Opinion: Gifts and gremlins

Last year, my wife had no idea what to give me for Christmas so I sent her a link to CMG’s Gift Guide. She bought me a copy of Mark Gardiner’s Motorcycle Trivia, and I’ve been reading it ever since: it lives in the washroom, and there’s an entry for every day of the year.

This year, I’ll send her a link to this column and, hopefully, she’ll get me a copy of Mark’s second trivia book. 2020 is a leap year, so there’ll be an extra day, even if it is in frigid February.

Like most riders, I’m pretty easy to buy for, and you probably are too. Clothing is a touchy issue because most non-riders don’t appreciate the difference between fashion and function, but gadgets and upgrades are always welcome. This year, after one too many roadside fixes, I’ll be asking for a Leatherman multitool that won’t take up too much space in my saddlebags; I’ve lost the one I always used to carry and used for years. I’ll also be angling for a Ram X-Grip, so I can attach my phone easily to the handlebars to use as a Navigation system. I used one of these on a rented Trans-Alp for my birthday this year and it was a life-saver. Yes, I know I can listen to Google talking to me through the speakers in my helmet when my phone’s in my pocket, but I don’t like that. I like to ride in silence.

Maybe that’s what I’ll miss most this winter, when I’m stuck in the car: the silence of the ride. Most riders use earphones now to muffle road and wind noise while listening to music, but I eschew music on my bike, unless I’m just making distance on the highway. My motorcycle is my time to myself, to think and to feel, and I rarely get that in a car. Holding onto a steering wheel, I’m listening to traffic reports or to a podcast or to music and that’s fine; holding onto the handlebars, I’m inside my own head.

I didn’t think I’d be able to ride my bike again this year after the recent November snow, but the Ontario weather warmed and I took her for that last ride after all. I termed it the Steve Bond Memorial Ride, because I came home from Steve’s wake last week, fired up the Harley like all the other greybeards, and took the scenic, thoughtful route to the lake. Steve never liked listening to music in his helmet, either, so it seemed fitting. It was an opportunity to think about our friendship and remember him appropriately with the wind rushing by.

Now my bike is washed and put away, but I’m reading through the CMG gift guides and flipping through the magazines and looking forward to the bike shows. Oh, and next week I’m headed to California with Jeff to ride a pair of Indians in the desert for a few days. There’s always a way to beat the winter blahs.

Last week was a bad week for Canada Moto Guide because the site suddenly exploded. Apparently, we renewed our various security certificates but some piece of software didn’t do what it was supposed to and, suddenly, we lost almost all the stories we’ve published in the last five years. That’s about 4,000 individual stories, which is a lot.

The site looks better now but the stories aren’t back yet. They’re not lost, but they need to be restored to the site and our techies haven’t figured out yet how to do that without manually clicking on each one, as Zac and I have been doing for the last few days.

This means most of our links to bike tests and advice and road trips and everything else aren’t working yet and it’s all very frustrating. We’re on it though. When that final story gets restored to its rightful place in our archive, that’ll probably be one of my best gifts of all.


  1. Great article Mark. I never ride with music either, don’t have helmet speakers, still use paper maps when needed. Given that when I ride a road once I never forget it (from about age 8), I don’t need maps much anymore. Riding is about exploring and getting away from it all. On the other hand when home I have music on all the time, no TV for me, although I do get the Moto GP package in winter. Oh, as a note the Winter package allows you to watch every race on demand, for the past many years. On Black Friday this year it was 1 Euro!! As it was I paid 24 Euros to have motorcycle racing to watch all winter. Moto 3 for me. In Mugello there is more overtaking in one race than the other have all year, combined. Magic to watch. Cam

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