Sunday, July 31, 2011

7.28.11 Day 36 Corn, Corn, Corn, Corn, and guess what? More corn.

7.28.11 Day 36 Corn, Corn, Corn, Corn, and guess what? More corn.

I woke up to Doug and Yoko’s dog running around and jumping on me to lick my face. it’s a mix of poodle and Dashund and it’s a hilarious dog. Super nice and has a surprisingly long tongue. I normally don’t like little dogs, but this one was pretty cool. Doug starts cooking breakfast and surprises me with an omelet. Sweet. I scarfed it down and got ready to go. All packed up, I say my goodbyes and leave his place around 9:30. Ive got a long ride today through a whole lot of nothing. The plan is to ride into Missouri and then to Iowa where Ill stay in Cedar Rapids for the night. Ive driven through Missouri and Iowa before so I know not to expect much more than corn. I wasn’t planning on going through St. Louis as it is out of the way so there was nothing to see today.

On the way out of Illinois, my exit according to the GPS is at Springfield. When I get off, I see signs for Lincolns house. Its not the place where he was born, but just a place he lived in for a while. Knowing this was going to be the only decent attraction for a while, I decide to stop by quick and take a look. There’s not much to see. A block of the city is dedicated to Lincoln and his neighbors. I take a pic of the house from the outside and get on the way. A ticket and tour is required to go inside and since I had a long day ahead of me, I decided to opt out. Back on the road.

Crossing into Missouri and over the Mississippi river, I see a sign for Mark Twains house. Cool, might be worth a look. Then a sign says its 25 miles out of the way. Never mind. I keep moving into Missouri. The plan is to ride through a small part of the state just to say Ive done it and been there done that. Coming across a sign for Macon, I decide to take a picture. My parents live in Macon, Ga and I lived there for quite a few years so that was the only reason I stopped. Then making my way north, I notice that there is an Atlanta, Missouri. Ha, Atlanta is just north of Macon in Georgia, I wonder if they did that on purpose. I missed the sign for Atlanta and thought about turning around but eh, not worth it.

The Mississisipipipssisi

yay.... missouri.....whooooo....note extreme sarcasm

Did I go the wrong way?

I think I could fit under that.

The roads are excruciatingly flat and boring so Im just racking up the miles at this point. Nothing to see, nothing to do. I start taking random backroads just to get off some of the main roads and come across one that has a lot of small knolls to ride over and at least a dozen one lane bridges. That’s probably the most interesting thing Ive seen in the past few hours. Then I cross into Iowa and nothing changes, just flat, straight and boring. Just rack up the miles. Mile after mile after mile. Finally coming up on Cedar Rapids. Turn off at a rest stop and start making phone calls for campgrounds. Everything is $25 so I start calling hotels, there’s got to be a cheap hotel around here too. I find a Motel 6 for 29.95 and take it. Its been a long day and my body is tired so a crappy bed is going to be nice. The motel is pretty run down and in a sketch neighborhood but I don’t care. I pay an extra $2 fee for internet and get to my room. Yes, so glad im not camping tonight. Its been a miserably hot day. Nowhere to escape from the heat in all the corn fields. I crank up the AC and strip down and just lay on the bed for an hour. The Midwest is terrible, I could never live here. Corn, Corn, Corn, Corn, Cows, Corns, Corn, Corn……occasionally the corn fields are broken up by a silo on the horizon but after that, more corn, corn, corn, corn, corn…..

7.27.11 Day 35 Dougie Pants…..One more?

7.27.11 Day 35 Dougie Pants…..One more?

Today Im heading to Blooming/Normal Illinois to see yet another team member from the Formula BMW team. This ride has almost turned into a Gelles Racing reunion ride. I wish I had been able to ride to South Carolina to see Mike because it would have completed the reunion. Doug came to the race team later in the season but being the hilarious and charismatic person that he is, he was instantly one of the guys. He is always good for a laugh.

I sleep in late today since Bloomington is only a few hours away. After I get up, I get some more emails done and start packing up. Its almost noon now and Im actually leaving a bit later than intended, but no big deal. Greg is still at the house working on his car so I end up shooting the shit with him for a while. After about ½ hour on the road, I look down to pull my camera out to take a picture and then I realize I left it on the coffee table at Shawns house. Crap, I turn around and head back. At least I wasn’t too far away. Back at the house, no one is there. I call Shawn at work to get Greg’s number to find out when he would be back but Greg doesn’t pick up. Guess Im hanging out here for a while.

Greg shows back up after 15 minutes or so and he looks pissed. He went to his storage unit to pick up some tools to work on the car and apparently someone had broken into it and stolen a lot of his tools and his TV. Being mechanics, tools are our bread and butter. If you work on cars or bikes, you know that good tools can be extremely expensive. I felt horrible for him. I wish there was something I could do but Im just as helpless as he is at the moment. Just another reminder of the fallacies of the human race. Some people just refuse to make an honest living. Nobody is perfect and people come across hard times, we have all been there. But there is absolutely no reason to steal from others. I’m running behind already so I had to leave shortly after but it was difficult to leave. I thought I could come up with a way to help, but there really isn’t much I could have done. If I lived in Indy, I would have given him my tools so he had something to work with. It just plain sucks to be robbed….

