Monday, February 28, 2011

Last Huff of Winter

Being on the Wet Coast of British Columbia we seldom get snow. Perhaps once in a 5 or 7 year cycle it would be bad with most years receiving none. By bad we mean a snowfall may remain on the ground for a few weeks. Mostly it goes away in a day or so

(This place is known across North America for their . . .)

with temperatures hovering just above and below freezing which means frost every morning and melted before noon. Not good conditions for riding my 'Strom when I leave for work around 7am

I think I am more suited for the warmer temperatures of NZ or KW but for now I must tend to my chores which were to shovel the snow from my walkway


my walkway is fairly long and wide so I had to rest a few times and try not to aggravate my back . One thing about getting old is to take things a bit easier and lift less weight so I shovelled with less gusto and made sure my snow shovel had less snow as I tossed it over to the side.


I finally make it to my curb and find that our road is covered with snow with an ice layer below, which makes it very slippery


I've noticed something else about the aging process, food input and lack of exercise. I find that it is exceedingly difficult to lose weight. I try to eat in moderation and choose healthy food groups but still I could stand to lose a few pounds. I don't know how Jackie does it but he has a system and has shed many pounds.


On Saturday mornings I meet the guys for an early breakfast. I try not to have anything until dinner which is normally around 7pm but that is a long period without nourishment so I have my usual snack in the early afternoon, not a meal but something to "tide me over" .

This particular day found me in a line up at a fast food restaurant. I was going to order my usual value menu double cheese burger, or chicken wrap, or both depending upon my mood and how much change I had in my pocket. There were two elderly ladies in front of me sort of in line but with a big gap to the customer in front. They appeared affluent but were struggling to figure out what they wanted to order. It was as if they had never been in a Golden Arches Cabaret before. They motioned me to go ahead of them, which I promptly did comply.

I turned around and asked what they wanted. They were unsure. They were struggling to make sense of why they had stopped here in the first place. I decided to treat them to a beverage and a snack and they seemed very appreciative. They couldn't believe that a stranger would pick up the tab. They ordered two coffees and two banana pies. I paid for my meal and theirs and wished them a good day, and left.

Later, I got to thinking about this scenario . I have been doing a lot of thinking how my life would change when I retired. I would be watching every penny and account for all my purchases, no different from these two ladies who were obviously struggling to make sense of this frivilous purchase, but it gave me a good feeling to be able to help them today.

Here's my BlueKat inspired Self-Portrait:


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Memories & Life's Fuel Gauge

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about things, and aging gracefully. Then wham-O, Geoff puts up a post about elderly people riding motorcycles and when to know when to quit, or rather . . . to downsize to something more easily handled. There has been a lot of talk by others who take the more mature, “smell the roses” approach, slow down and enjoy the scenery rather than blast through the twisties at supersonic speeds. During our youth, we were invincible. It couldn’t happen to us. We try our best to take care of ourselves, eat healthy food, sneak in a hamburger and soda once in a while and be more aware whilst riding.

Then, without warning, another one of us (cpa3485) was stricken with a dreaded old age malady and this got me to thinking how fragile we are, after all, Jimbo was in the best of health and in his prime. I was just thinking how it would be to lose a few years and be like him, but alas, it is not to be unless I can find a time machine to turn my clock back a decade. I used to cycle a lot. I even purchased a new bike which is now sitting with flat tyres. I overdid it and wrecked my knees. I now prefer machines which move by themselves with a slight twist of the right wrist.

The other day I did something stupid that an old man shouldn’t have done. Yes, that is what I am thinking that I am now officially an ‘old man . We had decided to get rid of our old monster of a CRT TV and our new LED state of the art flat screen has been taking space in our hallway since Christmas. No rush, it’s only been two months since we purchased it and factory sealed. Our CRT tv has no handles or indents with which to grab hold of it and when I tried to maneuver it onto the floor I must have contorted myself and strained my back. Will help I managed to get it propped onto two folding chairs so now it sits in the middle of the living room until I can garner help from someone to help remove it.

