Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Live Life One Mile at a Time!

Monday, July 21, 2014

DesTination: Musée de l'Auto Ancienne de Richmond

Fill 'Er Up
Richmond is a sleepy little town in the heart of the Eastern Townships here in Quebec, Canada. It wasn't the first time I had been there and truthfully, if not for la Musée de l'Auto Ancienne de Richmond I most likely wouldn't have returned. However, as fate would have it, with my father-in-law visiting from the Republic of Ireland, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to visit the museum. The museum turned out to be quite nice, so much so that I do plan on returning again one day with my children. Although I managed to get a few pictures, truthfully, I didn't get a chance to take a picture of every single vehicle there. There is still so much to see and given that the owners change their cars regularly, it promises to be interesting for future repeat customers. Though not as rustic as Mr. P's Emporium, the museum still managed to evoke thoughts of yesterday's forgotten treasures as they have gone through great trouble to add period correct details including mannequins (themselves nearly as old as the cars) dressed in vintage clothing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mr. P's Emporium

Rusty Gold
Worthy of American Pickers and something Canadian Pickers should aspire too my father-in-law and I were off into the Eastern Townships today to visit an elusive scrap yard that I had happened upon only once before whilst taking a "Sunday Drive" with my wife and kids a few weeks back. My father-in-law, who is in fact visiting from the Republic of Ireland, wanted to go exploring for parts for his Toyato FJ-40 Land Cruiser. One thing led to another and we happened upon an old farmstead with not one but several vintage vehicles parked under an old barn. We turned the car around and soon found ourselves knocking at the back door (the front door was sealed off naturally) of a stranger's house a la Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. That stranger turned out to be Mr. P. An elderly gentleman who is in fact the fourth generation son to be living on the premises. Many of the items your about to see has been a part of the family his entire life. Though he does not officially advertise or even sell most of what he has he was kind and welcoming enough to allow us both to potter around his property and take pictures of his RUSTY GOLD!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

At a Glance: BRP Can-Am Spyder

"The Paparazzi Escape Vehicle"


Since last ensnared in Can-Am's Spyder's Web I am sorry to report that they still have yet to clear up any confusion with regards to licensing requirements. It is true, on the one hand they now state that you cannot use one of their machines to take your motorcycle test. However, they do falsely lead you to believe that you too can ride a Can-Am Spyder without a motorcycle license in Quebec. Which leads me to ponder just how overpaid the folks at BRP actually are given that this is complete and utterly untrue!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Project A-Team - Stage 2: "Quit Your Jibba Jabba!"

Photo © Vinmag.com
Where to begin? Since stage one was completed back in October 2013 the best laid plans have been laid to waste as I have found myself unable to work as much on my TW200 as I would have liked. In fact, it would be fair to say that I was physically unable to do so for several months in lieu of a back injury. I know, I know... quit my "jibba jabba" and get on with it. So let's look over what has been done to my bike since then. Suffice it to say the bike has gone through a bit of an identity crisis. I originally started off with the idea of turning the bike into a brat style street bike not unlike what the TW Bastards do so well but obviously without the same skills or attention to details that they have become renowned for. (I know my limitations) There are also ton's of great ideas via the TW200Forum that explores making these bikes into mini adventure tourers. An after thought that came to mind when I decided that I wanted to in fact undertake some road trips. However, though I cannot speak for other TW200's I am sorry to say my little purchase would likely need a complete mechanical overhaul before that could ever happen as it has yet to reach 60 miles per hour (100kph)! Presently, I am at the point where I decided to make a hybrid of sorts due to some extenuating circumstances...

