip of North America.

So that is a bit of my story about becoming a motorcycle enthusiast. The bike has taught me that we all need a passion, something that gives to us far more than it takes from us. When I ride I feel genuine peace and freedom. In the coming days and weeks the weather will begin to warm up on a more consistent basis (snow currently in the forecast) and I'll have some pics of actual road trips to share in later postings. 'Til then...

See Ya out There.... Ride On!