Our inaugural 2011 three-province D2D proved the concept of riding for 600 km within a 12-hour time limit on nothing bigger than a 250 cc motorcycle was a recipe for fun! So we decided to do it again for 2012, this time limited to southern New Brunswick which Assistant Editor Zac promised me would be just perfect for the event.
Of course, I now live in this area and I know the Fundy shoreline offers up some great roads, but my forays further into New Brunswick’s rural southern area have generally found bumpy, broken roads that only a dirt bike would find agreeable.
Zac disagreed with these conclusions, so I gave him the job of finding a route, something he took on with relish, going so far as to convince Moncton motorcycle landmark, Toys for Big Boys to act as our start and end points. Toy’s owner Larry Northrup offered to personally open the shop at 6:30 in the morning with coffee and donuts and then re-open it again at 6:30 in the evening with burgers and drinks for the returning riders.
Perhaps, more importantly, he also offered a brand spanking Honda CRF250L for either Zac or myself to do the ride on, which meant that I could give Zac the CMG Konker KSM 200 and test the CRF for myself (Editor’s privileges and all that). Okay, first off, I needed to get that Konker back into a semi-roadworthy condition.
Those who know me will know that the Konker doesn’t get an easy life and with the threat of the D2D looming I decided it was about time to replace the leaky fork seals and give it a once-over to make sure Zac didn’t finish the rally in the back of the sweep truck or ambulance.
I won’t go into details here but getting fork seals for the Konker (who’s importer is now ‘pining for the fjords’) was somewhat frustrating. Following a badly translated, poorly copied workshop manual to do the job was simply infuriating!
After two attempts the job was finally done and the Konker thanked me by flooding its carb and sitting there like a bad puppy in a pool of piss. At least it’s a simple bike and a quick carb removal and clean had the problem solved and the next day I found myself with tach buried in the redline on the highway to Moncton.
To most, this is the horror of riding a smaller bike on a highway, and yes, if you were on the 401 around Toronto, horror it would be, but in New Brunswick’s lightly-traveled highways tucked and pinned is quite a hoot.
You need to work the box to keep momentum up hills and invest a good deal of thought and planning to make even the simplest of passes. At one point I observed my sedentary approach to a tanker over a five-minute period, realizing that if I were to maintain my throttle pinning I would need to make a pass without losing momentum.
As I started to enter the turbulent wake behind, I saw a large pickup slowly coming to pass on my left. Perfect timing. With throttle pinned, I broke through the turbulence and into the calm draw right behind the tanker. Just then the pickup edged passed allowing me to swing over to within a few inches from its bumper, trading one vehicle’s pull for another.
The pick-up driver seemed a tad perplexed at this hanger-on but his truck hauled me past the tanker, allowing me to swing back into the right lane and continue on my slow and steady ascent to Moncton.
This is why taking a sub-250 motorcycle on a 12 hour ride over 600 km is so much fun. You have to think and work with your bike’s limitations. No opening the throttle to pass – you’re already pinned — it’s all about momentum and planning and it is very satisfying when you get it right.
MEET THE PICKARDS (& Co)
Organizing this event and the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally means that, well, as you might expect, I tend to meet some of the, err, less sane individuals out there. Case in point is a certain Murray Pickard, and by extension, his wife Janet.
Murray, who lives in southwestern Ontario, has become a regular participant at the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally, which is also held in Ontario. However, he has now become a regular at the east coast Dawn ‘Till Dusk ride, trekking almost 2,000 kms with bikes in a trailer just so that he can ride for 12 hours and then go all the way back home again.
Murray rides, Janet follows behind in the truck with trailer, providing a very handy sweep for the idiots who run out of gas … cough, but more on that later. They both have a great time and even brought another nutter this year, Andrea St Denis, who rides a Ninja 250 and thought the idea of riding half way across the country for a day’s ride was a pretty good idea too (pity the fool).
I met up with Murray, Janet and Andrea at the Holiday Inn in Moncton and we were soon joined by Ed who had ridden his CBX250 up from Halifax and Mathieu who did a similarly stupid thing and rode his Ninja 250 all the way from Quebec City. I’m starting to see a trend here.
