The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
Gear Up! is a 2-DVD set, 6 hours! Which bike is right for me? How do I prepare the bike? What stuff do I need - riding gear, clothing, camping gear, first aid kit, tires, maps and GPS? What don't I need? How do I pack it all in? Lots of opinions from over 150 travellers! "This DVD will save you a fortune!"See the trailer here!
So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
On the Road! is 5.5 hours of the tips and advice you need to cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike and deal with breakdowns and emergencies."Just makes me want to pack up and go!" See the trailer here!
Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
"It has me all fired up to go out on my own adventure!" See the trailer here!
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Achievable Dream The definitive guide to planning your motorcycle adventure! This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series. "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.
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Ride TalesAn easy way to post your ride reports, whether it's a weekend ride or around the world.
Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is.
See the announcement in the forum for details on posting.
Please do NOT just post a link to your site. For a link, see Get a Link.
My wife Lori and I have spent the last 13 years or so working in an Ambulance communications (or 911) centre in southern Ontario. We've been paying down the mortgage, the cars, paying our bills, and taking a few weeks of holidays here and there. In the meantime, since getting my motorcycle license about six years ago, I've managed to rack up over 80,000 km's on two wheels, with a good chunk of that 2up. We have been to many fantastic places on a bike and loved each and every trip.
But this is where that story ends. We decided to do what we've talked about doing during every trip, and that is to keep going. Having sold our home along with nearly all everything we own, we have set out on the road 2up on our Triumph Tiger Explorer, with only a vague idea of where we are heading.
It would be an understatement to say that we've been inspired by so many others that have ventured out before us. Some for a few weeks or months, some even for years. The blogs, the ride reports, videos and books have only fuelled our fire. I’m not sure we'd have the testicular fortitude to do something like this without them.
It is with this in mind, that we wanted to share our own ride report and hopefully give back for all the great stories that have we enjoyed.
Travelling with a specific itinerary is helpful if you have one or two weeks for your holidays or have a long list of things to do and places to see in a short amount of time. You might imagine that the longer the trip the more planning there is involved. Although going away for an extended period of time can require more preparation, it's really not the case when you're planning on travelling for many months at time. In fact, planning every tiny detail of a journey that long is down right near impossible in my opinion. There are too many variables and inevitably something happens that slows you down or throws you off course.
My entire professional life has consisted of strict time tables, deadlines and doing many things at once. Always go go go. In fact we've both spent the last decade working in an environment where every second really does count. I often feel like maybe my brain is just hard-wired to run at warp 9. Lori thinks I'm just an adrenalin junkie. Maybe. I mean I do love to ride a motorcycle...fast (but well within the posted speed limits of course). One of the things we're looking forward to is that there are no strict time schedules, no deadlines to meet and the ability to slow down (I wonder if she meant on the bike? Ok so one of us is looking forward to slowing down).
With that said, we do of course have an idea or general plan of where we would like to go, places we want to see and some bucket list items to check off. And we’re also thinking it may be a wise to leave you with an idea of where we’re heading in case we really get lost, that way you’ll know where to look for us . You are going to come look for us...right?
Victoria Day weekend, we departed for Newfoundland via Ottawa and Gaspé. Although we've been to Gaspé, the Cabot Trail and PEI before, we think it's a beautiful part of the country that's worth another look, (and of course it's also between here and Newfoundland). We are planning on spending about 2-3 weeks on the Rock but we're leaving that somewhat open. They've had a particularly bad winter there (haven't we all?), and at this point it looks like it will still be very cold there at the end of May. From there we’ll head back west to Ontario via Mount Washington. We've ridden by Mount Washington several times before and for some strange reason have yet to stop and check it out, so we’ve added it to the menu.
Heading west, we'll stop by at (the place formerly known as) home, you know, to make sure the kids are alright and then take about a month to ride out to Alaska. Will we go up the Dalton or take the Dempster to Inuvik? Hmmm, ultimately the weather will have the final say on this one as the roads can turn quite treacherous in heavy rain. I’m actually quite excited about riding our bike into the Arctic Circle, the land of the midnight sun, and Alaska in general. Although I think Lori has some concerns buzzing around in her head about the size and lethality of the skeeters out there.
