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Old 09-19-2011, 10:01 AM   #1
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O Canada...you owe me a tire!

Day 1 - Saturday

This ride started back in the spring. Well the planning did. My coworker and I were planning a mid-west run in May that for whatever reason never happened. Another friend suggested a short trip through Michigan so I checked with my other friend and he wanted to make a week of it; as did I. So DoubleD and I made the ride mapped below last week. We started on a Saturday and ended the following Saturday

I had gotten my passport a few weeks before, but DoubleD was a new US citizen and only received his US passport the day before we left. We kept the week open between last week and this week and decided to go if he got his passport and if the weather forecast looked good. He got the passport and the weather looked good enough, so off we went.

Here is the route we took. The pins are our overnight stays:


Here is the hero of the story. Well, maybe not so much a hero, but it is my story so I will tell it how I want to. If only this guy knew what he was in for in the next hour and the next day. This pic was shot at our starting point, a local mall.


We mount up and head north, hoping to get just south of Buffalo New York. We had made it about an hour when I suddenly realized I didn't have my drivers license I had switched to a sport wallet and only took the necessary items such as credit cards, insurance card and drivers license. I have no idea how I realized I didn't have it. We stopped, I called my wife and she was none too happy about bringing me my license. We stopped at a diner and had breakfast and made the most of it. I wanted to head back to meet my wife part way, but DoubleD said that would be a lot of riding considering we had a 500 mile day planned without the double back.



Soon we made it to WV, then nicked Maryland and on to PA. On one of PA's turnpikes we saw a coyote just off the road. No pics though, he wouldn't have stuck around anyway. Soon we gained some elevation and were going through a national forest when it started really looking like rain. We pulled over at a rest stop to check the radar on our phones.

This is what passed for a rest stop. It was in a hunting area and worked well enough.


The radar looked fine so we headed out. Soon enough we stopped for a sub at Subway. Around the corner we attempted to get some beer for the night. They only sold 12 packs so we headed down the road to a pizza joint that sold beer to go. States sure do have weird laws for alcohol sales. In VA, you can buy beer and wine at any grocery or gas station. Liquor is reserved for ABC stores though.

A local brew thru:


Finally we make it to Bradford, PA; short of the NY border and short of our goal of Buffalo. Oh well, we can make up the time tomorrow.

The campground was a swamp from the massive rains they had days before but we found a spot out of the muck. We were the only tent campers at the campground.


Day 1 got off to a rough start but all was good after some beer. Up next, Canada.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:45 AM   #2
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Nice pics, thanks for sharing!
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Old 09-19-2011, 06:03 PM   #3
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I know a bunch of people that live in Bradford, Pa
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:44 AM   #4
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Day 2 - Sunday

We woke up on Sunday to a wet tent. There was a heavy dew, so we packed up the main tent into the stuff sack and packed the wet fly in a trash bag. I learned that you cannot use a 0 degree bag when it is in the mid-40's as you will roast. This would be a problem the next time I slept in the tent as well. Next time I will get a bag rated for the temps I expect to see.

We head out toward Buffalo to the border crossing into Canada. I have never been through upstate New York and it is beautiful. You think of New York City, traffic and large populations when you think about New York, but upstate is very different. Sorry, no pics.

Soon enough we are in Buffalo and stop for gas. I talked to a couple people who said we should have good weather for the day and they were right. Who says New Yorkers are rude?

Finally, we head into Canada. I show my newly acquired passport to the seemly bored border patrol and I am through. My friend does the same. Then wham, you go 100 yards and they ask you for a $3 toll. Now that is rude! We stop in another 100 yards to mark the occasion.


We then ride around trying to figure out how to get to Niagara Falls. Apparently Mr. Garmin doesn't know of a location such as Niagara Falls. WTH? There is probably some address or park or something you have to choose, but how can you not just search for and find the falls? So we are heading down a road along the river which was very pretty and had lots of other bikers out for a Sunday ride.

Here we asked for directions to the falls.


We found out we had a few miles, er kilometers, to go so we jumped back on the QEW and headed north. It was nice that Canada has signs to help you convert kilometers to miles. As an American, I know there is this other measurement system used by other countries but I don't understand it. Finally we arrive. This is my first time seeing the falls.

