Sunday, June 29, 2008

Who'll stop the rain?

This is getting depressing. We've had nothing but rain it seems since mid-April. Now it's been 10 days since I got my new ride - and it's rained every day but 1! I'm sick of cleaning and polishing, I want to put some miles on! I want to scrub the nubbies of the new tires! I want to go to Pakenham for an ice cream! I want to ride!

Sorry, you can't get there from here.

I recently had the unfortunate and very frustrating experience of trying to arrange some personal travel within the Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto triangle using public transit rather than my own vehicle. The following are but two examples of why people still drive everywhere in this country.

Kingston, Ontario is an apparently inconsequential hamlet of some 150,000 people located right on the major East-West corridor (Highway 401) about 250 kilometres east of Toronto. There is one Greyhound inter-city bus a day that goes from Kingston to Toronto. It leaves at 7 AM, takes 9 ½ hours, routes through Ottawa, covers a total distance of 566 kilometres, and costs $104 plus taxes (one way).

Then there’s Peterborough, another inconvenient urban centre located just an hour east of Toronto. With a population of 120,000 and growing, a couple of major post-secondary institutions, and a huge tourist industry one would expect that getting there from, say, Montreal would be easy. Well, to get to Peterborough from Montreal by Via Rail – oops, sorry, Via Rail doesn’t service Peterborough. You have to get off the train in Cobourg and somehow find your own way the last 50+ kilometres. But just getting to Cobourg would set you back a cool $112 (one way).

Until Canadian travellers have a properly functioning inter-city transportation system (other than air), we will never get out of our cars. It’s just too painful and expensive to consider anything other than driving, especially if there is more than one traveller involved.

If governments are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from private vehicles, a really good place to start would be to use some of the billions spent on building more highways with more lanes to subsidize intercity mass transit by rail and bus to bring costs and convenience in line with personal use vehicle travel. Do that and people would start to leave their cars at home, opting instead for fast, convenient, and relaxing travel to their destinations. And then, perhaps, we won't need quite as much blacktop.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

... may result in death or serious injury

The User Manual for my new H-D contains a wealth of information in its 63 pages, including 107 WARNINGS that specified behaviour could result in “death or serious injury”. The unaware (and some would argue intelligence-challenged) buyer is duly warned that smoking while peering into an open gas tank is unwise and “may result in death or serious injury”. Likewise, running the motorcycle in an enclosed garage is not recommended as carbon monoxide is bad for one’s health and excessive quantities may “result in death or serious injury”. There’s even a warning that failure to follow other warnings on cleaning materials could “result in death or serious injury”. (I guess I’ll have to pay more attention to the labels on soap and paste wax from now on.)

Clearly the product liability lawyers have been busy, but they’ve still missed a few. Nowhere in the manual did I find this warning: “Purchase of this motorcycle without the express prior permission of your spouse/significant other may result in death or serious injury”. Or how about: “Operating this vehicle at excessive speeds while removing the bugs from one’s teeth may result in death or serious injury.” Then there’s: “The installation of excessive chrome attachments to this motorcycle may cause blinding reflections resulting in death or serious injury”.

Note to H-D: Feel free to use the above warnings in future manuals without attribution.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Live to Ride

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last posted. Well, actually, I can. Like the politicos chomping at the bit to get the hell out of Dodge, I too have succumbed to a deep malaise concerning all things political. It’s just too damn infuriating and tiresome to sustain any level of interest in the moronic happenings on the Hill for more than a few months at a stretch – and I hit the wall about 3 weeks ago.

So instead, I turned my attention to a far more interesting topic – motorcycles. Harley Davidson motorcycles to be specific. Ever since I first rode one back in the 60’s (yeah, I’m that old) I have nursed a not-so-secret desire to have one of my very own. So decades (and 20 or so other lesser motorcycles) later, I decided this was the year, and so the search was on.

I sat on every bike, new and used, at the local dealerships – several times. I watched listings in Kajiji, Craig's List, eBay, and the Auto trader. I read the want ads in the local papers. I drove all over the city looking at motorcycles and even found “the one”, only to have the owner/seller’s wife refuse to let him part with it. (He did allow as he should have obtained her permission before I drove an hour-and-a-half each way, and burned $50 in gas to check it out. Thanks a lot, pal.)

But eventually I found exactly what I was looking for in Toronto. So a quick trip for a look-see, followed by a handshake and an arranged delivery/hand-over in Kingston, and I am now the proud owner of an ’07 Dyna Low Rider.

I’ll be seeing you on the road!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ottawa the beautiful

Grabbed this shot while walking down Laurier Street in Ottawa last weekend.

I guess the city worker who’s job title is “The guy who clears shit out of the way of the streets painters” didn’t show up that day.