From there, the plan is to head south (duh) to Nakusp, BC for the Horizons Unlimited meeting in August. Then meandering down along the west coast before cutting clear across the continent to Asheville, North Carolina for the Overland Expo meeting in October. Its timing and location make this a bit out of the way for us to say the least but we would really like to attend.
After that we'll keep heading south-ish into Mexico and Central America, which are a blank canvas at this point. We would like to take our time travelling through this part of the world, enjoying the sights, the culture and the people. Then continue to make our way to Panama where we’ll ship the bike to Colombia and ultimately end up in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Of course that's all subject to change but for now it's a good start and gives us a general direction of travel.
Google typically routes the fastest way possible attempting to get you to your destination in the most efficient way (or something like that). Although not representative of our exact path, it does give a general idea of where we're going.
Just wanted to catch up with the posts from our blog while we are online.
After a whirlwind of activity at home over the last few days, we're finally hitting the road. WhooHoo! I think we're just as excited to finally begin the trip as we are to not have so much to do.We got up just before 6am, we had a couple of stops on the way to Ottawa today and wanted to get an early start. We loaded the bike and were ready to go right on schedule. Lori tried to get on the back and we discovered a little hitch in our luggage set up.
Now everything we've read about the Giant Loop Fort Rock top case (GLFR) that we bought was positive. It's super comfortable for passengers, 85L of storage space, two pockets on the outside accessible by the pillion, even a separate section on one side that can be accessed more easily when stopped for a break. Horseshoe design so it sits on the back rack and wraps around and over top of the side cases. In theory this thing was the bomb.Our first discovery before we even moved an inch was that once loaded up and strapped down, there was no way Lori had enough room to even sit. At least two inches of the pillion seat was taken up by this thing. If you know how small the pillion seats typically are on motorcycles, you'll know that's a lot of real estate to give up. We adjusted the entire set up and tried to slide it back those two inches and re-fastened everything. At least Lori could now sit.
What we looked like at 8AM.
Now you might think that setting out on a big trip like this, we would have made sure our gear worked as we expected and had set everything up before. Well we did. We had filled the GLFR and the 40L Triumph dry bag along with the side cases. We knew it all fit together and we could both sit on the bike. At the time we had everything sitting a bit further back and everything did seem to fit, just as it did now. About the biggest mistake we made was in not loading everything up and heading out for a day or two ride. I guess today would be that ride. So we hit the road.
Our first stop was about an hour away in Toronto at our friends house. Once on the highway, Lori was able to slide herself back a bit which also slid everything behind her back. Much more comfortable though. About half hour later, we discovered the case slid back a bit too far and the Silver Triumph dry bag (along with the bike cover that was on top of that) was no longer on top of the GLFR, but hanging off behind it.
Having it back those 2 inches pushed everything back far enough that all of the weight was not being supported by the rear rack on the bike and between the momentum of accelerating and gravity, everything just kept sliding off the back. So we pulled off at the side of the highway to re-adjust everything. Only way to make this safer was to move everything forward a bit so the weight was centred over the rear rack on the bike, which of course led us back to square one in terms of enough room for Lori on the back.
Back on the road Lori was basically using all her leg muscles to try and keep herself from sliding right into me. “This is not going to work”, we both agreed. If we make it so it's comfortable-ish for Lori, the weight is too far back and everything on the top slides off bike. Not even an hour into our trip and we were having a significant problem.
Something else that bothered me was having the GLFR strapped down over the side cases, made the side cases completely inaccessible without unstrapping everything and removing the GLFR. Need rain gear or a sweater, we essentially have to remove most of this system to get at anything. UGH! I dismissed this impracticality initially because I thought Lori would be uber comfy on the back, so I was willing to work around it.
Another issue that became apparent and the final nail in the Giant Loop Fort Rock case coffin was one of safety aspect. The sides of the GLFR completely covered the pillion grab bars. If we ever had to make an emergency stop, she would have nothing to grab on to and slide right into me. In the event of a panic stop, Lori could also reach around me and push off the tank, but the only thing Lori could reach was the very end of the tank bag and barely with her finger tips. Not quite sure how this little detail managed to slip past us, but it did.
Well "that's that" we agreed. Now what? Since our destination that day was our friends place in Ottawa, where we would be staying indoors, we decided to drop off the GLFR (which had all our camping gear) with our other friends in Toronto and carry on without our camping gear for the day.