Zac arrived shortly afterward on the long term NC700 (just to keep up with the general madness, he had decided to leave the next day for an impromptu tour of Newfoundland, requiring a departure from Chez ‘Arris at 4 the next morning if he were to catch the 11 AM ferry).
I thought this was a good time to inform him that his ride for the following day had just blown its low beam and being Chinese (the bike, not Zac) I couldn’t find a replacement bulb, but had bent the light down and thereby ‘fixed’ the problem.
We also discovered that the map Zac had sent me to print out for the riders was missing a large section of the route and he was duly sent to find a computer with which to find the image of the missing section and then to the local Staples to print it on the back of every map.
This is CMG after all, but Zac redeemed himself, infiltrating his sister’s vacant house to fix the map, then riding around town at a mad speed to have it printed, making it to dinner just as his buttered chicken arrived.
Being mid September, dawn comes at a semi-respectable 6:30, though is usually somewhat chilly to boot. This morning it was in the mid-teens and positively balmy as the Holiday Inn troupe made their way through Moncton and out to Toys for Big Boys, where a suspiciously jolly and efficient Larry Northrup had coffee and donuts waiting for the weary.
The weary turned out to be a respectable 17 riders (as in numbers, not character), with many familiar faces from the 2011 D2D, but many new ones, including a couple of guys who made the trek up from Middleton, Nova Scotia – a substantial 350-km slog on 250s.
A good half of the bikes present were made up of CBR and Ninja 250s, the rest being dual sports, an aging CBX250 and NX250 Dominator, and two scooters, a new Honda PCX150 and a Big Ruckus 250.
Since 17 is still a smallish group, this year we decided to split them up into two – one fast and one not-so fast. I led the faster of the two with Zac taking the more relaxed group, though everyone had maps of the route too and were free to do their own thing.
Things almost immediately started going a little CMG when I noticed the CRF’s fuel gauge flashing, necessitating an early gas stop for group ‘speedy’ which allowed group not-so-speedy to pass us without knowing it. Trying to catch up and then pass them added to the confusion but by the time we hit the first stop at Cape Enrage we were more or less complete.
It’s around this time that splinter groups started with the two scooter guys peeling off ahead. The idea of the D2D is to ultimately allow riders to form their own teams or even ride it solo. “Here’s the map, see you in 12 hours” kinda thing, although I think we could have done it this year, we’ll definitely doing so the next.
Next stop was Alma on the Fundy coast for gas and snacks. Having just gassed up not so long ago, I figured I’d be good, but after determining that the CRF’s fuel gauge must be faulty (it was sinking faster than the Bismarck), I embarrassingly ran out of gas and had to wave the group past while I waited for the sweep truck to come bail me out.
Up to this point I was finding it hard to find fault with Honda’s latest 250. It can hold an indicated 120 on the flat (actual 110), handles well, brakes well and can go exploring the trails to boot, but with a tiny 7.7 litre tank you’re out of gas in about 170 km – even less if you’re pinned.
Lunch was at Hampton’s Kredl’s Corner Market after which I duly got lost despite having the GPS. I was just having a grand old time meandering through the curvy roads of the Kingston Peninsula with the St John’s river almost lake-like to my left. Left? Shouldn’t that be on the right?
By now only two riders had enough confidence to actually follow me, so the damage was limited, but once again I was forced to face the mockery of the ‘slow’ group as we eventually caught up at one of the three ferries for the day.
My third embarrassing episode hit me as we were closing in on the final leg back to Moncton. Despite the next gas stop being within sniffing distance, after 30 km of watching a flashing empty light, the CRF finally jerked itself to a stop forcing me to rely on the kindness of a certain Roy Pope Sr. who happened to have an eight-litre gas can in his shed. Just before I could make a quick getaway, the ‘slow’ group caught up and was duly entertained once more at my expense.
The day came to an end at 6:45 (with 25 minutes to spare of our self-imposed 12 hour limit) with a total of 605 km (as measured by Janet in the truck – who didn’t get lost). Larry (still suspiciously chipper) of Toys for Big Boys was there grilling burgers allowing everyone to wind down and refuel before the slog home.