Back on the road, my mind is wandering about the robbery. I’m still trying to think of a way to help even though I know there isn’t much I can do. But brainstorming doesn’t hurt. Then all of a sudden, the two pick up trucks in front of me dive and smoke completely envelopes me. OH SHIT!

ZZZZZZZZZZZ Im hard hard hard on the binders, harder than I have ever squeezed that lever on the street before. The truck directly in front of me swerves right into the grass. The one ahead of him is completely locked down in a straight line. I swerve to the left onto the double yellow line. Just as I do so, an oncoming car passes me and I feel like it was just 6 inches away. The truck that swerved to the right is sideways in the grass, the truck that was in front is stopped half sideways in the middle of the road, Im stopped on the double yellow next to him and when the smoke clears, I see a horse and buggy in the middle of the road.

What the hell just happened. My heart is about to burst out of my chest and my hands are shaking so much I cant hold the brake and clutch lever anymore. How close did I just get to death right now? How freaking lucky am I to have missed both those trucks and that oncoming car? I don’t feel like I was following that close and my fingers were already covering the brake like usual but somehow I still ended up next to the truck. I’m using crappy brake pads but was it enough of a difference to stop that extra 5 feet?

We got moving again once the horse and buggy moved to the side. Did the first truck not see it? My mind is just racing wondering how that just happened. My hands are still shaking so bad I can barely pull the clutch in to get going again. I pull off at the gas station just an 1/8 of a mile and sit down on the curb and re evaluate myself. Was I following too close? Was my head not all clear to have that split second reaction time? How did I end up next to the truck? I should be braking better than those big trucks. How did that go wrong?

I sit there for half an hour racking my brain for answers. Nothing. I have to mind my distances much better. That was really way too close. At this point, nothing to do but shake it off and keep going….at a much more subdued pace…..

I get to Bloomington at 5ish and call up my friend Doug. I head over to his new place and Doug being Doug, gave me a hearty greeting. Ive missed Doug, always a good time with him. First thing first, I check out Dougs new projects. We are both big import car nuts so I was curious as to what he has gotten into lately. Last time I saw him, he had a super nice Honda Fit and bought a Honda CBR600 while in VA. I was surprised to see that he was driving a Honda CRV SUV now. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place when I pulled in because I didn’t see a modified import in the driveway, then I saw something hanging in the back window of the CRV and I knew it was Doug, haha. While outside, his neighbor brought over a magazine that was wrongly delivered. It was a Baby Talk magazine. I look at Doug curiously then ask, “Baby Talk? WTH?“
“Oh, you havn heard! Me and Yoko are due in a few months!”

“Doug! That’s awesome man, congratulations!!!!”

Doug, a father, that kid is going to have some fun!
We go in, check out his new place and I get a shower and change my underpants after the close call. Then we relax a bit and watch the Japan vs. USA Womens World Cup Finals. At one point after the US scores the first goal, a little chubby kid flashes the camera and we have a good long laugh about it. It was classic. A couple of Doug’s friends come over and we hang out and chat for a bit. Then it was time for dinner, Doug asks what I feel like, sushi. Apparently there is a local place that does all you can eat. Uh oh, those guys are in for a non-profit night. We ride over with Doug’s friend Josh in tow. Immediately, we order some sake and start checking off the list of sushi rolls. We order at least 10 for the first round. We inhale those and keep ordering more. I lost track of how much sushi Doug and I had. It had to be somewhere around 15 or 17 rolls. Josh just watched in amazement. Close to the end, we start ordering just one roll at a a time. After we would finish it, we look at each other, “one more?” Of course!!!

Nom Nom Nom Nom

Gan Bei!

Just one more.....

I’m so stuffed we barely finish that last rainbow roll. I want more, but theres no way I could eat half a roll. This restaurant better be glad Im not a local, they would not be in business long. After a great meal, we waddle back to Doug’s car and he shows me around town. First stop, the State Farm Insurance building. State Farm started in Bloomington so it’s a big deal around here. Then it was the Beer Nuts factory. Ive never heard of it, but apparently its big. We grab a few pics then head to the next stop, one of Lincolns law offices and the original State Farm building downtown. After that, we start heading out to the middle of nowhere. Doug says it’s a surprise. But first, we stop at what looks like an old grain silo. It’s an indoor rock climbing place, used to be the tallest indoor climbing venue. Too bad we couldn’t make it during the day, it looked awesome. Im not a rock climber, but Id love to get into it. Looks like fun. Then we drive further out of town. I have no idea where we are going and Doug doesn’t let me in on the secret. Then we come across a street sign that says Mitsubishi Motorway. Ha! it’s the old DSM factory! Awesome! DSM is Diamond Star Motors, they used to build the Eclipses and all the other copies here. I knew the factory was here and being a big DSM and 4G63 fan, I had asked Doug about this place a few months ago when I told him I was visiting. We go to the main entrance and check out the factory. Its night at this point so we cant do a tour or anything but its still cool to see. The main office is empty of show cars and so is the parking lot. There is not much going on here anyway which is sad. Mitsubishi used to make some excellent cars.

