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Old 07-22-2012, 09:22 AM   #1
Nanabijou OP
Studly Adventurer
Nanabijou's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Oddometer: 779
Reliving The Past: A CBR125R Camping and Touring Adventure

Part I – Northern Reverie

Just thought I'd take some time to post a trip report from a camping excursion that took me from Thunder Bay, ON to Guelph, ON through August 12, 2010. It was an incredible experience - and I hope from this report you'll be able to gain a real sense of just what the experience was like on the CBR125R. Maybe it will inspire you to do the same.

Where did I ride? Here's a map.

My goal for the trip was to take what I had learned from my preparatory trip in May 2010 when I traveled from Thunder Bay, ON to Winnipeg, MB on my 2009 CBR125R (see here: and improve upon it. One addition involved taking along a Camptime Roll-A-Cot (see: to improve sleeping comfort and to maximize utility and space inside my new (and so far chipmunk free) tent. The cot sits 15" above the floor and allows you to store all your gear underneath so you're not sleeping in it - during the night. Also there is just something about sleeping off the ground that seems to contribute to a much better nights sleep. In selecting my new tent, I wanted one that packed up small, was self-standing, and easy to set up. I also decided to try a single-walled tent this time out so I wouldn't have to fiddle with a fly. The tent I picked for this adventure was the Nemo Andi (see: I'm really liking this tent. It is extremely quick to set up and easily fits in one of my saddlebags. I carry the poles (only 2 poles!!) on the back of the bike. One other change from my last trip involved bringing a small pack for clothes and extra items. On my last adventure I didn't quite have enough room for extra clothes and smaller camping luxuries.

I set off around 10AM with a goal to stop every hour for fuel and to take a break. I found that if I stopped every hour, this effectively eliminated any soreness or stiffness throughout the day and really allowed me to enjoy the ride. Even a 5 minute break made a world of difference after 1 hour on the road. The weather was sunny and clear when I left - and it remained so for most of the trip. My first stop occurred in Nipigon, ON for fuel just after 100kms (60 miles) into the trip. I have traveled the Trans Canada Highway 17 East of Thunder Bay countless times over the past 20 years - through rain, blizzards, severe cold, heat, fog - you name it. It is an incredibly scenic drive - and the views are always breathtaking. On a motorcycle, you see so much more and the experience is so much more rewarding. I made a point of stopping at lookouts along the way that I had passed by many times over the years.

The photo below was taken from a highway lookout East of Nipigon, ON on the first of a number of long climbs along the shores of Lake Superior. Despite many of the ascents reaching 700 ft in elevation above the lake, the CBR125R took these in stride and was able to maintain a minimal speed of 80 km/hr (50 mph) up the longer grades - full loaded - while maintaining a speed of between 100-105 km/hr (60-65 mph) on the flat stretches. Most traffic slows too when climbing these grades, so it never felt like I was holding up other travelers.

When taking these photos I met a fellow from Vancouver Island who was vacationing with his daughter (and their dog) across Canada. When I told him that I was heading to Guelph, he mentioned that he had studied Agriculture there many years ago. He also reflected on a variety of bikes he'd owned over the years (including an older Triumph) and I mentioned that I had recently picked up a Yamaha WR250R - shipped to me all the way to Thunder Bay from Courtenay, B.C. He said "Wow, that's a pretty small bike". And I responded with "But the black CBR that you saw me climb off of in the parking area is only 125cc's. I'm heading to Guelph on it". He looked stunned. This was the first of many similar exchanges I had had with people who assumed the CBR was a larger bike. It was extremely fun and rewarding in a devious way to witness the look of shock on their faces when I mentioned the bike's displacement. Though I didn't realize it at the time - the thought of riding alone for over 3200 kms (2000 miles) - in some remote parts of Ontario - would seem like a lonely, isolating experience for many people. Yet every day was filled with such friendly, collegial banter from all kinds of interesting travelers. As we were talking - a train appeared and started to snake its way along the shoreline - so I decided to snap another photo.

It was at this point that I was suddenly confronted with an unanticipated dilemma. "Should I take another photo?....or risk ruining the moment by stopping and spoiling the immediacy of the experience - the Gestalt unraveling before me - as I was taking it all in. Riding a motorcycle really immerses you - you become a part of the experience - and the experience feels so much richer. I decided to seize the moment - just enjoy it - but promised myself that I would try to re-capture these images again on my camera on the return trip - hoping that the views would patiently wait for my return.

Before I knew it - I had reached my first stop for the night. I was about 430 kms from Thunder Bay and only about 50 kms from Wawa. My highway escapade was coming to an end for the day. I had passed by Obatanga Provincial Park often on my way east and always wondered what it would be like to camp there. My parents and my two younger sisters stayed there overnight on their way to Expo '86 in Vancouver. Now at Obatanga, I wondered which site my family stayed at in 1986. On this occasion, the park was virtually empty with a few scattered trailers and tents strewn throughout the park. I was given what is called a "walk-in site". These are by far my favourite provincial park sites. They are typically on the water - and the privacy really enhances the camping experience. You park along the road - and then walk into your site on a short path. Here is what it looked like.

And here was my view for the evening.

Here is another view of the site. If you look closely, you can see the CBR parked at the top of the path.

Below is a photo of my tent setup - complete with Camptime Roll-A-Cot (the four legs placed on drink coasters to preserve my tent floor) my sleeping bag ( my camp pillow, and my air mattress ( You can see some of my gear stored underneath the cot. I have tried sleeping in mummy bags and I find that they feel too much like what a straight-jacket might feel like - and so I just can't sleep well in them. The sleeping bag I took along for this trip is a 0 C (32F) rectangular bag with a flannel liner. It is roomy (I can roll around in my sleep without fear of waking wound-up like a Pillsbury apple turnover in the morning), very warm, thick and comfy, and the flannel is soft to the touch and feels good on the skin. And these bags are much more affordable - I guess in part - because they pack fairly large, are relatively heavy, and are made from less exotic materials. I can't say enough good things about the Exped Synmat air mattress. This mattress has synthetic insulation built into it for added warmth (R value of 6!) and pumps up to its 3.5" thickness via a built in hand pump. You simply press up and down on the mattress to inflate it. Ingenious design. The combination of cot, air mattress, and comfy sleeping bag allows you to sleep like you were at home. I won't settle for much compromise when it comes to sleeping. You really want to be able to look forward to a good nights sleep.

And what would camping be without a fire? Here was another use for my carabiner bungie cords. These things are great for securing a load on the bike and are a permanent part of my touring setup ( The CBR is a good firewood hauler.

Thought I'd take a walk around and snap a few photos of the park before retiring to my site for the evening.

Here is a view of the camper's beach.

And here is the fire.

And if you really want the cozier, more intimate version - here is a video of the fire.

Just as I was taking the video, the silence was suddenly broken by someone across the lake blasting out Bad Company's "Ready For Love". Good tune. They didn't crank it for very long - but it made me realize that on my next trip I WILL make room for my mp3 player. There is only so much reflection and soul searching you can do sitting alone and staring at a fire, then staring at the fire longer, and then poking your stick in it, and then staring some more. There really was nothing else left to do. Then again, these are the little things that force you to experience life outside of your comfort zone and to activate retrieval pathways and access nodes in the deeper recesses of your dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that are no longer commonly used. Just before I retired to my tent, a neighboring site decided to conduct an "Obatanga: Live and Unplugged" concert performance complete with acoustic guitars and soft singing complimented by David Crosby-ish vocal harmonies. I just listened and let the sounds lull me to sleep while breathing in the clean, crisp, night air. And what a wonderfully deep sleep I had.