Power generating station next to Niagara.


The falls have to bee seen to be believed. The amount of water pouring over them at any given moment is amazing.



This looked liked fun, but we were in full gear and didn't have time to do it.


The S.S. Minnow?


We didn't stay long, just enough to see the falls, buy a t-shirt for my wife and head out. We hit the QEW and it really opens up into 4 or 5 lanes with fast moving traffic. I am cruising along fat, dumb and happy when I feel and hear something shoot out from my front tire. I look around and don't see anything so I go back to being fat, dumb and happy. Then I hear something flip up inside my rear fender. No longer happy, I notice the bike starting to wobble. I thought it might be the road at fist but it seemed to be getting worse. I have heard of bikes wobbling badly but have never experienced it bu this had all the makings of a death wobble. I slow down and pull off the road to find a completely flat rear tire. Apparently the front wheel kicked something up and the rear wheel picked it up.



This is the location of the flat within +/- 8 feet according to Mr. Garmin.


DoubleD called his friend who we were going to stay with near Toronto. It took him an hour and a half to get to us. He used my cell phone to call CAA, the Canadian equivalent of AAA. After some miscommunication, a motorcycle rescue vehicle showed up. Now that is pretty cool. He attempted to plug the whole which we tried and failed to do as well. It didn't work as the hole was too large, so up in the trailer the bike went.



We took the bike to a shop the tow driver knew about that was 23 kilometers away and most of those off the road out into the country. We pulled into the shop only to confirm my fears, they are closed on Sunday and Monday like their American counterparts.



Fortunately the shop owner lives next door and saw us pull in. He came over to see what was going on. He opened up the shop to let me put the bike inside. I was worried I was going to have to leave it parked outside for 2 days in the middle of no where. Even better, he said he would call his mechanics and see if he could get one to come in Monday morning. So we looked and found the only tire he had that fit my bike and laid it next to the bike.

So I rode with DoubleD's friend while DoubleD followed us on his bike.


That gave me a chance to take a few pics on the move, which I need to learn to do on the bike. I was surprised by the amount of farm land I saw, but I guess Canadians have to eat too.


There is a very tall bridge over the water as you approach Toronto. They had a lit sign next to the interstate before the bridge asking motorists to give motorcyclists extra space. I thought that was nice that they would give a shout out to bikers. But why? We found out the next day why; it was extremely windy going over the bridge.


We passed this fellow adventurer on the way to the townhouse.


The town homes were much like you would see in the states.


The best part of the day was the meal. DoubleD's friend's wife can cook.


A Polish and a German beer wash the meal down.


To top off a wonderful meal, we got a call from the bike shop owner that evening that a mechanic would be in by 9:00 am on Monday to put on my tire.
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:55 AM   #5
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Cool RR so far! I've been to Niagara and the falls are beyond amazing, especially on the Canadian side. As far as the flat goes, that sucks but as we say here, "The Adventure Begins When Things Stop Going As Planned……………."
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:37 AM   #6
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Day 3 - Monday

So Monday morning we get up and DoubleD's friends head to work. So DoubleD breaks out some authentic Polish sausage for breakfast. Did I mention out of the 4 of us, I am the only non-Polish person there? It is cool, except when they speak in Polish because I know they are talking about me.



Now for the serious part of the morning. We had a major math problem on our hands. DoubleD's friends took their cars to work. My bike was at the shop an hour south. So here we are left with 2 guys and 1 bike. See the problem yet? Trying to solve that equation was going to be difficult. If we cut the bike in half we each have a unicycle but only 1 engine. But wait, it is a v-twin so we each get a cylinder. But alas only one transmission. So this equation didn't involve division. It worked out to be a problem of addition. 2 + 1 = 3. Looks like we are going 2 up. To add to it, DoubleD has never gone 2 up and I have, but he was familiar with his bike and I am not. So he said he would try it and if he wasn't comfortable driving we would switch. Turned out he did fine so I was the female pooch. Oh, and did I mention there is no sissy bar?