Whats the difference between Beer Nuts and deer nuts?

Beer nuts are just over two bucks and deer nuts are under a buck. tee hee.

Snoop a loop in Bloomington?

I love the random street signs.

After the DSM factory, we head to his dad’s house to drop off some corn and we chat there for a while. His dad is pretty cool, small house and bigger garage. My kind of place. He has a bunch of pictures up in his garage and apparently, Dougs whole family used to ride motorcycles. Awesome. If I ever have kids, they will be forced to ride and race, haha. Back at Doug’s house, we watch some TV and call it a night. Its been a good evening, we joke about how we could both use one more rainbow roll, hahaha.

These past two days have been great. Not a whole lot of good riding, but fantastic to catch up with old friends. Ive had some good times with Shawn, John and Doug and these will only add to the memories. I will definitely keep in touch with these guys.

Friday, July 29, 2011

7.26.11 Day 34 Miscommunications

7.26.11 Day 34 Miscommunications

I got a decent nights sleep so Im ready to go first thing this morning. Packed everything up and hit the road. Going all backroads into Indianapolis since I have plenty of time today. Backroads around here are all straight and flat so nothing fun. Scenery is basically all farmland too. Lots of corn, soy and cows. The stench of the cows and the manure was horrible. It kept me from having an appetite all day. I don’t see how people live on farms, Im not sure if I could ever get used to that smell. Those are the times when I wish I was in a car, so I wouldn’t have to smell things like that.

Cruising through these backroads, there are a ton of tractor trailers so I get stuck behind these things quite often. I have to stay a good ways back because their tires throw up these little rocks that hit me in the neck. The ride into Indiana is pretty uneventful. Although I did notice that as soon as I crossed into Indiana, the pavement went to bad to worse right at the state line. Small town Indiana looks just like small town Ohio. Lots of people staring at the guy on the sport bike wearing all this funny looking clothing. I havnt seen anyone wearing a helmet or any sign of protective gear all day while riding. Personally, I could not ever ride that way. I like my skin.

My GPS leads me straight into downtown Indy. The dealership where my tires were shipped to is on the west side of town so I rode through downtown. I had never been downtown before, only to the speedway and Gasoline Alley so it was kind of neat to see. There was a lot of construction so it was slow moving and hot.

Finally, I get to the dealership and cool down for a bit with some water. Inside at the service department, I give them my name and ask if my tires were there. Yup, a box with your name on it is here.
These guys aren’t too friendly. The service manager is giving me these looks like he’s saying why the hell are you here?

So how much is it to have the tires mounted?


“Whoa, I just want to have the tires mounted. I’m gonna take the wheels off myself.”

“No, we are doing all the work. That’s what was set up. Its $200 to have the tires mounted and balanced on the bike.”

“That’s crazy, your charging more than 2 hours labor!”

“You had the tires drop shipped here so we are doing the work and since you didn’t order the parts through us, we are charging you the difference in price of tires.”

Okay, that’s just absolutely ridiculous. This guy is serious too. I don’t even know what to say to this guy at this point so I try explaining to him that Im on a charity ride and ask if could cut me some slack. He’s still making easy money on labor to change the tires, I even offered to pay extra for the tire change. But he’s not having any of it. He tells me he didn’t need the extra hassle and responsibility of having tires drop shipped to him if he’s not making the full labor and parts sales amount. Okay, I get that the dealer is in it for the money, but that price is outrageous. If it was something more reasonable, I would have been happy to pay them so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. But not only was the price outrageous, but the service manager was just being a prick. After arguing back and forth for 20 minutes, I finally had enough and said, “ Your not touching my bike, Im taking these tires and my business elsewhere.”

This pisses him off and he starts going off about how my sponsor knew about the price and labor charges and everything. I know if Ross was told it would cost me $200 to change the tires, he would have just laughed in their face and hung up the phone. This service manager is trying to put one over on me and Im not having it. I’m a mechanic, I know how this stuff works. He thinks just because Im from out of town I desperately need to have it worked on by him. Wrong! I will change those tires by hand if I need to. I do it all the time.

I ask another mechanic there if they can cut keys so he takes my key and goes to the machine. Well, apparently their blanks are different and my key needs to be special ordered. Crap, so much for that. I leave to go to my friend Shawn’s house down the road with a plan to pick up the tires and take them and my wheels to another shop.

