2018 The Long Way Home

Commuting on a motorcycle can be a wonderful thing. Take for instance my commute yesterday for example...

Of course it takes a few minutes longer to gear up and get a bike ready to roll for the ride into work, but once on the road you can use it to navigate quickly through traffic and make your way into work. It took me about five minutes to make my way from my apartment building in to the parking lot at work, but almost an hour to get home! In my defense, my story is that I took the wrong bridge home...

Johnstons River PE

The dangers of owning a motorcycle
It was a gorgeous spring day, one of the few we have had this year, and I was itching to be able to ride my bike into work, and today was the day!
When work ended, I simply didn't want to join the row of cars speeding across the Hillsborough River into the city of Charlottetown, then simply park my bike, so instead I headed north up towards Mount Stewart and enjoyed the afternoon weather. 

Pisquid River PE  

Pisquid River  PE

Johnstons River PE
There is still a bunch of sand in the corners, so you can't ride it like you stole it quite yet, but that day is coming, and the weather is looking good for a short day trip of riding, perhaps on Saturday or Sunday. Spring is in the air, and I'm enjoying watching the brown colours turn to green.


The Purple Helmets

I saw a post today on Facebook that reminded me of the Purple Helmets, a stunt riding team based out of Castle Winthrop on the Isle of Man. Anyhow, have a look at a few of their videos and you can easily tell these guys have some skill at riding, and it would appear even more so at tossing them back at the pub while dreaming up ideas for their show.

Their website is currently down at the moment:

Sheep Skull Enduro Riders aka The Purple Helmets, but don't be disappointed for they have a Facebook page here: The Purple Helmets


Hi, my name is Ron, and I'm an Alcoholic...

The promise of spring was in the air sometime last week, but today it is nothing but winter and I'm itching to get out on my motorcycle and do some more weekend touring around this part of Atlantic Canada.

One important concept I learned while serving in the army was:
"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy". What you can take away from this, is to test your gear in the comfort of your home or out on your front lawn before you haul it 8000km and find out it fails miserably or needs modifications.

I'm rationalizing my excuse to play with fire and relieve the boredom of a cold Sunday afternoon on Prince Edward Island, and I can live with the laughter and pointing fingers.

Right, the mission is to use a homemade alcohol stove, pot stand and windscreen with 1oz of alcohol to cook sliced mushrooms, fry an egg on top of it, then to use my "brand new never been used" folding wash basin that I purchased on AliExpress over the winter months.

Ryder 5 litre folding wash basin
 It was well past my lunchtime and I have to admit, I've been frittering away my time today on Facebook posting to the Motorcycle Camping Canada group, when I got a bit peckish and decided it was time to line my ducks up in row and test out a few pieces of gear to see how well they worked in the comfort of my kitchen.
My alcohol penny stove, potstand and windscreen
 I rounded up my homemade windscreen, pot stand, and a penny stove that I had purchased on  FleaBay years ago when I considered using an alcohol stove for my trip across the Trans Labrador Highway, and proceeded to make a mess.

Top view
I decided that I could get away with an once of fuel in the miserly penny stove, but forgot that this needed to be preheated by dribbling alcohol around the preheating cord wrapped around the stove, so I probably ended up using about 1.5 ounces of fuel all told. Lesson 1: You are going to use more fuel than you expect or planned for.

I lit it up and watched it bloom into life, placed my relatively new frying pan on top of the pot stand only to have it tip backwards and fall off, as the balance was wrong, so I had to rotate the two legged pot stand to provide more support underneath the heavier handle side of the frying pan. Lesson 2: Make sure the pot is going to do the job or dinner ends up in the grass, and becomes dinner for someone else.

There's no wind in the apartment, but let us pretend, shall we?
 I added about a teaspoon of olive oil to the pan, tossed in a sliced mushroom, and watched it almost immediately begin frying... At too high a heat! It was cooking away at about a medium heat in comparison to a stove top, when ideally I would have preferred a med-low heat. Lesson 3: An adjustable flame would be nice, or failing that, a height adjustable pot stand would work. With other alcohol stoves, you can add a few drops of water to tame the intensity of the flame and make it into a nice low heat.

