Lockdown rides: the roads less ridden

While most of the world was in strict quarantine, RC regular Nick Adams enjoyed a little more latitude in Ontario, Canada. He could still take to the open road, providing he also took sensible precautions. Long distance trips were out of the question so Nick took the opportunity to revisit familiar locations, closer to home.

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On various machines – his old Moto Guzzi V-twins and a newer addition to his motorcycling stable – Nick explored the empty expanse of eastern Ontario, finding new roads to travel and a new perspective on the places not far from his own back door. Then he returned home – and wrote a whole new book about these adventures. Riding in the Time of the Plague is available in ebook and paperback editions. To whet your appetite, here’s an exclusive preview in which Nick has a close encounter with the wildlife…

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Book1

This was a road I’d never ridden before. Narrow and unpaved, it headed in the general direction I wanted to ride. The road had recently been graded and few vehicles had passed that way since, so the surface was loose over a hard-packed bed. I took it easy, happy to drift along at whatever speed seemed comfortable and safe. I had my GoPro camera attached to a chest harness and switched it on to capture a few minutes.  As I review it now, I can see the generator light flickering off and on in response to the engine speed. I hadn’t noticed it at the time – but more of that later.

Book2

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This wasn’t startling scenery although pleasing enough. The road was lined with scrubby forest and every so often I’d pass a low rock outcrop or a place where part of a rock knoll had been blasted out of the way. I noticed a few side tracks, presumably leading to small farmsteads or farm fields, but the surrounding trees prevented me from seeing what was behind their veil. It was quite clear that despite the mixed forest, this area had once been completely denuded of its original tree cover, found incapable of supporting any profitable farming activity, and abandoned to revert to forest again.

Book3

Loose gravel is never friendly, no matter what bike you’re riding, so I was suitably cautious in the corners, trying to find that middle ground between staying more or less in control while letting the front wheel dither about on its own.  After a few miles, a narrows across the end of Second Depot Lake provided a suitable place to stop to enjoy the quiet for a few moments, check I wasn’t drooling ATF all over the road, and make sure all the obvious bolts were still staying where they were supposed to be. Although the road was in reasonably good condition, no matter how well graded and maintained, all gravel roads hide some washboard, potholes and rocks which can shake critical parts loose.

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 All was well though, so I set off again, racing down the road with my maximum speed touching a breath-taking thirty-five miles an hour, dropping down to walking pace in some of the tighter corners.

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I was just gathering speed along a straight section with trees growing close to the edge of the roadway, when I was almost scared off the bike. Three turkey vultures had been feeding at the side of the road and launched themselves skywards at my approach. Two of the birds managed to get themselves ahead of and above me, but the third had misjudged his trajectory and became trapped between me and the nearby trees.  For what seemed like ages, but in reality was just a few seconds, the huge brown bird flapped right next to my helmet.

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If I’d reached out, I could have plucked it from the air, but all I could think about was ‘don’t throw up’ (the bird, not me!). When scared, turkey vultures will often empty the foul contents of their crops and stomach to discourage predators. Getting slimed with a toxic mix of partially digested, rotted skunk and stomach acid wouldn’t be my idea of a good time.  Fortunately the bird veered off behind me and I was able to watch his partners gain altitude ahead of me before they too angled off across the top of the trees and out of sight…

Book5

You’ll find Riding in the Time of the Plague at Amazon; a talking book is on the way and here’s a preview of how that’ll sound:

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