Shawn is also a race car mechanic and we worked together in Virginia on a Formula BMW team. It’s the same team that Butch(I stayed at his place after BRP and Skyline Drive a few weeks ago) and KC worked on. Shawn is now working at a composite shop making things for the government, satellite dishes and some race car parts. He doesn’t get home until 4 and I’m there at 3 so I just head to a gas station and chug lots of Gatorade and start looking for other shops to have my tires changed. I go back over at 4 and Shawn pulls up behind me. It’s good to see him again. We had some great times together in Virginia. Shawn is another one of those guys who is usually all smiles and just generally has a good attitude making him enjoyable to be around. I pull the bike into his garage/man cave and start working on the bike. He also rides and so does his wife but he doesn’t own stands so I just a jack, a piece of wood and jackstands to get the bike up in the air. It’s a bit of a hack job, but it does the trick. It was a little sketch, but its stable. Their roommate Greg, who also used to be a race car mechanic needed to go to KIA to pick up some parts for his car. So we needed to get to KIA before 5pm, then to the bike dealership by 5:30 to pick up my tires, then to another bike shop to have the tires done.

We are pressed for time, its already 4:40. We make it to each spot with minutes to spare. At the dealership where my tires were sent, the service manager is still annoyed and wants me to fill out paperwork saying I picked up tires and wants the phone number to my sponsor so he can talk to them. He asks for my information and as I give it to him, he writes down a letter, scratches it out, writes down the right letter. This guy is dyslexic or just plain dumb or something. Every thing he writes, he scratches out and re writes. I wish I had a copy of this paperwork because it looks like a 3 year old wrote it. I just shake my head and take my tires and brake pads. When I take the tires out of the box, I notice they are the wrong compound. These are the pilot powers which are way softer than the Pilot Roads that I need. Shit. These tires will get me to Seattle at best when the Pilot Roads would have gotten me to Alaska and back to Seattle. Also, there was only one set of brake pads when there should have been two. My bike has two front calipers so one set does me no good at all.

I call up Ross and let him know. Pilot Powers are usually what I use so when I told him Pilot Road 2s, he heard Pilot Power 2cts which is what he ordered. Well, I have no choice but to put these on. Ill just have to order another set for Seattle. That’s another $250 that wasn’t planned into my budget. I’m extremely annoyed at the extra costs now but there nothing I can do but just get on with it. We take the rims and tires to a shop called Fastlane in Gasoline Alley and the mechanic mounts it up for me for $45. Much better.

At this point, I havnt eaten anything all day so we discuss dinner plans. We decide to grill so we head to a Meijers grocery store and pick up some bratwurst, chips, potato salad and some drinks. I buy since Shawn is letting me stay at their place and I put him through the hassle of having to change the tires and everything else.

The engineer from the Formula BMW team is also in Indy now so I had contacted him a few days ago about meeting us for dinner. We told him our plans and he decided to come join us for brats and dogs. Back at the house, Greg starts cooking up the food and I start putting the bike back together. Jon, the engineer, shows up and we have a Gelles Racing reunion. It was good to see Jon again, I hadn’t seen him since I left the team in 2006. He, like most other people I know, had settled down, bought a house and all that good stuff. Not married yet, but has been with the same girl for 4 years.

left to right
John, Shawn then me

Shawn got married a few years ago. While in Virginia, he and another friend Mike, were both engaged to girls named Jennifer who both had diabetes. Strange coincidence. We had dinner on Shawns back porch and caught up for a while. Had some good laughs and shared some good stories from the past and about some of the other people on the team who had some funny experiences. One in particular really got to me. it’s a long story, but if you knew the guy, its a good one.

Gelles Racing 2006 reunion.

Good times. Good times. We got a few pictures then John went back home. it’s a weekday so everyone has to work tomorrow except for me. Haha, I m just tooling around on a motorcycle and its great. We stay up for a while longer just killing time then I eventually went to bed after dozing off on the couch a few times.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

7.25.11 Day 33 Toronto to Toledo

7.25.11 Day 33 Toronto to Toledo

Early wake up call today so I can beat traffic and follow Owen up to New Market where I will split off to head west. The rain from last night continued on into the morning. It was just dark skies at first but as I got geared up, the rain started. Threw on the rain gear and got ready to go. Jennifer made me a sandwich to go which was awesome! Thank you Owen and Jennifer for the hospitality! You guys are awesome and I hope to see you guys again!

The rain wasn’t too bad, just light rain up until we got to New Market. The skies remained dark and threatened rain the rest of the way through Ontario. I eventually got a few hours west of Toronto then jumped on the 401. I stopped at a service station to take off the rain gear as it was starting to warm up. There was a huge pack of Harley riders there and they too were doing the rain gear dance. I filled up then started to make my way to Sarnia where I would cross into Michigan.

Small town Canada. looks just like small town USA.

It threatened rain the whole ride through Ontario.

The skies cleared as I got into Sarnia. At the crossing, I had to pull over and pull out some money for the toll. Then got in line at the bridge. The line started well before the bridge so I ended up waiting for almost an hour in the heat. The wind was strong on the bridge so it was tiring keeping the bike balanced. A few times I just shut the bike off and put down the kickstand. Once I got over the peak of the bridge, I just left it off and coasted downhill. Every time the radiator fan kicks on, it blows hot 225F air onto my already scorching black leathers. I got in line behind an older couple on a Harley from Ontario. Near the booths, I pulled up next to them and talked a little bit. They were heading to California. I wished them safe travels and got back behind. It was so hot I eventually took off my helmet and gloves while in line and just pushed the bike as we creeped slowly towards the border.

