Tuesday 24th February – Thursday 26th February
I woke up early to finish putting my bike back together; I pushed the seal back in, put the cam chain and sprocket back on, then called Ed in to help me re-position the carb and air filter. This should have been a fairly easy task, however where I’d left the fuel line and carb hanging in a funny position, the tube had changed shape and I now had a fuel leak. It took a while but Ed eventually got it to stop leaking, and after lunch and our usual faffing around we left the house around 3.30pm. After fuelling up and getting oil, it was 4pm by the time we actually left town.
It was very windy and particularly cold, and I cranked my heated grips up to full, as usual. The road was OK and was noticeably quieter, but it was icy in places where the sun hadn’t got to it. This wasn’t an issue though, as we took it easy and it gave me something to concentrate on. There were a lot more trees and forests as we continued, and I was so happy to have the colour green back in my life, even if it wasn’t quite the right shade.
It was only 65 miles to Ignace, the only substantial town between Dryden and Thunder Bay, but it felt much longer due to the fact that my helmet was still driving me crazy. Not only was cold air being blasted in from the left side and freezing my face and eyeballs, but it was also being blasted in the front, due to my heated visor deciding not to work and me having to ride with my visor up so I could actually see.
We arrived just before dark, hungry and chilled. It was bitterly cold, really biting, suggesting that there was moisture in the air. It’s incredible what a difference it can make, that thing we call moisture. A moist -10C can feel much colder than a dry -25C, which I wouldn’t have believed had I not experienced it.
With the biting wind quickly blasting away any desire we had to camp, we went and found a cheap motel for the night. We couldn’t actually afford it, but figured if we camped we’d spend at least $30 in a restaurant, so decided to put that towards a room instead and get microwave meals for dinner. Made sense to us anyway.
We headed a mile out of town to get some breakfast, and with favourable weather conditions, Ed tried to solve the ongoing saga of his bike not running properly. He’d previously been tinkering around with his timing, and when he’d gone to put it back together he couldn’t quite choose which tooth to line it up with, with neither lining up perfectly.He thought maybe he’d chosen the wrong tooth, but after moving it by one tooth in the other direction, it made absolutely no difference at all.
We were both quite deflated by this, thinking that we’d finally cracked it and that it would solved the problem.
A short while in to the ride, I found that Ed wasn’t the only one with bike related issues, as I spotted that the needle on my fuel gauge was going down very quickly. On further investigation I discovered that the fuel was all over my leg, caused by the dodgy fuel pipe. We pulled in to a fuel station and Ed adjusted the fuel line for me, before topping the tanks up just in case. I walked to the building to pay, following an older chap up the stairs, who half arsed held the door open for me, and got quite the shock when I said thank you. ‘There’s a girl under there?!’ He instantly seemed apologetic that he hadn’t held the door open for me properly, and we got chatting about what we were doing and the trip. He then got another shock, as he asked how much fuel we’d put in. ‘$2.50’ I said. He didn’t believe me, but after explaining that our tanks only held 3.7 litres, and that we’d only had to top them up, he took my word for it. ‘That’s the smallest quantity of fuel I’ve ever sold!’
We continued on, only stopping briefly at a fuel station for a slice of hot apple pie to warm us up; any excuse. The scenery after that was beautiful. We rode up and down hills with views that opened up over the tree tops, with the sun casting a soft rainbow of colours across the sky.
Happily riding along, admiring the scenery, I unfortunately hadn’t noticed that my fuel had gone down quickly again, and that my right leg was now completely saturated in it. I pulled over, with smoke pouring from the bike, and shook my head as I looked at my leg and the leaky pipe. Ed did his best to reshape it again, but a new fuel line was most definitely in order.
The light was dropping but we managed a quick visit to Kakabeka Falls, which was completely frozen, before continuing on our way to Thunder bay.
A guy called Ron had been in touch offering us a place to stay, so we made our way over to his house. He was lovely, but was feeling a bit lost as his wife had gone away for a few weeks to care for a sick family member. I was pleased we could provide some company for him, and his friend came over to meet us too. We spent the evening chatting, and Ron kindly cooked us dinner, featuring some of the best steak I’ve ever had.
Despite hanging my suit up in a separate room, it’d still managed to stink the whole house out with fuel. I apologised to Ron, but he didn’t seem to mind, and took us out and treated us to breakfast. There’s a strong Finnish community in Thunder Bay, so it only seemed right that we had pancakes. They were absolutely delicious, thin with strawberries and cream, and even the semi-naked hairy guy didn’t manage to put me off them. I should probably tell you that there was a sauna in the restaurant, which hopefully explains the semi-naked hairy guy.
Ron then took us on a mini driving tour of the area, then we headed in to town to get a few things. I’d decided after some extensive research that I wanted to get an iPad Mini. It was going to help me manage my admin better, and also make it easier for journal and blog writing, giving me no excuse not to do it. It’s incredible how time consuming writing, posting, and the subsequent admin can be, however it’s also very rewarding. My new iPad Mini and keyboard case has already made those tasks so much easier, encouraging me not to give up.
We eventually went back to the house, and while I got annoyed at a member of the public (I’ll get back to that shortly), Ed got annoyed with his bike. He couldn’t for the life of him work out what the problem was, and knowing these bikes inside out, it was starting to get to him.