Oh and that’s when I found that the Konker had not only blown it’s rear bulb but the high on the front, meaning that I had no ride to get back to Sackville on. Larry came to the rescue with a demo NC700X, further adding to his status of super-nice guy, and ensuring that we’ll be aiming to host the 2013 Maritimes D2D at Toys for Big Boys too.
Thanks to Larry at TFBB for being such a great host, Zac for organizing the event so well, Janet for supplying and driving the sweep truck and to all who attended and had a fun day with their throttles firmly pinned!
D2D ACROSS CANADA?
The 2011 D2D was a proof of concept and this year was designed to build on that, but what we’d like to do is to spread the idea to other parts in Canada. An obvious location would be southern Ontario where I’d expect to find the biggest mass of sub-250 motorcycles, and for us the event would be able to use previous Mad Bastard routes, so the set-up would be relatively easy.
However, I have been pleasantly surprised with just how many riders we’re attracting in such a low-populated province such as New Brunswick — ensuring it as an annual event — so maybe we could do this just about anywhere.
If you have a sub-250 bike and would be interested in setting something up in your area (a local dealer on board really helps too), then contact us and let’s see what we can do.
After all, how else can you spend a day with friends, throttle pinned for most of the 12 hours, drafting trucks to keep momentum?
GETTING TO THE MARITIMES D2D FROM ONTARIO by Murray Pickard
For many years now Janet and I have always been the riders that have driven the farthest to assorted motorcycle events. The area that we live in (Chatham, On) provides us with a great lifestyle but not much in the way of the off-road and challenging roads that we enjoy so much.
This year we headed out on Wednesday evening and arrived at Moncton at noon on Friday, leaving the hotel parking lot shortly after 6 AM to the start of the rally.
After a few munchies, Rob held the riders meeting and by 7:10 we were off, with Andrea and I choosing to ride with the ‘fast’ group. After about two hours of trying to keep up with Arris, I came to the conclusion that I had three major concerns:
1) I don’t want to crash the Ninja that I had borrowed from Inglis Cycle.
2) I don’t want Andrea to crash either, and
3) I was missing all the scenery!
The two of us slowed down to join the slower “more sane” riders and enjoyed the incredible views, finishing the ride without issue.
The total KM for the trip and the ride were 4,350 and upon our safe return I was happy to hear that Andrea said she would love to do this again! Maybe I’m not as crazy as everyone thinks …
MAKING THE D2D by Zac Kurylyk
I needed to plan the D2D this year, to redeem myself for last year’s screw-up, when I got lost in my home province of PEI and ended up getting everyone off track and stuck in Charlottetown’s traffic.
As I was running the roads between CMG HQ in Sackville and my home in Saint John quite regularly this year, I told ‘Arris we should route the ride through that area. After all, there were plenty of tight back roads that would provide plenty of fun for a quarter-litre machine, as well as plenty of hills that would require riders to work the gearbox.
Selecting the final route was tougher than I had expected, but I’m glad everyone seemed to enjoy it. Some of these roads are my personal favourites (especially Rt 845 on the Kingston Peninsula) and I was happy to share them.
After the thrashing the Konker took last year at the D2D, I was a little hesitant to run it this year; I doubt ‘Arris has even changed the oil since then, and the valves are long overdue for some fiddling. But the bike (with new super-moto 17” wheels finally fitted!) did the job nicely, for the most part.
I’m just grateful the members of the “slow” group didn’t complain about having to chug behind me as I furiously rowed through the gears in the hills of Fundy National Park. At one point, I thought the engine was going to blow up as I had the slowest bike there, even slower than Ron’s CRF230L. I tried to draft him and overtake him later in the day, when he pulled ahead of me, but couldn’t pull it off.
But the D2D isn’t about speed anyway, as the two scooter riders proved. The Honda step-throughs were the first rides to finish, and they were always well ahead of everyone. The “slow” group was often ahead of the fast riders, as we had the advantage of knowing the route better and no ‘Arris to lead us.
Instead, the D2D is about fun, and fun motorcycles. A little boy stuck his head out a truck window while we rode the Gagetown ferry, and told us we all had cool bikes. I couldn’t agree more with him. We might not have had tons of horsepower, traction control, or adjustable engine mapping, but we finished the route, beat the clock, and had a blast doing it.
Now we just have to plan next year’s rally.
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