Monday, June 9, 2014

DesTination: Johnville Bog & Forest Park

Truffula Trees?
For those of you looking to explore the roads less traveled than perhaps a trip to Johnville's Bog & Forest Park located in Cookshire-Eaton (Johnville), Quebec, Canada is just what you might be looking for. The Eastern Townships is a beautiful place to travel through by motorcycle and amongst many of the attractions is this superb piece of protected land that once catered to Lennoxville as the sole source for its water. Admittedly, however, despite seeing several motorcycles propped up on their side stands at the front entrance, I had arrived on bus. That is, by school bus. My son's grade two teacher organized a field trip. It's a great place to stop and enjoy a bit of nature the way it was meant to be enjoyed. There are several picnic tables scattered within and around parts of the park including next to a "kettle" - a natural phenomenon that occurs when the glacier that stood tall once over this area broke apart and became trapped forming what we think of as a lake or pond.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

At a Glance: 2014 Suzuki GW250

The Future is Looking Bright...
2014 Suzuki GW250
Suzuki only recently closed its doors to Canadian consumers this year, at least, where their automobile division is concerned. According to the Globe & Mail (2013) "The trigger for Suzuki’s move out of Canada – although it will still sell motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and marine products – was the U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by its sister company, American Suzuki Motor Corp., last November." Truthfully, I wasn't surprised. With Honda and Toyota providing better quality vehicles I found myself underwhelmed by the majority of their products. Even Hyundai has stepped up considerably in the last four years. Though, I still wouldn't buy one personally. When it comes to motorcycles, however, Suzuki seems to be holding its own. There is a loyal following and admittedly, even I can't help be drawn to some of their more striking motorcycles such as the Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S. However, bigger isn't necessarily better as proven by Suzuki's GW250.  Introduced to North Americans in 2013 and with an MRSP of just $3, 999.00 Cdn. (not including freight, etc...) what we have here is a lovely little entry level standard bike for beginners and experienced riders alike.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Look Mum, No hands!

As Close to Mine as I Can Recall!
Photo © jasonGT 
I remember going to Canadian Tire with my mother when I was around J's age. I remember vividly how the man who worked there told my mother that I should really get the 24 inch Diamond Back BMX. However, I was too afraid of the height. I could barely reach the floor with both feet. All I knew for certain was that I absolutely loved the 20 inch BMX I was sitting on instead. It was chrome with Mr. T inspired gold accents a la 80's. It was my first 'big boy' bike and it just felt right. "Are you sure?" my mother asked. I gripped the handlebars tightly, slightly fearful of being refused this guilty pleasure. Before long I found myself riding solo in and out of the streets of Verdun and there began my love affair with two wheels. If I have to explain you wouldn't understand. By the end of the summer of '85 I had outgrown my training wheels and had undertaken adventures that the Goonies would have been proud of!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Who's There? A Trip to Remember by Wolf Raaen

Canyon Ride 2013
12 Days of Perfect Sunshine, Spectacular Scenery &  
Good Folks as Company!


Zion National Park
All Photos & Words © Wolf Raaen

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Project A-Team - Stage 1

A Biker is Born?
I am not going to lie to you. The days leading up to collecting the little Yamaha TW200 were fraught with self-doubt and uncertainty. I found myself contemplating cancelling the deal altogether at one point. The matter wasn't helped by the less than stellar service from Motos Illimitées. If it wasn't for the sales guy whom I purchased the bike from, Danny, I might have just been tempted to do just that. In the end, however, I found myself getting ready the other morning with tribulations and uncertainty over the purchase. A special thanks needs to go out to my friend and colleague, Veeresh, who kept his word and collected me to drive me the two hours to Montreal to collect the bike. He seemed incredulous at my uncertainty when we set off but I was never great at lying, so why bother trying. Instead, I found myself trying to remember all of the positive things I had read about the little bike via Adventure Rider and the TW200 forum. My 'mid-bike crisis' was either going to be a home run or a downright fail. My consolation being that at least I didn't spend that much on the bike and inevitably, I could probably just as easily resell it in the Eastern Townships where dual sport motorcycles are highly sought after.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ode to MR. T - My 1990 Yamaha TW200!

