Saturday, 21 June 2014

Life in the Moment

OK, as you can probably tell from the title, this is going to be one of those what does it all mean type posts, so be forewarned. Stop reading now if it's not your cup-o-tea. Still there??? Anyone...

 I was riding my bike yesterday. It was one of those sporadic warm summer days we get here as the season desperately tries to gain a foothold. I was thinking. I do some of my best thinking while riding. I used to write songs too. My son once suggested that if I ever released a cd it should be called "Songs from me Arse" as I was often sitting on me arse riding as the lyrics came to me...but I digress. Anyways, the thinking I was doing yesterday was not good thinking. It was about work and as I'm driving up water Street it hits me...It's a beautiful sunny day, I'm cruising on my motorcycle and here I am thinking about WORK!!! In that moment of realisation, a eureka moment I call those, it occurred to me I was missing a more important moment, indeed a bunch of them. I pushed work aside and took in the pleasure of that sensation of freedom that riding gives me.

I often talk about, think about, read about, claim to believe in, the importance of living each day as if it were your last and finding happiness where ever you can. However, as much as I do this talking, thinking, reading and believing, when the rubber hits the road, I often find myself caught up in the plans and worries that are part of the "big picture" Why? Hmmmm... Well the answer to that is probably several years of therapy and more time and space than this blog would allow. BUT in that one eureka moment yesterday, what I believed and what I actually did came together and it was pure freedom, peace and happiness. It set the tone for the rest of the afternoon and what a great ride I had

Now, I'd be a hypocrite if I claimed not to believe in big pictures. I do. It's important I think to have some semblance of a plan and seek to follow a path toward it. However, and this will sound cliche...that plan is the destination. Life is the journey. It's important to look out the window and enjoy the view along the way.

That moment on the bike spawned this post, but I think that moment stuck with me all the more so because of a couple of recent occurrences. One was out of the blue when a woman I'd known in high school, who was from my hometown, connected with me on FB. I hadn't spoken to  her in over 30 years. Her name is Verna and she has an awesome blog where she promotes many of the values I believe in. She actually does the life coach gig for a living. I thought that was pretty cool and since I liked her FB page I get a stream of positive, inspirational quotes that serve to keep the whole notion of being happy on the front burner.

The second thing is I have begun promoting my annual Terry Fox motorcycle ride fundraiser, which I call 24 Marathons in 24 Hours. People like Terry Fox inspire me. To me he represented the best of what people can be. Making a positive difference in others' lives during the brief time we are here on the planet is something I believe in. I have dedicated nearly 30 years of my professional career to it. It has, however, taken me a long time to realise we don't all have to undertake huge initiatives and become famous national icons to make a difference. That wasn''t Terry Fox's plan. He just saw a need and decided someone should do something, so why not him? It is in that realisation that I come back to the moments. It is in seizing the moments when those moments present themselves,  it is enjoying the moments when life serves them up, that is how we find happiness and that is how we can make a difference. Little victories Bob Segar called them.

I used to get frustrated a lot because many people didn't seem to want to achieve the kind of change I felt needed to be do what I saw as the right thing. Even five years ago, when I first started doing this ride, I figured I'd just send out a bunch of e-mails and people would naturally support a cause associated with Terry Fox. It doesn't quite work that way and it is in appreciating the moments that one learns to accept that not all difference making is going to be achieved in a giant fell swoop. Bob Dylan, who pretty much has a line for every occasion, once wrote: people don't do what they believe in, they just do what's convenient and then they repent ( Brownsville Girl--1986). That may seem cynical at first, but it really isn't. It's just reality. Most people do care, and given a choice most people want good things to happen, but not everyone is going to automatically jump on your bandwagon  because it's the right thing to do. If one is to avoid becoming cynical and also avoid going completely nuts, one must learn to accept this about people.It sure makes for a lot less frustration, let me tell ya! Appreciating the moments helps this acceptance. If you see them, if you seize them, if you enjoy them, the change you want, the happiness you seek, will come! Perhaps slowly, but...little victories said Mr. Segar, another fine purveyor of rock 'n roll quotes by the way.

So there ya go. No pics with this post. Just taking a moment to share a perspective...oh and to remind you that if you do want to be the change and support me in the 24 Marathons in 24 Hours, all ya have to do is click the link below:

 Until we connect is an extra special treat; a song about moments. I wrote  this several years ago for a Remembrance Day assembly at my school. Be forewarned, this isn't "produced"   :o

 ...Until next time See You Out There!Ride On...