I must say, I can see why passengers instinctively want to lean the opposite direction. When you are the driver, it is just natural to go with the bike because you feel connected. As a passenger, it feels like the bike is swinging out from under you so you want to lean back with it.

We get to the shop in perfect time, the mechanic was just letting it off the lift. I was never so glad to get back on the bike. We head back to the townhouse to get our bags and head north.



I am ashamed to say we booked it out of there to Sudbury around the north side of the lakes and I took no pictures. We had some ground to cover and I just didn't stop. But I will briefly describe what we saw.

We scoot around the perimeter of Toronto and I never got to see the downtown area. We turned north onto nice roads. It was interesting seeing the landscape and vegetation change. The trees got shorter and the woods seemed to be very dense compared to the woods in the stages. Eventually we get to 17 turning west and get into a stretch of rocky area. There were lots of Inukshuk built along the roads. I can't believe I didn't take a picture.

Also along this stretch is lots of rivers, streams, swamps along with harbors and tourist areas. Looks like this is an outdoor lovers paradise in the summer and fall. Would love to get back there with a fishing pole sometime and maybe a deer rifle.

At some point, I ran out of gas and had to turn on the reserve. It seems gas stations are 40 miles apart on this stretch of road. We make it a few miles and find a Petro Canada station. I talk to a guy hauling a Harley in the back of his truck and he warns us of rain coming from the west.

Finally w roll into Sudbury and we stopped at the Canadian version of McDonald's.


I had a burger an poutine which was interesting but good.


Since we got there late, we rode back to setup camp and then it was about dark. So we ended up riding around Sudbury in the dark. Surprisingly, there were a fair number other bikers out at night. I don't ride at night much usually. Sudbury seemed like a sad place really. It had a strange vibe. At one point, we were trying to figure out where a Starbucks was to get WiFi on our phones so we could chat with our wives. While stopped on a backstreet a couple blocks off the main drag, a girl came up to us in the dark. She complimented our bikes and then asked DoubleD if he wanted to go for a ride. She wasn't talking about the bikes at that point either. We put the bikes and gear and headed out of there.

We went back to camp and hit the sack.
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:05 AM   #7
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Enjoying your report.. nice to see my stomping grounds from your perspective!

btw, the cross border toll is only paid when entering Canada, and it covers the return crossing too if you return from the same crossing point.
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:29 AM   #8
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Day 4 - Tuesday

We awake at the Sudbury campground to a nice sunrise. The weather was cool but nice. It had rained overnight and the bikes and tents were wet, By the time we showered, packed and stopped by the Harley dealer to look for a new face shield for DoubleD it had really cooled off. It also looked like rain was eminent.



We stopped by Tim Hortons for breakfast. I wish we had these in my area in the states. Much better coffee than Starbucks.


I mentioned earlier it had cooled off and looked like rain so we stopped to put on the rest of the rain gear. DoubleD ready to hit the road again after suiting up. Fortunately it did little more than sprinkle on us.


Soon enough were are at the border at Sault St. Marie ready to cross back into the US. Of course the border crossing did not go smoothly. The lady asked 100 questions which I answered honestly. Then she closed the window on the booth and got on the radio. I knew we were going to be detained at that point. Sure enough a guy comes over and waves me over to a garage bay. I dismount and they ask me to empty my jacket pockets, etc. They asked if I had any knives and I told them I had a pocket knife. The guy turns sideways with his gun away from me and rests his hand on his gun while I open up my riding pants and reach into my jeans pocket to get the knife. If I had sneezed he probably would have shot me. I go upstairs and within minutes DoubleD is there as well. As far as we could tell, they maybe rifled through our bags but didn't search them thoroughly. We were then called back downstairs to get our stuff and go. The whole thing didn't take but 15 minutes or so and everyone was nice, but if that is what they call border security I don't feel too secure. What did they expect to find? WMDs? A bottle of undeclared Canadian whiskey? I think the question that got us searched was that I answered yes when the lady asked if we met anyone in Canada. I told them DoubleD's friend. Apparently Canada is such a a far off, hostile nation that it is unheard of for an American to be friends with a Canadian.