Photo © Freerepublic.com
I have been going through what can only be described as a "mid-bike crisis" as I am uncertain if another cruiser is really the kind of bike I want. I also find myself shying away from larger displacement engines and have been romanticizing over the days when folks wrenched on their 350cc BSA's and travelled all over Europe instead of polishing their 1800 cc + bikes whilst sipping coffee at Tim Horton's. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter. However, websites like Adventure Rider and Horizons Unlimited have been feeding my interest in motorcycling vacations off the beaten track, so to speak. Simply put, I want mud, not chrome on my engine.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Coming of Age: A Biker is Born!

A Biker is Born!
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Charles' Dickens famous quote from A Tale of Two Cities seems to sum up my relationship with Serenity fairly well. Whilst the Suzuki Intruder proved to be an exciting venture it came at a financial cost that inevitably I find myself rather not think about. Still, for those of you who have followed many of the modifications I have made to the bike over the years, the bike is a testament to its versatility as I made it my own. The temperamental Serenity, a name which in hindsight seems like an oxymoron now, had different ideas to me when it came to actually riding. Nevertheless, the few thousand miles we did manage to accomplish had its moments, albeit brief. That being said, however, I found myself longing for something more this summer. Pavement has started to lose its appeal as the windy dirt roads that seem predominant in the Eastern Townships have been calling out to me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Who's There? India's Iron Rider!

India's Biker Brotherhood
Photo © B Radhey 
I always wanted to own a Harley-Davidson at least once in my lifetime, preferably by the age of 40. But till few years back this remained a distant dream, as Harley-Davidson was not allowed to open shop in India. But the American giant, managed to break the ice with what is now famous as the "Mango Diplomacy". Under an agreement with the Indian government, the United States government lifted a very old trade embargo, which now allowed India to ship mangoes to the U.S.A. in return for allowing Harley to open shop in India. So after a lot of deliberations, I decided to buy my first Harley Davidson, an Iron 883 Sportster in 2013. Although this decision had everything going against it. For one Harley's were costing up to 40% more in India than elsewhere, due to the high duties imposed on them to protect the Indian motorcycle manufacturers. Two, they were expensive to maintain and guzzled the very expensive gasoline in India. But above all the Harley's were considered impractical for Indian conditions due to their lower ground clearance. But when your heart rules over the mind, everything else goes blank.

Sariska National Park on a Royal Enfield

A Visit to Sariska National Park, in Rajasthan, India
By Himanshu Bansal (alias B Radhey) in 2010

Knock, Knock...?
Photo © B Radhey

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Who's There? Percy Hart's Quest to Ride


Photo © Yamaha Motorcycles
Summer of 1978 was when I first saw it. I remember not being able to contain my excitement and thought how beautiful she was. Tried as I might, there was no rest for me that night. As I lay awake dreaming I would one day feel the freedom of riding. I did eventually fall asleep with what I am sure was one of the biggest smiles recorded in history for a twelve year old. The object was a brand new 1978 Yamaha Chappy. It was as Green, as I was with envy for the young man who proudly rode around our neighborhood. I remember asking my mother if we could get one. “Are you out of your mind “ was likely the reply she wanted to shout out, however she softly said, “we cannot afford one, and I am not comfortable with you riding one. When you are an adult and no longer living under my roof, you may do as you wish”, was the reply I remember, however that was so many years ago and mom’s reply may have been a little different.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

At a Glance: 2014 Yamaha Bolt!

The R-Spec Includes Piggy-Back Shock Absorbers!
Photo © Star Motorcycles
Whilst at work this past weekend at Sur 2 Roues I heard the unmistakable sound of a big V-Twin pulling into the school's closed circuit. The rider disembarked and began walking towards us and before long Sophie, a Sur 2 Roues Motorcycle Instructor, greeted the gentleman warmly. Apparently, this was a former student and he had come by specifically to show off his brand new motorcycle that he had just taken possession that Friday from Motos Thibault here in Sherbrooke, Quebec. At a glance you could forgive the unsuspecting eye in thinking that this was a brand new Harley-Davidson Sportster of some variety or another. However, upon closer inspection what I found myself admiring was in fact a brand new 2014 Yamaha Bolt R-Spec!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Who's There? Wolf vs. The Dragon


Here he lies with pistons and crank
Buried up to his ass
In the face of this bank
He challenged the Dragon
To have some fun
As you can see, the Dragon won!