Sarnia border crossing

The line waiting for me at the border

This cargo ship blew its fog horn underneath the bridge and surprised the crap out of me. funny to think a massive ship was able to sneak up on me.

When it was the Harley couples turn at the booth, they were there for only a minute then they were on the way. Cool, I figured I would get the same treatment too since we were both just motorcycle riders traveling. Not so much. At the booth, they asked the usual questions but the border patrol wouldn’t believe that I was just doing a cross country ride for charity. Something about my passport saying I was born in Brazil really confused them too. An Asian guy, from Brazil, on a sport bike completely loaded down seemed curious to them, haha. I was at the booth for a good ten minutes answering a barrage of questions when he finally gave me a ticket to go to secondary inspection. Ok, whatever, he was a huge prick but he’s just doing his job I guess. He got out of his booth and followed me to the parking lot at secondary. He told me to get off and pull the key out so I started to pull off my gloves. Apparently he was really impatient because he decided he wanted to pull the key out himself. He reached in and I tried to stop him and tell him to let me do it since the Honda key is soft and bends easily. Ask me how I know. Well, the jackass yanks it out sideways and bends it almost 90 degrees. Great, thanks asshole. I take the key back from him and start trying to bend it back when he yells at me to get my gear off and go inside. I give him the “eat shit and die” look then throw the key at his face and say, “Fine, you fix it!”

Normally, I have no problem with authority as long as they are just doing their job. But I had enough of this guy. The bastard couldn’t wait 10 seconds for me to pull off my gloves. It took all I had not to lay into him and let him know just how much of a prick he was. I have a spare key with me, but now I had to get another one made so I have a spare again.

Inside customs, I get called to the counter. I had already cooled off at this point because I had to wait for about 20 minutes inside. I ask the guy at the counter how he’s doing and he says, “Whats going on?”

“Not much, the guy at the booth sent me in here..”

“Whats going on?” This time, the guy sounds perturbed.

Not sure why he’s getting an attitude with me, I guess I would hate that job too but he doesn’t need to lose his cool.

“The officer outside sent me in here.”

“No, why are you here? Why are you crossing, where did you come from!”

Whoa, chill out guy.

I gave him the story and he gives me a card to fill out. It asks if I’m carrying any food so I tell him I had the sandwich that Jennifer made me and if that applies since it was just one sandwich. He tells me to just check number 2. Well, there is no number two. Its all letters. So I ask him, “ You mean B?”

“No, number 2!”

What a freakin attitude on this guy. Im gonna assume he’s mentally retarded and means B, but B says meats and the sandwich has no meat. So I said, “The sandwich is all veggie so Im gonna check A since it says vegetables.”

“No, number 2!”

Fine, whatever guy. Number 2, or B it is.

Apparently this guy wants to know why my passport says I was born in Brazil too. Ummm, because that’s where I was born smart guy. He asks where my parents are from. “Taiwan.”

He types on his computer for a few minutes, then puts on some gloves. “I’m gonna go search your vehicle now, stay right here.”

I sit there for about 30 minutes. I cant see my bike and him taking it apart because a van is in the way. He comes back in and says, “Just to let you know, I took off the ratchet straps, looked through your bag with the tent in it, took apart the tail bag, but left your saddlebags and looked through them. You put it all back together. Have a good day.”

Good day my ass. I go outside and my stuff is everywhere. On a table, on the ground, my clothes and sleeping bag are laying on the dirty asphalt. This is ridiculous, I wish these guys had a bit more respect for people. I take my time and put everything back in the appropriate places while the original guy from the booth watches. I give him the evil eye as often as I can. Once Im done, I take off while trying to keep my mouth shut. I really wanted to give him a piece of my mind about the key, but I’m so annoyed at this point I figured I should just leave before I got myself into trouble. BTW, when he gave me the key back, it looked like a freaking wet noodle. Its complete junk now. Those pricks should be paying for a new key.

I jump on the interstate and get off at the first gas station to fill up on cheap gas. A tank in Canada costs me $20, in the states, its $12-$13. At this point, Im still really annoyed about the key. Back on the highway, I look down at the odometer and it says 20,012. Damn, I missed the 19,999 and 20,000 picture. Stupid border patrol, made me miss a milestone. I know border crossings can be a even bigger hassle that what I experienced, so I'll just chalk that one up to an interesting experience and leave it at that.

20,000 Miles

Not wanting to deal with Detroit traffic, I just keep cruising down the interstate. Just past Detroit, I had to get off the bike as I was starting to get really tired. I sit down for a while at a gas station and catch up on emails. Its nice to use the phone again without having to worry about a massive bill at the end of the month. Im not looking forward to seeing that bill. I remembered I still had the sandwich so I inhaled that with an energy drink. I had no idea cucumber and cheese sandwiches could be so delicious. No picture since I ate the whole thing in like three bites.

anyone watch Dave Chappelle?
Spaghetti! Spaghetti! Spaghetti!