We rode down to St. Ignace, Michigan. It is a nice, coastal tourist town. I will have to bring my wife back here sometime. This is my first time in the UP.


We got a bite to eat at the Galley. I started with a cup of clam chowder and had fish for the main dish of course. It was good. Lightly breaded and perfectly cooked.






I mentioned we packed the tents wet so we didn't want to camp tonight. We found a $45 per night hotel room just around the corner. It was basic and smallish but clean.


We hung our camp gear out to dry the best we could.


That wasn't getting it done, so I setup the tent on my bed. By the time we went for a ride and got back, the tents were dry.


I also hung out some laundry to dry but it didn't dry until I hung it out the next night.


With the camp gear laid out, it was time to sight see. So we headed to the Mackinac bridge to see what all the fuss is about. There is a bridge here somewhere if this poser would get out of the way.


Ah yes, there it is.


We rode over to Mackinac City to find another, nicer tourist town. The middle lanes on the bridge are a steel grate and you just have to let the bike do what it wants to do while riding on the grate. There were several park benches around with people hanging out and enjoying the view. We met a group of riders, 2 from Michigan and 2 from Canada. Wonder if they get hassled when crossing the border? One was riding an identical bike to mine.


The old Mackinac lighthouse was interesting as well.


We headed back to the hotel, parked the bikes and walked down the street to a restaurant with a bar. There we met to guys who are from lower Michigan but one of them has a cabin near the area. He talked about riding dirt bikes in the area trails and snowmobiling for days along trails that cross states. Now that would be cool, kind of like biking on the snow. Would love to try that sometime. He also mentioned wanting to get a road bike, possibly the Honda VTX like mine. Good to hear there are others out there who appreciate metric cruisers. We soon packed it up and hit the sack.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:48 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ADVWannabee View Post
We met a group of riders, 2 from Michigan and 2 from Canada. Wonder if they get hassled when crossing the border? One was riding an identical bike to mine.
Hi ADVWannabee, it was good chatting with you for a minute. I was part of the group of 4 at the south end of the bridge (I was on the Tenere, my friend Marc was on the VTX).

We didn't have any border issues (we entered into Canada in Baudette, MN and back into the US through the Soo). We must look less hostile

I hope you had a great ride, we did!
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GatSS View Post
Hi ADVWannabee, it was good chatting with you for a minute. I was part of the group of 4 at the south end of the bridge (I was on the Tenere, my friend Marc was on the VTX).

We didn't have any border issues (we entered into Canada in Baudette, MN and back into the US through the Soo). We must look less hostile

I hope you had a great ride, we did!
So, we meet again. Glad you guys had an easier time. To be fair, we were in and out pretty quickly but if this is what they call security, it isn't working. Anyway, glad you guys had a good trip as well. It was my first time in the area and it was beautiful.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:14 AM   #11
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Enjoying the report but for one thing...

Quote:
Finally w roll into Sudbury and we stopped at the Canadian version of McDonald's.
I've never heard of the place you stopped at, although it looks like they're flirting with the edge of trademark infringements. The version of McDonald's we have here is called... McDonald's. Safe journeys.
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:02 AM   #12
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Enjoying the report but for one thing...

I've never heard of the place you stopped at, although it looks like they're flirting with the edge of trademark infringements. The version of McDonald's we have here is called... McDonald's. Safe journeys.
Funny thing was, it was directly across the street from a McDonald's. I assumed it was a chain but maybe it is a one off.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:37 PM   #13
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Day 5 - Wednesday

We woke up to beautiful skies on Wednesday.


We packed up and headed out around the lake in the UP. Our goal was to hit Green Bay. It was a little chilly so we stopped at a rest area to put on some long johns. It was right on the lake with a nice view.


We stopped at a McDonald's for coffee and what passes for apple pie to warm up and take a break. An older, retired couple talked to us about the trip. Turns out he rides a Honda VTX too.

We departed and headed on into Green Bay. Now I have never seen pictures of the city of Green Bay and always assumed it was a decent sized city to have an NFL team. Now I know why I have never seen pictures, it isn't that big of a city. In fact, my hometown of Roanoke, VA is probably bigger. It was clean and well kept though. Of course we had to check out Lambeau field. We tossed the pigskin around with Bret Favre before going. Oh wait, he doesn't play here anymore. He retired. Or did he, I forget?