By: Carl Cooper

Thursday, June 6, 2013

DesTination: The Snake

Photo © Wolf Raaen
Six days. That's how many days are left until our baby girl arrives. I find myself with no more nails to nibble on in anticipation of the big day. A day which could be here tomorrow (maybe even right at this very moment as I type this...) or, if our baby girl turns out to be like our second child's birth, delayed by two weeks! Our routine has become rather subtle. I find myself sitting and staring at Jennifer from the corner of my eye as she happily quilts away. She has already made two baby quilts in the last month or so, one for our baby and one for her sister Janice, whose baby is due to arrive later in August. I can't quilt and I find my Jedi powers in willing Jennifer to have the baby now instead of later lacking unfortunately. The anticipation is too much and I can feel myself needing some sweet release. I tuck the boys into bed (early of course, if only to give Jennifer some freedom), ensure that Jennifer has everything that she needs, and start to make my way out of our little apartment here in Montreal. "Don't forget my phone!" Like she has to remind me... "Don't forget my camera!"... thankfully she reminded me. I need to get out of the house, away from the overwhelming anticipation and excitement that seems to follow me everywhere I go these days.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

DesTination: Blazing Trails


Ladakh 2010
Photo © Blazing Trails
Motorcycle Fever. It is contagious only to those without the means of accessing their ride in places where roads are impassable (or better yet, illegal to ride) during these frigid winter months in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As Jack Frost wreaks havoc on us with record breaking snowfalls I find myself feeling trapped inside my skin. A burning sensation emits from every pore on my body and my thoughts seem to be forced in one direction: motorcycles. I whip my head around every now and then towards the direction of the sound of a big twin. It may be a passing motorcycle on television or simply my imagination playing tricks on me. Whatever the case may be I see that old familiar look on my wife's face as she groans and rolls her eyes, already in tune with what is happening to me. "Two more months..." she whispers sympathetically as she knows my mind is still on that one topic that consumes me after any length of time without my Serenity. Two more months before I can bring my bike out of storage and start commuting again with her. Two months too long if you ask me. However, some reprieve is at hand what with upcoming tributes to the God of Two Wheels such as Show Harley (January 2013) and the Montreal Motorcycle Show (February 2013). However, are motorcycle shows really enough? Many friends have started their road trips already by transporting their bikes state side. In other cases they have began planning their road trips as far away as September 2013. It got me thinking about one little jewel that may interest many of you!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Holy Spandex Batman!

Foregoing any preconceptions some may associate with events such as Montreal's 2012 Comic Con, I decided to take the plunge finally and see for myself what the hype was all about! However, that being said, I wasn't willing to do so on my own... at first I tried to wrangle my oldest son to come with me but realistically speaking he wouldn't have had the patience or the courage to face the barrage of crowds and multitude of costumed vigilantes. The line alone to buy just my ticket today took no less than just over an hour! Than it occurred to me; why not try and get some students to come along?! I wrote and teach a course entitled, Consumerism, Leisure and Popular Culture and thought that this event would be a, ahem, 'super', way of introducing new topics in the near future. Comic Con has been gaining momentum in La Belle Province and this year they have featured special guests such as Adam Baldwin from the short lived but excellent television series Firefly, Saul Rubinek from the hit television show Warehouse 13 and Wil Wheaton from shows such as Star Trek The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory! There are some other surprise names waiting for you below as I managed to capture a few pictures of them!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DesTination: Monday Morning Blues

Making Monday's Bearable...



I work in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, Canada and travel daily to and from work via my '96 Suzuki Intruder 1400 (aka Serenity) as often as possible. It's a round trip of just over 350 kilometers a day...

People often ask "why do you do it?" I can't help but think "how could I not?"


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Loving Memory...

... of
Linda Louise Snow
1956 - 2009

When The Heart  


When the heart 
is cut or cracked or broken 
Do not clutch it 
Let the wound lie open