Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Toys Are Out

We were tired after the NODD conference yesterday, plus I burned the candle a little more by watching the NASCAR Richmond race after I got home. What a joy it was to watch the recorded race and see most of my Fantasy League drivers, competitive at the beginning, get taken out on wrecks beyond their control.

Anyway, I didn't wake up until 9:00 AM and wasn't  really mobile until noon. But it was another gorgeous spring day so I called Freedom Riders president Rob to  see about retrieving our big trailer which spent the winter stored in his back yard. His wife Chantal told me they were just heading out for a ride but Rob would move the vehicles so I could get at the trailer.

After lunch, Sandy and I took the truck to Hanmer. The trailer hookup went well and all the lights worked. The drive back to Sudbury was equally uneventful. At home, I managed to back the trailer into the driveway in one shot, totally impressing the next door neighbor. He didn't know that it was blind luck.

With the trailer home, it was time to turn my attention to the bike. After pulling the snowblower and lawnmower out into the driveway, I unplugged the battery tender and removed the fabric softener sheets spread around the bike (word has it that rodents hate fabric softener sheets). I checked the oil and found it was right at the bottom of the dipstick. Since it was changed when I stored it and there was no evidence of oil under the bike, I have no idea why it was low but I added a bit to bring the level to the middle of the stick.

The tires were also a bit low so I got out my small Airman compressor, which promptly destroyed itself when I switched it on. Oh well, I've had this one for over four years and it originally cost me $19.95 so I can't complain. It was off to Crappy Tire to get a new pump and then fill the tires to the prescribed pressure, 36 PSI front and 41 rear for anyone who cares. The next task involved putting all the gear back in the appropriate bags and pockets (Sandy helped me with some of them) and then pulling the bike outside. Sandy swept the garage and then I put the snowblower, lawnmower and other implements of destruction into their summer locations.

Next came the best part. I put on my jacket and helmet and fired the bike up. It started well and ran well, not bad for a machine with 240,945 kilometers on the clock. Then I took it out for a short ride to make sure it all worked on the road. It did and it felt great. I stopped by to visit Rose and Andre, new friends who have a Yamaha 1700 Roadstar. The Roadie had some Route 66 graphics so I told Andre he will have to meet Sherm sometime.

Returning home, I parked the bike in the garage and came in with a smile on my face. The season has begun!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

MS Society of Canada Sudbury Chapter - Northern Ontario Development Day

Sandy's and my involvement with the Sudbury Chapter of the MS Society of Canada began gradually. First we started attending meetings of the chapter self help group, then called Hope Seekers and now renamed Trailblazers, at the Rona Ramsey MS Centre of Hope. Then we began going to the Thursday lunches held by the chapter members. The next thing you know, I had volunteered us to take the aluminum pop cans they collected to the salvage yard and bring back the funds this generated. Finally, an off hand comment resulted in me being recruited last December to fill the vacant Treasurer position on the chapter Board.

Rona Ramsey MS Centre of Hope - Sudbury Ontario

The Northern Ontario Development Day (NODD) was an idea that had been percolating for several years and now the Board was about to make it happen. The plan was two-fold. First we would have a morning working session with the Northern Ontario chapters to share ideas and best practices regarding fundraising, as well as to discuss chapter issues common to the north. Second, we would host an open afternoon seminar where speakers would talk about the possibility of developing a  neurological clinic in Sudbury to service the north. Recognizing that there are not enough MS patients to warrant a dedicated MS clinic, the invitations went out to other organizations representing neurological disorders which could also benefit from such an institution.

Finally, under the leadership of Director at Large Paul B., aided by new Director of Public Relations Lori, chapter staff person Sheila and other Board members, the vision imparted by Chapter Chair Laurel was about to become a reality.

The weather was amazing this morning. It was almost as if spring finally realized it had been waiting in the wings too long and finally burst upon us in one amazing day. Sandy and I got to the Centre about 8:00 AM. Most of the setup for the morning session had been completed Friday afternoon, so it was a fairly relaxed atmosphere as we waited for the attendees to arrive.

Sandy, Lori and Cyndi prepare to greet the guests

There was a nice continental breakfast laid out and the coffee was on, so everyone fixed plates of fruit, yogurt, breakfast bars and homemade muffins. Sudbury members arrived as did Peter and Lionel from Timmins and Sandy from Thunder Bay. Last in was Sylvia Leonard, MS Ontario Division President and National VP, who had driven up from Toronto yesterday to observe.

At 9:15 sharp, we set aside the breakfast dishes, got one more cup of coffee and got down to business.

