This is going to be a year of big change for me. After years of working in various roles at CMG — writing the daily news, scouting for rallies, lining up gear reviews, writing feature stories, plugging away at the Buyers Guide — I’m coming on board full time.
While I’ve worked year-round for CMG, it wasn’t always a full-time gig. As of this week, that changes: I’m around all the time.
As a result, looking ahead for the new year, I’m making some resolutions. There’s a lot to do, and only 12 months to do it. So, here are five New Year’s Resolutions for 2017.
1). Finish the DR650
Some CMG readers might remember this piece from 2014, where I detailed my struggle with my Suzuki DR650, after a routine valve change ended up turning into a top end rebuild. I gathered a high-compression piston, a hot cam, a Barnett clutch, a stronger stator coil, and some other parts … and then life happened. Or, to put it more accurately, I had a kid. Now, The Kid is more than two years old, and the bike is still not assembled.
But, I mean to change that this winter! I’ve taken all the junk out of my sunporch and moved the DR650 in, along with my tools and a workbench. I’ve actually been picking away at this project for the past couple years, just very slowly; I’ve painted the frame, changed up some bodywork, done a bit of work on the engine, but I’ve never full-on attacked the project (partly because I’ve been busy keeping my DR350 running, too). Well, this is the year; these bones will rise (ride?) again. And if it all goes sideways, I’ll go on eBay, and buy a new motor. It’s time to put a stake in this never-dying rebuild. It’s been years since I’ve ridden my 650, and I’m really missing the braaaaps.
2). Ride somewhere new
This has been a consistent resolution for the past few years. Most of the time, I’ve managed to pull it off; sometimes, I get away on a longer trip, but other times, it’s a short jaunt, like last fall’s rip around eastern Nova Scotia. As a dad with a young family, I fit in what I can, when I can.
I think this decision, the decision to explore, is one of the most important a motorcyclist can make. The Facebook memes about travel are true: It really does expand your mind, and scrapes the plaque from your brain. There is no better way to investigate new country than on a motorcycle; it allows you to enjoy blowing by the boring stuff, stopping to see the interesting things, while experiencing all the highs and lows of the sun, the rain, and the wind (unless you’re tucked away on a Gold Wing).
There are a couple of areas I’m particularly interested in for 2017. I’ve never done the Gaspé peninsula. I hear the off-roading is very good and the scenery on the coastal highway is beautiful. Maybe it’s time to visit?
The other area I’ve been eyeing for years is New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I have several friends who’ve ridden there and they’ve all had good things to say; it looks like it might even be fun on a small bike like the DR350. If the Canadian dollar ever gets out of the crapper, this is high on the list.
I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about the Trans-Labrador Highway. CMG still hasn’t conquered this gravel highway on two wheels (Jim and Rob’s expedition ended with a broken shoulder, and Mark wimped out and took a car a couple of years ago). This is arguably the best-known ADV ride on the east coast, but as the Newfoundland government continues to pave sections, the adventure lessens every year. A ride through Labrador would also mean a ride through western Newfoundland, which has been on my to-do list for a long time; maybe this is the year it happens?
3). Re-visit some old routes
In 2014, I blitzed the Cape Breton Highlands on a Beta 498RR; the bike review made it to CMG, but the tale of the tour didn’t. It was one of the best rides of my life, and I want to go back. There’s nothing quite like demolishing a few hundred klicks of trails on a racebred dual sport, then hooning it around the Cabot Trail, to make a lasting memory. Anybody have a high-strung duallie they’d like to lend me for a week?
Another place I’d like to revisit: the Magdalen Islands. When I went there in 2014, the tourism rep said I could legally ride on the beaches between Sept. 15 and April. 15. Does anyone want to ship me a sand paddle rear tire? I’ll need it by mid-September …
4). Ride off-road more
New Brunswick is an off-roader’s paradise. I have thousands of kilometres of mind-blowing trails and beautiful scenery waiting; all I have to do is suit up, boot up, and head out the back door. Every time I hit the woods, I see something new: an abandoned settlement, a bear, a shotgun-toting hillbilly telling me to get my bike away from his grow op. I spend most of my winter getting edgy, waiting for the snow to burn off so I can hit the trails. Last year I missed that, thanks to a mechanic dragging his feet on my engine rebuild. I won’t repeat that misery this year.
5). Finally, ride the Fundy Adventure Rally
All you other schmucks have been having all the fun lately. I missed the first FAR because of The Kid’s birth. I didn’t ride the second and third editions because I was volunteering; I went on some epic scouting rides, but missed out on riding the rally itself. Not this year! I want to experience the rally from the rider’s perspective for the first time. Unless we get another monsoon — then you buggers will find me in HQ with a plate of those sticky buns from the bakery in Alma, laughing gleefully as you send back photo after photo of flooded-out bikes.