The plan for the morning was to ride into Wawa, ON, fuel up, raid the Subway restaurant (a 12" sub fits nicely between 2 Powerades inside my Honda Hydro Pack Tankbag) and then make my way inland along Highways 101 and 129 before heading on some backroads towards Elliot Lake and Mississaugi Provincial Park before nightfall. A total of about 450 kms. I was excited about this ride because the last time I'd camped at Mississaugi was with my family in our Starcraft tent trailer when I was around 10 years old. I was curious to see if I might recognize some of the landmarks in the park more than 30 years later. I have fond memories of climbing a trail that led to a pretty spectacular clifftop lookout (and a scary incident that left an impression on me and my siblings at the time) so I was hoping I might be able to retrace those steps again. I seemed to remember there being a log book at the top that I had signed - and though I knew it was a unlikely to still be there - I secretly held out some hope that I might be able to find my entry - written in kid print handwriting.

The ride from Obatanga Park to Wawa was a brief 50 kms or so. I filled up at the Esso and the attendant remarked about how "sweet" my bike was. He seemed particularly impressed when I mentioned that it sips an average of 92 mpg on the highway. From Wawa I made my way along Hwy 101 with my next planned stop at Syd's Esso in Chapleau, ON. While the speed limit on this section is 80 km/hr, the road is essentially empty so the ride is peaceful and relaxing. The CBR125R was able to cruise comfortably at 90 km/hr (55 mph).

Here is a photo I took after re-arranging my gear. You can see the CBR in the background.

When I made it to Syd's Esso in Chapleau the young attendant there really seemed enamoured with the bike. He looked at me and then the bike and commented "It must really be fun to be riding that out on the open road". I was actually stunned by how accurate his insight had been and regretted that my reply was a weak "Yep - it sure is". Not wanting to appear disinterested, I chatted with him about my trip and the bike. Everyone seems surprised at how affordable this bike can be to purchase. I got the sense from him that I was living his dream. Then again - at that age I would have felt the same way....

I decided that it would be a good time to take a break and eat lunch so I pulled over to the side of the road and blazed a path through some bush so I could eat at a rock that jutted out into the Mississaugi River. With few cars traveling this route - my view was incredibly scenic and my lunch remarkably peaceful. I was also unbearably hot in full riding gear. This was the hottest I felt through the entire trip.

Here is the view from my rocky perch on the Mississaugi River.

I soon turned off Hwy 129 onto Hwy 554, then 546. Hwy 546 was a really interesting experience. Much of the route is very picturesque - meandering along the Little White River. But it is also incredibly bumpy so you really need good suspension to avoid unsettling the bike when riding over mid corner frost heaves. You also need to be extra careful as many of the twists and turns have sand on them - and the road isn't very wide. On one particularly twisty corner I met a large dumptruck heading towards me that left only about 2 metres of space for me to negotiate the inside of the corner. Not sure if the driver simply didn't see me - or if they just didn't care.

I eventually stopped along the road and took a break along the river.

I knew Mississaugi Provincial Park was now getting closer and my day on the road was coming to and end. I managed to pull into the park around 6pm. I was disheartened to find no staff at the main gate and some cryptic note with instructions to register at the Park Office. After riding all day I really wasn't in the mood to search for the office. However, with a little luck I found it and selected a spot for the night. Once again - I picked a walk-in site. Only - I wasn't informed that this site was situated on a swampy area of the lake.....

Here is my bike parked at the short trail leading into my site.

Within a few minutes of arriving - I heard a strange sound coming from the bush across the road from where I parked my bike. The noise the animal was making sounded very guttural - like it was grunting, knawing its teeth, and coughing up a hairball at the same time. It didn't sound like the kind of grunts that bears normally make - but then again - it didn't sound like Puss 'N Boots either. I decided to walk across the road and peer through the brush to investigate - but I found nothing. Then just as I took a step back - out of the corner of my eye I saw some shape emerge from the foliage a short distance away. I needed to get his attention to get a good mug shot so I worked my best vocal impression of one of my cats tossing a major hairball (imagine the sound of plunging a toilet mixed with priming the fuel bulb from the portable tank of an outboard motor mixed with the Ah huh, Ah huh, chorus of KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's The Way I Like It" for a sense of the sound I was aiming for). He turned around with a WTF?!? kind of expression on his face and I snapped the photo.

Photo of quizzical WTF look from Redd Foxx

I quickly set up my tent and put away my gear. I knew I only had a couple more hours of daylight but was determined to explore the lookout trail anyway. And I was leaving early the next morning so if I was going to do the trail - it had to be now. A staff member at the office told me that I had probably climbed the Helenbar Lake Lookout Trail based on my description and recollection. My trail map recommended that hikers set aside 4 hours to complete the loop but I knew I didn't have that much time so I decided to walk at a brisk pace and see where it got me. Just before I set out, I attempted to call my dad in Guelph to tell him about my day and reassure him that I was still in one piece. However, I couldn't get a signal on my Blackberry. I figured I might get a signal at the lookout by taking advantage of the 400 foot gain in elevation above the campground. I made sure to bring my camera, my trailmap, and headlamp just in case things took a turn for the worse. I quickly walked to the main area of the campground and made my way toward where I figured the trailhead would be according to my map. There were few campers in the park this evening. This was a far cry from the camping I remembered here as a kid. There were so many campers. Families with lots of kids. Everyone on bicycles.

When I had completed the lookout trail more than 30 yrs ago, I did it with my older brother and one of my younger sisters. The expedition was led by one of my parent's adventurous friends who was camping at the park as well. He brought along his two young sons. This time though - it was just me. I wondered if my journey along the trail would spark any sudden deja vu moments. I looked around at some of the large trees and rocks, and it was fun to imagine that I was now looking at the same landmarks that I had observed along the same path many years ago. The beginning of the trail involved a gradual climb that eventually met up with a large boulder - an erratic. I can't say I remember the boulder from the last time I traveled through - maybe it arrived during a more recent glacial period in the last 30 years. But I thought I'd take a photo anyway.

Here is the erratic.

Erratic nicely describes my route for a brief time after that photo was taken. The trail veered right from the boulder - and then the path faded to the point where I had to stop and look closely to identify where it continued. The signage was non-existent, but I prodded along and eventually the way became more obvious again. The trail continued on and up and I wondered what the topic of conversation had been along this same route as kids. Within about 30 minutes I could tell that I had crested the ridge. The trail followed the top for quite some time to the point where I wondered if I had missed a cutoff to the lookout. But I persevered and patiently remained on the trail. Soon the route headed inwards toward the cliffs and I knew I was about to reach my goal. I approached the clearing and the view opened up like a large bay window framed by a smattering of trees. It was really breathtaking - not something you'd forget - even as a kid. I had made it back to the same spot from my youth. The same spot where I'd been so many years ago. I was filled with excitement, reflection, and awe all rolled in one.

View from the Helenbar Trail lookout.

The wooden box containing the sign-in book was no where to be seen. Was this just a false memory? However, there was a picnic table that was filled with names and dates - carved into the wood by previous visitors. It was the edge of the cliff that really caught my attention though. It doesn't just drop off vertically. It sort of gradually falls off - rounded - like a bell. If someone was unfortunate enough to fall down it - they would have plenty of time to contemplate their fate as they slowly skidded over the rounded surface - their finger tips clinging desperately to the lichen as they gradually picked up speed and disappeared over the edge. These were the visual images me and my siblings shared over the years - retold countless times and sparked by an incident that occurred at this very lookout when we were last here. Our leader was careful to tell us in a serious tone to NOT go anywhere close to the edge. We really didn't need much convincing. But we were young. And kids are easily distracted. Some of us were really young. My sister was about 5 yrs old. One of the leader's sons was about the same age. In his little hand he was holding a toy car. At some point if fell from his hand and tumbled near where the edge disappears in the photo below. I remembered hearing him say "car car!!" and before I realized what was happening, he started running toward the edge. I recall hearing his dad shriek his name and scream. He managed to grab his car - and then his dad managed to grab him. They were safe. But the flashbulb images of that scene were protein synthesized into our collective memories. A few days ago when I showed my sister the photos, she said the image below looked exactly as she had always remembered it. Rounded, and slowly, gradually, dropping off into oblivion.