Monday, 16 June 2014

It Was Just Like Summer

Here on the rock, we have plenty of cliches related to the weather. A guy I met at a gas station on Saturday said to me "...some day for riding. This is our summer, enjoy it while it lasts" And like summer it was indeed! Friday came in sunny but a tad cool, but Saturday and Sunday were dead on summer days...and then it was over! Enjoyed it to the fullest while it was here, though. My ride Saturday was about 750 kms round trip to a little outport called Embree in the north central part of the island. It started with a conversation with my neighbour on Friday night. As we chatted in the driveway, I mentioned to him I was planning a highway run and said in passing I might head for Gander. For CFA's Gander was once know as the crossroads of the world because it was the last point of land before many flights embarked on a transatlantic journey and so they stopped in Gander to refuel. That was an era of aviation that is long past and with it, so too went Gander's glory days. Anyways, back to my we started chatting. He was doing a charity group ride called Ride for Dad, a prostate cancer fundraiser. It's a great cause and they had an banner turnout with over 800 bikes, so good for them. I'm not much for group rides but I did support the cause... I mean I'm a guy with a prostate, right.

I've been pretty lucky with neighbours in the 18 years I've lived in my neighbourhood. The folks on one side have been tolerable enough and the guy has a cool muscle car ('74 Plymouth Duster) that we've spent many hours chatting about, working on and generally admiring. My new neighbour, the guy I was chatting with on Friday night, is much younger and moved in a little over a year ago. He is actually a former student of mine from about 15 years ago, he and his lovely wife. He currently teaches French at the same school where I work. So far we get along pretty's hard not to like a guy who is kind enough to mow one's lawn just because I jokingly suggested he ought to. I felt kinda shitty  'bout that for a minute, but then I just put in down to his good nature and moved on.

I'm rambling aren't I. I think that may be a hallmark of this post. Anyway, young Caleb (neighbour's actual name) says "well, if you're going to Gander you should go to Lewisport". I'm not sure why he thought that was a good idea, and now having driven through Lewisport, I'm still not sure, but I know he had the best of intentions and indeed it worked out fortuitously. When I mentioned it as a possible destination to my frequent riding buddy Frank a.k.a. Furry G, he got excited and said well we have to go to Embree, but he would not tell me why. "OK" says I, because really I didn't care that much as long as we had a good long ride on a sunny summer day. So, off we headed,west, and at a good clip. It was indeed a great ride, therapeutic as they all usually are. It was warm, traffic wasn't to heavy the further west we went and police sighting were limited (and fortunately came when we were in traffic and at a more respectable pace). The bike ran well and with each joyful mile the stress of a long work week disappeared on the wind.  We finally arrived in Embree and the big secret was was the Newfoundland navy. Actually, it was a rusting hulk of metal and some rotting wood that once had been the HMS Calypso, the pride of the Newfoundland Navy in the early part of the 20th century, when Newfoundland was an independent nation and, as a coastal state, we had a navy. Sadly, this derelict hulk, such an important artifact of our proud ocean going history, has not been preserved. However, to an avid scholar of Newfoundland history,as Furry G is, it was a pretty big deal. I did appreciate, if not share, his enthusiasm. Here are a couple of then and now shots.

HMS Calypso under full sail. She was a  full sailing ship with an engine to boot

Naval trainees

The hulk on the left in the background is the remnants of Calypso, which had been renamed Briton by the time she was decommissioned. The hulk in the foreground on the right..well, that's me.
Now, getting to Embree took a few hours and close to 400 kms. A body does get hungry. I try not to have too heavy a meal while riding as it just kind of sits in my stomach and that's not all that comfortable. I do have an affinity for coconut cream pie, though, and I have rated the quality of this particular dessert dish at various stops across the island. The best, hands down, is at the Big Stop Irving in Deer Lake. The Irving at Gander, where we stopped for a late lunch, holds down the # 4 spot. Frank is a fan of fish and ships and we have talked about doing a motorcycle tour guide for Newfoundland and Labrador. We figure we'll criss-cross the province, check out the local grub and report back, both on the riding and the food. Tentative name is: Fish & Chips and Coconut Cream Pie: a motorcyclist guide to Canada's tenth province.

Looks like a big plate of custard but there is a huge chunk of coconut cream pie under there...some good!

Well, with the tidbit of Newfoundland history examined, the pie sampled and the day thus far enjoyed, we turned around and headed home. We initially had planned to do a loop heading back to along the coast before hitting Gander and the TCH again, but time prevented that on this trip. It was almost 4:00 and we wanted to make it home before dusk and the moose were hard to see. Also,by this time I was feeling kinda sore, still feeling the effects in my neck and shoulders of the fender bender in May, and the advil I was popping were not helping.

