Ducati: Many Roads of Canada – Prologue

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Toronto, I didn’t plan to be back here so soon, but the gods of motorcycle travel have different plans.  After riding to Quebec City with the Harley-Davidson Best Western FAM tour, the city feels harder edged.  I’m taking a limo driver’s suggestion, and heading down the street from the Best Western Rohampton to his favorite hangout.

A city bus cuts no slack for a fake blonde crossing the street; I know that sounds grammatically incorrect but not much of her sculpted form looks real.  She breaks into a sprint, without removing her cell-phone from ear or glancing at the bus.  A man in a Porsche, his face framed by a bald plate and a $250.00 haircut veil of white, watches on with third wife lust in his eyes.

“Go down the street to the Chicke’n’Deli, there’s always something happening there.”

I’m not sure I need happening, lots has been happening, what I do need is a beer and lunch… at 10pm.  Hey the place has a large plastic cock on the roof, instantly putting it into the “what’s not to like” category.

Toronto has become the omega of my “cunning plan” to ride the Buell Ulysses across Canada.  Harley-Davidson was unable to repair the minor damage to the big-traillie in time for the ride.  Toronto is also the alpha, the start of a new adventure replacing the one not begun.

Apparently, that plan will have a sound track of Tom Jones’ Kiss veering dangerously close to country and western as styled by a two-man band.

One beer and a rendition of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold later and I’m in a properly contemplative state.

This spring, flying to Toronto, I set down my copy of Long Way Down and gazed at the stucco of rock and lakes of eastern Manitoba and western Ontario.  Aloof and aloft you’ve no sense of distance or the country below, and it struck me that before wandering the world’s multitude of countries, I should know my own.

A second beer and more questions and realizations arrive. Will I be able to pull this massive ride off?  It’s grown from being a mere ride across the country to a “boomerang tour” from Toronto, ON, to Cape Spears, NF, then back across the country to Vancouver.  Why did the band spoil it all with Billy Joel’s Piano Man?  Will the lead singer learn not to swallow the microphone? Is he completely pissed, “Shing ush a shong, piano mansh…”  Most overwhelming, is it even possible to know Canada?

Man, the ribs are good, but there are better in this city.  How do you get to know a country, when you don’t even have time to interview a single city?  At best then I’m a surveyor, taking a sightline of various points across a nation so vast it’s truly ridiculous to ever say, “I’ve been to Canada.”

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The only response to that statement is a simple, “Where?”  The Rockies?  Quebec?  Montreal? Toronto? Vancouver?  The North?  Westcoast?  Eastcoast?  Does Canada want to be known beyond these acts of compartmentalization?

Tomorrow, thanks to the efforts of Steve Hicks and Jim McKenna of Ducati Canada and Kevin Davis of Rev Cycle, I pick up the replacement to the Buell Ulysses, a Ducati Multistrada 1100S.  Answers and more questions are at hand then.

Multistrada’s name literally translated is “many roads” .  That alone makes this bike appropriate for connecting the points of our survey.  The two stadia are set; to the east is Cape Spears, the eastern most point in Canada, to the west is Vancouver, my home when I’m not living out of motorcycle saddlebags, between is Canada and a half and Many Roads.

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