Thursday, January 30, 2014

Helmet Cam

Last summer I experimented for the first time with a helmet camera. My selection was a very affordable Polaroid HD Professional Action Camera XS80. It’s has 120 degree viewing angle and is waterproof. (You can check all the specification online.) The reason I selected this camera was for its small size. It fits nicely on the side of my helmet. It’s easily reached to switch on or off. A drawback for some who need instant gratification is that it doesn’t have a viewing window like other more expensive action cams. But you can’t see it while riding anyway and you do have to wait until you can view it later on another device. This is not a problem for me; I’m into enjoying the ride and I can watch the video later when I’m relaxing.

I’ve posted a few of my favorites on YouTube. I’ll be looking at the rest of my video footage from this trip to see what else might be of interest to riders. If you are thinking about visiting Nova Scotia, some of the sights might encourage you to do so. There’s no time like the present for planning your next great adventure!

PS: You photographers out there, wouldn't some of these boats make great subjects!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chabot Trail North

Our fenders are pointing east and our long anticipated ride is about to begin along the Chabot Trail North in Nova Scotia. The temperatures hover in the 70 degree range, and helmet, jacket and gloves are all comfortable despite the sea breezes along the shore. While we are not alone on this trek, the traffic is light and accommodating. With kickstands up, we begin our climb along the Cabot Trail.

Initially, we weave our way through stately pines in shades of Hunter, Forest and Lincoln greens. The sun dappling its rays in flickering swaths between the boughs, casting intermittent play of shadow and light rhythmically across my shield. The heady alpine scent accompanies the rush of wind that washes over and around me. The turbulence of the wind as it passes over me creates a white noise effect in my ears, broken from time to time by the voice speaking to me in the headset.

We lean comfortably left then right, the trail being neither peg scrapping nor highway numbing. We continue in this fashion experiencing the climb in altitude, yet what we can see through the trees is only a hint of what we anticipate. The granite outcroppings to our right take on the semblance of a graph that spikes sharply like a good day on Wall Street. While at the same time, the pines to our left diminish in size until they are scrub.

We round the next bend to the left and without prelude, the sea and sky are one before us. The sky of cerulean blue is dotted with fair weather cumulus clouds on the horizon. The blending hues become cobalt blue as it meets the Gulf of St Lawrence. Gulls circle lazily on the thermals that rise between cliffs and sea. We stop here to fully experience the natural beauty of Nova Scotia.

I breathe deeply to fill lungs with the sharp sea air. Field of vision, distance sound of surf and sea birds, gentle breezes fluttering opened jacket, and bathed in full encompassing sunshine, the beauty that is Cape Breton Island is a full body experience. As I sit and endure this second arctic blast of single digit, flesh splitting cold, I close my eyes and envision myself here again.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Freebees, Contests and the Real Prize

If you’re an avid rider as I am, and have a limited budget, you may drool from time to time over the contests and giveaways that are often splashed in ads. Typically these are to draw you into a vendor site, such as JP Cycle, or Cruiser Customizing. Even Harley offers entries to win an entire motorcycle, not just bling. I was fortunate in 2011 to actually win a contest sponsored by the Garage Girls and meet Sara Liberty et al. I also made a connection with Mary, the runner up. Mary and I both traveled to Carlisle Pennsylvania to attend the Bike Fest and claim our prizes. It was an exciting adventure. I also met a great number of people from the companies that sponsored all the prizes. The folks from Mustang and Kuryakyn are especially prominent in my mind. My new seat was installed on site in addition to my new accessories at Kuryakyn. Everyone was especially helpful and treated Blaze with the utmost care.

Yesterday I stumbled upon a notice that the Carlisle Bike Fest would not be held this year. Here is the official notice.
"Carlisle Bike Fest is primarily held at a privately owned venue and backed by a singular privately owned company. While we were able to offer a vending and entertainment mix appealing to riders, we simply aren't able to sustain the event to the level it needs to be at this point. Everyone who came to Carlisle as well as the riders on staff enjoyed the ride, literally and figuratively. We thank everyone for their support over the past 12 years."

I can understand the revenue and logistics it takes to run an event like this. Yet, the retirement of this event is hitting close to my heart. I have such fond memories from my visit to Carlisle. I realized too that entering and even winning the contest was only a small part what this event sent home with me. Even now, I can feel the heat of that day, see the faces of the people I met, and remember the people who care about me and went out of their way to make this trip extraordinary. From my husband Andy who drove, and trailered my ride as I had limited hours away from work with which to do this, and to David Headley who came along too at my request to photograph the entire weekend. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

While my husband may have driven, it wasn’t only a van that got me there. To win, I needed people to visit the site and vote for me. This required a bit of campaigning on my part, but I admonished everyone, who agreed to visit the site, to vote with their hearts. As recently as the last week in November, when we had visitors in the Waltham Massachusetts office from Detroit Michigan, this event was mentioned. While I have some idea of the power of social media, these folks talking to me about the Carlisle event made it that much more evident. The event itself may be going away, but what I took away will not. Goodbye Carlisle Bike Fest and thanks for the memories.