There’s Nothing Like a New Set of Tires

No siree. Especially when the old set has 10,700 miles on them. And the cords are showing on the rear tire.  The front tire is wandering and seeking on road irregularities.

Waited too long. Note to self…check them very closely when this set reaches 8,000 miles.

A: keep track of the mileage. B: set the money aside in plenty of time.

Handling is a beautiful thing, and not to be taken for granted. When the tires went south, I began getting paranoid about the handling. I played with the air pressure in the forks, and the monoshok. The good thing that came out of that is I finally bought a great air pump. Zero to 30 psi. And I have learned the intricacies of low air pressure motorcycle suspension. And how it relates to my big Yamaha touring cruiser.

My paranoia had spilled over somewhat fearing the worst of my swing arm bushings and steering head bearings.

Whew. The tires cured all of my concerns. The chassis and suspension are fine.

The bike runs and handles great. The way it should. Tires are extremely important.

I’m good for,the rest of the season down here in the Sunshine State.

TIA

coming up to an entire year.

I don’t know why, and the tests showed it was kind of once in a million.  And very little chance of it occurring again.

It wasn’t exactly a stroke.  It’s called a TIA.

I got very dizzy.  Then burning tingling sensations. Then cold water on my fingers and feet felt like burning.  Left side only.

suffice to say my left side sensations are still out of wack almost a year later.

Other than than.  Fit as a fiddle.  No apparent cognitive impairment.  Lots of gratitude.

Maybe a slight sense of urgency in case it happens a gain and it’s more serious.

 

Arcadia Rodeo

Arcadia Rodeo

Yippee-I-Oh-Kay-Yay

You’ll never in a million years guess where I am today!

I’m at a real live honest to goodness, American as apple pie, RODEO. Right here in Southwest Florida. Yes sir, this is the real deal.

And no, contrary to popular belief, this is not, as they say, my first. On our farm in Markham, we boarded horses, and had three of our own to rent out to our boarder’s visitors. One of our boarders was into rodeo competitions. Not only did I attend a smaller version of a Rodeo just like this one, in Markham, Ontario, Canada when I was thirteen years old. I was actually a competitor. Because of my light weight and wiry build, I was the perfect choice to be the guy they picked up at the other end of the barrel race course. I was pretty damn good at it too. Bill rode his perfectly proportioned quarter horse named Star, and I was his partner. As Star cut the last corner grazing the barrel, we extended arms, and in a flash I was yanked roughly onto Star’s hind quarters where I tucked in behind the saddle and hung on for dear life as Star propelled us towards the finish line. A mix of adrenalin and testosterone. In later life I would enjoy an addiction to that cocktail in other forms of competition.

This Rodeo in the vast interior of Florida; Arcadia, is billed as “The Grand-Daddy of Them All”. I don’t doubt it for a minute. These guys are serious. No posers here. A rich history in this area. No northern pale skinned tourists flocking from Fort Myers Beach. We are in the heart of Ranch Country. Oversized loud diesel pickup trucks with model designations of Lariat and Ram. Right out of a Louis L’Amour novel. Aside from the obligatory mile after mile of citrus groves and sugar cane fields, there are ranches as big as some European Countries. As you drive by you can’t even see the ranch-house as the driveway disappears somewhere into the horizon. I read Florida has recently surpassed Texas in beef production.

As I cruise the perimeter of the grounds near the grandstand on my metallic two-wheeled steed, I catch sight of 16 brightly dressed real-live cowgirls performing a four sided precision riding maneuver that makes dressage pale in comparison. All weekend it will be the three “R”’s of cowboydom; Ridin’,Ropin’ and Wranglin’ (Ranglin’?).
God Bless America. I’m thankful the Founding Fathers possessed the foresight, for what I witness today, to be possible.

Ride of Thanks

 

A Ride of Thanks

 

This may be the last ride of the season. The weather just happened to smile on us. I’m thankful for the day; for the weather; for my family; for my wife’s love, generosity and support; for my near-perfect motorcycle (for the purpose); for my warm comfortable protective gear; for my ability to ride; for my interest in motorcycling; for my passion for the activity; for my good fortune to live in an area so conducive to this particular form of recreation; and the wherewithal to make it happen.

That’s a lot of thankfulness.

Two motorcycles, a father and his Son. Some of the most motorcycle-conducive roads in the hemisphere. We kit up and leave from our cozy cottage on the river. Heading north out of my adoptive hometown. Bracebridge could well be the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. This town of 16,000 souls is blessed with more waterfalls within its town limits than any other municipality of its size in North America. On our way North, our first order of business is to turn off the Main Street onto High Falls Road. This thoroughfare is the perfect blend of new smooth pavement, sweeping curves, hundreds of feet of elevation. Not to mention scenery; and this weekend, crowned by the Autumn colours at their absolute peak. A sculptor couldn’t have crafted a more perfectly proportioned model to place in the middle of the prettiest cottage country in the world.

We take The King’s Highway #11 north ( yes, King, that’s what the sign says, crown and all), past Huntsville. We turned west onto Highway #518. This highway was resurfaced the previous year, transforming it into a physicist’s dream of g-force, adhesion, velocity, gravity, and ensuing engineering. All those theories I don’t pretend to understand. That Newton guy was onto something.

