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A Most Hopeful Time of Year

Spring has a bad reputation around here. It’s season of rain, drizzle and fog; interspersed with snowstorms, freezing rain and the rare pleasant day that cumulates in sunburns throughout the entire population.

So why do I love it so much?

Because it’s the season of hope. It’s a time to make plans to pack as much enjoyment as possible into the tiny window of time that we call summer.

Day-long excursions with lunches at tiny out-of-way cafes…the simplicity and satisfaction of motorcycle camping…a cold beer by the fire after a day exploring…hikes to see spectacular oceanside scenery…calm mornings on Quidi Vidi lake…motorcycle commuting…off-road adventures on the TW200…these are the things that I look forward to each spring.

What does spring mean for you?

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Enjoying the rarest of spring days: warm, dry and calm.

 

I Didn’t Want to Jinx It

Each winter, I implore the gods of weather to take pity on this poor little rock in the North Atlantic, and send us an early spring. A “real” spring, like we see on TV. Blue skies, brilliant sunshine, soft breezes…little birds singing to each other while the first crocuses push their way up from their long winters nap. Most years the weather gods laugh at my pseudo-prayers, and blanket the North East Avalon with thick wet fog and bitter winds, occasionally interspersed with a blizzard or ice storm.

But not this year. I’ve been wanting to write up a post since my first 2016 ride on March 27 (MARCH 27!) but I’m superstitious and was afraid that I would jinx it and not get the bike out again until May.

I might be in the minority here, but during the months that I can’t ride, the areas of my brain usually taken up with motorcycle stuff gets sub-let to all sorts of other interests. But after that first ride of the season, the “lease is up”, so to speak. Now my free time is spent perusing the online motorcycle classifieds, studying Google maps to find out -of-the-way destinations, and reading blogs by riders much more adventurous and interesting than myself. It’s good to be back.

Here’s a few pictures from our *early* rides this year. Looking forward to a long riding season!

 

March 27, 2016. Still looks very much like winter, temps just above freezing. Went for a little ride around the prettier parts of the city. 

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April 2, 2016. First ride on the Vstrom. Temperature was around 14 C (57F), warm enough for highway riding. Lots of bikes out that day! 

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On April 20/21, we were hit with a snow storm that dumped 50cm (over 1.5 feet) on us. Thanks to the warmth of the spring sun, we were riding again a couple of days later!

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Winter Is Coming

At the risk of sounding as dour as Jon Snow at a dinner party, I have to make an announcement on this, the second full day of Summer 2015: Winter Is Coming. Of course fans of Game of Thrones recognize this as the motto of House Stark of Winterfell, a place where winters last for years (Unequal season lengths and repeated references to salt cod, salt beef, hard bread, and mummers’ antics leave me wondering if George R.R. Martin has spent time in Newfoundland).

I’ve decided to adopt “Winter Is Coming” as my own personal motto. To me, living in a place where summer is so short and so precious means that I must try to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of every hour of sunshine. These are the days that renew my soul, the days that make up for the brutal Nor’easters and freezing rain, weeks of fog and snow in May.

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In case anyone needed a reminder.

I can’t explain the satisfaction of hearing six oars hit the glass-calm water of Quidi Vidi at dawn…or how good it feels to run the old railway bed through the Waterford Valley underneath a canopy of leaves so thick that they create a welcome shade…or the pure elation of riding my motorcycle under a perfectly blue sky, warm breezes finding their way through the vents in my jacket. These are all summer things, and summer does not last long on a Rock in the North Atlantic.

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The joy of a calm pond

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On the days that I can’t decide what to do: Go for a ride, lock on my riding gear and go hiking. This is at Cape St. Francis.

So turn off the tv, put down the computer, and go outside. Walk, hike, swim, ride, camp, trout, bird-watch, whale-watch, pick berries, garden…do all the things that you can’t do for the other nine months (at least) of the year. Set your alarm for a Saturday morning and get out and experience the stillness of your neighbourhood as the day begins. Or if you’re a night owl, drive out to the middle of nowhere on a cloudless night and try to pick out the constellations.

If you have a motorcycle, go put some miles on it. ENJOY the summer. Because Winter Is Coming.

Tips for Riding in Windy Conditions

Travel blogger Shawn Voyage recently published an article in which he lists St. John’s, Newfoundland as one of the windiest cities in the entire world. A great place to live if you have a penchant for flying kites perhaps, but not so great a distinction if you’re a motorcyclist.

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This tractor-trailer blew over on the highway near Holyrood a few weeks ago. Photo credit: cbc.ca

Wind can be scary, particularly a crosswind where the wind is hitting your bike side-on. Of course as luck would have it, the TCH runs roughly east-west across the island and our prevailing wind is south-west so when travelling in Newfoundland we are always dealing with crosswinds. If anyone is authorized to dole out advice about riding in windy conditions, it’s someone from the Rock. So here in no particular order, are some tips to help the novice rider combat the ever-present wind factor.  Read the rest of this entry

Yes, we call this “Spring”.

In the infamously cold, foggy summer of 2011, I happened into one of Water Street’s many shops and found them giving out pin buttons with the slogan “#$%& the weather, I’m having summer anyway”. I’ve thought back to that slogan recently, seeing as how we are a week into May and the mercury struggles to get above 5 degrees C (41 F.). It even snowed yesterday…not enough to shovel but enough to turn the Outer Ring Road into a high-speed demolition derby. Read the rest of this entry

First Day of Spring!

Spring started at 2:37 this afternoon and although I know that the calender means NOTHING in Newfoundland, it’s still very uplifting to know that winter has ended…officially at least. There’s more snow in the forecast for Sunday and Monday, but I’m going to live in my fantasy world until then. Read the rest of this entry

Mid-January Thaw

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Sunset at Signal Hill, January 14, 2014

After a frigid start to 2014, the weather has taken on a teasing, spring-like quality over the course of the past couple of days. Yesterday I was delighted to discover that the snow had retreated enough to allow me to run to Signal Hill without fear of being clipped by a car’s side mirror. I was rewarded by a spectacular sunset before I headed back down the hill.

The thaw continues today, with rain and temperatures forecasted to reach 11 degrees Celsius (52 F).  If the rain lets off this afternoon I would not be shocked to see a few motorcycles out and about!

Dogberries & Snowy Owls

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Looking south down Cookstown Road from LeMarchant Road. December 27, 2013

Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula is not known for the cold, snowy winters experienced in other parts of Canada. Around here we usually escape heavy snowfalls until January. The snow came early this year though, and the colder than average temperatures convinced it to stick around. This was the first “white Christmas” in recent memory, with the month of December seeing almost a meter (39.4″) of snow falling in the St. John’s area. It’s the start of a long, hard winter. Read the rest of this entry

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