Ever since the lifting event I have been feeling more pains everywhere, everything seems to hurt a bit and I have been taking it slower. On my way home yesterday I had to go through the mall to Safeway (grocery store) to pick up a few things and I noticed these old guys sitting on some chairs. It would appear that they are friends with nothing to do except to go to the mall and people watch. I imagined that I was sitting there with them doing the same thing. After all, what else do you do when you are old and retired with limited income to do anything else.

I have been riding motorcycles since the mid 1960’s. While Doug has owned over 45 bikes during his riding career, I have only had the pleasure of owning about 15 or so. I have nearly owned as many cars

For the past few years I have analogized my life as similar to a gas gauge. We all start out with a full tank and as life progresses the needle goes lower. Unfortunately it is a tank which cannot be refilled. If I were a car I would have filled up long ago but I am probably down to quarter tank . I hope the gas fumes last a long, long, long time.

Whilst I have been riding for many years I have only endured the challenges of urban riding and hardly any touring except for a few weekends during the recent past. I don’t have a great network of similarly minded riders here which share my same interests but I decided a couple of years ago to purchase a bike worthy for touring, with secure hard cases to carry my valuables

I am trying to make up for lost time and build up some memories for when I can look back and smile at the good times I had with great people I have met (or plan to) within our blogging community

While archiving my photos onto DVD I noticed some photos from our recent Oregon trip with SonjaM. This is what I am talking about. Photos bring back memories of good times. One day, many years from now, if we still have the capacity to remember, we can smile at our good fortune that we did something we loved, rather than to just exist and think “if only . . .” or “wished we could have . . .” Our road only goes forward in one direction and we have to choose our turns carefully


It was not just another day in Paradise. Under the hazy cloud cover and sputtering rain it promised to be another sunny day. We heard a rumour that Oregon had the best roads in the country so we had to check them out. We, my riding buddy SonjaM and myself were on our final leg of our short mini-vacation. It was our last day in Lincoln City with accommodations overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I woke up early and walked about the beach taking a few photos while I waited for SonjaM to catch a few more beauty winks. It’s not what you think. Even though we were together, we were not Technically together. We were travelling solo but in each other’s company. We had separate meals, separate bikes, separate rooms and separate significant others at home which approved the fact that we would be in close proximity for a few days.

Today was not just any Tuesday, but it was also Tuesday, July 20th a special day in Sonja’s young life. I think she told me she was 27 today, if I remember correctly. There was no need to hurry today as we were just heading home, back to Vancouver. We had a leisurely hotel supplied continental breakfast, checked and loaded up our bikes. She on her BMW F650GS and myself on my mighty Suzuki V-strom. I had planned an intimate brunch at my favourite place in Oceanside, OR and garnered a window spot overlooking the ocean. It has a sort of Morro Bay look to it with those large rocks planted on the beach. The waitress was accommodating and brought out a candle-lit muffin for this special occasion.


She thought that we were a “couple” and offered to snap a photo of the both of us, but I politely declined and told her we didn’t want any evidence, I mean what would Roland (Mrs SonjaM) say if he saw it ?


Even though we had planned a long day we started out trying to do too much. We took the 3 Cape Loop to Cape Meares to Tillamook. Then we got caught up with road construction. Hwy 101 was crawling at a snail’s pace and we tried to take an alternate more twisty road but saw signs that it was closed so we had no choice but to continue north to Astoria where we also stopped for a rest and nourishment break.

Again the waitress thought that we were a couple and offered to snap a photo of the two of us. I politely declined. I told her I didn’t want any evidence. After all, what would Mrs SonjaM say if he saw it. I mean, this was her special day and she was with me . . . plutonically I must add.


soon our tummies were full and we had to continue on our way


I even got the waitress to sing Happy Birthday to her. Here is a short video of SonjaM , from the rear, err , I really mean . . . with her leading . . .

Good memories for me and I hope for her too. I look forward to gathering more memories for 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

HDR: 1st attempt

It was Friday as I was on my way to work in the early darkness. I take the northern route to work and noticed the snow clad mountains of the north shore. The sun was just starting to come alive and with the ambient light, and lights of the city blending together to form the most perfect scene for which I only had my P&S, not high enough quality for a large print. Overnight there was a slight dusting of snow which came halfway down the mountain. The light was perfect. I decided that on Saturday I would bring my dSLR and try and capture the scene. All day while at work I am trying to determine the best spot to take my photo.