The chapters attending shared the strategies they used to make the main fundraising activities successful. Timmins is renowned for their Carnation campaign while Sudbury's Walk is successful. Chapters also shared other means of fundraising. Everyone agreed that what works in one place may not work in another due to local dynamics but that there were also some commonalities. After the break, we talked about these issues and Sylvia shared some thoughts on changes she would like to see as the new Division president.

Sheila, Laurel, Rona and Gilles from Sudbury

 Sandy from Thunder Bay and Division President Sylvia

Sandy, Sylvia, Lionel (Timmins), Cyndi, Dr. Shawn and Paul B (all Sudbury)

Gilles (Sudbury), Peter (Timmins), Sandy (T Bay) and Sylvia (Toronto)

Sandy, Rose, Lori, Paul H and Sheila (all Sudbury)

All in all, as we broke for a lunch provided by the Trailblazers, everyone agreed that the morning had been worthwhile and would like to see it done again. It was one workshop where I was engaged all the way through, an unusual and positive thing. It was particularly nice that Sylvia made the effort to come and listen to what the northern chapters had to say.

Yours truly and  Paul Brokenshire, rated one of the 75 most interesting people in Canada

After lunch, the chapter people, aided by our guests, sprang into action to convert the workshop space into the layout for the afternoon seminar. Tables were folded and put away while chairs were set up for the expected fifty plus attendees. the podium, sound system and projector were put in place. We managed to get everything in order as the afternoon guests started to arrive.

MC Paul B giving some opening remarks

First to speak was Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas. She gave a talk on how to organize a campaign to get what we needed from government, followed by a question and answer session. Some of her points were ones I was already familiar with, while a few provided insight into additional methods and considerations. Her asides about how politicians operate were both informative and humourous.

MPP France Gelinas addressing the assembled multitudes

Dr. Melanie Ursell was the next up to the podium. A neurologist specializing in MS who moved her practice from Toronto to Bracebridge, Dr. Ursell used a Powerpoint presentation to impart facts about MS as well as new advances in drugs and treatment regimens that were on the horizon. She was extremely well versed in her subject and took questions from the floor as she went along. It seems that some new drugs and well as the idea that aggressive treatment be commenced right after the first exacerbation are yielding very positive downstream results in slowing the progress of the disease.

Dr. Melanie Ursell from Bracebridge

Dr. Ursell was followed by Sherry Frizzell, who described the workings of the Northeast Local Health Integration Network, which is responsible for providing most of the local health care services and would be involved with any potential new neurological clinic. She was followed by closing speaker Dr. Shawn Rossi, Sudbury MS Chapter Director of Client Services and coordinator the neurological clinic project.

During the afternoon break, cake and coffee were served to the attendees. At then end of the session, Sudbury Chair Laurel gave some closing remarks to tie the seminar together. As the guests departed, the chapter people restored to building to its everyday layout in short order and most of us headed out for supper.

Paul B. had arranged a private room at Curious Thyme's Bistro, located at Science North. The company was excellent, the service was good but the food was just OK. I will say they know how to make asparagus taste good to me (and I usually hate asparagus).

Lionel (Timmins), Gilles and Paul H (both Sudbury)

Cyndi (Sudbury), Sandy (Thunder Bay), Paul B, Rona, Sandy and Rose (All Sudbury)

Sandy (Thunder Bay) and Paul B (Sudbury)

After supper, we left and spent some time talking in the parking lot. Peter from Timmins rides a motorcycle, although he is more of an adventure tour rider and has a Kawasaki KLR 650. Still, it was good to talk a little motorcycle speak on such a pleasant evening.

All in all, it was a good day. We met new friends and learned a lot from each other. I expect we will get together and do it all again next year.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Northstar Recreation Open House

Northstar Recreation - Sudbury Ontario

Northstar Recreation is a motorcycle dealership in Sudbury started a number of years ago by Dave Bimm. Dave had been the service manager at another local dealership prior to that and had taken good care of my previous GoldWings. A couple of years ago, after a lot of work, North Star was granted a Honda dealership in addition to the Kawasaki line they had started with.

North Star Recreation Owner Dave Bimm

Today we were there in response to an invitation extended to the Freedom Riders along with other local groups to witness the unveiling of the new Honda F6B. The original F6 was the 1500 cc Valkyrie, which was a stripped down bike using a hopped up version of the GL1500 motor. Using six carburetors instead of two and more aggressive cams, the bike would pass everything except a gas station and found a strong following. The F6B is a stripped down bagger style bike using the stock GL1800 motor. While this was the Canadian unveiling, I did point out the bike was on the road in the USA and U-Turn had just picked up his in Chattanooga and was riding it back to Boston.

The shrouded F6B awaiting introduction

Dave had laid on a very nice spread of food and refreshments. The small crowd came from various organizations and also included regular North Star customers. In advance of the appointed hour, since we were all there, one of Dave's staff started the unveiling by uncovering the three versions of the new CB500.

CB500F, CB500X and CBR500R

With the entry level bikes uncovered, the crowd held its collective breath and the cover was pulled off the jet black F6B. With a shorter windshield and no trunk, the bike is lower and lighter than a GoldWing and should be attractive to the bagger crowd, those that like the Kawasaki Vaquero or Harley Davidson Road Glide Custom. The F6B should be the fastest, best handling bagger out there, reinforced by the super reliable GoldWing engine. Plus, in black, it just looks plain mean. The centre stand is optional and it doesn't have a cruise control (a mistake in my mind), but it is state of the art in its class.

Freedom Riders Ray, Terry, Leo and Sandy around the F6B

It was nice of Dave to invite us and we enjoyed stopping by. When he first got the Honda dealership, he warned me that his mechanics were not up to speed on GoldWings. I appreciated his honesty at the time. He told me that they have gotten them figured out now so I am looking forward to finally being able to deal with a local shop for the first time in over ten years for my rare routine maintenance.

Thank you Dave Bimm and Northstar Recreation. We will be seeing you down the road.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Woodstock Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

After a few nice spring-like days, it was back to cold this morning. There was a hard frost, a little snow on the ground and a forecast high of -6 C. The tailgate on the truck was frozen shut so, rather than fight with it,  everything went into the back seat.

We were rolling at 7:30 after a quick stop at McDonald's for coffee, breakfast sandwiches and muffins to go. We ran through some snow squalls on the way to Cambridge and there was more snow on the ground when we got there.

Snow squalls on Highway 401

When I exited the 401 at Hespeler Road in Cambridge to head up Highway 24, I felt a slight clunk. At the stoplight, I got out and found my suspicions were correct. The frozen tailgate that hadn't released when I pulled the latch back at Heather and Tom's had finally decided to cooperate. It was wide open and, had I not checked, some of the items stored in the box might have parted company with us. Lucky to have caught it sooner rather than later, I shut it firmly before we continued on.

Going through Guelph a different way, I saw a sign for John Galt Park. Ayn Rand fans will get a kick out of this, although it was named for a different John Galt. This one was the founder of Guelph but it should still be a good venue for libertarians to congregate.

The trip up Highway 24 to Airport Road, north to Highway 9 and east to Highway 400 was uneventful. I watched the speed because of the ticket I got along this route last summer, but saw no police this time. We made up for that on 400 north where we saw three traffic stops within a few miles near the Highway 88 interchange. On the plus side, they were working the southbound side, catching people heading back into Toronto after the long weekend.

Through Barrie and north, we experienced severe crosswinds and blowing snow. It may be April first but it felt like a severe November day. The construction was still going on at the Barrie northbound service centre, until recently an empty lot. We stopped at the Esso at Waubaushene so I could grab a couple of 5 Hour Energy bottles. These are great for fighting off drowsiness when driving.

Barrie service centre construction

On the two-lane north of Parry Sound, we got into a line of slow traffic following a snowplow which was salting a bare highway. Since we were approximately 43 vehicles behind the plow, I bided my time and waited for the passing lanes. Unfortunately, the plow took up both lanes in the passing stretch so nobody was going anywhere until he pulled over at Pointe Au Baril. As we went by, I noted that not only was he salting a bare road, he was plowing it as well. It is always nice to see one's hard earned tax dollars being flushed down the drain.

Now we were lined up about 42nd behind a tanker that had been right behind the plow. Again I waited for the passing lanes but every time we got to a passing lane, some twit would pull to the left and briskly not accelerate. Sometimes they weren't even passing anyone and so I went by two on the right. I finally got by the truck just before the Magnetawan River and the last sixty miles was relatively easy.

Near the Britt turnoff, the OPP were running a bit of an immoral speed trap. A cruiser was parked hidden in some trees and the constable was using laser to paint southbound traffic a half mile away. The immoral part is that the traffic was being clocked as it came to the end of a passing lane on a downhill section. People who were actually driving the speed limit everywhere else would probably be exceeding it in this situation. This was very much like how I got ticketed on Highway 9 last summer.

We got a couple of shots of the construction around the Highway 64 turnoff, as well as what used to be the Holiday Golf Course until they built a traffic lane over one of the fairways. The four-laning is a good thing and I hope they can get it done by 2017, as scheduled.

What's left of Holiday Golf Course near Alban

Heavy equipment waiting to go to work

We pulled into the driveway about 1:00 PM. There was a raw wind blowing and we discovered the salt truck we followed had been dispensing brine. As a result, the front and sides of the truck looked like they had been whitewashed. But we were home and that is what counted.

The brine covered truck

Today's Route (312 truck miles):

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