Near the edge of the cliff.

Helenbar Lake is also noteworthy in that it was the site of a fighter jet crash in 1946 (long before the park was established in 1965) when the aircraft ran out of fuel while flying through a thunderstorm. You can read some of the details toward the bottom of the page here:

Another view of Helenbar Lake

After snapping a few photos I had to decide whether to re-trace my route back to the campground or continue on and complete the loop. Clearly the latter choice would take much longer. But where is the adventure in returning the same way I had arrived? I opted to complete the loop. Just as I was leaving the lookout I remembered to make another attempt to call my dad on my cell. This time my Blackberry had a signal and before I knew it I was chatting with him on the phone from the lookout. It made me reflect for a moment that if someone had told me back then, as a 10 yr old, that more than 30 years later I'd be standing in this very same spot all alone, holding a small strange device with no attached cord - called a smart phone - and chatting with my dad who was living in Guelph.....

As it turned out, the trail soon began its descent down the ridge so it was easy to maintain a quick pace. I eventually reached the portage trail that connects Helenbar Lake to Semiwite Lake (where the campground is situated). After a few minutes of walking I approached Semiwite Lake at the end of the portage trail. I looked around and suddenly - deja vu - I had been here before. I then realized that this was probably the area where the trail leader friend of my parents took us boating, swimming, and waterskiing during our stay at the park. This was the beach where we had spent the day. I recently asked my dad about this and he confirmed that this was likely the spot.

Beach at the end of the portage from Helenbar Lake to Semiwite Lake.

I made it back to the campground as the light started to fade. It only took 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the loop. I decided to take a dip at the camper's beach. The park itself doesn't have a comfort station so a hot shower was out of the question. The swim felt great - a fitting end to a long hot day of riding and hiking. Several of the parks I had visited during my trip had "boil water" advisories posted above the sinks at the outhouses. The water is treated but the advisories suggested that other microscopic critters might still be able to pass through the chlorine gauntlet. Even brushing your teeth with the water was not recommended. This presented a dilemma. I was completely parched. I had ran out of Powerade quite some time ago. The closest store was 25 kms away in Elliot Lake. I drank the water anyway. Actually - I drank copious amounts of it - like it was ambrosia. And it was cold - and so refreshing that my eyes teared up it felt and tasted so good. To be honest - I've drank clean Northern Ontario lake water all my life - on every camping trip. Rarely boiled it. Never a problem. This time was different. About 1 hour after having drank the water my stomach started making unearthly gurgling sounds and the sudden severe cramping could only mean that an alien was about to pop out of my gut at any moment, or that this was a warning sign that old faithful was about to erupt. I burst out of the blocks and desperately sprinted towards the nearest outhouse faster than Ben Johnson on Stanozolol. I barely made it to the stall and lifted the seat before I evacuated what seemed to me like either someone had stuck a turbo powered Wagner Power Painter down the hole and set it to Spinal Tap "11" and extra "wide" spray pattern on the dial - or what it would look like if Ricky Carmichael was going for the holeshot on his RM-Z450 and managed to spray the entire contents of his rooster tail into an outhouse hole. If you are still reading this and haven't yet vomited - I hope you realize that I'm just joking. This never happened. I was completely fine after drinking the water. I just thought that this trip segment needed a little more humour. Sorry for the vivid visual imagery.

As I prepared to retire to my tent for the evening - I was somewhat concerned about a frog situated in the water near my tent who boasted a croak louder than the loudest belch I had ever heard. And it re-occurred about every 15 seconds. Could he hold out all night? Did he really need a mate that badly? Did he really have enough staying power? The answer to all the above questions was "yes". I had a terrible sleep. By 6am I had had enough, so I took down the tent and loaded up the CBR125R. I then gingerly crept down to the waters edge and clubbed the huge frog over the head with one of my tarp poles and then draped his dead carcass over the end of the picnic table. You can see him hanging in the photo below.

Early morning view from campsite.

Actually - just teasing again about clubbing the frog. Though I'm still not sure what the object is in the photo. I think it is either my daypack or my tankbag.

Despite having had a pretty crummy sleep due to the super loud and horny frog, I was really pumped for the next leg of my trip. I setoff around 7 AM and headed towards Elliot Lake, about 25 kms away. Sometimes when you are riding - everything just feels right. The sun is shining, the road is empty, hilly, twisty, the air is crisp and cool, and the scenery is inspiring - filled with distant hills mirrored in crystal clear blue lakes. This aptly describes my ride into Elliot Lake that morning. I had a perma-grin on my face the entire way. Maybe I was just feeling "Towelie" high due to major sleep deprivation - but I felt great either way.

The last time I had been to Elliot Lake was about the same time I had last camped at Mississaugi Provincial Park. My family had also camped on a small ridge right along the main road just entering town from the north. I was eager to see how my memories of this trailer park compared to the view today. I also thought about a fellow CBR125R rider - JohnR - from the forum. I briefly considered trying to contact him with my Blackberry while at Mississaugi Park. It would have been nice to meet up with a fellow forum member who knew so much about the CBR125R and to chat about his setup including his full Giannelli exhaust and Athena Big Bore Kit. However, after realizing I had no cell signal in the park, I gave up. As I was nearing Elliot Lake I also laughed to myself thinking that it would be incredibly Twilight Zone-ish if I were to somehow see him while riding through town. Elliot Lake has a population of about 14,000 residents and it takes about 2 minutes to traverse the downtown section. The likelihood that I would see him was well - unlikely. But it was amusing to imagine nonetheless. As I was holding onto that thought and entering town, I spotted what appeared to be a black CBR600RR approaching from the distance. As the rider approached I stuck my hand out and offered a slow wave and in kind - they waved back. But as we were about to meet I suddenly realized that it was a CBR125R. My slow wave suddenly turned into a frantic wave and thumbs-up sign as we passed each other. I glanced in my mirror to see whether they were about to turn around, but the rider turned onto an industrial road, so I continued into Elliot Lake. I was stunned. Could this have been JohnR from the forum?!?!? No. To accept this would have been just too bizarre. There must be more than one CBR125R in Elliot Lake. What would the chances be that I would pass by another forum member - within such a narrow time and place? I laughed to myself again wondering about this unlikely possibility - but checked my watch just the same so I'd have a time reference. It was 7:20 AM. I was still deep in contemplation when I passed by the trailer park on my left and forgot to scope it out. Doh.

Two days later I was on my dad's computer in Guelph and decided to message JohnR and ask him if he had indeed been the rider I'd passed earlier. I felt surprisingly sheepish doing this because it felt kinda like meeting a Torontonian living in Thunder Bay and asking them if they happen to know "John from Toronto". But I thought I'd give it a try anyway. Yep - it was him. His reply? "Yes it was me, I was on my way to work. I thought it might be you because of the gear and the windshield. If you changed your exhaust, your bike would look just like mine." When he passed me he said it looked as though he was looking in a mirror. Really. What are the chances?