While on the road we decided the solution to our dilemma was a regular top case (which incidentally was our original plan). It's locked down to the rear rack of the bike, lockable, Lori can easily reach the rear grab bars (not to mention the heated wraps I put on the grab bars for her) and we would also strap down a dry bag onto each side case, giving us full access to everything, at anytime. It also gives us about the same volume for packing. While we both love the idea of the Giant Loop Fort Rock top case, it's just not going to work for us like we thought.
Getting help from Otto unloading the bike.
It was nice to catch up with our friends Jeff & Karen over brekky at the Bad Dog Cafe - excellent food by the way, and drop off our gear. We were soon back on the road to Ottawa - our shakedown ride!
What the bike looked like by the time we got to Ottawa later that day.
From Ottawa we turned around and headed back west . We picked up our gear from Jeff and Karen in TO and our friends Paul & Allyson offered us the use of their place in Great Valley NY while we waited for our top case to arrive. So that's where we headed.
Props to Revzilla for a quick turnaround time on our order. I placed my order on Monday and USPS attempted delivery on Wednesday morning. We basically swapped the Giant Loop Fort Rock case for a Givi E55 top case and a Wolfman Expedition dry bag. About the same volume in terms of space but the set up is much better as far as comfort for Lori and we're also able to access everything much easier anytime we need to. Not to mention Lori has full access to the pillion grab bars which made her much more relaxed and safe.
We had everything installed by Thursday and were back on the road Friday morning.
The new and improved Tiger.
We took great care to balance everything between the side cases and the bike felt MUCH better on the road. Not sure if part of that was the fact Lori was more comfortable and relaxed or if it was just better balanced overall but we both thought it handled significantly better.
Thanks again Paul & Allyson, we can not express enough how much we appreciate the use of your second home.
It was about 2:30pm by the time we got to Hamilton and reluctantly hopped on the 407ETR (express toll route). I always feel like I'm getting screwed taking the 407 as it's so expensive but we really didn't like the idea of going through Toronto at 3pm on a Friday afternoon, especially now that the Gardiner Expressway (expressway being something of an oxymoron I think) is under construction. Turned out to be a wise choice as we were through TO in no time at all.
We stopped just outside Peterborough for the night and had an easy ride the following day back to Ottawa. We wanted to check out the capital some more but once we arrived, we learned that it was marathon weekend and there were road closures everywhere downtown . So we would spend another night with our friends Mark & El, who were super awesome to let us crash with them yet again - we can't thank you guys enough. Mark & El are excellent cooks (and hosts) which makes it that much more difficult to leave Ottawa. And I mean excellent as in they could easily open their own restaurant good.
In the meantime we discovered an issue with the bike. Seemingly overnight, the Tiger lost over 20psi in the rear tire. Hmmmm?! I have a portable compressor so topping up is not a big deal, but that's a lot of air to lose. Checking the pressure this morning, the tire pressure gauge didn't even register. Oh oh! Running some soapy water over the tire we found a tiny leak. Nothing appears to have punctured it and its location (right on the seam in the corner of the tread) makes me think its a fault with the tire itself. Either way, it will need to be replaced
We found a Triumph dealership here in town is open today (Sunday) but their service department is closed so we're in a holding pattern for another day. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the universe was conspiring against us. We just can't seem get past Ottawa. I think we should be frustrated or annoyed or something to that effect but it just feels like it's all part of the adventure to be honest. I mean we're still on the way to Newfoundland, just a bit slower, that's all.
In the meantime, we've decided to put our camping gear to use tonight, that is after all the reason why we're lugging those extra pounds around.
We pulled up to the Ottawa-Nepean campground only to discover they were completely full for the night. Apparently there was a pow wow going on. Lori pleaded with the man telling him about our tire sitch and eventually he was able to magically find us a spot. I say magically because pulling up to our campsite, we noticed the dozen or so sites surrounding ours were completely empty.
Not to mention each site could easily have several tents up. Walking around the place I found only about 30% of the sites actually occupied. Completely full huh? Not sure how this place stays in business. The answer came to me when we paid for our stay the next morning - another magic trick of sorts.
In the meantime we were happy to be in for the night. Setting up our tent we had to keep our gear on due to the swarms of mosquitos that were in full on attack mode. It seemed our campsite was only a few feet from some prime swamp land. I suppose we got off easy with only about a dozen bites between us.