My alarm goes off as usual around 5:30am and I get my camera gear ready. It is still an hour and a half before sunrise, dark and below freezing at around -2c . With frost on the windshields I decide to leave my bike at home and head down to false creek. I thought that I would get a city scene with a mountain backdrop. The light was a disappointment with the heavy cloud cover and the snow had melted from the spring-like temperatures of the previous afternoon. With my plans thwarted I thought I would just walk over the Cambie Street bridge and head downtown . I look over at Science World and capture a hint of sun coming over the horizon .

(aperature priority, 0 ExP compensation)

This weekend I wanted to experiment with HDR photos. I am not sure whether any of you have tried to do HDR: High Dynamic Range photos. The human eye has a dynamic range of approx 15. A digital camera sensor can capture anywhere from 4-6 . From bright sun to dark shadows, your scene may have a dynamic range greater than what can be resolved from your camera's digital sensor. If you expose for the bright sun then you may not have enough detail in the shadows, from a single exposure.

(aperature priority, -1 ExP compensation)

By bracketing your exposures you can take a series of photos above and below "normal" to get properly exposed pixels in differing light

(aperature priority, +1 Exp compensation)

In this third photo it is overexposed to blow out the highs but get more detail in the shadow area.

For HDR it is recommended that you take a minimum of 3 exposures. Unfortunately for me, the Canon can only be set to take 3 shots in AEB mode. I did this series handheld in Continuous shooting mode, which means when set to AEB I click the shutter once, and it will fire 3 times, set to the range selected. I believe that my D80 can be set to take 3, 5, 7 or 9 shots in a sequence. My Manfrotto tripod is fairly heavy and since I was walking I decided to leave it behind. If I had my tripod with me I could have skewed the AEB in both directions and get 6 (or more) shots, but as I was shooting hand held there was no way I could get exactly the same perspective as I have to move the camera from my eyes to skew the AEB range.

Now here is the final result of blending these 3 exposures together to achieve a higher dynamic range that the sensor could natively capture. Of course, since this is my first attempt at HDR I tweaked the curves a bit, bumped up the contrast, played with the tint, and also altered the light balance and increased the saturation to about 120% . It is the first time I have used this software so I wanted to see its capabilities

(HDR: overtweaked and oversaturated)

There were so many sliders and options so I just had to try them all to see what would happen.


Later in the day after brunch I headed down to the harbour in the industrial area. I was walking over an overpass with train tracks below and noticed a scene brightly lit with deep shadows from the low sun angle of winter . It was just perfect for another HDR

(perfectly exposed as viewed from histogram, Zero ExP compensation)

This is how most cameras would expose for this scene. Notice it is hard to see details in the shadows.

(minus -1 ExP compensation)

Underexposure keeps the bright area from clipping and provides more accurate colour for the red buildings

(plus +1 ExP compensation)

Overexposing blows out all the bright areas of this scene, but provides more details in the dark areas along the railway tracks.

The HDR merged image is below. Only slightly tweaked with; curves, slight oversaturation which made the red buildings "more" red, and a slight colour temperature change to a warmer tone, approximating late summer.

(Final HDR image, Vancouver Harbour)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Belstaff: old skool Trialmaster Professional

It was around 1981, my riding buddy Jim and I were riding around Vancouver and generally enjoying our day on two wheels. The previous year we both purchased matching bikes, brand new Suzuki GS1000L's, mine in Burgundy and his was Blue. Back then we mainly rode around the lower mainland. Riding consisted of merely commuting to work and weekend excursions to Harrison, Horseshoe Bay or perhaps Bellingham. Two years earlier I purchased a new GS400L, then the next year I upgraded to the 4 cylinder GS550L, and then I traded for the GS1000L. Of course, all these bikes were the same colour, burgundy. I also had a matching burgundy helmet with gold stripes. I don't know what happened but the dealer had just received a new shipment of Suzuki's which included the GS1100L which was the fastest production bike of the year with TSCC and 4 valves per cyclinder. I had to have it and what good fortune that it arrived in burgundy, my preferred colour. So with the GS1000L not even two months old I rode away with another new bike. I sucessfully upgraded to my 4th bike without the CEO knowing. It sort of looked something like this . . .