Elliot Lake is really a beautiful little place. I recall thinking to myself "I could live here". I fueled up at the Esso, re-supplied my tankbag with another two Green Squall Powerades and then enjoyed a really nice morning ride towards Hwy 17 (Trans Canada) just 30 kms down Hwy 108. I faced a pretty strong headwind for my short stint on the Trans Canada. I was tucked-in most of the way to maintain a speed of 100km/hr but the CBR kept pace even loaded up like a pack mule. How can you not love a motorcycle that you spend so much time hugging? Behaviour has a strong influence on attitudes. Not the other way around. When you spend so much time hugging the bike - hunkered down in a crouched position, with your entire body wrapped around it's small curvy frame - how can you not feel some attachment to the little overachiever? Like a border collie hauling a loaded dogsled - it might not be the top dog for the job - but you can always rely on it to give you its best, never faltering or failing to surprise you with its willingness - eagerness to do what you ask of it. And when the destination arrives - you love it even more for the herculean effort and the small amount of fuel (or small can of Alpo) it asks for in return.

My sister was recently talking with her husband about why anyone would ever want to ride such a small bike on such a grand journey. He was smitten by the adventurousness of the trip - but had a hard time wrapping his head around my motivation. But my sister got it. She said that Mike was probably doing it for the same reason that Buster Keaton chose the little speeder to see and experience Canada in one of his last movies - The Railrodder. Smart girl my sister. There are certainly much bigger choices when riding the rails. But would this movie have had the same impact if he had opted for a large locomotive? There is something enticing about a small bike doing something that it shouldn't be able to do. Will it make it? Will you make it? Buster experiences these sorts of challenges on his trip. It really makes you want to root for the hero. And by moving more slowly it really allowed Buster to achieve his goal. To really see Canada.

Here is some information on the Railrodder.

Watch The Railrodder here:

The ride from Espanola to Little Current on Manitoulin Island is very scenic.

Here is the view from the lookout.

And here is the historical plaque located at the lookout.

To my surprise, I ended up arriving in South Baymouth with a full two hours to spare. I paid through Interac and was told to proceed to the front of the line where the pavement was labelled with a large "motorcycles" stencil. I then remembered what Keith (A.K.A. KFSRQ) mentioned on the CBR125R forum about motorcyclists being treated like royalty on the Chi-Cheemaun. I had brought along my ratcheting kayak tie down ropes too. Thanks for the tip Keith! These things were gold. I think I was the envy of everyone who had to tie their bikes to the ferry deck rings with the provided conventional-type ropes. It took me only a few seconds to attach and then secure my bike. The ferry staff instruct you to secure both sides of the bike up high (e.g., handlebar area) with each rope and then attach them to the deck rings on either side of the bike.

Here are my ratcheting tie down ropes.

Here is the border collie humbly nestled beside the siberian husky.

And here is what you see ahead of you when you park your bike.

Once on the ferry it was nice to take a break and relax. I took a few photos from the deck. One of them surprised me. Most anyone from Thunder Bay would recognize the following photo as our beloved Nanabijou - The Sleeping Giant that lies across the bay from our harbour. But they would be wrong. This one was snoring between South Baymouth and Tobermory.

The profile of the sleeping giant from Thunder Bay? Nope.

What course would my adventure take once I reached the hallowed ground of Southern Ontario? Stay tuned to find out in.....

Part II - Southern Ontario Cam Woes


Nanabijou screwed with this post 11-01-2013 at 01:53 PM
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:22 AM   #2
Burnin' daylight...
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Joined: Apr 2006
Location: Louisville, KY
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AWESOME ride report! I was on my way to follow this route several years ago when a mechanical failure ended my journey. It's still on the list of rides I need to take, though.
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:22 AM   #3
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Joined: May 2012
Location: Trippin'
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Hey Mike:
Entertaining RR, enjoying it immensely and that frog got off with less than he deserved. Looking forward to the Manitoulin segment. Ride On brother.
There is nothing better than to be happy, and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
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Old 07-22-2012, 12:48 PM   #4
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Thank you for the great ride report! Good read and nice pictures. Very tempting indeed.
Canada is big.
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:51 PM   #5
Nanabijou OP
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Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Reliving The Past: A CBR125R Camping and Touring Adventure

Part II – Southern Ontario Cam Woes

The rest of my planned route!

What can I say about the Chi-Cheemaun ferry experience? I enjoyed it so much that I took it again on my return trip. If you have never ridden a motorcycle on the Chi-Cheemaun - you need to. Riders arrived from everywhere. It felt like a voyageur rendezvous at Old Fort William Historical Park. And all were friendly and interesting. It is rare that you find strangers that you connect with so readily. The feeling of camaraderie and kinship I experienced that afternoon was inspiring. One fellow from near Lake Placid, NY described his favourite ride ever - a tour of the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I've been fascinated with highpoints for quite some time so I asked him if he had climbed some specific highpoints I knew of around Lake Placid. Of course he had. Should I have been surprised? Nope. These folks were clearly well-rounded in the adventure realm. It was a humbling experience. But their influence also made me want to keep riding -to learn and discover more.

Two best friends - one of whom was riding a Suzuki DR650 out of Ottawa and the other a CBF1000 from Toronto were on their annual summer tour. They were friendly and fun to chat with. One of them has his own blog so I made a point of visiting it after my trip. His report and photos nicely capture the spirit of the ferry experience and the appeal of riding on Manitoulin Island. If you want a laugh - click on the link below to access his report and read what he said about me under the photo of my CBR125R, two-thirds of the way down the page!!

Once off the ferry I expected to be part of a great big convoy rockin' through the night - or at least down Hwy 6 in the midday sun. But I was alone once again. I guess the others were taking their time - exploring Tobermory's treasures. I couldn't fathom that. As I began riding, I soon noticed that someone had cranked the heat on again. Now, even the wind at my back felt warm. I was stopped for construction around Lion's Head, ON when a young dude controlling traffic looked at me like I was wearing a black snowmobile suit. I guess, in a sense I was. "How can you wear all that gear in such hot weather - you must be cooking under there?" I replied - "Yes, I am. Could you please remove the BBQ thermometer from my ass, I think I'm done". Well, at least that is what I wanted to say. Instead I reassured him that once I was moving again, I would be fine.

I actually enjoyed the straight roadway along Hwy 6 down through the Bruce Peninsula. I was making good time and hoped to reach Hanover, ON where I would be staying - by late afternoon. As I was coming into Hanover, I encountered what would be my nemesis on this part of the trip. Detour signs. The coup de gras this time was that the sign blocked the main road entering town - the main porthole to my destination. I've never seen so many detours. I think there were even detours of actual detours - meta-detours if you will - there were so freakin' many. My Mapquest printouts were rendered useless. A GPS enabled smartphone would have been handy. Instead, I took out a piece of detailed paper from my tankbag - I believe it's called a map. I needed directions. As luck would have it, there was a Honda dealer across the street so this was a natural choice. But there were detour signs there too at every entrance. Actually - just joking on that one - but in my current state of frustration - and from my experience thus far - this is what I was expecting. The guy at the parts counter was really helpful. He gave me a Hanover map and provided useful directions and landmarks to ensure I reached my destination. He also gave me a small amount of brake fluid - gratis - as I noticed I was a little low. When I told him I was from Thunder Bay, ON he told me that he has always wanted to move to Dryden, ON. I said "Cool. Have you been there before?" and he said "No."