We fell asleep to the sound of pitter patter on the tent. I realize I may be in the minority but I've always liked camping (and hiking for that matter) in the rain. I really enjoy the sound and the smell and find it über relaxing.
We planned on being at the dealership when they opened at 9 but ended up getting a late start. It typically takes Lori a night or two to get comfortable sleeping in a tent, something I've never had a problem with. However the cold hard ground woke me up before dawn. Apparently my (brand new) Exped Ultralight 7 has a leak somewhere. That's great, another item mysteriously losing air.
We eventually got to the dealership (Ottawa Goodtime Centre) and discovered a brand new Metzeler Tourance EXP waiting for us, conveniently enough the exact tire I was looking for. They were able to get me in right away while we went for some brekky. Nice place by the way, lots of two-wheeled eye candy.
About an hour and $297 later we were finally on the road. I think Mr Exped and I are going to have try and patch things up on our own.
Could it be? Could we possibly be on our way out of Ottawa and back on the road? Finally? We wanted to do some more sightseeing but were afraid we'd never get out if we didn't hit the road now.
I plugged in a random destination (Montebello, sounded kind of interesting) to get us heading in the right direction and we soon found ourselves on route 174 heading east out of town. The GPS directed us towards a ferry just outside Cumberland (hey why not), every motorcycle road trip needs a ferry ride.
It was a quick trip across the Ottawa river and just as Lori got on the bike (we found that with all the gear on the bike, it's easier if she gets on first while the bike is on the side stand and then I'll get on. On the ST1300 it was easier for her to get on after me.) the captain of the boat comes over to me asking me something in french and at that exact moment the bike starts to tip over towards me with Lori already sitting on the back. My immediate reaction was to grab the handlebars and shove my leg under the bike to try and stop it. Perhaps not the smartest thing to do with a fully loaded bike but in this case it worked. The captain jumped over to where I was and helped Lori get off and then right the bike. It all happened in a matter of maybe 2 or 3 seconds.
We're usually pretty careful about where we park and where we get on. If the bike is too upright, we'll never get the kickstand up and if it's on too much of an angle, then this could happen. At the time I didn't think the bike was leaning that much on the side stand, although the pic above may argue that opinion. We blamed it on the slippery surface of the ferry. Either way, no harm was done and most importantly, we were now in Quebec! WooHoo!
We awoke to the sounds of water running through an eavestrough next to our hotel room. I suppose I have only myself to blame for pointing out how much I love rain while camping and hiking, but I said nothing of rain while riding a motorcycle. Lori however agrees that it's all my fault.
Lori was already online checking out the weather and planning our escape. "Is there anywhere we can go where it's not raining?", I asked. "Yes but it involves a plane ride", she said.
At that moment I realized that since leaving last Sunday, it has rained at some point during the day, every day except for two. Those two days we were at Mark & El's and the forecast actually called for rain. In fact it rained all around us but not directly where we were.
Now I don't really mind riding in the rain all that much but for some reason I dislike getting started in the stuff. Perhaps why I'm still in bed writing this rather than getting ready. Nine degrees and raining doesn't inspire going anywhere to be honest and we were tempted for a moment to stay where we were.
The rain let up by 11am and we decided to make a run for it. These 11am departures are becoming somewhat of a theme last few days. Our destination for the day was a B&B Lori found online just outside of Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupré, a fairly short 330km ride.
An hour later we were pulling off at a Tim's to warm up. The weather was just sucking the warmth right out of us.
Lori was chilled to the bone and needed a couple of drinks to warm up.
Usually eager to take the slower, scenic route, we put up the white flag and superslabbed it all day. The rain went from bad to worse and the wind was gusting from every direction but our back, on several occasions tossing us into the adjacent lane, which luckily for us was unoccupied. I had no idea which way it would gust from next. The bike seemingly navigating an invisible slalom course.
Lori's impression of Randy from Christmas Story.
How many zippers can you count? That's right - 4 and a total of 5 layers.
We then managed to hit Quebec City during rush hour for some first gear stop and go traffic. For an added bonus the skies opened even more and the rain went from worse to just ridiculous. It was one of the more trying days I've had on a bike. I could almost hear the universe asking: "you sure you want to do this?"
We're cold, wet, & exhausted, but there's no place we'd rather be right now (unless that place is somewhere sunny and warm of course).
The answer is yes. Do you hear me? YES!