(facsimilie taken from the internet)

Mine had engine case covers, slipsteamer windscreen, oil cooler, throttle lock and sissy bar. It also came standard with tachometer and GPI: gear position indicator. It had more than enough power for me.

We had just finished breakfast and decided to visit the local BMW dealer who was having a clearance sale. This was Phillip Funnel who had moved from their long time East Hastings Street location to Victoria Drive just north of Hastings Street.

This was where I bought my first riding jacket, a Belstaff Trialmaster professional

(faded white tag is still affixed)

There was nothing special about riding apparel back then, no armour in the elbows or shoulders, nothing but a waxed cotton jacket which had to be oiled in order to make it waterproof. The jacket was fine when it was new but as it accumulated road grime it had a distinctive smell. Because of the smell I didn't really use it that much as I must have had other leather jackets to wear. I even had a favourite blue jean type denim jacket


There was a Belstaff logo on the right pocket, and also on the left shoulder


My jacket is in very good condition considering that it is over 30 years old. There are virtually no wear marks, all buttons are there, including the original zipper, but some stitching on the lower part of the zipper needs re-inforcement .


My style has a corduroy type of neck liner which snaps around your neck to keep the wind out


The liner is not removeable and has a checkered pattern


I am a hoarder and in the midst of trying to get rid of stuff I no longer need . I find that it's difficult to dispose of stuff that may have value but I was thinking of going through my closet and culling things that I have not worn for a year or so, which included this jacket, until I saw this . . .


I had no idea that people were looking for vintage motorcyle attire. I did a quick search on eBay and found a couple of listings

Here is a new reproduction, Made in Italy


and here is an original used one from the 70's


I had no idea i was sitting on a gold mine. Better than RED fishing shorts, EH ?


Also Geoff down in Coromandel was interested in photos of the Caterham Lotus 7 . The only Caterham, Lotus Super 7 facility outside of the UK is in Duncan, BC. The car is handbuilt by David Saville Peck. Duncan is located about an hour north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. I have had the pleasure of visiting the factory a few years ago and watched a car under construction. Recently (during August 2010) there was a Lotus 7 gathering at a private residence in North Vancouver where I presumed that David Saville Peck would be in attendance. I was hoping to find him there so I could snap a few photos, as I am not a Lotus owner and probably be kicked out. He was there and I asked permission from the host so all was okay. Here is the website for David's facility

I also have another friend who is currently building a Lotus 7 replicar so maybe by the time Geoff gets here we could go over and see his progress. I believe that the chassis' have already been welded up. By chassis' I mean that he and his friends are building 3 at the same time, and they are going to use them for slaloming.

Here is a teaser photo of a yellow Lotus Super 7, for my buddy Geoff in NZ


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Annacis Channel & Dyke Road

And so after all the excitement of a nearby shooting last Saturday, I left the crime scene, mounted my mighty V-strom and headed towards Queensboro to pick up my riding boots, which failed during my Oregon Trip last July.


The buckle came apart on our way home and from Tumwater, WA I had to rely on bungy cords to keep my boots on. I arrived early and the store was not yet opened so I thought I would wander around the area to eat up some time


We are on the border of Burnaby and New Westminster and traffic is light, the roads are narrow. It is easy to stop in the middle of the road to snap a photo or two


Actually, you have no choice but to stop in the middle of the road as there are no shoulders and if you drop off, you will be in the water filled ditch. Above you will notice the overhead freeway ramp which is a major artery known as Hwy 91. Down here it is quiet but on the ramp it is like a raceway with vehicles tailgating and speeding to nowhere.

There are several waterfront communities scattered about the greater Vancouver area. This one is located on Annacis Channel, which is basically the south arm of the Fraser River


I suppose there is an attraction to having a floating home


There is no lawn to cut or maintain and you are able to park your yacht beside your home in your own parking spot


And if you cannot afford a yacht, you can still keep your canoe close at hand


This particular community has more than one cluster of floating homes. You have all the amenities of a regular land home, including water and sewer lines


Further along Dyke Road there are also commercial vessels scattered among the residents


(Glendevon, recently restored)

As we ride down Dyke Road we come to a more upscale cluster of exclusive homes


These seem to be of more recent construction


It was a pleasant day to spend some time on less travelled roads


And we are thankful that this has been one of our mildest winters in years, fingers crossed. While others in the southeast have been buried under feet of snow and ice, we are happily making do with bare roads and the occassional glimpse of the sun


My Strom is smiling . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's a 'Busa, not a Hayabusa

Now that we are in the midst of Winter and cold temperatures, my mind turns to a hot summer day last August where I barged uninvited to a meeting of Caterham Lotus Super 7's . I believe Caterham does not officially own the rights to the name Lotus so they call their limited production sports car a Super 7 but it is loosely based upon the same chassis.