Thats all I can think about every time some one says anything about 8 miles now.

Several hours behind now, I decided to just keep on the interstate until I got into Ohio. The plan was to camp near Oregon, or Toledo. I found a KOA but it was $35. A hotel room in that area is $35 so I opted for a room with air conditioning and internet. The internet only worked if I was outside, but I guess it was something. It was pretty slow too so I only got a few things done before it got dark. I had a couple hour ride into Indianopolis tomorrow but I wanted to get an early start since I had a tire change to do. The Pilot Road 2s are not at the wear bar just yet, I think it could have made it to Minnesota where I had originally planned to change them, but I didn’t want to take the chance so I had a friend order me up a new set and arrange a service in Indy while I was still in Canada. I used to work with Ross at a race team and he later became a dealer for Western Powersports so he got me a good deal on the tires and also some brake pads. Thinking everything was gravy and taken care of, I set the alarm for 6am and went to bed.

Toronto to Toledo, what a difference a day on the road makes.

My ride so far.

Note - Im having trouble loading pics at this hotel. Ill have to add them later. Places shouldnt claim they have WiFi if it sucks. especially if you have to pay extra for it. I will be complaining in the morning.....

7.20.11-7.24 Day 28-32 Another day, another dollar.

7.20.11-7.24 Day 28-32 Another day, another dollar.

Today is set up day at Mosport International Raceway. Just like Lime Rock, we need to park the truck and trailer, set up the canopy and then do a little bit of work to the car. We prepped the car at Lime Rock but left the alignment and corner weighting until we got to Toronto.

canopy going up

Its a bird, its a plane! oh, nope, its just Jake.

For the rest of the race weekends, I will just do one entry since it will pretty much be the same thing over and over again, just different tracks in different states.

Set up day was pretty easy as usual. We got done fairly early so got a nice dinner and tried to go to bed early. Thursday is test day but only two sessions compared to the normal 4. This weekend is fairly slack compared to past events. Thursday and Friday have two sessions, then Sat and Sun have a race each day so as long as nothing major goes wrong, it will be an easy weekend.

Test day was another easy day. The first session is normally just an acclimation session. Get used to the set up of the car, find the marks on the racetrack and just start dialing in the suspension and aero package. Second session goes just as smoothly, we are picking up time with every session so things are going our way. We don’t make a lot of changes today since we have been here so many times the car comes off the scales pretty well set up. While looking at the data, we realize we have some oil pressure issues. We cut open the filter and notice some metal. The metal bits don’t look like bearing material, they are small pieces of gearbox which is normal for these types of cars. The bits are magnetic too so it definitely says gearbox. We check the oil level in the dry sump tank and decide to add some extra oil. The oiling issues are only in left handers so it tells me its not a consistent oil pump issue, its just a pickup issue. We talk for a long time about whether a motor change is necessary. There is good reason to change the motor to be absolutely sure, but we also don’t want to change the motor for nothing since it does cost money. After going through the data and discussing the problem, we decide adding extra oil to help with the pickup issue is the best option. If the problem isn’t alleviated, then we will be changing an engine after qualifying.

Warming up the car before a session

Friday we have one practice session then the qualifying. During the first session, we try taking a bit of rear wing out since the car had a high speed push. Basically we are trying to find the proper aero balance. The decreased down force in the rear works for us and we make plans to take out a little more during the qualifier. We check the data after the first session and it looks like our oiling issue is solved so we are relieved we made the right decision. Now its time to qualify. My driver Jim gets a couple of hot laps in for a qualifying time then comes in to the pits so I can make the aero change. Instead of adjusting wings, I change the gurney flap from the ½ to the ¼ inch. Jim goes out and immediately spins the car at Turn 2 and flat spots the tires. Turn 2 is an extremely fast downhill left hand sweeper with very little runoff. Our cars are capable of pulling 3G’s in the corner. We are lucky that Jim is able to stop the car before he destroys it in the tire wall. But because the tires are flatspotted, we are unable to continue the session and better our time. P3 on the grid was the best we could manage. We also have an issue now because 2 of the tires have bad flatspots but rules say that we can only change one tire before we get bumped to the back of the grid for the race. So we make the decision to change the worst tire, then flip the right front tire on the rim so the flatspot is on the outside edge of the tire so that the driver can’t feel it. With the car prepped and ready to race, we zip up the sides of the canopies and call it a day.

We don’t race until later in the day Saturday, but since Jake has things to do with IMSA we still need to be there at 8am. I spend a little bit of time replacing some wear plates on the floor of the car then basically just hang out until race time. I wander around the paddock a little and talk to some friends and catch up with my old Canadian customers. They started with a small one car team a few years ago and I helped teach them a little bit about the car and showed their crew members a little about racing. Its great to see them as a full fledged team with 3 cars now. I had a lot of fun working with these guys and hope to see them keep progressing and become a strong team.