We made it back into St. John's just a bit before 8:00 PM. I was pretty tired having driven over 750 kms since 9:30 that morning, but I savoured every mile of it. I have had a head cold since last Friday, and I don't know if it was that, maybe combined with being tired from the ride but I could only mange one drink of Cap'N Morgan before it was lights out for the day as the VOCM cabin party lulled me to sleep.

Sunday arose as brilliantly sunny and warm as the previous day. It being father's day, I was looking forward to some family time. Other than having the good sense to hang on to their mom, my three kids are the best thing I have ever done, or will ever do. There were nice cards and presents, a great BBQ steak courtesy of my lovely wife and the day ended sitting around a fire, another of my stress reduction strategies. The best part of the day was sitting on the deck with Sherry & the kids, just talking and listening to music on my son's laptop. At one point America's "Ventura Highway" came on. I thanked God my kids don't totally hate me and they have decent taste in music.

Cape Spear, eastern most tip of the North American continent
For part of the afternoon Sherry and I did take a walk along the south side of St. John's Harbour out to Fort Amherst at the very entrance to said harbour. Again for the benefit of CFA's like the person from Ukraine who stops by to take in my musings, this part of St. John's Harbour is called the Narrows, so named because it is where the coast line narrows coming in from the ocean before opening out into the Harbour. We also got out for an hour or so on the bike, just around the city. It's been a great season for icebergs and the tour boats are loving it. Here is a sampling of yesterday's views
At Fort Amherst, St. John's Harbour Entrance
Cape Spear
The light house grounds at Fort Amherst

So, it's Monday as I write this record of the weekend that was. Today featured a return to the cool spring weather with rain and temps around eight degrees. But, if this weekend was indeed summer, it was a great one. Until the sun shines again, See ya Out There! Ride On....

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Freedom & Peace

The title of this particular post sums up my feelings about motorcycling. It's been a few weeks since my last post...haven't had much to say. Truth be told, I'm not sure if I have alot to say now, but on I shall go. Spring continues to nudge along toward summer at a painstakingly slow pace. May ended with a week where we had three solid days of rain and temps down around 3 or 4... more like March than May. June has been a little better. Perhaps if the weather would improve I could ride more and thus have more to post about but as is often said about this place, we don't live here for the weather.

I actually started this post last Sunday after a great ride out the TCH to Goobies but then I got distracted. I left St. John's with temps around 7 or 8 and when I was drinking my coffee on the parking lot of the gas station at Goobies it was showing 19  degrees on my dash gauge. For the benefit of those not familiar with the geography of the island, Goobies is a junction point about 150 kms west of St. John's. There is a small community off of the highway but for motorcyclists it is useful as a refuel & coffee stop. There are  three gas stations/restaurants serving traffic heading west and also coming up off of the Burin Peninsula to the south.
It was at Goobies that I met Ken & Ken. I can't remember last names but one guy sold cars and the other real estate. They had been on the go since 6:00 AM and had left St. John's when it was 1 degree. They had been south down the Burin Peninsula to do some salmon fishing and were  heading back to St. John's on their bikes when we crossed paths. That is the nature of motorcycling; you meet someone in a parking lot and the bikes give you a common interest and some great conversations are had, as if you are the best of friends, then off we go again. In this case since the b'ys were heading back in the same direction as myself we headed out together. For non riders, there is a benefit to riding with other bikes as it makes us more visible to sometimes heedless car drivers. I can't tell you the number of times I have been cut off and nearly run over and the response is typically the same.. "oh, I didn't see you".

So we headed back to St. John's and it became quickly evident that these guys liked the northern range of the speedometer and I was happy to keep pace. I have an had a few speeding tickets over the past three years and that has gotten expensive, so I am cautious with when/where I open 'er up. However as these guys were happy to lead ( and thus risk the tickets) I was happy to follow. Unless one rides I'm not sure I can explain the rush from leaning into a curve at high speed or opening up on a straight-away. It is pure freedom. In that moment when I am concentrating on the ride ( and staying alive) nothing else matters: Peace!

The day ended with another coffee stop downtown St. John's. The bank of fog just outside the harbour had the temps down around six or seven but there were a few guys around to chat with. So, thus ended another great riding experience. We have had a few warmer days this past week, so I did get out over the highway for some short runs after work. The school year is coming to an end and that will give me more time for some extended runs. Until next time, then, See Ya out There! Ride On....