Our local newspaper has a weekly car section where they publish locations of show & shines and other car meets throughout our area during the summer and I felt like having a peek and get a chance to meet up with David O Saville Peck who is an authorized builder of the Caterham Super 7 at his facilities on Vancouver Island. I believe he is the only builder authorized to build the Super 7 outside of the UK. Chassis's are shipped to his location from the UK where he takes over and hand assembles each car from start to finish. I have visited his "factory" while a car was under construction and I can tell you that every piece used has more than one purpose in an effort to minimize weight.

It was a chance for some owners to get together for a few hours to socialize and go for a drive


There were around 10 cars there and each one had a different configuration. Some were LHD and some RHD. It seemed that each one had a different powerplant, no two were alike.


That's David O Saville Peck in the striped shirt, on the left. He is a proven racer and slalomer with many victories under his belt.


This is David O Saville Peck's personal driver. You may wonder why I always refer to him as David O Saville Peck, instead of just "David". I remember one time a few years ago when I was at his workshop near Duncan, BC (Geoff, this is very close to Cowichan Bay) we were talking about this and that and I called him David. He was quick to correct me by saying "David O Saville Peck" so that is what it has been ever since.


Today I was the outsider. I do not own a Lotus so it was hard to strike up conversations as the other owners were all discussing different aspects of their cars and what upgrades they had done. I made sure to talk to David O Saville Peck and the homeowner who was hosting this gathering to ask permission to snap a few photos. It seemed that every car was unique in its running gear and options. When ordering a car there is a base configuration which starts out at around $50K and other performance options can raise the price significantly. Each vehicle is custom produced to the owner's specification and wallet thickness. If I were to purchase of Caterham I would definitely go for the 'Busa powered one, but they are rare.

but what luck . . . I didn't realize it at the time when I noticed this stunning beauty


but this was one of the rare 'Busa ones, and just happened to be produced at David O Saville Peck's facility in Duncan as evidenced by the unique grill. It wasn't long before the hood was removed and I was attracted to it like a magnet


Here's a closer view of the Hayabusa Engine


Having a motorcyle engine and transmission means the shift lever is sequential shift just like your left foot shift lever. The stick shift (cockpit photo above) lever is spring loaded. To shift up you click back, and click again to up a gear. To gear down you click forward all the way back down to Neutral then one more click back to first. On a 6 speed motorcycle transmission you would shift 1 down then 5 up. No different with this manual shifter on the transmission hump. You have no "H" pattern, just clicking back or forward and the clutch pedal is sort of the same as using your left handlebar clutch lever. I am sure you would get used to this in no time.

Now the problem with motorcycles is there is no reverse gear. David O Saville Peck designed a reversing transmission which connects after the tranmission to reverse the direction of driveshaft rotation


That is the gold coloured unit with the chain drive. Since this reverses the rotation after the transmission you actually have 6 speeds forward, and also 6 speeds in reverse. In front of the shifter there is another lever which has two positions, forward or reverse. So when you actually want to go into reverse to back up your Caterham Super 7, you click down to first gear, and move the 2nd lever to reverse position. Depending upon how fast you wish to go in reverse you can shift up all the way up to 6th gear. It may not surprise you to know that David O Saville Peck holds the record for driving his Caterham Super 7 One hundred miles per hour in reverse (on a closed runway, of course).

Here's another view of the 'Busa engine


This particular car has had some modification but I am not sure what was done to it, only that I heard the owner say that it had around 200 HP and it weighed only 1,200 lbs. As each Super 7 is custom made you could order it with RHD for the NZ roads. Perfect for those rapidly ageing Striple Riders