The 1/2 teaspoon of oil was quickly disappearing, and if I cracked the egg into the pan it would stick like glue. I quickly added another 1/2 tsp of oil and cracked the egg over it carefully so as to not upset the apple cart again. Lesson 4: Use more oil when cooking with fire and thin aluminium pans.

And the flip side!
 A dash of salt and pepper, and it cooks away, but not evenly so I moved the pan until the bulk of the egg was over the flame. And I added a tsp of water into the pan to use steam to heat the egg through, but hadn't thought far enough to arrange a lid that would cover it and keep the steam in. Lesson 5: Have a lid handy. A pot lid, a tin place, a piece of foil.

I've a mini spatula coated with silicone that works really well in this pan, but when I went to flip the egg over to cook the other side, in spite of the oil I had to pry the egg up and flip it, and watch as parts of it stuck to the bottom Lesson 6: More oil? Lower heat? A lid? All three perhaps? I'd never have been able to do this with a kfs combo (knife fork spoon)

The flame is dying and the egg is just about done. Lunchtime!
I turned out the egg and shrooms onto a plate, removed the pan from the heat and let it cool down slightly while I got my washbasin ready with room temperature water and a drop or two of soap in it for suds. In the bush it would probably be cold water I'd wash up with unless I needed serious cleaning power of hot water. No worries there, I tossed a litre of water into the wash basin and it looked as if that were just right for a wee morning clean up.

The egg was yummy and went down so easily that I've plans for doing another once I get this posted, perhaps with my butane gas stove or a trangia clone and simmer ring?

Yep. Stuck on overcooked egg. 
This was going to be a serious test of the wash basin, for getting overcooked egg off a fry pan is a touch chore even for a well appointed kitchen. I certainly wasn't prepared for the elbow grease necessary to scrub out the pan with my scrubby sponge (cut in half for smaller camp weight), and scrubbed away merrily. All while learning that you have to be careful not to push down the edges of the wash basin with the pan or your wrists. Lol. Lesson 7: Bring a more aggressive scraper or soak in water longer. Boil water in the pan over the stove, THEN clean it?  Lesson 8: Please keep hands and legs (and frying pans) inside the ride at all times to prevent accidents.

It looks weird, but it works quite well!
The wash basin was a great add to my moto camping kitchen, and performed up to expectations. I give it a four out of five stars!

I had fun playing around this afternoon, but feel free to laugh, and post a comment to correct the error of my ways.

Would I use this setup on a trip? A weekend campout perhaps, but as the flame needs to be tamed down, that is what I'll focus on next time, using a stove that I can control the heat with to delicately simmer scrambled eggs in butter, right up to boil up a pint of water for a cuppa and some oatmeal for breakfast. I'm going to repeat this experiment with a Trangia clone and pot stand, making use of the simmer ring.

Don't forget, test your gear BEFORE you hit the road. You may learn something. ;)



2017 The Fall Colours of Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore aka Turkey Day Ride

Once again I found myself chomping at the bit, and reading more posts of people storing their bikes for the winter, and now single digit temperatures, made me keep an eye on the weather reports, and when I found that we were going to experience unseasonably high temperatures with a wee bit of rain this weekend, I began packing for another two or three day road trip.

Fifteen Mile Stream north of Lochaber Mines Nova Scotia
 Planning? Not really. Zac and other sources told me that Route 311 NS south from Tatamagouche down into Truro was an entertaining route, and as I've found that Route 4 is fairly boring and high speed, I decided that I would ride the 311, with a destination of Westphal Nova Scotia picked out as a destination far enough from Halifax and Dartmouth from which I could avoid the city and explore the coast on 207, then transition onto Highway 7. I hadn't really thought beyond that, and was toying with the idea of somehow riding Route 374, possibly the Cabot Trail, finding that fish and chips trailer in Guysborough NS, and generally just enjoying the weather, scenery and the ride.