The canadian team. 6th Gear Racing

Our race went fairly well, no really big incidents. Started P3 and finished P3. Good points for the championship and Jim got to spray the champagne on the podium. For post race technical inspection we had to give IMSA the right rear spring which means loosening the spring preload to get the spring out. Now Ill need to corner balance the car again. While waiting for the spring to be returned, I prepped the car for the race on Sunday then we called it a day around 6 pm. Ill do the corner balance in the morning in case Tom Drewer(driver coach and our old factory driver for West Race Cars) and Jim decided they wanted a setup change.

Dinner during these race weekends are generally pretty nice. We work hard so we play hard. Some nights it gets kind of expensive so it’s a good thing I don’t need to pay for it, haha.

Race day. This is where the weekend got fun. The race started at 10am so it was another early morning. I had originally planned to attend a bike night in Toronto Thursday night with Owen(read blog from 17th) and also Frankie from, but with the late night at the track, I wasn’t able to make it to Toronto. So I invited them to watch the ALMS race on Sunday.

The bigger brother.

We started from P3 again for the second race and at the start Jim was able to move up to 2nd place. Unfortunately he eventually fell back a spot but not before he ran his best time of the weekend. Then under a yellow flag, he was passed by another car which is against race rules, then a back marker held him up so he couldn’t catch up to the pace car when the race went green again so that put Jim way back in 4th. However, since the pass was done under yellow, his rightful spot should have been third. I informed the officials of the illegal pass but nothing was done about it during the race. Often times, the offender is black flagged and brought into the pits for a penalty stop, but this time they decided they would wait until after the race to make the judgement call. This means we wont be on the podium unfortunately. No champagne today. The Canadian team however got a 1,2,3 podium finish. This would later be changed, but they got their podium photograph, ha

After the race, we started to clean up and break down the canopy. At 1pm, Owen, his wife Jennifer and Frankie came to watch the race so I borrowed some passes from the Canadian team and met them outside to let them into the track. I had to finish loading the trailer so I dropped them off at Turn 2 to watch the start of the race. After we were all loaded up, Jake and I jumped on the golf cart Jim left and went to Turn two and caught the start. I found Owen, Jennifer and Frankie and we all took the golf cart around the track to watch from different turns. I hope they enjoyed their first ALMS race. The ALMS cars are pretty impressive, especially at Mosport since its such a fast track.

When the race was almost over, Owen and Jennifer had to leave but we made plans to have dinner that night in Toronto. Frankie would hang out for a bit with me and then we would ride to Owen’s place together. When Jake went to leave in the truck and trailer, we realized the right rear tires on the truck were flat so we spent some time trying to fill it up. It was difficult since we didn’t have the proper air chuck for the truck tires. Eventually we got it filled and Jake went to line up to leave the track. At Mosport, the trucks and trailers have to cross the track to leave so he had to wait until the end of the race. Meanwhile, I had to track down our helper for the weekend and pay him, then return the rental golf cart. That was a whole process in itself since I had no idea where either one of them were. Found Chris, our helper, then drove the golf cart around for a while trying to find the rental place. I just happened to run into the owner of the rental shop and he showed me where to leave the cart. Never would have found it unless I ran into him.

With everything taken care of, I loaded up the bike and then Frankie and I left for Toronto. He had his GoPro camera with him so here’s a cool video he made. Thanks Frankie!

We took a bunch of backroads through Oshawa then finally the 401 to Toronto. At Owen’s place, I changed and unpacked a few things from the bike and we got ready to leave for dinner. While unpacking, Owen asked me what earphones I used. I had mentioned it when I met him a few days ago near Buffalo. I use the iFrogz since they are short and have an extension that helps the helmet slide of the ear phones instead of pulling them out. I told him I bought them at Best Buy and I asked if they had those in Canada. This got a good laugh out of him and he was like, “What do you think this place is?” Hahahaha, there are a lot of things that Canada and the US have in common, but they have slightly different names so I wasn’t sure if it was the same name or not. For all I know, it could have been called Moose Media or something like that. Ha, its terrible how little I know about Canada and how I assume everything has something to do with moose, maple leaves or mounted police. Owen however filled me in about quite a few things at dinner. It’s been a while since Ive had good Korean bbq so I was excited. Last time I had Korean bbq was that junk I had near Cherohala skyway. Not the same at all. Driving through the section of Toronto where Owen and Jennifer live, it really reminded me of Los Angeles, but cleaner. I guess a lot of suburbs look the same, but the strip mall area was just like something out of San Gabriel.

At the Korean bbq place, we had the all you can eat bbq and ate quite a bit between the four of us. It was delicious and my mouth is watering now just thinking about it. Since all three of us had done big rides recently, we talked about that most of the time. It was cool to listen to everyone’s stories and see the differences in each of our rides. Maybe I can convince those two to come down and do the Blue Ridge Parkway to Deals gap one of these days.