I tuck in behind my Son on my nimble V-Strom, bowing to his skill, and his Honda VFR’s larger displacement and precise handling. The leaves dance; disturbed in the wake of his rear tire. A pirouette intended for us, as if to urge us on in support of today’s endeavour. A brief reprieve after their descent from their brilliant earlier display, before their eternal sleep.

On to Orrville, and the quaintest coffee shop east of Seattle. Not a Bistro, oh no, a Barista no less. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere. At the convergence of some of the most significant motorcycle roads in this, my neck of the woods. A welcome stop on our journey. Apparently we are not the only ones to claim exclusivity. We begrudgingly admit it doesn’t exist solely for our pleasure. Judging from all the helmets, jackets and boots, we are not alone in our route planning. Right off the bat we are approached by three like-minded enthusiasts mounted on an eclectic mix of Yamaha, BMW and Ducati. They are already inquisitive and complimentary on their way towards us across the parking lot.
“Is that the Interceptor?”
“Oh, it’s the 25th Anniversary Edition.”
It doesn’t hurt my feelings in the least their accolades are directed towards Sam’s bike instead of mine. I’m proud of and happy for him.

Spirited banter ensues…cubic centimetres; handling; power to weight ratios; lean angles; chicken strips ( if you have to ask). The topics continue on to routes of choice; close calls; comparisons of severity of past injuries.
This age-old form of one-upmanship soon exhausts itself as we don our helmets; eager to test limits of man and machine on the next leg of today’s adventure as the trio fills the void inside the Barista vacated by us. The ritual of emptying bladders and refilling of same with hot Maple Latte specialty coffee.

Where to next? Parry Sound, Rosseau, Peninsula Road towards Port Carling?

Could life get any better on this iconic Autumn day in the heart of my beautiful Province within the immense splendour of the Dominion of Canada?

 

Wayne Ross

 

First Ride of the Season

We drove down to Florida last Saturday.  The other day,  I got a text from one of my motorcycle buddies.  I got all my gear ready last night; this morning I fired up the big white Yamaha and rode down to The 7/11 at King’s Highway and Interstate 75.

It could have been just last week, but surprisingly it was last Spring, almost 7 months.  After fuel tank  top ups and handshakes; just like the Florida Cracker Cowboys of history, we threw a leg over our saddles; unlike them, our steeds are mechanical.

We are off to Branden, up outside of Tampa; a good two and a half hours north.  There’s a restaurant there that started out as a hot dog stand 60 years ago in Chicago.  Now their restaurant at our destination is the latest in their growing chain; Portillo’s.  Yum.

There are six of us today;  Gus is a genius with Google Maps.  He rides a Honda VTX1800 boulevard cruiser, sporting a loud chrome stack, of the kind you see on Peterbilt tractor trailers.  Lou rides a full dresser Harley complete with GPS and stereo.

Another 200 plus Mile Ride

Early April in Southwest Florida.  Another perfect day.  Sunny, and mid 70’s temperature.  For sure we come across other like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts.  

The text message from Gus had us meeting at the 7/11 on Kings Highway in Port Charlotte near Lake Suzy.  The plan was to meet, fuel up, then ride to Arcadia for breakfast.  There are 6 of us.  Gus is the expert on determining routes containing the most number of interesting back roads.  The route must be between 100 and 200 miles.  Our time window runs from approximately 8:00 am through 5:00 pm.

Road Ranger Ross

My Facebook page Road Ranger Ross alludes to my explorations and subsequent observations I try to articulate, on my motorcycles, and in my Camaro.  

My travels take me inland throughout the vastness of Florida, the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Great smokey Mountains, the Eastern Townships of “La Belle Province”, the covered bridges of Vermont, and dear to my heart, the grandeur of my adoptive Muskoka.

All the above is served up with a healthy helping of gratitude.  And under the auspices of the most wonderful, generous wife and life partner any man could ever be blessed to share his life with.

Enjoyable Ride

Like most days in Southwest Florida, today is a perfect blend of sunshine, temperature, gentle breeze, and so much more.

I must be in favour with the Universe, or Mother Nature, or whatever God you choose to believe in.  I’m physically able to own and ride a physical manifestation of the epitome of the ideals of the motorcycle culture.  My two-wheeled choice suits my riding style and my preferences, especially this area of the world.  The same motorcycle may not suit my Summer riding environs in Ontario, Canada, taking into account the weather and the roads.  But for down here, it couldn’t be a better choice.  

My Yamaha Royal Star is big and wide and low and heavy, and extremely comfortable and capable.  There are few curves, and even less hills.  There are vast distances to cover on flat straight roads.  There are infinite sights and sounds for my senses to soak in.  My four-wheeled explorations differ greatly from two-wheeled preferences.

When I’m on my motorcycle, I instinctively turn inland.  I seek out mile after mile of orange groves and cattle ranches; leaving the beaches and tourist traps behind.  Behind my generous windscreen, I view the countryside.  There is no smell to equal that of traveling through an orange grove.  

My mind wanders and my imagination soars.  I may as well be a character in a book or a movie.