Tuesday, August 08, 2006

He's Still Alive, Jim!

Been awhile, but I'm back... Not that I really left anywhere, except this cyber-realm that I tend to hang-out in. Been through some changes lately; some big, some small. I've got a new job (promoted to senior advisor position) with an exterior office so I can get some natural light shining in (no more fluorescent tubes), and my name's on the door. Cool! Not so cool is my new boss (a-hole on a powertrip), but I can be a real pain in the ass too, so we'll just wait to see who breaks down first.

I've also been travelling a bit, on two wheels of course. Me and the missus went down to Boston and Cape Cod for a bit. Lovely area, great people, lots of fun. Boston has now made it to my "Top 10 Nice Cities to Visit in North America", joining noted places like Québec, New York and Miami. As we were just passing through, we barely got to scratch the surface of this beautiful city. Got to hear all the opinions, both pros and cons, regarding the (in)famous Big Dig. Whatever side of the fence you're sitting on, none can deny the huge undertaking that this project has become. Just a few days before we arrived in Boston, a large section of one of the connector tunnels collapsed on some unfortunate motorists - so the topic was quite hot during our passing.

Leaving Boston through some of the smaller towns and communities on our way to the Cape gave us a nice opportunity to appreciate the beauty of these coastal communities. Many of them reminded me of home. Some of the little country roads are nice and twisty; but don't lend themselves very much to spirited riding because of the hidden stopsigns and many houses and driveways.

The Cape was great, although next time I head down that way I probably won't be staying in Hyannis again. It was just too "Touristy" for my tastes. Maybe some of the smaller towns along the coast would've been more to my liking. For what it's worth, we really did love Nantucket Island. Finally, I can associate the name to more than just a dirty limerick and an early nineties sitcom. We only stayed in Nantucket one day, opting for the high-speed catamaran passenger ferry (no vehicles), and renting a little 50cc scooter to get around the island. This little bugger (a Korean-made Kymco) was as much fun to ride as some sportbikes I've tried out; I think it has to do with the thrill of trying to reach 40MPH while riding two-up, down a hill, with a tailwind! What I loved most about Nantucket was the complete absence of mainstream capitalism. No Wal-Mart, Super-8 or MacDonald's to be seen, as these have been bannished from the island. All businesses are independantly owned and operated, and none belong to any chains. This helps keep the Island a little more quaint, not to mention being a boon to the local economy.

No sooner were we back in Monkeytown that we took off again for the Magdalen Islands. Nice ferry crossing, except the constant motion of the waves made me nervous about my two-wheeled steed down below. I kept having visions of it tumbling over, since the ferry doesn't accomodate for tie-downs. My worries turned-out to be in vain, as the 'Strom was still waiting as I left it, ready to go, when we got to the dock.

If you've never been to the Maggies, then you really should consider it. It seems no matter where you go in the world, Islanders always seem to have a more laid-back attitude when compared to us mainlanders. The locals we got to hang around with on the Maggies did not disappoint. Great food too! Just about any Inn, B&B or restaurant on the Islands will feed you ample amounts of fresh seafood (usually caught the very same day). We even had one waitress tell us that the chef was not serving mussels that day (although it was on the menu), because they weren't perfectly fresh.

For more agressive motorcyclists who are looking to carve some asphalt: the Maggies probably aren't for you. True, there are a few nice curves that stir the adrenaline, but mostly you get long straight and narrows with low speed limits and many of Québec's Finest. If you're more the easy-going type, than the "sand-dune highway" with it's pictoresque lagoons and ocean vistas is a must.

A few notes about the motorcycle, a 2004 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. It's held up quite well this summer, being shod with some new "asphalt-only" tires (Metzeler ME880 Marathons). The only thing that keeps annoying me with this bike is the stupidly short maintenance intervals. I end up spending an afternoon in the garage changing a filter, or adjusting valves, or syncing the throttle bodies... Not to mention what a PITA a chain can be. I installed a chain oiler this year (Loobman) and I'm pleased to say that it works as advertised and keeps the chain nice an loobed. Only problem is that tiny droplets of oil keep flying all over the rear swingarm, the rim, and even up onto the topcase and left sidecase. It ain't much fun to take off the sidecase only to realise later that it's left black grease stains where your pants rubbed against it.

My car (2003 Jetta TDI) has 16,000km maintenance intervals. This, to me, is the way any vehicle that is actually meant to be ridden should be built. I don't care that I have to use synthetic oil in the mill, since it means that I don't have to change it every 5,000kms. Unfortunately, most motorcycle magazines only glance over the maintenance schedule for most motorcycles, and manufacturers don't usually post this information on their websites. So for my next bike, I'm looking for something with a shaft (I know, I've mentioned this one before), with oil change intervals at least at 6,000kms, and major service intervals at least at 20,000kms.

Any suggestions?

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