We eventually got full and went back to Owens place and took a few quick pictures of us next to our bikes. It’s funny how this all worked out. I had read Frankie’s blog not too long ago since he also tours on a Honda sport bike. I met Owen while we were both touring on our bikes near Buffalo. Frankie and Owen are both on a Toronto area motorcycle forum and now here we all are…Gotta love the motorcycle world.

I stayed with Owen and Jennifer that night. Owen showed me a route to take in the morning to avoid Toronto traffic. Basically I would follow him north to New Market where he works then I would just keep heading west from there. That night, I awoke several times to a massive thunderstorm and I was thinking about how I had planned on camping that night. It’s a good thing Owen and Jennifer offered me their spare room, I was dreading another wet night like Acadia National Park.

Monday, July 25, 2011

7.19.11 Day 27 The small town of Canadia.

7.19.11 Day 27 The small town of Canadia.

I need to make my way across the border today. The sky looks kind of dark this morning so Im thinking about the rain gear before I even get moving. It’s too hot so Ill take my chances today. The border crossing at Peace Bridge in Buffalo is the closest one so I head straight there even though its usually the more traveled crossing. Luckily, there is no line and I ride right up to the booth.

“Where are you headed?”

“Toronto, Im doing a cross country motorcycle ride”

The office looks at me, looks at the bike, looks back at me.

“Really? Hell yea! Right on brother, have fun!”

That’s it? Definitely the easiest border crossing ever!

I pay my $3 toll and Im in Canada. Just after I cross, I see a white motorcycle in my mirror and watch as it creeps up to me. I recognize the headlights, it’s a Ducati 848 in white. I almost bought one of these when I was looking at the R1. This is probably the only Ducati I would ever buy. Its absolutely gorgeous. The rider gets alongside and gives me a big smile and an enthusiastic thumbs up. I point at his bike and give him an even more enthusiastic thumbs up. I like Canada already.

Before I even get to Toronto, I see several bikes and a few of them are loaded up like mine. I havnt seen this many bikes on long trips since the Blue Ridge Parkway and it pleases me to know Im not alone up here. Just before Toronto, I get off the 401 to eat lunch at a Tim Hortons. The first thing I notice is the wide range of cultures which is great after being in the northeast for a week now. I hear a lot of languages I can’t comprehend which I personally think is great. Apparently this Tim Hortons cant process American credit cards so I ask if they will take US cash. The reply I get is “I don’t know, but sure, why not.” Haha, maybe I should get some money exchanged.
Personally, I think north america should follow the Euro and come up with our own shared currency. We could call it the North American Dollar. Or NAD for short so we can say, how many NADS you got? But we should still exclude Mexico, I kid, I kid.

Back on the 401, a guy on a KLR passes me so I play follow the leader with him all the way up to my exit in Bowmanville. I get gas for the first time in Canada and its over $20 to fill up. This could get expensive and know its only going to be worse on the way to Alaska. I’m here really early, I wasn’t sure how long the border crossing was going to take so I go straight to the track to see who is there. Sometimes there are people testing so you get to see some cool cars that your not supposed to. There is just a track day there today so the guard lets me in so I can ride around and watch. I take some pictures and talk to some corner works and just hang out for a bit. There is nothing too fascinating going around except for a black Acura NSX and a silver Audi R8. I love the NSX, I think its one of the best looking cars ever made. The Audi R8 has a good sound to it, but is pretty ugle. At 5pm, the track shuts down so I leave and head for a Tim Horton’s to get some Wi-fi. I talk to Jake who is driving the race rig up from New York and he is planning on getting a room somewhere in the area. I plan on joining him so I can have a hotel room the night before we load in so I can be well rested for the start of the race weekend. Also, Im hoping to get some laundry done.

All Jake knows is that we are in a Comfort Inn somewhere near Orono. So I ride out that way to see what I can find. There is nothing in Orono. I do some more riding in the area hoping to find some sign of civilation but at this point, Ive almost used up an entire tank of gas so I need to stop. Gas is too expensive to be just riding around for no reason. So after a few phone calls, I head to a Mickey D’s for Wifi. I look up Comfort inn in Orono and nothing. I end up calling about 6 different hotels looking for our reservation. This is the good way to rack up a huge phone bill. My bill after this weekend is going to be ridiculous and its exactly what I was trying to avoid. Hotel finally found, I meet Jake there around 9 and then I do my usual gear explosion. Shower up and then hit the bed. This race weekend is twice as long as Lime Rock so Im hoping to be well rested for the start and stay that way. After this race weekend, I have just over a week to get to Minnesota for the next race so there are no off days to just relax.

BTW, the title of this post comes from a show called Family Matters. Remember Steve Urkel? The particular show is the one where Steve is showing off some invention in Disney World in Orlando and everyone in the Winslow family goes down with him. Eddie and Waldo Geraldo Faldo(Ha!) drive down separately and after a few hours of Waldo driving, Eddie wakes up and asks Waldo where they are. Waldo says, “I don’t know, we are coming up on some town called Canadia.” Eddie looks at the map and says, “That’s Canada!” For some reason, that has always stuck with me. Its retarded, I know, but it’s a random childhood memory.