I had another reason for visiting Hanover. My friend Peter and I grew up together in a small town called Onaping (pronounced AWNAH-ping) about 35 minutes northwest of Sudbury, ON. Peter and I rode dirtbikes together throughout our teens. I wanted to surprise him. I didn't tell him ahead of time that I would be arriving all the way from Thunder Bay on an 125cc motorcycle. He didn't even know I had a bike. He was pretty surprised to see me in all of my gear when I showed up at his front door. He was also relieved - he and his family had been trapped in their neighbourhood for 3 days because of detours - and they needed emergency food and water (just joking). I unloaded the bike and suggested he take it out for a spin. It had been a few years since he'd last ridden. He purchased a Kawasaki KLR250 to ride into work but sold it a few years ago. As a teen he owned a 1980 Honda XL185 and then later purchased a new 1990 Honda XL250. What would he think of the CBR125R? He suited up and took off like he had been riding it for years. About 20 minutes later he returned. He commented on how much fun he had had on his short test-ride and was surprised by how well it handled. The one thing that stood out the most for him was how smooth it was -everything felt very fluid and mechanically precise. Dual-sport bikes don't feel this smooth. The fuel-economy was the piece de resistance. I urged him to take another spi.......and he was gone again. I think he was already planning how he could fit the purchase into his budget when he returned, dragging a detour sign from my left rear signal light (O.K. - just teasing again). He wanted one. I reassured him that he would be able to find a used one for a great price as everyone seemed to be selling theirs to pick up much bigger bikes. Would they forget how much fun their CBR125Rs had been?

Well I eventually arrived in Guelph the next day. I couldn't believe it. I had actually made it all the way from Thunder Bay to Guelph. I think my dad was relieved to see me too. I felt like kissing the CBR. But before the beer would flow - and it would eventually flow like Mississaugi Park tap water - I had an appointment to meet with GoFaster in Brampton to install my racing camshaft. I figured I could benefit from just a little extra power up top for my loaded up highway runs. My plan included keeping my 14T sprocket so I could cruise between 105-110km/hr sitting up, even with some headwind and up some hills. It was an interesting experience watching GoFaster work his magic - deftly and methodically dismantling the CBR. Once everything was done we fired it up and it sounded great - but it began to stall at idle. After some systematic tinkering yielded no clues - a quick throttle body idle adjustment had the CBR idling properly. Now here was the TSN turningpoint. Doesn't Murphy's law state "If anything can go wrong, it probably will" or something like that?

About that time it started to rain and thunder outside. I was hoping that GoFaster would take my bike out for a spin and compare how it felt to the other bikes he had outfitted with the same camshaft. But he declined - and I don't blame him. It was late - and the rain was coming down pretty steadily. And he had no reason to believe there might be an issue with my bike. I took a brief test run down the street and back and found that it bogged down low which seemed unusual. But I expected some trade-off anyway for what I had hoped would be greater top-end pull. The next day I sent GoFaster an e-mail suggesting I bring the bike over again. However, he was away for the next few days so we weren't able to meet up.

I was able to meet up with KillerKeith though. At the last minute I had posted a message asking if any of the Southern Ontario CBR125R forum riders could show me a cool riding area near Guelph. Keith was available and suggested we explore The Forks (of the Credit River). Being the intrepid adventurer that he is - Keith had never been there previously, but both of us were eager to give it a try.

Here is Keith keeping us on-course. He said he was just checking the directions on his GPS equipped Blackberry but I think he was really looking for a Timmy Ho's.

We finally made it to The Forks just outside of Erin, ON. Like much of the standout scenery on my trip - the area really changes dramatically here as the road winds down into a scenic valley along the Niagara Escarpment. This is no Tail of the Dragon - there really aren't that many turns - but still - this place is a little gem for riders. A tastey morsel. I decided to film us taking one of the more extreme corners.

Here is Keith on his Ninja 650R.

Here I am doing my best impression of a reluctant and tentative circus bear riding stiffly around a circle under the big top. I swear I was a human compass inscribing a perfect arc in this clip. Dork alert!

And here is Keith on the CBR. He commented how nicely it corners compared to his 650R. It also engine brakes nicely downshifting into second as you can clearly hear.

After having spent a few of days in Guelph, it was time to return home. I knew I had a long trip ahead of me and more photos to take. I wanted to keep my promise and capture some scenic views I had missed the first time through. On my way back, I left with my dad to visit with one of my sisters in Penetanguishene, ON. For the most part, it was a relaxing ride. However, it also served to confirm to me that the bike clearly wasn't running properly. Keith noticed this too after his ride around the hairpin turns at The Forks. While at my sister's place, I asked GoFaster for some sage advice. His suggestion? Remove the baffle from my Arrow bolt-on exhaust. I wondered how much difference if any might come from removing the baffle. I had no circlip pliers but managed to wrestle if off anyway. When I fired it back up - the sound the bike produced made me feel like I had taken up residence in Big Daddy Don Garlits' pit crew. I said my goodbyes and left - well aware that I was probably waking up the entire neighbourhood. I noticed a difference immediately. I chirped the rear tire going into second gear. As I rode on, it became evident that the low-end power was indeed back - but the top-end power was still glaringly absent. At least in this configuration the bike was more tractable around town. Gone was the conspicuous "Is my bike in 3rd gear?" bog I had been experiencing when starting from a stop.

Was my previous ferry experience a fluke? Was the sequel going to live up to the original? Was I about to see first hand what "regression to the mean" - means? Nope. It was great again. I met a middle-aged couple from Toronto who had left the kids at home and their expressions showed even more excitement in anticipation of touring Manitoulin Island than the sheer exuberation I felt upon discovering a box labeled "Air-Jet Hockey" under my parent's bed as a kid a few days before Christmas. He was a seasoned rider and had done some work as a motorcycle race crew mechanic. She had recently obtained her licence and on her first trip was having a Blast on her Buell. Her excitement and expression of wonderment was palpable and it was refreshing to see a rider so passionate and excited about the adventure that was unfolding before her. Do you remember your first trip? One of the ferry crew members walked by me as I was eating my sandwich under a tree. "I am willing to bet you are the owner of the BMW F800 GS in the lineup" he said. " I'm the one on the CBR125 over there" I replied.

One woman was riding a 1973 Honda CB175 twin. When she mentioned being a little down on power compared to my "supersport" - the gig was up. I confided that my bike actually displaced 125cc's. Before I could explain, she brightened and announced "Yes!!!! - for once I don't have the smallest bike in the group!!!!". She was cute so I let that go. When we began boarding she had some difficulty overcoming the forces of gravity and friction. I'm not sure of the protocol here, but I pulled up alongside to help out as others were riding around her - making sure they didn't miss the boat on this one. Did I mention she was cute? Just as I pulled up and offered some assistance she found the magic and was off. This raised an interesting issue. Once everyone started their bikes (imagine the starting line of a stock-car race) you really couldn't hear anything over the rumble. And the vibrations shaking the asphalt from several tons of idling iron easily masks your own bike's tell-tale shakes so it's hard to tell if it's running. I revved the CBR - not to show the alpha males that this pup could bark too - but to simply confirm that I had engaged the starter long enough to actually start my bike.

Pretty bikes all in a row. Can you spot the CBR125? (*Hint - it's the bike with a "V" pattern on the front cowl).

The Chi-Cheemaun's great white jaws are about to swallow us up.

Once off the ferry, I headed towards Little Current, ON with a plan to camp overnight at Fairbank Provincial Park, a few hours away. My friend Peter who I had just visited in Hanover would also be camping there with his family. JohnR had also given me his number so we could arrange to meet the next day to look over the bike in Elliot Lake. I called him while resting at the lookout below near Little Current.

No this is not a Tanzanian savannah and that isn't Kilimanjaro in the background. What looks like traces of snow on the hilltops are actually the quartzite topped signatures of the LaCloche range.

Fairbank Park is a really nice place to camp. But the potholes that liberally engulf the 22 kms of paved road leading into the park were daunting. Maybe it was partly due to relief that I had survived the roadway trenches, but I ended up having a great evening with Peter and his family reminiscing around the campfire. We discussed funny stories from the past. Many of our conversations turned back to our friend Curtis who used to ride with us on his Yamaha IT175. Curtis was the daredevil of the group. He would try almost anything once. Our very own Johnny Knoxville. Curtis was a good guy and a good friend - and we wondered what he was doing at this moment.