He thought he might have an air leak, so grabbed a can of easy start to see if he could find it. This however added to the puzzle, as when he sprayed it in to the air inlet the bike died. Last time he did it in Anchorage it went mental, so why was it now dying?
Being left baffled by it, he continued spraying it around the inlet manifold, until he finally found a small air leak. It was along the weld that had been done in Anchorage, so he filled it in with epoxy and left it to set.
While he was doing that, I was getting equally angry and frustrated inside. This was due to a public ‘rant’ that had been posted on to my trip’s Facebook page, by none other than the person who had called the police on us nearly a week ago. Instead of trying to explain what he said, I’ve just pasted it below for you to read.
Tell you guys what….my girlfriend dam near crashed after trying to pass you two in Manitoba. What you are doing is not an “adventure”, its bloody dangerous. If one wishes to be adventurous and base jump or parachute, race cars etc, they are risking their own loves only. What you are doing brings the general traveling public potentially into a dangerous situation. How do you think some poor driver would feel if he came around a corner in less than ideal conditions, like we had last Friday, and here you 2 were on the edge of a lane, traveling well below the posted speed limit and he/she had to choose to either hit you, hit the ditch or head into the on-coming lane? I was convinced someone would be peeling one of you off the grill of a semi. How about the poor Cop who may have to inform your loved ones that he was the one who peeled your remains of the bumper? Adventures are fine, but this is thoughtless and a bloody danger to all of us who travel up here. Motorcycles are for summer, not February on the Trans Canada in Northern Ontario. If you insist on riding in the winter, do it where the rest of us are not affected by your wanton carelessness. Rant finished…..thanks for scaring the hell out of her
Here are my views, and the views of pretty much everyone else that commented on it.
Tell you guys what….my girlfriend dam near crashed after trying to pass you two in Manitoba
If it wasn’t safe to pass then she shouldn’t have done so. When on a two lane road we always pull over when there are 3-5 vehicles behind us, so that they can pass safely. When it is a four lane highway we always stay in the right hand lane to the far right, giving other road users a full lane and plenty of room to pass us.
How do you think some poor driver would feel if he came around a corner in less than ideal conditions, like we had last Friday, and here you 2 were on the edge of a lane, traveling well below the posted speed limit and he/she had to choose to either hit you, hit the ditch or head into the on-coming lane?
If you feel that your only options are to hit someone, hit the ditch, or head into the on-coming lane, I really don’t think that you should be driving. What about travelling at a sensible speed for the conditions, so that if you come round a corner and something is there, like two slow motorcycles, or a bicycle, or a broken down vehicle, or an animal, you are able to slow down and avoid it safely. You should always be driving with awareness that anything could be around a corner. Oh, and it’s a speed LIMIT, not a target.
Adventures are fine, but this is thoughtless and a bloody danger to all of us who travel up here.
Says the man who took photos of us while driving… Which funnily enough meant that at that moment in time, he was actually more of a danger on the road than we were.
Motorcycles are for summer, not February on the Trans Canada in Northern Ontario
I’m sorry, motorcycles are for summer, not February?! Says who?! The law certainly doesn’t state that. What about people who’s only form of transport is a motorcycle? And what about motorcycle couriers?
If you insist on riding in the winter, do it where the rest of us are not affected by your wanton carelessness.
Wanton carelessness? At least we were looking where we were going and riding for the conditions, unlike your girlfriend who nearly crashed passing us, and you who was too busy taking photos of us while driving.
thanks for scaring the hell out of her
His girlfriend was subsequently mortified after reading all the comments that people had posted, which I pointed out wouldn’t have happened had her boyfriend been an adult about it, and contacted me privately to discuss his concerns. It also turned out that he worked at a law firm, dealing with traffic related incidents. You’d think that this would mean that he knew the consequences of using a mobile phone while driving, and how to deal with things professionally. Obviously not.
So that’s that. I won’t say any more on the matter, I’ve said my point, as have hundreds of other people.
Ron had arranged for us to go and see a couple of his friends that evening, so we went over to their house, and a had a great time chatting about bikes, and travel, and everything in between. Not forgetting to mention of course all the delicious food that they’d prepared, from cheese and nibbles to tender ribs, all washed down with a rather large glass of red. Perfect.
They had a wonderful view over Lake Superior, which is the largest of the Great Lakes of North America. It was a huge expanse of white, due to around 80% of it being covered in ice. It looked more like a sea to me than a lake, and rightfully so, considering that it’s wider than the English Channel, the sea nearest to my home.
With an average annual water temperature of 7°C, Lake Superior moderates the climate, making winters warmer and summers cooler. The effect is strongest when the wind blows off the water, and is most pronounced on the lake shore and on slopes that face the lake. Between late spring and late Autumn, the shore can be shrouded in fog when inland areas bask in sunshine. These warm-season fogs occur when moisture in the warm air condenses as it flows over the cold lake. (Might have stolen that from the internet).
There is also an interesting phenomenon to do with the great lakes; Lake effect snow. Because all the lakes except Lake Superior are largely free of ice throughout the winter, the open water is warm enough to create vapour, which leads to snowfall. The steps below explain how lake effect snow occurs:
1 Cold air blows across the warm lakes, warms up, collects moisture and rises.
2 This warm air then leaves the lake, and travels over the cold land mass.
3 It cools, the moisture condenses, and then freezes and falls as snow.
We could have stayed longer, but it was soon time to head back to Ron’s house; Ed still had some work to do, and we were planning on leaving in the morning.