I’m writing you from Jail. Yes, some would agree that incarceration is long over due thanks to wanton acts of disregard for various social standards, but the details of my megalomania are quite inconsequential. It seemed like only yesterday that I woke up at that swank Toronto B&B the Gloucester Square Inn, the night before I was sprawling across a kingsize in the Best Western Rohampton. Last night it was myself and five other cellmates in bunk beds in a cramped overheated room… Strangely it was the best night’s sleep I’ve had on this trip, mainly because I was exhausted from the day’s hard labour…
Oh sure, I don’t know my cellmates. The one East Indian fellow, opened and closed the conversation with, “Motorcycles, those are dangerous. One of my friends died on one.”
The escape from Toronto didn’t quite go as smoothly as planned. Tropical storm Hanna is preparing to gently embrace the east coast, so I though it best to be prepared. A quick stop at MEC and a waterproof duffle later I thought myself prepared. A stop at Oshawa for some quick shots beside Lake Ontario, and I’m on the road again… heading towards skies which are managing to make overcast seem like a biblical term.
The Ducati Multistrada is no ark, but the bike is holding its own, especially shod with the Avon Storms which seem to offer good traction and handling almost regardless of conditions. It’s a good combination; a favourite bike, favourite tires, and the riding gear… Oh wait, no, that is an absolute disaster.
The first wave of rain hits suddenly, and before I’ve a chance to put on rain gear the Buell Adventure gear soaks through with sponge-like enthusiasm. The venting system, strips of removable textile with zippers on either side, simply transforms itself into aqua scoops. Finally the water that hasn’t entered the jacket has rolled down and is forming a great lake of its own in the folds of the riding pants’ crotch… until I shift slightly and the last vestige of water resistance is disrupted and a tsunami of cold runs down both legs.
Soaked to the bone I give the folks in a McDonald’s washroom a show, and put my raingear on underneath the Buell gear to keep dry. In the mad rush around Toronto trying to prep everything, I’d not had time to hook up the leads for the heated vest, oh the regret.
I cannot relate how I am looking forwards to riding through Atlantic Canada with “Adventure” gear designed by someone who clearly has never ridden in the rain.
I arrive too late to Hostelling International’s Jail here in Ottawa, that’s not a joke, it’s an actual jail built in 1842, burned completely in January 9, 1870, decommissioned in 1972, and reopened by hostelling international a year later to serve as one of “Canada’s Most Interesting Places to Stay” according to the National Post.
It is interesting, but as much for the people as the jailhouse motif. For example, young translator from Uruguay who asks if I know of his country? As it turns out I do, thanks to an episode of Anthony Brourdain’s No Reservations, which took in the culinary culture of this country snuggled between Argentina and Brazil. The traveler peppers me with questions about Canada, the French and English culture, other languages, polar bears and the north. I answer with varying levels of success.
“How long are you visiting Canada for?”
“A week.” I think he might need a bit more time.