The next morning I rode with Peter down to the beach and then up to the gatehouse. I insisted on buying a couple of bags of wood for the remainder of his stay. A friendly staff member was helping with the transaction when Peter drew my attention to what appeared to be Curtis's name on the park registry. The staff member quickly corrected us revealing that the name was in fact that of Curtis's wife - Cindy. She should know. She was their daughter. Didn't see that coming. We asked her to say "Hi" to her dad for us. We said our goodbyes and I promised Peter I would take it slow through the pockmarked road out from the park on my way toward Elliot Lake, ON.

The beach at Fairbank Provincial Park.

I eventually made it into Elliot Lake, but had to wind the poor bike out in 5th and sometimes 4th gear between 10,000 and 11,000 RPM just to maintain 100km/hr on the highway. I couldn't force myself to tuck in any closer to the bike without becoming part of the frame. John appeared shortly after I'd arrived and parked next to my bike. We shook hands and took a look at our rides. I wanted him to take mine for a spin and give me some impressions. I think he was worried that the only impression he would make would be embedded in the pavement while trying to mount my loaded CBR. I eventually steadied the bike and he muscled his way onto it by contorting his limbs in such a way that he had me convinced he'd invented a new form of yoga.

He remarked about how much smoother the bike felt compared to his, but noticed that it was down on power. I'm sure if was difficult to make this comparison using his bike as a metric because his Athena powered version I was now riding felt like it had double the displacement. It was an unusual ride compared to my CBR. His bike felt calm and poised, even when the speedo read 100km/hr. It was a strange sensation to twist the throttle and feel the torque push you like you had Lascelles Brown behind you. And John's homemade handlebar risors made for an incredibly comfortable upright seating position. His bike did produce more vibration in the upper part of the rev range. Still, it was very agreeable to ride.

We ended up at John's place where he kindly took my bike into his shed. John embodies the "KISS" principle and was quick to put it to work. But despite his best efforts, a simple solution seemed unlikely. He eventually replaced my Arrow bolt on with his stock exhaust as it would be quick and easy to do - yet unfortunately this didn't yield any fruit either. He even checked the timing and resistor - as well as my valve clearances, just in case something went awry after my visit with GoFaster. I watched nervously when I wasn't honing my skills removing and replacing the seat and lifting the gas tank. All in all he spent the entire afternoon and evening going over the bike checking it over in a careful systematic manner - yet to no avail. But disconfirmation is a powerful reasoning tool - so learning what was "unlikely to be the problem" provided some consolation. My heartfelt thanks again for all the time and effort you put into my bike John. My offer for you to stay here in Thunder Bay still stands if you should ever decide to saddle-up and trace your own route around the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

Here we are after the surgery. One of us is incognito.

Before I would voice my thanks and say goodbye, I rode with John down to the beach on Elliot Lake. Who has a beautiful beach like this right in their backyard? I had another reason to see the beach. I remember as a kid swimming there and watching older kids jump from a large boulder situated in the middle of the lake. I've met several people from Elliot Lake since that time but nobody has been able to validate the existence of this rock. Was my memory that fragile? Well - read 'em and weep - that damned rock was still there. Though to be fair - it really isn't in the middle of the lake - but I bet it sure felt that way at my age back then.

The WeeBRs at the beach on Elliot Lake. The rock is out in the water between the two bikes.

My plan was to stay at Mississaugi Provincial Park again this night. After my close encounter with the testosterone laden frog, I had hoped that with the passage of time his libido would have now subsided. Judging from the power of his croak and his enviable stamina - I had my doubts. It started to rain heavily while approaching the park. I would be setting up in the rain under darkness. But the downpour would yield a surprising benefit. I pulled into Mississaugi Provincial Park at around 10:30 PM to find the office closed. I was still reeling from the Toad Induced REM Episode Disruptions from my last visit - yet I still found myself drawn to the same collection of walk-in sites - like the moth to the flame. At least this time I picked a different spot that offered more privacy. The rain was now coming down quite hard. I wasn't keen on carrying my gear back and forth from my bike down the winding path to my spot however. So with the bike turned off, I pushed the feather-weight WeeBR down the trail right onto my site. Now I would have quick access to my gear, making setup easy and efficient. Here is just one instance where my LED headlamp was indispensible. Out of all the gear I own, this is the one item I use all the time. It takes up little room, provides hands-free functionality, and shines bright for what seems like an eternity on 3 AAA batteries. It can even be used as a tent nightlight (the inside of my Nemo Andi has a little mesh sleeve near the tent peak for this very purpose).

I was becoming more efficient at setting up my tent and sleeping ensemble too. Within 30 minutes my abode was ready. It had been a long day and I was eager to lose consciousness. There would be no distractions this night. The bush was silent, and the random rhythm of the rain tapping against the walls of my tent provided a soothing, mesmerizing sleep soundtrack until dawn. The pitter-patter of rain became the figure that buffered any sounds from the background outside. Falling rain was the only sound I'd hear through my entire slumber. Rarely have I slept so well than when warm and cozy in a dry tent listening to the sound of rain. Maybe it's the contrast of knowing that you have escaped the peril - you don't take for granted that only a thin layer of material separates your tiny, toasty piece of nirvana from nature's inhospitable elements. What else could explain why sleeping to the sound of rain is so comforting? I am a good sleeper. But this was the best sleep I had had the entire trip. It turned out that I would need this sleep. Tomorrow would be another long day.

On the way out, I rode to the Park Office and paid for my stay and thought it amusing that I had had both my best and worst sleep of the trip at the same park. I was now on my way again along the remote and scenic Deer Trail Route.

I wanted to honour the commitment I had made to capture more vistas from this part of my trip and hopefully re-capture the thrill of adventure I carried with me the last time I rode through here. These next two photos bring back those memories.

Here is what the hilly remote paved trail looked like just north of the Park.

A view along the Little White River.

This area is full of solitude. But I almost made an intimate connection with a black bear moping along the road while I was negotiating a blind corner near where the photo was taken below. I think the one saving grace was that my now baffle-less exhaust trumpeted a warning of my arrival which prompted the bruin to make haste - to run to the hills and run for his life. It was clear that I wasn't going to be sneaking up on wildlife like a Prius in EV mode.

The road along the river.

I eventually made it back to Hwy 129. One advantage of re-tracing my route was the comfort in knowing beforehand where I would be stopping. I filled up again at the Aubrey Falls gas bar and then continued on my way. I had meant to take some photos of the Mississaugi River where the topography takes an interesting and meandering course at Aubrey Falls Provincial Park, and now I had my chance. There were countless cart paths leading from the highway toward the river. I uncovered a hidden gem that served as a great lunch stop. The photo below shows my view. I had no problem finding the beach.

A view further down.

Highway 129 was truly empty this time through. I had ridden 120 kms before I was finally passed by a lone car driving in the same direction. And I was taking my time enjoying the scenery. After the requisite re-fuel at Syd's in Chapleau, I steered the bike north and then west, edging ever closer toward Lake Superior once again. I had been incredibly lucky weather-wise on this trip. Every day had been sunny. However, that would change once I made it into Wawa. The weather along the northshore of Lake Superior can be really unpredictable. My ride went from clear sunshine not 30 kms inland from the Big Lake, to fog and rain coming into Wawa.

This photo of Wawa Lake - resembling a T.V. dream sequence - was taken as I was about to enter Wawa along Hwy 101.

Once in Wawa I filled up the bike, and then found food and shelter at the local Subway (they had lost power but fortunately could still make a sub). Concerned about what lay ahead of me, I called my friend Paul from Thunder Bay to ask about weather conditions for the last 500 kms of my adventure. From what he could glean online, he felt certain the weather I was encountering in the land of the big goose was an anomaly and reassured me the skies would clear up by my next stop in White River, ON only 90 kms away. I knew the route well and reasoned that I could easily stay the night at any one of a variety of Provincial Parks along the way if needed. I put on all my raingear and prepared for the worst. The last time I had ridden in the rain had been during my Thunder Bay to Winnipeg excursion and the experience left me cold. But I felt I had learned from my mistakes and made sure to purchase waterproof boots and gloves to compliment my Gortex dry top and pants for my next trip. I felt like a warrior going into battle. I was confident I would prevail. I really thought it would be different this time.

So I had decided to ride the storm out. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I was just hoping that I would stay dry as I squeezed in behind my windscreen, fighting strong wind and persistent rain. I recall thinking I was steadfastly "holding my own" and pondered Captain McSorley's famous last transmission as the CBR soldiered through rough weather. It was about that time when my feet began to feel funny. Wiggling my toes created small, rippled waves. My Icon Accelerant waterproof boots were letting in more water than the Red River Floodway in April. How could this be? I had completely submerged them in water not long ago while walking along a beach. No issue. Now my boots were waterlogged. I tried to rationalize that at least the rest of me was dry - but it was hard to reconcile the disappointment I was feeling. It felt like the storm had won part of the battle. When I returned home, I looked for personal accounts of leakage from these boots and found a number of such descriptions at the link below. I just may give up and go the rubber boot route next time. Too bad, as I really like these boots.

In the distance, at the peak of the downpour, I spotted what looked to be a Honda Gold Wing rider stopped alongside the road. At this point I wanted nothing more than to get through the storm as quickly as possible - to claim victory - to put the bad weather behind me. Turns out he was fine and was just checking to make sure his gear was dry. But I think he was amused that I would pull over in such conditions, and seemed genuinely grateful that I had stopped. He thanked me several times. Not long afterwards I spotted him in my rearview mirror. He rode in staggered formation behind me for some ways and then saluted as he passed.

Paul's advice had been spot on. It wasn't much longer before the weather turned more favourable and the sun shone once again. While re-fueling, I became aware of a sloshing sound that wasn't coming from my tank. My attention was drawn once again to the Lake Baikal-like volume of water in my boots. I wondered if they'd dry by the time I reached Thunder Bay. Yes, at this point the thought of making it home in one long stretch was becoming more and more plausible. I felt great. The sun was shining. The views were magnificent. There was little traffic. By the end of the day I would cover 980 kms. I hoped that I wouldn't suddenly "hit the wall" at Marathon, ON. I was looking forward to snapping some photos from key locations along this stretch of blacktop.

Just past Marathon, the riding really became fun. A few years ago one of my sisters came up to visit for Canada Day and brought along some friends from Windsor, ON. They were taking turns driving and one of them actually had to give up the wheel of the Sportcute because the road suddenly became too challenging to drive with all the hills, water, drop-offs, cliffs, distracting views, and twists, and turns. You can't get a better endorsement than that. I quickly forgot about how far down I was tucking - how sore my lower back was feeling - how long before "trench foot" would set in - or how often I was shifting between 4th and 5th gear to maintain my speed. Life was good.

View toward Premier Mt. and Neys Provincial Park west of Marathon, ON.

I decided to stop near the Little Pic River bridge lookout. If you look to the left in the distance, you can see the expanse of the bridge. There is nothing little about the river or the bridge. You can see the CBR parked behind the picnic table on the far right.

One side benefit to the long climbs that dot this route are the equally long "sit up and enjoy the view" descents that wind back toward Lake Superior.

Highway 17 West between Marathon and Terrace Bay, ON.

When friends and family come up to visit - one of the first questions I ask when they arrive is "How did you enjoy the drive along Lake Superior?" Unless they are driving at night, most recount a scare that occurs at one particularly noteworthy section of highway where the road suddenly dips and without warning, heads straight into the cold and icy depths of Lake Superior. Well, that is the impression. If you are following another vehicle you can experience the fun of anticipating the exact moment where the illusion occurs and the driver instinctively hits the brakes. Of course, the photo below doesn't quite do the illusion justice.

If you look closely, you can see a guy out for a run on the bridge. Just a kilometer away is the Rossport section of the Rainbow Falls Provincial Park campground.

The CBR125R is so maneuverable and light-weight that I began to deftly grab photos without even climbing off the bike. It was easy to simply remain seated and "walk" the bike forward and backward to line up each new shot. This revolutionary technique made my photographic sojourns remarkably easy and carefree. Or so I thought. Just after the photo below was taken - I actually dropped my bike. It felt painful typing that line. I still can't believe it. I had gotten too overconfident and careless. As I began to walk the bike backwards, my right foot slipped in some sand that had collected on the asphalt from runoff. I could feel the bike falling. I tried valiantly to slow the inevitable. I remember having one of those bizarre time bending moments where I said to myself "I can't believe I'm actually going to drop my bike". I had on many occasions demonstrated to my friends how easy the bike was to re-right while sitting on the seat and leaning it well past 45 degrees. With camping gear weight high up on the seat - this feat of strength and agility was not possible. My goal was to lay it down as gently as I could. This might convince the truck driver slowly crawling up the roadway at the same moment that this was intentional - I merely preferred this method to the side-stand for resting the bike. Fortunately, there wasn't any real damage. But I spent the next 10 minutes cleaning sand from the interior of my right front signal light that had popped open from the impact (another reason for shortening your front signal stalks). It eventually snapped back together. I also noticed a superficial scratch on the upper cowl. I then dead-lifted the bike back up.

Just before the incident.

Here is a photo of a scenic curve a little ways from Nipigon, ON. If you ever decide to travel this section of highway while crossing Canada - make sure to enjoy it during the daytime. At night, you miss out on the views and the constant vigilance required to scan for moose is unbearably tiring.

I quickly re-fueled in Nipigon and then made my way along the bitter-sweet final 100kms of my eventful journey. My ride was almost over but my reflection - my piecing together what the experience meant to me - was starting to emerge. Before I would make it to my driveway, I would spend the last hour assembling my thoughts. When was the last time you did something that you felt had created a lasting impact on your life? This was as detailed an impression as I could come up with. Something had changed for me. Was it perspective? Were my feelings about the trip influenced by the nostalgia - having re-visited an earlier time and place that held meaning for me as a youth? Was it the challenge of creating a goal and reaching it? Riding the CBR125R such a long distance was certainly challenging - both physically and mentally. Yet it reminded me that challenge makes experiences worthwhile and meaningful. Or was the minimalist nature of the experience - the less is more mantra of the CBR125R - an important ingredient? I like to believe it was a conglomeration of all these things that made the trip what it was. If you've read through my report - you may already have a sense of what the experience was like. The detail I've included would help see to that. And if so, then I have satified one of the aims of sharing my adventure with you on this forum.


Nanabijou screwed with this post 11-01-2013 at 02:22 PM
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:58 AM   #6
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Thanks so much for writing this up. It's excellent.
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:40 AM   #7
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awesome photos. clouds are so beautiful. and you had a big tent! how could you fit it on the motorcycle! ?
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Old 07-23-2012, 06:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ClifNotes View Post
awesome photos. clouds are so beautiful. and you had a big tent! how could you fit it on the motorcycle! ?
Thanks for the kind words! I would often have people asking me how I was able to fit everything on the bike. The tent is a single-walled waterproof wonder by Nemo. It compresses down to a size that is dimensionally similar to half a loaf of bread. It easily fit it one of my saddlebags. The two poles fit lengthwise in my tailbag. I have since upgraded to a Nemo Moki. A similar single-walled tent that is significantly larger. Yet it still packs down small enough to fill only half of one of my new Ortlieb waterproof saddlebags. I hope to post a recent trip report with my upgraded gear soon.

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Old 07-23-2012, 11:43 AM   #9
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+1 Thanks for taking us along. The pictures were nice but the rolling commentary.......excellent. I'm glad to hear that the offensive toad intuited your murderous rage of the previous stay and wisely chose to stay silent allowing you to enjoy your night.

Although many things are advertised as waterproof, they rarely live up to their own PR. Such was the case with your boots, although with an exterior seal you can rest secure in the knowledge that if you ever need a "live well" while fishing.......

Enjoyed your ride immensely, and hope the top end bog issue gets worked out....the bike seems to be very well engineered in it's stock form. If the issue is lack of breath at high revs, perhaps a freer flow through the air filter, or homemade scoop at the intake would help it to breathe?.......Ride on.
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:22 PM   #10
Nanabijou OP
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Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by Scootard View Post
+1 Thanks for taking us along. The pictures were nice but the rolling commentary.......excellent. I'm glad to hear that the offensive toad intuited your murderous rage of the previous stay and wisely chose to stay silent allowing you to enjoy your night.

Although many things are advertised as waterproof, they rarely live up to their own PR. Such was the case with your boots, although with an exterior seal you can rest secure in the knowledge that if you ever need a "live well" while fishing.......

Enjoyed your ride immensely, and hope the top end bog issue gets worked out....the bike seems to be very well engineered in it's stock form. If the issue is lack of breath at high revs, perhaps a freer flow through the air filter, or homemade scoop at the intake would help it to breathe?.......Ride on.
Glad you enjoyed it! I had fun on that trip. BTW - I took that trip in the summer of 2010 and the racing camshaft issue was solved in the fall of 2011. I guess some might be wondering if the gremlins I had experienced on the trip were ever identified. The bottom line? It appears that there was a problem related to the throttle body (bad injector?). When the throttle body was replaced - the bike ran normally again.

The following is a post that I made after the new throttle body had been installed.

"*Update* I stopped by the shop today to see how things were coming along. I actually met with the mechanic who worked on my bike (great guy - we chatted about the bike for quite some time) and he told me that the CBR150R throttle body was now transferred to my bike. This was the last piece of the puzzle - now all engine and fuel system parts have been transferred to the CBR125R from the CBR150R (the only exception being the radiator). Remember, up until the throttle body had been recently replaced - the bike ran poorly. We walked outside to the storage area and he fired it up. It started immediately - without any throttle. And it idled evenly. Just like how my CBR125R used to start when it was stock. It also responded immediately to twists of the throttle too - something my bike wasn't doing before the throttle body swap. The mechanic even commented on this and stated that when he had started it after replacing the throttle body, he was surprised by how responsive the throttle was compared to how the bike responded previously with the old CBR125R throttle body. Recall that my CBR125R with the racing cam, and my 125R after the 150R engine swap were both hard to start (needing some throttle and some cranking) and were slow to respond (bogged) when twisting the throttle. Now with the new CBR150R throttle body, the bike is running like it should.

I think JohnR was right on the money with the throttle body suspicions. The only change that took place was transferring the CBR150R throttle body. This suggests to me that my woes with my original CBR125R after the racing cam install may have had something to do with the throttle body (bad injector?)."

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Old 07-23-2012, 09:58 PM   #11
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Another feather in the cap of those who advocate "go with what you've got" though a CBR 125 would be difficult in the US where cubic capacity rules and that CBR was never imported. Neither was universal health care. Sigh. My Bonneville 865 is considered rather too small by some misguided folk so I hope your excellent RR will wake up a few closed minds. Who knows perhaps the popular CBR 250 could do mini-tourer duty in the US?

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Old 07-24-2012, 10:20 AM   #12
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Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Sudbury Ontario
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Great job Mike!

I managed to do my ride up to Thunder Bay on the Canada Day long weekend. I rode my FJR though, not the CBR. I still haven't gotten around to fitting some side/tail bags to the CBR. I rode from Sudbury to Rainbow Falls Campground (2 thumbs up!) near Rossport. Spent the night yacking it up with a couple of HD guys from Dryden. Next morning, rode to Terry Fox Memorial and onto Kakebeka Falls. I think I was there about 2.5 minutes. Turned around and headed for Terrace Bay where I spent the night. Monday it was from Terrace Bay on home.

The scenery over Superior never disappoints especially between Marathon and Nipigon. I don't know wtf, but I counted 19 police cars between Terrace Bay and Marathon on Monday morning, really?!. I also saw the largest black bear I've ever seen in my life, and I've seen more than a few. Apparently, black bears mate with Buicks north of Superior.

I know I was supposed to give you a shout but as it was, I didn't get home well into the evening on Monday night. Next, fo sho.

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Old 07-24-2012, 02:48 PM   #13
Nanabijou OP
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by conchscooter View Post
Another feather in the cap of those who advocate "go with what you've got" though a CBR 125 would be difficult in the US where cubic capacity rules and that CBR was never imported. Neither was universal health care. Sigh. My Bonneville 865 is considered rather too small by some misguided folk so I hope your excellent RR will wake up a few closed minds. Who knows perhaps the popular CBR 250 could do mini-tourer duty in the US?
I did some mini-touring on my CBR250R last summer. Felt like a Goldwing compared to the CBR125R. I will likely migrate the trip report over to this forum soon. Here it is:

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Old 07-24-2012, 07:57 PM   #14
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I really need to invest in the same sleeping setup that you have. I almost always wind up sleeping in a $30 walmart sleeping bag on the floor of my $35 walmart tent without a single extra piece of padding. This ride is looking incredible. I might have to venture north of the border for that kind of scenery.
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:10 PM   #15
Nanabijou OP
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Thanks Isaac! I'm really pleased with my current setup. I've changed a few things since this trip a few years ago. Here is what my current setup looks like:

I am much closer to small-bike camping/touring nirvana with the above gear that includes:

1) Ortlieb waterproof duffel and saddles (total $275) It's incredibly comforting knowing that you will never ever have to use rain-covers again. These have kept my gear completely dry through heavy rain this summer. They are keepers.

2) Nemo Cosmo Insulated air mattress ($130). This one seems identical to the Exped synmat I discuss in my trip report. However, it inflates in about 30 seconds via its easy to use built-in foot pump, defates even quicker, packs down small, and is incredibly comfortable to sleep on. It is a keeper. I just bought another one last month - even though I don't need it - I like it THAT much.

3) Nemo Moki ($610 including footprint). I like single-walled tents. Quick to set up, completely waterproof, and no fly to fiddle with. They pack down small too. I've upgraded the green Nemo Andi seen in the trip report to a larger Nemo Moki. The Moki is considerably more expensive. But I liked the Andi so much - I didn't care. What I like about the Moki is that it offers much more floor space, a 48" tall ceiling, the same single-walled waterproof material as the Andi, and a very sturdy bomb-shelter-like design. The pitch is quite tight - no wind flapping to keep you up at night in this one. I think I might be even able to fit two Camptime Roll-A-Cots (regular size) in this one.

4) Camptime Roll-A-Cot ($109). I used the "wide" version of the Roll-A-Cot in this trip report. Last year I purchased two of the regular sized ones. My sense was that the Nemo Cosmo air mattress is only 25" wide anyway, so no sense spending more money on a 32" wide cot that just takes up more space in your tent. The regular sized cot is 28" wide and seems just as comfortable for me. One other perk is that I can carry it on the outside of my bike. If it gets wet - just one wipe with a cloth and it is ready to use.


Nanabijou screwed with this post 11-01-2013 at 02:37 PM
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