He went that way!


We then shot up the peninsula to Sister Bay. At first it was mostly farm land but as it got narrower, there were more marinas and tourist towns. I have never heard of this area, so it was good that DoubleD recommended we ride up here to stay the night. We got to town and hit a local restaurant for dinner and a hotel recommendation. I started with the turkey corn chowder, which was very good and finished with fish and chips of course.




We found a motel online with good reviews and headed just up the hill and across the street. It was $60 a night if I recall correctly. Very nice motor lodge with large, clean rooms.


We were only a few miles from the end of the peninsula so of course we had to ride up and check it out after dinner. Apparently the road crew got creative the last mile or so. These were the first real curves we have seen in days.


There is a ferry to an island but we didn't take it. We got our trophy pics and headed back to Sister Bay.


We walked down to a restaurant for some beer and tried the local brews. We talked to a couple that was a little older than us taking a short vacation. It turned out he use to ride a Honda VTX as well. I have met a lot of VTX riders on this trip. You meet the nicest people on a Honda. We finished up and headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:56 PM   #14
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Puke VTX tire issues

It sounds like it was quite the week for VTX's (and their tire issues). On our way home the rear tire on my friends VTX was showing cords at the brigde. We ran a bit slower and made the final 250 miles home without incident.
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Old 09-22-2011, 04:37 AM   #15
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Day 6 - Thursday

We got up Thursday morning and it was 36 degrees outside. But it was clear and sunny which made it all better. We pack up, load the bikes and headed out pretty early. We got caught by the draw bridge at Sturgeon Bay which gave me a chance for a couple pics.





Something I failed to do the day before when arriving into Wisconsin was get a shot of one of the many, many, many farms. Much of the peninsula was farm land as well so I stopped when I found a farm that was typical of the area.



On our way, we passed this little power plant on the shores of the lake. It was only after googling it later that we found out it was a nuclear power plant. This little guy puts out 556 MW of power. Remember that number for comparison below. This pic is courtesy of Google Maps since I didn't stop and take one of my own.


We booked it on down to Milwaukee and headed over to the Harley Davidson factory. We weren't going to take the tour, but we wanted to at least see it since we were here. We ended up at the wrong HD facility though. We were told by the biker looking chick that worked the desk here that this was "highly secret research facility". Uh, ok, can't be too much of a secret since we and Google maps know about it.


We left Milwaukee and headed down past Chicago. We were passing through just before the afternoon rush hour so we didn't get any pics as we didn't want to get into worse traffic than we were already in. We went right by the downtown and I wish we could have stopped. I have been there before but only briefly. We made the turn east around the bottom of the lake and then headed south on I-65. We made it to the Indiana turnpike and I must say, it is the nicest turnpike I have seen. We got hit with tolls quite a bit on the trip, but except for this one, the toll roads seem to be the worst roads. What are they doing with the money?

When in Chicago, do what Chicagoans do, eat Chicago style pizza.


Boy I took a lot of food pics.


With our stomachs full, we continued south toward Lafayette. Just above Lafayette we got into a huge windmill farm. I have heard of these but never seen one. The most I have seen in any one place is 6 or 8. Here they stretched as far to the left and right as you could see and I clocked it on the odometer and it was 11 miles from the time we passed the first one to the last one. Google would later reveal that there are 350 windmills here capable of a peak of 600 MW. There is a project to add another 150 MW to the wind farm. Now think about that for a minute. There are 350 windmills over who knows how many square miles to generate a peak of 600 MW when the wind is blowing all of them. Compare that to the little, rinky dink nuke plant on the lake we passed earlier in the day that puts out nearly as much power. I know nobody wants nukes anymore, especially after what happened in Japan, but dang.



Soon we were at a newly redone Red Roof Inn in Lafayette. We hit a bar next door and talk to a guy traveling for business while we watch the Thursday night college game. Tomorrow we head into Kentucky and the day after that we hit home. I am starting to get a little sad that the ride is all but over now.
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