We discovered a little beacon of light at the end of our day when we arrived at Gîte Un air d'été Bed & Breakfast. 102 degrees of bubbling aquatic goodness calling out to us.
Oh yeah! Now this we can handle.
View of the St Lawrence from the back yard - not too shabby.
Awesome little spot to chill out and enjoy the view.
In the morning we got treated to a fantastic multi course breakfast from Claude, the owner. Blueberries with maple syrup, then a scrambled up egg served inside the egg shell and finally french toast topped with yogurt and strawberry drizzle and a side of fruit. Oh and of course we can't forget the freshly baked croissant that just melted in our mouths.
It really was that good.
We booked into the B&B for a second night and decided to enjoy the perfectly sunny day sightseeing in Quebec city. On the way we stopped at Montmorency Falls. It's hard not to pull into this place as the waterfall can easily be seen from the highway as you drive by. I was surprised to find out that at a height of 275 feet, it's actually 98 feet taller than Niagara Falls.
View from the top was fantastic.
Moving the bike to a more secure location. We parked on a busy street in front of a restaurant but some dude said something about no moto-parking. Not that we believed him, but we had no where to put the parking tag and I also wasn't sure he wouldn't have a few more drinks and kick the bike over. So I decided to move it to an underground parking lot around the corner.
With the bike safely tucked away, we got down to being all touristy.
Looks like a nice rooftop patio to chill and have a morning coffee.
Fantastic little streets (we call them alleyways back home).
And I was worried about taking the bike down some of these narrow pathways...These guys have some serious driving skills as they barely slow down here.
I think my jeans need a trim...cool restaurant actually.
We stopped into Les Trois Garcons for some lunch. Equally as creative on the inside, and the food was also very good.
Lori sees a red door and she wants it painted black? We saw hundreds of cool looking doors like these.
We popped into a random coffee shop for a little break, that cheesecake was phenomenal by the way.
The seagull really makes this shot I think...
To say Chateau Frontenac is massive would be an understatement.
Yes Lori loves old doors.
Beautifully carved out of the wall.
Really? Out of all the restaurants and you need to have a Tims? We called it a day after this. We could have easily spent a week touring around downtown, there is just so much to see. I think that may end up a theme for us on this trip however. There is always something more to see.
After another phenomenal brekky, we headed a few kilometres west to the Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupré Basilica. I'm not sure there is anything I can say to describe it that will do it justice. It's quite a phenomenal place to see first hand.
Opening these doors was like trying to move a small truck.
Looking down one of the hallways as you walk in.
One of the original builders was said to be walking with the aid of crutches when building the church. Once the work was finished, it's reported he no longer needed the crutches for mobility. Since then, the Catholic Church has credited the basilica with many miracles of curing the sick and disabled.
The attention to detail everywhere was amazing.
Across the road is a beautiful old wooden memorial chapel.
And behind the chapel were life sized Stations of the Cross
View of the basilica from the back.
From there we headed further west to Les Sept Chutes (the Seven Waterfalls). Coming down the gravel hill we hit a patch of sand, the bike did a little dance, I thought for sure it was going down. Next thing I know we're still going down the hill on two wheels, I guess our first drop is going to have to wait for a bit. Once at the bottom we learned that all the waterfalls are back up the hill we just came from. Doh! It was a beautiful day so we left the bike there and hiked the 1-2km back up the hill along the trails.
Hey look over there...where? Snow!
Five of the seven waterfalls.
We lost track of time and by the time we got out of there it was late afternoon, just in time for rush hour through Quebec. Ooops! We didn't exactly have a destination in mind, just wanted to get out of Quebec City and start heading east. We ended up in Montmagny QC for the night. Total for the day - 165km that took us the entire day to ride. We were happy about the state of the weather so we really didn't care about the mileage.
The next morning we awoke to some dark clouds and another wet departure. In fact it started to pour just as we were ready to leave - oh well. Our destination for the day...somewhere where it wasn't raining. The weather channel pointed us to Fredericton, 520km away.
In and out of rain most of the day, we managed to miss most of this nasty looking cell. It was a good day to put some tunes on and just ride. Lost in our own little world.
Once into NB we saw a fully grown black bear at the side of the highway, on the wrong side of the animal fencing . Hopefully he found his way back. We managed to finally ride out of the crappy weather later in the afternoon and also lost an hour crossing into the Atlantic time zone.
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