738km over Saturday and Sunday

 Day 1 - Borden-Carleton PE to Ship Harbour NS - 453km

Day 1 - Borden-Carleton PE to Ship Harbour NS - 453km

It's early and it's a chilly 8C morning!


DPower remote cartridge stove

I've been watching the BikerBits YouTube channel, and found some great advice in his "Shit Easy Motorcycle Camp Cooking" videos, and decided that I needed to add a gas stove to my collection, but wanted to do it as inexpensively as possible. I did a bit of research on advrider.com specifically in the stove thread, reading every single post there, and at long length finally decided on the approach I was going to take with this.

BikerBit's Mark Victor uses a butane cylinder with an adaptor and a "China Stove" somewhat similar to an MSR Pocket Rocket to cook his meals, and his system works quite well from boiling water for a cuppa, right down to simmering for cooking scrambled eggs or pancakes. I was impressed, and decided I would base my new setup on his, but with some changes.

I ordered my stove off of eBay.ca, and purchased the "Dpower Ultralight Folding Backpacking Camping Stove Gas-powered Stove with Piezoelectric" for about $13.95 CDN

Will this replace my trusty SVEA?
Butane to Lindal Gas Adapter
I also added a "Gas Adapter for Connecting Long Butane Canister to Hiking/Camping Stove" to my shopping cart, and after a visit to the local Canadian Tire outlet in Charlottetown for a $9.99 CDN three pack of butane cylinders, I was armed with everything I needed to use this stove when I got it, which was this afternoon.
227g x 3 cans = 681 grams of gas for $9.99
Of course I had to take this out onto the porch and fire it up...

I'm impressed! For a about $23 dollars I'm just about set, all I would need to add to this is a windscreen which I have in my regular "kitchen" set that costs about $5 CDN on ebay.ca

I was a bit disappointed in that the thin metal bracket that holds the piezoelectric igniter in place was bent, but I was able to set that right quickly with a pair of pliers, and it was very easy to disassemble the burner into it's component parts to right the problem.

I found that running on the butane mix, it worked very well at full throttle, and I was also able to taper the fuel off for a lovely simmer that should be perfect for pancakes or scrambled eggs as opposed to full on for simply boiling water.

CAUTION when using Butane Cylinders!

When I wondered why my stove flared up once in a while during testing, I did a Google search for "100% butane stove flare" and found this article on the subject: Butane Adapter Warning!

These cylinders are meant to be used in only two orientations...
  • Straight up in the vertical plane with the can set on a level surface
  • laying in a horizontal plane with the "Notch" of the can kept in the vertical. 
So I modified my setup by adding two pipe clamps joined together to create legs that would keep the cylinder oriented with the cylinder "notch" kept to the vertical as described in the blog.

I also made a wee 50 second video showing what happens when liquid butane enters the stove by improper position of the butane cylinder.  

Please note that there are other gas adapters which include some form of feet or stabilization for the cylinder. 

Update 2017-10-09:

I used the stove and adapter for the first time this past thanksgiving weekend at my campsite in Ship Harbour Nova Scotia, and found that the initial pressure of the butane cylinder had gone from a roar down to an easily controlled burn that made it a simple matter to set up and boil water for tea. I didn't time it, but it is easily as good as the SVEA at boiling up about 800ml of water, but a decent wraparound windscreen is a must to get good burn times in moderately windy conditions.

Note the notch is vertical, and the can is slanted slightly uphill.
Once again, cylinder position is important, and on the sloping ground I was careful to orient the cylinder top uphill and in the vertical.

The next morning at a temperature of about 16 degrees Celsius, the butane again performed well and I simply boiled up water for tea and oatmeal, then again some for washup. The ease of use alone with the piezoelectric igniter and a simple turn of the valve makes this setup extremely useful, although I miss my old SVEA, and I would prefer some wider bottomed pots where the small burner size of the SVEA leant it to smaller pot sizes.

If anything, setting up the windscreen took the longest time, and looking for the black stuff sack for the stove, the and black bag for the windscreen, all stuffed into the black kitchen bag took the longest time for the teardown. lol.

Here is a great article on Canister stoves especially the cold weather use: