Trip Diary 2007
Meet in the middle refers to an annual trip my brother an I make to visit with each other halfway between our homes in far eastern Canada NB (me) and DFW Texas (him).
Destination – northern Michigan, Wisconsin
Kilometers – 5386 (3339 mi.)
Duration – 9 days (Sep. 6 – 14)
Day 1 – up at 0630 hrs to load bike and eat. The temperature on the back deck thermometer was registering + 1 C (a hair under 34 F), although the sun was out, and the sky was relatively clear. I was off at 0830 hrs for Anrprior, Ontario for the first night’s stay. At 2100 hrs and with 1227 km (760 mi.) and 12 1/2 hrs on the clock for the day, I was glad to park Connie.
Day 2 – a relaxing start after cleaning the bike, eating the one meal of the day, and was on the road at 1045 hrs. Route 17 through Ontario is mostly two lane highway with a 90 kmh limit. The OPP are being rigid in enforcement of speed limits - right now, apparently, what you see is what you get in terms of ticket value, so I stayed at max + 15 without a blocker. There was no lack of derring-do on the road this day though, and I thank the young driver in the silver Chev Cavalier east of North Bay who passed and 30 or so km later was harpooned at something like 135 kmh by the Harley mounted OPP motor cop.
Unfortunately, shortly after this, the weather, having been threatening all day, stopped threatening and delivered bucketfuls of cold, drenching drops and I spent the next 3 1/2 half hours in rain and 9 - 10 C (48 - 50 F)weather that varied from a steady drizzle to downpours. It was fun to pass cars slowed by the precipitation, though. I am, however, pleased to report the universe remains unchanged from last year insofar as riding behind large trucks in the rain still makes for poor visibility. I made it to Brimley Michigan after 10 hours and 850 km (527 mi.) and met my brother who rode from DFW Texas.
Note: Olympia Motosports neon yellow high visibility combined with my black Rhyno suit, and the profile of my bike made people very cautious when coming up from the rear. Most would not pass. Only a handful spent a couple of minutes looking me over to see if I was police or not, and then passed by sloooowwwwly. When I came up on anyone who was faster than the limit, but slower than me, they slowed down to the limit when catching sight of the neon yellow. I give it a big plus for heightening my visual profile.
Day 3 – a relaxed day with a run to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, and talking with my brother. We didn’t solve any of the world’s problems, but we did come up with some solutions that, if implemented, would provide some entertaining results.
Day 4 – relocated to the Escanaba area, through steady rain for most of the way. Everyone local thought the 45 – 50 F temperatures were cold; coming from the Maritimes, I guess we’re pretty much used to riding in those temperatures. Even in summer early morning runs to work can be in that range. The second day saw a run to visit an underground iron mine in Vulcan. It was pretty cool to ride underground on the miners’ train and hear the story of mine development from the tour guide. Beaudoins Cafe in Naubinway - I liked the simple, home cooked fare they had here, especially the chicken soup. That night in the hotel, my brother and I came up with a cure for cancer, but it likely wouldn’t pass muster with the FDA.
Day 5 & 6 – relocated to the Marinette area and did the tourist thing. These trips are as much about spending time with my brother as they are about traveling. Living so far apart we don’t get to see much of each other. Rain was present off and on – this wasn’t one of the better trips weather-wise.
Day 7 – weather systems to the northwest and southeast caused us to relocate to St. Ignace and an early termination to the trip. We felt it prudent to use the only 2 day rain-free forecast (unfortunately, the run of bad luck would not just be restricted to weather) to start the our runs home on the morning of day 8. On the way we stopped in at a Harley dealership to see if they had a set of rain pants for my brother as his 20-year-old rain pants were finally surrendering to wear and tear. They had nothing without the crest, and only sold together with a jacket, which wasn’t required so we didn’t buy. We did spend a half hour or so talking to a couple of the female sales staff about bikes and traveling – it was a pretty good visit, despite our not being of the fellowship. We also stopped at the antique snowmobile museum in Naubinway, Michigan - if anyone has an interest in snowmobiling’s development, this is a good place to visit.
Day 8 – we had an early breakfast, and talked for a bit about next year’s trip, and said so long - nine hours and 850 km (527 mi) later, I was back in Arnprior. The bad news was, while crossing the International Bridge in Sault Saint Marie, my digital camera and I parted company. Despite seeing it tumble down the roadway behind me, and two slow speed runs back onto the bridge (with the gracious permission of Customs Canada) I was not able to spot it and so the pictorial record of this trip vanished. My brother and I were both safely off the road for the night, albeit about a thousand miles apart. The bad trip gremlins had still more to offer, though.
Day 9 – today was an exceptional ride, even superslabbing it all the way to the north end of route 185 in Quebec, with sun and warm temperatures. I picked up route 105 south of Grand Falls NB, which choice I would soon regret. Parts of this road are rough enough to rattle hair off your head and a few minutes after sunset, I hit a deer. It is possible to stand a heavy, long wheel base bike like the Concours, fully loaded, on the front wheel with enough front brake - although still traveling at 100 kmh just after contact, the reduction in speed was such that I hit the hind quarters a heavy impact with the front tire, instead of center-punching it. The deer, having leaped out of a deep ditch was fortunately fairly close to the road surface, or I would have taken it in the chest, with a much different outcome. After subduing the massive speed wobble that the side impact to the front wheel generated, a stop to pull the seat vinyl out of a place where it doesn’t belong, assess the damage, work the soreness out of my left knee which struck the deer's head as it was spun around by the impact, and collect my wits, I rolled on the remaining 320 km (200 mi) to home in the dark for a total of 1226 km (760 mi.)for the day. There was no damage to the fairing or fender, but I was now the proud owner of a massively warped right front brake rotor - you could see the caliper moving back and forth about an eighth of an inch while the wheel rotated.
Unfortunately, the bad trip gods were still not finished with my brother and myself.
Day 10 – I got a call from my brother at 1110 hrs – he was picking up the pieces after hitting gravel (it was in the shade and not immediately visible) and high-siding his ST1100 (a really pristine ’95 model) on the final leg of his run home. I talked to him about what to do first to begin recovery (assess physical state, then his mental state, and finally the safety followed by the functionality of the bike to determine rideability) and before setting off again. From the sound of things it isn’t going to be cheap, but he duct taped/bungee-corded, twisted and beat things back into shape enough to continue on and made it home after 5 hours. He took a heavy hit on the back of the helmet on his second of three tumbles down the road, but being an ATGATT guy, the gear did its stuff and all he had was some soreness in the right side/leg.
So, although not one of our more successful runs (we get together halfway between our homes each year) we are at least able to talk about it. The bikes can be repaired later planning for next year's trip is already underway).
Sorry about no photos, but if you are around the International Bridge in Sault Saint Marie and see a Nikon Coolpix camera…………. send me a copy at least.
Oh and Happy Birthday Connie - she rolled over 100, 000 kms in the middle of the Geary Woods at 9:47 PM September 14th, 82 km before home.
K12RS Guy, you beat me, but not by much (this for the Riders guy who just rolled the same number on his BMW).